Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


February Google Search Phrases

Filed under: Blog Stuff — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

learning to walk again

That was the most heartbreaking Google search phrase of the month of February. They found my entry talking about Kristen’s stroke, but I’m sure they didn’t find what they needed. I gave no advice because I wasn’t the one who learned how to walk. I just had to sit on the sidelines and keep myself from trying to catch her when she wobbled.

She’s walking just fine now. Her speech is still a little slurred, but she is entirely understandable. Her quick recovery is nothing short of a miracle. I remember her begging for her parents to take her home. They told her that if she worked really hard in therapy, then they would let her go home. She’s home now with her cat and her computer and her newly painted bedroom. That’s the power of motivation: learn to walk and you can leave this lonely place.

One person was looking for a website to teach them to walk again, and all I could do was describe it from the outside looking in. I hope that they were able to find something more helpful a little further down the list. I hope they find all they need on that journey that I can’t spare them.

along came polly quotations, quote from along came polly dad, quotes from along came polly

On the disappointing side, there were three people looking for Along Came Polly Quotations. Since our Quotes of the Day website specializes in quotations, I feel a little guilty for not being able to help them. All I did was say, “I’m not going to see the movie, but the concept is intriguing.” How’s that for in-depth reporting? I guess I’ll leave that to the local news.

buttoned-up women, uptight men

I also got a bunch of hits for the Along Came Polly entry concerning the idea of repressed individuals. I noticed that irrepressible women, virile men, uninhibited person didn’t show up as search phrases. Could it be that all of us are looking for someone who is boring so that we can bring spice to their lives? Maybe just the people who end up finding my weblog.

changing in front of other women locker room, photo her changing clothes, photo weblogs locker rooms, undress jumper training bra

The perverts found me with my weblog entry, Conversations In Women’s Locker Rooms. I’m sorry, but I have no porn for you folks. I guess I need to choose my words much more carefully. Here’s a piece of advice for you, find your porn the way I did: find a friend with older brothers. They’re always willing to let the younger generation feed off their used and sticky Penthouse magazines.

lisa loeb haircut

Even though I wrote the entry in January, I’m still getting plenty of hits with this phrase. As an update, I couldn’t find any Lisa Loeb Glasses in Salt Lake City. It wasn’t until my last trip to Las Vegas a couple of weekends ago that I was able to find any. I had almost given up on even trying the Lisa Loeb thing, but then the Hot Topic at the Fashion Show Mall had some Lisa Loeb Glasses for me, so now I can look quirky with my straight hair instead of prissy. I changed my picture on February 25th with my new look, just in case you didn’t notice.

pick my face

Hands down, the most disturbing search entry of the month. I can handle 13-year old boys looking for porn, but someone looking for a site about acne molestation is just too weird for me. I’m just hoping that they were looking for a cosmetic surgery clinic where they get to pick out their favorite cheekbones.


Home Vibe

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

My home vibe is a lot different than my work vibe. At work, I have Akhenaten, the Magic 8 Ball, tea, Buddha and St. Jude. That’s it. At home, I have so much little meaningful clutter that I couldn’t list it all here. On my monitor alone, there is a post-it with an address for the son of a friend, my library card number, an origami star from Mike, Kokopelli, and a female fertility goddess candleholder. That’s just on my monitor.

Two fertility gods on my monitor at home, whereas at work I have a corpulent laughing man and a celibate saint. What is going on? It’s not like Kokopelli and the unnamed goddess would offend anyone. I guess the fertility gods are where they belong, at home, instead of where they don’t belong. It’s just so different to write at home. I forgot how often I ask my little Buddha for advice.

There is a little Buddha here, too. You forget. I got them in a six-pack. I have one at work, one on my desk, one under the wire tree my father made, one sitting on the window sill and two were given away for Christmas. The Buddha on my desk is sitting. His chubby legs can barely get around his fat tummy. He has a lot of advice for me.

“Quit analyzing things so much. Go to your meditation class. Practice your meditation during the week. Talk to those fertility gods. They know a lot of cool stuff, too. Exercise more, you’ve got a race coming up, silly girl. Light more candles and quit worrying about burning the house down.”

Of course, he says it all with the biggest smile on his face. He’s not nagging me. He just has something to say every time I turn to him for advice. If I didn’t have to look at him, he wouldn’t bother me with the advice.

Ok, I just rearranged everything at my desk. The fertility gods are off my monitor and residing just below the screen on the desk. Buddha came down from the top shelf and he sits between them, separating the feminine from the trickster. The carved stone that is supposed to hold incense, but has only been used for touching is near them. The origami star fills out the menagerie. Now, I have my army of advisors just like at work, even if they are a different troupe.

Xanadu Update

Filed under: Movies,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 8:50 pm

Please read Adult Eyes before reading this entry:

I just finished watching Xanadu with my adult eyes. It’s not nearly as bad as I was worried that it would be. The corn factor wasn’t as high as I expected. I found it amazingly entertaining considering it’s twenty-four years old.

I used to think that Flashdance was the first breakdancing that I ever saw, but I was wrong. The breakdancers at the end of Xanadu that are dressed in swinging twenties zoot suits weren’t the focus of the movie, but they are a first for me. I didn’t even notice that I saw breakdancing a full five years before I thought I did.

I didn’t even remember the Disneyesque music montage to “Don’t Walk Away.” First they are tiny little people in a red rose, then they turn into gold fish, then they turn into birds and finally they turn into tiny little people in a rosebud again. Did you notice that the bird was wearing leg warmers?

I did remember the shopping montage to the song “All Over The World.” If you ask me, Gene Kelly was dressed better before they went shopping. I liked the dancing mannequins, though. That punked out hair didn’t really hit the big time until Pink showed up on the scene with “There You Go” a full twenty years later.

Wow, that was so totally NOT Andy Gibb. I don’t know what happened to my eleven year old brain to mix those two guys up, but I was totally wrong. Even though I read the credits and knew that Sonny’s part was played by an actor named Michael Beck, I thought that maybe Andy Gibb had been working under a pseudonym or something. Maybe they didn’t want another Peter Frampton episode, so they made him change his name. That’s what I thought before the first scene of the movie. I don’t know how I mixed that one up in my head.

I could sing almost all of the songs word for word, beginning to end. I think I’ve only seen the movie once or maybe twice, but I listened to the Xanadu Soundtrack at least a million times. “Whenever You’re Away From Me” came back to me so clearly that I could sing every word, even though I couldn’t have named the song before the movie started. God, I wish I could have danced with Gene Kelly. Olivia Newton-John was the luckiest girl of 1980.

Tomorrow, I need to return the movie to my engineer, but never fear. I’ve ordered the movie at the library on DVD. Maybe there will be some cool special features and I can obsess about it even more. I’m so glad that I didn’t get disappointed. Sure, it was a typical 1980’s type of movie. It was the epitome of the 80’s, but any movie that shows me Gene Kelly dancing, singing, roller skating and pretending to play the clarinet is totally worth the ride!


That Special Car Reloaded

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I saw That Special Car at the gym last week. I think a girl drives it. The decals have been removed from the side, but there is really no way for someone to totally remove decals after they have been on a car for awhile. Ghost decals haunt the car with just a minor change in the shade of neon green.

I don’t know why the gym feels so neighborly now that I know that the Special Car owner works out there. I’ve never spoken to this girl. I just saw her open the car as I headed out of the parking lot. I don’t even know why I feel a connection to her just because she commutes in the opposite direction as I do every day. Of course, I haven’t seen her driving to work for so long. Maybe she doesn’t work in Salt Lake anymore and she just goes to the gym all day long.

