Costco and Zombies

I always have writing on the brain. I’m forever coming up with cleverly worded stories and profound thoughts to share. Unfortunately, most of them come to me while I’m driving and by the time I reach my destination, they’re gone. Such is the case today. I’m positive I came up with something great.

Given that the profound and meaningful thoughts have vacated my head, I’ve decided (in the spirit of forcing myself to keep the blog up and running) to share a less than thrilling shopping experience that might sound familiar to my fellow alcoholics. Don’t worry, I promise I won’t forget to complain about my life.

I’d also like to mention that I realized my blog acronym is YSWAT. It’s pronounced Y-SWAT. That was my executive decision.

Costco and Zombies

I went to Costco today. Normally, that’s not a blog-worthy event, but today was special. I’ve made no secret of the fact that Costco is my chosen safe-haven in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Last night was “The Walking Dead” season four finale. I had zombies on the brain. I still have zombies on the brain.

My mom and sister recently suggested that Disneyland would be their chosen post apocalyptic safe-haven. They make a good case. (You can read about it in detail on my other blog) I was almost on their side. But going to Costco and having zombies on the brain meant I was paying special attention to detail. I am reaffirming my stance. Costco is a self-contained fortress and today, I noticed skylights everywhere. Thus providing a solution to my greatest concern, lack of natural light.

Costco, for the win.

Though I’ve never filled a prescription there, I remembered, or rather was reminded by the enormous PHARMACY sign, that my son was out of medication and I had a script in my purse. That’s convenience if ever it existed. I dropped it off and we began our shopping.

Normally, my kids hate shopping of all kinds, but there’s just something magical about a larger than life warehouse store. They love it there. They love it even more on sample day, which it just so happened to be. That’s mom-speak for “my kids are getting free snacks and their shopping tolerance has increased tenfold.”

We were somewhere in between free granola bars and yogurt when my phone rang. It was the pharmacy informing me that they were unable to fill my prescription. In case you weren’t aware, schedule II controlled substances are not refillable. A paper script must be presented at each and every fill. As is common practice in the industry, the prescribing physician had written us two scripts to save us a trip. When this is done, the words “Do not fill until” followed by the next month are scrolled across the bottom.

Here’s a fun word problem, in case you feel like doing some math:

Amy had two pills left. She filled a thirty-day script on March 1st. Amy’s son knocked a bottle over and stepped on three pills. Her written script said “DO NOT FILL UNTIL APRIL” across the bottom. How many pills remained and how many was Amy able to get on March 31st?


No matter how many times I said, “Not a big deal, I’ll just get it filled in the morning,” they insisted on calling my son’s doctor and working it all out. We agreed that I’d do my shopping and when I was done I’d stop by the pharmacy and either pick up the prescription or take the script back.

It was a huge headache and I actually had a huge headache. I appreciated the effort, but despite my request being completely valid, something about being a known substance abuser, standing at a pharmacy counter saying “I swear, he stepped on them,” feels really, really scary.

FYI- if you have a problem with me medicating my child, you’re reading the wrong blog. When you have a few free days, come on over to my house and spend some quality unmedicated time with him. When you’re done we’ll have a discussion about how lazy I am and how I’m using medication as a substitute for parenting.

Maybe while we’re at it you can critique my financial management and lack of college degree. No, really. It’ll be fun. I can never get enough of feeling like a totally worthless waste of a human being. No matter how much I berate myself, I just can’t quite reach the level of effectiveness as hearing it from another person.

I know I’ve wandered somewhat off topic. Honestly, I had a rough weekend. You’d think having months of success and sobriety under my belt would feel fabulous. I’m sure it does for some people. I’m still struggling with feeling like something has been taken from me or that I’m being left out. The whole world is having a great time and I’m not invited. I mourn the loss of lifestyle far more than the alcohol itself. (But trust me, I miss the alcohol itself a whole lot too)

It sounds so ridiculous and easy spelled out in front of me. I’ve been willing to destroy my life over a beverage. Trust me, I don’t need you to call me a loser. I’ve already figured it out.

Back to more important matters. We shopped. I bought overpriced stuff in quantities we’ll never be able to consume. (Remember how I bought 30lbs of sugar at the end of November? I ran out. Is that bad?) My kids ate their weight in free samples and talked me into buying some extravagant chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds. Costco shopping rule: Never leave without something you don’t want or need.

Surprisingly, my friends at the pharmacy had managed to reach the doctor and had filled the prescription. It was mine to take. After I signed two forms. And they scanned my driver license. And made a copy of my military ID.

