Thursday, January 1, 2015


Is picking a word for the year so last year?!


Even so, I've joked with friends that my word for 2015 is mofo, which may not be a word at all, really.

That aside, I'm trying to make "you do you"  (or, more accurately, the sentiment behind it) my phrase for the year. The first time I saw it in print, I was clueless as to its meaning, unable to figure out where the accents go. YOU do you. you DO you. you do YOU. The person who said it to me (on Facebook, so that's not really saying, I guess) was a 40-something like myself. How could she be in the know about this cool new phrase and I be left behind much like I was when I heard "chump change" for the first time or discovered Blondie didn't invent rap music?!

Daughters. That's the only answer I could come up with. My sons knew the phrase, but they'd never in a million years use it. Especially now, because it is SO last year, I'm sure.

As it turns out, such a phrase is steeped in history, much like the evolution of rap music. I'm making all this up, of course, but I think the oldest phrase with the same meaning might have been "mind your own beeswax," which was the cool way of saying "mind your own business," which has now become simply "MYOB," not to be confused with "BYOB."

And in my household, a similar phrase used quite often is "you're just holding the tail." (I refuse to complete that thought, as it's for mature audiences only. But maybe you're familiar with it?)

See? Lots of ways of saying the same thing: you do it your way, I'll do it mine.

I am, by nature, a micromanager. I love to offer suggestions on the best route to take, the places you should visit in cities I love, the bands you should listen to, movies you should see... It's hard for me to MYOB. I don't mean to try to micromanage your life, I just want to share what I know. Because my way works for me, and therefore it should work for you too.

At the same time, I HATE to be micromanaged. Last week, I was MINDING MY OWN BUSINESS, eating some apple crisp and reading the paper. My husband sat down at the table with me. After taking a bite of MY apple crisp, he told me how much better it would be if I'd warmed it before eating it. Then he was all "why isn't it topped with whipped cream?" Really? I wanted to punch him in the face, or at least show him my favorite finger. I actually may have shown him my favorite finger, now that I think about it. BUT, had that happened today, January 1, 2015, I would've smiled up at him and said simply, "You do you, baby."

See? It's working already.

Because new year. 

Happy, happy, mofo!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Christmas Letter

This year I decided to put our Christmas letter on this blog instead of including it in cards that may or may not be sent out to friends and family who may or may not want to read yet another Christmas letter. That is what you are looking at right this very second. Thank you for choosing to be here!

The year has flown by. Bill finally did the math for me: As we age, each individual moment becomes a smaller fraction of our overall lives, so time seems to speed up. I'd never looked at it that way. But last Christmas feels like yesterday, so there is certainly some truth in that theory.

Cameron is in his second year of college at the University of Chicago, which marks year two of seven of  what I call The Poor Years. He made the Dean's List last year, and he's working in the performing arts building as a sound engineer (and just got his first raise!) and also DJs at a community radio station on campus. His DJ shift is every other Thursday, from 4 to 6 a.m. Bill and I visited him in Chicago a month or so ago and got to watch him in action. At 4 a.m. The vinyl library at the station is vast, so it was amazing to comb through the collection. It's also nice to hear the crackling of vinyl again on the airwaves.

Liam is in his junior year of high school, at a magnet school in San Antonio called The International School of the Americas. His school is consistently ranked in the top of the nation's high schools, so we're glad he's there. He's active in Model United Nations and PALS. PALS is a mentoring program to elementary school kids. He's always been a kid magnet, so it is right up his alley. He started driving this year. Two teenage boys put quite a premium on our insurance, so we didn't claim anything when he hit a fire hydrant. And he's been accident free since!

For years now, I have been the shortest one in the family, but now the boys are both taller than Bill. If you get our Christmas card, you'll see their photo, taken by some random mountain biker in a park still unknown to me. They wanted to take their own photo this year. Who am I to stop them? They are both squinting into the sun, but if you squint too, you'll hardly notice.

Bill is still hunting rabbits, among other things. I still refuse to eat rabbits, though I do enjoy a little venison when we have it in our freezer. He's spent many free weekends this year out hunting in the wilds of Texas. He leaves me a map in case he doesn't turn up, so I can tell authorities where to look for his body. Yes. Morbid.

I decided to take a step back into the writing world this year, spending a few weeks this summer touring with musicians and writing a blog about it for them. It wasn't near as glamorous as it sounds. But it was fun. And it made me realize how much I miss that type of work. Things have changed so much since my magazine days, but I'm looking forward jumping back into that world as soon as I can.

