Wednesday, December 22, 2010


It’s my birthday today, and so far one of my favorite gifts has come from my friend, Jill, who sang Happy Birthday to me on my voicemail while she walked Michigan Avenue.

I melted. Because in case you are unaware, the way to my heart is through Chicago. That’s right. Just get on I-90 and keep going (provided you don’t hit traffic … which you will). You’ll inevitably run into my heart, which is nothing more than a giant mass, encompassing the Chicago skyline and part of Lake Michigan.

Jill knows this, which explains her voicemail. It also explains this note she sent yesterday:

In honor of your birthday, I am going to Chicago (on Wednesday--the actual day of your birth).

I will walk the Magnificent Mile and sing "Happy Birthday" (dear Amanda) under my breath.

I will eat at Cheesecake Factory and have them put a candle in my cheesecake and will blow it out while thinking about you.

I will attempt to look as "not touristy" as possible so as to not embarrass you.

I will (hopefully) visit the Sears Tower and refuse to call it Willis Tower by correcting every tour guide person I hear that calls it the wrong name. (I probably won't do this verbally, but I will be giving them the what-for in my head.)

And there you have it. My birthday gift to you. :) Enjoy.

I think my heart just grew a bit and swallowed the suburbs.

Friday, December 17, 2010

a conversation with myself

ME: Hmmm … will baby names always be a popular topic among mothers?

MYSELF: Of course. I mean you’re not a mother, and you’re already making a list of names.

ME: True.

MYSELF: Which reminds me, have we come up with any new boy’s names? We’re really lacking in the middle name department, because I’m not sure Tad will go for “Christian Roald Luedeke.”

ME: Well, I was thinking lately how some last names make great middle names.

MYSELF: Like what?

ME: Steinbeck. Fitzgerald.

MYSELF: Those are dead author names.

ME: So?

MYSELF: It’s the same problem we’re facing with Roald.

ME: Well, we could use some of Tad’s people’s names, too.

MYSELF: You really want to have a little Schwarzenegger running around?

ME: I was thinking more of a little Bale.

MYSELF: So now we’ve got Christian Bale Luedeke as our primary name option.

ME: Yeah … I guess I didn’t think that one through …

MYSELF: You’re welcome.

Note: This post should be taken at face value, as I am in no way implying anything or presenting a coded pregnancy message. I simply spend some of my work day researching mothers. Hence, the thoughts on baby names.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

5 things to expect after the first Midwestern snowfall … aside from absolute chaos

1.People will have forgotten that snow is slippery. They will insist on going through life as though the ground is perfectly dry and the weather is 70-degrees. Expect many car accidents. Many people walking dangerously close to the side of the road. Many bodies going down in parking lots and on sidewalks. And a general disinterest in salting public walkways.

The snow plowing team will have forgotten where they put their keys. They will look out the window and think, “Hmm … I should get out there and start to plow and salt the roads. Now where did those blasted keys go?” Expect them to look for their keys for a bit and then go to sleep. This will result in a ten-hour delay before the salt trucks and plows begin doing their thing.

Ice scrapers will be MIA. People will go out to their cars and see that they have some snow on them. Or perhaps a layer of ice. They will look for their scrapers and brushes only to remember that they’re stored elsewhere. Expect snow-covered cars with only tiny cleared circles on the windshield through which the driver will peer. Expect the snow to fly off of these cars when they reach speeds in excess of 20 miles per hour and land on your clean windshield as you travel behind them.

Some people will freak out about the weather, while others will care less. Expect some of your acquaintances to give hourly updates with such bothersome facts as expected accumulation and temperature lows and snowfall duration. Expect others to go about their lives as though snow is their be-yotch. Expect to swear to yourself that you will never participate in either extreme because both are equally annoying.

The snow will be gone within 24 hours. Yup. You heard me. It will melt and disappear. Expect this process to repeat with point #1.

Welcome to the Midwest.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

my friend Bradlemos

This is my friend, Brad:
(This was in 2004)

It's his birthday today. He's a quarter-century old. I've known him for six of those years. And for me that's a long time. And it makes me very happy.

Brad has been like a brother to me. And without being weird or anything, I'd like to honor his special day by recapping his life as I've known it.

1. Brad showed up on campus my Junior year. He looked like John Mayer (remember, this was during Mayer's Room For Squares phase ... when he had curly hair and eyes that didn't look like death). But Brad didn't just look like John Mayer, he sang and played guitar, too. But my girlfriends and I quickly moved past that and became Brad's friend.

Come to think of it, we befriended a lot of boys Junior year. but that's another story for another time ...

2. Soon after meeting Brad, we gave him the nickname Bradlemos. Or Bradlar.

Bradlar - to sing and lead others in praise and worship in a way that may or may not make upperclassmen jealous.

Bradlemos, of course, was the plural form of Bradlar.

