Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


June Search Strings

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

lds garments hot sweaty

I don’t know how I get in this situation. Seven people found me with this search string. I have never talked about the garments that LDS people wear under their clothing, yet I’ve shown up on this search string. I know it must have been my Wardrobe Malfunction entry that showed up on the list, even though it doesn’t show up now. Worse yet, who knew there were seven people out there in the world wondering about hot and sweaty LDS garments.

If you’re wondering about LDS garments, here’s the lowdown from a philistine. After you take your sacrament in the LDS temple, you are allowed to wear LDS garments. They are basically boring underwear that signify the vows and pledges you made in the temple. They are made out of really lightweight material and they are white (or dingy gray if you haven’t replaced them for awhile). You wear them under everything, including your bra. I’ve never heard anyone complain about them during the summer. You’re not required to wear them, but they are a physical testament to your vows in the temple, so most LDS people here in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Salt Lake are proud to wear them.

how to be witty

If I had this answer, I would be the queen of the world. I have been striving for witty for so long that I really think it may be impossible to be witty at all times. I think it’s impossible to be Chandler 24-7. All that we can hope for is one truly brilliant moment when we are supremely funny. If you have more than one, count yourself lucky. I’ve given up on being witty and usually just resort to pratfalls.

ghost stinky smell

Stinky Ghost seems to be entertaining the populous. Even though the swamp cooler has been changed, we are still having stinky ghost problems. We are blaming them on poor ventilation and open windows often. The worst is when we have visitors. I feel like I have to explain to them that I really am a good housekeeper. It’s easier to just blame it on the ghost.

mike pinkston, greg wagstaff

It looks like some of my old friends are looking themselves up on the Internet or other people are looking for them. There is at least one other Mike Pinkston in the world and several other Greg Wagstaffs. I haven’t been able to find websites of the “real” Mike and Greg. If they existed, I would link to them.

bosu buy one get second half off

I’ve gotten lots of hits because of all my Bosu talk, but this one takes the cake. If you had one, why would you want another one? The only reason you might want to is to balance one on one foot and one on the other, which would understandably be much harder. Or maybe if you owned a gym, you might want to buy several. Otherwise, just learn how to do it with one. Your sister-in-law can buy her own.

coolest things to do -travel -events -you -just -can’t ?miss

Wow! What are they? How the hell did I come up on this search string? I have no idea what the coolest things to do are when you are traveling. I’ve been to Vegas at least twenty times and I still couldn’t tell you what the coolest thing to do there is. I guess I would have to say that the RA nightclub at the Luxor Hotel is the coolest thing to do in Vegas, but I really haven’t gone to all the cool nightclubs in Vegas, so it’s hard to judge. I really have no idea what the coolest things to do and which events I just can’t miss. When you find out, will you tell me?


God, I hate it when I’m stupid. It’s funny when a search string comes up, I notice my stupidity, but I had read that entry at least five times and didn’t notice the error. I originally named the entry KRCL. If you read it back in January and you didn’t know the Utah radio market, you would have just breezed right past the error and never noticed it. When I saw those call letters in my search string, I was confused. I didn’t remember writing about KRCL. Did I talk about wanting to be a DJ and considering doing volunteer work for the community radio station? I found the entry and quite frankly, no I didn’t.

No, I wrote about The Death of KCGL, the most important radio station of my young punk life and like a bozo used the wrong fucking call letters! Well, in computer land, I can edit history. Just like Winston in 1984, I can change my entry from back in January to reflect the correct call letters and erase all evidence of stupidity, except this entry, of course. No, this entry is a physical testament to my poor memory and incredible ability to mix two entirely different radio call letters.


The Friday Five

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

1. What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

When Deon Sanestevans apologized to me for the months of torture during junior high school, it was the nicest thing that anyone has done for me. I haven’t told this story yet. I guess I should someday and you’ll understand.

2. What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone else?

Senior year in high school, I was on the staff of the Literary Magazine. It meant that we went to class every other day, wrote teen angst poems, judged the teen angst of  our peers and worked our butts off getting our magazine published. Dawni Burton Hatch was in the class with me. Mike Pinkston was in the class with me. Candy Jeffs was in the class with me.

I’ve never talked about Candy Jeffs before. She lives in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Salt Lake again and I have seen her recently. She has been known to read this blog, but I feel like I have to be honest. When we were in high school, the last thing I wanted was to be seen with Candy Jeffs. I wanted to be cool. I was a punk rock bitch and having a Mormony girl like Candy Jeffs follow me around was an irritant.

I always felt guilty for snubbing Candy. I’ve never seen Flatliners, but I’ve been told that Keifer Sutherland was haunted by past taunts of a girl during his school years. I was haunted that way. Several years later, Candy was back from college for the summer and got a job at the same K-Mart that I worked at. I confessed how sorry I felt about treating her poorly during high school.

She told me that she didn’t think I treated her poorly. She was glad that I let her hang out with me. I was never overtly mean to her. She saw our time in high school together as a happy time and she was grateful for my association. I didn’t mean to, but the nicest thing I’ve done was just let someone be my friend. Now, I am grateful for her friendship as an adult.

3. What one thing do you wish you had done?

I wish I had been braver. I wish I had told more guys that I loved them. It was so easy to love back then. The older I get, the fewer people I love. I wish I had told more people that I liked them. It was so easy to just casually like people back then. The older I get, the fewer people I can even tolerate, much less like.

4. What is your biggest regret?

My biggest regret is that it took me so long to let myself be a writer. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school, but I thought that I had to have something to “fall back on.” I wasted a lot of time getting a degree in Mathematics when I could have been honing and refining my writing skills.

5. What is your greatest accomplishment?

I like to think that my greatest accomplishments are still yet to come. Of course, I’m sure that I would feel like that even if I won the Pulitzer Prize, so I guess I should make an assessment of myself as of this date. My greatest accomplishment to date has been finally allowing myself to write and publish my work every day. I was writing every day, but all of it was hidden away. Publishing on this weblog every single day has been my greatest accomplishment so far.


Lunchtime at the Park

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

Sometimes it’s so slow at work I could write all day long. With only a few interruptions from phone calls and engineers, I could spend the entire day documenting my life. Even with six to eight hours to write, I still would be unable to document everything that happens to me every day. There is simply no way to record a life in entirety.

Instead I write snapshots of the most interesting moments of my day. Sometimes I write about the most boring moments of my day. When my day is busiest and my encounters are the most exciting, sometimes I don’t write at all.

That’s what happens when I go on vacation. I plan on not writing. I expect my days to be filled with enjoyable activity and my evenings to be filled with well-earned sleep. That’s what happens on the weekends. I plan on not writing. I expect my weekends to be filled with errands and chores and the occasional family visit. That’s why I pre-write my entries before I leave on vacation. I set them up to arrive every morning at 5:00 am while I’m gone. I do the same for the weekends.

