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Blues Riff in B, Watch Me For The Changes, And Try To Keep Up
(Posted April 2018)

Mona sent me a Starbucks gift card. I had to pause and reflect on when I went from being someone who did not drink coffee to someone who gets coffee shop money from BFFs. My best guess is somewhere around 2008, but mostly, I love that she noticed that evolution.

We are celebrating (we estimate) 30 years of friendship this year. That's a long time to put up with somebody. A lot of hurtful words and thoughtlessness, a lot of difficult conversations, a lot of love and loss and laughter and consoling. And, like everything else in this existence, a lot of changes.

The thing about change is that sometimes it's sudden, brought on by circumstance. A job loss results in a new career, the death of a loved one means relocating, an illness requires a lifestyle overhaul. But more frequently, it's subtle and happens at a snail's pace. The thing about changes in long-term relationships is that they happen when you're not paying attention. I think this is where so many relationships – of any description – fail: because we're not paying attention to the changes.

Not observing the evolution of the people in our lives can cause us to miss some great opportunities. An employer who doesn't notice the continuing education or added skills of an employee is missing out on the chance to get more from their team. A parent who doesn't pay attention to a child's new interest or recently revealed talent is passing up teaching moments and the opportunity to raise a more well-rounded human. A spouse who isn't observing the evolution of a partner's taste in music or sports is leaving on the table a chance to bond and talk about something other than the bank balance and what's for dinner.

As I mark another birthday this week, I acknowledge that making friends in your 40s is terrifically hard. So it's important that you not screw up the relationships you started with. This can be a delicate dance; we crave stability and reliability in our relationships, but we recognize – at least intellectually - that people must evolve to remain true to themselves. Accepting those changes is a lot easier if our friends would have the courtesy of making sure those changes did not effect us in any way, though.

My friend Jerri and I are undergoing some changes right now, because our methods of communication have been altered. Circumstances have dictated that we shift our usual ways of talking and touching base with each other and it's been a strain on both of us. We feel disconnected and are struggling to find new ways to bridge the distance, literally and figuratively. This interruption in service could easily be an excuse for drifting apart after 20 years, but we are making the effort to avoid that. We agree that new people are too hard to find and break in. Better to keep the ones you've got than go looking for replacement humans.

One of my newest friends, Jennifer, joked about the evolution of the relationship with her husband the other day over – what else? - coffee. He had a few career changes in the course of their courtship and she described it as, “I dated an actor, I was engaged to a director, and I'm married to an IT manager”. A microcosmic summation of the growth of a relationship, if you ask me. Every stage of it has a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

I can't remember, in 30 years, Mona ever giving me a gift card to any store. And here's the thing: it wasn't for a reason. It arrived the week of my birthday, but it wasn't a birthday gift, as evidenced by the fact that she doesn't mention my birthday in the accompanying note and we are both notoriously oblivious to birth dates. It came a couple of months after she visited, but it wasn't – as we call it in the South – a hostess gift, because she didn't mention her time spent here. It was a “thank you for being a friend” gesture, for no reason at all. It took me completely by surprise, which is the most comforting thing of all. Because it means that, for all that has changed, one thing has not: she can still surprise me.

*Thanks to Back To The Future for the title of this piece.

Midlife Crisis, Interrupted  (Posted March 2018)

I've decided it's time for my midlife crisis. Sure, some folks wait til their 50s, but why procrastinate? Now – at age 47 – seems like a good time to embark upon the mission of securing an impractical car and inappropriately younger boyfriend, while making decisions that cause my family and friends to question my mental stability.

Starting with the car. I've always thought I should drive something short and cute, much like myself. A Beetle? A Mini-Cooper? A SmartCar? The search begins... and almost immediately ends.

A friend who worked at an auto repair shop got me up to speed on the aforementioned vehicles.

“Every part on a Beetle starts at 400 bucks.”

“Mini-Coopers almost always have to go back to the dealership for repairs. Did you know that the nearest dealership is an hour away?”

“The SmartCar requires premium fuel, more expensive.”

Okay, fine. I’ll keep my humble, looks-like-everything-else-on-the-road Camry. Let’s see about that boyfriend! Load up the dating site and let’s see what’s shakin’.

My first impression was prickly. What’s up with all the beards? Every guy has a beard these days, and I find it a bit unsettling. What are they hiding under all that hirsuteness? And why does everyone have a “hustle” instead of a job?

One hairy hustler whose profile indicated he was almost 30 and into classic rock asked how my day was going. I expressed grief that the upcoming Eagles tour would be missing its voice in the person of Glenn Frey. He responded with a question mark, followed by an emoji that I interpreted to represent the word “confused”.

“He sang lead on some of their biggest hits,” I explained.
“Oh. I’m not familiar with that band.”

Surprised that anyone could claim the classic rock fandom and not have at least a passing knowledge of The Eagles, I asked what bands he was familiar with.

“Weezer. Foo Fighters. Oasis. You know, the great old bands from the 90s.”

Lesson learned. I should not date anyone who wasn’t alive when Genesis was touring.

As for decisions that make friends and family question my mental stability… well, it seems I’ve been doing that since puberty, so putting that on any midlife to-do list is redundant.

It turns out that I just can’t bring myself to make impractical purchases or knowingly wade into doomed relationships. I may have already missed my midlife crisis window. I’m already old and tired and carrying too much experience from past mistakes.

Thankfully, I have a Plan B: Crazy Old Lady. This is a phase I think I will be able to pull off at any age.

It was a dark and stormy night...(Posted June 2016)

Well, it was.

On the way home from work on Thursday, after doing our usual two-trivia-shows-in-one-night gigs, Philip and I agreed that it was definitely a good night to order pizza delivery for dinner. Our neighborhood Pizza Hut delivers until midnight, and since we got home around 10:45, I had a pretty wide open window to get online and place our order. According to the confirmation I received, our cheese-laden spread would be hitting the table in about 40 minutes.

Over an hour later, I called to find out why our order had not been delivered. I needed an explanation of why I was not elbows-deep in garlic knots and Canadian bacon. I had powered down my computer immediately after placing the order due to the storm, so I looked up the number on my phone. The first call resulted in 12 rings unanswered before it disconnected. The second call:


Hello? Who answers the phone at a place of business with “hello?”? Rolling with it, I proffered my query, “I placed an order online over an hour ago. I'm calling to check the status of my order”.

“You didn't place an order here. This is Taco Bell”.

Okay. Let's try again. Went to a different source on my phone and dialed a different number that also indicated it was my local Hut.

“Pizza Hut.” Well, that's a bit more promising.

“I placed an order online over an hour ago. I'm calling to check the status of my order”.

“We didn't get it. Our district manager shut down online ordering around 9pm”.

“But I entered a credit card number. I got a confirmation and a delivery time”.

“It wouldn't have gone through. It was shut down. Your card won't be charged because we never got it. And there would be no way of knowing that online. You have to call”.

“I'm calling now. Can I place my order?”.

“We're not delivering. Carry out only”.

“I'll come get it.”

“We close at midnight. You'd have to get here in 6 minutes.”

Thanks for nothing.

The only other choice at that point was to either cook – um, no – or head out to the strip of late night fast food places up the street. The worst of the storm had passed, so out I ventured. Philip and I had not been able to agree on an acceptable pizza replacement option, so I would making two stops; one for his dinner and one for mine.

The strip of fast foods all had long lines, and even the ones that don't keep extended hours still seemed to have a lot of activity for shops that should have been closed. Looked like everyone was having a long, messy night. Tempted by a marquee advertising 10 chicken nuggets for $1.49, I whip into Burger King. The line was moving rather quickly, so I was placing – and repeating at least three times – my order into the squawk box in just a few minutes. I proceeded to the window and parked.

It was at this moment I heard a series of pops that sounded like firecrackers. A lot of firecrackers. Like when some doofus at your backyard July 4 gathering decides to light a pack of hundred at one time. And they sounded close enough that I reflexively ducked. Inside the car, parked at a Burger King drive-thru, I'm cowering.