I’m fairly certain the tech thought I was insane. I couldn’t help laughing a little. It took some restraint to refrain from saying, “Look lady, if I was going to ruin my life, I’d be back in your monstrous liquor departments, doing it legally.” I have conflicting feelings about controlled substances. That’s a topic we’ll have to shelve for another day.

The best part of the trip was when my kids asked me how much the snack bar food cost when I was a kid and I realized it was exactly the same. Costco has not raised their prices in thirty years.

And… wait for it… the weird pomegranate stuff is good. Like, really good. Remind me to tell you my funny ER story. I was going to post it now, but I’m tired and emotionally exhausted from hating my book.


Not a lie.

Profanity (Acceptable When Used in Context or as an Appropriately Placed Adjective if No Other Word Will Suffice)

Friends, I am having a difficult time here. Switching formats is messing with my head.

I just accidentally indented this paragraph. What is this, eighth grade English? In 1987? Next thing you know I’ll be hitting the space bar twice after every period.

If you can, hang in there while you’re reading this post. It starts out with non-exciting, non-funny stuff about writing, but I promise there’s a little bit of funny at the end. (But only a tiny bit because my life is sad)


(Acceptable When Used in Context or as an Appropriately Placed Adjective

if No Other Word Will Suffice)

You have no idea how thrilled I am to be working in a format where I am free to abuse punctuation and overuse terms like “really, a lot, pretty much, very, because and of course, like” and probably more that I’m forgetting. I was supposed to put quotation marks on each of those words individually, but I didn’t and that’s okay. It’s liberating.

I know I’ve mentioned some of this already, but I’m repeating. Because I can.

This whole “serious” writing thing is not for the weak. “Well, I’m getting good feedback on my blog, so surely I can pull off a novel.”

Not so much.

In a blog I am free to write in my own voice. I can log in and write, “So I’m really freaking out about this book thing a lot. It’s pretty much killing me. Seriously.”

Now, if I were a character in my novel at this point in my life, I could say those things, but it would still be restricted to dialog. The bottom line is, writing for publication is just that, incredibly restrictive.

My blog voice is comfortable, from the heart and quite frankly, I’ve had a lot of success with it. I received this message from my sister a few days ago:

Almost everyone I talked to at (family function) gushed about your writing and how amazingly talented they thought you were.  Seriously.  Tons of people.

Yes, that was unabashed, shameless bragging, but obviously I want to take that style and carry it over. I believe at some point that will come out, but at the moment, I’m writing from a child’s perspective, which is not natural for me. Children have limited vocabularies and that means I’m forced to overuse simple adjectives. And that means I’m freaking out that it will come across more that I’m a bad writer than the voice of a child.

I just need to figure out how to keep people hooked long enough to bring out my grown-up voice and big, fancy words.

I know some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but I read so-and-so’s book and he wrote all of his dialog top to bottom with no quotation marks.” Yes, some writers do that. Creative license is a beautiful thing if you are consistent and it is clear you’ve made stylized decisions intentionally and they enhance the story, rather than diminish it. And of course people have to be able to follow it.

Punctuation is more than just a set of arbitrary rules that exist just so teachers can pick at us. Commas tell us where to take a breath, quotation marks separate dialog from narration, starting a new paragraph every time a different person speaks helps us follow a conversation. You probably never notice those things when you’re reading. Your brain is trained to follow that format.

Either you take creative license and run with it or you follow the rules. Mixing and matching makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. I choose to follow the rules because it is in keeping with the tone of my story. Sadly, that means I am forced to set aside my beloved Oxford comma and use “towards” versus “toward”. They are non-standard per APA and they’re going to get changed anyway.

I had a conversation with a professional editor (specializing in non-fiction but I’m sure her advice is valid) and she stressed at least fifty times that I should just write it all and get the story on paper. Then go back and edit on paper… I know, I know I mentioned this in my last post. Lots of amazing books started as garbage.

So I’ve committed myself to writing only the story, using dialog and description as it comes to me but not worrying if I’ve given enough of those things. They can be added later, right? But there’s a big problem with that:

What if I die and someone finds it and thinks it’s what I consider good writing? This is of serious concern to me. Really, it is. I think I’d re-die. I couldn’t sleep last night worrying about it. I kept trying to devise ways to integrate “ROUGH DRAFT ADD DETAIL LATER” onto my pages.

It’s bad. I mean really bad. At present my “novel” contains phrases such as “He liked the movie because it was good.” You’d re-die too if someone found your writing at that stage.

Title page

I am now accepting suggestions for a working title.

Okay, I’ll move on to other topics.

(I lied this is about writing too) I’m reveling in having found enough courage inside myself to use profanity, even though I know my parents will see it. I’m not the type to utilize these words and phrases unless they contribute to the story. The English language contains far too many adjectives that in most cases, are more fitting.

