Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Good Toilet

Last year when the essential oils people descended upon me and nearly destroyed my home, I decided that I would take a possibly-permanent break from Airbnb.

I changed my listing to no longer allow people to automatically book the place. Instead they could send inquiries and I could decide from their picture whether or not they looked like they practice witchcraft.

This was going fine. I got very few inquiries for several months, and I mostly declined the inquiries for one reason or another.

And then last week I got a message from Bill and Brenda. (Names have been changed).

"Hello. We are driving to Salt Lake City from Idaho for a small procedure. Please let is know if your space is available."

I was intrigued about the procedure and Bill and Brenda looked to be about my parents' age so I thought what the hey, and I accepted their booking.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pray For Arnie

You guys.

I've been really stressed about something on the Internet.

Well, I've been really stressed about a lot of things on the Internet because I'm not a sociopath and I have Internet access. But there's one specific thing that I'm going to tell you about today.

For some time I've been obsessively checking all of the animal rescue websites in Utah to see who is looking for a home. I don't know why I do this to myself. For about a thousand reasons I can't take in another dog right now.

So all I do is look at all of these doggies with their sad doggy eyes and their sad doggy mouths and their ratty shelter doggy hair and I can hear them crying and saying "why can't you love us? You could save me but you are choosing not to. Why?" and I start getting choked up and part of me is like "TAKE THEM ALL, ELI" but then another part of me is like "YOU USED TO HATE ANIMALS WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU" and then the first part of me is like

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Queen Latifah

Matt accused me of exaggerating "just like" I "always do."

This was offensive. Not because I consider "exaggerator" to be an insult, but because he said it in the same tone he uses to discuss youthsss on Instagram.

This all came about because I was telling him about this time in 2012 when I was living with Daniel and we were supposed to go somewhere but then suddenly the American classic Just Wright starring Queen Latifah came on TV.

Daniel told me that it was important that we stay home and watch this cinematic masterpiece in its entirety rather than do anything else in that moment.

This was back when we were too poor for DVR so we really had no other option.

I hadn't seen the movie before, but Daniel apparently had. Which is why he had no excuse for his decision to suggest that we watch it.

Look. It's been so long that I might be mixing up the plot I'm about to explain to you with about 9 other movies. So don't use this blog post as your exclusive source of knowledge on Just Wright, especially if you have a test on it coming up.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Skylar Thinks He Can Cook

Skylar thinks he's a cook.

Yes, you should read into my word-choice there.

Also, I want to mention that Skylar is the most amazing human being. He is selfless, beautiful, and charming. I don't talk about him enough, because I am jealous of him. I wish I could be just like hime when I grow up.

[The above paragraph, including the curious spelling of the word "hime," was written by Skylar when I left my computer unattended.]

He decided he was a cook some time ago despite never having really cooked. I suppose this is because he watched his sisters obtain this skill over the years, somehow believing that their mere relation to him made culinary arts a collective familial knowledge.

But it didn't.

I know that it didn't, because I have seen him ambitiously host a number of dinner parties over the three years that I've known him. And I've literally discussed the results of the dinner parties in therapy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Girl F Word

A conversation between Brianne and her very young nephew, as was told to me this morning. I can't stop laughing.

Nephew: My little sister has a potty mouth.

Brianne: Really? Does she say swear words?

Nephew: Yeah. She's been saying a really bad one lately.

Brianne: Which one?

Nephew: [Whispers] The F word.

Brianne: What?! No. She doesn't say the F word.

Nephew: Yes she does. I hear her saying it all the time lately. Sometimes she walks around the house yelling it.

Brianne: Buddy, I don't think she knows the F word.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Motherhood, amiright?!

Recently Meg texted me in the middle of a school day and was all like "GO TO A MOVIE WITH ME OR DON'T BOTHER COMING HOME," which was weird because we don't live together.

I normally oppose going to all movies at all costs when those movies are played during the day hours because I find coming out of a movie theater when it's light outside to be supremely depressing.

But I've had a relatively stressful work week/month/year/life and I love myself so I decided I would just take some time and do it.

I met Meg at the theater at 4:00 in the afternoon. She wanted to see a movie called Tully. No spoilers here, but basically it's about a woman with two kids who has a third baby and is super overwhelmed with caring for the newborn.

And y'all. Like 20 minutes into this movie I was so stressed about motherhood that scheduling a dozen spa days is basically a medical necessity for me right now. I went shopping right after the movie and charged everything to my insurance card.

I'm one thousand percent convinced that Meg wanted me to go to this movie with her because of every time I've screamed at her for not staying caught up on TV shows because she was too busy dealing with sick children and I'm like "CHANGE YOUR PRIORITIES OR DON'T BOTHER COMING HOME."

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Counseling: What is your earliest memory?

I don't know why it came up but recently I was talking with Skylar about my earliest life memories and he basically called me a liar. I'm angry about this because I know I'm right.

I have four different memories that all seem to have happened around the same time, although I'm not sure of their order.

One is of my cousin Ryan talking to his mom, my aunt Sally. We were in the basement of their house and she came to the top of the stairs and the two had some conversation. Ryan is a couple of years older than me, and I remember watching them talk and being impressed that Ryan could have a conversation with an adult because I was just barely too young to understand what they were saying.

I remember pulling a little horsey on wheels down the hallway at our house, barely able to take a few steps without stumbling, and my mom stepped into the hallway holding my baby sister, who was an infant (only 18 months younger than me). There was a big mirror at the end of the hallway behind her, and I remember that when she stepped in front of it, it blocked my view. I had been watching myself get closer to the mirror as I pulled the horsey toward it.

