Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Birthdays and Kidney Stones

For my birthday yesterday, Son #4 gave me a kidney stone.  His.  He called early saying he was in a lot of pain--he's had kidney stones before--so we told him to go to the nearest Instacare down there in Utah County and then we said oh hell.  We'll even spring for an ER visit this time. Ken Cannon and I are awesome parents that way.

Good thing.  This time he had a big 'un, and wow.  Poor dude was in a world of hurt.  I stood up Louise for a birthday date (sorry, Louise!) and raced down to Provo where I met up with Son #4 at the hospital there and spent the day waiting in pre-op for him and the doctor to finally take care of business.

I'm pleased to report Son #4 is feeling much better today.  Morphine and a kidney stone that's been blasted like an astro will do that for you.

Pretty sure I won't be forgetting THIS birthday any time soon.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Well, hi there!

I've been reading your comments re my last post, and I do want to say a) you're beyond kind and b) I'm not planning on quitting the blog thing.  I know it must have sounded/felt that way.

I won't lie.  I had an unusually difficult week for a lot of reasons.  There were a LOT of small frustrations--I lost my keys in the downtown library, for example, and oh yeah.  I ran into a parked car in a parking lot.  SCORE!  And then there were more rejected manuscripts to be had.  Blech.

There were also a few ongoing issues that felt harder to deal with than usual and . . . I'm worn out.  It's just groundhog day here sometimes.

But here it--almost the weekend--and I'm feeling better and a little more hopeful.  Also, the day got off to a great start when the puppy did something awful and Ken Cannon yelled at her.  Only instead of shouting "Penny" he shouted one of our boys' names.  And yes.  It was the name of the son that Ken Cannon probs spent the most time yelling at when we had a houseful of boys.

I love that Ken Cannon equates naughty dogs with sons.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When blogs go bad . . .

And by "bad" I don't mean "rogue," as in one day a blog decides to get rid of her goody-two-shoes image and hang out with John Travolta in the high school parking lot, wearing a leather jacket and smoking cigs.  That would be an interesting thing in the blog-o-sphere.

By bad I mean "flat," as in "I'm just not very interested in this blog anymore."

I say this because I'm thinking of a big-time blog that I haven't always liked but that I've generally admired over the years.  Now, however?  It feels stale.  Dialed in.  Boring, even.

So I've been trying to analyze what's happened, and I've come up with these reasons.

1.  I've changed.  What felt interesting and fresh to me once may still be interesting and fresh to other readers, but because I've taken another turn somewhere along the line, the blog doesn't speak to me now.  This happens.

2.  The blog itself has changed.

Honestly, in this case (you see how I'm being careful here) I think it's #2.  And how has it changed?  It feels . . . inauthentic.  The appeal of the personal blog is that it's open, honest, and yes.  Revealing.  But when that stops happening, the blog suffers.

That's okay.  Sometimes you get to a point where certain things use up most of your mental and emotional oxygen, but you don't feel like you can or should go public with those issues--particulalry when people near and dear to you are involved.  Holding back is a blogger's prerogative.  But it can certainly have an effect on your work.

Just some random thoughts as I prepare a talk on blogging.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Dear My Blog,

I know.  I haven't done right by you again.  All I seem to do is use you to post my latest column.  That's right.  I'm a user.  And you've been my use-ee.  I apologize.  I'll try to get our relationship on the right track again and give you the respect you deserve.

Meanwhile, here's this week's column about the Dr. Pepper problem I have.



Monday, March 16, 2015

My weekend in DC

Again, I struggled finding a column idea.  And I had TWO to write this weekend--my regular column and also a requested column for a special Tribune Conference section.  I wrote three conference columns.  THREE.  None of them felt right, although I may post one of them here tomorrow.  I like some of what I wrote, but I don't think it's what my editor will be looking for.

Maybe I'm struggling so much right now because I've been reading West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan, which is a richly imagined portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald's sad last days in Hollywood?

Yes.  I'm F. Scott Fitzgerald now.

