Welcome to My Existential Crisis, Episode 5

In Which Our Alter Egos Discuss Life’s Purpose, Kierkekaard, and Peach Cobbler

If you missed our previous episode, click here.

Reporter: Hello everyone. Thank you for giving us another chance today. I know we thoughtfulhaven’t made the best impression the last few times.

Editor: Speak for yourself.

Reporter: What? You think you make a good impression? Don’t make me laugh.

Editor: I’m the only one who makes sense, so yes, I always make a good impression.

Reporter: (sighs) Maybe we should just start our discussion. And when we’re done, we can eat the Peach Cobbler I made. Is that all right with you?

Editor: Yes. I searched the room so I’m satisfied.

Reporter: What do you mean you ‘searched the room’?

Continue reading

A Fabulous Football Quilt From 1939

quiltA few days ago, someone brought a quilt into the office that was made by his great-aunt. She made it in 1939 when she was 15 years old, living in the small town of Ajo, Arizona.

Fifteen years old!

She made it in honor of her high school football team, the Red Raiders.

It’s clearly been well-cared for and the workmanship is excellent, but it was the attention to detail that impressed me the most.

See for yourself: Continue reading

Why I’ll Never Enter Another Contest

Have you ever read about lottery winners who won a huge jackpot, then messed up their lives?

That’s not the kind of contest I’m referring to, but even winning on a smaller scale has its drawbacks. Trust me on this.

Husband and I were at store recently and they had a drawing for a $25 gift card. As the guy was reading off numbers, I realized I was the only one not holding a ticket.

marbles1This was no accident. I duck past drawings, raffles, ‘guess-how-many-marbles-in-the-jar’ contests I see. Because I know, with my luck, I’d probably win.

And I’d probably hate it.

Because having my name announced in a room full of people brings back painful memories. Dark memories.

Such as the time I was in college…

Continue reading

Evel Knievel, Redux

Holy cow, guys, check this out!

Remember back in June when I visited Idaho and soared over Snake River Canyon (in my dreams) just like Evel Knievel tried to do in 1974? (I wrote about it here.)

Well, turns out someone is going to do it for real! Possibly TODAY! (weather permitting)

Hollywood stuntman, Eddie Braun, is going to attempt the jump in a replica of Knievel’s rocket cycle. According to CNN, they made improvements to the parachute system but other than that, the technology is the same.


You can read the full article HERE.

Sounds like Eddie is getting a lot of criticism over it, but personally I think it’s cool.

It’s cool he’s not using the original launchpad, thereby keeping it intact. It’s cool he’s not using modern technology, instead trusting Knievel’s vision.

Plus, there’s this:

It’s not about doing something Evel Knievel couldn’t do. It’s about fulfilling his dream,” he said. “How many people get to fulfill the dream of their hero?” -Eddie Braun

They hope to have a livestream of the event. If so, I’ll be watching.

God speed, Eddie Braun. I hope you fly like the wind. 🏍


He did it!😀  Here’s the video:

And the Winner is…

It’s occurred to me that I haven’t shared a recipe with you in a long while. To make up for it, I’m giving you my recipe for prize-winning blueberry muffins. More on that later.

For now, I want to tell you about my recent experience, not with winning, but with awarding prizes.

balloonsWe have a very active parent group on campus who sometimes host brunches for staff and gives away prizes. Recently they added a monthly drawing where teachers can win a rather large gift basket filled with discount cards, food, and other doo-dads.

The first winner was selected a few days ago. I was given the task of delivering it.

This is not unusual. About three or four times a year, the parent group will drop off at my desk eight or so gift cards with balloons attached, and ask me to email the teachers who won. The first time it happened, being a rookie, I did just that.

You know what happens if you sport eight to ten colorful balloons at your desk? Continue reading

Father Mychal’s Last Homily

At our church service this morning, the story of Father Mychal Judge was shared.

