Saturday, September 21, 2013

Aftershock: Where the food trucks rule and deodorant is completely optional

Because I am married to the most patient man in the world who gave more than anyone ever should during the run of Mother F*ing Hood earlier this month and last and really never asks for much in return, I agreed to go with him to Sacramento for Aftershock Monster Energy Rock Fest of Really REALLY Loud Music and LOTS of People.

I've never been in a place that held more tattoos than teeth; and I've never seen my husband so happy to bang his head to his favorite bands... Avenged Sevenfold, Papa Roach, Shinedown, Halestorm... to name a few.

And I got to attend another Steel Panther concert, this one in a small bar venue, really cool and fun to be close enough to feel the wind off Lexi's enviable mane.

We watched Five Finger Death Punch's lead singer reprimand a woman for flashing him her boobs during their show, telling her to "set a fucking example, there's kids here."

Example, indeed.

And I got to see first hand the havoc humidity can wreak upon a Mohawk:

But I wasn't going to let that fan's tragedy (or the horrific scene at the port-a-potty) ruin my weekend. Nope. For I found that any time away with my husband - even if it is spent packed like sardines waiting for another really REALLY loud band to play - makes for a perfect weekend. No matter what.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Oh, Erica

We were in Durango this summer. I was too busy actually enjoying my vacation to blog about it, but I was recently reminded of this story and wanted to write it down before I forget it like I have a million other things recently...

My older daughters and I were touring Durango with my uncle, Jim, and on our way home to meet the rest of my family and my aunt. Knowing happy hour was coming up soon, I asked Jim if we could stop at the liquor store on the way to their house for a little gluten-free beer for my husband.

(Car rides are MUCH more pleasant the less gluten he has... um... passing through his system)

Jim agreed and pulled into a gravel parking lot just off the main drag out of downtown to a small white shack. Paint peeling off the sides, heavy construction in the rest of the vacant lot and two signs - Beware of Dog & Crew Cut My Phone Line, No Credit Cards Today - told me all I needed to know before entering.

Erica stood at the register immediately to the right as I entered, talking on the phone and getting ready to ring up a ZZ Top impersonator. As I made my way to the back of the store to grab ice cold sorghum beer out of the fridge, I heard Erica explaining her case to customer service on the other end.

"It's fucking ridiculous," she eloquently replied. "I've been down all fucking day. My fucking customers don't all have cash, you know?"

Now I'm far from bothered by the f bomb. But she had no way of knowing that. And in my years of HR training, "Do not audibly or even in a visible lip-reading sort of way utter the F word" usually made the Top 10 of every How Not to Treat a Customer list I'd been given to study. But, with said dog of "Beware of" fame lurking nearby, I was not about to point that out to Erica.

So I grabbed my six-pack and dutifully made my way to the counter just as Erica hung up the phone.

"Sorry, crew cut my fucking phone line this morning," she said with the same enthusiasm one might tell a friend about an upcoming mammogram. "Fucking internet went down yesterday; couldn't even pay my fucking sales tax online."

She kind of smiled at the last part, so I did too as I asked, "Is this beer any good?"

Erica gave it a half glance before responding, "I don't know. I don't drink retard beer."

This was probably the opportunity for educating Erica that, while "fuck" will almost always fly in a liquor store, "retard" really won't.

But I didn't.

Caught so off guard, and slightly afraid she thought I lacked some sort of mental capacity, I decided to set the record straight.

"It's not for me, it's for my husband," I replied as I gently placed my husband under her bus.

"Oh," she said, startled, I assume, by my marriage to a presumed retard. "I'm sorry. People buy it. Must be okay. Your total comes to $10.50."

(gluten-free beer is not cheap)

I pulled a ten and a five out of my purse and handed it over. She gave me my change: two $2 bills and a Kennedy half dollar. I had not seen either of those things since Easter '85 when my grandparents dished out what I had previously assumed were the last two-dollar bills ever to be in circulation.

Confused by the whole experience, I thanked her for my perfectly normal, functional change and left.

The beer was terrible, but my time with Erica was priceless.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sold Out

Wanted tickets to see Mother F*ing Hood tonight? You're too f*ing late!

Fittingly, we are riding to the Arts Center in style... a 10-foot U-Haul ready to remove all set pieces and giant foam pill costumes from the building. Also? Alex (aka Mr Xanax) (aka Where Were You When We Were In College?) just called and needs a ride to the show. His cougar loves are picking him up soon from the Papa John's parking lot near his apartment. Perfect way to start the final night.