3. Every Tuesday afternoon, Brad and I had what we called Brad and Amanda Quality Time Time. (Yes, 'time' was repeated) During this time of quality time, we would either sit in the Dining Commons and talk, or we would go on very crazy and fun adventures. Like once, we went to Autozone and changed the headlight in Brad's Taurus.

4. When I graduated college and had moments of hysteria at the thought of entering the real world, Brad listened to my woes. And then when he graduated a few years after and went through a similar time of craziness, I returned the favor.

5. For a few years after we were both had graduated, we even lived near each other. It wasn't planned or anything. It just happened. And looking back, I'd say it definitely was nice to have a friend nearby after college was over.

(Here is Brad, smelling Tad's neck)

Fast-forwarding to present day ... Brad and Tad are great friends. They roomed together in college and were even in each others' weddings. And I guess you could say Brad has kind of transitioned to becoming more Tad's friend than mine ... which is totally ok.

Because I'm friends with Brad's wife Bekah!

Here's the first time I met Bekah.

I even have a nickname for her.


She's not a fan and tries to call me "Mando" to get even. Maybe Brad should teach her a thing or two about accepting her nickname ... regardless of how silly.

Happy Birthday, Bradlemos!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

twas the day after black friday

and all through the house
not a thing was in order, not even a mouse.
The first round of shopping had come at midnight
when Tad and Amanda at Wal-Mart did fight
against a full army of turkey-fed peeps
for movies and games and Tupperware cheap.
They elbowed and pressed and said things they'd take back,
but nothing would stop their Black Friday attack.
Victorious, they were, their arms full of loot,
they headed back home for a brief reboot.
Four episodes later of Big bang theory,
they set out again, but this time there were three.
Their good friend LD had joined the good fight,
lining up at Best Buy at 2 o'clock at night.
With Amanda at Wal-Mart and Tad at Tar-jay,
they had their space covered ... nothing would get away!
For two hours straight, Amanda stared at her prize:
a Sony camcorder, quite small in its size.
The people around her kept growing in number.
Amanda was scared she'd soon be outnumbered.
Until one lady who had been there since twelve
said "Let's make a pact. A dirty resolve.
Let's form a blockade around this display
to ensure that all seven of us win on this day.
When 5 am hits and it's time for the brawl,
we'll cut others off, leaving us for it all!"
The alliance was made and just sure enough
the time came to go and the group got real rough.
They held off the mob as the ringleader gave
each of the seven, their rightly-due swag.
When each of the seven had filled their request,
they left but one camcorder for the mob to contest.
And Amanda joined Tad who also had won
a remote control helicopter ... despite having to run.
And LD made out like a bandit as well.
A brand new tv for a price that was swell.
And so they returned to their beds for the night,
though morning had come. It was 6, almost bright!
But I heard them exclaim, as they they drove out of sight —
Happy savings to all, and to all a good night.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bret Michaels

It's really not much of a secret, so I may as well talk about it. A few Fridays ago, I went to a Bret Michaels concert. Yeah. I know.

(here I am giving my best Bret Michaels impersonation whilst wearing the bandana Courtney bought me just for the show!)

But before you get all judgy, I want it to be clear ... I had the time of my life. The night had it all: danger, romance, suspense. Even pizza. And deer.

Let me start from the beginning ...

I have this co-worker. Her name is Courtney. Courtney is my friend. And I like her very much. But she has this problem. It's called Bret Michaels.

You know how every so often, you see someone and are attracted to them but have no idea why? Like they're totally not your type, and on any given day you wouldn't give them a second thought, but it just so happens that you can't help yourself and end up swooning against your better judgment?

Well, Courtney has that with Bret Michaels. A fatal attraction, if you will. A fatal attraction that got her free tickets to a concert of his in Warsaw, Indiana.

So me, being the supporter I am of fatal attractions, excitedly agreed to go with her.

And I'm so glad I did.

Crazy Thing #1 - On the way, we hit a deer. Warsaw is about an hour outside of Fort Wayne. So, we were just chatting and relaxing when out of nowhere this deer appeared on the side of the road. I gasped. Courtney slowed. And the deer bounced off the side of the car.

And that was it. I know we were lucky (God must have wanted us to see Bret), but I couldn't help but thinking "wow, that wasn't so bad!" While Courtney kept wondering aloud if it was ok.

Crazy Thing #2 - The crowd was way less trashy that we expected. We'd prepared ourselves for tube tops, bleached hair and cleavage. We didn't really see any of that. Instead, it was one of the most diverse audiences I've ever seen. Like there were totally people in their 70s there. Right along with the many many many women in their 40s with leather, heels and teased, 80s hair.

Crazy Thing #3 - Bret's merch table sold panties.

