Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope this day finds you spending time with loved ones, eating lots of turkey and pie, not arguing too much about Obamacare with your crazy uncle and taking a beautiful tryptophan induced nap.

To me, Thanksgiving is the greatest holiday. It's basically about eating and hanging out and thinking about what makes your life great. What's not to like about that?!?! Also, all the best foods are stars during Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes. Sweet Potatoes (despite what Topher says.) Stuffing/ Dressing. PIE. (I could take or leave the turkey, frankly)

I have many, many things to be thankful for. But I wanted to take a minute to say who much I am thankful for all of you. Ken, Topher, Patrick, Brett and I started this little blog a couple of years ago to help promote our book. We didn't have an end game, we didn't know how long we'd keep it up for, and we knew that we were sort of a little late to the Blogging bubble. And while the blog has not yet (yet!!) progressed to the point where we can all quit our day jobs, I once got some free yogurt and a free spoon that is really great. But more than that, we get to write every week and we get friendly, positive, encouraging likes and comments from all of you. So thanks for reading, and reposting, and sharing and liking and all those things. Thanks for telling your friends to read, and sending us nice emails and notes. It always amazes me when someone that NONE OF US know in real life, reads this blog. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

If you need to keep reading so you can avoid hearing about the growth on your aunts ankle, here's a few more things to check out.

Ken's List of 100 things he is thankful for.
My thoughts on Pie. (Spoiler: I pie per adult in attencance at your Thanksgiving gathering.)
And if you are one of those people who is going shopping at 7pm on Thanksgiving day: a retailers's guide to Black Friday. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

thanksgiving: what's hot? what's not?


I know Thanksgiving is only a day away, but it's not too late for you to prepare for the most awesome day of your life. Or the worst day, if you don't follow my suggestions. Thanksgiving is a super important day to let people know how hot you are! So trust me. I promise you'll be "grateful" to know what's hot and what's not this year.

HOT

Smallpox

Everyone is talking about The Mayflower and how it brought the pilgrims over and blah blah blah. You know what it also brought over? Smallpox. Nobody talks about that. Maybe you should remind everyone that we brought more than just cuff links and blunderbusses on that rickety old floater. Everyone will want to sit next to you at dinner and hear all about smallpox!

Crazy Sweaters

You know that awful crazy lunatic sweater you wore three years ago to that bad sweater party? 'Member that? It's back in style. My son Owen just bought one. I thought it was a joke. It was not. He bought it at H&M and they basically tell us what to do. I am going to buy one! I will buy a really horrible one, and most people will like it. They will be embarrassed that they are still wearing boring old cardigans from Target. These people will never stay forever 21, that's for sure. This year, we're getting crazy!

Turkey

Turkey is in every year, you guys, but this year it's suuuuuuper in. DO NOT have a Thanksgiving meal tomorrow without a little turkey! It's delicious and it makes you sleep after you eat it. Plus, it's our national bird. Thanks, Ben Franklin!

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

You haven't seen this yet? You need to book tickets for tonight. I'm serious. Everyone is going to be talking about it at the dinner table. Nobody cares about Thor or Ender's Game anymore, so if that's all you got...you will be flummoxed. You got nothin.' Hunger Games: Catching Fire is about a girl who puts on a dress and it lights on fire, and then she has two boyfriends but (SPOILER) one of them might be a girl! The blond one. Also, more people get murdered.

Ukelele

Thanks to Zooey Deschanel, it's totally hot to play the ukulele and sing cute ditties while everyone is having pie. You have a few more hours to learn "over the river and through the woods" but the good news is that the ukulele is one of the simplest and most simple instruments to learn (overnight.) It's super simple! Here are the chord progressions. Ignore the second verse, though, because it just talks about Christmas.

NOT

Your diseases

Nobody wants to hear about: your flu, your cold, your hypertension, your fibromyalgia, your ADD. Jeeze Louise, give us a break! Anyway, smallpox is in this year. So if you don't have that, just talk about some other stuff. Talk about TV shows you like. But please, please stop talking about Revenge!

Dissing your mom

She worked hard on that meal! Oh, you don't like those potatoes? Interesting. Maybe you should make them next year, huh? Not enough pie this year? Oh, golly, next time YOU go to Costco and wait in line and hold some stranger's crying baby because their hands were full. I'd like to see that! I'd like to see you lift a single finger to help anyone! Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you are happy that you were born!

Prescription drugs

This is a real thing. I'm not joking around. Kids steal those things and sell them. You have nieces and nephews? They will steal your meds. It's just a matter of time. This year, fill your medicine cabinet with rattly old marbles and when your klepto-handed nieces and nephews go in for the steal you'll hear the racket of marbles all over the tile floor. It's hilarious, and it's revealing!

Giving up

Whatever it is, you can do it! Giving up is so last year. This year, you can do anything you put your mind to! If you dream it, you can achieve it! Except flying. That's off the table. But anything else you can totally achieve! In fact, you can probably achieve it tomorrow.

Sweet Potatoes/Yams

Nope. Don't pretend you like them! Nobody does. And anyway, pretending to like sweet potatoes/yams is NOT HOT. A hotter alternative this year is quinoa.

Good luck everyone! Put on your sweater and let's make this the best Thanksgiving ever.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Announcing My New Baby, Hillary


 There are certain red flags that immediately identify hippie-freaks. 

