Monday, December 14, 2009

it's the simple things.

Nail polish really excites me these days. My mom told me that in high school she used to paint her nails every night to match the outfit she planned to wear the next day. While I'm not that dedicated, I have been on a major kick lately. Tonight I painted my digits with Essie's Mint Candy Apple from their 2009 holiday collection.

This color had me intrigued for a while. (It doesn't take much.) It looks delicious, like after-dinner mints. If nail polishes could speak, this one would have said, "Look at me, I am so sweet and so 'now.' Let's be friends."

Tonight, looking at my nails makes me happy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Open Letters to My Co-Passengers on Flights 127 and 157 As Well As a Few People at the Denver Airport

Dear Frontier Airlines,

This is my first time flying with you. The bold green slogan printed at the top of your jets exterior promises that you're "a whole different animal." Just wondering though, which animals are you trying to distance yourself from? Maybe a turtle? If so, I can see the rationale. No wise airline would use a slogan like "a more or less slow-paced animal" or "about the same kind of animal as your 5-year-old son's class pet." No, times are tough, and you've got to stand out. Speaking of standing out, may I make a suggestion? It would be edgy and unique to give me back my $20 checked luggage fee. Maybe in the process you could also have a little chat with the FAA about the 3 oz. liquids rule. Do you know how many bottles of conditioner I've had to throw out in the security line? It's always the expensive stuff too. One time, I cried.



Dear Lady Sitting Next to Me on the First Leg,

Judging by your facial expression, I feel like you're bothered by my beverage selection. I'll admit that tomato juice is an unusual choice. But hear me out. It doesn't get the credit it deserves. Most people only ever think of tomato juice when they're mixing it with vodka. Don't misunderstand me, I love a bloody mary. You can mix orange juice with vodka too, but you don't see the world abandoning it in its natural form. Give tomato juice a chance. I drink it every time I fly; I'm pretty sure the plane would crash the first time I didn't.

You Say Tomato,


Dear Guy Who Ordered Jack and Coke,

Until today, when flight attendants would announce that beer, wine, and cocktails were available for purchase at 6:00 a.m., it always made me laugh a little inside. But you, sir, proved that boozing before breakfast can be done, and you showed us how to do it. And that enthusiasm! "Gimme a jack and coke, sweetheart." Kudos to you and your nonconformist attitude. Who cares what these people think? Most of them are passed out anyway, and soon you will be too, albeit for a different reason. Quick question though: If jack and coke is breakfast, what's for dinner?

Abstaining a Few More Hours,


Dear Patrons of Denver International Airport's Terminal A,

Allow me to respectfully suggest that when on the moving walkway, you consider in fact walking.



Dear Large Crowd at Panda Express,

Beef and broccoli, breakfast of champions!

Love in MSG,


Dear Three Frontier Employees Who Asked I Wanted to Open a Frontier Credit Card,

No thanks, no thanks, and no thanks. We're in a recession, remember? You guys make the zealots who sell sea salts at the kiosk at Fashion Valley look passive.



Dear Two Older Guys Sitting Across from me at Terminal A,

Are either of your names Larry? You both look like Larrys. I may never know your names, but I do know that the waiting area was completely empty yet you sat yourselves right here. Maybe it was fate. Our faces are ten inches apart, and I just felt my chair faintly vibrate when you, Larry on the left, laughed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad. I mean, this is Denver, you may be concerned about hypothermia should the heat go out or something. I know that accent, Alabama? Happy Thanksgiving.

Catching Your Vibes,


Dear Little Girl in Tears About to Board the Plane Alone,

Don't worry! Airplanes are fun. Once you're settled in, you'll be happy as a clam! Your mom and little brother look like they'll really miss you while you're gone. I like your pigtails, I used to wear those elastic bands with the little balls too. Nooo, don't cry. Is it your mom's full sleeve of tattoos that's scaring you? Look, this nice Frontier employee will take you to your seat. He looks like Mr. Rogers. Well, it's last call for UMs; my guess is that UM stands for unaccompanied minors. Keep walking, you're doing great. Oh no, don't turn around! Probably best you keep walking. OK, you're crying again. This is excruciating. Are we being punk'd?

Also Unaccompanied,


Dear Teenage Girl Next to Me on the Denver to San Diego Flight Reading a Library Copy of Twilight:

I bet you're reading that for like the 37th time, right? Can I tell you a secret? I've never read these books or seen the movies. Any of them. I know, my cool factor just dropped below Larry King's. Please try not to notice, but I'm going to read over your shoulder so I can feel a little more connected to the rest of the world, if only for a few seconds.

