Conquer The Monkey Common Sense Advice for a Complicated World. <![CDATA[ TSA Pat-Downs, Pleasure or Pain?]]>

TSA Pat-down -Pleasure or Pain?

In recent weeks, especially with the onslaught of holiday travel, there has been a great deal of controversy and buzz about the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) screening of people as they go through security.

As I packed for my recent holiday travels I saw some of these people on the news complaining and it seemed ridiculous.  

Have the memories of exactly what happened on 9/11 really faded so quickly?  Has political correctness really taken this country by the undercarriage so much so that we are willing to sacrifice security from terror in the skies just to avoid some stranger giving us a pat-down or seeing our naked bits through the digital body scanner?  


Below is Monkey's first hand TSA Pat-Down Experience.  Beware, it could get raunchy!


Traveling with baby Monkey, I naturally had bottles and formula.  TSA agents at the airport said they either had to open my (unopened) formula to test it, OR I could have a full body pat-down (a pat-down for me and baby monkey, as you can see below, us Norwegian/German-Americans do look kinda scary).  

With a glimmer in my eye I eagerly accepted the pat-down as my curiosity burned as to what those yahoos on the news were complaining about.

I was asked if I would like a private screening.  "Nah, I'm good."  I figured it would be more enjoyable for my husband to witness the frisk.

First they patted down baby Monkey, with no incident, then she watched from her stroller as mommy got the P.D.

A robust woman came over and informed me that she was going to give me a full body pat-down.  Clearly nervous in the wake of all of the hubbub about these procedures she gingerly warned me,  "I will have to pat down your groin and breast area."  

Me:  "No problem,"  this was going to be so interesting!

The pat-down began with a nice, almost Swedish like massage rub down my legs.  I thought it was pleasant, in fact, what a great way to start my day!  (Mind out of gutter please, I mean in a "new mom needs a massage" kind of way!)

The TSA woman was clearly nervous and started up an idol conversation asking the age of baby Monkey.  I'm sure she was wondering if I was one of those complaining types that would try to get on the news.   

Me:  "Six Months."

TSA Agent (hands on my body):  "Wow, really, well your figure looks really great .......... and....."

Radio silence.

I looked away, she looked away, and it was just a weird and untimely comment, but let's face it, new moms will take what compliments they can get, even if it is from a nervous TSA agent patting them down!

Kidding aside, the whole experience was No. Big. Deal.  Period. 

Obviously if someone has been abused by a TSA agent that is unacceptable, but I have to say not only was the experience really benign (despite the awkward comment), I borderline enjoyed the pat-down!  

They really don't grope you directly on your privates, and frankly, I'm fine being groped, or even digitally scanned down to my skivvies if it means the Monkey family is safe in the sky.

Want to learn more about Conquer The Monkey? Come to our blog! 


Mommy and baby Monkey pre-pat down, as you can see, we do look like a couple of very threatening girls!