Anyway, I started paying attention to the snatches of conversation floating past me and suddenly I had an idea.  Here it is.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Behind the scenes: a morning in the life of a columnist

So here's the column, and here's the thing about the column.  I WAS DESPERATE.

My deadline is Monday morning, which means I usually write my column on the weekend.  And I usually have an idea for a column by Friday.  Or at least Saturday morning.  HOWEVER.  I didn't have an idea this time.  Not even an inkling of an idea.

This really doesn't happen to me very often--at least this profoundly.  I can only remember one other time in my long life as a columnist (Parent Express, Deseret News, the Trib) wherein I had a deadline and absolutely not a scrap of anything to say.  But necessity (as they say) is the mother of invention, and in that case I picked up some instructions and thought to myself how much more interesting they would be to read if only they were written like a romance novel.  And suddenly I was off . . .

Anyway.  Inspiration was not striking this weekend.  So I looked at my blog here to see if I could get an idea and the only thing that I had any energy about was The Good Wife thing.  But when I started to write that column it felt very whiney and way too specifically about me and my taste.

That's the thing about writing a column.  It's a personal column, but it has to be about "us" and not just about "me."  And the column I was writing last night was all about me.  ME ME ME ME ME BORING ME.

So then I went to bed.  Grumpy.  And as I lay there in bed I thought of all the things that were pissing me off.  AND THEN I HAD AN IDEA!  Why not do what Lisa B. often does?  Write charming chatty little notes, except  make all of my notes grumpy?  To match my mood!

And then this morning when I got up?  Voila!

It's not the best column I've ever written, but it's a finished column.  And like I always say to my writing students--a bad something is better than a good nothing.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Breaking up

With real friends I tend to commit and stay loyal.  But with TV friends?  Not so much.  I have a huge history of falling truly, madly, deeply (that was a good movie btw) in love with a TV show, only to dump it somewhere down the road.

Sometimes I even turn on it.  I offer Downton Abbey as Exhibit A.  I loved, loved, loved it.  Until I didn't.  And then when I didn't, I said snarky things about it and bullied it online.

But mostly I just make a new plan, Stan, and slip out the back, Jack.  Generally there are no hard feelings when I do this, so that when I run into my former TV friends again--like Phil and Claire Dumphy, for instance--I'm happy to see them for a bit.  But I don't feel compelled to take up our relationship on a regular basis again.

Meanwhile--and I do hate to say this--I am perilously close to breaking up with The Good Wife this year.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe I'm just bored with the Alicia-is-running-for-office-and-turning-into-Peter-in-the-process story arc.  Maybe I know that Kalinda is going away at the end of the season, which makes her appearances now almost seem beside the point.  I don't know.  I have loved this show dearly and think it's super smart.  And I like that we've see Alicia grow and change.

But whatevs.  The break-up could happen.

Anybody want to comment?  Or talk me down?

I might write a column about this, actually.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March 4

This is a significant date for me, because it earmarks the birth of one close friend and the early death of another.

Today is Gigi's birthday--the great childhood friend about whom I often write.  In fact, I wrote about her again this week and you can read what I have to say here.  She was a fabulous kid who grew up to be a fabulous adult--full of passion and social outrage and deep, deep kindness.  Her grandmother, who was like THE ROSE KENNEDY OF PROVO, would be so proud of her and of Gigi's cousin Erika Petersen, who is the driving force behind the Building Bridges movement.  Both the Mormon and LBGT communities owe Erika a huge debt of gratitude.  And also lunch.

It's also the day another great childhood friend, Becky Brown Thomas, died unexpectedly in her sleep.  She was only 47.  We'd had lunch the day before where we laughed and laughed and laughed.  And then she fell silent.

I took her death hard.  Of course I did.  So did everybody else.  And for a long, long time I went to sleep at night, hoping that she might visit me in a dream.  She never has.  But I did dream one night about my other friends--the ones who share my life right here and now--and when I awoke I felt as though Becky had sent me a message of sorts.

You're here now.

You have been blessed with these women.

Love them.

Take care of them.

Stop mourning for me.

Of course the mourning never stops.  But I also never forget how lucky I am to have the friends I do.  So, so lucky.