Sweet

I’ll chisel out a bowl
Carve out some good
Cradle you to my mouth
In a handmade spoon of wood

Show you all my kindness
Grant you every gift
Scoop out all my sugar
Shake down snow through my sift

I’ll believe all your words
I’ll watch all your stars
I’ll follow all your moons
I’ll heal all your scars

Meet me here
Come close, Dear
Love is near
Trembling fear

It doesn’t have to hurt
Not everyone’s a liar
I just want to warm myself
Beside your lovely fire

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Dogs in Strollers Signal the End of Times

Do you suppose that at the height of any advanced civilization, pets were carted around in small chariots and worshipped? And then the civilization collapsed due to economic and political disaster? Egyptians, Romans, Mayans. America?? The sign of the end is animal worship IMO. LOL

I don’t know if it’s Florida, old people or Wal-mart, but the amount of small dogs in strollers is increasing. I just saw two Shih Tzus being walked in a stroller on our street on the way home this morning. I saw a Yorkie in a stroller at Wal-mart last week. North Korea has missile capability. The end is nigh. (Please remind me to never go to Wal-mart ever again. Even if they have the cheapest aprons for high school ceramic students in town.)

Seriously though, why stroll a dog? Isn’t the purpose of walking a dog that the dog actually gets exercise? God have mercy on our confused nation. I mean, I love dogs, but a baby stroller?? Please euthanize your dog if they are unable to walk any more. For God’s sake. If you are offended by this advice, you might be a dog-strolling Wal-mart shopper. Or from Florida.

For years I have openly laughed at neighbors standing in small, sad patches of grass behind their dog, watching said dog poop, relaxed with total apathy except for their anxious blue-gloved hand in permanent claw pose, waiting to scoop said poop. The dog always has a smirk or a smile, “I got this human to pick up my shit for free just because I lick his face when he walks in the door.” Or the dog looks totally strained or confused. “Why do I have to poop in front of everyone??”

Who’s in charge? Someone once famously said, “If aliens came to our planet, they would think dogs were in charge because we are picking up their poop!” Aliens would definitely think dogs are in charge if they saw us carting them around in a baby buggy. Gah!

Flooding in Texas. Increased earthquakes. Global climate change. Start prepping now. Actually it’s probably too late. Watch Red Dawn and buy a bottle of Tequila.

Tell Me About Chris Churchill

I love interviewing people. I just wish I knew more awesome, famous people. 🙂 But I know at least one and he’s super awesome and almost famous. To me anyway. He’s brilliant, creative, fascinating, funny, talented, accomplished and so, so friendly. Embracing. Welcoming. Decent, kind, inspiring. He’s my friend, Chris Churchill.

He so kindly agreed to let me interview him. He has quite a few things out right now. Book, songs, documentary. Thanks for reading and checking out my friend, Chris. He’s the coolest. Thanks, Man! for letting me probe your brain.


Background about Chris:

I’m an artist of many types of art. Writing, visual art, music, comedy, film-making. But, of course, not many make a living doing these things. So, I give tours and have recently started teaching.
Where did you start performing?

Started performing in high school. School plays, etc. Also tried, here and there, to play in bands. Wrote a lot of stories and little plays. In retrospect, any shiny artistic object, pulled me away from the previous one. I saw a good friend in an improv show in 1992 or ’93. I thought, “That’s really funny. And I’ll bet I could do that.” So, I auditioned for Lighten Up Improvisation Company and got in. This is where I met your husband (Guy Maggio).

How did you get to Chicago? What led you there? Anything you miss about KC?

I miss everything about KC. Home is always home. When I come home, the wind is the right kind of wind. The birds and insects are the right kind. The sky is the right sky. The Chiefs. The Royals. And all the people of course. My whole family is
still there.

I got to Chicago because I met Adam McKay and David Koechner at an improv fest in Austin, TX (I was performing with your husband and others). They were teaching an improv workshop which I took twice when I was there. Once as a participant. The second time, I just sat in the back and watched. I had never had a conversation with a famous person before. And Koechner had this amazing, positive, “you can do it” energy. He told a group of us that if we were serious about this, we had to move to Chicago. Eventually, I did.

