I Celebrated a Birthday, But Failed to Save a Life.

Have you ever taken a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation class? I took one for a babysitting badge when I was in Girl Scouts. I remember the plastic dummy and going through the routine while hoping to God I’d never have to use it. Flash forward a few decades.

On March 9th, I flew back to Wisconsin for my mom’s eighty-seventh birthday. My brother, Joe McCartan, ordered a cake and I picked up flowers. Mom was so surprised! Over dinner that night, she told us she planned to live a long time. For her one-hundredth birthday, she wants a stylist to dye a blue streak in her hair. I love her attitude.

My brother is the king of joking around. I couldn’t get a picture of him when he wasn’t mugging for the camera.  When I left Colorado it was seventy degrees. Check out the temperature on my brother’s iPad.

Two days later, Joe drove to the butcher to buy steaks to grill and went to a chiropractic appointment. In February, he slid on black ice and crashed his car into a telephone pole. It exacerbated an already sore back.

Later, the three of us watched the UW Badgers cream Northwestern by thirty points. Being a yawnfest, Joe texted on his phone. He’s a highly sought after, free-lance, on-location sound technician for major networks, television, movies and corporations. Very excited, he read the thread out loud. It regarded a commercial he had been hired to record. The company wanted to shoot tight shots of musicians playing the oboe, violin and cello. He had texted the high school music teacher, who had all kinds of ideas.

“The kids will love being in a commercial.” Joe was stoked.

“Sounds like you contacted the right person,” I said and yawned. “I think I’ll take a quick nap.” I walked upstairs to my room.

When I returned downstairs, Mom played Words with Friends in the kitchen while the steaks thawed in a pan. I had planned to walk the dog, but Joe had already left with Charlie. I opened my laptop and wrote my last post about daylight savings time. After dinner I thought it would be fun to play a game and take some group selfies.

Always pretty high energy, Joe burst through the door led by their Collie.

“I just missed you,” I said, looking up from my computer.

“Yep,” was all he said. Then he ran up the back stairs to his apartment behind my mom’s Victorian. I heard his footsteps overhead and then settled in to proof my stupid post.

He moved in a year before my dad passed away and has been taking care of Mom. He’s been a godsend, taking her to appointments, shopping and the little things, like setting the table for meals. He brings her tea and puts her eyedrops in before bed. My mom is super sharp, but has glaucoma and hasn’t been able to drive for years.

When Joe didn’t come downstairs, Mom said, “What’s taking him so long? We need to get the steaks on the grill.”

I shrugged and more time passed.

“Go check on Joe,” she said. “I don’t want to eat at 8:00.”

“Give him a few more minutes,” I said, knowing he liked his privacy.

A few more minutes passed and I ran upstairs.

I opened his door and peeked inside. “Hey, Joe!” I shouted. You have to walk through a kitchen to get to the large open, living and dining space.

“Joe! Time to make dinner,” I shouted through the doorway.

No response.

I stepped inside and saw him chilling in front of the computer. His arms relaxed on the armrests, his head was cocked backward and his mouth hung open.

“No wonder you didn’t hear me. You’re sound asleep.”

Still no response.

Something was wrong. “Joe! JOE!” I raced up to him and patted his pale cheeks.

No response.

“Oh, my God!” I felt for a pulse in his neck, but couldn’t find one. His lips were white. He wasn’t breathing. I screamed to my mom. She called 911, hysterical when the operator didn’t understand what was going on. I used my fingertips on his wrist and heard quick taps racing across the surface. Were they mine? 

Just like I’d been taught all those years ago, I started mouth-to-mouth and alternated with the CPR technique I’d learned on the Internet. One, two, three, four, staying alive, staying alive… I’m sure only minutes passed, but it seemed like an hour before the first responders arrived. They tried everything, but couldn’t get a pulse. Hope slipped away.

The paramedics came and hooked up a CPR machine and breathing tube. I went downstairs to check on my mom. Her friends, Kathy and Roger Roth, consoled her on the couch. Time passed. I ran back upstairs. “Did you get a pulse?”

“No, nothing,” one of the paramedics replied. I felt so guilty. I didn’t do it right. I could have saved him, but I failed! I couldn’t stop sobbing.

