Wednesday, December 29, 2010


On Monday, I met up with two dear girlfriends I have known since I was four for breakfast. We’ve missed each other on my last few trips and I was really looking forward to catching up-Ashley just added a baby girl to her house full of boys and Andrea is dealing with the joys of a teenager so their stories tend to be pretty entertaining.

They called our names to be seated and as I stood up, I felt a little bit nauseous. I figured I was just hungry although that didn’t really explain an odd pain in my lower back. Andrea looked at me funny and asked if I was ok. I said I wasn’t sure and peeled off my coat and scarf thinking maybe I was too hot. I tried to concentrate on the menu but this side pain was pushing everything out of my brain except a rising feeling that I wanted to be lying flat somewhere.

I went to the bathroom, threw my guts up and we all agreed it was time to call my mom. When she answered, all 34 year old independent woman went right out the window, and I started to cry. She told me to go straight to the ER. It’s a good thing all my girlfriends are super bossy because Andrea and Ashley took my keys, forced me into Andrea’s car and off we went.

I haaaate the thought of being really sick. I have never been in an emergency room and I couldn’t stop crying in the car. I was scared and embarrassed and in more pain than I have ever felt in my life. Ever the event manager, I still managed to call my insurance company to make sure the hospital we were going to would take my insurance. When I told the agent no I actually didn’t want to hear about how to go paperless with my statements as I was on my way to the ER and just wanted to check my benefits she said, “honey if it’s an emergency you really shouldn’t worry too much about this part, just go!”.

We got to the hospital and Andrea was helping me walk in, trying to convince me to let her go get a wheelchair but that sounded so awful and embarrassing I said I wanted to walk. Which I did until a fresh wave of pain swept in and I doubled over in the street. I looked up and my cute sister-in-law Tasha had suddenly appeared with a massive orderly and they scooped me into a wheelchair.

I realize that I do have a flair for the dramatic but I typically don’t like to make a scene. All I can tell you about the next ten minutes however, is that I was crying hysterically, I definitely told the entire waiting room that I desperately needed to take all of my clothes off and then I threw up in the bag that the unflappable admitting nurse handed me when I said I needed to get to a bathroom. Apparently vomiting in the ER waiting room is The whole time my brain was screaming, “get it together Clifford!! Stop acting like a Grey’s Anatomy guest star!!” But everything hurt so much all I could do was be that hot mess that bursts in the doors just before the first commercial break.

I will say this though, the way to get seen nearly instantly at the ER is to arrive sobbing. I was gowned up with an IV in about five minutes flat. There was a parade of people asking me what hurt and for my social security number and if I might be pregnant (I am not, a fact that another parade of people confirmed awhile later). And then the guy taking my blood apparently said, “my name is Barlow and I’ll be your nurse,” but I promise what I heard was, “does it bother you that I’m your nurse?”. We had watched Knocked Up the night before and there is a scene with a male nurse that I guess was stuck in my head so I said, “why would it bother me-because you are a dude?” Andrea and Tasha looked at me like I had three heads and Barlow was definitely NOT amused.

The doctor came and took a look (favorite moment, I’m mostly naked and being poked and prodded and he says-“hey where did you go that you got so tan?” So at least someone got to appreciate my lovely tan lines.) and my mom arrived just in time to hear that more than likely it was a kidney stone.

A KIDNEY STONE! Of all the reasons I could end up in the hospital day, a kidney stone is absolutely the unsexiest thing I can think of. “Kidney disease” has been part of the family vernacular for pretty much my whole life. Everyone in my Grandma Clifford’s family died of a hereditary kidney disease and my dad did his damnedest to check out on us 13 years ago when one of his kidneys gave up. His new one turns 11in February. So all apologies to my father, anything kidney related feels like something that happens to old people. Not 34 year old women who ride bikes and run races and drink water all the live long day. The control freak within feels decidedly uncomfortable with the notion that my body can and will play tricks on me even when I try awfully hard to treat it well.

