Saturday, December 29, 2012


You know how we are. Us grown-ups. We need to kick back and relax once in a while. Around here, that means soaking in a hot tub and reading a book for 10 or 15 minutes. There is always a book lying by the bathtub. So, one particular bath night, Peanut told me that he wanted to read a book. I asked him which train book he wanted to peruse. He didn’t want one of his books. He wanted to read Bub’s book. So, here it is. It was practically bigger than him, and he didn’t get past page one, but The Church Of The Dead Girls satisfied him for about two minutes. After that, he had himself a nice soak and played with his train floaty toys and cleaned up really nicely.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Not Enough

Why is it that so many of us allow complacency and laziness to creep into our lives?

We move to the suburbs, have our kids, and watch more sports on TV than we actually play.

We go to work every day and put in our time but don’t produce anything revolutionary or don’t really act in a way of real service to our customers or our coworkers.

We let romance go.

And, this last one is probably the most tragic.

We spend years trying to impress our soul mate, and then we just let it go. Sometimes, it falls into place. It just happens. It is meant to be.

And, maybe – just maybe – this might be the reason that we allow ourselves to become less diligent in holding on to it. If it happens easily for us at the beginning, then why work hard throughout?

As cliché as it might sound, Bub and I met at a local lesbian bar. (Have I mentioned this before?) And, let’s be honest – it was the ONLY lesbian bar in the state. It has since changed ownership and location, and it is still the only lesbian bar in the state. (And, we’re far too old to fit in there, now. Sigh. Everyone has the exact same haircut – very short – and they all look twelve years old.) However, at the time, the bars were the only places to meet people. There was an LGBT “center,” but it was really two rooms in a cheap office building that I think were donated by a well-to-do therapist or lawyer or something. (Now, there is a true place – a whole building and loads of clubs, groups, and coffee houses.)

So, I was in a relationship at the time. She was just leaving one. I was working part-time at the bar, and she was frequenting it with her friends. We quickly hit it off – which means that I played her favorite songs and didn’t expect a tip and she flirted with me non-stop – quite flattering, actually. I stayed in my relationship, and she went in and out of a couple. I finally quit working at the bar when I went back to school, but we stayed in touch when my friends and I would go to the bar to hang out once in a while.

Then, my thing ended, and I needed money in a big way. I went back to work part-time at the bar (now under new ownership). Bub was now just getting out a fling, and we were each other’s rebounds. But, really, we were both just waiting for this time to come. Back when, we both wanted to be in this with each other, but we weren’t free at the same time. There was always some flirting. There was always something there. And, then we finally had the chance!

Oh, Bub was a hopeless romantic. I got flowers all of the time. Like, ALL of the time. Stuffed animals were delivered to work. Notes left on the mirror. She even stopped on the side of the freeway one day to pick some daisies that she then left all over my truck.

She also made it very difficult to study for my classes…

Movies, special dinners, dancing, requesting “our” song. It was almost embarrassing, but just awesome enough to avoid the embarrassing part.

For my part, I called her just to say that I loved her. Special necklaces, her favorite foods, watching Barbra Streisand movies (proof that I loved her and still do), leaving notes in unexpected places, trying to draw cute little things on cards (always a disaster), and lots of dinners with her family. I thought about her all of the time, and I made sure that she knew it.

So, where does all of that go? Why is it so easy to let it go?

When does it becomes OK to stop fixing yourself up? When does it become OK to spend more time in front of the TV in separate chairs than snuggled up next to each other in bed? When does it become OK to roll the eyes instead of showing support for his/her latest passion or project?

And, how do you recapture it?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

interesting Christmas facts about me

For an activity during our team holiday luncheon at work, we were asked to answer some questions about ourselves. Of course, I was trying to be clever (maybe I succeeded; maybe not), but every one of these answers is true:

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
The Jensen family Christmas party. You only miss it if you are really sick. People even fly “home” to Sanpete from NY and CA. It lasts about three hours. That’s it. People fly/drive in from everywhere for a three hour dinner of turkey and Grandma June’s Pink Fluffy Jello Stuff. (Yes – that’s the dish’s actual name.)

What was the best Christmas gift you ever gave?
Tickets to a Dallas Cowboys game. I hate the Dallas Cowboys. Mortal enemies of the Philadelphia Eagles. This gift proves that I really DO love my spouse.

Where were you born?
In the ONLY hospital for more than 20 miles in every direction. This doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a big deal when said hospital only had about ten rooms (including x-ray, reception, and “surgery.”)

How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Three brothers and one sister

What is your middle name?
Arlene. I’m named after my mom who was named after her dad who was named after his grandpa who was named after his uncle who was named after… oh you get the point. (My grandpa, by the way, was also best buds with my bosses grandpa! We didn't know this until after both grandparents were deceased, and we had been working together for about 12 years!