]]> Thu, 2 Dec 2010 20:18:06 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Best Advice Isn't Always Practical: "Living in the Moment."]]>  The Best Advice Isn't Always Practical. "Living in the Moment."
Throughout my life I have been advised to "smell the roses" "enjoy the moment," "live in the now," and so on.  I am certain I have paid forward the same advice.   
It really is good advice.  It's optimistic advice.  It is so very zen. But, in reality, often times this advice is nearly impossible to conceptualize or follow.
"Live in the moment," they say, but how can you do that when moments don't stand still?  There are fleeting moments of pure bliss when your body and soul erupt in happiness, satisfaction, joy.  
But the endorphins, the adrenaline, the hormones, and the life situation itself - none of these things stand still, they move through you and they move on to the next moment in time.  Moments in time simply can not be suspended.
As I get older I am more aware of my surroundings, my emotions, my world.  From the feeling of sun on my skin, to the smell of baking bread to the touch of a loved one, or the kind words from a friend.  I absorb these things more now because, as you age, these small things have greater meaning and importance.
Mortality is something that you can start to feel within a reachable distance and you realize the importance of these little things.  In fact, a simple word, a touch, a ray of sun, can begin to mean more than any gesture of grandeur ever did or ever could.
In moments of erupting happiness or even sadness I do look around and try to take snapshots of my surroundings to deepen the the memory of the moment about to pass.  The sound of the birds, the smell in the air, the people around me, what I am wearing, anything that can memorialize the moment. 
I'm not sure that these conscious acts can really deepen a memory but I try anyway.  
At the end of any given day I also try to give thanks for every little blessing in my life.  The basic things - like the fact that I made it through the day, that I have my health, my husband, my pets.  Nothing material, just the things that I can not live without.  I pray for the health and healing of the ones I love.  
It's a little unrealistic to actually hold on to one moment in time but that one moment in time can burn memories into your soul and help shape the direction you take in life, who you become.  
I am thankful for everything in my life, including anything unfortunate that has ever happened.  I wouldn't change a thing because all of it shaped exactly who I am as I sit here and type this.  
Maybe instead of living in the moment, we can start acknowledging and noticing these moments and how they feel, taste, sound.  How these moments leave us in the aftermath and help us evolve into who we are supposed to become.
Monkey readers:
* How do you keep perspective on your life?
**And do you "live in the moment?"
Have a safe and happy weekend enjoying all that life brings you.
As always, email me your thoughts, questions and life's vexing dilemmas to:
]]> Sat, 17 Apr 2010 02:09:51 +0000
<![CDATA[ Tight Jeans, Needles and Jim Beam.]]>  (This little diddy is inspired by Kelly at  Speaking from the Crib who is invoking the spirit of Intl' Badge Day.  I'm not wearing my Greek letters, but I will share a lil' story of the days of Greek old. )

It was the Fall of 1991.  Acid Wash jeans still had a place in society, Madonna was still getting her whore on, and grunge was some how considered cute. 

I was a Freshman and had just joined a sorority.  There were many parties to be had, and on a particular warm desert night, there was a full moon in more ways than one. 

I was at a "Westerner" party decked out in my best Western Wares.  All of my "sisters" were there dancing away with their cute dates having the time of their life under the stars.

I waited in line at the outhouse so I could make space for another beer, but naturally, the line for only one bathroom was 10 people deep.

Being a gritty girl who'd grown up in the boonies, I decided there would be no harm in finding my way behind a large catcus, squatting down and making nature my very own ladies room.

I peeled down my skin tight jeans under the soft romantic light of the moon and did what I came to do.

Suddenly mid way through my business I realized I was losing my balance.  My tight jeans tightly wrapped around my ankles, my feet facing the wrong way on the little hill I had perched on, and the few beers I'd swigged back at the pre party causing my equilibrium to see double.

One thing led to another.......and next thing I knew, I fell backward.  Right onto a short, stubbly cactus with a million tiny painful needles.

An architect couldn't have lined my bare butt up more perfectly with this cactus.  It was as though this cactus had waited its entire dry life for my ass to nestle onto it.  I finally found my way back to standing, and there I was bare assed under the light of the moon with THOUSANDS of needles in my ass.

It hurt.  It hurt really really bad.  I now realized I had a horrific decision to make.  Either pull up my skin tight jeans over my bare ass only to force the needles further into my skin,  OR walk bare assed to the bus that was waiting to take all the drunk frat rats and my sorority sisters back to town. 

In hindsight, I don't think there was a winning decision in the bunch.  I was, after all, only a freshmen and the humiliation of walking bare assed with a thousand needles sticking out to the bus for all the boys to see - well - that was too much for me at age 17.

So, as I stood in contemplation, whimpering a little because it hurt badly, a nice frat boy walked by and asked me what was wrong.  I simply angled myself so he could see in the moonlight what the situation was.  I told him I needed help.