The window opens and the manager (you can tell, because he wears a tie and looks frazzled) is telling someone in the kitchen, “Nah, that was just somebody's tire”.

He hands me a bag and a drink and I look at him and say, “A tire? You promise?”.

He just shakes his head, hands me my receipt and says, “Sure. And it was way over there”, pointing in the opposite direction from whence came the pops.

Thank you, Mr. Late Night Burger King Manager, for trying to make everyone feel better by pretending we didn't hear what we know we heard.

I proceeded to the next stop, where the line was not nearly as fast, because the Taco Bell menu, it would seem, is a much more interesting read than Burger King's. When I finally get to the window, I see two firefighters standing at the window, sheltering themselves from the rain under the tiny little canopy, and placing an order. Apparently, the big truck doesn't fit in the drive-thru, and well, they gotta get tacos, too.

Some light banter exchanged with the firefighters, and as they got their food and walked away, I said what I always say to anyone in uniform, “Please be careful, and thank you”.

One of New Orleans' bravest then turns to me and says, “Which way you going?”.

I pointed in the direction of home.

He said, “I think you're the one who needs to be careful”.

To my puzzled expression he just explained, “You'll see”.

And I did see. As I headed home, doubling back past the Burger King, I see that the next fast food joint parking lot is swarming with police cruisers, yellow crime scene tape strung and fluttering every where. All the cops were huddled in the “entrance” lane of the parking lot, while in the “exit” lane of the drive-thru lay a man's body, still as could be.
So much for the tire theory.

It was an eerie sight, obviously, but here's what struck me and haunted me for the rest of the night:

If the man was not dead, why was there no one there administering aid? If the man was almost dead, why was no one there comforting him? If the man were already dead, why had no one covered him? The police on the scene were standing as far away as they possibly could from this lifeless figure. Maybe there was some sort of procedural code in place here, but it made the whole scene seem even colder.

I heard the shots that killed this man. I was only a few hundred feet away, with only two buildings between us, just trying to get an order of nuggets and a Dr. Pepper. While he was dying, I was joking with firefighters in a Taco Bell drive-thru. It was a terrifying thought for a moment. But when I saw him, lying alone in a pool of blood being washed away by the persistent rain, all I could think was, “I want to stop and hold his hand, or at least cover him up”. Seriously, my reflex was to take an inventory of what I might have in the trunk of the car with which to cover this dying or dead man in a chicken joint parking lot. My second thought was disgust with the 20 cops standing 50 feet away not even looking at him.

After arriving home, settling in with our bags of food at the table and telling Philip the story, I took a deep breath, sent out some positive vibes to the Parking Lot Man, and decided to just let the evening's events get blotted out with a mindless comedy on TV.

I open my bag and discover no nuggets, but a Whopper – dressed with everything I hate on a burger (mayo, pickles, onion).


Acknowledging that in the grand scheme of things, this is something really petty to get upset over, I nonetheless found myself extraordinary angry. Like raging. The injustice of all of it – no pizza delivery, long lines, dead guys in parking lots, mayo on a burger I didn't order – was just more than I could deal with in one night.

Ultimately, this is the fault of the Hut. If they had just brought me my damn pizza I would not have been up all night, craving chicken nuggets and contemplating the futility and fragility of our very existence.

Oh, Baby!  (Posted March 2015)

This controversy with Dolce & Gabbana calling children conceived through artificial means "synthetic" is causing quite the uproar in the gay community, but it touches on something that has been my fear for years, for parents of every – for lack of a better term – persuasion.

Views and habits become traditions, and traditions become laws... ah, the slippery slope. When we start telling people how they "should" and "shouldn't" make their children, we head toward the possible ultimate outcome of giving governments the power to take our children.

For example, in 2008, Arkansas legislators proposed a law that would not allow unmarried people to adopt children. It was a measure taken specifically to assure that gay couples (who at the time could not be legally married) would not be able to provide homes for children in the system, but it applied to unmarried heterosexual couples as well.*

At the time of this legal action, I was talking with a friend and Arkansas resident who had given birth to her child before she married a man who was not the father of her baby. She agreed with the legislation, and I was aghast. If I were her, I would have been terrified where this law could lead.

As soon as we tell single people they can't adopt, we're a very small step away from saying that single people who have biological children are not worthy parents and we take their kids away. Or, in this example, the state could decide that the man she married – maybe because he was not the biological father of her child – could be deemed not eligible to help raise her child and custody could be revoked.

This thought did not seem to faze her, as she was confident that no law would ever be passed that could take a child away from a fit biological parent, especially a mother. I disagree; I think there are people at every level of government who really believe they know best how the American family should look and function, and will never stop imposing their will in our bedrooms, relationships, and reproductive systems.

If the view of these Italian fashion designers were to become a widespread philosophy, where would that lead? Would it become accepted custom, or maybe even law, that pregnant mothers had to prove the manner of conception before being granted custody of their own fetus? Would the practices of artificial insemination and surrogacy be forced underground, like abortion once was, creating a healthcare nightmare that would result in black market sperm and a lack of prenatal care for surrogate mothers?

“Procreation must be an act of love”, said Domenico Dolce. Well, no, it doesn't have to be (yes, former Missouri U.S. Representative, rape can result in pregnancy), though I agree that it should be. But that doesn't mean that sperm donation, surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, and other means of assisted conception, along with adoption, are not acts of love. On the contrary, the people that opt for these methods are the very people that should be parents. They are making a conscious choice, a concentrated effort, at great sacrifice and expense, to grow their families. No “oops babies” here; these children are wanted and loved before they are ever conceived.

Perhaps D&G have been misunderstood; perhaps something was lost in translation. Or maybe they're proving why they made the right choice in notprocreating: these guys just don't have enough love for the job.

*The Arkansas Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban Initiative, also known as the Proposed Initiative Act 1, was on the November 4, 2008 ballot as an initiated state statute, where it was approved. An Arkansas Supreme Court ruling overturned the measure in April 2011.

Top 15 Question 15s of 2014 (Posted January 2015)

So, it's January. A time to reflect on the previous year and take an assessment of things. A time to resolve for change and improvement. A time for lists.

In that spirit, here's a list of my favorite “Question 15s” from 2014.

If you have never attended a Prime Time Trivia™ show, or did not read the blog entry on this same subject last year, you need the following explanation: Every week, Philip (“DJ PiNG”) and I host a trivia show that is constructed of four rounds of questions, 15 questions per round. Equivalent to the FREE space on a bingo card, we provide the answer to the last question of each round. The spiel every night as I rattle off the rules goes like this: The answer to 15 is "C". Question 15 is a joke, it's multiple choice, and the answer is always "C". Answering "C" is how you get a point for that question and how you feed my comedy writer ego.

Last year, I just chose my favorite 20 questions and posted them in the order they were presented at shows. This year, I'm doing a Top 15 and grouping them according to subject, because I realized while going through all 208 of these things that there are patterns. There are some subjects I just can't seem to let go of when it comes to these jokes. Obviously, I have issues about letting go. But that's a topic for another blog.

Let's start our list with the obvious: anyone who plays Prime Time Trivia™ has come to expect frequent jabs at the Kardashian clan. I'm really irked by these people and, while I am genuinely irritated by the people who pay attention to them and continue to make them famous, I must admit a certain gratitude for all the material they provide.


*A new list indicates that Los Angeles is the second most rat infested city in America. We think that's because

A) the more people, the more rats
B) great weather
C) they counted all the Kardashians

*It has been discovered that a woman in China has lived her entire life – 24 years – missing a significant portion of her brain. Scientists are calling her

A) an anomaly
B) a miracle
C) a Kardashian

      I noticed a lot of jokes this year about fast food and retail. We took shots at McDonald's, Amazon, Paula Deen, Wal-Mart, and Pepsico, in the form of a duo of jokes about Dewitos (a proposed Mountain Dew flavored variety of Doritos). Narrowing it down was difficult, but here are my two favorites from this category:


      *CVS has decided to stop selling cigarettes, in an effort to encourage healthier living. They will, however, continue to sell

      A) junk food
      B) sodas
      C) all the ingredients for meth

      *Starbucks has decided to let their employees wear ear gauges. For those who don't know, ear gauges are

      A) jewelry that stretches the earlobe
      B) an expression of identity through scarification
      C) a way to tell the world your father never hugged you

        There also seemed to be an extraordinarily high number of joke-worthy things happening in California last year, most of which involved food. I'm not sure why it's so much fun to make fun of West Coasters, but it is.


