my favorite laugh.

When Evan finished his first semester of—official—nursing school, I did a little celebratory dance for the occasion.

And—of course—I watched the video over and over, because I’m addicted to that laugh. The beginning of this journey feels like so. long. ago. Because it’s been a really long journey—this whole Evan-in-Nursing-School thing. He has worked nights at a local restaurant to make it all work financially. He has worked nights at a local restaurant to make it all work financially. He has pulled multiple all-nighter to study, write, and make it all work academically. He has been there for me as a husband, friend, and teammate. I’m amazed and impressed. And SO PROUD.

So for the end of his LAST semester in nursing school, I had an idea. On a trip with Allison, I told her about my idea to lip-synch a mutually beloved Drake song for Evan. Her response: “Well, obviously, I should do the Nicki Minaj part.” [this—and many more reasons—is why I love her so.] So we proceeded to have a weekend in Jackson where I relived my best middle school sleepovers and recorded MANY music videos. [the best. the funniest.]

So we went for it. And then we thought, “Maybe this would be even MORE fun if we asked some of Evan’s friends to participate.”

Evan was officially done with classes on Thursday and we were both just so ecstatic. Ev had to work Friday night, so I set it all up. I wrote on our chalkboard, “YOU DID IT!” I left him a card…


…with a bottle of whisky. The card included the reference, “I want some whisky!” which was from the night Evan found out he was accepted to Montana State University’s accelerated nursing program. A bookend bottle of whisky. [note: that post ALSO includes a strong Drake reference.]

I tried to stay up and wait for Evan, surprise him with all this love and then surprise him with this video I had waiting.

But I fell asleep on the couch. And could not be awoken. It was a long day!

So the next morning, I was shakey and excited and nervous and just wanted to show Evan this video. This ah-mazing video that our friends made so incredible.

So we were drinking coffee and I said to Evan, “Ohhh noooo… shit! I just got some bad feedback on a video I’ve been working on for FIB.” [lies.] [also, FIB = First Interstate Bank… a regular client.]

He was bummed for me. [gotta love him.] I asked if he’d watch the video with me and tell me what he thought of it. He stopped working on bikes to gladly watch. I set up my computer to secretly record on the coffee table [black tape over the Photobooth light, brightness turned alllll the way down so the screen is black… you’re welcome].

Oh my goodness. That laugh. So much of that laugh. Worth all the late nights. All the hard weeks. All the shitty months. All the alone togetherness. All the tears. Worth it.

I love it. I love him. I love this laugh. I love this video. Don’t even try to make me stop watching it thousands of times over.

[and all I can say is…]

results are almost.

so many things are just so bright. [the excitement inside.]

first off, get excited with me. listen to this song and dance through the rest of reading this…

i am working on final projects for my first semester of grad school… eee! it feels so right. filled with creative energy, i want to create, collaborate with everyone. let’s do this.

graphics i’ve worked on lately:

made that for a work blahg post.

i made this for my dear friend jared’s 30th birthday. he’s very mountainous. i bet he does have birds living in his beard. wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

new Smeethens Home visitor tradition:

i’ve seen this movie twice in the last two weeks:

it was even better the second time. obviously, i recommend it.

okay, now listen to this song and then kiss the one you love. if you can’t find any lips that press back, dance hard and smile… results are almost identical:

[get it.]


to celebrate, let me show you some of my favorites…

this will always be the most hilarious halloween video ever made:

i definitely held true to this theorya of halloween costumes…

since i went as billie jean king and my bearded manfriend went as bobby riggs…

i don’t know how i feel about how easily identifiable i was as billie… but at least i wasn’t explaining my costume all night.

also, my mom’s very favorite halloween joke:

and then there’s this. not exactly halloweenie, but eerie in the best way. it’s a long video, and i think i’ve posted it before, and yes, it’s forever long, but i love it:

[happy halloween, lovelies!]

ghetto hikes and ghetto bikes and polica.

In an effort to blahg more, here I am.

It’s just because I want to share more.  I sit at a computer all day, almost every day, and I find all of these things and want to share with someone, laugh with someone, dance with someone.

And so my effort starts here.  Sharing more.

This is the funniest thing I’ve seen lately: Ghetto Hikes.

My favorite, thus far…

From Ghetto Hikes, to Ghetto Bikes…

I am constantly amazed at how awesome bikes are… what they do for different people.  The same vehicle, so different to everyone.

And then this song, because I love it…

[okay, two… i very much love this band…]

[haters gone hate. blahggers gone blahg.]

rogue deer wandering.

Anna and I have been friends since the days of Alpinist magazine.