What is your favorite Christmas food?
See above. Grandma June’s Pink Fluffy Jello Stuff.

What High School did you attend?
North Sanpete. And, let’s be clear about this: As my boss already knows, it’s pronounced SANpete, definitely not sanPETE. Emphasis on the SAN, people…. Additionally, it’s not named for Saint Peter (like San Francisco or San Mateo). It’s for Chief Sanpitch, a Ute leader in central Utah who was brutally murdered by Dolf Bennett in 1866.
Oh – North Sanpete is home of the Hawks, by the way.

If you won a million dollars what one crazy thing would you buy for yourself?
A new pressure cooker. Or a goat - a milking one.

What is your favorite Christmas show?
Die Hard. Oh, just kidding!
Probably Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer because I really like the song “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other.”
Next in line would be The Year Without A Santa Clause because I really think that the Snow Miser is attractive.

If you could have a super power what would it be and why?
The ability to stop teenage suicide by letting kids know that they really ARE loved and it really DOES get better

What is your favorite Christmas Carole?
“Angels We Have Heard On High” but only when it’s performed by Peter Breinholt (listen to it here.
Otherwise, anything that the boys want to sing

What is your favorite vacation spot?
The area between Rolfson and Cleveland Reservoirs in the mountains of Sanpete County
Hawaii is a close second

What are you afraid of?
Not particularly fond of snakes
The “Balls” obstacle at Tough Mudder
A house fire with us inside
Death of a child
Not being a good enough mother
Dying before my kids realize/understand how much I love them
More out-of-pocket medical costs for the only un-insured person in our family
HOW IS THIS A HOLIDAY QUESTION? I’m totally depressed now!

What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?
My high school class ring. It wasn’t anything fancy, but for my single mother on a very low income, it represented true sacrifice not only by her but by the rest of the siblings who didn’t get much that year.

What is your favorite pastime / hobby?
Canning, preserving, jam making

Where is your favorite store to shop?
NONE – not even online – I despise shopping
UNLESS it is for fresh fruit with which I can make new kinds of jam – in that case, it is the farmer’s market

If you could spend Christmas with a historical figure, who would it be?
Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots – writers and performers of the mega-hit “Disco Duck” back in 1976
Susan B. Anthony – I would ask her how she managed to stay positive and encouraged during the very long struggle for equal rights because I’m getting very tired of the status quo for LGBT citizens in Utah…

Who is your favorite cartoon character?
If you were to judge by the sheer number of movies that we own, you would guess Thomas the Tank Engine. However, that would be incorrect. Dr. Gru would probably be my current favorite. Or, the Snow Miser (see above – he’s so sexy).

What was the last book you read?
Honestly? Prancer by Stephen Cosgrove. It’s a riveting yet heartwarming tale about Jessica, the daughter of an impoverished farmer, who still believes in Santa Claus. When she comes across a real live reindeer with an injured leg, it makes perfect sense to her to assume that it is Prancer, whose likeness had fallen from a Christmas display in town. She hides him in her barn and feeds him cookies until she can return him to Santa.
If you’re talking about GROWN UP books, I’m currently finishing up a gripping story of suspense and possibility called The Lean Startup. And, by gripping, I mean that it's required reading for me and my team of coworkers.
Otherwise, the last full (grown up) book that I read (simply because I wanted to) was Identity by Milan Kundera. It was weird.

Which of the seven dwarfs are you most like and why?
Is there one named Bossy? No? How about Opinionated? No?

Tell us what you have done this year that would make Santa not come to your house?
The list is long and includes the following:
I simply throw my shoes in the bottom of my closet without organizing them.
Sometimes, I store my contacts without properly cleaning them.
I still haven’t sent my holiday cards or even done my holiday shopping.
I have never taken my kids to Kiddie Kandids (or other photo places like that).
I buy pie crusts instead of making them from scratch [gasp!].
I told the boys in all seriousness that they are not allowed to get married until they are 30 and not allowed to have kids until they are 35 – this way, if they get married “early,” they will still be adults. (My logic? If I tell them that they can get married when they are 18 or 19 and they get married “early,” that means 16 or 17!!! I set the standard high so that there is plenty of wiggle room and growing-up time.)