        *Los Angeles finally got a Dunkin' Donuts last week. It took so long because

        A) there wasn't a demand
        B) there was too much competition
        C) they had to secure certification that their donuts were organic, free-range, cruelty-free and made only from kale and good vibes

        *California's death penalty has been ruled unconstitutional. It's almost like every other death penalty, except that the Californian version

        A) qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment
        B) is unfairly carried out
        C) comes with avocado

        *Introduced at the California State Fair this summer: bacon-wrapped churros, soaked in whiskey and fried in bacon fat. Reviewers are calling them

        A) extreme fair food
        B) a certain hit
        C) simply to die of

          And while it may be fun to mock those not from around here, if we have learned nothing in the last few years performing in the Big Sleazy, it is that New Orleanians have one favorite subject: themselves. We have never encountered in any other city audiences so keen to hear about, talk about, and make fun of themselves. And so we oblige:


          *The Running of The Bulls took place in Spain about a week ago. The Running has a lot in common with Mardi Gras, including

          A) it started a very long time ago
          B) it has loose ties to the Catholic Church
          C) it began with one guy saying, “If we got drunk enough, we could turn this into a festival!”

          *We had a full moon on Friday the 13 this month, a very rare combination; almost as rare as the combination of

          A) supermodels and food
          B) politicians and integrity
          C) New Orleanians and sobriety

          *Atlanta made headlines with a debilitating traffic jam during last week's winter storm. Reactions included, from

          A) Minneapolis: “You needed snow plows.”
          B) New York: “You needed to stay home.”
          C) New Orleans: “You needed snow for that?”

          *Local chefs say the most important starting ingredient in New Orleans-style cooking is

          A) the trinity (onion, bell pepper, celery)
          B) the roux
          C) a complete disregard for your health

          *According to the latest test scores, the average New Orleans public school student gets __________ on their SAT.

          A) 1290
          B) 990
          C) drool

            Lest anyone think we're just up here in our glass house throwing stones at California's celebrities and granola-crunchers and the Crescent City's drunks, you should know that the other commonly recurring theme in our Question 15 category is our willingness to laugh at ourselves. Evidence:


                *Last Saturday was “World Naked Gardening Day”. This event was created by

                A) gardeners who wanted to be more natural
                B) naturists who wanted to do more gardening
                C) Rikki Gee, who declared it as she was being dragged from her yard wearing nothing but gardening gloves and handcuffs

                *I hear the cloud was hacked last week. I don't really understand the cloud. To me, it's like

                A) math
                B) science
                C) whatever language NASCAR drivers speak

                *The World Cup is getting a lot of attention from a lot of people this week, but I don't watch soccer, because

                A) the futility of a 0-0 tie makes me sad.
                B) the commentators are hard to understand.
                C) if I want to see someone struggle for 90 minutes to score, I'll take DJ PiNG to a bar.

                  Thanks for playing along, and if you heard these jokes in person in 2014, thank you so much for supporting our show and the venues we work in. If you want to make a plan to join us for Prime Time Trivia™, just flip over to the EVENTS page here on the website to check our schedule. We'd love for you to come out and play. Happy New Year!

                  MerryHappyWhateverYouCelebrate {posted November 2014}

                  It's not even Thanksgiving and already I'm seeing the memes on Facebook about how "they" won't let Christians say "Merry Christmas". I am so confused by this. Who is telling people what they "can" or "cannot" say when offering greetings of the season? Who is "they"?! What great mysterious entity is telling people that "happy holidays" is the only acceptable wish that may be bestowed between the end of November and January 1st?

                  And what is this about "letting" people say things? If I know nothing else, I know that most people don't feel they need permission to say what's on their minds. I'm pretty sure in a country where burning the flag is artistic expression and articulating that a sitting president should suffer a painful death is covered by freedom of speech, wishing someone a nice holiday - any holiday - is not gonna get you fired or stoned in the streets.

                  In no job, in no social setting, in no way have I ever been instructed by anyone that I could not wish someone a Merry Christmas. I also wish people a joyous Kwanzaa, a happy Hanukkah, and a sparkling New Year, but I just like to mix things up. Who is going around telling people that they cannot spread holiday cheer in whatever fashion they choose? Does everyone have a rabbi as their boss or something?

                  Most reasonable, civilized people understand that saying these words is not an attempt to proselytize or convert, no more than it is an insult or intention to offend. I would also like to think that most reasonable, thinking people understand that, even if you are being asked in your work environment not to wish someone a Merry Christmas, that this is not an affront to your beliefs. For as much as anyone would like to think otherwise, politeness and political correctness are not persecution.

                  Wish people whatever you want; what's the worst that could happen? "I don't celebrate Christmas", as a response? Easy fix: "Oh, well, then have a pleasant day". Everybody could use one of those.

                  The Tears of a Clown {posted August 2014}

                  Some people are obsessed with movies, others with music. Some of us live for the written word, while others take to more physical activities. For me, the lifelong passion has been sitcoms.

                  I once joked that Garry Marshall was my unwitting godfather. My actual father knew the best punishment he could dole out was restricting my TV time, and I remember clearly a long, painful couple of weeks when I was grounded from the back-to-back “Laverne & Shirley” episodes that played on a local affiliate during the hour after I got home from school. Some kids had imaginary friends; I had an imaginary family, the Cunninghams, and everything in my life changed when Fonzie had a visitor from outer space named Mork.

                  My path toward performing had already been laid by this point (I was 8), and this episode started what would become a 30+ year study of everything Robin Williams ever did as an actor and comedian. I didn't just watch his work...I absorbed this man, emulated and mimicked, scrutinized and examined every gesture, every nuance, every turn-of-phrase. Robin was a part of my training, and for that, I owe him thanks.

                  When Philip and I were young and living very different lives from the ones we do now, the material in Robin Williams's stand up act was forbidden fruit. So imagine our delight when Philip acquired a bootleg audio recording of “Live At The Met”, Williams's 1986 landmark appearance. Our copy was disguised as a cassette for practicing for all-state high school choir. We listened to it in my car, we passed it back and forth for listening in our respective homes, we told each other the jokes and tried out the character voices on each other. I still have that tape somewhere, a souvenir of our youth and a symbol of the laughter that binds us. Robin was a part of our relationship, and for that, Philip, we owe him thanks.

                  I am not a fan of animation. I wasn't even that into Saturday morning cartoons as a kid. Like I said, I was a sitcom kid. More “Saved By The Bell” than Scooby-Doo. But Aladdin had Robin Williams! So I went to see it. And then bought the VHS. And the soundtrack. And the poster. Yes, I was a grown, married, 20-something woman, but I had an Aladdin poster on the wall. Wanna make something of it? I quote this movie at least once a week, when the circumstance dictates. Disney made two more direct-to-video Aladdin films, but I didn't buy the second one because it didn't have Robin Williams as the voice of Genie. He was back for the third, so it went into my permanent collection. I still own these tapes as well, though I don't own a VCR to play them on.

                  Every fan could make a film-by-film list of everything Robin Williams ever said in a movie that made an impression, but that would get tedious. So suffice it to say that I've seen them all, loved them all, been moved, laughed, cried, and used every moment of his screen time as a master class.

                  I didn't follow much in his personal life, except what he chose to share through his stand-up or in interviews. From those, I knew he struggled with substance abuse and depression, but (unless I was getting paid to do some inane feature on a radio morning show) I don't read the gossip columns about celebrity life and style. So I wasn't aware that Robin Williams had recently been an inpatient receiving treatment for his depression; I didn't know he was on a downward spiral. Not that it would have made the news of his suicide any less jarring or upsetting...just less of a surprise, I guess.