Why it bothers me to put it in print, I don’t know. I have no problem discussing my love of giving people the finger (Really, I do it all the time and it embarrasses my kids to no end) or admitting that these words go through my mind roughly 3979784749835749537 times a day. I’m using them in a very appropriate manner, e.g., a child is overhearing those words and is horrified about it, but I can’t help shake the feeling that I’m somehow going to get in trouble.

New topics:

My children self-regulate in an unusual manner. Most kids would kill to have parents who are free with content. Not mine, I couldn’t pay them to watch an R rated movie. (I’m not saying I’d let them, I’m just saying if I offered it they wouldn’t. Relax.)

A few weeks ago at my daughter’s birthday party all of the kids started participating in an activity that was an additional cost, but I hadn’t purchased. They were all having such a good time, I let them continue with the intention of paying for it on my way out.

My son freaked out about it. He wouldn’t join in, instead he followed me around until I swore on my life I would pay for it. Every time he went through, he came back out to ask if I’d paid yet. After the third time I figured it would be easier to just go pay for it rather than stand there promising him I would every two minutes.

When he came out and asked a fourth time and I told him I’d paid, he asked to see my receipt. When I provided it, he proceeded to scrutinize it to make sure the date matched and I’d paid for every last child (to include the non-invited but brought along siblings). What kind of person does he think I am? If he makes this much of a fuss over a twenty dollar add-on, I can’t imagine what he’ll do when I have a more serious moral dilemma.

My knees are killing me. From sitting cross-legged and typing four hours upon end. It doesn’t matter if I’m at a desk or on the couch (In my spot, which I take as seriously as Sheldon Cooper). I have a work-related knee injury.

I got my contacts fixed. I know you were on pins and needles about this one. I’m back to old lady multi-focal lenses! (Applause).

I had a crazy dream that The Walking Dead season finale was awful. I’m so glad I woke up. It had to do with Rick and Michonne planting cabbage. (You should probably visit my Super Zombie Apocalypse Blog)

I almost never shower or leave my house anymore. I’ve become a hermit. I rarely go out. I’m invited to a party with all of my friends this weekend. It’s next door. Literally, it’s ten feet away and I keep thinking of how much work it’s going to be.

I just realized how first world my problems are. A lot. Very. Pretty much. Think about it.

Oh please feel sorry for me because my reasonably decent eyesight isn’t perfect anymore.

My kid wanted me to be honest about paying for a luxury I could afford. (Sob)

I’m afraid my favorite paid-cable, multi-million dollar television show might disappoint me. (The horror!)

The first draft of the book I’m writing on my $1000 laptop isn’t perfect. It’s almost as if I might have to work hard at it or something.

I’m not getting out enough and my knees hurt from having TOO MUCH TIME to pursue my dreams.


If I may, I’d like to end with a quote.

“You think anyone in Rwanda is lactose intolerant?” – Chris Rock




I found something amazing today. I was rummaging through my closet in search of a photo I thought I could use in a future post. I had gone through every last box of pictures and was about to give up when it occurred to me that the photo might be in a box of keepsakes I hadn’t opened in years. I was pretty sure it was mostly crammed full of graduation cards and old pay stubs I hadn’t bothered to dispose of. I questioned if it would even be worth my time to go through the hassle of getting it down, which would require a chair, a box on top of the chair, and me standing on top of the box, on the tips of my toes.

I talked myself into it.

I was partly correct in my assumptions, it did contain a ton of graduation cards and old pay stubs. But it also turned out to be housing just about every letter I’d received between the ages of twelve and twenty-two(ish), along with some other random stuff (like a wooden cowboy boot Christmas ornament??) and the photo I was looking for.

So I sat on the floor and worked my way through the box in hopes of coming across something else I might be interested in writing about. I found enough material to write a thousand articles. And a few pieces that almost literally took my breath away. I may or may not share them.


The items contained in the box go back as far as my earliest days. You’ll be happy to know that I received my DTP and Polio vaccinations in 1979 (in case you were holding your breath). I found record of a tetanus shot too, from 1997. I remember that one vividly because it involved me shoving a butter knife so far down in between my pinkie and ring finger it warranted an ER visit.

If you’ve read any of my last few posts, you’re probably noticing a trend. I’ve spent a lot of time in emergency rooms. I’m told my initial visits involved me swallowing an entire box of candlewicks and getting my foot wedged in a 1970’s era Little People house.

lp house

I don’t remember the incident, but I definitely remember playing with it. The lever to the left of the door rings a bell.

