31? Meh.

Two days into my 31st year today.  Yep.  Meh.  I feel like I should care more about my birthday, or the passage of my corporeal being through time and space, all the while scurrying about by land and sea (mostly land), changing, learning, loving, working, stressing, checking shit out, growing things, cooking things, flying down the hills on a bike in the early mornings, sweating balls on the way back up in the late afternoons, sleeping, laughing, nagging at the kid to do some chores, cracking the whip! as I like to say...  You know, the journey.  It's a journey, and I'm on it.  And it's actually pretty cool these days.  Things aren't perfect, but I have, as of late, found myself better suited to enjoying the trip.


Line of the Day: That's what she said.

I was recently moved to a new position at my firm.  It was a lateral move, and I was kind of equally thrilled and bummed out at the change.  I was happy to get out of a situation that was not working at ALL, but sad to leave my friends on the 13th floor for my new spot on 11 (known to those on 13 as "the dungeon").

Turns out, I really like the 11th floor.  It is not nearly the dark and loathsome place I imagined it to be.  There are lots more people down there, most of whom are younger attorneys - overworked and underpaid, just about my own age, sleep-deprived from night after long night at the office spent busting their asses in the hopes of eventually making partner.  My inclination would be to assume they're miserable, but they are surprisingly fun, funny, and playful folks.  Perhaps because the office has begun to feel like home, they find opportunities in between drafting giant briefs, rushing to meet deadlines and putting out daily fires to take their shoes off, toss a ball around, pull pranks on each other, crack jokes and eat copious amounts of fun-size candy.  I have a hard time fathoming this reality, and thank my lucky stars every day that I decided against going to law school.

But anyway, here I am, on the funky 11th floor where the general sense of irreverance is a welcome change from the norm in this oft-bristly, buttoned-up town.  The line of the day comes from my cube-neighbor, a 50-something-ish woman who routinely delivers sexually ambiguous one-liners, talks louder than anyone I've ever met, and once, when my boss, Tim, asked her if his occasional foul-language offended her, replied, "Oh sweetie, I used to be the madam at a titty bar - nothing offends me!"

This afternoon, Tim comes out of his office to get something off of this woman's printer.  Whatever he printed wasn't there waiting for him though, and he started fooling with the buttons and asking what was up.  A short conversation ensued between the two of them as they tried to figure out the source of the problem.  Now, I wasn't completely tuned-in to the dialogue, but something was said about the paper trays, and apparently, the bottom tray was out of paper.  Tim was attempting to load more paper in there, but screwing it up somehow.  At which point, Karen delivers today's line of the day:

Well honey, when my bottom's empty, you just need to shove it in harder.


Line of the Day: Fatalism

A friend was discussing her one major dream for her life with me this evening.  You know, that perfect vision that you have where you're living exactly the kind of life you want to be living.  Making money doing something you love.  The whole deal.  And then she followed up a recitation of all her fears about making this dream a reality with what is today's line of the day:

So I've decided there's no way I can do it.  I'm not going to be able to.  However, I've also decided that it is the only thing that will ever really make me happy.

Well, I said, there's not a whole lot I can say to that.  Sounds like you're pretty much fucked. 


The World Is Insane

So I wrote this in very early May, 2010, less than two weeks after the Deep Horizon explosion on April 20.  Honestly, that was the news event that made me tune back into the news, and the world.  I never posted this, and just found it in the edit queue.  Enjoy!

Does it seem this way to anyone else right now? I'm not typically a doomsday alarmist on a grandiose scale, I don't think the sky is falling or the end of the world is nigh. I'm a bigger picture girl, I majored in earth science (way back when), I tend towards a general sense of calm and serenity that comes from thinking in geologic time. I cannot help but notice (or in some instances, I concede, create) interconnectedness between past, present and future. Mine is a worldview glimpsed through a sort of wide-angle lens.

That said, shit is crazy right now!

Often, the news overwhelms me, makes me feel sad and powerless. I won't go so far as to say "hopeless" because - despite a secret desire to be darker, more brooding, more tortured and creative - that's very rarely the case. I'm a buoyant soul by nature. A ridiculous optimist. And so the news can get me down and seep in and threaten my sunshine and lollipops. And nobody wants to see that. So, sometimes I take a breather. I don't read the news, I don't listen to NPR for a while, I pop in a CD when Amy Goodman comes on the radio, you know the drill. Just sort of check out and focus in on a more personal level. And sometimes just check out.

But lately, what with springtime and sunshine and some progress on the raising-a-thirteen-year-old-daughter front, and upcoming move to my dream house, and little sprouting seedlings in my garden and soul-shaking emotional progress I've made in the past year and the ever-surprising, always-wonderful, consistently-funny, brilliant, special man I've recently met (yeah I'm gushing, I know) --- lately, I've been feeling pretty good. And like maybe it was time to check back in with world.

And oh sweet Jeebus it's kinda wild out there. The planet is shaking and erupting and flooding. Since the beginning of the year, we've seen devastating earthquakes in China, Haiti, Chile, Japan, Baja - and that's just the first few that come to mind. Just today, that unpronounceable Icelandic volcano blew FOUR AND A HALF MILES into the air, creating a massive ash cloud 1,000 miles long and 700 miles wide. Torrential rains in the southeastern part of this country have left 20 people dead in Tennessee and most of beloved Nashville underwater. Upwards of 250,000 gallons of oil per day (and likely more  than that, realistically) spews from the ocean floor into the Gulf of Mexico - and has been for almost two weeks - causing what could quite possibly be one of the biggest environmental disasters in human history. Citizens in Greece took to the streets, staging what were at first peaceful protests and have now turned into outright riots, in the face of austerity measures and an IMF quasi-bailout of the country's hobbled economic system. These measures (read: loans) will require years of sacrifice in Greece of the sort that will drastically change the economic climate of the country and the day-to-day reality for most of it's citizens. And then there's the whole looming catastrophic global economic breakdown... Oh, and the passage of SB1070, the mind-numbingly heinous anti-immigration law in Arizona that essentially legalizes racial profiling in that state. I mean, shouldn't it be clear when even Gov. Bob McDonnell - a man who recently decided to declare April "Confederate History Month" in his state of Virginia - announces his own misgivings about the bill, namely that it might not be "necessarily helpful to democracy," that something is very, very wrong indeed?

