Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Will Wear My Red, White and Blue

The 4th of July is coming, and I have to say that for the first time, I'm not as excited about it as usual. I didn't realize the change until I was in a store recently, and when I saw all the flag-printed clothing, it made me think of Trump instead of the USA. I feel like some people are using their flag flying as a statement of "in-your-face-I-love-Trump-F-U" instead of it being a representation of our country and its people and its great history.

I guess I'm seeing the flag as what I feel it means to the rest of the world. Looking at us from their eyes, I'm embarrassed.

But on the 4th, I will wear my red, white, and blue, avoid the news, and try to focus on what those colors mean to me. And I will try to teach that pride to my son as well. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

It's a Dry Heat, blah blah blah

Of course I must write about the heat. This week we've had highs up to 117 degrees. So that issue is permeating everything about our life right now. Someone once said that Las Vegas' heat is like opening the oven door when you're baking cookies, but there are no cookies, and you're stuck in the oven. So true.

Yes, it's dry heat. Whatever. For some reason that overused phrase annoys me. Yes, it's dry, but that only means that sweat evaporates quickly. It's still freaking hot. We stay indoors and crank up the air conditioner. Businesses over-cool their interiors, and everyone spends the summer carrying around bottled water and a sweater and applying extra layers of lotion and sunscreen.

I think the worst part of the heat is that it stays so hot at night, so there is never any actual relief. Take a look above at the temp from 10pm one night. Crazy hot. I like to be outside...I miss being outside...but we're all stuck inside during this.

People like to live here to avoid snowy cold winters. But what is really the difference when you have to avoid the outdoors either way? We run from one temperature-controlled space to the next, avoiding the outside temp in both situations.

I would like to take my son to the pool this weekend, but it's just too hot outside. What a crazy thing to say.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book Memories

One of the most important lessons my mom passed on to me was how to make the small things special. Cuddling up together on the couch in a cozy blanket? Oooh, fun! Filling the bird feeder outside and waiting for the birds to come? Suspenseful! Trying a new cookie recipe? Exciting!

I am so lucky that the little things in life were appreciated.

Mom also taught me the love of books, and new books were a very special thing. One of my favorite book memories is when she introduced me to the Little House on the Prairie book series. Each time I finished one, we would make a special trip to the bookstore in Bloomington to buy the next book. Such anticipation!

Another favorite memory occurred on New Year's Day, 1984. Mom brought out her old paperback copy of George Orwell's 1984, and she began reading it out loud. It was a book that I wouldn't have read on my own, but together we were transported to a future, strange world that led us to talk about our current society and Orwell's look at our point in time.

Mom also read to me from a book of James Whitcomb Riley poetry. My favorite was "Little Orphan Annie," in which each stanza ended with, "And the gobblins'll get you if you don't watch out!" I learned that poetry could be scary and fun!

I think tonight I will dig out that old copy of Riley poems. I know my son will like them, too.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Quest for Decency

My son colored my sign for me.

For the march last Saturday, I had trouble figuring out what to put on my sign. I didn’t want to put a funny quote or something angry; I wanted it to reflect my concerns in a serious manner. For a while I decided that there was just too much to write, and I would just paint a big heart on my sign. But then I realized I could sum up my concerns in just a list of words:


These are the things that I feel are threatened by the current administration.

I considered writing “Respect,” but that word, while a good one, can instill judgement and obligation. I prefer “Decency.”

Decency is a concept that cannot be argued. Respect, on the other hand, can be demanded, and people think it has to be earned. But how can anyone disagree with the value of decency? Isn’t it a core value? It is something that we need to use as a tool in our communication, in all our relationships, and in our politics. If our politicians treated each other with decency, they could hear each other and get more done. If our politicians spoke to us with decency, we might not be so afraid. If people treated each other with decency, the world would be a gentler, kinder place. Common decency could heal.

I worry about the loss of all the concepts in my list, but I think the “decency” one is almost the most important. How can we solve any of our problems if decency is missing?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Good Sportsmanship

Us in 5th or 6th grade...we were headed for basketball greatness!

One of the things I learned during my childhood in rural Southern Indiana was the value of being a good sport. This meant that you showed others with respect even if they won and you lost, even if they believed differently, and especially if you were the winner.

