Sunday, November 8, 2015

Don't freak out

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away (for reals, we're talking Cody, Wyoming in the '90s), the kids' dad was a kitchen manager/cook in a restaurant where I was a waitress.  Whenever he made something delicious, which, quite honestly, was all the time, he would strut out of the restaurant kitchen and proudly say, "Don't freak out about the soup (or whatever fabulous dish he had prepared)."  This was his way of letting us know that the batch of soup he made for the lunch rush was so damn good we'd all freak the hell out, and that, regardless of how amazing it tasted, we should not in fact, freak out.  Just think of it as a cute passive-aggressive way of proclaiming that his food was hella good.  And it was.

I was never a talented cook, in spite of Dave's many patient attempts to teach me his ways while we were together. I didn't enjoy it, I didn't want to learn, I didn't care if I never learned, and why would I?  I was married to a fucking cook!  I prepared enough decent meals to get us by, and every now and then Dave would whip up a concoction that reminded me that my place in the kitchen was to stay out of the damn kitchen.

Finally about a year and a half ago, after eons of just getting by, I began to teach myself.  What it boiled down to was, I wanted to have things at home that tasted as good as when we went out to eat.  It was a lofty goal, but sufficient for me to get my shit together enough to actually take pride in what I served to the kids.  Feeding the kids meals I was proud of made me think of Dave and his comment about freaking out, so one day I decided to tell them about what he used to say when he made delicious food.

As I served them a meal other than boxed macaroni and cheese, I said, "Don't freak out over dinner," and explained what that meant.  After the first bite or two, each of us bellowed some insanely loud, obnoxious noise; we freaked out.  Ever since then, whenever a savory meal is served (which is most of the time), we each take the opportunity to freak out in our own peculiar ways.  Our usually very quiet home all of a sudden erupts into a several-second cacophony of the loudest, most obnoxious, most deafeningly ridiculous sounds, regardless of who can hear us and what they must think.

So if you ever have the opportunity to witness such craziness, understand that you have peeked into one of many sacred rituals that has woven its way into this tight little pack of weirdos we call a family.  Not only is it our way of expressing our gratitude for delicious meals, it's our means of paying homage to the man who started it all.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Just let go

Last weekend I was halfway up a small mountain on the second day of a car commercial shoot, exhausted and bruised and weary from the work we had done running, crawling, and climbing our way through mud and rocks and wind.  We were waiting for the crew to set up the next shot, and in my worn and frazzled state I looked up to find that the few clouds above us had become the most beautiful shades of pink and orange as the sun began to set.

In that instant everything left my body, every ache and pain, every trace of exhaustion, every bit of irritation that had accumulated within me throughout the course of the weekend.  The sky in its warm evening colors drew me in and held me like a parent gently holding a child as she lay on her back in a deep pool of water.  I felt intoxicated by its beauty and weightless in its simplicity, hearing nothing but silence.

The beautiful sky held me transfixed but for a handful of seconds, long enough to fill me with a deep appreciation for the natural world which exists without worry, or stress, or fatigue.  It just does its thing and moves along in its own time and pace, heedless of the difficulties us humans impose upon ourselves.  Those few seconds are still with me, and as I deal with the bullshit of life, I remember that sometimes life isn't about the hard parts.  Sometimes it's about the handfulls of beautiful seconds that take us by surprise and fill us with such happiness and pleasure that we are transported to a realm within ourselves that only exists when we are simply willing to let go.

So let go with me...let go of the bullshit and let's watch the sky for a minute or two and open ourselves up to something amazing.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Last summer I found myself hating my security job at the zoo - I absolutely hated it.  Standing in one spot for days on end, amounting to nothing more than a babysitter for adults who should know better, proved to be a little more than my mind and legs could stand.  So I quit.  Around the time I quit I found myself really struggling with who I was, what I wanted in life, what I was meant to do with my life.

 A friend had asked me, If you could do anything, what would you do?  I couldn't come up with an answer.  I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but eventually my kids will grow up and fulfill their own dreams.  Without them, who am I?  I just didn't know, and this frustration about not knowing myself segued nicely into my own little midlife crisis.

I looked for a new job, ready to do anything, and I applied everywhere.  No one would hire me.  Not as a weekend cashier at Lowe's, not as a cashier at Costco, not anything at a grocery store, not as office help.  Not one fucking bite.   One night I sat on the front step and just cried out of frustration, hopelessness, anger, fear, just everything.  I pleaded with the Universe to give me something, anything...just fucking HELP ME!

Then it hit me.

An idea so absurd and out of left field squeezed its way into my dejected soul and offered itself up to me like a Thanksgiving feast on a sterling silver platter:

I wanted to act.

Throughout my whole adult life, acting was something I always wanted to try.  I recently read through the journals I've kept since I was little, and a common thread was that I would have loved to have been able to act, or to at least give it a try and see what I could do.  Life simply never offered me the opportunity to give it more than a moment's thought, until that evening on the front step.