Oh yeah, and this guy married his cat.

And here's where I'd give you a witty sentence or two in summation, maybe bringing things back 'round full circle, but honestly I have no idea what to say.  I've been singing along to music in my car for a few weeks, spending my time online checking my gmail, reading my horoscope, dare I admit it? on Facebook...blissfully unaware of the madness raging outside my little cocoon of self-absorbed ruminations.  Right now a part of me definitely just wants to crawl back in.  I know I won't - I couldn't if I tried.  I'm frozen in awe, sort of terrified, and curious.


Hi. Do you have a dog named Rascal?

Oh yes, I have a dog named Rascal.  And he escaped four days in a row this week from our new house.  Which was really not awesome at all, except the whole saga makes for a bit of a good story.  

We just moved, and I'm guessing he's a little freaked out by the move, Elise being gone, and who knows what else that's swimming around in that little doggie brain of his.  At first I wasn't too surprised, as he has always been a fairly adept escape artist, and tends to find the routes to freedom in each new home we move to.  (Which, granted, has been a lot.  I have lived in Salt Lake exactly three years and am now in my fifth house here.  Long story).  In fact, Rascal was given his name by the family that owned his mom and raised him for the first eight weeks of his life, due to his propensity even as a tiny little guy to escape from all manner of baby gates and fences erected to keep the puppies in certain areas of the house and yard.  When I got him at 8 weeks, I quickly found that the name was more than apt, so I kept it.  For five years this dog has been sleuthing out all paths away from our new homes, and I then secure those paths and keep him around, which is where I like him.  This week, however, he was more committed to his doggie mission than I have ever seen before.    

Mug shot


Rascal's first big escape happened Wednesday.  We moved into this place on Saturday, and I suspect he would have escaped as early as Monday (when I went to work and left him for the first time) except that my friend Janie and her puppy were around and Rascal was happily distracted.  When they left town Wednesday morning, I left the backdoor open for Rascal, so he would have free reign of the house and the giant backyard.  It didn't occur to me that he could jump the fence on the side of the house, as it is pretty tall.  But, it is also made of chicken wire, so he simply bent it in half and jumped right on over and out to blissful doggie freedom.  Thankfully, people in Salt Lake are incredibly, unfathomably nice, and Rascal happened upon the best of the best of the good-samaritan-dog-lovers in the Avenues.  On day one, he was rescued by Josh, arguably my favorite of all the happy, helpful people I dealt with this week, at 2nd Ave & T Street - a full 15 blocks from our house.

I was at work, in the middle of a huge and urgent project, when I get a call from an unfamiliar local number on my cell.  I don't usually answer the cell at work, but I'm having surgery this coming Monday (see "My Alien Spawn," below) and waiting on the call from the hospital to register me for the surgery and telling me what time to show up.  So, this week I'm answering all such unknown local calls on the cell.

"Hello?" I answer, while shuffling stacks of exhibits at my desk.

"Hi.  Do you have a dog named Rascal?"

Shit.  "Yes, why?"

"Well, I have him here with me.  I was walking my dog and he came out from this yard and came over to play with my dog.  I thought he lived there, but then we kept going and he just came along with us on our walk for the next couple of blocks.  Then I realized he was sort of on his own and checked his tag.  So you're on 2nd Avenue?  I can just take him to your house if you want - I'm at 2nd and T right now."

Oh God.  I explain to Josh that I no longer live on 2nd, that I now live 15 blocks from where he's at, and in my work insanity I ask if he's willing to take Rascal to my new house, to which he happily agrees.  I'm sort of shocked that I even asked, but I was desperate.  I'm also THRILLED that he is willing to do it.

"Sure, I'll just put him in my car and drive him up there."

"Are you sure?  I mean, I can come and get him too."

"No, really.  We're just on our morning walk, you're working.  He's a great dog, it's no problem."

I explain that he is saving my life, ask his name, tell him my address and to stick Rascal in the house and shut the back door, thereby locking him fully inside the house.

Josh takes care of everything, and reports back with a text message.

Hey...You (didn't get your name;) Rascal is safe and sound - though obviously disappointed.  He seemed to escape by a towel over a wire fence.  CLASSIC prison movie escape.  Very Steve McQueen.  He and Killian had a good time.  :)

Ok, so not only is this guy awesome, he is also hilarious, and made what was an exceptionally shitty morning much, much brighter.  I text back to thank him and ask for his address, so I can drop off something to say thanks.

Just saying his escape was borderline outdated.  SO 1963.  No need to bring something, maybe we'll run into you both at Lindsay Gardens dog park some time.  PS: tell the Cooker King he's always welcome on our morning walk (provided he realizes a return home is mandatory).  

Fabulous.  Just loved this guy.  Not only did he save my big fella - and for those of you who don't know and/or couldn't tell from the photo above, Rascal is a BIG dog.  Like comes up to your waist, just shy of Great Dane size kind of big.  And though he looks like a friendly muppet, there are loads of strangers who would be understandably hesitant to approach and deal with such a giant beast of an animal.

Lucky for me, there were at least three more strangers who were willing to get close enough to him to check his tag and call me at work on Thursday and Friday.  And again on Saturday, as I was headed out to my friend Bonnie's baby shower.  I still can't get over how unbelievably kind my neighbors are in this town.  It is a fantastic and fortunate thing, too, considering Rascal's unwavering commitment to his campaign to free himself from our new home.


Thursday, I should admit, was probably my fault.  I left the backdoor open again.  I hate trapping a big dog in a house.  Granted, it's a big house, but still... dogs need to be outside, sniffing and peeing and barking at squirrels and such.  So, I reinforced the fence where he had bent it down the day before, put some tall stuff in front of it, and had a serious talk with Rascal about his behavior.  He acted like he was listening, but apparently he was not.  After I left for work, he deftly pushed the stuff in front of the fence away and bent it down again, jumping over and out for another day on the town.  Luckily, he was found by yet another dog-loving good samaritan who again called me at work.  Thinking it was the hospital, I answered.

"Hi.  Do you have a dog named Rascal?"

God DAMN it!  

