Children at the north central Las Vegas apartment complex rely on colored chalk and vivid imaginations to justify 350 square feet of asphalt as a "play area." All the while, their mothers keep the kind of watch only eyes that have seen ugly things tend to keep.
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The blame goes to every department store, radio station and cable music channel that started the "Silent Night" loop early this year. That's the only way to explain why inside my brain, in early December, lives a little drummer boy walking in on his mommy kissing Santa Claus as chestnuts roast by an open fire.
When you're a grown woman with a career, mortgage and husband, the expression "meet me halfway" is supposed to turn your thoughts to negotiations. It makes this grown woman think of prank calling boys, ratting bangs to Wasatch mountain-heights and absorbing "Days of Our Lives" drama.
The last sound any homeowner wants to hear while lying fast asleep in a bed shared with the only other occupant of the house is a main door opening. Followed by a security alarm beeping. Followed by two hearts pounding.
Standing, hand over heart, singing the National Anthem was the last thing I expected when I bought those tickets. It's not like we awaited a major sporting event or a presidential inauguration. Far from it.
Meet Lincoln Allen, 33. The state of Nevada took him away from his unfit mother when he was 12. He became a foster child and went on the run shortly after. By the time his father cleaned up his act and took his son under his wing, 14-year-old Lincoln wasn't just smoking crystal meth, he was cooking it, too. His first of four prison sentences came at age 18 for check fraud.
Last Sunday morning my husband and I sat watching, not college football highlights on ESPN, but campaign lowlights on "Meet the Press." As the political experts traded talking points, I wondered if my fingernails would taste better dipped in maple syrup.
The entire alphabet hangs on a wall in the dining room at the Miller home. Throughout the rest of the house, stenciled words like "Inspire" and "Greatness" decorate other walls and halls.
The horror scene started, not with a dark and stormy night, but with a much more respectable cliche: a power outage. That led to a god-awful smell that led to me loading Hefty bags into an SUV that led to a late-night Dumpster trip.
When I asked my dad 15 years ago to cite the saddest day of his life, I didn't know how he'd answer. But I had an idea.
She was blond, underweight and beautiful. According to societal stereotypes, I should have hated her. Instead, I wanted to bring her home with me. If only I could talk my boyfriend into it.
Have you ever witnessed an otherwise respectable, totally sober person fall to his or her knees and beg for a kiss? Have you ever watched the object of his or her affection not only deny the kiss, but wildly run from it like the pleading pucker was moisturized in napalm?
If you watched the political conventions, you may have wondered how long it would be before the delegates raised their lighters in the air. You may have suspected Oprah took the stage and asked audience members to look under their seats. Everyone looked so moved, so celebratory, so damn happy.
When my husband and I watched Chris Rock's stand-up show live four years ago, I swore the famous comedian, and my biggest celebrity crush, made eye contact with me. He took in his standing ovation, bowed his head in appreciation, and locked gazes with yours truly. At least, I'm pretty sure he did.
My close friend recently celebrated her 40th birthday in New York City with a group of girlfriends. In doing so, she realized what we all painfully realize at some point or another: Music from her heyday is now considered "old school."
I recently came across an old letter from my little sister. Just seeing an envelope with postage, an address that didn't feature a single "@" symbol and her crooked cursive served as a blast from the past. Times - and communication systems - have changed since she sent that letter in 1996, but her cause certainly hasn't.
The closer the college football season gets, the more unsettled my house becomes. My husband's alma mater, pride and joy and some would say reason for living, Michigan State University, faces my mom's alma mater and the major college of my birthplace in Idaho, Boise State University, for their season opening game Friday.
A trip to a little city in Idaho is a tough sell for a Las Vegas man with little vacation time. When it's the birthplace of his wife and the home to most of her extended family, however, he doesn't have to be sold on the city - just the people. That's how I saw it, anyway.
Athletes at the London 2012 Summer Games have had us spectators in awe the past two weeks. We get used to that every four years. But South Africa's Oscar Pistorius inspired a new kind of amazement. A double below-the-knee amputee competing against the world's fastest in the men's 400-meter semifinals race can drop jaws a little lower, raise eyebrows a little higher.
Some girls grew up with the pinky-swear system. The act of linking fingers and locking eyes with someone meant, without a doubt, their word could be trusted. Others engaged in the oath of "putting it on" something of unparalleled value to remove all doubt from the subject at hand. "Put it on your first-adopted Cabbage Patch Kid," "Put it on your Punky Brewster hi-tops" - that kind of thing.
When Lisa Goldberg's daughter, Devon, started school, the then 39-year-old decided to return to work. Her husband, Derek, urged her to find a passion, rather than a time card to punch. Stellar advice, but in the process of taking it, Goldberg was diagnosed with cancer.
We sat around a kitchen table in Orlando, Fla., making the most important decision one can make in Orlando, Fla. Disneyworld or Universal Studios?
There are those stories children ask to hear over and over again and the stories they're forced to hear over and over again. We can all agree in which category "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" belongs.
Some dogs get you with a whipping tail, a playful disposition or, the ol' standby, a pair of puppy dog eyes, which, by the way, remain puppy dog eyes well beyond the puppy dog years. But, the then 4-year-old Bounder got Dr. Kevin Petersen with something else, something he can't quite articulate.
Ask a group of elementary students what the United States means to them and you might get a few interesting replies. Supply them with a blank canvas, crayons and markers after asking the question and you're bound to get meaningful expressions of patriotism.