I gave it a couple days' thought, and shared my plans, however crazy they were, with the kids. and without hesitation they provided me with their unconditional support.  I had no idea where to start, so I opened up my good friend Google and typed in "acting auditions Denver," which led me to a link to for open auditions for the Colorado Film School.  Twice a year they hold open auditions to anyone and everyone who would be put into a pool of actors for the film students to use, and all I needed to do was sign up for an audition slot and come prepared with a monologue.

I arrived for my audition with a headshot I had taken myself, no resume, and nerves so strung up you could have played me like a cello.  I stood in front of the camera, nailed my lines, and left with a feeling I had never felt in my entire life - that of complete confidence in the direction my life was to take.  I gave myself a year to see what I could make of myself, and what a year it's been.

Over the next nine months I auditioned for any role I could within the student film community.  I occasionally worked as an extra, I played parts I loved, I played parts I didn't love, I played very small parts and some not-so-small.  The films ranged from five minutes to fifteen minutes, all of them short and sweet.  I enjoyed working on such a small scale because I had so so so much to learn, and the students I was working with were learning as well which made every shoot such a great experience for everyone.

I learned that I do not like to see myself on film and that I'm extremely critical of myself, and even though I've gotten great feedback, I'll never feel as though I'm any good. I learned that rejection isn't bad and that it happens a gazillion times more often than a job offer, and that's OK.  Sometimes I found myself in a better place because of the rejection, so I learned to not beat myself up too much when it happened.

I found that the entire process gives me a high like I've never felt before, from auditioning, to memorizing lines, to being in front of a camera, to doing takes over and over and over again.  Every project leaves me literally buzzing with happiness.  Amanda and I watched the movie Pleasantville, where basically the people start out in black and white, and when they find their passion they turn to color.  One day while we were out shopping and talking about the fun I was having with acting, she looked at me and said, "'ve found your color."  I almost cried right then and there.

I finally found my color.

A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to audition for an agent, and was offered representation on the spot.  She was pleased with the work I had on my still-little resume and was surprised I hadn't had any formal training.  I suppose producing tears on cue comes more from the crap life has handed you than from acting classes, but one day when I can afford them I will be taking them.  I left with the understanding that the market in Denver is sparse compared to LA, but that didn't deter me.  I am happy starting slow and getting my feet wet at a pace I can handle.

Last week I worked for four days on a TV show that filmed here in Denver.  It was my first real job, and it was an incredible experience.  I don't want to say the name of the show, mainly because I think I suck so bad that I really don't want people I know watching me (and it won't air for a few months anyway).  That's a hurdle I'll have to learn to overcome I suppose.  It's a show that does murder reenactments, and I played the part of one of the victims.  I absorbed as much as I could, I met great people, and I felt extremely grateful for the opportunity.

I gave myself a year to see what I could do, and it was almost a year to the date that I was offered the TV spot.  Acting has been life-changing for me.  It makes me so happy.  Just so fucking happy.  And my kids love to see me happy too.  It has given me the serious boost I desperately have needed to get off my butt and get into the gym, and I've dropped 25 pounds.  I eat better, I take better care of myself, I am proud of myself.

I am living a life of the most brilliant color, and it's beautiful.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

His last year

Brandon turned twelve today, and he's showing some sure signs of diminishing childhood - he is beginning to grow like a weed and he eats like he's preparing for a decades-long food shortage.  We figure this is his last year of being a kid and it actually makes him sad.  And it makes me sad.  And Amanda.  He doesn't want to grow up and we don't want him to either.  He has been the best little kid I could have ever hoped for, and Amanda wouldn't know what to do with him as anything other than her little baby brother.

We celebrated at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and had a fantastic time.  :)

Oh and Amanda got her braces off!

 Kept this picture nice and big so you wouldn't miss out on the epic faces.

The left was taken in 2009, the right taken today.

Friday, May 8, 2015


A couple days ago Amanda and I perused through my blog a bit, laughing at some of the funny stories I told about TSA, enjoying all the pictures, and giggling at the absurdities of her younger self (and Brandon's as well).  As we finished, she declared that I need to be writing and taking pictures again. The thought gave me pause as a grip of terror found its way around my chest.

My entire blog (however sparse it's been the last couple years), is a representation of some of the most difficult years of my life, our lives, and to come back here for a visit feels like I'm ripping off finally-healed scabs.  I feel as if I've clawed and dug my way out of a very long, slimy, scary, dark tunnel into the most beautiful sunshine, and even coming to write this post feels a bit like I'm flirting with disaster.

Having said that, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to stretch my fingers and find the courage to begin writing about life as it is now, life with a teenager and a soon-to-be pre-teen.  Maybe I just have to trust that the ghosts and ghouls of years past wont sneak up and strangle me back into the darkness in which they reside.  But then again, maybe writing again will help me to revisit the old blog posts, to peek under the covers a little and bring light to the darkness.

My other passion, photography, died right alongside my blog.  I used my camera maybe a couple of times in as many years, so along with revitalizing my writing, I'm hoping to breathe some life back into my photography.  With baby steps perhaps I can learn to merge the old wounds with the new life and appreciate that both have made, and are making me, who I am today.