I remember going to my great grandpa McCann's funeral. I was wearing my favorite clip-on bow tie. My dad picked me up so I could look into the open casket. When I did, I reached down and tried to touch grandpa's eyebrow, just as my dad pulled me away from it. I remember that vividly.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

WHAT IF PAUL SIMON, Oakland

Paul Freaking Simon and I made eye contact on Friday night.

I'm not kidding you about this.

Skylar went to the concert with me even though he was all like "this sounds boring when does Beyonce come out do they have any avocado toast where's my participation trophy" and I was like "YOU DON'T DESERVE THIS" but he was already in the Oakland area for work and I didn't want to go to this thing alone so his attendance made the most sense for me.

I bought the tickets months ago and since Paul said this was going to be his "farewell" tour, because I think he is being translated like Yoda was in Star Wars episode XXQI, I decided that I would empty all bank accounts and take out a second mortgage on my yachts so I could buy the best tickets possible. Now Duncan can't go to college. None of you can go to college because of how much I spent on Paul Simon tickets.

And I started regretting this a bit as we got into an Uber and started making our way from San Francisco to Oakland.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

You guys. Paul Simon. I'm going to be like this close to him this weekend. I got negative eleventy row tickets to see him for his supposedly-farewell-tour-but-obviously-he-could-never-retire-from-me. He probably already knows I'm coming and that I love him and that I would give my life for him even if it wasn't really necessary, but I also feel like if any of you are friends with Paul Simon, maybe you could do this Stranger a solid and get me some VIP backstage passes? Also, if you have this connection I might murder you and wear your skin. AND I MEAN THAT ONLY IN A NORMAL WAY.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
In Natchez

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

So this is the south.

Matt has been in Mississippi for several weeks. He drove from Salt Lake City all the way to Jackson, which if you look at google maps is a distance of exactly 7 light years.

I don't know how he did it.

I mean, I do kind of know how he did it. I know because he texted me every four minutes for three days, telling me every detail of every part of his journey, including where Ollie was pooping, how much he was pooping, how long it was taking Ollie to go poop--pretty much 95% pooping updates.

I knew he had been driving nearly 7 light years when I texted him and asked if he had made it to Mississippi yet. He responded with this picture and no further explanation.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Therapists are better than TV. Except no M.A.S.H.



Before we get to today's Strangerville, I have something of a follow-up sponsored post. After I wrote to you about Peggy the Therapist a few weeks ago, I got messages and emails from many of you, talking about how therapy has helped you, and how our Stranger community has functioned as a sort of therapy for you as well. Which is unfortunate, because I don't take your insurance so you all owe me like $600,000 and I'm sending you to collections.

I really loved hearing from you on this topic because it's a topic that I've grown to really care about in the last couple of years. My heart breaks for the countless people who have needed help and didn't know where to find it or were afraid to ask for it. And since I wrote that last post, I've been thinking a lot about why that barrier exists at all.

I had been seeing Peggy the Therapist for a while when I finally decided that I didn't really need to anymore. BECAUSE I WAS CURED AND PERFECT.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mr. Pham's Patio Project

I told you a little while ago about how I hired Mr. Pham to do whatever the hell he wants with my yard. I had given Mr. Pham a vision of what I was looking for, and he didn't seem to hate that vision, although he did yell "NO" at me a few times as I was explaining some details of the vision. Then he took money from me, marched to his truck, and drove away.

Over the next couple of weeks I would come home from work to find Mr. Pham ripping giant bushes out of my yard and hauling away concrete that I didn't even realize I had back there. On two separate occasions The Perfects yelled over to me to ask what Mr. Pham was doing back there. I told them the truth: "whatever the hell he wants."

I had my own problems dealing with the dying grass situation in my front yard, one which Skylar is convinced is evidence of a hate crime. When I asked him what someone might hate about me he just said "EXACTLY" so I'm probably offended.

Finally, I left town for the Half Ironman, wondering when Mr. Pham might be done.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mansplaining

A few years ago I was at Bob and Cathie's house and I saw Bob's 1968 beautiful green road bike in a pile of junk. I asked my parents what they were doing with this bike and they were like "we're throwing it away because we don't value things anymore" which isn't exactly what they said but that's what I heard.

So I screamed at them a thing I've screamed at them before, which thing is why my garage is currently filled to capacity with a 1970s roll-top desk, various shelving units, and other odds and ends from the 80s, "IF YOU CAN'T TAKE CARE OF YOUR THINGS, I WILL."

As I was putting the bike on my bike rack on the back of my car, Bob was like "are you even going to use that?" and I was like "ONLY EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE."

As of yesterday, that bike had been sitting in my garage untouched for three years.

Skylar is starting medical school at the University of Utah in the fall because he's a genius and he's going to give all of us free and invasive physicals once a year for the rest of our lives. He told me recently that he wanted to buy a bike to ride to school sometimes. So I told him he could have Bob's old bike if we could get it in working condition.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Yahoo! Answers XIII

(Names of the answerers have been slightly changed)

Question 1: What are the best vocational schools for cats? My cat Trixy is interested in learning a trade in case I die or she moves out but she has a hard time in school like she can't talk and stuff. Are there any vocational schools that don't require you to read and write papers or support football?