If I were to talk to her, what would I say? I can just imagine how weird the conversation would be:

“So, you drive that green Dodge Neon out there?”

“Uh, yeah…”

“I used to see you every morning when I was driving to work. I drive a green Beetle. I thought that our cars clashed.”


“You didn’t start going to work earlier just so that our cars wouldn’t be seen on the road together, did you?”


I can just see her, standing in the locker room, wondering whether I was just some sort of idiot savant or if she should run away. She’d just look at me and squint, trying to determine if I looked like a strange stalker.

Yeah, I better never talk to that girl in the locker room or otherwise. I have a hard enough time trying to describe in print why I feel like she is my comrade merely because she drives on the same road as I do every day. Trying to explain it in person is just weird.


Handful of Lentils

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I bought them for a meditation class. I was doing the five senses meditation and for the touch meditation, I brought a bowl of lentils. No one really wanted to stick their hands into a bag of lentils during the meditation, so I chose that one. I blame it all on Amelie. After seeing her derive such pleasure from dipping her hands into sacks of beans, I had to follow suit.

Monday night, I brought down the big black glass bowl that my grandmother had given me so long ago. I have a box of antique hobnail and carnival glass that was packed perfectly during our last move, but this bowl didn’t fit in that box. It ended up being brought by hand from West Jordan to Sugarhouse. It was one of the first items to be placed on the mantel.

It was empty when we moved, but after the meditation class, I added the lentils. I thought that I would want to meditate with them all the time because I had such a good experience in the class. When I brought the bowl down from the mantel on Monday, the bowl and lentils were dusty with neglect.

Once again, I felt their slick skins slide past my fingers, yet somehow support them. I rested my hands into the cold lentils. I grabbed handfuls of them. I felt them individually. Each small saucer was slippery and cool. My fifteen minute meditation slid as easily as the legumes around my fingers.

Welcome back, Lar. I haven’t truly meditated for so long. I felt such a relief to get back into the groove of things. This meditation class started as something nice to do for a friend, but it has truly helped me relax and enjoy life. Who else can say that they have truly enjoyed the feeling of lentils between their fingers? Ok, Amelie can, but who else?



Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

“What else do we need?”

“I need some black socks, an apple corer and a dust pan just in case I drop another glass.”

“And have to write a blog about it.”

We were making the shopping list. My black socks are so close to getting holes in them that I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t survive the next washing. I took my apple corer to work so that I could have cooked apples with cinnamon at lunch. It’s going to stay at work, so we need a new corer for home. And of course, we need a dust pan just in case I drop another glass.

“So, I guess you’re still reading my blog. What did you think of it?”

“It had a little bit of that ?I ate a cheese sandwich’ feel to it.”

“I was trying to talk about how surprised I was that the glass didn’t bounce. I truly thought that it was going bounce, instead, it shattered.”

I’m smarting. He didn’t like my Broken Glass entry. Of course, I realize that I can’t be a genius writer every day, but I’m working at it. If I write every day, my writing will get better. There will days that I write about breaking a glass, but there will be other days when my writing is genius.

Consistency is the goal. If I write every day, I will get better. Slaving over every word and editing my work to death is not the correct path. If I produce a large quantity of work, I will have that many more chances at genius. Mark my words. Someday I will write an entry that will bring you to tears or make you laugh until you pee your pants just a little bit. Someday I will write an entry about a broken glass that will be genius. Until then, keep reading.


Gifted and Talented (Part 1)

Filed under: Gifted and Talented,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I’ve wanted to write about his for a long time. I’ve tried to write about it in book form several times, but each attempt has been abandoned. I realized that the reason I’ve had trouble telling this story in the past is because it is a story that needs time. It was a year of my life and what happened there can’t be retold in a book. I’ve come to the conclusion that the serial format of a weblog is the perfect method for telling this story. This is a rather long story, so I’ll be taking some time to tell you it.

Gifted and Talented is the name of the school program for the smart kids. I had been in Gifted and Talented programs in Junior High, so when I was “invited” into the GT program at Kearns High, I was happy.  My best friend, Suzanne Clark, wouldn’t sign up with me. She hadn’t been invited, but we could work around that. She had other plans, though. “That’s the only period that French 5-6 is taught.” It was so easy for her to make the cut. French is more important than advanced learning.

My schedule said that the teacher was Mr. Johnson. I imagined an amalgam of all my Gifted and Talented teachers. I imagined Mr. Godfrey’s enthusiasm and lack of regard for authority. I imagined Mr. Bradley’s mathematical genius and interesting methods for remembering formulas and concepts. I imagined that Mr. Johnson would be an exciting and rambunctious combination of all my GT teachers.

I didn’t know who had signed up for the class. None of the people that I was super friends with was signing up, so for all I knew, it would all be kids from Kearns Junior High and I would be the only one from Kennedy Junior High. I truly didn’t know what to expect when I found Mr. Johnson’s classroom.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I hoped for something completely unattainable. There was a television show called The Head of the Class. The students were little geniuses and the teacher was totally cool, just like Mr. Godfrey without the curly red hair. This wasn’t the first time that television lied to me. Not only was GT not like The Head of the Class, it could have turned into the polar opposite.

I walked into class that first day and I found old faces and two new faces:

Steve Bryson: the long-haired blonde rocker with dark brown eyebrows who drove a beat up gold bronze Porsche (yeah, a Porsche at Kearns High!). He was from Kearns Kennedy Junior High: New face to me, though.

Tiffany Horsely: the tall, brown-haired rocker chick. I knew her from Kennedy Junior High and she had been dating Matt Mondragon since seventh grade.

Matt Strebe: the tall geek. I knew his face from Kennedy Junior High, but I didn’t really know anything about him.

Dylan: my old friend from Academy Park. By then I had so many stories to tell you about Dylan that it would take several blog entries to catch you up. Let’s just say he was a brother in arms.

Penny Egbert: the tall, blonde bombshell from Kennedy. Her Levi 501 jeans were painted on. She was an expert swimmer, ran for office every year and was so smart. Beautiful, fit and brainy, she was everything I wanted to be.

Mike Moncur: the curly haired geek. I had gone to Academy Park with him, too, but I didn’t have as many stories about him. I remember him being shy and smart, that’s it.

Dawni Angel Burton: She was a new face. Her hair was cut in “steps” and was both blonde and auburn (shocking!). She was obviously a “Waver.” We had one Waver at Kennedy Junior High, but she ended up going to Cyprus High School instead of Kearns.

The year was 1984. New Wave was young in Utah. George Orwell was supremely wrong, but hey, there’s still time. None of that was in my mind. All I could look at were her shoes. It was bugging me. That new girl, Dawni, didn’t have any shoelaces in her tennis shoes. I discretely tried to tell her that the “No Shoelaces” trend was long gone and she said, “I wore my tennis shoes without shoelaces before it was popular, I can wear them after it’s not.”

Update 01-23-07: Steve Bryson just dropped me a line and corrected some of my memories! God, it’s good to hear from an old friend!


Gifted and Talented (Part 2)

Filed under: Gifted and Talented,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Part 1 is here.

The lineup changed pretty quickly. We lost Tiffany Horsely, Steve Bryson and Penny Egbert before the first term ended. To this day, I am friends with Penny. I have never asked her if she regretted leaving GT. I have always assumed that she never regrets anything she ever does, but that could be wrong. Sometime, I should ask her.

