The Five Stages of Winter Sickness

  1. Denial: Is that a tickle in my throat? No. I probably just drank something weird. I walked past a smoker. It’s kind of cold out today. Yeah. That’s what’s going on.
  2. Misery: Oh god I’m sick and this is the grossest thing that’s ever happened and I cannot believe this happened to ME or to another human CURSE YOU WHOEVER DID THIS TO ME I SWEAR TO GOD WHEN I HAVE STRENGTH AGAIN I WILL COME AT YOU AND
  3. Acceptance: I will never have strength again. I have always been sick. I am the Alpha and the Omega. The Dayquil and the Nyquil. I have used many Kleenex; their carcasses littered around the trash can I attempted to toss them in like sacrificial lambs brought to a volcano only to tumble down the side because my arms are noodles. Do we have noodle soup? Nooooodles.
  4. Lingering: I’m not better but I’m good enough to drag my animated corpse into work. I still look like trash? I sound awful? I shouldn’t be here? I know. Oh, I know.
  5. Morning: Just one day I wake up and feel normal again.


Morning has to be coming. Right?


Support Quality Journalism. Now.

Ladies, gentlemen, and friends outside the binary, we’ve reached a tipping point in our relationship with the media. Journalism has finally reached that critical mass required for real change.

I could sit here and dissect why this has happened, but frankly, it’s better left to others and we don’t have time for that. We’re in a crisis and the only thing that can fix it is cash money and your eyeballs.

We, the consumer, MUST change our media consumption habits. Now.

We, the consumer, MUST demand better reporting and reject clickbait, entertainment gussied up as news, and opinions dressed up as reporting. Now.

We are the ones with the control.

The dirty secret is that all that bullshit that’s being touted about as journalism doesn’t exist if we’re not there to consume it. We need to stop looking at trash. Now.

Our president has been very vocal about his dislike for the media, as I’m sure many of your friends and relatives have been. So. If you don’t like it, how can we change it? Talk does nothing. You’re going to have to put your money where your mouth is.

Journalism requires money. Quality journalism requires more. There’s a reason why reality shows are so prolific. They’re cheap to produce and inherently lack developed content. Journalism has gone the same way. The institutions that haven’t died off yet have had to change to meet our expectations so they can scrape together what little cash they can and keep their doors open. We cannot expect good journalism for free.

I’m not saying the media is faultless, not by a long shot, but again. We are the source of the revenue. The reason this milquetoast, underdeveloped, bullshit thrives is because we’re literally paying for it. We click and say, “Yes, this is adequate.” We keep coming back for more of the same.

On the other hand, the answer is not to get disgusted and throw up our hands, either. We need to find the good reporting that exists and support that. A rising tide lifts all boats. We need to demand quality by rewarding quality. Now.

How do we do that?

  • You’re going to need to read. Find news sources that are doing the work. If you’re not sure, find articles that have been shared with you and go beyond the headline on your Facebook wall. Dive in. See what that organization has to offer. Read.
  • Turn off AdBlock. If you’re blocking ads, you’re blocking revenue. Support good reporting with your eyeballs.
  • Read the article on the website of the people who reported it originally. Aggregators websites do not create content. They just steal and regurgitate it. This means you will need to follow your news organizations directly, visit their site, their app, their Facebook page… Otherwise, they do not get the ad revenue. Someone else who stole from them does.
  • Subscribe. Do they have a print edition? Sign up. Do they have a digital subscription? Even better. Less dead trees, more money to support good reporting. USE YOUR MONEY. VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS. YES, I AM YELLING.
  • Ignore nonsense. Shit is too real for you to care about what quick trick is going to trim inches off your waist, which celeb was caught red handed, 13 times a pizza was the realest, or what tattoo you should get based on your name and the street you grew up on. This is not news.


We, the consumers, need to take an active role to control the future of journalism. Blame is bullshit and counterproductive. We need to change. Now.

It starts with you. It ends with you. Do it. Now.

Yes, Virginia, I still mail Christmas cards.

We never sent Christmas cards out when I was growing up. Our family is tiny so there was no one to send them to. …So I’m not sure where the idea of sending Christmas cards came from, really. But I can remember as a teenager scraping together cash so I could buy my first pack of cards. They were Hallmark cards (so fancy) with a picture of mugs of cocoa and a heartwarming sentiment inside. Feeling it needed to be “Christmasier”, I also handfed the cards through our inkjet printer to add Robert Frost’s poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to the interior of the card.

Teenaged Lauren, you were such a dork.

I sent the cards to my far-flung friends that first year. Everyone seemed tickled by the sentiment… probably because I’m such a geek. The next year, my list quintupled. (Gotta love the in-laws!) OH MAN. CARDS FOR EVERYONE!