Thankfully, this guy was at the park a block away from my house, and was nice enough to take Rascal home too.  Like Josh, he brought Rascal around to the open back door and locked him inside the house for me.  He texted to report all was well.

All set, Rascal's back home!  He's inside and back door's locked.

Well, at least if I have to deal with annoying dog issues, I'm lucky enough to encounter good-natured, helpful people that are willing to TAKE MY DOG HOME FOR ME.  Who does that??  It's a kind of bittersweet good fortune I guess.  Though better than a $300 visit to bail him out of doggie jail, by far.


So naturally Rascal lost his backyard privileges on Friday, and was securely locked in the house as I left for work.  Friday was my last day at work for two weeks, as I was set for surgery on Monday and two weeks of recovery time.  Additionally, I am being moved to a new spot in my firm when I return to work, which meant Friday would be a full day of training the new gal taking my spot, cleaning out my desk, setting up out-of-office voice- and e-mail messages, and tying up loose ends.  So, I needed the peace of mind of knowing my dog would be safe - albeit bored - in my house.

But, as we all know, where there's a will, there's a way.  And true to form, Rascal found a way.  Around 9:30 a.m. on Friday I get another call on my cell while training my replacement at work.  "Hang on," I say to her as I reach for the phone, "I have to get this."  Thinking, rather optimistically I suppose, that this was, finally, the call from the hospital, I answer.


"Hi.  Do you have a dog named Rascal?"


"Oh, really, because I have a dog here and this is the number on his tag."

"Yeah, sorry, I have a dog named Rascal.  I just can't believe he got out!"

Anita, Friday's good-samaritan-of-the-day, informed me that she had my dog in her neighbor's backyard at 8th & H, which she was watering while they were out of town.  Rascal came barreling into the yard in pursuit of a cat and she grabbed him.

"Has he been missing long?  He was really thirsty."

"No.  I just left for work an hour ago."

I tell her the business about the moving, and now daily-escapes, and how I really thought I had this situation nipped in the bud when I left for work today and LOCKED HIM IN THE HOUSE.  I mean, come on, he's a smart dog and kind of a freak of nature, but I wouldn't call him exceptionally gifted or anything.  Either way, she needed me to come and pick him up.  So, I left my replacement-in-training at work and ran to pick up my asshole dog, contemplating the whole way how on earth he managed to free himself from the house without miraculously growing a set of thumbs and then using them to open the front door.

When we got home, the doors were shut and I didn't see any immediate evidence of his escape.  The only clue was that I had forgotten to lock the front door.  Maybe it blew open?  As I was nearly certain my house had not been broken into - though it can be hard to tell a few days after moving when giant chunks of your life remain strewn about your house, half out of boxes, sitting in front of the cabinets and bookshelves that will be their eventual homes - this was the only thought that came to mind.  Except the front door is the original, solid-oak behemoth that requires two hands and a bracing of one's feet before yanking back with serious force in order to open the thing up.  It doesn't blow open.  Ever.  I returned to work frustrated bordering on stressed-out.

An hour and a half later, I drove back home to meet the Qwest repair guy, who came to fix whatever the hell was wrong with the phone line at the house that was keeping me from having any internet connection whatsoever for a week.  I was getting bitter about that.  Mind you, I have been sick for weeks, can't eat much, have zero energy, and just moved into a house that needs shittons of work that I have increasingly found I am completely incapable of doing myself.  (I'll spare you the story of how, in a simple attempt to turn on a spigot outside in the garden, I found a labyrinth of pipes in the garage with EIGHT on/off knobs; two main shut off handles officially covered in some sort of faded, indecipherable yellow warning stickers; two more on/off knobs on the ceiling, and three little electrical hub/knob things that each spew out tangles of colored wires that disappear into the back of a plastic box, whose little door opens to reveal an intimidating panel of programming buttons for a sprinkler system.  I cried that night.)


I get home and meet the Qwest guy at his truck.  He's getting something out of the back, and I wait for him on the sidewalk.  When he comes around the truck to meet me, he briefly but thoroughly scares the crap out of me.  He has these giant swaths of bright white zinc-oxide smeared across his cheeks making him look like a painted warrior, or a reeeeally creepy clown.  Turns out he's just a strange dude who professes to like dogs but is probably lying, as he seems really scared when we get to the front door.

"Can you go put him outside, or shut him in another room please?" the Qwest guy snips at me.

"He's really nice.  He'll just give you a sniff and leave you alone," I assure him.

"Yeah, they're all 'really nice' until you end up in the ER getting stitches and a shot."

Good lord.  

"No really, he's never bit anyone, he's a super sweet dog."

But the Qwest guy refuses to come in the house until I put the dog somewhere else.  So, I stick him outside and assure Doug (Qwest Guy finally introduced himself) that the coast is clear.  While Doug does his thing, I rifle through paperwork on my desk and kill time looking out on my garden from the living room window.  Which is when I notice a window screen wedged between the rows of corn.  I also notice that the window I'm staring out of has no screen.  So, that solves the point of egress puzzle anyway.  I feel a bit better about this; knowing the escape routes is the first step in securing them.

And then Rascal lopes right out through the garden below me to the front yard, having escaped from his banishment to the backyard.  Oh, the fun never stops.  I run out and call him back, and he meets me on the front porch and follows me in.  Doug is in the kitchen and is immediately unhappy with this.  But now it's my turn to get testy.

"Listen, I can't put him outside because he runs away.  We just moved, he's freaked out.  I've got to keep him in here, but he's a nice dog, he'll leave you alone."

As if on cue, Rascal then comes over to Doug, gives him a sniff and wags his tail, then goes and plops down on the dining room floor.  Doug gives a harumph and sighs, but seems pacified.  He proceeds to snap at Rascal a few more times when Rascal walks into the room, and is generally pretty rude and unhelpful.

Turns out - big surprise - that Doug cannot fix what's wrong with my telephone line, and needs me to put in an order for either another service call, wherein a Qwest person could come out and spend what would "likely be hours" (at $85.00/hour) investigating the whereabouts of the trouble in my main line, or put in an order for a new phone jack - a quick and simple fix costing a flat rate of $99.  I choose the latter, schedule it for the next day and shut all of the windows in the house before leaving my crazy dog and going back to work yet again.