Before losing Tiffany, Steve and Penny, Chuck Perkins joined the class. Matt Strebe was adamant about getting him to GT with us. It was like he knew that we weren’t complete until Chuck joined us. Chuck had attended Kennedy Junior High, but he moved to Idaho. He came back to West Valley for sophomore year at Kearns High and just in time to sign up for our class. Chuck was the kind of guy who never answered the phone. If you called his house, one of his younger siblings would answer the phone.


“Hi, is Chuck there?”


“Is Chuck there?”

“Yes.” Dead silence for twenty seconds.

“Could you go get him for me?”

“Ummm? yeah?”

The child wasn’t trying to be funny, he was only three years old and barely understood English. This is the reason children should not be allowed to answer the telephone. It’s not cute, it’s frustrating for the people on the other line. More importantly, it gives you a picture of what life was like at the Perkins Home: too many unsupervised children.

After all the shuffling and class changing, our core group included Matt, Chuck, Dylan, Mike, Dawni and me. I knew the guys from grade school or junior high and this new girl seemed ok with me. She knew what she liked and she was the type of girl to define her own sense of cool. Me, I got my cool straight out of the pages of Seventeen magazine, never straying from its edicts.


Gifted and Talented (Part 3)

Filed under: Gifted and Talented,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Part 1Part 2

Mr. Johnson was nothing like Mr. Bradley, my GT and Algebra teacher at Kennedy Junior High. We loved Mr. Bradley. He was in charge of the computer lab. He taught GT Math, which turned out to be computer programming. He was also the advisor for the Computer Club, which met on Wednesday after school each week.

On Atari 400 and 800 computers, Mr. Bradley taught us BASIC programming. We made the computers compute the date of Easter when given a year. We made the computers flash colors on the screen. We made the computers say the phrase, “Hello World!” over and over, filling the screen.

Mr. Bradley helped us remember the rules of Algebra with mispronunciations of phrases. “Plusk or Minusk” is the only phrase of his that I still remember, but there were many little phrases to help us remember the rules of Algebra. He was creative and entertaining in what could be considered an incredibly boring class.

Mr. Johnson was nothing like Mr. Bradley.

Mr. Johnson was nothing like Mr. Godfrey, my beloved English GT teacher at Kennedy Junior High. We loved Mr. Godfrey. He was the trickster and the sage. He was Pan and Zeus. He was The Green Man and The Shaman. The image of his curly red hair and signature cane are burned into my memory with the fires of love and respect.

I’ve told you about Mr. Godfrey before, but I’ve yet to tell my favorite Mr. Godfrey story. In conservative Utah, any teacher who even suggests that there might not be a God is considered a radical. Looking at his actions now, Mr. Godfrey wasn’t all that radical, but to us, he was the epitome of thumbing one’s nose at authority. I had lost religion in seventh grade, so by the time I was in Godfrey’s class, I was eager to hear what this guy had to say. The rumors had been so great.

Matt Strebe, the tall geek, had an Evil Stepfather named Bud. Despite his Evil status, Bud considered himself a religious man. When he heard what Mr. Godfrey had been teaching to his stepson, Bud decided to come in and give Mr. Godfrey a piece of his mind. Instead of calmly talking to the teacher during Parent-Teacher Conferences, Bud had a much more Evil plot in mind. Much to Matt’s embarrassment, Bud came barging into Mr. Godfrey’s classroom during Matt’s class.

“I have a bone to pick with you!” Bud bellowed out to Mr. Godfrey. At that moment, the cover for the fluorescent lighting above Bud’s head fell from the ceiling. It crashed right in front of Bud, shattering into a million pieces. For the first time in Matt’s life, Bud was silenced. Mr. Godfrey calmly looked up from his book and said, “Let that be a lesson to you.” Bud left without picking any bones.

Mr. Johnson was nothing like Mr. Godfrey.

Part 4

The Pale Blonde Confessor

Filed under: General,The Confessional — Laura Moncur @ 2:17 pm

I saw her sitting on a chair in the locker room after my workout. She looked incredibly sad and held her head low. In her right hand, she had a cell phone. Her pale face just looked at the phone in her hand. My instinct was to ask her how she was doing, but everyone keeps insisting that I start these confessions, so I kept my mouth shut and started changing clothes.

I automatically assumed that she was love sick. She looked like he had just broken up with her and left her hanging by her little blue phone in her hand. She sighed heavily and I still resisted the urge to ask her what was the matter. No matter how silent I am sometimes, the confession still comes to me. Her cell phone rang.


“Hi. I’m at the gym. I’m feeling really sick. I always try to eat before I work out, because if I don’t, I’ll get sick. I didn’t eat this morning.”

“I’m just feeling really nauseous and dizzy.”

There went my love sick theory out the window. She was so young that it never occurred to me that she could actually be sick and trying not to puke. I felt like a heel for not asking her how she was doing and giving her some sympathy.

“I was going to go tanning, but I think I’ll just go home.”   “I don’t know. I’m not feeling very well and I look like…”

The voice on the other end of the line talked for awhile and she listened with her head nearly between her knees. I tried to change quickly so that she wouldn’t notice that I was eavesdropping on her conversation.

“I guess we could go to lunch if you want.”   “Well, you just can’t have a day without seeing me, can you?”

There went the love sick theory, again. Not only was she not jilted, she was pursued and desired by the voice on the other line.

“Well, I just came from the gym, so I’m not pretty, but I’ll see you.”

By the time she hung up, I was at the makeup mirror. She was still sitting on the chair, hunched over and sighing. Her long blonde hair was tied haphazardly in a blonde knot of frizz and strands, but she was very wrong. She was perfectly pretty and I wanted to trade her lunch date for my engineers waiting for me to type their letters.


Gifted and Talented (Part 4)

Filed under: Gifted and Talented,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Part 1 ? Part 2 ? Part 3

If Mr. Johnson was nothing like any GT teacher we had had in the past, that didn’t mean he was incompetent. He was just immensely different. Instead of energetic and dynamic, he was calm and patient. Instead of rejecting the local religious atmosphere, he just kept quiet about it. So quiet that none of us knew what beliefs he had, if any. His effeminate nature sent rumors flying about his sexuality, but I couldn’t tell you with certainty which way he swung. Quiet, calm and patient.

Behind his back, the students called him Tommy Teacher. His first name was Lauren, so I have no idea where the origin of this nickname came from. There was a rumor that Mr. Johnson failed a student for calling him Tommy to his face. I don’t think that was true. The student was probably failing in the first place. Not believing the rumor didn’t stop me from calling him Tommy behind his back, though.

The shock of Mr. Johnson’s quiet and patient manner after having such dynamic teachers in the past made me come to the conclusion that he was bored. We had been told that Mr. Johnson gave up his preparation period to teach our class and that he had been teaching GT forever.

Maybe he was tired. I remember being told that teachers were so underpaid that they needed to work several jobs just to make ends meet. Maybe Mr. Johnson had a night job. I remember a rumor of a restaurant that was owned by his “roommate,” but I never put my trust in rumors. I didn’t believe that he was up all night cooking for his boyfriend, but, in retrospect, I’m perfectly willing to believe that he might have been tired.

We were left unsupervised many times, but there was always a teacher’s assistant in the room. The TA for our class had taken GT when he was a sophomore.  Now, he was a senior, taking Honor’s English from Mr. Johnson and preparing for the AP Test. Not even that guy called him Tommy to his face.


Gifted and Talented (Part 5)

Filed under: Gifted and Talented,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Part 1 ? Part 2 ? Part 3 ? Part 4

I think I can safely blame the loss of Tiffany, Steve and Penny on The Blue Books. They were wire bound workbooks that felt as old as the school. I feel unable to write. I have such loathing for these books that I am blind and mute. I feel helpless to describe them properly.