                  But here's the thing, y'all: right now, at this moment, someone you DO know is in a downward spiral. Someone close to you IS hurting in ways you can't physically see. They probably haven't threatened suicide in those exact words; maybe they're not even showing any signs at all of the pain they're in. But you know someone who is thinking about a permanent solution to their pain. So be kind, even when you don't want to be. Be supportive, even when you're not sure what someone needs to hear. And pay attention to those around you. Someone could be sending up a flare and you've got to watch for it. Some of them are killing themselves slowly with alcohol or drugs or other risky behavior. Take a moment to ask them why, and then really listen to their answer.

                  If you are one of these people, and you're thinking there's no way out, please stop reading right now and call this number: 1-800-273-8255. That's the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They can help. I have lost “real” people in my life to suicide, and I wish like crazy they had made this call.

                  And here's one more thing to think about. Think of someone who makes you laugh. Not an actor or comedian; a real person in your life. That person, the one that's always quick with the joke or gives you a reason to smile, is probably in more pain than you imagine and is waiting for the chance to talk about it. They're longing for someone to put arms around them and say, “tell me how you're really doing”.

                  I know this, because if you hug me long enough, I'll cry.

                  Maybe this is why the work of Robin Williams always spoke to me. Maybe I could sense the pain beneath the laughter and recognize it as my own. And maybe this is why, despite the Oscar and the accolades and the scope of his work, Mork will be the way I most remember Robin Williams. He was someone not of this world, just looking for a friend. Me too, Mork. Nanu-nanu.

                  Cooking, Cleaning, Crying {posted July 2014}

                  Home alone on a Saturday night with one objective: clean my room. Two half unpacked suitcases had set up residency – one on the bed (yes, I'd been sleeping with it every night for a week), one opened on the floor next to the bed where I was forced to step in it every morning for two weeks.

                  The plan: play episodes of “Friends” on my bedroom PC (not the DVDs, mind you...every episode from all ten seasons is actually saved to my hard drive. Yes, I know that's hardcore, but my preoccupation with that show is can of worms we shall spill on another occasion), and not leave until every shoe was in the closet, every item of dirty laundry safely stashed in the designated basket, every item of clean laundry folded and put away (thus freeing the basket for the dirty clothes).

                  What actually happened: I cooked. I mean really cooked. I fired up the barbecue grill outside and smoked ribs. I made a worthy-of-the-Thanksgiving-table green bean casserole. I baked beans, boiled corn, and perfected my already pretty close to perfect warm potato salad (recipe included below). I even made a black forest cobbler with a chocolate cake mix and a can of cherry pie filling I found in the back of the cupboard. By the time I was done, I was so hot and exhausted, I didn't want to eat any of it.

                  So I watched binged watched a series on TV and, when two full seasons of a now-defunct hour long drama had concluded, I finally paid attention to the lyrics of the theme song and let them wash over me like poetry:

                  Bent or broken is the family tree.
                  Each branch a part of a part of me.
                  This is my tree, and it’s a beautiful tree.*

                  That prompted a good cry. Gotta have those once in a while. I took some time to reflect on my beautiful, broken, bent family tree, and contemplate my tiny little contribution to it. As an only child with no children, my branch is pretty bare. I think I've always tried to bloom a little brighter to spruce things up. And that is the extent of the sentimental or philosophical portion of this story.

                  I finally got started on my room. Shoes put up, suitcases emptied and stashed. Dumped all the clean clothes on to the bed so that I could use the basket to pick up the dirty ones. Stared at the pile of clean laundry and decided I was finally hungry.

                  I didn't realize until after I had cleaned my plate down to nothing but a pile of rib bones that I had forgotten to serve myself a piece of the corn on the cob. No matter. It'll keep.

                  The pile of clean laundry is still on the bed. That'll keep, too. At least it'll be a more comfortable sleeping partner than the suitcase was.

                  *Beautiful Tree lyrics by Rain Perry

                  Rikki's Warm Potato Salad (created because I don't like mayonnaise and I think it's a horrible thing to do to an otherwise perfectly good potato)

                  Scrub (but don't peel) about a dozen small, red-skinned potatoes, and cut into 1-2 inch pieces. Boil in water that has been seasoned with shrimp boil oil or powder. Drain well. In a large bowl, add about 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and using a fork or wide-gapped potato masher, coarsely mash the potatoes until the butter melts. This should leave some pretty sizable chunks of potato. Add a heaping tablespoon of sour cream and about a half cup of ranch dressing, about half a package of prepared bacon bits, and at least a cup and a half of shredded cheddar cheese. Add some chives if you're so inclined (I rarely have them on hand). All these measurements are optional and estimated, by the way. Just do what you would normally do to a baked potato, in the amounts that seem appetizing to you. Toss this all together and serve. Also pretty tasty served cold, the next day. Bon appe-tater!

                  I Write Everything But the Songs {posted June 2014}

                  One of my ten jobs is as a writer. Not the kind of writing that you're reading now (this blog is just for you and me, and I actually pay to publish it, rather than getting paid).

                  I write advertising. For the first half of my life, this was for the purposes of radio advertising. I still do this from time to time, usually as favors to the few friends I still have in the industry that was once my own. Starting in 1999, I started writing for an even more specific medium: telephone on-hold messages.

                  Like most people, I had never given much thought to how that annoying person talking to me on hold got there. Then one day, sitting at my desk writing news stories for a radio broadcast (oh, yeah...I used to write those, too), I answered a phone call meant for someone else. That serendipitous act led to my involvement in the on-hold industry – something I didn't even know existed.

                  From that day until this, I have perfected the art of writing the on hold message. As public tastes, technologies, and my own skills have grown, so have my techniques. I've even won awards for this stuff. Again, awards I didn't even know existed until I was informed that something I had written (and Philip and I voiced) had claimed the industry's highest creative kudos at their national convention.

                  But accolades and a certain financial security have not been my greatest reward for following this unusual career path. The best thing to come from writing on-hold messages is the actual writing itself. Having a paycheck dependent on the act of sitting down every day, researching a topic, product, or industry; staring down a looming deadline with the expectation that some sort of creative inspiration will strike; exercising self-discipline to meet those deadlines and expectations...these are what have made me a writer.

                  And the best part of being a writer of any sort isn't the stuff I get paid for. Tonight, I looked back through my files, hoping to find a blog-entry-in-progress because I was tapped out of ideas. I didn't find one. What I found were my niece's resume and cover page, my great-aunt's eulogy, a good friend's English Lit mid-term, and a plethora of other documents that had landed on my virtual desk with the request of “Could you have a look at this?”. There's also another friend's business plan, a former colleague's letter to the editor, and at least three novels that I've been asked to proofread, edit, or tweak.

                  These are precious words, y'all. Words that people have trusted me with to help further their careers, express their beliefs, finish their degrees. Words intended to make peace with the past or plan for the future. Words designed to realize dreams. Words that started with someone else and ended with me.

                  My friend Matthew got a promotion at work this week. I knew he was working toward it when I saw his resume lying on the backseat of his car, with a cover page attached. Without picking it up, I asked, “Have you submitted this yet?” “Yeah, why?” was his reply. “Because I'm spotting some errors. If you have to go through another round with this, let me fix it before anyone else sees it”. In discussing his efforts of setting this goal and ultimately achieving it, he offered this reflection (copied and pasted from our Facebook chat): “Knowing you, a girl who can see my resume sitting on the seat and spell check and grammar check me is awesome. I appreciate your brain”.

                  That's the best part of being a writer. I make money writing words that sell. But it's the words that make a friend's day that mean the most.

                  P.S. Just in case you're curious about my “real” writing, here's a sample of something I recently got paid to write:

                  Dominos (Mother’s Day Special On-Hold)
                  Written April 2014

                  (Kid) Dad, can we order pizza?
                  (Male Adult) It’s Mother’s Day, kiddo, and your mom probably wants something special.
                  (Kid) Well, Dominos has new specialty chicken... tasty boneless chicken loaded with toppings and sauces like crispy bacon and tomato; classic hot buffalo; sweet barbecue bacon; or spicy jalapeno-pineapple. And “special” is right there in the name!
                  (Adult) But what about your pizza?
                  (Kid) Domino’s has a Mother’s Day deal: a large 3 topping pizza plus an order of the new specialty chicken for just 18-99.
                  (Adult) Great idea! How’d you get so smart?
                  (Kid) I get it from my mom.

