Saturday, January 31, 2009

Twin Language

After a long day filled with poor speech I sat at my desk answering calls for prep scores consistently asking for 'feel golds'. Confused? No, 'feel golds' has nothing to do with any sport. I'm not even sure it fits into a sentence correctly. Totals for field goals are important in the high school basketball realm which is where I was. Partially.

The majority of my brain fell asleep and of the small portion left I connected with an ugly truth—my speech impediment. I've known about it for years. As a four or five year old I ran from my house to my cousin's next-door home ranting and raving about all things. This was the time in my life when I was loud and energetic screaming, dancing, singing completely unaware that I didn't know how to talk.

Until Tracy and Brian (cousins) informed me that something was wrong. They had a large black lab and it jumped on me so I was a little scared of it. The new pup was worse. I stood behind the fence yelling about some 'lellow' bike or popsicle or toy. I'm not sure but I remember repeating it time and time again.

"Say Yellow," Brian said.

"Lellow," I replied.

"No, Yellow," he said.

"Yeah, lellow," said I.

"Not lellow, Y-ellow," tried Tracy.

"Oh, L-ellow," I said satisfied.

"NO, Y-Y-Y-Yellow," they exclaimed.


"Yellow with a y not an l," Tracy offered.

"That's what I'm saying," I insisted.

And I went home and asked my family who agreed with my cousins and the rest of the world, that when speaking English Y and L don't interchange. I practiced my yellows.

I got my consonants reasonable sorted but those vowels trouble me still. And I knew I was screwed when the twins pointed out that pin and pen sound different because they're spelled different. Hmmm. I practiced my vowels. But wait, how did Amber and Heather notice my slurred sounds? Why did they pick up on something so commonplace in Lamar?

Years of speech therapy that was needed after they developed twin language. My mom thinks they'd stopped speaking it when I was around. I lay blame on their jumbled language meant for two spoken during my developmental stage. My pronunciation suffers.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blind Faith

It’s not that I don’t like church; it’s that I enjoy entertaining my brain and sometimes that means a little game of Sudoku in the third hour of service. Fortunately I sit with the right people on the back row and they came prepared. This is also good as they like to make clever remarks in an outside-voice whisper. If they are involved in a game it limits their whispering.

Another thing that helps? A power outage. A blonde girl stood in front of the pulpit harmonizing gracefully with the piano. As she held her last note the lights hesitated slightly before the blackout. A hesitation her voice mimicked before fading out and the last few notes on the piano clanging in discord.

Like a bad actor the lights faked death a few times giving us false hope. Of course in the back row we hoped for an early out. Our final speaker did not. He’d prepared to deliver an inspirational message and perhaps the darkened room gave impact. A hush fell on the crowd. Not immediately—at first you could hear snickers and whispering which led to laughter as someone provided an LED flashlight keychain for our speaker to use.

I thought he would use it in campfire fashion, below his chin casting eerie shadows on his face. He’s more practical and used the light to read quotes and scripture. I tried to focus, which should have been easier since I couldn’t see my Sudoku board. But I kept thinking of the few times I’ve been in the dark during a church event. There were a total of two, neither a dance (those were well lit).

I remembered Youth Conference. My first year we had a trek camp out in the wastelands of Pueblo. Actually it was the wastelands, some huge plant was a few hills away and I heard rumors of pollution and radiation. Somehow stuck the delinquents we refused to sleep at nightfall. Instead we waited until it was quiet and snuck over to the boys’ side of camp where we played games and watched for shooting stars. I looked up at the ceiling. No stars this time.

My second memory was of girl’s camp. One year the leaders sent us on a rope hike. In the dark starless night they told us to hold onto the rope and follow it to the tree of life. I remember stumbling over tree roots, listening to running water fade in and out as the bends in the creek brought it near and carried it away and I remember thinking some crazy ax-wielding mountain man would emerge from the blackness. He didn’t but a visionary tree decorated with glow sticks appeared when I entered the clearing.

The meeting closed and I felt spiritually remembered.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Long ago in Lamar a crime wave ran through the town, a theft of street signs. Done in the late night hours people would wake up without the reminder of where they lived. Cars turned down unidentified streets. Chaos and mayhem spread from east to west, north to south. Luckily we still gave directions according to landmarks like the stinky tower, Taco Johns, the old house on 3rd street, and the large dip. No one got lost but I think the town felt slightly violated, like an old man victim to practical jokes.