“Oh, we don’t own a TV.”
“Waitress, are these ice cubes in my Diet Coke organic and locally sourced?” 
And finally...
“We’ve just loved homebirthing our eight children.” 

I had to ask myself some hard questions this weekend. 

If you are unfamiliar with the culture of the Craig family, let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up. 

We use a midwife. 
We home birth. 

Apparently we are hippie-freaks. (Though we admittedly enjoy TV and the only thing we care about our ice is that it's pebble-ice.)

Not everyone wants to or should use a midwife. You may have health risks that prevent this opportunity - or bottom-line, it may not be what you’re comfortable with. And that’s fine. It is not everyone’s choice; but we are grateful that it can be ours. We have loved the experiences. 

This experience was different - in a few ways. 

1. I got The Call. Until this birth, I had never gotten that awesome call at work. “I’m in labor! Come home!” Wherein I then hastily throw out any papers on my desk, slam the computer, and flee the office while yelling to the front desk, “Hold my calls! My wife is in labor!” I finally got to do that! Though, just like all other media-versions of birth, that’s not exactly how it happened. But I’ll take it!

2. We had a new midwife. We’ve used the same midwife, in Las Vegas, for our last six children. It was not fun to realize she would not be here for this one. We found a new midwife here in Utah. Katie loved her because she is old, experienced, and holds the wisdom of an old, experienced midwife. I wasn’t so sure, but then, during Katie’s labor, when I was sitting behind Katie, holding her, and the two of us naturally had our hands on Katie’s tummy...and the midwife said, “Somebody please take a photo of those hands, I want it on the cover of my website. That is the photo of the century.” Well, when she said that, I thought, “You know, this midwife has something.  A certain eye for beauty and awesomeness. She really IS so very, very wise.” 


3. This baby was way overdue. We may never know how accurately overdue. You know they base the 40 week pregnancy cycle on the date of your last period. But since Katie has either been pregnant or nursing since 1997, she’s had, like, two periods. (My apologies to any men who... no. You know what? I don’t apologize. If you can’t talk about women’s periods, then you are no man. There I said, it. Now good day, sir.)

4. Ok, actually, I wasn’t done with my last point. I got going on my soapbox and forgot where I was. That’s right, Katie’s monthly menstrual periods. Anyway, so we really had no idea when her last period was, so we guessed. Well, we knew it was on the day we had used a gift-card to this bbq place in Orem, but there was no credit card record to confirm the date. And I think we guessed wrong. Because this baby was late, though not record-breaking late. 

5. We called the midwife early. We have traditionally called the midwife to come for the delivery at either the perfect time (baby born 15 min to an hour after the midwife arrives) or too late (Roxanna and Rebecca, who arrived before the midwife). This time...too early! I couldn’t believe it. That’s a rookie mistake, and this was our 8th baby. But Katie was tired and wanted to know how far along she was.  Midwife came at midnight on Friday, left at 2 a.m. and came back at 6:30 a.m. (Saturday morning), when we and the baby had stopped messing around. 

Katie’s contractions never got super-close together, but they got harder.  They got even worse whenever she got up to do something. So I had the brilliant/marriage-ending idea that Katie should just be up, moving around. I said it out loud. The midwife agreed (she is so, so wise, you guys). And Katie told us we were both fired.  

But that kicked things into high gear. Soon she was sitting on this awesome birth-chair that the midwife brought, and making these deep, bass-sounding noises that meant she was getting ready to push. More than the timing of contractions, more than any instruments, I know Katie’s status by the labor noises she makes. It’s more visceral, but it’s the best gauge I know. 


This is Katie, about 45 second before pushing out a head. I sat at her feet watching her. With all apologies to the women I know, plus my daughters and future daughter-in-laws, plus Pink (who I imagine to be pretty tough) - I told my children that their mom was the strongest woman they would ever know. 

I couldn’t believe we were finally at this point. I had had impressions this baby girl was coming a year ago, before Katie was ever pregnant. I’d had feelings she was a girl from the very beginning. I had been anxious to meet her. When I finally caught her, I felt gratitude beyond measure. She was here. She was healthy. Katie was healthy. The world stopped and for moments...it was perfect. What us hippies call “zen-tastic.” 

It is a unique challenge to write about miracles. Often, you can chronicle the framework of the occurrence. You can describe the specific circumstances. You might be able to articulate how it changes you. But there is some portion that eludes you. You can’t put words to it. It is sacred and otherworldly. And those divine moments generally involve people you love, with a power that cannot be manipulated. And you are simply grateful you got to be there. 

Hillary Craig
November 23, 2013
9 lbs 20.5” long




Friday, November 22, 2013

My complicated relationship with babies

I searched Google for crazy babies.
I currently like babies. Let's get that out of the way. I like seeing them in the pew in front of me at church or in the line at the grocery store. I like making faces at them. I like their laughs. I like it when my friends and family make one so I get to be around one. Babies are great.

But I haven't always liked them.

When I was four or five, I saw a baby at church and I pointed at him in his stroller and he grabbed my finger and bit onto it and wouldn't let go until I slapped his face to make him cry so he'd let go.

When I was ten, my mother babysat a baby with 12 toes. He didn't bite my finger but I was still a little scared of him.

When I was 15, I found a baby on the stairs outside the orphanage where I lived and we brought it in and the nuns raised it and now he's the Mayor of Toronto.

One of those things is not true. And I only make light of it because ...