You see, I’m actually writing this entry on my lunch hour on Wednesday, June 30th. I’m planning on transcribing it from my Moleskine some time before Saturday when I plan on posting it. You see, I’ve already written the entries for Thursday, Friday and Sunday. I just need to get Saturday’s entry written and I’m ready for the weekend.

Today, work has been very busy for me. There will be no writing at work, but my lunch hour is spent in the shade at the park. There is only so much relaxing I can do before I pick up my Moleskine and start writing. Even if I were to write every moment of every day, I would still be unable to document my life in entirety. I can’t let a minute slip by when an important thought is on my mind.


The Other

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

At this time of year, I start thinking about how the Judeo-Christian basis for my government affects my relationship with my country. The fact that I do not believe in a higher power does not change my feelings about my country. I desperately love my country and I have an extreme amount of patriotism, but I still feel like I am not part of it.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  – The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies, July 4, 1776

The point at which they ostracized me because of my religious beliefs wasn’t the first time that I felt like The Other. The wording of our precious historical documents is primarily male-based, so on that basic level, I am The Other because of my gender. However, even if I were male, I suspect that I would still feel like The Other.

I believe that the feeling of The Other is part of us as humans. I believe it is the reason that we band together in tribes, in churches, at sports events and with countries. We all feel alone and separate in the world and we want to be included in something greater than all of us.

The fact that our Declaration of Independence states that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights is not an issue for me. I have spent my entire life translating truths so that I can swallow them. I have edited so many things so that I can understand them on a purely logical and rational basis that editing out “Creator” and accepting that my country believes that I am equal and deserving of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is enough for me.

Additionally, I don’t really believe in all that history stuff. Some guys got together, created our country and tried their darndest to make it a good one. I hold the literal translation of what they wrote with the same skepticism that I hold the literal translation of the Bible. Some guys a long time ago, who had no relation or inkling of me, said some stuff. Every once and a while, I can find truth and honor among their writings, but most of it feels hollow and unconnected to me. I’m grateful that my country believes in some of those truths, but I mostly feel like The Other.


Happy Birthday, Mom!

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

I sometimes wonder what it was like for you to have your birthday so close to the Fourth of July. You always share your birthday with the country that you live in. Does that make you more patriotic? Does that make you less? I think I would end up resenting Independence Day, but you don’t seem to mind it. We give you presents and then light things on fire. Fireworks for your birthday. Maybe that’s not so bad. What is it like?

It’s hard for me to contemplate your birth. What was it like? You were almost an only child because your nearest sibling was 15 when you were born. There was no hair pulling. No one stole your clothes. No name calling. No sharing. No one to blame when you broke the hair brush. Was it a shock to get to school and find out that kids played by a whole different set of rules than adults? What was it like?

Growing up Lutheran must have been entirely different than the upbringing that I had. Did you plan that? Did you sit in services thinking, “When I have kids, I’m not going to make them sit in services”? Did you enjoy going to church? Were you proud when you got your Confirmation? Did they have a party for you? Did you get to wear a white dress? What was it like?

Being a military wife must have been hard. I imagine you alone with your hairy baby trying to make the monthly check last the entire month. He would go out to sea for what seemed like forever. Did you feel abandoned? Was it a relief? Was it exciting to be stationed in Virginia and Kenosha? Was it just like Milwaukee except less urban and nothing looked familiar? What was it like?

Then you were divorced. You deservedly kicked Dad out and you held strong even when he played his mind games and empathy tricks. It was Dad that told us about the divorce, but you showed us how it should be done. You were positive about him, even when my ten year old eyes could see him trying to use us as bargaining chips. You defended him and even now, you tell me that I should be respectful. How did you do it? When you knew that he was unstable, how could you still be so honorable? How were you able to keep the thought, “He’s still their father” in your mind so vividly? What was it like?

There’s so much about you, Mom, that I don’t know. You’re such a private person. I’m more like Dad, with my life and my thoughts and my dreams and my hopes all lying in the open on the coffee table where anyone could see them. My past is openly spoken about. My future is openly hoped about. My present is shared as it happens every day on the web. There is so much about you that I don’t know and I don’t think you’ll write a book about it any time soon. Is it because you don’t want us to know or do you think it’s not important in the big scheme of things? Well, it’s important to me.

I got you a present for your birthday, even though you always tell me not to. I understand your thought process. You don’t feel like you need anything, so you don’t want presents. Presents are just more stuff you don’t really need. I understand. I have found myself feeling the same way, yet I still want to acknowledge your birthday. You’re important to me, so I buy you a present and hope that you like it. If you don’t, tough luck. Give it to the DI. Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you.


The Happiness Butterfly

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

Yesterday at lunch, I took out my lawn chair out of the back of the Beetle and sat on the grass behind the tree. I don’t think anyone at work could see me because I parked in the neighboring business’s parking lot and I hid behind the huge evergreen that shades my car so well by the time I go home. I ate a snack and let my bare legs get some sun and just listened to the roar of I-15.

A cabbage butterfly was enjoying the grass and bushes and flew so close to me that it felt like a pet. It reminded me of something that the Jehovah Witnesses liked to talk about. They had a saying about happiness. It went something like this: Happiness is like a butterfly. If you chase after it, it will fly away, but if you stay still it will come and alight on your shoulder.

It’s the biggest load of crap. There are tons of you reading my blog every day. If you have ever once had a butterfly alight on you, I want you to leave a message. In all of my days of staying still and waiting for them, I have never once had a bloody butterfly land on me. Ladybugs? Yes. Flys? Hell, yes! Butterflies? Not once.

Now, before you go screeching “allegory” at me, I don’t believe it either. Happiness isn’t something that just comes to you without looking. You have to be diligent. You have to make careful choices. One bad choice can upset your happiness for the rest of your life. Don’t just sit around waiting for happiness to come to you. Get off your ass and chase the sucker. Get a freaking net. Set a trap. Do whatever you need to do to catch that happiness because life is for the go-getters.

The paranoid in me thinks that the “Happiness is a Butterfly” saying is just a way to keep their members down. They are told that if they aren’t happy, they need to stay still and quit chasing it. They are told that if they aren’t happy, it’s their own fault for searching for it in the first place. That’s a big load of baloney and I didn’t realize it until today.

I had heard the saying so many times, that I immediately stayed still when I saw the little white butterfly flitting around me yesterday. Something from my childhood kicked in and I thought, “If the butterfly lands on me, then I’ll be happy.” That’s how often that saying was said to me as a child. Butterflies represent happiness to me far more than any other symbol.

Needless to say, this butterfly didn’t alight on my shoulder. That doesn’t mean I’m not happy, it just means that butterflies don’t land on human beings because we don’t have any nectar. If only I could naturally produce nectar, then I’d be happy.