An example of this happened when I was in high school and our basketball team had its best season in the history of the school. At one game, while the opposing team's members were announced and each ran onto the court, for some reason that day some of our students in the stands decided to turn and put their backs to the opposition. I remember being appalled by was so rude, so against what we had been taught in how to play fair and treat others with respect.

And our principal agreed. The next morning on the school announcements, Mr. Babcock spoke to us all in a stern voice. This was not the behavior he expected of his students. Never again did I see anyone attempt something like this at our school.

This morning as I drove to work, I listened to a bit of the inauguration. It was the portion when people were arriving, and the commentators were giving reports of the atmosphere.

Imagine my reaction when I heard them say that when Hillary Clinton appeared on the jumbo-tron, some of the crowd booed. And there were even chants of "Lock her up." Immediately I was sickened. Even in the game of politics, this is not how someone should be treated after they lose.

I have so much respect for the fact that Hillary is at this morning's inauguration. She is putting aside their differences and showing her respect for our country and our democratic process. That is true class.

The people in the crowd need to learn that there is a time for protest and a time for decency. I am so worried about the lack of decency that seems to be gaining momentum.

So for now, I'm going to try to teach my son to be a good sport. Treat others with respect whether you win or lose. It's a lesson so many still need to learn.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Carrie and Debbie

Me (in white) with Debbie and fellow cast members
I was six years old when I saw the movie Star Wars, and I ended up seeing it seven times. Back then, before DVDs, internet, or VHS tapes, seeing a movie seven times in a theater was a big deal. I loved the movie. It was the first time I was wrapped up in a love story...and a story with adult good and evil. It was also the first time I understood that the characters on the screen were played by actors, and I learned the actors' names and felt connected to them. Mark Hamill, so cute. Harrison Ford, so rugged. And Carrie Fisher, so beautiful and strong.

I was also a huge old Hollywood musical fan, so it was fun to learn that Carrie Fisher was the daughter of Debbie Reynolds, the main character in my favorite musical, Singin' in the Rain

Little did I know that I would actually meet Debbie Reynolds someday. Life is interesting.

Debbie is actually the person responsible for giving me my dream job back in the 1990's. I auditioned for her show, That's Entertainment, Live!, at her hotel in Vegas and was called back for a second audition. That night, I frantically learned Judy Garland's song "Get Happy," complete with choreography. At the callback, I forgot the words, but Debbie graciously sang along with me so I would remember. 

And then I was cast in the show.  I had grown up watching old movie musicals and suddenly there I was, working for a Hollywood Legend, impersonating people from Hollywood musicals, dancing the actual choreography from shows like Singin' in the Rain, wearing some of the original costumes, and my best friend was a Fred Astaire impersonator. How more perfect could it have been? 

Even though her hotel wasn't doing well, she kept our show going as long as possible. One of my favorite moments was performing in her New Year's Eve show and being on stage with her for the countdown and "Auld Lang Syne."

There are so many stories I could tell. But I will leave it at this. I am truly honored to have known her. She was a truly talented, genuine, and kind woman who cared about people and about old Hollywood. I send my love to Todd and her family.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Things to Love About Las Vegas #5...Vegas as a Melting Pot

For over twenty years at least once a year I have flown back to my hometown in Indiana for a visit, to enjoy the trees and rain and all the things I miss, living here in the desert. And after my son came along, it really bothered me that he would miss all the things I loved about growing up there.

But I discovered when he got a bit older, my priorities changed. I'll never forget one time upon my return to Vegas, when I realized I had a completely different feeling...I was actually glad to be back here, for the first time. And the reason was because of the people.

Don't get me wrong...I love the people back home. They are friendly and helpful and have the sense of community and family that I will always miss and cherish.

But "back there," there are no African Americans, no Muslims, no colors of any kind except maybe a few Hispanics and Asians.

I remember looking out the window of my plane on that fateful return to Vegas, out over the city where I have met people from all corners of the world, where my neighbors are all colors full of other thoughts and beliefs, and I felt truly thankful. Thankful that my son will get to know other cultures within our own community. Other countries will feel closer. Other cultures will be friends. Other people won't be other...they'll just be people.

Things to love about Las Vegas #5...Vegas is a Melting Pot

To confirm my new feelings about Vegas, after the election I found myself telling people for the first time ever that I was glad to live in Nevada. Glad to live in a Blue State. I felt actual relief. No, Las Vegas isn't perfect, but it is beginning to finally feel like "home." And that is a big sentence for this Midwesterner-at-heart to write.