they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

On not being tan

Today, I am jealous of a construction worker — well, actually two of them. This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized just how pale I am. My sister is a bronzed goddess and my brother looks fine without a tan, but can get one easily. I, on the other hand, have been sitting outside in 95° heat to try and get a little hint of color on my pasty self — to no avail. I get color alright, but it’s red and pinkish and fades after a day. I never turn brown or even khaki. I stay pale and milky all summer. I do get more freckles though, which, I tell myself, make certain parts of my face appear tan.

Continuing to pick myself apart, I got dressed and pictured how much better my legs and arms would look with some sun on them but claimed defeat and left for work. I couldn’t stop thinking about it though. You could say it was a bit obsessive. And then at a stop light, I saw two female construction workers who appeared to be about my age. There they stood, holding their orange and black “slow” signs, chatting away — probably about how easy it is to get tan when you’re a construction worker, I imagined. And I couldn’t stop watching them. Yes they were wearing jeans, but their arms were tan and their necks and their faces and their hair even had highlights from the sun. I’m sure some of the brown color on their skin could have been from the dirt at the construction site, but I’m most certain that most, if not all of it, was from the sun. It was natural. They don’t have to spend money on sunless tanners to try to achieve a “natural” look, which never really works anyway. They don’t have to plan out how they will get some sun, they probably don’t even have to spend any of their weekends in the sweltering humidity to catch a couple of rays. I guess I don’t have to do it either, but I do. If only I could get paid to stand there, talk and get tan.

I’m really not this shallow. I know that being a construction worker is hard, manual labor and that it’s not all about being tan and that you can get skin cancer and wrinkles and that tan skin looks leathery and prematurely old and sometimes even a dark natural tan can look fake. But why do I want it so badly?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Church marketing sucks

I've had real issue lately with church PR in general. I think so often, large Christian organizations, and small churches for that matter, forget that despite the Christians they reach with the message they send via advertising efforts, they also reach a large number of non-Christians who are often turned off by the way the message is presented. Be it bad grammar, spelling mistakes or statements that were obviously not reviewed by anyone before being stated for the media to pick up on and pick apart, the church has a long way to go in understanding just how important marketing is - good marketing. And likewise, just how horribly bad marketing can offend. It offends me, and I call myself a Christ follower. I can't imagine how it must offend people who don't associate with Christ. And isn't the point of Christianity to share Christ with the world. Maybe, we're not going about sharing him the right way.

I am not Catholic, but I do admire the Pope for a few reasons. One is that he has good PR. The media loves the Pope and the public loves him and I guarantee you a lot of it has to do with the advice he gets from other people about what to and what not to say. That doesn't mean that he doesn't speak the truth, it just means that he is careful in how he says it. Perhaps Christian organizations could learn something from him, too.

The following Web site is worth the read.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Big aspirations.

Yesterday, there was an old junker type of car in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in the city and it was just parked there. I passed it on my way to Quick Trip and I thought I saw the driver sitting there, looking out the window. But it was 80 degrees already at 7:30 a.m., so I figured the driver had probably bailed to go get help or gas. I passed the car again on my way back down the street toward work. This time, though, I noticed a sign on the badly dented rear door that read “Traffic Counter.” That’s right, traffic counter. Someone’s job is actually to sit and count the traffic as it goes by. I wonder if Mr. Traffic Counter had to do all of the counting by memory or if he had some sort of system to help keep track. Is he allowed to use a calculator? How does his employer know he is being honest? Maybe he counts aloud. I think traffic counters must get bored. I’m sure listening to the radio would be distracting and they’ve got to get honked at often and maybe even flipped off sometimes. I thought Mr. TC must have been bored and hot and sticky and his brain probably hurt from the sheer numbers of cars going by and then I thought that maybe I should be a traffic counter. TCs probably make more money than I do and maybe they even get a company car. And I bet they don’t have to work 40-hour weeks. I wonder if I could be a freelance traffic counter. I’ll look into this.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Smelling memories