The reason that they are hard for me to describe is because their description is irrelevant. It wasn’t their color or cheap binding that made them despicable to me. It was the insult. The assumption that we needed the Blue Books was a blow to my intellect. Inside the blue cover and held together by the wire binding was a manual. The lessons taught note-taking techniques, studying techniques and other valuable methods for becoming an ideal student. These lessons weren’t taught on a college level, they were taught on a junior high level. The Blue Books had been written for remedial high school students.

Instead of being The Head of the Class, we were being treated like the back of class. Instead of being the cream of the crop, we were being treated like the dregs of the barrel. It has been almost twenty years and I’m still angry about this. I’m having trouble describing the incredible blow to my self image that the Blue Books made.

My paranoia jumped in immediately. It all made sense to me after the Blue Books. Here was a group of kids who performed extraordinarily well on the SATs, yet their grades were lagging. Sure, they were getting pretty good grades, but they weren’t getting straight A’s, like their tests show that they were capable of. I suddenly knew why Suzanne Clark hadn’t been invited. Her grades were immaculate. There was no reason for her in that class. I can just see the men making the decisions asking themselves, “What do we do with them?” Instead of assuming that we were doing poorly because we were bored, they decided that we must be doing poorly because we didn’t have good study skills.

We hated those Blue Books. We fantasized about burning them. I worried that I would have to pay to replace them, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming of them going up in flames. Every time Mr. Johnson’s patient and calm voice would tell us to turn to the Blue Books, we would groan.

Quite frankly, they weren’t very good. For example, one of the note taking techniques involved folding a letter size piece of paper into four. Each of the four blocks would represent a concept and every time the teacher said anything about any of the concepts, we were supposed to write the item in its appropriate box. This note taking technique requires that the teacher tell the students ahead of time the various concepts that will be covered during the lecture. In all of high school and college, I’ve never met a teacher who lectured in this manner.

To this day, I hate those Blue Books. They represent every time any person underestimated me. They make me feel violent. If I could kick the people who decided on this curriculum in the balls, I would. How dare you think that I don’t have the skills when you morons have been boring me for years?!

03/13/04 Part 6



Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

For the last three nights, I’ve had nightmares: lots of different dreams invading my sleep time. On Monday night, I dreamt that Mike had a really bad stroke, just like Kristen, only worse. We were out of town and stuck in a city with poor medical facilities. The doctors weren’t allowing me to see him or be in the room with him. By the time they finally said that I could see him, they started bringing me to his room. While walking with the medical people, they described what I would need to do every day to keep him alive. They were talking about cleaning out his food tube and changing his IV bags. I woke up when I realized that this was a really bad stroke and he just wasn’t going to come back to me.

On Tuesday night, Mike and I took an hour and made some fresh baked breakfast cookies before I was able to go back to sleep. I dreamt that my sister Stacey had been in a horrible industrial accident. All of her blood vessels, capillaries, arteries and veins were pulled out of her body in groups like networking cables. They were wrapped around her limbs so she wouldn’t bleed to death. She didn’t like them covering her arms and legs, so she kept unwrapping them. I was worried that she would bleed all over the carpets in my mother’s house in West Valley, but she was my sister, so I was going to let her do whatever she wanted. I woke up when I realized that she was probably going to die from her injuries.

Wednesday night, some obscure comment made by Mike was mangled in my sleep deprived mind. I woke up accusing him of cursing me with a nightmare. I had dreamt that a man was trying to kill me. He tried to shoot at us while we drove the Beetle. Somehow, we got away from him, but we couldn’t go home. He would find us there. We hid in an apartment that I used to live in, but it was pretty empty now. Just a bed to sleep in while we were hiding. The man made his way into the apartment, so I hid in the closet under the dirty clothes and sheets, but he found me. I woke up when I realized that he was going to kill me instead of letting me go.

I’m obviously scared of losing something. Each time, I thought it was going to be fine, but then I came to the final realization that things weren’t fine and everything was lost. I just want the nightmares to go away so I can get a good night’s sleep.


How To Quit Soda

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I quit drinking soda cold turkey on January 26th. It has almost been two months since I started and I thought I would give you folks some pointers on how to become carbonation and caffeine free.

Firstly, decide why you’re doing this. Do you want to get off caffeine? Is it the carbonation? Is it just the sugar? If it’s just the caffeine, then there are tons of alternatives. The same is true for people who want to limit the carbonation or cut their sugar intake. Whatever your reasons for restricting these items are up to you, but it helps to know what your goals are.

Secondly, choose substitutes. If caffeine is the item you want to limit, you can choose other sodas such as Sprite and Root Beer. If sugar is the problem, you can choose from a wide variety of diet sodas. If carbonation is what you’re trying to avoid, there are tons of flavored waters and juices to choose from. When I was quitting, I was avoiding all of the above and I wanted to limit my intake of artificial sweeteners, so I just stuck with water and herbal tea.

The next step is preparation. If you are going off caffeine, you’re going to have caffeine withdrawals and you won’t have much to turn to. I had headaches for four days in a row and no pain reliever that I took relieved any pain. What you are going to need is time. Expect to be a little under the weather for a week. Treat it like a flu or a cold. When you are tired, sleep. Give yourself permission to sleep twelve hours if you need it. You’ve been hopped up on sugar and caffeine for so long that your body is going to need to remember what it’s like to be awake naturally.

One thing that helped me was a rice bed buddy. I bought this one at a craft mall, but you can make one yourself. I’ve also seen them sold at Walgreen’s drug stores made into various shapes like booties, eye masks and shoulder covers. Mine is a simple piece of fabric sewn into a rectangle. Inside it is dry rice: simple. I just put it into the microwave for two minutes, wrap a towel around it (it will be very hot when it comes out) and lie down with it over my face. It smells a little like rice and it’s warm on my aching head and temples. It helped me go to sleep when I had the caffeine withdrawal headaches.

The next step is to listen to your cravings. I found myself craving pop when I was thirsty. I didn’t realize I was thirsty, I just thought that I wanted a Diet Coke. I drank about a gallon of water a day the first week. I don’t know if I had been dehydrated and my body was catching up on the water it needed or if I just used the water as a crutch to get past that first week. Either way, listen to your body.

Finally, remember that this too will pass. Some have reported caffeine withdrawals for weeks, others are able to get past the worst of it in a few days. No matter how long it takes for you, remember, there is an end to it. There must be some reason you decided to go off pop in the first place, concentrate on those benefits and know that the negative effects will wear off. Be patient with yourself.

How to Quit Soda Quicklist
1. Decide why you are doing this.
2. Find appropriate substitutes.
3. Be prepared by giving yourself extra time for sleep.
4. Stock up on remedies and substitutes.
5. Listen to your cravings.
6. Be patient with yourself.

Remember, this advice is never more useful than the advice of your doctor. Please contact your doctor if you plan on doing anything drastic with yourself. I haven’t noticed any drastic effects of being off caffeine, carbonation and artificial sweeteners except that water is far less expensive than Diet Coke. Good Luck!


Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 2:31 pm

Just show up at the page and start typing. That’s what they tell me. All I need to do is show up here every day and I will think of things to write. I have tons of things to write about, but I’m not really feeling in the mood to write. In fact, I wrote a whole blog entry for Sunday about not wanting to write.