Today, when I think of babies, I get a little bit sad. Amelia and I have not been able to make them. One doctor speculates it's because I suffered an injury when I was young. (Wear a cup, kids! Even at home watching TV with your cousins!) One speculates that, even though she's had two children already, it's related to the thyroid disease Amelia was diagnosed with four years ago. Some doctors tell us we're too old and beat up to have a healthy child, even if we could.

The truth is we've never officially been tested or found out for sure why we can't. Now, some people may think that's stupid. "Well, if you want kids, you'd do everything you could to get them. Have more faith." Ok, sure. By the time we thought we were ready to try, we tried. By the time we realized there might be a real problem, Amelia was sick. Then her heart quit. Then there was the thought that God might not want us to make more together. He never gives you more than you can handle. Maybe he was trying to tell us we already had two marvelous kids in our mixed family home that we need to help to have the best lives they can.

Feeling incomplete, cheated, and left out, I've prayed a lot about the fertility issue over the years. Every question has always caused a stupor of thought. This past year, I got a peaceful feeling that we were good. That our family was complete ... for now. I don't know how to explain it but I feel whole. I really love my little family and it's good for me to learn to focus on them with all I have.

Yes, I missed the first 18 months of my daughter's life. The true "baby" years. But I've been able to spend every day since giving her my love, my advice, and my all. That's been pretty brilliant. She is pretty brilliant. And I've never even slapped her in the face.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

more babies


Since our theme this week is babies, and since I've already written about babies and how I like to eat them, I'm just going to link up to what I wrote before. It disturbed a lot of people. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thoughts About Birthmothers.



I've been thinking, about things I know that you don't...which is quite a bit, though I'm sure you know quite a bit about things I know nothing about, none the less, I wanted to tell you something that my life has taught me, that every life isn't taught.

My wife and I can't have kids.  She has known for most her life that her body didn't make children. And strangely, I had known for some of my life that we would adopt.  And in this way we were lucky. People who know they can't have kids from the get go are luckier than people who have to slowly find that out.  Though it doesn't really matter, God sends kids to Earth and He does it when He does it and no one really has a choice in that matter. But, I am still grateful that we have always known.

None of this is news, nor is it all that interesting.  But, what I do want you to know is something about birthmothers.  Whatever you may think, or even, how much you may empathize, unless you place your own child in someone else's arms forever, you will never know. Not that I do.  I will never know either. 

But what I do know, and I know it because I have sat two feet away and watched it happen, is a Birthmother is strong. In a deep and powerful way, a birthmother is strong.  I sat at a dinner with friends and the topic of a family up the street who had adopted several children from one birthmother came up. They went on to explain all that the Birthmother was getting out of the whole situation...and these were women who had had children of their own and they seemed to think that this woman could whip out babies with no emotional connection.  Let me just say, anytime you find yourself thinking that your ability to love or find faith or think something through and then soundly come to a conclusion is better than someone else's... it is not.  Every single person on earth has those abilities, so be weary of your thoughts when they lead you to think you've figured it all out for everyone.  Figuring out the same path for everyone was not the plan.

Once, a friend told me, "I could never give up my child." And I suppose that is true for her...but it was also true for the two birthmothers in my life.  But, trying to imagine giving up one of your children is not the way to go about such a thing.  What you need to imagine is, "What would my life have to be like for me to give up my child?" My friend who told me she "could never"was living a pretty sweet and safe life, her family was around and her husband had a good job and she loved her children.  Think of all that must happen in your own life that would lead you to the conclusion, "This child needs something I can't give."  That is a real place.   

A Birthmom is selfless, and not because of what she did for the adopting family...she could care less about me or my wife...well, I mean, she cares, but all she really cares about is that I am nice and safe and steady and committed, but in that moment...or rather, those long never ending months, she is only thinking about one person, her child. It is a rare woman who thinks about a childless couple and what she could give them...though, even they, I suppose, exist.  But most Birthmoms, and certainly the two who are part of our family, thought first, of this unborn child, next of their born children, (both of our Birthmothers parented children before they placed a child with us) and far last, themselves. 

There are several, easier and faster options for a woman who find themselves in the family way.  Not the least of which is to do away with it. Abortion is legal, surprisingly easy, and common.  When I worked in NYC, one of my coworkers requested the day off for a "Procedure". Another coworker told me why and I was shocked.  Here I was, looking to adopt and everyone knew it and yet come to find out multiple associates had done the same thing in the 4 years I had worked there...ah, see how easy it is to feel like I know the solutions to other peoples problems.  Those women made their own choices and also, they were not having my baby.  Years later, two other women did. And it was the harder choice and it was selfless, in the deepest sense of the word.

I know there are a thousand stories out there and I can't speak to every experience, but I want to add my story to all the others.  There is no greater love then that of a parent to a child. I know that because I am a father and have never loved greater then the way I love my children.  I also know it because I was handed those children by women who wanted more then anything to hold onto those babies forever, to watch them grow up and see who they turned out to be, to be there day after day in every part of their lives, and yet, wanting all that but knowing all they knew about that life ahead and knowing what they felt that child needed, they let that knowing outweighed their the wanting. 


And though it had little to do with me...I am forever grateful. 





Monday, November 18, 2013

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part


The other day Josh asked me what I thought our theme for this week should be. Know what I said? Babies.

That's what I said.

Could be because at this moment, Katie is 16 days past her due date. And babies are ALL I can think about.


