50 Shades of A Real Mother


The 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy, written by E.L. James, has become a worldwide phenomenon. This series continues to reach unprecedented sales milestones that suggest every man and woman on the planet currently owns a copy.  The craze started for the self-published James thanks to friends telling friends and ebooks – where women could simply download James’ smutty tales in the privacy of their own homes.

Which, of course, is the digital equivalent of a brown paper bag.

And now, just in time for Valentine’s Day 2015, the movie version hits the big screen.

In 2012, everywhere you looked women were toting around, and actually READING, copies 50 Shades in public. Without so much as blushing.  In the Chicago airport, I witnessed women of all ages, from gray haired grannies to moms with babies in strollers, so totally mesmerized while reading the book they nearly missed their flights.  If the sales numbers are any indication, the odds are good that my own mother has a copy of the book on her nightstand.

The mere thought is so horrifying; I’m going to need therapy.

James wrote her books chronicling the anything-but-subtle adventures of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, as a form of fan fiction for the Twilight series.  Twilight, at least the version I recall, was the odd mélange of trampires, werewolves and teen angst, not BDSM.  I’m so naive, I didn’t know what that meant.

I thought my accounting firm had picked up a new senior partner.

But apparently female fans are willing to suffer through three books of dreadful dialogue and torturous plotlines to get to the trashy parts.  Because it’s the naughtiness of the book, not James’ literary genius, that got and kept women reading.  And then they started talking, albeit in hushed tones – to their friends about it.  Suddenly word-of-mouth sales landed James on the New York Times best-seller list, a seven-figure book advance and big bucks to ink the deal for the silver screen.  It’s the self-publishing world equivalent of a real-life Cinderella story with a fetish for something other than a Jimmy Choo glass pump.

It seems that 50 Shades has whipped women right into a frenzy – of friskiness.

So it should have come as no surprise that another 50 Shades inspired trend followed.  It commenced in February 2013, which not-so-coincidentally was nine months after the book first hit the mass market.  That’s right, an onslaught of babies arrived in delivery rooms rooms around the globe. The spawn of this  baby boomlet even earned a unique moniker – Greybies.  No doubt, a new generation of Greybies will arrive nine months after the movie premier.

It’s all fun and games until there’s a little plus sign in the EPT window.

Now these women are really going to be tied down.

So for all the moms of Greybies out there, I’m writing some fan fic of my own: 50 Shades of A Real Mother.

It’s not for the faint of heart.  But it’s guaranteed to get your blood pumping.

Here’s a teaser:  Imagine the thrill of hearing your honey whispering in your ear, “Let me cook dinner tonight.”  Fantasize as he puts his hands on your shoulders at the breakfast table, leans over and says, “I’ll drive carpool this morning, you go to Pilates.”  Revel in the moment when he says in a sultry voice, “Why don’t you take a bubble bath and read your book while I put the kids to bed?”

Oh yeah, you know you like it.

But I’m still worried that a Greybie could make an appearance in my life.  Because if my mom calls to tell me the little sister I’ve always wanted is finally on the way, not even therapy will do the trick. 

 Greybie-wear!  Get yours from MissPhiesBowtique.  

Shakin’ off the Earworm

ear worm

In the past decade, the field of neuroscience has produced amazing scientific breakthroughs. Researchers have learned how to control micro RNA, help individuals achieve impulse control, and change behavior with non-invasive brain stimulation. Recently, two MIT scientists successfully implanted a memory that NEVER HAPPENED into a mouse’s brain. But despite all these incredible advances, I’m curious why researchers ignore a condition that plagues 90% of the population at least once a week.

I am speaking, of course, of the earworm.

For my entire life, I have suffered from a recurring case of this auditory MRSA. From the moment The Beatles urged me to Twist and Shout, I have been afflicted with this disorder. So my question for neuroscientists, if you are able to put Visions of That Which Never Happened into a tiny rodent’s noggin, why, oh why, can you not find a way to remove Meghan Trainor from mine?