1. Whatever you do don't send her to ITT Tech. They eat cats alive there. Trust me. I'm a cook in the campus cafeteria. ~Patrickster

2. Don't waste time and resources on vocational school for your cat. Homeschool her! She'll be rebuilding engines in no time! ~Cindygrape

3. Ever since Cats closed on Broadway feline unemployment has been through the roof. ~Jandice

Monday, May 7, 2018

St. George Half Ironman, 2018

I hadn't done a triathlon since 2016 when I did the half Ironman in St. George and it was negative eleventy degrees and I was being punished by God, probably for being a really bad child in the 90s, and I committed myself to never exercise again.

Then at the end of 2016 I had a nervous breakdown, ate my feelings, and wrote a lot of bad poetry (in my heart).

In 2017 I didn't do any triathlon races and I basically forgot how to swim and by Christmas, I had gained like 30 pounds so I finally decided I needed to get back on the wagon.

I trained for the last five months for this year's St. George half Ironman, which was not easy because it was basically winter in Salt Lake City until yesterday at 2:00 PM.

On Friday at negative 6:00 in the morning, Skylar and I took off for St. George. That afternoon we packed my transition bags and took them to the various locations to drop them off.

The first transition is right next to the lake, where I decided I should probably do a quick practice swim to remind myself how miserably cold the water is.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Forest Accordion

The doors to the Sokol metro station were about 50 feet behind me. The trains had stopped running some time ago. It was dark--somewhere around 2:00 in the morning.

I was 24 years old, and at least that foolish. I shouldn't have stayed out so late, especially since I had only been in Moscow for a couple of days and I wasn't familiar with the city. But the sun sets late in Moscow in May and this had fooled me into thinking it was much earlier than it really was.

My Russian wasn't very good. Definitely not good enough to explain to a taxi driver where I kinda-sorta thought I lived, which I would have had to do since I was too careless to ever bother writing down my address.

I was staying with an American family I had met 48 hours prior to this. They lived in a small gated community on the edge of the giant city. The neighborhood was surrounded by a forest, and it wasn't well known.

I had a basic cell phone. Not a smartphone. This was 2009. The phone had died hours before.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Jr. Jazz

Today, please enjoy the recording of my most recent Strangerville Live story, told on stage last month, about what should be the most embarrassing experience from my childhood. And for the hearing impaired and those who hate the sound of my voice, I've included a written version and some pictures below.



I was enrolled in T-ball at age five. My parents were going to make a sportsman out of me.
I didn’t understand the sport, and to be honest, I was only there for the donuts. At the end of our last game of the season we were each handed a participation trophy, the only way I was ever going to be rewarded for the sports. My parents still have in their possession a picture of me holding two donuts. My participation trophy is on the ground.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Strangerhood of the Traveling Snuggie Report

As you know, because you've been unable to think of anything else since, several months ago I started Strangerhood of the Traveling Snuggie. Eleventy hundred of you emailed me your personal information and asked to be added to the list, so after stealing all of your identities and running up a lot of debt in your names to continue to build my Pogs empire, I sent a blue Snuggie off on a great journey.

It kind of feels like sending out Voyager 1. Every once in a while I hear that it has made it to some new place. Last I heard, that Snuggie was off in Ohio somewhere, probably confusing a lot of post office people. It has only made it to a small fraction of the Strangerhood so far, but I started feeling really selfish for keeping all of the award-winning photography I have been receiving, documenting the Snuggie's quest, to myself. So, here you are, in no particular order.

I highly recommend that you open another window and let the original Nintendo theme song for Zelda play while you look at these.
Athena, in West Jordan Utah.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Very Mississippi

Matt is leaving this week for very Mississippi to spend a month in his hometown. You might think I made a mistake by including the word "very" in that sentence, but I assure you that I did not. If you ever heard any of his family members communicate using the English language, you would know what I'm talking about.

Matt is like most of my friends in that he apparently has the ability to leave his job for entire months at a time and work remotely. Rebecca used to do this before she got knocked up. (If she reads this, she will definitely call me and object to that characterization and demand that I change it to something like "experienced God's miracle" and we'll ultimately settle on "lost her innocence"). 

When Rebecca was living in sin with me in 2014, out of the blue one day she told me she was moving to Paris and I didn't see her again for four months during which time zero keys to my apartment were lost BECAUSE IT'S NOT THAT HARD TO KEEP TRACK OF KEYS REBECCA.

I have yelled, nay screamed, at Rebecca eleventy hundred times about losing my keys. Recently she was in Salt Lake City and told me she wanted to come hang out at my house during the day while I was at work for reasons that are still not clear to me. I hid a key for her and later found out that she lost that key literally within 30 minutes of retrieving it.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Small Talk


In this week's Strangerville episode I may have overreacted about a thing that has been driving me crazy for a while. That thing is poorly-executed elevator small talk between coworkers.

I work in a tall building that houses several companies. My firm used to be in a different building, and we shared the place with a hip ad agency so every time I got into the elevator with anyone who worked there I felt like I was in an HBO series about millenials trying to make it in New York and have it all.

The ad agency employees would recount their wild weekends for one another every Monday morning, explaining how they're lucky to be alive after getting chased down by an entire gang of warlords while hunting anaconda on the moon. And I would pretend not to listen while actually very listening, because I loved hearing these stories.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Faceoff Tech Support

Two Sundays ago Gmac called to tell me that her "Faceoff is broken," which translates to "I can't log in to Facebook."

I was wondering why I hadn't seen any all caps comments on my posts, detailing personal and somewhat inaccurate information about myself, in a while.

Gmac is in her late 80s now, and having never been one to embrace the latest technologies with ease, we have all been pretty impressed with her shaky attempts to engage in social media over the years.