I can also recall a food-poisoning trip and one involving some other sort of killer flu/virus. I believe my dad may have been included in the killer flu/virus situation. And I’m pretty sure it was Christmas Eve or Christmas day. Although I’m sure someone will tell me I’m wrong. He broke his leg too. And crushed his fingers with something incredibly heavy, in my mind it’s an anvil, but that’s probably incorrect as well.

The poor man was even once run over by a semi truck (before I was born). My mom has a picture of him in the hospital, hooked up to a dozen wires and I.V.s (is that how I’m supposed to be abbreviating it? I tried lower case, but it just looked like ivs and that seemed wrong) with two cartons of Kools stacked next to him on the bedside table. I’ll try to get my hands on it. It’s worth viewing.

Luck must be hereditary.

Beyond some school pictures and artwork, there wasn’t anything that really stood out about my first few years. But then I uncovered this gem.

me 2

Wait? Me? Rushing through something? That’s preposterous.

This thing has A-M-Y stamped all over it in ginormous block letters. It says: The girl’s a good reader, but she’s not really interested in achieving anything.  She’s sloppy as hell and doesn’t seem to care much about time tests and deadlines. She’s shamefully uncoordinated and unskilled at sports. We’ll give her a C, because hey, she showed up.

I remember that grade. It was boring. I can recall sneaking glances at a copy of “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” under my desk during a timed multiplication test. I never did finish that one; it was also super boring. One of my kids recently checked it out at the library. My opinion stands.

I cannot begin to tell you the number of elementary school hours I spent feeling like I was going to physically die if they didn’t move on to something else. Once, in a kindergarten reading circle I was sitting across from a girl who was struggling with the word “Said.” I remember thinking, “It says said. Said. Said. Said. Said. Said. Come on… Pleeeeease just let me do it.” The feeling was similar to what I feel now in the checkout line at Target.

I do think it’s pretty amusing that I ended up having decent grammar and a poor attitude. And you’re damn right I brighten up the room. I’m doing it right now. You just can’t see me.

That was the last elementary-aged memento I found. All I really remember after that was the huge X-Wing fighter mural on the wall between the boys and girls bathrooms. And the morning announcements. I was asked to read them several times a week. It was my special talent. I’m very loud.

I could easily write ten articles about my middle school era findings. But I imagine that might get boring so I’ll just share this snippet with you.

When I was about twelve, I began to prefer the company of my middle sister over my peers. I was socially awkward and had trouble figuring out how to fit in. She was trapped in the past-high-school-but-not-quite-an-adult phase.

I’ll give you some more background info. In my youth we traveled quite a bit. To Idaho. Spring vacation? Idaho. Summer vacation? Idaho. Four-day weekend? Idaho. For no reason at all? Idaho. I could drive from Portland, Oregon to my dad’s childhood home blindfolded, backwards, upside down, in earplugs, while being repeatedly hit in the face with a stick. We made that eight- hour (each way) trek a lot.

Instead of marveling at the amazing backdrop of five story gorge walls and mountain passes, we invented all kinds of bizarre time-passing activities. One of them was giving each other ten random words that the other had to incorporate into a short story. I’m telling you all of this because I came across our two most notorious stories. The first is titled “The Brother of Elvis,” the other remains untitled. It was about a few encounters of a woman named Claudia.

Back in the days when grocery stores closed at night and only convenience stores stayed open twenty-four hours, we frequented the corner 7-11. Claudia was the p.m. cashier. If you needed a gallon of milk at midnight, you had to deal with her. She was the most un-smiling, grouchy, unpleasant person I’d ever come across. And the unwitting subject of most of our inside jokes. The story opened with “My name is Claudia. I carry a Big Gulp.” (Thank my sister for this one)

I’m not going to share them; they’re somewhat illegible and very, very embarrassing. But they did occupy countless hours on the long, long trip.

If you were lucky enough to spend your Fourth of July in the eight hundred resident destination, you were treated to pancake feeds and porcupine races.

I will, however, share with you a few other items:

I received this during my sister’s brief stint as a Maryland resident.
(Her birthday is January 20th)
lisa 6 1 lisa 7
Coming up with ridiculous business names was also an efficient time-killer.

tickets 1 lisa 2

Now that I think about it, I may have received the valentine in high school. I only found three things from that time period. I was apparently too busy being selfish and obnoxious, as most teenagers are.

The first was a note from a friend, inquiring as to the whereabouts of Walkman I’d borrowed, with a (ridiculously funny) sketch on the back. Unfortunately, I’m not going to share it with you. It will offend someone and I’m not in the mood for hate mail.

The second was this:

Melanie 2 1

This is the name card you put in your graduation announcements. Mine arrived with a gorgeous, but superfluous L right in between my first and middle names. There is no L in my name. I received mail addressed this way for years thereafter. My friends are hilarious.