"I should be tan, sporty, blonde, a cheerleader perhaps. All the things that go with living in the valley of the sun."

Yeah, vampires totally hate valleys. And suns.

Still Resisting,


Dear All Addressees:

It's been a joy flying with you, studying the backs of your heads, and eavesdropping on your conversations. You make flying fun. Happy holidays!

Still a Southwest Girl,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dear Diary

Nothing says "introspective" like my first diary. Bound in glossy cardboard and covered in trains, I found it while cleaning out my closet the other day and had no choice but to revisit the tumultuous era that was 1990. This makes it sound like I wrote in it consistently, but I didn't. My entries are quite infrequent.

My diary had a lock, which was a major source of pride at the time. Owning anything with a lock before you've ditched training wheels made you legit. You think you can read my diary? Well, per this lock right here, think AGAIN.

I learned about these top secret keepers of inner thoughts from my way older and way cooler cousin Leah. I remember sitting in her bedroom with The Cure blasting while she scribbled with the furious angst only a 16-year-old who listens to The Cure can. I asked what she was doing and she said she was writing about her boyfriend. She had lots of boyfriends.

I was already intrigued with the concept when I saw the Punky Brewster episode about the diary. Need a reference point? Let me know, I own the entire series on DVD. Punky was my idol and if she had one of these, then I had to have one too. Christmas came around and my dreams were answered. In my stocking, alongside a Wilson Phillips' cassette tape (yes, "a" Wilson Phillips tape -- they made two) there she sat, that shiny white thing.

The first entry appears on Feb. 3, 1990 -- grammar, spelling and punctuation untouched:

Dear Diary,

Today's My Birthday
You're Pal,

I was obviously entrenched in serious scandal from Feb. 19th until the 24th. Each page in this diary had the printed date at the top, but all five of these are ripped out.

April 1, 1990:

Dear Diary Today is April Fools day I think that's all I have to say right now.
xxoo you're pal Rachel!

You'll notice we hadn't had the your vs. you're lesson yet.

The rest of that week included accounts of a church fish fry and a couple of playground shenanigans. Compelling stuff.

May 9th was super exciting:

Dear Diary -

Today I spent the night at Jill's house. We tried to stay up all night but we (note: I inexplicably skip one line here) couldn't. I brought jelly beans and we ate em and played in her backyard. It was fun. Well I gotta go
Love, (smiley face)
Rachel L. Williams

What this entry does not tell you is that we did make it all the way to 4:00 A.M. when Jill sat up on our sleeping bag fort, said in defeat, "it didn't work," rolled back over and re-passed out.

May 31st = pure elation:

Dear Diary,

I'm so exsided, today school's out! I'll probly do over 100 things during summer!!! I will have a lot, doble! to say tomarrow! XXOO
You're Nurvis Pal

June 1st's blankness indicates that I didn't have anything, let alone "doble," to say. Also, why was I "Nurvis?"

It was another couple of months before I paused to make an inaugural address to the 2nd grade:

Dear Diary,

Well school starts tomarrow. My teacher is Miss Chantilis. Second grade is going to be cool! My lunch box has Punky Bruster on it! Love, Goodnight, Rachel Williams!

Life was so complicated.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

motivators, part 2

Part 2 of 2

Mom and dad had good ideas, but clearly home remedies wouldn't get me out of this mess. (I can't stop with the metaphors.) My mom told me to find two wooden planks and wedge them between the offending tires and the mud. The good thing about Durango, Texas is that there are plenty of wooden planks lying around. The bad thing about Durango, Texas is that I was there alone... facing an enormous field of wheat, or rice, or barley or something, from here to Kingdom Come. I mustered up every fourth grade science lesson about levers and pulleys I could,  it took 15 seconds to realize I would not be wedging jack-anything between my poor tires and the earth.

It gets better. AT&T had apparently taken a few minutes to realize just how remote my location was, but by golly, they were on to me now. Our conversation dropped and "No Service" popped up. Peace out, Triple-A option.

The next few minutes were like the eye of a hurricane. I became very calm and quiet and thought about all the people in history who had gotten stuck in the mud before cell phones. Probably lots, right? And they made it out eventually, no? I tried to recall if I had ever seen something like this on Forensic Files. Bad idea, every other episode starts out like this, except they usually have ex-husbands. My calm begins to dissipate. I seriously contemplate trekking to a farmhouse I see way off in the distance. I am not sure what to do.

