a few weeks in the woods

today i am shining a light on a lovely group of ladies, the woodlands show chorus. for the sake of their goodness, i will for the remainder of this post put aside my aversion to capital letters and numbers so i can do this up right (or try to, anyway)...

The Woodlands Show Chorus invites women ages 12 and up to come sing it their way at "The Last Singer Standing," a judged vocal contest scheduled from 1:30-4 p.m. Saturday, September 26 at Dosey Doe Music Cafe, 463 FM 1488 in Conroe. Ages 12-17 must be accompanied by an adult. The top singers are eligible for cash prizes and awards.

Participants and interested parties are also invited to attend the chorus' combined open house and special performance, "A Show Chorus Affair," at 6:30 p.m. Monday, September 28 at Grace Crossing Church, 105 FM 1488, in the auditorium. Reserved seating is available for Saturday's contestants. Refreshments will be served.

Additionally, the chorus will host "Sh-Boom! It's A Capella: A Harmony Festival," for women ages 18-25. Lead by The Woodlands Show Chorus Assistant Director Kerri Mauney, the event will be from 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday, October 24 at Grace Crossing Church. Through October 11, the cost is $20 and includes lunch and a T-shirt. After October 11, the cost is increased to $25, and T-shirts are not guaranteed.

To register for the September 26 contest or the October 11 festival, visit thewoodlandsshowchorus.org.

The chorus, by the way, was established three years ago and is a chapter of Sweet Adeline's International. They meet at 7 p.m. Mondays at Grace Crossing Church. The music these ladies make is beautiful. They memorize all of it, and, from what they tell me, it's not easy music to learn. I was fortunate to sit in on one of their practices not too long ago. The first piece they sang was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

I love that song. So much. I've heard it often--in an episode of "House" and the film "Saint Ralph." Jeff Buckley recorded a stunning rendition of it. But the recordings I've heard have seemed to interpret that piece in an almost desperate fashion. The song I heard that Monday night had so much hope and reverence in it that I got chills.

I got to chat with a couple of members a few days ago. Some are members of this chorus as well as the Houston chapter of Sweet Adeline's International. She likes the relaxed, barbershop style of The Woodlands Show Chorus. She loves the women... and the sound. Another with whom I spoke has been a member of Sweet Adeline's International for decades. She takes a great deal out of her involvement--the automatic friendships, the confidence and strength... the distraction. She said it's impossible to think about anything else when she's singing. She'd originally joined Sweet Adeline's International in North Carolina--she was expecting her youngest and needed to get out of the house every now then... to have some time to herself. The friends she's made in the chorus... she sees them at competitions all across the country.

Speaking of competitions, the chorus won regionals in spring and will be at the international contest in Las Vegas in the fall of next year. they take that much time to prepare. i love that.

These women, yall, they can sing. They're fun and friendly and their love for life is contagious. I hope if you're in the area you can come to an event or at least catch a practice. It's so worth the time.
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twenty questions

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one. given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? rainbow rowell.

two. would you like to be famous? in what way? i want to write one book that resonates with at least one person. if it takes being famous for that to happen, so be it.

three. before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? why? it depends on the situation; usually no, but i've that whole can't-talk-to-people thing, so...

four. what would constitute a perfect day for you? right now, i'd be content with a day where i'm not telling myself god, you're ugly first thing in the morning or look at how fat you've gotten; it's disgusting while i'm getting dressed or you're so stupid while i'm at work. if i could have a day where there's no hate in it--from within or without--that'd be a beautiful thing.

five. when did you last sing to yourself? to someone else? today. i can't remember.

six. if you were able to live to the age of ninety and retain either the mind or body of a thirty-year-old for the last sixty years of your life, which would you want? the body. i'm perfectly fine with getting alzheimer's. but not being able to walk would suck. i know, because i've had knee reconstructive surgeries. that pain's a bitch.

seven. do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? nope.

eight. for what in your life do you feel most grateful? i didn't have to watch alcoholism take my brother over a period of several decades. it was quick. and a few months before he'd died, i'd found a way to love him again; i hadn't been able to do that for a long time.

nine. if you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be? we wouldn't've moved so much.

ten. if you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? affability.

eleven. a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know? that a man could love me; that i could love him.

twelve. is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? why haven’t you done it? writing this stupid book i've been screwing with since college. because it's not an easy thing to do.