Saturday morning I awake to a knock on the door from a new Qwest Guy who has come to install a new jack and, thankfully, has a remarkably normal looking face.  (What a rude awakening it might have been to stumble sleepy-eyed to the door at 8:00 a.m. to find another scary clown with a tool belt!)  This guy is friendly, nice to my dog, and makes fun of Doug's warpaint while cheerfully and quickly installing the new jack and hooking up my modem.  Voila!  Wireless internet is up and running, and I still have plenty of time to get ready for my friend Bonnie's baby shower.  I'm in good spirits, having finally solved at least one of the many issues around this giant problem-riddled house, and I depart with the confidence that I can go out and share a delicious brunch with some wonderful women and know that I have now definitely closed off all possible doggie-exits.  Ah....  With a big sigh of relief I grab the presents and head out to pick up balloons for the shower and the fancy-pants cake I ordered from Mrs. Backer's.  (Side note: WOW!  Mrs. Backer's makes a goddamn gorgeous and tasty cake!  It was my first time.  Uber spendy though, so be forewarned should you think of ordering one.  But for a special occasion if you can afford it, it's the way to go.)

Upon leaving Mrs. Backers, cake in hand, my cell phone rings.  I miss the call before I can dig the thing out of my purse.  By the time I feel it in the depths, a very cheerful man has left me a voicemail.

Hi, my name's Bart [something-or-other] and I have your dog Rascal here.  My wife and I are out front with our kids and he just came over to play.  [Bart chuckles, and I hear the sounds of his children squealing with delight and Rascal barking.]  He's here with us in front of our house at [address just around the corner from mine] and he's just fine.  So just come on over and grab him, or give me a call if you need directions, or want me to meet you somewhere or something.  We're happy to help however we can!  Thanks! 

First off, I'm a time-challenged girl, always have been.  Though I've made significant progress in this department in the past year, my successes are recent enough that I still feel excited and proud of myself when I'm on time, not to mention when I find I even have a few minutes to spare.  Saturday, well-adjusted on-time gal that I am these days, shower goodies in hand, I am four blocks from the restaurant and have a solid 12 minutes to spare.  I had been thinking:  Nice work self!  After listening to Bart's voicemail, this thought quickly changes to:  Fuck me.  This now ruins my promptness for the shower and goddamnit! I know I shut and locked both doors and all of the windows.  The garage door is definitely shut.  How the hell did this dog manage to thwart my efforts once again?!?

Second of all:  Only in Salt Lake are people really this ridiculously, genuinely nice.  I'm from the midwest, and people are pretty friendly there, real helpful and down-to-earth folk.  But this kind of thing rarely happened in St. Louis, and by "rarely" I think I can safely say never.  Thank you friendly Salt Lakers, truly, for being the best neighbors a single gal with an insane dog could ever hope for.

And Bart Something-or-Other and his uber-cute wife and gaggle of adopted children were maybe the sweetest people ever.  They are outside doing yardwork as a family when I pull up, and Rascal is sort of hopping and galloping around the kids and playing with them in the yard.  Everyone is laughing, enjoying Rascal, and they greet me with giant smiles and warm hello's when I get out of the car.

"Oh, what a GREAT dog you have!  We just love him!"

Yeah.  He's real great.  Easy enough to love until he's your charge and has you running all over the neighborhood every single day bailing him out of trouble.  I gave them the rundown on the Rascal saga of the week, and they offered to help anytime, however they could, and promised to keep an eye out for him now that we're neighbors.  I moved the cake and helium balloons to the front seat, making room to load Rascal up in the back.

"He can come over and play with us anytime!" Bart assured me as I drove off and left him and his adorable family waving goodbye to Rascal from the curb.

Thankfully, we weren't far from home and I had enough time to put him back inside and look around to ascertain his exit strategy and, hopefully, barricade it.  This time it wasn't too hard to find.  Though I had shut the matching living room windows (the left of which he escaped through the day before), I either didn't shut the right window enough, or the dog is smarter than I thought and managed to open the window further with his nose.  Either that, or finally grew that set of thumbs.  (Go-Go Gadget!)  After opening the window to a suitable height, he then jumped THROUGH the screen, which though it remained attached to the house, suffered a fatal, Rascal-sized blowout.  Now it is essentially just a frame with tattered, triangular-shaped pieces of screen jutting outward in perpetual salute to the Wasatch Range.  

So, here we are.  If I leave the house now, it is with both doors and all windows securely shut and locked.  I have instituted "perimeter checks" before walking out the door.  I now have two screens requiring replacement in this house, and a dog that looks at me as if I'm punishing him every time I leave him alone.  Maybe if I ever get the fence fixed, I can start allowing him at least the use of his doggie door and subsequent backyard access when he's alone.  In the meantime though, I'm praying the temperate weather continues.  And contemplating a call to the dog whisperer...


My Alien Spawn...

Hello dear readers!  Are any of you still with me?  I was doing pretty good for a minute there, blogging more regularly as per my new year's resolution for 2010.  And now another month has gone by with nothing new from yours truly (though I have a bunch of unfinished posts in the draft queue that I should go back and post one of these days).  My apologies to you all.  And to me.  For a gal who would really like to be writing for a living, I sure haven't been doing a whole lot of writing.

I've been a little distracted.  Perhaps you noticed in more recent posts my mention of things really happening for me lately, that my life was firing on all cylinders and improving in wholly new and beautiful ways.  Which was true.  And still is true.  But, all good things must come to an end, and my whirlwind ride at the top of the wheel of fortune seems to be through for the time being.

For the last few months, my typical response to the question "How's it going?" has been something along the lines of, "Everything is just going great these days!  Except for some stomach problems, I really have nothing to complain about."  Well, it turns out the stomach problems became more and more severe - and frequent - until finally requiring some medical attention.   So a couple of weeks ago I went to a doctor - which was, aside from regular visits to Planned Parenthood, my first conventional doctor's appointment in the three years since I've lived in Utah - to get checked out.  After an ultrasound, we learned that my stomach problems were not the result of gallbladder issues, as the doc had suspected, but rather due to a cyst on my spleen roughly the size of a tennis ball.  

