Thursday, December 31, 2020


It was June. I went for a run around my city. This was a Saturday and it had been a very hard week in the exact middle of a very hard year for all of us. Riots had broken out across the United States after George Floyd was killed. People were upset everywhere. We were all heartsick. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Most Viewed Posts of 2020

It's time for one of my favorite annual walks down memory lane. Below I've corralled a ranked 10 posts from this very ridiculous website. These are the pieces you most viewed from 2020. Please enjoy.

And to truly kick it off, here's a picture of me hiking with Skylar and a dozen of his sweaters:


10. A Good Finder

Coming in at number 10, I wrote about Skylar's absolutely outrageous unrealistic expectations that I should be able to find things inside of stores. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

We Are Very Angry With Matt

Matt has decided to move away from us, which is absolutely a hate crime and an act of terror. He sprung the news on us a few months ago.

"I'm buying a house in Las Vegas because I hate you and refuse to consider your happiness as I make my big life decisions." 

Ok, he didn't say that last part out loud but that's what I heard nevertheless. 

Obviously we are not pleased with Matt leaving us, but we are even more not pleased with his outrageously unfair decision to take Mr. Ollie Pants with him. Ollie has tried to remain neutral in the matter because he doesn't like to see humans at war, but I'm certain he's devastated about the whole thing. 

The move is happening at the end of the month and since Matt already sold his house in Salt Lake City, he has taken up residence in our basement temporarily. Or so he thinks because he doesn't know we've purchased chains and an incredible amount of dungeon equipment that should keep him in place for many years to come.

He showed up over the weekend with a bed he decided he doesn't want to take with him on his move of betrayal. We spent the better part of the evening folding a queen sized mattress in half and shoving it down the narrow set of stairs in my house that was built for malnourished 19th century pioneers. Now he's spending the week cleaning stuff and fixing shit in an effort to fool us into not being mad at him. And we hate that this is working.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Strangerhood of the Traveling Snuggie, Part 3

First off, I wrote a piece about what it feels like to close the chapter on 2020. It was incredibly cathartic to write this, in a way I hadn't really anticipated when I sat down and started typing. I would love to have you check it out. Special thanks as always to Josh Fowlke for the absolutely incredible artwork.

Second, the Traveling Snuggie has made it back home, sort of unexpectedly. Brooke (featured below) had it and she emailed me to let me know she would be in Utah for the month of December and so she offered to bring it to me if I wanted to see it. I had anticipated having it continue its journey, but I admit that I was selfish and couldn't resist getting ahold of it after its long journey.

When I started Strangerhood of the Traveling Snuggie a few years ago, I honestly didn't think people would actually be very interested in participating. I thought at most a couple of you near Salt Lake City would sign up and we'd do this for a few weeks and have a small shared laugh over it. 

What ended up happening was hundreds of people emailed me and wanted to participate. People from all over the country (and world). Everyone was so enthusiastic and delightful about it. The Snuggie ended up hitting 50 or so of your homes all over the United States (I was too scared to send it abroad, but maybe we need to have an international version?). 

You all took it and added little trinkets and gadgets along the way. You created a travel book to write notes to one another and you sent information and keepsakes along with it to represent your town.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A New Kind Of Peace

I was just about to leave work for the day when my husband called me.

“Class has been canceled. They’re sending everyone home,” he said.

Skylar was deep into his second year of medical school when the university announced that due to reports of coronavirus reaching certain parts of the United States, campus would be closing.

Minutes later I scrolled through Twitter to find an endless stream of virtual fearmongering from the online masses about impending shutdowns of nearly every supply chain. “The state liquor stores are going to be closing soon and we don’t know when they’ll open again, so everyone plan accordingly,” one friend announced on Facebook alongside a picture of a line of people that wrapped up and down the wine aisles.

Sunday, December 13, 2020


A couple years ago my friend Anna got Duncan a little stuffed animal hedgehog. She called it "Hedgy" and this quickly became Duncan's very favorite toy. My little man was obsessed with Hedgy. He would carry him everywhere he went. One time Sky and I were out of town and Anna was watching him; she sent us a picture of Duncan and Hedgy sitting on the front porch looking off into the distance together.

When that first Hedgy started looking worse for the wear, not at all helped by the fact that some of Duncan's friends got ahold of him and ripped his guts out, Anna got Duncan a replacement Hedgy. We tried to get rid of the first Hedgy carcass, but Duncan flipped out when we attempted to take it away from him. He would go stand in front of the garbage can, somehow aware that that's where we had thrown it, and cry. He loved the new Hedgy, but he loved the old raggedy one, too. 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

I am married to a deeply weird person.

Just a few days ago Skylar and I decorated gingerbread cookies. With sweat at my brow, I mixed and rolled the dough and then I carefully baked them with love. We covered them with colorful frosting and other decorations. It was so damn cozy and lovely. 

"What a wonderful husband I am," I thought to myself about this magical experience I created for Skylar. "And now he'll have these delicious treats to munch on for several days." 

I even put them on a Christmas plate my mother gave me.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Good Ice Cream

Look. You know me. You've been reading this site since you were mumble mumble years old. Since back before the war. Since the days of Blockbuster and Myspace. You used to read this site gulping a Surge and listening to Alanis Morissettes's's's new album.

We go way back, you and me and you and so forth. We go back so far we need a chiropractor to fix it. That joke probably doesn't make sense, but we are so bonded together that you didn't even question it and in fact found yourself suddenly ready to fight anyone who planned to come at me in the comments. And we're so tight that you don't even care about that fact that I censor that crap and don't allow negative comments here because I'm blogger's deep state.

So, since we are so bonded together, you are 100% ready to side with me in my absolute rage at my husband, who, as you know, swore on his eternal soul to worship and serve me, and he swore it IN FRONT OF THE PEOPLE WHO USED TO CHANGE OUR DIAPERS at the most expensive party we've ever thrown and which "we can totally do all of that within budget" but which we absolutely did not do within budget.

My husband. Skylar whatshisname. That man. That mannn. Yesterday. He was at the grocery store, and he called me and said "what do you need? I'll grab what you need while I'm here, if you'll tell me."

I thought, wrongly, what a thoughtful husband I have and deserve. I shall communicate the most basic of all messages at him and surely there will be no problem and he'll do exactly the right thing.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

A Good Finder

A couple years ago I found this film about dating and marriage produced by BYU in 1956 and I talked about it on Strangerville when I did the four-part series on old Mormon films. Well, I finally built up the stamina to recap it, with screenshots so you can see how exceptionally hot one of the protagonist's suitors was. 

You can read this real doozy of recap here. Also, shoutout to Josh Fowlke, our artist at The Beehive, who once again created the perfect piece of art for this recap. 

In other news, my husband, the man who vowed before God to love and worship and support and never criticize and always agree and suffer in silence for me, attacked me out of nowhere the other night. 

There's an ongoing debate in my home about whether or not I'm a bad "finder." Skylar includes "good finder" at the very top of his list of positive qualities he believes he possesses. This topic comes up every single day.

Skylar: Will you please hand me the cumin?

Eli: I don't see it.

Skylar: Did you move stuff around?

Eli: I don't have to because it's not here and that would be a waste of time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

How Near To The Angels: A BYU Film Recap From 1956 That Will Make You Feel A Lot Of Things

At some point during my periodic search for obscure, horrifying old Mormon films, I discovered a real doozy. This was about two years ago and I’ve been willing myself to summon the endurance to recap it ever since. How Near To The Angels comes at us from 1956, and it comes at us hard.

We begin our story with two schoolmarms dressing a young lady in a white wedding dress.