Because I’m All About That Bass.

If you happen to be a member of that 10% of the population who has never experienced this wretched condition, rest assured it starts innocently enough. You hear a catchy tune with a beat even a one-celled organism in a petri dish could replicate. You might hum along, tap your foot, and bob your head to the upbeat melody. But before you know it, this insidious ditty has taken up residence in your cerebrum and intermittently causes your hammer, anvil, and stirrup to spontaneously break into a line dance as Achy Breaky Heart plays in a continuous loop in your brain.

This very real, and often debilitating, condition has its own WebMD page. When British scientists examined this vexing problem, they identified specific characteristics of songs prone to burrowing in your skull. Turns out there is a magic formula guaranteed to produce a song that is not only an earworm, but a chart topping hit. These mutant melodies are chock full of long notes and closely spaced musical intervals which are apparently the equivalent of an express train down the ear canal to your gray matter. Researchers also noted that simplicity is a critical element. Which explains why any parent who has ever taken their child to Disneyland wakes up in a cold sweat as the strains of It’s a Small World play mercilessly in their melon.

Researchers call it musical imagery. I call it auditory hell.

But the earworm is not a modern-day phenomenon. According to Oliver Sacks, an early manuscript referred to certain tunes as “the piper’s maggot.” Clearly, this was a direct reference to The Lion Sleeps Tonight, YMCA, or anything by Frankie Valli.

Some of my earliest aural invaders were courtesy of the Archies, Herman’s Hermits, and The Dave Clark Five. Although Sugar, Sugar routinely pummeled my neurons, it was comforting to know that at any moment I would be Glad All Over and Into Something Good in fairly short order. In junior high, I Woke Up in Love This (and every) Morning thanks to The Partridge Family, but mainly David Cassidy. The entire ABBA catalogue took up residence in my cranium for the better part of a decade.

Don’t even make me bring up Bananarama.

Some earworms are tolerable. After I these years, I know whose phone number is 867-5309. My cochlea can still Bust a Move. But there’s one earworm that makes me willing to plunge a Bic deep into my inner ear if it would get the Baha Men to stop asking Who Let the Dogs Out.

Long ago, Gloria Gaynor assured me that I Will Survive. And that is true. Because thanks to Taylor, I can Shake It Off.

photo courtesy of 123RF

Axe the Axe




Santa, dear Santa

santa2It’s that time of year

But you showing up

Is now my biggest fear


I’m not being critical

Of the stuff that you bring

In fact, I’ll tell you

It’s only one thing


Santa, you know

I don’t mean to be mocking

But last time you left

This stuff in the stocking


So Santa, my friend

I’ve just one thing to say

Please don’t leave Axe

At my house Christmas Day


Santa, it’s hard

For the mother of boys

It was so much easier

When you just left them toys


But now as young men

They want to smell good

I only wish

That they understood


That Axe is plain nasty

It smells awfully rank

Between you and me

I’d rather they stank


Axe is disgusting

I don’t mean to nag

Walk into a cloud of it

And you’ll surely gag


Santa, my dear

I don’t mean to be rude

But after they spray it

I can’t taste my food


But Santa, it’s true

And you and I know

There’s a much better way

To get rid of B.O.


The answer’s not Axe

So please grant my wish

Cause I think they’d smell better

If they rolled in dead fish


It’s really quite simple

Santa, don’t be a dope

If you want them to smell good

Just bring towels and some soap.





Montana Dress Code – Say it Ain’t So

pix - scared person

As I was reading the recent publication of the 64th Montana House of Representatives Legislative Session Dress Code, I have to admit, for a moment I thought it was a satire piece straight from the pages of The Onion. Then I realized the truth. This was no joke.

I laughed so hard my bonnet nearly fell off.

It seems that certain male members of the Montana State Legislature have worked their whitey-tighties into a knot.