After answering tons of questions about his health, I went back downstairs. By that time, the funeral director, Bill Hurtley, and the priest from across the street, Fr. Dooley, had arrived. I got to know and love both of them when they took care of my dad’s funeral. Bill brought my mom back from her catatonic state with his dry humor.

Anxiety filled my empty stomach with broken glass. I turned to Bill for support. “I wrote a stupid blog post and didn’t come upstairs in time. I screwed up. I could’ve saved him.” Tears streamed down my cheeks.

He looked me in the eyes and said, “You found him relaxed in his chair, right?”

I nodded.

“There was nothing you could do. He threw a clot,” Bill said.

“What?”

“A blood clot. Believe me, I see a lot of dead people,” he said. “It’s what I do. Heart attacks are pretty uncomfortable. The victim has time to react, so we usually find them on the floor. Throwing a blood clot is painless. It happens to runners all the time. They go for a run and as soon as they sit in a chair, they die.”

“Why am I here if I couldn’t save him?” I asked.

“For your mother,” he said. “If she would have discovered him, it would’ve been a shock she would never have recovered from.” He took a moment and added, “Don’t blame yourself. Even if someone throws a clot in the hospital, no one can save them.”

An autopsy would have cost five to six thousand dollars. Bill insisted it would be a waste of money. Pulmonary embolism. It’s what people get from sitting too long on planes. Who knows where Joe got his clot. Surgery two years ago? The accident? Bumping into something and not telling anyone about it? We’ll never know. He wasn’t on blood thinners. I’m taking a baby aspirin now.

Alive and vibrant one minute and then gone the next. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

My little brother, who towered more than a foot over me, who did lotus position yoga with me when he was little for giggles, who I took to all kinds of concerts and events when I was in high school and college since I feared our almost ten year age difference would cause us to drift apart. My little brother who I loved dearly is dead at forty-nine years old. I was only a few steps away. How can that be?

He was a saxophone player in a band and was a local celebrity. He worked with people all across the United States. His Facebook and funeral home page are filled with heartfelt shock and condolences. We planned his funeral for March 25th at St. Paul’s Church across the street from their home in Evansville.

Being the writer in the family, I had to write his obituary. It was tough enough when I wrote my dad’s and felt tremendous pressure to do Joe’s life justice. His friend and co-worker, videographer Eric Janisch helped fill in the work details. You can read Joe’s obit here.

Two things I discovered on my own might help others.

  • I couldn’t get the image of him sitting in the chair out of my head. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw him. I must not have blinked the whole time I ran toward him. I stayed up all night. It was the same the next day as neighbors and relatives arrived. My husband, Danny, flew out that afternoon. As I drove toward the Dane County Airport I noticed some perfectly formed trees silhouetted in the snow. I picked one and stared at it as I drove toward it. I closed my eyes and saw the tree. It totally worked. That horrific last image of Joe disappeared, at least from my retinas.
  • Exhausted, I didn’t dare take a nap. Experiencing the shock all over again upon waking is the worst. In the past it has taken weeks for my brain to wrap itself around death. I wondered if saying it out loud to myself would speed up the process. I gave it a try. “Joe is dead. He died and you couldn’t save him. He’s not coming back.” I repeated it again before I picked up Danny and then twice before falling asleep. It worked.

Danny and I have lost half our families in two years; his bother and mom, my dad, then his mom’s boyfriend of fifteen years and now, my brother. It’s devastating to lose the people we love.

What about that quick tapping in Joe’s wrist? I hadn’t told anyone. Even though others shared the cause of death idea, I still wondered if it was instant as the funeral director and doctor claimed.

Days later, I remembered. “Make sure to lay your fingers across the wrist or you’ll feel your own pulse,” the instructor had told the Girl Scouts. I held my husband, Danny’s wrist in a different way. A strong slow pulse throbbed beneath his bones. No quick tapping on the surface. It had been mine I felt, not Joe’s.

There was nothing I could do. He had already passed.

How am I? Better. I’m grateful for the time we had together. Looking back, the timing of my visit seems serendipitous. I’ll embrace my grief and will remember him always.