Then, in my rear view mirror, I see a red Jeep Wrangler pull off the road and aim toward me in a blaze of glory. It is the tallest, widest and loudest vehicle I have ever seen. Keep in mind I am a good 50 feet from the road, so there's no way this was an accidental drive-by. In the passenger seat and at least as tall as the driver is an Irish Setter or some similarly large dog breed, which negated the possibility of anything bad happening. Everyone knows dog owners don't kill people. But you know what? I was just glad to see another human.

Red Jeep Guy drives up to my window and asks if I'm stuck. Well, yeah, kind of. Red Jeep Guy appears 17 or 18, but I'm a poor judge of age. Confidently, he says he'll get me out. Riding behind him on a three-wheeler is his girlfriend or sister, making the likelihood of murder almost zero. Something tells me they have plenty of experience with mud.

Red Jeep Guy can't hide his amusement at my predicament. He digs out an odd pulley instrument and attaches it to my car's hitch. While profusely thanking him, I pause to ask if I need to get out of the car. Hey, I do what I can. His reaction assures me in no uncertain terms that he's a mud aficionado. I decide it is best I stop talking. Sister Girlfriend on the ATV is directing him as though he was parallel parking. He helps me on wheel direction, and shoot. He pulls my car out of the mud.

Amidst the excessive thank-yous, my cell phone apparently sprung back into range and my parents called. I said not to worry, that I was being rescued, to which they shouted every variation of "GET HIS LICENSE PLATE! GET IT NOW!" Remember, solo drives = their daughter's a goner. Flustered, all I managed to get out was "What's your name?" His name is Brett. Brett from Durango, Texas, pop. 54. And then he was gone. I still have no idea how he saw or heard me.

Brett, you're an angel. Thank you, and thank your dog and your sister-girlfriend. You are so not Forensic Files.

Monday, October 26, 2009

tags: improbable scenarios, uncharted territory, motivators for continuing ed automotive classes

Part 1

Sometimes I wonder if it would behoove me to be a tad less forthcoming about the freak shows I encounter everyday. The reason is that even as the protagonist of these circus acts, I have a hard time believing them myself. Translation: A lot of my sentences begin with, "You will never believe what just happened!" followed by ten excitable re-tellings of the same story. I speak so fast I forget to breathe. Thank you, inventor of typing!

This weekend I was in Austin for my friend Shannon's beautiful wedding at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Sunday morning was sunny, lazy and Hill Country-perfect. So perfect in fact that I decided to take the scenic route. After a chicken fried steak stop at Threadgill's, I hit the road. Ahh, Texas. The first two hours were pleasant but unremarkable.

The events of the next two hours were both unpleasant and way too remarkable.

I was about ten minutes northeast, or southeast, heck maybe northsouth(?) of Temple, on FM 935, a back road you have never heard of. Temple, for Texas geography shunners, is maybe one-third of the way from Austin to Dallas. Most of the Earth's population, including plants, would say, "But Raaaaa-chel, Austin to Dallas is a straight shot on I-35!" These lifeforms are correct. But I really like driving through small towns, and today I had the time.

The last thing I remember seeing on my TomTom is "You are in Durango, TX." Well, hello Durango! I did not notice a sign informing me of this passage, but oh well. Since failing to plan is planning to fail, I pulled into a vacant... "lot" isn't the right word... a vacant patch of dead-looking grass, to check the map quickly. Then I put the car back into drive. There's really no segue into this: I revved the gas pedal, and the wheels moved... a lot... loudly... but my car wasn't moving.

Has your life ever turned into a slow motion replay where the sound gets really low-pitched and slurred? That's what mine did. Thoughts (and utterances) included: "WTF!? How can this be mud!? It looked like a patch of grass! It IS a patch of grass! So this mud is invisible!? How is my car stuck in invisible mud!? WTF? *@#*&$*$##!"

For the next ten minutes, I revved and tried to reverse. I revved and tried to drive forward. My engine made sounds I didn't know a Civic was capable of making. Have I mentioned I was in the middle of nowhere? Unsure of the official protocol when one's car is submerged in mud, I called my mom. To my parents, road trips, really any type of prolonged time spent alone = my impending murder. They were thrilled to receive my call.

(I am posting this as part 1 of 2 because this is getting way too long and I physically cannot type any longer. Part 2 is coming very soon and, spoiler alert coming, I do not die.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

best laid plans

Where to start? I'm pretty sure I wrote more in one preschool-era Weekly Reader than I have in the last six months. Although I doubt my hiatus from blogging -- I refuse to use the word "blogosphere," except of course when citing words I will not use -- was the catalyst for any suicide attempts, (if I'm wrong, my apologies) there were hundreds of times since April that I thought, oh boy, another incident/silent monologue/diatribe I should write about on my blog!