Friday, August 30, 2013


So it's been a big summer, a bigger month and an explosive week... all leading up to tonight. And tomorrow night. And next weekend too!

Before I head off to the Arts Center, though, I had to share a few behind-the-scenes sneak peeks. Be sure to make your way to 940 New Hampshire tonight to see this baby on stage. It will rock your freaking world!

Yes, in reality I probably am a 13-year-old boy who could not resist taking this photo:

Our choreographer, Christina Burton, worked miracles in just three little sessions:

From our first dress rehearsal finale:

Our updated logo (no f*ing symbols this time):

And, in spite of having left the paper 9 months earlier and finding every editor I worked with had left as well, the LJW did a great spread for us. It worked, too.... well over 1000 people will see this show!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Old Irish Poem

(Or Poem by Old Irish Woman)

The angels sang; the clouds all parted
The bells all rang, for school has started

Monday, August 5, 2013

Luke's 2 cents

I was working on a deadline for a local family magazine when my 12-year-old son entered the office.

I looked at him and smiled, but my "I'm almost done, I just need another 45 minutes in a row to finish this story. My deadline is today." did not register with him.

"You're stressed because your deadline is today. That's because you put it off until the last minute. You probably knew about this for a week," he replied.

Actually, I knew about it for three months. But I wasn't ready to write it up until the day of the deadline. Because I didn't know what to write about. And because I was far too consumed with thoughts about this season of "The Bachelorette."

(I hadn't watched it since Trista and Ryan's wedding 10 years ago, but I knew a bachelor this season. He went out the first round, but by then I was too invested in Dez's happiness and had to see this train wreck through. Not proud... just sayin'...)

"How many words does it need to be?" he asked

"750," I replied, still lingering at word 135.

"Use words like 'at' or 'on' or 'up,'" he recommended. "Those are short words that don't take as long to type."

I nodded as I tried to concentrate long enough to get back into the flow. But he continued.

"And whenever you have a word like 'wasn't' or 'don't'... what are those called?" The child will be in 7th grade. He was recently bumped up a grade in math. English? Not looking good.

"Contractions?" I offered.

"Yeah," he replied. "Whenever you have a contraction, spread the word out. Like 'was not' or 'do not.' That will help you take up more room. At least, that's what I do."

A typical man of few words (just like Dez's last boyfriend... hmmm... I just got flash-forwards of Luke's future ex-girlfriend lamenting on TV about what a poor communicator her last boyfriend was. And how his advanced math skills really did not make up for it), Luke had a strategy.

"That's what I do for papers," he confessed. Though he thinks he was helping.

But he wasn't - sorry, was not - finished.

"And if you have to have a certain number of pages for your paper and you're using 12-point font, you can do your periods in 14-point font. The period will be the same size, but it will make the line bigger so it takes up more room."

Fourteen more days until school starts. And is his teacher ever in for a treat.

Back to my grind...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Between the posts

I attended a book signing for my friend, Jen, author of the wildly popular blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, and author/publisher of Amazon's newest #1 humor book "I Just Want to Pee Alone."

Jen read a hilarious piece about moms' night out at the gun range, one I'd had the privilege and pleasure of hearing while performing with her in Kansas City's "Listen to Your Mother" this past May. She and one of her "Pee Alone" writing partners, Stacey Hatton, then took questions from the audience.

One question in particular has stuck with me: "How come so many bloggers kind of... burn out... or maybe... go off the deep end after they develop a following?"

The audience member was sincere, though I was surprised she asked it. I just thought everyone knew the answer.

Writers, by nature, are a different breed. We are people with more internal monologues than a Cathy cartoon. We are people who are far too hyper-observant and, if we are not careful, can be bothered by every sensation around us to a debilitating degree. We are not all necessarily introverts any more than we are necessarily extroverts, but we do all share a sense of mental cleansing - and stimulation - by allowing our endless thoughts to land on a page... or a computer screen.

Painters paint.

Singers sing.

Runners run.

And writers write.

Bloggers, though, are a unique breed of writer. Kind of like graffiti artists or subway performers or marathoners (usually without the tight asses... sigh) put themselves out there unsolicited (seriously, who ever tells someone to run 26 miles?).

Pull out the bloggers who fall into the money-generating marketer or reporter category, and you are left with writers who are looking for attention.