Crazy Thing #4 - We'll be making our VH1 debut on Bret's new show Life as I Know It. Yup. There was this guy with a camera there and he kept filming the crowd as the band instructed us to wave our hands in the air for like 5 minutes at a time. Which felt like an eternity. But they told us that the footage would air during the last two episodes of the season.

Which practically makes Courtney and me stars. We should probably find agents.

Crazy Thing #5 - You could buy a pass for $200 that would let you meet him.

We didn't participate in that. Nope. We just tried to meet him the regular way ...

When it was all over, we circled the building until we found his tour bus. After Courtney got done taking four pictures with the bus, we waited beside it in the freezing cold to meet him.

Now, I'll admit. I was the crazy one here. I struck up a conversation with the cops in hopes that they'd give us some inside information (which they did ... apparently, Bret was right on the other side of the bus, doing his meet and greet) and also befriended a mom and her daughter who had just come out from the little meet & greet place (they told us that there were still about 15 people left in line for the $200 meet & greet).

After about an hour, Courtney started shaking because she was so cold.
But I yelled at her and told her to stop. We were NOT going to give up. We were so close. His band guys were all around us. And the roadies were loading up the trailer.

And then thirty minutes later, they announced that he wasn't coming out.
So that was that.

Overall, it was a great show, and I had a blast. It was a really nice change of pace. I mean the shows I go to ... usually everyone just sits around with their legs crossed and thinks.

At the Bret Michaels show, you're allowed to be crazy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

yoga schmoga

Tad: How was your first yoga class?
Me: Good. We looked into ourselves at our past lives.
Tad: What did you see?
Me: I don't know. I didn't look that deep.
Tad: I bet you were a dog. You understand them so well.
Me: Yeah, that sounds nice. I think I'll go with that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sufjan Stevens recap

I'd like to take a moment and talk about encores.

There's like this weird rush that comes over you, the fan, when an artist leaves the stage. It's like the ultimate power trip. If you're loud enough. Obnoxious enough. Worshipful enough, you can get them to come out and sing more songs.

So you do crazy things, like try to clap or chant in unison. For minutes on end. All to see if you can will them out of their comfortable dressing rooms and back under the spotlight.

But I'm convinced that encores are pre-planned. That they're just the artist's way of getting you to glorify them for however long they deem necessary. Why?

The lights.

When an artist leaves the stage, the house lights will either come on or they will stay dim. If they come on, there won't be an encore. No matter how many fist pumps and cheerleader chants you direct at the stage. If they stay low, you may as well sit back and wait for Act II.

I tested my theory at the Sufjan Stevens concert Tad and I attended last Thursday. And sure enough ... even after two hours of playing music, when Sufjan left the stage the lights stayed dim. The people then screamed for five minutes. And Sufie came back out.

That's of course not the only noteworthy thing that happened at the concert.

A world record was broken.

The largest gathering of Unique Individuals who all happened to be wearing pea coats, scarves, plastic rimmed glasses and skinny pants.

Imagine my sigh of relief, knowing that I had changed back into my black skinny pants at the last moment. Because man … there’s nothing worse than being in a group of people who like to express their individuality and realizing you don’t fit in.

But that's just me making fun of hipsters ... when I probably don't have room to talk, considering I was out until 2am just to attend a Sufjan Stevens concert.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

how to attract vampires

This is probably the lamest thing I've ever done. Or at least the lamest thing I've ever admitted to.

I'm really trying here, but I just can't seem to come up with anything I've done that's as lame as this. Not even buckling my belt on the side. (Yes, I did this. Because I heard that rock stars did it to prevent the buckle from scratching their guitar. And, well, I wanted people to think I was a rock star. The sad part was I don't even play guitar that much. And when I do, I sit. So imagine just how lame that side belt buckle thing was.)

Well this is definitely lamer.

Do you see that jacket up there in that photo? The one Bella is wearing? Well, here it is again:

That's right folks. I have the official Bella jacket. Now before you make too much fun of me, you will note that I'm not alone. My friend Bekah has it too. So that makes it ok.

And yes, I'd jump off a cliff if my friends jumped off a cliff.

(Here is our emo pose ... life is better when you throw in an emo pose)

I will say, though, that the jacket has this odd magic to it. Because when I was in the dressing room, trying it on, I felt an icy breath against my neck and I turned and for a split-second saw a curious-haired boy dissolve into the shadows.

Ok, that didn't happen, but it IS true that the first words out of my mouth after zipping the jacket up were,


Bekah can vouch for that one. She was there.

And I believe she also admitted to uttering a similar plea upon zipping up the jacket.

Except she looked at her husband when she said it.

And his name isn't Edward. It's Brad.

(Here we are, waiting for Edward to come get us. Apparently, I thought that Edward could fly.
Note the forest in the background

I must admit, though, that if this coat was just sitting on a rack and had no connection to TWILIGHT, I'd walk right by.