Here is a photo from a party Saturday night. That's Katie, still going to parties despite wanting to mostly cuddle up on the couch and watch movies until this baby decides to make the scene. And that's one of my BFFs and PTA's own Chris Clark – a self-proclaimed Baby Whisperer – telling this baby to step it up. (Photo taken by up-and-coming Baby Photographer, Kacy Faulconer.)

And I am seeing babies everywhere, now. Neighbors, strangers at the grocery store, random babies who just show up on my front porch, knocking, then pointing at me and laughing when I answer the door. (That last one might have been a dream.)

Look at the cover of this month's Ensign, for crying-gosh-sakes-outloud!


I know, I know. I'm not Katie, carrying around what is most likely a 10 pound baby, so what am I sounding so impatient about? I'm just anxious to hold this new soul, that's all. I love that.

I love the stillness that comes to a home when a newborn arrives.
I love the absolute wonder of new life.
I love the smell of the top of a baby's head.
I love how our babies are consoled by the sound of Katie's voice.

I don't love the worry when you don't know why they're crying, and I don't love the spit ups when you just put on a fresh shirt. But those always seem to work out just fine.

video

This footage is from the movie The Tree of Life. It is one of the most beautifully filmed movies I've ever seen. It's often impressionistic, and I don't often recommend it - because maybe you'll love it, or maybe you will find it boring and strange. But I loved it. 

Speaking of the Ensign, in President Eyring's talk on Sunday morning he quoted President George Q. Cannon: “There is not one of us but what God’s love has been expended upon. There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed.”

That observation reminded me of an image I once held, just briefly. I was sending Abbie off to Girls Camp, and before she left, I sat and visited with her. I hugged her and kissed her and offered words of encouragement and love. That was me, a super-flawed mortal father. And Abbie was leaving for only a single week. I couldn't help but think of how a perfect Father would spend a few moments with His child He loved perfectly before sending them to mortality. A few moments where He cared for and caressed His child at the start of their mortal journey that would last much longer. At least to the child.

And then that child arrives in your arms. And you almost swear that those impressions are still enveloping that baby...and you are somehow privileged to feel them. As if heaven is tangible for just a bit. 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

5 Things to Do this Weekend

Since I am posting so late tonight, I thought I would give you some things to keep you entertained this weekend. Dream of these 5 while you get through the Friday work doldrums to get to Saturday (unless you work on Saturday, which I usually do, those this week I don't. FTW!)


1. Go to What-would-I-say.com. If you've been anywhere near FB this week, you've already seen this little internet gem. Basically it is a site that takes all your Facebook posts and writes new posts using the words you use. Sometimes nonsensical, sometimes prophetic but almost always funny. The first night I was using it I was crying - crying I tell you!! Here's a few samples:
  • Just like Eric I accept Bitcoin.
  • Aren't you my personal astrologer? Stars for some other kids having chicken and follow them to stay wrinkled. It is on it.
  • Like Bryan Seagull. And remember that mean I have two apple trees with AMAZING Larry!?
Lovely.


2.  Watch The ReturnedIt's a French TV show that you can watch on Sundance or buy from iTunes. 
(The first episode is free!) It's about a small mountain town, where one night, people who have died in the past suddenly return. They are not zombies or ghosts and they have no recollection of being dead or of time passing. It's brilliant and fascinating (what happens when you get exactly what you want?) and genuinely spooky. I've only seen 2 episodes, but I am in for all 8. 

3. Buy some of these:

The flavors are: Double Chocolate. Candy Cane in dark chocolate with candy cane sprinkles. Ginger Joe-joe with white chocolate and crumbled gingersnaps. And peanut butter Joe-Joe in milk chocolate. My only question about these are why are ginger and peanut butter Joe-Joes past flavors? Those should be past, present and future. When my wife saw these she said "You are never allowed to go to the grocery store again" to which I replied "You should be congratulating me on the fact that I only ate 2!" (So far.)


4. Read The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. Or better yet, listen to the audiobook narrated by Bryan Cranston. (BRYAN CRANSTON!!!!!) It's part memoir. Part book of essays. Part short story collection. It's about the Vietnam War and it is emotional and haunting and did I mention BRYAN CRANSTON reads it?!! Lovely.

5. Watch this Veronica Mars trailer/featurette over and over and over again. For the record, I'm Team Veronica. (And, clearly, a 14 year old girl.)


Happy Weekend! Tell me on Facebook what I should be sure not to miss this weekend. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...Already.



So there you are, 9:30 at night and you realize you need a cup of sugar.  You could ask you neighbor but it's late and you hate them so you head to target.  You are wandering around the Home Decor section because you remember your sister-in-law's cousin pined these chevron candle sticks that you think might be on sale now that Halloween is over and before you know it, you realize that you are standing in the middle of a winter wonderland, complete with actual snow and Jewel singing "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear".  And you huff out in distain, "CHRISTMAS?!!  Already? That is disgusting!  Disgraceful!  Stores bring this crap out earlier and earlier just to make a buck well, I won't have it!" So you pull out your phone and update you status to the tune of "Those brash capitalist money grubbers!  Christmas right after Halloween?  What about Thanksgiving?!  Disgusting!  Disgraceful!"  and all your friends 'like' you in agreement and update similar statuses which are 'liked' by similar friends who update their status which are 'liked' forever and ever, amen.