We lived in the Swamp House together, with her gorgeous sisters, awesome boyfriend [dan], and random interns…

We’ve been on many an adventure to Yosemite, danced on tables in Vegas, made tons of Valentines for loved ones together, ran together, skied together, laughed together, cried together, moved together, grown together… I couldn’t think of my life without miss Anna Davis… and her ah-mazing pick of a partner, Dan… who has taught me so much as an awesome friend and always played the role of [fun] big brother when needed.  [side note: no one rollerblades faster than dan abraham.]

So, when I found out that Dan and Anna were tying the knot, not only did I insist on making them some sweet Save-the-Dates…

…but I really was gunning to be IN the wedding.  I’ve told Dan and Anna [“danna”] this since the beginning.  I just love them so much!  And I was there when they started living together!

So, when I asked Anna who her officiant would be, she said, “I’m not sure… but Dan is taking applications.”  And I jumped at the opportunity!

I sent the following to Dan…

[note of disclaimer: these documents are filled with inside-jokes and a few things that could maybe maybe be found offensive to certain peoples… but were only said in grasps for humor. enjoy!]

“In Regards to the Open Officiant Position

Dear Mr. Abraham,

How many weddings have you been to?  What?  I can’t hear you.  People who have been to more than fifteen weddings can’t hear when people try to talk about attending under ten weddings.  It’s science.

In attending these 15+ wedding ceremonies (and being in most of them), I’ve become quite the expert at how they are supposed to go.  And, sure, I’ve had my criticisms:

• Too much crying.

• Too much cleavage.

• Wait, are you kidding?  We’re singing?

• Too long.

• Too many children.

• Not enough attractive groomsmen.

• Where are the little cups of wine that are usually passed around?

But I believe that those criticisms have helped me grow as a potential officiant of your wedding.  And although I would love for you to have a ceremony just like this: , I will cater to your wishes for this very special ceremony… Plus, I know you guys are more of a Lil’ Wayne couple.

Attached, you will find a résumé listing all of my qualifications for this coveted position.  I will give you a call later in the week to follow up with you.  Please feel free to call or email me if you have any questions.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Rachel Stevens”

And I thought I was just hi-larious.  I thought I had won… no matter if I got the gig or not.  But then, I was just sitting at work [in MIssoula] and got up to check my office mailbox [which is miles away from Jackson… where Anna and Dan live], when I found the following folded up in my mailbox.  Unbelievable!  How did she do it?!

[note: the highlighting and note were obviously added later… when scanned in and emailed back.]

I really cannot wait to be a part of the ceremony of such good friends declaring that they’re in it for the long haul.

Precious, exciting times ahead!

anna and myself canoeing on string lake, summer 2011, photo courtesy of miss grecious.

they have like seven cats.

Most. Awkward. Lunch. Break. Ever.

In Missoula, I’ve welcomed meeting new friends with open arms.  This means going on what I like to call, “blind-friend-dates.”  Letting friends I know, set me up with their friends who live in Missoula.  Nothing can go wrong, right?

So, I get an email from my friend, Jeff Brown, telling me I have to meet his friend, Dana.


Jeff Brown is better friends with Evan, but he’s dating my way good friend, Katrina [whom i’ve been on many an adventure with], so I trust his judgement.  And this is Jeff Brown…

courtesy of the facebook machine.

I email Dana and we exchange a few notes back and forth.  I ask them if they wanna get a beer sometime after work, they say we should meet for coffee sometime in the middle of the day.  Perfect!

And the first thing that’s a bit awkward is that I don’t actually know if Dana is a male or a female.  No offense to Dana, but we’d only been communicating via email.  I had just met a male Dana and knew a bunch of female Danas.  And this Dana had said somethings like, “You’ll know me by my long, overdue-for-a-haircut hair, and my nubby, oatmeal-colored cap that I wear everywhere in the winter.”  And I thought, Alright, maybe they are a guy… but I’m pretty sure they’re a girl.

So, I tell my friends at work to wish me luck on my blind-friend-date… with either a guy or a lady.

I walk into the coffee shop we were meeting at today and see an older lady sitting at a table, wearing an oatmeal-colored cap.  I kinda look around, but, no, she’s the only one.  I walk up to her and ask…

– Are you Dana?

– Yes, you must be Rachel!

Alright, lady Dana.

– Hi!  I’m gonna go grab a cup of coffee… I’ll be right back.

And I’m thinking, Alright, Jeff could have a good friend that’s 55.  There’s nothing wrong with that… a bit weird… but nothing wrong.

I get my cup of coffee and go back to the table, asking Dana…

– So, how do you know Jeff?

– Oh, well I lived in Austin for about 12 years.

– Oh, I didn’t know Jeff lived in Austin.

– Yeah…

– Did he go to school there?

– No, he went to school in Indiana.

– Oh, cool.

Dana is super sweet.  A gentle, lovely soul.  I see how Jeff could be friends with her… sure… She asks me…

– How do you know Jeff?

