Friday, May 16, 2008

100 things about me

Long list ...

1. My mom said I used to love pouring Kool-Aid for the parents when I was in preschool. I've been social ever since.
2. We had a Springer Spaniel named Bandit while growing up. He was black and white and very naughty. In college my parents got a Dalmatian puppy, Lucky, who I grew to love despite his hyper personality. I get a little sentimental whenever I see a Dalmatian now. If we ever get a dog, though, we’d get a lab or golden retriever—and hopefully a mellow one!
3. I love this quote: "Sometimes courage doesn't roar. Sometimes courage is a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow."
4. I would love to visit the East Coast. The farthest east I’ve been is Florida, which is really more south. Some day I would like to visit New York, Boston, DC, and Maine.
5. I play either first base, second base, or left center on the SWAT softball team. I've been playing ball for as long as I can remember. I'm not good, but I'm not terrible, either. I can hold my own.
6. I love dressing up on Halloween, and I'm proud to have friends who are equally creative and will get into that holiday, too.
7. My favorite beer is Alaskan Amber. A close second is Summit EPA or Leinie's Honeyweiss (with lemon). Nothing tastes better on a hot summer day.
8. I love going to plays. I love the whole ambiance of theaters. I even dabbled in acting—playing the lead in the community theater production of "Maggie" in sixth grade. I played a troubled girl who escaped by living in a fantasy world. I shot my mom at the end. There were kindergarten classes watching. It was very controversial.
9. I went by Christina in third grade because my friend Annie told me "Chrissy is a baby name" and I figured Christina sounded more grown-up. In fourth grade, it was back to Chrissy.
10. I have a little bit of lead in my right hand from accidentally stabbing myself with a #2 pencil when I was in ninth grade. Aaron also has pencil lead in his hand. We were meant to be.
11. I love a good thunderstorm, as long as I’m home and my loved ones are with me.
12. I bowled a 160 when I was pregnant. First and last time that ever happened!
13. I can bait my own hook, but hate taking the fish off the line.
14. I'm Swedish, German, Norwegian and French.
15. I'm not very good at decorating. Or cooking. Martha Stewart would be appalled.
16. I saw Mitch Hedberg perform in Seattle a year before he died. He was hilarious.
17. I have worked at Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Chi Chi’s, Applebee’s, and Jake’s Sports Cafe. I am always nice to fast food employees and I tip 20 percent when a server deserves it.
18. I admire authors Lorrie Moore, Louise Erdrich, Alice Sebold, Stephen King, Amy Tan, and Jonathon Hasselford.
19. My grandpa had skin cancer, so I'm very careful to always wear sunblock.
20. I think roses are cliché. I would rather receive brightly colored wild flowers.
21. As hard as I try, I can’t do the crawl stroke in a straight line. When I'm in a swimming pool, I’m all over the place like a drunk fish, so I usually just do the sidestroke instead.
22. I would rather go on a double date with my parents than anyone else.
23. I believe in karma.
24. I can’t drive a stick shift. What if there’s an emergency and the only car available is a five-speed? I better learn.
25. One of my favorite smells is a bonfire. Reminds me of camping. I love camping.
26. I’m absolutely terrified of flying. I think about crashing and dying 80 percent of the time the plane is at cruising altitude. If there’s turbulence, forget it. I silently stare out the window and pray, consumed with worst-case scenario thoughts. Yes, I’m aware that the chances of dying in a plane crash are one in 11 million. That statistic doesn’t help calm my nerves.
27. I have a full-blooded sister, Mary, who my mom gave up for adoption back in the 70s. She found & contacted my parents when I was 18. Today we're close friends. Aaron & I are her youngest son's godparents.
28. I won a spelling bee in fifth grade and moved on to the regional spelling bee. I missed the word pennant.
29. My college photography professor asked me if I was wearing my glasses when I took photos because my pictures were always slightly out of focus. I was embarrassed to admit that yes, I was wearing my contacts, I was just that bad.
30. My first boyfriend, Brian, aka “BP,” taught me a lot about what I wanted in a relationship. We dated for five years (high school and college). He taught me how to appreciate “good” beer (Summit), alternative music (Beastie Boys! 808 State! Social D!), live on the edge, and find meaning in the little gestures. He took me to prom, helped me buy my first bike (RIP trusty Gary Fisher, sorry that my little brother Nick ran over you), taught me how to mountain bike in Hayward, introduced me to Urban Outfitters, Figlio, Davanni's and Cheapo Records, and took me to some crazy Minnesota parties. He was always very supportive of my writing, and encouraged me to chase my dreams. I’ll always have a soft spot for him, but we’re so much better off as friends.