To see our coat in action:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Showin' Some Love for Andrew Belle

There's nothing stranger than realizing that someone you had Computer 101 with is suddenly a pop star in the making.

Ok, maybe alien abduction would be stranger. Or possibly sitting down at a table at a restaurant only to give your drink order to Barack Obama. Yes, that would definitely be stranger. But still.

You see there was this boy in my freshman class at Taylor University Fort Wayne. And his name was Drew Fortson. And he seemed nice, but I didn't really talk to him. He dated a Sophomore, so of course that made him automatically way cooler than any of us. And if I remember correctly he liked to sleep in Computer class. I know for sure that his friends did. I know because it allowed me to take the liberty to sleep as well.

He didn't strike me as the music sort. But then again, I didn't know him at all. So imagine my surprise when my friend named Kyle lets me know that this boy named Drew Fortson is actually getting semi-famous and his songs are being featured on shows like Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill and Vampire Diaries (his song was actually on last Thursday's episode).

And imagine my even greater surprise when I find that he's dropped his old name and now is going by Andrew Belle.

I swear this is one of the strangest things. But I am very happy for him. And I'm going to show my support by posting his music below and maybe some of you will be agreeable enough to purchase it.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mom Pom

This is my mom:

It's her birthday today.

She's 42 years old.

Ok, I lied.

She's 45.

Ok, I lied again.
She's actually quite a bit older than 45. But I won't say how much older. Because if you can't guess her real age, then that's your problem.

Just one of the perks of good vampire genes, I guess.

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

about things and goings-ons (insert clever post title here)

I’ve been waiting for over a year now to celebrate my Swedish Name Day on this here blog, and what do you know? It came and went and I didn’t say a word. Blast. Well, I’ll get it next year.

The truth of the matter is that I’ve just been too freaking busy. It shows, I know. My posts are few and far between (not that anyone cares) and yet my life is offering up so much good blog fodder that it’s driving me crazy. So just please bear with me. This too shall pass … eventually. Maybe in 2012 when the world comes to an end?

To talk a bit about my busyness, I’d like to direct you to MacGregor Literary’s website. Oh yeah. That tween in the family photo on the home page? That’s me. But I’m not a tween. And that’s not my family. They’re my co-workers.

I’m a Literary Agent! And I feel so very blessed to be given this opportunity. So blessed, in fact, that this post about me feeling sad because I’m older than Jay Cutler and have nothing to show for it is suddenly a bit ridiculous. Because Ha! At least I’m on a winning team!!

P.s. My bio pic is way cuter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Running Fear

The rational and irrational fears I have while running outside:

1. A bug will fly into my mouth (this has not happened, but plenty of bugs have flown into my eye)

2. I will trip and fall in front of someone (this has happened)

3. Dusk will come sooner than anticipated and a guy on a moped will drive onto the grass to talk to me (this has happened)

4. My lung will pop (this has not happened, but it did happen to my friend Kyle whilst he was running uphill)

5. My knees will snap and bend in the opposite direction (this has not happened to anyone I know, but it is horrifying to think about)

6. My keys will fall out of my armband and I won’t realize it (this hasn’t happened, but could)

7. Two children will decide to simultaneously pass me from behind on their bicycles, one on each side (this happened and I was so surprised at seeing the child on my right that I overcompensated and crashed into the child on my left)

8. Children will see me and run into their homes (this has happened)

9. Children will see me and talk to me (this has happened)

10. I will see someone I know (this has happened, both when I’ve been running with my contacts in and when I haven’t).

Thankfully, while running, I have zero fear of dogs. In fact, I welcome them and secretly wish that the ones roaming freely in their yards would follow me so that I could either run for a bit with my hand on their heads (if they’re big enough) (this has happened) or if they’re small enough, stop, pick them up and say, “Let’s find your parents, you poor, poor doggy.” (This has not happened … yet.)

Monday, October 11, 2010


I usually get pretty jazzed about church potlucks. Mostly because I’m a big fan of casserole and pie and crock pots and stretchy nylon tablecloths and metal folding chairs.

I don’t get to attend many of these sorts of events. The last one I went to was more of a potluck-bomb on my part, if that’s possible. I wasn’t invited and no one knew who I was (and I didn’t know who they were) but my roommate said that it would be ok if we went (even though they weren’t expecting her to show up either) and so we did.

And it was good. But it was also strange. Very strange.

I have found when you venture out into the Indiana countryside, things get weird.

In their defense, it wasn’t really a potluck. It was more of a monthly church dinner. But still. I got up to where the food was being served and saw that they were topping huge servings of mashed potatoes with chicken noodles and then placing a hamburger bun on the side.

As in starch on starch with a side of starch.

When I asked for them to hold off on the delicious store-bought hamburger bun and to put my noodles on the side, separate from my potatoes, they looked at me like I was crazy.