What’s the best thing about following your love of and talent in music? Improv?

The best thing is that you can go to a place on your heart that needs massaging, when it needs massaging and massage it. Flood yourself with serotonin when you need it. The finished product has never really gotten me too far. The process makes me happy, though.

What inspired you to come up with “Abraham Lincoln: The College Years”? What is just improv or something you thought about?
When I was recovering from a psych issue I’d had a few years ago, I finally got to the point where I could artistically express myself again and it helped me get back to “normal”. At this point, I just made up the worst ideas for television pilot episodes and wrote 12 of them. For fun. Because I was crazy.
Later, I decided to have staged readings at Second City for four of them. Well, obviously, they’d need theme songs. So, I made up these silly theme songs and recorded them. Originally, I thought I’d just play them at the live show but, since I already had an audiobook on Mint 400 Records, I asked them if they’d put out my “Doomed Pilots” soundtrack. As far as the Lincoln song goes, I started with the lyrics, searched within the lyrics for the rhythm and recorded that. I added the simplest of bass-lines so that when I sang the lyrics I’d be on key. Or at least I’d know where the key was. Then, from within that framework, I improvised the recording or the rest. The guitars, the backing vocals were improvised because I don’t like planning too much when I’m in creation mode. I think it worked out. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever recorded.
How did the project “Tell Me About My Mother” start? (check out the video here)

My siblings and I constantly find ourselves telling these old family stories over and over again about how crazy our mom was/is. After I’d had an internship at a video company and had begun to make more of my own independent stuff, my sister Deb said, “This should be your next project.” And she was right. It turned out really well. It’s been getting a lot of emotional responses from people.

I’m sure it was difficult reliving the past, was it healing or just messy?

It was definitely healing. My mom needed validation for a lot of what she went through. It was nice to hear my dad’s side. Even though some might say he doesn’t come off smelling like a rose in this movie. And my siblings, as usual, served as comic relief when necessary. Some of these stories are pretty intense.

Do you think that your past/childhood set you up for how you live your life now in terms of music, improv, life goals, career choice, or creativity in general? Do you think it propelled you? Or do you think it was a detriment?

My childhood gave me both the artistic tools for survival as well as the need to use those tools to keep my sanity (most of the time). The problem and the solution are wrapped up in the same thing. My upbringing was alternately exciting and fun and sad and lonely. In terms of being able to make any money, it’s never really happened for long stretches. That is probably just a case of not having the right backing, connections, luck and also, let’s face it, I’m not making mainstream anything. I don’t know how to do that because I don’t feel the same way most people do.

What are you working on now or hope to be hearing about in the near future? What’s coming up for you?

Always working on something. Thinking about raising money so I can edit the rest of the story of me and my family and release the whole thing on DVD. Mixing an album for the label. Writing for an online magazine called Literate Ape. Teaching one college course and still giving tours of Chicago.

Thanks, Chris! You’re amazing. ❤

Haters Gon’ Hate

It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back. So shake it out.–Florence and the Machine

Haters gon’ hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…Shake it off. Shake it off. Ah, ah.–Taylor Swift

Thank you, Taylor.


Feeling a bit uneasy this morning, which is rare these days, but not extinct. Mainly because I thought of one particular hater from just last year.

Just before my weight loss surgery, I announced on Facebook my intention to get gastric bypass. Everyone supported me. Some even wondered why I had waited so long to go for it.

My yearly struggle to drop pounds for my heart health concerned many. Since May 2012, I had been seriously, aggressively trying to get healthy. I was diagnosed with heart failure in August 2012. I had a slew of friends and family encouraging me to work out and eat right. Everyone accepted me for me: what I looked like, how much I weighed. I never felt pressured to undergo surgery. Especially those closest to me accepted me–my husband and my daughter. I felt safe.

So when I finally decided on weight loss surgery, it was my decision. No one prompted me to get it. It was a choice 11 years in the making. I had considered some form of weight loss surgery since 2005.