Speaking of misprints and nicknames, I have a few more.

“Napkins” – One day at lunch, a friend asked me to grab her some napkins. Only while asking, she stumbled and took an unnecessary pause. It came out “grab me some, Napkins.” As if that was my name and I was requesting that she grope me. I’m still hearing this from time to time.

“Amy Mane” – Not only was there a misprint in my name cards, there was one in the program at my graduation ceremony. Someone decided I needed to be renamed Amy Mane versus Amy Marie. It stuck. My oldest sister still uses this one often.

The last item was an envelope full of ticket stubs. Most from high school, but a few are from my first or second year in college. Don’t worry; we’re going there next.


I. Am. Awesome.


So, so awesome.

The end.

While examining the box contents I had set aside all of the letters from my first few college years. I figured I could read them in sequence and have a few laughs. I did. Rehashing old inside jokes is more than entertaining. I guess you had to be there.

I held off on reading them because I knew that one of them made mention of drinking and I was curious to find it. It was one of the few I remember receiving. To the best of my recollection, I had read it, shrugged my shoulders and tossed it aside with the rest of them.  I was looking for what I thought was few sentences in the midst of a long letter, maybe about designated drivers or not going off with strange guys or something like that.

There were dozens of letters. I half read, half scanned every last one of them. The illusive “warning about alcohol” paragraph was nowhere to be found. I figured I’d thrown it away. No big deal.

I don’t know why, but just as I was packing everything up, I had the urge to go through the box one last time. And sure enough, I found one last smaller, invitation-sized enveloped shoved to the very bottom, sandwiched in the middle of two oversized greeting cards. Isn’t it convenient that the events actually played out like that? Like a movie script. The kind where the wife thinks the husband is cheating and goes through all of his things, not finding proof. Then at the last second, something catches her eye…

You know how I said I found something that took my breath away? This was it. Really. It was hard to breathe.

CLVG 1 1

It reads:

                                                                                                            Mon Aug 25 1997


My Amy! I just got your letter and I was so happy. May I say that I love your stationery? It’s very nice. Why do you say it’s funny that I’ve liked you through all your phases? How could I possibly not like you? And anyway, I’ve had my phases too- Just not as noticeably. You are however, a large concern. Poor … and I worry about you. I don’t want this to sound like a confrontational letter as opposed to a friendly hello letter but if I may go off on a tangent: I’ve noticed that you have a very addictive personality and I want you to be careful… Alcohol… is bad when taken in excess, so I want you to moderate yourself because I love you and don’t want you to get hurt. And if you think you have a problem or just want to see if you might (I’m not saying you do) there is much help available. And me! I’m always here. Besides the aforementioned alcohol I am here for any troubles you may have, small as they may be – It bothers me more not to hear about troubles so please share w/ me…

It goes on from there to discuss the time one of our teacher’s fly was open and her choking at a restaurant and me not helping because I thought she was kidding. And how she received a letter containing only a milk ad with Hanson on it that read, “What do we drink when we write our songs? Mmmilk.”

Monday, August 25th, 1997.

I sat on the floor, reading it over and over and over.

It’s made its way into my purse. I find myself pulling it out in places like waiting rooms and grocery store parking lots. I’m sure I’ve read it a hundred times. There’s a little part of me that’s still insisting I could control it if I really wanted to. That I just had a rough couple of years. It was a fluke. It’s over. I’m fine. Resume normal life.

The letter makes believing that a whole lot more difficult. I can’t explain what I’m going through at the moment. Who knew a letter like this would be so hard on me? It makes everything very real and I’m not sure I like that. But I’m still glad I found it.

I’m glad I found all of it.

To the author and co-conspirator (aka …): Writing this letter was an incredibly courageous act. That you wrote it at age eighteen is absolutely amazing. I am so very, very thankful for two decades of friendship. It took a little longer than expected, but your letter made a difference in my life.

Even though you don’t remember writing it.


We’ve all done this. Someone shares something on Facebook, you click on it, then another link catches your eye, so you click on it. A few clicks later you’re reading some off the wall article on a site filled with questionably unreliable information.

My journeys down the Facebook link-clicking trail usually start with the intention of catching up on current events. Then I proceed to waste an unsuitably large portion of my day watching viral videos and picking up sex tips from fashion magazines.

This morning I was lead down a different path. I managed to click myself into the blog of a self-proclaimed “Well Behaved Mormon Woman,” who had some strong opinions about the movie “Frozen.” Somehow this transcended into an oddly moving moment, complete with tears.