On September 10, 2001, the city of New York rededicated a firehouse in the Bronx. The Fire Department’s chaplain, Father Mychal, said these words in what was to be his last homily:

That’s the way it is.  Good days.  And bad days.  Up days.  Down days.  Sad days.  Happy days.  But never a boring day on this job.  You do what God has called you to do.  You show up.  You put one foot in front of another.  You get on the rig and you go out and you do the job – which is a mystery.  And a surprise.  You have no idea when you get on that rig.  No matter how big the call.  No matter how small.  You have no idea what God is calling you to.  But he needs you.  He needs me.  He needs all of us.
The retirees – He needs your prayers.  He needs your stopping by occasionally to give strength and support and to tell the stories of the old days.  We need the house and to those of you that are working now, keep going.  Keep supporting each other.  Be kind to each other.  Love each other.  Work together and do what you did the other night and the weeks and the months and the years before and from this house, God’s blessings go forth in this community.  It’s fantastic!
What great people.  We love the job.  We all do.  What a blessing that is.  A difficult, difficult job and God calls you to it.  And then He gives you a love for it so that a difficult job will be well done.  Isn’t He a wonderful God?  Isn’t He good to you?  To each one of you?  And to me!  Turn to Him each day.  Put your faith and your trust and your hope and your life in His hands, and He’ll take care of you and you’ll have a good life.
And this house will be a great, great blessing to this neighborhood and to this city.


The next day, upon learning that the World Trader Center had been hit by the first of two jetliners, Father Mychal rushed to the site. He prayed over some of the bodies on the streets, then entered the North Tower, offered aid and prayers for the rescuers. When the South Tower collapsed, a piece of debris hit Father Mychal and killed him. His was the first body recovered from the towers.

Mychal Judge died that day, doing the job he was called to do, the job he loved doing.

At the funeral mass, his friend Father Michael Duffy gave the homily. He ended it with these words:

And so, this morning we come to bury Myke Judge’s body, but not his spirit. We come to bury his voice, but not his message. We come to bury his hands, but not his good works. We come to bury his heart, but not his love. Never his love.

So much has been said and written about 9/11; it’s easy to become immune to it. But when I hear stories like this one I can’t help but feel inspired, as well as humbled.

May we all live with such courage, hope and love, both in our work and in our lives.

Here is Father Mychal’s last homily, in its entirety:

Weekend Reads: Tesla Motors & Uninterrupted Creativity

It’s not often a car gets my attention, but when they do I can’t seem to get them out of my head.

teslaEver since I saw a Tesla on the highway (My, but they are elegant cars), I’ve read a lot about them. I seriously doubt I’ll never own one, of course. Besides the cost, I’m perfectly content driving an inconspicuous Corolla.

But I don’t read about Corollas. Instead, I read articles like this one, How I Used and Abused My Tesla, by Steve Sasman. Even after 100,000 miles, a cross-country road trip and 500 Uber rides (!), it still looks dang elegant.

Or check out this guy in Norway, who parked his Tesla and left the doors open, then filmed it to see what would happen. Within minutes it became a demo car. (Well, honestly, what did he expect? I would have sat in the driver’s seat too.)

And I expect you heard that a few years back, Elon Musk (Seriously, how cool is his name?) released all patents for Tesla technology? You can read his blog post about it HERE. It’s all about sharing knowledge for the sake of progress, which is darn cool, don’t you think?

This next article I’m throwing in because for one, I loved it so much I tweeted it, and two, if we take his advice to heart, maybe one of us will come up with the next bestseller, or masterpiece, or groundbreaking technology: Click Here to Read.

Do you suppose Elon Musk allows himself uninterrupted creative time? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to bet Nikola Tesla did.😉

Meltdown in the Dressing Room

AKA: The Little Black Dress From Hell

It was a simple, unassuming dress. Nothing fancy or sexy. Not even particularly Little black dress with sleevesinteresting, truth be told. But it looked useful, in that work-appropriate-and-currently-on-sale kind of way.

I decided to try it on.

This was my favorite consignment store and they were having a huge sale. All blue-tagged items 90% off! Ninety percent! All around me women were carrying heaps of clothing, all with blue tags.

“Just one? ” the dressing room attendant asks me.
“Just one,” I reply.

I go to my usual stall, last one on the left. I undress quickly and take the dress off its hanger.

