Sunday, November 25, 2007

The "wr" word

Published November 25, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

As I prepared my Thanksgiving feast this week, I did something I thought I would never do. On the advice of my friend, Kris, who shared our meal with us, I opted for adventure and did something different with my sweet potatoes. Some of you may remember a rather strongly worded column from a few years ago about my feelings on sweet potatoes and my absolute refusal to further sweeten them in any way. Thursday, I threw all of that out the window, grabbed my batch of mashed, orange goodness and covered it with brown sugar and melted butter. It was divine.

So what about that fabled column? Confession: I wrote the column from the perspective of one who had never even tried the fabled "candied yams." Disingenuous and unfair of me? Perhaps. I still contend that a) yams are a food not found in North America, therefore, not present at ANY Thanksgiving feast, and b) candied yams are icky. But my former point, ie: that adding anything sweet to an already sweet potato is to transform a perfectly tasty dish into something as sickeningly sweet as Shirley Temple covered in melted chocolate and drinking an energy drink...well, I was...I was...wr....wr...

So, I'm having a little trouble with "wr" word. It's nothing new. I've always had trouble with it. I mean, it's not as if I've never been "wr." I'm "wr" all the time. I just don't like to say it. And when I say I don't like to say it, I'm not saying I don't like to admit I'm "wr." I admit I'm "wr" all the time. I just don't like to say the word. It's a stupid word, and I'm very much NOT "wr" about that.

Okay, the issue at hand is sweet potatoes and my ignorant and very public assertion that sweetened sweet potatoes are of the devil. In the interest of fairness and to protect the good name of The Spectrum, a retraction is necessary, so I'm going to have to admit to being "wr" about the sweet potatoes. I'm just going to have to find a way to do it without actually saying the "wr" word.

-The political angle. Mistakes may have been made. I may have been misinformed about this particular issue. However, it depends on what the definition of sweet potato is. I don't really recall whether I knew that.

-The Freudian angle. I never had sweet potatoes of any kind at any Thanksgiving during my childhood. It's all my mother's fault.

-The Amazing Grace angle. I was blind...lost in a wretched, sweet potato-less existence. I've been saved! I see the light! I'm freeeeeeeeeeeeee!

-The unwitting accomplice angle. I was duped! I've been had! He told me sweet potatoes were bad, and I believed him. I feel like such a fool.

-The George Gershwin angle. You say sweet potato. I say sweet potahto. Potato! Potahto! Marshmallows! Disgusting! Let's call the whole thing off.

Perhaps in another few years I'll actually consent to eating a bite of candied yams and will have to print a further retraction. It doesn't seem likely, but if I was "wr" about this... You're probably all wondering why I don't just buck up and say I was "wr" without the use of word shortening and quotation marks. After all, it's just a harmless little word. If I can manage being a single mom of five with a full time job and school I can do that, right? If I can hike the Half Dome, I can do that, right? You're right. Here goes nothing.

Ladies and gentlemen, I was...I was...wr...wr...wrapped in a blanket of ignorance, but the alarm clock has sounded. (That was the metaphorical angle.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Attitude of Gratitude

Published November 18, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Back in August of this year, I found myself in a very peculiar situation. I was lying, flat on my back, my trusty hiking backpack beneath me, while the waters of the Virgin River rushed over my uncoordinated body. A concerned Englishman named Paul, my hiking partner for the day, hovered over me like a kind hearted nature lover observing a stranded beetle. As he helped me to my feet, he asked whether I wished I had chosen a different hike; after all, it was my third fall of the day. I shrugged my shoulders, chuckled a little, and said, "Aw, I haven't broken any bones, so I figure it's good."

Paul observed me, dumbfounded, and asked in his very British way (that's the way of people who eat their dinners in undercooked pastry and call it pudding) how I managed to keep such a positive attitude. My response was immediate and enthusiastic: "I keep a gratitude journal."

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I thought I would share with my readers what I shared with Paul. Every day, I pull out my trusty gratitude journal and jot down 4 or 5 things for which to be grateful. I've kept my journal for nearly a year, and I'm happy to say it's done amazing things for me. For instance, when Paul inadvisably led me to a deeper section of river and the current became so strong we were both swept off our feet for a few terrifying moments, I didn't let it get me down. Later that night, I made note #7 on the gratitude list for the day. "I'm grateful I didn't drown, ha ha." Indeed.

Rereading entries from past months shows me that anyone and everyone can find something for which to be grateful every single day. Whether it's an entry as poignant as, "I'm grateful this morning wasn't quite so bad," or one as random as, "I'm grateful for my turtle!" it's something, you know? I've found gratitude in situations both mundane and dramatic. Here are a few you can borrow if you need some to get started. I mean, you're all grateful my life is going well, aren't you?

"I'm grateful for my CAR PAYMENT!" -- If you had to drive what I drove for most of 2006, you'd be more than happy to fork out the money for a minivan that runs.

"I'm grateful I had a good time, even if it was a little strange." -- First post-divorce Singles dance. I danced with a nice man. He probably fought in the war next to my grandpa, but he was nice.