Those of us who have accepted it proudly wear our "Attention Whore" label on both sleeves. Others - those who might believe they aren't in it for attention, as they prefer to remain anonymous, or those who do it solely "as a venue to express personal thoughts" - may not be ready to admit that opting for a public website over an old-fashioned Hello Kitty journal with a built-in lock for privacy is, indeed, looking for some sort of spotlight.

On some level, every blogger believes she has something soooooo important to say, she must publicize it. Otherwise she would simply jot it down in that dusty Hello Kitty journal.

Ask any mom blogger if she is looking for a newspaper column or a book deal or a job at O Magazine, and 99% of the time the answer is yes, whether she says it out loud or not.

And there's nothing at all wrong with that.

Now ask any newspaper columnist or published author or contributor to O Magazine if there are any drawbacks to her dream job she had not seen coming and she will scream from the top of the NYT Bestseller list, "HOLY SHIT, THAT IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!"

Trying to gain an audience of 100 is nothing compared to trying to please an audience of 1,000,000. And an editor. And a publisher. And a family that, at times, liked it a lot better when writing only took up a couple hours of "me time" each week.

And then there is the creeping fear of the idea well running dry or an editor telling you to compromise your message for ratings or - worst and most prevalent of all fears (besides spellcheck being taken away) - what if everyone finds out the truth: You don't really know what you're doing.

True story... every successful writer with whom I have ever talked has confessed to harboring at some level - from short-lived to chronic - a fear of being discovered as a fraud. Every writer. From the community newsletter to network television script writers, all have expressed this same fear at every level of notoriety.

So back to the question...

The reason so many bloggers flake out, freak out or check out after hitting a mark of notoriety is usually either because the art of writing becomes unwanted work (Deadlines? Who wants to worry about a deadline? All my friends are by a pool drinking margaritas!) or because success itself arrives with all sorts of confidence-rattling fears that serve - in the end - to strengthen the most determined and weaken the less resolved.

Either way, it does not matter.

Slipping off the internet is as easy as it is to slip on. And if a person decides the blogging life is not for her (or him), then hitting "Delete" is the best thing she (or he) can do. After all, a big, beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime sort of world is waiting just beyond the computer screen to be experienced without necessarily being chronicled.

(Um, notice I didn't write anything all summer on this blog until now. But I got a lot of shit done, loaded up my iPhone camera roll and have an awesome tan.)

And if a person has the support and confidence and drive to ride the waves of success, then that is exactly what she (or he) should do.

(Mother%$!#Hood runs again at Lawrence Arts Center August 30/31 and September 6/7... buy your tickets today!)

So sometimes bloggers quit. Sometimes they land awesome book deals (congratulations, Jen!!). It's all good ---- no, it's all great. We're all born to do different things, and we cannot know what they are until we try. But most of all, we all need to do those things that make us feel alive. Life's too short to do it any other way.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Listen to your Mother

I participated in Kansas City's inaugural Listen to your Mother Show last weekend, in spite of the first impression I made on these gals.

The evening went beyond well; all 14 women - some of whom had not spoken publicly, or at least publicly about their topics of choice that night - commanded that podium with grace and class. (Even I held it together and did not say anything inappropriate) (Dr. Phil calls that "growth")

For those of you who were there, here is a snapshot of the night, courtesy of Karen Ledford Photography. Michelle Burdick had just read an emotional and gut-wrenching piece. Her last words to me before she read it were "Make me laugh."

That's what I do.

So after she sat down I made sure to point out that she did a fantastic job reading and - more importantly - her a$$ looked fabulous from my vantage point. Truly it did.

Here is that moment:

"You did a fantastic job! And your a$$ looks fabulous!"

And for those of you who weren't there that night, here is the piece I read. I adapted it from a Lawrence Journal-World column I wrote a couple of years ago. Cheers!

It was a hot summer evening in 2003. Why I decided to take our four kids to the pool by myself I have no idea, but it was time to head home.

Ellie was nearly 6 and did not want to leave. Amelia, age 4, did not want to follow my stroller overflowing with baby Caroline and all of their gear while two-year-old Luke wriggled around like a new puppy in my arms.

As I paraded my circus to the exit, I noticed a couple relaxing in lounge chairs, feet up, drinks in hand, reading their magazines while their two school-aged children frolicked safely and happily in the water.

Feeling like the old woman in the shoe, I looked at Jodee and her husband, Kevin, with uncontrollable envy, forced a smile upon my haggard face and said, “You make the pool look like so much fun.”

