Sunday, December 14, 2008

jenna -- this one's for you

so you say you check in on my blog to see what i'm doing, jenna? that must be a disappointment for you. well, no more. welcome to your christmas miracle: a brand new blog post just for you...that says nothing at all. kinda like a toothless abominable snowman, ain't it? (still my favorite christmas movie of ALL time, that "rudolf the red nose reindeer.") and yes. the elf who wants to be a dentist is gay, just like the benevolent lion with wings that rules over the island of the misfit toys. now that island. THERE'S some blog material. i know that island. i might even live there. i wish mormon singles would incorporate some of the honesty those misfit toys oh so easily display. like the train that let's you know upfront he has square not round wheels on his caboose, or the bird who confesses those wings are just window dressing, he swims with the fish. how refreshing would that be? "i'm john, i might appear normal but i'm just looking for the next best thing and will only like you for 2 months tops." or "i'm suzy, well-adjusted on the outside, measuring you against my father on the inside." it would make more efficient dating, is all i'm saying.

but i digress.  merry christmas to you, jenna stott riggs, and also to the thousands of you that visit my blog daily for the frequent updates. and as a little treat, i leave you with this little gift o the season.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

after school special

my cousin weston is a sophomore in high school. he got himself in a spot of trouble with a senior -- a good sized senior -- on account of the senior's girlfriend. apparently she was "talking to" weston. apparently "talking to" is a new category of relationship. it's the step after just crushing and before "going together." obviously this senior could not stand for such behavior and so his people scheduled a little conflict resolution with weston's people: after school, under the bleachers. weston missed the appointment. but weston couldn't run forever. the senior caught him when weston was out playing football with some of his fellows.  turns out that senior shouldn't have been so eager for a showdown. and i can tell you this story because some enterprising observer got the whole thing with their iphone and posted it on youtube. nothing's secret people. observe my boy weston -- the one in the blue shorts.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

vote the bums out

so... you've seen the front pages, with all those downward trending arrows. all that red ink running down the front page would be our market, our economy, the future of our country. and while i've got a load of moral problems with digging out wall street after their reckless credit spree, it's clear the bail-out matters. stocks around the world rise and fall and banks fail or live to fight another day based on the word from the floor -- not the trading floor of the NYSE, mind you, but the floor of congress. and though our representative government can't pull it together to agree on a plan to salvage the wreck of our economy, they WERE able to agree on $630 billion budget bill yesterday. it was crafted in secret, voted on before anyone could read the 300 + pages and filled with at least $20 billion of pork for pet projects, and more for oil and auto industry subsidies... oh, and almost $500 billion --  a record-breaking outlay -- for the Pentagon for those twin regime-change projects in iraq and afghanistan. i get it. it's an election year and our congress people have to give back for the hefty campaign contributions they've received from big business, and defense, oil and auto give big in election years. but why aren't the little people getting together and teaching our representatives about fiscal responsibility by voting the bums right out of a job?  try balancing YOUR budget on the unemployment line, fella. 
i'm just saying. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

love is a battlefield

or worse, if you believe mai at nail magic in old town. every now and then i get my nails did. i'm not ashamed. not to stereotype, but mostly may nail groomers hail from asian lands, like mai from vietnam.

just after i picked my shade of polish ("bashful blossom" -- a delicate pink that suits my demure personality) i asked mai for a story -- to tell me how she came to be in virginia. i got a profile in courage. mai left vietnam in the late 70's -- a few years after the communists took power. she was just a young woman but she felt the oppressive rule was going to kill her. her parents consented to fund her dream to escape vietnam for the refugee camps in the philippines. they gave her their life savings and entrusted her with her little pre-pubescent sister and mai bid her parents forever farewell.

she shouldn't have survived the five day boat ride. 100 people packed so tightly on a dingy built for 20 that sitting wasn't an option. mai stood for five days -- she thought the heat and smell and bodies packed tightly was going to kill her. and then both god and man took a shot at sinking her. first a massive storm so strong it knocked people overboard and caused the boat to take on water and then a shipful of pirates rammed and boarded their sad little boat, robbing the refugees of everything and kidnapping the young girls. mai's little sister was grabbed up and then somehow left behind with mai. after the pirates, the boat was sinking for real, but just before disaster claimed the ship, a german oil rigger found and saved the pitiful, helpless lot.