                  Pulling The Wings Off OKCupid...{posted May 2014}
                  ...or, there's a reason it's just "okay"

                  The set up: While I never visit the site, occasionally I do get e-mail notifications from OKCupid telling me that someone has checked me out (visited my profile) or that the site has new matches for me (new members that seem to fit some criteria that makes them a recommended date). Today, the subject line was someone has chosen you! The text of the e-mail had a picture, screen name (SkinnyPaleGuy), and the following insight: He's totally into you! Go send him a message. You got this email because he rated you 4 or 5 stars.

                  How was I to resist?

                  I went to his profile, where I learned that he doesn't use capitalization, is admittedly shallow, and likes "using uncomfortable truths to make people squirm. i crave blunt honesty in all things. pleasant euphemisms and convenient moral rationalizations nettle me. i have a very dry and often dark sense of humor. i often seem to offend people without even noticing or understanding why, but i also occasionally offend people deliberately for personal amusement". His profile also indicated that he "replies often" to e-mails, and was only interested in women "...unless you're a guy that looks like chris corner of sneaker pimps. then we can definitely talk".

                  He also cautioned the reader that he included a mirror self-pic of his bare chest and stomach: "i admit the torso pic is pretty douchey, but you have to be a little bit of a douche to use a dating site in the first place so whatever. i'm not above it. i'm not really above much of anything, for that matter. i'm a shameless human being".

                  Okay, look, if you're gonna tell me from the outset that you like uncomfortable truths and have a dark sense of humor, I'm gonna rise to the bait. And if I'm learning this about you on what has to be the lamest dating site ever created, I'm gonna have some fun with it. And since I'm not really interested in dating you, I have nothing to lose by offending you. So I pulled at the thread. Here's what followed...

                  Me - I am writing to test your "replies often" status. And also, because the site told me too, and I'm just a sheep that does whatever the Internet tells me to do.

                  Oh, and because the site tells me that you rated me "4 or 5" stars. I didn't realize that my profile could be graded like a restaurant review, and now I have to know: was it 4 or 5? And why is this site so vague about it? I mean, it was EITHER 4 or 5. Why not tell me which?

                  For the record, I am sending this message before looking at the torso pic you mention in your profile. I'm putting off viewing your admitted douchery until I see if you really do "reply often".

                  SkinnyPaleGuy- yes, i really do reply often! i'll admit, sometimes i'm tempted to ignore a few messages just so i can get one of those snobby elitist "replies very selectively" tags. i bet there are actually women out there who won't date a guy if he doesn't have one of those. like, she thinks "i'm not dating a guy who 'replies often'" ya know? but i just can't bring myself to ignore someone

                  as for the rating, i gave you five stars. what i do is, i just go to the "quickmatch" thingy and just keep hitting five stars over and over again without even looking at the pictures or reading anything. it's like casting out a huge dragnet of mass-market dating!

                  it's actually a pretty effective strategy. i've been f***king like three or four women per day on average

                  i bet you wonder if i'm kidding or serious lol

                  Me - Hehehehehe....no, I feel very confident you're kidding. If it were true, you wouldn't have time to "reply often".

                  SkinnyPaleGuy - well, your confidence is misplaced because i am totally serious lmfao!

                  and yes, time is my number one enemy. there never seems to be enough of it (or enough condoms)

                  so... wanna have sex?

                  Me - In general, or do you mean with you, specifically?

                  SkinnyPaleGuy - lmfao! perfect response :D

                  i like you

                  Me - Thanks. And thanks for pulling your penis out of someone long enough to provide a timely response to an email.

                  I'm not trying to be coy or hard-to-get...because I am neither of those things. But I do have a very complicated schedule, one that requires thoughtful planning and may interfere with you sleeping with All. The. Women. And that one guy from that one band.

                  SkinnyPaleGuy - no pulling out was necessary. this is my "down time," hence why i'm on okcupid in the first place

                  i can work around a complicated schedule because there is no schedule more complicated than my own

                  i must warn you, my penis is habit forming

                  Me - Yes, but your personality may be the first step in breaking the addiction.

                  SkinnyPaleGuy - what are you talking about? my personality is pure, distilled awesome sauce!

                  i realize now that i should've ignored your message to earn my "very selectively" tag

                  now go check out my torso pic and see what you cheated yourself out of by being a mean jerk

                  {Realizing this was a lost cause, but sincerely not wanting to be seen as “mean jerk”, I made an attempt an apology. An attempt that soon went south, because sometimes there's just no stopping me once I start sinking}

                  Me - I've been known to be a bit too snarky in my attempts at witty repartee. Please don't take it personally. I'm sure you have a lovely penis. The best penis of all time. The more-addictive-than-heroin, gonna-have-to-get-on-methadone, someone-pull-me-out-of-the-crack-gutter-'cause-I'm-hooked-on-his-jock most habit forming penis of all time. Seriously. Congratulations on the nice genitals.

                  And there you have it. My last adventure in online dating, and, apparently, the reason why I have failed so miserably at the concept.

                  • Ed. note: I have since canceled my registration on this site, because I realized the above exchange was the most interesting conversation that resulted from my membership. And if this is as good as it's gonna get, I'm “okay” without OKCupid.

                  44 on the 4th: Various Things You Might - Or Might Not - Want To Know About Me
                  {In honor of my 44th birthday -  April 4, 2014}

                  1. I'm thinking of joining AA just to make friends who don't drink.
                  2. I went to ten schools between kindergarten and 12th grade.
                  3. I am still learning to like vegetables. But I will never eat English peas.
                  4. I am completely disgusted by geographical arrogance. You are not a superior human because of where you live or where you're from.
                  5. I do not have a college degree. And I still don't regret quitting school (sorry, Mom).
                  6. I struggle every day to discern the difference between what I was taught and what I know to be true.
                  7. No matter how much money I make, I will always shop the clearance sale first.
                  8. No matter how much time I have, I will always rush for fear of being late.
                  9. I take shortcuts in cooking, communicating, and cleaning, but never in driving. It's always my luck that the shortcut has more obstacles.
                  10. I complained about every radio job I ever had, and was always looking for a new and better gig. I now miss it so much, I sometimes cry.
                  11. I complained about my marriage almost every day I was in it. I do not miss it.
                  12. I learn something new about myself – sometimes positive, sometimes not so much - every day.
                  13. I just applied for my first ever passport, and now I can't stop thinking of all the places I want to go.
                  14. I have ten jobs. Rikki Trivia Question: Can you name them all?
                  15. I'm a fat girl who doesn't like cheesecake.
                  16. In fact, the only sweets I want are cookies. Specifically, Philip Gordon's chocolate chip cookies. Every day. For the rest of my life.
                  17. As a musical theatre major at West Texas University, I learned to weld. Still can't tap dance.
                  18. I wasn't convinced date rape was a real thing until it happened to me.
                  19. I am becoming less ticklish as I grow older. Sometimes I think of that and wonder why.
                  20. While we disagree on pretty much everything and are horrible at communicating with each other, my dad is still my hero.
                  21. I would rather go to a high school game than any professional sporting event.
                  22. After all these years of hosting, I've determined that no one (including me) sings karaoke as well as they think they do.
                  23. I think that a whole host of transgressions can be forgiven if people just see you trying.
                  24. When I grow up, I want to love something as much as my grandmother loves dancing and be as good at something as she is at quilting.
                  25. I'm cuter with a fat face. When I lose weight, I'm just average looking.
                  26. It hurts my feelings when I see my local friends post on Facebook about going to karaoke and trivia events when they've never been to mine.
                  27. I think this list is incredibly self-indulgent.
                  28. I've never had a surprise party.
                  29. I can't bring myself to throw away a business card that someone's given me.
                  30. I do not own an MP3 player and I rarely listen to music at home.
                  31. Clothes are my enemy. I hate shopping for them, wearing them, folding them...
                  32. I have owned dogs and been owned by cats. I love dogs more, but I respect a cat's independence.
                  33. I appreciate that I have learned the difference between like and respect; between love and lust.
                  34. I'm jealous every time a friend moves. I'm a gypsy and I want to roam.
                  35. My toenails are curly.
                  36. I'm doing that “save a dollar for whatever number week of the year it is” thing.
                  37. I love weddings (I always cry), hate baby showers, and don't go to funerals.
                  38. I have a Council of Four: my closest friends that are my sounding boards and guidance system. I would be lost without them, and I think, they without me. Weirdly, they don't know each other well and have never spent significant time together.
                  39. I never named any of my cars, but my beloved Honda Metropolitan scooter had a name. (RIP Speedy, 2005-2011)
                  40. I have sneakers to match every outfit. Life is too short for uncomfortable shoes.
                  41. While I don't consider myself a huge fan, seeing U2 Rattle & Hum at the theater was a defining, life altering moment of my teenage years.
                  42. I am allergic to shellfish. This makes me sad. Especially at all-you-can-eat seafood buffets.
                  43. I process things through the What Would My Mom Think filter. Doesn't always prevent bad decisions, but it keeps me from cussing at other drivers and keeps my elbows off the table at dinner.
                  44. I think you are incredibly special for making it to the end of this list and if you want to send me a list like this about you, I would happily read it.