I don’t know that the article has gone quite as viral as the Christmas Jammies bit I wrote about a while back. But I thought I’d try my hand at another response. Writing about things that aren’t necessarily funny terrifies me (although I do cry in this one, which is always kind of funny. I’m an ugly crier). I’m not sure if I feel vulnerable or that I’m not skilled at “serious” writing or that what I have to say will come off embarrassingly trite. And also I’m sure I’ll offend someone somehow.


I was in the middle of my customary morning coffee and Facebook hour when I stumbled upon the article. My intention was to read and discard it, as I do with the majority of my online findings, especially those that contain content I don’t care for. This time however, I continued to read. The gist of it is this: Ms. Well-Behaved believes the objective of Disney’s “Frozen” is to further the gay agenda to normalize homosexuality. Her words, not mine.

To be honest, I continued to read mostly because I could not figure out what she was talking about. I kept reviewing the plot over and over thinking, “Wait. Who was gay in this movie? I swear I don’t remember anyone being gay. I thought this movie was about ice. I’m so confused.” I’m typically pretty quick to pick up subtext and symbolism, but this movie I took at face value. It never even occurred to me that it could’ve been about anything other than someone with a very, very unfortunate case of super secret hand-freezing power.

For the love of all that is holy, this article could not have possibly been any less concise. I have absolutely no authority as a critic, but my intuition says she could’ve slimmed it down by sixty percent or more. I too struggle with over explaining. It takes self-restraint to refrain from spelling out exactly what you’re getting at.  But at some point you have to stop writing and give your audience credit. If you’ve done your job well, they’ll understand what you mean.

I just rambled about rambling. Awesome.

I finally waded through the excess text and found the heart of the content. I really wanted to know what I had managed to overlook. Of course I figured it out myself about five sentences ahead of the explanation. I don’t know how I missed it. Probably because I was too busy being mesmerized by Elsa’s secret lesbian snow powers. Here’s the gist of her interpretation, broken down into formula:

Secret ice power = same sex attraction
Hiding secret ice power = hiding said attraction
Feeling sad about hiding your ice powers = not coming out makes you feel bad
Advising your sister not to marry someone she met a few hours ago = heterosexuals diminishing gay marriage (This advice given by the so-called victim???)
Not isolating yourself in an ice palace = coming out = using your gayness to benefit others

And then she posts the lyrics to “Let it go.”

At that point I felt the need to impulsively download the soundtrack and listen to it while going about my household chores. She’s right. I failed to notice the obvious. The movie is absolutely about hiding yourself away and the freedom and that comes from opening up, asking for help, and even acknowledging your own value.

And then I started to cry. My super secret hand freezing power presents itself in the form of addiction. I hate really hate crying. I hate crying even more when it’s over a Disney movie. I feel embarrassed just typing this. I don’t know where the line between meaningful and sappy cliché is. I decided to write another letter.

Dear Well-Behaved Mormon Woman,

I read your post regarding “Frozen.” I agree with you. It could be about being gay. It could be about a lot of things; hidden talents, insecurities, abuse, failures, anything a person fears about him or herself. For me it’s crippling alcoholism.

I happen to think you’re doing yourself a great disservice by assigning the process of self-acceptance to a singular group, by the assuming that any media suggesting someone take pride in who they are somehow automatically translates into an agenda.

Let’s say the person who wrote the script actually was writing about acceptance of homosexuality into the mainstream. Why does it matter so much to you?  It’s about someone in pain, scared to cope with who they are or what they’re struggling with. Never at any point did they say you had to like that person. They’re just asking you to acknowledge how much it hurts to live under lock and key.

In a sense, by insisting the film was created only as a means of promoting the gay agenda you’re giving that agenda more control over your life than it would have otherwise. There’s something to be said about the power of self-control. Let it be someone else’s agenda. It doesn’t have to be yours. You’re missing out on an opportunity for personal growth. Take the movie and make it about you. It could just as easily be about a person hiding less than popular religious beliefs and the desire to share them. That’s your call.

I listened carefully to the soundtrack.  Somewhere in the midst of my second time through I found myself in tears. It was the snowman song, not the epic ballads, that got to me. Just a simple song about a sister asking another for a few minutes of her time. I happen to have not one, but two, sisters who have placed a lot of unanswered calls. We used to speak often. Then one day I started letting my voicemail take over and quit responding. I’m familiar with shutting out the people who care most about me. My phone doesn’t ring much anymore.

So take with you, if you’d like, a mental image of me. I’m in my son’s room, sitting in a pile of Legos, sobbing because I never built a snowman with my sisters. That was my experience and it meant something to me. Please don’t take it away.