I mentioned to you recently that Gmac has a very bad habit of using Bob McCann as her personal tech support, a situation which I have referred to as "the blind leading the dead." I was told that she went to Bob as her first line of defense against the broken Faceoff, and after several hours of "help," the two were in no better a position.

So Gmac reached out to me. And really, she wasn't looking for my help. She was fully aware that I would then loop in Skylar and he, and he alone, would be responsible for this mess.

I invited Gmac over for dinner and then braced Skylar for a very frustrating evening.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Peggy the Therapist

For a while I've been wanting to write a post about my former therapist, Peggy, but I haven't gotten around to it because TV and Eating and Lazy. But then these people from BetterHelp reached out to me. So, here's a sponsored post about therapy.

It all started when a few years ago Brianne barged into my office and said "I made an appointment for you to see a therapist named Peggy." Then she left before I could ask any of the obvious questions.

This was offensive. Not because I think therapy is a shameful thing. But because it's always going to be a little jarring when someone out of the blue facilitates the provision of mental health services for you.

But I'm 85% afraid of Brianne, so the next Wednesday at 4:30 PM I got into my car and drove across town to see this Peggy person.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Salt Lake Ghost Tour



Please enjoy The Suzzzz's Strangerville Live story above, and today's ghost story below.

Skylar's mom visited Salt Lake City this weekend. Skylar was trying to find things to do to entertain her and at some point he made the interesting choice to ask and rely on me and Jolyn for advice, to which Jolyn responded before he even finished the question "TAKE HER ON A GHOST TOUR OR DON'T BOTHER COMING HOME."

There's a company that does these ghost tours of the city and for years Jolyn and I have wanted to go, but we've just never gotten around to it. As we understood it, you buy a ticket and then someone takes you around town on a bus and tells you ghost stories about all of the old creepy buildings and at the end you belong to Satan.

Skylar immediately found a groupon for 4 people and signed us all up.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Last week Brianne was lecturing me about love languages because she said that I need to be better at understanding how to work with people and she suggested that if I knew people's "love languages" I would have some success in this. This seemed like a strange lecture because I thought I was working just fine with people. Then I realized that the whole reason for the lecture was so she could say, "for example, your love language is telling people what to do and just getting your way all the time."

No matter how many times I try to remind Brianne that the nature of our professional relationship is one where I am supposed to ask her to do things and she is supposed to do those things, she refuses to not criticize me for "being bossy."

Please enjoy some Pictures & Distractions:
Mr. Pants lookin for cats.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

This is Strange

I wandered the city of 3 or 4 million people for a couple of hours, stopping in at an internet cafe for a moment to let my friends and family at home know that I had made it.

It was Kyiv Ukraine in 2010, before I had a smartphone and before wifi was ubiquitous. My plane had landed an hour or two before this. From the airport I had boarded an old marshrutka van that had a sign on the front, telling me that it was destined for the train station, which was in the city center.

The marshrutka ride lasted twice as long as it should have because Kyiv traffic is typical for a city of its size. The van was full. Several people had to stand in the aisle, holding onto the straps connected to the sides of the van. It was a hot day and there was no working air conditioner, and the two or three elderly ladies on board wouldn't allow the rest of us to open any of the windows.

There's an old Ukrainian belief that an open window on a moving vehicle will cause passengers to get sick. Having tried many times during the two years that I lived in Ukraine from 2003 to 2005 to talk elderly women out of this belief, I have learned that this isn't an argument worth having.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Mr. Pham

Please enjoy this week's Strangerville Live, and today's story:
 

My neighbor Lynne's landscaping could be in a magazine. Every flower and bush is perfectly manicured. I want to be buried in her backyard one day. Especially if I'm dead.

I was amazed that she had achieved everything she has by herself, especially considering that she's a flight attendant and is often gone for many days at a time. Then one day she told me about Mr. Pham.

I don't know Mr. Pham's first name and I'm not sure Lynne does either. He may not have one. She found him a few years ago and hired him to do some landscaping work on her property.

Mr. Pham is probably a genius. He is an exceptionally talented landscape artist. Lynne liked him instantly because of how proud he was of his work. He takes pictures of yards he's worked on and prints them out to put into a binder, and he likes to pull it out, a huge grin on his face, and show people that he meets. Lynne told me that only people who are really good at what they do care that much about it, so she trusted him and had him start helping her with her yard.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Grass Seed and Drug Cartels

My street is on a hill, which is a problem for three reasons:

1. Sliding past my driveway on icy days and having to circle the block multiple times to give it another try;

2. Losing balls that Duncan suddenly decides to set down on the ground mid-walk for reasons he refuses to explain to me;

3. The thing that happened on Saturday.

About three years ago I decided to base 100% of my self-esteem on my yard maintenance. This was a dangerous decision because a weed can send me to therapy now.

On the plus side, I can accidentally steal someone's car and get chased down by multiple employees of a car dealership and still think I'm a perfect human as long as my lawn is looking healthy that day.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Stranger Things

We got to the venue for Strangerville Live on Friday a couple of hours before the show started. Jolyn and a woman who works for Church & State started lifting and moving heavy furniture to get things set up while I pretended to be busy playing with the audio equipment.

As is always the case, time flew and suddenly people were coming through the doors, including Bob and Cathie who were already habitually telling me that my story was their favorite even though the show hadn't started yet.

Bob and Cathie's unwavering support for their offspring is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is comforting to have a constant cheerleader section that will reassure you, until their voices are hoarse, that whatever thing you did was the best anyone has ever done that thing. On the other hand, three decades of this have not made facing this cruel world an easy transition.