So, you've done your part so you turn to leave and there you see it.  The small sign that says 'Holiday Decor 25% off'.  You pause for a moment and look at the offering and it's all disgusting and disgraceful but there are these adorable boiled wool ornaments of ballerina mice that your daughter will love and she'll pull out year after year to hang on the tree and she will name them and assign each one to a different member of the family and she will tell her own children, your grandchildren, about the Christmases she had at home hanging these mice by their tales in your flocked tree (you saw it on Pintrest and it's super coming back) and those grandchildren will gather in you lawyers office the week after you die, all of them holding each other grieving your loss, but also shooting sideways glances at each other each of them wondering the same question...who's gonna get Grandma's Christmas Mice...and they are 25% off.  So, you take the set, because, you justify, they will be gone by this weekend and you want to pick the ones with the cute faces and not be stuck with the leftovers at 2:00 am on Black Friday.

Beep.
Beep.
Beep.
Beep.
Swipe.

and you are on your way.  You pause for a moment at a stop light to check your phone and you get that twinge of excitement over seeing so many comments/likes over your 'Save Thanksgiving' status.


Well, let me tell you sweetheart.  Josh and I work retail, and if you are disgusted then just picture us, two months ago getting our Holiday Binders with plan-o-grams and concepts and holiday 'raps' ready to have a smooth roll out for Christmas on November 1st! Both of us thinking, it can't be time already?! Really?!  Didn't we just do this?!

AND YET....

There it goes, November 1st, and with it, baskets full of Christmas Loot leaving with a smiling customer who quips quips about the early bird and worms and such.

We sell it.

Every year earlier, every year more of it.

Josh's store has even started opening on Thanksgiving day (a terrifying trend) and you know what?! They make scads of money. You better believe if I'm the fat cat sitting on top of a huge company, home on Thanksgiving with my family, but my marriage was a little shaky this year and my wife thinks I don't appreciate her the way I did when we were dating, so I think I will get her a little something extra for Christmas and that something extra should probably be a yacht, then yeah, I'm gonna open on Thanksgiving, because people, even people with inscrutable commitment to tradition and the season, will shop, they will hand over fists full of cash to be able to have first.

Several years ago, I worked at a retailer in Orem, Utah who relocated its store to another part of Orem, Utah and part of the relocation was that we would be open on Sundays.  We whined and begged but the Company, based out of California, knew best and we were open on Sundays.  Years later, and just last Sunday, I drove by that store and it was closed for the day.  No one shopped.  The store didn't make enough money to keep the lights on and pay the employees and the company was loosing money and companies HATE to loose money so they closed, just for the day, because it made the most business cents (that's right).

So this is the world we have, it was given to us by our parents who lived on farms and had to hand make their Christmas decorations and chop down their Christmas Trees and the entire family budget for Christmas was an orange, and they took turns opening four handmade presents, two of which were a separated pair of crocheted socks and they were grateful, so grateful, in fact, they closed all the stores on Thanksgiving so they could all sit around a table and tell each other who thankful they were of all that they had and so the people who worked in the stores could to the same! And for one day in November the country gathered and reminisced and laughed late late into the night, because no one had to get up very early the next morning.    

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rattlin' & Hummin'


November is the month I celebrate mine and U2's anniversary. I have seen them in concert six times, and five of those have been in the month of November. (Once in October. I like to think we were just celebrating early.)


The first time I attended a U2 concert was November 1987 at the L.A. Coliseum. The Joshua Tree tour.  A friend of mine, we’ll call him Kyle Binns (names have not been changed), had two tickets for this show of shows. Kyle was two years older than me, and to be perfectly honest, I think he knew me mostly as the guy who hung around his younger sister. But he also knew me as a fellow U2 fan. And in a last minute miracle, Kyle's friend couldn't go. So I got the call!

I told Kyle to come pick me up. All that was left was approval from my dad. Normally, I would be a little nervous to ask my dad if it would be okay to drive into downtown Los Angles on a school night, never to return until sometime after midnight. But on this particular evening, I wasn’t nervous. I was wet-my-pants terrified. Did I have seminary the next morning at 5:45 a.m.? Yes, yes I did. Had I done all my homework for school the next day? No, no I hadn’t. Had I been treating my mom with utmost kindness as of late? No, no I hadn’t. And that would be the final nail in my coffin. Or my forehead, depending on my dad’s mood.

In one of his most loving gestures to date, he allowed me to go. My dad was just getting home, stepping out of the car, and I met him there in the driveway. I pleaded. And maybe it was the season, maybe it was the excitement exuding off of me…but when I begged him to be able to go, he just sort of looked at me with a half-crooked smile and said, “Fine.” No sooner did he answer then Kyle came around the corner to pick me up. I mean, literally, the next second. I jumped in the car and we took off. I wanted to get out of there before my dad realized that he had just given me permission to do something for which I had already given myself permission.

Man, what a concert. We had seats on the floor and it was an incredible show. For me, The Joshua Tree is hands-down one of the greatest albums of all time. And this was one of the greatest shows of all time.


Fast forward to November 2001. The Elevation Tour. I was living in Las Vegas now, but my friend Eric Snider (names haven’t been changed) wrote for a newspaper in Utah and had press tickets to the concert. He invited me to me the recipient of one of those press tickets. So even though I would have to drive up, I knew the amazing seats would be worth it. But I had no idea beforehand how much I would be willing to sacrifice to make it to the show.