It was in the not-so-late night hours that I learned of the culprits. My friend Austin called to chat and told me of the plan to get the Austin Rd. street sign. It involved a complex walking route. Austin lived a few miles out of town to the northwest and Austin Rd., about a mile from my home, was located outside of town to the southeast.

Austin and Justin, who lived much closer, planned to stay at Austin’s house. They would sneak out in the middle of the night and walk the long distance to unbolt the sign and run back. I failed to see the beauty of it all because I was mentally calculating the time involved. When I voiced my opinion Austin answered in true teenage boy fashion.

“I’ll prove it to you,” he said. “We’ll leave something on your basketball court. Go look on Saturday morning.”

When Saturday arrived I stumbled out of bed more interested in breakfast than the breaking news of crime. Until my mom mentioned there was a note for me outside. On the cement of our half court someone had used rocks to spell out BRE and artistically placed the metal adjusting pole beside it. I laughed in amazement. It must have taken some time to pick up enough rocks to make letters that big and I wondered how long the journey took.

Austin called me later that day after he woke up. He wanted to know if I’d received the message. He also told me that they had thrown rocks at my window trying to wake me up, but got spooked because my bedroom was next to my parents.

He also confessed that they had spent the night at Justin’s house. I guess they’d tried to walk into town the previous night and realized it took too long.

Now I use street signs constantly, I have no memory the various houses to turn by. One significant sign was recently enhanced and I find myself plotting a late night theft.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stalking 101

Driving to The Canyons I expected a lazy day of snowboarding. With my new heelside skill I needed to practice my turns and a sunny, snowless Thursday seemed perfect. It was the day before the Sundance Film Festival kick-off meaning everyone would be indoors prepping. And if not, who wouldn’t want to run into someone famous (literally with me) on the slopes.

As expected the parking lot only extended four rows. I turned down excited about the short walk and caught a glimpse of a familiar face framed by blonde hair. I had been looking at pictures of her the night before. With my empty unemployed days I’ve spent many hours online, enough to notice the recycled articles. Once I committed those fun facts to memory I found a new form of entertainment—blog stalking.

Few people update their blogs daily, some even go weeks before posting something new and my friends can hold out for months. Not really convenient for me so in true traitor form I began looking for new blogs by clicking on every link my friends had posted. Reading blog of friends of friends seemed a little less creepy too. That’s when I found ASH, a fun young blonde with hysterical theatrics on all of her short-lived blogs. The pictures alone convinced me that she could perform at any social event.

After I saw her in the parking lot I parked a few cars away. It’s not like I really knew her so I could be mistaken about the identity. And I needed some time and distance while I thought of ways to introduce myself. “Hi, I’ve been stalking you online” didn’t seem appropriate. I looked again. Confirmation. A clear shot of her face and I nodded with certainty. It helped that she stood talking to a mutual friend who had just parked in front of her.

I didn’t run up and gushingly tell her about my loyal blog reading. Instead I sat in my car adding layers of clothing, hoping to smother the embarrassment of being star-struck.

Thinking back I should have been bold and forward. Next time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Shot Through the Heart

Pulling up to the elementary school triggered memories from my Parkview Pirates days. The line of buses and kids running out the doors with coats half on and bags dragging across the cement. Actually I rarely saw much of that. I rode bus 504. It came early and those of us cool enough to ride it lined up by the entrance counting down the last seconds of the school day. As soon as the bell rang we walked single file to the long flat-faced yellow monster, the only of its kind. I missed out on the wild kids running to meet their parents and the horn honking traffic jams.

Picking up Justin I panicked, should I stay in the car? Line up behind the buses? Circle the parking lot? I finally decided to park on the corner of the street as far from the school as possible. That decision felt a little forced because it was. The little voices increased in volume the closer I got to the school.

My mouth turned up a little at the corners, half amused at the carefree abandon, half annoyed at the shrill sound. Then a small boy at the top of the play structure introduced his friends to an old favorite of mine—Bon Jovi.

The boy sang out, “Shot through the heart.” My mouth grew into a full-blown smile and my mind finished and your to blame, darling you give love a bad name.

I guess some people remain ageless.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Puck You Putz

Sometimes in life you take one for the team. Like attending a hockey game on a Friday night. This wouldn’t be lame if the team plays well, you enjoy toothless smiles or you know more about the sport than ‘guys on ice’ (not to be confused with figure skating).

Actually when my roommate asked me to be her date for the night I felt a little twitter in my heart. She lives with me, sees me nearly every night and passes by my room every morning. She knows my eating habits and my intimates; in fact she's had to change my laundry a few times. Yet she still wanted to spend her night of fun with me so I did my best to be a wonderful date. I showered.

