Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thank You for Flying Me

I'm not a business flyer. I associate airports with holidays, school breaks, and naps. I don't have long legs, children, or a large carryon. I've flown internationally one time and one time only, I fly from the Salt Lake to the St. Louis airport almost exclusively, and I rank a tight.comfortable on the scale of relative poverty. Because of these combined, I almost always fly Southwest. And my trips are almost always the same:

After treating myself to airport sushi, I make my way back to whatever distant wing of the airport where they keep bovine, spare parts, and the Southwest gates. It's like home. Just not the kind of home you show new friends. (There's a reason Southwest tickets cost $12.75 and let you check whatever oversized garbage you and a dolly can carry out of the house.)

But even still, I always try to look nice for a SW flight. Because I want them to know I appreciate them. And also because your chances of flying with a high school junior varsity lacrosse team are very good. And what the best friend of the skies lacks in TVs and seat belts, it makes up for with jokes and fun carpet. And if I were 30% more inclined to carry cash, and 70% less involved with JV lacrosse at the moment, I might actually go tip each and every flight attendant on board.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I like to go to dollar stores every now and then just to check out what's in there. I don't like the thought of dropping 11 dollars on olive oil when there could be a Dollar Tree somewhere distributing the same bottle, and I grossly overpay just because I didn't know or didn't remember. I like to know what's what. So a periodic revisit is the only way I can stay on top of the value of the American dollar. It's kind of like how my basis of U.S. capital knowledge relies so heavily on how frequently my friends and I quiz each other about them. Which usually relies solely on how frequently we take long hikes with nothing to talk about. Which is why hikers always win final Jeopardy. Always. And why I can never remember the capital of North Dakota in February.

So yesterday I'm taking inventory at Dollar Tree: great kitchen supplies, sub-par wrapping paper, mystery paper-grab bags that still call to me like the sirens of Titan, etc., and I don't see anything I need more than I want to wait in a line with no conveyor belt, so I leave and go to a real store.

At the real store, I fall right into the dollar-goggle trap and can't shed the idea that everything for sale is a dollar. Product quality goes up; price mentality remains at Washington. Wait a second. The only thing that saved me from buying everything in sight was being so stoked to have solved the economic crisis in a mere Monday evening. I checked my Supermarket Sweep mentality and came up with this equation: more dollar-store exposure = more real-store purchases = better economy. Dollar stores on every street corner! I call it the Dollar Tree stimulus package. I'm working on the name.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I frequent the Chicago Manual of Style fairly often at work.

Today, under section 5.191 (you know the one), I came across this quote that they actually were hilarious enough to include in their official, peer-reviewed guidance on "Beginning a Sentence with a Conjunction." It comes from Charles Allen Lloyd, “Next to the groundless notion that it is incorrect to end an English sentence with a preposition, perhaps the most wide-spread of the many false beliefs about the use of our language is the equally groundless notion that it is incorrect to begin one with ‘but’ or ‘and.’ As in the case of the superstition about the prepositional ending, no textbook supports it, but apparently about half of our teachers of English go out of their way to handicap their pupils by inculcating it. One cannot help wondering whether those who teach such a monstrous doctrine ever read any English themselves.”

Well ok then.

I just love the keywords, “groundless notion,” “handicap,” and “monstrous” because Charles is berating me and not only do I deserve it, but I want his approval now more than ever. Take notes teacher roommates. The abuse cycle is the only way to educate.


Yesterday, sometime between 9 a.m., and 4 p.m. (or as I see it: Sometime between oatmeal o’clcok and pre-dinner grapefruit o’clock), our house was broken into. Viotlated. Robbed. Smashed. Wrecked. BLED ON. Panty raided.

My roommates’ laptop, laptop, and camera were stolen, and my laptop and tv had been taken. My underwear was strewn all across my floor, and at first I was flattered. But then after some heavy detective reasoning, and after finding an ugly earring on my floor, I deduced that the little pilferer in my room had been a tiny female. And then I just felt judged.

But then I felt flattered again when I heard Kristine describe my untouched and unscathed bike as being worth $2,000. I didn’t correct her. It is a beautiful bike.

My only fear from this experience is that I have become so critical of our thieves for being so sloppy (an earring?? Blood on my bed?? Come on, O.J.!) that I’ve given far too much thought on how to do it right. And no good can come of that.

But just for the record, I’d at least have a trademark. And that trademark would be stealing all the pencils in the house. And all those pencils would be kept in an unlocked safe in my house to confuse future burglars. And none of this would be disclosed on a public blog.