Me. The crazy one.

So I’m not really sure what I was expecting when Tad and I attended a potluck yesterday at our church (which also happens to reside in the Indiana countryside). All I remember was looking down the long line of crock pots and seeing that at least four of them held that noodle chicken concoction, while a large platter held a pyramid of hamburger buns.

There weren’t any mashed potatoes, though. I’ll give them that.

*Jokes aside, I had a good time and was able to avoid the chicken noodle stuff. There was this Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese dish that was to die for.

And I suppose I can’t really complain about the food when I was the one who brought an expired apple pie that I had picked up from the sales rack at Wal-Mart.

Oh yeah, I’m bad.

Friday, September 24, 2010

vertically challenged

I’ve shared a bit about my successful prayer life as a child. But just in case you were thinking that I always used my powers for the greater good of mankind, I should probably share with you a few of my less-holy requests.

When I was around 8 or 9, I decided I wanted to be super tall. We’re talking WNBA material (although it wasn’t in existence at the time). Super model material. People-who-cannot-shop-in-regular-stores material. And so, I prayed about it. I asked God to make me 6 feet tall.

God and I must have been pretty tight, because it seemed right after I prayed, I hit a huge growth spurt. By my 12th or 13th birthday, I was pushing 5’5”. I was a giant. Inches taller than all of my friends. Beastly almost.

And really really self-conscious.

People started asking me if I was in high school. A few thought I was in college. Adults treated me like one of their own and talked to me at times as though I was in my late teens, early 20s. Don’t get me wrong. I loved people thinking that I was older than I really was. But after awhile, it got annoying (it was probably their surprise at my freakishness that ruined it for me). And the thought of being 6 feet tall wore off. I didn’t want to be strange-looking or age-stealthy. I wanted to be ordinary.

So, around my 14th birthday, I prayed a second prayer to cancel my first, explaining that I was young and foolish when I had sent up my first request and that 5’7” would be perfectly fine.

My growing came to a screeching halt at 5’6”. I squeaked out another half in by the time I got to college. And that’s where it ended. A half-inch short of my request.

Fitting, I suppose. Considering my neediness with such a non-issue.

But now that I’m older and more confident, I can’t help but wonder … would another inch or two be too much to ask?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Swedish Pancakes by Swedish Pankakes

For those of you wondering whether Swedish Pankakes are real, you're not very smart.

There is no such thing as Swedish Pankakes. There isn't even a such thing as a pankake.

But there are such things as Swedish pancakes.

And here they are:

Swedish pancakes are quite special to me. All of my family on my dad's side is up in Minnesota. Whenever we would go there to visit, we'd all get together and my Nana would invite everyone over and make Swedish pancakes. Enough for her six children and bazillion grandchildren and my Aunti Ellen* and some of her family.

We fold them in half and stack them up on a plate that we cover with towels. Which is very weird, I know. But it's how Leif Ericson did it, so it's how we do it now.

They're floppy and thin and delicious and would technically be more authentic if we ate them with lingonberries, but we don't. Because strawberries are better. It's our American twist, I guess. Just like our American twist on lutefisk is anything BUT lutefisk. (My dad would totally disagree because he loves the stuff, but you'll just have to trust me on this one).

I would go into the technique we use to transfer the pancakes from the giant stack to our individual plates, but that's top-secret information. If I told you, I'd have to pillage you.

*For some reason I remember her being "Anti Ellen" instead of "Aunti Ellen" or even "Auntie Ellen". But I didn't want you to think that I had a family member who we referred to as the exact opposite of Ellen Degeneres, so I changed it. For your sake. Not mine.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Making Fun of Scully

Mulder: Two witnesses said they saw a hairless man fly down from the sky and hover over the child before picking her up one-handed and blasting back into the atmosphere. Do you know what this means Scully?

Scully: Of course. We have a body-building kidnapper who's invented some sort of jet pack.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

a few of my favorite things

Things I'm loving right now:

Battlestar Galactica -

Killer Bunnies -
Striped sweaters -

Amy's Kitchen -

Brown boots -

Non Tiq -

Friday, September 10, 2010

bad to the bone

If rebellion isn’t driving on freshly-painted road lines while in plain sight of the line-painting truck, then I don’t know what is.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

boxing, unboxing and reboxing

So what happens when you spend your childhood moving every two years?

You box up all your crap. Move it to your new destination. Only to unbox some of it, while the rest goes in 'storage'.

And then you do it all over again.

Eventually, you have what I refer to as 'lost toys'. Items that were once part of your life, but then disappeared after the move from point K to point L. You know they're out there somewhere and that one day you will reunite. But you're just not sure when.

Ladies and gentlemen, today we were reunited.

Barbies. Books. Hand-painted dogs. They were all there. In mass amounts.