Apparently they have a mighty big problem with the apparel of some of the females who enter the state house. Their specific concerns involve the revealing nature of the knee and chestal areas of female attire.

This stance, of course, begs the question: Who elected Ward Cleaver?

Jeanette Rankin just rolled over in her grave.

When you parse the words of this edict, it seems like a reasonable assumption that the fairer sex has routinely been distracting the men-folk from their elected duties. From the stern tone, clearly these Girls Gone Wild have been entering the chambers wearing necklines that are too low, hemlines that are too high, and heaven forbid, the ever-too revealing open-toe pump. These admonishments suggest that women have been strutting into the legislative session on the arm of David Lee Roth just before shimmying down a pole to the thumping beat of Walk This Way.

No doubt, flaunting their toe cleavage.

So female members of the house may no longer purchase clothing at Ann Taylor, Banana Republic or Jones New York. Instead, they would be prudent to enter chambers wearing the latest in Duggar-wear.

Our nation has seen the Women’s Rights Movement and Title XI. We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, except on the Montana State House floor.

Somewhere in New York City, Gloria Steinem just threw up.

Much like the Skyview High School yoga pants debacle, this dress code assumes that the male species cannot control themselves enough to make critical decisions involving our state with the distractions of the opposite sex. Women must dress with appropriate decorum to allow men to think clearly so they can go about the important state business. Because the wanton display of cleavage interferes with critical state house business such as comparing pregnant women to unfinished barns and bovines. A few years ago, the legislator that made this disturbing analogy, Keith Regier, also supported a house bill that would have forbid nursing mothers from being excluded from jury duty. According to Keith, you can have ‘em, but don’t ask to get out of your civic duty because of ‘em.

But what do I know? I’m just a girl.

Since it’s impossible to consider both cleavage and an 85-mile-per-hour speed limit simultaneously, it is vital that we have a dress code.

But boys, a system like that must be fair and equitable.

So men of the legislature, here are few rules to level the playing field. Henceforth, all photos of Sarah Palin, including those sporting a patriotic bikini or holding an AK-47 (with or without Ted Nugent), may not be used as a screensaver. Likewise, residents of the State of Montana shall be immediately notified if any elected male official in this great state has watched any episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, or Cougar Town. Finally, no elected male official in the state shall ever view any video involving Beyonce. Ever.

Women of the State of Montana, thankfully, we have more going for us than our Miracle Bras.

Ladies, we have brains. Men, if you are wise, you won’t forget that.

It’s all so ridiculous. It makes me want to throw my very stylish hat right into the ring.










Thanksgiving Envy

With mere hours toturkey day go on the Turkey Day countdown, you’ve probably checked most items off your official Food Network Thanksgiving Planning To-Do List.

Yeah, me neither.

According to the Food Network guide, my menu should have been planned one month in advance. That’s ridiculous – mine has been planned for much, much longer – almost a year to be exact. I’m not all that organized, it’s just that my bill of fare revolves around that Holy Trinity of Thanksgiving – turkey, dressing and taters.


The planning guide says to make my guest list early. When did Thanksgiving ever have anything to do with guests? They’re called relatives. Thanksgiving, as mandated by federal law, specifically requires you to spend your day off engaging in awkward family encounters. Which is, of course, why the gin and tonic was invented.

At the two-week mark, Food Network says I should choose my décor. I could create a neutral, earth-toned place setting, a lovely fall floral arrangement, or design a minimalist, less-is-more holiday table.

Because everything about the Thanksgiving holiday screams minimalism.

But I decided to go with something that felt more natural, with a hint of autumn whimsy – my Halloween cobwebs. It’s the easiest decorating job ever. I leave them up year-round.

Food Network suggests I create my seating plan before the Big Day. But that’s one detail best left until the very last minute. Because the seating arrangements must always take into consideration how many gin and tonics have been consumed, and by whom, prior to actually gathering round the table.

