Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


April Search Phrases

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

matt strebe

I had several hits looking for my old friend Matt. Or maybe it was Matt looking for what people are saying about him. I still haven’t finished talking about Gifted and Talented. I stopped writing about that experience back in March, but the story isn’t finished. It was just too hard to describe how we became so close. Instant friendship is so difficult to convey in print and that’s how it was for me. I instantly liked these guys. I’ll get back to that story, I promise. Until then, you can read it again here: Gifted and Talented.

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The most hits again this month has come from my article, How To Quit Soda. I don’t really consider myself a health guru, but there are so many articles out there about this that are just advertisements for herbal products that I guess I am one of the few sober voices in the crowd. On another note, this month, I bought myself a rice bed buddy at Shopko that was shaped like an eye mask. I was so excited to try it. When I had a headache just a week ago, I put it in the microwave to heat it up. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the directions. Only the inner portion of the mask could go in the microwave and I ended up setting the Velcro on the mask on fire. Mike took it out of the house using the barbeque tongs and we didn’t lose anything important, but I ruined my new bed buddy before I even got to try it out. Disappointed, I put my craft fair bed buddy in the microwave to ease my headache and pouted on the couch at my broken new toy.   gym babe, adult weblog, babe gym, bra trying on dressing room, changing room perverts, desire temptation weblog   Sorry boys. Just move along. There’s nothing to see here. Just look at the next site on the list. I couldn’t write porn even if I needed to.

eat raw potatoes

I don’t know what you’re looking for, but yes, I’ve eaten raw potatoes many times in my life. Mostly when I was really hungry for dinner and my grandma asked me to peel the potatoes. She wouldn’t be watching and that would be a moment when I could get a little extra food without getting into trouble. I never got sick from eating raw potatoes. They don’t taste extraordinary unless your grandma is starving you in the misguided attempt to make you lose weight.

barbie with tan lines

Yes, I had a Barbie with tan lines. She was a Malibu Barbie and she came with a pale blue bikini. I also had a doll that was the same size as Barbie called Tuesday Taylor. She would tan in the sun. You could let her sun bathe and you could see the tan lines under her suit if you left her out there for long enough. She wasn’t really a toy for children with short attention spans because it would take hours for her to tan. Plus, only her body tanned, not her face, so her head looked really weird.

Tuesday Taylor had another cool thing about her. She had a swivel top head so that she could be blonde one minute and then brunette the next. Of course it didn’t work perfectly, so she really just looked a little bit like Cruela DeVille with two-tone hair. In this day and age, that’s completely normal, but back in the late seventies, no one had hair like that except bad guys. Eventually, the swivel got loose and we couldn’t keep her hair in one place. I don’t know why a swivel top head wasn’t as scary to me as a child as it is now.

calvin hardcastle

One person found me looking for my friend, Calvin. Whoever you are, dude, email me and we’ll reminisce about him together. I miss that skinny guy.

christian cognitive dissonance

Yeah, this has happened to me. It was that point where I really believed that the Apocalypse was going to come and God would kill me for not believing he existed.  I believed both things at the same time. I believed that the Apocalypse was coming and God was going to kill me. I believed that God didn’t exist and was just a story people made up to make us feel better about our mortality. I was in seventh grade and I held both beliefs as true for a long time. It took several years for the vision of the Apocalypse to fade and for the idea of a vengeful God to be categorized under “myth” instead of “fact.”

My entry on Cognitive Dissonance was about something else completely and came up on your search string because I said the word Christian. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to answer your questions. I don’t know if you’re suffering, but if you keep searching, I’m sure you will find an answer that is helpful to you.

bosu ball

Yes, my Bosu Ball finally came in the mail and I’ve been too damn sick to play with it. I’ve watched the video that came with it and I can tell you that everything that we did with the step in that class we could have done with the Bosu Ball. I guess they just keep the step because you can make it really tall or really short depending on your fitness level. I haven’t been back to the gym since that Saturday when I was brave and practiced on the Bosu Ball in front of all the people in the cardio area. I’m going to go back as soon as I can breathe without coughing or snuffling my nose. Until then, I’ll do easy workouts with my Bosu at home.

On another note, the character in the comic strip, Neurotica, had the completely opposite experience at the gym. She went to the Boxing Room at the gym and there was a really friendly blonde there who helped her through the class. I wish I could change my bad memory with a good one like that.

laura lund

Strangest of all, two people who were looking for me, found me. Laura Lund is my maiden name. I didn’t get any emails saying, “Hey, Laura! Long time no see! I found your weblog.” Maybe they were looking for a different Laura Lund.


Donnie Darko

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

I like to think that I have my fingers on the pulse of the disturbed teen market, but this one was a total surprise to me. I was shopping at Hot Topic a few weeks ago and I was scanning the CD’s and movies that they had for sale. I had already picked out the belly button ring that I wanted, but I was just kind of browsing. They had Office Space (saw it, I guess it was ok) and The Lost Boys (of course). Then I noticed the title to a movie I didn’t recognize, Donnie Darko. I filed the name under, Hot Topic, and went to look at the vinyl underwear and bustier sets.

A few days later, I was shopping on Amazon. Actually, I wasn’t shopping, I was looking to see when my Bosu Ball was going to be delivered to my house and just kept looking at Amazon when I was done. Under my DVD Recommendations, the movie Donnie Darko came up. Based on what I had bought and how I rated other movies, Amazon thought that I might like it.

I thought that I should give this movie a try, so I looked at the Salt Lake County Library system and put it on hold for myself. There was no waiting for it, so I figured it must not be that big of a phenomenon. I got the movie last week, but I didn’t get a chance to see it until last Wednesday. Still sick from the monster cold that Mike gave me, I sat on the couch and prepared to be scared silly by a man-sized rabbit named Frank.

I expected B-Movie and considering their budget (only 4.5 million dollars), it should have been. Instead, I realized that I was watching a classic. It’s one of those movies like Harold and Maude or The Rocky Horror Picture Show that define the outcast teens of an era. The beastly way these teens treat each other is typical and very reminiscent of life in teenage hell. The man-sized rabbit is just a creepy benefit.

Mike asked me what the movie is about and I told him that I couldn’t tell him very much or I would ruin it. It’s the same thing that others have told me about The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s the same thing that I’ve said about Fight Club. If you talk too much about it, the whole movie is buggered, but it’s frustrating as hell when you’re trying to decide whether to see it or not. He asked me how I would classify it. I said that it doesn’t look like it, but it really is science fiction. IMDB has a different attitude. They classify it as fantasy, drama, sci-fi, mystery and thriller. With that many genres, it’s hard to go wrong. By the way, IMDB has a totally inappropriate spoiler in one of its plot outlines, so read with care.

Donnie Darko is not a cheap shot. There are no “boo” moments where the music screeches at you and you jump out of your seat. This movie is filled with tension and dread, but there is no gore or cheap shots. Donnie is a disturbed teenager who is seeing a therapist for his past behavior. He relates to her that he saw a six-foot bunny named Frank who told him that the end of the world is coming in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. Because of this hallucination, Donnie is spared a sure death when a jet engine plummets from the sky into his room. Sensitive Donnie can perceive that there is something awry with the world since the accident and does his best to uncover the errors, whether they are a sadistic school mate, a devout gym teacher or a self-important self-help guru. All his efforts to uncover the inconsistencies end up getting him deeper and deeper into trouble and more vivid hallucinations until the final moment when he finally understands why the world is going to end.

After watching Donnie Darko, I knew that I needed to own it. Check it out for yourself. Now you have Hot Topic, Amazon AND me recommending it to you. What can you lose?


The Princess Bride

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

I went to Barnes and Noble alone on Saturday. When I go with Mike, I always feel rushed, so I told him that I was going to go the bookstore without him while he slept Saturday morning. He didn’t worry where I was and I didn’t feel like I didn’t have enough time to see all that I wanted to see at the store.

Ok, that’s a lie. I still felt like I didn’t have enough time to see all that I wanted to see at Barnes and Noble. I don’t think I will ever get that feeling of being literarily satiated. Unless I could walk into the store and read every single book that I had a passing interest in before for leaving, I doubt I would have that feeling. I should quit blaming my feelings of being rushed on Mike. It’s not his fault that I cannot consume the entire bookstore in one sitting.

I spent over an hour doing one thing at Barnes and Noble. I sat on a hard wooden chair and read the new introduction to The Princess Bride by William Goldman. It was the 30th Anniversary Edition and it was sitting in the bestsellers section at the front. I didn’t even get to the discount books section this time. I was accosted by a book that I already own.

I read The Princess Bride after seeing the movie and was amazed at how closely they matched. It was one of those rare occasions when the book didn’t ruin the movie for me. They were both perfect and beautiful in their own right. What was even better than seeing the movie was reading William Goldman’s description of the effort of abridging the original manuscript by <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />S. Morgenstern. What a fanciful addition to the classic story.

After reading the 30th and 25th Anniversary Introductions, I started to question myself. Maybe S. Morgenstern wasn’t imaginary. Maybe Florin and Guilder really existed. Maybe it wasn’t a fanciful addition to the classic story. Maybe it was the truth. Sitting there in Barnes and Noble, I suddenly wanted it to be the truth. I wanted there to be a museum in Florin where I could see the sword of the six-fingered man. I wanted there to be lawyers for the Morgenstern Estate. I wanted Fezzik to be a real giant and I wanted to see the mold of his fingers.

After an hour of reading the new introductions to The Princess Bride, I wanted to believe so badly. Mike called me on my cell, wondering if I was ever going to come home (for the record, I might have forgotten to come home until I had finished reading all the books in the store, so it was a good thing that he called).

“Mike, I need to you come here and bring the Barnes and Noble card because I’m going to buy a book and I want to get the discount.”

“What are you buying?”

“It’s the 30th Anniversary Edition of The Princess Bride. I know that we already have it, but this one has all this interesting stuff about Florin and The Morgenstern Museum and stuff. I guess there really was a S. Morgenstern and he’s been having all this legal trouble with the estate. There is a sequel that he wants to abridge, but the estate wants Stephen King to do it.”

“Laura, Florin isn’t real. There was no unabridged book. We’ll get a map and I’ll show you that there is no Florin on it.”

“No, Florin is now some part of Russia, I think.”