Sunday, November 29, 2020


For the past several years, Sky and I have basically been the only house on the street to put up Christmas lights. We're frustrated about this because if you go a block in pretty much any direction it's like you've entered the North Pole.

Our street slopes down into a hill at about the midpoint, which is exactly where our house is. As a result, the east side of our property is about six feet higher than the west side. Because we sit at this spot, our house is very noticeable. So when we erect our lights, they really stand out and represent our neighborhood.

"Why doesn't anyone else get into the spirit?" we lament every November as we line our walkway with ground-level lights and fasten together a rainbow tree that Skylar begs me to leave in the box because "it's hideous."

Sunday, November 22, 2020

How Not To Buy A Phone

Skylar has been begging me to get a new phone since before the war. I don't know how long it's been since I've upgraded, but apparently "too long," or so he told me recently when he held my current one up and pointed out that it was cracked all over. "You even shattered the back? I didn't know you could do that!"

So he finally got on the internet the other day and ordered me one. Some fancy shmancy new iPhone that is exactly like my previous iPhone, as far as I can tell, except now I have to put in my passwords, none of which I even remotely remember, on all 600 apps I use. 

The phone was supposed to arrive in mid-December, which was fine with me, but Skylar was not satisfied because "I want to play with it!" So he did some research and found out that if he ordered it through Verizon instead of Apple, it would show up more quickly, somehow.

He cancelled the original order and bought the damn phone again through Verizon and told me I'd be getting an email from the company saying it was ready for pickup at the store near our house.

Two days went by and my husband, who is apparently not patient, called Verizon to ask them if they had one in stock that I could just come and get, even though they hadn't yet emailed me.

Thursday, November 19, 2020


My phone starts buzzing. It's Skylar. It's 4:00 PM. The fact that he's calling me at this time probably means he finished his rotation early today.

I answer.

"She didn't really explain what that meant and AHHH I just realized I forgot to pick it up what time are you going to be there and do you know yet what we're doing for dinner?"

He starts every phone call like we're in the middle of a conversation already and he expects me to understand what the hell he's talking about.

"I have no idea what anything you just said means. I'm not inside your brain," I remind him.

The disconnected thought vomit gets worse toward the end of the week as he seems to be in his most exhausted state by then.

"Nevermind," he says. "Your turn. Tell me about your day?"

He requests this as though he's already given me a coherent account of what he's up to.

Sunday, November 15, 2020


When I moved into my house in Year Of Our Lord XIIBV, one of the first things I noticed was that all the walls were beige, which I didn't love. 

"I'll paint them later," I optimistically promised myself. And then I moved all of the crap I've ever owned into the place.

Look. Let me give you some old man wisdom from this old man. Listen carefully. What I'm about to tell you is one of the most important things you'll ever hear in your life: if you buy a home and it is not the color you want it to be on the inside, do not move your sh&t into it. Leave your sh$t out of it. Paint the d@mn place first.

I bleeped out all of my swears for my mother.

The point is, painting an empty home? A pain. But a manageable pain. Painting a home full of your life's worth of hoarding? An unmanageable pain. 

Do not do that to yourself.

I give this advice knowing full well that I could have never followed it myself when I was young and dumb and so excited to sleep under my own roof and start saying things like "are we heating the neighborhood?!" whenever someone left the door open. I couldn't have forced myself to wait several days to get the painting done before moving in. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020


Ok nobody panic but I changed some stuff. I know. I know. We're not supposed to change things. Change is not a thing we handle. There's a reason we're all still here hanging out on blogger in 2020. 


But we're all still living in 2006 over here. The only thing that could make this site more 2006 is if I inserted one of those widgets that automatically blasts a Jack Johnson song every time you visit Stranger. Don't worry. I'm not going to do that. Because lazy.

I changed things because our super talented artist at The Beehive, Josh Fowlke, messaged me and was like "you do realize you have like 19 different and conflicting brandings you're using across all of your various projects, right?"

Then he sent me some new images and fonts and I had to go in and do stuff with internet code and dark magic and I think I may have accidentally launched bombs at Thailand at one point but eventually everything ended up looking how it looks now. Which is good. I think. Probably. 

I'm so very tired right now. Skylar woke up at negative 3:00 AM screaming. Then he flew out of bed and started running through the house in a full panic. Duncan and I were going to follow him to see what was going on but we didn't because lazy and tired. Eventually he came back into the bedroom, climbed into bed, and whispered "the house is secure."

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

We're Coming To The Beehive State. Come On!

I sat on the grass near Brigham Young’s grave as a bologna sandwich that had been prepared by a handful of PTA moms was passed to me. I was ten. My fourth grade class had been looking forward to the big Utah history field trip for at least six months.

Whether the outing would actually happen was always in limbo—or at least, that’s what we were told. It hinged on our scholastic behavior, which had most recently been called into question during The Samantha Brown Vomit Incident only one week earlier.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Urge To Be Happy

I'm sitting at my kitchen table. The fire is going. Duncan is perched in front of the front door staring out at a snow storm. Skylar is in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher and quietly singing something to himself. Taylor Swift? I don't know. It's probably Taylor Swift.

We walked around the neighborhood this morning to get coffee and breakfast. As we walked, we talked about our favorite Nevada memes from this week. Like this one:

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Every Damn Day

Skylar's latest rotation is in dermatology, which I've been looking forward to because of a baseless but immovable assumption that it would give him access to an entire ocean of free botox that he will urgently funnel into every crevice of my body.

So far that hasn't panned out, but I've at least been able to corner him every evening for a full consultation about every suspicious growth I've ever discovered but haven't gotten checked out because I've always assumed I'd be married to a very gay dermatologist one day and could deal with whatever at that time. 

"What about this one?" I say, pointing to some crusty bump at my hairline. "I don't know man. Go see a doctor or something," he responds.

"I thought that's what I was paying the GDP of a mid-sized country for you to be!" I yell at him as he slumps away and disappears behind his laptop to study until midnight. 

The third year of medical school is not great, in case you're wondering. I felt very emotionally prepared for the first two years. Sure, he studied all the time, but he was also home nearly all the time. Skylar and I have been steamy lovers (not sorry) for over half a decade and his first year of medical school was far and away the period in our relationship when we spent the most time together, apart from the first couple months of These Unprecedented Times of Uncertainty when he was stuck at home with me. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Halloween In These Unprecedented Times

Despite These Unprecedented Times Of Uncertainty We're All In This Together And It Came To Pass, I decided we'd still try to celebrate Halloween. We simply must. It's part of the Gay Agenda. Yes, everyone is given specific roles by Judy Garland when they come out. Some of those roles include things like ruining the definition of family or fixing straight people's houses. But all of us are assigned to celebrate Halloween and we can literally be fined for failing to do it.

Side note, moment of silence for queer icon Cousin Itt:

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Tickling Texts

On Tuesday morning I woke up to something of a surprising email. I get quite a handful of emails to the Stranger account. Most of them are from you people telling me how good my hair looks and yelling at me for all the ways my recipes suck and asking if Skylar is single and stuff. 

But this one caught my eye, because, well. Just read it.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Physical Exam

I heard it before I saw it. It was coming from the next room over. A one-sided medical based conversation by my exhausted spouse who has been working graveyard shifts between long days.

He comes home when he can and traps himself in some corner of the house, a space heater at his feet, and he studies until he falls asleep. "I'm just so tired. I'm just so so tired," he'll say to me if ever I happen to see him.

But on this evening three nights ago he wasn't studying quietly. He was instead practicing physical exams, and he was doing it loudly.

"Now I'm going to check your heartrate," I heard him say to what I thought must be an imaginary patient. I thought it must have been imaginary because I was pretty sure we were the only two people in the house.

But then he continued: "your heart rate is about . . . uh . . . hundreds of beats per minute. That's either very alarming or completely normal."