Jodee looked up from her Glamour and smiled. “Yes, it finally is fun,” she confirmed. “You’ll get there, too, though. I promise.”

After hearing hundreds upon hundreds of elderly women tell me to “enjoy this time because it would not last forever” as I wrangled and wrestled my blossoming crew with little grace and much exhaustion…

Out of the grocery store, wailing for candy; out of the mall, traumatized from trying on shoes; out of every bathroom in the Detroit airport, terrified of the Motor City’s automatic toilets…

After being told to “enjoy this time” by so many well-intentioned but clearly amnesic old ladies, it was refreshing to hear a mom acknowledge that some of “those times” were not, in fact, enjoyable at all; that there actually is storm before some calm; and… best of all… that the storm would eventually pass.

I filed this promise away in my brain for many years while tossing the last pacifier, potty-training the last toddler and wiping the last bottom.

I never thought about it while tying the last shoe, filling the last sippy cup and buckling the last five-point harness

And it never crossed my mind when I pulled off the last set of training wheels, cut the last hotdog into choke-proof bites or marched my last baby off to kindergarten.

Every moment of every day was spent turning these precious little beings with few useful skills into moderately independent and functional humans, kissing and hugging their sweet and often messy little faces along the way. Consumed with the never-ending task at hand, I really did not have time to think about Jodee’s promise again.


one hot summer evening in 2009, while my husband and I were relaxing by the pool on a family vacation, skimming through magazines and sipping ice-cold beverages while our kids frolicked safely and happily in the water, when I noticed a woman loading her children into strollers and arms and hands, and I suddenly remembered Jodee and Kevin kicking back six years earlier.

The moment Jodee had promised would come 2,190 days before had finally arrived.

Tears welled as I grasped this milestone we had unconsciously reached. Our family now complete, my work in the trenches of baby and toddlerhood was permanently over; diapers, naptime, The Wiggles, all were behind me now.

And though the turmoil of the teen years with a whole new load of worries loomed ahead and though the job of parenting would never ever end, I refused to think about that. For, as hundreds upon hundreds of elderly women had told me over and over again, I need to enjoy this time. Because it will not last forever.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Cinco de Maya$$

I used to think God created the blue agave to help us celebrate the short-lived Mexican victory over the French in the 1862 Battle of Puebla.

But now I know better.

Now I know it was to help those of us north of the Rio Grand cope, 151 years later, with Mamacita Nature's withholding of spring. It was to numb us just enough so as not to be bothered by the icy winds threatening to blow our sombreros away as we huddle around the chiminea for warmth in the middle of the afternoon. It was to relax us when mighty gusts send spikes up our spines and leave us wondering if playa weather will ever, ever return.

And it was created to make us better dancers.

Para bailar la bamba...

Monday, April 22, 2013

I just shipped my pants

I love the internet...

First impressions

I attended the first read-through for Listen to Your Mother Show last night. What a phenomenal group of women adding their voices to the motherhood composite.

They were funny, touching, sad, brave, clever and opened my eyes to the many ways this one theme is interpreted. I? On the other hand? Introduced myself as mildly hung over due to a whopping three glasses of wine at the kids' school auction the night before.

Winning first impression for sure. I should write a book about how to paint a clear picture of yourself in 20 seconds or less yet somehow still not get asked to leave.

While I am playing out the theme from the light-hearted perspective of my own experience, several of these awesome gals are sharing their pasts with their own mothers as they shape their present as mothers themselves.

When we listen, we learn. What did I learn?

I learned my mom's a freaking rock star. Not that I didn't know that before, of course, but her stock rose considerably more after hearing and witnessing the effects of being raised without the kindness, affection, love, stability, care, sacrifice and commitment my own mom gave us.

While we will always tease her for her motto ("Look out for deer!" followed closely by "Look at that beautiful tree!"), I will always be grateful for the joy she planted in my heart.

And always and forever in awe of the moms who find that joy on their own and pass it on to their children bravely and with the grace and dedication of the women I met last night.

See it all here:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fantasy Camp

Kids have dreams. Big dreams. Dreams of playing for the NBA or singing to a packed arena or living in a mansion with their mother maid who will cook and clean for them.

As a kid, I honestly thought dreams were something that died the minute you became a grownup and had a boss and bills and car insurance. Or maybe that those dreams of our youth just morph into dreams of hoping someone will hire you and give you money to pay your bills and buy your own car that doesn't have a Lollapalooza bumper sticker on the back.