Person trying to find her way out of an ice castle

I came up with my own formula:

Secret ice power = Personal struggle
Hiding secret ice power = Isolating yourself to avoid pain
Feeling sad about hiding your ice powers = Feeling the pain of avoiding pain
Advising your sister not to marry someone she met a few hours ago = Advising your sister not to marry someone she met a few hours ago
Not isolating yourself in an ice palace = Coping = Using the resulting positives to benefit others

I don’t like fighting with others.  I highly doubt many people are successful in persuading others through insults and criticism. I’m pretty sure Ms. Well-Behaved already has an inbox full of them. I choose to leave my feelings out for others to see. When everybody is screaming at everyone else, no one gets heard.

If you’re still with me and you don’t hate me or haven’t left to vomit over my extra-sappy words, there’s a link to the snowman song below. You’re welcome to picture me and enjoy a laugh at my expense.

Though fortunately my parents were not killed in a tragic maritime disaster.

“Do You Wanna Build a Snowman”

Christmas Card

I’m sure you’ve all seen it. The infamous “Christmas Jammies” viral holiday card.

If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, I’ll fill you in. A family of ridiculously attractive overachievers, with what appears to be a pretty nice house, put their heads together and created a video Christmas card, in which they spell out their various achievements to the tune of Will Smith’s “Welcome to Miami,” replaced with “In our Christmas Jammies.”

Here’s rundown:

They bought a new Prius V.

The daughter (7-8ish):
Completed a triathlon
Counts to 100 in Chinese
Reads advanced literature
Plays the piano

The son (age 4):
Wears superhero shirts every day
Bats his eyes and the teachers swoon
Had a featured role in a play
Began hip hop dance lessons where he is fine-tuning his emerging musical abilities

The mom:
Met Robert Downy Jr.
Had a role in “Iron Man 3”
Completed an Iron Man triathlon, which I believe was 70.3 (miles???) in 6:40

Had a vasectomy (though I’m pretty sure a lot of men did that this year, but thanks for sharing)
Ran the same Iron Man triathlon
Also had a (tiny) role in “Iron Man 3”
Interviewed the state governor on television
Was the hilarious guy we all wish our husbands were and cut his leg doing the worm
Has taken on Crossfit
Is quitting his job as an anchorman to work with his wife

I usually steer clear of viral videos, but this showed up on my Facebook feed around eight times in the same day, so I figured I needed to check it out. For the first thirty seconds, I was horrified that anyone would create something so embarrassingly… well… completely and totally dorky. Then I got sucked in. It went something like this:

What the??? This can’t be for real. Nobody could possibly think is cool… Wait, what? How does a kid that age run a triathlon? Counting to a hundred in Chinese? No way she’s reading those books. Why don’t my kids play the piano or sing?… Look at that kid in that play. That’s adorable. He’s not a half-bad dancer…. 70.3 what, miles? How is that possible? I can’t even jog an entire 5k!… “Iron Man 3?” are you kidding me?… Oh, man… That could be used as some serious blackmail in the future, ‘You want to go with John, the kid who has two DUIs at 17, to the prom? Sure. But first let me get out this video of you throwing frozen peas at your dad’s junk…’ … So he ran the triathlon too… and also had a role in the movie…  the governor… too bad it wasn’t the governor from “The Walking Dead” that would’ve been awesome…. Look at that. That’s hilarious, I wish my husband would put himself out there like that. He won’t even go swimming… No way. I would never in a million years, be able to work with my spouse. Sorry, but we require time apart. If we tried to work together within six months one of us would be dead and the other in prison…
I feel so inadequate.

After watching the dancing Christmas jammies extravaganza, I started wondering what an honest holiday card from my family would look like. So I wrote one.

Christmas Card

Dear friends and family,

We hope this letter finds you well. It’s that time of year again! Can you believe it? 2013 has been quite the whirlwind year for our family. So much has happened that we’d love to share with our valued friends and relatives. I just couldn’t think of a better place than a Christmas card!

Dad is currently recovering from a serious case of bursitis, which he actively ignored for many months, resulting in several torn muscles in his legs, all the way down to the meniscus. Though he is assigned to a relatively elite mission, he has been taken off flight status indefinitely. He continues to give his all and is still going in to work Monday through Friday, though the family has absolutely no idea what he does all day. He certainly still arrives home angry! He is working toward his goal of obtaining a commercial pilot license, but his progress all but slowed to a stop due to increasingly poor weather and lack of funds. In October he made the decision to upgrade to a whole-home DVR system. It’s been such a blessing. No one in our home ever has to be in the same room anymore!

