GUEST BLOGGERS: Journey Beyond Survival & nakiru


Casting multiple roles for a blogger community extraordinaire!

We all have been feeling the loss of our Apron Stage habit, and while we know that nothing could fill the void created by our daily doses of Lisa, Louise, Rebecca and Sarah, we are unwilling to see this community fade away.  Since the neighborhood of commenters was often as much of the attraction as the posts themselves, we would like to propose a new forum for our “small stories,” as they were termed on the Facebook fanpage.

We, Journey Beyond Survival and nakiru, are starting the ball rolling on a new blog. We are looking for other hardy souls interesting in posting, whether it be regularly or just on occasion, giving us a chance to get to know you and comment like mad, just like in the old days.

We’re hoping for is a diverse community, a smorgasbord of personalities.  What we would like to see is not an Apron Stage 2.0, since that’s not a void we could fill, but instead a blog that we all have a piece of ownership in, a vested interest, not just in the publishing, but in the support of everyone else’s “small stories.”

If you have an interest in being a part of this as a poster, please send an email and if at all possible, a potential post to Journey Beyond Survival (journey.beyond.survival at gmail dot com) or nakiru (nakiru at live dot com). If you don’t have a post waiting in the wings, don’t let that stop you from letting us know your interest. We are hoping to start this ball rolling as early as July 1.


The picture has nothing to do with the post. But it was Adelaide’s first turn at karaoke and I love it. I’m going to miss this forum for showing off.

I have spent the last twenty minutes going over some of my Apron Stage regrets.

  • I never wrote that post about what it was like to not be a LOST fan but still be a normal person.
  • My cousin Jeff never actually guested.
  • We never started the “best comments” side bar.
  • I always had to go after Lisa and before Louise. (Not that I’d have loved a slot by Sarah either.)
  • I used too many em dashes, too many parentheticals, and started every other sentence with And or But.

Of course right now, as I sit down to write my very last post, the big regret is that we ever decided to stop. I’m going to miss a lot about this place.

Moving on seems to be a theme in my life right now.  I’m not thrilled about it.  I didn’t want to move to Virginia and I don’t really want to move to Africa. But every sunday school lesson lately seems to be the one where the children of Israel are complaining about all the good things they had to leave behind in Egypt. And then they complain so much that they never make it Canaan.

So I’ve been trying to look at things I’m going to miss (like America or The Apron Stage) and instead of being upset about them, be glad I got them at all. Cheer up Charlie.

Reasons I’m glad we did this.

  • The comments.
  • Getting to interact with Sarah, Lisa, and Lousie on a regular basis.
  • That post where Louise accurately describes Tagg as “some guy who dresses like the uni-bomber but doesn’t like explosions” or even better, the one where she says her goldfish is like a “glob of mucous with a little blood in it…spit with fins.” Louise sent her posts to me to put up, so I always had the first read. I’d read them to Levi before I put them up and we’d laugh and laugh. Spit with fins? Brilliant.
  • Sarah producing what was quite possibly the best critique of The New Moon ever written (and a lot were written.) Could this amount of witticism have come from the same pen that spoke so openly and honestly about body and real appetites and then personally responded to all 150+ comments?
  • It got Lisa and Tagg married. Say what they will about the real reasons they got together (so what if they’d already dated for two years…), I knew it would take a little something extra to get our Amish Lisa married to Tagg the astronaut.  It was the sheer genius in posts like this one, or this one. And of course, of course, this one.
  • Not to dwell on Lisa getting married (you have to agree though, it’s the single greatest success of the Apron Stage) but one of my all-time favorite AS moments was probably when Lisa (already engaged, but not publicly) wrote a message to her future husband (and he responded).
  • All that fantastic Tom and Louise-ness. This, or this, or this, or this.
  • Wanting to be a part of Sarah Olson’s Family.
  • Wonderful, insightful, funny guest posts.

There is a lot to miss (always–Sarah already covered that).  But onward and upward: I’m going to work on new writing projects, maybe start updating my personal blog with some regularity. Oh yeah, and I’m going to learn French, and have a baby and move to Africa.  As I type this, Adelaide is marching around the living room with a cardboard box on her head, waving the Senegal flag, chanting, “Let’s go to Senegal! Let’s go to Senegal!”