At this point I became curious enough to put down my knitting and pause my shows, for I was engaged in equally important tasks as Skylar.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

I made this with my man hands.

I embarked on my third sweater project in early July. I was determined to knit one Skylar would actually wear. 

Skylar is not a good liar. I don't think he's really capable of lying. It's a very disappointing thing to have in a spouse. I know I know. "But Eli, why would you want your husband to be dishonest with you? Don't you want to know you can trust what he's telling you?"

Y'all, that sounds nice on paper but when I'm like "do you think I'm getting soft around my mid-section" and he responds in a high pitched "WHAT NO OF COURSE NOT WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT YOU'VE NEVER LOOKED MORE FIT AND YOUR HAIR DEFINITELY ISN'T THINNING" and I'm like "WHAT'S THAT ABOUT MY HAIR???"

I'm just saying, sometimes I would like for him to be a good liar. 

When I had him try on the first sweater I made, which I knew was a disaster (it had like five holes in it and it was four inches longer in the front than in the back) I asked him what he thought. He did the same high-pitched voice and said something about how the sweater "really tells a story."

I haven't seen that sweater since.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

A Pretty Serious Dispute

I need you to solve a debate that is make or break for my marriage. 

Skylar, who is wrong, thinks it's rude when I'm working or writing and he starts trying to talk to me and I very politely ignore him completely. He also thinks it's rude when I mindlessly respond with a curt "uh-uh" without ever looking at him. 

Obviously he, who is wrong, would characterize this differently than I have. He would incorrectly tell you that I'm not "politely" ignoring him and that the fact that I'm ignoring him is inherently impolite, but nonetheless, I'm not doing it "politely" anyway. He would falsely say that all he's doing is trying to treasure the few seconds we have together, which his horrid schedule barely and rarely deigns to allow, and that my refusal to join him in that honorable quest in fact makes me quite rude.

Then I'd interrupt at this point (but I'd do it politely, obviously) and I'd say "no one made you go learn how to put cameras up people's butts and look at poop through a microscope" and he'd cut me off there and yell "for the last time, that is not what I do all day." And then I'd remind him that it's rude to yell and interrupt so maybe a little self-reflection would be a better use of his time than this current escapade of projection. 

He'd roll his eyes at that point and say it's "useless" arguing with me, which is curious, because he would then continue to argue with me. And look, I'd suggest that if you're doing something you think is useless, that probably says a lot more about you than it ever could about me. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020


Meg is essentially a gay man on paper. I don't mean that she's a gay man on top of paper; I just mean that if you listed all of her qualities and interests on a piece of paper, you would assume she's a gay man named Garrett in West Hollywood. She's got all of the stereotypical interests and she tends to know celebrity hot goss that most gay men know but which I completely don't know. It's very confusing sometimes but also very impressive.

Probably the way she's the most Gay Man is her obsession with Halloween. I drove to her house recently and she had decked the place out like it was the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. She had two large skeletons sitting out on Adirondack chairs (yes, I know what those are now). I don't think it was even October yet. 

When we started contemplating upcoming content for The Beehive, Meg just kept screaming into the zoom call "MORE SPOOKY." We were like "but what about people who are scared" and she just cut us off with a high-pitched cackle that went uninterrupted until the zoom call timed out.

Since she's our scary mob boss we all immediately started writing ghost stories but that wasn't enough for her so she took to social media to ask people to tell us their spooky stories. We've been recording some for Strangerville and editing written pieces and researching accounts people have been sending to us and y'all, I'm basically up to my ears in spooky this month.

This week I wrote a story for The Beehive about how hard I've tried to get my faithless husband to believe in ghosts because he's wrongly dismissive about their existence. Please do me a solid and read that piece. Whenever you click on something I've written for The Beehive they immediately give me $250,000 and a gift certificate to JOANN Fabric. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Mink Creek Ghost: A Probably True But Hopefully Not True Story

When I first met my husband in 2015, he was living in another state. We did the long distance thing for a while, occasionally traveling back and forth to see one another. To get the most bang for our travel and time buck, we tried to plan and cram as many events as we possibly could into the weekends that seemed to fly by too quickly.

The first time Skylar came to visit Salt Lake City was especially stressful for me. It was unlikely I would be able to move any time soon due to my career, so if this relationship was going to go anywhere, I needed him to fall in love with my majestic mountains and Cafe Rio.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Best In The Business

During These Unprecedented Times Of Uncertainty, I have run around 200 miles per month. I've mentioned this to you before. My conversion into Forrest Gump was a result of two things: Gyms being closed and extreme high energy. 

When this all began in March, I looked for whatever opportunity I could find to get myself out of the house to burn off some the anxiety I was feeling. As a result, I started going on 13-mile runs about every other day, listening to mindless pop-culture and movie podcasts along the way. It's actually been a really nice escape for me and something I think I'll take with me if we ever enter precedented and certain times again. 

Because I've been running so much, I have fully rubbed holes in all of my running shorts. You would think with all of this endurance activity I wouldn't have thunder thighs, but gurlfrend: my thunder thighs have basically become a hurricane in 2020. The weather people have even named them. 

My thunder thighs are in full force because while I have increased my physical activity by 90%, I have also increased my ice cream consumption by 390%. I'm not very good with maths, but I believe that leaves an eleventy percent deficit, and that entire deficit has gone to Cagney and Lacey. Those are my thunder thighs. I forgot to mention their names last paragraph.

I didn't really care for a while about the holes in all of my running shorts because, like, who am I trying to impress? "Who am I trying to impress" is actually my favorite post-marriage excuse for not caring about things. Skylar hates it. "Me. You're trying to impress me." he says. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Great Flood

Skylar left at illegal o'clock this morning for affairs so he wasn't around when I discovered The Great Flood in our front yard. 

He's in pediatrics now, which is apparently different than the rotation he just completed, which was also in pediatrics. He had panicked before starting that last one because he decided against all possible evidence to the contrary that he wasn't "good with children." 

I had him watch that episode of Mr. Rogers where the kid goes to the doctor for a physical and Mr. Rogers goes with to show the viewers at home that it's not all that scary. I told Skylar he could maybe get some tips from how the physician in the episode interacted with the child. A few minutes later I found him intently watching the episode and furiously taking notes, which might be the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Apparently that did the trick because by the end of the rotation he had decided that he, in fact, liked working with children. So he was happy to start this new rotation in pediatrics that is somehow different than his last rotation in pediatrics. 

The point is, he wasn't around to deal with today's disaster.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Baby Clothes

Cashier: These little t-shirts are cute! Who are they for?

Me: Oh, uh . . . my . . . uh . . . my baby. They're for my baby.

Cashier: Boy or girl?

Me: Boy.

Cashier: Wonderful! And how old is he?

Me: He's fou--uh . . . [looks at tag on shirt] he's eight to ten months.

Cashier: Hard to keep track, isn't it! Especially when you aren't getting much sleep!

Me: He actually sleeps through the night pretty well.

Cashier: Terrific! How's his appetite? At that age they can become so finnicky.

Me: Fine. He's pretty much eats the same thing for every meal.

Cashier: Is he crawling yet?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Mamma's tired but here are some pictures and a few quick distractions for your perusal. 

I don't want no bunny banana frog ok no way.

Duncan and Jude taking a nap.

Sunday, September 27, 2020


Tomorrow is my and Skylar's one-year wedding anniversary what how is that possible you look so young STOP IT YOU GUYS.

What a wild first year of marriage this was. So many unpredictable left turns. I mean, I assumed when we got married last September that our next twelve months would include a worldwide pandemic, a near economic collapse, an earthquake, and a mountain hurricane, but I didn't think we'd also have to process all that news about Meghan and Harry.

