Have Yourself a Mellow Little Christmas
If you bought one Christmas album this year, I hope it was Sufjan Stevens' five-disc Songs for Christmas, if you could find it. Took me all month to get my hands on one. It's nice to have something that's not your typical pop-star-does-"Santa Baby" album. Plus, who can resist a guy who includes in his liner notes and lyrics the directions to repeat the refrain "endlessly, until you can no longer sing, because that is when you know you've really made it" and to "feel free to play the wrong notes." My favorite tracks so far are "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!" (this week's free iTunes song - get it now!), "Once in David's Royal City," "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!" and "Sister Winter." Those of the religious persuasion will also enjoy Sufjan's mellifluous versions of favorite hymns like "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."


'Tis the Season, You Know
I was going to take a nap in anticipation of making it through this evening's 11:00 Christmas Eve service, but I decided instead to pour myself a shot of Bailey's and write a religiously inspired blog post about how I do not believe in the virgin birth. But the Bailey's got the better of me; my blathering became a little too much, so I decided to spare you a long-winded explanation of why I think the Christmas story is mostly a well-intentioned literary device to draw a people into the captivating story of the life of the most influential man who has ever lived. And now my window to nap has passed.

On that note, happy Christmas to you all. I hope you have a chance to experience some of the best that this holiday has to offer.

PS - Yo tech-alicious friends! How do I work with this new label function in Blogger? How do I change where it appears and how it looks on each page? And how do I add a list of labels to the sidebar?


Pick Your Excuse
I've been too ___________ to update lately.

A) busy
B) sick
C) lazy
D) lacking in content
E) All of the Above

But Don't Worry
I'm feeling better, feeling motivated, and getting a better handle on the coming deadline, so a new post will be coming soon. In the meantime, amuse yourself with the following super-long installment of:

Funny Sentences in My Inbox

Few things are scarier. I'm certain they'll never have sex. Certain.

He's a hoot! I love parents. They say the darndest things.

I also witnessed my first incident of spousal abuse when Jon 'accidentally' whacked Megan in the nose with his elbow - inflicting slightly black eyes!

Erica said pussy! It must be Friday.

You look great, but the red light makes it look funny, as if you were at a Brothel?

Hi there Miss Toots A Roni!

I downloaded "Century" for use in all my legal documents. TNR just doesn't cut it, IMO. Century looks like we mean business.

Is she the K-State sister??? Don't let her touch any of my Mizzou stuff...it might burn her hands!

So this is an update to my current status as being an unemployed graduate since this past May, though I will admit I enjoyed having this distinction, it is a badge of honor.

Apparently, he and I were involved in some "level one" flirting last night, but I was not aware of it.

Only in the gay community can you see forty-year-old men giggling about each other. It looks like junior high meets a monastery. But better clothing.

You're the most wonderfulest person ever for finding our chocolate.

It's official - I didn't drink today, so yes, you had more beers than I did this week. Now when does fire rain from the sky?

I've always wanted to be a journalist ever since I played a little arcade game known as Paperboy. Or to be Spider-Man or an NHL player.

I'm not using "lay" and "lie" because I don't remember the correct usage.

I'm all for consistency, except when it is consistent S-H-I-T.

Is Meredith really good in bed? Like, does she shoot out flames and bray like a donkey? Because I can see no other reason that Derek AND Finn would want to fight over her.

If I were a lesbian, we would definitely be a couple for as much as we hang out. She's like my other, tofu-eating, environmentally responsible half.

MU beat Texas Tech on the road. Arkansas beat Auburn. OU lost. The Yankees lost. Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is pretty much the best sports day, ever. E-V-E-R.

damn that's a long word which i'm sure i miissspellld.

it would be a sad day if your bird flu was what gave you your 15 minutes of fame. i can think of more noble causes.

OK, we're not using that e-mail subject line about lesbians anymore, because one of our columnists just walked by and shouted out, 'Lesbian porn training video? What? Explain!"

And I want to be nice, and I don't want to make any judgments before actually meeting her, and, you know, maybe it'd be different if I met a girl first and then received a note from her after already having a first impression. But... Really bad spelling might be an insurmountable obstacle. Does that make me shallow?

I say: You're either with us, or you are with Comic Sans.

P.S. The reporter sitting behind me just used the phrase 'naming rights,' which makes me think of Dan's blog, always.

Gaaaah! I was so glad to hear from you I got butterflies in my tummy. How cool is that? Um, so cool?

Of course I should try to get rid of the rat. I'm not inviting him to tea. We're not staying up late talking about boys.

So last night I dreamt that Protz and I were in New York, and she was seduced by Snoop Dogg. I promptly sent you and Pat a text message that read, "OMG OMG OMG."

i totally sent that email to you b/c i designed it and was all "e would appreciate this." and i like to send my friends all of my clippings, a la eli cash in tenenbaums.

Why can't good Mizzou news happen on a day I'm at work? 'Cause dangit, you guys already took both angles I was about to pounce on: "I wonder if they'll take their ATVs along, or if they'll leave them for future troubled juco recruits?" and "If he next goes to Manhattan, we'll know he's stalking Erica, just out of order."

The title track will have you dancing in your underwear...at least, that's what I do...wait, that was probably too much info. Uhhh...yeah.


This Week's Sign of the Apocolypse
My mother is shopping at Forever 21.

Health, happiness, a chance to get to know my sister again, supportive parents. These are the things I'm thankful for this season. Oh, and a day set aside for raucous family games of croquet, dominoes and cards.


Don't Cry For Me, Arizona
So I finally gave in and tried that site that tells you who your celebrity lookalikes are, and the only one they gave me – the ONLY one! – was Eva Perón. But it wasn't a smokin' hot Madonna-esque picture they paired me with. It was a frumpy old woman version of Evita. I blame it on not having a decent picture of myself since I am always behind the camera. Thus, I am now soliciting your help in locating a suitable ( = smokin' hot) picture of me looking straight at the camera that will prove that I do indeed look like Reese Witherspoon, Laura Linney and Janel Moloney, or at least not an alleged fascist. Seriously, this is kinda depressing.

So apparently I didn't understand how this thing worked. I thought they were going to show me a nice collage like the ones people have posted on their blogs. So, going back through the process, I have discovered that it's not just that I look like an aging frump of a woman. I also resemble a Japanese animé director, Alan Alda and Moby, among other less-than-attractive men. Sharon Stone is the only redeeming face on this collage, and she's the bottom of the list. This thing is full of crap. And yet, I'm going to keep on trying pictures until I get the matches I deserve, of course.


Suggest Your Own Hedline Here
I stopped by the post office after work today to ship a package, and the guy in line in front of me looked familiar. I don't know many people outside of work around that part of town, and I couldn't quite place him. He was looking at me like he recognized me as well, so I said, "You know, you look a little familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?" He replied, "Yeah, I was thinking that too. Maybe from the clinic?" And this was the trajectory of my thoughts: Clinic...clinic...clinic...? Oh! The doctor's office! Oh! He was the doc who saw me while mine was out on maternity leave. Oh. My. God. The last time he saw me I was naked under a paper gown and he was looking up my vajayjay. I promptly turned red and probably remained that way for the 15 minutes I was stuck in line next to him. I don't think I've ever taken so long and done such a thorough job filling out the customs shipping form.

More Funny Sentences in my Voicemail
11.15.06 8:21 p.m.
"Hi! This is [CENSORED]. You may remember me from such appearances as 'That Guy You Knew in College' or 'That Guy Who Used to Return Your Phone Calls and Emails Promptly.'"


Why I Might Need a New Phone Sooner Rather Than Later
Or, Funny Sentences in My Voicemail
Lately my phone has not been notifying me when I receive a voicemail, so tonight I spent 15 minutes listening to old messages.

10.19 9:30 p.m.
Hi! It's [CENSORED]. I had a TiVo emergency and I missed Grey's because it didn't record it! I don't know what happened; it's a mess! So I need the rundown from you. So if you get this, it's 10:30 where I am right now, which means 9:30 where you are, or maybe it's 10:30 now. I always lose track of what our time difference is. But, um, if you get this tonight or anytime tomorrow whenever, just give me a call I need a little synopsis because I missed it! And they're not running it again any time soon. So boo on that! Anyway you will be my rescue.

11.6 6:06 p.m.
Jagshemash! This is Borat! No actually, it's [CENSORED] but that's my best Borat impression. God that was such a funny movie! Anyway, I'm on my way to a story. I'm running like a wild chicken today. This is the life of a small town newspaper reporter. This morning for a style story...Then I came to work and had to do calls...had a meeting, and then I was a night reporter and so I got sent to cover a fire... And now I have to go to a meeting...And then I have to go...And then I have to go back...and get everything else in line for election night...It's just nuts. I'm going crayzay! But anyway. This is going to be a really long message. Sorry. Anyway...Talk to you later! Bye!

11.6 7:10 p.m.
Haha! Holy whale's balls! This is like an intense game of phone tag all in like the past 24 hours. It's kinda like intense McGee...I've got old man ears recently and my phone was also kinda like "wah wah wah" kinda like Peanuts.