Fourth of July Neighbor Watching

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

The neighbor with the incredibly huge front lawn is mowing it right now. He is wearing what looks like a flat brimmed fedora, jeans and a gray t-shirt. He is walking up and down the incredibly huge front lawn and his tiny house hides at the back of the lot. When Mike and I moved here, Stacey and Dan came to visit us. We had parked the Beetle in front of this neighbor’s house because the previous residents were still moving out when we got there. By the time Stacey and Dan arrived, all they saw was our car in front of that house and lamented our poor choice. It wasn’t until they checked the address that they realized that we were in the adorable brick home across the street. I look at this neighbor mowing his huge lawn and I wonder how he can enjoy living there. I would hate it if I were him. Back and forth he pushes the mower. If it were me, I’d knock down the tiny house at the back of the lot and build a real house alongside everyone else’s. I guess that’s why I don’t live in the house across the street.

Rick is out of town for the Fourth. He is taking <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Tracy to meet his sister in California. We are looking out for the cats, but there is a house sitter. His black cat, Pedro, won’t go near me since I held him down and brushed the lumps off his back end. Rick had given him a bath, which caused a shedding like I haven’t seen on this animal. Maybe he’ll forgive me in a week or two. His brain’s the size of a tennis ball. How long can he remember?    My cowboy-hippie motorcycle neighbor is dressed in his leathers and boots for a ride on his motorcycle. His girlfriend is all suited up and they are getting ready for a drive on the fourth of July. I’m watching them out of my window getting the motorcycle ready and putting on their helmets. I can almost smell the leather from here. His braided hair falls halfway down his back and her short blond hair fits nicely under the helmet. I know my dog is going to whine and whimper when he starts up the bike, but it’s fun to watch the process. They both climb onto the bike and arrange themselves carefully. The motor fires up and he pulls away from the curb. The funniest thing is that they have strapped a stuffed monkey onto the back of the bike. Have fun, neighbors!


The Friday Five

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

1. Would you rather earn more money or have more time off?

Can’t I have both? Can’t I earn more money and work less hours? What is the saying? Work smarter, not harder. Can’t I have some of that smarter work?

I guess if I had to choose, I would prefer to have more time off. We only go through life once and I want to enjoy it while I’m here. I can’t spend it after I’m dead.   2. Which is more important, the ends or the means?

This is a question straight out of the sixties. You might as well ask me which is more important, the medium or the message? There’s no question on this one, they’re both important, but the means outweigh the ends. If you have to go against your morals to get the desired result, then it’s not worth it. You can’t do good in the world by doing evil.
3. How are our personalities formed, by nature or through nurture?

Wow! Isn’t that the question? I have no idea. I don’t have any children, but all the parents that I know say that the children come with their own personalities. I know that each of our pets have their own distinct personalities, but each of them had completely different upbringings.

Did Linda’s compulsive overeating come from me? What about her dedication to a schedule? Did Maggie’s needy behavior come from being raised by Mike’s over-attentive sister, Kristen, or was she born that way? Her brother, Chester, also was ultra-needy, but then again, he was raised by Kristen, too. What about Sid? Was he born with the need to bark at motorcycle helmets or was he accosted by a motorcycle madman during his puppy years?

I truly don’t know. If I knew for sure, it might win me the Nobel Prize, so I’m not telling.   4. Who do you feel closer to, your mother or your father?

Finally, an easy one. I feel closer to my mom. I never really bonded with my dad. Now if you asked me to choose between my mom and Grandpa, that would be a hard question.
5. Why do you answer these silly questions, out of boredom or out of love of introspection?
  Ahh, the love of introspection. I think my entire life has been lived through the myopic eyes of introspection. Unless of course, you mean the Pet Shop Boys’ album, then I would have to choose boredom. What I do here has nothing to do with that album… I Want A Dog… A Chihuahua


Back to the Gym

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

I went back to the gym last Tuesday. Mike and I met there to take a Trekking class, which is a class on the treadmill where the teacher tells you what to do with your speed and incline to music. It’s kind of like my i2Workout CDs without the robotic voice.

The last time I went to the gym was sometime in early June. I used the elliptical trainer and there was no incident, but I still hated it there. I was still mad because of The Bosu Incident. Heck, I’m still upset over it and it’s still hard to set foot in the door.

After all the times I’ve compared it to The Oasis Spa at the Luxor Hotel, I realized that I was wrong. I went to the spa at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Luxor on our last Vegas trip and my gym is way better. There are more machines and the changing facilities are nicer. The only ways Luxor beats Xcel Spa & Fitness is the hot tub is larger and more luxurious, the showers have their specialty products in them (available for purchase at Dandera’s Bath and Body Shop) and there is fresh fruit in the waiting area. I’d much rather be able to choose which machine to use without waiting than to have fresh fruit waiting for me. The more I think about it, the more I realize my gym is a great place. I just had one bad experience there.

It had been about a month since I last went to the gym. You wouldn’t think a month could change things, but they did. All the signs begging you to narc on your friends were different. They had some Christmas in July promotional going on as well. Then, when it came time to scan myself in, the scanner was gone. Now, I need to hand my card to the person at the front desk so they can scan it and make sure I’m up-to-date before they return my card. Plus, one of their washing machines is broken, so they are low on towels. Other than that, everything still looked the same.

The Tuesday Trekking class has a rotating teacher. Every time I go there, I never know who is going to teach it. Each teacher is different, but they are all good in their own ways. Last Tuesday’s teacher was the small blonde. Every time she gives a command, she says something positive afterward. She tells us to speed up and a few seconds later, she says, “Nice!” She tells us to slow down and a few seconds later, she says, “Recover!” She tells us to change the incline and increase the speed at the same time and a few seconds later, she says, “Keep going!” Just like when Mr. Rogers introduced me as his television friend, I feel like she is talking to me personally. It feels like she notices that I’m working hard and she’s giving me positive reinforcement.

I kept being distracted by a girl on a treadmill in front of me. She was thin and had brown hair. I never saw her face, but from the back, she looked like the Bosu girl and I wanted to punch her. For all I know, it was a girl that was shaped just like the Bosu girl, but that didn’t calm me down. The more I saw her run on the treadmill (she wasn’t following along with the class, she was just exercising on her own), the more I realized that she could have kicked my ass on the treadmill just as much as in the Bosu Synergy class.

While I was exercising, I fantasized about how I could get back at that girl.  The best I could come up with was tripping her and when she got back up say something like, “You should really work on your balance. You know, they have a class called Bosu Synergy. Maybe you should take it some time.” I chuckled to myself as I missed the command from the teacher. All I heard was her response, “Nice!”