I could feel the illusion leaving me. Did William Goldman actually say that Florin was in Russia or was he just comparing their airlines to their Russian counterparts? Come to think of it, there is NO Florin in Europe. But the story seemed so real. Who would make up a story about lawyers? It was madness. No, Inigo Montoya existed and killed Count Rugen in the castle by the billiard table. William Goldman saw the spot in the castle himself. The Cliffs of Insanity are real and Andre the Giant practiced climbing them to prepare for his part in the movie. He was the kind of guy to do that. He was French. They do stuff like that over there.

“No, Mike. I’m telling you. It’s real. There really was some old book that is totally long and boring and William Goldman really abridged it and now he’s having legal trouble because of it.”

“No, Laura. It’s all part of the story. There is no such place as Florin or Guilder. He made it all up. Think about it. If there really was a book, it would be in the public domain by now and there would be no trouble with lawyers.”

“It didn’t come into the public domain until 1987.”

“That would mean the book was written in 1902. That’s a little late for a true tale of medieval history.”

I could feel the truth wash over me. There is no Florin. Inigo Montoya never lost his father to Count Rugen because neither one of them existed. Buttercup never jumped from that castle window into Fezzik’s arms. The Man in Black was never brought back from the Mostly Dead. There is no life-sucking machine in the bowels of the Zoo of Death. It was all a story. There are no lawyers preventing me from reading the sequel, Buttercup’s Baby. For one fleeting hour, I believed it all. I sat on that hard wooden chair and believed that it all had been real.

“I want it to be true.”

“That doesn’t make it true.”

I thought about Andre the Giant placing his hand in Fezzik’s finger mold. I had felt such joy thinking that the sweet man had found a cohort from the past whose hands were bigger than his. It was all gone.

“I still want it to be true. I’m going to buy this book.”

“Ok, I’ll be right over.”

If you haven’t read the two new introductions to The Princess Bride, you must read them. If you don’t own the book, buy it now. If you do own the book, go buy the 30th Anniversary Edition anyway. The mark of a brilliant writer is the ability to transport the reader into another reality. I was taken to a world where revenge really was sweet. I was taken to a world where the hero really saved the damsel. I was taken to a world where all of it and more was true and documented. There was a museum that displayed the sword and the life-sucking machine. Maybe it seemed so real because there were blood-sucking lawyers in that world.

The final nail in the coffin of the fantasy came to me Sunday night. I was still clinging to the desperate hope that maybe it was all real. I was going to write this entry leaving that question open to debate, but Mike insisted that I try to find Florin on the map. He insisted that I try to find Florin on the Internet. A Google search led me to several Florin sites in Russian. For a shimmering moment, I actually believed again.

“See, here’s a Florin in Russian. I told you it was part of Russia.”

“Go to the website.”

When I went there, I found that it was a Russian IT company. I tried The Morgenstern Museum and found one in Germany, but a translation of the website proved that it was merely about shipbuilding. The final nail came when I searched using the phrase, “Buttercup’s Baby.” Toward the end of the first page was a frequently asked questions site on Stephen King’s website. The question at hand was, “In the Princess Bride it says you’re going to write the abridgement for Buttercup’s Baby. Is that true?”

In simple and plain words, my final illusion fell from me. Stephen King wrote, “No, it’s not true. That’s a little joke from Bill Goldman who’s an old friend. I admired his books before I ever met him and as a kind of return tip of the cap, he put me in that book The Princess Bride. But actually I think that that particular baby, Buttercup’s Baby, is Bill Goldman’s and if there’s ever going to be a story about Buttercup, Bill will have to write it.”

We are both men of action. Lies do not become us.  – William Goldman, The Princess Bride, 1973

So, there is the truth. For approximately 37 hours, I held the hope that it was all true in my heart. I’m buying Buttercup’s Baby as soon as it comes out. Get cracking, Bill. Don’t you dare kill Fezzik. We’ve already lost Andre. I can’t bear to lose another giant.


The Home Stretch

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

After the divorce, my dad took Stacey and me on the weekends. For awhile, he tried to make each weekend something fun and interesting to do. One time, he took the two of us to a place to ride horses. Stacey, Dad and I each got our own horse to ride and we took them up the trail. It’s the only time I’ve ever ridden a horse, except for that one time that I tried to get on Sceverenia’s horse in Fairview and it bucked me off. I don’t really count that time because I was only on the horse for about three seconds.

While we were going up the trail, I had a hard time. The horse that I was on did not want to go. He would not walk and I fell behind Stacey and Dad. The two of them were far ahead of me, heading into the trees while I nudged and bounced on my horse to get it to catch up. The thing would not move or would only move slowly toward Stacey and Dad. We only had the horses for an hour. By the time that I reached the tree line, thirty minutes were already gone. If we didn’t turn around right now, we would be late getting back to the ranch. My dad had us turn around and head back, hoping that my horse would be able to keep up.

At that point, I was surprised. The second we turned around, my horse picked up speed. By the time the ranch came into view, my horse was at a dead run. I enjoyed the second stretch of the trek much better than the first. We got back to the ranch in fifteen minutes flat, half the time it took to go out. When we got back, I realized that my horse didn’t want to take me for a ride. It wanted to rest. It was tired and every step away from the ranch meant that it would have to take me back that far. Going away, it fought me, but returning home, it gladly pranced and ran.

I caught myself doing the same thing Monday. I was running outside in my neighborhood. I ran out to the doggie park and back. When I headed back, I noticed that I was running faster than when I ran out. I felt the happiness in my run because I was going home. The faster I ran, the sooner I would get home. It’s something that never ever happens when I run on the treadmill. The treadmill is one never ending run in place. I never am able to run fast enough to get into the TV screen in front of me and I never run home.

As you can tell, I still haven’t been back to the gym. I could say that the sun and the beautiful weather are enticing me to spend my exercise time outside, but that’s not the whole story. I could say that getting ready for work at the gym is inconvenient and less efficient than just getting ready at home after a workout, but that isn’t the whole story either. The whole story is that the gym isn’t my fun playground anymore. That Bosu incident just sucked the life out of my safe and enjoyable spa. It doesn’t feel like a luxury spa in Vegas anymore. It feels like a junior high locker room.

I don’t know how to fix this. I remember feeling like this before, but this gym was different, I told myself. This gym wasn’t a gym; it was a luxury spa where everyone there was solely interested in becoming better people. I had told myself that the harpies that had vexed me in the past didn’t exist in the adult world. I had convinced myself that I was safe as long as I went to this special and magical place.

In the eight seconds that the teacher made us hold that squat on the Bosu Ball, that brown-haired girl stole all of that from me. I want it back. I realize that it was only an illusion. I realize that the friendly people outnumber the mega-bitches. I realize that all of this is solely a problem in my mind, not the gym. None of that brings it back to me. I feel like I need to bring a body guard to the gym with me. I wish Andre the Giant was still alive. He could follow me around at the gym and thump bitchy brown-haired girls on the head when they mocked me.

When I first went to this gym, I used to go with a friend from work. Ming and I would leave at lunchtime every day and meet by the treadmills. After a month of going to the gym and not encountering any evil women, I felt like it was safe enough for me to go alone. When I had to take the second lunch and go without Ming, I felt safe there. If I went during the evenings, I was still scared, but I knew that the lunch crowd wouldn’t hurt me. This class was a morning class, but the entire gym feels unsafe again.

Mike volunteered to go to the gym with me after work. He said he would protect me from evil women. He’s up for protecting me from women. He knows full well that I can protect myself from men just fine. Men are easy. All you have to do is kick their ass and they leave you alone. Women are hard. I’ve yet to find the perfect response to a catty girl who makes fun of me when I’m trying to do my best at a new activity. Punching them in the face doesn’t work. Being bitchy back at them doesn’t work. Nothing I’ve ever tried has worked.

In the meantime, I’ve mapped several runs that I can do from my house: two mile runs, three mile runs, four mile runs. There are lots of routes that I can take and I’m always surprised at the distance I can go. When I drive them out in the car after running them to find out the mileage, I’m always amazed at how far away I went and came back. Of course, the home stretch is much easier to run and faster because I’m running home.


What’s The Big Deal Anyway?

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

So, the gym doesn’t feel safe anymore. Who cares? You don’t need to go to the gym to get healthy. You have so many options at home that you don’t ever need to go back to that gym. Why do you keep mourning it? What the big deal anyway?

It’s a valid question. I haven’t received any emails. I haven’t received any nasty comments that were discretely removed from the site. I just sit here imagining you people who read my site every single day telling your significant others something along these lines, “That Pick Me girl will not shut up about the gym. She had one little problem with a girl at the gym and she has been whining about it for about two weeks now. Jeez, either stop going and live with it or start going again and live with it. What’s the big deal?!”

The big deal is that I’m in transition right now. I’m undergoing a transformation.  I’m a caterpillar in a cocoon. I’m a polliwog. I’m changing into a new person. I was a fat girl. I was a fat girl my whole life. I remember being about four years old and watching Sesame Street on the television at my grandma’s house before she moved to Billings, Montana. She and my mom were having a conversation in the kitchen and they didn’t know I could hear them, but my ears perked up whenever they talked about me. I was listening.

My grandma started the conversation, “I noticed that she has another roll on her stomach. We really need to do something about her.”  My mother responded, “I’m not going to bug her about losing weight. She’s only four years old.” She defended me, but it was obvious that they both thought I was fat. That is the day that I became a fat girl. I was four years old and the two most important women in my life had decided that I was fat, so I must be fat.

I didn’t know that my grandmother was unhealthily obsessed with weight. I didn’t know that my grandmother was unhealthily obsessed with me as a child. I was the oldest grandchild and the she considered me the daughter that she never had. After having three sons and a hysterectomy, I was the only person who could fulfill those dreams of what it would have been like for her to have a daughter. I was the only one who could do the things that she couldn’t do when she got pregnant at the age of fifteen. I didn’t know that she somehow had a strange connection to me that almost made my body her body. If I wasn’t perfect, she had somehow failed and another roll of fat was definitely not on the ticket for perfect.

I know all this now, but changing from a fat girl to a healthy girl is still difficult. I can look at myself in the mirror. I can run a 5K race, shaving five minutes off my best time. I can eat healthy every day for months. I can go to the gym religiously, trying all the new and interesting things. All of this does little to change my image of myself.

Here I was, doing my best at an exercise class at a gym. I was doing something that a fat girl would never do. Not only was I trying a class with a weird half shaped ball thing that I had to balance on, I was at a gym. I was going to the place that thin people go and doing the things that thin people do. For a brief moment, I was a thin girl. Then I saw that brown-haired girl point and laugh at me. I watched her try to get her friends attention so that her friend could laugh at me too. Suddenly, I was right back to where I was before. Suddenly, I was a fat girl again.

