Watching the phones

Maybe it’s because we write a lot about local dining options. Maybe it”s because we photograph food and design delicious pages. Or maybe it”s just because writing/editing/designing/selling equals appetite. For whatever reason, our staff likes to eat out. All summer, we”ve met on Wednesdays for lunch at either Milagros, Cafe Rio or Costa Vida. (We thought we”d pick a theme and go with it. Mexican for all.) Today marks the start of our fall lunch tradition — pick ”ems. Once a week during college football season, we go to lunch and jot down our predictions for the wins/losses on the field this weekend. The winning staffer is announced on the following Monday, and he/she picks the restaurant for the next pick ”ems. Week in, week out. Food in, well … you get the picture.\n\nCollege football starts THIS WEEK, and my husband thinks it”s basically Christmas. Today”s football lunch is at Mama Chus at the mouth of Provo Canyon. Our first office was just up the hill from this must-eat location, so it”s a pick ”ems tradition to kick off college football around the Mama Chus table. Lunch specials all around. The only drawback is that I drew the short straw and I”m watching the phones while everyone else prognosticates and pounds down enchiladas. Truth? I haven”t been studying the teams and wouldn”t be a good predictor of wins/losses. But don”t tell my husband. He thinks I”ve been listening the past few weeks when he”s been giving me the rundown on teams, schedules and injuries.\n\nSo far during my lonely office time, I”ve talked to a print salesperson, someone with a question about her subscription and a client who walked in to pay his bill. And I”ve looked through old pictures of staff lunches like this one  … I hope they remember to bring me back an entree.

Ann or bust!

“Iowans for Mitt” tracked me down a few weeks ago. They wanted to make buttons of Mitt Romney and Ann Romney as part of their efforts to elect the best man for president (so much for my journalistic objectivity). Although they already had a photo of Mitt, they were searching for a great shot of Ann — and they came across our July/August 2008 issue. So we tracked down the raw image and e-mailed them our lovely Ann Romney photo, which we took on a Thursday in Southern California. It had been a year-long process to land on Ann”s busy schedule in June 2008. I jumped at the chance when her assistant finally offered, “She DOES have time this week if you can come to California.” Being editor of Utah Valley Magazine doesn”t involve much travel, so I was giddy to buy plane tickets for me and for the photographers. After all, I”d been staring at the “Ann or bust!” note pinned above my desk for months (I actually still have it up for a confidence booster). And now that long-awaited interview and photo shoot is memorialized on the lapels of Mitt lovers in Iowa and beyond. (I think our photo of Ann outshines Mitt”s mug, no?) My friends in Iowa sent us a batch of pins as a thank-you for the photo rights, and our art director, Dave, sports both faces on his shoulders. Instead of a devil and an angel whispering advice, Dave says the pins represent two angels helping him make decisions about layouts, fonts and photo backdrops. Watch out, readers! The next issue will be truly inspired!

Give or take 60 minutes

Sixty minutes may not seem that long — unless YOU are the one at the microphone. A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would share my limited wisdom with BYU’s Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology and the Associate Entrepreneur Founders Organization (this is a long fancy title for younger entrepreneurs who affiliate with BYU). I agreed to speak because things scheduled into the future always sound fun to me! The organizers sent me the agenda, which indicated that my presentation would be 1 hour 20 minutes. Gulp! In 80 minutes I could tell my entire life story — including a dramatic reading of my first published work, which was a poem about Lewis and Clark. I speak fast, so I can get through a lot of words in 1 hour 20 minutes. I started jotting down ideas electronically and on sticky notes while driving and sleeping. Later I learned there had been a typo on the agenda and I really only had 20 minutes. No dramatic readings necessary! Twenty minutes is the perfect window of time to tell our business story, including how we sold our house to pay the first magazine printing bill and how we didn”t take credit cards the first year and a half because we thought the setup fee was too steep. I titled my brief presentation “Everything I needed to know I learned from running a magazine.” My table-mate took this picture of me sharing my and my Powerpoint. From this angle, you can see my open laptop. Note to self: Clean the screen before taking the silver slavedriver out in public! I was horrified when I saw the “summer of smears” displayed front and center. Sheesh. Part of the event included a tour of the Energy Solutions Arena and the Jazz locker room. Do you think Karl Malone sat in this chair? Because as soon as I took a seat I wanted to talk about myself in third person. Jeanette Bennett hopes the NBA lockout gets over soon because Jeanette Bennett likes it when Hudson Printing invites her to share their front-row seats. And Jeanette Bennett bought her son tickets to see Jimmer vs. Jazz in January! The event ended with BYU giving me a lovely wooden box full of truffles. I”m sorry to say the truffles were gone before I hit I-15. My minivan said it was 98 degrees, and I didn”t want to risk a meltdown. Thank you, BYU, for making me feel so welcome today at your AEFO luncheon! Let”s hear it for entrepreneurs! Let”s hear it for shorter speeches! Let”s hear it for sugar headaches while driving home to Utah County!