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Show Up

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

Mike Ferry is a real estate guru. He’s pretty much out of the business now and his sons run the show, saying the same things with a new twist here and there. Over the years he has changed a lot. It’s interesting to listen to his old tapes and compare them with the newer ones. The real estate game hasn’t changed much in the last twenty five years, no matter what they want to tell you. Price the house right and it sells. The Seller is happy, the Buyer is happy, the Broker is happy and the Agent gets it in the ass.

Mike Ferry’s first rule of selling real estate is: Show Up. You have a listing appointment? What’s the first thing you need to do? Show Up. You are taking the buyers out to see property? What’s the first thing you need to do? Show Up. You need to get some appointments? What’s the first thing you need to do? Show Up. His first rule of real estate is being in the right place at the right time, whether that place is at a listing appointment, a showing appointment or in the office prospecting for new clients. Get your ass in the door every freaking day and you’ll be a successful real estate agent.

That’s how I live my writing. Every day I show up. I get my butt in front of the computer or I take out my Moleskine and I show up at the page. I don’t know why I think that I should follow the same rules for writing as I did for being a real estate agent. I was a relatively successful real estate agent, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was harder on myself than a boss ever would have been. I would have punched myself in the nose and quit if I could have found a place to stand to get the leverage to break my own nose with my fist.

Ok, this entry has taken a metaphysical trip that I didn’t intend, so let’s start over.

Every day, I show up at the page. Even if I think I feel empty, I show up at that page and I start typing. Sometimes I write a half a page of crap before I get an idea of what to write about in my entry. Sometimes I’m so consumed with something that I can’t write about in public that it’s hard to even think about something else. I just let my fingers complain about the taboo subject and within a few pages, I find something interesting to talk about.

How do I write every single day without fail? I show up. I treat it like an appointment. If I had an appointment with a Seller to list their house, would I blow them off because I “didn’t feel like it”? Hell no. I’d show up at their house, no matter what. That’s how I’ve been treating my writing. No matter how empty I feel, I show up and start typing. Amazingly, there is always something in there to come out. I don’t know where it comes from. Sometimes, it feels like it comes from somewhere else, but I still type as fast as I can to get it out of my fingers and on the screen.

I quit the real estate business over two years ago. Is it wrong of me to keep all those Mike Ferry tapes and inspirational stuff? I remember getting really revved up by them and feeling inspired to get on the phones and get appointments with as many clients as possible. I think I cling to them because they made me feel so inspired to work hard. Man, I worked hard when I was a real estate agent. Now that they’ve cut my hours at the office, I don’t make as much as I did then, but I have no desire to go back. It was so stressful and the broker took half my hard earned money.

Then again, I work hard at this blog every day and it has only earned about three bucks in advertising money. You can’t measure something solely by how much money it earns. I feel such a sense of accomplishment by publishing my writing every day. Every time there is a surge in readers, I rejoice at my higher numbers. Quite frankly, I learned a lot about life being a real estate agent. Sometimes I feel silly for going into the real estate business because I worked so hard for so little money, but most of the time, I’m grateful that I learned so much and I’m even more grateful that I don’t have to do it anymore.


Living in an Inconsequential Bubble

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

It helps to live in a bubble. I haven’t kept up with the news, so it has taken me weeks to know of the deaths of each hostage. I stopped watching the news because I feel powerless. There is nothing I can do except vote against Bush in November, and even that is an exercise in futility because I live in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Utah. Our votes go Republican no matter how I vote.

People are dying and I am powerless to change it. There is nothing I can do to stop it. No matter how loud I squawked when this war started, none of the gung-ho guys listened. I imagined the families in Iraq receiving the wrath of our military and I dreaded the future. I could have never imagined the treatment of the prisoners in our own prisons. I could have never imagined this hostage business. It’s completely out of control.

Tony Blair says that the only reason they’re taking hostages is because they can’t beat our soldiers. The only weapon they have to use against us is our own televisions. I don’t know how I feel about that since I don’t watch the news. In fact, the only reason I’ve turned on the television in the last three months is to play Xbox.

In some respects, it feels selfish of me to hide my head in the sand. I should be informed. I should be shamed by my country. But information only makes me sad and I refuse to take responsibility for the actions of my country. I didn’t vote for him, even if my state did. My vote means nothing. My voice means nothing.

I’m not the only one who thinks my vote means nothing. There are no commercials for the either of the presidential candidates running in Utah. I only noticed this when we went to Las Vegas. I saw several commercials on the televisions at the gym in Las Vegas, but both presidential candidates are ignoring Utah. They don’t think my vote means anything either.

Even this blog entry seems like a waste. Why should I talk about the evil in the world when there is so much good around me? I have such beauty around me each day like cabbage butterflies, hummingbirds and dragonflies. A brood of spiders hatched in our house and we have been inundated with tiny spiders, not old enough to know to avoid the light bulb because it might be hot. I saw twenty baby spiders this morning. One of them singed his eight little legs on the light bulb in the hallway. How could something be wrong in the world when there are baby spiders to watch?


Project Gotham Racing

Filed under: Reviews,Video Games — Laura Moncur @ 3:13 pm

Have I told you lately how much I love my Xbox? We bought a used copy of Project Gotham Racing for the Xbox. After playing for awhile, Mike noticed that it had a tiny crack in it that was causing trouble. The trouble got so bad the other day that we needed to decide whether or not to buy a new one.

Can I tell you that it wasn’t a question in my mind? I hadn’t earned more than a Bronze medal on each of the Arcade Race tracks in the easy section. I was THIS close to a Silver medal in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Tokyo. I can’t let all of that practice go to waste. We bought a new disk last night.

At first, we couldn’t find the game. Mike insisted that it must be at Best Buy somewhere because it was a classic game (in a Platinum box instead of lime green), but all I could find was Project Gotham Racing 2. I looked at the sequel and I thought about buying it, but I hadn’t conquered the first game yet. I didn’t feel worthy to start the sequel. I wanted the original, so I asked the guy in the blue shirt if they had it. He knew right were it was. They had moved all the Platinum games to an end cap by the registers. All was saved!

We also got the wireless link to hook our Xbox up to the network. Mike played with that this morning and got it to work. The best part is that we can import music into Project Gotham Racing so that we don’t have to listen to their songs over and over. I’m going to end up knowing the first 1:32 minutes of each song on the new Christopher Lawrence album because I imported the entire All or Nothing album into the game so that I could listen to it instead of the radio.

The radio feature is cool, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the reception will go out when you go under a bridge and I love it when the DJ’s in Tokyo are speaking in Japanese (most of the time, they speak in English, go figure). The only problem is that I’ve been trying to get enough Kudo points to win the Silver medal in Tokyo and I’m pretty much sick of all the songs that the game came with. Thank you, for The Little Things. It’s a great song, but I never want to hear it again.

If you’ve never played this game, you are probably a little pissed off by this rant. I’m sure I would have been. “Jesus! It’s just a game!” No, you don’t understand. It’s not just a game. I’m going for the Silver medal and I’m going to get it and when I’m done, I’m going to the get the Gold. You hear me?