In twelve months we've faced more together in some ways than I would have expected to deal with in a decade. I feel so fortunate that he's the person I've had to navigate all of this with. 

People commonly talk about how you can tell a couple is about to break up when they start gushing about one another on social media. Something compels relationships in crisis to engage in full denial in this way. Sometimes when I start to write something nice about Skylar he'll say to me, "people are going to think we're about to get divorced if you publish that."

Whatever. I can't help myself. I adore that man.

Skylar makes everything better. He makes everyone better. I don't know how he does it. You meet him and suddenly you're just a better person for it. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Only In Utah!

Skylar said it was "hot" and he was "sweaty" so that's why it was a good idea for him to take his shirt off and go sit on the furniture. I told him this wasn't my preferred choice for him, but he laughed it off like he always does when he doesn't want to argue anymore.

We're in that weird time of year where the iceberg that sunk the Titanic floats down our street every night and then all the fires of hell descend upon us by 10:00 AM.  "Just open all the windows. It's September." I hear myself saying every year around this time, as though God has designated this month for consistent temperature control.

We open the windows, and we bake during the day and shiver in hypothermic misery all night. 

"September is the best. So pleasant. So lovely." I insist. 

I claim it's the one month that really is just right. In reality, it's the one month where I'm uncomfortable nearly all the time. 

Classic Skating: Puberty On Wheels

I was eight years old when I was first introduced to Classic Skating. A neighborhood mom had called my mom to let her know they’d be celebrating her son’s birthday over roller skates and outdated rock music in the local roller rink.

I was thrilled to be included. The party in question was for a child a couple of years older than me. His mom was obviously behind the invitation. I wasn’t cool enough to be a thought for this soon-to-be-ten-year-old. But I didn’t mind. I’d have a chance to literally roll with the older crowd in our town’s mobile tween rave.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Dead Rat

Our greatest neighborhood allies are the Perfects next door. When I bought this house in The Year of Our Lord Eleventy Hundred, I was too intimidated to talk to them because they were, well, perfect. So instead I just spent like three years doing a lot of embarrassing things in front of them without affording myself the opportunity to explain.

A big part of the reason I didn't cultivate much of a relationship with them is because I just assumed they wouldn't want me to bother them with my boring self. This is a thing I assume about everyone always. It's very healthy and for sure not in need of therapy.

Then Jon Skylar Westerdahl moved into my house. Skylar is the opposite of me. It doesn't even occur to him that someone wouldn't be interested in talking to him. And it's not like he's arrogant about it. He doesn't necessarily assume everyone will love him either. He just doesn't care. He barges into the lives of everyone he sees and decides that if they don't want him, it's their burden to get rid of him. 

Within days of him living in this house, he was in the Perfects's''ses' front yard arm-in-arm with all four of them and the dog, laughing and creating memories. Suddenly they were coming to parties at our house and helping us with our gardening. We became "can you water the flowers while we're out of town" neighbors for each other. They texted us immediately after the earthquake earlier this year to make sure we were ok. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Teacher's Pet

I'm a few weeks into this new semester with my First Amendment class at the law school down the street and reader, let me tell you: teaching a class is so weird in These Uncertain Unprecedented Times We're All In This Together.

My university made the decision to require that around 60% of all classes be offered exclusively online this semester. The rest of the classes are taught both in person and over Zoom (for anyone who has symptoms or is otherwise uncomfortable meeting in a group).

The school has some really strict measures in place to keep in-person classes as safe as possible. For example, there is only one class in the building at a time. They also have seats blocked off so students have to sit 6 or more feet apart. Everyone has to wear masks. Everyone is supposed to wipe down their areas before and after. Everyone is supposed to leave the building as soon as class ends.

The school asked me if I was comfortable teaching in person and I said I was because I don't believe in science I'M KIDDING DON'T EMAIL ME. I thought the measures sounded good enough that I wouldn't feel at great risk. Also, I haven't left my house since The Year Of Our Lord Eleventy and I'm starting to lose my mind greatly so I thought it would probably be good for me to have two events a week where I see 14 other humans.

But oh boy. Let me tell you something. It is a challenge to teach to a large mostly-empty room of spread-out people, in a mask, and simultaneously minding the Zoom screen of students at home. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020


Skylar found out his newest rotation would be in pediatrics and this freaked him out. I was honestly surprised that he was so nervous to do this rotation. If you ever meet Skylar, within seconds you sort of get this Barney the dinosaur vibe from himlike maybe he missed his life calling. 

He told me he was nervous because he's "not good with kids," which might be the least self-aware statement I've heard from a human mouth since basically everything I ever said before I came out.

When we go visit my family, my nieces and nephews, MY OWN FLESH AND BLOOD, will literally run around me to jump on him. Their official greeting to me is "where's Skylar?" One time a few years ago we stayed at my sister's house to watch her kids while the parents were out of town and the then five-year-old had a terrible nightmare in the middle of the night. I got up to console him and when I got to the room he sobbed "can you just get Skylar? He's better at making me feel better."

And look. I'm not offended by this. I know my limitations. I am incapable of talking to children under the age of 14. I treat all kids like I'm their accountant and I'm concerned about their financials as we near the end of their fiscal year. 

Skylar? He approaches the world with majestic wonder, and kids can sense that from him. He's excited by the same things that excite them, and he treats them like they're his whole world.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

When It's Easier To Laugh Than Cry

We received an alert or several that a sly wind from the east was coming in. Apparently the air from wherever was about to cross over from Colorado and Wyoming and ultimately hit our quiet little Salt Lake City.

I'm told high winds can result when a huge build-up of cold air hits our mountains and then pours down them into our very lovely valley. 

By early Tuesday morning all of those nannies from Mary Poppins were getting launched directly over my house as we legit had category 3 hurricane winds, which is not a thing I thought I'd say about my 2020 at 4,500 feet elevation, deep in the desert mountains of Utah.

As it turns out, high winds are terrifying. Nearly the entire city immediately lost power. I say "nearly" because somehow our house seemed to be the only place in town that had electricity (it's been a few days since the storm and there are still large parts of the city without power). My friend Emily came over to work from my house after this happened at her house:

Monday, September 7, 2020

Red Vines

On Saturday I started getting notifications to my phone about my Instacart order. This was curious, since I had, in fact, not placed an Instacart order.

I had forgotten that some time ago I gave Skylar the login for my account and it seems he, from the next room over, decided to go ahead and place a Costco order without bothering to consult with me about what we should buy. I suppose that was fine. We've nearly committed personal hate crimes against one another inside a Costco in the past. I'm 100% positive that no relationship exits a Costco in better shape than when it entered.

But you'd think we could engage in online shopping without getting the divorce lawyers on the phone. The bulk of our historic Costco contention really centers around navigating the army-tank carts around entire family reunions in order to gather more cheese than we could ever possibly consume and then stand in a line that wraps around the entire solar system twice just to get back out to the parking lot that stretches to Prince Edward Island.

Speaking of buying more than we could ever use: the last time Skylar did an Instacart order he accidentally bought 2,000 garbage bags. We don't go through a lot of garbage bags. After they were delivered he calculated that at our current rate, these bags could last us up to 35 years. 


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

This New Step of Covid

When The Great Covid began earlier this year I was one of those people who was constantly telling you that actually we really had a lot to learn from this experience and "in a way" it was totally valuable and shouldn't we be kind of grateful that we had to slow down?

Then some months passed and suddenly I found myself screaming in my mind and becoming willing to kill for movie theater popcorn.

Ok, not totally. I still feel those early things about sunshine and rainbows. But the working from home all day every day business has started to wear on me in a way I had not previously anticipated.