thirteen. what is the greatest accomplishment of your life? i'm still here.

fourteen. what do you value most in a friendship? humor.

fifteen. what is your most treasured memory? christmas eve morning, when my older brother came home after a binge that nearly killed him. we'd assumed we weren't going to see him. my mother was convinced of this. i'd happened to be coming down the stairs just as he'd gotten to the front door. i let him in the house. he looked broken. i'd never seen him like that before. i'd never seen him as weak. i knew he was, but i'd never seen it. i stopped hating him that day. ironically, that's the best christmas present he could've given me.

sixteen. what is your most terrible memory? playing with the boys in my adolescence.

seventeen. if you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? why? if you count taking a month off to go on a road trip of the southeastern coast as changing life, then yes, i guess. otherwise, no.

eighteen. what does friendship mean to you? listening, laughing, leaning and letting one lean. just being there... good AND bad.

nineteen. when did you last cry in front of another person? by yourself? yesterday. today.

twenty. your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. after saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. what would it be? why? the bulletin board of pictures of my older brother that mom and i made for his memorial here. because that's pretty much all i have left of him.

what would your answers be?
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a week in review

two / houston writers guild: woodlands/spring/tomball.

i've been going to this thing for several weeks now and am loving it. yes, it's a trek. takes the better part of an hour to get to it (because of traffic) and to get home (no traffic... but the distance fro is twice that of to). yes, the work i'm presenting is complete and total crap, and i am, more often than not, ashamed to print the pages and cart them over and read the words aloud... having someone else read them is worse. yes, the people who go to this thing can write so much better than i. but i'm learning. or at least, there's the potential for learning, which is a wonderful thing. also... i might've made some friends. and for me, who is so horribly inept at such things... of course, the harder part is keeping them. we shall see.

three / carsie blanton 

i liked her show so much better than i'd thought i would. (she did cut it short, though, which i very much which she hadn't done, but the place was a ghost town, so i can understand.) will write more on this later.

four / oak ridge versus aldine

i already told yall about that.

five / van wilks

i did not go to this. i spent the majority of saturday and sunday working on fall film challenge stuff (that i should've done weeks ago, but... yeah).

(are you playing along? no? you totally should.)

eight / yoga for relaxation

as i'd predicted, i did not go to this. but not because i didn't want to go, which is why i'd assumed i wouldn't.

today was a particularly ugly day. too much hate in my heart. too much hate in my head. there are things inside me that are dead that should be living. there are things inside me that are living that should be dead. the bad is killing all the good, i fear. so i came home from work and changed into my yoga pants and an over-sized t-shirt (which fits me a helluva lot better than it should) and put on my sneaks and drove... and drove... and drove... and damn is that place too far for me to go. even by way of the interstate.

so i took the back way home, partly because en route to the place, while stopped at a light, the good lord showed me the glory of the sunlight glowing through the leaves and atop the blades of an overgrown field and on the petals of the brown-eyed susans (or whatever the hell those flowers were). i rolled the window down and marveled at the beauty of it, knowing full well that field would one day be lost to the city.

i drove down kuykendahl road, praying that god would make room in my heart for those who can't make room in theirs for me. i prayed... again... that he would let me love. that he would teach me how because i've never really learned. i've only ever learned to hate and rage and weep. and i am so weary of those things.

and i was better... until i had that wendy's cheeseburger. now i just feel irritable again. more on that later.

what did you do with your week?
how did reality differ from expectation?
where did you find the good?
what passages of the scripture do you favor?
what things did you do that you wished you hadn't?
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the good in my day: august

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caitlin. bambam. miracle. for love of the game. shipley's chocolate-covered donuts. blue bell ice cream's back in business (thank you, jesus)! work. california pizza kitchen's blt. dosey doe's grits waffle. trainwreck. chic-fil-a. lara. mama. the broncos beat the seahawks. amy and frank. mama's cooking. black walnut. johnny. barnes & noble booksellers. monkey, jack and beto. phil collins. journey. u2. simple minds. lara, jan and tamara. katy. home. two news stories i've written... but more the subject of those stories, and the privilege i've had to tell them. coca-cola. macaroni and cheese. my bed.
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go back to target, bitch

what i wanted to do was go home, get some dinner, get a shower and get to bed early.