Cooking En Masse

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

I cooked a huge pot of Wagon Wheel Soup on Monday night. There were eight servings and I froze half of them and put the other half in the fridge. Oh yeah, I spilled one serving all over the floor and my left foot, scalding it. The dog was nice enough to help me clean up everything that hit the floor.

I like to cook huge batches of food and have lots of servings to bring for lunch. This soup was specifically made for lunches. I didn’t eat any Monday night. I saved a serving for Mike’s dinner, but I made it so that I would have something healthy and yummy to bring for lunch. I love having something to look forward to.

Cooking En Masse has its dangers, too. I can’t bear to look at another bowl of White Chili. It was delicious. It was healthy. My coworkers salivated at the microwave when I heated it up, but I never want to smell it again, much less eat it. Of course, a pot of that stuff was twelve servings, so I ate it every day for almost two weeks. I should cut the recipe in half next time.

For now, I’m still in love with Wagon Wheel Soup, but after I finish this batch, I should wait a couple of weeks until I make another.


The Friday Five

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

1. Do you remember your first kiss?
Do I remember my first kiss? Yeah. It was summer and we lived in the house in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />South Salt Lake. My friend had a “boyfriend” and we went to his house. He had a little brother and she wanted to have a kissing contest. I didn’t want to kiss his little brother because he had a runny nose and there was snot just sitting on his upper lip. At least it wasn’t green.

The object of the contest was to see who could kiss the longest. I knew nothing about grownup kissing, so the “boyfriend’s” little brother and I just kissed each other very quickly over and over, trying to beat out my friend. I was carefully trying to avoid his snot when I glanced over at them. They were just having one big long kiss and they were making weird moaning noises over and over. I had never seen anything like it before.

We lost the contest.   2. How old were you when you had your first kiss?

I think this was before I got into first grade. I didn’t go to kindergarten, but I think I was kindergarten age.   3. Where did your first kiss occur?

South Salt Lake City, Utah. We were sitting on the swing set in the part that is like a group swing for four kids. I think it’s called the double swing.  I can’t describe it well enough, so here’s a picture of what it looked like (the swing on the right).   4. Where do you think is the most romantic place to exchange a kiss? (locations, not body parts)

In private. I don’t find kissing in public to be romantic. I know I kiss Mike in public, but I at least try to find an empty aisle at the grocery store.   5. What type of kisser are you? (peck, smooch, French, sloppy, etc.)   I have no idea what kind of kisser I am. I’ve never kissed myself. I know I’ve always been present when kissing happened, but I’m always much more involved with the experience than with my performance. That probably means that I’m a horrible kisser, but if I am, I haven’t had any complaints.

I bet a lot of it has to do with my mood. I bet I only give pecks when I’m crabby and smooches when I’m feeling silly and Frenches when I’m feeling frisky. My favorite are the Zerbet kisses. They’re the big noisy kisses that you give to someone’s belly. I like to give those the best.



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

I’m empty. The last few entries I’ve written were half-hearted attempts rushed off in a flurry. Showing up at the page just isn’t doing it for me right now. I know I can’t be profound every day, but I feel like I have nothing to say. Maybe I’m just tired. I’m going to take tomorrow off and see how I feel on Monday.



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

Right before I woke up the other morning, I had a strange dream. I was competing in a race, but it was more like a strange scavenger hunt where you had to solve clues and experience moments. It was at an amusement park like Disneyland or maybe it was Las Vegas. I’m not sure, but everything was larger than life. It was a lot like a video game except there were a lot of people competing and I didn’t have a good orientation, so the map and the symbols weren’t explained to me very well and I was confused all the time. At one point, I knew I was behind and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. When I finally found out what I was supposed to do, it was to play a video game and get a certain score. I was nearly there when Mike showed up and started distracting me. I hadn’t totally lost by the time that I woke up, but I was really mad at him.

That was a night for dreams. I woke up at 3:38 am that morning with a horrible nightmare. I was having a terrible time at work. They were sending me north to drive a truck back from Idaho. I was supposed to be home five hours ago and I still hadn’t had a chance to call Mike to tell him where I was and what was going on. By the time I was able to get to my cell phone, I tried calling Mike. The reception was poor, but I could hear him. When he answered the phone, he sounded really worried. I started to explain that I had a terrible day at work, but he preempted my explanation. He said, “Laura, I think Maggie is�” and then the cell phone cut out. He sounded so worried that I was sure that she was on death’s door and I was five hours away from the two of them. I woke up instantly. Maggie wasn’t on the bed when I woke up, so I staggered into Mike’s office. He was there to comfort me and Maggie swaggered in behind me. I guess she had been sleeping in the living room.

Needless to say, I slept in that morning.


I, Robot Reloaded

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

I had eagerly awaited to see it months ago, but when opening day came, we were busy with family things. It took us until Sunday night to see it. Both of us had our reservations about whether it would be worth it to spend two hours of our lives in a cold movie theater. Kathleen recommended it highly, though, so we bought the tickets on Fandango and went.

I have to tell you that I don’t think Isaac Asimov is that good of a writer. I struggled through the first Foundation book and I haven’t been able to return to the series. My favorite of his books were the robot mysteries and short stories. I liked the R. Daneel Olivaw the best. I liked those stories for their ideas far more than their writing. I’m not ashamed to say it: I’m an Asimov fan, but I hate his writing style.

It seems that when an author dies, you’re not allowed to say anything negative about him. Asimov had some great ideas, but he insisted on communicating them through dialogue, which is great if you’re writing a screenplay, but murder if you’re trying to read his books. There have been too many times when I had to go back a page or two to see who said what because I had just realized that I had gotten the speakers confused.

The screenplay writers of I, Robot have done a brilliant job of rewriting the short story on which it was based. I was so happy to see Susan Calvin there, analyzing the robot. Spooner is a paranoid detective, intent on proving that the robot killed Dr. Lanning.

The story deviates from the simplicity of Asimov quite quickly, but the details they have added are humanizing and brilliant. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot because it was so fun for me to watch without any spoilers. It’s a shame Warner Brothers didn’t do this movie because this could have been the perfect prequel to The Matrix.

There were a couple of plot holes in the movie that could ruin it for you if you think about it too much. Don’t think. It’s sci-fi. Hell, it’s a sci-fi movie filled with robots. Just enjoy the ride for the fun that it is. By the way, I don’t miss the happy, go-lucky Will Smith at all. I like the brooding, paranoid Will Smith just as much.


My Dad Is Brave

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

I’ve been brooding about this since March. I know this because I wrote the phrase, “My dad is brave” in my Moleskine on March 8th, 2004. Each time I scan through my little black notebook, I see the phrase and think about writing an entry about it. I have been brooding about it a little bit here and there for over four months. Yesterday in the shower, I decided that I needed to write about it.