So that was a total surprise.  I had never even heard of anyone having a spleen cyst (or splenic cyst, as they're referred to in the medical community) before.  I've since learned that they're somewhat rare, especially in developed countries.  In developing countries they're seen more often as the result of a common parasite.  In the US and Europe, people with splenic cysts are typically either born with them, or develop them after an injury or trauma to that part of the body.  So far, the doctors I've seen seem to think mine is probably a developmental cyst (that I was born with), or that I've at least had for quite some time due to its size and other qualities I won't bore you with here.  Doesn't much matter at this point, either way the fucker needs to come out.

The good news is that splenic cysts are almost always benign, and mine shows no characteristics of malignancy.   The bad news is that the cyst is at the very top of my spleen.  The spleen, I've learned, is sort of shaped like a pickle, or a bratwurst, and hangs out in the left side of your abdomen wedged between your diaphragm, stomach, left kidney, and the upper intestine.  The top of the spleen is - I think, but I could for sure be wrong here - is above the stomach and just below the left rib cage.  So anyway, the bad news is that because my cyst is up at the top of my spleen, it is much more difficult to get to.  The gastroenterolgy specialist I saw last week seemed fairly certain that I would have to have a complete splenectomy.  This is not good news.  While you can live without a spleen, it puts you at increased risk for immune system deficiencies and getting sick more often.  Apparently, if my spleen is removed, I'll have to spend at least six months on some hardcore antibiotics, and get immunized every year for pneumonia, flu, and possibly some other nasty viruses.

For a young and healthy person such as myself, I can probably still live a good, long life sans spleen.  And the gastro doc did say not to take her word as the final authority.  "I'm not a surgeon," she said, "and that's a question for a surgeon."

At this point, I'm just trying to get through life one day at a time.  I'm not overcome with worry and fear like I was upon first finding out about this situation, but the stomach problems seem to get worse with each passing day and I'm pretty miserable most of the time.  For now, I'm waiting to meet with my surgeon for a consult on the 15th, and keeping my fingers crossed that the gastroenterologist's prediction of total splenectomy doesn't come to fruition.

So there you go readers.  Probably a lot more information than you ever cared to read about splenic cysts and my personal health.  But I feel I owe you an explanation for the deadening silence in blogland.  This is heavier stuff than I like to post over here, saltychelle having been created as an exhibition of all the strange and funny stories I witness in my day-to-day life.  These days though, I have been neither observant enough to notice much of the entertaining business of my day-to-day, nor feeling physically well or creatively inspired enough to sit down and write them on the blog.

Keep your fingers crossed, say a prayer for me, send your positive vibes out into the universe - whatever it is that works for you.  I appreciate any help I can get these days.


Elder Bennett Sees My Vag!!

I swear, I'm not obsessed, but yes, this is another post about vaginas. And this time, it's mine.

So yesterday was free lunch Friday ("FLF"). The firm has some caterer guy who makes lunch for the attorneys each Friday, and when they're through, there's enough for all the rest of us. Each week there is bitching about the food, but we all still eat it because it's free. And it's not that bad. And it's free. Either way, by Friday lunchtime the staff is almost jovial in anticipation of the weekend and another free, albeit sub-par, lunch.

Funny, now that I think about it, the whole lunch kind of started out with vaginas, in a way. Emily and I were waiting with the others in the lunchroom for the food to be brought in (we don't get to mingle in the swanky conference room where the official attorney lunch is held), and someone announces it's fajitas. There's some relief then, because we've all had the fajitas before and compared to a lot of FLF, they score a solid "pretty decent." To which I reply, "Oooh, faJITEahs!" (Pronounced, of course, to sound as close to "vaginas" as possible.) And then tell them all how much Elise hates it when I say this, and how I thus say it as often as possible. Cruel, I know, but I enjoy embarrassing my kid. In fact, when we are anywhere near a place that serves fajitas, or we're buying tortillas at the store, or anytime the situation arises where we could possibly talk about fajitas, I like to say faJITEahs a little too loudly. No opportunity to do this goes unanswered.

Yes, I purposely embarrass my daughter. Push her limits. Stretch the boundaries of her comfort zone. I like to think I'm teaching her a real-life lesson about how you really can't concern yourself with what other people think. The ego is a dangerous mistress, looking to subdue and control and manipulate, even when you think you've put her in her place....

But back to lunch. So anyway, now blurting out "faJITEahs" is something of a habit. I tell them all this, and we're laughing and by then a few people are trying it on. You hear a stray "faJITEahs" around the room. Uttered from the mouths of good Utah folk. Mostly women. Good times.

The food arrives, Emily and Darcie and I construct our fajitas and take them upstairs to our favorite empty office for lunching. I'm determined to go outside though, as it is warm and sunny and if I can get just a few moments of fresh air each day it helps to assuage the trapped-in-a-box feeling that always lurks, just on the other side of some thin film in my mind, waiting to burst through and finally allow me to run and scream and bang my head into things and tell a few people to fuck right off. Thus, I had a plan. Emily and Darcie weren't into it, they said it "looked cold," which I've determined is patently impossible through the thick glass of our windows that never open. It "looked" sunny and lovely and like exactly where I needed to be.

"Alright then, I'm eating and then going for a walk for 15 or 20 minutes, with or without you."

"It's cold out," they say.

"It is not cold out," I say.

"It looks cold."

Turns out, they were wrong. It was absolutely beautiful. Too bad for the gals, they missed out not only on a few precious moments of a phenomenal day, but on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the look on Elder Bennett's face when, as I walked through the temporary/construction sidewalk, directly towards him, the wind caught my dress and blew the knee-length hem up and flat against my chest. And I don't wear panties. That's right kids, full-on crotch shot for the Elder. I'm surprised he didn't cover his CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS nametag with his hand, to shield the Church from such a shock. As it was, he didn't have time to process. Really, the whole thing couldn't have been more perfect, everything lining up just so in the universe to a tidbit of reality that I couldn't have created on my own if I tried. One moment, we're sharing a casual stranger-on-the-street-pursed-lip smile of "hello," the next my skirt is in the air and he's staring at my vagina. OH how he gasped, and tried to hide the gasp so as not to draw any more attention to this game of man-vs-vagina street chicken! How his eyes BUGGED out of his face! Neither of us stopped though, and just as quickly as it happened, it was over. He was gone - behind me. Probably pleading with the Lord for something or other.

