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.