The worst part was throwing away the hundred or so cards I'd accumulated over the years. Birthday cards. Christmas cards. Thank you cards. Cards-for-no-reason cards. I had felt obligated to keep them simply because someone somewhere had felt obligated to give them.

But realizing it was never the intention of those people to burden me with guilt, I threw them away. All 254 of them.

The second worst part was going through my high school and college notebooks. There had to be a few dozen of these, and I swear the only reason I'd held on to them was because I knew that one day, I'd run into someone who would challenge me on the order of the rulers of the Roman Empire, and I'd have to bust out my Greek and Roman History notebook from high school in order to win the argument.

But since the invention of Wikipedia, I realized my books were outdated. So I threw them away. All 87 of them.

And finally, the third worst part of going through all my crap was the fact that I was a writer. Always have been. Always will be.

Poems, thoughts and stories were scribbled on everything from church bulletins to portions of Bounce Fabric Softener cardboard boxes. Folders of ideas, notebooks of the beginnings of epic tales--EVERY THING I HAD EVER WRITTEN FROM AS EARLY AS 1991 filled the cracks and crevices of each box, causing me to flip through every notebook, scan over every page and unfold every piece of paper.

And since I've actually grown in to something of a writer, I reboxed it all. Swearing to myself that it would not be lost again. That I would return to Fort Wayne and find permanent homes for it.

Yeah, we'll see about that.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

the serving and the served

I was a server for the 1.5 years that followed college graduation. It was at a steakhouse, where we wore blue jeans, yee-hawed for birthdays and listened to an endless stream of Rascal Flats, Steppenwolf, Shania Twain, Sheryl Crow, Garth Brooks, Tom Petty and Carrie Underwood. In that order.

We served steaks, potatoes, ribs and peanuts. And just in case you’ve ever wondered whether the peanut shells got swept up at the end of the night, the answer is yes. You can thank your servers for that.

You can also thank your servers for heating your brownie; scooping the ice cream for your Mudslide; cutting your child’s chicken breast into bite-sized pieces; rolling your silverware; serving your beer in a room-temperature mug; baking your rolls; begging the kitchen staff for one more side of sour cream; slicing the lemon wedge for your beverage; brewing fresh coffee; taking extra time to make and shake your chocolate milk; talking the manager into substituting a half order of mozzarella sticks for fries because your kid simply must have them; moving you to a table closer to the fireplace; agreeing that your perfectly-grilled medium well steak is actually closer to medium; climbing over an old man to close the blinds because the sun is in your eyes; not correcting you when you order a 9-inch sirloin with rice pilf and onion peals; picking out the green leaves in your iceberg lettuce; making your side salad with no cheese, no tomato, extra bacon, and thousand island and ranch on the side; not freaking out when your party of twenty decides to begin switching chairs after you’re all done eating, but before the bill has been split; and then not saying anything when you leave a 10% tip.

I was a freaking good waitress. I never minded doing all of the little things that came with the job. I was there to serve, after all. It was my job to make sure people had a good time.

But I soon came to find out that no matter how many babies I complimented, drinks I refilled before the hearing the slurping sound, jokes I told and butts I kissed, my tip could only go one direction.


It’s just how it is. People go into a restaurant with a percentage (or sometimes a flat out dollar amount) in mind. That amount only applies if the server does a great job. But for every mistake, every minute that they are made to wait for their FREE rolls and every time they have to actually ask for something, the amount goes down.

The amount never ever goes up.

Despite the fact that servers make an hourly rate of $2.14.

Despite the fact that they also have to tip out the bus boy and the bar and sometimes the food runner.

Despite the fact that they’re usually single moms with lots of debt or college students who are trying to avoid debt.

The amount just doesn’t go up, and jobs well done are rarely rewarded.

This isn’t a post to get you to tip better or run your server less or find a happy balance between the two. But if there must be a theme, let it be this:

The answer is no. A gospel tract does not count toward your tip.

And the server will never read it. Unless you were really sweet to her, and she sees that it’s accompanied by a 20% tip.

Then, she may consider it.

Because even though a server's actions may not count for anything, yours do.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Russell Crowe at church

I lied in church on Sunday.

It all happened so fast. Suddenly, I heard Pastor Randy ask for a show of hands as to who had all seen Gladiator. Hands shot up across the sanctuary, and as I turned to scan the room, there it was. My little Judas. My left hand hung in the air, telling everyone in the room that yes, I had seen Gladiator.

But I have not seen Gladiator.

Imagine my horror. My embarrassment. My utter mortification. I had lied in the House of God! And for what? A Russel Crowe movie?

The shame.

I dropped my hand into my lap, hoping no one had seen.

But when Randy continued with a follow-up question, asking who in the room liked Russell Crowe, I breathed a sigh of relief as my hand truthfully stayed down.

