I won’t toot my own horn too much, but I have to say that there have been many epic surprises I’ve pulled successfully either on or in cohoots with my family. My siblings and I put together a surprise dinner for my parents many years ago nicknamed Operation SueRodge, we all threw a surprise wedding anniversary for my aunt and uncle a couple years back, and I even went so far one year during graduate school as to fly back to Virginia unannounced and have my cousin (thanks Jessica!) pick me up at the Richmond airport to surprise my whole immediate family over a long weekend. I dropped my bags, looked around, and said, “Guys, you seriously need to run a vacuum, this place is a MESS!”


Their faces were priceless. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.

So fast forward to yesterday, when Big G called and said she was coming. I’d had a long week (as you are all well aware hopefully) and it was maybe 8:30pm? I was falling asleep on the couch. Literally. But I hadn’t seen her in a while so I brewed a few cups of coffee and got ready to chat  for a bit. When she got a call from a friend needing a ride from the airport, I agreed to go along, lamenting that she wouldn’t let me drive because she wanted to listen to her iPod (I prefer NPR because I am elderly). We got to the passenger pickup, wherein I volunteered to get onto the sidewalk and dance/boogie so that her friend could find us, as there were like 50,000 flights coming in late on a Friday night. When my sister Melissa came walking down the sidewalk, my jaw dropped to the ground. And I simply asked, “what are you doing here?!”


This was the face I made. Total shock.

Both of my siblings have little kids. And Utah, if you didn’t already know, is a lot of flights away from Virginia. Like, a thousand, and none of them are convenient ever. In life. Being “untethered,” I typically go home to see my family because they’re all centrally located, I have fewer responsibilities, and it gives me an opportunity to spoil my nieces and nephews. When I saw that my sister had surprised me with an unexpected weekend of sibs bonding, it was like a thousand champagne corks popping. We’ve had (and will continue to have) an incredible time. And truth be told, I am impressed that everyone in my family not only kept it a secret, but were straight up sneaky about it.


Fort Knox ain’t got nothing on them. Sneaky bastards.

So we’ve been rocking SLC like it’s 2014. We hit the farmer’s market, went shopping at Trolley, rocked all of the street fairs. We traveled all over the valley on the giant grid, my sister bewildered constantly as she’s only been here once before and I lived in a different part of town. We laughed so hard on the drive home from dinner I was crying. And tomorrow is going to be more epic. Stay tuned. Until next time, stay classy (and way to pull a fast one on me) Salt Lake.

Chik-Fil-A is Mocking Me

So the last week has been busy. Which is a nice way of saying insane.  And a lot of things took some getting used to. As you well know, I started the week with a sinus infection, but actually took a day to get better. Which I never do. The house was relatively back to its original self after Davey’s departure, until the plumbing gods decided to keep me on my toes by throwing a curve ball or two into my pipes. And work is rather busy, especially today (and tomorrow will be as well) with us operating on a skeleton crew until J&A get back. In short, a crazy week.


Oh Mugatu. You always get me.

So after the plumber fixed my kitchen, I went to the grocery store (which was crazy busy, who runs out of Diet Coke?) caught up on emails and made a few calls. Looking despondently at the mess in the kitchen, I decided to put the crockpot back in commission because there are only so many protein bars I can eat before I feel like Hulk Hogan. I went to grease the pot and throw some marinade in, and checked the fridge for the chicken I had just bought. And realized, in my quest to get out of the insanity of people bouncing checks and demanding to speak to the manager at Smith’s, that I had forgotten the chicken. At the store. Two hours earlier.


Big G would murder me for wasting money.

So, being the idiot that I am, I drove back to the store as the sun was setting, and went up to Customer Service to explain that 1) this has literally never happened to me before, but 2) did any of your checkers tell you that someone forgot their poultry? The cashier smiled and nodded, and informed me that it was fine, go grab another package, that this sort of thing happens all the time, etc. Relieved and sheepish, I walked back to the meat section, grabbed a pack of boneless skinless breasts (get your mind out of the gutter) and jumped back into the toaster to drive home. And then the cashier’s words returned to me…


“This sort of thing happens all the time.”