Some families require seating charts that are put together with the precision and diplomacy of nuclear disarmament talks. Because putting your ACLU card-carrying nephew next to Tea Partying, Sarah Palin lovin’ Grandpa is a recipe for a holiday disaster that would send Norman Rockwell screaming from the room.

Also at the one-week mark, Food Network says I should plan for leftovers.

Double duh. Part of the planning is making sure you HAVE leftovers.

Even without the benefit of their website, I can plan for any food related event far in advance. Because I tune in to the Food Network every time I get on the treadmill.

Clearly I have issues.

While Food Network insists I make many plans, I’ve discovered a few things that the folks at this fine channel would never approve for a Turkey Day spread.

No how. No way.

I present Exhibit A – Turducken. The name alone elicits a gag reflex. Turducken is an example of engastration – where a deboned chicken is stuffed inside a duck which is stuffed inside a turkey which will be stuffed inside your own personal gut.

And if you thought it couldn’t get any worse, I present Exhibit B – Turbaconducken – engastration lattice wrapped in bacon.

Somewhere in Connecticut, Martha Stewart just threw up.

If your guest list includes Ozzy Osbourne and his entourage, you might want to consider the Supersized engastration – the True Love Roast. This is the Big Daddy of them all, a turkey stuffed with a dozen different fowl including a pigeon. It has 50,000 calories, takes 8 hours to cook and can feed 125 guests.

But Ozzy gets dibs on the pigeon.

The final Thanksgiving Oh-No You Didn’t is a recipe for a special Turkey Day Cake. Ground turkey meat is cooked in cake pans, frosted with mashed potatoes and garnished with cranberries. This simple, yet imaginative, dish will cut your guest list down significantly.

Odds are, you’ll be eating it alone.

Makes me wish I could sit down to Grandma’s 100% Nothing Natural Thanksgiving in a box from Winn Dixie complete with her trademark still quivering cranberries in the shape of the can. And a couple gin and tonics.


photo courtesy of 123RF

Performance of a Lifetime


Some people know from an early age that they belong on the stage. They are the kids who never hesitated to jump up in front of family or friends and belt out a rousing version of I Just Can’t Wait to be King, don a pair of tap shoes, or recite a Shakespearean sonnet. They are born to be in the spotlight.

I am not one of the people.

So it was a little surprising for me to learn that I’ll be delivering a theatrical performance of my very own. I’ve been practicing diligently since mid-April, when I first learned of my new role. And if I may be so bold, I’m betting this performance will have Oscar written all over it.

Move over, Meryl.

While this show may have the shortest run in theatre history, it in no way will diminish the need for a script delivered with believability and careful attention to detail. In an ideal cinematic world, it should be the perfect blend of Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn.

It’s gotta be that good.

But not being blessed with a theater gene, I am more than a little concerned. Despite all the hours of rehearsal I’ve put in, I fear my performance will more closely resemble something between Lucy Ricardo and Melissa McCarthy.

This one-woman show opens and closes tomorrow afternoon in an off, off-Broadway venue. It’s a peculiar setting to be sure and it’s difficult to imagine that a performance such as mine has ever been delivered there before.

That’s because it’s happening in Washington, DC in Dulles Airport. Between Baggage Claim #1 and #2, to be exact. That’s where I’m dropping off Younger Boy tomorrow to begin his high school exchange program. For the Whole. School. Year.

Clearly I’m not taking Phase One of my Pre-Mature Empty Nest very well.

In the flurry of pre-trip preparations, I’ve been too busy to think about it too much. I’ve taken my mom role as Organizer of the Overseas Adventure quite seriously. Lists were made. New, less ratty looking clothes and shoes were purchased. Piles of clothes were put in the suitcases. They were then taken out again when said suitcases strained to zip shut.

All the while, I’ve kept a smile on my face. No one would ever be the wiser that I’m popping my molars like bubble wrap as I blurt out phrases like, “This trip is going to change your life!” And while I do sincerely mean that, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to miss him like crazy. But I’ll never let him know just how much.