I felt like someone opened my cocoon and all the caterpillar goo oozed out onto their fingers. I felt like someone pulled off my little new legs, growing alongside my gills and fins. I was so proud of those little legs and now they are gone. I couldn’t hop with them yet, but I was so excited to use them when I lost my tail and gills. Now I have to start growing those little legs again and I have to hurry before my gills close up.


Human Billboards

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

There were two women on scooters in the lane next to me when I drove home from work on Monday. I was in the right hand turn lane and the scooters were going through the light. The women were both gray haired and overweight. I found it strange to see them on expensive Honda scooters. I always expect Mods in suits when I see scooters, but I guess that only pertains to Vespas. The light changed and the scooters drove away, but there wasn’t enough time for me to turn, so I was still stuck at the light. “At least I’m at the head of the line now,” I thought to myself.

On the corner of 7th East and 21st South there were two fast food employees. One was from Little Caesar’s Pizza and the other was from Quizno’s Subs. They held their respective signs and moved rhythmically in an attempt to attract the attention of the drivers. The human billboards were pointedly ignoring each other, as if you could ignore a person with a huge sign in their arms. I watched them, mesmerized by their movement. I watched their eyes, wondering if they would notice each other’s existence. If eye contact is made, do human billboards fight?

It was obvious that they were miserable. Human billboard must be on the bottom of menial tasks that you are subjected to when you work for fast food. “Hey, Monson, go outside with the sign and wave cars into the parking lot.” The employee complains, “No please, don’t make me do that. Why can’t I clean the toilets? I promise to wash my hands afterwards.” The boss is firm, “No, Monson, get outside or I’ll make you wear the Little Caesar costume.” With that threat, Monson picks up the large sign and trudges outside.

Of all the menial jobs I’ve done in my life, I’ve never had to be a human billboard. Would I rather clean the fryer filter? Yes. Would I rather clean out the garbage compactor? Yes. Would I rather mindlessly process pharmacy claims until my hands ache? You betcha. Even mind numbing boredom is better than being a human billboard.

I don’t know how long I watched their swaying signs. They were almost hypnotic. They didn’t entice me to eat pizza or submarine sandwiches. In fact, they made me a little angry at the restaurants for subjecting their employees to this. It would be different if they looked like they enjoyed it. Maybe if they had hired entertaining mimes or something, I would actually think that they were ingenious. Instead, they just seemed cruel.

I was awoken from my reverie when I glanced at the light. The green arrow had come and gone and all I had was the tail end of an amber arrow. I took it, as did the car behind me, and we rushed through the intersection. I’m surprised that the car behind me didn’t beep at me. Maybe they were hypnotized by the human billboards, too.

UPDATE: 09-22-04 Check out Michael Main’s take on the Human Billboard concept…


The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Have I said how much I like these things? One day out of the week, I don’t need to worry about what I’m going to talk about. I can just answer the questions and be done with it.

October 5, 2001

1. What’s on top of your refrigerator?

Lots of greasy dust, a blender, and two crock pots of vastly different sizes.

2. What’s your favorite meal of the day?

Since I save most of my points for dinner, it must be dinner. I like eating, though, so any meal is a good meal. I’ve never met a meal I didn’t like. Ok, that’s a lie. Once my grandma in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Montana made some fish called Poor Man’s Lobster. It was horrible. She was a “clean your plate” kind of grandma, but that time she said that we didn’t need to eat that fish. I think it was bad. I guess the lesson here is: Don’t buy fish in Montana and expect it to be good.

3. Wash dishes by hand or in the dishwasher? What detergent do you use?

We use the dishwasher to wash our dishes. We follow a strict policy: Wash them all and let God sort them out. We don’t scrape the dishes. I only depend on God for one thing and that’s to sort the dishes that need scraping from the dishes that don’t. It’s rare when I have to re-wash a dish. We use Electrasol. I don’t know why. When Carol moved into our house, we started buying that brand instead of Cascade and I’ve used it ever since.   4. How often do you eat out compared to eating in?

We eat dinner at home about twice a week and eat at fast food the rest of the time. My favorite place to go right now is called Noodles and Company. They have a wide variety of styles of food to eat all with all the delicious carbohydrates that pasta has to offer. Plus, they’ve yet to come out with nutrition facts, so I’m just guessing on the points. It’s like I’m living in denial, but I know about it, so it’s not really denial.   5. How do you plan to spend your weekend?

This weekend is Mother’s Day, so Mike and I will be spending time with his mother and my mother. That’s how it should be, right?


Deseret Industries

Filed under: General,Kathleen Bennett — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

In other parts of the country, people donate their used items to the Salvation Army. We have some Salvation Army stores in Utah, but a much more prominent and influential monopoly has control of the thrift market here in Zion. It’s called Deseret Industries, but the populace calls it The DI for short.

The DI is sponsored by the LDS Church (you know, the Mormons), so it has a stronghold over this area. Plus, it’s so darn easy to donate. There is a DI within walking distance of my house. There was a DI within walking distance of my last house, too. They are everywhere.

Their prices are good, too. It’s not like some thrift stores which mark their items high and then systematically keep marking them lower until they finally get to a price that someone will buy them. If it’s a pair of jeans, it’s going to be six bucks whether they are Calvin Kleins or Wranglers. Shorts are three bucks, no matter what. Just like their new billboards say, they have “Bargains to DI for.” Imagine me yuck-yucking and slapping my knee right now, please.

Growing up Jehovah Witness in this city, there have been so many times when I have felt antagonistic toward the LDS church. The Klingon within me says that I shouldn’t donate my old clothes to The DI because that is aiding the enemy. This Klingon has no problem with me shopping at The DI because I’m just taking advantage of their incredible prices, which makes no sense because in that scenario, I’m actually giving money to “the enemy.” Go figure. The Vulcan inside me reminds me of how convenient it is to donate to The DI. I just swing by the place and drop the stuff off. They even give me a receipt for my taxes if I’m willing to wait for it.

Kathleen Bennett, my friend who lives in San Francisco, always goes DI shopping with me when she comes back to town. She used to live here and it’s one of the few things that Salt Lake City has over San Francisco. We have DI thrift shopping and lots of flavors of Jello in our grocery stores. Last time she was here, she was looking for a pair of Lucky Brand jeans (remember, for only six bucks!). We didn’t find any in her size that time, but we did find some cool things for her, namely a bitchin’ pair of shoes (only six bucks). I’m always excited when Kathleen comes to town because she is one of the few people who have the stamina to DI shop with me.

Since I’ve been losing weight, the DI is a blessing to me. I can get a whole new wardrobe every few months on very little money. I don’t have to swim in my “fat” clothes and I can get rid of those oversized clothes as soon as they start to hang on me. There is no temptation to gain the weight again because those clothes are gone back to The DI from whence they came. When I get to my final goal weight, I’ll buy myself all new clothes, but until then, I’m hitting The DI every couple of months for clothes I can shrink into.

I don’t know why I feel the need to tell you about The DI. This entry is almost like a commercial for them, which is really making the Klingon within me boil. I guess I just wanted to make sure that you knew what the hell I was talking about if I say something like, “I’m going to give that away to the DI” or “Stacey and I are going DI shopping for some skinnier clothes. I’m too small for those size 7 jeans I bought a couple months ago.” That sort of thing.

If you ever find yourself in Salt Lake City, the two best DI’s are the one on 45th and Main and the one in Sandy on 7th East by the Sandy Mall. You are pretty much guaranteed to find really good brands there like Calvin Klein, Old Navy, Gap, Mossimo and I’ve even found the illusive Lucky Brand jeans there before, but they wouldn’t have fit Kathleen. They were way too big.


The Biggest Ball of Yarn in Minnesota

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

I’ve been writing for so long that I’ve forgotten what I have told you and what I have kept to myself. Lucky thing I never lie because I would never be able to keep track of everything. For the last few months, the search string, “biggest ball of yarn in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Minnesota” has shown up in my statistics. There are only one or two people looking for that string, so it falls to the end of the list and out of my sight before the middle of the month.

It showed up again today, so I ran a Google search to see which of my entries was coming up for the “biggest ball of yarn in Minnesota.” I didn’t think that I had talked about Weird Al Yankovic except just recently when his parents died. I thought that it must be one of those weird fluke search strings. When it came up, I saw myself on the first page. This is what I saw:

Laura Moncur’s Weblog There is probably a “Biggest Ball of Yarn in Minnesota” that could crochet an afghan, but I suspect that it would have spots where it was tied together, too
http://laura.moncur.org/articles/2003-12-01-05-29.html – 6k – CachedSimilar pages

Even seeing this much didn’t jog my memory. I had no recollection of ever talking about yarn, so I looked at that entry. If you haven’t read this entry before or don’t remember it, go read it now and come back. I agree with everything I said, but I don’t really remember writing that entry. The afghan that I was working on in December is the same one that I’m working on right now. It actually is a bedspread, which is substantially bigger than an afghan, but it seems like it will never end. Mike and I measured it last Tuesday and I’m about ten skeins away from finishing it.

That sweater that was sitting in the closet, waiting to be put together is still there. I’ve lost over ten pounds since then, so I’m sure it won’t fit me when I finally put it together, so I guess it goes to The DI. That’s ok. I’m crocheting for charity. I can do that.

I wonder about those search strings, though. Are they looking for the biggest ball of yarn in Minnesota? Are they really looking for the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota and just screwing things up? It’s no wonder I’m on the first page of these searches. There aren’t any huge balls of yarn under makeshift pagodas in Minnesota. Yarn isn’t really all that interesting. Twine on the other hand is fascinating.

I just can’t stop thinking about this search string. Are they trying to find the lyrics to Weird Al’s song to which I was referring and just mixing up yarn with twine?  I love the Weird Al Song. It makes me imagine what vacationing with Homer Simpson would be like. Ok, maybe a cross between Homer Simpson and my dad. Especially with the Slim Whitman reference and the line, “This here’s what America‘s all about.” I just love that song. I want to go see the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota. Maybe they would let me crochet an afghan with it. I promise to weave in the ends.


Growing Back My Legs

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

The Bosu Incident

I lied. I didn’t know I was lying, but I lied.

Last Thursday, I went back to that Bosu Synergy class. The minute I walked in, I was able to pick the brown-haired girl out of the forty women in the class. She had placed her items in the exact spot they were last time I was there. I saw her friend there also. I had said that I wouldn’t have been able to tell her from any other brown-haired girl, but I lied. I noticed her the minute I walked into that huge room.

