Archive for February, 2009

New short fiction

Posted in Daily Bread on February 26, 2009 by dunnthat

Perhaps this format isn’t going to work, because if you weren’t looking, you wouldn’t know I added a new short story.  Anyway, I did.  “She Wasn’t Stupid.”  Listed in red to the right.  I hope you enjoy it.

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Calvin Schwartz Smith, III

Posted in Tales of Yore on February 23, 2009 by dunnthat

Apparently for the two of you who are still reading this blog, I need to write something quickly to lighten things up.  Sorry about the barn swallows.  Not everything in my life is funny.  But you have to admit, I told it really funny, right?

When we were newlyweds living in downtown Salt Lake City, our ward was quite unique.  I’ve never seen nor heard of another ward like it.  It was full of newlyweds and “nearly deads.”  We lived in apartments on 2nd North and 2nd West. 

Apparently these apartments were built on top of a former farmer’s market area, and the land wasn’t treated with any kind of pesticide before the apartments were constructed.  Consequently, we had TONS of German cockroaches in our apartments.  I had never even seen a cockroach before.  Since I could squash these brown bugs that COULD FLY (I’m not kidding) I would never have guessed that they were roaches, as I had been told that cockroaches couldn’t be stomped on with any happy death result.  This is just an interesting anecdote. (I realize that “interesting” is subjective, but I’m the author and I can write whatever I want, right?)

There were 350 widows in our ward.  The close proximity of the apartments to the temple made it convenient for the tenants to walk to the temple and do temple work all day.  This is admirable, but a weird ward dynamic.   We had, on average, 3-4 funeral announcements each week in sacrament meeting.

Our ward had a constant background noise of high-pitched squealing…hearing aids.  The constant “eeeeeeeeee” often toned down to “eeeeeeeeooooooooooooouuu” and off.  Apparently if you rub two quarters together, the sound in the wearer’s ear is most unpleasant.  It is sad that I know this.

There wasn’t any kind of housing inside our boundaries that provided for families, but there was our small faction of newlyweds.  We newlyweds always sat in the overflow of the chapel…a tight-knit bundle of youth huddled in the back. 

There were roughly two newlywed couples who actually had children in this ward.  One such couple was Cal and Callie Smith.  Cal was in med school at the University of Utah … anesthesiology.  They had one child and lived in a one-bedroom duplex on a weird side street in our ward.  This one bedroom duplex happened to have a walk-in closet, and in that closet Cal had built a bed for their toddler daughter.  Funny thing about Cal…he used to use his drugging knowledge to medicate his daughter so they could go to movies and she would sleep through them.  I don’t want to address the probable psychotherapy sessions prompted by this act.

Cal and Callie were the “oldlyweds.”  After all, they had a child.  Lo and behold, another wonderful blessing was announced.  So Cal built bunk beds in the walk-in closet for the new arrival to share with his sibling. 

Cal’s given name is “Calvin.”  Callie’s is “Caroline.”  Apparently there was a family tradition in Cal’s line that motivated him to name his newborn son after himself and his father, resulting in Calvin Schwartz Smith III.  Cal and Callie were concerned at the potential confusion of a “Cal,” a “Callie,” and yet another “Cal” in the house.  I was not aware of this dilemma until Calvin Schwartz Smith III’s blessing day.

We newlyweds were happily sequestered in the overflow when Brother Smith held his infant son in his arms and gave him a name and a blessing.  “And the name which his parents have chosen is Calvin Schwartz Smith III. [beat…pause]  But let him be called ‘Butch’ until he chooses otherwise.”

Eyes pop, snorts erupt, and newlyweds grab their thighs to prevent audible outbursts.  Good times.

Not so lucky barn swallows

Posted in Tales of Yore on February 18, 2009 by dunnthat

In keeping with a former theme, I have a tale of yore from last July. I wrote this to my missionary son, so except for places where I’ll adjust for name anonymity, this is the story exactly as I wrote it to my son. This one isn’t funny…okay, it’s funny, but in the way that I’m kind of a moron. I have to warn you…it’s sad. We have a cabin in Oakley that we love. In fact, the header picture is taken from our back deck. I love it up there. The following is a cabin adventure as told to my son last July:

I know you’ve been waiting for this story – the story of the swallows at the cabin. (read sarcasm) This is kind of what I envision my pouch letters to you will be – just random stories that aren’t that important but that may amuse you somewhat and make you feel like you’re not missing anything here. You’ll probably laugh at this story, but you need to know that it was so unbelievably traumatizing for me. I’m getting over it, but it’s been hard.

Okay…so I told you I was up at the cabin all by myself, which I LOVED btw. I watched 3 chick flicks and no one was around to complain. Saturday morning I went out on the back deck to read and enjoy nature, and all I could see was bird poop on the railing of the deck and it just made me furious. Dad had said to keep the barn swallows around because they eat mosquitoes, but I decided that I’d rather have mosquitoes than poop on my railing and on my car in the front. So I got busy…

I took two long poles that I use for cleaning windows up high, and I duct-taped them together, then I duct-taped a putty knife on the end of the poles. I had this enormously long and awkward pole as a result. I felt so smart in putting this together, but I have since found out that those nests aren’t all that solid – apparently made from dirt and bird spit – I could have just hosed them down. Whatever. I still felt pretty smart.