I look at my Buddha. He’s so happy. He tells me to rest. I don’t need to write two entries today. One is enough. I can write something tomorrow or even on Monday.  No pressure. One entry a day. That’s it. I’ve done my one entry. Rest, he says.


Gifted and Talented (Part 6)

Filed under: Gifted and Talented,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Part 1 ? Part 2 ? Part 3 ? Part 4 ? Part 5

I sometimes wonder why my mom didn’t take me out of that class. I remember telling her about the Blue Books. I told her that they were for remedial high school kids and she told me that maybe I needed to learn some study skills to get my grades a little higher. I had a 3.75 GPA, but I don’t know if she even would have been happy with a 4.0 GPA. It was ok for other kids to slide by with a 3.75, but I tested so well that I should be getting a 4.0. The implication was clear: maybe you need it.

So I suffered through the Blue Books. I remember the day that Mr. Johnson acquiesced and told us that we wouldn’t have to work with them any more. We all cheered. He had told us that we were going to work with them until we got to a specific chapter and we were still two chapters short of that arbitrary line. Class got a lot more interesting and fun after he abandoned those damn Blue Books.

I remember once he brought in a recruiter from ITT technical college. I immediately discounted anything the guy said. He was from a technical college, not a real college. Technical colleges are for guys who want to fix cars or solder chips into boards. Technical colleges weren’t for me and they certainly weren’t for Gifted and Talented students, no matter what Mr. Johnson thought about us. He might have thought that our brightest future was graduating from ITT, but I knew he was wrong. He was just boring me again and I read a book instead of listening to the salesman.

If I had been listening, I would have heard the guys yanking the recruiter’s chain. Matt, Mike, Chuck and Dylan were talking intently to him about the classes offered. They spent a lot of time rambling about drafting and electrical training. They asked him informed questions about the transferability of the credits. I think I started listening when the tone of voice of the recruiter changed. I don’t remember the words that he said, but I could tell that he was panicked and lying.

By the time the recruiter left, the boys had gotten him to admit that the credits rarely, if ever, transferred to “real” colleges. He also admitted that the hiring rates weren’t tracked by an independent company. The hiring rates were counted even when people found their own jobs. The hiring rates were counted even when people found jobs that had nothing to do with what they studied. The hiring rates were counted even when people found a job a year after “graduation.” The recruiter left in a nervous and jumbled huff a half hour before he was supposed to. Mr. Johnson had left us unattended, so we were left alone with the TA. “What should we do?” we asked him. “Whatever you want, I guess.” That was fine with us.  Dylan (Part 1)


Stall Tactics

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I didn’t feel like typing my blog entry. I decided that I wanted to write by hand. I think it was just as stall tactic so that I wouldn’t have to think about writing. All I would be responsible for was figuring out how to print up some good paper. It allowed me to fight with the printer for a good half hour before I actually sat down to write.

It’s not like I have nothing to write about. I have a couple of subjects written in my Moleskine that I could ramble about. I have more episodes of the past from the Gifted and Talented department. I have plenty to write about.

It’s not like I don’t want to write. I am here, with nothing to do, putting pen to paper. I do want to write. I am writing. It surrounds and fills me. There is so much writing shining through my skin that it is almost like an infectious disease. I’ve noticed that it makes others around me want to write also. I am writing.

I find myself arranging the supplies under my desk. I find myself suddenly fascinated with my fingernails and the telephone conversation in the office next to me. I find myself anywhere but here, writing. My fingers still move. The words appear on paper. I’m just elsewhere.

I received email. The tone pulled me away from my paper. An old friend is living a life that would have me running away and hiding in Montana. I am tempted to email her back with advice. I am tempted to email her back with an update about my life. The best update I could give her is: read my blog, but what is there to read today?

Another old friend arrived in town the other day. Matt Strebe, one of the Gifted and Talented crew, is bringing his family back to Salt Lake for a visit. He called, wanting to meet up with Mike and me. We will see him after Wednesday, but I know that my old friend is here in town.

Some days it is easy. I have things that I desperately need to tell you. Other days, I have some things to tell you, but I find myself holding them close to my chest. Instead of letting the stories flow. I arrange the items under my desk and eavesdrop on irrelevant conversations. The stories will come when they are ready and not a second before.


The First Inkling of Spring

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 11:20 am

The sky is a lovely light blue that tells me that Spring is coming. It has been warm, but there are still piles of snow in the shady spots that haven’t melted. They are dark and gray with dirt. They seem to tell me that I shouldn’t get used to this lovely weather. The snow can come back, so watch out.

If there comes a little thaw, Still the air is chill and raw, Here and there a patch of snow, Dirtier than the ground below, Dribbles down a marshy flood; Ankle-deep you stick in mud In the meadows while you sing, “This is Spring.”  – Christopher Pearce Cranch, A Spring Growl

I worked at K-Mart for seven years during high school and college. Every year at this time, there is the Spring activity. The Garden Center, which had been used for storage of Christmas trees or surplus toilet paper over the winter, needs to be cleaned out and prepared for the season. The “Now Hiring” sign wouldn’t go up, but they would be looking. Every once and a while a go-getter kid from the nearby high school would ask for an application anyway and he’d get the job that wasn’t advertised: Garden Center Employee.

A little Madness in the Spring Is wholesome even for the King.  – Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886), No. 1333

If we have two more weeks of this weather, there will be a Garden Center rush. Then K-Mart will pull the employees from the checkouts to work the Garden Center. People will come out of the store with huge carts full of peat moss, bark and flats of flowers. When I worked there, we would warn them, “Don’t plant these flowers until after Memorial Day. We could still have a cold snap.” People were so excited about Spring that the warning went unheeded. They couldn’t wait to get their hands in the dirt.

Weird, isn’t it? Somehow in the dead of winter when its 40 below, so cold your words just freeze in the air, you think you’ll never hear a robin’s song again or see a blossom on a cherry tree, when one day you wake up and bingo, light coming through the mini blinds is softened with a tick of rose and the cold morning air has lost its bite. It’s spring once again, the streets are paved with mud and the hills are alive with the sound of mosquitos.  – Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Mud and Blood, 1993

Maybe it’s because our winters are so long and cold. We get so much snow and the little vegetation that we have looks so dead and miserable that people are dying to see green. All they want is to have that lovely color and growth around them, even if they know that the eminent final snow of the season will kill the delicate flowers.

We shall find peace. We shall hear the angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.  – Anton Chekhov (1860 – 1904), 1897

Remembering the years at K-Mart in the Garden Center makes me realize that part of the excitement of Spring is the hope that I will be able to work outside. Even though I work at an engineering firm now, I still have that vague hope. Maybe they will be short on surveyors and they’ll send me out to hold the reflector. Maybe they will send me on an errand to a client to deliver plans. Maybe they will just send me home because it’s so slow. That hope still springs alive in me, even though I know that I’ll be typing their letters and specifications. At least I’m near a window and can enjoy the blue skies.



Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 4:28 pm

Buddha and St. Jude have been jostled at my desk so that they appear to be conversing with each other. They are standing so close to each other. Jude is taller and would need to bend down to whisper, but he continues to look straight ahead as if they don’t want anyone to notice that they are talking. They must be talking about me.

Buddha’s thick accent tries to reason with St. Jude. “She’s busy. It’s ok for her to neglect her writing a little bit. Calm down. By the way, you have a little funny thing right on the top of your head. It looks like a little red clown hat.”

St. Jude is aghast, “That’s the flame of the Holy Spirit!” He takes a deep breath and realizes that Buddha is just trying to distract him, “You just shush. We both know that she didn’t write anything at home last night either.”

