Semi Prude

Several years ago I attended a retreat at some nearby hot springs.

I signed up for the retreat AS I WAS DRIVING THERE, so I never got a chance to read the emailed instructions they sent me detailing what the weekend was about.

We make it through ALL OF FRIDAY NIGHT, sleep in community, and then get up for Saturday’s activities.

Somewhere around noon, the instructors mention that it’s “Clothing Optional” time and everyone starts to strip.

They ask, “Did anyone NOT know this retreat was clothing optional?”

I raise my hand.

I mean, I knew that the hot tubs were clothing optional, but the WHOLE RETREAT?!

This I did not know.


Yes, I did.

When in Rome, you know.

And as it turned out, it wasn’t that bad.

We, as Americans, have far too prudish an attitude about nudity than other countries.

I made it through my naked weekend just fine.

But it’s been years since I did a naked retreat and I must admit, the idea of doing it again kinda scares me.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because I’m going to a party which is clothing optional and I will of course be invited to socialize in the nude.

In some way, being naked is wonderful because it removes all the barriers we put up to keep people at a distance from us.

There’s lots of connection when you see the vulnerable side of people.

But in other ways, being naked is awful because it removes all the barriers we put up to keep people at a distance.

And that provides safety.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but if I had to guess, I say I’ll go in the hot tub naked but I will socialize with my clothes on.

This American is only SEMI-PRUDISH!

What do oysters and Burning Man have in common?

Today, Shutterfly decided to email me and remind me to look at my pictures from this week 11 years ago.

Wow!  What a blast from the past!

Graduation photos from Stanford.

I decided to scroll through all the photos I uploaded to Shutterfly and I came across some fun ones.

The first time I tried raw oysters.

I remember this trip.  I rented a luxury house in Tahoe during the winter and invited my sister and my friends and this guy I just started dating to join me.

The house had a hot tub on the outdoor deck AND a fireplace in the master bedroom and master bathroom!

Here I am sitting in the hot tub (please ignore the clove cigarette and note the snow on the patio railing).  It was COLD out!

I drove back to the Bay Area with the guy I just started dating.  We’ll call him “Tom.”

Tom stopped at his favorite restaurant in Truckee for oysters on the half shell – something I’d never had before.

Here you can see me eyeballing the oysters, working up the guts to eat one (let’s face it, they look kinda slimy and yucky):

Then I ate one!

It’s funny, many of the men I’ve dated have taught me something new.

Tom taught me to like oysters.

Ironically, Tom was a Burner.

A long time burner.

Too bad I waited 10 more years to discover Burning Man on my own!





Rock climbing, scalping and norovirus

I took a trip to Eastern Oregon University with a friend of mine when I was in college.

We decided to go camping and rock climbing along with a bunch of her friends.

We all packed up our cars and took off to the Mountains – Mount Emily, I believe.

I’d never rock climbed before and, as it turns out, instead of rock CLIMBING I was learning to RAPPELL.

It’s what you do when you go DOWN the mountain at a generally fast rate of speed.

I hiked to the top of the mountain, stood precariously on the cliff as I got harnessed in. . .

. . . and I began to rappel down the mountain.

Not so bad.

All of a sudden I felt a hard tug at my head.

I stopped my descent immediately.

My long, free-flowing hair had gotten caught in the 8-ring.

The guys never thought to warn me about my hair because they all had short hair and it never occurred to them that it could cause a problem.

I quickly assessed that if I descended any further, I’d get scalped, at least partially.

So as I dangled on the side of a mountain, I held myself in place with one hand and I ripped out my hair with the other hand.

Meanwhile, one rock climber was harnessing up to decend on top of me to help while another climber was getting ready to scale the mountain to get to me to help.

I told them to stay and just give me time.

It seemed like it took forever to rip out that chunk of hair, but I did it.

As it turns out, the camping trip was somewhat doomed for me.

Not only did I rip out my hair, but I also got norovirus during my last day there.

You try having norovirus while camping.

It’s not pretty.


Actual pics from the trip:


Bottom right: me getting my hair stuck in the 8-ring!


Me with Eric Howard, who I crushed on all weekend.


Taking a break from ripping out my hair to flip off my friend Shannon, taking the picture.



But was it ORGASMIC?

On Sunday I took to the track, racetrack that is, and I did five laps around the Stockton 99 Speedway.

For those of you who have never been there, the Stockton speedway is teeny tiny. It’s all turns. I basically spent two minutes of my life in a car going fast while making a left-hand turn.

What kind of car was I in? Well to answer you in a highly scientific fashion, it was a green car.

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Was Cole Trickle there? Actually, he was, but he called himself Richie from Modesto and he was obviously so bored with having to drive people around the track that he barely said two words to me. Thank you Richie from Modesto.

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What Richie lacked and interpersonal skills, he made up for in sheer balls-to-the-walls driving.


Was it thrilling? You bet. Was it ORGASMIC?

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It sure came effing close, but no Big Bang…which is probably good when you’re riding in a race car.

So without further adieu… a 2 minute video of me making left hand turns at a high rate of speed…

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor

photo-5While my sister was visiting, we had the brilliant idea of making margaritas at home.  I decided if we were having margaritas, we also needed to do shots and so I insisted we pick up a bottle of Patron to do shots with.

Now the thing you need to know about my sister and I growing up, is that she was the naughty one but I always got in trouble.  Somehow she always managed to skate free.  I claim that this is because I used to cover for her.  She claims she didn’t get in trouble because she was not naughty.  LIAR!

In any case, Lisa and I were about one deep in margaritas and two deep into shots when my sister asked me for another shot.

Sure thing.  Coming right up.

As I’m pouring it, my mom comes into the kitchen, looks at me and the tequila, and says, “Really Michelle?  Another one?” and walks out.