One year, I handmade cards. Like I said – Lauren of back then was a total dork. I did not realize what a huge undertaking it was going to be. Still, they didn’t turn out so bad!


(I haven’t done it since.) (I usually go to Papyrus after the new year and scoop up cards in bulk at 70% off.) (I hope not paying full price at Papyrus doesn’t ruin the Christmas magic, in-laws.) (Parentheses are like secrets in writing, right?)

I know it’s antiquated, especially in this digital age. But I like it. I enjoy sitting in front of the TV and writing until my hands are sore. The sense of accomplishment at throwing fistfuls of cards into the mail… So good. This year we got a stamp for our return address and stickers to seal the envelopes, so I think I’ve hit peak Christmas card lady.

I don’t have a lot of traditions. But this one is mine.

Short Stories For Short People #4: Get In

She was stuck in rush hour traffic when the rumbling started. Earthquakes weren’t typical around here and, frankly, it didn’t really feel like one. There was something about it. Didn’t feel like it originated in the ground. It was in her chest, her arms, and legs somehow. After a solid 30 seconds, it stopped.

She flipped from music to the local NPR station. Something about strange activity. Communications from outer space. A wash of excitement… quickly replaced by fear. Sure, aliens maybe, but the thousands of strangers surrounding her was her more immediate concern. Cars were starting to honk. A white SVU ahead of her sideswiped a Prius to get over to the shoulder. He sped off.

Things were about to get crazy.

She put the car into park and began to mentally assess where she was in town, what supplies were in the car, and if she thought it was safer to stay in here or head out there.

Another couple cars zooming by on the shoulder. Maybe it was safer in here for now.

She noticed the wind picking up to the point where the car was shaking. She looked out her window, peering up.

A jet or… a spaceship? Hovering in the air above her car. She gawked at it. It was black, shaped like a fighter jet that had been stung by a bee. It didn’t seem too far away, but she was a terrible judge of distance.

Then, her cell phone rang.


“Do you see me?”



“Are you the goddamn space jet?”


“…you don’t work for the post office, do you?”


“I knew it.”

A ladder unfurled and bumped the side of her car.

“Get in. We’re going on a trip.”

Lessons For The Modern Homemaker #2: How To Set Up Your Christmas Tree

Step 1: Approximate the area where your tree will live for the season. It’s just like that old saying – location, location, location! You want something central to your living space, but out of the way enough that it’s comfortable to navigate around and sit near.

Step 2: Clear away any furniture or fragile pieces from the area where you’ll be working on the tree set up. Sure, things will be discombobulated for a few weeks but, hey, ’tis the season!

Step 3: Gather up those ornaments and sort them by color and by type. No one likes to get the entire tree decorated and realize they forgot their handblown German gingerbread man ornaments! It would be like leaving the house without your pearls on!

Step 4: Get yourself in the holiday mood! Put on some Christmas music. Get yourself some mulled wine. Oh, you should put on that Christmas classic you have on DVD.

Step 5: Fall asleep on the couch watching the movie. Wine is warm and tasty. Just give in to that comfortable feeling. Catch some Zzzs! You deserve it!

Step 6: Dream of adventure. Dream of fire and wind and the earth below your feet as you run. You see the city in the distance, peeking out of clouds and mist. You call to the skies. You feel a strength inside you that you’ve never known in the dreary, grey day-to-day of your waking world. You see your friends and you call to them. You can laugh with them and see them and walk with them like you haven’t in years. They haven’t aged a day and neither have you. It is joyful. When evil comes to threaten them, your anger is palpable. You take your sword and shield and fight for them. You can fly. You can fly, dammit. Why haven’t you been flying? How did you miss that this was something you could do? It’s just like second nature. You start to fight. You are strong. You never feel fatigued. You just feel strong. You fight some more and you win. A talking bear tells you that you did a good job. The wreckage of the battle resembles your high school, but, somehow, like, it’s not really? You’re in your underwear.

Step 7: Wake up.

Step 8: Forget the tree.

A shoutout: Left As Rain

Left As Rain is a music blog I discovered many years ago. Anytime I’ve recommended a song that has made me seem solidly cooler than I actually am? Well, odds are I heard about it here. The blog is simple. Songs are posted and you can listen to them. Shuffling songs is an option, too. That’s it. I love it.

Even though some songs were posted years ago, you’d probably never know it. They sound as fresh as ever. I’ve discovered things here that I find myself listening to over and over. My current obsession? Derek Simpson’s Baby Come Home. Before that? Big Data’s Dangerous and Car Seat Headrest’s Drunk Drivers Killer Whales, two really strong singles that are now in heavy rotation on the indie/college stations.

