Tuesday, December 9, 2014


There was once a girl; a beefy, brawny, kind-of-hairy girl, with big teeth and sausage-like fingers. I was the scrawny, skinny, short girl, whose ears poked out from my thin, stringy hair; so naturally, I was her favorite target. She beat me up and pushed me around from the third grade until the tenth grade. She hated me because she thought I was Mexican but refused to speak Spanish. I tried explaining that I was Indonesian and spoke Dutch. That concept is hard enough for most rational people to understand, so explaining it to an over-grown 10-year-old was impossible.

One time, she rammed my head into a metal beam in the school library. If only we'd had today's safety codes in 1983. Another time, she shoved me up against a wall and told me never to sing La Bamba. Ever. I narrowly missed being thrown against a giant Saguaro cactus. Another poor girl was not so lucky, and I helped her pull the cactus spines out of her red T-Shirt. I don't know if I'm remembering the red because that's what color her shirt was or if that was just the blood.

The greatest day of my life was in the tenth grade, when Beef Girl got pregnant and left school. I don't condone teen pregnancy in any way, but in this case, it REALLY worked out to my benefit.

So I finished growing up without anymore pummeling and went on with my life. I never really think much about it, except of course, Every Single Time Anyone Mentions Bullying. Which is more often than you'd think.

And now I'm discovering that my son is being bullied and I want to find the kid doing it and ram his head into a metal beam.

Here's the thing. I'm a (mostly) rational, non-confrontational type of person. So are my kids, if you can imagine such a thing. I have always taught them that there will be people you won't get along with or even like. And that's okay. It's human nature. HOWEVER, you DO have to be nice to everyone. It's important to take the high road. To be the bigger person. To not react when someone is trying to rile you.

It builds character.
It teaches them how to handle difficult situations.
It equips them with the ability to rise above.

This Higher Road stuff is so much harder as a mom.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shut Up, Frank!

We all have that inner voice inside of us. You know the one. It says you're ugly. You're stupid. Why do you even bother? This is never going to work. This is a dumb idea. You should just quit now.


Last summer, literary agent John Cusick gave a speech and he talked about that inner voice of doubt. He suggested giving that voice a name so that you can tell it to shut up. His inner voice's name was Debra. I decided to name my voice Frank.

Frank has been talking his head off lately. He's a manipulative son-of-a-gun, too.

See, the thing is, I live in Utah, where we seemingly have a large number of published and successful authors. They're a very welcoming and generous community, willing to teach and guide and mentor the rest of us along our path. I go to workshops and conferences, and there they are: James Dashner, Brandon Mull, Shannon Hale, Ally Condie, and a host of others. They're full of energy and happiness and I always come away having learned something or feeling good about the track I'm on.

Then Frank shows up. And he says, You can't even get a book published, let alone made into a major motion picture. Shannon Hale has an MFA. You'll never be as good as her. You're wasting your time.

So I take a week and wallow in self pity and eat my way through a bag or two of candy corn. Then I meet up with another great author like Ken Baker who says to me, "Yeah, it's a tough business. You have to love writing. But you can do it. Don't give up."

So you know what? Frank can just shut the **&%* up. He doesn't know what he's talking about,  anyway. He's a miserable wretch of a thing who is only satisfied when I'm unhappy. I'm not giving him the satisfaction. At least not today.

After John's speech, I thanked him for the inspiration and told him Frank says hello to Debra.

His reply: "And they can both go to hell."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Inner Eight-Year-Old

Dan and I recently returned from a Mediterranean cruise with the Larsens and the Emerys. It was magical, you guys; amazing sites, perfect weather, delicious European food, and funny, funny friends.

Remember getting the Weekly Reader at school? That was always one of my favorite days -- it was right up there with Tostada Day in the cafeteria. I learned all kinds of cool stuff in the Weekly Reader. When I was in third grade, I read about the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I loved the picture of its many arches. I loved that it leaned. The article said that one day, the tower would fall. I decided right then and there that I needed to see it before it came crumbling down. Fortunately, I recently learned that the ground beneath the tower had been reinforced, so that it would continue to lean for generations of third graders yet to come.

Last Thursday, on our way back to the ship from Florence, our guide detoured us over to Pisa. You'll be happy to know the tower is located around the corner from Ikea, if you're ever in the area.

The adult me took a bunch of pictures:


The eight-year-old me ran up and touched the wall. Then she bought this statue for 2 Euros.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back To School (Waaaay Back)

I don't think anything marks the passing of time quite like the first day of school. New grade, new teacher, new clothes... and new lunchboxes.

When I was a kid, this was my lunchbox:

I mean, how cool is that? When I did an image search for it, I found out that this baby is worth about $150 bucks on ebay. Coulda woulda shoulda.

And now the theme song is playing in your head, right? Go ahead. Admit it.

Anyway...when I was in the second grade, there was this boy in my class named Jamie. Kind of like The Boy Named Sue, he was mean. He teased me and called me names. So one day, I'm walking home, carrying my METAL Happy Days lunch box in my right hand because it was too big to fit in my red book bag. Jamie is following me down the street, saying horrible things to me (as horrible as a 7-year-old can be). I told him to leave me alone, but he kept pestering me. Finally, I swung around with my lunch box and decked him a good one. Gave him a bloody nose and everything.