What award or achievement have you received that you are most proud of?
My boys (of course), but since that is the same thing that almost everyone else is going to say, here are some other awesomely cool things that I’m proud of:
I drank the recommended eight glasses of water every single day last week
I haven’t cursed yet today
1st place in the machine transcription category at the 1987 FBLA business meet
My Honolulu Marathon t-shirt (from my first-ever marathon in 2002 – I still haven’t worn it and probably never will – I’m thinking of framing it)
My Tough Mudder headband (because I didn’t die on the “Balls” obstacle)
My Sapper Joe finisher’s medal (because the 3700 feet of elevation gain is almost entirely in the first four miles, and it was freakin’ hard!)
My MBA (because doing homework at 11pm and 3am wasn’t fun and completing everything without missing any family time wasn’t easy)
My 16+ year relationship (because it’s hard to stay together when the world around you [politicians, religions, neighbors, family] tell you daily that you aren’t worth it and/or that you’re going to hell)

There you go. That's me - at least part of me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ragnar Vegas Race Report

Last month, I ran Ragnar Las Vegas with some friends.
You can read the race reports here, here, there, and here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Coal Miner’s Daughter

I’m not sure how old I was when Coal Miner’s Daughter (starring Sissy Spacek) came out. All I remember for sure is that I definitely was a coal miner’s daughter. Not in the Loretta Lynn way, of course, but in the my-dad-works-at-the-mines way.

We weren’t close, my dad and I. In some ways, we still aren’t, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been before, so that’s saying something. So, when he asked me if I wanted to go to see this movie with him, I jumped at the chance. Just me? Not the golden child? Not the little guy? Not the two oldest? Just me? Hell yes!

I don’t even remember much about the actual date itself. I know that I liked the movie, and I know that he LOVED it. I remember listening to records of Loretta Lynn and Ernest Tubbs as I was growing up, so I knew some of the songs. I think that dad knew them all. I hadn’t a clue about Pasty Cline before the movie, but I did afterwards because dad really liked her, too. If he liked her, then I wanted to know about her. (How can you not love her voice?)

This movie was released before he went to rehab, but even so, I didn’t associate Loretta’s struggles with pain pills with anything that my dad was going or had gone through. I didn’t correlate his cheating behavior with Doo’s actions. I didn’t see my mom in Loretta, waiting around, penniless, with lots of kids to care for and no reliable husband to help. I didn’t see any of this because I was just so damn happy to have a special night alone with my dad. I don’t even know if we ordered popcorn!

Its memories like this that make me realize how important it is to spend quality time with the boys. I’m not perfect at this, in fact, I have a long way to go, but I’m trying. I want them to feel that special every day, not just once in a while when I finally think about doing something nice for them.

(And, this is in no way meant to disparage my dad. He wasn’t perfect, and I’m still learning about why he is who he is even after 42 years. That makes me think that maybe I should blog some about my parents’ childhoods – what I know and find out what I don’t know – so that someday when my own boys are reading this, they will understand why I am who I am…)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Black Stallion

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley is one of the best books ever written. I should know. I read it, on average, three times per month during the 5th grade. The movie? Classic. Wonderfully told and filmed. Beautiful horse scenes.

However, the BEST horse scene EVER in the HISTORY of horse scenes definitely belongs, hands down, to The Man From Snowy River. You know the one. Where he rides down the side of the mountain… Yeah. You’re nodding your head right now. The thing about this scene is that it’s real. My brothers, dad, and I have analyzed and re-analyzed this scene so many times that it’s pathetic. This was made in the days before amazing CGI and animation. The camera isn’t tilted to make it APPEAR that he is going down a steep slope. He and his horse really ARE! Dude – those trees are growing straight up and he is going past them at a 45* angle, at least. Some in my family would venture a guess at closer to a 60* angle since he’s almost laying flat on his horse’s rump. Any idea how bloody hard this is? Not to mention scary! I literally grew up on a horse, and I’ve ridden some awesome mountains; I wouldn’t walk down that mountain mounted, let alone take it at a full-out run. I don’t know if I would walk down that mountain on my own two feet while leading my horse! Anyway, back to the point…

Along with reading this book, and others in the series, almost non-stop, I also had a Hell’s Kitchen Endurance Ride t-shirt that I wore at least once per week. It had a beautiful picture of an Arabian on the front of it. I loved that shirt. White with navy blue around the collar and sleeves. Loved it.

My 5th grade teacher, Mr. Hermansen, told me that I was going to turn into a horse. Ah, if only! (Funny story about Mr. Hermansen: He only taught in Mt. Pleasant for a couple of years. I was lucky enough to have him the first year. That’s when I found out that he was living in the same house that my mom was born in. Like, actually born. You know – not in a hospital. In the kitchen of this house that my teacher now occupied. Small town history…)

The only thing that I did more than read about horses was ride them. Gosh! I miss having a horse of my own. I never thought I would get to this age and not have five or six of them. A girl can still wish….

Wait. I just realized that I never did get to a point. A book, a movie, a shirt, my teacher, my mom, and a wish. Easily distracted today….