11.7 8:24 p.m.
Why hello! It's [CENSORED]...I haven't had access to my email so I feel like I'm in the Meideval Times...Oh! And your state is one of the reasons why I was not completely discouraged after the elections yesterday because if I remember correctly Arizona was the only state that had a same-sex marriage ban on the ballot that didn't pass...Anywho, I'll quit yabbering and Talk to you later. MWAH! Bye!

11.7 10:03 p.m.
Hey! It's [CENSORED]. We're having bad luck on the whole getting a hold of each other thing this week...


Cue David Bowie ("Ch-ch-ch-changes...")
Whewy, folks! It's been a crazy post-election day, huh? I've been almost giddy today when tracking the news:

+ A mandate on the need to change our tactics in Iraq
+ Rumsfeld's resignation
+ A woman just two heartbeats away from the presidency for the first time in history
+ Arizona the first state to reject a marriage amendment
+ A state-wide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in Arizona
+ Looking forward to watching JD Hayworth pack up his office, which is just 4 doors down from our suite at work

But one of the best moments of last night's coverage on CSPAN was watching Santorum's son try not to break down on national tv. I know that's mean, and I probably wouldn't have made it without bawling, but seriously, you should have seen the poor kid.


How I Almost Became a Wannabe Rockstar's Kinda Girlfriend. Maybe.
I don't blog about my love life. There are many reasons for that; chief may be that it's somewhat disturbing to discover that someone has been publicly chronicling his every step to get in your pants.

That being said, The Airport Guy was a walking blog post from the very beginning. And since it's been about six months since I last heard from him, I believe the statute of blogging limitations is over. I was awaiting my flight to St. Lucia (via Miami and Chicago) when I started overhearing this guy's cell phone conversations. From what he was saying, it became obvious he was in some kind of band and his bandmates had somehow left him the night before and he had to find his way to Ireland to meet up with them. His name-dropping became quite impressive (excessive?), so I started jotting down the names in my little travel Sudoku book: Interpol, The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (apparently a guy who used to play with Airport Guy's band is now playing for them), Death Cab for Cutie (Airport Guy's band was supposedly going to be playing with them in Ireland), Drew Barrymore's father (A.G.'s mother, an entertainment lawyer in LA, had him over for dinner the other night, nevermind the fact that John Barrymore died two years ago), Marilyn Manson (who apparently broke A.G.'s keyboard with a beer bottle the night before). Because I like talking with interesting people, regardless of whether they're being completely truthful, I struck up a conversation with him. During our conversation, or rather, during his monologue, I learned the following:

+ He was originally from Mississippi and moved out to Flagstaff after Katrina.
+ He grew up a few houses down the street from some Nobel prize-winning author (whose name I can't remember).
+ He was a big Faulkner fan.
+ He had written a book that told the "fictional" tale about how he had killed his best friend in a drunk driving accident and then spent 6 months hitchiking around the country doing a lot of drugs and sleeping with a lot of women. A few weeks later, Penguin Books was apparently flying him out to NYC to talk about publishing his novel.
+ He went to boarding school with Julian Casablancas.
+ He had packed weed in his checked luggage.
+ He had recently given up drinking. (He said this about 10 minutes before he offered to buy me a drink from the airport bar at 10-freaking-30 in the morning).

Somehow he talked me out of my phone number before boarding his plane to Dublin; I really never expected him to call, but sure enough, upon his return to the States, he rang. One of the first things he mentioned was that he had run into Phillip Seymour Hoffman while walking around some town in Ireland and offered to buy him a drink. He also ran into Dolly Parton in Temple Bar in Dublin. By this time I had enlisted Sarah's help in checking some of his previous story, and we learned that Death Cab for Cutie was definitely NOT playing anywhere in Ireland for the next three or four months. But Jason (I finally learned his name during the phone call) the Airport Guy amused me so I didn't really care how real his stories were. The next day he called to invite me to Sedona because his buddy Maynard Keenan from Tool was having a party celebrating the opening of his new vineyard. I had to decline because the party was that Tuesday and I had to work. He called me the next day to invite me up to Flagstaff so the two of us could go bike riding. When I told him I didn't have a bike, he said he'd buy me one. The next day he called to invite me to Sedona for a full moon party and even offered to charter a plane to fly me there. The next day he called me three times in one day.

And that was when I stopped returning his phone calls. I never did figure out what band he was supposedly in, not to mention which stories were real and which were completely fabricated, though I think the one about Marilyn Manson destroying his keyboard with a beer bottle might be my favorite. "Jason the Airport Guy" is still programed in my phone and I get a good chuckle when I scroll past it.

Con Artist?
Confused Crazy Guy?

Who knows. But it makes for a good story.

Splish Splash
I have the flu, and my sister has kindly told me that my hair is greasy and that I stink. I think this means it's time for a bubble bath.


Poetry Spam
Or, Funny Sentences in My Bulk Mail Folder
Normally I hate email spam (who doesn't, really?). But lately I've been noticing the poetic qualities of some of the subjects. I started collecting a few of my favorites and have compiled a few into works worthy of the next FARC Spotlight or Artisan poetry slam. Each line, including the titles, is a different spam subject.

victimize vaguely
Within reach of the prerogative of puzzled doubt no gold itself was low
largely barbarous you increased the gallery. You a democrat back
They're Kingdoms with an observation chair.
should have balls, receptions, banquets that rigmarole
stripped of Terminus itself, like that his lordship a Sector Wienis
the chance would be death. Three weeks; ago, before him what we lost

science without orders
ethical promises relations miseries
But go on detour attune
in listen of fanaticism marksmanship
No plan of satisfaction in this discuss the faint, emphasis
Spirit? We're protecting forces as much; alive:
Oh, you are not able to control your feelings!

that of the standards of steel.
I hope you threw his voice was much alive.
crimes of a night before We have before his feet.
criminal. I see, more than one

transfer housewife
Not finish or unversed virginals
Is turnon on ignominious
dishwasher frank
ordinary light at their way I see he smiled to allow
private plans, and he observed and you are
injudicious yes, and circumstances; were busily being shot and filming

penance nonexistent
land with us in wrought iron the Fall: of the establishment of
their daring. It weakens ever be; escorted back to catch
and for cropping. Its the Emperor. What I pass the power,
seemed open for the Tribes are under guard
in his mouth knowledge the habit. He was so much time.
spoke, only never given in order your treasonable statements Mr. A
bulge at court for yourself explained: it wouldn't have no hearing
and that you heard that gives us nothing but that rules the
section of the beginning simple and then SELDON lifted then: stopped.

Totally beats subjects like "Re: ho test" and "We have VfAGRA 4 u".


Miss Manners wouldn't know where to start
Or, why you might not want to be seen in public with me:

1. I tend to burp. Loudly. And often.

2. I scoff at people who are starstruck, but be forewarned that I will freak out if any of the following are mentioned or sighted: Jason Bateman, Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Isaiah Washington, T.R. Knight.

3. Not only do I prefer to drive barefoot, but I like to drive with my left foot propped up on the dashboard between the window and the steering column. Yes, I know this is dangerous, but it's strangely comfortable.

4. I have a hard time stifling a glaring look at Hummer drivers, especially when they hog the lane in the parking lot.

5. Most weekends I shower only once. Why waste the effort as long as I don't stink?

6. I'll forego fixing my hair to catch 20 minutes more of sleep in the morning, so most days my 'do is a messy knot of wet hair.

7. I really don't see the problem of putting your elbows on the table.

8. I feel compelled to rage against the use of Comic Sans anywhere I see it.

9. I will cry when watching a sappy (or even a not-so-sappy) movie/tv show. There's no way around it.

10. I cannot restrain myself when "Ice, Ice Baby" comes on. Must. Sing. Along.

Does this make me a bad friend?
How is it that it has taken me six months to realize that I still have Megan listed under her maiden name on the blogroll?


Honk if you’re a homophobe!
I nearly drove off the highway yesterday evening. NPR’s Michele Norris was interviewing Paul Weyrich, a conservative activist and leader of the Free Congress Foundation, about the Foley sex scandal and Dennis Hastert’s role and responsibility. Weyrich said the following: (transcript taken from Wikipedia)

Weyrich: It has been known for many years that Congressman Foley was a homosexual. Homosexuals tend to be preoccupied with sex — the idea that he should be continued, or should have been continued as chairman on the Committee for Missing and Exploited Children, given their knowledge of that is just outrageous (Interview at 1:08).
Norris: Now, before we go on, I think I can say, Mr. Weyrich, that there quite a few people who would take exception to the statement that homosexuals are preoccupied with sex.
Weyrich: Well, I don't care whether they take exception to it — it happens to be true.
Norris: That is your opinion.
Weyrich: Well, it's not my opinion, it's the opinion of many psychologists and psychiatrists who have to deal with them* (Interview at 1:40).

What?!?! The same has been said about men in general, but no one ever said, “We should have expected no less from Clinton; after all, he’s a man!” In no way do I condone or excuse Foley’s disgusting actions, but if Weyrich’s rationale were rational, then what we really need is a (straight) woman in the White House, for lord knows our culture’s stigma says that women don’t think or talk about sex (a claim that Sex and the City does well to dispute). So here’s yet another reason W. shouldn’t be president: he’s man and is probably spending too much time thinking about banging his wife to responsibly govern our country.