It’s been a really nice holiday but an odd one as well. I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in ages and it seemed like there were more ghosts floating around in Salt Lake than usual. I can run around downtown Salt Lake and not think about the Olympics or hang out in Holladay and not have high school on the tip of my brain but for some reason this trip, all those sort of memories were out in full force. I got some weird news on Christmas from someone I didn’t want to hear from-I just spent quite a bit of the week feeling like I was in a bizarre time warp.

I got some prescriptions and some advice and Mom and Tasha and I went to Noodles and Company and they teased me a little more about poor Barlow the (hot) male nurse and I felt like a human again. We stopped at the Rite Aid on the way home and I ran in to get my precious bottle of percoset.

I was waiting for my pills when this old lady came in complaining as she approached the counter about pain in her leg. I kept thinking-please please please don’t sit next to me, I do NOT want to talk about pain and medicine, I just want to get my drugs and go home and try to get Morgan to play with me before I leave. Sure enough, she sits down next to me and tells me all about the difficulty of getting a doctor to see you at the holidays. But she was nice and she had a slight New York accent so I listened. She asked what I was getting and I told her about my little kidney stone adventure and she told me she had one once too and then suddenly my mean brain clicked over into “be nice” territory and I asked where she was from. “The Bronx. We came here 56 years ago for school.” And then she told me her first husband left her for another woman but at least she had her master’s and her two babies and her second husband had been wonderful. She lost him twelve years ago but she still wears her ring. And then she said, “and you know, I believe that when you are feeling the very worst pain is the moment right before you get an answer.” I don’t know if it was whatever they gave me at the hospital or being tired or spending most of the day scared and tense but I started to cry. And she looked at me with these big sweet eyes and said, “oh honey, I hit a nerve, I’m so sorry!” She asked me how old I was and when I said 34 she said, “come on now, you are just a baby…just a baby.” And it’s funny when a complete stranger feels so familiar but I asked her name and of course it was Stella, because 77 year old Stella from the Bronx WOULD say something that felt like just exactly what I needed to hear.

What I also needed was a little perspective. Things have been a bit rough the last couple of months but geez-how many things can one person be thankful for in 24 hours? That I was in Utah with friends and not alone or on a plane when the attack happened, that I have good insurance, to have family that could rush to the hospital, for nice nurses and doctors and all the modern technology that helps figure out what's wrong and then fixes it pretty fast, for a generally healthy body that meant I could get on a plane home later that night. I know I am really blessed, even in those stretches of time where I can get lost in waves of, "why is this happening to me?" I remember reading an interview with someone who had been really successful but had also been through some terrible stuff saying that if you ask "why me?" when things are not going well, you have to ask that same thing when things are going well. And personally I would rather not throw into question all the great things in my life that I have by no means earned, nor do I deserve.

I was nowhere near death on Monday and what I had turns out to be something that dozens of people I know have been through as well, but for a few hours I was straight up terrified that something really serious was happening to me. That sort of has to get your brain counting it's blessings and being thrilled that you will indeed get to climb another mountain and get on another plane to Spain and maybe, just maybe, be in a hospital someday for something way more fun than a kidney stone (you get that I mean a baby right?).

Not a shabby way to end a year says I.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Shake Your Wiggles Out

Morgan and Wyatt inherited some jammies that Sterling and I wore when we were wee and then Emily and Christopher wore as tiny folks five years later. Naturally I wanted a photo of the two of them posing like Sterling and I did 32 years ago (gross).

This is the attempt to get them to sit still on the couch for ONE PICTURE.

I was unsuccessful.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I'm sorry some of you are still at work. Because we are doing this.

Monday, December 20, 2010


6 a.m. flights seems like such a rad idea when you are booking them (I will have the whole day!) and sooooooooo stupid when you are facing down getting up at 4:00 to get to the airport. But at 8 when baby sis is picking me up, and at 12:30 when Wyatt and Morgan are struggling to remember why they know me, it will all seem alright again.

So I'm sure my posts will be sporadic over the next week. In the meantime, I am nothing short of obessed with this little tune right now. I absolutely love Regina Spektor's contribution and this video is pretty awesome too.

Ben Folds - You Don't Know Me from Eric Wareheim on Vimeo.