When we started all of this, Sky was in regular classes at school and since The Whole World got canceled starting March, he was suddenly sent home, just like I was. So we'd both work from the house every day together, occasionally yelling to each other from neighboring rooms "WHY ARE YOU SO FREAKING LOUD."

Duncan would wander between us, sometimes happy for the company but usually looking more annoyed that we were disrupting his all-day nap, which, to be fair, would be an important part of my schedule as well if I had no bills, someone fed me every meal, and I got to poop outside without shame YES I THINK THAT SOUNDS LIBERATING DON'T @ ME.

So, things were fine and well. I felt like I was sequestered with my family, checking the news and worrying, but at least having someone to worry with.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

When did we get old?

I started teaching a class at the law school down the street from my house last fall. It's a First Amendment class. We read a bunch of cases from the Supreme Court and then we discuss them together. I really loved teaching it last year. I felt like I was getting together twice a week to hang out with my peers and debate some really fascinating issues. 

But y'all.

I don't know. I guess I still think of myself as being the same age as the average law student. 

We were talking about the Newdow case, which is the Pledge of Allegiance case from 2004 where everyone was fighting about kids saying the Pledge at school and the words "under God," etc. We were discussing this idea that a lot of people have argued over the years in First Amendment/religion cases that some things are just so steeped in tradition and so ceremonial that they aren't really a religious act anymore. Nobody really thinks, for example, they are engaging in a religious act when they use money, even though the money says "in God we trust" on it.

So we were talking about this argument in the context of the Pledge--that people never really thought about the words "under God" when they were saying the Pledge before this case/debate happened in 2004. And I was trying to make the point that ironically, this case actually flipped that around because we all started talking about it. I said something like, "if your experience was like mine, before 2004 you probably never really thought about those words at all. Now, every time a group at a rodeo says the Pledge they almost militantly yell that part. So this case actually weakened that argument that the words are only ceremonial."

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

We are so very overdue for a Pictures & Distractions post and I have some fun stuff to share with you. So here it is. 

Matt turned 40. The birthday bash wasn't quite as big as we had planned, but, you know. Pandemic.
Matt turned 40. The birthday bash wasn't quite as big as we had planned, but, you know. Pandemic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Boy Scouts of America: A Quest for the Eagles' Nest

Just before my 8th birthday I was shoved into the neighbor lady’s house down at the end of the street for my first Cub Scout meeting. My friends were there, all boys around my age in half-tucked-in dark blue buttoned-up shirts adorned with patches that looked like sloppily-sewn postage stamps.

Terry Holstrom had been assigned by local church leaders to babysit us once a week by having us sit in a circle on the floor and take turns reading a 500-page Cub Scout manual made from the same paper they used in phone books. She’d crouch down in her 90s mom jeans, periodically screaming at her children in the next room to stop throwing toys.

Sunday, August 23, 2020


The first time I visited Skylar's family in Portland I thought maybe the Pacific Northwest was experiencing a famine that hadn't made the news in Utah. We were invited for dinner at the home of one of Skylar's sisters. In my memory, 12 asparagus spears were delicately placed on a white plate and offered to the crowd of 10 people that had gathered. Skylar thinks I'm exaggerating and swears it wasn't that bad. I took offense to his accusation, which is totally unfair as I've never before exaggerated in my life.

As soon as I saw the full dinner offering I made a silent note to myself to venture out later that evening and find myself some more food. The meal was phenomenal. Skylar has two sisters who should be working as head chefs in some pretentious Manhattan kitchen. Instead they waste their skills feeding us.

But although the food was delicious, I stated what I thought to be the obvious to Skylar as soon as we got back to the car afterward: "WHY IS YOUR ENTIRE FAMILY ON A FASTING DIET."

Skylar politely told me I was overreacting, and then he said something I hadn't really ever realized. "Honey, they are normal. You are not. You are incapable of cooking for two or four or even ten people. You only ever cook for fifty."

I told him this is how all of my friends and family are. He agreed. And then it finally hit me that there must still be some major residual Mormon left in me.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Gal Gadot

When I bought my house in 2014 the inspector guy showed up and kicked the tires and then told me the place was unlikely to collapse but that my A/C unit was from The Year of Our Lord 1776. It was actually used as the desk on which Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence. 

I didn't want to buy a new A/C at that time because I priced them out and found out that A/C units actually cost more than the International Space Station and since I had just spent eleventy billion dollars purchasing and furnishing a house, that wasn't going to happen.

Every summer I conduct a full seance in order to get the thing to kick on and start working for the year. I have literally made eternal promises to Satan I cannot possibly keep in order to get my house to cool down every July. I'm terrified of the day I have to explain that to him. It's seriously going to drive a wedge in our friendship. 

As it turns out, although 2020 so far has been a really phenomenal year with next to zero adversity or problems for anyone, I suddenly could not longer put off replacing this thing. I had noticed our power bill was exponentially increasing, the A/C was almost constantly running without ever actually cooling the house much, and whenever it kicked on all of the power in the house would flicker and an angel would die.

So I finally called a company I've previously liked and had them come out to replace it. A few days later two pimple-face teenagers showed up and spent a full day in my basement beating my furnace with weapons of war and loudly discussing which female celebrities were "hot enough" that they would deign to date them. They were on the fence with Gal Gadot. They had a hard time deciding if she could persuade them into a sexual relationship. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Skylar's World

Skylar has moved onto his second rotation now, family medicine. As I understand it, that's the same as regular medicine except it sometimes posts racist things on Facebook and Thanksgiving is usually awkward. 

His schedule has been better than when he was doing OBGYNQRSLMNOP where everyone seemed to think negative eleventy o'clock in the morning was the best time to have hundreds of babies. Family medicine is much more reasonable. He rolls out of bed at about 5:30 and then shows back up at home sometime around 7:00 PM, at which point I meet him at the door with our daily affair-accusation greeting: "WHO IS SHE."

Yes, I know I just called getting out of bed at 5:30 "reasonable" and yes I hate that I did that but it's all relative. I'm coming off of a couple of weeks of graveyard shifts where my zombie husband hopefully didn't run over entire families with his car on his way to or from the hospital at all hours of the day and night. During the graveyard times the only way I knew he was alive was that I'd periodically find water mysteriously running and car keys in the refrigerator. 

In college I had a professor who's wife was also a professor, except they taught at universities on opposites sides of the country. They were pretty much only ever together during the summers. At the time I thought that seemed crazy; how could you possibly make a marriage work if you never see each other?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Second Date

 Last week I tweeted this thing that went viral:

I still don't really understand how the internet works. Sometimes I'll write a joke and I'll be like "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA THIS IS AMAZING THIS IS THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER BEEN WRITTEN PEOPLE WILL LITERALLY DIIIIEEE FROM READING THIS" and then like 4 of you actually read it and someone comments about a typo.

Then other times I'll write something without giving it much thought and I almost don't post it because it seems lame and the next thing I know the entire planet is sharing it. That is honestly what happened with Snuggie Texts, by the way. I amused myself a bit with that exchange and thought I should type it out to share with my friends and family, thinking they might find it mildly amusing. A decade later I still get daily emails of people wearing Snuggies.

The point is this whole stupid website was just a massive mistake.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Friends We Made Along The Way

We want to be the kind of people who go camping, but we don't actually want to go camping. That's the only way I can describe this cognitive dissonance that recently caused Skylar to spend all of the money we were saving for you guys to go to college on camping gear I had never heard of before.

I think he pitched the avalanche of purchases at me one night when I was halfway through a bottle of wine and screaming obscenities at the season of Survivor currently on my screen. He saw his opportunity to catch me distracted, tipsy, and caught in the dream of being on the show and he went for it. I call this the Manipulation Trifecta. If you ever want anything from me, you should approach me in the state just described. I'll give you whatever you want. Well, except for money, since Skylar just spent all of that.