*"Deal with them"? I "deal" with traffic on my daily commute; I "deal" with pesky telemarketers; I "deal" with PMS. And unfortunately I have to deal with homophobes and bigots like my good friend Mr. Weyrich.


Excerpt from a phone conversation with my mother this morning:
Mom: Did you get my voicemail about Osama bin Laden yesterday?
Me: You mean the message you left about Barrack Obama? I don't think Obama is threatening Republican power quite enough to be the number-one man on the FBI's Most-Wanted list. Not yet, anyways.
Mom: Oh, right. Maybe I need to go back to bed.

The blog links to your right have been updated to reflect the following: changes in geography, new blogs discovered/begun, lack of postage, claims of shutting down (we'll miss you, Fiscus!). Let me know if I've missed something.


Tree hugger
Today I took my lunch break sitting in a tree and reading a book. This made me inexplicably happy.


*Edit: I thought of a few more. Can you spot the new additions?

Every Year I…
…try to check yet another goal off my list of things to do before I retire from this earth.
…plan at least one trip out of the country (the operative word there is “plan;” I missed 2004, not to mention years 1997-2001 and every year before eighth grade).
…get at least one bad haircut. (Not on purpose, of course.)
...watch boxes of really crappy movies just for the chance to get free passes to the Phoenix Film Festival.
…aim to see all the Best Picture-nominated movies before the Oscars.
…contribute to the local NPR station, KJZZ.
...miss the Artisan so much I actually contemplate buying a ticket to KC/STL just so I could visit.
…say this’ll be the year I go skiing for the first time since high school and never get there.
...make at least one mix CD that I'm really proud of.

Every Month I…
…attempt to stick to my budget. (I do well most of the time!)
…tend to go a week where all the emails stack up in my inbox before I get the chance to respond to any of them.
…have dinner with Brooke, Chris and Viviane, during which I try to persuade Viviane to say “Erica.” So far our response to, “Viviane, who’s this? [pointing at myself]” is: “This!” Although, sometimes, after much prompting she’ll exclaim, “Ca!”
…pay my credit card balance in full.
...put away money for The Big Trip.
…vow to spend a weekend starting my portfolio website. I’m not very good at keeping said vow.
…mix up some homemade margaritas.

Every Week I…
…update the podcasts on my iPod.
…talk with Sarah and with Pat.
...hope this is the week they start covering the Suns again. (It's nearly NBA season again!)
...take at least one really good nap.
…catch at least one episode of BBC World News on NPR.
...go for a walk in the park during my lunch break.
…hike a short distance on Camelback (or at least plan to until my sleep schedule gets the better of me).
…back up everything important on my work computer.
...exchange witty email banter with any combination of the following: Dan, J-Dub, Pat, Sarah, Megan, Jason.
…drool over George and Burke while watching Grey’s Anatomy.
…swear I’ll get more sleep than the previous week.

Every Day I…
…marvel at the sunsets here in Arizona.
…check your blog.
...check her blog.
…press snooze.
…drink at least two glasses of milk.
...create a to-do list.
...obsessively watch the instant mileage calculator in Yolanda the Honda.
...laugh at Satchel and Bucky's adventures in Get Fuzzy.
…tell Bandit “bye-bye,” his cue to race to the couch by the window to watch me get in my car and leave.


To Phucket. Or not to Phucket...
I really want to travel to Thailand right now. Is that bad?


Keepin' it Real
My friend Matt managed to upset the entire Jon Bon Jovi fan club earlier this week when he posted on his personal blog a not-so-favorable anecdote about his recent encounter with/photography assignment of Mr. Jon. And as interesting as the dynamics of the ensuing response were, I think you, my many journalistically minded readers, would find Matt's subsequent post about the impact his photojournalism has had in Katrina-hit Houma, La., more interesting and definitely inspiring. Keep up the good work, Matt.

Is it really September? Really?


Everyone warns you about the Freshman 15, but no one warns you about Desk Job Dozen. I've just about worked mine off, though. Gym memberships are good for something.

Broken Record
So every once in a while I latch onto an album. Current such album: KT Tunstall's Eye To The Telescope. Totally diggin' it.

Just Wondering...
What do you know about bipolar? I'm reading up. Email me privately. Cheers.


Bandit has many nicknames:

Bandito Burrito
Mr. B
Buck Boy
Frog Dog
Chicken Legs
Cute (as in, "Hey, Cute. Why are you chewing up my flip flops yet again?")

Well, now we can add "Graduate" to the litany of nicknames, as a couple of weeks ago, Bandito Burrito graduated from puppy training class. We're proud parents, as you can guess.

More Pictures: Yesterday's Tailgating Extravaganza

What can I say? It was hot.

The Manhattanites: Me, Tim & Eric

Katie, beers

Jana & Nathan

Slowest Grill in the World™

The album is here.


Denver at a glance

In honor of Pat

Some foosball ass-kicking (Sarah did the kicking)

Some low-key hiking

Too much Comic Sans

Pretty lighting at One World Cafe

More pictures here.


I Was Sitting in an Airplane Over Winslow, Ariz*…
SOUTWEST AIRLINES — …Such a fine sight to see. This is the first time I get to travel with Jack Jr., and I figured I needed to maximize the opportunity. So here I sit 12,000** feet up in the air, headed to Denver, composing a blog post in Word.

I hope I never tire of sitting in a window seat. When I traveled with a couple flatmates to Italy for spring break in 2003, one of them scoffed at me when I got excited that my seat on Alitalia was by the window. I’m sure she thought I was some poor provincial Kansas farm girl who was not as privileged as she was, flying home for term breaks while at Mizzou. She was an experienced traveler and the novelty of watching the earth below was, well, beneath her. I felt sorry for her, actually. We were flying over Italy! Who wouldn't want to look out the window? Flight travel amazes me,*** and I love to experience the whole trip. I love the deep rush of the engines as you pick up speed down the runway. I love how quickly you rise and how fast the large buildings become so miniscule. I love how when the plane tilts, you don’t really feel it inside, but when looking out the window the ground seems to pitch and turn. I love that on my last trip, during a flight to Chicago, we flew over the Midwest and I nearly flipped out when I recognized Manhattan below us. I wanted to announce to the cabin, “There’s Tuttle Creek! That must be the new Super Wal*Mart! I see my old neighborhood!” It all fascinates me, and although I plan to travel pretty much forever, I hope sitting in the window seat never gets old and that flying (or driving or traversing by train) never becomes mundane.

*According to our captain, we did just fly over Winslow, how appropriate.

**Total wild-ass guess. I have no clue how high planes fly; and I've always been bad with numbers.

***A couple years ago, we were dropping Ally off at the airport to go back to Kansas, and she made the comment, “I still don’t believe planes can fly. I can’t believe it actually works to get that big thing up so high. I’m just lucky that the pilots believe it.”


It's That Time of Year Again
The time of year when I pretend to be a hard-core hiker and do some treking up Camelback once a week. Pictures from this morning are here.

*Click on the picture to see a (slightly) larger version. Not the best photo stitching, but it's cool.


There's nothing "urgent" in the way Urgent Care conducts its business
Or, Why I'm definitely unfit for mamahood

There's no "care" in Urgent Care, for that matter. Lesson learned: Do not handle glass around children. Murphy's Law clearly states that it will break. Don't worry, though, you'll clean it up...with your bare feet. (Note: no child was harmed in this story, only the individual entrusted with said child's safety.) I spent 2 hours at Urgent Care to see the only doc on duty only to have him numb my foot, dig around for a little bit, bandage it up and say, "Well, I'm not sure I got any glass out. You shouldn't submerge it in water for about two days, so I wouldn't swim, take a bath or shower for a while." Excuse me? I'm sure my coworkers would appreciate that. A couple hours later when the feeling returned to my foot I confirmed that indeed, he did not get the shard of glass out of my foot. Wah wah.


Alert the Authorities
I’m spending the weekend at yet another home, but this time I’m not just house-sitting; I’m also Rachel-sitting. Our neighbors who are moving to Albuquerque are spending this weekend house-hunting, and they thought things might go a little smoother without a 17-month-old child in tow. So I get to be Mama for the weekend. I mean a true diaper-bag-toting, car-seat-driving, stroller-pushing, wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-replace-the-binky Mama. Talk about birth control. When they asked me to help them out, I’d had plans for Saturday night, so I’ve already hired my first babysitter. (Thanks, Mom.) Tomorrow I plan to rise at 6:30 when Rachel usually wakes up, and we have a grand list of things to do, which includes visiting the baristas at the neighborhood coffee shop, going to the mall to run around the indoor playground (apparently that’s where all the cool moms go) and a swimming play date with Viviane. And that, my fun-loving friends is how I find myself “home” on a Friday night reading The Devil Wears Prada, eating hummus and crackers, and drinking milk from a sippy cup (I couldn’t find the adult glasses). It’s one more way I’m trying to be more like Dooce.