Hmm. The zipper is in the side seam. I hate that. Zippers do not belong in side seams.

I look at the price tag again. With the discount, it’ll be $3.00. I put the dress on.

It’s over my head, so far so good, bust line is loose, but then I don’t have a bust, so whatever. Sleeves are a bit tight. That’s weird. Pull the dress down all the way, hip & thighs fit with room to spare. Amazing. Zip up side seam and look in mirror.

Okay, so the length is good. Not too short, not too long. Wow, these sleeves are tight. What’s up with that? Waistline is loose, could use a belt. I pull at the sleeves. Maybe I can remove them? Cut the seam and add a thin strip of ribbon?

Hell, for three bucks, I’m willing to make it work.

I unzip the side and start to pull the dress off, only the sleeves are resisting. As in, full on revolt. They aren’t budging.

I’m bent over, dress over my head. I hear women on the other side of the curtain:

“Grandma, that looks great!”
“The color is a bit much.”
“It looks good on you though!”
“People would stare, wouldn’t they?”
“We don’t care what people think. We’re Gypsies.”

Silently I cheer on the Gypsy women. Inwardly I curse the idiot who designed this dress. It had to be a man. A man who hates women.

I tug harder. If anything, it feels tighter. I think my arms are swelling. Swelling in protest of the monster who made this dress.

What does one do in a situation like this? Call out for help?  Would anyone hear me from the last room, bent over with a dress over my head?

I hear more voices:

“What do you think of this?… Oh, I’m sorry! You’re the wrong Paula!
(Laughter) “That’s okay. I think it looks amazing.”
“Really? It doesn’t doesn’t too tight? I thought it looked tight.”
“Does it feel tight?”
“No, it feels comfortable.”
“It doesn’t look tight. It looks sexy.”

emergency-cordYou know what they should put in dressing rooms? They should have one of those “pull for assistance” cords like in hospital bathrooms.

Oh gawd, what have I done? I knew the sleeves felt tight, but I put the dress on anyway. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I tug harder… Seriously, this isn’t moving. I’m really stuck.

I bet Gypsy women never worry about getting stuck in clothes. I bet Paula, or Paula’s friend, or the woman who tells strangers they look sexy never have to worry.

Of course they don’t worry! They have shopping buddies! I’m an idiot who shops alone! Why am I a loner? And why am I so damned cheap that I struggle into three dollar dresses with sausage casing sleeves?

Bent over, dress over my head, I question all my life choices. I wonder why I’m in a dressing room when the sun is shining outside. What brought me to this low state?

But mostly I ask, why do I have a job that makes me wear anything other than jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers?!

thoreau“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”
–Henry David Thoreau

Finally, I come to a decision: I will NOT be beaten by this dress!

And there is no way in hell I’m going to call for help and let anyone see me bent over with a dress over my head!

Summoning all my strength and resolve, I take a deep breath, exhale, and tug again.

Movement! I sense movement! I tug again, slower this time… yes, it’s coming off! Sweet alleluias fill my ears! All is right with the world!

When I return the dress I tell the attendant, “They should put a warning on that thing. The sleeves are super tight.”

“Oh really?” she says, not looking in the least bit concerned. Her arms are super skinny.

One day, young maiden, it will be true for you as well. A day closer than you may think, you will find yourself in a dressing room very much like this one, and you will be stuck.

And when that day arrives, if I am near, I will help you fair maiden. You have my word.

We Need to Talk. It’s About Your Popups.

I was at your site a few days ago. Not sure if you saw me? I waved.

White dog next to person with laptopSomeone left a link on Facebook saying they really like your writing, so I thought I’d check it out.

I started to read your post.

I think it was the one where you went to that place? And did that thing? And then something really funny happened?

Or maybe it wasn’t funny. Maybe it was profound and life-changing.

To be honest, I didn’t read the whole piece. It’s not that your writing was bad or anything. I mean, your first two sentences were killer good. Really.

It’s just that right after I read the second sentence, a popup box just, you know, popped up, asking me to subscribe to your site.

Here’s the thing: I’m only two flippin’ sentences in! How do I know if I want to subscribe to your site?! Continue reading