This is his time.

But long ago, it was my time. Way back then, I was leaving for Peace Corps and my dad said those very words to me. And I believed him. After a whirlwind of preparations, friends and family gathered at the airport the day we were leaving. Before getting on the plane, I hugged everyone a little longer than usual. Especially my dad. As I looked back, he smiled and waved.

Years later, I watched the video a friend had taken that day. It recorded that final wave before we boarded. A few minutes later, the shot panned across the group, who was looking out the window at the plane. The camera then focused on my dad. And what I saw couldn’t have surprised more.

There was a tear running down his cheek.

Perhaps I’ve underestimated my acting gene.

The good news is, there’ll be an encore performance at Dulles in about 10 months when Younger Boy returns. But that one that will require no rehearsal at all.

*It was, indeed, my best performance so far.

photo credit: 123rf

Yakasses on a Plane? Say it Ain’t So!

airplaneWe’re less than a week away from the busiest time of the year in air travel – the Christmas holiday season.  According to the American Air Trade Industry, between December 17 and January 6, 15 million people will line up for their pre-flight TSA grope.  And if the FCC gives the green light, those 15 million people will probably be talking on their cell phones. 

Right next to your head.

I’d be less alarmed if Samuel L. “Snakes On A Plane” Jackson was wrestling a pit viper out of the overhead bin at 15C.

As if the holidays weren’t stressful enough, getting there may now involve your melon being bookended by a couple of Droids.  Especially if you drew the short straw of airline travel known as the middle seat. 

Give me a screaming baby any day.  For all I care, that baby could whip an unfiltered Camel out of his diaper for a few puffs to calm his frazzled nerves.  I’d rather have Junior blow smoke rings in my face.  Because I could deal with that more gracefully than having a Yakass two inches from my noggin for the duration of my cross-country flight. [Read more…]

The Last Best Place – But Not For Haters


greenmanI’ve lived in Bozeman a long time.  One of the things I’ve always appreciated about this community is how welcoming it is – to everyone.  It reminds me of my Southern home where when company comes, we roll out the red carpet to show folks we’re glad you’re visiting.  We throw a little extra supper on the stove and invite our guests to stay awhile longer, just because.

Today, Bozeman, we have company coming.  Between you and me, I’m not feeling all that hospitable.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church are coming to town.

My first inclination is to do what my crotchety Great Aunt Willadean would do when unwanted guests showed up on her doorstep – pretend nobody’s home.  You can knock all you want WBC, but Bozeman will just ignore you.

But I don’t think that’s the answer.  That might give them the crazy idea that our indifference legitimizes their message.

They’ve got enough crazy ideas as it is.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of WBC and the appalling tactics they take to share their reprehensible message. And they’ve chosen two institutions in our fine community, Montana State University and Bozeman High School, as places to visit.  They are adamant about exercising their First Amendment right to spew their venom.  And the Constitution gives them the right to do just that.

Frankly, I’ll take venom from snakes any day.

While I wholeheartedly disagree with what they have to say, how they say it and everything that they stand for, I took an oath as an attorney to uphold their Constitutional right to do so.   I take those words as seriously today as I did when I first uttered them twenty years ago as a new member of the bar.  In a democratic nation, we have to honor and respect that right no matter how offensive and objectionable we may find their words and actions.

But by the same token, we possess that exact same right.  And I intend to exercise it.  Right here, right now.

So to our visitors, know this:

You have chosen to bring your message of hatred and intolerance to two of the finest institutions in Montana.  Montana State University is committed to providing an outstanding education to the daughters and sons of this great state, from across our nation and around the globe. Montana State University opens the minds and hearts of students, fostering more than just their intellectual curiosity, but teaching the critical thinking skills necessary to become informed, rational and thoughtful members of a free society.  Our university teaches tolerance and respect so students will enter the world not only with a college degree but with emotional intelligence and compassion that are essential to being human.  Bozeman is proud of these fine young people who leave Montana State University as intelligent and enlightened citizens of the world.