Touched by an Angel

To say I'm a poor driver is an understatement. To suggest my license poses a threat to humanity is a little more like it.

It's been about four months since my last fender-bender, so this quarter's run-in was due and came this morning around 9:00 a.m. I told my brother Gentzy about the wreck as soon as I got in to work. Without missing a beat he said, "Consistency is good. Predictability is comforting."

After slamming into the back of the Honda on State Street (100 percent my fault), three things shot out of my purse:

1. Lip gloss
2. Mascara
3. My cell phone

Great. Now I'm 16. I didn't even know that stuff was in there. (Lie.)

After hiding my teen-bop contraband, I cautiously got out of the car, waiting for the verbal spanking of a lifetime. I saw the driver turn around in his seat and check on a little person in the back.

Great. Now I'm a baby-killer.

The man got out of his car, waring a jean shirt, classic Levi's, hair down to his waist and a giant, "don't worry be happy" smile. This angel, brought to me on a cloud of denim and patchouli, not only assured me several times that no harm had been done, but patiently waited for me to find my policy number while his gorgeous, biracial (great. Now I'm racist) three-year-old bounced in and out of the car, no car seat to be seen.

We exchanged information, and as I drove away, I saw him raise an arm out of the corner of my eye.

Great. The middle finger.

Nope. A giant, nice-to-meet you wave. And then he floated away. Back to God.

As for his policy number? Well Gentzy and I have our suspicions of it actually being the date of the Apocalypse,slipped to me as a warning. But you'll have to wait for 2012: The Squeakual to find out for sure.

Not Since Roe v. Wade

My roommates and I moved into a new house.

We love it.

There's only about two things gross about the house: a smashed/dead fly stuck to our blinds in the kitchen, and a used Tasmanian devil band-aid on the basement stairs. The band-aid was left when the bona fide pervert who delivered our washer and dryer tumbled down the stairs with the dryer crushing him from behind. He only left us with three things: an overall sense of insecurity, a beautiful mental image he illustrated me of how he and I would die together once we were married, and that band-aid.

Anyway, there's a pretty steep wager about which will last longer: the fly or the taz. band-aid, and to be honest my money has got to be on the band-aid because that might have been the closest thing to an engagement ring I'll ever get and to believe it is going to be swept away in a matter of months, well that's just both unromantic and pessimistic, and I am anything but either.

S is for Chick*

Today I went to the DMV to secure my spot among the mighty fine league of Utah drivers. When I first moved here I thought my Idaho plates gave me an excuse for being such a poor driver. Then I realized it gave Utah an excuse to resent me even more. Plus it was bad PR for Idaho. And I felt bad about that. I encountered my first problem with the bearded woman at the desk after asking for new plates.

Do you have a title?
-What's that.
Ok... do you have registration?
-Is this it?
That's an advertisment
-Is this it?
That's a police warning... Do you have a full name?
-Margaret Augusta Franz entry... Would you like Centennial or Life Elevated plates?
-Life elevated please! Never skied a day in my life.

I think it was the Augusta that got her in the end. Here's to hoping that Utah fellowship brings me better luck and more love on the road.

* Title of the blog comes from my friend Chris Jones who said this the first time he saw my Toyota S.

I'll Have a Blue Collar Christmas

Yesterday morning at work, my boss asked if I would take the day to deliver the rest of our firm's Christmas gifts to clients around the area. I thought I'd tell him I'd first have to tie up some loose ends, finish some work and make a couple of calls. But instead I did an internal double fist pump and skipped out the door.

I pictured the rest of the day waltzing in and out of Salt Lake's finest lobbies, being greeted by sweet receptionists I only dream of resembling, while they shower me with chocolate, gratitude and compliments on my yellow coat. What I neglected to realize, however, was that most of our "clients" are inventors, and most of their "offices" are factories. The receptionists weren't exactly "sweet" and I think my yellow coat hurt their eyes. They typically ranged from warehouse wives dressed entirely in gray sweats to teen-aged daughters (or more wives) of foremen. My gifts didn't phase them. But I still tried.

"I brought you a gift!"
--blank stare
"It's for Christmas!"
--blank stare
"Christmas is a holiday season celebrating happiness"
--blank stare
"Happiness is.... Ok, well I'll go move my car so your trucks can get in."
"Thank you."

There it is.

