Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Would-Be Domestic Diva

I was a semi-finalist to be a contestant on a reality TV show. I had to go to Seattle to do a taped interview/audition with a producer for the show. I had an anxiety attack the night before and blew the whole thing.

But let me start at the beginning. I heard from my sister that CBS was creating this reality TV show called “Domestic Diva” to find a Martha Stewart replacement. They would have 12 contestants battle it out to win their own style-guru TV show. My first thought, “This is my chance.”

You see, I have always thought I would be famous. I haven’t sought it out by trying to actually do something with my life. I always thought it would fall in my lap. So this opportunity was right up my alley, and I ‘m thinking this is it.

So my darling, supportive husband helps me make this audition video to send in.. Everyone who participated was fabulous, and everything went smoothly.

A few weeks later I got a call from a producer who, in a very flattering manner, tells me I am a semi-finalist, and can I make it out to an interview/audition in Seattle on a certain date. She way she’s talking I’m a shoe-in, and I totally buy it.

My husband and I do some serious discussing of serious matters and decide to go for it. Of course I need the perfect outfit, so off to Anthropologie ( for those who care) to procure the winning ensemble. Two hundred and fifty dollars later… I am dressed to impress.

We fly to Seattle on money we don’t have and get a hotel room. The interview is the next morning and I am having problems.

For those of you who don’t suffer from anxiety let me give you the 411. It strikes without warning. It makes you feel like you have an elephant sitting on your chest. You have crazy non-sense thoughts of self-doubt and delusion. You shake, you sweat. You literally feel like your heart will beat you to death from the inside.

But I know I am well prepared. I am going into this interview with an impeccable resume. I have a Louis Vuitton bag carrying a 1776 period costume, a stained glass window, pieces of embroidery, and a portfolio containing samples of photography and photo documentation of parties, food, and flower arranging, and some project boards of interior design projects I have completed. I am set and confident.

But the anxiety the night before seriously shakes me. I am tired the next morning, with a pounding headache, and feel like I am thinking too hard. Relax. Relax.

I walked confidently in my stunning 4” heels into the interview and smiled and shook hands, made eye contact, and made charming self deprecating jokes. I had under my arm the examples of the interior design projects. The producer (a former self-described “child actor” who appeared on “The Cosby Show” and “227”) asked me to lay boards out on the table so they can be filmed.

I say, “I have more things in the bag, should I get them out?”

And she says, “No this is good enough for now.”

So I am thinking we’ll get to that later. And we continued the interview. I was charming and confident. We all have a good laugh. Then she asks me, “How bad do you want this.”

Here’s part 1 of why I blew it. “I’m not sure,” I say like an ass. “I’m not into reality shows that try to create caricatures of stereotypes…” blah blah blah…get off your high horse.

After the patient, but puzzled, producer explains to me that this is not that kind of TV show, “the winner gets their own show on CBS,” I totally back pedal and say, “Yeah, I want it. I want it bad!” Lame.

Then we all shook hands (I even remembered to thank the camera guy by name) and I sashayed out of the room. As I am hearing the producer greet the next semi-finalist I realize…


They didn’t see a tenth of what I am capable of. It was like my mind blanked. The whole time we were talking about party throwing, and flower arranging, and cooking I DIDN’T OPEN THE BAG AND SHOW THEM!!!!!!!! “Laces out, Dan Marino!” That was part 2 of how I blew it.

And now the first advertisement/teasers are being shown on CBS. They are calling it “Wickedly Perfect.” It should have been my show. It was a sure thing. Fame was within my reach. And I blew it. And I can’t watch that show. It will hurt too much.

But check out my audition video. The producer chick said it caused quite a stir at CBS.

Monday, December 13, 2004

No One Gets My Hair

I have this never ending battle with my hair. It‘s short, it’s long, it’s blond, it’s brown… I believe that hair is a VERY defining feature and should not be dealt with flippantly, unless that flippy thing is what you are trying to achieve.