But last weekend, something magnificent happened.

After more than two years of unconsciously dreaming and very consciously working, I discovered that grownups can have dreams too. Better yet? They can even come true.

Maybe the dreams are for knees that don't creak and shoulders that don't crack or maybe to sing alone in a shower where no one will walk in and ask you to keep it down or maybe it still involves a wife maid who will cook and clean.

For me the dreams of my youth never really left; the dream of conceiving and creating and sharing a story... set to music with a full band, two moving spots and a brilliant cast, of course. Because every story is more fun when it is sung.

Last weekend, my college roomie and I produced, directed (mostly me) and co-starred (mostly her - I just ran the mic out to them a couple of times) in a musical we co-wrote: "Mother%$!#Hood: From A to Xanax." On a real stage, with a real paying audience, who really enjoyed it.

It was like fantasy camp for the theatre geek. Equivalent to, let's say, having Bill Self call and offer to let you coach the next game. And then winning it.

See more and like it here:

Stay tuned for where this dream leads and remember that dreams might change, they may get buried, they may take a while to come true, but they can never die.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Men are not from malls

Say what you want about cliches and stereotypes about boys vs. girls. In my life I have found 98.72% of them to be true.

I took the kids to the mall last weekend to knock out a few errands before more snow came to ruin spring for me.

Three girls and one boy and a mom.

Knowing the pre-teen boy would have the least amount of patience for the trip, I decided to start with the worst stop of all:  bra-shopping for the teenage girls.

For 30 nearly life-ending minutes my poor son sat in the Macy's Intimate Apparel waiting area with his little sister while the big sisters were measured and fitted for new bras.

He didn't even have his iTouch. Life sucked for that boy.

But I did feed him pizza for lunch.

Refueled, we moved on to Forever XXI (or XXI Forever? or Forever 38, as my sister calls it?), where the teenagers looked for something to wear to church that wouldn't double as a clubbing outfit.

Luke planted himself in a chair by the fitting room, commiserating with a random dad about how long it takes teenage girls to try on clothes. The dad, clearly a beaten-down shell of a man, agreed.

We left with a small bag full of dresses closer to the knee than the butt and a promise that Luke would be able to get some new pants for school at our next stop.

Unfortunately for Luke, the next stop had no khaki pants in his size.

But they did have an abundance of dresses for Caroline, all of which she tried on while Luke tried to run away.

"I'm going out into the mall," he announced.

Assuming, as all moms do, that every crowded building is filled to the brim with pedophiles, I threatened him within an inch of his life to not leave the fitting room entrance at JC Penney's.

After nearly three hours at that mall, we finally snaked our way to the exit, walking past a children's shoe department where Luke - who really sees no purpose in coordinating his outfits or cutting his nails regularly but has, inexplicably, suddenly developed an interest in styling his hair and owning a pair of Sperry Top Siders - stopped.

"Can I look here for a pair of shoes?" my soon-to-be-a-ladies-man child said.

Within 90 seconds, Luke had the pair he needed at a price I liked and we were on our way to the car.

"I told you girls take too long," he lamented all the way back to Lawrence.

"I know," I agreed with a smirk from the driver's seat while he re-laced his new shoes in back.

His sisters will, if nothing else, have him well-prepared for when he starts dating.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The One Where I Write Again

Have you lost weight? New hairdo? Whatever it is, you look great.

So maybe it's been a while. And it probably would be even longer had I not received a nice kick in the rear to put words onto the Internet again from Laura and Erin at Listen To Your Mother.

More on that in a bit. Let's catch up first, mmmkay?

When we last left off, I was sun-drenched and salt-washed after a week in North Carolina.

Since then...

I'm happy to report that so far:  none of our kids have dropped out of school, I now own two pairs of reading glasses and am fine with that because Dave Grohl wears them too, I don't miss writing a weekly column like I feared I might, "Mother%$!#Hood" has sold over 200 tickets so far, Amelia (unlike Ellie) has not backed into anything yet, pantry is done and rocks, I still have a Pinterest page and only spend 10 minutes each week on it, none of the pictures from Naked Beach have surfaced, I did not sympathy vomit with the puker and...

Listen To Your Mother goes up May 11th at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Welcome to my oft-neglected blog. I hope to see you again soon. And by that I mean I hope I sit my a$$ down and write again before fall.

Rock Chalk!