SLC, here I come!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I got a notice this week that it's time to decide whether I want to sign another 12 month lease on my apartment. I was sort of surprised to discover that I had my typical panicked feeling when faced with a long term commitment to a place. I love my little apartment, I have a great job, and Colorado and I have fallen in love. So why the raised blood pressure over one measly year?

I came home from New York last weekend in a funny mood. I've been to that city more times than I can count in the last eight years and I always leave thinking, "great city, definitely couldn't live here." For the first time I found myself wondering if that could be my next move. Which is hilarious because it's crowded and expensive and far from my family-all the issues I was trying to solve when I left Boston. But when I landed in the Springs on Sunday afternoon I had this stabbing fearful thought-"what if this is my last stop?? Am I staying in Colorado Springs forever?"

I have no idea where I picked up this fear but at several points of my life I have been terrified that wherever I am is going to be the end of the line. That post-college I would never make good friends again, that post-mission I would never leave Utah, that post-Salt Lake Olympics I would never be excited to go to work on a Monday ever again, that Huntington was the prettiest place I would ever get the picture. And I suppose fear is a pretty good motivator because I've spent the last 12 years trying my hardest to make sure none of those worries came true. My worries and me-the most consistent relationship of my life.

So this time, instead of having a freak out about DYING IN COLORADO SPRINGS, I'm trying to use this lease signing as a time to think seriously about what I would like out of the next year of commitment to this stage of my life.

I don't have any answers yet, I've only been thinking about this for a few days. But I do know that the last year has been a pretty clear sign that the only real roadblocks to the life I want are the ones I put up myself. This has been one of the most intense years of my relatively intense life but I'm pretty satisfied with the view from this mountain I'm scrambling up.

So yesterday I decided to do something that I couldn't do if I lived in New York-drive ten minutes and get on a hopelessy beautiful trail. I talked Heather and Tom into coming with me and we finally found the snow that has been non-existent down here in the valley.

We made up a song with an O in it. It was about Heather. She didn't like it.

We can't believe we get to live here!

This was just after Heather recited a poem about beauty and Tom made fun of us for being tired.

After the false summit.

Tom looks so rugged.



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holy Places

My mother had a custom frame shop for a long time and so we got sort of spoiled with beautiful things on our walls. Even in college, every poster I owned had a fancy frame.

The result is that I'm pretty picky about what I will put up in my house. I don't typically like to buy things that I think I'm going to see somewhere else. So since I'm encouraged at church to have religious imagery in my house I try to find things that every Mormon in America doesn't already have.

My friend Kris and his wife Cathy are photographers (and also one of the most adorable couples on planet earth) and they have taken some really terrific photos of a lot of the prettiest temples in the West.

If you are still looking for something for parents or newlyweds, they are having a holiday sale and there are some really killer photos to choose from. The Newport Beach ones make me just a wee bit homesick, it's such a cool temple. And I sure love the idea of supporting young artists!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rolling Deep

I have this fantasy that someday I will have a holiday season where I actually decorate my house and get my shopping done early and remember to make an advent calendar and I spend the two weeks before Christmas making cookies for all of my neighbors as Nat King Cole plays in the background. I have very vague memories of the season being that way when I was kid.

Alas, it never quite goes that way. But I did get to spend Monday afternoon decorating cookies for the other floors at work

and yesterday we had our Sport Division Holiday Party. Between that and running around looking at trees and lights and windows in New York, it might not LOOK like Christmas in my house but I have a good holiday buzz going.

I also have a couple of great Dear Me letters for you! The first one is from of a friend of a friend who had me in stitches one night over dinner in Denver. Note to any of you wanting to submit a letter-playful letters are most welcome. I love this particular one because if there any bit of advice lots of adults seem to want to impart to their younger selves, it's to kiss more people.

The other one come from yet another friend of a friend and is the kind of gentle but honest letter probably all of our teen selves could have used. "This is who you are kid, you'll still be that way in 10 years but hey! Who you are is good!"

I'm working my way through a bunch of "Best of" music lists from 2010 and I just keep remembering great albums and tracks I had forgotten-a testament I think to the sheer volume of good things that blew through my ears this year. I don't know how I missed this one but holy moly is it good. Adele has such a diva voice and these lyrics, while maybe a little bit angry, are also pretty dead on.