Things conspired to put off the surgery. Insurance coverage. Being a mom. Going back to school. Many things. But last year, it was finally right. And then one person challenged me.

This person was also extremely overweight. Super morbidly obese. She was a self-proclaimed fat advocate.

Everyone should accept all fat people, no matter what. Doctors should never treat anyone for obesity or blame symptoms on obesity. Fat people have rights.

I had started down this path years earlier. (Of course fat people have rights. Not debating that.) I even wrote a play about it. Won an award for that play. Synopsis: working through all of my eating disorder issues, I’m fat. If you have a problem with my being fat, get the f— over it! But that was not the solution. For me. This was not my path for long.

This person even saw my play. That’s how we met.

She knew about my heart failure. In fact, we were supposed to meet the Tuesday after I went into the hospital. We had made plans earlier in the month and just before our friend date, I wind up in the ER. So obvs, I didn’t keep our meeting. I’m glad.

When I announced my gastric bypass, she came out strongly against it. She was the only one.

She told me to wait. Try other things. Try different foods. Accept myself and fight for my rights with doctors and others. Did she not follow me on Facebook?

I had been actively posting for 5 or more years about my weight loss/gain, thyroid cancer, heart failure, un-diagnose-able gastro-gall bladder pain, arthritis, diet, exercise, health trouble/struggle.

Where has this bitch been?? I asked myself. Sorry. LOL But really.

I tried to reason with her. Explain. Counter. Inform. Be patient. Be neutral. Ignore. But she hounded me.

“Don’t do it!” was her repeated harp.

I finally blocked her. I had to move forward without her negativity. I knew the decision for weight loss surgery was a serious one, but right for me. It was time. And I didn’t need someone telling me otherwise. Doubting me. Doubting my ability to make an informed decision or to calculate risk. It was well beyond time for surgical intervention.

Sometimes, you just have to shake it off. Shake off doubt. Shake off negativity. Shuffle off people, attitudes and bad energy just to move forward on your own path.

I am so thankful for my surgery. So very blessed to have my life back. Able to ride, swim, live, serve, love. WORK! Not be a drain on my family, friends or society. I’m at 309.6 as of yesterday. That’s 147 lbs since surgery. 204 lbs since heart failure in 2012. I am confident, if I hadn’t had surgery, I’d be dead in the next 5 years. Absolutely.

So who on Earth would want to kill me? Deny me my life? Encourage me to accept less than a healthy, full life to appease their own view of fairness or health? Not a friend. I can tell you that.

Get behind me, Devil. I won’t give in to fear. I won’t give in to hate. No more doubt, negativity, criticism. I won’t give in to dwelling on past hurt or slights either. I’ve got too much living to do. Watch me dance.

 

More than Gold

When I got married,
I had a tiny ring.
It didn’t cost much,
$40. But here’s the thing–

Marriage is about
More than just some gold.
It’s being soft and kind.
It’s being brave and bold.

It’s more than being in love
Or nonstop, passionate embrace.
It’s watching someone fall
And being their graceful landing place.

It’s finally growing up.
It’s eventually calming down.
It’s renewing faith and spark.
It’s finding common ground.

Marriage isn’t jewelry,
Veil, bouquet and dress.
Marriage isn’t a wedding;
It’s an entire life of yes.

Did I mind my tiny token?
I certainly did not.
I loved my beautiful ring.
I was happy with what I got.

I didn’t need a precious stone
To remind me of what I had.
The precious person I had mined?
For that I could be glad.

A piece of jewelry doesn’t bring joy.
Peace isn’t bought with bling.
If you have a love at all,
You really don’t need a ring.

One day we had enough
To decorate my left hand.
But I simply chose
To reset my cherished band.

I waited for 24-karat gold.
I waited for lumps of coal.
I waited for heart-shaped rubies,
But I had treasure in my soul.

I couldn’t do half
Of what we do united.
The sum of our parts
Can never be divided.

I never needed a ring,
I never needed this.
But I’m so thankful
To be adorned in wedded bliss.