There is something about the way someone smells that sticks with you. Yesterday, I was at the drug store and the cashier smelled like my friend Rebecca. I didn’t even know that I knew what Rebecca smelled like, but as soon as the cashier started talking to me and her hair caught the air, I smelled Rebecca. They must use the same conditioner. And the other day, Nick came in from grilling chicken in the backyard and he smelled like charcoal, freshly cut grass and dusk, which reminded me of my dad. Any time I smell Polo Sport cologne, I remember Jim, whom I dated in college for under three months. Dove body wash reminds me of my high school boyfriend David and Poison perfume reminds me of my mom. I wonder if people remember me when a certain scent slides past their nose. In high school, I wore Dream by the Gap and then in college, I flirted with Clinique Happy, Ralph Lauren Ralph and vanilla body splash from Bath and Body Works until I decided "my scent" would be Victoria’s Secret’s Pink. But having a "scent" gets expensive and seems a little bit fake. So, I hardly buy it and usually probably smell like suave lotion, hair gel and worry mixed with determination. If only determination and worry had a wonderful, fragrant scent - perhaps then, I'd smell like a bouquet of flowers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I stick my foot in my mouth at least once a day. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that my foot is permanently in my mouth. It tastes funky and all, but it’s better just to leave it there. I get used to the idea this way and am not as shocked when I say something that offends or is taken the wrong way.

This all started in grade school. I rarely gossiped, but when I did, the person I was talking about would always seem to walk into the room I was talking about them in right as I was talking. One time, it was about a teacher. I turned bright red. Turning bright red is something else that I do every day. Really, I shouldn’t even bother to wear makeup.

I turned red last night. My husband and I have a pug named Gus who is the undeniable light of our life. It’s kind of scary sometimes, but we justify it because we don’t have children. When we have kids, we say, they will be the lights of our life. We do want them to call the dog "Mr. Gus" though.

Anyway, last night I was driving and Nick was in the passenger seat and we came upon a woman who was walking two pugs. I kept going, thinking it wasn’t anything worth stopping for or getting all crazy about. Nick would have stopped the car. Good thing he wasn’t driving. As we passed the woman, he rolled his window down, threw his torso out of the window, hung his head as far away from the car as possible and said (in as girly/dorky of a voice as you can imagine) "pugies!!!!"

I couldn’t believe what had just happened. My adult, very masculine husband had turned into a silly teenage girl when he saw two pugs walking down the street. My face was red as I sped away from the scene. "I can’t believe you just did that," I kept saying.

We made a stop to pick up a loaf of bread and on our way home, this time while driving down a busy street, passed the same woman and the two pugs. I thought for sure the adventure was over and we could drive by the dogs like normal people. I was wrong. With cars in a line behind us to witness the scene and the holdup it was going to cause, Nick rolled the window down again and said, "I’m sorry if I freaked you out before. It’s just that we have a pug."
Is the fact that we have a pug an excuse? Or is it evidence that we are way too fond of our four legged child?

Thursday, June 09, 2005


I keep a photograph on my desk at work that was taken on a subway in New York. There is an older man on the subway sitting in his seat holding his head in his hands and he looks exhausted and tired and like maybe he just lost his job or his dog. And on the seat behind him, sitting with her back toward the old man, is a young woman who is also holding her head in her hands but she looks sad and angry and like maybe she forgot what she is living for. I imagine the subway was hot because they are both wearing tank tops and they look a little bit dirty and grungy and stained with sweat and maybe a few tears. And I love this photograph because it reminds me of all of the pain and hurt and anguish in the world and that when I’m hurting, I’m not the only one and that when I’m not hurting, I need to comfort those who are. I also love the image’s raw emotion – a moment when two strangers sat close enough to each other to breathe the same air, but not close enough to speak or to realize that they each were suffering - that they were both mourning the loss of something they needed or the absence of something they never really had.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Choosing what to love