It went on like this for the most part of the day. I got pretty good at handling their indifference, and by the end of the day I began to love my industrial sisters throughout the valley. No chocolate, no receptionist voice, strictly business. It makes sense for them really. If you take time to smile, someone could lose an arm! This sentiment carried me all the way down the road, through a red light and into the heart of Layton City's police chief as he asked me if I was from around there. "No of course not, I went to college, see my vibrantly-colored coat? But I love these people." As Officer Terry left my car with a company christmas gift, and I left Layton City with a verbal warning, I thought I might even have seen a twinkle in his eye, but then again, it was happy hour in Layton City, so I guess I'll never know for sure.

I Like Your "Socks"

I'm sort of having a love affair with each day of the week for totally different reasons, and no, I don't think they know about each other. But more on that later.

Wednesdays particularly weaken my knees because instead of going for a run on my lunch break, I go to the oasis of groceries: Smith's Marketplace. I love it here at this time of day because there are two groups of shoppers and two groups only: those who are on their lunch break, and those who are on their life-at-the-retirement-home break. Or as I like to call them: cadavers on Rascals.

The dynamic causes a ferocious climate around the store due to agendas. Group A would like to get out as soon as possible to move on with life, and group B (for obvious reasons) would not. And can not.

I'm indifferent because my main objective at Smith's is just to eat as many grapes as I can before they are weighed and paid for at the counter. But I feel as though I will be forced to choose sooner or later, and I'm afraid I'll have to turn my back on my fellow lunch-breakers. Because the last thing a lunch-breaker said to me was, "excuse me" so she could better be heard when barking, "hurry up, Buddy!" to Cute Corpse counting his dollar bills at check-out; and the last thing one of the cadavers said to me was, "I like your socks!" And I love it when old people refer to things like tights as things like socks. It's just endearing.

Sorry lunch-breakers. I respect you for your efficiency, but I'll probably be hanging in the incontinence section deliberating patterned tights and the ethics of eating candy out of the bulk bins for the next hour.

Dear John(ny)

I was four years old when my parents told me they were expecting their next and last baby. I remember being so repulsed by the whole idea that I swore off completely all the making out I had been doing with my three-year-old neighbor, Michael. Lest I find myself wrapped up in the same kind of "trouble."*

It wasn't a good start for Johnny. Before he was even born he had already robbed me of both my befitting role as youngest, and my premature sex life. Thus the resentment roller coaster was born. On October 12, 1990 (1991?).

Resentment waned and morphed into amusement when he picked up the endearing habit of putting socks into his pants as a tail and growling at strangers in the grocery store. In third grade I wrote a poem about it and entered it into the young author's competition. When I lost, it was time for my muse to become the object of my resentment again. (Had I kept my rightful role of youngest, we'd know that blaming others for my personal rejection is just an unavoidable character flaw obtained from my birth order.)

Resentment probably flared back up again at 15 when he started dating a girl named Maggie born on June 16 (hey that's me!), but then burned back off again when he managed to be the only teenager in this decade to get arrested for stealing music by taking a CD from Best Buy in the greatest age of online music piracy. Since, my winning approval has been sealed by similarly cute little stunts I just can't help but h-e-a-r-t.

It's been a significant stretch since I've last resented the little compact disc, birth order bandit, and perhaps I'm adult enough to say Johnny, two thumbs up. Welcome to adulthood. If you weren't already there. Again, I'm not sure.

*I think finding out you're pregnant at four and 40 are probably equally as horrifying... And insulting to nature.

It's Cool

It's cool when someone holds the door open for you on the elevator.

It's even cooler when someone asks for your floor, and then pushes the button for you.

It's the coolest when someone remembers your floor from sharing the elvator maybe once or twice with you and pushes the button accordingly. 'Five, right?' Magic.

Floor Two Lady, you are the coolest. I don't even care that you don't take the stairs like you probably should.

For a Limited Time Only

Today at lunch I saw a homeless gal exhibiting a sign that read:

"Need help, this month ONLY"

Maybe it was the endorphins from my run, or maybe my fatal fondness for both homeless culture and Billly Mays, but whatever the case I found this extremely irrisistable.

I didn't have any cash on me and had Kryptonite not been playing*, I would have found it difficult not to unstrap my ipod and throw it to her; not because I believe she would/could reform herself, but because I love a limited time offer, because I have a weak spot for the homeless and homeless-inspired fashion, and because yeah, September can be kind of hard!

Homeless gal, A+ in advertising. Looking good in those Addidas pants, too.

*Three Doors Down, I hate myself so much for loving you and your appropriately titled hit, but you truly are the inhaler to my asthmatic runs.