I, however, thanked the stars for my good fortune at being able to enjoy such a hilarious moment in the middle of a fantastic day. And then I laughed my ass off all the way back to my building.

See, this is a good thing. Just as Elise needs me to stretch her boundaries and teach her these fundamental life lessons, Utah also needs me. I like to think that I - with a little help from the wind and the "celestial kingdom" from whence it blows - am doing my part to further the cultural growth in this town. In less than an hour, I had a roomful of mostly current or former Mormons all a'twitter, saying "faJITEahs" and enjoying it, AND I managed to show a 60-something year-old Mormon man what a vagina looks like in the sunshine.

From the look on his face, it may have been a first for Elder Bennett.



Tonight I made the best falafel I've ever eaten. Anywhere. EVER.

Look at that crust-to-interior ratio. Sublime!


Line of the Day! (Mirage?)

Nora: Those pants make you look like you have camel toe.

Me: I know.

Nora: HA! Michelle! But it's just the illusion of camel toe, not real camel toe!

Me: Sometimes it's real.


Line of the Day! (Compost & Cowboys)

The Universe shines down on yours truly these days, I tell you what. Today at Whole Foods, for every $25 you spend, you get a free, 20 lb. bag of compost. It's not advertised anywhere though, so I had no idea. As I left, the WF girl and dude-in-a-cowboy-hat working the bbq outside struck up a conversation with me. They first made sure that I actually do garden, and then they let me in on this special deal.

Having wanted some compost for my garden, but not wanting to spend any more money, I was unduly excited by this news, and even danced a little dorky jig (as I am wont to do). At which point WF girl quips:

Free compost, AND a big, fake cowboy to carry it for you: that's a special day.


Line of the Day!! (Backdoor friends are best!)

At a friend's bbq this evening. Sunset, alpenglow on the Wasatch, homemade wine and priceless conversation on the rooftop deck. (Really, I need to start carrying that tape recorder around, as this evening merits a full post. Too late now, too much homemade wine. Alas.)

Man, to woman: You gotta use some lube, you know, or you'll just rough him up in there.

Woman, to man: Oh I know. I have ample ass experience.


Line of the Day!!!

You know, I told you my mom had a giant bush the entire time I was growing up, and it was pretty soft. Well, from the looks of it - it's not like I sat around petting it or anything.


Line of the Day

Alright, so I've been privy to some outstanding one-liners lately, and have developed a little something I like to call "line of the day." It's nothing fancy really, just the act of me going, "OH MY GOD, that's the line of the day!" when I hear something really hilarious. So, I've decided this will be my newest recurring blog installment. The "Adventures of Angie" (see: Vaginas! Vaginas! Vaginas!) are awesome, but those have been few and far between as of late. The once promising and now long forgotten "My neighbor is a Douchebag" series really could continue, even in my new home, as I once again am neighbors with a truly crazy woman who naturally fills the douchebag role. I also joined match.com, with concurrent hopes of either (1) meeting someone really cool or (2) at least getting some great first date stories to pen into a quirky little series (working title "Adventures in Dating," all of which would have a unique subtitle summing up the experience). Turns out, to my great surprise, that I actually did meet someone amazing, and now have no plans to go out on a series of first dates as life-fodder for the salty blog. There is, however, a whole ton of material to blather on about with regards to said very cool individual, but I am too exhausted at this late hour to delve into all of that.

So, for now, with limited brain power and time, I begin in earnest on the "Line of the Day" series. Also, loyal readers, let's make this a communal thing shall we? Multiple lives are better than one at culling tidbits from various experiences, yes? So please, if you witness a "line of the day" in action, PLEASE write me and I'll put it on the blog!

To get the ball rolling, we'll start with two lines, from two very separate days.

The first, from my friend Miranda at Westminster, who about two weeks ago was telling me about her experiences having run away from home at 15 years old:

So, I ran off and joined the goth kids, and we hopped a train to New Orleans for the summer. And so I lost my virginity to this guy...his name was Vampire Dave.

And the second, from today, in the restroom at work. First woman is in a bathroom stall, doing her business, when a second woman enters the restroom and uses another stall. First woman finishes up, goes to the sink to wash her hands. A moment later, second woman exits her stall and joins first woman at the sink.

First woman:

Oh, well if I had known it was you, I would've kept pooping.


Awesome Free Stuff

I got free stuff today. Really awesome stuff.

Don't be jealous. I mean, I know I just went to Hawaii, and I just got an awesome computer. I mean, how much does one gal deserve, right? But, apparently today the universe decided I deserve a free BLT and chips, and free software for my new laptop!

I think the universe is right. I've really been getting shit on lately. It's hard to write about, as I don't like to complain, or to blog about my job. I mean, I love Dooce, but I don't want that kind of upheaval in my life right now. And, frankly, I shouldn't complain too much about having a really good job in the current state of the economy. So, I won't. But, suffice it to say its been a rough few months.

Not to mention I have a 12 year old daughter.

So, today, I have to leave early to take Elise to the orthodontist, and I'm working through lunch. I didn't bring anything to eat, but I remembered I left a giant orange in the fridge last week. I snarf that at noon and by 2:00 I am ravenous. So, I go down to the cafe on the first floor of our building to get a bag of chips. And the WHOLE place smells like bacon. I opened the door and it was a bacon assault. And then, in the dishes where they always have free samples, they have slices of their bacon-stuffed breakfast croissant, which was deceptively delicious. (It doesn't look like much.) So now I want some bacon. They just put a BLT on their menu. I want it. I don't want to spend any money. But, oh, the baaacon smells so good. There was no fighting it.

I order my BLT and chips, to go. I feel slightly guilty. I shouldn't have spent $8 on this. A bag of chips would have gotten me to the end of the day, there was only 2 more hours. Whatever. My Morning Jacket is playing, LOUD, and I love it, and I'm trying not to beat up on myself too much anymore. It is amazing how many trivial issues the mind, or the ego, or whatever, will take up in order to beat down our spirit, isn't it? I've been noticing this a lot lately.

"Oh, um, do you have cash?" The bakery girl interrupts my thoughts. "Our machine is offline, we can't run cards right now."