31. I only gave blood once in high school. I wish I could do it regularly, like Aaron, but I get too queasy. (I tried to donate blood in college and they turned me away. They thought I was anemic. I’m not.)
32. I like touring Victorian-era homes, just like my mom. There's something romantic about that time in history.
33. I can talk to just about anyone, just like my dad.
34. I would rather wear pants, capris, or jeans than skirts or dresses. The one exception is weddings.
35. I just recently learned the value of keeping secrets.
36. I do not believe in a condemning God. I believe that God loves and accepts everyone, gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white. Aaron & I recently started going to a Lutheran church in my old neighborhood. It's the first time in a long time I enjoy going to church again.
37. I used to care a lot about celebrity gossip. I don't care that much anymore.
38. The first boy I slow danced with was Mike D. We danced to “I had the time of my life” from the movie Dirty Dancing. We stood about four feet apart. I was sweating and nervous. He was silent. It was not romantic.
39. I prefer a glass of white over a glass of red.
40. I can polka. And do the time-step, Roger Rabbit, Electric Slide and Macarena. I love dancing at wedding receptions.
41. When I was a brunette, two different men told me I looked like "Roz" from the TV show Frasier. Someone also told me once that I looked like Linda Blair from the Exorcist. (Don't worry. My head doesn't spin in circles.)
42. I own a lot of colorful bracelets and a collection of shot glasses.
43. I was on the track team in college. I competed in the 200-meter dash and triple jump. There are some days when I really miss it.
44. My first car was a 1993 Toyota Tercel wagon. I called him "Big Daddy."
45. I love the expression “Ever see a U-Haul behind a hearse?” In other words, you can't take it with you when you go. Material things don’t make the soul whole. Why does our society place so much emphasis on things, anyhow? It drives me crazy.
46. I like dark red polish on my toenails; no polish on my fingers.
47. My favorite children’s book is “Charlotte’s Web.” My mom loves that book, too. She even wanted to name me Fern.
48. My second love was JJ. He taught me that everyone has a story to tell, to never pass judgment until getting to know someone, to see the good in the most dire situations. He also taught me to really appreciate my family, and introduced me to some awesome ska bands and the art of making "good" coffee. He showered me with compliments and made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. I loved him intensely and actually felt sorry for people who didn't have our same spark. He went so far as having my birthday tattooed on the back of his neck in the form of a bar code. At some point I realized he was never going to grow up and I couldn’t live in his dream world forever. When we broke up, he told me his tattoo signified “the day his best friend died.” Right around then Aaron entered the picture & my life changed forever.
49. I ran a 10K race in Green Bay during the summer of 2006. It made me consider doing a half marathon. Maybe some day ...
50. My favorite lunch items: chicken wraps, Chipotle burrito bowls, Greek salads (no red onion), vegetable fried rice, and pasta salad. I could eat pasta salad every day in the summer.
51. I was a staff reporter/editor at Lillie Suburban Newspapers for five years and made some wonderful friends while working there. My favorite story was the day I shadowed a prison guard at the Stillwater maximum security prison. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to wear open-toe shoes and wore sandals. It was creepy how much the inmates stared at my painted toenails.
52. My mom taught me more about being a nice person and having good manners than she did about beauty. Her biggest lesson? Beauty comes from within. I'm glad I learned this at a young age.
53. I learned to snowboard in 2003. I learned on Mount Hood while living out in Portland, Oregon, with my best friend Tonya. We moved to Oregon with no jobs, no housing, and no friends. It turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime.
54. I like playing board games, but I'm not a big fan of card games, unless they involve drinking.
55. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.
56. My favorite TV show is The Office.
57. I lived with seven girls in college. Miraculously, we're all still friends today and get together at least once a year.
58. My “string sisters” are Megan, Karla, Amy, and Tonya. We received that nickname in high school after another friend told us we were “together so much, it was like we were connected by an invisible string.”
59. I feel blessed to have met—and married—Aaron. He is such a genuinely good person, and kind, thoughtful, sensitive, hard-working, sexy, funny, witty, and smart. I could go on and on.
60. I won an orange-peeling contest in eighth grade by peeling my orange in one continuous peel.
61. Does anyone actually like those nasty black and orange-wrapped peanut butter things that some people hand out on Halloween? Not all candy is good candy, and that candy is terrible.
62. I would much rather take the 270 bus to work than drive. Let someone else deal with traffic, unpredictable weather, and bad drivers. I'd rather relax and read my book.