I Want That Flow

There have been times in my life when I have wished I were more... exotic.

In third grade, Nina: hip, bossy, glorious and black, just had a way with people that I don't think I will ever be able to harness. She would often come up to one of the girls, sass coming out of her ears, and ask, "You got a boyfriend?" If the answer was yes* she would continue, "Well drop the zero and get with the hero." I never knew what that meant. I don't think Nina ever knew what that meant. But if I'd had a boyfriend, he'd be gone yesterday.

This morning the same yearning came listening to Obama tell the NAACP that underprivileged teens may face more challenges than the wealthy population, but it was no reason to "get bad grades! Cut class! [or] Drop out of school!" I was all of the sudden transported to a dilapidated porch swing, fanning myself from the heat of life, struggling to get by, abandoning my dreams of becoming a rapper/baller to pursue America's dream for me of becoming a teacher, and loving me for it.

I decided that whether it be Nina Making single ladies out of us all, or Obama making me a scientist/doctor/teacher, I want in. Most of the time. Or at the very least I want Nina's approval of my boyfriend, and Obama to tell me I've got flow.

*Amendment to previous wish: There have been times in my life when I have wished I were more... exotic and had a boyfriend.

I Always Knew I Liked You

‘If you tell a funny story at the dinner table in front of 10 people, nine will laugh, and one will say: that’s not true. I’ve always hated that person’

--David Sedaris

I Hate Myself for Loving You

I may judge a man for the things he likes, but I will certainly loathe myself for the things I love.

For instance, I sort of hate myself for how much I love Titanic. I also hate myself for not loving Flight of the Conchords. It's probably so I can beat everyone else to the punch.

But most of all, I hate myself for loving, so much, the ironic, hilarious statement T's. Tonight I went to the laundromat and saw a large man, daughter in tow, with a shirt on that said "STOP SNITCH'N!" across a stop sign, and I had to laugh because, you are yelling at me and we've never met.

But this isn't the first time I've appreciated and adored these shirts. And I hate that.

I hate that you are a grown man wearing a shirt that says, "Sister for sale..." and that I love it.

I hate that I wonder how many times a week you wear that "Warn a Brother" shirt because I know it's more than one and I hope it's more than five.

I hate that I want to know what you were thinking when you bought your shirt. If you laughed, or if (and I hope) you looked at it and thought, 'yeah... people do need to stop snitch'n, and I need to let them know that... one to five times a week.'

But most of all I hate that I don't hate it, not a little bit, not even at all.

My Stimulus Package

My parents did a pretty good job of convincing us when we were kids that we didn't have money for luxuries, so don't ask. It was a pretty good strategy, except when the lack of money never showed fruition and thus, 'poverty' is left to be deduced and determined by the child according to what the family doesn't have, and when your aunt owns a health food store, that's most things in the kitchen that the rest of the world has no trouble affording/consuming. Thus a list of 'luxuries' was conceptualized in my head: (Most of this list came from the comparison of my house, to my one childhood-stock friend Carmen's house, whose mother was single and working but bought kid food, so must have been rich.)

-White bread- rich people food
-PAM- rich people convenience (this led to what I like to refer to as the PAM upset of '04 in college when I started buying groceries myself for the first time and saw PAM for a dollar something and bought four of them because I figured they were on sale for what could only be at least 95% off.
-Automatic transmissions- rich people transportation
Hamburger Helper- Rich people don't have time to cook... and Carmen's mom loved HH...

And then I began thinking... I, or my parents, have had the answer to the "recession" (which I still think a ploy set by the national HR union) this whole time!

It's not about giving new home owners a healthy tax break, and it's not about paying teachers more... sorry all my roommates... it's about tricking the nation into thinking things like Ford Focuses and Crystal Light are the finer things in life. When they get to the checkout and see the cheap price, we just have to tell them it's 95% off. Aren't you a lucky shopper!


I think winkers are sexy, confident, and collected. And being winked at is just about as good as getting proposed to... and almost as intimate. (I've never experienced this first had but I frequent Temple Square in Salt Lake City on my lunch break and thus have become very familiar with the process.) Oh... you're winking at me? You chose me out of this room full of humans to make such a personal connection with and to share a secret and a joke? I DO.

So as an ultimate goal to up my sex appeal I've been trying to transform myself into a winker lately. The cool thing I've learned about being a winker is that they are no respecter of persons. You can practice anywhere on anything... which can't be said about most intimate interactions. So I took this gig to work.