Um, wait. I know I say this when something happens relatively frequently. And that the gal was hopefully just trying to be nice. But really? 32-year-old man-children leave bags of s%^t at the grocery store for two hours and then come back demanding their chicken and, “this sort of thing happens all the time?” Really? Either the Sugarhood is full of some really scatterbrained people, Smith’s is really forgiving, or I’ve just been sucked into one of those Super Mario warp pipes that spit you into an alternate universe where my familial Mr. Magoo tendencies are not only recognized, but accepted as the way to do business.

Man In The Water

In which case I’ll take two of these. Put’em in the cart.

So lesson learned. Do not try to do fifty things at the same time when you’re souped up on antibiotics and coming down from paying a plumber in kidneys and vital organs, because you’ll forget something important. Like some chicken in a bag. And you know what Sweet Brown would say to that. Until next time, stay classy (because ain’t nobody got time for THAT) Salt Lake.

The Joys of Homeownership

I was hoping for a nice, quiet Wednesday evening at home after a rough start to the week with my sinuses deciding that it was the season to make me want to crawl into a hole. Imagine my surprise and delight to come home to a kitchen sink that looked like a couple of dirty bombs went off in it while I was at work. Perplexed by the ring of gross that had somehow magically appeared during the day in an empty home, I went about cleaning out the debris as best I could and running the disposal. Upon which nothing happened. Other than a really gross amount of greyish water backing up into the other sink.


At this point, I figured this was probably above my pay grade.

I drove to the grocery store, bought some Dran-o, and hoped for the best. So far, no luck. The sink is still clogged. And in going online to terrify myself with searches like, “what did I do in my life for my condo to turn against me,” and, “how do poltergeists screw your clogs up when no one is even home to frighten,” I have found a whole host of issues that I might be facing in the near future. Best case scenario, the dishwasher (my most hated kitchen appliance) is messing with my sink drain. Worst case, there’s a clog somewhere in the building that is causing my anguish. Long story short, I may end up having to get a plumber to come out and try to determine what the problem is.

plumbers butt2

Can’t wait for that bit of sunshine and rainbows.

So as of right now, the kitchen is kaput. I made food in the crockpot that is cooling on the counter, but I am afraid to use the sink to rinse the bowl for fear of a flood of green-ish water akin to Noah’s predicament, but with nasty bits of old (what I dearly hope is) food floating around first in the sink and if I am lucky staying there until I can figure out what the problem is. These are the days that I miss renting, when I could have called Virg and Sarah to come over and fix all of my problems while I screwed around on Netflix, blissfully unaware of the potential plumbing horrors they faced in my stead.


Those were the good times.

So I’m just going to sit here and stew in the living room, waiting for the big speech by the Prez and the coverage that will ultimately piss me off enough to take a Unisom and hope that I don’t wake up to a lake in the kitchen. Until next time, stay classy (and beware homo-wnership) Salt Lake.

Daytime Television 2.0

Also known as, “this sinus infection is trying to literally kill me with fake smiles and pithy laughs.” There are a few bright spots to be sure when I am home during a sick day. There’s the couch. And Ellen. Though now she’s on later on a different network so I’ve been forced to ponder whether to watch The Doctors (who, as far as I can tell currently, don’t do any real doctoring on the show) or clean the lint tray in the dryer. I know, excitement awaits when my body decides to mutiny and I force myself to stay home just long enough to promise myself that unless I am bedridden, I need to be at work tomorrow.


Seriously. How many Yakult commercials must I watch?

The other two things I want  to mention in this rant concern both the programming content I’ve been swilling all afternoon, and the Public Service Announcements (or PSAs) I’ve been watching. Don’t get me wrong. The “don’t text and drive” commercials are actually really well put together. The first time I saw them, I was worried that they were actually going to show the nice little lady and her daughter pulverized by a teenaged girl obliviously barreling down a residential street. But therein lies the problem: I’ve seen the damned commercial six times, and I’m not the target audience.


If you’re targeting teens, don’t air during the midmorning hours.

Most kids are at school, remember?