It was hard for me to go back. Two days earlier, I had gone back to the gym with Mike as a bodyguard by my side. We took the Tuesday evening Trekking class. The teacher was good and it was an energizing workout. Mike even enjoyed following along with the class. Going back to a treadmill class was the perfect thing to ease me back into the gym.

Wednesday night, I talked to Mike, “That Bosu class is tomorrow morning. I really should go back to that class.” Mike agreed and it was decided. I was going to wake up early for the Bosu class, but I undermined myself. After not drinking soda for weeks, I decided that I was really in the mood for a Diet Coke that night. I was up until well past midnight from the caffeine buzz.

Thursday morning, Mike came into the bedroom at 5:30 am. I immediately sat up in bed, “I’ve got to get up. I’ve got a class at 6:30.” Mike responded, “I was wondering if you were still going to go.” I was decided by then. I was going back to this class and nothing was going to get in my way.

Nothing except maybe those checks that need depositing. Nothing except that lunch I need to pack for the rest of the day at work. Nothing except all those little things that can get in the way and make me late. When I walked out the door, Mike said, “Break a leg,” he paused for effect, “but only if they make fun of you and only break their legs, not your own.”

I was about five minutes late to the class. There was still room for me, but there were so many people in the class that there wasn’t a Bosu ball left for me. I had a strange moment in which I could see me sabotaging myself. I’m never late for anything, yet I let myself be late for this class.

I started with the class and we exercised mostly with the step, so it didn’t matter that I didn’t have a Bosu. By the time we got to the Bosu section of the workout, some people had left the class, so there was an extra one for me. This time, the teacher had us use the easy side of the Bosu, but that brown-haired girl and her blonde little friend insisted on using the more difficult side. They were the only two in the class that did.

I’d love to be able to say that the brown-haired girl made fun of someone else during the class because then I wouldn’t feel so singled out. Unfortunately, she just did the workout and left the class early (before we got to the abdominal workout). I didn’t talk to her. She didn’t recognize me. She might not have even noticed me. I just took the class and did the best that I could just like the day she made fun of me.

All in all, I feel better. I can go to the gym alone without worrying about some Heather making fun of me. I made the bravest step of all by going to that class. After that, the rest is a piece of cake. Let’s just see if I can go to the class this Thursday and be there on time. I can feel my little legs growing back again.

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Artificial Intelligence

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

When A.I., the movie by Steven Speilberg staring Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law, came out, there was a whole website of cool stuff affiliated with the movie. I spent a day on the Internet just reading all the pretend magazine articles that had been created for the movie. There was an article about a man who was being convicted of murdering a house (and its artificial intelligence that had lived within it for years). There was an article about a woman who reprogrammed her robot to kill her husband and her trial for murder. There was a story about a man who was missing. The man’s name was the same as a name that had been slipped into the ending of some of the A.I. trailers.

The website built a huge mystery within my imagination about the implications of robots and our legal system. I had seen all of the trailers, but they didn’t explain Jude Law to me, so I figured this little robot boy became implicated in the missing status of this mysterious man named at the end of the trailers. I wanted to see the boy solve the mystery and go back home to his mommy. I was so stoked to see the movie, I made Stacey, Dan and Mike take me the first week it was out (unheard of for me).

Dan warned me it was going to suck, but how could it when the mystery on the website was so intriguing and beguiling? In short, Dan was right. The guys designing the website gave that movie far more interesting thought than the producers did. I walked out of that movie so angry I could spit bullets. I remember waiting in line in the bathroom afterwards. There was a whole line of angry women.

“What kind of mother would leave a kid in the forest? That doesn’t even make sense, even if the kid was a robot.”

“I think they were trying to be like a fairy tale or something, but what kind of fairytale ends with aliens?”

“What a stupid ending. The magical aliens can bring her to life, but only for one day?!”

“You can’t even get DNA from cut hair like that anyway. You have to get a follicle to get DNA and Teddy just had the hair that David cut. Don’t these guys watch Law and Order?”

“If David was so smart, why did he just keep begging the Blue Fairy for a million years? Don’t you think he would have noticed that she was just a freakin’ statue?”

“It was Gigolo Joe that was sentient anyway. David didn’t solve any of those puzzles it was all Gigolo Joe.”

“Hell, Teddy was smarter than David most of the time.”

Ok, some of those comments were from Mike, Stacey and Dan after I got out of the bathroom, but I tell you, there was an entire bathroom of angry women at the end of that movie. In fact, it has been four years since that movie came out and I’m still pissed as hell. Can you tell?

I think I’m so angry because the website was so much better than the movie. I had this elaborate murder mystery built up in my mind that involved that cute little kid from The Sixth Sense, except he’s a robot instead of a psychic this time. All of those articles about sentient cars and houses were totally cool.

This article reminded me of that totally cool website (which is gone as far as I can tell, replaced by a milquetoast version of its predecessor with “fun” games). The article is quoted here:


Fisherman and divers of Norway, If you happen to see a ten-foot long, robotic mini-submarine swimming off of your shores, please call the U.S. Navy. The service has been trying to find its mine-sweeping drone for a week, now, after the ‘bot failed to return to its mother ship, the USS Swift.</>

Swift has broken off its participation in a military exercise to look for the Battlespace Preparation Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, the AP reports.

“The ship has searched everywhere from the fjord leading into the southern town Kristiansand to deep ocean water some 30 kilometres out, where the waters can be as much as 580 metres deep,” the wire service says. “Because the sub could surface just about anywhere along Norway‘s coast, [Norwegian military spokesman Cmdr. Thom] Knustad appealed on national radio for Norwegians to be on the lookout for the torpedo-shaped, yellowish-orange device with a propeller on one end.”

The second that I saw this article, it reminded me of those articles written for the A.I. website. It was obvious to me. This drone went missing because it didn’t want to die. It didn’t want to be blown up looking for mines. It was running away. This article is one of the clues to the mystery. Maybe David will find the mine-sweeping drone and it will rescue him from the amphibicopter. That drone will move the Ferris wheel off the copter so that David and Teddy can escape and rescue Gigolo Joe from certain death. They’ll prove that Joe didn’t kill that man’s wife. To Hell with the Blue Fairy. To Hell with Mommy. To Hell with magical robots that look like aliens. Let’s solve a murder.

I sit poised at the brink of another robot movie, I, Robot. I think I’ll try to forget the last robot movie and think about this new one instead.

Missing Sub Found

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 4:59 pm

They found the missing submarine. I guess it got lonely and decided to resurface.


I, Robot

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

There’s no risk that the website for the movie I, Robot will be as misleading as the one for A.I. I’ve thoroughly scanned it. What you get for completing the “investigation” are three wallpapers for your computer desktop (One was really cool. It’s on my work computer for now, but it’s rather flashy, so I might just go back to the black screen.). It was enough to make me excited about the movie, but there doesn’t seem to be any misleading articles there unless you count the “advertisement” for the NS-5. It’s pretty cool and they let you “build your own NS-5,” which results in more wallpaper instead of your own robotic personal assistant. The “ad” had an Apple feel to it.

I’m stoked about the movie. I remember the story that this movie is based on, but I’m hoping that they make it better than the bare bones story that Asimov wrote. The pictures of Will Smith make him looks so paranoid and unhappy. I like happy go-lucky Will Smith much better. I’m glad to see him in another sci-fi flick. He deserves better than the last few scripts have given him. I hope I, Robot lives up to his and its own potential.

Somehow, I wish they had decided to do Caves of Steel instead of I, Robot. It’s a typical buddy cop movie (Will Smith would have made a good Baley), except one of the cops is a human detective from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />New York and the other is a robot from the Spacer world where the murder took place. When I first saw the large cardboard advertisement for I, Robot in the theatre a few months ago, I immediately made the connection to Caves of Steel instead of the correct story. I guess they figure they have to slowly introduce the movie-going public to the concept of robots. It would be too much of a jump for our puny minds to just jump to Caves of Steel without pounding the Three Laws of Robotics into our head AGAIN.

Honestly, the first time I heard of the Three Laws of Robotics, was in an episode of Buck Rogers on television. It was the 80’s sci-fi show with Erin Gray. I so much wanted to be like her. She was like a perfect Barbie doll woman and she had brown hair, just like me. She really showed me that women with brown hair can be knock-outs just like blondes, maybe even better than blondes. Gil Gerard was no Captain Kirk, but he was ok for a hero. He was some lame guy who was brought into the future accidentally, which I never thought made him anything special except to history geeks. Somehow, he ends up being a cool hero, even though he’s basically a caveman.

Anyway, they had a cool robot called Twiki (voiced by the wonderful Mel Blanc). Once, Twiki got broken and needed to be reset. When he was started up again, he recited the Three Laws of Robotics. The entire cast was fawning over these “beautiful” laws that kept them safe from the robots and kept the robots under their control. I remember thinking, “What’s so great about that? If you’re going to have robots, you need to put in safeguards.” I think I was eight years old and the whole thing seemed really corny.

When I read the robot short stories and the novels, those damn Three Laws of Robotics were pounded into my head over and over. There was one story in which a robot just kept circling out there on the planet because a human had told him to do something, but going there would damage the robot. The thing was getting as close to the danger as it could until the radiation would start damaging it, then it would head away, but it would remember the order, so as soon as the radiation levels were lower, it would head back toward the danger. That story was interesting and actually used the Three Laws as a plot device.

Most of the stories were really anti-robot. Sure, Bicentennial Man eventually got his way and was deemed “human” in the end, but most of the stories were filled with paranoia. I don’t think it’s going to be like that. I think that robots will be the cool thing. First, only the truly rich will have them. Paris Hilton will have her own personal robot assistant that accidentally breaks her stuff and works very poorly. Then the medium rich will have one that will work poorly. Then everyone will have one that works poorly. Fifty years after that, everyone will have one that works pretty darn well and we’ll all wonder what we did without them.

Of course, by then, I’ll be dead. I don’t think we’ll see the wide proliferation of robots in our lifetimes. Plus, let’s face it. Humans are much cheaper to create. They’re harder to control, but they are much easier to come by. With the correct incentive program, humans are so willing to sacrifice even their lives. We are so much more cost efficient than robots and we keep creating more every day. For a few dollars or maybe even for an Employee of the Month award, humans are willing to work hard and long hours. Hell, they’ll even volunteer to be Human Billboards for minimum wage. Why mess with a robot that needs to be rebooted every fifteen minutes because the OS is buggy?