– Well, he’s good friends with my boyfriend, but he’s also dating my really good friend, Katrina.

– What?

– Yeah, him and Katrina just moved to Boulder… they’re super in love… it’s awesome.

– Wait… What??

She’s obviously confused… and really worried about something.  This is not going well and I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable at this point… so, I sound a bit shaky when I say,

– Yeeeeah, has Jeff not told you about Katrina?

– No!  I thought Jeff was still married to Maryam.

– WHAT?!

– Yeah, are they not married anymore??

– Jeff was married?!

At this point, I’m freaking out.  How the hell did I not know that my friend’s live-in boyfriend has an ex-wife??  I bet she doesn’t even know!

– Wait, Jeff Brown?

– Yeah, Jeff Brown… lives in Boulder… was in Australia for a year… lived in Jackson…

– No, this Jeff Brown lives in Austin and is married to Maryam!

– Oh, my god.

It hits me.  My PARENTS have a friend named Jeff Brown.  They MUST have given my email address to him… and he set this up… my parents’ friend.  This is all a big misunderstanding.  I immediately start apologizing.

– I am so sorry.  Okay.  I’m figuring it out.  We’re talking about different Jeff Browns.  Your Jeff Brown lives in Austin… he’s friends with my parents.  Nice guy.  Yes.  Okay.  My friend, Jeff Brown, lives in Boulder… with my good friend, Katrina.

– Oh, my gosh, you had me so scared!  I was so confused!

– Yeah, me too.  Okay, we’ve got it figured out.  Jeff and Maryam.

– Yes, Jeff and Maryam.

And then I remember a few phone conversations I’ve had with my mother lately about her friends in Austin and I say…

– Oh, and I’m so sorry to hear the sad news about Maryam.

– What sad news?

– Well…….. that… she has… cancer…  [i say this the same way anyone would tell someone they didn’t know that their dear friend has cancer… very timidly and unsure of what the hell is even happening.]

– WHAT?!

She looks like she’s going to cry… like, bawl… in the middle of this coffee shop.  I am currently turning this woman [who is old enough to be my mother]’s life upside-down.

– Well, okay.  Ummm… I’m pretty sure?  No, okay, I could be wrong.

– I thought she would’ve told me!

– Okay, probably not then.  Okay, these are my parents friend… I don’t really know any of them.  Probably not.

– I hope not… Oh, my gosh.

She’s kinda in her own tiny world of gentle panic and I’m looking around for candid cameras or maybe a sign that this is a nightmare…

– Yeah, I would double check those facts.  Okay, probably not.  No, not at all.  Sooo… How long you been in Missoula?

We talk for a while longer about Missoula and Austin and life and jobs and whatnot.  When talking about Austin, Dana mentions Jeff and Maryam again… Except this time, “Maryam” is said in a softer tone and paired with drifting eyes to a hopeless stare into nothingness.

I panic and want nothing more than to snap at Dana a couple times and say, “Hay!  Probably doesn’t have cancer… Really.  Seriously.  Hay!  Probably does not have cancer.  Seriously”  But instead, I try to change the subject and ask…

– So, how is Jeff and Maryam’s kid?

– [very matter-of-factly.] They don’t have any children.  They have like seven cats.


– Phewwww… Yeah, oh, yeah, I knew that!

I can’t help but start to think about what this woman must think of me… what she’s going to say to our probably-mutual friend, Jeff and his probably-cancer-free wife, Maryam.  I bet she thinks I’m drunk.  God, I wish I were drunk at this point.  And then I finally decide to stop faking it and find out who the hell Jeff is… I KNOW I know my parents’ friend, Jeff Brown…

– Okay, what does Jeff do?

– He’s a sculptor.

– YES!  Oh, my goodness.  With the beautiful studio in his home.  And Maryam’s an artist as well!

I got it.  I figured it out.  Small victories.  I had to clench to those small victories.  But, then I was done with my cup of coffee and there was really no getting over the awkwardness that I had doused allllll over this meeting.  It was time to get going.  We said our goodbyes and I said…

– Well, it was nice to meet you.  Glad I could confuse the fuck out of you…

Just kidding.  I left that last part off.  But I wanted to say that.  I also wanted to assure her that Jeff Brown did not have a girlfriend living in Boulder and that Maryam didn’t have cancer… but I felt like hearing that again from the drunk 20-something that her friend made her have a cup of coffee with probably wouldn’t make her feel better.

I walked out of the coffee shop, already dialing my mom’s number.

– Hi Rachel.

– Mom.  I’m sorry to ask this, but what’s the name of your dear friend who has cancer?

– Laurel.

– Oh, my god… Yes, Laurel.  Okay, I just told one of Maryam’s friends that Maryam has cancer.

– What??

– Yep.  Yep.

– What??