                  “I Can't, But I Know A Guy...” (Posted March 2014)

                  Recent conversations from my life:

                  Mardi Gras Krewe Captain: Rikki, I need a male singer to perform at the ball. Do you know someone?
                  Me: Yes. Here's a name and number.

                  Event Planner: Rikki, I need a hip-hop/R&B DJ for an event. Know anyone?
                  Me: Yes. Here are names and numbers.

                  Bar Manager: Rikki, I need bartenders for a couple of shifts. Know anyone?
                  Me: Yes. Here are names and numbers.

                  Casting Agent: Rikki, I need a venue to hold a workshop in. Know a place?
                  Me: Several. I'll make some calls.

                  Friend: I'm achy. Maybe a massage will help. Can you recommend a therapist?
                  Me: Here are four.

                  Friend: I need to entertain my dad while he's visiting. Any ideas?
                  Me: Here's the name and number of a local tour guide.

                  More and more, it is becoming clear to me that my calling, my purpose on this planet, may not be to actually do anything, but to just know people.

                  While “networking” in the professional interpretation of the term has been common for generations, it's only become part of our personal lives in the years since the surge of Internet sites like MySpace and Facebook. Social networking does have its place in modern life, but it should be noted that in the above scenarios, only one of those conversations took place over a Facebook instant message. The rest were real life, face-to-face interactions, or at the very least, phone calls. And in every case, I knew the people personally long before there was a professional connection.

                  In the larger sense, we should all be networking all the time with everyone. Not with the motivation of “What can this person do for me?”, but rather with a broader purpose. Upon meeting someone new, my first objective is to asses what I can learn from this person. Everyone is on an individual journey and has gained specific knowledge along the way. A spiritual insight, a technical skill, a delicious recipe...everyone has something we can learn.

                  My upbringing was very service oriented. My father has had two careers: the Air Force and a religious ministry. My mother spent a great deal of her adulthood as a teacher. On their own time, they were (and are) volunteers for a variety of organizations, active in civic clubs, even dedicated blood donors. When one is raised watching so much giving, one is ingrained with the belief that service is the purpose of life. As a result, it is my instinct when making a new acquaintance to find out what he or she needs. Looking for a job? A date for Friday night? A good place to shop for shoes? What sort of suggestion or help can I offer?

                  And yes, eventually in the course of getting to know someone new, I do think, “What can he/she do for me?”. Sometimes, it is fortuitous that they have the means of meeting some need of mine. More often than not, though, the answer is, “Nothing. But So-And-So really should meet this person”.

                  Making new friends has always come easy to me, but it's not something I take for granted. I don't assume that everyone can walk into a room full of strangers and find someone to talk to. For my more introverted friends, I respect that this can be an overwhelming, almost debilitating idea. But the principles I've explained (Learn, Serve, Receive) can be applied at any point in the course of any type of relationship. Having trouble in a romantic relationship? Maybe it's because you're not learning from your partner. Can't get your co-workers to cooperate? Try serving them, meeting some sort of need. Can't communicate with your kid? Maybe it's because you're not receiving what they're trying to give you. Everyone communicates, shows love, or makes themselves available in different ways, but we all have moments when we need to learn, share, or receive something.

                  My phone is my master list of people who have something to learn, share or receive. My role is to connect those people with each other. It's incredibly satisfying to be able to tell someone, “I don't have what you need, but I know someone who does”. And reassuring to know that, when I need something, I've got someone to call, because, it would seem, I know everyone.

                  The Haircut (Posted February 2014) *a work of fiction

                  She worried all day about her hair. The stylist had done what she asked, but people were looking at her strangely. What, she wondered, would Ron say when she got home? Has there ever been a divorce granted on the grounds of an offensive haircut? She thought once of going by her mother's for an opinion, but decided against it. Her day had been - well, a day - already.

                  She left early this morning, after fixing the coffee, explaining to Ron that she had a meeting at the Junior League. That was true, but just as she pulled into the parking lot, her hair fell into her eyes and she lost control of the car. If she'd been going any faster, she would have damaged the Volvo, but the only marring was to the grass where she jumped the curb behind the League office.

                  In the moment that she sat there collecting herself, cursing her hair, something snapped. She realized she didn't give a damn about the Junior League and she hated her long hair. It was time for a change.

                  Knowing that she couldn't go to her regular stylist, who would talk her out of a drastic change, she backed the car into traffic, left mid-town and headed to the mall. Older adults were health-walking. Bored housewives with toddlers in strollers wandered aimlessly. Truant teenagers kept low profiles in the pizza place. She walked down the mall until she came to a style shop with a sign announcing that walk-ins were welcome.

                  Upon giving her name at the desk, she was escorted almost immediately through a mostly empty salon to a reclining chair in front of a black molded sink. She was thankful she didn't have to wait long. Less time, she mused, to change my mind.

                  The girl was talkative as she shampooed. It was a slow day, her name was Julie, did she have any ideas on how she wanted it cut, and on and on and on. She tried to meet all of Julie's questions with responses, but she was distracted, anxious to get this over with.

                  Julie combed and parted and pinned and talked, but finally it could be put off no longer. She started cutting. Her client's heart was pounding as five years of hair growth began falling on her shoulders, sliding down the front of the cape, landing in her pink plastic covered lap. At first she counted snips, but eventually she lost count. Julie talked on, assuring her she was doing the right thing. Keep talking, Julie, she thought. Keep talking.

                  After all was said and done, styled and dried, she looked in the mirror. And smiled. For the first time that day, she smiled. She tipped Julie well and headed back into the mall, feeling more like a truant teenager than a bored housewife.

                  She stopped in a shoe store and out of habit, gravitated toward the sling-back pumps and strappy sandals. A young man stepped from behind the counter and offered assistance. She answered without looking up that she was just browsing. He politely directed her attention to the athletic shoes that were on sale. She indicated that she had no need for such; then she looked at him. He was tall, with blonde hair gently brushing his forehead. And he was young. Very young. She consented to look at the sneakers.

                  The sales hunk was convincing. But, she insisted, she had no use for cross trainers. Sales Hunk Aaron was an avid runner, it turns out. Maybe it was his eyes, or her new literal lightheaded-ness, but she left the store with hot pink Nikes and a date to meet Aaron for a lunch time run.

                  With no time to go home and change, she popped into a store in the mall and bought running clothes. The shorts were shorter than she was accustomed to, but she hesitated on that thought only momentarily. She was ready to run.

                  She met Aaron at the track, surprised at her reaction to his youthful, sculpted body. She tried not to stare, but she felt his stares on her and found she liked it. They chatted as they ran. She liked this boy a lot. She did not, however, realize his interest in her until the second lap, when he suggested they rent a room.