“Sometimes she needs to write. Sometimes she needs to rest. You,” Buddha pauses for effect, “need to calm down.”

Gossiping little bastards.


Gallery Stroll

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 11:15 am

Hey guys,

Let’s go to the Gallery Stroll on Friday night. We could eat after we walk through all the galleries.

Check out the website: http://ourcommunityconnection.com/gallerystrollmap.html

What do you guys think?


Stacey: I have done this before Dan and I were married, it is very fun.  I’m for it.   Dan: I was looking at the page and I noticed one of the items on exhibit was a crumpled up bag of Doritos.  If we can all agree to recreate the beating scenes from SLC Punk if we see this artist, then I’m in.   Stacey: I’m desperately trying to figure out what Chandler would say to that, but my 10 seconds of being funny is gone, so: sounds good.   Laura: Calm down, people. There will be no beatings. If you look at it closely, it’s a painting of a crumpled up bag of Doritos. Isn’t that better.

Stacey: I’m beginning to feel your former paint store attitude come on.  I think a couple of these people probably need a good beating. Everyone does now and then.   Dan: Hey, cool painting.  So, can we at least fight over where we eat?   Stacey: Laura, you guys keep talking about the Oasis place, does everyone want to try that?

Laura: That’s cool with me. What about you, Stacey and Mike? Can you guys imagine this? Mike’s going to come back to the hotel, boot up the laptop and find five hundred messages from us planning the weekend. I’m laughing just thinking about it. :)

Stacey: This is Stacey, and I was the one suggesting Oasis, so how about it Dan and Mike?

Let’s hope that fun will be had by all, even the artist that painted the painting of a crumpled up bad of Doritos. Don’t worry folks, I’ll make sure they only hit him on the fleshy spots.


New Music Binge Test

Filed under: Music,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I’ve found that I need to listen to an album at least ten times to decide whether I like it or not. If I like it after ten repeats, then I really do like it. If I start skipping past a couple songs to get to the “best songs,” then I don’t really like it. There are few albums that are good listens all the way through. It seems like every album has at least one stinker on it.

Scritti Politti’s album Cupid and Psyche ’85 was the first time that I ever encountered an album that could be listened to nonstop for days at a time without wanting to kill someone. Just mentioning the title of the album and seeing its cover makes me want to go on a Scritti Politti binge. Maybe I’ll throw in Provision for good measure and just take a music bath in their androgynous splendor.

The reason I’m thinking about truly good albums is that I’m test driving one right now. I just got Tasty by Kelis. That’s the album with that Milkshake song on it that has been burning your ears off for the last month or so. There was something about the video that seemed so funny to me that it made me want to give the album a try. I’m only on the second spin, so I can’t tell you if it’s a truly great album, or just an enjoyable interlude.

I’ve listened to Heavier Things by John Mayer over twenty times and I can most assuredly tell you that it’s a definite binge album. I wasn’t expecting it to be. I can’t listen to Room for Squares all the way through. I seriously only listen to the first four songs and then start the CD over again. No Such Thing and Your Body Is A Wonderland are the two cuts from that album that I just love and I just put up with the two songs stuck between them. Heavier Things, however, is totally different. It has several mood swings and it just makes me happy all over. I especially like Bigger Than My Body and Something’s Missing. I’ve been bingeing for about two weeks.

Britney Spear’s new album In The Zone is one of those enjoyable interludes. I really like Toxic and (I Got That) Boom Boom. I love the part of Boom Boom where she says, “This is for all those Southern boys out there” and then a righteous banjo sample takes over the song for a couple of seconds. It rocks. I kind of wish the Ying Yang Twins would shut up and let the song alone. I didn’t really care for Me Against The Music. I like Britney by herself and I like Madonna by herself. I guess the song wasn’t quite right. The album is definitely not binge-worthy.

I must admit that I just really like the Now That’s What I Call Music series. I have Now 14 in my CD changer right now and I just really like the mix. I guess it’s the cheapskate in me that is so attracted to them. I am NOT shelling out fourteen bucks for Murphy Lee, but I’m happy as a clam to listen to Wat Da Hook Gon Be. I just noticed they have #15 at Amazon. That’s what I get for shopping for CDs at stores. Man, I could have saved myself the grief and got Now 15 instead of buying that Britney album. Of course, then I would have missed Boom Boom. Man, I gotta get me that one.

I’m not finished test driving Kelis yet. I’ll run right out and get Now 15 as soon as I’ve decided whether her album is binge-worthy.


Gallery Stroll Review

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 12:56 pm

Yesterday, Stacey, Dan, Mike and I went on the Gallery Stroll. I had never done this before and I imagined the streets filled with people going from gallery to gallery. I imagined a party atmosphere and lots of pretense. I imagined that there would be so much to see and so many people to enjoy that I would be sick of art by the time it was finished.

If we had kept our stroll to the Pierpont Avenue area by the Rio Grande Station, I would have gotten everything that I imagined. Instead, we parked at Crossroads Mall and started on the outskirts of the “Art District” and worked our way in. The first few galleries that we went to were completely empty or even closed. I got the impression that we were the only ones that knew about this event.

By the time we got to the Art District, I was tired and disappointed. By then, the party atmosphere was just annoying and the streets filled with people going from gallery to gallery felt claustrophobic. There was so much pretense that I wanted to just hold some of those people down and tickle them until they peed their pants. I was pretty much sick of all the ART and didn’t see nearly enough art.

Given that review, you might think that I didn’t enjoy myself, but that’s not the case. No matter what the 2X2 Matrix does, I always have fun. All of the pretense was logged in my mind with a grain of salt because I knew that it would make for good conversation fodder at dinner. The long walk was a lot more enjoyable than the same distance spanned at the gym because I was with good friends.

The best parts of the evening were the surprises that had nothing to do with the Gallery Stroll. There was a furniture shop that was in the Art District that had some art, but I enjoyed looking at the used furniture. They had reasonable prices for furniture that was in excellent condition. They had the world’s most perfect orange chair with its original footstool. We have no room for it, but it was perfect and I wished for a corner to put it in.

Across the street from the busiest galleries was HiJinks, which is a store that sells yo-yos and kites. Mike bought a thirty-dollar yo-yo and spun tricks all the way to the restaurant. We ended up eating at The Blue Iguana, by the way, marking our first time eating Mexican Food together. Stacey and Dan don’t care for Mexican food, so this was a momentous event. We had a mole sampler plate and we all chose our favorite mole (Poblano for me). They have the only mole in Salt Lake City, so if you’re in town, make sure you try them.

All in all, the Gallery Stroll was a good excuse to get together. We had fun. We saw lots of paintings. We ate some good food. We drank some free wine and enjoyed strong margaritas. We walked at least three miles. We shared at least a hundred laughs.


Gandolfo’s Deli

Filed under: People Watching — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The server at the deli near our house does funny things with his lips when he’s concentrating. They are very thin lips that don’t lend to puckering very well, yet he puckers them up over and over when he isn’t watching himself. He puckered his lips up at least ten times while he filled Mike’s side dish cup with pasta salad.

He is very tan and has thinning hair on the top. His hairline isn’t receding; it’s just that his hair is so thin that I can see his tanned head through the gelled hair. I wondered to myself whether he had hair plugs and what he thought about Rogaine. He is about my height, which makes him short, for a man. He looks physically fit and he was wearing one of those “man necklaces” that are so popular right now.

He flirted with the girl in line before us. Her name was Rachel, but he didn’t call her name from the counter when her sandwich was ready. He brought it right to her. She was shorter than I am and had dirty blonde hair. She smiled back at him when she handed back the pen with a spoon taped to it.