I wonder which of us is more clueless about what’s up ahead. But  here we go and there you have it.


Last week my grandmother surprised us all by having a stroke.  She is doing better for the moment—so far, she can swallow again and she can laugh, but she can’t talk—and my mom and aunt flew to be with her.  “If you can come, you’ll be glad you did,” my mother told me yesterday on the phone.  “It is being a very sweet time.”  I bought my ticket the same day.

I am unsure what the future holds for me.  Funny I should feel like saying that now.  When are we ever sure what the future holds for us?  See Grandma’s stroke above.  Somehow routines and relationships give me a feeling of knowingness.  In DC, I can pretend that I know what the future holds for me; for instance, eating chocolate chip cookie dough with Stephanie and dinner with Manfriend.  If I were staying in DC, my money would be on those things.

This next life move is cracking those guesses-posing-as-certainties wide open.  Read the rest of this entry »


Stephanie works in D.C. and lives in Virginia. Her dad owns a peanut butter company and her mom runs a sweets shop and sells fruitcake in Ohio. Please note the juxtaposition of her photo and the title and content of this post. She is currently single.

When your heart is broken, everything is more real and surreal at the same time. I can suddenly feel my fingertips. How long have they been there? How long have I been able to feel them? Everything besides my own body seems far away, and I feel removed. I am alone.

The days pass and people whisper “she’s doing so well,” “she seems really happy.” The expectations are miraculously low. I am grateful that people tip toe around the issue. My boyfriend and I broke up. Let’s not talk about it.

Let’s talk about my evenings. Read the rest of this entry »


Last night in Vienna, we met our BYU students at a restaurant called The Gulasch Museum, which as far as I could tell had nothing to do with a museum; although, the menu was a work of art.  It was a large faux leather book with photographs of the fifteen gulasch dishes offered, each page protected in a museum-quality, acid free, plastic binding.

The offerings were labeled not only in German but English, French, Italian, Spanish, Urdu, Pig-Latin and Swahili.

Enter in, foreign suckers.

Rick Steves recommends The Gulasch Museum, but he recommends it in a poor German accent.

I ordered the Kalbsgulasch mit Spinatknoedlen, because just to say it aloud is to clear all the germs from your mouth onto the waitress’s apron.  Veal.  It’s veal.  Some of the female students squealed, “You’re eating veal?”

“Yes, I am.  I’m eating little baby cows with large, dark emotionally thrilling eyes.  I’ve asked to have it butchered right at the table.”

Give me a break.

As it turned out, the entire group ate carnivorously and the gulasch was delicious.  Hats off to the bouncy Rick Steves.

I sat at a table with 8 young women and one young man, Chip.   One of them suggested that we go around the table and tell the others about our relationships with the opposite sex.

Chip rolled his eyes.

So around we went.  One has a missionary in Brazil.  Several had broken up with old high school boyfriends.  A couple had never been in a serious relationship and had never kissed anyone.  Virgin Lips.

When it was Chip’s turn, he said, “No way.”  Chip is cute and all the girls say they’re having a relationship with him, but only one could get him on Facebook.  They’ve also all had their pictures taken with him individually, so they can show people at home how they had a romance during the summer.

“Come on, Chip, tell us about your real girlfriend,”

“It’s me, isn’t it?” One of them blinks her winky winks at him.

Chip blushes,which makes him all the more appealing.  He isn’t going to tell them anything.  Then he says, “Louise knows.”

All the females turn to me.  “How do YOU know?”

“We had Sunday dinner together the first week.  I grilled him on his love life.”

“So what is it?”

“I can’t tell.”

Hyperbolic groans all around.

So we move around to the next young woman and she has the story of the evening.  She broke up with her boyfriend when he was in the hospital having chemotherapy for testicular cancer.

I am wowed.  You can’t make this kind of stuff up.  I want to ask a question.  I really want to ask a question.  So I ask the question:  “Does he still have his testicles?”

She raised one index finger.


So what’s the worst break-up you’ve ever had?

Next week we find out this baby’s gender. As if I need a machine to tell me. On the off-chance that the ultrasound technician says it’s a girl, I’ll tell him to CHECK AGAIN. I am ninety-percent certain that the rock uncomfortably squeezing itself between my pelvic bones is a little boy.