Joe McCartan

Spring is emerging after a long winter dormancy. I see everything more intensely now and understand life’s fragility. Everyone will die. Life is impermanent. The trick is to live each day with appreciation and wonder.

In memory of my brother, I will start a nightly journal. I’ll list three positive things that happened during the day. He would’ve liked that.

What about my mom?

Many of her friends have offered to help. At this point, she won’t consider moving to Colorado with my brother and dad inurned in Madison. We’ll do whatever it takes to celebrate her one-hundredth birthday. I want to see her rock that blue streak.

My Crazy Mind and Eating Without Inhaling

My Crazy Mind and Eating Without Inhaling.What if there was a way to slow down and enjoy what we eat? I would love that. Sometimes, when I’m hungry, I inhale my food. I look at my empty plate and think, “When did that happen?”

You might have heard about mindful eating. It means savoring each bite by setting down your fork to chew your food and really taste it. That would be swell, but when I think about what I eat, it hardly deserves the time.

  • A piece of toast with coffee.
  • Granola, fruit and yogurt between 9:00 and 10:00.
  • A half sandwich and soup for lunch.
  • Something cooked quickly for dinner or leftovers. I love using the crock pot and made enough beef stew last night for a family of eight. 

So this morning, I ate a bowl of cereal – I have no idea what kind – and had an AHA moment.

This is how my crazy mind works. See if you can follow along…

I had been dinking around on Pinterest and they recommended several boards filled with everything French. One woman in a goofy pose reminded me of Me!

While on our two trips to France, I always looked forward to mealtimes and eating at sidewalk cafes and restaurants. Chefs use fresh ingredients, lots of butter, dairy without preservatives, and nothing GMO’d. Yum.

On my last trip to Los Angeles my son, Kelly, and I went to Aroma Coffee and Tea in Studio City, one of my favorite restaurants. It reminds me of France. It’s a converted home filled with windows. They have a breakfast salmon stack that is so delicious, my mouth waters while recalling its tastiness. The flavor explodes in my mouth. Their secret? A twist on an eggs Benedict built on two potato pancakes instead of a boring old English muffin. It is so good!

I never finish it and take half of it home. Why?

Because I savor every bite.

This photo is from Aroma Coffee and Tea’s Instagram account.

Aroma Coffee and Tea

I thought about French food and how rich it can be. Flavorful cheeses. Chocolate that melts in your mouth. Strong coffee. Savory dishes. When I eat grilled cheese, my taste buds snooze because I’m used to cheddar. A couple gulps and it’s gone. But if I made my sandwich with an unfamiliar cheese, my they might wake up, right?

Wouldn’t that slow down my inhaling process? Maybe I would taste my food and experience a meal. I might actually remember what I ate. Wow.

I asked my husband, Danny, about it and he said, “We could eat different colored jello every day!” He always takes me so seriously.

With only two of us at home, I make too much and throw it out. I enjoy cooking, but I don’t plan our meals ahead of time. Dinner has become a yawnfest.

2017 is the Year of the Big Chill. I vowed to work hard, but play harder. So far I’ve seen huge results. Taking breaks has kept me from entering the Internet free-time death spiral. When I fill out my planner, I add playtime just like work. What if I added cooking to the schedule? It wouldn’t take that much longer to make a gourmet dinner.

Years ago, when I first read A Year in Provence, I loved the idea of going to the market and buying fresh ingredients to make a brilliant meal each night. I fantasized about a life in the future when Danny and I would bike to the market. We would select their freshest fish, vegetables, and herbs, then bike home to make a fabulous meal together.

*insert needle scratching record here* We live on a big hill. It’s winter. The larger supermarkets require driving on the highway.

Instead, Danny comes home at night and finds me with my head bent over my laptop. I look up and say, “Wow. You’re home already?” My mind races to the limp broccoli in the bin, the huge bag of carrots I bought weeks ago, and what might possibly be hidden under thick frost in the freezer.

With a little planning, we could eat like kings. Why not queens? Okay, now I’m thinking off topic.

I mentioned dusting off my cookbooks and Danny said, “I like the idea of buying fresh food from the market every day and then making dinner.” I think he’s excited about eating dinner.