All in all, robots are cool. I wish they really existed. I like to see movies about robots. Hell, I’ll even watch third rate sci-fi on television just to see robots. I doubt they’ll ever exist in my lifetime, but maybe Sony or Honda would like to prove me wrong on that one. I won’t stop them.


ANDi glowing fingernails

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

I found this search string in my stats the other day. When strings are so strange, I look them up myself to see what the hell they mean. Of course, I don’t actually get the answer sometimes, but this time, the answer was the first thing listed on the search:

Scientists in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Oregon have created a genetically altered monkey, named ANDi. Its still born twin was born with green fur and fingernails. It hasn’t been proven that ANDi has the jellyfish DNA that its twin had, but it is hopeful. The whole story is here at The Washington Post: they do such a better job at reporting these things than I do. Of course, that was back in January of 2001, so who knows if ANDi is still alive or if it has reached sexual maturation yet so we can discover if the genes were transferred.

I’m third on the Google search because of my glowing fingernail polish during the power outage exactly two months ago. It’s obvious that the person searching wanted to know more about this monkey besides its name and fingernails. It’s obvious that my entry had nothing to do with ANDi because the blurb read, “… door. My glowing fingernails distracted me as I groped blindly for the stall lock, the water faucet and the paper towels. Just last …” My question is: why did they click on my entry? It obviously had nothing to do with what they were looking for.

I get a lot of hits on this entry because it contains the phrase, “They say that the human race is only three meals away from revolution.” This is the first time this entry has been brought up because of a jellyfish DNA’d monkey called ANDi. I didn’t even know ANDi existed before this person hit my site.

On another note, I’m all for research with cloning and genetically altered animals. I want that future that Lois McMaster Bujold writes about in which you can just grow yourself a new heart in a vat. If I could grown myself a new body and transfer my consciousness to it like that Cory Doctorow book, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Rather than keeping myself fit by exercising every single day, I could just transfer to a new, healthy body that is flexible and healthy. It would make things so much easier and harder at the same time.


The Death of the Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Friday Five is now defunct. I’m so disappointed because I was just getting used to having something fun to write about each week without having to ponder or think too hard. “Thinking hurts my head,” says Talking Barbie.

I don’t care. I’m still going to do the Friday Five and I’m still going to call them the Friday Five. If they are going to abandon the project, I’m just going to keep it going all by myself. I have a huge list of journal prompts that I have collected over the years that I’m going to use. Some of them are lame and some of them are cool, so I’m just going to pick and choose among them.

1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

I would be seventeen years old, I think. I know that I know more than a seventeen-year-old girl, but I perpetually feel so much younger than my age. I still like glittery lip gloss. I still like to listen to music in my car with the volume too loud. I still like pop music. I was so responsible at seventeen that it doesn’t feel strange to be a thirty-five-year-old teenager.

2. What would your seventeen-year-old self tell your present self?

I think she might be a little disappointed in my situation right now. I’m not a published author yet and thirty-five is way old enough to be published by now. What is taking so long? Of course, she couldn’t have possibly understood the Internet. I guess I could just tell her that I am a published author every single day. Right now, I’m writing non-fiction, but if I wanted to publish my fiction on the Internet, I could do it any time I wanted. I guess that’s my next project. Get my fiction on the Internet. Self-publishing is still publishing. Maybe she wouldn’t be all that disappointed in me.

I live in Sugarhouse, which is where she always wanted to live. She would have preferred a little closer to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Westminster College, but it’s so much more efficient to be close to the grocery store and the restaurants than the college now. I’m done with that college stuff. Yeah, I guess, she’d be ok with my life right now. Hell, I drive the coolest car in the world. My new lime-green Beetle eats her old Baja Beetle for breakfast.   3. Did you fulfill your promise, developing the talent you were born with?

Yes, I am developing the talent that I was born with, but I don’t really feel like I’ve fulfilled my promise yet. I feel like I have so much more out there for the world to see. I don’t know why I keep it hiding in drawers and on my hard drive instead of exposing it all to the light of the world. I guess if I start a story online, you guys will expect me to finish it. That’s the big deal. I have yet to really finish a story. I’ve written one book from start to finish, but all the rest are works in progress and even the finished book doesn’t feel finished to me. Does it ever? Maybe not. Maybe I just have to release it to the world at some point and decide that it’s finished. Yeah, that’s my next big project: putting The Falstaff online so that you guys can read it.

4. What call did you answer?

I was called to do so many things that it has been really hard for me to concentrate on writing. I paint oil paintings. I can do the Bob Ross thing. I can do the abstract art thing. I can do it all if I just work hard enough at it. I just don’t paint that often. I’ll paint in spurts, doing many paintings over a short amount of time and then I’ll put my paints and easel away for months. I really wouldn’t consider that answering my calling.

I am also a really good singer. I have a really strong voice and I can instinctively know how to sing. I can’t sight read music, however, but that’s not a big deal if I’m only singing for the church choir. I wouldn’t really consider what I do with my voice to be answering my calling, though.

I write every single day, though. Not a day goes by that I don’t write something somewhere. It might just be writing for myself in my journal, but every day, I am a writer. This is the only instance that I feel like I am actually answering my calling. I am actively working on being a better writer every single day.

5. What day would you like to relive, over and over?

I don’t think I’ve lived it yet. This concept was just introduced to me last month by Margaret Cho. She talked about what her one perfect day would be and her encounter with David Bowie was it. Her perfect day doesn’t cut it for me. There is no person on this planet that I so adore that just meeting him or her would be enough for my perfect day. I don’t think I’ve had my special day that I would like to relive over and over.

If I died right now and had to choose, I would be stuck in Limbo for a long time just trying to decide. Would it be the time that my mom took us to Lagoon? Would it be my first trip to Disneyland? Would it be my first date? I went to the Sadie Hawkins dance with Troy Schied. We had burgers and shakes at a malt shop that has been knocked down and replace with yet another Walgreen’s drugstore. A lady came up to us and said we were a cute couple. Our student body president came to the dance in crutches because he had been hurt in a football game. No, that day wasn’t worth living over and over.

No matter which special day I think of, I can vividly remember the unpleasantness that also happened on that day. Maybe only people with bad memories can choose their one perfect day.


Gossip Girl

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

I just started reading a new series of books. I feel like I should be really embarrassed that I like them so much, but I’ve decided not to be. I still read teen books. For light reading that doesn’t make me think too hard, I read teen novels. I like Meg Cabot’s books, whether she’s writing about psychic teens, ghost-seeing teens or even one of her adult novels, I like her. I haven’t read any of the Princess Diaries franchise that she is so famous for. I guess I’ll get around to them eventually.

I’m not reading a new series by Meg Cabot, though. I’m reading a series called Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar. When B.Dalton was going out of business, I bought the three book boxed set for mondo cheap. I decided that if I didn’t like the books, I would donate them to a school or the library. I’ll probably still do that when I’m finished with them. Maybe the DI will get them, who knows?

Anyway, I’ve already read the first book and I’m tearing into the second one right now. There are lots of “tortured teens” each with their own problems and worries. There’s Blair, who has been trying to lose her virginity with her longtime boyfriend, Nate. I find myself chuckling at their failures. There is Serena who got kicked out of boarding school and is the totally coolest girl you’d ever meet. I wish I were her with her long blonde hair and perfect everything. She used to be best friends with Blair, but they had a tiff and Blair has been avoiding her like the plague. There is Jenny, who is poor and her boobs are way too big. There’s Jenny’s brother, Dan, who is madly in love with Serena. There is Chuck, the total pervert and a date rape waiting to happen. There’s Vanessa, whose two desires are to bang Dan and go to NYU’s film school. She hates all of these rich bitches at her school and she wears all black. There are enough characters for love triangles galore. It all reads like a day playing with Barbie dolls.

The most intriguing and thought provoking item in these books has been Serena. She is absolutely perfect and Blair is so jealous of her she could spit, except she’s a society girl and that would be vulgar. After Blair gave Serena the cold shoulder, Serena started hanging out with the NYU hopeful, Vanessa. They worked on a film together and now Vanessa is dying of jealousy because Serena’s work is so much better than hers. Serena is the type of girl who excels at everything she touches. She’s the kind of girl that you just wish you could hate because she’s so damn perfect, except she’s so perfect that she’s a really nice girl and would never try to hurt you on purpose. You want to hurt her, even though she’s you’re best friend.

I’ve been in this position and I want to write more about it. What to do when your best friend is perfect. How to survive the green-eyed monster. That sort of thing. I’m sure these books won’t give me any pointers on dealing with jealousy in a productive manner, but that doesn’t matter. They are entertainment, not philosophical self-help. They are supposed to entertain me and maybe give me a couple of good ideas.


What To Do When Your Best Friend Is Sickeningly Perfect (Part 1 of 2)

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

She’s absolutely beautiful, everyone thinks so. She’s utterly graceful, everyone can see that. She’s witty and charming, everyone loves to talk to her. She’s polite and nice, everyone thinks she’s too good to be true. The problem is that she’s not. She really is beautiful, graceful, witty, charming, polite and nice, even behind their backs. She’s so bloody perfect you want to scratch her eyes out. Worse still, she’s your best friend.

Maybe you became best friends at birth. Maybe you watched her come into this world, hoping for a playmate and being disappointed with the mewling baby before you. Maybe she came first and you were always in her shadow. No matter what you did, she had already done it first.

Maybe you became best friends in grade school when you both were outcasts, serving school lunch together. You both were there so you could get the extra large free lunch at the end: her because her brothers ate up all the food at her house and you because your grandmother starved you over the summer and it was hard to turn down lots of free food.

Maybe you became best friends in junior high when you both were chosen to be Cougar of the Month. Being smart girls was hard in junior high and the two of you clung to each other in your nerdy times of need. She was developing beautifully, but she was so tall that she dwarfed the boys. She held on, waiting for high school and masculine growth spurts, while you struggled with your burgeoning body.

Maybe you became best friends in high school. You happened to have a class together and she happened to sit next to you. She didn’t need any help with the class work. She just needed another smart girl next to her to listen to her talk about the one guy with blue eyes who just came back from picking pineapples in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Hawaii.

It doesn’t matter how you became best friends. Everyone thinks you’re so lucky. She likes you best and tells you all her secrets. If only her secrets revealed some flaw. If only she was an ugly person inside, but she isn’t. She’s everything that everyone believes her to be and it makes you so completely sick.

