Thursday, June 29, 2006


What do you call a person who is not your ex, but who you cheated on your ex with?

Whatever you call that person, I Googled mine the other day, out of a sick sort of curiosity (Google was invented, I strongly believe, solely for people to address our deep-seated need to confirm that we are currently living infinitely better lives than those of former romantic partners.) He was a seminarian at the time (when I decide to go bad, you see, I don't mess around) and was a Rhodes scholar and spoke something like eighty-seven languages.

Here's a shocker: He's left the seminary, works in finance in Chicago, and is pretty much walking wallet-lopsided from all the bank he's currently pulling. Huh.

It's a strange concept, as this man was involved in the worst, most hurtful thing I've ever done in my life, but I'm glad he's doing well.

I'm sure he's an excellent banker. Not a bad kisser, either.

you betcha I went to Confession over that one at:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Last Week in June

It's time for what has become an annual tradition here at Blonde Champagne: "The Last Week In June."

This week was, in my childhood, what kept me alive throughout the other fifty-one. It is what pulled me through nine months of hell in grade school. It was The Week, the Week of God and All Joy: One week in Colorado, horses and dust and pine trees and creeks of freezing mountain runoff. Even if I've been conducting my June unconsciously aware of the anniversary, I suddenly will feel a strong rugged pull as the Fourth of July approaches and look at the calendar and realize, "Oh. The Week."

From the year I was six until the year I was thirteen, this was It. I have never known a place I was happier. College comes a close second, but four years are impossible to conduct without at least some semblance of tears and heartbreak. There were no tears in Lost Valley except for the following Sunday, when there was always near-hysteria. One year I sobbed as the plane departed from Colorado Springs at the thought of another twelve months of waiting in Cincinnati: Were we going to Ohio for a funeral? the woman sitting behind me wondered to my mother's horrified humiliation.

A part of me is literally seared there, burned into the walls of the main dining room. Each family creates its own brand as it passes through, adding checkmarks each returning year. Our brand sits high on a far wall overlooking the mountains and the hummingbird feeders. The brand is a boot representing the brief fact that we all rode that first year, even my mother, who bravely lasted until Wednesday, when she gripped the saddle horn of Colt 45 so tightly that tendinitis followed. Our initial stands in the middle of the boot over wavy lines representing the Ohio River. As I was fully lame even at an early age, this was my civically proud suggestion.

When I grew up and went to live with my then-boyfriend in Colorado Springs for a month, he drove me there along a narrow shelf road I thought wondrous at the time and now, returning as a driver myself, recognized as terrifying. On one side is a drop of many thousands of feet through trees and jagged scenery; on the other, pure mountain. When two cars meet going opposite directions, one driver has to back up, slowly and with much tense cursing.

"This place is kind of cheesy," the ex announced as he got out of the car and looked upon cabins named "Jessie James" and "Diamond Lil." And I knew then, somehow, although the end was yet months away and much sobbed over, that I could never, ever marry this person.

It is kind of cheesy, in a City Slickers sort of fashion, the way the wranglers greet the suburbanites at the cattle guard entrance on horseback and canter away in front of the car to guide these unleathery dudes to the check-in lodge, but when you are six and you are miserable, this is wondrous to behold. It announced horses to me, the very ones I write about today, and it brought seven days of the social acceptance I never found in the classroom. I heard God in the pines and I inhaled; this was where my soul has lived for so long. This was where the kid picked last for the kickball team won rodeo awards for booting her quarter horse around the barrels the fastest.

Terrible fires raged four years ago all around this little green valley I have always thought of as cupped in God's palm. The ranch was evacuated, the horses herded to safety. I was reunited via phone with one of the kiddie supervisors who cared for me twenty years ago and have exchanged Christmas cards with ever since (it is that kind of place) and she described to me what happened.

"The fire got to the cattle guard," she told me, "and it split. Burned everything around it, but the ranch was untouched. The areas in the mountains where you rode as a child are scorched, I'm afraid."

I would be scorched, too, if I returned right now. I know towering pines and thick tangles of wildflowers, and I prefer to keep them alive inside of me rather than replacing them with black and charred reality.

The regeneration has already begun, I know. It will be well underway four years from now, when Jim the Small Child Nephew will be old enough to ride with a plastic cowboy hat on his head and a face full of sunblock. We will go, I think, the last week in June.

ah at:

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Firsthand Lion

Jim The Small Child Nephew is, we think, a budding vegan. He eats jelly and Lucky Charms marshmallows and oyster crackers, and this is all he requires for hurling-things fuel. But he screamed the last time my sister tried to cram Birkenstock-looking sandals on his feet, so there's hope.

I tried shovelling some hamburger into him once about a year ago. Jim has a lion puppet, and the lion puppet makes him happy, and although I do not trust the lion's suspiciously cheerful mohawk, I stuck my hand in and waved it at my godchild. Jim produced the little roar noise he always does when he sees the lion, and I made it very clear that the lion was just an enormous fan of hamburger. And Jim ate a couple bites and then he wanted the lion to entertain his royal self some more.

Here's my question: Jim is a very smart small child. He was a very smart baby. Did he... really think that was a lion bogarting his Happy Meal, or was he fully aware that this was merely a mass of felt at the end of Aunt Beth's arm and was just humoring the lot of us so we'd go away and leave him in peace to perform his world-important role of throwing Lucky Charms around the room? Or is this simply a tribute to the imagination to those of us who don't have to take up valuable brain waves with keeping track of when and when not to pee?

I'm honestly wondering. Because if he thought this was truly a lion come to life, at what point do we develop the ability to look at Sarah Jessica Parker and go, "Heeeeyyyy... That's not a natural blonde!"?

fries with that at:

Monday, June 26, 2006


Okay, I had to see two pelicans totally doing it, but it was while sitting here:

This picture is from Day One, before the Very Loud Obnoxious Family rented out every last room. I did not take any pictures after they arrived, because all of them would have featured things like a man walking his dog (the dog wearing a t-shirt, the man not.)

The good news is, I got lots and lots done, writing-wise. I'm no longer at Page 0. But typing, sadly, does not burn huge amounts of calories. I tried jogging on the beach my first day, but something told me to stop by the middle of the first jog-song. Probably the increasingly thick trail of blood in the sand. Oh. So Wal-Mart beach shoes don't make for good arch support.

The room was too small to get any of my workout DVDs done, which, admittedly, was something of a relief. I have a new favorite Personal Trainer, Keli, who is my favorite because when she does ab crunches she does not smile or issue ridiculously cheerful encouragement; she goes "AAUUUUGGGGH." That's the kind of Personal Trainer I can trust. I want someone suffering just as much as I am. Plus, she has a British accent, which of course raises her credibility one billion percent.

All told, I didn't lose any weight, but did gain at least 27,000 words. Fair's fair.

getting caught in the rain at:

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