Going gourmet and making an effort is worth a try. I wonder if one of those French Pinterest boards contains recipes. Hmm. Maybe that goofy girl, who looked like me, cooks.

So what’s on the menu?

I’ll go to the store as soon as we eat all the leftover beef stew.

What’s for dinner at your house? Are you in a food rut? Do you inhale or savor every bite?

Related posts:

My Resolution Failures and the Year of the Big Chill

How to Unplug 4 Hours – It works!

Telltale Signs You Need a Break

A response to the Daily Post – Ruminate

Fantastic Meme Found in Crested Butte

bikes leaning across trail Telluride

Danny and I biked on a trail through Crested Butte. As we rode out of town, we noticed a gathering of people taking pictures. We dropped our bikes, walked up to the cement post, and cracked up.

Things I hate meme from Crested Butte

I would love to meet the person who graffitied it. This is my kind of humor.

If you had the opportunity and courage to graffiti, what would yours say?

Mine would say:

Things I love –

1 . Respect for property

2 . Natural selection

3 . Sarcasm

I still like the other one better.

Have you ever graffitied anything? A wall? A desk? A tree? Would you?

My Demon Washing Machine is Haunted

Have you seen the latest Kathy Bates commercial for Turbo Tax?  Haunted by ghostly dead children, she wants to know if she can use them as a deduction. I can relate. I have a demon washing machine.

my-demon-washer-is-haunted

One morning, I sat at the kitchen counter and my washer beeped. It was an unusual sound. Persistent. Frantic. Nonstop. The machine had never warned me like that before. It seemed to be crying out for help.

“What the hell?” I ran to my laundry room. The door of the front loader hung wide open. How could it beep with the door open? As I stepped toward it, cold water seeped through my socks. My gaze dropped to the puddle on the floor.

“Are you kidding me?” I picked up one soaked foot.

The empty washer had filled with the door open…. by itself. But how? The machine had been turned off.

I set it to Drain. The washer obeyed while I wiped up the water. I dismissed it as a random washer failure.

Two days later, I walked into the laundry room with a basket of dirty clothes and towels. I stepped into yet another cold puddle of water.

Crap!

Setting the basket on the counter, I looked inside the empty washer. It had filled with the door open, AGAIN!

I wiped the floor and then made small piles to launder the following week. There would be a lot more after a weekend in the mountains. My washer works better with full loads, anyway.

This time I unplugged the machine. There was no way it could work without electricity. I smiled and packed up to leave.

Late Tuesday afternoon, I walked into the laundry room with more dirty clothes and stepped into water all over the floor. While hanging limp across the top of the washer, the plug gloated as if to say, “See? It wasn’t me.”

How did it fill?

I turned off both the hot and cold water taps. Righty tighty. It couldn’t possibly fill now. I shut the washing machine’s door, just in case. I usually kept it open to keep mildew from growing on the rubber gasket. Poor design, in my opinion.

For four days, piles of clothes and towels had soaked up tepid water. They stunk. Lifting the sodden mess into a laundry basket, I dragged it downstairs to my GE stackable. Starting with towels, I washed them with soap and they still smelled musty. I washed them again with vinegar and a third time with soap to get the vinegar smell out of them. What a process.

Filling the upper dryer with clean towels, I decided to go to bed.

The next morning, I walked to the stackable’s dryer, but the door was already open. What? The weight of the towels must have pushed on it during the night. They were still wet. I had to run them through the wash again. Such bad luck.

I felt like Kathy Bates. Was the ghost in my house a compulsive clothes washer? Had it used a rock to clean its unmentionables down by the river when it was alive? Surely I had fixed the water problem by turning it off.

With fingers crossed, I entered the possessed laundry room. Slowly, I opened my washer’s door. Water poured out. I slammed it shut. How? HOW????

It didn’t make any sense. My husband checked the water lines. Yep. They were shut off. The cord still dangled across the top of the machine. It taunted me. How could this be happening?

Danny shrugged. “Maybe you should call someone,” he said.

“Like an Priest or an exorcist?” I asked.

I called an appliance serviceman and said, “Yes, I have a demon washer,” and then explained what was going on.

The resident expert suggested disconnecting the hoses. That way I would know if the valves were broken. A new machine wouldn’t fix the problem if a valve needed replacement or repair. Danny disconnected them.