A little lie about Gladiator was one thing.
But if I had lied about liking Russell Crowe ... well, that would be an entirely different ballgame.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

remember me

Rented REMEMBER ME from the Red Box tonight to watch alone. What can I say? I was in the mood for some R-Pattz.

For some reason I'd figured it would be a lighthearted romance. Something that would leave me feeling happy and hopeful. Smiling, even.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is no such movie.

About halfway through I realized my heart wasn't getting any lighter. My brow was permanently stuck in a furrowed state. And I swear I felt a good bit of teenage angst rise from deep within. For no reason, of course. Because that's how angst works.

The movie as a whole was just ok. It was slow moving and angst-y and I was continually annoyed at how Robert held his cigarette (he must have been doing it the British way). The main girl had too round of a face, so of course I was reminded of myself (and in case you aren't aware, I have secret inner trouble watching movies in which a character reminds me of myself), and did I mention the angst?

But the end of the movie ... !!!

I almost cried. And I'm not a crier. It was sad. Horribly sad. And I couldn't figure out why I hadn't figured it out sooner ... but there it was.

And as for our dear, R-Pattz ... well ...

You'll just have to watch to find out.

Rating, and other info for Remember Me here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

in defense of poetry

Nothing has taught me the rhythm and cadence of words and phrases like poetry did.
It introduced me to pulse and inflection and timing.

Syllables and flow and inexact rhyming.

Words became notes and the story, the song.

And I the composer who moved them along

To fit in a format of phrases and lines, and sound just as beautiful when read without time.

So behind each story of heroes and beasts you’ll find is a symphony of pulses and beats and phrases that feel as though you have found peace

Because poetry taught me well.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

show hopping

Just ordered two tickets for Tad and I to see Sufjan Stevens in Indy. And, I’ll be honest … I’m a bit nervous.

I used to go to shows all the time. Sometimes two or three in one night, which I suppose some would akin to bar hopping, except there was rarely alcohol involved. Well, at least not on my part (See mom, aren’t you so proud of me?).

They were rarely professional gigs, mind you, but I was a broke college kid, surrounded by other broke college kids. So we went to the local shows in which the music and crowds were so collectively terrible that it was the best fun we’d had all week.

After college, I sort of stopped going. I mean we all grew up and got jobs. And even though to this day I still hang out with many of the guys and gals I went show-hopping with, we haven’t been to a show together in ages. But I guess that’s how it goes. Suddenly, the late nights are a bit too late. The loud music is definitely too loud. And the mosh pit … well, it’s a lot less inviting.

(Which I suppose is another blog post altogether … the Fort Wayne mosh pit. In Peoria, we didn’t mosh. Everyone stood around and smoked cigarettes. But not me, mom! Aren’t you proud again??)

For awhile after college, I vowed to go to one show per year. And since I actually had some sort of income, I vowed that the show would be a real show. As in having opening acts, a headlining act and merch tables. That worked for a bit. Tad and I went to see Death Cab. Then, around a year later we went to see Bloc Party. But despite our faces being rocked off each time, we just … stopped.

And now, it’s been a couple years since my last real (or even fake, for that matter) show, and it took me a number of uploads on TicketMaster before I finally got the guts to complete the order.

Because … I don’t know … what if it’s not as fun as it used to be? What if we have a horrible time? What if Sufjan's not as amazing live as he is on the recordings? What if I change my mind at the last minute? What if I don’t fit in?

Better go dig up my Chuck Taylors just to be safe.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Have I had my share of bad haircuts? Yes. Even though I’ve gotten my hair cut far fewer times than the average person, the ratio, I assume is bad. Very bad.

It must have started when I was five and thought it would be a good idea if my hair came to a perfect point in the back. Like a reverse devil’s tail or something. Thankfully, my parents secretly told the stylist that it should be rounded, as opposed to a perfect point.

But that experience sparked what I can only assume to be a complete inability to properly explain what I want done. Because even though I break my ‘wants’ down into the simplest of terms, I end up with something wackadoodle.

Like the time I told the stylist I wanted layers.

“Layers?” she asked, her tone betraying her confusion.

“Yes, like where one layer of hair is shorter than the other … it’s quite popular.”

“Um … o …. k…”.

I ended up with a cut that looked as though my 5 year old brother had attacked me with a scissors in my sleep. Like seriously, I had one chunk of hair that hit my shoulder, while the chunk underneath it hit me mid-back. (Apparently, the layered look hadn’t yet reached Elk Grove Village, IL …?)

Then, there was the time I brought an issue of Vogue that had Ashlee Simpson on the cover and said, “That. I want that.”

Forty minutes and $55 later, I came out looking like some mini van-driving mom who had cut off all her hair in an attempt to make life with a million children just a bit easier.

And the most recent offender?