63. Long hair is sexy; short hair is sassy. It always has been and always will be.
64. I don't cry often or easily. When I do break down, though, watch out.
65. I was on the North High gymnastics team from seventh to eleventh grade. I competed on vault, floor, and bars. At different points in my gymnastics career, I broke my ankle falling off the bars, and fractured two fingers doing back handsprings on floor. I never broke any bones doing vault, but did chicken out once and instead of launching off the springboard to do a front handspring, ran full-on into the vault and really hurt my shoulder. (Isn't there some law of physics I should have respected about sprinting and then trying to stop the momentum at the last second?) I learned a valuable lesson about confidence then.
66. I have naturally brown hair but have been experimenting with color and highlights ever since my sister-in-law Tricia started doing my hair ten years ago. Trish is not only a great stylist & my brother’s soul mate, but a wonderful friend.
67. I would like to go to Australia some day.
68. In college I had a purple Beta named G. Love. I neglected him one summer by being incredibly lazy and not cleaning his fish bowl. He lived (through the muck) for MONTHS. It was not one of my more proud moments in time.
69. I grew up with a big, fat, sweet cat named Peanut Butter. I have yet to meet a cat as cool as he was.
70. I got married on April 16, 2005. I had Adam on Aug. 11, 2007. Those two dates are the most significant dates of my life thus far.
71. I graduated with a journalism degree (emphasis in advertising) and a minor in sociology from UWEC.
72. It bothers me that smart, confident, outspoken women are regarded as bitches. I say to them: You go girls! Shatter that glass ceiling!
73. I miss my Grandma S. and think of her on a regular basis.
74. I still can't believe I get paid to write—and for a magazine, no less! I work with some amazing, talented people and have grown in personal and professional ways in the three-plus years I've been at GMG. I have a lot of "situational friends" (friends due to the fact that we currently work together) but I've also made some substantial friends through this job who will, without a doubt, be in my life until I'm old and grey.
75. My favorite ice cream is strawberry cheesecake or vanilla bean. My favorite dessert is tiramisu, banana cream pie, or brownie sundaes.
76. I once had my left eyebrow pierced. I took the piercing out for my job interview at Lillie and the hole closed shortly after that. The actual piercing didn’t hurt that much, but I wouldn’t stop bleeding afterward, and I know I freaked the #$*^ out of the girl who pierced me (at the Bionic Laboratory).
77. I'm close to my mom's side of the family. My dad's side is a little more complicated.
78. I am NOT an adventurous eater.
79. I love spending sunny summer days out on my parents’ boat.
80. I don’t like red or green bell peppers.
81. Aaron and I are the organizers in our extended group of friends.
82. I love our goose down comforter. We bought it with wedding gift card money. Best purchase EVER.
83. My all-time favorite concert was the Beastie Boys (In the Round). Other stellar shows: Soul Coughing, Prince, Semisonic, The Jayhawks, BoDeans, the Chili Peppers, Garbage, Prodigy, Matchbox Twenty, Maroon 5, Smashing Pumpkins, Dave Matthews Band, Guster, G. Love, Big Head Todd, Bon Jovi, Pink Martini, A Perfect Circle, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, John Mayer, and Lush.
84. I think snowboarders are sexy. Aaron is a snowboarder. Enough said.
86. I like the challenge of a good crossword puzzle.
87. I have a spider tattoo on my back, inspired by this quote: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
88. I enjoy going to Saints & Twins games. And tailgating. Baseball and beer and grilling sort of all go together.
89. I can’t make myself burp. I wish I could. I’m jealous that my baby brother Nick can burp the alphabet. Seems like a fun party trick.
90. I send out over 100 Christmas cards every year.
91. My dad taught me to be good to the environment. I recycle everything. I never litter. I take the bus. I turn off lights when I leave a room. I buy second-hand. I recently purchased some of those funny-shaped swirly lightbulbs. I live in a small house. I will also teach Adam to be good to the environment. I hope he listens.
92. I am a mother and love my son with every ounce of my heart and soul.
93. I broke 18 braces in the 3+ years I had a metal mouth. My orthodontist told me he was going to start charging per brace if I didn’t stop eating popcorn and candy (Now & Laters are not a good candy choice when you have braces.)
94. I went to England with Amy & Megan in 1997. It was an awesome trip.
95. I have traveled to Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boulder, Portland, Coeur d’Alene, Chicago, Holland (Michigan), and San Diego to visit friends. I wish these friends lived closer.