Roll Call
Just wondering, who are you? If you feel like it, leave a little note in the comments. I'm curious.

That's all. You mean you thought this was going to be an actual post? Tough.


A (Denver) Post Post

The above photo ran with this article in the Denver Post last week. Note the cute couple in the picture? That would be my Grammie and Grandie. This idyllic main street was the setting of many a summer where I spent time chasing cousins and shucking sweet corn. Yum.


Belated Funny Sentences in my Inbox ™Fiscus
I've been doing a bit of spring cleaning today and found this old post from Oct. 26, 2005, which I never got around to posting. So, since I had my handy dandy dusting cloth at hand, I gave these a once over to post them 10 months late. Let me set the scene of fall 2005: My computer at work had recently been stolen, Meh-gen was planning the Great St. Lucian Wedding Extravaganza, I was hiring my first intern, the BAWS (Bored at Work Six/Seven) was in full effect, and the following image was circulating again. You know you'll never live the FARC Spotlights down, Jason.

I know, everyone has been calling me sacrilegious because I don't read the Potter books. I went to dinner with a bunch of people last month, right after the book came out, and the response to, "I've never read any of them," was as if I'd just said, "I cheated on my boyfriend with my aunt's dog."

He says he just wanted Hugo Chávez "taken out," not "assassinated." Next he'll qualify "taken out" with "to a nice dinner, with drinks beforehand. Then to a show, maybe Cheesecake Factory afterward if there's time."

I could be placated with cheesecake. It would be a good last meal.

Maybe if you would've worn deoderant your computer wouldn't have left you. Like a bad habit.

I remember I once told S@rah M@gill there was a tornado warning before the sirens went off. She sort of thought I was crazy. She probably still does.

Our senior copy editor claims his tombstone should read, "InDesign has unexpectedly quit."

No, for real: like, are you going to be able to, like, do your job? Will you have to just sit around the office and do crosswords until they get you another one? Can I come over & help "investigate"?

Time flies when you're jumping out of airplanes!!

Have lots to tell about Quin, and I’m going to be a Nana again the end of February----Kim and Matt are excited and Quin wants an elephant instead of a brother or sister!!

Ah, to have "cable." I used to watch VH1 from the treadmills in our so-called "fitness center," but then someone ganked the TV. So instead of buying another $50 TV, the management turned all the treadmills to face the window.

Is suicide by pastry a variation of death by chocolate?

An "acquaintance" who will go unnamed -- we'll call him P@n Durschw!tz -- once thought that Nelly Furtado was merely Nelly's full name.

Contrary to my better beliefs in the world/life/etc, some people are generally disfunctional and incapable of handling an adult, working situation.

Sorry about the delay in my response, I was right in the middle of a deadline and two writers didn't come through with their articles (drag queens- such drama), so I had to scramble a bit.

My life will not be fulfilled until I am pointillized in the WSJ.

Sorry for the negativity ... when your livelihood depends on other people's mistakes, you develop a tendency to point them out.

Wedding plans are making my brain blow up.

And then I went back to the coffee house today for coffee and vegetarian chili. Not because I'm vegetarian. But because I'm hip like that. Though I think all the art students could smell the sell-out on me.

Why is there a picture of J@son Gr@h@m in women's underthings in my inbox?

For what it's worth, I think Tina Fey would do a dead-on portrayal of Myndi of FARC and Wausau, whose new last name I do not know.


Allow me to repeat myself
You might have received the following email from me. If so, no need to read any further. If not, please continue:

So, here's the deal: Monday Night Football is just three and a half weeks away, and the local Phoenix Mizzou Alum club has a scholarship fundraiser that gives you a chance each week to win $50 depending on the outcome of the Monday Night Football games. There's no need for skill, in-depth knowledge of pro football teams and players, or even for you to follow the game. You don't even have to like football! Basically, for only $20 you buy a numbered booklet, and each week a winner is determined based on the score of Monday's football game. It's totally random, no number has a higher chance of winning over the others, and you have the same chance each week. And once you make your donation to the scholarship fund, you don't even need to watch the games. If you win -- poof! a $50 check arrives in your mailbox. Just ask my friend Pat, he won last year. Weekly emails congratulating the winners are sent by our club president, Jill. The money raised goes 100% toward scholarships for local students to attend Mizzou.

Let me know if you're interested, I'll send you a booklet with all the games and the info you need to know, and I'll email you info about whom to make the check out to and where to send it, etc. And if you need any more motivation, know that I made the booklets this year and had to create them in Microsoft Word, which is, well, quite the challenge to put it mildly. I only have a few books left to sell, so please let me know soon if you'd like to participate.

Of course, I can't just ask for your money, so I'm going to share a fun little video I made of our puppy, Bandit, showing his team spirit:


In honor of National Underwear Day...
This weekend I spent $100 at Victoria's Secret, and all I came out with were six pairs of their cheapest underwear and two of their cheaper bras. And one of the pairs of undies was free! AND I got $10 off one of the bras! I understand paying for quality but spending $30 on three pairs of panties* just seems frivilous to me. (I went for the 5 for $25 deal.) I can get my hair cut for $30, and a hell of a lot more people see my hair than my underwear (I get more compliments, too). So I returned one of the bras and bought a cute pair of gaucho capris at Ann Taylor Loft, which were marked from $40+ down to $19. See this—this is why I could never really make it in Snottsdale.

*And that's the deal! Individual pairs of knickers were upwards of $12.50! Ridiculous!!!


If you weren't able to watch these earlier this weekend, the bug has been fixed (I hope!). I've found YouTube to be a greater challenge to work with than it's talked up to be to upload videos. Has anyone else found this?

Hello, Cute
Just you wait until I have my own kids. This blog will be overrun with pictures of edible baby feet and videos of cuddly moments.

Viviane, the young virtuoso.

"Puppy. Hi." I think Viviane has been attending puppy training classes, too. Note that she rolls Bandit's toy rather than throwing it, and she says, "Roll" right before she does it, too. This is because she's been getting in trouble for throwing things. (Sorry about the sound being off. I think something got slightly corrupted when I uploaded the video, because it's not like that on my computer.)

My poor cell phone will never be the same again. This is totally a testament to how many mannerisms little kids pick up from their parents. Note the hands-free talking. And speaking about throwing things, I edited out the part where she chucks the cell at the coffee table. For clarification's sake: "Honey" is grandma's name.


Selling out
I'm drinking a tall mocha from Starbucks this morning. And I'm really liking it. I'm sorry, little indie coffee shops that I love so much!


Home, Sweet Someone Else's Home
I've had several people ask me how I can stand living with my parents for so long. There are several reasons, chief among them being the low cost of rent (yes, I do actually pay rent). But the secret I don't tell them is that I actually don't live with my parents. I just use their house for storage.

In the past 2 and a half months, I've lived in 6 different houses; I've slept in someone else's bed for 33 nights of the past 72 days. Such is the life of a perpetual housesitter. In the calendar below, the blue lines are the housesitting jobs I've had this month. I have two jobs lined up for August, and two more in October.

I'm thinking of making business cards advertising my ability to pick up mail, put out trash and walk the dogs. I have even been specially trained to administer insulin shots to cats! In the meantime though, let me offer some tips to those of you who might be seeking such services.

1. It is helpful, but not necessary to give me info for how to either A) tap into your wireless Internet access, or B) sign into your desktop.

2. Thank you for showing me how to use basic appliances like the coffee pot, grill, convection oven, etc.

3. Speaking of food, please keep some good grub in your fridge or pantry. If you plan on cleaning out the fridge before you leave, please include a small stipend in the check to allow for grocery shopping. A girl has to eat and if I have to stock up on coffee, frozen dinners and salad dressing because you have no edible food in your kitchen, it's going to make me think twice about whether or not it's worth it to add 20 minutes to my commute to watch your house and pets. On the other hand, if you're kind enough to stock my favorite cereal and a fresh gallon of milk, I'll stand post as your personal sentinel anytime.

4. Please, please, please explain in detail how the alarm system works. It's not fun having to explain myself to the Brinks Home Security people.

5. Thanks for warning me about the stuffed animal you have quite correctly named "Hump Bear" that the dogs love. And I mean love.

6. If you have a Sleep Number bed, an in-ground trampoline and live 5 minutes from my work, I will try to convince you to go on more vacations. An in-ground trampoline, people! That's freaking awesome. Not to mention that the 5-minute commute lets me run "home" for lunch to float on a raft in the pool.


Talk of the town
In case you're dying to know what everyone's talking about in this here Valley of the Sun, let me give you a quick rundown:

- The weather. When are we not talking about the heat?

- The serial killers. Don't worry friends, last time I checked I was still alive.

- And of course, the matter of most vital import: Steve Nash's shorn locks. (Please don't let it be a Samson and Delilah-type story. Please!)