I also get really defensive around my stylist. I really like HER, I just don’t like the way she does my hair. So when I see her around town (and I do see her around town) I feel like I have to explain why my hair is a different length/color than the last time she did it. It’s not that I’ve been cheating on her, it’s just that I’ve been trying to do it myself and trying to save money. And… I don’t like how she does my hair.

So after a couple of massive home-kit highlighting disasters, I go to this girl my sister has been going to. “She really gets my style,” she says. And since my sister and I pretty much have identical style (her style coming in a size 2 and mine in a size 14), I decided to go and check her out. I’m looking for understanding, for someone to “get me”, and all I get is $110 of “not quite.”

My bangs (fringe for the European readers) are wrong, wrong, wrong. I wanted retro-50’-but-Holly-Golightly-but-Giselle-Bundchen-but-rich-girl-but-sexpot, and I got the stylist’s bangs. I am bugged when that happens! So does that mean that I should seek a stylist who looks like what I want? That may frighten me. I may never find her/him (but I hope a her considering what I’m looking for)!

So now I have medium length brown hair. With weird bangs… Hair of my dreams, in what realm do you dwell?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

What To Do When You're Locked Out on the Balcony in a Swimsuit

Let me walk you through it so you don’t do it again.

While in Cozumel, you decided to spend your morning off out on the hotel balcony sunbathing. You have just showered and have put your hair in the very large blue curlers you purchased at the Mexican Wal-Mart the night before. You don your gorgeous rich-lady black Calvin Klein maillot and stepped out onto the balcony. Trying to be considerate of the hotel utilities, you close the sliding glass door behind you.

After sitting on the hot, south facing balcony for all of five minutes, you get thirsty and rise to get a drink. You tie your pareo modestly about your generous hips, grab the latch, and pull. Nothing happens. At first your mind does not even register the implications, so you pull again. THEN you realized…”Crap, I’m locked out.”

You have a moment of blankness that lasts anywhere from 2-25 seconds, then you say out loud, “Well, that’s just great. What do I do now?”

You take stock of available options:

1.Break glass
2.Jump from fourth floor using gauzy pareo as parachute
3.Look to see if hotel neighbors are also sunbathing (you probably should have considered this before jumping, but you taste a hint of panic in your throat like rising bile)
4.Ask someone to help – preferable someone close, like a passerby
5.Scream for help until someone sees you then ask them to send up the bellboy to unlock the door

You begin to weigh options like: “How much does this hurricane proof glass door cost? And can they just add it to my hotel bill? Could I break it with this plastic chair and/or side table? How fast does an object fall? How many feet per second? How high is the fourth floor, really? What if I tried to jump into that tree? Does that dog peeing in the alley speak English? Could he go for help? Why isn’t anyone else sunbathing? It’s a gorgeous day, for crying out loud! Where is everyone on the streets? Why does the back of this hotel have to face nothing? If I scream at those men way over there, will they think I’m up to no good?”

But wait, someone walks into view… You get really nervous like you are about to audition for a play. You have to dare yourself to speak. After all, you DON’T speak Spanish. Do it… He’s gonna leave! DO IT!

“Oh-lah? Sen-your? Si! You!” Wave your arms, now! He’s waving back, he thinks you are friendly… “No! Wait!....Uh…. pour-fa-vor…uh…mee poo-er-tah ehss no ah-bee-ehr-tow…!” He has no idea what you’re talking about because from where he is standing, he can’t even see what you are gesturing to. Repeat emergency message two or three times: “Pour-fa-vor…mee poo-erta ehss no ah-bee-ehr-tow…!”

The man kind of nods and you add: “Pour-fa-vor…noo-meh-row…kwa-trow…zeh-row…see-eh-tay…!” You can’t even speak Spanish but you make an effort to roll your R’s to show him that you really are trying.

He nods and then walks off. “Phew!” You wipe the ever increasing sweat from your brow. It won’t be long now.

Or will it?

You now have the attention of the guys way over there and they are laughing at you. Boy, you have never felt so stupid, white, and stupid in all your life. You hold out your arms and shrug your shoulders at them in an exaggerated pantomime meaning so say “Oh, well… these things happen (to stupid white people who don’t speak Spanish or think to leave the sliding glass door open a crack when they go out onto the balcony half naked to sweat in the sun).” They return the gesture and laugh more.