Suddenly, the show began. Jolyn took the stage and welcomed everyone. The venue looked beautiful. People were smiling. Everything was going just great. Jolyn announced that Rachel Miller would be our first storyteller of the night. Rachel began her story and the audience seemed to love it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The people of My Life

You guys. We are in the last days. I don't mean that religiously. Unless you consider Strangerville Live a religious experience, which some do. (I'm referring, probably, to the ones who have shown up at our shows wearing June Snapple shirts or Snuggies).

After every show Bob and Cathie tell me that I was the very best one no matter what else happens. They would tell me this even if I vomited onstage and electrocuted the audience. So if you want to come and see if they are right, do us a solid and get your tickets today at this link.

We are so excited to see y'all there this Friday at Church & State in Salt Lake City. Not that I say y'all, obvie.

And now:

Ring Ring

Eli: Hello?

Skylar: I'M DYING AND NO ONE CARES!

Eli: Is this more or less serious than when you were dying because you forgot to put on sunscreen and went outside for 20 minutes two weeks ago.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Neck Flits

You should know that THIS FREAKING WEEK we have our next Strangerville Live show. This is the most excited I've been for one of our events, mostly because we are in an amazing new venue, Meg has promised to tell us a story, AND THE FREAKING SUZZZZZZZZ IS COMING. I know that you are used to me speaking in hyperbole, but know ye this, the Suzzzzzzzz's story is one of my favorite stories I've ever heard. And I'm telling a story as well--one that I've never told anyone before, and one that I've been waiting for the right moment to share.

We have some limited seating for this show and so we strongly encourage you to get your tickets at this link if you haven't already. We are so excited to spend a fun Salt Lake evening with you this Friday, if you can make it.

And while you're at it, and before you jump into today's written story, please enjoy one of the most interesting Strangerville stories we've had in a long time:



*****

Last weekend my dad called me and said that Gmac was having major technological problems that he couldn't resolve.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Seaweed

The water moved in and out. Slowly. Methodically. Miles of coral reef prevented it from forming enough critical mass to make waves. The sun was dropping down, settling into an oceanic horizon. A tiny island with one palm tree appeared only as silhouette courtesy of the sun's back-lighting.

Suddenly something grabbed my wrist, pulling hard. I didn't look down at it because I thought I wasn't supposed to stop looking at the island's silhouette.

It was a dream. But I didn't know it.

I was back in Palau on a familiar beach.

One that was always somehow simultaneously calming and lonely.

The water moved in and out.

I resisted the pull from whatever had caught hold of my wrist, continuing to stare at the island's silhouette, watching the one palm tree lean and move a little. There was something else on the island and that's why I was watching it. If I looked away, even for a moment, that something would get washed away by the water.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Chocolate Cake: Another Attempt



Please check out today's episode of Strangerville, above (and at the bottom of this post, because we're persistent like that), featuring a story about what happens when pen pals don't end up murdering each other.

Also, don't forget that our Strangerville Live show is NEXT WEEK (March 30). Please get tickets at this link if you haven't already.

***** 

You may recall that a little while ago TV lied to me and made me think that it was sufficient education for baking. I spent basically two full days trying to make a mirror-glaze cake from a British recipe that may as well have been written in another language.

Whatever I ended up with was definitely not mirror-glaze and it probably wasn't even technically a cake, and after that experience I decided that I would never bake anything ever again.

Then last week happened.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Skylar Has The Best Words

Skylar is struggling with words lately, as was evidenced in a conversation I had with him a few days ago in which he actually said this:

"Do you have any . . . oh . . . what's that word? What's the word I'm trying to say? Help me here. I'm thinking of that thing that's wool but it's like a noodle and you have it but like noodles but it's like one LONG noodle."

Yarn.

He couldn't think of the word for yarn.

You know. That wool noodle.

I once walked into a room and he was talking to a customer service representative on the phone and I heard him say:

"My name is Skylar. That's S as in Cyberbully, K as in Cat, Y as in . . . the letter Y."

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Bike Computer

 Please enjoy this week's Strangerville episode above, and today's written story below.

***** 

Training for the upcoming Half Ironman has been difficult the last few months, as it always is for this May race, because I am unwilling to go outside unless it is exactly 71 degrees and people are cheering for me.

I feel some guilt when I'm driving to or from work and I see cyclists out on the road with their fancy bikes and winter gear, sliding across the snowy roads, undeterred by the misery that is biking outside in the wintertime.

But the guilt isn't enough to get me to join them.

I, Eli Washingtonittle McCann, simply refuse to bike outside during the winter. Whatever the promised payoff, it is not worth it to me.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

In case you missed it, we announced our next Strangerville Live show, which will happen March 30 in Salt Lake City. You should get your tickets before they sell out at this link. And then tell Matt how great he did at designing the image for the thing so that he gets so overwhelmed with compliments that he explodes.

BTW, I asked The Suzzzz to send me a picture we could use to advertise. She sent me two. The one we didn't use is one of the most glorious images I've ever seen in my life, but I wanted to save it for a truly special occasion. If you're good, maybe I'll share it with you soon.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
A new painting I picked up in Moab.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

We're Baaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaack

After being poisoned by essential oils in our last Strangerville Live show, we decided that it was probably time to find a new venue.

I'm learning that Meg is one of those people that somehow knows everyone in the entire world. And everyone in the entire world is at least a little afraid of Meg.