Eric called Wednesday and said he had the extra ticket for Friday’s concert. Katie had two different meetings she needed to be in Las Vegas for over Friday and Saturday, so she decided to stay home and gave me the go-ahead to run up for the concert without her. We were young and poor and only had our minivan, so I borrowed a car from a friend of mine, Matt. (And by "friend" I mean "people with whom I never discuss this incident.")

I left around 10 a.m. (11 a.m. Utah time). I was on the road exactly an hour, when the car up and died. I could not get it started. The concert didn't start until 7:30 p.m., so I knew I still had some time. I was feeling optimistic.

By 12 p.m. I was not feeling optimistic. And I think we all know what the landscape between Las Vegas and St. George looks like. No services for miles.


I tried calling Katie about ever half-hour – but she was out. (This was 2001, a time before everyone and their pets had a cell phone.) I called my friend Matt to let him know the situation. He reported, "That’s strange – that car has never given me trouble before. Of course it's been sitting in our driveway for a year and a half."

Hmm. Now, I know relatively nothing about cars. But I am pretty sure that taking a car on a 11-hour car trip after it has been sitting in a driveway for 18 months is...how you say?…BAD.

At that point, I surrendered to the fact I was not going to make it in time. And on top of that, I felt guilty for taking my friend's car, and driving out into the middle of the desert to die. I hadn't done anything to the car, but still, I was driving it when something happened, and that made me feel bad.

A police officer stopped by to tell me I couldn’t park my car on the side of the road. Thanks for that, Mr. Law Enforcement Genius. Some Good Samaritan also stopped by and tried to help. Used to work for Ford, he did. Knew a lot about cars, he said. Couldn't see what was wrong, he admitted.

I kept trying to call Katie. I kept trying to start the car. I kept trying to fight the urge to jump in front of a moving vehicle, so frustrated was I.

It was 2:30 p.m. I had finally accepted, for the second time, that I wasn't going to make it. I was a little sad, but that's all. It's not like the concert was going to change my life or I couldn't live without it. It wasn't like I was a 16 year-old high school girl who HAD to see Bono.

Or was I?

I called Matt at 3:00 p.m. and admitted defeat. "I would have to be in a moving car THIS INSTANT if I was going to make it to the concert." "Well," he said, "My in-laws live in Mesquite. Get a ride into Mesquite and have the car towed to my in-laws house; then rent a car. My insurance will cover the towing, and I will pay for half the rental car." That was very kind of him. A good friend, to be sure. But still…"No. I'm not going to have you pay for half the car, and I'm out of time, anyway, and..."

Just then, a pickup with this chubby gentleman pulled up beside me and asked if I wanted to ride in the back of his truck to Mesquite. He stopped at a Texaco, and I ran in, demanding control of the establishment, as if I were holding the place up.

"I need a towing company, and I need a car rental agency – NOW!" I ordered. The ladies behind the counter grabbed the phone book as if her life depended on it. Because in a very real way, it did. I first called a car rental place, but all they had was a full-size car, and it only gave me 200 miles. I needed about 775 miles. I told them "never mind" and for the third time, gave up on the idea of making it.

I called Eric to let him know. I wanted to give him the option of finding someone else to take. Imagine my surprise when he said, "Wow. Oh my gosh. Well...you'll just have to figure out another way to get up here."

I couldn't believe it. Eric hadn't given up yet. Well, if he hadn't, who was I to give up?

I called the towing place, but they had a policy. And that poopy policy was that I would have to ride with them to pick up the car. I explained why I couldn't, but they wouldn't budge. I can't believe anybody living in Mesquite would have a policy about ANYTHING. If you don't have a policy about where you live (which you obviously don't if you are living in Mesquite), HOW can you be taken seriously about anything else?

Suddenly, the lady’s voice dropped low, and she whispered into the phone that there was a local towing place that would pick up the car, and I wouldn't have to go with them. She gave me the phone number. I called the number and talked to the guy, and he apparently does this business out of his house. I deduced this by the way he answered the phone: “Yep.” “Uh, hi. Do you tow cars?” “Yep.” “Legally?”

I told him where the car was, where I needed it to go, and that I had the key with me at the Texaco. He told me he didn’t need a credit card number. Didn’t need a phone number to reach me at. Didn’t need to know my name. But then he said the magic words – I didn't have to ride with him to pick it up. Whether or not I would ever see this car again, I was on my way to Salt Lake. I told my new tow-trucking friend that I would leave the key with one of the cashiers at the Texaco.

I ran outside to the gas pumps and began looking around for cars with Utah license plates. Each and every one was heading the other direction – to Vegas. I finally found this small, red pickup truck.

"Are you heading to Salt Lake?" "Yep." as he opens his car door. "Can I ride in your truck?" "Yep," as he gets in and spits out his chew. He leans out the window to explain how I can't sit up front because they have some equipment up there. I looked. It was true. They also had some in the back, up against the cab. I threw my bag in the back, and climbed aboard.

Propped myself up against my bag, and called all the necessary people. Katie, Matt, and Eric. Katie was finally home, and relieved I was going to make it to the concert, even though I admitted to her that I really had no concrete plan for how to get back to Las Vegas. Matt was happy for me, and reassured me that all would be fine with the car. Eric asked me if I was riding with a truck full of pigs or some other form of livestock.