SO, I went out front first and raised the pole and putty knife way up in the high, and I scraped the first nest down. Lots of dirt and debris fell down on my head, so I put my head down so it wouldn’t get in my eyes. There was another nest in the front, so I moved over to that one and started scraping. Again, I was looking down so the stuff wouldn’t get in my eyes. So I started walking back to the front door, and I looked down onto the rocks and there were two little baby swallows lying there struggling to breathe. They were all downy and new looking – kind of like buzzards, you know? Anyway, I couldn’t believe it. It even took me a couple of minutes to realize that these babies were a result of what I was doing. Somehow for a second I just thought that they somehow landed there? Anyway, I was heartsick. So I gathered up the FOUR that were now on the rocks in the front, and I put them together by the front post. The fall pretty much killed them all. They weren’t breathing for very long.

Okay, that would be bad enough, but even after I KNEW there were babies in those two nests at least, I still kept going. Because, dangit, I’m sick of their poop. And, I had a burning hope that maybe the other nests didn’t have babies in them. Guess what? Um, yeah, they did. There were two more nests over the back deck, and then I checked the sides of the cabin and there were nests in each corner of the eves there. I couldn’t reach the side nests from the ground, so I had to reach out of the bedroom windows and knock the nests down. I think I knocked down six nests in all.

So I didn’t want to look to see if there were more babies, because I wanted what I wanted, but I didn’t want to kill any more babies. I thought by July they’d all be gone – wouldn’t you think so??  Unfortunately they each had babies in them. Every single one. I counted 11 chicks. All struggling to breath. All because of me. Great.

By this time Dad had arrived with your youngest brother and Nana and Papa. We watched the first Harry Potter with them, but then Nana and Papa had to go… So your brother stayed with me and we were going to watch the 4th Harry Potter together. I decided to go check on all the chicks, and that’s actually when I found most of them (I hadn’t seen them all before). Gut wrenching. Horrible. Two chicks from the back were a little more mature, and they had somehow made their way to the edge of the huge window well under the deck, and they had fallen about six feet to the bottom. They were still breathing, but there were flies on their eyes and stuff. They were too weak to do anything other than struggle to breath. I knew they were going to die, and I thought it was really inhumane to let them die slowly, so I knew I had to kill them. Isn’t this a great story?? So your brother helped me with the pellet gun, but between the two of us, we still couldn’t figure out how to get it to fire (I’ve since figured out that I didn’t pull the nose down all the way…whatever). By the way, your brother offered to kill them, but I didn’t want him to have to do it either. It was pretty traumatizing – seriously. So I sent him in the cabin. So, I couldn’t get the rifle to work, but I still thought I should put the chicks out of their misery. I didn’t want to stomp on them, (ew), so I got a big rock. Yes. A big rock. And I dropped it on the first chick’s head. I pretty much killed that one on the first shot. The next one I’m pretty sure I killed on the first drop, but its behind was still moving. I just started crying and even said out loud, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” So I dropped the rock on it again. So this time I know it was gone because one of its eyes had smashed to the point that it was looking up at me. AHHHH!

Cool story Hansel.

WALL*E

Posted in Daily Bread on February 18, 2009 by dunnthat

I saw Wall*E over the weekend.  Thank goodness.  Now I know that Al Gore was right all along…we  self-involved humans are doomed to wreck the earth…after all, WALL*E showed us that.  And if Hollywood says it, it surely must be true.  We will use up this beautiful world until vegetation cannot survive, thus we cannot survive.  Piles of compressed garbage will make skyscrapers look diminutive, all because we won’t recycle.  It’s a wonder anyone loves us at all.  If only we’d take the extra time and money to go green, which often sucks more energy than the original product, but who cares about that.  We shall destroy Earth.  Swine.  Heathens.  USERS!

Why do they have to make a great movie political?  Why can’t I just enjoy a good love story between two man-made ‘bots without having the imminent destruction of the earth at the hands of selfish pigs like me shoved down my throat?  I happen to have more faith in humankind than that.

Today I had my nose hairs waxed

Posted in Daily Bread on February 13, 2009 by dunnthat

Delightful.  But I have to say, you men who whine and think this is painful are WUSSES.  This is NOTHING!  Eyebrows are way worse, and don’t get me started on childbirth…

Anyway, we have an employee whose wife is a hair stylist.  As a gift to the office of burly engineers, she comes in once every couple of months or so and gives the boys nose and ear hair waxes.   What a lovely gift!  And I mean that sincerely :).

So I was at the office today when she came and I decided to have it done.  I was nervous, because that’s kind of  a tender spot, you know?  But every time I try to trim my nose hair I can never get close enough and my nostrils end up looking like they have a little blond crew cut.  Unnecessary hair is one of my pet peeves, by the way.  So I just have to say this:

IT WAS NOTHING!  Pansy men.