Let's just say I'm probably not the only person who reads Meg's texts in a scary dragon voice.

Meg set up a meeting with some folks at such a cool place that you have to name 25 bands no one has ever heard of just to get in the front door, and we're glad she did, because we are very excited to announce that Strangerville Live is going to partner with Church and State to bring you our next live show on March 30 at 8:00 PM.

Church and State is located just a few blocks away from our old venue, at 370 S 300 E in Salt Lake City. We think you're going to love this move.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Delicate Arch

Check out our latest Strangerville episode above (or at the bottom of this post)!

I've been working a million hours the last couple of months and it has been stressful. I can tell when I'm reaching a breaking point because the day-to-day work I do starts to affect me emotionally. Two Sundays ago I was dealing with a bunch of really depressing child abuse situations all day. I was tired. And then I got a pretty run-of-the-mill phone call that sent me over the edge and suddenly I was eating ice cream out of a container with a fork, choking back tears, and searching the internet for poodle mixes.

So I decided I needed a break.

The problem is, this is a really hard time of year for me to take a vacation because for some reason everyone laws all of their laws from January through March, so working a million hours is sort of the norm for me during these months.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Hunger Strike

Herminda has started this new thing where she bribes Duncan with treats she carries around in her pockets all day so now Duncan thinks all humans have treats in their pockets and he insists on sniffing the pockets of anyone who comes in the door.

This morning Herminda showed up around 8:00 and did the typical treat routine just as I was trying to feed Duncan his breakfast. I was calling him over to his food, but he wasn't listening to a word I was saying.

BACK IN MY DAY dogs ate all of their food the moment you poured it into a bowl.

Duncan hunger strikes for two days at a time. He will not eat the food. I try to get him interested in it, but his kibble consumption has to be on his own terms.

He hunger strikes when I'm not in the house. He has never, not once, ever, taken a bite of his food when I haven't been home.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Many Hands Make Light Work



Last week I wrote a post complaining about how cooking blogs make you scroll through 5,000 words of nonsense just to get to the one thing you were looking for in the first place. Then Meg told me that I basically do the same thing with Strangerville because people who listen to the podcast but don't read the blog have to sift through Stranger word vomit to get to the episode. And I was only incredibly offended.

So that's why I put the episode at the top. I'm not losing my mind. You were worried. You shouldn't be worried. About that, I mean. You should be worried about a lot of other things. Like e. coli, and how to spell e. coli.

In other news, I was graceful in front of my neighbors on Friday.

It all happened because it finally started snowing in Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Every Single Recipe Blog Post Ever

Hi there!

For years I have loved mac and cheese. When I was growing up it was a total staple in my household! Whenever I smell mac and cheese I am

 TrAnSpOrTeD back into my childhood!

For years I have wanted to make the best possible recipe for mac and cheese and I have searched and searched and it has been so difficult to find the PERFECT recipe for mac and cheese but I finally found it!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Polar Plunge

A few weeks ago when I was in San Francisco I got to hang out with Disney Prince Hair Brandt for three days because he loves Full House so much that he lives there now. I told Brandt that I was training for the same Half Ironman race that he and I did together in 2014 HOW HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG ALL OF YOU HAVE GRAY HAIR NOW.

Four years ago when Brandt and I were training every single day for this race, I learned very quickly to dread being in the pool with him for two big reason:

1. I am the slowest swimmer since the Titanic and Brandt is basically Michael Phelps if Michael Phelps only applied himself like 80% and had the hair of a Greek God, so swimming laps next to him was a completely demoralizing experience.

I mean, look at those locks. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Thing That Doesn't Matter BUT IT KIND OF DOES

I'm going to spend the next however many minutes complaining about something that doesn't matter.

I need to complain about this. This thing that doesn't matter. It is an incredibly stupid thing to feel anger over. I already know this. I don't need you to tell me that there are actual problems in this world and that the thing that I'm choosing to spend however many minutes complaining about is not even remotely close to being one of those problems.

I know that.

I know that this thing doesn't matter and that it probably says some sad things about me that I'm about to spend however many minutes talking about it.

People who have much more satisfying lives probably never even think about stuff like this. They are probably way too busy living in a state of perpetual productivity to ever even be able to give the energy to something this incredibly dumb.

By the way, you've been warned. You don't get to be mad at me that you spent however many minutes reading this post only to find out that it's actually a post about something that's not even a thing worth complaining about. Because I already told you that this post is a waste of your time. So if you read this, that's on you.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

LOOSE WAIT WITHOUT EXERSIZE

For about the last six months I have been telling people that "I'm like totally doing the St. George half Ironman next May." I thought that if I said it to enough humans with memories and judgment skills, I would shame myself into actually making it happen.

Since I got chubbier in 2017 and none of my pants were fitting anymore and I literally popped the button off of nearly every single pair, I knew it would probably be good for me to actually set some kind of goal and work toward something.

I'm not kidding you about the pants. It got so bad that I could no longer fit into a single suit I owned. But I wasn't about to go out and spend eleventy hundred million dollars on a new suit because that felt like giving up and although my metabolism is officially not 21 anymore, I kept convincing myself that I was "like totally doing the St George half Ironman next May" and therefore I would get skinny again.

So, without a suit that could fit my expanding bod, I took to wearing blazers and slacks that I could squeeze myself into whenever I had to go to court.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Earlier this week Paul Simon posted on Instagram that he was retiring, which was a huge shock because he didn't even attempt to consult with me about this huge decision that affects both of us equally. After screaming so loudly that you could see it from space, I googled everything on the entire internet and found out that Paul is going on a "farewell tour" this year.