I hope 2013 was good to you! Like I said, it was gone in a flash for us, and I can only assume -- based on Bill's theory of the passage of time -- that 2014 will be a whirlwind year as well. Blessings to you and yours, from me and mine!

All the best

Monday, October 28, 2013

NaNoWriMo Starts Friday

My novel emailed me a couple of weeks ago, begging me to work on it. When I logged into my NaNoWriMo account, I noticed it had been two YEARS since I'd been there. That poor neglected novel never was meant to be, an idea abandoned on the side of the road at least a half dozen plots ago.

In case you are unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month, or something close to that. I am not good with exact quotes: Movies, song lyrics, acronyms ... I botch them all in equal measure. FTW, even. (You don't want to know what I thought FTW meant. You probably do know. And if you think that's what it means, you are wrong.)

I run through plots regularly while I'm showering, blowing my hair dry, attempting to straighten the waves with a flat iron held together with electrical tape. My characters speak -- sometimes their voices are audible. And if I'm writing in my head while getting ready for bed (maybe I should try poetry INSTEAD! See what I did there?!), I often wonder if my family thinks I've lost it. I've heard it's okay to talk to yourself. It's when your self starts answering back that you have to worry. Many times full conversations take place in my bathroom when I am the only human in the room. And crazy does run in my family. But so does drama, so I think I'm safe. For now.

As you may or may not have noticed, I regularly neglect this blog. I have published only a handful of entries this year. I am not entirely confident I will be successful with NaNoWriMo, which begins this Friday, November 1. By 11:59 p.m. November 30, I will need to have 50,000 words written down  in order to successfully complete the program. 

I have most of a plot ready to go. I have four to six characters pretty well thought out. I am struggling to decide whether I should write the whole thing in first person or third, third being easiest for me. I struggle with dialogue. I get bored with writing scenes. I tire of typing. If I could dictate the whole thing, I'd probably be more successful. If I had a WRITTEN outline, I know I'd be more successful. I'm hoping success comes packaged in the official 2gb USB NaNoWriMo armband I've ordered for the month. I will wear it daily as a reminder that I need to churn out some copy. I will pretend it has magical powers, enabling the words to flow so quickly, my fingers will have a hard time keeping pace. (I had to write about magic somewhere, since it won't be in my novel.)

I am committed. Mostly. As committed as I can be without a real goal past the 50,000 words. I'm hoping that the next time you see me here, I won't be hanging my head in shame. That's one reason I wanted to make a public declaration of my intent to finally write a complete novel. Maybe, just maybe, this blog post will prompt me to continue writing. It's all in my brain. I just need to get it down on paper. Don't we all?

Join me if you dare. Wish me luck, if you please. Both are mightily appreciated.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I like to think that I'll be among the first human beings to live forever. I think I'll drink from the fountain of youth tomorrow, since forty-six seems to be a pretty decent age at which to be frozen in time. I know these are crazy thoughts -- so crazy, in fact, that I don't even waste a wish for everlasting life on Earth when I spy 11:11 on the clock. I know I'm going to die. I just don't know when. And honestly? I don't want to know.

But while I was out enjoying my Summer of Fun Tour, my friend Karen's time on this Earth ran out. I was in Hollywood when I got the first phone call. She was bed-ridden, I was told. No one knew why. I didn't call her then because I was told her husband didn't want her disturbed. She would get better, I thought. I would get home and call her once she was better. I would listen to some outlandish tale she'd have to tell.

I should've called immediately.

The next call came while I was in Phoenix. She was dead.

I am typing these words and seeing them in print for the first time, and I still can't believe it. She never said a word to me. I never knew she was sick, even though I'm told that she was diagnosed eight months ago with an aggressive form of cancer.

She was the most cheerful person you could ever meet. Perky, even. And I feel like a heel for not knowing, not saying goodbye.

There are no do-overs in death. He comes in and takes what's his, ready or not.

She was too young to die. Or maybe she was just to good for this world.

I am selfish to think of all the time I won't be able to spend with her now that she's gone.

No more crazy discussions of her government paranoia, of vapor trails in the blue sky.

No more laughing at her when she pees herself in the port-o-let and has to hang a shirt around her waist until the evidence evaporates in the hot Texas sun.

No more getting irritated at her for falling asleep on our long, late-night drives back to the city after long days spent scouring for goods in cow pastures.