What prompted the phrase written hastily in my notebook was a conversation in my meditation class. I haven’t attended meditation for months and I don’t really miss it, but I do miss the intellectual stimulation I got from it. One of the members of the class talked about a book she had read. There was a man whose life was used as an example in the book. I don’t know if he really existed or not, but she presented it as fact.

The man found out he had cancer. He had always been a health nut and spurned medical science. Rather than change his views, he refused the chemotherapy and surgery that would have saved his life. Her point was that some people are more scared of being wrong than dying. Death is less fearful than being wrong to some people.

After she told us this story was when I pulled out my Moleskine and wrote, “My dad is brave.” My dad isn’t fighting against cancer. The demons he fights are far larger than malignant cells, even if they are also invisible to the naked eye. I have only seen glimpses of his demons and there are times when I worry that I am fighting similar ones.

One of the weapons that my dad has used to fight his demons is religion. We joined the Jehovah Witness religion right before my fourth birthday. I remember this vividly, even though I was so young. He vehemently followed the letter of the law for over twenty years to the detriment of my childhood and the emotions of many others. It was only a year or so ago that he realized that the religion wasn’t helping him and in many cases, it harmed him.

So, he gave it up. He had temporarily disowned me as a daughter because of the religion and he gave it up. He had irrevocably damaged his relationship with his mother because of the religion and he gave it up. He had sacrificed his time and money to this religion and he just gave it up. He stopped going. He stood up to the elders. After all he put me through, he abandoned it.

This made me angry. He had clung to the Jehovah Witnesses and rejected me, my grandmother, and even Stacey because of them and now he was quitting it. He wouldn’t quit it for me, but he was willing to quit because of some Ayn Rand book he read twenty years ago that finally sunk into his thick skull. I was pissed.

Then I sat in my meditation class, listening to a member talking about healing yourself with the power of your mind and I realized that my dad is brave. After over twenty years of clinging to something, he was able to say that he was wrong. Rather than hanging on to something that had damaged his life so substantially, he was able to say, I quit. Unlike that guy with cancer, he was able to say, yes, give me the chemicals, cut into my body, whatever it takes to get me healthy again. And for that, I think my dad’s brave. I’m still untrusting, but I believe you can forgive without trusting the person again.

Good luck, Dad. I hope you heal quickly.


The Friday Five

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

1. What color ink pen do you like best?

I can’t decide. The color ink that I prefer is the one I wasn’t using last time I wrote something. I like to change colors regularly. I have written in my Moleskine in purple, aqua, pink, red, green, blue and black.
2. Do you prefer plain paper or paper with lines (notebook paper)?

My Moleskine is used when I’m out and about and have a great idea. Since sometimes I like to draw pictures (or I like to think that I will want to draw pictures), I have the unlined version. When I’m writing at home, however, I prefer paper with lines. In fact, I have an MS Excel document that I use to print up journal pages so I can write longhand when I’m in the mood. Mostly, I just type on the computer.
3. What’s better: books from the library or reading online?
It depends on where I’m reading. If I’m stuck at work and I’m not allowed to read a book, then I prefer reading online. If I’m cuddled into the couch at home, then I prefer the library book. Mike has made a great site to read books online. You should check it out if you’re stuck at work.
4. Which would you rather get, e-mail or snail mail?
It depends on what I’m receiving. If it’s a personal note from a friend, I’d much rather get email because I’ll get it quicker. If it’s junk from advertisers, I’d much rather it be snail mail because then it cost them money to bug me. I will just dump it in the recycle bin, so I don’t worry about the trees they are killing. If it’s important bills or official notices from the government, I prefer snail mail because it seems more official than just an email showing up in my box. I don’t want to get anything official in my email.
5. Do you have a paper weight on your desk?
Not unless you count the Magic Eight Ball, Akenaten, Buddha or <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />St. Jude. I don’t keep papers under any of them. Buddha and St. Jude are too small to hold anything down, but Akenaten and the Magic Eight Ball could do in a pinch. I try to clean all papers off my desk each evening. If there is anything sitting on my desk when I leave, that means we had a really busy day and I left in a hurry.


Pioneer Day

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

I spent my summers with my grandparents when I was a child. We enjoyed Independence Day frugally by watching the fireworks at the park. I always felt guilty because my dad had convinced me that if I received any pleasure from the “pagan” holidays, I would die in Armageddon. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the colors and explosions.

My first true summer in Salt Lake came when I was seventeen. I had gotten a job at K-Mart that year, so Stacey went to Billings, Montana without me. I stayed in Salt Lake. I went dancing at The Ritz. I worked on Pioneer Day.

The other employees complained. They thought that we should be closed on Pioneer Day. I thought they were stupid. Pioneer Day didn’t exist in Montana. July 24th was just another day. It might be a little too hot and we might get a Popsicle on that day, but that was the extent of celebration that Billings, Montana had for Pioneer Day. Days of ’47 was something that happened on those Utah television stations in Billings.

I worked on the 24th of July and I had no problem with it. It was just another day to me. We sold a lot of hogi sandwiches heavy with onion and banana peppers. Other than that, it was a pretty slow day. I didn’t mind being there. It was just another day to me, except that there were fireworks at some of the parks.

It’s like that for me now. I make sure to celebrate the day with Mike. We don’t let the holiday go by without setting off some fireworks. We like to watch the fireworks from our house. If we stand in the street, we have the perfect view of Liberty Park’s show. Other than that, I don’t do much of anything else. There’s a big parade that I ignore. There’s a rodeo that I abhor. There’s probably lots more, but it all passes me by.

Happy Days of ’47, to the rest of the world! Utah is celebrating itself while you have to have a hot summer day. Sure, you have your Christmas in July, but how can that compare with obligatory parades and rope-bound cattle?


24 Hour Fitness

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

When I got the mail a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was junk mail. It wasn’t. Our corporate office had gotten a corporate account with 24 Hour Fitness. Our local office has an account with Xcel Fitness and we now have the option of having a membership through 24 Hour Fitness also. “Cool,” I said to myself.

Inside, all of my thoughts whirred. I could go to this gym. There’s no brown-haired girl there. This place is right by my home. I wouldn’t have to change in the dressing room. I could just go there and go back home to get ready for work. There’s no brown-haired girl there. They have a swimming pool. They have a co-ed hot tub. I could sit in the hot tub with Mike. THERE’S NO BROWN-HAIRED GIRL THERE!

Run away from my problems? Hell Ya! Is it silly to think that I might be safe at 24 Hour Fitness? Hell Ya! Do I care? No way. When my year is up on Xcel, I’ll drop them. I know it’s not their fault that the Bosu bitch made fun of me, but I’m not acting rationally. I need a place where I feel safe. I need to be able to go to the gym and get in shape. If I have to dip my head in the sand and convince myself that 24 Hour Fitness is safe to get my butt in the gym five or six times a week, then I’ll do it.