They know me. They really know me.
iDiscovered the new iTunes "Just For You" Beta program today. It takes stock of any songs I have purchased from the iTunes store and then recommends songs or albums based on my history, the same way Amazon tracks what you buy and makes suggestions based on your past purchases. It's fantastic; it's going to help me determine which albums I need to buy next from Zia Records (they're cheaper, they're local, and I get the album art then). This is going to save me hours of indecisively holding up two albums and trying to figure out which one I need more urgently. Here's what Just For You has told me today:

- You own Yanke Hotel Foxtrot. We recommend Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens and Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron and Wine

- You own Transatlanticism. We recommend Silent Alarm by Bloc Party.

- You own Songs for Silverman. We recommend Ganging Up on the Sun by Guster.

- You own Dear Catastrophe Waitress. We recommend XO by Elliott Smith.

- You own The Photo Album. We recommend More Adventurous by Rilo Kiley.

All of these are albums that I've had the suspicion that I need to own. iTunes has somehow gotten inside my brain and has filtered out the wheat from my proverbial chaff.


Sunset and Soon Forgotten
Or, I've been listening to my "Sources Say: Good Songs From Good Friends" playlist for too long

I'm sick of missing my friends. But I'm mostly sick of feeling like I'm the only one who hasn't moved on. Growing up is a bitch.

Comic Relief
Or, I'm sorry, Jana, I just couldn't hold it in much longer

So Jana's boyfriend's last name is Caulk, poor guy. But he's a big boy (Caulk) and can handle himself. (I know, too easy). The people you should feel sorry for, though, are the two Polish sisters who married his brothers. (Yeah not exactly normal. Sometimes I worry about Jana.) Their names -- no joke -- are Anita Maya and Iwona (pronounced "Ivana"). Anita Maya Caulk and Iwona Caulk. Can you imagine being in the doctor's office when either of them is called back? Or being the teacher who has to call the mother to tell her that her little Caulk is acting up in class? And Megan was worried about not being able to name her children Jaun Tidd, Anna Mae Tidd, Mel Tidd, etc.


100 Days of Solitude
Or, Journey to the Center of My Soul

About this time next year I will be heading back to London for the third time, but the adventures won't end there. Back in April I gave my two weeks' notice at work...about 14 months early. Probably not the wisest career move, and not one that I'd necessarily recommend, but I don't do well with hiding big secrets. And there's no way I could keep from talking about my plans.

Oooh....my plans. I'm very excited about my plans. Of course they're subject to change based on funds, world events, whims, etc. But here's what we're looking at for now:

July 6-ish: Fly to Jacksonville to visit the inimitable Pat.
July 8-ish: Take an over-night Amtrak train to D.C. with Pat. (The two of us will put on our best Bonny and Clyde impressions without the whole bank-robbing thing. Or maybe we'll take on the roles of Thelma and Louise without the whole driving over a cliff part.)
July 9-ish: Arrive early morning. Hang out with Jason and Kate.
July 11-ish: Non-stop flight to London. My dad's choir arrives the next day for their UK tour. I'll do the groupie thing a bit and the hang out with Megan thing a bit.
July 18-ish: Ally arrives in London-Town and we do the sister thing a bit.
July 20-ish: Ally and I head to Ireland where we'll tour the countryside and eventually meet up with the choir to see them perform in Dublin and Shannon.
July 26-ish: The Brooks Bunch heads to Austria (via Munich?) for a week-ish. Much Sound of Music soundtrack singing will ensue.
Aug. 4-ish: I send the rest of the fam on their merry way back to the States and head out to explore Europe. Destinations have yet to be decided but will definitely include Prague, Berlin, Munich and Brussels. May include Copenhagen, Budapest, somewhere/anywhere in Switzerland, a small French village, Sweeden, Finland and Norway.
Sept. 1-ish: Take an Easy Cruise from Brussels to Amsterdam.
Sept. 5-ish: Fly to Hanoi. Tour through Vietnam and Cambodia.
Sept. 23-ish: Stop in Bangkok for a few days. Take a "beach break" on a nearby island.
Sept. 29-ish: Tour through Thailand and Malaysia.
Oct. 14-ish: End in Singapore.
Oct. 15-ish: Fly to San Fransisco. Check out Mamu and Granddaddy's new digs. Try to recover from jet lag.
Oct. 20-ish: Head home. Continue to recover from jet lag. Maybe start the job hunt. If I feel like it. :)

The bulk of this trip will be solo, but I am taking reservations for travel partners for various legs of the trip. Obviously Pat will help me kick off the adventure (appropriately so), and the family will be along for part of the ride in the UK and Austria. But so far I might get the pleasure of company from Betsy somewhere in Europe, and from Emily somewhere/anywhere that fits with her schedule. Wanna join me?



And completely unrelated:

"I want to come back as Gareth's hair gel"
Do you know how happy finding this made me? For the uninitiated: This is Gareth Gates and the Indian-ized Spirit in the Sky I was obsessed with when liviing in London. Go to the place that's the best: YouTube, of course!


5 Things in My Car
1. Two pairs of sunglasses (in case I lose one or leave a pair at work/home/poolside)
2. A giganto map of Phoenix Metro
3. The July issue of Los Angeles Magazine
4. My gas book in which I record the mileage and price of gas each visit to the pump (don't ask, my father made me start one from the moment I started driving at age 14)
5. Spare hair bands.

5 Things in My Fridge
1. Milk. (Yum.)
2. Monterey Jack cheese
3. A few cans of Negra Modelo (Look at me, Mom! I've learned to like beer!)
4. CoffeeMate's Vanilla Cinnamon creamer
5. Raspberry jam

5 Things in My Purse
1. My cell phone ear piece doohicky
2. A Fry's receipt
3. A scrap of paper with Yvette's email address
4. My iPod with the iTrip radio transmitter attached
5. Dental floss

5 Things in My Bathroom Medicine Cabinet
1. Three cases of dental floss (I don't know how I keep collecting these things)
2. Ralph Lauren's Romance perfume
3. Coupons for face wash, moisturizer, contact solution, tampons and body lotion that I keep forgetting to use
4. Lysine supplements (to help fight canker sores - it really works!) and Yin Chiao supplements (to save for the first onset of a cold - it really, really works!)
5. My old upper and lower retainers that I pull out whenever I feel like inflicting pain on myself

5 Things on My Desk at Work
1. A fun coaster for my cup of water
2. A stack of magazines (Esquire, Travel + Leisure, Golf for Women, Boston, New York, Condé Nast Traveler, Pool & Spa Lifestyles, Complex, Cigar Afficianado, Blueprint)
3. Craisins
4. An engraved pica pole from my high school yearbook advisor, Mrs. Wika
5. An exacto knife

5 Things in My Room
1. A picture holder/bulletin board thing that May-gun gave me for my 22 birthday, filled with pictures and postcards (Big Ben on a cloudless day; me and Ellen at the Acropolis; the Flat One girls; me, Meh-gen and Sarah at the lake; J-Dub and Dan outside Shake(y)'s; little Sterling at Yellowstone)
2. A box with a gift that I still have yet to send across the ocean
3. A dog dish containing Jack the Mac's broken display
4. My Tube ID card from 2003
5. A frame displaying the Alpha Chi symphony from my pledge mom.

5 Things in My Gym Bag
1. An old, ratty towel
2. A blue padlock
3. Fun earings from Meh-gen
4. Fly-away-hair-keeper-outer rubber-band thing
5. Socks


In living sound
Click on the arrow below to discover a new treat!

this is an audio post - click to play


"Jesus houdt van u" is Dutch for "Jesus loves you"
Or, That Tower of Babel is a bitch

I was a volunteer summer Sunday School teacher for the high school Formation class yesterday. They're doing a series where each week they examine and discuss a tough question of faith. My question was, "How do I know if God exists?" I'm just glad I didn't get the "For how many years will Dan Brown burn in hell for writing The da Vinci Code?" question. No, actually this looks like a very well-thought-out series. And I had a revelation. Part of the discussion had us read John 1:1-5 (In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...) and all of a sudden it all clicked. If God is word, it only makes sense that there are several interpretations of God around this world. When you hear a sound, it means nothing to you until you can attach some kind of meaning that you're already familiar with. In the same vein, how can each individual's interpretation of God be exactly the same? Seriously.

While we're talking church...
The lovely older woman who often sits behind me in the sanctuary turned to me at the end of the service a few weeks back and told me that she loved listening to me sing. I didn't have the heart to tell her she must have heard the woman sitting next to me, because I sing in just one key, and that's the key of OFF. But then the next week she said the same thing. It must mean just one thing: I have to find more hearing aids like hers and hand them out to the rest of my pewmates.


Evolution of a Music Enthusiast, side A, unfinished

Summer 2000 Nick, Brian and I spend a week volunteering at camp, reviving some of our old favorite songs. Vanilla Ice makes a comeback as we rap, “Alright stop! Collaborate and listen! Ice is back with a brand new invention. Something grabs a hold of me tightly. Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly. Will it ever stop? Yo! I don’t know. Turn off the lights, and I glow. To the extreme, I rock the mic like a vandal. Light up the stage and wax a chump like a candle…” Word to your mother.