"No. Who has cash?" I ask.

"Right!" She chuckles and then realizes she has no idea how to handle this situation. "Well, um, hang on."

"I just work upstairs," I say. "I come here all the time, you can ring it up tomorrow and I'll pay you then."

She hesitates, calls the other girl over, who is making a sandwich and more than likely is not a manager, but is definitely the only other person working there.

Bakery girl explains the problem. "What do you think?"

Sandwich girl smiles, throws up her arms, and says, "Free!"

Before I finish saying, "Really?" she says, "Yeah!" and walks back to make my BLT.


And there's more. I got a bunch of software that I desperately needed for my new laptop so I can write papers and my upcoming collection of short stories, finally! (Hold me to it - I've been talking about it for almost a year, and now I have everything I need to make it happen.) And I got to leave work early on a fantastically beautiful, spring-is-in-the-air kind of day, get in and out of the orthodontist in 20 minutes, and then stop by the new house of my super rad friends that I haven't really seen in a long time due to life changing and being busy and what not. They just moved in three blocks from me! And, I get to work with my little elfin fairy friend Darcie everyday, the rad wife, whose rad husband, Dan, gives me mac lessons and software and good conversation and really it's a turkey for me. A trifecta of bonuses! And their awesome new house has an awesome hot tub!

I'm definitely not bringing as much to the table here, but I'm hoping some bruschetta and home-cooked dinner this weekend will begin to show my appreciation. Luckily, Darcie really loves my bruschetta.

I suppose that's a long-enough ramble about all of the good news from my little life in the salty lake. Big stuff really, for me anyway. There's lots more going on - big, groundbreaking shifts in my emotional reality, feeling for the first time in my life like a whole person. Kind of esoteric for the blog I guess. But, things are turning around, spring is coming, and I feel real, solid, serene, filled with gratitude and anticipation for more good things to come.


Vaginas! Vaginas! Vaginas!

So I went and saw The Vagina Monologues at Westminster last weekend with my dear friend Bonnie (whose nuptials are taking me to Kailua, Hawaii in a mere 4 days!!!), and was fully awed, inspired, impressed and moved. Really, wow. I didn't expect to like it so much, to laugh so hard, or - especially - to cry so pitifully. I'm not really a cryer. Or someone who feels the sad stories of friends very emotionally. I hear them, I empathize, but more with my mind. As in, I understand that must have brought you considerable pain and sadness, and I'm sorry. But the part of me that really feels, deeply feels, has been in a sort of hibernation since, well, my childhood. (But that's another story.) Lately though, I've been going through a bit of an emotional awakening, which is nice. And, um, emotional. But so, it was a really fantastic experience. And Bonnie bought me a chocolate vagina pop, which is still swimming around in my purse and gets pulled out at awkward moments in the elevator at work when I search and fumble for my key card. (That's another story too. A much, much funnier story. Let's just say that errant vaginas - even chocolate ones - in the land of Mormon have a tendency to create socially awkward moments.)

But I know you're here for the real vaginas. So let's just get on with it, shall we?

So, here's my story about vaginas. Or, well, one vagina. And it's not mine. It is a friend's story, as relayed to me this past Tuesday evening. For the sake of anonymity, let's call her Angie (which is the name most resembling the word 'vagina' I can come up with at present. I am, however, open to suggestions and editing this post at a later date if you can best me. Yes, that's a challenge.)

"Oh my GOD. So, I go to work today and everything's fine for the most part. I mean, I'm busy as hell, but, you know, that's how it is, right?"

As in: that's how it is after you've taken a few days off and come back to a teeming email inbox and raging fires to put out. We all know how this goes. Veritable shitstorm. Angie had taken last Thursday, Friday and Monday off work. By Tuesday, she was in for it.

"So, you know, at some point in the afternoon I go up to the reception desk and am talking to Mary and I SWEAR I can smell something."

I raise an eyebrow. Unlike you, I knew where this was going. Angie had taken Thursday through Monday off work in order to travel 3000 miles across the country to visit her new, long-distance boyfriend. (Who just also happens to be the first boy she ever kissed, 20 years ago.) They reunited via - take a wild guess - facebook. Of course, right?? Anyway, so they reunited, and had a blissful two-week telephonic reunion wherein they mutually decide they are completely in love. So, this is their first real in-the-flesh encounter for over 20 years.

Exciting stuff really.

And you can imagine the weekend that transpired.
Which is why I raised an eyebrow.

"You can SMELL something?" I ask. Just to clarify.

"YES! I can SMELL something! And it smelled like sex! Not like vagina, not like that metallic menstruating vagina smell, but just this musty, briny smell of sex!"

Love it. "Briny" pretty much nails it, yes?

"You know that smell?"

Yes, I know the smell. I assume that was rhetorical, and wait for her to continue.

"So I immediately cut off my conversation with Mary, fairly awkwardly really, and run down the hall to the breakroom to make some tea. I figured if I made some really strong tea it would overpower the vaginal odor emanating from under my skirt. And that way if anyone got close enough, they would just smell the tea and not me."

Does this logic seem flawed to anyone else? I mean, really strong coffee, maybe. And even that's only a maybe. But even the strongest tea I've ever encountered I wasn't able to smell until I stuck my beak down to the rim of the cup.


"So, I'm standing there making my tea, and I see a big thing of that hand-sanitizer stuff on the counter. And suddenly it just occurs to me, this great idea! There have been times after I've smoked a cigarette that I wasn't able to wash my hands, and then rubbed them with hand-sanitizer and it completely eliminated the smell of smoke! I mean, something that can completely rid the smoke smell from your fingers after a cigarette is pretty amazing, right?"


"So, I pump a bunch of globs of that in my hand and make a run for the bathroom. And I get in the stall, and start rubbing it ALL over down there, to odor-eliminate and just freshen things up. And at first, I think this is a fantastic idea. I mean, I bathed before I went to work and if that wasn't enough to rid the love-stench of my weekend, then this was surely the next best solution. I mean, that shit is like 90% alcohol, I figure it will kill whatever bacteria and leftover whatever that's down there."