He took a quick glance and basically said, "Oh dude, you are f&*%ed" and handed me a bottle of Jim Beam.  He offered to find my date, but I hadn't seen him in what seemed like hours.  Someone, maybe even that same nice guy, went and found a couple of my "sisters" and told them what happened, but they couldn't be bothered to leave their cute dates to come help.  Can't really blame them I guess.

So, I pulled up my pants, staggered and gingerly made my way back to the bus and faced an even more horrific decision.  If I sat down, the needles would go even DEEPER than they already were and God knows if they'd ever come out or if I'd be a porcupine ass forever.

Since there were hours to go in the party, and we were MILES from town, I wedged myself into a seat as best I could and just waited.  Me and the bus driver.  It was the longest night of my life.

I finally and miraculously got back to the dorm and was starting to feel incredibly sick from the pain and the needles.  I laid on the cool tiles of the shower and let the water pour over me for a really long time.  I finally dragged myself back to my room in excrutiating pain.  A few hours later I told my dorm mates what had happened and - having grown up in the desert - they were horrified I hadn't gone to the emergency room.


So, they dragged me to the ER and we waited for hours.

Finally I go back to be examined by a cute young doctor, which was even more humiliating.  I showed him my ass and  - what had to be millions of needles. He was amazed at how many there were and how deeply embedded.  (I did not explain the extra tight jeans or the bus ride to him).

He left the room and I prayed he'd bring back a miracle remedy.  Instead he came back with a GIANT vat of Elmers Glue.  He proceeded to pour the glue all over my bum and explained it's the only way to get the needles out of your body.

You pour on the glue, you let it dry, you peel it off, and slowly the little needles will come out.  You have to do this many. Many.  Many. Many times before that many needles would come out.

So, he sent me home with my dorm mates.  We stopped off to by several tubes of Elmers and spent the entire day with me lying on the floor and them gluing and stripping my ass for needles.

The moral of the story here? Never mistake a cactus for a bush.

Now go give a holler with your story, or just read up on Kelly's wild and whacky stories over at Speaking From The Crib!!


Or visit my blog,

]]> Fri, 16 Apr 2010 00:51:30 +0000
<![CDATA[ 8.8 Earthquake Rocks Chile-Tsunami Warning Entire Pacific Region]]>

The largest recorded earthquake in history was also in Chile measuring in at 9.5 on May 22, 1960. That historic quake killed over 1600 people and left over 2 million homeless. People around the Pacific were also killed due to the Tsunami the quake caused including in Hawaii, Japan & the Philippines.

In the early morning in Chile today, people where shaken awake by what some described as a locomotive sound coming through their home. They were then shrouded in darkness in the middle of the night having lost electricity and now water, bridges and buildings collapsing. There are reports of craters in the streets, 10 foot shifts in the pavement all evidence of the trauma inducing quake.

Following the 8.8 quake, there was no break from the shaking and fear as aftershocks have been measuring in at 6.2 and 6.9 magnitude - causing many to fear going into their homes forcing them to wait in the streets. (there have been over 50 aftershocks measuring above 4.5).

Hawaii has been getting frequent Tsunami warnings via sirens since 6 a.m. this morning. We have a friend in Hawaii who has been reporting about the surreal experience as he waits and wonders at his hotel in Hawaii calling the sirens and reality of the tsunami that is approaching Hawaii at 500 MPH "unnerving." They are literally waiting at their hotel - with ocean views - for the tsunami to hit at 500 MPH on the shores.

The tsunami waves are anticipated to be 6-8 foot - which may not sound ferocious. However, these waves are traveling at the speed of a jet plane - 500 MPH and are expected to crash into the shore like a river and suck out to sea whatever they can swallow.

Any daredevils in that area should not mock Mother Nature by going to the beaches and marinas to observe the incoming tsunami if they want to walk away with their life in tact.

It is astounding - not only has Chile been bulldozed by this quake, but the entire Pacific will be impacted. History tells us that the danger is real - as stated above - in the 60's when Chile endured the 9.5 earthquake, people were killed far from the shores of Chile including Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines. Even the west coast of the US were damaged from the ensuing tsunami.