You evaluate how much money is your wallet and begin to assign prices to the rescue effort. You’ll give the bellboy a couple pesos, and you’ll give the man who came to the hotel a few pesos. For their trouble…

So you wait… and wait… and wait…

The longer you wait the higher the prices go.

An hour later, you have been pressing your forehead to the locked glass waiting for someone to come through your door. You can feel the eyes of the guys way over there burning into your sweaty white back as they watch the drama unfold. You feel really embarrassed that you haven’t been rescued yet. You feel like the last kid waiting after ballet for your mom to come pick you up even though class ended like an hour ago, and the teacher has to wait for you until she comes.

You start to feel the “audition” nervousness again. Bite the bullet, you know you have to…

“Oh-lah!” Even louder this time, to make it to the guys way over there. “Pour-fa-vor… mee poo-ert-ah ehss no ah-bee-ehr-tow…!!!” They get it. “Noo-meh-row…kwa-trow…zeh-row…see-eh-tay…!!!” Roll those R’s!

One of them gestures “What?”

You shout your room number out to the whole world again: “The stupid white woman is living in room 407! Did you all hear that? Take advantage of the stupid woman in room 407!”

They give you the ubiquitous OK sign, they walk off, and it’s back to waiting.

Only fifteen minutes of pressing your head to the glass and you are rescued!

The price for being rescued has inflated now to everything you’ve got in your wallet. After demurely throwing on your pink pancho over your drenched-without-actually-swimmingsuit, you dive for your wallet and hand the confused bellhop 50 pesos.

He volunteers the story that an hour ago, some man walked into the hotel lobby saying a woman was locked out on her balcony, room 407. But maybe due to his poor English or your excited state, it sounds like that wasn’t good enough, and they didn’t take it seriously until three young men walked into the lobby saying the same thing.

It doesn’t matter. “Are they still here? In the lobby?” you ask.

“Well, si, of course,” he says as if they are expected guests.

Both of you look at your outfit and decide that visiting the lobby right now is not in your best interests or of ANY interest to the hotel. You press 200 pesos into the bellhop’s hands and say, “please, please, give to boys!” You figure if you speak really bad English it will be conveyed easier.

He agrees and leaves.

You are so relieved! You need to shower again because you are so sweaty, but decide you deserve a pina colada for your good Spanish speaking efforts and for rolling those R’s.

But first, you must stop by the ATM incase you lock your self in the bathroom.

Good luck.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Wolf in my Kitchen

No sooner had I read Abby’s blog ( about her scary wolf dream, and googled “wolf dream interpretation” than one appeared behind me. Not kidding. A wolf.

At first I thought “Now that’s service!” but then I was appropriately scared. I stood up and it went into the kitchen. I followed it into the kitchen and watched it sniff my dirty dishes and then run out the mysteriously open back door.

The wolf’s owner, a painfully-awkward-bespectacled-non-matching-clothes-fuzzy-braids 10 year old, was looking for her. I wish I could say that this was the first time this “wolf” with the scary white blue eyes has entered my house uninvited, but I can’t. But what a timing, huh? Maybe I should lock the back door...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Why I Like Mexico

I really like Mexico, or at least the parts I’ve been to. I don’t think I’ll like Tiajana because it will be so unlike the parts of Mexico I’ve been to and I do like. But I like the parts that I like and I’ve been to those parts so I like them. So maybe I will like Tiajana if I ever go there, but I don’t think so…that I will either like it or go there.

Like Cozumel for instance… many people ask me where it is and I often oblige by saying it is an island off the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea. (see Map)

I guess most people go there either on a cruise ship or to go diving. But since I’m not rich enough for either, I will settle for just enjoying my work trips there and living it up on my per diem.