"I'm grateful I'm not as sore as I thought I'd be." -- Entry after my Half Dome hike. I thought I wouldn't be able to move. Turns out, I could wiggle my toes.

"I'm grateful for tough days at work that help me appreciated my own children." --It's the days when you walk into your bathroom to find Mary Kay lipstick smeared across the toilet seat that this entry comes in handy.

"I'm grateful we didn't die while Carla was driving." --My sister drove the wrong way down the street in Vegas. I don't like to talk about it.

"I'm grateful for EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP!" -- I'm having this one framed.

"I'm grateful the kids took on dish duty without complaint." -- I'm putting this one up next to that one.

It's not hard once you get started. My gratitude journal has become a trusted friend to me. When something good happens, I look forward to the moment I can write it down. When I have a very bad day, I look forward to writing my gratitude list even more. There really is nothing like finding something to smile about on a very bad day.

Seriously...she's an awesome turtle.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

You heard me! The way I are!

Published November 11, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

When it comes to music, I have fairly eclectic tastes. My choice of music is governed more by my mood than anything else. Most of the time, I'm in the mood for jazz or classical, but I find there's always room for country, classic rock, R&B, oldies, and even rap. It was while in one of these moods one morning last week that I decided to tune my radio to one of the popular stations in town.

As I drove to work, a new song was just beginning. The strong beat pulsed through my speakers, and I felt my head unconsciously bobbing along with it. That rhythm was accompanied by a peppy techno chord progression that immediately made me want to dance. I decided this one had promise.

And then (ooooh, you knew there'd be an "and then," didn't you?), the artist formerly known as "someone I'd never heard of and for good reason" started to sing. The lyrics conveyed the following message (paraphrased for clarity): "I'm a complete loser with no money, no prospects, and no intention of getting any, but I think we're going to be perfect for each other, mainly because I have absolutely no idea how to speak my native language."

If you think I'm being too hard on him, you won't for long. A female voice, upon hearing this profession of, uh, love says (inexplicably), "I like you just the way you are." Our jobless, penniless, grammar-challenged hero responds, "Can you handle me the way I are?" Yeah, that's what I said...the way I are.

I actually might be wrong about that lyric. When I listen to the song, I hear, "Can you handle me the way I'm are?" but lyric sheets all over the internet have it as "the way I are," and the name of the song is actually, "The Way I Are," so that must be it. As I write this, I realize I've been doing exhaustive research to find the correct version of this torturously incorrect lyric so as not to embarrass myself by getting it wrong. I'M worried I might embarrass MYSELF.

Here's what I want to know. How is it that no one in the entire music industry had it in them to tell this person that he sounds like a complete moron in his song? When you think about the astronomical number of people involved in producing an album... No one stopped for one second and said, "Dude, my three year old daughter knows it's not 'the way I are.' Are you serious? Because, no." I'm thinking someone, anyone from the sound mixer to the CD jacket artist could have at any moment stopped this man from infiltrating the airwaves of the world with a grammatical travesty such as this. Alas, the travesty continues unabated.

Perhaps I'm showing my age or complete lack of modern sensibility here. Or maybe I'm just one of the few remaining warriors in an epic battle against the dumbing down of the English language. It's a losing battle if I ever saw one, mainly because the people I'm trying to convince probably don't understand a word I'm saying, and those that do are more interested in making money than producing something that doesn't make the ears of English teachers everywhere shrivel up and retreat into their skulls for refuge. Can nothing be done?

WARNING! LAST DITCH EFFORT AHEAD! Mr. Grammar-Challenged Freeloader, I are Sarah Wilson. I writes words fur dah newspapers. I are sad. Your song hurt my ears lots. It make me cries. I'm are disappointed. Please stop...soon. And I are hope you know. I like you just the way you are...

...when you are silent.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Apologies to Simon and Garfunkel

Published November 4, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

It's the aftermath of Halloween at my house, and all I can really offer you is a little ditty that keeps swimming around in my exhausted head. It's sung, ironically, to the tune of "The Sound of Silence." (Apologies to Simon and Garfunkel.)

Hello, column, my old friend,
I've come to write you once again.
We just got back from trick-or-treating.
The kids and I, we had a meeting,
And I asked them to go to bed for goodness' sake...
They're still awake.
Looks like it's Haaaaaaaalloween.

All through the eve we walked along
Among the brightly costumed throng.
It's such a shame that I'm so tired,
Because my children are all wired,
And their bedtime has been pre-empted by
The sugar high.
Oh yes, it's Haaaaaaaalloween.

And on my front room floor I saw
Ten thousand candies, maybe more.
Children eating without chewing.
Self control, they're all eschewing.
And my youngest told the rest he wouldn't share.
They didn't care.
Just one more Haaaaaaalloween.
"Kids," said I, "it's time to rest.
I need you all to clean this mess
Tomorrow I have a long workday
To cover all the bills I must pay."
But my words like silent dewdrops fell.
They said, "Oh well...
Come on, it's Haaaaaaalloween."

So, then I took a mighty breath
And very sweetly threatened death,
And then my words rang out a warning.
The treats would disappear by morning,
And all candy would be on the off-limits list
And sorely missed
Until next Haaaaaaaaloween.