My sad sad normal life

Posted in Daily Bread on February 12, 2009 by dunnthat

So here’s the thing.  I am kind of losing my mind.  Last Thursday, as I was prepping for this awesome Dana Pointe trip, (if you’re looking for the Grammys story, back up one), I went to Costco to pick up food for my family to eat while I was away.  So, I shopped a lot.  A lot.  I got all kinds of perishables:  milk, frozen Marie Callendar pot pies (have you ever seen the fat content on those?? thank goodness my boys are skinny), chicken salad, the like.  I was tired by the time I finished up and asked the receipt marker (what a great job) if I could get some help out.  “Sure,” she said.  “Just put your cart there in the front and drive your car around.”  So I put my cart where she indicated.

I walked to my car, got in, started it, then went and got gas at the Costco pump.  Then I went to the car wash.  Then I went to the bank.  This took about 45 minutes.  Then, on my way home, I was mentally unpacking my car, when I thought, “HEY!  WHERE’S MY STUFF??”  Guess where it was.

I really do need SERIOUS help.  Help.  Help.  Help.

Things I learned at the Grammys (Oh yes, I was there…yes I was)

Posted in Daily Bread on February 10, 2009 by dunnthat

 

* If you can’t be cool, at least associate yourself with cool people who have corporate jets and who fly you to their beach house in Dana Pointe for the weekend and who have friends in high places who get sick the day of the Grammys and can’t use their tickets, which are in Jerry Buss’s sky box at the Staples Center, (Buss owns the Lakers), and who offer said tickets to the cool people you associate with and by association you get to go to the Grammys.  And since you flew there on a corporate jet, you can change your plans to come home the next day.  And since you got late notice, you don’t have time to find something appropriate to wear in the 20 minutes you had to shop at Nordstrom so you go dressed in the best you brought, and no one really cares what you look like at the Grammys if you aren’t important or famous.

* Cotton Eddie Bauer black slacks are way more comfortable than sequiny dresses.

* You can spend $100 on an average-looking belt (to dress up the Eddie Bauer slacks) during a 20-minute power shopping spree and not even know it until you get back home.

* It’s fun to be spur-of-the-moment and pretend that you don’t look like white trash.

* Jerry Buss’s sky box at the Staples Center is amazing because they feed you crab and lobster and Portobello chicken and ribs and lots of other unbelievable food.  All….night….long….

* Having tickets to Jerry Buss’s sky box comes with VIP parking that is RIGHT next to the Staples Center, where we followed the limos until we got to the underground parking, and truly, for you little people who will never know, it’s the ONLY way to go.

* Hot/thin/young/old/rich women with after-market breasts put on their skin-tight micro-mini dresses just like you and I do…one breast at a time.

* You can be very, very large and still wear a sleeveless yellow sequined dress.  But you shouldn’t.

* Don’t try to look 20 when you’re 50.  It doesn’t work.  Ew.

* You don’t have to be young or hot or handsome to have a young hot black girl (who was so young her hips weren’t fully developed but old enough to have after-market breasts) as your date.  You can be over 60  and average looking and have a lower lip piercing.  You just have to be rich.  Very very rich.

* Don’t knock your girlfriend around just before the Grammys, especially if you’re both scheduled to perform…people will notice.

* The sound is WAY better in person than on television (what’s up with THAT?).  The voice to instrument balance was PERFECT live.

* The concert lights are WAY cooler in person than on television.

* The Grammys are like a 3 ½ hour all-star concert with a few awards thrown in.

* LOVE the chest-thumping thudding of a sub-woofer.

* The younger generation LOVES our generation’s music:  Al Green, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder…they danced and danced and danced.

* Jordan Sparks is GORGEOUS in person (we walked right past her).

* Jennifer Hudson’s dress looked aMAZing in person.  Sorry that didn’t translate as well to television…the critics obviously WEREN’T THERE or they would have loved it.

* Jennifer Hudson can SING.

* Carrie Underwood is HOT.

* Justin Timberlake is HOT.

* The lead singer of Radiohead was spazzing around so much on stage during his number that I thought he was going to fall down or trip over his microphone cord.  Glad he didn’t.  I actually liked the number, but the camera didn’t show all his jumping, spinning, and well, spazzing.

* The Iceman is really nice in person, and kind of quiet.

* The Real Salt Lake soccer team is a partying bunch (they were in the box next to ours…how weird is that??).

* Digital cameras don’t like to be dropped.  DANGIT.  Hope the card is okay…

* Half the people had left the building when there was still an hour left to the show.

* Almost everyone was leaving during the final award for best album of the year.  Guess it wasn’t worth staying if they didn’t win…Rude.

*** 4 Utah girlfriends + 20-minute power shopping + hour-long drive to the Staples Center + Grammys from the sky box + excellent food + interesting new people = “pinch me” child-like wonder, hilarity and a forever memory.  Thanks Julie!!   Remember when we went to the Grammys?  ‘Member that?? ***