The drive up to St. George was fantastic. Beautiful. Especially through the canyon. I was relaxed, I was going to make it to the concert, and I was a little impressed with the hippy in me who just bummed a 400-mile ride off a stranger. I decided that I would one day hitchhike all the way across the U.S., and for sure I would start commuting to work this way every morning. I looked up at the sky as I rode, and for the first time, I really got what John Denver and Willy Nelson were singing about.

We reached St. George and I thought to myself, "Man, I really love this crisp fall air. Even at 80 mph."

Somewhere between St. George and Cedar City, the sun had set, the wind had picked up, and the altitude was amazingly higher. I was freezing. I put my jacket on, but it was paper-thin, and made of paper, and had the wind resistance of paper. I wanted to put my sweater on as well, but was too cold to move. I finally bit the bullet and ripped my sweater out of my bag, threw it on, and put my jacket on over it. Surprisingly, I was not any warmer.

I tried to crawl up as close as I could to the cab, and tried to curl up in a fetal position. I tried to fall asleep, but was just too cold. And I sat there chattering and dieing until we reached Fillmore, two hours later, where we stopped for gas.

I was a bit nervous to get out of the truck, at the fear of being abandoned in Fillmore, but I needed to make sure I could still move. I bought a hot chocolate and drank it like Gatorade. Then I took some maternity clothes out of my bag. These were clothes Katie had wanted me to drop off to her sister, Jill, while I was in Provo. I took the clothes and crammed them up my pants, under my sweater, and sleeves, and everywhere I could fit them. I was trying to bulk up and do "layers."

Layers are for CRAP! After we got on the freeway, I realized nothing was going to help at this point. I was ice cold, and was going to be so for the next hour and a half.

About a half an hour south of Provo, I tried to call Eric to tell him I was getting close. I had lost feeling and coordination of my fingers and was shaking so violently, I couldn't push the numbers on my cell phone. Ten minutes and several misdialed numbers later, I got a hold of Eric and told him I was almost there.

We got to the exit, and I tapped on the window to let the drivers know that I was ready to get out. They dropped me off at the Exxon just down from Eric’s condo, and just up from the on-ramp to the freeway.

I stood up in the back of the truck, but noticed I didn't have a real strong sense of my legs. They were numb-ish. So I sort of slithered out of the back of the truck. I called Eric and told him to come save my life, and that I was ready to see U2.

I ran over to the on-ramp and waited for him. The wind wasn't whipping me anymore, but my core temperature was so low, I couldn't stop shaking. Eric picked me up and cranked the heater. By the time we got to Salt Lake, I was feeling better. The concert was spectacular, enhanced by the fact I had done all within my power to be there.

I called my sister the next morning. She lived there in Provo. I invited her and her husband to come visit me in Vegas, and to pick me up on the way. I offered to pay for gas, and buy them dinner, etc. They agreed to it, and I had a warmer ride home.

I'm telling you. There's something wrong with me. But if loving U2 this much is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Art from http://www.exaggerart.com/

Friday, November 8, 2013

Here's what I'm listening to on Spotify this month

AC Newman via prettymuchamazing.com
I had pretty much given up on iTunes. I felt guilty too because I know when I buy a song from iTunes the artist gets 10¢ instead of 1¢ when I stream from Spotify.*

But with the advent of the hand-held supercomputer we call iPhone, I don't have a small enough music library or big enough storage capacity to use iTunes on it. So, I drifted to streaming music instead. First it was Pandora. Bleh. If I had saved a nickel for every time Pandora played something in no way relevant to the station I was already listening to, I'd have enough money to buy a monthly subscription to Spotify Premium. So that's what I did. I say "had pretty much given up" because just recently I've been enjoying the new iTunes radio feature.

Still, it's not Spotify. I love Spotify because no where else can I discover new stuff or listen to my tried and true favorites as easily. Where else do I go to find new stuff based on bands I already like? Where can I create playlists called Nostalgia and put any song related to any memory I've had from my entire life in it? Touch of Grey? Yep. Hyperballad? Check. Glory Days? Uh huh. Repeater, Via Chicago, Why Can't This Be Love? Yes, yes, yes. My Lovin'? Shhhhh.

Here are 20 songs in my Starred Spotify playlist that I love:


Hope you enjoy and happy listening!

*These figures are not backed by research. Will you look it up for me?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I have terrible taste in music


Click on this track while you read this post. 
I am not a great connoisseur of music. In fact, I have terrible taste in music. It's not that I don't like music, but if I am driving in the car or doing yard work I would just as soon listen to a podcast or an audiobook. So I don't really feel like I am ever on the cutting edge of what music is cool or "snazzy" like the kids these days are saying. When we do our "Best Music" post at the end of the year, I usually have no idea what anyone is talking about.

Do you remember back in the day when there were CDs (I already lost all the readers under 30) and you would get those mailers periodically from BMG where you would get 12 CDs for $.01? And you would try to find creative ways where you could change your name slightly so that all 8 kids in your family could sign up? I remember the first time I got my 12 CDs for a penny that it was almost impossible for me to think of 12 CDs I wanted (but it was such a good deal how could you not sign up?) I have no idea what the other 10 were, but I do remember 2 of the CDs I got were the soundtrack to "The Bodyguard" ("And Eyeeee-eee-yiiiah, will always love you!!") and the soundtrack to "Batman." Remember that one? With all those catchy tunes? Oh, you don't? Neither do I.