– I don’t know!  I thought I was meeting a different friend… or something!  I just scarred a 55-year-old woman forever.  I’m sure of it.

My mom started laughing and I did NOT think it was funny at the time.

– I’m sorry, Rachel, but I have to go… I’m at work.

I went back into work and plopped my coat down.  Said,

– That was the most awkward lunch break of my life.

– That’s a pretty bold statement.

…my boss said.

– Oh, it’s accurate.

So, I tell him the story and everyone in the department starts listening.  At one point my boss stands up, laughing at everything… especially at how frazzled I am, and puts his head in his hands because he can’t believe that the story keeps going.  Everyone is laughing so hard and I’m seriously looking at them like, “What the hell is wrong with you?!  This is horrible!” 

They all keep asking me questions like…

– How did you not know she was older?

– I don’t know!  I guess I should’ve known when she didn’t want to go for a beer!  Of course she didn’t want to come to Missoula to have a beer after work!

– Come to Missoula?

– Oh, yeah!  She lives in Florence!  She drove from 20 miles outta town to have some seemingly-drunk girl give her a minor heart-attack!

Everyone is dying laughing.  And I start smiling.  I start breaking.  It starts being funny.  Then Mike, my boss, says…

– So, you pretty much told this poor woman that her good friend’s husband is cheating on her and that that good friend probably has cancer.

– Yeah.  Pretty much.

– Ha.  You need a beer.

– Yeah, I do.

– Hell, I feel like I need a beer after just hearing that story.

Side Note:  Dana is lovely!  We made tentative plans to have dinner with our partners and if she doesn’t think I’m completely bat-shit crazy, maybe we’ll become dear friends and laugh at that time we first met and I almost killed her with breaking news.

we embrace our love/friendship and go.

This weekend has been brutal.

Why?  Oh, because my whole Texas-dwelling family was privileged enough to attend the Austin City Limits Festival.

Brutal?  Because I couldn’t be there with them.

Convincing my brother to go see Pretty Lights:

…and getting back a rave review.

Having texts sent throughout the days of favorite songs by favorite artists and then at night, being sent videos from “the youtube” to show just how incredible certain shows were… painful.  I love my family so much and I love Austin so much and I love live music so much… aww, man!  [bratty pitty party going on here.]

And though I was bumming, I smiled all weekend at the thought of how much fun my fam was having.  I loved every little bit of sharing they did with me… helping me feel like I was there… like I was remembered/loved/there in spirit.

My favorite thing that I got from my family this weekend was an email from my dad, received last night, that hardly mentions any music… but, somehow, he captures a music festival [the joy] perfectly…

“freebie field trench reporter:

     It was a perfect day, no hypebole intended.  We all had free ACL passes, Stevie Wonder & 25 other major acts in attendance.  We had clouds, a miracle in itself, then RAIN: are you kidding?  My oldest & dearest Tx Chainsaw Massacre house roomates/friends (77′) let us park in their driveway 4 blocks away from the entrance.  They are so dear & kind & just returned from a badly needed vacation in Maui where Mom&I honeymooned/recovered in 81′.  We embrace our love/friendship and go.

    Walking downhill in that wonderful old S Austin neighborhood with various parties ‘goin’ on’ ,10 minutes later we are going thru the front gate in a lite rain & its NOT 105 degrees under unmerciful sun hoping that someone doesn’t throw a butt on the ground to start a fire.  Miraculously pleasant compared to the last 6 months of biblical Drought.

    We hook up with other couple whose kid also ditched ’em, and have a great & wonderful time. 10hrs later our kids decide they need a ride home.  We reunite & head out with 60,000 other people walking down the street, goin home, shuttle, aftershow, bar, club, or wherever.

     We take a right uphill turn apart from the herd. Its been a long & glorious day with less than usual severe physical demands under the elements, but yet we are tired & we trudge to return to our car, uphill.  Mom has been doing fantastic all day with her leg endurance but now she voices concern as we go straight uphill.  She takes my arm for support.

    “I have some good news & some…….”  Good news is the1st part is straight up & the hardest, Bad news is its all uphill.   We trudge.
    We crest the hill to take an immediate left turn & there is a party ‘goin on’ at the first house we see at the top of the hill.  As we turn, on the curb on the right is a group of people mostly young women holding a bottle of whiskey saying ‘show us a tit & get a sip, men included’.

    I immediately lift up my bright yellow tshirt & get my sip and Mom & Ry move over to the other side of the street & don’t talk to me for the next block.

    It was a great hike back & so much family fun, how many times can you say that.  A pleasant drive home with a phone call from you to add to that.”

And in about ten minutes, they’ll be watching my all-time fave, Arcade Fire, and I’ll be listening to “The Suburbs” in my kitchen, drinking wine, being there in spirit, dancing, singing, embracing the love/friendship.