I like Cozumel because:

All the stray dogs there are attractive and well-behaved. I was told by someone in the know that every few years they round up all the ugly dogs and kill them. Not kidding. There is a very fine line between “owned” dogs and “stray” dogs. But regardless of ownership, all the dogs have full, dragging-on-the-ground teats. Even the boy dogs, I swear. It must be the humidity, although the humidity did nothing for my teats. The dogs with teats part I don’t like so much. Also, Cozumelian dogs know they are dogs. They move out of your way, they don’t sit where you want to sit, they don’t poop where you want to walk or lick the sidewalk; when they get food they are gracious and even sometimes complimentary. I think American dogs think they are some kind of suppressed minority.

The water is amazing. Not the tap water, the ocean water. Contrary to popular belief, the tap water in Mexico is generally not lethal. I’m not talking about all Mexican water. I’m just saying that you can brush your teeth with it which is more than I can say for the ocean water, which, you should never drink. The ocean is the most surreal color of electric blue. Once you have seen the ocean off Cozumel, you will be disappointed by all other Caribbean water. The Bahamas had the clearest water, but Cozumel has the bluest. The tap water is just clear.

The food is amazing. Whose cheap idea was it to make Mexican Food in America all about the rice and beans? When I’m in Cozumel, I am hard pressed to find a single bean on the plate. In fact, I’ve never eaten beans in the collective 2 ½-3 months I’ve been there. All I seem to find is fresh everything. Fresh salsa, homemade tortilla chips, delicious lime soup, tasty meat, fish so fresh they serve it flopping, and “limonada con gas” which is fresh lime juice, soda water, and sugar. Yum Yum. The trip is worth the food.

The Casa Mexicana which is my favorite hotel. Not because it is super fancy or anything. I just really love it. Every morning they have a complimentary breakfast buffet complete with waffles, bacon, someone to make you an omlette, fresh squeezed orange juice with the seeds still in, and fruit. My fave is the chilaquilles with the hash browns, yogurt, and juice. And everyday I would return to find a towel animal waiting to keep me company. The maids make little menageries of elephants, rabbits, swans, cats, and monkey with the hand towels complete with googly eyes and sometimes decorative sequins. They sit on your bed and patiently wait for you to come home. The animals, not the maids. That would be creepy.

So there you have it. Go to Cozumel. Take the whole family. Ride scooters, go to the beach, buy prescription medication without a prescription. You have my blessing.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Dumb Conversations and Stupid Butt-Ins

Do you ever want to shout in people’s faces to shut up? Do you sit there and imagine telling them off?

I do…

But my mild-mannered, conceal-your-emotions, Scandinavian upbringing does not allow for such outbursts OR bad manners.

Case in point, as we were descending into Cozumel there was some white “smoke” stuff coming off the wing on my side of the plane. Oh. Whatever. But the guy across the aisle asks the strangers one seat ahead of me, ”Did you see the vortex?”

This couple was Southern, the wife young and diminutive, the husband in starched cowboy shirt and tight jeans and both very polite. “Pardon, the what?”

“The vortex…”

“The what?” The wife briefly turns to the husband asking him if the guy is talking to them and what is he saying…

“The vortex…”

“What is a vortex…”

“It’s when the niner niner niner niner, then the wing niner niner niner…”

“Oh you mean the smoke-y stuff that was coming off the edge of the wing?”

“That wasn’t smoke. That was a vortex.”

The couple nods and just says, “Oh.”

I watch the exchange uneasily feeling the palpable awkwardness in the air. I want to tell him, “No one cares about the vortex.”

But you just don’t do that unless you are someone like Donald Trump.

Then I was in line at Immigration and was having a very meaningful conversation about this older couple whose son who was getting married that week on the island and how nice that was, and how yes you can use the hotel tap water to brush your teeth, and make sure you go out and see the east side of the island and yes you can walk around at night safely etc… And butting into some other people’s conversation behind me came, “Did you see the vortex?”

Friday, December 03, 2004

8 Year Olds

Unless they are blood related, I dislike talking to other people on airplanes. There’s the breath, the akward head turning, and the lame conversation about how fabulous the other person’s life is because they get to ride in an airplane. For me, airplane time is earplugs and reading time. When I used to make travel arrangements for work I would secretly have the travel agent book our seats separately just so that I would not have to talk to my co-worker.