but home is with my parents. the older i get the more ashamed i am to say this. financially, it's ideal -- i have no interest in throwing money away on rent and utilities when i've got a perfectly good room with a perfectly good bed that's vacant and free. there's home-cooked meals. like the one i had tonight with my parents, younger brother, his girlfriend and the twins.

what i wanted to do was stay home. what i made myself do was get out and watch a football game. i've been too much the homebody. i've been too much in my head, which is such a treacherous place to be. so i'd made up a list of things for me to do. getting to this game was one of'm.

my alma mater, oak ridge high school, played aldine tonight. oak ridge won -- seventy to twenty-two, i believe. i got to see an oak ridge kid run back a punt return for a touchdown. i love watching those.

i got to see a lot of people's backs, too, because so many chose to stand at the rail rather than sit in the bleachers.

the couple to my left was in their late sixties/early seventies. they had a grandchild on the field whom they couldn't see play because of all the people standing at the railing.

on any other day, i would've sucked it up.

but today, i was tired. today, i hollered at the folks along the walkway to get off the rail.  i did this a number of times.

finally, one of the women standing in the way looked at me and said, go back to target, bitch. 

the first feeling to greet me was shame, mostly because my employment with target was causing me to be so horribly depressed. that gave way to anger, to frustration, to shame and back to frustration. all in a matter of seconds.

i said i don't work there anymore. 

but you did, she insisted.

i don't work there anymore, i said again. it's mortification i'm feeling now because i am reminded of how inadequate i am and in so many ways. and i won't win this. i know it.

she knows it. but you did. this time when she says it, there's such superiority in the sentiment, in the expression.

what i want to say, because now i recognize her, is so did you. what of it?

but i couldn't.

instead, i collected my things and left, just like i did in my adolescence whenever i encountered confrontation -- which, in high school, was almost every day. i bolted, barely keeping those mortified, frustrated tears at bay until i managed to find a dark corner, just like i did in my adolescence.

eventually, i drove to pappadeaux's, sat in my usual spot, sipped on my usual drink -- unsweet tea -- and wept. to myself. to the servers.

i don't know how long i sat there. eventually, i managed to get myself moving. and it wasn't until i was in the shower, washing off as much of the ugliness as i could, that it dawned on me...

being an employee at target's not the most respectable line of work. it damned sure isn't the most pleasant. i can think of a thousand other places i'd rather work than there.

but here's the thing... i made good money at that job -- at one point i was making about twelve dollars an hour unloading and stocking merchandise delivered that day. i had health insurance. i had a job whose hours were, for most of my employment, suitable for having a second job, which i did.

let me say that again; they paid me well enough; they provided health insurance; and they afforded me the opportunity to work two jobs.

but most importantly, and i cannot begin to say how grateful i am for this:

they hired me when no one else would. 

(as for that football game ... i would've bailed at the next oak ridge touchdown, anyway. i hate seeing a bigger team beat up on a smaller one.)
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a week in the woods

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two, september
figure one-eighty exhibit
from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. tuesday through friday at thewoodlands art league, 25136 grogans park drive.
prayer for police
from 5:15-6 p.m. at first baptist church, 600 north main street in conroe. visit mctx.org.
houston writers guild: woodlands/spring/tomball*
from 6-8 p.m. at a member's residence. contact me for details.

from 8:30 p.m. at dosey doe music cafe, 463 fm 1488 in conroe. caleb lovely opens at 7:30 p.m.  tickets are $10.

from 6:30 p.m. at cynthia woods mitchell pavilion, 2005 lake robbins drive. tickets are. with lamb of god, bullet for my valentine and motionless in white. doors open at 6 p.m. tickets are $70 for the pit, $70, $60, $50 and $40 for reserved seating and $30 for the lawn. visit woodlandscenter.org.

oak ridge vs. aldine*
from 7 p.m. at woodforest bank stadium, 19115 david memorial drive in shenandoah.
bye bye birdie
from 8 p.m. friday and saturday and 2 p.m. sunday at owentheatre, 225 metcalf street in conroe. tickets are $22, $20 and $18.
from 8:30 p.m. at dosey doe big barn, 25911 interstate 45 north in spring. tickets are $118, $98, and $78 and include dinner, served 6-7:30 p.m.
from 8:30 p.m. at dosey doe music cafe. tickets are $18.