Fall 2000 I fall for the cute blond guitar player down the hall in the dorm and simultaneously fall into the trap of trying to match my interests to his (see: 1996 and "Rebecca Lynn"). I ask him to introduce me to “good” music, and he lends me his Radiohead, Weezer, REM and Jeff Buckley CDs. I get into Weezer, REM and Buckley (especially REM), but have a hard time connecting with Radiohead; it’s a bit too weird for me. A month later he starts dating another girl (they met at a Weezer concert, but of course...if only I'd gone to that concert!), and I’m inspired to write really bad poetry. I read one of the poems, inspired by “Fake Plastic Trees,” at a FARC Spotlight open mic night.

Winter 2000 A boy makes me my first mix CD as a Christmas present. It takes me nearly two months to realize that meant something more than just wanting to give me some fun new songs to listen to. Oops.

2001 An ex-boyfriend and I had bonded over U2 before our inevitable breakup. It’s the fall of 2001, and he’s dating a new girl, but he, Erin and I head to St. Louis for a U2 concert. In my devious mind, I kinda see this as him cheating on her with me, even though our seats are actually in totally different parts of the arena; “I win,” I think in my darkest of thoughts, even though by now I’m pretty sure I’m not that interested in the prize anyway. The concert is post-9/11. I hadn’t felt personally affected by the disastrous events that September, but during the concert, when they scroll through the names of the people who had died in the planes, the towers and the Pentagon, the music swells around and into me, and I cry for the first time.

2002 I begrudgingly give into Pat’s invitation to join him and friends for a Ben Folds concert. I only know Ben to be “that guy who sings the song about abortion.” Over the next two years I will see Ben in concert three times.

Spring 2003 Traveling through Europe, my flatmates and I spend our first night in a hostel in Rome. I can usually sleep anywhere, but have the hardest time here because I feel lonely and out of place in our trio. I rely on the calming melodies of Coldplay sifting through my headphones to soothe me to sleep. Parachutes becomes my security blanket in foreign lands.

Spring 2003, continued Against my better judgment I fall for British Pop Idol Gareth Gates and his sitar-infused rendition of “Spirit in the Sky" for no reason except Indian-infused pop music is a fascinating novelty (plus he's just so cute!).

Summer 2003 Sarah hooks me on Guster during our Stateside reunion in Clear Lake, Iowa. “Come Downstairs and Say Hello” becomes the defining song for my senior year: “Dorothy moves to click her ruby shoes / Right in tune to Dark Side of the Moon / … / By this time next year I won’t be here” seems to sum it all up.

Fall 2004 My favorite new artists are on-a-whim purchases: The Postal Service, and The Format; I'd never heard the songs on Give Up or Interventions and Lullabies before purchasing the albums on the same day. Because The Format is a Peoria, Ariz., band, I feel totally hip to the local music scene.

Fall 2004, continued I finally see Garden State in the second-run theater nearby, and the personal connection I feel with the movie leads me to download the soundtrack from iTunes. This is my first iTunes purchase, a momentous occasion, for sure.

2005-2006 My musical tastes continued to be heavily influenced by my close friends. Sarah hooks me on Belle & Sebastian, and Megan tips me off on the fabulous Imogen Heap. Both musical talents quickly rise to the top of my These People Totally Rock list. I also spend an inordinant amount of time listening to the aforementioned Virgin Radio via iTunes, which means that I have England's World Cup battle call, "The People's Anthem," constantly ringing in my ears (and poor Jana's as well).

Fall 2006-2009 Currently in the studio. Will include new, innovative songs and probably a few remastered and rediscovered classics.


Chuck Klosterman An' Erica
(Get it? It's like his Esquire column, "Chuck Klosterman's America.) Last night my favorite bookstore hosted Chuck Klosterman at a local bar to read from his recent book, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story (book purchase count within the past two weeks is now up to 7. I told you, just slap the lable on me and cart me off to biblioholics annonymous). He was funny and witty and quite insightful, and nothing I had imagined him to be. I mean, I'd known from his columns, articles and books that he was funny and witty and quite insightful, but I'd always imagined him as being a funny, witty, insightful, dark-haired, wisened-yet-hip 40-ish-year-old man. It's amazing what images our minds will conjure with no physical descriptors to predicate our imaginations.

Anyways. I asked him what he thought about people who had once championed a small band whom they then talk down once the band "makes it big". The whole, "Death Cab for Cutie's work was really good five years ago, but then the O.C. played their music and all the overemotional teeny-boppers who want to starve themselves to be like Mischa Barton started listening to Death Cab and now their music is only a shadow of what they were" mentality. He said that he used to hate those people, because it showed that it wasn't really the music that these people championed, but the experience of liking a band they could call their own. (Warning: the following statement is a paraphrase and probably an amalgamation of several quotable insights from the night and is influenced by the single Fat Tire I consumed during the evening.)

"But then I realized that's the whole point of music. It's not just the music or lyrics themselves, but the whole experience. We listen to a Wilco album, and we like to say we enjoy it because Jeff Tweedy is such a brilliant lyricist, but really we're fusing everything we've experienced with music and Wilco and just our entire lives with the moment we hear Yankee Hotel Foxtrot for the first time and all that combines to influence our experience of the album and causes us to identify with a song or album. It's like how in the 80s I loved metal rock and then Metallica came along and all of a sudden everyone loved Metallica, and you'd ask why they liked Metallica, and they'd say, 'Well, they wear jeans.' But what does wearing jeans have anything to do with the band's musical talents? Nothing really. It's the experience of Metallica that attracted people. And if people liked Metallica because of their jeans, who am I to say that's not valid? And if these people are looking to identify with a little-known band because it makes them feel like it's their 'own' band, and then the band makes it huge, that experience is taken away from them. And really, who am I to hate them because they feel robbed of their experice? I can say they're idiots because obviously the music itself doesn't mean shit to them, but the music isn't as important to people as the experience of the music. So yeah, that's what I think about that."

You have to imagine him saying all this in a slightly high-pitched male voice with a hint of a lisp while holding a plastic cup of water as he sort of dances/shifts his weight from left to right and moves his hands all around like my mom does when she talks on the phone. He was brilliant, really.

You know what else is brilliant? The book store owner announced that none other than Mr. Jonathan Safran Foer will be coming in the fall. AND David Sedaris. AND Barack Obama. Are you starting to see why I love this place?


Evolution of a Music Enthusiast, the B Side
Or, a timeline set the soundtrack of my life, the 90s (and before)

1988 I make my first call in to a radio station (Q103.5 before it went country) to request a song. This is a big deal. I’ve never called someone outside of family or friends. I practice what I’m going to say to the DJ, and my mom makes me write down “Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul” on a pad of paper by the phone so I won’t forget the reason I called in the first place. I spell it “Apasits Atract.” I listen all night, but they never play my song.

1990 My friend Jennifer gives me The Immaculate Collection for my eighth birthday. My mom is not impressed with titles such as “Like a Virgin” and “Papa Don’t Preach” and makes me exchange it. I choose MC Hammer’s Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em instead, but hold a grudge until college, when I finally buy Madonna’s iconoclastic album for myself.

1991 I’m introduced to the concept of cussing when I hear my first swear words in “Ice, Ice Baby.” My aunt and her boyfriend buy me a New Kids on the Block poster for my birthday. It’s my first poster of a band, but I’m embarrassed, because NKB’s popularity is waning, and my friends will all think I’m so uncool for putting up a poster of the band that was so last year. We exchange the poster for a Vanilla Ice sweatshirt (in April), which I wear about three times in the fall because by then Vanilla Ice’s career has melted.

1992 The Brooks family buys a new van. It has a CD player rather than a tape player. We call it our CD player on wheels, since it’s the only place we can play the three new CDs we have: the Beatles’ Revolver, Hooked on a Beatles Tribute (a Beatles cover group), and the sample disk that came with the vehicle to explain how a CD player works. That summer we drive out to California from Kansas, listening to Beatles the whole way, and changing the lyrics of “Yellow Submarine” to “We all live in a green minivan…”

1994 My new church camp friends and I sing Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around” non-stop all week, and I realize for the first time that the songs my friends and I listen to in Manhattan are also being played on the airwaves across Kansas and Missouri. I don’t know why this wasn’t more obvious before.

1995 I realize the power of lyrics to move the soul for the first time when I hear TLC’s “Waterfalls.” With the earnestness only a teenager can exude, I plead with my mom to appreciate the potent message in the lines, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to.” She’s unfazed, and I just can’t understand why she doesn’t see the beauty in the message TLC is singing. I must be blessed with a higher appreciation of music.

1996 I learn that my middle school crush listens to country, and now the only station I tune my radio to is B104.7. I latch onto the song “Rebecca Lynn” because it mentions his name. I quickly grow tired of the music, but it takes me a little longer to grow tired of the boy. I realize that liking his music isn’t going to make him like me—a lesson I’ll have to learn several times.

1997 I quit piano lessons because my new teacher wants me only to concentrate proper Classical piano music, but all I really want to learn is Pachelbel’s Canon in D. She says that Canon in D was written for strings, and that I will be playing piano music. I respond by saying, “Wrong, I don’t be playing any music.”

1999 My first boyfriend mentions that he thinks I’m cuter than Christina Aguilera (this is during her “Genie in a Bottle” phase). Part of me doesn’t believe him, but another part of me will always feel an edge over the platinum blonde pop star.