While Mike and I argued the benefits and disadvantages of Gandolfo’s compared to Subway and Quizno’s, he emptied the garbage cans. Both the cans were only half full and not in need of changing, so I could only think that he was doing it in an attempt to attract Rachel’s attention. He hoisted the bags of garbage over his shoulder, displaying his arms, but she didn’t notice. She was busy talking to her friend at the table and had placed her chair so she could watch the register instead of the garbage cans, but he wasn’t at the register anymore.

For a split second, I imagined that the smelly and rancid liquid in the bottom of those garbage bags escaped from those bags, drenching him in its garbage goodness. I imagined the embarrassment and humiliation that he would feel when Rachel finally did notice him drenched in the melted ice and fetid pop. I said a private thank you to the company that designed their trash bags that he didn’t have to live in that humiliation. She didn’t notice his strong arms carrying the garbage out, but she also wouldn’t have seen his pop drenched cargo pants.

Mike and I left before Rachel and her friend were finished talking. The two girls were lingering over their drinks. I am imagining to myself that there was a lull in the traffic right after Mike and I left. The server walked over to Rachel and asked her for her phone number and if she would like to go out with him sometime. I am imagining that he didn’t wait one minute to ask her out after we left. How embarrassing could it be to ask her out and fail when he averted the spilled garbage bag disaster?



Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

She comes into the gym almost every day. Whenever I see her, I always try to ignore her. She’s there to work out, not to be stared at by people who think she might be someone they know. It took me weeks to even figure out who she was. I just knew that she was a newscaster for local news. I’ve been on a news-fast since before September 11th, so I only knew that she was some news lady.

It was only a quirk of fate that matched her face with her name. I had been on the elliptical trainer, with nothing to watch on television for a few moments because both of my channels were on commercials. I looked down on the weight area and I saw that familiar news lady. Boring, she’s always here. I looked up at my television and her face looked back at me with her name: Mary Nickles. Ok, she must work at KUTV on the Morning News. That’s cool. At least I know her name now.

A few days later, she was in the locker room and a geriatric customer walked in. She took one look at Mary’s height and said, “You’re on TV.” Mary nodded politely and I tried to ignore the interaction, expecting a fawning fan. Instead, the older lady said, “Can you tell me where the bathrooms are?” It was as if she expected Mary to know everything just because she was on television. Mary was so nice to her, “They’re right over here. This place is kind of like a maze, isn’t it?” I was surprised the woman didn’t ask her to help her in the handicapped stall.

Yesterday, it was just me and another girl in the locker room. I was at that awkward moment of the day: changing out of my jogging bra. Mary walked in while I struggled with my undergarments.  The girl said, “Wow, you’re pretty!” to Mary. The girl walked out while I tried to ignore them both. It seemed so strange to me to hear the girl give Mary such a pleasant and casual comment. Yes, Mary is amazingly pretty and much taller than I would have imagined, but I never think to compliment her. She’s famous, aren’t I supposed to just leave her alone?

I immediately wondered how often she hears a casual compliment like that. It made her seem like such a normal person to me and I felt guilty for ignoring her. I wonder which bugs her the most: the people who ignore her or the people who don’t. It’s probably the people who assume she knows everything because she’s on television. I should ask her someday.


Dick Nourse

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

In addition to Mary, Dick Nourse also goes to my gym. He’s usually exercising on the recumbent bikes at the noon hour. I usually exercise after 1 pm, so I hardly ever see him. I find myself ignoring him just like I’ve done with Mary. I think that he must be there to exercise and doesn’t want people bugging him.

Dick Nourse has been a newscaster in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Salt Lake since 1964. He has worked at KSL for longer than I’ve been alive and he’s a fixture on television. My most vivid memory of him happened when I was in the fourth grade. We had been warned about this very special assembly and all of the parents had been invited. Governor Scott Matheson was appearing at our school.

It was the only time I remember my dad coming to one of my school assemblies. He was so excited to meet Governor Matheson.  I remember sitting in the lotus position at the assembly. I have no idea what the principal said to introduce the two men at the front of multi-purpose room. I remember that the principal said we could line up to get autographs and talk to them.  I remember the crazy and hysterical dash of everyone to the front of the gym. Everyone except a precious few, were lined up in front of the other guy’s table. That other guy was Dick Nourse.

While my friends stood in the long line to get Dick Nourse’s autograph, my dad and I stood in the tiny line to talk to the Governor. My dad wanted to thank Governor Matheson for keeping the Red Eye Missiles out of Utah. My dad really thought that he was an exceptional man and he was so grateful that he was taking care of our state. My dad wasn’t alone. Governor Matheson was beloved. Our county courthouse was named after him and his sons are the rare Democrats to be elected in Utah.

All of that accolade, yet Dick Nourse was the rock star that day. When I heard the unfounded rumors that a certain newscaster was going to be the running mate of a presidential candidate, it didn’t surprise me. I believed it readily, even though it had already been proven false. I saw a vivid demonstration of the power of newscasters when I was nine years old. Dick Nourse could be our next governor if he only got off that recumbent bike.


Dancing Barefoot

Filed under: Books & Short Stories,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

On of the advantages of being an author for O’Reilly and Associates is that you can get books from them whenever you want. When I heard about Wil Wheaton’s book, Dancing Barefoot, I asked Mike to get me a copy of it. It arrived last Wednesday and I finished it over the weekend.

If you have read his weblog from the beginning, then you’ve read every story in the book, but there is something infinitely different about reading a book. A book is so intimate. You can curl up with it in bed. You can take it with you to the park. You can hide it in your car as a reward for later. Even a laptop and a PDA are not as convenient and friendly as a book.

Over half the book is a recounting of an experience at a Star Trek convention and was my favorite of all the stories. I guess I should have prefaced this entire entry with one caveat. I am a Star Trek fan. I’ve enjoyed almost every series and tolerated the others. I don’t speak the Klingon language. I don’t know anything about the ship schematics. I couldn’t even tell you the name of my favorite episodes, but I do consider myself a Trekkie. I’ve never been to a convention, though. Those people scare me.

Hearing Wil’s view of a Star Trek convention was touching and frightening. His encounters with the rabid Trekkers were exactly what I expected from a convention, but the loving side of the fans was surprising to me. So many of my friends were critical of Star Trek and almost every character that I was happy to know that there are fans that are polite. Wil’s epiphany at the end of that story was beautiful and touching.

I definitely recommend Dancing Barefoot, even if you have read his entire weblog since he started it. I recommend it even if you have never watched an episode of Star Trek. The stories are universal and there is something enjoyable for almost anyone. I am so pleased with Wil’s progress as a writer. I can’t wait for Just a Geek to come out.


I Want To Go Home

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

During my fourth grade year, my grandma and grandpa moved to Billings, Montana. I used to sleep over at her house quite often when they lived in Salt Lake, so my grandma would let me pick out a nightgown to wear out of her drawer. My favorite was a purple nightgown with hand embroidery on neckline. She gave it to me before she moved. I tried to give it back to her, saying that I would need it when I slept over at her house in Montana, but she said if I came to visit her, I would bring a lot of toys and clothes because I would be staying for a long time.

She was right. Stacey and I were sent up to her house in Billings for the entire summer every summer until we were old enough to get jobs. Grandma kept us busy with swimming, tennis, dance, tumbling and baton classes. One year, we took piano lessons too. Summer was filled with activity. I don’t know any other person who was allowed to go swimming almost every day. We were very lucky.