 

twilight

this was siesta key beach (sarasota, florida) when Lilli was only 4 or 5. i took this photo with a throw away camera. sometimes, those are the best shots.

she had just made a new friend on the beach, but the day was winding down. it’s always a thrill to meet someone new, but tragic knowing you only have a few minutes with them. you wish you’d known them the whole day. or your whole life.

as a kid, i remember the feeling of meeting someone so amazing and the panic of realizing, “I’ll never see this person again.” :/

6 haikus for temporary friendship


ran around today
endless chasing after play
at the end, it’s found


just made a new friend
but the sun is going down
twilight never end


the sun is tired
but my will and joy are up
time to rise and shine


the water sparkles
with new feelings of friendship
and tears fall from fear


don’t go, Sun. please, stay.
if you go, my friend will, too.
and I’m not ready.


nice to meet you, friend
let’s vow to always meet here
at least in our hearts

Un-Lock-ed

Click
Snag the tumbler’s groove
Click
Feel the numbers move

Tick
Slowly find the spot
Trick
Untie this puzzle’s knot

Pick
The lock upon my heart
Brick
By brick, take me apart

Kick
These walls are falling down
Quick
Alarms are shaking sound

Nick
Of time, you rescued me
Sensific
For the first time–free.

Dumb Baby

This handsome little boy. This boy being my father.

dad

My grandmother used to tell the story:

One day, just after she gave birth to one of my uncles, she caught my father in the nursery by the crib. She paused and listened just outside the door.

“You big, dumb, fat, stupid baby.”

So antagonistic toward a little baby. That baby had it coming, I tell ya!

LOL This story tickles me to no end. But it’s a little scary! My father and his brothers had a rocky relationship from the start. But boys will be boys, right?

My mom tells me that she used to find my sister hitting me when I was just a baby. I don’t remember it. I was too young. But it explains a lot!

babytina-couch.jpg
How could you hit this adorable face??

Why do siblings automatically feel competitive and angry toward each other? I never felt hostile towards my sister. Not until she would attack me. Unprovoked!

“Mom! She hit me!!” I would scream.

Or just retaliate and knock her block off. Sometimes verbally, sometimes physically, she picked at me. It was on like Donkey Kong if she ever touched me.

I remember she pushed me down the stairs one day. Almost broke my neck. Definitely sprained my toe! I let her have it for that. And we never fought again. But I moved out of the house soon after.

I’m so glad I never have to live that way again. I don’t know about most people, but my experience with brothers and sisters is the pits.

I don’t think it has to be this way. Parents play an important role in sibling relationships. Kids are naturally at odds with one another, out of the womb. The 2nd oldest story of the bible is about how brother killed brother. Competing for resources, love and attention is understandably the impetus for sibling rivalry. But parents set the tone. Parents can teach the children to love, behave and share.

Otherwise, it’s every dumb baby for himself.

Skink-a-do, Skink-a-don’t

There are little lizards all over the outside of our condo. Even a few baby ones on the inside! Eeek!

skink
Inflated neck skin and all! Adult Skink on our porch this morning

We have seen two baby skinks (that’s what we call them, IDK if that’s the scientific name) in the kitchen. There are so gosh darn cute, but not for inside cohabitation. We trap them under a cup and slide a piece of paper under the cup. Then we scoot them out the door. Then we burn the cup. (LOL JK) Did I say we? I meant, my husband. They are fast and squirrelly and lizard-y. Trap and release! No harm has come to these creatures except possible emotional trauma from being trapped by a screaming giant.

We see skinks every day here. They often inflate their neck skin like the weird little dragon dinos from Jurassic Park. Then they do a little hip-hop dance where they bob up and down. Pop and lockin’ like a dance troupe on America’s Got Talent. Go, Skink, Go, Skink, it’s ya birthday. Shiboy Skink-a-Freak!

I love these little critters, but the babies gotta stay with their mamas. They like to scurry in the space between our front door and screen, so we are on constant skink watch when we go out to the mezzanine. They change colors. They appear to be light, almost white and the older ones are sometimes black, sometimes dark greenish-brown.

