My New Worst Enemy

You and me...we're just too different.

Yesterday, I enthusiastically encouraged my husband to purchase a guitar amp.

The guy works hard, he’s really nice to me, and he’s so supportive of my writing it would make normal people barf.

So I thought I should return the favor by “letting” him buy this thing.

Then I noticed the difference between his creative endeavor and mine: Writing is quiet. A guitar amp in your living room is not.

I’m a moron.

From Brunette to Blonde…a Journey

Growing up with what my hairdresser lovingly refers to as “dirty dishwater blonde” hair, I quickly realized that it had to go.

I rocked this look for over a decade.

I was barely 15 when I first went brunette and stayed as a dark-haired woman until I was 28.

And now I'm rockin' this look.

It’s a big decision in a woman’s life. Now that I’m on the other side of this transformation, allow me to offer some quick tips to my fellow females who are considering a similar change.

Be patient.

There’s only so much change your hair can take in one sitting. If you have an ethical hairdresser (which, I do, at The Root Salon), they will explain that the process might take six months before people start referring to you as a blonde.

On that note, if the person behind the chair tells you they can take your dyed dark brunette hair and turn it to platinum in one day, run away! Otherwise, I promise you’ll end up with troll doll hair.

Prepare to chop.

It’s easier to suck out old color from the top than the tips (think of all the times you’ve run color over the ends of your hair…all those layers of color have to come out, you know).

Have a frank conversation with your hairdresser about chopping some inches. It may be in your best interest to drop those over-worked ends to get you to the blondest place possible.

Don’t listen to your friends.

In all fairness, I had a few pals who supported me from the beginning. The rest, however, often reacted to the idea with a scrunchy face. What can I say? People don’t like change.

Of course, when the transformation was over, one of the doubters said, “I couldn’t picture it at first…but you are stunning!” Lilia for the win.

Be gentle.

Your hair is going through a lot right now, okay? Try to reduce your reliance on heated hair tools like blow driers, straightening and curling irons. And it’s absolutely essential that you cough up the extra cash for some quality shampoo and conditioner — ask your hairdresser which ones work best.

It’s true what they say: Blondes have more fun. But they can also have more breakage if you’re not careful.

Mentally prepare yourself to be a babely blonde.

Some guy on the street called me “Sunshine” the other day. I can guarantee you that I’ve never heard that in my entire life…EVER. This is the power of the blonde: All men think it’s okay to talk to you. And they think it’s okay to give you cutesy nicknames.

It’s a whole new world, I tell you!

When Stars Align

HubbleColor via Flickr Creative Commons

I believe in the power of outer space!

I’m having one of those cosmic moments in which I believe I am about to be swept into a momentum that will soon provide all the things I’ve wanted.

As such, I must spend some time getting my ducks in a row.

So for my blog today, I will post a story I’ve told many times to many people; the story of how Lou and I met.

Because it is the ultimate example of stars aligning so that my teeny, tiny life could be a good one.

Our story:

I started working at the Phoenix New Times in 2006. Lou worked upstairs for a different department. We would see one another occasionally but we never talked.

Fast forward two years.

I was on my way home from an art show on a Friday night. I had already seen some friends and it was getting late. But I really, really wanted to go to this neighborhood bar called Shady’s.

I had been there many times before. There’s nothing special about this bar. But I could not shake the urge to go there.

Since I’m not the kind of woman who goes to bars alone, I mentally ran through the roster of friends I could call to meet me. No dice.

So I bargained with myself (“I’ll just drive by, I’ll just use the bathroom then leave,” etc.) all the way up to the bar. Pushing my luck, I hopped outside to see if I might run into someone I knew on the patio.

Then I saw an acquaintance of mine talking with a group of people. Lou was in the group and I invited myself into the conversation. We recognized one another from work and soon enough, it was just the two of us talking. I felt self conscious because we were standing by the trash can under a bare bulb — bad lighting is a pet peeve of mine. I also remember making fun of Lou’s shirt.

Turns out, the guy has a sophisticated appreciation for good banter.

We chatted until the bar closed and neither of us left the conversation…not even to get another drink or take a bathroom break.

He walked me to my car and we talked for another two hours (I had my keys in my hand the entire time…and, yes, I regretted not taking a bathroom break at the bar). It was tough to stop talking but it was also 4 a.m. so we exchanged phone numbers and I drove home.

I remember thinking, “That’s the easiest conversation I’ve ever had.”