As I stared at the dangling plug and disconnected hoses, I wondered what I would do if the washer filled and spilled water onto the floor again. Was this the start of some new crazy haunting? We’ve had bangers and I’ve seen ghosts, but this one could be destructive. I imagined wading through a flooded home, Roxy dog-paddling beside me.

It’s been a few weeks and the faucets remained dry. No wet socks. No mysterious filling. No beeping in frenetic warning since that very first day. The washer was definitely the demon. My stackable has been doing all the work.

I asked Facebook friends what kind of washing machine I should buy. A friend replied, “One without a demon.” We’ll see. I plan on purchasing a new washer this week.

Stay tuned my friends. I hope I don’t say, “I’m going to have to move again,” like Kathy Bates. I’ll keep a lifejacket in my kitchen, just in case.

Have you ever experienced unexplainable events in your house? What kind of washing machine should I buy? My Frigidaire front loader was the worst.

Related posts:

Being Haunted – A True Story

Haunted at The Stanley Hotel

Unnerved at The Winchester House

On Glamour for Fashion Week, but What Does that Mean?

What do I know about fashion, glitz, and glamour? Not much these days, but I care about my appearance. I live in Colorado where casual defies formal attire. My friend, Sherilyn wears the latest trends and bought me a flashy metallic scarf for Christmas. I couldn’t imagine how I would wear it.

A scarf like one in the Michael Kors collection

This is Fashion Week in New York City where all the 2017 fall lines are being unveiled. I worked retail many years ago and imagined my boss sitting at a runway show while making notes on the latest styles. Attending one is on my bucket list.

Twitter hosted the Michael Kors live fashion show Wednesday morning. I clicked on it and went full screen HD. With ten minutes remaining before it started, attendees found their seats and chatted. I felt like I was there rubbing elbows with the likes of Blake Lively and Anna Wintour.

As the cameraperson moved through the large room, superimposed phrases appeared. I didn’t think to write them down. One said something about fashion and glamour. I understand fashion, but what the heck does glamour mean, exactly?

I conjured an image of my mother getting ready to go out for the evening. Tightening her lips, she applied lipstick in the bathroom mirror. Makeup from a bottle of Revlon evened her skin tone. Her bright violet eyes popped with eyeliner and mascara. A fabulous new dress would be worn for dinner out with my dad and their friends, most likely a Vogue dress sewn on her Singer sewing machine. She may have worn a matching coat. She was the most beautiful woman I knew and still is.

Was being glamorous more easily understood? Celebrities. Lifestyles of the rich and famous. Being pampered, chauffeured, and treated like royalty. A bit cliche, perhaps.

I had to look it up.

According to Merriam-Webster, Glamour means: A magic spell. An exciting and often illusory and romantic attractiveness.

I was dead on.

Fashion Week is an unveiling of designer’s collections created so we can feel glamorous. I know the feeling of wearing something that makes me feel more attractive. It’s illusory alright. Not so sure about romantic.

Maybe the first experience girls have of glamour is in the story of Cinderella. With a magic spell, she is transformed from sooty, dirty housemaid into lovely enchanted princess. No one could take their eyes off her including the prince. Maybe that’s why some of us consume the latest and greatest fashions. To feel like a princess, even if it doesn’t last or is an illusion, is still a dang good feeling.

In fifth grade, I needed a dress for Confirmation and found the one of my dreams at Gimbels. My mom frowned on the price, but had me try it on anyway. She studied the French seams, the lace, and the unusual square cuffs that hung over my hands. Then she bought similar purple velvet fabric and duplicated it on her sewing machine. When I wore it that night, I received so many compliments and lots of attention. I felt glamorous. I’m not sure the nuns at Queen of Peace were as in love with my dress as I was. Too much leg!

my-purple-dress

I think it all goes back to that magic spell. While watching the Michael Kors show, I studied the fabrics, the colors, the metallics, the cut, and the flow. Inspired, I filed these mental notes away for next fall. Then all eyes fell on the last model. She sashayed around the room wearing a black mini dress layered in full-length fringe. We were simply spellbound.