Fascinating. I don’t get squeamish when I see them scamper about outside, but when the little ones wiggle in, I freak out! Housewife on the chair, like every Tom and Jerry episode with the 1950s lady in heels and an apron (WTF??! who’s doing laundry or dishes in heels??) in the kitchen or dining room, on top of some piece of furniture. “Get it, get it, get it!”

I saw a third baby skink try to wiggle in when a workman came to fix our bathroom. Thankfully, he caught him with his clipboard and scooted him out the door before he camped out underneath our sofa. Phew.

I tell you this–I’d take a baby skink over a dirty little field mouse any day! We had mice at our house in KC. NOPE! Mice are so gross. They poo and pee on everything. The world is their toilet! And buffet. I seriously considered burning the house to the ground and starting over when we had our mice problem. Gah!

I imagine the little baby skinks crawling all over us at night. Skitting in and out of our open mouths and ears. I know. It’s probably not happening. Probably. But haven’t you heard about how spiders like to sleep in your open, gaping, snoring, moistened mouth hole at night? Like the statistic about how many spiders you actually swallow during an entire year? Have you heard about that?? LOL

Please, Skinks, just don’t.

Great Jorb!

If you ever watch Homestar Runner. Then you will know who Coach Z is. He has a thick Great White North accent. That’s what it sounds like to me. Anyway, he says, “Great jorb!” a lot, which is “great job” in Minnesotan. I assume that Coach Z likes a good hot dish. Tater Tot Casserole, anyone?

So, I’m looking for a great jorb. One that satisfies my passions, interests and mostly, outstanding bills. I would take just about anything at this point. I technically have a job, but it doesn’t start until October. There’s several weeks of unpaid training and I wouldn’t start making money until January. Sigh. It’s through a local tax service, so we’ll see. If I can find something before then, obviously I will take it. But jobs are scarce around here during the off-season. Off-season being June through late November. Not many tourists around.

During the on-season, you have to make as much money as you can to supplement those lean months. That’s what we’re learning from locals anyway. There’s stupid amounts of money to be made when the tourists are here. If we need extra jobs during the holidays, I’m okay with that if we can breathe easy during the summer. Whatever it takes.

So I’m currently up for 3 different jobs. One is through the school district. It’s a minimum wage job, but fairly easy with limited responsibilities. I would mainly take the job to get my foot in the door and benefits. Although, I don’t know if I qualify for benefits if I’m part-time. But to be in the district as an employee has advantages. I can at least start applying for better jobs and receive free testing for those better jobs. If you’re not an employee, you have to pay for testing.

The second job is at a local Escape Room. You pay someone to lock you in a room and you have to sleuth your way out. It’s a modern-day Agatha Christie novel and you solve puzzles to open the door. Locked-room mystery! Ever play that computer game, MYST from the 90s? Don’t, if you haven’t! But it’s kinda like that. Is there anyone who doesn’t know what Escape Room is? Let me Google that for you. LOL

I think that this job would actually be perfect for me, but the pay isn’t great. I would definitely take it. But if a job that pays more came along, I wouldn’t be able to turn it down. Maybe they’ll take me part-time? Don’t know.

The third job is freaking awesome, but it seems too good to be true. Photography assistant. Boy. I would love this. And the pay is awesome. They want someone with marketing, photography and Photoshop skills. That’s obviously me. I hope they like me, like my skills, actually want to pay me what they are advertising. I go for an interview Monday.

The job market down here is sketchy. People advertise positions, but sometimes never call you. People claim benefits and great pay, but don’t always deliver. Make appointments and then cancel. Say things in front of you like, “Oh yeah, there’s no state income tax so I could actually pay you less than what I just quoted you.” And then never call you back because they figured out mid-interview they could hire someone else for less money because they never published the pay rate in their shitty Craigslist ad. Some employers here are just downright crazyflakes! I’m hoping this guy is legit and not just another Florida nut.

It’s for a high-end automotive car dealership. The guy is nice, but down-to-business. He says what he’s thinking. That can be a blessing and a curse. I think it’s a good fit, but how can you ever know?? Wish me luck! I just need a job. 🙂