I was running behind in life, so I decided instead of trying to schedule something with my regular girl (who is usually book 3 weeks out), I’d just drop by the Regis Hair Salon in the mall. I mean it was the same price point, after all. And since my usual stylist seemed to understand my current language when explaining what I wanted done, I figured this new girl would, too.


Sure, it looked great when she styled it, but now, I’ve noticed a sudden rise in people saying that I look 12 years old.

12 years old.

Ok, maybe that one person assumed I was 17.

And then there was that other person who guessed me at around 22.

Look, I know I look young. What can I say? GOOD GENES.

But 12?

Excuse me while I visit the local vitamin store in search of some sort of hair-growing supplement.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

heat wave

We’ve been living with practically zero air conditioning for the entire summer. It hasn’t been too bad, really. I mean after all, when playing video games, Tad tends to slip in and out of consciousness anyway. And I? I don’t think of myself as ‘home for the day’ until about 7 or 8pm. And by then, the world outside is just starting to return to quasi-normal temperatures. So yeah, it’s been ok.

But the past few days have not been ok.

Allow me to use haiku to explain this humidity that has suffocated the Midwest over the last week:

Swimming as I walk,

Body bracing for impact.


Multiply that by eight, and you’ll have what we’ve been going through here in landlocked USA.

Last night, after getting home extra late (9:30), I found that I could not move without either 1) breaking into a new sweat, or 2) my hair doubling in size. Enough was enough. It didn’t matter that we were trying to be strong … trying to save our landlord (who happens to be in ministry) the financial burden of supplying us with the 3 window units that are now kaput. All that mattered was being able to sleep through the night. And blow drying your hair without collecting sweat beads on your brow. And cooking a piece of chicken without wondering if you were going to instantaneously combust.

And wouldn’t you know it? The landlord emailed us right back and said he’d be over the next day to take measurements.

So, there we were. 10:30 at night, cleaning like maniacs, because to be quite honest the house hadn’t been touched since before I did a quick trip to the West coast last week.

And though I never knew that folding clothes could work up such a righteous sweat, I will say that it crossed my mind that that night would possibly be one of the last nights I’d have in which the morning resulted in a 5-pound weight loss.

I took advantage of that fact with a 2am bowl of cereal.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Impressions - Portland Edition

1.Where did the sidewalks go?
2. I want a tattoo, too.
3. My hair is definitely not rockstar enough.
4. Where did all this nature come from? I’ve almost walked into five spider webs.
5.I can’t believe Sandra is complaining about the humidity.
6.Do two-story homes exist around here?
7.Wow, their attempt at growing corn is pathetic.
8.This oyster tastes like mashed potatoes.
9.I miss mashed potatoes.
10.I really like how I don’t feel like I’m melting all day long. Thank you, overcast sky.
11.I should have brought my guitar. Everyone else here has guitars.
12.Just Starbucks? Guess I expected some sort of “Portland’s Own”.
13.Where’s Wal-Mart?
14.I wonder if they know that I’ve never heard of the term “die back” when referring to grass losing its greenness. I guess we always just say it ‘dies’. Well, after it’s covered by snow.
15.Oh, no snow here? That’s sad.
16.FYI – we light our bridges in Peoria, too.
17.Is that a homeless boy or a homeless girl? I can’t tell.
18.Where’s the ghetto?
19.The Rose Bowl sounds less wimpy when you realize it was named for all the roses in Portland. Ok, no it doesn’t.
20.What’s wrong with ordering chicken tenders?
21.All of that nature and only one mosquito bite. Who would have thought?
22.Clams are squeaky. I don’t think I can eat more than five.
23.I definitely can’t eat more than five.
24.I think I’ll visit again!
25.I’m ready for Edward to carry me up this tree, now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

i write like

So there's this website. Perhaps some of you are familiar?

It analyzes your writing and kicks back a result, showing you which great/famous/currently popular author you write like.

Now of course you don't always get the same author. Many of my blog posts, for example, kick back different results. (I'm sure if I put them all in the system I'd get some sort of average, but that would be way too science-y of me and boring).

The name of the game isn't to find your second self. The name of the game is to have fun. And recognize when you're being way too verbose (like Stephen King) or using too many run-on sentences (like hemingway) or including a zillion metaphors (like Steinbeck). Or doing all three.

So let's take a look at some of my posts, shall we?

On January 5, I wrote a post entitled experimenting with size 8. On that day:

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Just last week I was channeling James Joyce. See?

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Just for kicks, I analyzed both my first blog post ever AND my personal favorite, and was given this:

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Now, I'm not a huge Stephen King fan, but whatev. He's like already a classic author, right? So I can't complain.

Especially when I compare it to the result I got for my most recent post:.

I write like
Stephenie Meyer

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Ok all of you Stephenie Meyer fans, please don't take this the wrong way, but ...


(p.s. I'm hoping with that line being in ALL CAPS, I'll get JK Rowling as my result for this post.)