We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside your hand
And you played it to the beat

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Tourist

New York was super fun. I didn't realize how stressed out I was about the meetings with our apparel sponsor until we finished up Friday afternoon and were eating pumpkin cheesecake in the Plaza Hotel and I finally felt like I could take a deep breath.

Everything went really well and now I'm excited for the next meeting where we see some initial designs. So then it was just full speed run around the city-and let me just say that if you would like to get in the Christmas Spirit-New York City certainly does it right.

I had a delightful time with my dear Jed, as usual

we had a Catherine O sighting

I got to see a couple of my favorite HB boys

and even got last minute super fabulous tickets to In the Heights. Jed's parents were in town as well and his mom had never been to a Broadway show.

It took just a little convincing to let her know we might never again get second row seats to a Tony Award winning show that is closing in three weeks for $40 but we managed ; ) Not only was the show a complete joy but it was sure fun to see her face when the lights first came up and the company was practically in our laps.

So now it is Holiday madness until January. I'm heading to Utah a week from Tuesday and can't wait to spoil nephews and see friends and drink some salted caramel hot chocolate on Temple Square.

I'm listening to A LOT of Christmas music. Here is one of this year's favorites.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mother Ship

So I didn't watch 30 Rock tonight because I was busy eating the best fettucine in the world at Alfredo's. But I didn't miss it entirely...

Big meetings with BIG design house tomorrow! And then shopping and goofing around with my bestie Jed and a whole mess of other NYC pals. Not a bad way to spend some cold winter days.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


The security guard in our office asked me the other day about my boyfriend. So of course I just said, "which one?" and got in the elevator.

Today he handed me this when I came in from lunch

So. Awesome.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


There are some weeks when it's just kind of clear that God has a wicked sense of humor.

Early this week I was catching up with an old friend who I totally adore and who just got out of a relationship. I kind of enjoy doing the post-mortem on someone ELSE'S heartbreak and it's always fairly fascinating to hear a male perspective on why something didn't work out. We got on my favorite, and by that I mean very least favorite of all time, topic of how if women get too independent and men don't feel needed, they will bail.

I don't disagree with that fact or frankly with the attitude behind it. It's not like I especially want to be with a guy who doesn't need me either. But here is where I get so frustrated and frazzled when someone tells me that-then what on earth am I supposed to do? Sit around helplessly until a man comes along and saves me? Or learn how to take care of myself and have a full and active life until a guy comes along who digs a girl like that at which point I will gladly turn over auto maintenance and garbage duty and bug killing and dress zipping up aid and worry easing pep talks and all the myriad of other things that yeah, I can totally do myself but like pretty much all human beings, I'd sure love to have a teammate around to help with. I don't need a man in the sense that my life is a mess without one. But I totally want one. And I'm kind of looking forward to all those little compromises I'll have to make to let someone else into my life. I truly believe that going it alone for so long means an extra dose of appreciation when you no longer have to handle everything yourself.

So two things happened this week that made me think, "yep, I'm gonna be juuuuust fine."

My coworker Todd and I go for a bike ride every Thursday. This week I was having some ID badge drama and couldn't get into the locker room to change. I was kind of rattled and rushing around once I finally got in because I knew I still had to check my tires and fill my water bottle and I didn't want to hold Todd up any longer than I already had. I ran into the storage room and almost had a heart attack when I didn't see my bike anywhere. I came out the door practically in tears and there was Todd, with both of our bikes, tires ready to go and my water bottle full. It was such a small gesture but so kind. I was a bit overwhelmed in fact and Todd seemed a bit thrown by how pleased I was. I couldn't stop thinking about it all day and it struck me-Todd has been married for a long time to a very capable and talented woman. He has seen me fill my bike tires week after week and knows I don't "need" his help. But I think he could tell that I could certainly use a hand so he just did it. And let me just assure any gentlemen readers out there, the likelihood that you are going to do something nice and unexpected for a girl and she is going to lecture you about how she doesn't need your help is just pretty low.