It has been so hard to go back to Xcel. I’ve only gone once a week on Tuesdays for the Trekking class. I have made Mike come with me for protection. The rest of the time, I’ve been playing Dance Dance Revolution and running on the treadmill at home, but I need to work out at the gym.

It’s such a good feeling to see all the healthy people there. It makes me feel like the whole world is fit and healthy and I deserve to be fit and healthy like the rest of the planet. I absolutely hate to go to the food court at the mall. When I’m there, I feel like the whole world is fat and gluttonous and I start to feel the same way. Cinnabon? Sure, no problem. Deep fried cheese? Yeah, I can stuff some of that in too.

It’s different at the gym. Almost everyone there is fitter and hotter than I am. I have the image of what I will look like when I’m thin right there on the treadmill in front of me. I took a tour of my new gym on Tuesday after Mike and I finished our Trekking class at the old gym. They have fewer machines. You can listen to the TVs on the radio instead of using an in-gym system. There is a swimming pool (closed because of chemical problems). There is a hot tub (complete with a skinny old guy in a Speedo). It’s not as pretty as Xcel, I’ll admit, but there wasn’t a Bosu in the place. That alone was enough for me.

Previous: Back to the Gym


The Familiar Stranger

Filed under: The Confessional — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Familiar Stranger is a person who you see on a regular basis, but choose to ignore. He is the walking guy with the cowboy hat and the trench coat in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />West Jordan. He is the homeless guy on the corner of I-80 and 700 East. She is the girl at the gym who exercises every day at lunch time on the elliptical trainer. She is the person who drives the neon green car in the opposite direction every day. You never talk to them, yet you recognize them every day. You miss them if they aren’t there.

I had never heard the phrase before May of this year, when Boing Boing directed me to this article at The Feature. I now know that the paper describing this strange relationship has existed since 1972, but I’m so behind on reading obscure research papers from psychologists that I don’t think I would have ever gotten to that one on my own.

Stanley Milgram was the same psychologist that brought forth the idea of Six Degrees of Separation. His idea of The Familiar Stranger is also concerned with knowing people, but these are people that you choose to ignore. Berkley is doing more research on this idea.

Ever since I heard about this concept a couple of months ago, I have been thinking about it. I thought maybe that it might explain the confession problem that I have. Maybe, I thought to myself, I’m talking to familiar strangers, breaking the “ignore me” rule. Maybe that misstep of unspoken etiquette is the explanation for varied and personal confessions I receive on a regular basis. Maybe I notice the familiar strangers in my life a little more than other people do and I end up inviting them into my life by talking to them instead of ignoring them like I’m “supposed” to.

Since my discovery of this concept, a movie is in the works. Some slasher movie, I guess. Sure, the familiar stranger could be malignant, but the idea of the familiar stranger being your savior is more intriguing to me. Why don’t they write a movie about someone who is on the subway every day and sees the same people every day and the train gets stuck or maybe it’s an elevator to a huge building like the World Trade Center that houses many different businesses? These people who see each other every day really get to know each other and eventually fight to stay alive together, creating a bond. I’d rather watch that, but it’s so hard to convey the idea of a person who you see every day, but choose to ignore. How do you do that on film?

This whole concept has me thinking about all of those people that I see every day and ignore. Would I live a fuller life if I talked to them? Would I just be inviting more strange and heartbreaking confessions? Should I ignore them? Should I avert my eyes? Am I overstepping some invisible line every day, causing discomfort in others? Should I just stay in the house and avoid human contact at all costs? Should I get a BlueTooth phone so that I can see how many of my familiar strangers are nearby? Should I purposely go to different places in the city to avoid these people? Do people on the Internet count? If I read someone’s blog, but never comment, are they a familiar stranger? What about the people who lurk on my blog? How does whuffie fit in to all of this? This whole idea has my head spinning and I don’t know how I think about it all.


Dance Dance Revolution

Filed under: Health and Fitness,Reviews,Video Games — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Ok, it’s time to admit it. I’m completely addicted. I played for forty minutes this morning and I’m contemplating rushing home from work to play some more. I played for an hour yesterday morning and I still hopped on the pad in the evening to see if I could finally get a better grade on Secret Rendezvous.

I thought it had a bug. I got an A on Secret Rendezvous, but when I went to the high scores, it showed my old grade of a B. I backed out of the game to the beginning and played it again. I got another A, but it still didn’t save my score. So, I backed completely out of the game, turned off the console, restarted and played again. This time I got the amazing score of AA, but it STILL didn’t save my score!

After logging onto the forums and talking to the DDR obsessive compulsives with more experience than I have, I found out that DDR Ultramix doesn’t have a bug. It saves the highest score, not the highest grade. Apparently, it’s possible to get a B with a higher numerical score than an impressive AA performance. Somehow those two items aren’t inherently linked. I’m glad to know that there are people out there who are more obsessed than me.

Now, can anyone explain to me why the Workout Mode has different steps for the songs than the Game Mode? And, what am I going to do when I finish unlocking all the songs, pass them all off with AAA grades at all levels and finish all the downloadable Song Packs? Maybe I’ll be obsessed with something else by then.


Is It Worth It?

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

My cheekbones are back. I saw them in the mirror yesterday and they scared me a little bit. I have been losing weight steadily for the last month and a half and I’m starting to see the results in my face. The last time I saw my cheekbones; I rebounded and started eating like a pig again. I don’t know if that was because I had been denying myself too much or if I got scared and wanted to hide my beauty again. I don’t know what was going on in my head then, but right now, I’m scared of a relapse.

It feels so good to be back on track. I have been fighting this since the Bosu Incident and I’m scared it won’t last. Man, I’ve been fighting with this since April. I can still see that brown haired girl in my mind’s eye. She is pointing at me behind her left hand, trying to get her friend’s attention, but I can see her in the mirror. She got my attention instead.

Now, I’m going to a different gym. I still go to Xcel on Tuesdays for the Trekking class. If I go once a week, it’s worth the money that I still have to pay until my year contract is up. Mike and I have been going to 24 Hour Fitness at least twice a week. Then there is all that DDR that I’ve been playing.  All of this activity is just helping me melt away until there is nothing left but bone and muscle and tendon.

Where is my next brown-haired girl going to be? Is she the girl in the mirror with those cheek bones? Is she an unexpected injury? Is she hiding in the corners of my psyche trying to undermine me? How am I going to get past this one? Is there another one after her?

I’m so sick of it. Why can’t I just naturally eat healthy and exercise without worry? Why is it still a struggle after so much time? I have been doing this since January 17, 2002. Two and a half years and this is still work for me. I’m still learning.