I couldn’t wait to go on a date with him. We met for a drink on a Tuesday evening and we both agree that that night, we fell in love. Just like that. It’s true what they say — you just know.

A couple months later, after we had officially labeled ourselves as “in a relationship,” we were reminiscing about the night we met.

Turns out, Lou had gone to the bar that night by himself, too. And that was a first for him. He had gone through the same negotiations and hesitations as I had but he couldn’t shake the urge to stop by.

Pretty wild, eh?

(Full Disclosure: This is recycled content from our wedding website. But, as my cousin said to me, “It’s somewhat ripped off but it’s your life, goddammit!”)

What I Did Today, February 25

This is an ongoing series in which I transcribe — word for word — a journal entry from years ago.

In my teens and twenties, I religiously wrote in my journal. Now I will share these ridiculous snippets of my adolescent life with you (names have been changed to protect the innocent).

Let’s cringe together, shall we?

On February 25, 1997, this soundtrack was released. Also, I was 15 and I wrote in my journal about getting drunk and high at a party.

Feb. 25, 1997 Tues.

AAAAHH! I need to break up with Jason. I don’t know how, though.

I forgot to write about how I got a phone # from this guy Brandon at the Queers. He’s really cute — nevermind, I just looked back & I did write about him. Well, anyway, we talked on the phone on Sun. & he’s pretty cool. He drives a ’67 beetle. He plays the guitar, lives on 217th Ave. About an hour from here. I talked to him tonight.

What to do about Jason!

I don’t even find myself attracted to him anymore. He was never the only person I thought about & stuff. And then him telling me he loves me — WHAT THE FUCK? That’s just ridiculous. He doesn’t even know me very well. I think he’s in love with the idea that I’m his girlfriend. But he doesn’t realize that. He needs to think about himself & what he REALLY needs — for someone to love him back — which I don’t.

This always happens to me!

Some guy falls head over heels for me and it completely turns me off. This whole situation is so pathetic. I don’t have the balls to say anything & he doesn’t have the self respect to realize he’s wasting his time. This just sucks. I’m going to have to break it off soon.

It’s 11:00 pm but I have to write about my weekend. Fri. night, I went bowling w/my bro. & his friends. I had lots of fun. Craig is really funny. Vicki talks on the phone with him a lot. I could go for him, but it would end up him liking me more than I like him. I would love to be really good friend w/him, though. So that was fun.

I need to stop with this whole crush on Tom. Just because I know its never going to happen. Its slowly but surely dwindling. So thats good.

Then I spent the night at Rochelle’s house.

On Sat., we went to Vicki’s, took showers, ate dinner, & Jim came over. Then we went to Denny’s with Robbie. He’s the shit. He cracks me up. Then me, Vicki, Rochelle, & Jim went to a party at this guy Ewan’s apartment. I met a guy who has a checkerboard Cadillac.

There was some other guy named Sam Samson who was really hot. Me & Rochelle were talking w/him most of the night. We were both kind of hitting on him & he was responding, but nothing happened. Rochelle was hitting on him more than me.

I got really drunk & high. It was the first time I did two drugs at once. Usually I don’t have the urge. I was pretty fucked up. At one point, Sam was licking my legs & Rochelle was biting my leg. Don’t ask me how or why. I just remember that. He had his tongue pierced.

I’ve really had the urge to have my tongue pierced. I just think it would be really fun to play with.

Then we spent the night at Carrie’s (Rochelle’s 26-year old sister). When we got there, we went into her room & there were four dogs in there – a golden retreiver, a german shephard, & 2 pugs. It was crazy.

On Sun., we went to Denny’s & went home. I went shopping w/my mom & got make-up.

Vicki broke up with Justin on Sunday. She called me and couldn’t even speak she was crying so hard. I’m glad they broke up. It was getting way too old. He’s stupid, too.

-Lilia

Catch Phrased Out

stev.ie, flickr Creative Commons

Keep it zipped if you know what's good for you.

I’ve got a busy day today so we’ll make this short and sweet.

Actually, it’s more like short and salty.

Here’s a list of catch phrases that I have always hated.

Or, more appropriately, it’s a list of the catch phrases I hate the most. Listing them all would take way too long.

“Not!”

This was super hot stuff when I was in elementary school. But I guarantee you I was rolling my little eyes every time someone said it. Including the time the parents on Beverly Hills 90210 said it to Brenda and Brandon. I was so mortified, I still remember burying my face in my hands when it happened.

“Talk to the Hand.”