96. I fainted in my college “wellness” class when they were checking my body fat. The girl holding the calipers and pinching me over and over joked, “According to this chart you’re severely obese! That can’t be right. Let me try again.” I passed out then and never did find out my true body fat reading.
97. Whenever I’m with my younger brother Nick, I wind up laughing. A lot.
98. I laugh a lot with my older brother Shawn, too. My brothers have grown up to be great (very funny) men. The men in my family also love to hunt and fish and spend time in the great outdoors—passions they will share with Adam.
99. I can’t get enough of Adam’s laugh. Best sound in the world.
100. I am blessed to have family who are friends and friends who are family; a loving, kind, supportive husband; a wonderful (happy) little boy; my health (and healthy loved ones around me); a job in my field; a roof over my head; and the ability to see the glass as half full. No one ever knows when their "ticket is up," and when mine is up, I will be able to say I fully enjoyed the ride.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


"A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters’ role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships."

Happy Mother's Day to my kind-hearted, sweet, quiet, thoughtful, wonderful mama. She taught me to appreciate funny, outdoorsy men who actually help around the house, the exciting world of books & reading (I became a writer thanks, in part, to her), short hair, the value of a secret (though this lesson was a hard one for me), comfortable shoes, chowmein hot dish, the beauty of minimal (usually silver) jewelry, antiques (though not her creepy dolls with the real hair, cracked faces and little white teeth), shopping for good deals, and Hall & Oates. We have the same opinions about religion, politics, certain family members, and Gena Davis (she bugs us). I turn my back while changing in the locker room because I am modest, just like she is. I clear my throat like she does. I have her hair color, skin tone, long fingers, and monkey feet. We like the same books, movies (romantic comedies and Victorian or Renaissance -era flicks), music (we saw Prince together in concert and it was my mom who actually got me hooked on the Dixie Chicks), and food (nothing too exotic or spicy). We both prefer white wine over red, classic over trendy, Robert Redford over George Clooney. We laugh easily when we're together. There are never awkward moments between us. I have never felt annoyed by her, or frustrated, and if we've ever been in a fight, it must've been something silly, because I can't remember it now.
She taught me to have an open mind. "Never use the hurtful word fat," she'd comment. “Say overweight.” She told my brothers not to make fun of overweight kids, rationalizing: “Do you think they want to be overweight? Do you think they wouldn’t give anything to have your metabolism and wear the same size you wear? Do you think they wouldn’t trade places with you in a heartbeat if it meant they could be skinny?” She taught me to accept everyone—no matter their age, race, religion, or sexual orientation. She’d say things like, “Why do people think homosexuality is a choice? Why would you choose a life that’s full of obstacles, a life that's not socially acceptable? That doesn't make any sense.” She taught me that it's not OK when a man talks down to a woman. That if you respect your significant other, you won't degrade them. Ever.
I realized, for the first time, how much I leaned on her when I was a freshman in college suffering from my first (and only) migraine headache, lying in my dark dorm room with a wet washcloth on my forehead (after running down the hall to puke in the community bathroom). At that moment I wanted her there with me. I wanted her cold, soothing hands on my throbbing forehead. I wanted her to calm me with the reassuring phrase that everything would be OK. If growing up meant being sick and alone (and taking care of myself), I didn’t want to grow up. I wanted to stay safe in her world forever.
I wish my mom could see herself as others see her. She's too hard on herself about her weight, her job, her social skills. (She says she's envious of my outgoing personality; while I'm envious of her ability to refrain from gossip and not insert Foot In Mouth). She's so incredibly MODEST, about her natural good looks, her intelligence, her witty sense of humor, her patience, her independent attitude, her strong feminist ideals. There are few people who have that kind of modesty today. She's not only modest, she's a genuinely good person—one of the kindest souls I know—constantly doing for others, never looking for anything in return. Add to her list: good listener, advice-giver, travel companion, cook, gardener, and home-decorator. She's equally adored as a wife, daughter, sister, mom, mother-in-law, grandma, friend and coworker. I know because I've been told as much by my relatives.
My relationship with her entered a whole new level after I became a mom myself. There's this new intensity that comes along with sharing the experience of motherhood. I understand and appreciate the sacrifices she made for us, and I feel this connection with her over how much we love Adam. She doesn't try to tell me what to do, or make me feel guilty, or criticize my mothering skills. She is sincere and positive, supporting me, and taking care of me (all new moms need to be mothered a little), and offering up constructive suggestions—but only when asked for advice. There are so many reasons she's not only my mom, but my friend ... I only hope I can do as good a job raising my children as my mom did raising her own.