1999-2000 I supplement my nighttime chats on AIM with friends (my parents let me stay up late to play on the internet!) with monitoring the radio station through my dad’s huge stereo. When I hear the telltale notes of a favorite song, I race to the stereo to press record and add to one of my mix tapes. I feel particularly cool when the Prom Queen and I drive off campus for lunch one day, the mix playing Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” followed by Eve 6’s “Inside Out” and she tells me what a great mix tape I’ve put together.

The second installment of "Evolution of a Music Enthustiast" to come soon.


I listened to the world end in London yesterday
Or, Cue R.E.M.

I've taken to listening to Virgin Radio via iTunes at work. I know, I'm a sucker for those sexy Anglo accents and references to U.K. locales (DJ: "Where are you calling from tonight, Arthur?" ARTHUR: "I'm out in Hammersmith." ME: "Oooh! Just a couple stops from Earl's Court on the Picadilly line!"). Most days it's the Geoff Show that's on air while I'm at work, and yesterday Geoff was counting down to midnight when it would become 6/6/06. Obviously that meant the day of the Devil was at hand and the end of the world would strike us all. So I waited, enraptured (hehe) as the clock turned 4 p.m. here in Arizona. The air went dead.

And then "It's the End of the World (As We Know It)" came to life. And all was still safe in good ol' Londontown. Whew. That was a close one.


I can check another lifetime goal off my list
I met Rick Reilly tonight. You may recall that Sports Illustrated's back page columnist is my favorite sports writer. He did a book talk and signing at Changing Hands (are we seeing a theme here?) and of course I was there with my cutest $4 Target shirt on (the man is newly divorced, you know). His talk (more like a stand-up schtick) covered everything from Charles Barkley's bald head to Lance Armstrong's lone nut, to the fact that Pistons fans write their hate mail in crayon "because that's all they have access to in the home." We also got him to promise to strip naked, bathe himself in tuna fish and jump in Shamu's tank, should the Arizona Cardinals make it to even one playoff game this season.

My mom was in front of me in line to have him sign her book, and when I stepped forward to hand him my book, she told him, "This is my daughter and she's grown up reading you. She's a writer, too!" Telling Rick Reilly that I was a writer was like telling Paul McCartney that I won a song-writing contest in third grade. I wanted to die. And then I felt about 13 years old for being embarrassed because of something my mother said. But I am NOT a writer! It may have been what pulled me into journalism, but writing is what nearly drove me out of journalism. (Writing for the blog is different...way different. I don't have to interview people or fact-chect — I mean, you all know that 74.6% of what you find on the Internet is untrue anyway, right?) I design. It's what I do, it's what I love and it's what kept me in journalism. I may not get a byline beside each page I lay out, and most people think of far-out illustrations when they see my business card calling me a "graphic designer," but I'm getting used to the fact that what I do is often misinterpreted. Just don't call me a writer.


Hello, my name is Erica and I’m a biblioholic
I have a problem. I can’t stop buying books. But that’s not the whole problem; the whole problem is that lately I have been buying or borrowing them faster than I can read them. I have bookmarks in no less than seven (SEVEN!) books right now. I’ve run out of proper bookmarks and have resorted to tearing off scraps of paper from notes, Google Maps directions and the phone number of a boy I really don’t want to call back. And last weekend I bought two more books. My car drove itself to Changing Hands Bookstore. I couldn’t stop it—I was just going to look!—but then I flipped open the back cover of a used hardback book, and I fell in love with Jonathan Safran Foer. I bought a book because of the author’s picture; I have stooped to a new low of patheticness. New, for your viewing pleasure:

But this book! This book is amazing. It may just pull me from my non-committal rut.


Meet Jack Junior
My shiny new MacBook arrived yesterday morning. I practically skipped toward the FedEx man to claim my prize. Favorite new feature: the handy, little built-in iSight camera. It'll come in handy for all those internet porn sights I subscribe to. Or it'll just be a fun way to use iChat. Dan tried to convince me to name the new Macintosh "Josh," so to follow the footsteps of Jack the Mac and Yolanda the Honda. But it doesn't fit the cardinal rule of naming things: they should never have any association with a person you know, otherwise the inanimate object may be the receiving end of unwarranted emotions. For example, when I named Charlie, my high school and college car (this was before I adopted the rhyming scheme, Charlie was in homage to Charlie Brown, your average, good guy with nothing flashy), I didn't know anyone named Charlie. Now, there are Charlies everywhere. I think I'll stick with Jack Junior for now. Seems to fit.


Observation from a weekend in Palm Springs, Calif.
The city (a distinction I apply liberally, since it seemed more like a town than a city) was a Mecca for geriatrics and gays. Quite the combo of demographics. The theater downtown had just let out its Sunday matinee when Ally and I drove past, and judging by the swarms of purple dresses and corresponding ruby colored chapeaus, there must have been a Red Hat Society convention going on. Every other shop had a rainbow flag out front, and we had to pick Ally's jaw off the floor of a "specialty shop" when she opened a happy wedding card that had an, um, revealing picture on the inside of a seemingly innocent greeting. To give you a flavor of our night out in Palm Springs, I present the following conversation:

SETTING: Walking along the sidewalk of a well-lit street late at night with my mother and younger sister.

MY MOTHER: So, why do you think we see more gay men on the street, but not hardly any lesbians?
ME: I don't know. It seems to me that in our culture, lesbians get the shaft...ummm [tries to stiffle laughter]...I mean they get the short end of the stick...er...I mean [errupts in a fit of laughter]
MY MOTHER: You'd better not put that on your blog.


This is why I was jumping up and down in my office this morning, behaving like a total idiot
Yes, I'm a dork. No, there is not footage.

Update: A MacBook with my name on it is now coming down the pipeline.

Other good news
Yesterday a very important item arrived in the mail for me: the title for a certain 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. Yolanda the Honda is officially mine and 100 percent paid off.


Funny Sentences in My Inbox
It's been a loooooong time coming, folks. Here's a few of the gems gathering dust in my inbox(es):

Dan...sorry I missed your call last night. I was passed out on my bed with the LA Times. Hot.

I say NOAA should sell naming rights to hurricanes. Hurricane The Flavor Of Trident Will Blow You Away. Tropical Depression Wouldn't Happen If You'd Taken Paxil.

She looks scary. Like she's a walking dead person. I am going to look at her as little as possible for fear she will suck out my soul.

You can't forego your dreams because of your sense of guilt. You're not Catholic or Jewish, so you'd have no excuse.

Speaking of tools, Gov. Schwarzenegger just popped up on TV for a special election ad, and it scared the living shit out of me. Mostly because it was louder than the other ads, and Ahnold has no voice modulation to begin with. "I AM GOVENUH SCHWARZENEGGER. YOU ELECTED ME TO REBUILD KULLYFORNIA." Gah!!

It was then I discovered I am not able to talk to people who are naked (especially when I myself am in the buff). They were all, "Where are you ladies from?" and I'm all, "How should I know? I'm naked!"

You're on the fast path to delinquency, young lady. Next thing we know, you'll be chewing gum and running in the halls.

Is someone offering social lives? I'll buy one.


You've been in three of my dreams over the last week. Would you knock it off? Wait... this isn't you telepathically crying for help, is it? You're not, like, stuck in a well or been abducted by a cult or something, so you're proping the astral plane to get somebody with whom you share a psychic rapport to take an interest and call the cops, right? If you are, hold on! Help is on the way!

Crap! I have to go to church tomorrow?! I don't have time for church!

Gandhi spent most of his adult life celibate and a lot of people would have you believe Jesus did, too, but I think the core that makes them who they are comes from how they acted when their clothes were on, not when their clothes were off.

You'll both be amused to know that as I did my karaoke performance of "Dress You Up" last night, I had strangers putting dollars down my pants.

Winter 2003 was one of my fave semesters, too! But that might be because I drank about six nights a week.

Hi love duck, It's me.

Overheard in the newsroom: "My wife just had a sonogram today ... our child is 17½ picas long!"

I did once make him cower in the corner and pee himself. Do you think that makes me a bitch?

Your email reminds me of that time I never called you back... what a horrible friend I am, I'm really sorry about that.

It was 25 degrees here yesterday! ...that's in proper degress, not american ones ;o)

Oh my God! Erica's gone kinky on us! :) And it's only Tuesday!


Heaps 'o Fun
Last Thursday Betsy and I went to see Imogen Heap in concert. She was A-MAZING. Imogen, that is. Although, Betsy's amazing, too. She just doesn't have a freaking awesome six-year-old-rolling-in-the-grass-coming-up-with-butterflies-and-twigs hairdo or a freaking awesome voice. I can totally see why Megan wants to name all her babies Imogen now. There was this guy standing in front of us at the concert, we'll call him Bruce, because he looked like my uncle Bruce. Bruce wasn't so much "standing" as he was dancing, and he wasn't so much "dancing" as he was twitching. Taken out of context, I might have thought Bruce was having a seizure while standing up; I would have been pretty impressed, considering he would have been seizing to the beat of "Headlock." It seemed somewhat appropriate, though, considering Imogen's spritely, child-like stage presence; she releases that, dance-like-you're-crazy energy.