                  Her heart started the pounding again, which she realized had been happening all day. During the haircut, in the shoe store, trying on the shorts...she had never noticed her own pulse this much before. And again she knew hesitation would cost her her nerve. She agreed with his suggestion.

                  It had been so long. This motel room encounter was so far from the impersonal bed she shared with Ron. The tears she shed afterward – quietly, in the tiny bathroom – were not those of guilt, but of dread. She would be returning to Ron knowing how it could be, and how it never would be.

                  In the Volvo later, she worried that people could tell by looking at her what she had done. She dismissed these thoughts, surmising the stares were prompted by her too-modern hairstyle. She waited for the guilt to set in. Not just about Aaron, but about skipping Junior League, buying impulsively, and the haircut. She waited for the now-familiar heart pounding. It never came. No guilt. No pounding.

                  Only a smile. No, she wasn't a new person. She wasn't going to do anything stupid like leave Ron. She wasn't going to give in to middle age's restless demands. She wasn't a new person. She was the same person. With a new haircut.

                  Top 20 Question 15s of 2013 (Posted January 2014)

                  For the uninitiated, I will start with an explanation of the following post. Every week, Philip and I host a trivia show that is constructed of four rounds of questions, 15 questions per round. Equivalent to the FREE space on a bingo card, we provide the answer to the last question of each round. The spiel every night as I rattle off the rules goes like this: The answer to 15 is "C". Question 15 is a joke, it's multiple choice, and the answer is always "C". Answering "C" is how you get a point for that question and how you feed my comedy writer ego.

                  Sidebar: you'd be surprised how many people completely ignore this and insist on answering something other than "C". When they do, I write on their answer sheet "always 'C'....(with a smiley face!)" so they will know for the next round. And I'll announce the rule. Again. And they'll answer "A" or "B". Again. Jeez. People.

                  Anyway, for our week of trivia shows running December  30- January 2, Philip suggested that instead of writing new ripped-from-the-headlines timely humor, we feature the best of Q15s from the year. In reviewing all of them (50 shows x 4 questions per show = a lot of Q15s), I started narrowing them down and thought it would be fun to share my favorites as a blog entry. So here they are, as originally  written and presented (in chronological order) at Prime Time Trivia with Rikki Gee & DJ PiNG. Enjoy, and happy new year!

                  Pope Benedict announced last week that he is resigning due to physical limitations. The response has been mixed, including

                  A) Cardinals shocked and disgruntled.
                  B) Church historians researching protocol.
                  C) Lance Armstrong offering, “I've got something that will help with that.”

                  After enduring power loss, ankle-deep sewage, and generally squalid conditions, passengers from the Carnival cruise ship Triumph stopped in New Orleans last week on their way home. Passing time in the French Quarter, the passengers

                  A) thought New Orleans was being very hospitable.
                  B) thought the Quarter was a fun diversion.
                  C) thought they were still on the boat.

                  The new Pope was elected in less than 24 hours. Pretty amazing when you consider

                  A) it takes 3 days to count the Oscar ballots.
                  B) it takes a month to crown new college basketball champs.
                  C) it took a year to replace Regis.

                  McDonald's announced that it is dropping the fruit & walnut salad from its menu. It's just as well, since

                  A) it wasn't very tasty
                  B) it wasn't very popular.
                  C) going to McDonald's for a salad is like paying a hooker for a hug.

                  Last week, a woman in New York gave birth in a Wal Mart. Since that could be kind of embarrassing, the woman plans to tell the child,

                  A) "You were early."
                  B) "We were on our way to the hospital."
                  C) "You were born at Target."

                  In light of the controversy of Target selling shoes whose name translates to “urine” in Spanish, several other companies are rushing to explain their names. For example,

                  A) El Rio means “The river”.
                  B) Dos Equis means “two Xs”.
                  C) La Quinta means “Behind the Denny's on the Interstate”.

                          Last week the best athletes in the country were offered jobs. This event is called

                          A) NFL Draft Day.
                          B) NBA Draft Day.
                          C) Kardashian Husband Shopping Day.

                          A public elementary school in New York is serving an exclusively vegetarian menu in its cafeteria. The idea is to give the kids a head start on

                          A) being open to alternative lifestyles.
                          B) developing healthy eating habits.
                          C) being difficult in restaurants.

                          Last week, Jason Collins of the NBA's Washington Wizards became the first active player from a major team sport to come out as gay. DJ PiNG argues that this news is not accurate, since

                          A) Collins came out after his team's season ended.
                          B) other athletes have come out first.
                          C) everyone knows the first gay wizard was Dumbledore.

                          A feature film based on Dungeons & Dragons is in the works. It's expected the most commonly heard phrase in line for this movie will be

                          A) “What was your character class?”
                          B) “I set a record for experience points!”
                          C) “Ticket for one, please.”

                          In an historic turn, four women qualified to race in the Indy 500 last Sunday. Usually, four women going around and around in circles is called

                          A) a romantic comedy.
                          B) bridesmaids shopping day.
                          C) an episode ofThe View.

                          Last week marked the 60th anniversary of Edmund Hillary reaching the peak of Mt. Everest, a 29,000-foot climb. 29,000 feet is as high as

                          A) 29,000 rulers, laid end to end.
                          B) 8,840 meters.
                          C)Willie Nelson at a Snoop Dogg concert.

                            A recent survey indicates that 70% of Americans admit to just “going through the motions” at their jobs. The other 30%

                            A) make a genuine effort to do their jobs well.
                            B) have dedication to their employers.
                            C) blah, blah, blah, punchline.

                            The UK welcomed a new heir to the throne last week. Prince George was 8 pounds, which means that

                            A) he was full term and healthy.
                            B) Kate probably had a difficult delivery.
                            C) babies are cheap in England.

                            A new study reveals that the very worst drivers are those that drive the eco-friendly Toyota Prius. Possible explanations for this include

                            A) the cars are difficult to maneuver.
                            B) the controls are in a non-standard configuration.
                            C) it's really hard to drive while patting yourself on the back.

                            Wedding vow renewals have become very trendy for straight celebrity couples. They feel it is a way of saying,

                            A) “We're focusing on what's important.”
                            B) “Our relationship is rock solid.”
                            C) “No, really, he's totally not gay.”

                            A North Carolina woman stabbed a man because she claimed he wouldn't stop playing Eagles music. He survived, but the lesson here is

                            A) when someone asks you to turn it off, turn it off.
                            B) some people really are just crazy.
                            C) you can stab it with those steely knives, but you just can't kill the beast.

                            It's been revealed that over half the people who create a Twitter account never use it. As a result, Twitter is

                            A) being compared to a degree in Liberal Arts.
                            B) launching a new marketing campaign.
                            C) renaming itself “the gym”.

                            Blockbuster has announced that it's closing its remaining company-owned stores. If you'd like to know why their business model failed, you can

                            A) request a copy of their public earnings reports.
                            B) read about the history of the company.
                            C) watch a documentary about it on Netflix.

                            Astronomers claim there are 40 billion other planets just like Earth. So much like Earth, in fact, that they

                            A) can sustain life.
                            B) are in a warming crisis.
                            C) have 14 TV shows about bored, rich housewives.

                            Ta-Ta-Ta-Touch Me(Posted December 2013)

                            A (straight) guy said to me after a gig recently: "If I was your boyfriend, it would drive me crazy that other people are always touching you".

                            Yep. They sure are. Especially while at work entertaining in the fine drinking establishments that pay me to be silly, I allow people to hug me, kiss me, stroke my hair, rub my shoulders, in general, pet me like I'm a Pekingese. I've never really thought about whether it was weird or not. But for this guy, non-sexual touching is weird. He's not a fan of the "kiss hello" or the "hug goodbye".

                            In elementary school, we girls would braid each others hair, and play that game where you "draw" a letter on someone's back with your finger and they had to guess what letter you were drawing (anybody else remember doing that?). I had parents and grandparents that showed affection, with hugs and kisses and literal pats on the back and shoulder as an expression of praise, pride, comfort, or consolation.