Daughter has grown so much, though she still experiences a number of age-inappropriate meltdowns. Early in the year, she completed second grade and was forced to spend most of her summer at a youth center so that both of her parents could work full-time. In August she flew all by herself to visit her cousins in Portland and came back with an adorable case of “Teen Beach Movie” fever! I tell you, we must’ve listen to that soundtrack five hundred million times! She’s presently obsessed with the Disney channel and has seen “Good Luck Jessie: NYC Christmas” an impressive six times. After a series of uncomfortable nights, she chose to make the switch from comforter to electric blanket. The results have been amazing, she has even quit waking me up in the middle of the night to complain about being cold! She’s so spirited, just yesterday I was forced to reimburse her school for a lost library book.

Son continues to grow and learn. He’s spent most of the year fine-tuning his Minecraft skills and building Lego structures that are so complex, it’s unfathomable. In August we took him to the Legoland Discovery Center in Kansas City and he upstaged a builder holding a seminar. He has so many interests, each of which border on obsession. He’s been through everything from Dreamworks Dragons to the violin! He just moved to paper lunch sacks over a traditional insulated lunchbox due to his tendency to forget them at school and eventually return home with rotten food. Most recently he’s expressed interest in dropping out of his school’s high ability learner program to free up more time for his Lego building.

Last but not least, there’s mom. She’s definitely been up to a lot this year! Her year started rough due to multiple relapses into alcoholism. She managed to drink in secret for months before anyone knew! In April she made the choice not to return to inpatient rehab, but instead attend outpatient therapy, which was extremely difficult due to work and home stress. In May she began Antabuse and thanks to being physically unable to consume alcohol without becoming violently ill, she hasn’t had a drink since. This is a genuine miracle. In September she was forced to choose between dentures or $8800 in dental work. She chose to keep her teeth and currently has an outstanding balance of over $3000 at her dentist’s office. In October she left her job to make her children and mental health a full-time career. Due to a combination of Lamictal, Antabuse, Wellbutrin, and Seroquel, she is stable and content for the first time in her entire adult life. Thanks to her life changes, she’s lost 53 pounds. She has decided to worry less about the state of her home and drop everything at a moment’s notice to take her children ice skating or play board games. Most of her free time is spent blogging about her various baking mishaps and other predicaments such as dropping a urine sample in a public place.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a prosperous 2014,

Family whose last name ends with a Z and can’t figure out how to sign Christmas cards.

Now that you’ve had a good laugh, I’ll tell you how I really feel about “Christmas Jammies.”

The bottom line is, holiday cards are tough on both ends. On the giving end, one has to decipher just where the line between celebrating and bragging is. On the receiving end, one has to remind him/herself to look at the bigger picture. It’s nice to be acknowledged and there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments. Do some people go overboard? Absolutely. Do most people mean well? Absolutely.

If dancing around like fools in pajamas makes you happy, by all means, dance on. That’s more than a lot of us will ever have in our lives and there’s no reason they shouldn’t shout it from the rooftops. It takes a lot to offend me and pjs don’t even crack my top 100.

Here’s my real holiday letter.

Dear friends, family, and readers,

It’s been a tough year. The last few years have been tough.

I made some really poor decisions that I’m not proud of. I don’t know how to make it right, except to continue making better choices. I’ve worked harder than you could ever imagine to become healthy. Yes, I do take a lot of medication and I will for the rest of my life. I’m nothing but better for it. I am willing to admit that I was very sick for a very long time. I’ve decided to stop beating myself up because my life didn’t turn out the way I expected it to. Last I checked, my life was still in progress and hadn’t yet “turned out” any way. Despite my stay-at-home status, I have turned into an exceptionally poor housekeeper who continues to ignore housework in favor of acting like a fool with her children. In 2013, I learned to choose my children first.

Dad works hard. Period. He’s put 22 years into the military and he’s trying to figure out how to move on because like it or not, he’s going to have to quit when his time is up. He’s worried about how he will feed his family and he’s got about a year to figure it out. He’s happy and frustrated at the same time and no matter what we do, he keeps coming home at night and putting money into our bank account.

The children are fine. They are exasperating at times. All children are exasperating at times. They’re also resilient and their grades are average. They aren’t academically gifted, but their mom is just not worried about it even a little bit. She knows they have a better understanding of life than most children their age(s). They are unbelievably intelligent. They tear apart the basement to make movie sets. They forget their lunch boxes and their rooms are messy. One of them succeeded in setting my couch on fire. They are kind and hold doors open for others and always say please and thank you (to other people, not their parents). They make their mom laugh. A lot. They win at board games against adults and others often comment on their use of  “big words.” They don’t compete in triathlons. They are enough just as they are.

We are infinitely better today than we were in 2012 and hoping to say the same about 2014. Happy holidays,

Once again, the family whose name ends with a Z and can’t figure out how to sign Christmas cards

And I really am excited about the whole home DVR. Really.