Suddenly over the next two months, multiple boxes started showing up on our porch on a daily basis. I'd open them to find some tarp large enough to cover our house, or a hatchet sharp enough to cut glass and I'd scream, "what the hell is this!?"

"Remember? You told me to buy all of this stuff." Skylar would respond.

Then this weekend he finally declared we had sufficient supplies to make a go at it, and the next thing I knew we were jamming enough gear into two backpacks to support a full Apollo mission.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

My Mother's Pickle Canning Recipe None Of You Asked For, Which Was Rude

I'm basically Martha Stewart now, except I've been to less prison and I look better in skirts. I thought I might as well fully lean in and turn Stranger into a quasi recipe site. My recipes are better than most because you don't have to scroll past a 5,000-word essay about some woman's husband. Instead, I INCLUDE THE ESSAY WITHIN THE RECIPES! (Also, for past recipes, I've started a Recipe tab at the top of this very stupid website. I don't even know what Stranger is anymore.)

The below is one I've been meaning to write up since before the war. It's my momma's famous (D-list celebrities, but that's big for vine plants) pickle canning recipe. I grew up on these and they have forever ruined all other pickles for me. Once you have a Cathie pickle, you'll never go back-thy . . . shnickle. That rhyme didn't really work out but I'm too lazy to delete.


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Out of Gas

We drove to a little farm yesterday morning to buy crap to put in jars and leave on our shelves to rot. Canning truly is one of my favorite annual traditions; I wish eating what we can was a close second.

Neverthenotwithstanding, we gathered supplies for dill pickles (don't worry--recipe full of irrelevant information about my marriage to come). The farm we visited is across the valley from where we live, nestled in a bustling Salt Lake City suburb. Traffic was heavy for a Saturday morning during a pandemic, which we especially noticed on one four-lane road that had been narrowed to two lanes because of an incredible amount of road construction.

There we sat, nearly at a crawl, in a long line of cars stretching nearly a mile. We had been stopped for a while--unknown reasons--when finally we saw that the cars up ahead started moving. Well, the cars ahead, besides the one directly in front of us.

I'm not a honker. It's not a natural reaction for me. I don't really understand people who seem to do it almost subconsciously. On the rare occasion in which I do honk my horn, it's always woefully delayed because it takes me so long to realize this is a thing I can do, this is a thing I should do, and then try to remember the mechanics of horn honking. Then I don't press it hard enough the first time to actually make a noise because I don't have enough recent muscle memory to know the needed strength. By the time the sound comes out probably nobody has any idea what I might be honking about because the offense has long-since passed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

My Mother's Spaghetti Canning Recipe No One Asked For, Which Was Rude

My most vivid memory from my entire childhood is stuffing my face into a giant green pillow in the basement during canning season as the house would fill with overpowering scents of dill and tomatoes and MSG. I hated it. For a long time, I hated it. Then something happened to me that I don't think has ever happened to anyone else: I became my mother.

Now, each summer and fall I can eleventy thousand jars of shit in an ongoing game of "What Won't Skylar Eat." I currently have enough untouched applesauce on my basement shelves to reverse climate change. The pickle situation is even more dire. After canning SEVENTEEN quarts of pickles last autumn I learned that 50% of my household hates pickles.

The one exception to our wasted canning so far is my momma's spaghetti sauce. This was a staple in our house growing up and truly, Cathie McCann should be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for perfecting the recipe. Each year I can exponentially more of this stuff. We go through about a quart a week, using it for spaghetti, lasagna, homemade pizza, chicken marinade, acid reflux disease, neighbor gifts, etc.

And now you can make it, too! Ingredient list and semi-profane step-by-step instructions below.

Ingredients (This will make about 10 pints or 5 quarts of sauce)

20 cups of pureed, peeled tomatoes (about 10 pounds of roma tomatoes)
1 green pepper
1 onion
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of garlic salt
2 tablespoons of salt
1 tablespoon of dry mustard
2 tablespoons of taco hot sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon of parsley flakes
1 teaspoon of basil
2 teaspoons of oregano
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of flour

Love Is For The Byrds: A BYU Film Recap No One Asked For

Last year I fell down an internet rabbit hole during a few months of research I did to produce a four-part podcast series on old Mormon films. I embarked on that quest naively believing the library of LDS church films from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s couldn’t have been very robust. But I discovered that there were so many I could honestly make a career out of just watching them.

Then last month I recapped two films from the 80s on the Word of Wisdom. Now that we’re all sober, I bring you Love is for the Byrds, from 1965. Yes, that’s how it’s spelled. It’s very very clever. Don’t worry—you’ll be severely beat over the head with the creative symbolism in a minute.

How Do I Love Thee: A Very Unnecessary Recap Of A BYU Film From 1965

There seem to be an endless supply of old LDS church films depicting teenagers or young adults courting and marrying and I’m responsible for telling you about these so you don’t have to live through them yourselves. Fortunately I recently discovered how to watch Youtube videos at double speed and this has made my job so much easier.

I was already familiar with a lot of these films from my childhood. They’re all sort of the same: a promiscuous young woman in biology class pressures a girl who has the haircut of a 65-year-old schoolmarm to sleep with her boyfriend. You could immediately identify the hussy onscreen because she always had a perm and access to a convertible. In the end, either righteousness would prevail or we’d be treated to a sepia-tone repentance montage where the recently-defiled drapes herself across a bed sobbing until she is fully reformed. Sometimes the song “Sorrow For My Sins” plays and Aaron Eckhart looks on, disappointedly.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Ghost Town Hunting

We were supposed to go on an adventure last weekend, but our plans were abruptly canceled when Skylar plugged in all eleventy hundred of his nuclear devices at once and blew out our power.

He disputes this characterization, but if he wants to revive his old Stranger fact-checking site, he can be my guest. Until then, I'll continue to unfairly and inaccurately tell the stories without any consequences.

The power outage happened on a Friday evening. "I'll handle this," I declared, in the tone of a homeowner who thinks he's a qualified electrician for no other reason than that he's pretty sure he knows where the breaker box is.

I marched to the basement and flicked each breaker at random for several minutes before finally accepting this problem fell outside my broad expertise. We called our electrician, Raul, who is 100% the best human being I've ever met on this planet. My friend Anna found Raul about 8 years ago and now several friends and I consider him a part of our families. I will for sure name a child after him if Skylar or I can ever figure out how to get pregnant.

Raul told us he could come the next day, which meant we needed to stay home and wait for him. He showed up at noon and climbed through every nook and cranny in the house until he found a wire that had straight up exploded (???).

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Eternal Vine

My parents have this Jumanji vine consuming a whole side of their house. They planted it back before the war when they were young and dumb and so full of hope and purpose. Now they reserve all three of their annual swearwords for the phone call I receive this time of year in which they put me on speakerphone and scream about how much they hate the vine while begging me to come climb a ladder to chop it back.

I always go because I'm the official Son Of The Year, every year. (And I'm always so gracious when I receive the award and I'm like "I don't deserve this. This really should have gone to Beyoncé." But then I keep it.)

The vine has now grown so high up onto the house that Bob & Cathie have had to buy ladders from NASA previously only used for engineers to climb up to the International Space Station for repairs. We plop the ladder onto the side of the house, I climb up through the clouds, and Bob & Cathie stand below as I chop and drop long pieces of vine onto their heads with reckless abandon. This always feels really disrespectful but I was a pretty well-behaved teenager so I think the karma evens out.