Jump to yesterday. I was pretty tired from a long week and since I am headed to NYC on Wednesday for meetings and then sticking around for what will be a fun but exhausting weekend, I elected to let myself sleep as long as I wanted. I woke up at about 11:30 to my friend Dainon's daily Christmas song email which just happened to include a recipe for pumpkin pancakes. So I blew off working out (oops!) and invited my friend Ari over for what turned out to be lunch. Then I lazed around until it was time to go meet my friend Darius who was going to help me with a couple of electronic themed errands. I went to pick him up and as I was walking up his stairs, I heard a hissing sound coming out of my car. I mentioned my car was hissing, he said that didn't sound good and when we came back out, I had a flat tire.

Do you want to know how to turn me into a completely helpless female stereotype? Cars. They are my kryptonite. I completely freak out when something goes wrong with my car. So I'm starting to have a meltdown and Darius just gets in the trunk, pulls out the spare and jack and starts fixing it. I got a little jumpy because he was already taking time to help me with my Best Buy trip and now this! But we're friends right? So he changed the tire, gave me some advice about the sad, sad state of my front tires and offered to drive so I didn't have to put too many miles on the spare. And later when I told him I would cook him dinner because I owed him he laughed and said, "cook me dinner because you want to, you don't owe me at all."

So I've been thinking all week...I absolutely don't want to be the kind of girl who puts off a "stay back, I got this myself" vibe. But there are certainly a lot of men in my life who seem to be confident enough to realize that while I may be plenty cabable, I do sure like their help. And sometimes I even need it.

I'm sure there are dozens of things I can fix about the way I behave in and out of relationships but this is one concern I'm calling time on. I've lost my patience for any dating advice that begins in "this gender needs to _______". Relationships are complicated and every single one comes with it's own set of rules and oddities. I have been sort of shocked this year as I compare all the different boys I interacted with to one level or another (this was kind of a busy year dude wise) and how each situation brought out something unique in me. When I turned 30 I decided I was never going to make sweeping statements about all men every again. I guess now at 34 I'm also going to quit listening to sweeping statements about all females too. That sort of talk really doesn't accomplish much except to put us on opposite sides and love is enough of a damn battlefield without us making it worse.

So this holiday season, I'm grateful for the quality and quantity of good men in my life. From fabulous brothers and dads to terrific coworkers to dear friends, I am so blessed to have loads of examples of good, honest, supportive males in my life who keep me hopeful that there is one out there like that for me.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


My two twenty-something travelmates were giggling one evening in Panama about "things people do when they turn 30." They were pretty funny and I was laughing right up until Nat said, "yeah like suddenly being really into cooking or taking up cycling."

Guilty! I'm actually pretty sure I'm falling right into many of the cliches of getting older. Start expensive hobbies! Run a marathon on your birthday! Spend holidays with friends not family! Date younger boys!

I have yet to go sky diving or buy an SLR and start posting photos of plants and sunsets but...yes, it turns out none of us are really that original eh?

So yes, in the last few months I have picked up two new hobbies and I'm pretty much in love with both of them. I now have a standing Wednesday night date with my friend Darius at the rock climbing gym and my coworker Todd has managed to get me to commit to Thursday lunchtime rides. I give both of these gentleman a lot of credit for introducing me to the concept of "consistency", something I have never really been very good at.

Anyway,I got two bits of coaching advice from these generous and patient fellas-who have been oh so willing to teach me even though I'm totally slowing them down-that were so loaded with real world implications that I nearly laughed out loud.

From Darius as I was stuck on a climbing route after charging up without thinking enough, "you need to slow down. This isn't a race. It's OK to find a comfortable place to rest and plan your next move."

From Todd on rough terrain today, "loosen your grip! The bike knows where it needs to go and if you stop trying to control it, you'll ride smoother."

OK universe, I get it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Shop Girl

Hey blog friends, my old PUMA pals shared their employee discount with me for this Christmas buying season and I'm passing it along to all of you. 40% off at PUMA stores and online and 30% for those of you lucky enough to live near a PUMA outlet. It's good Dec 3-6.

PUMA Friends and Family Coupon

Go be a good American and buy some Euro style gear!!!