Of course, I can’t overlook how much progress I’ve made. I’ve lost over fifty pounds. I now see exercise as a way to have fun instead of a chore. I eat all my vegetables and dairy items every day, whereas I used to have trouble getting those boxes checked off every day. I’m thinner now than I’ve been for fourteen years. Soon, I will be thinner than I was when Mike married me. Soon, I will be at my goal weight and learning how to stay there.

If someone were to ask me whether it was worth it, I’d say, “Hell yeah!” Just shaving my legs is easier because there is a lot less square footage of skin to shave. It’s amazing how much maintenance is required to keep a fat body clean and beautiful compared to a thinner body. I can buy clothes at the normal stores now. My shoes are a full size smaller now than when I started. Is all of the work and struggle worth it? Yes, especially considering that I was struggling just as hard at the heavier weight. I was always on some diet or exercise plan when I was heavier. If I have to struggle, I’d rather struggle at a thinner weight than the higher one.

I remember when I had Mike take my “Before” pictures. I straightened my hair, did my nails, wore a new exercise outfit and made sure my makeup was perfect. I wanted to be as beautiful as I could be for my Before picture because I knew I would be done up perfectly for my After picture. None of it helped. I look at my Before picture and I can’t believe that I even thought I looked good at all. There is no amount of makeup or hair products that can make fifty extra pounds of body weight look good. I am a little past the half-way point right now and my half-way picture blows my Before picture out of the water without makeup or shiny hair. There’s no designer dress that can hide obesity. There is no makeover artist that can do anything for an overweight person. There is nothing more beautiful than being physically fit.

Is all of this worth it? Yes, it is. Hello, cheek bones. Nice to see you again.


Just a Geek

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

I just finished Wil Wheaton’s new book, Just a Geek over the weekend. It’s such a cruel twist that it only takes a few hours to read a book that took a year (and sometimes longer) to write. You can tell someone is a good writer when you finish the book and wish there was more. You find yourself perusing the index or reading the back cover or even reading the dedication or acknowledgements in an attempt to squeeze just that much more out of the experience. Fortunately for me, I only have to wait a day or so to read more from Wil because he updates his blog regularly.

In this book, he talks about his experiences after leaving Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it’s not some dorky celebrity thing. He continually runs into a brick wall every time he auditions for acting parts. He starts his blog to jump start his career, but when he asked the universe for a favor, he forgot to specify which career he wanted started. Instead of getting him acting jobs, his blog takes on a life of its own and forays into a writing career. It’s a great underdog story and the best part is that it’s true.

The Dot Bomb was so hard on all of us. When the bubble burst, Mike went from writing several books a year with good compensation to writing one book a year for a pittance. He had kept The Quotations Page as a hobby and before he knew it, he was getting so many hits from it that it was crashing the server. When we were lamenting the loss of income from his book writing career, we were also lamenting the fact that we were paying so much for bandwidth on the websites. The second that Mike stopped looking backward at his depleting writing career and started looking forward at the popularity of his website, things changed. After all his work and dedication, he now has the number one quotations site.

It’s like Wil’s book is a book for our generation. All of us had to reevaluate ourselves after the bottom fell out of the Dot Com phenomenon. He was talking about acting and writing, but for a lot of us, the carpet was pulled out from under us. I’m sure there are people out there blaming politicians or stock analysts for the carpet pull, but the blame really belongs squarely on our own shoulders. It was wrong for us to depend on book publishers, dot com startups, or the acting profession. The only people we can truly rely on are ourselves. The minute Wil started depending on himself instead of the whim of the casting directors, he was free. Just a Geek is truly a book for The Computer Generation.

The reading public is insatiable. What’s next, Wil? Write some fiction for me and please let it be about cool sci-fi, not poker.


The Friday Five

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

1. Who was your favorite band/musican when you were younger?

Hands down, The Cure was my favorite. I’ve talked about this at length before, so I’m reluctant to spend another day babbling about them.

One more note, I am covered in shame. KJQ, the local modern classics station, has been running a billboard campaign. I drove past the billboard that said, “Thuk-Your,” for over a month. I was clueless and I asked Mike what it meant. He explained that it was an inside joke. It’s a band name. I still didn’t get it. He said it was “The Cure.” I have shamed my former punkdom.

2. Why?

They were so angst ridden. They fit right into my internal psyche at the time.

3. Are they still your favorite/one of your favorites?

They will always be one of my favorites. They just released a new album and it’s on my Wish List. My mood changes and they change right along with me.

4. What is your favorite of their songs?

The Cure has a few different personalities, so here is my favorite for each of them:

Manic: The Upstairs Room from Japanese Whispers

Angry Young Man: Like Cockatoos from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

The Pit of Despair: Play for Today from Seventeen Seconds

5. Are there any specific lyrics you hold dear?

The upstairs room Is cool and bright. We could go up there in summer And dance all night!



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

When Mike set up my blog, he wrote the code and set up the database himself. My site is completely original and unique. The problem with original and unique is that whenever I want to change something, I have to beg him to do it. I have to ask him to upload new pictures. I am totally isolated from the process.

When I first started, I was ok with that. All I wanted was a place to publish my writing every single day. I was producing so much work that had no place to call home. Now, most of my nonfiction writing is able to reside right here. It’s not hidden in the desk. It’s not rotting on the hard drive. It’s here, for you to see and a shocking number of you want to see it every day.

Have I told you lately how much I love you guys? You log on to my site every day and read my words every day. You don’t need to comment. You don’t need to email me. You just show up every day to see what I have to offer and it makes me so happy to see your numbers grow. Thank you for coming here.

After reading Wil Wheaton’s book, Just a Geek, I felt a pang of guilt. He worked so diligently to get his site up and running. He fought long and hard with Movable Type to make it conform to his needs. All I did was ask Mike to write me a fully functioning weblog software package and within a few hours, he had it ready for me. I started feeling like a poser.

Then again, I told myself, I am not a programmer. I am a writer. All I need is a piece of paper big enough for the whole world to see. My blog was enough for that and in other respects not enough. All those little changes were stagnating on Mike’s ever-growing list. He runs the Internet’s most popular quotations site. He doesn’t have time to muck around with my blog and I feel guilty when I ask him to. Wouldn’t it be better if I mucked around with it, even if I broke it?

So, we are working on converting this blog to WordPress. It’s a blogging software package that is suitable for my needs. It may take me a long time to get it looking like my old site. I don’t even know if I want it to look like my old site. Looking at the installed style sheet, it looks a lot cleaner than mine ever did. I might just be happy to stick with that.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! Turn and face the strange. Ch-ch-changes! Don’t want to be a richer man Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! Turn and face the strange. Ch-ch-changes! Just gonna have to be a different man. Time may change me, but I can’t change time. – David Bowie, Changes, The Best of Bowie

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