Glamour isn’t only for the rich. It’s about finding a style that reflects who you are. It’s about how you feel when you wear your clothes. Some of mine date back decades, but I think I have an eye for fashion. I keep the timeless garments that boost my confidence.

That said, look at what Michael Kors tweeted after the show…

Look familiar? Hmm. Maybe it’s time to rethink my wardrobe and find something new to wear with my scarf. Thank you, Sherilyn! Then I’ll go through my closet and freshen it up (toss out tons of old clothes) after I study Vogue, Glamour, and Instyle magazines.

It’s time to feel glamorous again.

Are you into fashion trends? Do you wear clothes from decades ago? When was the last time you felt glamorous?

Related post: In Defense of Rankings, Yoga Pants and just Going Naked!

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It’s always a Wild Ride!

What Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher taught me last Friday

Last Friday, I shared the same small coffee shop with Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis,  and had a mind blown moment. Not because they’re celebrities. I’ve seen a ton of them over the years. And I don’t count those I pay to see. I do count the night at Mr. Chow when Sir Elton John held court at a table filled with beautiful men. The same night, Billy Bush stopped at our table to talk to my daughter and her friend. They had run into him on the way to the ladies’ room. Benicio Del Toro, Cybill Shepherd, Emily Blunt, Billy Idol… Trust me. It’s a long list.

I believe in The Secret. For those of you who aren’t aware, it’s a bestselling book about the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction. I’ve always felt like I’m that person. Lucky. The fact that my husband, Danny, and I got together is pure luck times ten. When I read The Secret several years ago, I tried it out. It asked the reader to imagine something cool happening and live like it already happened. I finished the book on our way to a resort in Costa Rica. I imagined running into a celebrity. Once we arrived, I realized how stupid that was. It was filled with families and everyone spoke Spanish. If there were celebrities at the resort, they would be lost on me. I don’t watch Telemundo.

After a long day of traveling, my husband and kids checked out the ocean. I sank into a recliner near the pool. A young man and woman walked past. He noticed my mesh bag. “Are you reading The Secret?”

“I just finished it.”

“Here.” He took out his ear buds and handed me his iPod. “I’m listening to it right now. We’re going to get something to eat. I’ll stop back in a little while.”

I listened to his iPod until he came back. He and his girlfriend sat down and we became acquainted with the whole, “Where are you from? What do you do?” kind of questions. Wait for it….

He was a freakin’ actor from Vancouver. NO LIE! He had just finished a series for the History Channel.

Flash forward over the next few years. I won EVERYTHING including a heli-ski trip in Canada and every raffle I entered. One time I bought an extra ticket for a friend and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll win.” We both won.

Then I came down with breast cancer three and a-half years ago. My luck had run out. I stopped winning. I worked really hard at positivity, but it was tough. I felt screwed over. I carried a weight of anxiety in my gut only released for a while between estrogen suppressants, (what my cancer ate) and for a week after the Wanderlust Yoga Festival last summer.

I turned a corner in January. I began meditating and the anxiety disappeared. For the first time in a long while, I looked forward to events. A happy feeling replaced the weight in my gut.

So what does this have to do with the Kutcher family?

The week before my trip to Burbank, California to visit my son, Kelly, I watched the movie Friends with Benefits starring Mila Kunis and remembered The Secret. I put the intention I would love to see Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, into the Universe. I figured visualizing specific people might help. I also visualized Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Work Week fame. I’m a new fangirl.

I borrowed Kelly’s car for the weekend and planned to take it in for an oil change before heading to Malibu on Saturday. While driving to a coffee shop on Friday morning, I vibed out. I had to get the oil change now. On my way to a Jiffy Lube, I discovered a Valvoline with open bays. Bonus! I pulled in and checked it off my list.

Knowing Kelly had worked on music until the wee hours of the morning, I let him sleep in. With that same strong vibe, I changed direction and headed to a coffee shop back near my VRBO in Burbank. I had gone to a cute one the day before, but I wasn’t feeling it.

When I walked in, I was glad to see that although it was small there were several places to sit and hang out. A couple of bars with swivel chairs stood perpendicular to where you ordered, and bench seats and tables were scattered throughout. It was bright and I considered wearing my sunglasses, but slipped them into my purse. I cued up behind a few others to place an order for a $5.00 cup of joe and a lady with curly brown hair lined up behind me.