The more significant beef with these “programs” is that, unlike shows like The Price is Right where you know you’re just being senselessly marketed to in order to increase your buying activity for Polident and terrible dining room sets, of the four shows I watched today, two were glorified info-mercials for specific people and products. Not like, “oh I’m shilling my new book on your show, here are some interesting facts about me, blah-blah-blah everyone gets a free book!” More like, “this guest is brought to you by ‘Milkbone’, the treat your puppy deserves. Go buy them. Now.” Literally not even trying to pass as something remotely related to entertainment.


Is it entertainment? Really?

Then again, I’m not firing on all cylinders thanks to the antibiotics. Though you’d think that worked in the producers’ collective favor, no? So tomorrow I’ll be at work. Probably early, and staying late because we’re slammed. But I’d rather be busy at work than bored to tears at home. Until next time, stay classy (and avoid TV between 11am-4pm) Salt Lake.

Madame Secretary

The annual slugfest that is the HOA meeting was surprisingly less painful than I thought it would be. Then again, it was much smaller (and outside), resulting in a shorter meeting and less time for people to break out their chains and baseball bats. The Riff Raff was still sleeping and the Blue Hairs were out in force (the two rival gangs in the neighborhood) and with the exception of a few choice words and hurt feelings, we all managed to survive relatively no worse for the wear. Just don’t piss off people when it comes to their plumbing.


People have very, very strong opinions on their plumbing.

Having thrown my hat in the ring at a relatively late stage in the game, my name wasn’t on the ballot, which meant essentially that there was no way I was going to end up on the BOD. Which is just as well, as I am already beyond over-extended and committed to too many things. Plus, people go for the jugular at Castle Graystone. I’d have had to invest in some personal protective equipment if I had ended up on the opposite side of the table.


And then I ran into Sarah.

Sarah’s on the BOD, and she found me on my return from the grocery store (saved 38% thank you very much) and said that they had a proposition. I had mentioned during the meeting that I knew Robert’s Rules thanks to Fourth Street and board support, and low and behold, our association is in need of a secretary. Plus, it’s a non-voting position, which essentially means that I got to the meetings and take minutes, but don’t have to worry as much about getting on the bad side of any of my neighbors. So I’ll be able to be involved and active, but not be responsible per se for how many units can be rented or when to replace the roofs.


Rooves isn’t a word. I checked. Weird.

So that’s actually a pretty awesome way to start the weekend. I now have to clean the house, try to clear a slow drain in the shower, and cook to my heart’s content. Though I will admit, I do think I am going into Ultimate Frisbee spectating withdrawal. The house is a lot quieter without Davey, but judging from his travails (see his blog here) he’s definitely living it up in Europe. And he hasn’t been deported yet! Huzzah!

Until next time, stay classy (and get involved) Salt Lake.

Halloween in September

So I took Gracie with me to run some work errands today. I had to pick up an award for SADS, and decided to pick up some advanced screening tickets for her and her soon-to-be hubby that I scored from City Weekly (thanks Vaughn!). It was 3:30pm on a Friday afternoon. Which, in Salt Lake City, typically means that downtown is a complete ghost town. As in, no people, no cars, no trouble. Smooth sailing. Granted, Main Street has never been what one would call “busy” thanks to some very poor planning on the city’s part, but today was different. Very, very different.


What. The. F.

This weekend, an unholy series of forces has joined together to make inner city travel impossible. Typically, I would be happy to see the hub of the Intermountain West bustling, something that typically only happens during the church’s General Conference when every Mormon on the planet that can travels to SLC to get their religion on. But this weekend, the Greek Festival is running concurrently with Comic-Con, which basically means that the entire central business district is chock full of people in superhero costumes, tunics, and ball gowns. It’s like a Halloween party gone horribly wrong during the day, and nobody seems to known where they’re going.


And why is there still construction on Main? W H Y!?

What should have taken maybe 20 minutes turned into an hour long affair. Between road closures, wandering pedestrians in medieval clothing, and the damned train that continually bisects what should be a main thoroughfare, Gracie got to see me all East Coast dark-style. I yelled. I honked. I lamented. And I threw the car into park multiple times in exasperation. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to dress up in tights to meet your favorite costumed character, and then swing by the tents for some baklava, have at it. Just stay in the damned crosswalks and watch where you’re going.