Living in a city (Los Angeles - at the beach) that constantly buzzes about when the "big one" is coming - even movies have been made about the big quake that many anticipate will hit the coasts of California - I look at this terrible tragedy doled out by the ever shifting Earth with horror and sadness at those who have lost family and are living in limbo. I also look on in morbid fascination.

In a snap second - without any control of your own - every single thing in your life can change. As a self acknowledged "worrier" I sometimes trick myself into thinking that if I anticipate every bad thing that could happen and prepare for it or avoid it, I'm some how ahead of the game. The truth is - that is a silly and childish fantasy.

Sure, preparedness is crucial especially when you LIVE in an Earthquake zone as I do, but reality is, you can't stop these things from happening and changing your life forever.

For now, I will pray for everyone impacted by this Earthquake and quickly approaching Tsunami and do my part to donate and help when time appropriate. I also will use it as a reminder in my personal life to live for the moment and count my blessings on a daily basis. As the old cliche goes, 'life spins on a dime', and frankly, I want to get my money's worth.

Monkey Readers:

Do you know anyone in Chile or any of the Tsunami zones?

Have you ever lived through a terrible earthquake and have a story to share?


Or visit my blog,

]]> Fri, 16 Apr 2010 00:41:45 +0000
<![CDATA[ Weddings, Babies and Funerals Conjure True Colors]]>  
Some of the reactions and actions will surprise and delight you and solidify or create even stronger bonds.  Others, sometimes those you have the greatest expectation for, will crush you with disappointment at their lack of support, empathy, effort or just plain selfish behavior.

This attitude is formed not from pessimism, as I'm extremely optimistic on life, but rather from living in a space of reality and realization that ultimately SOME family & friends - for whatever reason - will disappoint and that you don't truly know someone until you see how they respond to critical or life altering events.

Weddings.  For all the joy they bring, there is inevitably disappointment from (some) bridesmaids, in-laws, family, groomsmen, even guests.  I've never heard of a wedding without some drama like this.

Funerals - it is well documented that families are often ripped apart over the aftermath of the death of a loved one.

Babies.  With all of the excitement of a new life coming into the world, there are often disappointments by those closest to you. 
Those closest to you should be there for your big moments, not because you ask them to or they feel like they "have to" but because they wouldn't have it any other way.  But, so often they forget how important it is, how you were there for them, and they just drop the ball.
As someone who is currently in the middle of family members dealing with weddings, funerals and new babies, I would say this.  To those who are considering blowing off or not making your family member or close friend feel loved and special, put yourself in their shoes.  How did it feel when people did those things to you?  Do you remember how those people where there for your wedding, baby or loss?  Shouldn't you try and rise to the occasion and reciprocate in some way the love and generosity?

The Monkey Blogger is big on Loyalty.  I just wanted to put out into the ether that if you are one to expect much from others but do not feel the need to reciprocate the love, perhaps you should reconsider.  Unfortunately, when it comes to major life events, once you really disappoint someone you can't undo it. 
All the world would be well served by being a little more considerate when it really counts.

Or visit my blog,]]> Fri, 16 Apr 2010 00:17:11 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Politics of Baby Naming]]>
I knew it wouldn't be easy, as I like different names than my husband and we are both rather opinionated. What I didn't anticipate is how everybody has an opinion and they don't hesitate to share it with you.

You are with a friend at lunch and they ask names you are considering.  It is inevitable they will make disapproving faces, tell you which is better, or even more likely, tell you you should name your baby what their favorite name is.

Family too.  They want you to stick with the letter or name themes they used when they named you and your siblings, or some give you pressure to keep family names alive through your baby even if they are names like "Cantwell Muckenfuss" (uh, that is a real name :)) "suckling pig" or "twattwat rose" or "dorkkus pudding pie"  No matter.  These are legacy names!