They have a great ear for timeless music. They pointed me to Chvrches way before they blew up.  Foster the People. Metric. Phoenix. Zero 7. All this indie cool stuff. And if you don’t like something? Skip it. On to the next song.

It’s just nice to have a place to find music that isn’t bogged down in its own BS reviewing music telling you if something is good or not. They offer it freely. Hell, your ears will review it shortly. They have two small ads on the side, sure, but the site is elegant so you barely notice them. I usually buy singles/albums of anything I’m obsessed with by just googling the artist. The guys aren’t getting some huge kickback. To quote their bio page, they’re, “simply dudes trying to share some good music while letting the listener know what’s on our mind”.

Oh – and they have a solid appreciation of covers, which are one of my favorite things ever, so bonus points.

So yeah. Check out a thing I like. As a side note, over the last couple weeks they have been the reason for my peace of mind at work. Some primo music to be the soundtrack of my flurry of activity has been so helpful. So yes. Is good. Go listen.

So I can’t dump Trump.

Well that was a hell of a thing, wasn’t it?

I know you’re probably electioned out. We all are. Enough so that roughly two out of every five Americans didn’t even show up to vote Tuesday, according to the United States Election Project.

I don’t want to write another hot take on the subject. Frankly, this week has been rough so I’ve barely absorbed things. I know. That’s on me. But I’m not really a journalist anymore. This is a personal blog and I’m tired.

But I did go back and re-read my article about Trump from last summer with the perspective that he is the president-elect. Reading it, I think about the wave of intimidation I felt from him and his supporters as I stood in that press pool at the rally. I think about other groups that Trump has targeted since.

At that rally, we were over a year away from the election. I didn’t think he would be the nominee, let alone win the thing. The room was intense but I knew I could escape that place. Walk away. Go home. But the people he’s targeted, and subsequently some of his supporters have targeted, don’t have the luxury of escaping that anymore. This is their reality. Our reality.


Sorry. I probably re-wrote this a half dozen times. It’s just… I’ve seen first hand that he’s a bully and that like any good bully he incites a mob mentality for other bullies. It sucks the bully won. It sucks a bunch.

I’ve seen a couple pieces about how this is the chance for us to take care of each other. Oh, sure, be sad or angry initially, but then take action. Join groups that support your causes of choice. Be proactive. Engage. Could the next four years be what shakes 43% of Americans out of voter apathy? Maybe. But Americans are overworked. We don’t sleep well at night. Just to name a couple non-political cultural issues that extend beyond the dude that shows up in DC in a few months.

I don’t know, guys. I just know I’m pretty bummed out. But I plan to stand with those who need support. Because I don’t want to be like the bully.


Area Woman Who Has Been Avoiding the Gym For Months Feels Obligated To Go Only Because it is Next to the Store With the Good Cheese Selection

Detroit, MI – As the holiday season approaches, many people will find themselves returning to old habits of overeating and giving in to culinary indulgences. Area woman Lauren Church is no exception.

Church, Detroit’s only registered cake tester, is gearing up to get ready to start to plan on going to the gym once again. Her gym, only a short ten-minute drive from her house, has a variety of equipment and ample room for her to burn off some calories. It surely will be an excellent opportunity for her health as soon as she actually returns.

When asked about her motivations, Church looked at her feet and said she was, “[going] to the new Kroger over there, which is like RIGHT THERE”. The Kroger, a 60,000 square foot superstore, has a robust selection of goods. “They have an island of cheese. An ISLAND. I mean, if I have to head over there anyway… you know…” she added. “They have a snippins'[sic] bucket. Like small little tester pieces. I like the snippins [sic].”

When we reached out to Church’s gym for comment, they simply said, “Who?”

Church is expected back at her gym sometime this fall.

I heard it through the grapevine.

Vine, the six second video streaming service, is ending. Twitter is killing it.

I WAS going to post a round-up of my favorite Vines next week BUT I GUESS THAT IS MOOT NOW. (On second though, I’ll pepper this post with the vines and this post will look weird and broken in a couple months. JUST LIKE MY FEELINGS ABOUT ENDING VINE.)

Sorry. I haven’t had a chance yet to really process my feelings. I’m at the first stage of grief: eating.

I guess Vine was important to me for a few reasons. For one: it was just really impressive to me that people could get in a solid joke or sketch in six seconds.



There were a lot of puns.


I like puns. But there was some high concept stuff too, that probably had a TON of effort put into it even though it was silly. I’ll post one such video, but describe it below for future generations.


