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.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Thing About 2020

I have two friends who tested positive for the Rona recently. I won't say their names here because of HIPPO or whatever. I don't know. I don't really know anything about law.

The point is, this was kind of shocking because these two friends live together and they've been sequestered in their house since just before the war; they've been taking social distancing very seriously and they have jobs that have allowed them to work from home. Neverthenotwithstanding, they were marked with the great 2020 curse.

They were fortunate because their symptoms were never really all that bad. Just coughs and fatigue. But the thing is--no matter how bad your Rona is, you really have to turn yourself into a pariah because you aren't any less contagious. Apparently. I don't really know that either. Because science.

Knowing this, Skylar and I offered to deliver groceries and so forth but these friends are good pioneer women with eleventy decades of food storage so they were actually pretty prepared. But after a week of this they thought of one thing they could use so I picked it up at the store and took it to their house.

They were sitting out on the front porch, feeling not too bad. I stood out on the sidewalk and chatted with them for a while, a full 30 feet away. I didn't touch anything. I even left the groceries on the sidewalk for them to come out and pick up after I left.

I know that I didn't get coronavirus from them. I know this. It's honestly impossible. If I somehow got sick from that, we are all doomed.

Thursday, June 4, 2020


Happy weekend, one and all. It's Thursday afternoon but NewYearNewMe so I'm going to start considering Thursdays part of the weekend. And maybe Wednesdays. And entire tubs of caramel pecan ice cream.

This week I published a piece on The Beehive about our tendency in national crisis to fold under the weight of not knowing what to do and why we need to put in the work to figure out how to take actions now that are more than symbolic gestures. I agonized over how to write it and thanks to a lot of help from our team at The Beehive, I think we landed in the right place. Please check it out.

Please also check out this really wonderful piece from Liese Rodger published on The Beehive this week. Liese is a black woman living in Salt Lake City and in this piece she writes about some of her experiences in Utah over the years and what she believes her white friends can do to make a difference right now. It's a really important account that helped give me more perspective on this.

In other news, we are now just two days away from Skylar taking his big board exam test thingy, which I think is the official name. If you all could wear your lucky jersey or pray to Cher or sell a soul to Lucifer to help him do well, we'd appreciate it. We're not picky. We'll take help from your higher power of choice.

The other day he asked me to go to the grocery store and get some snacks he can take with him to the test since this thing is so long he'll basically have five full meals and two birthdays during it. I almost asked him what he wanted but then remembered that the last time I asked him a basic question it stressed him out so much that our health insurance premium automatically doubled.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Not Knowing What Else To Do

In late September of 2001, just a couple of weeks after the 9/11 attacks, I was sent a mass email with the full text of an article from The Onion pasted into the body. The Onion had only recently entered the general public consciousness. I had just heard of it that year and had started receiving the occasional email promoting satirical news articles.

I saw right away that this article was about the terrorist attacks that had emotionally debilitated all of us only a few weeks before. I was 17, a senior in high school, and this was the first major national tragedy over which I remember feeling a true collective sadness. I couldn’t believe The Onion could possibly make a joke at a time like this.