if she'd know about the dangers in her path, would mai have embarked on the journey? mai says yes. her risk was worth her shot at independence. freedom = happiness. she was willing to sacrifice and even die for that freedom and she'd do it again if she had to. now that's some love of freedom... a true story of patriotism. happy independence day everybody! revel in your freedom that everyone in the world wants but YOU enjoy!

but... that's not all mai had to say. as i was leaving, she noticed i didn't have a ring -- was i single? yes, mai. yes i am. she said: "make sure you marry man who loves you more. you love him too much, too risky." excuse me? this is coming from "no risk too great" mai? advising for the safe yet infinitely less awesome path? love, she said, shouldn't factor into the marriage decision. "too much worry. what if something happens? what if he no love you? what if he leaves?"

mai. i feel you. there are terrible, devastatingly painful risks associated with really loving someone... and they are more frightening to me than a raging storm on the high seas or being sold into slavery by a philipino pirate. i've both shied from these risks out of pure fright, and also jumped right in and felt anguish when my greatest fears (what if something happens? what if he leaves?) were realized. love isn't for sissies. it requires courage but a different brand than what mai had to summon to leave behind the life she knew for the unknown. it's one thing to die for a cause, afterall, and quite another to live for it. the struggle for a good mutually loving relationship is all about have the courage to surrender some independence, some control of your feelings and destiny, right?

pat benatar was so right. love IS a battlefield. a fight mostly with yourself probably. but, dear mai, i think i want to stay in the battle and not surrender to the safe, neutral zone of no risk, no love. not yet anyway. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

spring in dc is a miracle

it's been a sensory-overloading spring. blue skies, puffy white clouds, blossom laden branches, sweet lilac blooming everywhere and oh... the azaleas. they're my favorite. i got photographic evidence of the best spring ever, but you'll have to wait until my bro-in-law passes along the pictures we took on his uber fancy camera. but for now, here's a pretty shot gary snapped. and the change of template color? it's about spring. plus i heard green is sooo hot right now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

word to my mother

dear mother nature, why do i keep missing your awesome displays of power? all my life, i've wanted to see a tornado... and i missed it by a day. i mighta delayed my trip to guantanamo if only i'd known southern virginia was going to host six twisters monday. but no. you don't work that way. you like to just drop in. in the future, a little notice would be appreciated if you're going to go against your own laws and drop a tornado in hurricane country. 

p.s.  thank you for sparing lives (200 injuries, no fatalities). 

and p.p.s. my cousin isn't too happy about his strip mall (the above picture is the remains of a strip mall my cousin, scott, developed and   

Thursday, March 27, 2008

why i do what i do

i make movies. i just hope to one day make them THIS well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

mom jeans

tonight was one of the rare evenings i actually find myself in dc ... and so a friend arranged for a little dinner. trouble was we had to go to the institute linger longer to rally with the rest of our posse. i can't say i was looking forward to this part, but i pulled on my skinny oh so trendy jeans -- to fit in with the younger crowd at the 'tute. and i left the house feeling a little self-satisfied with my awesome hair day. my dome has tended towards big and fuzzy since i grew out my hair but tonight it went curly, like i like it best. (not brushing it is the key, people).

so i'm sitting on the stage at the linger longer, chatting with my buddy ben when a mentally handicapped brother comes up to us. edmund is happy and chatty and offers up a couple of hugs, and then begins to dispense the pure unrestrained honesty that only spurts forth from the very guileless and very childlike. oh, the pain of complete and undefiled honesty! edmund tells ben he looks like he has a desk job and maybe works out once in a blue moon. when ben protested, edmund amended his observation. no -- you look like a traveling salesman, he says. i had a good laugh at that but the laughter dried up when edmund turned that tractor beam of honesty on me. me -- i look like a stay-at-home mom. i didn't want any more of edmund's feedback, but of course ben wanted to know what gave me away. edmund's tip off: my mom hairstyle and (this one leaves a mark) the jeans. my pricey "skinny" uber trendy jeans look like mom jeans! it appears my tastes are getting a little too... mature --you might even say "age appropriate" -- or i need to 1. get a new mirror and 2. donate some denim to good will because as much as i admire the strong, wonderful ladies out there loving their babies and doing their thing day in, day out, "stay-at-home mom" was NOT the look i was going for when i got ready for the evening. oh. the truth does NOT set you free.

for the record, edmund thought i was either 19 or 23. so i guess that's something.