If memory serves,  this was most popular with tragically un-hip adult women and crappy bumper stickers you could buy at Walgreens. Oh, and Fran Drescher when she made that terrible movie that I never bothered to watch.

“My bad!”

I can guarantee you that I’ve never, ever said this to anyone in my life. Unfortunately, this one will not go away. I’m not in the habit of wishing for something to die but this is certainly an exception.

“It’s the bomb!”

I don’t understand how this could have been uttered with any sincerity. It’s the bomb? Well, you’re an idiot.

“Natch!”

This is short for “naturally!” I really didn’t think “naturally!” was used frequently enough to necessitate an abbreviated version. Also, it just makes me think of “snatch” and that’s not cool, man.

It’s Your Birthday…

Today, my darling husband turns 32.

In celebration (and also in effort to prevent another long-winded blog), I am posting this image of the most awesome birthday card ever received.

By Elsie Hilsabeck

Probably the best birthday card in the history of birthday cards.

The card was made by my talented artist friend (Elsie, get yourself a website I can link to, please!) and I’ve proudly displayed it on our fridge since I received it last year.

Without fail, guests always crack up when they see it. In fact, I thought it was so clever, I totally ripped off the idea for the caption on my about page.

So, to my wonderful husband: I hope you are having a super fantastic day! Dinner and gifts will be waiting for you when you get home tonight. I am beyond grateful that you were  born and that you’ve lasted this long…here’s to many more birthdays to share!

And…

it’s your Birthday, Lou! Fuck shit up!!!

From One Downton Abbey Fan to Another

downton abbey

This is the good stuff, right here.

A few months ago, I was desperately cruising through the Netflix Instant Queue (currently our only source for television entertainment) and I came across a little something called Downton Abbey.

For those of you who don’t know, Downton Abbey is a Masterpiece Classics miniseries about an aristocratic British family living in a fictional Yorkshire country estate in the early 20th century. The dialogue-heavy story includes subtle family squabbling, fiendish backstabbing, squelched romance, and an incident in which one of the daughters risks her reputation by doing the nasty with a Turkish dude. And then he dies in her bed.

Oh, whoops…did I forget to say “spoiler alert!”?

At the time, I thought I had discovered a little-known gem. Then my Facebook friends started posting about the show. And then I read that it won an Emmy.

And then I realized my taste is terribly generic.

However, I do know a thing or two about scraping through Netflix Instant Queue for a fantastic British miniseries.

So from one Downton Abbey fan to another, I recommend you watch these:

Note: Each recommendation comes with a rating on a scale of 1-5.

1: Don’t bother…I probably didn’t get through the first 30 minutes.

2: BO-riiiinnngggg!

3: Watch while you’re folding laundry or surfing your Pinterest.

4: Very entertaining. And you might get a little misty-eyed.

5: This will make you rethink your life. And you will most likely have a soul-soothing snotty cryfest.

The Way We Live Now

I avoided this one for a while because that guy is so ugly. That was wrong of me.

Don’t let the ugly face of the main character fool you. This was actually a very enjoyable series. This time, the story takes place in London and follows the social web of former aristocrats as they are forced to do business (and pleasure) with the rising business class of the late 19th century…and the rising con artists, for that matter.

Rating: 3.5 (Good enough to keep me off Pinterest but not earth-shattering.)

Wives and Daughters

This is the delightful tale of a widower and his daughter. He takes on a flibbertigibbet of a wife and the daughter isn’t exactly pleased…but she’s still nice about it. So there’s no real back-stabbing drama here. While the father-daughter relationship seemed a little too close at times (yuck), the characters were well-developed and believable.

Rating: 4 (Very good. And I do believe a tear was shed at one point.)

Elizabeth R

You really have to be a big fan of the Elizabethan era to enjoy this one. I have a mild interest since watching The Tudors (another Netflix score) and while I’m only two episodes into Elizabeth R, I was surprised to find that it kept my interest. It was shot in the early 70s so it lacks the slick finish of today’s television productions and the acting can be a little silly at times but, so far, so good.

Rating: 3 (It can be a titch on the boring side…especially if your name is Lou and you are my husband. But the plot moves slow enough to follow while you pin that recipe.)

Any Human Heart

Follow the life of Logan Mountstuart. He’s a randy guy and has many affairs over his 80+ years but the story is so beautifully told, you’re convinced that he loved each and every one of them. Lady viewers will walk away remembering his tragic loss during World War II and male viewers will be inspired by his constant ability to shack up with ridiculously hot chicks.

Rating: 5 (I completely snotty-cried multiple times and re-evaluated my life. Husband Lou even liked it.)