Worse still, she has lots of friends. You could be replaced as her best friend at any moment. Her every moment is scheduled and planned. Her days are filled with glamorous activity. You do your best to network. You do your best to make your own friends, but you can’t let go of the idea that they only like you because you’re her best friend. You have that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you that if she decided to replace you, it would devastate you and there would be tons of girls clamoring to take your place.

No matter what you do, you’re always the dowdy one. No matter how smart you are, her scores are always higher. No matter how much you practice, she always beats your best time. No matter whom you’re talking with, she’s the one to make them laugh. She doesn’t even try to beat you and she leaves you in the dust, every time. Most of the time, she doesn’t even know that she beat you. She didn’t even know there was a competition going on.

That’s because there isn’t.

The competition is all in your head. The people around you don’t see her beating you at everything. All they see is the two of you, shining like stars. In fact, the two of you are so blinding that they might not even be able to tell you apart. Her accomplishments have become yours in their minds and your accomplishments have become hers. They are melded together with the strength of your friendship.

Your jealousy is eating away at that friendship and the more that you harbor these thoughts, the weaker your friendship will become. Learning to be friends with someone who is better than you are without being jealous is an asset that will help you succeed in life far beyond any math or grammar skills. Until you master this talent, you will find yourself faced with this situation again and again.  Tune in tomorrow for methods for curbing your green-eyed monster.


What To Do When Your Best Friend Is Sickeningly Perfect (Part 2 of 2)

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

Part 1

Curbing jealously is a skill that will create more happiness for you than almost any other thing you can master. When you are jealous of someone else, you are focused on that person instead of yourself. You are concentrating on what they have instead of working on bettering yourself. Promise yourself today that every time you feel jealous, you will stop, notice it, and work on getting through it.

The Mirror

Jealousy is a powerful tool. Whatever you envy in another can be used for your benefit. Are you resentful of your friend’s wit? The solution is easy: read some Oscar Wilde, watch some Monty Python movies, or obsess over every word <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Chandler ever said on Friends. Do whatever you need to learn how to be witty. Jealousy isn’t a bad feeling as long as you use it for your betterment. Think of jealousy as a mirror. It reflects to you what you wish you had in yourself. Quit hating the person excelling and start working on yourself.

Get the Skinny

Here’s a new concept, be honest with her. She’s your best friend. She deserves it. Tell her how much you wish you could be just as great as she is. Tell her that you really respect her excellence and then ask her how she did it. Revolutionary as the idea seems, asking for the information sometimes is the easiest way to get it. You’ll probably be surprised by your friend’s answer. Maybe she has the secret to perfection. Maybe you’ll find out exactly what you need to do to be as fabulous as she is.

Read Up On It

If you are looking for guidance for this issue on the web, there is very little for you to turn to. I found one article with advice for adolescents, but this problem haunts adults as well as teens. Aside from that, I couldn’t find anything.

There are several collections of quotations about jealousy from The Quotations Page, World of Quotes and The Quote Garden. Sometimes it just takes one well-phrased sentence to bring you to your senses.

There are many books available about this subject. My favorite is an all-around helpful book called Life 101 by Peter McWilliams. You can buy it at Amazon or read it online. It’s an amazing book and it has helped me through life’s tough spots.

Go to your local library and check out every book about jealousy that is available. If you don’t like them or they aren’t helpful to you, don’t even bother finishing them, just move on to the next one. There is a lot of information available for free.

The important thing is to realize that it’s an internal problem, not an external one. Other people don’t make you feel jealous. You are just noticing admirable qualities in another person and desire them for yourself, so go out and get them!


A Scanner Darkly

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

This could be totally cool or totally lame. I’m hoping for totally cool, of course. According to Sci Fi Wire, Warner Brothers is working on making a movie adaptation of A Scanner Darkly by Phillip Dick. That is totally cool. They have cast Keanu Reeves as the cop and are also using Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson. Potential for cool. They are going to film the actors and then use the film for animation like they did in Waking Life. Potential for lame.

They’ve got great actors, why don’t they just film them? I promise, if Robert Downey Jr. falls off the wagon, it will only add to the realism of the movie. They don’t need to be animated. They’re cool enough in real life. Please don’t ruin this story for me.

I read this book a few years ago. A narcotics cop is on the tail of a drug dealer, but something goes terribly wrong while he’s deep undercover. Phillip Dick isn’t a really good writer, so you know right away what happened to this guy. When the surprise ending was revealed, I was thinking, “That’s it? I knew that at the beginning of the book.” If the movie is done right, however, it will be supremely cool.

This book was written in 1977, after the first War on Drugs, instigated by President Nixon, but well before Reagan’s “Just Say No” frenzy and the ensuing second War on Drugs. I’m always amazed at how well Phillip Dick was able to look into the future. I’m equally amazed at how simplistic his writing is and what intrigue and beauty can come of his work. Bladerunner, Minority Report, Paycheck, and Total Recall are all examples of Phillip Dick stories masterfully reproduced on the big screen. Let’s hope that A Scanner Darkly is just as good.


72nd South and State

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

At the northeast corner of 72nd South and <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />State Street there is a small, L-shaped strip mall. It houses a wide variety of merchants including Hooters, Christian Gift Bible, Extreme Sports and Frenze Bridal. There are a few other small stores in that area, but the anchor stores are Frenze and Hooters.

Mike and I drove past that intersection last week and commented on the delicious variety housed on that one corner.

I said, “I would like to see a sidewalk sale at that intersection.”

Mike laughed, “Yeah, maybe they could get together on this and have some event.”

“I could just see it, they could put the Hooters girls in the bridal dresses and let them skateboard with bibles in their hands. They could put up a big half-pipe. It would be funny.”

We laughed and I took it one step further, “Bible toting, skateboard riding, Hooters girls in wedding dresses! That is definitely going in the weblog!”

“Can’t wait to see the search strings that bring up that entry.”


Dylan (Part 1)

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

Gifted and Talented (Part 6)

I just found out that Dylan and his wife, Joan, are going to move to Boston soon. May 10th was Dylan’s birthday, so I reminded Mike to give him a call and wish him a happy birthday. We haven’t seen Dylan and Joan for a while and I thought that Mike could open up the doors of communication.

Dylan is one of the original Gifted and Talented friends, but I knew him long before we were placed in that class. Dylan wasn’t the first friend I had when my parents moved me to West Valley, but he was the most memorable. When I described him in the Gifted and Talented class, I said that there were so many stories to tell you about him that it would take you several blog entries to catch you up.

I guess I’m trying to catch you up before he moves away. He’s another in a string of friends who have left Utah to find his fortune. He’s going to get his Masters in library stuff. It all sounds so incredibly boring to me, but I’m sure he’s going to be needed. Can you imagine how the Library of Congress is going to look when they try to archive everything that has ever been on the web? They need some good people trained quickly to get this thing saved for posterity.

I’m sitting here, stuck and unable to start. There are so many stories about Dylan to tell that I have no idea where to start. I guess I’ll start at the beginning. When I moved to West Valley, I immediately became friends with Anita Park. She was an outcast girl in need of a friend and I was a new girl in need of a friend. The only problem with being friends with an outcast is that I became an outcast in the process. I shrugged my third grade shoulders and figured that it wasn’t a big deal.

The first time I saw Dylan, Anita and I were standing outside at recess. It was a dry, hot Utah day and the activity level of all the children was pretty low. There were no frenzied games of kissing tag. There was no fighting for the swings or tricky bars. The entire third grade was just standing in the shade of Academy Park, watching Dylan.

Dylan was on his hands and knees on the pitcher’s mound about 50 feet away from the school. He was spinning madly and a cloud of dust surrounded and engulfed him. It reached higher and higher until it was a six foot tall swirl of dirt, stirred up by Dylan. “What is he doing?” “That’s just weird.” “That’s just Dylan.” They all stood there, questioning his actions. I decided to find out.

I walked the fifty feet from the tepid shade of Academy Park to the blistering sun of the pitcher’s mound. “Hey,” I called out to him, “what are you doing?” Dylan stopped spinning and came to rest on his bottom, “I’m seeing how high I can get this dust.” I looked at him, sitting in the dirt, and I wanted to know what short-circuit made him wonder such a thing, “Why?” He was leaning back on his hands, “I don’t know.”

I tried to convince him to stop twirling like a dervish and to come back to the shade of the school, “People are going to think you’re nuts just spinning around in the dirt like that.” He didn’t seem bothered with that at all. I don’t know if he had given up and assumed that everyone thought he was nuts already or if he just didn’t care what other people thought. He stayed on the pitcher’s mound and continued his experiment.

“Why is he doing that?” they questioned me when I got back to the shade. I shrugged, “He wanted to see how high the dust would go.” It was decided. Dylan was a nut. There was no questioning it now. He was a complete nut. Anita and I looked at each other, knowingly, if he hadn’t been an outcast before, he surely was now.

A few years ago, Mike and I were driving in the Las Vegas desert between Jean, Nevada and Vegas. The wind was hitting our car in bursts: a hot, dusty wind. On the side of the road, about fifty feet from the car, a dust devil raced us to the city. I sat in awe at the height of the twirling column of dust and I thought about Dylan’s experiment.

Part 2


The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

It’s the second week of finding my own questions for the Friday Five. It’s still easier than writing a whole entry from scratch.

1. Do you sleep well?

On the whole, I sleep well. I usually get eight hours a night. I really feel that sleeping well is the best way to have a good day, so I try to get to bed on time during the weekdays so that I can have a productive week.

When I do have insomnia, it hits me about two hours before I’m supposed to wake up. I’ll awake in a panic with a nightmare, heart pumping and adrenaline rushing. For the first few seconds, I’m paralyzed and I can’t move. I used to think that I was still dreaming, but I’m pretty sure that I’m awake, I just can’t move anything for about thirty seconds or so. I usually can move my head and arms before my legs will work. After I regain my senses, it usually takes about two hours to get back to sleep. I can’t take a sleeping pill or I’ll sleep right through my waking up time, so I’m just stuck being up two hours early.

2. Describe your nightmares.

I have the run-of-the-mill nightmares just like everyone else, but I also have a few of them that are a little strange. Of course, I have the Stinky Ghost nightmares, which are a new occurrence. I only started having these nightmares when I moved into the Sugarhouse house in July of 2003.