It was pre-dawn when I boarded a plane last week, and it was very dark in the cabin. I was booked on one of those express flights so the small plane had one seat, an aisle, then two seats and only 17 rows. My assigned seat was occupied by a 5 year old, but his grandma politely asked if I would mind sitting in his seat so that he could sit by his mother. “No problem.” Except that it meant I would sit next to his 8 year old sister. “Please let her be shy…”

No such luck. “I’m McKenzie, not M-a-c-k-e-n-z-i-e, it’s Big M-little c-big k- little i-n-z-e-y.”

“Hi, McKinzey.”

I was trying to NOT talk as much as possible, but there were too many technical questions that just weren’t answered in her pre-flight orientation. “How does a plane fly? Why is it dark? Where will that mask come from? Why do we need it? What is oxygen? How does the moon shine? Why is there snow on the ground? Where is my house? How does the pilot know where he’s going? What if we go to the wrong place?” I answered each question politely and to the best of my knowledge.

McKinzey’s step mom did ask her nicely not to talk my ear off. But to no avail.

At this point, I actually got my note pad out of my bag to record part of the conversation.

“Don’t ask me why my fingers are purple….” I wasn’t going to. “Okay, if you must know…” (Insert lengthy story about finger painting.

“Don’t you want some light?” She was reaching up to turn on the light.

“No, no…I don’t need light.” I don’t want your step mom or scary looking leathery faced, pierced, tattooed dad to know I was taking notes on everything you say…

“Have you ever seen the Golden Girls?” I can’t believe an 8 year old has, unless it means that she watches an AWFUL lot of TV. “Remember the one with grey hair? She was afraid to fly…”

“Look it.” Referring to some clouds (cumulus nimbus) pink with sunrise. “Do you know how clouds are formed? They fly together (she is knocking her fists together…) and they form and form and form…Do you think I could take some home.” I was starting to feel playful.

“Only if you put some in a jar and screwed on the lid really tight.” This seemed to make her sad, but I didn’t probe. It wasn’t two seconds before she offered the cause.

“I don’t think I could do that by myself. I’ll have to find Andy and have him put the lid on the jar. She’s been in four lives…”


“My mom. There was Andy and Bobby and the guy I can’t remember and my dad.”


“Do you know who the first people on the earth were? (I pontificated briefly on the arrival of Adam and Eve.) Yeah, I think it was them, too. Some people think it was just whoever.”

I knew there would be no reading for me on this flight. So I did what any self respecting private traveler would do… I faked sleep all the way to Houston.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Calling Talk Shows

So pretty soon after getting to know me you will know that I am a card-carrying member of my local NPR station (KUER 90.1FM). When I first started listening about 3 years ago, I felt a compulsion to call in to any given show almost constantly. This is how I was cured …

Whilst doing errands one fine day, I felt the compulsion to call in to Talk of the Nation (TOTN); daily topic: Gambling and the Gaming Industry. What do I know about the gaming industry? Nothing… But I had recently been on a design “field trip” to Las Vegas as professional/working alum traveling with my alma mater’s interior design majors. So naturally I was now an expert on the topic.

I quickly grabbed my cell phone and speed dialed TOTN. It was busy, but I am never defeated until the show actually ends. So I hit redial and got through! A very nice producer welcomed me and asked me if I was on a cell phone and would I mind pulling over (NPR producers…so thoughtful, so caring…). She asked me what my question or comment was about and then asked me to wait. So I waited with my hand on the volume knob wanting to avoid that awkward moment where the host has to ask you to turn your volume down. (I think the people who keep their volume up just want to hear the sound of their own voices on the radio…pfff…amateurs.)

I had a scathing comment about the ruthless, and unconscionable practices designers use to trick and fool people in casino design. How dark and sinister the manipulations; cloaked in lights, mirrors, and fiberglass! I was set to expose one of the most sought after (and wealthiest) casino designers, Paul Steele, as a ruthless and heartless thug. How he had laughed as he told us about three Native American women who had sat outside the construction zone of one of his newest casinos chanting prayers as the workers cut away their sacred mountain. I felt like a field reporter fresh from the trenches with an inside scoop.