It was scary to leave my parents all summer. I used to be homesick. There would always be a period of adjustment when I accidentally would call for my grandma by saying, “Mom.” There was always a period of adjustment when I came home to Salt Lake, too. I wonder if it ever hurt my mom’s feelings when I would accidentally call her grandma.

When I was trapped in Montana on those long summers, the one pervasive thought in my mind was, “I want to go home.” It was worst during the teen years when I wanted to be out with my friends or meeting boys. Instead, I was still taking baton and tennis lessons just like I had done my whole childhood. Didn’t they know that I was a teenager? I needed something different.

Lately, I find my inner voice saying the phrase, “I want to go home.” I can track the feelings. I’m not happy here. If I just went somewhere else, I would be happy. I know the logic is flawed, but that doesn’t stop the voice inside me from saying that phrase when I’m feeling particularly down. If only I knew where home was, I could run away to it.


Car Trouble

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

No matter how honest they seem, I always feel like I’m get ripped off when I take my car into a mechanic. Taking it to the dealership doesn’t make it any better. The mechanics at one of them give me the impression that they are crooks and the others seem like incompetent boobs. What should I do?

I bend over and take it in the ass, that’s what I do. I can’t lift up that car and look underneath and know whether what they tell me is true or not. All I can do is believe them, shell out the money, and hope they are being honest. It’s the cultural agreement. I won’t kill you if you don’t kill me.

I took Auto Owner’s Maintenance in high school so that I would be able to fix my own car when I grew up and got out into the world on my own. God bless that teacher, I could fix an original VW Beetle if I had to. I could change the spark plugs, the oil and do other more hairy procedures. That class taught me nothing about the New Beetle. They taught me nothing about those little computers in the car that tell you when there is a problem and what they need to do about it.

Frankly, I don’t believe those computers exist. I’ve seen them hook a machine up to my car and it prints out a bunch of stuff, but I don’t know if that is in my car or that cool machine. Sure, the guy at Checker Auto Parts was able to hook a little machine up to my car and he gave me a numeric code that I had to look up on the Internet. The code told me that the car was running lean. No shit?! I could tell that by the sound of it.

What I need is to have an “in.” I need to know someone personally who is in the business. Someone who I trust and who trusts me regarding other issues. I’ll take care of his computer if he takes care of my car. That’s my problem. I don’t know anyone that I trust in the industry. Instead of taking Auto Owner’s Maintenance in high school, I should have dated the guys who lived in the auto shop. I should have let one of them break my heart, dealt with it honorably and kept him as a “friend.” Then, when they said that I needed a huge repair, I could fork over the money in good faith. Why didn’t they tell me this in high school? Networking is king.


The Scotty Estimate Procedure

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Last Friday, the power went off at the office. I didn’t even bother to call the power company. I was sure that someone from a different building would call them to report the outage. The only reason I might want to call is to get an estimate of when the power would come back on, but their estimates are never correct. For the record, they usually over estimate and the power comes back hours earlier than the estimate. I guess they subscribe to the Scotty Estimate Procedure.

On the original series Star Trek, the Enterprise would always be in a bind or broken. Scotty would tell Captain Kirk how long it was going to take him to fix it. No matter how many times he told Captain Kirk that he couldn’t change the laws of physics, he would somehow get the Enterprise’s fat ass out of trouble way earlier than originally estimated. This is what I call the Scotty Estimate Procedure.

My power company really subscribes to the Scotty Estimate Procedure. I think they overestimate so that people will be very happy when their technicians finish early. Instead, it just makes me angry that they think that it’s acceptable for the power to be out for that long. Instead, it just inspires me to not bother to call them because the estimate is going to be inaccurate anyway.

I’ll never forget the episode of Voyager when the engineering officer, B’Elanna Torres , told Captain Janeway that she didn’t pad her estimates. If she said that it will take a few hours, it was going to take a few hours. I remember cheering for her and feeling so proud of how gutsy she was to stand up to Janeway. If Captain Kirk had said, “No, I want it done in two hours, not three,” Scotty would have just shrugged and did the job in two hours, knowing that the Scotty Estimate Procedure had been busted. Not B’Elanna. She makes an estimate and she is busting her butt to make it.

That’s what I want from my power company: an estimate that means something. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that if they said it was going to take all day to get the power on, we could send the employees home with the knowledge that we would have lost a whole day’s work anyway? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that it will only be about an hour until the power will come back, so everyone should go to lunch now? In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have power outages. I’m not asking for a perfect world. All I want is an accurate estimate of when the power will be back on. Is that too much, Scotty?


Ringing in My Ears

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

It was a vague thought in my mind before I went to the gym on Monday. What if my phone rings while I’m exercising? Should I put it on mute while my phone is in the locker just to be polite?

I had decided that it didn’t matter, but on Monday, I found myself in that strange position of being the person listening to someone else’s phone. Of course, it was one of those musical rings that sound like a sample of a song, so I was confused for a fraction of a second. There wasn’t enough of the song for me to recognize it, but I immediately realized that it was a phone in someone’s locker.

When I imagined this scenario, I worried that people would try to be helpful and want to answer my phone, locked on the other side of the locker. That wasn’t how I felt, though. Instead, I thought about the call being missed and imagined the girl who has just walked out getting her message and calling the person back. “I was working out at the gym,” she’d say casually twisting her sweaty hair into a knot.

The person on the other line wouldn’t be surprised. She went to the gym every day, so this would be no big deal. I worry that my callers would be surprised. “Going to the gym? Since when have you gone to a gym?” That’s my fear. I would have to say, “I’ve actually been a member at this gym since October. I like it. It feels like a luxury spa in Vegas to me.” I worry that my caller wouldn’t approve, “Well, la-dee-da. You’re probably paying every month and only go a couple of times.” Then I’d have to tell them, “Actually, I work out at least four times a week, sometimes six.” I imagine silence on the other end of the line: that strange silence that can come between friends.

The truth of the matter is that I’m changing. I’m different than the girl who lived in the suburbs and jogged on her treadmill every morning in silence and solitude. That treadmill is in storage because there is no room for it in our tiny house in Sugarhouse. That’s ok. I exercise at lunch now. I get a good break from work and see the beautiful and fit people every day. It’s better than the silence and the solitude because I can see a different person every day that I want to be like. It makes me run a little harder on the treadmill. It makes me better than I’ve ever been before.

The truth of the matter is that I’ve been hiding all these changes from all my callers. Old friends and even some family members aren’t aware of how deep these changes go. Sure, I’ve run a 5K before, but back then it was, “Isn’t she so brave to run a 5K at her weight? I could never do that.” Some of those people wouldn’t even recognize me now. Now it’s, “Yeah, that’s Laura. She’s going to be pissed if she doesn’t win for her age division.” None of those people have seen that Laura yet and I’m scared to unveil her.

How do you do it? How do you tell someone you’ve known since your school days that you’ve killed off half of your personality and replaced it with another? That fat girl who crinkled her nose at the jocks because they were stupid is running four times a week. That fat girl who refused to go to aerobics classes because they were too complicated is taking cycling and trekking classes at her gym now. I know it’s the same body, but I feel no connection to that fat girl anymore. It’s almost like she has to die before I can give birth to this new self. Does that mean all those old friends have to mourn the loss of the fat girl?

It’s like I don’t even want to admit that I was that out of control. I want to be that thin girl. I want to have always been that thin girl. I want to be the thin girl who is able to return her calls with a casual, “I was at the gym,” with no fear in her voice. How long until I get there?

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