I have a recurring nightmare in which I am stuck in a game that never ends, kind of like Monopoly, but the unpleasant portion of the game is this huge, throbbing noisy brown thing instead of having to pay rent on Boardwalk. I haven’t had that dream in a long time. I hope it doesn’t come back because I don’t miss that one.

I have the typical nightmares where a loved one is in danger. I always end up calling said loved one in the middle of the night to make sure they’re ok. When my grandma in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Montana had an aneurysm, I had a dream about her, but it wasn’t a nightmare. I guess I should stop waking up my loved ones when I have nightmares because my track record sucks.

I have never had a nightmare in which I go to a public place naked or in my underwear. I think it’s because I have nothing to hide. My whole life is right here for anyone to read about, so I’m naked every day.

I have the nightmare where my teeth are falling out or disintegrating. The worst teacher in the world, Mr. Hatch, taught Psychology at Kearns High when I went there. He told our class that if you dream about your teeth falling out, you’re sexually repressed. He stated it as if it were fact. He didn’t even mention that it might be quackery and that wasn’t the worst thing he ever did.

3. Do you get them often?

I get nightmares about once a week. If I am stressed, I get them more often than that. I don’t get the horrible insomnia with every nightmare. I usually am able to just calm down and go right back to sleep.

4. Are they recurring?

The Stinky Ghost nightmares and the Monopoly nightmares are the two most frequent recurring dreams that I have. Every time I have a flying dream, it’s different, so I don’t count those as recurring.

5. What is the scariest nightmare you’ve ever had?

The worst nightmare I ever had was several years ago. I lived at Stonehedge, so it was almost ten years ago. In the dream, we were in Billings, Montana. Mike, my grandpa and I were walking on the side of the road at the intersection of 13th and Polly. Just as we got through the intersection, a car came barreling toward us and hit my grandpa, throwing him into the air. His hat flew off his head while he fell to the ground. The car didn’t stop or even slow down. At that point, I woke up.

I immediately picked up the phone and called my grandpa. He was just fine, of course, and kind of bothered that I called him, hysterical, at that time of the night. The car didn’t even slow down.


Dylan (Part 2)

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

Part 1

After the pitcher’s mound incident, Anita and I decided that maybe Dylan just needed some friends. Being fellow outcasts, we decided to be his friends whether he wanted them or not.

Sometimes that was easier said than done. I remember trying to explain what I wanted for a knitting box, “What I need is a cylindrical box so I can have the yarn come out the top.” Dylan argued with me, “You can’t have a cylindrical box. Box implies a cube. You need a cylindrical container.” I didn’t have any proof that box didn’t imply a cube, but my instincts told me that he was wrong.

In the end, it didn’t matter. What I needed was an oatmeal container. My family didn’t eat enough oatmeal to empty a box, and I was hoping that maybe Anita or Dylan had access to something like that. I never got to that part of the story because we spent the rest of recess arguing whether the word box implied a cube.

Sometimes being friends with Dylan was difficult, but he always had interesting ideas. I had never known anyone who categorized things so minutely that the simple phrase, “cylindrical box” was enough to cause an argument. I just looked it up and Dylan was right. The first definition for box listed states, “A container typically constructed with four sides perpendicular to the base and often having a lid or cover.”

Part 3


Back From Yellowstone

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 11:49 am

For the last week, I’ve been in Yellowstone Park. Even though it rained every day and hailed almost every day, it was beautiful. We saw the Paint Pots, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs. Mike took over 800 pictures and he is planning on putting up the definitive Yellowstone website, since most of them are incomplete or just advertisements for travel agencies.

Even though the park was so beautiful, I would have been happy to just sit in the cabin every day. We really lucked out this time. The cabin was brand new and a total luxury setup. We stayed at The Pines at Island Park and it was absolutely fabulous. There were six of us staying there, but the place could have slept ten easily. We brought our DVDs and watched movies almost every night. We had a private hot tub on the porch and we used it almost every night. It felt so great to sit in the hot water while the cold air surrounded us. The steam from the tub reminded me of the Paint Pots we had seen earlier in the day except without the risk of a horrible death by scalding.

I brought a bunch of books to read and ideas to write about and yarn to crochet, but I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I thought I would. I guess if I want to work on my vacation, I need to not call it a vacation. I really just relaxed and hung out. We were supposed to return on Wednesday, but Mike and I stayed three extra days just to finish off the week properly. With that extra day, we were able to get up to Mammoth Hot Springs, which was worth every penny.

I actually came back on Saturday, so I could have written yesterday, but I’m feeling a little tired from all the activity. I don’t know how regular my writing is going to be over the next week or so. I thought that I would have so much time to write while I was gone, but I didn’t write anything except a few entries in my Yellowstone journal. I thought that not writing might let me fill up with ideas, but I’m feeling empty right now. I guess the only thing that keeps me filled up with ideas for writing is writing itself.


Dylan (Part 3)

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

Part 1 ? Part 2

Being Dylan’s friend was hard for other reasons. He was an outcast. Even though I was an outcast myself, I didn’t particularly want to be. By fifth grade, I had noticed boys, most importantly, Greg Wagstaff and Scott Crookston. I started following them around at recess like a drugged puppy. To their credit, they were always nice to me.

Scott Crookston taught me how to spit properly. Don’t scoff; this is an important skill that is rarely taught to girls by their parents. Anyone who has ever gotten a bug in their mouth knows how vital proper spitting technique really is. Thanks, Scott, for teaching me how to spit and for letting me follow you around like the love sick little girl that I was. I have no idea where you are right now, but I’m sending a little good karma your way, man.

In fifth grade, I thought I was the luckiest girl because I got Mr. McConnell’s class. His class was a city and you could have various jobs in the city to earn money. I don’t think I learned anything in that class that year. I learned a lot about archaeology because that was what I was obsessed about at the time, but nothing was covered in class. I remember listening to Hooked on Classics and being asked to draw a picture that felt like the song. I could do that now, but at ten, it was beyond me to try to paint what I heard. I think that concept is beyond most people in general. I learned that I never want to work in the Post Office because it’s just moving a lot of papers. I learned that the whole city concept of a classroom was just a way for Mr. McConnell to get through the school year without having to teach very much.

I wanted to be like Sabrina Martin in fifth grade. She wore really tight pants and the guys liked her a lot. I wanted to wear tennis shoes like hers so bad that I saved up the money to buy some. My mom was surprised that I would rather buy tennis shoes than Barbies and offered to buy them for me. They cost $9.95 at Gibson’s Discount Stores. They were blue and white.

One day in fifth grade, Greg Wagstaff, Sabrina Martin and Scott Crookston were laughing. It was that controlled and hushed laughing that meant that they really shouldn’t have been laughing at all. I feared that they were laughing at me, “What are you laughing at?” Scott turned toward me and replied, “Your boyfriend.” I was clueless. More than anything, I wanted Scott Crookston to be my boyfriend. They were quiet and waiting. I followed their line of sight; they were watching Dylan.

He was reading a book. We were all supposed to be reading books. My biography of Benjamin Franklin hung in my hands while I watched them. Scott pretended to read his biography of Davy Crockett. We watched Dylan. I was appalled as I saw his hand go up to his face. He was picking his nose and even worse: he ate it. I thought, “Even kindergarteners know that you don’t pick your nose and eat it!”

All of them burst into laughter while Dylan read on, oblivious. I was embarrassed by him. I was embarrassed for him. They looked at me to see if I was laughing, but my stomach was sick. All I could say was, “He’s not my boyfriend.”

Part 4


Dylan (Part 4)

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

Part 1 ? Part 2 ? Part 3

Dylan was the hero for one day in fifth grade. Everyone watched him with bright eyes and for one brief, shining moment, he was The Man.

We had been presenting our reports. I have no idea what my report was on. It was probably on bees. I think I wrote the same report over and over my entire school career. I did reports on bees and diabetes and got good grades every time. I thought that I shouldn’t bother learning anything new when I can specialize. Unfortunately, I didn’t major in either bees or diabetes in college, so all that specialization was for naught. Yeah, my report was probably on bees and boring as hell.

As I remember it, we had been bored all day. The entire class was presenting their reports and every damn one of them had been mind-numbingly boring. I couldn’t tell you the subjects of any of the reports, not even Scott Crookston’s or Greg Wagstaff’s. Now that I think of it. I think Scott talked about some biography he had read. The library had an entire section of biographies about American Heroes. I think Scott read every single one of them. I remember noticing that the only American Heroes that were female were Betsy Ross (for sewing the flag, LAME) and Harriet Tubman (for saving hundreds of lives, ok, that was cool). That makes me really mad right now. How come there weren’t cool biographies about Cleopatra or Queen Elizabeth or Katherine the Great? Sure, they weren’t American Heroes, but they were women who kicked ass just as much as stupid old Davy Crockett. Yeah, I think Scott’s report was probably on Davy Crockett and boring as hell.

Dylan’s report was on medieval armament. After a brief explanation of common weaponry during medieval times, Dylan revealed the miniature catapult that he had made. We were thoroughly unimpressed for thirty seconds. He set it up, placed the small wad of paper in it, and set it off. The paper flew across the room. The power of the catapult disrupted itself, turning the medieval machine on its side on the desk. After the release of the device, the room cheered. Dylan set the catapult up on its legs, reset the spring load and prepared it for another shot.

I was completely shocked. He had kept the fabulousness of his report an absolute secret from me. I imagined that his room at home must be filled with tiny weapons of war, lined up neatly on shelves. While the class cheered, I remember looking at Dylan, surprised and proud of how popular his report was. Yeah, Dylan was the hero that day.


Todd Oldham

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

I had a dream Wednesday morning that I was friends with Todd Oldham. He had been introduced to me by Richard Larsen, a real estate agent that I used to work with. It made perfect sense to me that Richard knew Todd Oldham. I didn’t even question it when it was brought up in conversation.

I was so glad that I hadn’t worn my Phillipe Starck watch, even though I love it dearly. I worried that Todd was really jealous of other designers. I told him how much Dan loves Michael Graves’ designs and did the entire kitchen in Michael Graves’ ware. Todd just crinkled his nose as if I had just farted. I tried to keep my tongue in check.

Todd was dressing me up. He was choosing all the coolest clothes for me and for once I felt totally at home trying on clothes. He had these fabulous sandals that were handmade. They were the prototypes for a shoe line that he had with Target and they were ideal for me. They were size 8 and 3/4. I remember saying, “I didn’t know shoes came in quarter sizes.” He told me that it was his invention. I realize now that the quarter sizes probably meant wide, so an 8 and 3/4 was really an 8 and 1/2 W. It’s absolute genius if you ask me. No one wants their feet to be WIDE. A quarter-size larger sounds so much better.