I was driving behind a car with the license plate "ILVCASH" today and I got really angry. I guess I just think there are so many other things in life to love before cash. Like people and God and books and flowers and really anything seems better right now to love than cold, hard cash. But what really irked me was that the driver of the black SUV that sported the cunning phrase would actually broadcast this love to the entire driving public. I can think of better things to put on a license plate and I can also think of the name I thought about calling him when I read his personalized love claim. But, I decided not to call him a name and not to assume awful things about his priorities and his life and his family. Instead, I felt sorry for him. Really sorry. Because I wondered if he realized that money is a temporary comfort. That there never seems to be enough no matter how much you have and that no matter how little you have, someone else has less. I wonder if the driver I saw loves cash more than people, more than the poverty stricken nations that could use some of his cash if he could bare to part with it. I wonder if his wife loves cash, too or if he even has a wife. And I wonder if he realizes that in the end, he can’t take his cash with him - no matter how much he loves it.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Refusing M&Ms

I used to need M&Ms. I grew up with very strict rules about nutrition and sugar and junk food and didn’t get to eat many things that tasted like they were rotting my teeth. But when I was allowed sugar, something in my heart warmed up and I felt all gooey and good inside.

I didn’t get to eat them often, but each time my parents left me with a babysitter so they could go out and see a movie, they would bring me back a pack of M&Ms and leave it on my dresser for me to find in the morning. I hated babysitters. The whole idea of a teenage girl being responsible enough to protect me and to scare off strangers made no sense. But, knowing that while they were out, my parents were buying a treat just for me was comforting. Because I knew they hadn’t forgotten me, that they wouldn’t forget and I knew that when I woke up they would be back home and I would have chocolate and the stupid babysitter would be back at her house where she still had to live with a mom and a dad and where she probably wasn’t even able to stay home alone.

In college, whenever I was sick or had cramps, friends would buy me a one-pound bag of M&Ms. I guess the chocolate still soothed me then. It made me feel like I was home or like someone cared. I would eat the entire bag in too few sittings and then, I’d swear to never eat another M&M. But, I kept going back. The M&Ms kept coming from friends and old boyfriends and from times when my willpower wasn’t strong enough to resist them in the corner store.

Today, I said no to M&Ms. I received a press release at work for the new, mega-sized peanut M&Ms, which come in colors like teal and maroon and gray. And if you ask me, they’re really ugly and drab and they look a little bit dirty, too. I know this because the release came with a one-pound bag of the candies. And though I opened the bag, I didn’t want them because now, M&Ms remind me of what had been. Of a marriage that used to be intact, of parents that used to be together and of happier, less confusing times. I didn’t want to even try to be soothed by the stupid candies today because what I’m feeling hurts too badly – and it’s a pain too stabbing for even chocolate to numb. But mostly, it hurts to remember and to imagine the things I may have not known about and the things I knew about and how something that seemed so perfect from the outside could have gone so wrong. So, I gave the M&Ms to my coworker, but I got a stomach ache anyway. This time, not from eating too many chocolates but from remembering the times when I did.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

An ode to U2

I’ve been listening to a lot of U2 lately. My infatuation with all things Bono began in seventh grade when my boyfriend at the time bought me the Rattle and Hum tape for my birthday. The second I popped it into my red Casio tape player, I was hooked.

And though I used to need a U2 fix at least once a week, lately, I’ve forgotten about Bono. The CDs are dusty in cases and emo has seemingly overtaken my music selection. I’m ashamed.

Four weeks ago, I had to get some dental work done at this fancy dentist where you can actually get a paraffin hand dip and watch a DVD while breathing laughing gas and reclining on a chair so comfortable it could lull you into sleep. The chair also features one of those thin black back massagers that doesn’t really do much other than vibrate. So, while jiggling around all loopy on laughing gas with my hands covered in paraffin, snug in oven mitts, I chose to watch a U2 concert while the dental assistants poked and prodded and made my jaw hurt - bad. It may have been the laughing gas or the overwhelming feeling that I was drunk and happy and everything the dentist said to me was crazy funny, but U2 seemed better than ever.

Maybe it’s like brussel sprouts. I had to acquire an even better taste for U2. Maybe it’s that playing Love Is Blindness really loud with my sunroof open and windows down and sunglasses on makes me feel really, really cool (and old). Or maybe it’s just because U2 might be the best band ever, but this week, I’m putting away The Used and pulling out a little Achtung Baby.