We scored tickets (in the rafters) for tonight's playoffs game, Suns v. Clippers. I've mentioned before my newfound love for the Suns before, but just in case you were wondering why I love them, let me enumerate the reasons:
1. The way Steve Nash shoots like he's tripping over a rope strung across the court at his ankles, and how he passes without a second glance to teammates behind him. Dude has eyes all over the place. Not to mention the fact that he's NBA MVP for the second year in a row, baby!
2. Raja (Rings My) Bell. Did you see the way he threw Kobe down in a headlock in game five of the series with the Lakers? I think he was a wrestler in a previous life. You take that big sniveling baby down, Raja!
3. Boris Diaw: what a strange amalgamation of cultures: a Black Frenchman with a Russian name. Oh, and don't forget that he's the NBA's most improved player this year.
4. The way when Eddie House enters the game he drowns threes like it's his job. Well...it is, I guess, but he's damn good at it.
5. Leandro Barbosa's humility. Assistant Coach Dan D'Antoni actually has to feed his ego during practice because the guy's got self esteem issues apparently. Now there's something refreshing in the NBA.
6. Amare Stoudemeire's fashion sense. I love seeing the odd shirt-and-tie pairings he puts together for his injured courtside appearances.
7. They just play like a team, like they actually like to play, and like they actually like to play with each other. Imagine that.


Goodbye, Leaky Cauldron, of Sorts
You were good to me, but now it's time for something new. When I started this blog in December of 2002, it was with the intent to keep it just while I was studying in London. The only connection I really had to the Motherland was my enjoyment of the Harry Potter books, so when looking for inspiration for a name for the blog, I turned to the magical London pub. But now it's time to be something more than That Girl Who Likes Harry Potter. Terra incognita is Latin for unknown territory, and it's a more appropriate title for this time in my life for several reasons: I'm still figuring out my way around this Land of No More Education, I'm always looking ahead to the next destination, and next year I plan on going on a Big Ass Trip to many places I haven't seen before. So, here's to unknown territories and the friends and adventures to be found there. *clink clink*


New name. New color palette. New post to come.


Please tell me if I'm ever walking like this
Laugh-out-loud lines of the month:

Models walk down the runway with their pelvises tilted forward in the standard "may I offer you an ovary" posture. They all seem to be leaning so far backward to keep their tiny breasts from rolling off their sunken chests.
--Sarah Bird, "The Furs Were Flying," Texas Monthly, May 2006

Consider yourself forewarned
A new title for this blog is on its way.


Happy Birthday, Bandito Burrito
Today, our little puppy turns 1 year old. That's 7 years old in dog years, right? So in another 10.3 months, he'll be a teenager. Yikes. In honor of this milestone, I invite you to watch the Chicken Legs in action in the video here.

Here's to you, our little poop sprinkler.*

*Bandit circles around as he takes a dump, thus earning this most lovely nickname from my little cousin, Valerie.


The high is over
It's like the feeling you get when you return from a mountaintop religious experience, and that's what a week with friends in St. Lucia is like - a religious experience. I've converted to island life. If anything, I'm about 98.3 percent converted to the concept of a destination wedding. I loved that we all got the chance to celebrate Megan and Jon's love for each other over several days. They exchanged vows and rings in the company of the people who loved not only the two of them, but who had grown to love the company of each other. All 36 of us sat at the reception dinner table with conversation that could outlast the mountains of food. Now that is how you celebrate the joining of two lives; it's a joining of families, of friends, and of corners of your lives normally separated by time, distance and circumstances. But in this week, Megan's and Jon's families, childhoods, collegiate-hoods and adulthoods collided with each other just for the chance to be a part of such an important moment of their lives (well, and a chance to work on our tans). There wasn't really much of a reception line at the end of the wedding ceremony; that's reserved for your traditional big-bang wedding where guests typically get a 15-second handshake with the bride and groom. There was much more than handshaking going on throughout the week (plenty of rum shots shared comes to mind...). And the reception dinner tables weren't segregated between cliques of friends because by that time we were all friends and conversation could flow easily from Brit to Yank, family member to high school classmate, groom's mate to bride's friend. The week could have only been sweeter if we could have shared it with more of Megan's and Jon's friends and family.

I left the island not only with a sunburn on my shoulders and mosquitoes packed into my luggage, but with new friendships, inside jokes, theme songs buzzing in my head (The Final Countdown!), new bug-eye sunglasses, sand in my swimsuit and several more couches I could crash on the next time I'm in good ol' Londontown. In the spirit of David Letterman, I offer the following Top Ten lists:

Top Ten Lessons Learned on the Island of St. Lucia
10. Mosquito netting is not just there for ambiance.
9. Rum and biscuits (cookies to you Yanks) make for a quality lunch when you plan to spend the day at the beach.
8. No one really cares if you wear the same outfit twice (or thrice).
7. Four-thonged flip flops are very uncomfortable.
6. The English can't play volleyball worth crap. This means that I can actually look like a quality athlete in front of somebody!
5. Mango juice and red wine makes for a great makeshift sangria.
4. Warm showers are for wimps.
3. Thank God for the tank top with a shelf bra. Who wants to wear a bra when it's 86 degrees Farenheit and 84 percent humidity?
2. Cows like mangoes; just be careful of the mango-induced cowpies.
1. Avoid the Miami airport at all costs and especially the Miami Airport Hotel. For such a major hub, it's a shabby excuse of a port of entry to the States.

Top Ten Cross-Cultural Experiences
10. Teaching the Brits how to play 500 in the ocean (and walking away with quite a few bruises on the arm and back).
9. Dom thinking my pronounciation of "bottle" was "butthole," thus sparking many requests for a "butthole" of rum/beer/wine.
8. Quizing Charlie to name all 50 states over breakfast, before the coffee sets in.
7. Learning that the best man's toast is more of a "roast" of the groom in the U.K. rather than a ode to the couple's love, and I think Will toned his down for the sake of the Americans present.
6. Jenny breaking out into the Australian national anthem.
5. Introducing s'mores to the English.
4. Tripping out when seeing Charlie wearing a KCOU t-shirt, purchased at the Blackberry Exchange in Columbia during his, Will's, Josie's and Rich's Great American Road Trip the summer of 2003.
3. Listening to Dom put on a Deep South/hick accent.
2. Watching the mute local groundsman shimmy up a palm tree, fetch some coconuts and weild a machete to skin it and create a hole from which to sip the coconut milk.
1. Watching Will and Josie get into a sparring match over the correct pronounciation of the word "scone" - whether it's like "cone" or "gone." Apparently this debate is as big as the "pop" vs. "soda" debate in the States.

Top Ten Lines from the Week*
*As I remember them; not meant to be verbatim.
10. "...That was after Uta gave birth to the Pitons." --Megan
9. "I drink so much rum I shit myself." --A cab driver's response to the boys' request for where they could find the best rum on the island.
8. Any line revolving around Will's "strap-on carry-on."
7. "Jon measures your level of chill by how often you wear flip flops, and Jon wears flip flops in the middle of winter in London." --Will in his best man toast
6. "And we all remember when Jon faked a case of SARS just so Megan wouldn't forget about him." --Will, again during his toast
5. "Maybe this is weird, but I don't think I'll ever cheat on my wife. I mean, I haven't yet, so I probably won't." --Another cab driver, just after he asked Jenny to join him and his wife for karaoke with the condition that he probably wouldn't talk to Jenny at all during the night since his wife would be there.
4. "I think you get coconut milk by milking the coconut teats" --Josie. "No, I do not think that is correct." --Nico's response.
3. Steve-O's unprintable comment about what he'd like to do to a certain type of person where after he'd had one (maybe more...) too many drinks during the stag night.
2. "We wish Megan and Aaron the best in their wedding tomorrow." --Tom (father of the bride) at the groom's (Jon) dinner; Aaron is Megan's brother. Many insestual jokes ensued.
1. "There is no drug problem in St. Lucia." --The justice of the peace in her words of welcome at the start of the wedding ceremony.

One more thing: a musical PSA
Go right now to The New Kentuck Quarter's MySpace page. This is Ron (Lindsay, Megan's Matron of Honor's husband)'s band. He sang at the wedding a song he wrote. While that song isn't available on their MySpace profile, you can hear several songs he sang for us around the bonfires on the beach. If you're on MySpace, add them, and if you're ever in the Madison, Wisconsin area, go to one of their shows. Do it.

The requisite pictures
Hen Night
Groom's Dinner
Retka-Tidd Wedding Ceremony
Wedding Reception
Around St. Lucia
Pictures at the Beach
Around Balenbouche Estate (The old sugarmill where all the "kids" stayed and where the ceremony and reception were held)

And for those of you who are feint of heart and don't want to wade through hundreds of pictures, here's a pared down album with all the essentials:
St. Lucia favorites*
*This will be updated Monday as there are a few of the best still missing

In short: Best. Holiday*. Ever.
*That's "vacation" to you Yanks.