Because I am so musically tone deaf, I am particularly excited when I discover a band that seems cool and that I don't think a bunch of people are already listening to. It's like the time when I started listening to Sarah McLachlan before ANYONE ELSE. Trust me. That's true. The special part is when I find someone I really like, I have no idea if they are a new discovery, totally mainstream or totally 5 minutes ago. Like I remember asking my wife a while back "Is Bruno Mars cool?" (Still not sure about that one, but I like his music when I am running!)

With that enormous grain of salt, I present to you my musical discovery HAIM. (PS. This discovery seemed like more of a discovery before Topher had them on his playlist yesterday with a whole bunch of other bands I had never heard of.) I'm not sure where I heard the name but after listening to their music for about 30 seconds, I immediately downloaded their album Days are Gone. If you are not listening to the handy  musical clip I provided, they sort of sound like if Fleetwood Mac was a lesbian and adopted a baby with Annie Lennox and they raised that baby in Southern California and their next door neighbor were the ladies of TLC, that baby of Mrs. Mac and Mrs. Lennox would be HAIM. Except HAIM is really three girls (sisters!) , so that metaphor breaks down pretty quickly, but I mean that the sound of the music would be that Lesbian couples baby. Can you see why I don't write about music more frequently?

Right now you are either thinking "Duh! Everyone has heard of HAIM! They are so 5 minutes ago!" or "Hey! I've never heard of this girl group and I like their groove!" If it is the latter, check out their album. It's fun and makes me feel happy and is super cool (maybe? I'm really not sure.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

ipod 2013


Josh challenged us to tell you what's on our iPod. So that's simple, right?

Here is my current playlist:

Midlake: Antiphon
HAIM: Hold Me
Janelle Monae: Tightrope
Lennon and Maisy: Ho Hey
Father John Misty: Funtimes in Babylon
James Blake: Retrograde
Civil Wars: Dust to Dust
Robert Plant and Allison Krauss: Stick With Me, Baby
Scott Mathews: Eyes Wider Than Before
First Aid Kit: Emmylou
Vampire Weekend: Diane Young
Sheryl Crow: Stop
Django Django: Default
The Milk Carton Kids: Michigan
Fiona Apple: Hot Knife
Au: Boute

Download any or all of these songs and all of your dreams will come true!

But seriously, is there a better album this year than the Civil Wars'? Daaaaang. All those metaphors and counterbalanced lyrics and all of that fighting and breaking up and drama on the road? Why do they have to hate each other when they sound so beautiful together? Life is the worst sometimes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

iPhoned It In




So a few weeks ago, we were hosting an over the top, decadent, life altering party.  It was for Halloween and the lighting scheme was only candles, which made everyone look lovely and golden...even the terrifying scarecrow couple who had dead crows dangling from his participles. During one of the courses, I dropped my phone.

One foot down

          In slow motion


                        end over end
                               over end over end
                                              over end over end


                                                                             soft bump on soft wood floor



Screen shattered. 


A few weeks and one second before my phone fell, I judged those people who pulled out there phone and still stroked their finger over divided triangled glass, pinching and moving the picture to fit into the largest unbroken section.  Well...

Have
Been
Humbled.

Who am I to judge?!  Maybe they work a lot and the Apple Store want to charge them $170 to fix it?! And maybe they got their phone insured but used Verizon instead, and there is no Verizon store in the mall they work at and so there is no way of finding out what they would cost...though, I suppose they could still use their phone, only their ear bleeds when he does.

So this week on PTA we are all talking about what is on our iPods and let me tell you, the only thing on my iPod is a busted a** screen.  And it's the worst!  I mean, you live your life thinking you are better than most people and that you are for SURE better than those dummies with huge pink plastic protective cases (sorry honey) duct taped to this sleek sexy skinny phone. (btw I opted for a super cute wood sticker that went on the back and on the face of the phone but left the sides as God made them...naked and black!) And then in the end it turns out you are no better than those you reveled in judging, but perhaps you are even worse because you were, all along, wrong. And now my ear bleeds when my mom calls but for reals instead of figuratively...Ha ha ha ha...just kidding mother.

So if by chance I have met you and you were talking on your phone that you have dressed like the little brother going to school in 'A Christmas Story' I want you to know I judged you, I thought the less of you and thought you to be a person who can't control even one pretty little thing in their life. 

I was wrong.

I am sorry.

Accidents happen to anyone...though mine happened at a super sexy party that you probably weren't invited to.


I feel so much better.

Friday, November 1, 2013

I'm in a Stately Type state of mind

One of my friends, Mr. David Lesue, is a graphic and UX designer. His latest project has gotten me and a lot of others very excited about the country we live in. No it's not a political stance, it's hand-lettered t-shirts of all the states in the Union.

Dave says on his Kickstarter page:

"The inspiration for this project came from my love of hand-lettered type and from my fascination with the iconic shapes of state boundaries. By combining those two elements, I've come up with something that looks stunning—maps of the individual states, and of the United States as a whole that feel very personal, distinctive, and hand-crafted."

So please give the video a watch and consider helping get this project funded. A $25 donation gets you a shirt and the satisfaction of helping a beautiful project come to life.




I mean look at some of these! I'll definitely be getting my Utah on but I'm considering many others just because of how cool they are. From what I understand, there could be additional colors added in the future.

Stately Type kickstarter t-shirts

Anyway, have a happy weekend and do something amazing, if you want.

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