A man in glasses says, “Think fast!” and throws a wiffleball. “Think fast…” another man ponders, as intense violin music ramps up. His thoughts are flooded with facts about mitochondria, square roots, and the fact that Leonardo Dicaprio has never won an oscar. The wiffleball hits him in the face. A ton of production for something that lasted six seconds. Special effects, a soundtrack, slow-mo… Props to Daniel Gonzalez, who is one of the big names on Vine. Well. Was.

Vine also had this great internet comedy feedback loop quality. Someone would post a six second video of something silly and ridiculous. Maybe a kid running into the back of a car or a girl dancing by herself before falling off her bed. One thing that always got attention was the various awkward animal-like robots from Boston Dynamics, because they were just so ridiculous looking.


People took the original video and remixed it. Added a joke to the joke. Made fun of the original joke. Took that joke and morphed it together with a totally different reference. On and on. Humor on the internet is a lot of this looping in on itself stuff. It’s immediately an inside joke you only “get” if you knew the original. This humor is what I grew up with, so I felt very at home with Vine.

There was, of course, non-humor related videos too. Sometimes people would shoot something cool or artsy. And cute animal videos. Can’t forget those. (Non-Vine link in hopes future generations can watch this corgi hopping down stairs.)


I loved it. I would come home after a hard day of work and just veg and watch Vine videos. I didn’t have to care or be invested. It was a “brain shutting down” activity that usually made me laugh.

I only ever posted one Vine. It was a video of me saying, “…Am I doing this right?” while filming a literal Vine. I deleted it out of sheer embarrassment. It sort of lives on in this Instagram picture.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Lauren Church (@heeeyitslauren) on


I’m glad we had Vine, if only for a moment. I’ve got a lot of young comedians to follow on their other social media accounts now. I was listening to an NPR Marketplace interview about Vine ending. Ben Johnson from Marketplace Tech said, “Every artist needs contraints, right?” When Vine first started I was like, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. How can someone do ANYTHING in six seconds?”

Viners proved me wrong over and over. Here’s one video that disproves my theory, quite handily, in six seconds.(Here’s the YouTube of the slightly longer video for after Vine takes these down.)


We go from killing a spider to outer space in six seconds.

I’m really happy I was wrong. RIP Vine.

“Welcome to Cityline!”

Before we really had the internet and podcasts as a limitless fount of information, the residents of my hometown had Cityline. I loved Cityline. It was a phone system done by the local newspaper where you used a directory to call and listen to information. It was updated regularly and had some great regional info and some fun syndicated content.

The earliest mention of it I could find was from this USA Today newsgroup post archived on MIT’s website from 1992:

   The Brite Voice Systems Inc. says it has sold a Cityline system 
to the Spokane (Wash.) Chronicle & Spokesman-Review. The system 
provides a variety of telephone information services to the 
Spokane market. Spokane Chronicle & Spokesman-Review serves 
Western Washington and Northern Idaho. It is owned by Cowles 
Publishing Co.

That’s pretty dry, but from my research was kind of a unique move on the part of the Spokesman-Review. And the Spokesman-Review used the heck out of it. Searching around in their archives you can find many articles that reference it. “Call Cityline to hear a song!” “What do you think? Call Cityline and leave us a message!” It’s all over the place.

Thanks to Google News and the Spokesman-Review, I can show you a clipping of what the Cityline Guide looked like. I think this eventually doubled in size.

A phone tree for a city information line. A variety of topics are listed with phone numbers.

As a kid, I know I called up and listened to the comedy recordings, which were usually a person doing a bit with a funny voice or a lame joke. Mr. Science’s World of the Really Amazing I remember checking out every week. The trivia games were good, too – you would answer by pressing a number on your phone. It was interactive in a basic way. There was choose your own adventure style stories later on, listed under the heading, “Adventure Stories”. I had forgotten that, but reading this reddit thread jogged my memory. There were also mini-soap operas, if my memory serves me. It updated the entertainment pieces weekly, so I can remember looking forward to dialing in and listening to the latest installment of my Cityline numbers.

Sometimes you’d end up stuck in one section of the phone tree and you’d have to hang up and try again. Sometimes you’d find a neglected number that hadn’t been updated in some time. There was also entering a random number, too, and seeing where it led you. I’m sure I tried to listen to all the extensions at one point.

And the voice of the main announcer… I can still remember it. I tried valiantly to find any recording of Cityline but they just don’t exist. The latest mention I can find of Cityline is from a Spokesman-Review article in 1998. Googling the number shows it was acquired by a local cinema, which is kind of a smart move when people are used to dialing it up for movie times.

I just told my husband I was blogging about this. “It was the thing I would call up on the phone when I was bored with no friends around.” He made a face. “It’s really dumb and dorky.” He agreed. But you know what? It kept me company. It was a formative part of my pre-teen years. I was informed and probably slightly obsessed with it.

RIP, Cityline. Thanks for the memories.