Then I spent eleventy hundred billion dollars buying super good tickets to see him in a city "near" me. And by "near" I mean "very not near" because for some reason Paul decided not to include Salt Lake City on his farewell tour and I can only assume this is because he knew it would be too hard to say goodbye. So now none of us are going to be able to think of anything else until I go to this concert three months from now.

Sorry about your jobs.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Same.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

TruGreen, The Mob

I'm pretty sure I got a call from the mob today. Like, The Mob.

A few years ago I called TruGreen, the lawn care company, and asked them if I could pay one million dollars every five weeks to have them come and sprinkle fairy dust on my property. They said these terms were acceptable and then immediately started taking money from my bank account at random for the next three summers.

The plan, as I understood it, was that TruGreen would show up about every four weeks and fertilize my lawn. I thought I was being a responsible homeowner by asking them to do this because I have no idea how to keep grass alive apart from pouring water on it and prayin' to Jesus.

TruGreen has a robot woman call and scream into my ear that someone is coming to do the treatment a day or two before the scheduled visit. Robot woman reminds me to make sure the TruGreen person will be able to access all parts of the property. Then she says something about how my pets are going to die if I let them anywhere outside for the next few days.

There's really no way for me to know for sure that the treatment was done because they always come to do it when I'm at work. So for a couple of years I just hoped that I wasn't being scammed whenever I saw one million dollars get taken from my bank account.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Max


Last week was Duncan's adoption day (how has it been a year already omg you people are getting so old). I totally forgot about it because I was in the process of working eleventy million hours so it was really bad timing for a milestone.

Then Matt texted me and was like "if you loved Duncan you would invite me and Ollie over for dinner tonight and throw a huge party and feed us" and I would have been annoyed with Matt's attempts to manipulate me if I wasn't already in the middle of drafting a text to him that said "what time did you say you were coming over tonight to install all of the baseboards in my basement" despite the fact that he definitely never agreed to do that.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Laminate Flooring Comes Straight From Hell Part III

A reminder, if you haven't done so already, to check out the story we produced this week about Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick and her two double-lung transplants. It's one of the most amazing stories I've ever heard. You can find Strangerville on any podcast app, or just listen to the episode by clicking the play button below.



You might remember that sometime ago I complained at you that Laminate Flooring Comes Straight From Hell and that Laminate Flooring Comes Straight From Hell Part II.

Well, I'm worried that you might have forgotten so today I wanted to inform you that Laminate Flooring Comes Straight From Hell Part III.

You guys. THERE ARE NOW THREE POSTS ABOUT HOW THIS THING COMES FROM HELL. You can stop doubting it now.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Encore

A little while ago someone from Utah Symphony Utah Opera reached out to me and Meg and said that they wanted to sponsor Strangerville. Meg was immediately like "HURRY AND TAKE THEIR MONEY BEFORE THEY FIND OUT WE'RE TRASH."

She was, of course, referring to the number of times we have discussed poop on Strangerville and the lack of any discussion whatsoever about such topics as classical music.

When we got the email from Utah Symphony Utah Opera, I had only ever been to one opera in my life. It was when I was in college back in two thousand mumble mumble and I took my friend Erin with me to see one that they were putting on in Salt Lake because my friends Andrea and Shane were in it and it has always been a dream of mine to sit in the back of an ostentatious theater and use those little binoculars while saying things like "superb" and "grey poupon."

As we walked out of the show

Erin: That was really cool.

Eli: It was really cool.

Erin: I bet it would be interesting to go to an opera in English sometime.

Eli: Uh . . . Erin . . . that was in English.

Erin: . . . ok, I'm not good enough of a person to go to operas.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

What's that? You guys didn't think I would get a Pictures & Distractions post out this week? You thought I was too busy and drowning in my own stress tears?

Well, so did I. But then I decided to prove to myself that I CAN have it all.

So, now, your Pictures & Distractions:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A New Dentist

I had a cavity filled this morning because I guess I'm not very good at brushing my teeth and they set the appointment for 7:00 AM when it should be illegal to have appointments.

Every time I see the dentist at the end they try to set my next appointment and they're all "what are you doing twelve-hundred days from now and I'm always like "lady, I don't even know how to brush my teeth well so do you think I have my life that planned out?"

And then she always picks some weekday off in the distance and then asks if I want to do an early appointment on that day so it doesn't interfere with work and I always say yes because this seems like the responsible and lawyerly thing to do and the appointment is so far off in the distance that I just decide that it will probably be totally fine to have to get up before it should be illegal to be awake to go to the dentist's office, which might easily be the most boring place on planet earth by the way.

Then the night before the appointment I look at my calendar for the next day and see that I have to be all the way across town by 7:00 and I know some of you are like "I wake up at 4:00 every day and eat an entire field of spinach while doing yoga as I drive my 16 kids to early-morning violin lessons" and that's awesome for you but I don't do those things and being in the most boring place on Earth on the other end of town at 7:00 is hard for me and I don't care who knows it.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

IS THAT IT?!

A while ago Matt asked me and Skylar if we wanted to go to a place called Lava Hot Springs with him because his friends have a cabin there and they had invited him to go for a weekend and had told him to invite a couple of friends.

Lava Hot Springs is a few hours north of Salt Lake City and it's this very strange town nestled in some mountains. Only like 500 people live there so they report sneezes in the town newspaper. And its claim to fame is that it has a bunch of natural hot pools that stay warm during the wretchedly cold winter as a sort of warning about the supervolcano that is going to destroy us all.