Not the quick I'm-in-a-hurry-but-shouldn't-be-this-greasy shower, but an I've-got-to-make-an-impression-if-this-is-going-to-go-anywhere shower. Feeling fresh and disturbed at my need to feel pretty I accompanied Stacey to the E-Center. Once we passed through the metal doors I felt troubled with the knowledge that my high-heeled boots clanked too loudly on the aluminum floor. I also worried that my eyeliner looked a little too glam and not nearly enough like a black eye. Awkward.

Stacey got the tickets to support her career. She works for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and hockey was the event of choice for the week. We sat in the general JDRF section and we thought the seats were great. Then we realized that if you sit behind the goal you don’t get any of the free stuff they tried to shoot from air guns. It was a challenge for some of the volunteers.

Back to Stacey and I because the game lacked in excitement—judged by the empty stadium seats and crowd quality. We moved around a bit and comfortably settled in seats behind friends who joined us in mocking the fans to our left. The enthusiastic foursome had a penchant for dancing and cheering but sadly no rhythm. When they attempted to join a cheer they were about two beats off resulting in a duet round instead of uniform chant.

We laughed and bit our lips in horror. Then the unbelievable happened. In a stadium with 85% of the seats open a young looking man-child looked at Stacey and I in disgust as he told us we were sitting in his seats. I guess we looked dumbfounded because he asked us to move as if we didn’t understand. So we moved down two seats in shock. For all the things hockey fans are not one thing they are, sticklers for their seats, even when plenty of better seats are available.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


People generally look confused when I explain that I can’t ride heelside. Yep, I spend my snowboarding adventures staring at the mountain watching people accelerate towards me. Luckily I wear four-inch heels regularly leaving my calves with muscle memory for that position.

This is the point when the world stops to wonder why I purchased a season pass, especially coupled with the knowledge of my fear of heights. Not at all intimidating to fly down a steep mountain. Right. Except when that mountain seems to double in size and instead of appreciating the beautiful breathtaking view I’m holding my breath while visualizing somersaults off a cliff or into a tree.

I did both a Targhee. Ok, the cliff wasn’t so much a cliff as I ran off the trail and got stuck in deep snow. I had to clip out and clamber back to safety. It took awhile and my butt has never had a better workout. As for the tree, it’s tiring to be on your calves for hours. Eventually your legs stop responding. When you try to turn or stop things don’t work and combining the two ends with an arm wrapped around a tree and a beard of snow.

That was the pinnacle of embarrassment for my snow career and the last run of 08. For New Year’s I made one pathetic resolution—to take the mountain on my heels. Only four days later I had the chance to accomplish that goal. And to make sure it happened I threatened myself. On a beautiful powder day I swore to chop off my toes so I couldn’t use them if I didn’t learn heelside.

I suppose I can’t say for certain but I believe that the threat worked where the goal wouldn’t. In the presence of a kind, patient brother who gave encouragement I made that first turn from toes to heels. The view was amazing. And lasted a total of four seconds before I realized what I’d done and fell in excitement. Not the only fall of the day. I spent the rest of my afternoon repeating the cycle—turn, look, gasp, fall.

My bum was sore but my calves were not. Bruises of victory.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Targhee Nights

In the blistering cold covered by night their glistening eyes gazed at the gleaming white mound.

The photographer knelt in place and a light shone on the frozen powder padding for landing. Cold digits reluctantly curved around the bar tethered to the truck that purred loudly in the quiet sleeping hours.



Down, down, down the hill they rode. Up, up, up the slope they climbed. Off the ramp into the air they soared. Poof, splat and crunch they fell into the packing snow.

Then the lights dimmed and the air began to bite a warning. A dark figure charged toward them, a headmaster signaling the end of recess. Threats of the law halted the fun and they gathered their gear to leave.

Alone in the cab she shivered and shook for the battery life had been drained.

Outside they stood like a mob and they fire they breathed sent billows of gray to the stars. But the figure held firm and with a stern look shooed them from the winter resort.

The mob grew defiant at best ready to knock on every door. The figure he caved, or faced he the grave, and he offered assistance at last.

A passing lot noticed and stopped holding the life giving cables. Though the grills kissed the helpful fools couldn’t give a spark and they fled ignorant of the crime.

The rescue group arrived with a cheer and succeeded where others had not. The roar of the engine echoed as they piled inside. With frosty smiles they coursed down the mountain and the figure watched their retreat.