Likewise, Bozeman High School is an outstanding educational institution charged with preparing students for the next level of their academic careers and their lives.  These dedicated teachers and administrators, not only at Bozeman High but also throughout our world-class school district, go above and beyond each and every day teaching our children more than just the standard curriculum, but nurturing a spirit of kindness and empathy.  These educators should be applauded for their tireless efforts in the classroom and in our community that helps shape our children into fine young adults.

WBC, if you would consider life beyond your picket signs and narrow-minded views, I’d encourage you to take a moment to learn something about the world you inhabit.  Education is a proven cure for injustice, intolerance and ignorance.  You really should give it a try.

Regardless of our gender, our ethnicity, our religious views, our sexual orientation or our race, there is one common denominator not only in this community but across our planet, we are all people.  The citizens of Bozeman are proud to live in a supportive open-minded community who choose to co-exist. We actively embrace and celebrate our diversity.  It makes our town and our world a better place. We are better people and a stronger community because of it.

So WBC, don’t expect our typical warm welcome when you come to town. There will be no red carpet.

While you’re here, you will most certainly observe that our town is a kind, peaceful and tolerant community.  We like it that way. The people of Bozeman are tolerant of many things, WBC, but I can promise you this – hatred will never be one of them.

 This column appeared in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle on September 8, 2013.  

A Convert Comes Clean

They say that converts are the worst.  Reformed carb addicts have been known to snatch a piece of still warm baguette from your hands while shrieking, “You’ll THANK me for this!”  Reformed smokers complain the loudest when a whiff of a stray puff so much as crosses their nostrils.  And I may be the worst convert of all – because I, too, am reformed.

I’ll admit it; I’m a former Hug Hater.  Now without warning I may embrace you in a bear hug like Joe Biden on the campaign trail.


This conversion is particularly noteworthy because I was not raised by a family of Huggers.  My tribe has never been prone to displays of affection.  Not that we were Luddites or lacking human emotion, but all of us would agree our personal space needs are bigger than most.  Hugs were an expression deemed acceptable only on special occasions.

Most of my life I wished I could deploy an Anti-Hugging Vest.  Much like the airline safety floatation device, I could pull the rip cord on the AHV which would inflate in the event of an unexpected hug.  The AHV could provide that body space buffer zone to make that awkward encounter a little more tolerable.

I was perfectly content with all acknowledgements expressed in the form of Hug Substitutes. An animated wave, a hearty handshake or even a high five were totally acceptable.  But when anyone attempted to breach my space bubble by coming in my direction with outstretched arms, I’d freeze in place, most likely with my face frozen in a look of complete horror. [Read more…]

Give me fitness. Give me abs. Give me a Hawaii Chair.

workout woman

Experts say it takes three weeks to turn a new behavior into a habit.  So if my past experience is a predictor, at two weeks into my New Year’s fitness regime I’m going to be, well, bored.  Cardio intervals? Yawn. Core fitness? Zzzzzz.  Eat less, exercise more?  What-EVER.

Give me gimmicks.  Give me fads.  Give me a piece of exercise equipment I can hang wet laundry on when I’m tired of using it.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for lazy-woman fitness.

I’ve been enamored with useless home exercise equipment ever since I watched my grandmother unveil her newest apparatus.  “You wrap this band around your hips,” she told me. “Then you flip this switch.”  The machine began to agitate her body with such vigor, she looked like she was in California during The Big One.  “I-I-I-I a-m-m-m e-xxxx-er-cisingggg!” she squealed over the din of the motor sounding like a post-menopausal Elmer Fudd on an infomercial.  After being shaken by the machine for exactly three minutes, Grandma somehow managed to flip the switch off. The band around her hips went slack and fell behind her legs. “Whew, what a workout!” she said patting her forehead with a towel, although she hadn’t visibly broken a sweat.

If this was working out, then I could embrace fitness. [Read more…]


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