Last week they called me said they had had it with the vine and they were ready to take more drastic measures. Typically we just chop back the new growth. Now they wanted to pull half of it off of the house and then not let it grow above where they can reach "so we don't have to keep calling you" which now that I'm thinking about it, are my parents disowning me?

Anyway, Duncan and I showed up at their house yesterday evening ready for our farm chores. I climbed the ladder and started yanking and pulling and eventually I discovered that the upper part of the vine wasn't really attached very well to the house because suddenly a wall of matted English Ivy started folding off of the house in one solid piece.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Excuse MY Christmas!

Since 2011, I've been receiving emails from all of you on all sorts of topics and for all sorts of reasons. Some of the emails contain photos of you wearing Snuggies. Some of them include links to important pictures of terrifying chickens. Often they are even thoughtful responses (or criticisms) to something we've talked about on It Just Gets Stranger or Strangerville.
I love your emails. They have been wildly important to me so many times over the years. There was one time where an email I received from the Strangerverse was especially impactful in both a hilarious and deeply meaningful way. 
For the past few years I've been meaning to produce a Strangerville segment about that email. I finally got it done. #amazing #GreatFollowThrough. 
Please check out this week's Strangerville. I've also included a snippet below from today's story. I think this is called a teaser? Is this a teaser? Netflix should hire me.
For the non-podcast savvy folks who don't use Spotify or any podcast apps on your phone, you may play it here:

Tuesday, July 14, 2020


Skylar started his "rotations" this week, which as I understand it roughly translates to "wander around a hospital trying to look busy so no one asks you to clean up poop."

His first rotation is in gynecology. They do these rotations in part to help the students try to figure out what kind of doctor they want to be. I already nixed gynecology for Skylar after I imagined a likely future scenario in which he calls from work every evening and says "I got gabbing with my first patientshe was a GODDESSand then missed all the rest of my appointments for the day so now I have to work until 4:00 AM."

When he first started medical school I made a lot of jokes about what kind of doctor I needed him to beall motivated by selfish reasons, of course. The list included only specialties that could give me access to cheap elective cosmetic surgeries and an ocean of botox. After a while I became worried that my jokes would get taken seriously so I way over-corrected and started giving a weekly speech about how I didn't care at all what he did as long as he was happy. Within 24 hours he started leaving open on his laptop applications to professional improv groups.

Ok, that last part isn't true, but if he had enough time right now to be funny it would be.

The point is, I need him to make us all look young again but I need him to think it was his choice. That way I can seem pretty and supportive.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Exhausted Broccolini

On Wednesday I had one of those days where everything just a little bit sucked more than usual. I don't remember how it started. Technical difficulties. Ants in the kitchen. An annoying work email, or two. Finally around 2:00 I decided I was just going to go for my long run and clear my mind.

I don't know why I can't seem to remember that it's one hundred eleventy degrees at that time of day this time of year. I keep doing this. I take off and about two or three miles into the run there is enough sweat pouring off of my body that Utah is technically no longer a desert. But by that point it feels too late to quit, so I just keep going.

I do the same run every other day or so. I head down my street and climb to the top of the Avenues in downtown Salt Lake City. Then I run across a road that overlooks the entire valley until I reach a small canyon, nestled in some trees, a lovely little creek winding through it. Eventually the canyon feeds right into Temple Square at the heart of the city. Then I make my way back home, past the Governor's Mansion and several dozen pioneer-era homes converted into bed-and-breakfasts and law offices.

It's a pleasant run--about 12-14 miles, depending on how many detours I decide to take. This has been my best COVID-19 therapy.

But it's much less pleasant when I decide to attempt it at Satan o'clock.

I think it must have actually been around 95 degrees on Wednesday when I left the house. By the time I reached the halfway point, I was already wondering if I could possibly make it all the way back home. A mile or two later, my left heel started aching, to the point that I couldn't keep running.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Mormon Phrases

When Skylar moved to Utah in 2016, he basically had to take a Utah-immersion course just to understand basic life. He'd occasionally wander into the house and say things like "what's a CTR ring?"

So I'd explain it. And that would usually prompt more questions. Sometimes I would get defensive and be like "IT MIGHT SEEM STRANGE TO YOU BUT IT'S NOT IT'S WONDERFUL" and he'd respond "no, I think that thing you just explained is terrific" and I'd be like "WELL IT'S NOT IT'S VERY WEIRD" and he'd be like "well, I guess it is a little" and I'd be like "HOW DARE YOU HAVE SOME RESPECT" because that's what it looks like to have complicated feelings about your former religion.

Sometimes his naivety is lovely. In Utah, the predominant religion can be polarizing. Most people who have lived here for very long have pretty strong feelings, one way or the other, about it. But Skylar has no dog in the fight. He's just interested. Nothing else, really.

A few years ago he came home all excited because he learned about an organization called "Encircle" which is an LGBTQ organization in Utah which was created because some of the other national groups weren't as good at understanding the unique dynamics of coming out in a very devout Mormon family and/or community. Educating and providing support to kids and parents who speak a very different language than most of the rest of society requires some special tools, process, and vocabulary.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Indogpendence Day

Yesterday was Independence Day (happy birthday, America. Sorry your party sucked.)

Normally we throw a Fourth of July party where all of our friends come over and lick their hands and touch each other and cough into our open eyes but we decided not to do that this year because, you know, Rona.

The lack of social engagements in 2020 has been a super interesting thing for this extrovert who has knitted two sweaters, three scarves, a hat, and has run nearly 1,000 miles in the last three months and I'm sure none of these things are related. But honestly, I've settled into this and I've been able to find joy in the lessened social chaos.

I'm still working from home and plan to maybe forever? We've seen my family here and there, but not much because Bob & Cathie don't want us to give them the Rona. I have a lot of friends who are worried about their parents and grandparents because they don't feel like they are taking social distancing and mask wearing, etc., seriously enough. I'm grateful that I haven't had that problem with my own parents, but I wouldn't mind having Cathie come over and make comments about my yard that are definitely compliments but worded just so I'm not confident about that ("Oh! I would have never thought to plant a rose bush that close to that tree that I didn't realize people liked!").

We miss our old folks.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Skylar Looks Good In Sweaters

A couple months ago I called my knitting store down the street #supportlocal #citizenoftheyear #It'sScaryToTalkOnThePhone #bravery. I had picked a new sweater to knit, something that would be the most difficult knitting project yet, besides, perhaps, The Scarf That Shall Not Be Named.

The knitting store (Blazing Needles woot woot) was shut down, just like everything else on planet Earth at that time, but they were doing phone and internet orders and then either shipping product or letting you come pick it up on their front porch.

They helped me figure out what I needed, took all of the money I've ever had in my life, and I walked over that very day.

The knitting project ended up being extremely fun to make. Skylar had picked this sweater out online and I was hesitant because I thought it was hideous but I forgot the great Skylar rule, which is that literally everything looks perfect on him and he should have to spend some time in jail for this. (Where he'd look great in an orange jumpsuit he is so infuriating.)

I finished it over the weekend and I wanted you to behold my endless talents so here you go:

The Mayan

I was in high school when the massive Jordan Commons complex sprouted off of State Street in Sandy. At least, it seemed massive to us. This was 1999 and I lived just across the way in South Jordan, which at that time was a cluster of quiet spotty suburbs that were quickly suffocating a handful of nineteenth-century farms. This was before Walt Disney purchased the western half of the city to build Daybreak, a neighborhood that if it was an item of clothing would be a men’s romper.

So, yes, we were thrilled that an entertainment venue so ostentatious was opening up on the edge of our budding town that at the time had only one restaurant (RIP, Grandpa Maddox Steakhouse). The building would house a few movie theaters—but with massive screens unlike anything we had ever seen before—theaters we soon learned were called “IMAX.”