I’m left standing there feeling reprimanded and indignant.

I follow her.

“Just so you know, it’s for Lisa,” I tell her.

Yes, I was a tattletale.

But I felt a whole lot better and my inner child rejoiced for not being labeled the naughty one.

Just the enabler.

Ha ha!

[What I did after 2 shots of tequila and 2 margaritas is a different post]

I ate a bug


okay, I ALMOST ate a bug.


Apparently, silkworm larvae are a Korean delicacy and some Shinola guests thoughtfully passed around a can. Don’t they look tasty?!?!

I thought I would be brave and eat one. I picked it up, screamed when I felt the cold clammy texture, and I threw it back into the can with a hearty, “God NO!”

Fellow Shinwegians were not so squeamish however….


And bolstered by their own courageous act of culinary prowess, I attempted to eat one myself….


The texture wasn’t horrible…, kind of like cold wet walnuts. As I bit into the larva however, the juice squeezed out of the bug and into my mouth.

And it tasted horrible – exactly like what you’d expect a bug to taste like – earthy and woody with a gross gritty texture.

So I spit it out into the fire and rinsed my mouth with some scotch….


…. ah, MUCH better!


I got escorted out of Target

michelleMany years ago, when I was pregnant with Duncan, I went on a shopping trip to Target with my mom.

We picked up some supplies, mostly baby stuff, and a nursing bra.

Nursing bras have little hooks that you can undo and fold the fabric away from your nipples allowing you to feed your baby.

The nursing bra I bought came in a box. I opened the box when we got to the car and discovered that the bra in the box was different than the bra advertised on the box.

So I went in to exchange it.

Only they didn’t have another bra in the style that I wanted.

Fine, a return then.

But since I had paid with a combination of a gift certificate and a credit card, Target refused to do a return for me.

I don’t know why, but this struck me the wrong way and I got upset and ACTUALLY SHOVED THE COMPUTER MONITOR that the employee was using.

I believe there was a little back and forth between the employee and I that riled me up, but for the life of me I don’t remember the details.

The employee called security who took one look at my big belly and quietly walked me to the door. With my mom following closely behind.

Oh God, the embarrassment.

Later, I called Target with an apology for the employee.

I’m telling this story because my friend Mel shared a similar story of someone heckling her at a Swap Meet and it made me think of this incident.

I just want to tell her – even nice girls can be bitches sometimes.

Caught in the act

cf42ed1c06d1729469302097a23cb717Every day as I walk in to work from the parking lot, I pass a grate in the ground. Surrounding my building is a network of underground tunnels and this grate vents a lot of hot air.

Today I looked left, and I looked right and I saw no one, so I paused over the grate to let the warm air blow underneath my skirt. Ah heat! I stood there for approximately 10 seconds before I heard it.

“Humina humina” or some such nonsense.

Three construction workers were sitting on a fence in the bushes in front of my building.

Ack! I stepped off the grate…

…and then had to walk past them to get into my building!

It’s not easy to remain poised when three men just witnessed you getting your freak on with a hot air vent.

The dangers of WEARING wasabi

ImageThe sign at the all-you-can-eat sushi bar said that if you order more food than you can eat, you will be charged the a-la-carte price for your sushi.

This weighed heavily on our minds as my sister and I surveyed our table filled with sushi. We were stuffed to the gills and were trying to figure out how to make 20 extra pieces of sushi disappear.

Oh my god, could we do it?!

Being the honest sibling, I just started eating sushi… doing my best to just chew and swallow and not think about how full I already was.

But Lisa, being a little more clever and deceptive, opted to take a different approach.


The waitress came by to check on our progress.  I noticed sushi peeking out of my sister’s cleavage. As the waitress spoke to us, Lisa’s eyes were getting bigger and bigger.  The waitress left.

“What’s wrong,” I asked.

“Listen, we’ve got to get out of here so I can get rid of this sushi. The wasabi is BURNING MY BOOBS!”

Might as well stamp “hillbilly” on my forehead and give me a mullet

Last night was the first meeting of the board for one of the volunteer organization I work with.  I showed up a few minutes early and parked in front of one of the biggest, luxurious houses in the neighborhood.  I’m not kidding when I tell you it was 5,000 square feet or more.

I handed the hostess a plate of little iced cakes and a nice bottle of wine I brought for the dinner.  She looked confused but took them into the kitchen.  I glanced around at the other guests – all dripping in diamonds and pearls with perfectly blown out hair.

Suddenly the cheeky little hat I was wearing – which I swear saves me from every bad hair day I have ever had – was not looking quite so stylish.  I was the only one in jeans.  The grungiest girl in the room.  Bah!

Feeling awfully nervous and intimidated, I drank my glass of wine and chatted with other guests.

Me:  I have a ballgown collection.

Guest:  I have one ballgown but I’m afraid to wear it to parties.  I don’t want to be the dressiest one in the room.

Me:  [Thinking:  “Better to be the dressiest one in the room than the least dressiest” but then I remember my casual attire and say nothing.]

The evening went better after that, I thought, once all of us were a little lubed up with liquor.  But the reason why the hostess looked confused when I handed her wine and desserts?  It’s because she had WAITSTAFF and a CATERED DINNER for our meeting.  F..U..C…K!  How did I miss that detail?  Here I was showing up “a la potluck” and she had STAFF!

The evening went smoothly, once we were all lubed up with wine. And at the end, our gracious hostess gave us gifts of silver and chocolate.  And as I was leaving, I slipped an envelope in her hand – a little “Thank you for hosting” card I picked up at  Feeling smug, I thought, “Okay, sure.  I was the hillbilly element in this party, but at least I remembered my manners!”


I arrived home very late and went to brush my teeth and that’s when I noticed