Just so we're clear, a little truth nugget: I have blogging anxiety. It's rare I'll get half a sentence down before I start ripping apart the four-or-so words in front of me. This acerbic alter ego (we'll call her Hate-chel) spews things like "Is that the best modifier you can come up with? Wow, lots of prepositional phrases there. Something very bad will happen if you don't diagram this sentence."

As it turns out, this type of anxiety is common enough to make other people write books about it. I read a good one called "The Courage to Write" by Ralph Keyes. It was comforting to learn that authors are afraid of writing sometimes, and that Hate-chel can even work in my favor if I let her. Then, after I breathed a big sigh of relief, guess what? I continued to not write.

Here's a non-comprehensive list of events that merited, but failed to produce, a blog post:

1) Not contracting swine flu.
2) Finding my favorite mascara at a Wal-Mart in Hawaii many months after it was discontinued and buying all four remaining tubes... expiration, schmexpiration!
3) Eating at Chick-Fil-A six days in a row which is technically the maximum consecutive number of days anyone can eat there due to that keepin'-the-Sabbath-holy business.
4) Chipping my tooth on a tortilla chip and realizing the halloween costume possibilities.
5) Mike deploying for six eight months.
6) Driving from San Diego to Dallas. It was fun!
7) Reading everyone else's entertaining, informative blogs and wondering why I was still making excuses.

A truckload of stuff has happened in the last six months and my hope is to revisit it here in the coming days. Not every blog post (are you listening, Hate-chel?) needs to read like a doctoral dissertation. That kind of defeats the purpose of blogging, doesn't it? Now I just need to show up again tomorrow.


Friday, April 17, 2009

One Year Later

April 22 will mark one year since Meredith Rankin left this life for her eternal one. I feel sheepish trying to blog about this, like I'm grasping in vain for the right words. I don't know how one would begin to encapsulate Meredith's spirit. But I think that's OK, because she wasn't about talk. In my stubborn naivete, I guess I'd just assumed that when it came to things like faith, gratitude and humility, I had a decent grip -- imperfect but not awful. I'm so thankful she showed me how much further I still have to climb.

I wrestle with the nuts and bolts, the hows and whys of everything imaginable and some things I doubt anyone's ever bothered to imagine. Why do people do evil things? How does Earth not get wiped out by a meteor? Why do I have gray hairs already? Naturally, this curiosity extends to matters of faith too. But Meredith helped me put down the microscope. She personified the hows and the whys of faith and in the midst of the greatest struggle of her life, she accepted what was.

Meredith, or Muffy as she announced at age 2 she would be called from then on, was beautiful, hilarious, intelligent, and had approximately 2 billion friends. I knew her at Miami but mainly after college through my friends Lindsay and Jen. At age 23, almost three years ago now, she was diagnosed with colon cancer -- advanced, metastasized, incurable, Stage IV colon cancer. But it would never define or embitter her, because she didn't allow it. What she did allow was for her heart to be transformed by the true, unpretty, sometimes wrenching meaning of faith. And she let us all witness it. She and her family started an online journal after she was diagnosed, and if you read it, you'll understand why she affected so many. I printed all 56 pages and made a book out of it.

Thank you Meredith, for exploding the lid off of my immature concept of Christianity, of suffering, of contentedness and gratitude. Thank you for loving God and teaching me that to "give thanks in all circumstances" really means all of them, especially the most unpleasant ones. Thank you for showing me that the joy which arises from selflessness is the only kind that matters.

So, is God enough? From Muff herself:

Yes. Because like I said before, He is the only thing I can ever count on anymore. I can't count on my own body to work for me, my own decisions to get me though, my own parents to protect me, my own husband to provide for me, or my own doctors to heal me ... because they can't. They just can't, and I think the sooner people figure that out the happier they'll be. I gave up a long time ago trying to do it all myself, because you'll kill yourself trying. God is it ... He is enough for everything.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Comfort Food

  • On Friday, I spent six or seven hours en route from San Diego thanks to two solid stops in Phoenix and El Paso. I read a whole fat book cover-to-cover and knocked out 50 pages of another. Late discovery -- books are what to read when flying. Flights a millisecond over two hours long usually make me nuttybuckets, but not this time.
  • We will have two kinds of macaroni and cheese at our wedding. Now you know where to find me.
  • For some reason, I never got around to seeing "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" until about last night. Whoa, way dirtier than I ever imagined, and that was 1982. Did the whole above-40 population just have one huge collective stroke after it came out?
  • Jeff Spicoli = the best character basically ever. Mr. "Mystic River" playing a stoned surfer just makes me all kinds of happy. "Aloha, Mr. Hand."
  • I want the macaroni and crab cakes and smoked salmon-y stuff now, please. This menu printout I'm looking at is torture. Or Torte-ture. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Welcome to Anthropologie. Can I Help You Steal Anything?