Seeing Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis blew my mind, but not for obvious reasonsFrom where I stood, I could see the door. In walked Ashton Kutcher. The Ashton Kutcher from my intention the week before! I just about dropped over. My heart slammed in my chest. He wore a baseball cap, a puffer jacket, (it was a bitter 58 degrees for Los Angelians) and jeans. I couldn’t help but stare. He knew, I knew who he was. His intense brown eyes glinted like, Don’t even and then quickly looked away while conversing with the lady behind me. I assume I smiled like an idiot or a kid on Christmas morning.

That’s the funny thing. I never ask for autographs or for photos and don’t talk to celebrities unless they hold eye contact, smile back, and say hello. Even then, I test the water with a, “Hi, how are yah?” If they answer, I might continue depending on the situation. By the way, he has amazing lips. I could see why Mila crushed on Ashton since starring opposite him on That 70’s Show.

The lady behind me gave Kutcher some estimates, but music blaring from overhead speakers drowned out his voice. I strained, but couldn’t hear much of anything. It’s probably why they chose that particular place. “Mind your own beeswax,” my deceased grandmother would have said.

I took a seat at the bar so I could watch Kutcher order and hoped they would sit nearby. The contractor chose a seat next to me. Whoa. Ashton walked toward me after ordering. I could have easily taken a great photograph, but just couldn’t. Not one person hassled him the whole time he was in that coffee shop although I suspect the Asian guy sitting on the end of the bar got some great photos.

I immediately texted my family and they begged for pictures. I took a subtle shot when he ordered breakfast. Then the contractor shuffled her binder and folders on the bar and slid closer to me.

aston-kutcher

“Do you need me to move down?” I asked.

“Maybe. Someone is joining us with a stroller.”

Holy mother of God! Mila Kunis and their new baby????

I slid as far down as I could and texted my family the update.

“Pictures of Mila Kunis, please,” said Danny and my brother, Joe.

I started writing this post when I sensed someone staring at me. I looked up. “Oh, hi,” I said.

Mila Kunis stood at my right elbow and carried baby Kutcher in a car seat. I couldn’t believe it. She flashed her gorgeous eyes over me and smiled. Then to my dismay, they moved to the back corner right in the window of the coffee shop to continue their conversation.

Mila walked to the line for coffee. She wore jeans, a cute gray sweater, and fancy-like tennis shoes. Tennis shoes are a big thing in LA right now.

I was impressed that both Ashton and Mila waited in line like regular people. They didn’t pull the, “Hey, I’m a celebrity, so I’m not waiting,” card. Nor did the contractor offer to wait for them. Cool.

Again, I could’ve gotten a straight up shot of Mila walking right toward me, but took a subtle photo of her ordering instead.

mila-kunis

I picked up Kelly so we could order breakfast and we returned right when Ashton left. Mila still sat in the corner with the contractor.

My observations:

If they would’ve worn sunglasses, I might not have recognized them. They didn’t seem to care. They didn’t engage with me at all although their contractor was friendly. They chose a public place for their meeting and took a chance on paparazzi.

Good on them for living their lives! I can’t imagine having to hunker down all the time and stay out of the public eye. I’ve had some mistaken identity moments and the attention can be awkward. Watch for another post about that. Crazy.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis remind me of Danny and me. I have a feeling this couple will last. I obviously trust my feelings. I crushed on Danny when I was in the 8th grade, but he was four years ahead of me. Our families went to a Brewer game on Memorial Day in 1987 when he was in Wisconsin for the weekend. He rarely came back from Colorado to visit. I flew out for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June and we booked the priest and the Church over the 4th of July. Truth. Check out this post.

The biggest takeaway? The Secret works when you believe in it. I had felt down and kicked in the gut until a few weeks ago. Seeing them after that crazy ass intention, blew my mind. After all my setbacks, I’m back. Thank you Kutcher family for being so amazing and setting me back on track.

I’ll see Tim Ferriss next time.

By the way, don’t bother entering any contests. I’ll win.

Have you seen any celebrities? Who would you like to meet?

Other crazy stories that could only happen to me:

Our Secret is Out!