I shudder to think how the Farmer’s Market is going to be tomorrow. Sigh.

So I’ll be avoiding the city this weekend like the plague. We’ve got the infamous HOA annual meeting, which is kind of like watching a cage fight at a senior center. And I might end up on the board. No good deed goes unpunished. Top that with some grants (both contracted and pro-bono, because I am a pushover) and cleaning the house and I’m looking at one exciting weekend. Plus, to top it all off, I got a notice in the mail today that fleabag’s due for shots! She’s going to be THRILLED!


I need this sign. Like whoa.

Until next time, stay classy (and avoid the city if at all possible this week) Salt Lake.

Silence Equals Death

Whoa. That’s quite a big statement for the BLERG to make, isn’t it? But it’s also incredibly true, which is why it resonated at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS pandemic over 30 years ago. Which, for those of you who don’t know, is still happening. It’s not just an Africa or Asia thing. The HIV incidence rate in Utah has refused to budge much since I moved here eight years ago. And while there have been advances in the treatment of HIV infection, there’s no cure. No cure. The number of times I have heard kids (basically) say that they weren’t at risk because there was a cure, or that medications made the problem a non-issue, boggles the mind.


I know, I am probably preaching to the choir. Deal with it.

I typically write things in the BLERG that I am passionate about, that much is clear, but I don’t I usually use the medium to raise money. For a whole host of reasons. It’s a bit heavy-handed. I spend a lot of my time asking people for money professionally and pro-bono in my worklife. Plus, it can seem coercive. And it’s gauche. Besides the BLERG is typically relatively neutral when it comes to cold hard cash. After all, it’s been through the slings and arrows that have defined the life I’ve led so far, and it knows that whatever I choose to do in general, it’s not about the money.


We just want to make the world change, forget about the price tag.

That said, after volunteering and later working for the Utah AIDS Foundation, I saw first-hand the consequences of not educating young people how to protect themselves from an easily preventable illness and I’m breaking my own rules. Teenagers routinely came in to get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections because they had no clue about bacterial and viral illnesses and how they spread. In almost all cases, it wasn’t because they had ignored ways to stay safe. They were never educated in the first place, something I realized soon after I had taken for granted in growing up in an arguably less conservative state and reared by forward-thinking parents. You gain a lot of perspective seeing that every day, and you learn a hell of a lot.


And you get simultaneously angry and sad. Use the anger.

The delivered my first positive HIV test result, I had to pull over on the side of the road to call my mother and cry. Hard. A 20-something young adult would be taking medications for the rest of their life to try to keep the virus at bay. The person I had to inform and counsel didn’t know about how to stay safe, about how the virus lives in different types of bodily fluids. About how there is no cure, despite the sensationalist news we hear about day in and day out. And as a result, their life may be cut short because the “powers that be” decided that these types of conversations belong in the home, not the classroom. At home, where parents who either are too uncomfortable or equally poorly educated on sexual health don’t engage in critical conversations about how to live a happy, healthy life in a way that reduces one’s risk for infection and illness.

Ebola virus

Notice we don’t treat HIV like Ebola. Viruses don’t judge like we do. Listen to the radio.

Sex is complicated. So is intravenous drug use. So is everything else you sign up for when you become a parent. Until we as a society decide to break taboos and social mores and empower young people to live safer sexual lives, we need organizations that inform, educate and empower to fill the gaps. We need the Utah AIDS Foundation, and a whole host of other service organizations that have decided to fill that educational void and keep people safe and free from infection, and to help those living (not dying) of HIV/AIDS access services, medication, case management, and basic necessities. Which is why, almost since I started living here, I do the AIDS walk every year. Because I can talk the talk, but I also walk the walk.


See what I did there?

So do me a favor. Donate. Support the cause. And if you can’t donate, advocate. Or walk with me. Or gave those frank conversations. Or volunteer. Do something so that the gains we collectively have made can continue to chip away at the hold the virus has taken in our lives. Click on the link at the end of my message, or post a reply to this posting about what you are going to do personally to fight the fight. We owe it to ourselves, and each other, to do something. Until next time, stay classy (and active) Salt Lake.