I have a new plan.  No longer will we share actual potential names.  Instead, I'll be sharing the most ridiculous and hideous names (seems more fun :) )
Will people still be as bold in their opinion if the name I offer up is so clearly abhorrent that even a loving old grandma would vomit at the sound of?

This is your chance Monkey Readers.  For those of you with real OR fake and smart ass name ideas -  share your baby girl names with me now! Who knows, if we actually used yours I promise to send you a nice gifty from me and baby monkey!!!

Monkey Readers:
* If you have kids, did you share the name with people first?  **If you plan to have kids one day, would YOU share your ideas with people?

Or visit my blog,]]> Fri, 16 Apr 2010 00:08:09 +0000
<![CDATA[ Mexico for Spring Break or Vacation? Beware.]]> California and going to College in Arizona meant frequent trips to border towns in Mexico.  I even lived and worked in one of Mexico's tourist towns during one summer of college.  You could drink underage, cheap eats, cheap hotel, cheap everything. 

Even then we always knew you had to be careful of the Federales - and that bribery was always an option to get yourself out of a jam.

Most of you have heard in recent years of the uprise in violence by Mexican Drug Cartels in Mexico - and especially border towns.

In Juarez, Mexico, just at the border of Texas, there were over 2,000 murders in 2009 all supposedly carried out by Drug Cartels.  The New York Times is reporting that 50 murders took place this past weekend alone - including in major tourist town Acapulco.

Now the State Department is warning Americans to stay away or get out of border towns.  Americans are easy targets.

I know that many people will say this is alarmist and in reality if you are in a heavily tourist town like Cancun and stay in your hotel only, you would most likely be fine. 
I just wanted to bring this news item to the attention of anyone out there thinking about going to Mexico (or if your KIDS are thinking about going to Mexico) this spring so that you can make informed decisions.  
Here is one informative article regarding what happened this past weekend and details on the State Department Warnings, and there are more related articles below.

Or visit my blog,]]> Thu, 15 Apr 2010 23:46:51 +0000
<![CDATA[ Sex Addiction is All The Rage BUT is it Real?]]> Sandra Bullock - you are but one in a long line of celebs, politicians and sport stars now ducking and hiding under the cloak of Sex Rehab.  What gives?

According to Wikipedia, Sexual addiction refers to the phenomenon in which individuals report being unable to manage their sexual behavior. It has also been called "sexual dependency," and "sexual compulsivity." The existence of the condition is not universally accepted by sexologists.
Basically there are three schools of thought, two that validate Sexual addictions and one that believes it is a myth created by culture and other modern factors. 
Bottom line, the validity of sex addiction is hotly contested by experts in the field, and average joes alike.  It is a term readily swallowed whole by Hollywood agents as the answer to their celeb clients caught cheating on their spouse. 

They hope to conjure sympathy - the appearance of a real disease.  This gives the celebrity an excuse - "poor me - I can't help it - I'm an addict, please still go see my films!"  (same concept for the politicos, athletes and so on.)

I am not an expert, but I am extraordinarily skeptical of sexual addiction.  Perhaps this skeptisism is largely because you mostly hear about it when someone has something to gain by claiming to be a sex addict.  They need to hold on to their fans, their endorsements, their famous wife and so on.

Let's face it the odds of Jesse James and/or Tiger Woods, checking themselves into a sex rehab if they didn't feel they "had to" to save their career and marriage are slim to none.  Furthermore, do you really think these guys would have ever checked into rehab if they hadn't gotten caught? 

Even if Sex Addiction is real, I don't believe in these cases the patient is genuine.  They cheat because they can.  They cheat because they are narcissistic and think they don't need to live up to regular rules of marriage.  They Cheat because they are insecure about their wives careers.  It could be a million things, but in these cases I find it nearly impossible to believe they cheat because they are literally addicted to sex. 

If I were Sandra Bullock I'd get every STD test on the planet and I'd run run run for the hills and never look back.