So, I like clothes. I enjoy the process leading up to the purchase more than the transaction itself, and I'm picky. Usually, by the time I step up to pay, I've already inspected, tried on, and turned down enough fabric to cover Delaware. Shopping is my me-time. I keep phone conversations brief and sparse, because this is serious stuff people. (Note to large families/entourages at Fashion Valley: I'm begging you and your 10-person brood. Please. Walk. Faster. I'm trapped.)

Society tells betrothed females that there's about 87 showers/parties/rehearsals/showers/miscellaneous occasions/showers that necessitate the New Dress. ("Society" consists of the editorial people at D Weddings magazine and my mom.) Last Saturday, I set off on what I'd hoped would be my last Operation Find Miscellaneous Wedding Event Dress mission. She would be named Miss Rehearsal. I won't lie, this wasn't the first, or fifth, time I had searched for Miss Rehearsal, but I'm down to the proverbial wire here. My first stop, as usual, was Anthropologie.

O, my beloved Anthro. You've inspired me so much over the years. I remember the first time we met at the Santa Monica Promenade. It was the summer after freshman year in college and I was stuck in L.A. with Lindsey and Amy. We were trying to fly to Hawaii on free standby tickets over July 4th weekend. (P.S. Who does that?) We never made it aboard, but it mattered not. I had found you. Lindsey bought a $400 comforter from you, I a dainty headband. You made me want to be a better pseudo-hippie.

I walked in with a bounce in my step and and a heartful of hope. My bounce was siphoned by the salesgirl, who zoned in on me with the determined swoop of a vulture on a dead rabbit.  Initial thoughts: "OMG, she looks like Lauren Conrad," followed by, "why is she violating my personal space?" Then I noticed the teeny Anthro logo on one of my bags. She asked me if I had a return.  I considered going into detail about how I was just matching some shoes and this was the only bag I could find with handles, they really should make more bags with handles, and OMG that shirt is so cute, but instead I just smiled cordially and said "No thanks." She hesitated for an few seconds and said "Umm. ... Oh." I could tell she was annoyed, but what could I do or say short of emptying the contents of the bags out on the floor? I kept shopping, wondering if I hadn't seen the last of L.C.'s twin. That's when I saw her summon backup.

I know stores lose millions of dollars a year to shoplifting. I'm on your team, shoplifters suck. I understand if you need to take the bags behind the register, check receipts, or do anything to quell your suspicion that you're in the midst of a thief who intends to stuff three bags with merchandise in plain view while you call Crimestoppers. But please stop staring at me.

These salesgirls seemed to have trained under the "stalk-and-stare-and-analyze-over-headphones-you-forgot-were-on-speaker" school of thought. Maybe they used Dale Carnegie's lesser known "How to Lose Customers and Influence People (to Boycott Your Store)." I felt so uncomfortable that I began to move around a lot, as one does when faced with swarms of gnats that won't go away, or a wasp that follows you on your bike for three blocks. I felt dirty.

In accessories, I turned around to find six beady eyes congregated a couple of yards behind me. I could smell their shampoo. Each wore a contemplative expression suggesting they were plotting their next move, which I assume involved a taser. And then, the injustice in my soul gave overflowed and turned into actual words from my mouth. You know the threshold between simmering frustration and disgust? Yeah I skipped it. I'm not sure exactly what I said except "Are you kidding!?" and stormed the h out as they stood there in utter girl-shock. 

I'm curious as to Anthropologie's shoplifter profiling criteria. Yoga pants? A fleece jacket? THIEF! My only relevant experience came at age 5 when I took a Brach's peppermint from Minyard's without depositing a nickel. Overcome with guilt, I tearfully confessed to my mom and then to the manager the next day. He told me he forgave me and added that Jesus probably would too, if I was good for the rest of the year. I think he confused Jesus with Santa Claus.

I probably won't stop shopping at Anthropologie. I will, however, write an artificially rational complaint letter to their corporate using primarily "I" statements, like "I felt dirty when your snobby salesgirls whispered audibly that I was trying to steal things." Next time, I guarantee I'll dress more uppity but carry the same bags, and see if my perceived credit limit doesn't ebb their suspicions.