Monday, February 18, 2008

the nation of procrasti

signs i have a writing deadline: my bathroom gleams with such cleanliness it can't be viewed with natural eyes, i decide to organize my finances for the first time in a year, and a gnawing anxiety in my intestines that causes rapid blinking and a mild case of turrets. so why, i ask myself, am i writing words here on my blog rather than adding some words to the empty word document that my boss expects tomorrow chock full of words? good question. the answer: the bathroom is already clean. ok. it's more than that...i just can't face that insufferably helpful animated paperclip that shames me with his observations that it looks i'm writing a letter, do i need his help? does it look like i need help? i'm doing just fine here on my own, living it up on the shores of procrasti-nation, the opposite pole of the seldom visited dedication nation.

please forward job openings my way? i might need 'em.

Friday, February 1, 2008


This week I bid sad farewell to two men who wouldn't appear to have anything in common.

President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away last Sunday night, in his home probably just blocks away from where I was having dinner. After receiving the sad news of his passing, my first feeling was actually happiness for Pres. Hinckley – I imagine Sunday night was a joyful time of reunion. And how sweet is death when you did the living part right? He really wasted and wore out his life in the service of God and man. This week, a feeling of loss has been sinking in – and an awareness of the impact the prophet had on the church, his community and me.

I saw a documentary about Hinckley’s life the other night. He was positive, brave, audacious, adventurous and knew how to make people feel loved and good. He opened up our community, encouraging members to step outside their circle of comfort. It’s easy to be Christian in a congregation of like-minded folks, but Hinckley wanted to us to get out of our congregations and get out in the world. He certainly did. He popped the world’s klieg lights on our faith and invited “outsiders” in – without judgment.

Hinckley fell into the work with the church (instead of his first career ambition to be a journalist) because he was bold enough to tell his church leaders when he thought something could be improved. Post-mission he went to the prophet and gave his two cents about the missionary teaching materials, and he was asked to take a job with the church and dream up other improvements. He was a man of deep faith and a man of action. My favorite quote of his: “When there’s a job to be done, get on your knees and ask the Lord’s help, then get on your feet and go to work.”

And I love his relationship with his wife. Hinckley has said that he and Majorie had never had a fight in 60 years of marriage. Majorie once quipped in response, “I wonder where he was for the last 60 years?” My bet is that Hinckley really couldn’t recall a fight – it was his nature to see things positively. I also liked one other comment Majorie gave about marriage. When asked about the secret to a happy marriage, her response: lower your expectations. They both kept it real and I’m motivated by their honesty and energetic lives of righteousness without a trace of self-righteousness.

This week another man known and loved in much smaller circles passed away. I admit I was a bit afraid of Ron Horton at our first meeting. All I knew was that he was once a hard-partying biker who frequented casinos and bars and his friends included ex-cons and a serial killer. Our first interview was at a seedy bar and Ron rolled up on his chopper, long hair flying. But I wasn’t concerned after he took of his glasses and I saw his eyes. Ron was a good man.

Yes he partied pretty hard at one point and his cast of friends was a collection of the handicapped, the foolhardy and the down on their luck. But he was the shepherd of this little flock of misfits. I went to Biker Church with him one Sunday (his biker gang would congregate at a bar in fellowship over too much alcohol). I watched him circulate through the crowd, checking in on folks, caring for a baby (that the parents brought to a bar!) chastising people for making poor decisions and encouraging better things from people.

The story I wrote about Ron described how he tracked one of his friends he suspected of being a serial killer, working hand in glove with police to bring him to justice. Some of his friends turned on him after he did this; some folks aren’t fans of law enforcement, but he did what was right rather than what was easy. And upon his friend’s capture, Ron gave the significant reward money to families of the victims. This is a guy who is raising three boys in a modest home and could certainly have used the money. I know how much of his day was spent in the care and service of others. I called him many times while writing my story and he was inevitably caring for a sick friend, buying groceries for someone down on their luck, taking in another kid or friend or animal. He didn’t look the part of a do-gooder and would’ve been out of place in our meeting house, but he did the living part right too. He wasted and wore out his life in the service of his fellow man, quietly doing what was right without a trace of self-righteousness, without looking for anything in return and without fear of judgment.