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Paintings. Now None of You Can Go to College.

Last year Skylar and I went to Santa Barbara for a quick vacation so he could have a break from medical school. We ended up driving a bit out of the area to a town called Solvang, which is this German(?) town that is exactly the most adorable place anyone has ever been to. Seriously. You should look this thing up.

Well we spent the day wine tasting NOT THAT WE KNOW WHAT THAT IS and that ended up being a very dangerous thing because Solvang has some art shops with paintings that cost exactly elevently million dollars cubed times fifty carry the one multiple by the integer. By the end of the day, Skylar, who has to get a liver transplant just from walking past a vineyard, was so drunk none of us get to go to heaven ever again.

Tangent: I'm not kidding about this. Skylar weighs 14 pounds. And he rarely drinks. But he really loves wine--or, at least he loves the thought of wine. But every time he actually has a sip of anything he spends the next five months waking up every morning saying "I'm so hungover." And I'm like "SKYLAR YOU HAD COUGH SYRUP IN FEBRUARY YOU ARE NOT STILL HUNGOVER IT'S JUNE." And then he gets mad at me for speaking without punctuation, because that's what wine snobs do.

Anyway, on this particular Solvang day, Skylar was legitimately the most drunk I have ever seen him, and that includes this one time when we had just first started dating and we met in NYC and went to a party and ended up at a McDonald's at 3:00 AM eating a pile of very-not-good hamburgers and he reached over and grabbed my hand, looked me straight in the eye with this very sweet look like he was about to say something sentimental, and whispered "I want you to know, I hate this. I don't like staying up late. I don't know what we're doing here. I wanted to go to bed at 9:00. I hope you don't expect more of this from me."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Q&A with Tami

A while ago Tami did a Q&A on the Stranger Facebook page (for those unfamiliar because you haven't yet caught up on a decade's worth of ramblings and misspellings on this site, Tami is my big toe on my right foot. She was born when the toenail fell off on Pioneer Day in 2014 and now everyone who reads this site LOVES her and begs me to post graphic pictures of her).

Anyway, I helped Tami respond to your questions and thought I'd share them here:

Q: Who are you Tami? (Yolanda Happy-Goil Newell)

A: She said "I'm the last thing you think about before you go to sleep and the first thing you think about when you step out of bed in the morning. Also, I work in HR."

Q: Who's your stylist? (Jesslyn Ann Poulson)

A: She said "The Illuminati."

Q: With the quarantine, how are Tami and the Queen of Colors getting along? (Jen Rushforth)

A: Tami is a vegetarian so the Q of C doesn't feel threatened by her. Plus since Tami works in HR the Q of C is terrified of crossing her.

Sunday, June 21, 2020


This morning I heard Skylar in the other room on a Zoom call with a bunch of people from school. I had slipped into the room a few times while this was happening and I noticed every time I did that he was slightly less dressed than the time before, like he was playing some game of virtual strip poker.

I thought about being interested in this but then reminded myself that if I took note of every odd thing he does I'd have to open a library and I hate indexing and barely remember how the Dewey Decimal System works. So I stopped paying attention, even as he fully stripped down to some short shorts and nothing else.

He wasn't participating in the call and seemed to be doing jumping jacks and stretching a lot so I assumed he was on mute with his video off. That was until I heard someone on the Zoom call finally say "uh . . . Skylar? Do you know your camera is on?"

A few things: one, it's interesting that they waited so many minutes to inform him of this. Two, how does this very tech-savvy millennial not know how to operate his laptop camera? Three, the question implied that the people on the call thought it was a real possibility that Skylar was intentionally stripping and exercising in front of them. It reminded me of that time I was at the gym with a giant rip in my bike shorts and that guy told me "you probably don't care but there's a huge hole in your butt" and I was immediately like "WHY DO I SEEM LIKE THE KIND OF PERSON WHO WOULDN'T CARE?"

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Quite A Lot Of Pressure

Skylar is supposed to get his test scores any day now and I simultaneously need it to happen immediately and not for a while. He is antsy and it is A Lot. He has been waking up throughout the night, gasping, and informing me that he just had a series of dreams in which he got his score and the score is always "average" and he doesn't know how to feel about it. I need that to stop. But also, it's kind of fun to anticipate something exciting during The Great Covid, which has produced few opportunities to anticipating something exciting.

I asked him, mostly as a joke, whether I could look up his score and read it to him, like Warren Beatty announcing the Oscar for Best Picture. It sounded so glamorous when I suggested it. I got shot down initially but then later in the day Skylar came back to me and said that actually, yes, he did want me to read it first and break it to him because "you're really good at sharing news."

Obviously I was flattered by this completely true observation. I am fantastic at sharing news. I get teary-eyed and emphatic over good news, celebrating achievements like they're my own and empowering the people responsible for them. I like to be the one to extend job offers for my law firm when we make a decision because I am so phenomenally good at it.

But more importantly, I am honestly the Meryl Streep of delivering bad news. I'm not kidding, you guys. If you ever have bad news, you should call me and have me tell it to you. I once got distracted while messing with people on Yahoo! Answers when I saw someone ask a question about whether they could sue their boss who fired them for a totally good reason and I left such a thoughtful and inspiring answer for that person about how they didn't have a legal avenue for recovery but that they had so many important qualities that mattered more than the job and that person emailed me to thank me and we are literally still in touch five years later.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Sand Dunes

Skylar finished his test a week ago yesterday and listeners, I now have a husband with too much time on his hands.

Remember last week when I wrote to you and I was like "I'm an ignored housewife who can't get her man's attention" and you all felt really sad for me and you sent me presents that haven't arrived yet but I'm sure they're on their way because you aren't the kind of people who don't send presents at a time like this?

Well, now Skylar Westerdahl is spending his days following me around the house asking me on a never-ending loop "now what are you doing" and when I don't answer him right away he follows it up with "why aren't you talking to me?" and look. I love attention. But apparently I have my limits because sometimes I pretend to go to the bathroom to poop now just to have a minute to myself. AND I HAVEN'T POOPED SINCE 2012.

I asked Skylar if he had any hobbies he might turn to since he now has like three weeks off, which in COVID 2020 time is the same as eleventy millennia, and he said his only one is "being a good husband and loving you" which is so annoying but also I'm obviously not going to try to talk him out of that as a hobby.

He really is getting more manipulative now that he's in his 30s.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Do I Believe In Magic?

I think I might be losing my mind. Is this a safe space? Can I say something here about myself that might be embarrassing?

I . . . have always believed in hypnosis. Like, you know the hypnotist shows where they bring seven people on stage and then the hypnotist dude gets them to do embarrassing things for two hours? Until literally five minutes ago I have never questioned whether that is authentic. No! It's worse! I've never even known anyone questions the authenticity. I literally just thought this was a real thing and everyone believes in it like rain and Cher.

Skylar and I just went for a walk and I made a joke about how we need to take Duncan to a hypnotist so someone can get him to stop involuntarily bolting after motorcycles and then I was like "do you think it would be hard to hypnotize someone?" and Skylar was like "no harder than casting a spell you learned at Hogwarts."

Well then I found out that Skylar doesn't believe in hypnosis at all and I was like "what are you talking about?! Don't you learn about this in medical school?!" and he was like "yeah, we cover it right after Defense Against The Dark Arts" and I was like "THAT'S TWO HARRY POTTER JOKES IN A ROW STOP BEING LAZY."

So then I had this panic because, y'all, I am basically 60 and I've roamed this Earth for several decades just casually believing in something that might be totally fictional and I've already done that once in my life with religion I'M JUST KIDDING CALM DOWN THE LORD IS STILL MY SHEPHERD LIKE HALF THE TIME I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S TRUE ANYMORE.