Except it was here that I learned trying to transform into a winker overnight is like trying to transform yourself into a habitual swearer overnight. You just end up mixing your words around and looking like an idiot. Son of a damn! Or you do this:

My married, sweet co-worker mentioned that he was overly warm in our office, and asked if I shared his discomfort. I didn't and told him... but then I felt bad for making him feel like the overweight "always warmer than the average worker" guy, so I tried to compensate by telling him that maybe it was because he was wearing pants, and I was wearing a skirt.

"Ya know, good ventilation."

I guess some part of me thought this was a good time to practice my wink (which by the way was still really slow and mechanical), when really what I should have been considering were the implications of my up-my-skirt reference alone was grounds for at least some form of sexual harassment fines. The wink could do nothing but lead to either some kind of soft lay-off or a restraining order.

So it may actually be the winking that is a result of the sexy, calm, and collectedness, instead of the other way around. But maybe now I can start winning friends and influencing people with my new habitual swearing I'm thinking about picking up.

Put the chocolate down, and no one gets hurt!

My biggest fear when I took my job as a receptionist... okay legal assistant... ok I'm a lawyer... was that I would turn into one of those awful front-desk ladies with two divorces and a chocolate fetish... and just in case the boss needed help with gift ideas for secretary's day... she reminds him with clever stickers bordering the form letters calendar at the office:

"If it ain't chocolate, it ain't breakfast!"
"Chocolate: Here today... gone today"
Or, my favorite,
"Forget love! I'd rather fall in chocolate!" Well guess what. That's exactly what's going to happen. Because of that sticker.

Well I ran into an interesting situation last week. We had a large basket full of chocolate poker chips as a part of a promotional for the firm. The chocolate was about as tempting to me as chili in July but other people didn't seem to mind and the goodies went fast. Although to break the ice when co-workers come up for more chocolate, they'll inevitably make a chocolate joke about the diminishing pile... to which I always find myself playing along, "I know, it's like they're calling to me!" "... oh is it choc. o'clock again already?" "I'll be with you in a second... I just have to take this chocolate." They love it.

So in a couple of days I had inadvertently become the self-proclaimed choco-crazed receptionist I hate, short of only a few stickers and probably a couple of bra sizes. But I still hadn't eaten any chocolate. I realized then that I've been resenting the wrong person this whole time. It's not the crazy lady in the office who loves chocolate... she doesn't even like chocolate; it's the crazy people in the office who love a chocolate joke. It probably started with a basket of candy after a trade show, and ended with a new sticker for the 'receptionist' at every holiday because "she loves chocolate," and I'm sure that all began with a poor receptionist at some sticker making factory whose boss thinks she, and every other society-created, chocoholic receptionist nation-wide only need an hourly wage and some cocoa reinforcement to keep her a happy and productive worker... or better yet... human being.


The law firm I work for has been out of town at a business expo/trade show for the last few days. While there, I realized something horrifying about myself. On a horror scale it was a little more horrifying than when I found out (about a couple of months ago) that college degrees don't automatically qualify every American for an income of at least $40,000 a year; and a little less horrifying than the time I came home on break and realized that my brother's and my tooth brushes were the same color. The horror that has come to my attention is that I have not progressed in maturity or personality since pre-pubescence trick-or-treating and here's why.

The similarities between trick-or-treating and trade show swag grabbing are unparalleled. It starts with the child (me) visiting the home (booth next door), with the one sole purpose of scoring free anything.

"what do you do?"
"I'm a receptionist"
"Oh great, hey we have really good credit programs for low-income households"
"Thanks, can I have a tiny Snickers?"
"Sure, here's my card"

But as we know getting free things like Snickers doesn't satisfy that bug inside of all of us to get free stuff, it just wakes it up. So I move on, and get a little more swag savy the longer I'm there.

"Who are you with?"
"I'm a legal assistant with an IP firm, these stress relievers are free right? Thanks, see you around."

Business card: averted. Eye contact: avoided.

The next thing I know I'm an "IP Attorney" hula hooping my self-respect away in a contest in the middle of an aisle with professional businessmen trying to make their way around my over-zealous swivels. All for a tacky wind chime branded with "Corporate Alliance: Because Business is about Relationships."

So, just when I think I have grown up and reached adulthood, life takes me to a business expo to show me that I'm no better than an awkward stage nine-year-old on Halloween. Except I tell more lies.

Not a Walker, Not Yet a Shirtless Jogger

Living near a park, I have come to find that there are two types of female runners in the world. Those who wear clothing when they run, and those who wear their sports bras. I won't ever be one of the just-bra girls, but who knows, maybe they are the ones confident enough to tell bosses to give them raises or men to marry them. Maybe I'm missing out. But I think I'll take my chances.