The shoes were priced at $115 and I worried that Mike would balk at the price. Actually $115 for an original design from Todd Oldham is probably a steal, especially considering how much designers usually charge for shoes. I didn’t want Todd to know how reluctant I was to pay so much for a pair of sandals, but he already saw my eyes bug out of my head at the price.

The sandals were small little black things painted with Todd Oldham colors and shellacked heavily to protect the colors. They had four inch heels with thick bottoms and tiny straps holding them to my feet. They looked like they would hurt to wear, but they felt so fabulous and comfortable that I didn’t even want to take them off. I kept trying on clothes in the sandals. I wasn’t even self conscious by the fact that my feet were basically naked; they felt that perfect.

When I woke up, I was bothered by the fact that this was the second shopping dream I had dreamt in two days. I usually hate to shop, so having two pleasant and enjoyable shopping dreams in a row is a rarity for me. Shopping dreams are usually nightmares for me. I usually have those dreams where I’m trying my hardest just to find a black mini skirt and all I can find are clothes that are too small for me to fit in. I wake up standing outside of a store that doesn’t even carry my size.

I’m sad that I’m not best friends with Todd Oldham and he can’t pick out the best clothes for me. I need a friend to dress me because I really don’t care about fashion that much. I’m even sadder that those fabulous four-inch sandals don’t exist. Maybe I can find some regular sandals and paint them. Of course, they wouldn’t come in size 8 and 3/4. That’s the saddest part.


The Friday Five

Filed under: The Friday Five — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

1. What are your personal superstitions?

I like to think that I’m not superstitious, except that I knock on wood and throw salt over my shoulder (should it be the right or left shoulder, I can never remember). I catch myself wanting to believe in ghosts and imaginary kingdoms. Then, there is that obsession with the number three that I have to contend with. I guess I consider myself a logical human being with an eye on superstition. Is it wrong that I accidentally pronounce it stupidstition sometimes?

2. What do you see when your eyes are closed?

I usually have one or two floaters in my eyes that I can see when I close them. When I meditate, sometimes I can see shapes in the dark. The most common is an hourglass shape followed closely by the Target logo. None of the people in my meditation class experienced anything similar, so I guess I’m just weird.

3. You’re a houseplant, what would you say about the humans in your house?

Laura never waters me or even really notices that I exist, but Mike is a God! He gives me water, protects me from little bugs and spiders, and fertilizes me regularly. He even bought a humidifier so that I’ll be happier in this <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Utah desert. I just love Mike. We all do, really.

4. In my life as a vegetable, I’d be _________ because ______

In my life as a vegetable, I’d be a Rutabaga because that’s the funniest vegetable. The name is so fun to say. If you have to be a healthy root vegetable, Rutabaga is the one to be.

5. As a fruit, I think I’d be _______________ because _______

As a fruit, I think I’d be a Marion Berry because it doesn’t even exist. It’s always to fun to live your life as an imaginary fruit.

Man, the questions sucked today. Well, I guess unsatisfactory questions are better than no entry at all. Maybe not?


Who The Hell is William F. Claire?

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

I quoted him back in December. Just in case you didn’t remember, because I quote so many people on this weblog (although not as many as I used to, hmmm), here is the quote:

I dream of wayward gulls and all landless lovers, rare moments of winter sun, peace, privacy, for everyone.  – William F. Claire

This quote and the name, William F. Claire, brought four visitors to my site. They typed his name incorrectly, calling him William F. Clare, but they found me nonetheless. The last time I got that many hits with one name of an obscure artist was when Peter Ustinov died. The Quotations Page was number two on the Google search for his name and we were hit a lot when he passed away. I worried that this poor William F. Claire fellow just left us and that maybe I should eulogize him in some way.

So I tried my own search for him. It’s no wonder I was hit, I’m on the second page and the ten hits before mine were all just the same quote that I quoted. Some of them had the quote in poem form; others had it listed out like prose, as I had done. I wasn’t able to find any biographical information about him. All I could find was his name on some books that have been published and that same damn quote, over and over.

As far as the Internet knows, William F. Claire said a pretty thing and lots of people wanted to say it again. He wasn’t born. He didn’t die. He existed for a petite moment in time, recorded a shining thought and blinked out of existence, unnoticed. Oh yeah, he wrote a piece called “Thinking of Anais Nin” from which that quote was taken. That brief window of time was March 29, 1971, since that’s when the National printed his work. It looks like he wrote some poetry, but there is precious little about it or him on the Internet. You can’t even buy a book by him on Amazon.com.

Is he alive now? Is he still writing? If he is, he needs to get a web designer hired as soon as possible to get his name out in the Internet world. Some whipper-snapper like Cory Doctorow is going to kick his literary ass. If he’s dead, where are his obsessive fans? They have fallen short and haven’t even put up a biography for him. If my weblog that merely quoted him on a snowy winter day can show up on the second page of the Google search, his obsessive fans should be ashamed of themselves.

Is it going to fall to me? Am I going to have to be the one obsessive fan for William F. Claire? In the future, children won’t go to the library for their book reports, they’ll come to the Internet and he’ll be sorely underrepresented there. Am I going to be the sole stalker to put up his biography so that the Internet can remember him and children can write book reports about him? If that’s the case, I’m going to have to find out who the hell is William F. Claire?!


Todd Oldham Update

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

Wednesday night, Mike took me shopping for those fabulous sandals that haunted my dreams. I couldn’t find anything quite as colorful as the sandals that my imagination invented for Todd Oldham, but I found three pair of sandals with four inch heels that show almost all of my feet save some slinky straps. I bought them at Payless Shoe Source. They were having a Buy Two, Get One Free Sale, so all three cost $33 and some change including tax. That’s a far cry from the $115 handmade prototypes that Todd offered me in my reverie, but they’ll do.

I had a brief moment of inspiration when I thought I would paint my own fabulous Todd Oldham sandals exactly how they were painted in my dream, but that quickly faded when I noticed how great they looked just in black with no orange or powder blue. By the way, I fit into size 8 shoes now. No 8 and 3/4 for me. I didn’t know my feet would shrink when I lost weight. That’s a surprise!

The important blessing that my Todd Oldham dream gave me was the confidence. I was looking for clothes and I felt beautiful and svelte. I was trying on sandals that showed my toes and my heels and my arches. My naked feet are absolutely beautiful because I pamper them, but I’ve never felt worthy to show them to the world. Now, they are out there for all to see. They aren’t hiding in hiking sandals. They aren’t hiding in Birkenstocks. They are jumping up and grabbing your attention in four-inch heels and skimpy buckles. Thanks, Todd!


Cactus and Tropicals

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

Transcribed from Moleskine notebook dated 5-29-04:

I’m at Cactus and Tropicals. Mike is looking at plants, periodically bringing me interesting specimens. I am sitting in the Bonsai Area, listening to the water of the fountains and the classical music on the overhead speakers.

The place is packed. I hear voices coming from the Topiary Area, the employees are talking at the Service Table and many feet are crunching the gravel. The vents turn on and off at seemingly random times, surprising me every time they turn on and relieving me every time they turn off.

A pack of four male employees were grouped by the pots and baskets. I thought they might have been moving heavy objects, but after watching them for a few moments, I realized that wasn’t the case. The furtive smiles and embarrassed eyes told me that they were looking at a girl. I was so far away from them, I assumed it wasn’t me, even though they looked in my direction. A female employee was sweeping the walkway, but the embarrassment in their faces couldn’t belong to a fellow employee. No, it had to be a customer.

She was looking at the bonsai plants at the front of the Bonsai Area. She had a black scarf with white polka dots glamorously wrapped around her head, through her hair, and trailing down her back. Her maroon shirt wasn’t quite long enough to meet the top edge of her size 2 jeans, so a thin strip of skin showed all around her waist. Her belly button was modestly hidden and she was completely oblivious to the attention of the male employees.

She tired of the bonsai and moved toward the Topiary Area, out of my line of sight. Slowly, and one at a time, the male troupe followed her path, keeping a distance. Now, there is only one male employee remaining. He is looking in the direction that his coworkers headed and he appears to be contemplating the idea of following.

Mike just brought a Peperomi Asperula over for me to watch. The succulent now sits at my right with his jacket and my purse. He always worries that I will be bored and I always feel like I never get enough time here. Just like Barnes and Noble, he shoves me out the door before I’m finished.

It’s not literature that I read while I’m at Cactus and Tropicals, it’s people. I never get enough people watching time when I’m here. Mike bores of the botany far before I bore of the sociology.

A noisy family crunches the gravel in the Bonsai Area. The ten-year-old son points to the small bamboo chair, nestled between the plants and says, “That’s the time out chair.” The father calmly replies, “Yes, that’s the time out chair.” I can’t stop myself from laughing out loud.

Rule number one of people watching is to not draw attention to yourself, especially by laughing at them. The father looks at me, “Yeah, he’s a smart aleck.” I laugh some more, trying to hide the Moleskine. Maybe he won’t think I’m strange if he doesn’t notice the notebook.

The perfect family walks into the Bonsai Area. “Look at the bonsais,” the father says. The mother holds an alert and silent baby. The oldest child is a faultless girl with immaculately coifed hair and impeccably clean clothes. She leads her brother in a hushed game of Follow The Leader. The father and mother compare various bonsai. The baby remains a noiseless bundle in the mother’s arms. The other two children hover around them. The five of them are a rarity in Utah: a perfect, quiet family that no one notices because they are not the squeaky wheels of society. I wonder if the children ever need a time out chair or even know what one is.

Mike comes by again. He has no specimens for me to see or acquisitions for me to guard. He is just worried that I’m bored. “Did you find anything else that you want?” He kisses me, “I want so many things, but there’s not room.” I assure him that there is always room for more plants in our house. He kisses me again and looks for more acquisitions.

I can barely hear the water in the fountains when the vents are moving air. There is a meditation technique in which you isolate one sound. If you are listening to music, for example, you try to concentrate on just the violins, ignoring the rest of the orchestra. I am at Cactus and Tropicals, I am concentrating on just the water, ignoring the voices, vents and gravel. It is very difficult to do, but if I concentrate, I can hear the water despite it all.

Mike is hovering in the Bonsai Area. I think he has finally bored of the botany and it is time for me to reluctantly leave.

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