Happy watching, everyone!

Cloud Nine

Image by fancydiamonds.net

Screw the dress...say, "Yes!" to the diamond.

This past Saturday night, the Kummerer family received spectacular news: Little Sister is getting married!

After speaking with Little Sister on the phone right after the big moment, Lou was beaming. He could hear the sheer delight exploding from his baby sister’s voice.

Today, a text message exchange with her confirms that she is still flying on cloud nine.

Having experienced it myself a few years ago, there’s nothing like it. You’re so happy, you can feel it from your fingernails to the tips of your hair…every little bitty piece of you is feeling totally, unfathomably awesome.

It’s only the beginning. (That’s a cliché thing to write, but it’s cliché because it’s so very true.)

The engagement means your man is telling the world that he wants to spend every minute of everyday of the rest of his life with you. It’s the ultimate compliment. And it’s the ultimate embrace of all your faults.

The best part is, once the frenzy of wedding planning is over and the marriage begins, you witness that same proclamation every single day.

This is, of course, assuming you said, “Yes,” to the right one. And my advice to anyone considering marriage would be this: Unless you are 1000% positive that you want to marry the ever living sh*t out of the person you’re with, you may want to reconsider.

And while I’m happy to catch a little of the cloud nine feeling in which Little Sister is relishing  today, I am also tremendously grateful to feel the calming satisfaction that our one year of marriage has provided.

What a wonderful feeling to know that it will only get better from here on out…for both Little Sister and myself.

HUGE congrats and love and hugs and every wonderful wish in the world to Jill and Aaron!

Beach House Hunting

Lou and I at the beach house. He loves the beach house allllmost as much as I do. And I love him for it.

My family has the best tradition in the whole wide world EVER.

If you know me, I’m sure I’ve told you about the beach house. The annual reunion began when I was a fat-bellied toddler. My mother and her three sisters were knee-deep in baby making and caring for children. With such busy schedules, they arranged to rent a beach house for a week so all could gather in one place.

The tradition stuck. We’ve gathered at the beach house every summer for over 25 years.

My mom and her sisters spawned 11 of us cousins. I consider the beach house tradition as one of the best things they ever did for us — we’re all incredibly close and enjoy loyal friendships.

Now, every year when the weather turns to more warm days than cold, I start dreaming about being at the beach house. Literally dreaming. In fact, I had one last night.

(Sure, there wasn’t really a beach per se and we were all working to help some bees migrate properly [oh, and I knew how to fly] but I intuitively knew it was the beach house so it counts.)

My aunts and cousins were all in this dream. Including my aunt who is no longer with us. A few years ago, we lost her to cancer. Even though it was just a coo-coo dream, it was so nice to see her. As I write this, my nose is tingling and my eyes are welling up. I miss her.

Since her passing, we’ve all realized how much work she did to keep the beach house going. Every year, she arranged the deposit and kept the owners at bay — they always suspected that we were packing the place beyond its capacity. Of course, they were right. At the beach house, the floor space of every bedroom is covered with blow-up mattresses and sleeping bags. I think we’ve all shared a bed at one point.

Our family has grown to include spouses, second cousins, and too many complicated schedules…but we won’t let the tradition die.

This year, we’ll have two new babies on the beach — three, if you count the one that will be chillin’ in my cousin’s belly. And we’re going to rent two beach houses to accommodate our rowdy crowd (I’m hunting for those houses after I finish this blog).

Holy CRAP, I can’t wait.

The first few days are always a delightful and action-packed family party. It seems like a new person walks in the door every hour. As soon as the door opens, we all get up and yell a greeting (because you’ll never be heard at the beach house if you don’t yell). Then we start the rounds of hugging.

We stay up late and wake up early. I’m always too excited to sleep much during the first weekend. Once my eyes pop open, I hop out of bed (usually leaving Lou behind) so I can rush to the kitchen in my PJ’s. I love to discover who else is up. As we sip coffee, chow on massive Costco muffins, and wait for the fog to clear from the beach, great conversations happen.

Honestly, I don’t even like to shower at the beach house because I don’t want to miss a moment.

Speaking of moments, here are a few that come to mind today:

At the first beach house we used to climb up to the ledge above the window and jump off into a pile of bean bags. And then we always got in trouble.

One summer, my mom read The Grouchy Ladybug to me every night. I still enjoy this book more than the The Hungry Caterpillar.

That same summer, Nick went poo-poo in the potty and his sister said, “Is that a mountain or a poo?!?” I still remember what the poo looked like. Yes, it was huge.