the woodlands kiwanis annual kids fishing tournament
registration from 7 a.m. tournament begins at 8 a.m. for toddlers to teenagers (ages 16 and under) at creekwood park, 3383 south panther creek drive. admission is free.
saturday young rider camp
from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for ages 5-14 at white bridge farms, 13123 noack road in magnolia. visit whitebridgefarms.com.
board game night*
from 5-8 p.m. at space cadets collection collection comicsand toys, 27326 robinson road, suite 117 in oak ridge north.
the woodlands labor day weekend celebration
from 6-9 p.m. saturday and sunday at waterway square, 31 waterway square place. moonlight social performs at 6 p.m. saturday; prophets and outlaws performs at 6 p.m. sunday.
from 8:30 p.m. at dosey doe big barn. tickets are $98, $78, $58 and include dinner, served 6-7:30  p.m.
from 8:30 p.m. at dosey doe music cafe. tickets are $15.

using your mind to create your ideal life
from 9:30-11 a.m. at the woodlands area chamber of commerce, 9320 lakeside boulevarde, building 2, suite 200, in the evergreen room. cost is $10 and includes a light continental breakfast. contact robin roberts at robin@theclarityguide.com.
yoga for relaxation*
from 7-8 p.m. at inner bliss yoga and wellness studio, 25420 kuykendahl road, suite f-600.

events designated with an asterisk are the ones you'd be most likely to find me...
(that last one's iffy... i should go... i probably won't.)
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saturday spotlight: prophets and outlaws

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there's this place that's like five minutes from my house called dosey doe music cafe. (that's not it in that there photograph... the doe's a heck of a lot cozier.) they have some some pretty good food, yall. but more, they provide a pretty nifty atmosphere for listening to live music.

earlier this week, i wrote an article about the labor day festivities the woodlands had planned; one band scheduled to perform that weekend is prophets and outlaws out of dallas. i had a look at their website and thought they might be worth checking out, but i hate big crowds and most likely will be steering clear of the waterway that weekend. and then i noticed that they had a gig at dosey doe, and tickets were only twelve bucks. i figured, what the hell? why not?

the lead singer, matt boggs, looks like he's in his mid-twenties. he's thirty. for as young and preppy (because i can't find the word i want) as he looks, his voice has got a surprising amount of soul.

i love how the band blends rock, blues and country for its sound. they call it texas soul, and the term fits. the only criticism i can offer is that their lyrics sometimes could be stronger. but then, that's probably just the writer in me.

they've recorded four ep's: wolf howl, wanted, prophets and outlaws and texas home. i bought the latter two and am happy with my purchase. i feel like the self-titled recording is the stronger one, but that's not to say the most recent release isn't noteworthy. i like the folksy feel of texas home. i like the beat of goodbye kiss. and i love the groove of me and my guitar. i drove around for an hour or so after the show was over, just so i could listen some more. and when the last song stopped playing, i was bummed. just like when the band stopped playing their ninety-minute set, i'd wished they'd kept going.

the guys were kind enough to answer some questions for me. i get to post them here! YEE!

matt boggs: vocals, guitar
steven guckenheimer: lead guitar, vocals
james guckenheimer: drums, vocals
jamie "jelly" ringholm: keys, organ, vocals
cj thompson: bass, vocals

how'd yall meet?
mb: i met brothers steven and james at jesuit college prep in dallas. steven first played guitar with me at my senior concert on the jesuit baseball field.

what bands/artists provide the greatest influence?
mb: we love a lot of the music in our scene: william clark green, adam hood, walt wilkins, midnight river choir, etc. but we also love r&b and jazz. dallas band snarky puppy is one of our favorites!
sg: the allman brothers, the eagles and the band had a big influence on the way we play and write. 

where was your first gig? how'd it go?
mb: our first gig as pao as it is presently constructed was at the blue light in lubbock. it was cj's first show with us. we had been a band long before that.
sg: one of our first gigs as prophets and outlaws, and THE first gig for jamie was big d nye. there were over thirty thousand people. let's just say jamie was in after that!

where was your best gig, and what made it so?
mb: our best gig was headlining larry joe taylor's music fest in april. we played the big stage, and the energy was amazing. can't wait to do it again.
sg: playing on the main stage at larry joe taylor this year was great. we got to share the bill with william clark green, stoney larue and josh abbott!

what's been the craziest gig?
mb: craziest gig?? right before our set at larry joe taylor's, extreme weather set in and we had to wait out tornado conditions with everyone in the vip tent. it was scary/memorable.