Consider the evidence.

  1. This pregnancy is totally different than my first, girl-producing pregnancy.
  2. My mother-in-law had a dream three days before we found out we were pregnant that I was pregnant with a boy.
  3. I’m carrying low.
  4. The baby’s heart rate is above 140.
  5. My left breast is slightly larger than my right.
  6. When I mixed my urine with Drano, it came out blue.
  7. Levi has lost weight this pregnancy.
  8. And on the last half moon, with seven pennies in each pocket and four marshmallows in my mouth, I stood under an azalea tree in full bloom and hummed the 1812 Overture whilst dangling a ring on a string above my belly. As you’ve probably already guessed, the ring swung back and forth.

Why only ninety percent certian, you ask? With all of that evidence, why that doubting ten percent?

It goes back to the evening I saw a friend at the church. She’s from Honduras and calls it like it is. I was pregnant with Adelaide at the time.  “You’re having a girl, aren’t you?” she said.  “I know because girls steal all of their mother’s beauty.”

And let me tell you—what with my pimply face and my straggly hair and the way the allergies are making my eyes puff out and how I can’t wear my contacts so I have to wear my glasses which because my prescription is so heavy make my eyeballs look even smaller—let me tell you, we might very well be having a girl.


In two months, I am moving to Las Vegas.  No Rebecca Smylie/Lisa Piorczynski here.  I’m telling you up front.  I got a new job—a one-year stint (something legal)—and come July, I’ll be leaving DC and moving west.

And before we start talking about if I’m excited, if I’m sad, if I’m going to return to DC afterward, let me also say this: because of my new job and the variety of our other life events, we, the women of the Apron Stage, have decided to give our two weeks’ notice.  We will stop blogging on the Apron Stage at the end of May.

For true.

Read the rest of this entry »


Last year Louise made a solo drive to Newport Beach. She wanted to prove to herself that she “could still do it.” I had no doubts, but she, being the person she is, was not so sure. Maybe she had early onset Alzheimer’s or some other undiagnosable, incurable ailment. So she drove off, waving a giddy wave as she rounded the corner and into the west. The first night, she called from a $6.00 a night casino on the western Nevada border. “I’m doing it,” she said. “I can still do this. And it’s only costing me $6 a night.”

Night after night, she checked in. Each time she said how happy she was to have made the trip, how she now wanted to work on the car ferry between Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula, beginning as the fare collector and moving up to pilot of the boat. “I know I could do it,” she said. “I asked the guy collecting money if I could work there,” she said. “He said I should apply in the fall when the student collectors go back to school. I could be a money collector on a ferry.”

And then, on the last night, when I thought I knew where this was all going, that she would return home to trouble-free hugs and kisses from me, she said, “I want you to woo me when I get home.” Read the rest of this entry »


My sister Sarah once described the thought process of men to me.  It goes something like, “That guy did it, so I could probably do it.  I’m at least as good as that guy. Yeah, I could definitely do that.  I mean, it’s sort of like I already did it. Yeah, that’s right, I did do it. I did that.”

As she explained this to me, the catalog of innocuous exaggerations (some might call ‘lies’) that cameo in the stories of my life flashed across my inner youtube. Stories that I’ve told so many times that fiction has become fact, and I’m honestly not sure exactly what happened.  Like a t.v. reality show, sure it happened, but not without some heavy editing and perhaps a few reenacted scenes. Read the rest of this entry »

not so sure about the manliness of tatoos - maybe one of the other guys can address that


My name is Jed “Manfriend” Brinton, and this is Larry the Cable Guy, here to help me introduce … The Hammer Stage! **

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, an entire week in which we, the men of the Apron Stage, take the … stage, for lack of a better word, to do what men do best – kill time until the women come back.  Hopefully we won’t break anything. (we’re pretty sure the banner up top will look good as new after a little duct tape)

To kick things off, I will address the important topic of manliness.

What is manliness?  Some of you (including some of the men) aren’t sure.  Fortunately, you are reading this post, so you get to hear the answer from at least one man.***

Read the rest of this entry »

Louise Plummer

Sarah L Olson

Rebecca Smylie

Lisa Piorczynski

Email us:

theapronstage at gmail dot com