We took off on Friday afternoon in Skylar's car. I drove it because it had started snowing and you're welcome everyone between Salt Lake City and Lava Hot Springs for taking the wheel.

By the time we rolled into town it was dark. Matt's friends were about ten minutes behind us so we pulled up to the cabin and jumped out of the car to give Ollie and Duncan a chance to go potty while we stretched out from the drive.

The cabin sits up on a huge hill that descends down into the town in a sort of Grinch-Who-Stole-Christmas kind of way.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

SkyWest: A Story of Malicious Identity Theft

Not to get all Oprah on you, but my favorite thing in the entire world is that people think Skylar is SkyWest (the airline) on Instagram because his handle is @skywest.

Let's all take one quick moment of silence for the airline, who couldn't get their crap together enough to secure a handle from someone who had exactly 387 followers at the time of this writing.

Because people think Skylar is the airline, pretty regularly he gets tagged in posts from people complaining about flight delays, poor customer service, or just including pictures of airplanes and thanking SkyWest for making their upcoming trip possible.

He feels it his sacred duty to respond to at least some of these, lamenting on occasion that "not once" has the airline paid him for his services.

I don't know the fair market value of these "services," considering that the majority of his responses to people's inquiries just look like this:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Pressure on the Barrel and Fullest House

Several of us from various parts of the country descended upon San Francisco at various times on Thursday.  We had planned to spend a weekend hanging out in the city and heading up north to Napa Valley.

Disney Prince Hair Brandt lives in San Francisco now despite my repeated efforts to talk him into moving back to Salt Lake City so I can finally have some competition around here [runs a greasy comb through hair].

Look. I've never really spent time in San Francisco. I don't know much about it. I have no business being there.

BUT, what I do know is that Danny Tanner raised Olsen Twins in one of those houses and so there was absolutely no way I was going to leave the city without finding it.

I told Skylar this. He and I both had some free time on Friday morning while everyone else was working, and so we ventured off together to find the Full House house.

Skylar could not have been less interested in this activity, and I'm 120% convinced that he was intentionally singing the wrong words to the wrong song all morning just to irritate me. (He was singing "Our house--in the middle of the street" but he wasn't even getting those words right and then he would break into the "everywhere you look!" part of the Full House song but instead he would sing "everywhere you go, everything you do" and this was wrong and it was unacceptable and I needed him to just stop AND WE SHOULD JUST TOTALLY STAB CAESAR.)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Four-Layered Caramel Cream Orange Zest Chocolate Mirror Glaze Cake

The Great British Baking Show is on Netflix and months ago Meg was like "you HAVE to watch it because it will change your life" and I ignored her for a while but finally one day in December Skylar, Matt, and I were sitting in front of the TV making a lot of our lives when suddenly Skylar pulled up the show and hit play.

I have never been interested in any kind of cooking show. Usually when someone starts cooking something on TV I immediately change the channel because there is nothing less interesting to me than watching someone on television prepare food.

BUT, the one quality I possess that is even stronger than my dislike for television shows having to do with food is laziness. So I didn't get up and leave.

And that's when I found out that, in fact, there is an exception to my typical rule.

For those unfamiliar, The Great British Baking Show is a program wherein a dozen adorable British people spend their weekends baking in a large and beautiful tent. Their bakes are judged by two judges, who I swear to you are named Mary Berry

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sliced Bras

If the title to this post is clickbate for you, then PERVERT.

But for real, today we are releasing our first Strangerville episode of 2018 and we are doing things a little differently around here this year. I guess you could say this is sort of like THE YEAR OF NEW.

Nailed it.

Check out the episode at the bottom of this post and let me know what you think of the new format. It was sort of Meg's brainchild. And she was using her scary dragon voice when she suggested it and I always just go along with what she suggests when she's using her scary dragon voice. Her scary dragon voice is 120% of the reason why I helped her write this recap last week. And then someone somewhere on the Internet shared that recap and said that Meg Walter has started collaborating with her "husband" to write these things and then Meg sent me a screen shot of that post and was like "WE NEED TO FIX THIS I DON'T WANT ANYONE TO THINK I'M MARRIED TO YOU" which was a lot more offensive than she predicted.

Where was I? My brain is a little fried today thanks to a total cake-tastrophy that happened all. afternoon. Story on that to come later this week. Teaser: my family now has reason to stop talking about my 2013 Robitussin pie.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

World War III

On New Year's day I went to Matt's house. Every year Matt invites some people over for a traditional southern New Year's Day "breakfast." I used quotes because, despite our best efforts, this never happens before 1:00 PM.

I'm not totally sure what Matt feeds us because every time I ask him to identify the food he responds in such a strong southern accent that parts of Salt Lake City are now considered the Bayou. But I do know it involves rice, some greens, black-eyed-peas, ham hocks, and a lot screaming at Ollie to stop jumping up onto the table.

As is usually the case when anything happens at Matt's house, there were more dogs than people.

Duncan is in heaven in these situations because Duncan has so much energy in his little body that he's actually radioactive so when he plays with any other dog, that dog gets sick of him real fast. When there are a gaggle of puppies around, however, Duncan can bounce around and wrestle with each dog until, one-by-one, they tap out for a rest.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Year Of

When I was sitting in my office in the hot tropics with ants literally crawling on my feet in February of 2013, I started having a panic attack. It wasn't my first within the four moldy walls that surrounded my tiny space that had about twice the amount of furniture crammed into it than it should have had.

Me, in my office.