i've seen a lot of websites push their idea of the ultimate roadtrip playlist, with the typical on the road again, fast car, mustang sally, hit the road jack... i'm not impressed, to be honest. make me a playlist. 
mb: if we are on a long road trip, we might listen to some future-sounding jazz: qwuasimoto, madvillian, tribe called quest or maybe some smoother stuff like bonobo, teddy pendergrass, lauryn hill.
sg: we range from old soul songs to nineties country and everything in between. we spend a lot of hours on the road, so you will hear southern rock, blues, r&b, rap, jazz, etc.

what's been the biggest challenge about being in this band?
mb: the biggest challenge is dealing with our car and trailer. it's a full time job on its own, and none of us are "car" guys. we have gotten a ton of help from jamie "jelly" ringholm's father. he's a mechanic at sewell in dallas. life saver!

what's been the greatest reward?
mb: this might sound like a typical answer, but we love hearing fans sing our songs back to us. even the deep cuts.

how do yall handle conflict amongst each other? 
mb: we fight like brothers. we'll blow up at each other in the moment and smooth things over later. it helps because issues don't build up too bad that way.

what's a typical day like?
mb: day of a show, we meet at our rehearsal space and load our trailer with gear. we then try to stop for food--and not fast food. we love allowing more time and eating a little better. we'll try cafes, barbecue and anything we might find through diners, drive-ins and dives. after load-in, we typically do a harmony practice and warm up our vocals. by the time the show is over, there's only time to tear down and get home.

one of things i like about your music is that it meshes rock, blues and country so well. if you could NOT combine those three genres to make your texas soul... if you could only choose one, which one would you choose? 
mb: country.
sg: soul. 

where's your favorite place to play?
mb: we love panther island pavilion, the kessler, dosey doe.

what's the furthest you've ever gone for a gig?
mb: we've played gigs in denver; mobile, alabama; kansas and new mexico.

you've recorded four cds; which one is your favorite and why?
mb: it's hard to choose your favorite child, but i think we would all agree that texas home is our favorite. not only is it the newest, but it will have three radio singles come off it when it's all said and done.

which song is your favorite?
mb: texas home.
sg: soul shop. it was our first single, and it truly represents the type of music we are trying to create.
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random, but not the quarter kind

this is one of those posts that i'm doing because i feel like i should post something, but i really don't have anything to say...

the random quarter posts began for this very reason. but i already did one this month. i can't do another one.

so i guess i'll just tell you about what's been going on with me.

my great aunt passed away two weeks ago.

i missed her granddaughter's--my godsister's--wedding that following weekend because the booking company my mother used screwed up our tickets. i could've spent saturday in san diego (bummer).

she got a voucher for their error for less than half the value of the two tickets. she let me use it. it's not easy, using one of their vouchers. it's not like you can go to their website and book the flight yourself and enter some code. you have to call. you have to spend three hours of your time confirming the flight details with a dude who can barely speak english, only to find out that he screwed your flight up, too. so for a second there, i was going to go to north carolina for a week in november (YAY!). but the idiot booked the flight for november first rather than november fourth (fucker). and i can't take ten days off work. at least i'm pretty sure i can't. i've asked my boss. she didn't seem too eager, but she'd said she'd ask.

me, my munkle and the red truck

my family went to utah this past weekend to see my munkle (for those of you new here, my great uncle--one of several older brothers to the great aunt who recently passed and the only brother left alive--is a monk). i did not get to go. part of me is bummed about that. in forty-two summers of going to utah, i've only missed two. part of me is just like my great aunt--not too keen on watching a loved one leaving. and he will be leaving, and soon. i know it. i know it. he walks with two canes now, relying very heavily on them both. from what my parents and brother have said, he's not all there--he's not quick-witted; he'll have conversations with my mother where he'll talk to her about her, like she's someone else. his hands don't work. he's a carpenter, my munkle. he makes the most beautiful things. the fact that he can't make his hands do the making is a source of great contention for him. understandably so. but mostly... what i remember most is the way his face beamed with pleasure and how fiercely he would hold on to me, his arms so much like the carpenter's vise. i don't want to see his face if i can't see it the way it's always been. i don't want to hug him if he can't hug me the way he's always done.

i've been working on five stories. one of them is about a woman and the efforts she's made to raise awareness for the fatal, degenerative, genetic disease that's plagued her son for seven years.

and i have friends who are very sorely troubled by life at the moment.

i need a light. has anybody got one?