No more Christmas wreath making on my back patio, where if I searched hard enough, I know I'd find mica embedded in the cement from our last crafty get-together.

No more soup and sandwiches after auction previews on Tuesday mornings.

How do you mourn someone's death when you didn't even know she was dying? When you can't find an obituary? When her voice is still on her voicemail? When you don't know the family well enough to ask questions?

Karen was a bright spot in my life, as I'm sure she was in the lives of so many others. And I don't want to let her go. I don't want to take down the magnet with her photo that sticks to my freezer door, even though the calendar below it ran out of days long before her death.

I don't want to forget her. But I want to learn: To stay in touch. To never put off that phone call.

And I am selfish -- maybe even proudly selfish -- thinking only of my hurting heart. And of this glorious light that is now and will be forever dark.

"An angel got her wings, and we'll hold our heads up knowing that she's fine. We'd all be lucky to have a love like that in a lifetime. Friends stay side-by-side, in life and death you always stole my heart. You always meant so much to me that it's hard to believe this."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Summer of Fun Tour Continues

It's a long way from Texas to Kansas.

It seems even longer when you're trapped on a turnpike!
Miranda Lambert's shop in Tishomingo, Oklahoma

Somehow, my GPS must've known that, and after a quick visit (Okay. Maybe "quick" is overreaching.) to Miranda Lambert's store in Oklahoma, Ms. GPS sent us all the way to Lawrence, Kansas, on back roads. We were actually on highways, but they were MUCH more interesting than driving up I-35. It was slow-go, stopping to take pictures here and there and dodging turtles on the road. I've never seen so many turtles in my life. I saw more turtles than armadillos this trip.

Here are a few shots of a carnival we happened upon somewhere in small town, Oklahoma. I think I should've been a carny. Maybe running away with the circus is still an option? I've always been attracted to the imagery from both lifestyles -- from vintage freakshow photos to the smell of cotton candy to the belting barkers on the midway. Yet here I am. Typing on a keyboard, uninked and firmly rooted to a home that isn't on wheels and a family. Hope you enjoy the scenery.

Please click on the photos to see them in a larger format! 

It was a very overcast day. The carnival was still being set up. I was the lone shooter watching it all take place.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Surfin USA

I'm happy to report that Kristi's Summer of Fun Tour is in full swing! I just returned from a few glorious days in San Diego, where I served not only as a parking good luck charm, but as a weather goddess, bringing the sun from Texas, as well! No May grey or June gloom allowed!
{View of downtown San Diego from Coronado Island}

I saw some amazing beaches, full of amazing things like...SEA LIONS! RAWR!!

{They really don't roar. And they really aren't dead. 
Can you imagine this life? Swim. Sun. Sleep.}

Surfers! RAWR!

{They don't roar either. That was me roaring.}

Colorful landscapes unbeaten by heat and uneaten by deer!

{That is a lemon tree! I stayed with a friend whose backyard 
contained a lemon tree, an orange tree, a fig tree and an avocado tree. 
Unbelievable! California has everything!}

I came home with a wee bit of color and a swollen bottom lip, which I guess reacted in a very California way to three days of fairly constant sun exposure. It looked collagen-injected, for a fraction of the price! {I'm full of so many money-saving tips, you just wouldn't believe.}

I love California! I love the $5 bottles of water, the $4.11 gasoline, the $1.9 million dollar starter homes! I love that I can visit all that, good weather, and fun friends, then return home to my reality of affordable housing, 99-cent water and the love of a family. Summertime may be a beast here, but it's all mine. And it's a great base for my Summer of Fun Tour!

Note: This layout is WHACK. If you click the photos you can see them in all their glory, without strange things overlapping them.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Send Ransom!

Rock stars have kidnapped the writer of this blog!

She wishes.

Instead, her summer of fun has kicked off and she has so many new tales to tell! Sadly, however, very few involve rock stars at this time. BUT... once REAL summer arrives...oh, those stories will most certainly involve music, the open road, art and family fun.

So for now, you can visit her here (but don't worry, as it really isn't a hostage situation), if you're missing her THAT much. She's started a moonlighting gig that just happens to kick blogging arse. And it might involve rock stars.

{Guess where she's headed soon?}

This post is dedicated to a fellow fangirl who has a special love for third-person writing. And if the writer of this blog were the betting type, she'd guess this fangirl also favors the Queen's English.