Now, some of you ladies may have some experience that will inform where this story is headed. Some of you may not. I, for one, have never ended up with a vagina full of hand-sanitizer. There was one night though when I used some homeopathic icy-hot kind of stuff on my inflamed back muscles, and then, HOURS later, having completely forgotten about the earlier application of said ointment, ended up with - you guessed it - an icy-hot vagina.

For the record, not recommended.

"So, I get all slathered up and am just standing there in the stall waiting for it to dry so I can pull my stockings back up, and then OHMYGOD. OH. MY. GOD! It started buuuurning! Everything was absolutely on fire - just inside, where it had barely creeped, all over the outside where I guess there were probably microscopic tears from three days of non-stop, wild, crazy sex. EVERYWHERE it burned! It was awful!"

Not to mention, she shaves.
Say it with me gals: OUCH.

"So I start jumping around, and getting a bunch of toilet paper to wipe it off, but at that point it was dry 'cause you know that shit dries in seconds. And I'm dabbing - I had to keep telling myself, "Don't rub! Just dab! Gentle dabs!" And so I'm dabbing and I'm doing the thing where you cross your thighs as tightly as you possibly can and trying to muffle my moans of pain and biting the back of my hand and praying to GOD that no one comes in the restroom."

At this point the story came to a natural pause as my laughing inhibited all incoming auditory stimuli. This is one of those stories that I wish I could tell in first person, so that you might get the full effect of how absolutely hilarious it was. But then again, I'm actually pretty glad this is not my first-person story. So is my vagina. In fact, it reminds me of the old saying, "A smart man learns from his own mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others." If nothing else, this episode made Angie smarter, and me a lot wiser. Because I cannot honestly say that I wouldn't have tried the same thing in that situation. I'd like to think I'd have a bit of foresight, what with the old icy-hot experience, but then again, I might not. It had never occurred to me before I heard this story to not rub hand sanitizer on my vagina.

But now I know. Turns out it takes a solid ten minutes for the raging fire of a hand-sanitized vagina to wane.

Just FYI.


Welcome 2010!

Happy New Year! This year I resolve to blog more. Amongst a growing list of resolutions. And while there are a seemingly infinite number of issues and stories I could report on at the moment (really, things are happening for me lately, it's kind of wild), I'd like to begin 2010 with the first really good story of the year. And for my grand entrance back here at saltychelle, I can stay true to the strange oddities and encounters in life that have been the lifeblood of the stories that made this blog famous.

Or, well, not. But those four loyal readers knowwhahmsayn.

Ok, so this story actually takes place on New Year's Eve, 2009. I'm feeling pretty excited - despite a looming sinus thing coming on - for the evening ahead. I get off work early, run a few errands, and am still home by 3:00. Get the dog out to the park, deal with some chores. A beautiful, sunny, productive day.

6:00-something rolls around which is about when I needed to start getting ready. I'm kinda loose about such things as time. But, I realized I had forgotten to get a couple of things for my much-anticipated New Year's Day slow-cooker meatballs. As I'm putting my shoes on to head to the store, my dear friend Nora calls me. I mentioned I'm leaving for the store. She also needs to get some things from the store. "Oh, well maybe I'll see you there," I say, pretending to be an interested potential suitor. "Maybe," she coyly plays back. We laugh, hang up.

I got held up when I had another phone call leaving the house. I figured she'd get there before me, and might even be gone by the time I got there. No big deal, though I do have a good time when I shop with Nora. (Yes, we tend to shop together a lot for some reason.) But, I digress. I am happy to see that she is still there when I enter the parking lot. There's no mistaking the giant silver skull on the rear window of her Xterra. As I walk in the sliding doors, I see her right there at the U-Scan, her back to me.

Ok, so probably an aside worth mentioning here - in addition to the Skullterra (as it's known to it's friends and admirers), there are a LOT of things about Nora that are unmistakable. She is a beautiful, buxom, 6" tall former child-model. She has a veritable mane of luxurious, currently jet-black, impeccably coiffed, long, wavy hair. She dresses kind of, shall we say, noticeably. Other words that come to mind are: loud, sexy, outlandish, Victorian, and always playing up her best feature - curves. She is pretty extraordinary. And wonderful.

So there she is, scanning her box of crackers (which she told me she had forgotten for her NYE party), in her black, mid-calf, heeled boots which I recognize, bright magenta tights, and super-cute, very Victorian, lacy black skirt. She is also wearing her workday standard black, wool, double-breasted coat. I realize this is way more detail than is necessary, but the point - if it wasn't obvious - is that this woman is UNMISTAKABLE. And I spend a LOT of time with her. I recognized her boots and coat. The other stuff maybe I haven't seen before, but this is a woman with a Narnia-wardrobe for a closet; she is constantly bringing out something I've never seen before that she has either made, improved upon, found for $5 at a resale shop, or maybe just forgot she ever owned. Yes, I don't remember seeing those tights or skirt before, but they were exactly the style she whips out at any given moment.

In my NYE excitement, I decide to give her a little surprise. I do this to her a lot. It's fun for me. She's relatively easy to startle and/or frighten, and she's pretty good-natured about it when I fuck with her. So, I quietly walk up behind her and she never spots me, even in her peripheral vision. My chest is nearly touching her back, I get on my tiptoes, place my hand on her left shoulder while simultaneously putting my mouth up to her left ear and saying, louder than a whisper and quite authoritatively, in my deepest, throatiest man-voice, "Ah, excuse me, Ma'am."

She whips her face around so that our noses are about an inch apart and gasps so loudly it kind of finishes with a scream. At which point I emit an equally loud gasp-scream as I realize this woman is NOT Nora.


"Oh my god!" I kind of yell.
"Oh my god, I am SO sorry!"

Luckily, Nora's doppelganger is the kind of woman who can laugh about such situations. And she did. Hysterically, actually. We laughed so hard the tears came, and we each had a palm on the other's arm, supporting one another and connecting in this very weird, hilarious moment. Through the gasping laughter I attempted to explain that she looks just like my best friend, whom I was trying to scare.

"For fun," I sputter, in explanation.

She laughs even harder, which I then do too.

"You're really GOOD at it!" she says.

And as I stood there laughing with this cool lady who looks just like my best friend, I felt oddly proud of myself.

And that maybe it's going to be a great new decade.