An Insane Circumstance

When People Think You’re Crazy

Please, Don’t Send Clowns to My House on Halloween Night

Clowns on parade. Don't come to my house Halloween nightOur local newspaper is holding an outdoor Halloween decoration contest. I had a photo ready to post on their Facebook page even though my dead guys and pumpkins weren’t displayed that early in October. In a month’s time in Colorado, decorations could blow to Kansas. I figured the dramatic lighting would make up for some of the missing details. I had the photo teed up and ready to upload when I hesitated. They required an address. It would post on their page so others could vote. Did I really want my house advertised this year? I would be opening up my door to a lot of strangers. Have you heard about evil clowns?

I always think of Judy Collins’ rendition of Send in the Clowns. She asked for them. But don’t send clowns to my house, please.

Clowns have never scared me, but I’ve never liked them either. Ridiculous in their little funny cars chasing each other and honking horns – as if they needed any more attention – they circuitously made their way down the street in parades. I remember cringing. Even as a kid I knew they were grown men. I wondered why they chose to dress up and wear face paint. Too gaudy and with predictably silly behavior, I would yawn and look forward to the next group to march down the street.

clownsIs it the garish face paint, the oversized and bright-colored costume, their humongous feet, or the crazed hair? Maybe our wee brains went into sensory overload as children. Maybe I could see the smile painted on some, which didn’t match up with their glum expression underneath or vice versa when a frown decorated their face. I just know that they creeped me out.

According to Wikipedia, the clown’s exaggerated appearance is for viewing from a distance. That explains some of the revulsion, but not all of it. Remember when circus clowns would fight each other and kick with oversized shoes? Sometimes one of them would squirt water from a flower into another’s eye. I never liked that either. Maybe I’m a sensitive soul.

I remember a new kid in my class who bragged about being a guest on The Bozo the Clown Show. Bozo asked him his name and the new kid supposedly said, “Cram it, clown.” The rumor spread like a grassfire. I stayed away from that kid. It seemed pretty aggressive for a third-grader. Now some of the clowns have become the aggressors.

When Stephen King’s book IT came out in 1986, I was super stoked. After the first few chapters, I set it down. I couldn’t sleep with those frightening images in my head. A maniacal clown, so evil and nasty, who stalks and kills little children? Ughh. After that, clowns really repelled me.it_1990_promotional_poster

For one of my daughter’s birthdays, I made the mistake of hiring a clown. I thought it was just me who wasn’t enthralled. In the video, one of the little girls cried while the rest of the kids squirmed and fidgeted. “That was a bust,” Danny said after watching it recently. We shared a giggle. I guess, I wasn’t alone.

I love dressing up and have a room full of costumes bought at garage sales along with my own castoffs from trends that never set. I’ve also made some for my kids. But I don’t own one clown costume. The thought of being a clown for Halloween never crossed my mind.

Although the clown originated from the “rustic fool” in ancient Greek and Roman Theater, it’s the modern circus clown developed in the 19th century that captures our nightmarish imagination. We can thank the traveling circus for each and every one of them.

With news of the worldwide clown attack epidemic, I wondered how much of IT had to do with the evil clown persona. So did Stephen King.

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Local law enforcement agencies in more than twenty states are prohibiting clown costumes this year. Some clowns, like the one we hired for Courtney’s birthday, may be out of a job, at least until this quiets down.

super creepy clownAll I know is on All Hallow’s Eve, Danny will be up at 0’dark thirty and will be yawning when the last of the trick-or-treaters ring our bell. I usually keep the lights on for high school kids and answer the door for the last of them, alone. Our neighborhood has aged out and the amount of kids who call is waaaay down. But I’m relieved I didn’t enter the contest. I won’t run out of candy at 7:00 nor will people come from miles around to see my house and ring my bell. Most of all, I won’t be a beacon for some crazy clown who comes to call on Halloween night.

But there’s no guarantee.

IT may find our house anyway…

 

You may have missed this ironic photo essay about the Halloween Circus we found. It was a super cool and entertaining party. Don’t worry. Not one clown attended.

What would you do if a clown knocked on your front door Halloween night?

If you enjoyed this, click for more Wild Adventures!