Jamie put his cupped hands to his nose, ran home crying, and yelled, "I'M GONNA CALL THE COPS ON YOU!"

I ran home and kept an eye out the window, waiting for a patrol car to show up. Of course, it never did, and Jamie never bothered me after that.

And that's how THE FONZ saved me from a bully.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Blue Angels

My 11-year-old has been telling me for years that he would love to go see the Blue Angels in person. "It's something I've wanted to do my entire life," he told me.

We've spent a lot of time watching videos of them on YouTube.

Well, they finally made it to a town near us, so we spent my birthday checking off an item from J's bucket list. The look on his face when they made their first Mach 1 pass was the best birthday present I could have received. The feeling in my chest as they roared by was a close second.

I've said before that I believe in hefty amounts of horsepower. Our day with the Blue Angels cranked that up a notch. Or twelve. My words fall painfully short to describe the feeling I had as they streaked across the billowy sky that day, but J now has my permission to join the Navy if he so chooses.


Mission Accomplished.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cindy 4.1

As my birthday approaches this week, I figure it's a good time to write down my beliefs and philosophies as I see the world.

Cindy 4.1:

I believe life is good. It's complex and difficult and beautiful. I believe each of us is here for a reason; otherwise, why would life be so complex and difficult and beautiful?

I believe in kindness. Small acts or grand gestures -- the result is the same. I believe most of society's ills could be smoothed over with even a small measure of kindness, performed by people who go about quietly, unnoticed by cameras or reporters or bloggers or anyone else, for that matter.

I believe there is great power in silence. It helps me recharge and find solace from an otherwise noisy world. I believe it is powerful to be silent when others expect me to shout and react with fire.

I believe in laughter. It's the most important part of a rigorous health plan.

I believe in God. I believe I am his child. I believe He loves me. I believe in developing a relationship with Him.

I believe in having fun. I believe in hefty amounts of horsepower and driving really fast. I believe everyone should ride in a sailboat at least once in their lives.

I believe that chapstick and sunglasses are among life's essentials.

If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, then I believe the way to a woman's heart is through the kitchen. Clean that place up!

I believe there will be food in Heaven.

I believe in working hard for what you want, and even for things that don't seem as important. They might be important to somebody else.

I believe in daydreaming and having dreams and working to make those dreams come true. I believe The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is like looking at the inside of my own brain.

I believe it's important to continually learn new things. Fuel your curiosity. Take things apart. Read books on every subject and observe the world around you. Then, take what you learn and use it to make your corner of the world a better place; especially if it's right within the walls of your own home.

Yes, I believe life is good; but I also believe it is up to me to make it so.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Odd Jobs, Odd Memories

Paper Girl
Peer Tutor
Jewelry Store Clerk
JC Penney Clerk
Truck Stop Attendant
Preschool Teacher
NASA Intern
Elementary School Teacher
Floral Designer
Automotive Journalist
Freelance Writer

Once, while interning with NASA, I got to have lunch with David Levy, who was half of the team that discovered the Levy-Schumaker comet, which crashed into Jupiter. We ate hot dogs.

Once, while working at a truck stop, I met THE Tony Roma.

Once, when I was a paper girl, a guy in a Jeep clipped the rear tire of my bicycle and I went flying over the handlebars and crash-landed right into my dad's insurance agent's mailbox.

Once, while on assignment as a freelance writer, I got to meet LaVell Edwards, who called me "Cutie" and winked at me. He asked me if I was any good at golf and I asked him if he was any good at football.

Once, as an automotive journalist, I got to go off-roading in a Toyota FJ Cruiser along the San Andreas Fault.

Once, when I worked at JC Penney, there was this guy who always talked about going to Med School. It took me several weeks to figure out he was actually talking about Mexico.

Once, while waiting tables at our local Sizzler, a guy tried to set me up with his son. The son was also sitting at the table and turned four shades of crimson.

Isn't gainful employment awesome?

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Oh. Hi there. After a long break from blogging, I've decided it's time to get back at it.

It's summertime, and summertime makes me think of swimming.

When I was a kid, our back yard swimming pool made me feel rich. We were poor as dirt, but hey, it was Arizona, so pools were pretty common. Especially when I was younger, say 8 or 9, I lived in my little TG&Y swimsuit. I stayed out in the pool long after everybody else was too tired or hot from the 110+ degree weather. In fact, this was my favorite time in the pool because I was transformed into a movie star. I would perform magical, musical water revues in the style of Esther Williams. I barely had the ability to do a front flip off of our stiff little diving board, but I was a bathing beauty. I would twirl beneath the surface, enveloped in millions of tiny, sparkly bubbles. When I surfaced, I would kick my legs high into the air and smile at my adoring fans, which were nothing more than the slats in our wooden fence. I glided across the water like a graceful mermaid and splashed little droplets of water so they glittered like diamonds.

Yeah. I was so cool.