My dad once told me that the mark of a great man is how YOU feel when you leave his presence. If you feel good about yourself and inspired to be better, that’s a great person. So this is my tribute to Gordon B. Hinckley and Ron Horton – two great, inspiring men who have made the world a poorer place by taking their leave.

ps: the Ron Horton article here:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

two winners and absolutely no losers

polls closed late last night in this hotly contested race for the fattest wallace offspring -- a race marred by negative campaigning, election fraud and ballot irregularities. chocolate baby took an early lead until a wellspring of beefy voters, including unregistered international voters from brazil -- GARY -- put their ginormous candidate in the jumbo-sized spotlight big enough to accommodate his large hindquarters and thighs. candidates traded soft dimple-fisted jabs. chocolate baby thundered that beefy's jaba the hut-like tongue was winning intimidation votes, beefy's camp countered with a comparison of chocolate baby's cake-soaked pony tails to devil's horns while reminding voters that his fluffiness was accumulated in just 3 short months of life on breast milk while it took chocolate baby a full year AND solid foods to gain those jowls. when chads were found both in the fleshy folds of will's floatation-device arms and partially digested in eliza's chocolatey diaper, election officials demanded a recount... that just made the results more confusing. follow this math: 68 votes, 36 per candidate, giving both candidates 52 percent of the vote. that's right. both fatties have more than half of the popular vote. in a race that flies in the face of simple math, the people have spoken: both babies are the winner.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

quien es mas gordo?

we all know there's nothing so cute as a fat baby. may i present two of the fattest babies i know: my niece, eliza bell wallace (the chocolate-covered baby suffering from dunlap's disease, as in her gut "done lapped" her diaper waistband) and right below her you'll find my nephew, will, whose man breasts are literally pouring through my sister's fingers. obviously we wallaces have a healthy respect for food, even early on. don't you just want to bite their cute little segmented bodies?

Monday, January 7, 2008

a wee bit o social commentary

I don’t find much occasion to frequent the suburban shopping carnival that is Costco… seeing that I’m normally a good thousand miles from my address and I’m shopping for one, I both don’t need that 250 ounce jar of peanut butter, I wouldn’t know where to put it.

I know Costco has groceries from my annual duck beach shop-a-thon. (And I have to stop here and give pause for the PMS-addled Costco run of a few years back with Jamie. Almost as people friendly as the Halloween we dressed up like mimes so we wouldn’t have to talk to anybody.) But who knew that Costco had books? Clothing? Furniture? Electronics?! Free samples of food!! I went this weekend with my sister seeking a late Christmas present for a niece, a gallon of milk and an Ipod. Pish posh, I thought. Not in one stop, I was so wrong. There is a whole convenient world of shopping in that concrete warehouse of cheap and various goods. I found myself exclaiming: I love America! No where, in all my travels have I seen something so conveniently miraculous (and thrifty!) as this indoor shopping bizarre.

And then I noticed something. I noticed China. It was freaking everywhere. EVERYTHING WAS MADE IN CHINA. Toys, clothes, furniture and for dang sure the electronics and the plasma tvs. I just wanted to find ONE made in the USA label. I was a searcher – up one aisle, down the other. Past the miles of linens and fields of kitchen appliances, the legions of games and yard ornaments, on to the tubs of jeans and jackets, around the corner to the prairie land of furnishings. I found a few Canada labels and a handful of Made in México’s but not one American flag staking claim of workmanship. I’m no John Bircher but can I get a witness on this? This ain’t good. We want industry and manufacturing jobs with benefits but we don’t want to pay anymore than a buck fifty for a bedroom suite. Costco is the microcosm – or the microCostcoism – of all that is wrong with America and our economy. That’s what I’m going to call it and see if that’s a word we Americans can rally around. End microCostcoism today, I say! Catchy? Anyone? Is this mic on?

And ps – I finally broke free of the gravitational pull that is Yorktown last night. Yes. That’s a two-week (unpaid) Christmas vacation for me. And I’m not saying leaving is a good thing. I hate hate hate to leave my family. I’m so lucky that my family rocks and they also just happen to be my BFFs. I’m feeling the bagpipes tonight. Love you guys.