The other day I saw a girl running in a sports bra, but she didn't have a great body. It wasn't terrible, but it was pale and nonathletic, and my first response when I saw her was concern! It took me a while to figure out she was running for recreation, and then I realized something else about these shirtless joggers: there is a flawless math equation for determining the attractiveness of a woman by using the amount of time it takes an onlooker to realize that the girl is running by choice, and not out of danger.

It goes something a little like this: seconds it takes for recognition to set in + number of running indicator accessories (i.e. iPod, running shoes, numbered marathon tag, etc.) = attractiveness of lady.

So this pale girl I saw yesterday probably took me about 2 seconds to realize she wasn't in danger. She had on running shoes and an iPod, so she was probably a 4 on this average-girl scale of averageness. The scale starts somewhere at a 1, which isn't terrible but ends somewhere around 10, which does of course get a reaction somewhat close to "Someone call the police! This girl has just been raped, has barely escaped with her bra, and is running for her life!" And it's this response that has kept me from ever picking up this drafty habit. Until then, I'll keep envying zeros, offering rides to fives and up and in the mean time jog with my shirt on.

When Old Satan Calls: A Tribute

Old Man Winter was right about two things: His clock was broken and his days were numbered.

He died Thursday, December 18, 2008. I went to see him in the nursing home he had checked himself into a couple of days before. Luckily he only had to stay there for about a week because the place stank of menthol and Alzheimer’s. Old Man Winter is better than that. It was different from the stench of his house: sugarcoated bastard with a hint of lemon. I think the lemon because of his dusting solution, and the bastard because of his attitude.

I talked with him for a while and the last thing he ever said to me was: “Dear, I never said any one bad thing to you. Just remember that when ol’ Satan calls” I think it might have been a threat. Actually, this is a lie, the last thing he said to me was, “see if that old lady is still in my living room. She’s been in there all damn day,” but it was the last coherent thing he said to me.

On the day of the funeral I had the flu but I went anyway, infecting all his old, old friends I’m sure in all my Anna Nicole Smith glory. It wasn’t weird seeing him in his coffin. I had seen him look deader in his chair at home. The weirdest part was seeing his estranged brother at the funeral walking around. It was old man winter. I realized it wasn’t Old Man first because the man was smiling, second because I remembered OMW was dead. His brother asked me if I was the girl Old Man had fallen in love with and I couldn’t help feeling one part sad, one part creeped out, but a larger part like one glamorous, not to mention successful, gold-digger.

The service was boring and missing a few key family members (like his only grandsons), but otherwise alright. If my body was capable of shedding tears, I might have even spent one on the day.

As I was leaving the building and before my mom asked if we should put my contact information in the guest book (for purpose of the will), I could have sworn I heard an old, crusty whisper tell me I have hands like a freak-midget for such a husky girl. But it must have just been the wind because like he said: Old Man Winter never did say one bad thing to me.

May he rest in peace, and may the clock shop not spend too much time fixing his clock.

Finding Jesus during Christmas

Yesterday my mom made me make a delivery to my grandma next door. My grandma wanted a nativity set for underneath their tree and my mom had an extra so I took it over. We set up the scene and saw that my mom had given my grandma everything but Jesus, Mary and Joseph. My mom couldn't find them but told me to tell my grandma it was fine.

It wasn't fine.

Of course I was immediately commissioned by my 74-pound grandma to find a baby Jesus and find him fast the next day. I walked past one, two, three complete nativity sets in our living room alone when I got back home. "She's not getting any of my baby Jesuses! Those are special to me!" --nothing like my mom's Christ hoarding to bring in the holiday cheer.

I went to department stores, thrift stores, and discount stores. I found Jesus in a snow globe. I found him in an ornament. I even found Jesus, Mary, and Joseph rotating in a clear, plastic bubble, but I couldn't find baby Jesus in his manger, with perhaps his mother and father by his side. There was no finding a full nativity this close to Christmas.

Where did I finally find Jesus? Where most people usually lose him: couched in the greedy arms of low-discount, conspicuously consumptive, super Wal-Mart. Yes there was just one baby Jesus, one Mary and one Joesph.** A beautiful, black family just waiting for me to take them home. I bought the set and smiled a little longer at every White Anglo-Saxon Protestant for making this last-minute purchase possible.

**Shepherd with staff ripped out of his porcelain hand.