Then Neal Conan spoke: “Let’s go to Carrie Ann in Salt Lake City, Utah…” (I know I don’t live in Salt Lake City, but who’s ever heard of Provo?) I then realized that with the sound down, I had no idea what they had just been talking about. So I just started in:

“Yeah, hi…thanks for taking my call…

(I tried really hard to sound mature… and then it started to unravel…)

“Yeah, I just went on a field trip…

(now they’ll think I ‘m some kid student)

“but I was a professional…am a professional interior designer…

(wait, they’ll think I’m a decorator)

"… I do commercial design…and we went to a lot of places where they do design…like, professional design firms…

(Did I just say “like” on National Public Radio?)

“And all the stuff they do to the casinos…well, to the people in the casinos, you know, to make them…I mean to trick them and stuff…well, we talked to this designer guy and he told us about it…and it made all of us feel icky…”

(I just said “icky”…)

A pause on the other end…

“Well, Ms. X, how do you want respond to that… because I sure as heckfire don’t know how to…” (I know you were thinking that last part, Neal Conan.)

“As I was saying,” continued Ms. X, “the state gaming board of Missouri recently…”

I didn’t even get a response, Ms X continued to defend her stupid national gambling interests, and it was like I never called.

Thus ended my obsession with calling in to my favorite shows. Every once in a while, my hand will start to reach for the phone during an interesting topic, but now that I’ve erased Talk of the Nation, the Diane Rehm show, and Radio West from my speed dial, the moment passes more quickly. I’ve realized that while listening to NPR can make me smarter, it does not make me an expert on anything, and in reality, nothing so interesting ever happens to me that anyone cares to hear about it over the radio.

Just one piece of parting advice: if you do want to call in to a radio show, make sure you don’t go up against anyone from the gaming commission. You’ll lose every time.

P.S. I literally cringe when I hear callers start off their question or comment with “Long time listener, first time caller…” That is so AM radio….

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Ebeneezer Scrooge Paradox That is My Life

I am by no means stingy. Except at Christmas. I used to be a little afraid of the sterile, non-party, non-gift giving environment of the Jehovah's Witnesses, but I am beginning to see the logic. I think they have just figured out how to handle the holidays.

Although movies and books and church repeatedly demonstrate the TRUE meaning of Christmas, I am still not fooled. Christmas is about buying crap packaged in Christmas-y themes. As much as I LOVE the Life-Savers variety pack packaged like a Victorian novel, I hate the manipulation.

And how many of us really deserve gifts? I deserved a really nice gift on July 23rd and again on August 18th. But I extra don't deserve a gift right now. I just spent an insane amount of money on fat clothes.

But think about it... think about Christmas morning and giving nobody nothing. It's just not practical in the family/social relations department. You would be pissed if all you got from me was a form letter thanking you for your charitable donation to your favorite charity. You would be pissed and you know it.

The best catalog I have received all year was for purchasing farm animals to various regions of the world. For instance, you can purchase guinea pigs to be donated to a family in Ecuador, ducks for a family in China, water buffalo to an Indonesian family in need. There were also animal "gift baskets" intended for an entire village. But the best and most delightful option of all was "The Ark." And it was everything that it implies: chickens, cows, goats. ducks, guinea pigs, buffalo, etc. Now that would be Christmas. My only question do you wrap a water buffalo?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Getting the Initial Awkwardness Out of the Way

I have toyed with the idea of starting a blog since a friend of mine confessed that she read the blog of her husband's ex girlfriend compulsively. The explanation of why that got me interested is lengthy, and since I'm new at this and therefore lazy, the long explanations may come later. Suffice it to say, I secretly want someone (preferably a stranger) to compulsively read my blog.

I actually see this as a personal challenge: 1) write again 2) write to be read by others 3) be amusing 4) be interesting. Most of the reasons for doing this are purely selfish (if I get better at this then the reasons will become purely egotistical...I hope). I have been feeling my brain get mushy. Best case senario, this will be exercise for my mind.

I will try to work out all the awkwardness as un-publicly as I can so that you (and I) will have maximum enjoyment.

Todd told me he would tell me if this gets dumb.