Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stalking Miss Iowa

Abbey is the one in blue.

Every September for the past nine years, the small non-profit organization I work for has held a fundraiser breakfast. For the first seven years we had the usual run of motivational speakers, including one who was informally voted Worst Speaker Ever. Last year we had the good fortune of getting D.J. Gregory, author of  Walking with Friends, as our keynote speaker, and everyone was mesmerized. One of our board members noted, "I can listen to Dale Brown at practically any meeting I go to, but I don't get to hear speakers who have disabilities."

So this year my boss tried to get Temple Grandin, but that fell through. Instead we found Abbey Curran, Miss Iowa-USA 2008. Abbey is your ordinary, run-of-the-mill drop dead gorgeous beauty queen with cerebral palsy. When Abbey entered her first beauty pageant, one of her teachers tried to discourage her, saying, "Abbey, be realistic." As the parent of one of my little ones noted, "I'm surprised she would say something like that. Was she trying to get sued?"

In addition to being gorgeous, Abbey is a very funny speaker. She talked of growing up on a hog farm and how all her friends envied her. Abbey also talked about her first beauty pageant, and how worried she was that she would fall getting to the stage. She was proud to report that she didn't fall, but her dress did – right to her knees.

(I'm not sure whether to believe that story.)

I didn't exactly stalk Miss Iowa, but what with one of my co-workers taking official pictures, the news people taking pictures, and several of the organizers taking pictures, I had to squeeze in where I could to get a few blurry, badly lit shots. She didn't seem too upset.

Later that evening, my husband and I went out to dinner. At the next table I heard a woman saying, "I gave them a donation. They showed a video that really tugged at your heartstrings. And the speaker was from Iowa. She won a beauty pageant." Small world – she had been at our breakfast. On my way out I thanked her for her donation, hoping all the while I didn't still have hot wing sauce on my face.

I wonder about the Abbeys of the world. What is it that makes some people say, "I can do that" when everyone else is saying, "Be realistic"? Are people born with that kind of confidence and determination, or do they develop it as they grow? Just being gorgeous isn't enough to win you a beauty contest. You have to enter. You have to show up.

You have to be willing to risk falling on your face.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Yesterday, my husband developed a yen for pizza instead of the nourishing dinner I had planned for him: roast salmon, sauteed eggplant and peppers, salad and sourdough bread. Well, he was buying, so I stowed the salmon for another night and went with him to our favorite pizza place. We found two free copies of a local magazine, Town Favoritesto read while we were waiting for our orders. I turned to the horoscopes, which I read out loud to my husband along with my editorial comments.

Gemini (May 22-June 21)
Don't overspend to impress someone who interests you. Okay, no big tip for the cute waiter. Emotional situations could bring out your stubborn nature. Oh, you think?  Be sure to keep communication open with those you live with. Who, what's his name? What would I want to do that for?  [This prompted What's His Name to remind me who was springing for pizza.]  You could receive recognition for a job well done. Not in this lifetime. Your luckiest events this month will occur on a Friday. 

The last sentence didn't even deserve comment. There have been two Fridays this month up to this writing and so far I have spent them having blood drawn, getting my bones scanned, and having one of those ultrasounds that require you to drink 32 ounces of water and hold it for an hour or so while someone pokes around your innards with a probe. Even happier news, the ultrasound revealed a fibroid tumor and a cyst, which means in a few weeks I get to do the ultrasound all over again. If these are the lucky events this month, maybe I should spend the rest of it in bed.

Okay, on to hubby's horoscope:

Taurus (April 21-May 21)
You can't always have your own way. [bolding mine]

I didn't get to read any further because that sentence provoked his sad face, which always cracks me up. I note, however, that his luckiest events this month will occur on a Monday. Now if I'm getting lucky on Fridays and he's getting lucky on Mondays, doesn't this portend marital disaster?

I turn quickly to my son's horoscope. He's not around but what the heck:

Scorpio (October 24 - November 22)

Take time to find out all you can. Can I recycle that "not in this lifetime" crack? Make sure any presentation you have is ready. In-laws may cause difficulties. If it turns out he has recently acquired in-laws without telling me, it's mom who will be causing the difficulties, no matter how ready his presentation is. Travel should be considered. Oh, yes. He's supposed to be returning to Paris on business, preferably with his well-prepared presentation. I understand they are having strikes and bomb threats in Paris. Something to do with the burka being banned. The Parisians take their fashion quite seriously. Situations in your personal life are moving a little fast lately. I'll say, if he's suddenly acquired in-laws. Your luckiest events this month will occur on a Wednesday.

 At least among the three of us, we have the good luck spread out nicely across the week.