                            A celebrity recently showed up at one of our gigs. I went over to welcome him and offered him my hand for a shake. Instead he held my hand, for several minutes. For the entire conversation, we were in some sort of physical contact. He hugged me several times, touched my hair and face at least once that I remember, just generally kept me in close proximity. I was a stranger, and he was famous. But now I know even celebrities can be practitioners of social touching.

                            I do have a line that shouldn't be crossed, though. I have several acquaintances whose affection gets a bit rough for my comfort. Both male and female, these are the folks that give “playful” punches to the arm or smacks on the bottom if you happen to be bending over in their immediate proximity. I've had my nipples twisted to the point of bruising and my face bitten – yes, my face... bitten - all in the name of “love”. I can't seem to convince these people that, for some of us, love isn't supposed to hurt.

                            Painful expressions aside, I'm okay with being touched. And that's why that guy is not my boyfriend. And maybe why I don't have one at all. And I think I'm okay with that, too.

                            Postscript: I also think there are a lot more reasons why that particular guy is not my boyfriend, but I try not to nitpick someone's taste in music, movies, books, politics, religion, relationships, lifestyle... or everything else I find annoying about him.

                            You Know You're From... (posted November 2013)

                            They were common as e-mails, and while the younger generation thinks of them as a Facebook phenomenon, I remember them popping up in non-digital formats back in the olden days, too. I'm talking about those missives titled “You Know You're From _________________ When __________”.

                            Sometimes the object was humor: “You know you're from Lincolnshireville when you can name every girl whose name was spray painted on the water tower”. Sometimes they were meant to elicit sentimentality: “You know you're from Springburgland when you can remember getting penny candy from Mr. Perry's drugstore”.

                            The thing is, when you're a military brat, you get one of these from some friend in every town you ever lived in and can only relate to about half of the items. See, when your mom is in the Army or your dad is a minister or you're raised by grandparents who run a circus or any number of circumstances that might lead to a childhood spent on the road, these reminiscences are kind of foreign. Some of us didn't graduate from high school with the same kids we started kindergarten with. Shoot, a lot of us didn't even graduate high school in the same state – or country - where we started high school.

                            We were gypsies, in a way. We don't have the same kind of memories the rest of you have. We probably had as many school transfers as you had first cousins that rode your bus to school. Don't ask us to name our best friend from 2nd grade; we're doing good to remember what city we lived in for 2nd grade. So here's a list for the gypsy kids:

                            You Know You're From Nowhere When...

                            Your answer to, “Where did you grow up?” requires 45 minutes, maps, diagrams, and a soundtrack.

                            Your favorite subject in school was whichever one you had already taken at the last school and would, therefore, breeze through.

                            The first place you wanted to drive to after you got your license was the last city you lived in.

                            You either have 15 school yearbooks...or none at all.

                            You were in college before you got a firm count on how many aunts, uncles, and cousins you have.

                            Your address book contained only your address, with the last one crossed out, so you could keep track.

                            When asked for security questions on your bank's website, you have to make up an answer to "What street did you grown up on?".

                            You only had to know two jokes, because you'd have a new audience for them in a few months (Is that one just me?. Okay, that one may be just me...).

                            You only wrote one term paper all the way through junior and high schools (Again, a new audience every semester).

                            You get six high school reunion invitations every five years.

                            You either haven't moved since leaving college...or you've moved every year, out of habit.

                            {If you're interested, I went to 11 schools and my 2nd grade best friend was Jennifer Sanders. Or maybe she wasn't. Maybe she's just the only classmate's name I can remember from 2nd grade. Same thing, I suppose.}

                            On A Day When I Colored My Hair (posted October 2013)

                            There are three important facts you must know to extrapolate the most meaning from the following anecdote:

                            1. Every once in a while, I go on a chemical-free kick. I only scour with baking soda, I only moisturize with almond oil, I use vinegar for everything and Windex for nothing.
                            2. My roommate and business partner, Philip, and I frequently communicate by instant messenger, rather than actually get up, walk the 8 feet from one bedroom to another, and talk to one another.
                            3. For those of you that are truly non-observant, I color my hair.

                            And it came to pass that it was time to color my hair while I was on one of my “chemicals are killing the planet, we must care more about what's going down the drain” rampages. I was, therefore, forced to put my money where my mouth was: either color my hair in a chemical-free fashion, or lose sleep over my own hypocrisy. [Please note that not coloring my hair was NOT an option.] Hence, my experience with henna.

                            I have been coloring my own hair for years, but when Philip and I moved in together, he took over the task. The explanation of how that came to be is irrelevant and opens a whole other can of story worms, so we'll save it.

                            However, having read that this henna thing could be really messy, knowing that he had had a late night the previous evening, and given my own rebellious nature, I decided to do it on my own one morning before he awoke.

                            The henna was a two pound brick of dirt. At least, that's what it looked like. I had been advised that diluting it with coffee instead of water would result in a deeper, richer color, so of course, I was brewing coffee to dilute the dirt that was going on my hair. Hey, at least coffee's not a chemical, right? At least I'm consistent!

                            The brick, once crumbled and starting to “melt” in the hot coffee, resembled brownie batter. Thick, lumpy, possibly with walnuts and twigs, brownie batter. I had done my research: this meant it was ready. It also meant I had to act fast to line every surface in the bathroom with plastic bags, because this stuff stains every thing it touches. The plastic stylist's cape that I would normally wear while Philip colored my hair went into the bottom of the tub. A large kitchen trash bag went across the (white) bathroom counter. A small plastic Target bag went into the sink. Latex gloves were on my hands. I considered putting on my rain coat to protect my t-shirt and shorts, but then decided that naked was definitely the appropriate attire for this endeavor.

                            In the bathroom, on my knees with my head in the tub, I began applying the brownie batter. It was, true to the warnings, messy. It looked as though someone had lost bowel control in the bathtub. I know – that's gross. But that's okay, because it's henna. It's starts out brown, but it turns red, remember? And I couldn't remain kneeling in the bathroom floor for 35 minutes while this stuff set, could I? I had to get up and move, which meant that the drips and splatters were now going all over the bathroom. And the brown was turning red. What has started as a scene from Bad Reaction to Tacos was becoming Who Was Mercilessly Slain in This Room?

                            At that moment, I heard movement from Philip's room. Did I mention we have one bathroom? And what's the first thing everyone does when they first wake up? That's when the panic set in.

                            Let's see...Philip, who doesn't really like to see lady parts, is kind of a neat freak, and is always saying to me “Let me help you so it's easier for both of us” about practically every task, is waking up and is gonna need to pee. Oh – and he is SO not a morning person.

                            I am standing – stark naked – in the middle of a plastic covered room where it looks like I've been doing some sort of ritualistic sacrifice. This is going to be a problem.

                            I don't remember the last time I moved so fast. I had that bathroom scrubbed clean (with baking soda, of course), the hardened brownie batter rinsed out of my hair, all the evidence removed (or so I thought), and was back in my bedroom, sitting almost fully clothed at my computer before he ever opened his bedroom door.

                            A few minutes later, the instant messenger dings to life, and I think I'm in the clear.

                            Philip: i had a dream i was at grandma & grandpa's house alone, fixing an electrical outlet.
                            at the same time i was preparing for a show we were doing

                            Rikki: dream interpretation time!

                            Philip: it was a change in format to our trivia show
                            and i was going to need to learn how to do the spiel from family feud
                            i was on the phone with you and you told me i needed to go to richard dawson's creek dot com
                            where all his family feud material was

                            i'm not making this up

                            Rikki: You are subconsciously trying to "rewire" your genetics to better prepare for changes in your future. Also, you secretly resent my position as host and need to "one up" me by hosting a national TV game show. Also, you are deeply troubled by your attraction to Richard Dawson. And your attraction to me. But that part's neither a secret nor subconscious.

                            Philip: the fumes from the henna are obviously making you high

                            Rikki: Where did i go wrong in that assessment?

                            Philip: i didn't say you were wrong
                            just high

                            Rikki: Wait – how did you know about the henna?

                            Philip: seriously? so cute the way you think you cover your tracks

                            Postscript: The next time I colored my hair, I used chemicals. I feel a little guilty. Only a little.

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