I totally idolized my older cousin RaeLee because she wore a bikini. Man, she was cool!

One time, my three older brothers and cousin Ryan ate all the gummy bears. Then the younger cousins cried.

Jumping waves with Aunt Boo…I remember thinking she was just a total blast to hang with.

Jumping waves with toddler Amber. She stared up at me with a huge grin and her enormous blue eyes. I can still see that cute face!

When toddler Amber stole Uncle Jim’s beer. And drank it.

The three little girls used to follow me around like ducklings…I remember being annoyed by it at the time. Now I’m flattered that they once looked up to me.

One morning, Nick convinced the three little girls to stand in silence and watch me sleep until I woke up. This was my punishment for being the last one out of bed.

Carl used to always kill the hot water after he came back from a swim because it took him 30 minutes to thaw his scrawny bones under the outdoor shower.

One summer, Nick and Ian would scream, “cock-a-doodle-doo!” whenever a big wave was on its way (the movie Hook had just come out).

Uncle John chased down some dude who tried to steal our wetsuits. We thought he was so tough.

There was an incident when Alan dissected a sea slug and found its teeth. God, that was gross.

There was a summer when I tragically got sun poisoning so Nick, Ian, Kirsten, Amber and Lara put on a fashion show to keep me entertained.

Once, Nick and I peed in the water. But we weren’t all the way in the water yet…we were just in the surf and let the pee come out of our swimming suits. This was his idea. He went first. Then I went. He was so disgusted, he screamed and ran into the water. Then he refused to talk to me for five minutes.

Lara’s famous quote, “Gummy bears…nice.”

The time Nick almost drowned but Jay saved him.

The time I almost drowned but Nick saved me.

On a boring afternoon, Nick and I convinced all younger cousins to join us and scream, “Oodelally, oodelally, golly what a day!” over and over again at the tops of our lungs. We were trying to annoy Uncle Dave. He calmly read his book the entire time.

Ian proposed to Carly at the beach house and it was a really great moment. It was also when I realized Rebekah was pregnant because she refused a glass of champagne.

There was a very bizarre incident in which Aunt Judy was a total badass and tried to save a guy’s life. He died. But he was also a pervert. And then Kirsten said one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard her say (cartoon to come later).

The nake-y dance!

Aunt Linny…every  moment with her.

My Dirty Little Secret: This Blog

Courtesy of Rosaura Ochoa, Flickr Creative Commons.

I'm back in, baby!

I guess I write for free.

As I mentioned in my very first blog, this is something a mentor once told me I should never do.

Aside from a few co-workers and a handful of relatives, I haven’t yet shared this blog. Today, in celebration of writing my 10th blog post, I will share it on Facebook.

Whoop-dee-doo.

While I have the intellectual understanding that my blog is just a drop in the vast bucket of online content, I’m self-centered enough to consider this exposure to be a big deal.

It’s an interesting experience to write without an editor and without a team of colleagues with which I’m able to discuss ideas. Not that the Phoenix New Times was particularly nurturing, but I miss the hallway conversations that led to a sense of validation. I was always assured that at least one person in the world believed my next writing idea was good enough to put out into the world.

And in just ten dinky days of blogging, I realize that writing on my own requires more commitment on my part. Rather than living in an environment that provides advanced approval (or disapproval that probably saved me from writing stupid junk), now it’s just me pounding out words…then jamming on the backspace key almost as fast as I generate them. It’s a miracle anything gets written at all.

I’ve got a running list of blog ideas and I’m pretty excited to see what I can make of them. But I’m always tempted to link back to my old articles…the articles that filtered through the approval process of my editors. And I suppose there’s a part of me that believes/fears that I was at my best when I was at New Times and there’s really no going up from there.

Goddamn, that’s a depressing thought.

Because I don’t consider myself to have had a fantastic impact there. I was merely sufficient.

At the very least, however, this makes my husband happy. He’s my most loyal fan and followed my work even before we started dating (which was a humorous confession he made early into our courtship…he complimented me on this piece about a beer pong tournament).

See? There I go linking back again.

Shoot. While I’m in the habit, I may as well provide a few links to pieces on this blog:

Here’s a post that explains why I’m doing this in the first place called Ugh, I’m Blogging.

Check out a list of crazy crap men have said to me here.

If you want something with a little meat on its bones, read my post about contraception and the Catholic church.

Then look at this because it’s horrible (and I think it’s funny).

And thanks for reading. Seriously.