Monkey Readers:

*Do you believe Sex Addiction is Real?
**What are your thoughts on this recent phenomenon?

Or visit my blog,

]]> Thu, 15 Apr 2010 23:40:36 +0000
<![CDATA[ NOT RSVPing Makes Your Ass Look Big.]]> This post is for ANYONE who has ever hosted a party, baby shower, wedding, bbq, WHATEVER and needed a head count in order to pull it off.

I've hosted my fair share of soirees.  I love to entertain, often casually, but at times more formally (including baby and bridal showers or birthday parties) by sending a Paper Invitation that requires one to RSVP by a certain date so I can ensure there is enough food, drink, favors, seating etc. for my lovely guests.

I find that more often people are failing to RSVP.  OR to RSVP well after the indicated date on the invitation (EVEN THE NIGHT BEFORE!)

For the sake of it (though Monkey Readers I'm sure already know this!!) a quick review on what the term RSVP means:

"The term RSVP comes from the French expression "répondez s'il vous plaît", meaning "please respond". If RSVP is written on an invitation it means the invited guest must tell the host whether or not they plan to attend the party. It does not mean to respond only if you're coming, and it does not mean respond only if you're not coming (the expression "regrets only" is reserved for that instance). It means the host needs a definite head count for the planned event, and needs it by the date specified on the invitation."
Some would argue that people don't really understand what it means when an invitation says "RSVP by xxx 2010" and includes a phone number or email to respond to.  Is that what it is? People really don't understand what RSVP means?  Or even now often people will put "kindly respond by XXX date."  Surely that isn't confusing?

It is inconsiderate when someone does not RSVP by the requested date because hosts put in a lot of time, effort and money into planning a party to include you.  If you don't let them know you are coming, and you decide to show up to an invite only party it can throw things off. 

A side story: I once was hosting a baby shower with a caterer, personalized favors etc. and the night before a guest RSVP'd that her mother (who was not invited to the party in the first place) would be joining us.  I not have a party favor for her, or enough space, nor did I have enough food so we had to scramble last minute AND I had to pay quite a bit more to the caterer for this uninvited guest to attend! My only vindication was when the uninvited guest arrived she realized how intimate and detailed the party was and she was very embarrassed.
My theory is that anyone who fails to RSVP in a timely fashion has probably never hosted a big party before so they don't understand how incredibly rude it is.  What do you think?

Monkey Readers:
*Do you RSVP when invited to an event?
**Why do you think people fail to respond, or respond too late?

Or visit my blog,

]]> Thu, 15 Apr 2010 23:38:16 +0000
<![CDATA[ Lame Excuses are a lot like getting dumped on by a Bird.]]> Do You Call Friends Out on Lame Excuses?
Inspired by Monkey's friend in Texas who emailed a vexing dilemma that I think most can relate to in general terms!
We have all probably made dumb excuses to get out of something at one point or another, but I think as people get older and narrow down their friend base they tend to get more honest instead of making up excuses.

That said, once in awhile when a very big life altering event happens, a close friend that you assume/ think would step up to at least acknowledge said big life event -  via phone, text, email or snail mail - just completely bails out and goes dark.  Missing in Action.  Not to be heard from for months until one random day, boom.  They reach out like no time has passed, like no change has occurred, like you should just pick up where you left off.

Then, you ask said friend, "where have you been?" and the lame excuse lands on your shoulders like an unanticipated bird crap falling out of the sky.

Do you:
a) call them out on the lame excuse and ask what really happened
b) ignore it and move forward
c) other?!

Personally I think you have to weigh the importance of the friend and the depth of the damage done by them going dark.

If they are important to you and the damage isn't permanent, call them on it.  You might not get a real answer because the truth is probably now magnified into an embarrassing boulder that was once a pebble because so much time has passed. BUT in some ways it puts them on notice that you won't continue to be treated that way.

Monkey Readers, What Say You???

Or visit my blog,

]]> Thu, 15 Apr 2010 23:32:51 +0000