The other side of the question marks

I’ve always liked to listen. I used to eavesdrop when my mom would shuffle around the kitchen as she talked on our corded cream-colored phone. I learned new words and new information — such as the cause of death for my grandma and that my mom was officially done after having seven kids. So becoming a journalist was natural for me. I asked the questions and listened to the answers. That”s my skillset. And this is why it”s unnatural for me to be on the other side of the question marks. The only plus is that I”m reminded of how hot the hot seat can be.My most recent Q&A (where I”m the “A”) was for Startup Princess. They”ve invited me to be part of their Touchpoint conference next month, and we did a little get-to-know-you in preparation. Here is what I had to say. There”s a bit of a personal announcement buried in there that may surprise some of you just the way it surprised me and Matt. But I love surprises almost as much as I love listening.

Modern medicine or why I haven”t blogged lately

WARNING: TODAY”S PICTURES AREN”T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. PLEASE CLICK AWAY IF YOU ARE QUEASY OR IF YOU ARE EATING RIGHT NOW OR IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO. ANYTHING AT ALL! It”s Aug. 10th. AUGUST 10th! That means the school bell is about to ring, and my four whirlwinds will whirl back to their desks. With any luck, we may stop making regular trips to the emergency room for our summer antics.\n\nTRIP #1We had just arrived at our family reunion lodge after spending the day sniffing geysers in Yellowstone. Lindsey (age 6) kicked off her shoes and began running wild with cousins. Within minutes, she was mumbling quietly at Matt”s side about a ripped ear. I tried to do the ol” approach of “you”ll be OK — be tough.” I was mostly doing this because I didn”t want anything to be wrong. Matt was wiser and knew stitches were needed for this jump-off-a-cabin-bunkbed-into-a-door escapade. After failing to find medical services anywhere near Mack”s Inn or West Yellowstone, Lindsey got stitched up in Rexburg. The doctor said if it hadn”t been for people from Utah, the ER would have been quiet that night. Maybe Utahns just aren”t made for the tough Idaho conditions.\n\nTRIP #2The second ER trip was just a few days after the first. We returned home from Idaho/Yellowstone and got back to work. Nathan (age 13) cleans our office in the summer, which is where he saw a dormant ping pong table. “Why is this gathering dust here when it could be gathering friends at our house?” he asked. So he and Matt strapped it on the top of our car and brought it home. Within 24 hours, Nathan was moving the table around in our basement when it fell on him and caused his leg to look like it had been attacked by an axe murderer. Luckily, I was home at the time (thanks to a flexible schedule), and I was able to overreact and scream like any queasy mother would when she saw her son”s leg dripping in blood. Nathan said, “Mom, it”s going to be OK. Just drive me to the hospital to get stitches.” That”s about all I could do. That and cry. I didn”t like watching my son writhe around when they were cleaning and numbing the deep gash. The only concern Nathan had was whether he could play in a lacrosse game the next day and try out for football two days later. No and no, they said. That”s when Nathan felt true pain.\n\nThese medical excursions are just one reason this blog has dropped down the priority list the past month or so. Another reason might be laziness. Another might be laptop-itis (I find myself wanting to put away this silver slavedriver whenever I get the chance.) I”m hoping to recover in time to finish our Sept/Oct issue of Utah Valley Magazine. Hint: It”s look-alike season!