. . .

and of course, moments after i post this... browsing my facebook feed, one of my friends had posted this hours before, and i only just now saw it:

you will be nowhere tomorrow where god hasn't been (max lucado).

that's a pretty good light.
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saturday spotlight: houston writers guild

in my last year of college, at the urging of my creative writing professor, i joined a writers' group. i was twenty-three and full of myself when it came to my craft. i knew i was good. i knew i was gonna be a published author some day.

like i knew i was never gonna get fat.

flash forward twenty years. i'm not a published author. and i'm fat.

with regards to the depression i battle, this year has been one of the ugliest. the worst, by far, was the period from summer of 'two to summer of 'five. summer of 'ten was pretty shitty, too. so if i put them on a ten-scale with one being the worst and ten being the best, that three-year-period's a zero, the episode from 'ten is probably a six, and this one's a two.

in january, i sent this email to a friend:

there's no poetry in my prose. there's no music in it. and i don't know if that's because i've let too many people from my youth and early adulthood feed my ego by telling me i can write when i really can't or if i've just gotten sick of this story. 

either way... i had two dreams in this life. the first was one from childhood and adolescence about becoming a wife and mother. the second was being a writer. i've dealt with the death of the first by clinging to the second. lately, it feels i'm trying to resuscitate a corpse.

i was a member of that writer's guild for a couple of years. i quit it for two reasons: one) i'd gotten a full-time job in houston; two) i was too full of myself and thought too little of the folks in the group, many of whom were much older than i--middle-aged to senior citizens whom, i thought, were writing because they had nothing better to do with their time. and yes, that's pretty shitty of me. i know it.

last month, i drove to westheimer and the beltway (which is not a good drive at all) to see about joining a writers' group there. it had, of course, started by the time i'd gotten there. it was a crowded room full of older adults, and my gut automatically balked because i didn't want to be in a room with a bunch of old folks. i wanted to meet people my age who had an interest in the craft. i stood outside the door for probably ten minutes, debating whether i should stay or go.

i'm depressed, yall, and have lost so much faith in my skills... i'd drive to alaska if it would restore my faith in my craft. so long as going there felt right.

fortunately i don't have to do that.

there's this other writers group, the houston writers guild--i've been to a couple of their conferences, and they're not bad. one of its members is trying to start up a group in the spring/tomball/woodlands area. she wants to have meetings on wednesdays for two hours, starting at half past six in the evening.

i met with her last week. and she's really cool. and she's looking for this thing to be a success. so... if you happen to live in the spring/tomball/woodlands area and are interested in forging some friendships with at least two pretty cool folks (me and her), let me know.
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random quarter: the q&a edition-august

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one. do you need a cold shower? no.

two. describe the room you're in right now. office. gray walls and carpet.

three. what do you lie about? lots of things. hello? writer.

four. when was the last time you were on an airplane? july sixth of this year.

five. today you destroyed a box of club minis.

six. who are you? a modern-day miss brill.

seven. what was your last great meal? babin's halibut with lump crab.

eight. write down your last sent text message. you're pretty wonderful, as well.

nine. what are you running from at this moment? wellness.

ten. how many stamps are on your passport? no clue.

eleven. what is your resolution for tomorrow? get through the day.

twelve. what is your favorite thing to do on a saturday morning? sleep.

thirteen. what do you like best about your body today? the freckle on my heel.

fourteen. my body and my brain really bothered me today.

fifteen. in a hundred forty characters or fewer summarize your day. work, errands, shower, play, sleep.

sixteen. what can't you forget? all the ways i've failed.

seventeen. what would you like to tell your father? shouldn't be proud of me.

eighteen. what's the best part of your life right now? job. nights and weekends off.

nineteen. what did have for dinner? six chic-fil-a nuggets and water.

twenty. do you make enough money? yep.

twenty-one. did you complete your to-do list for the day? didn't have one... so, yes?

twenty-two. what question (or questions) do you love to answer? the ones in this book.

twenty-three. what's your favorite piece of clothing? this shirt.

twenty-four. write your recipe for creativity. pour madness into bowl. stir.

twenty-five. when was the last time you worked out? no clue.

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the tunes i grew up on

the majority of my mother's family lives in colorado. we spent christmases there. and spring break. and summer vacations. i remember trips from my grandmother's house in grand junction to the cabin she owned in basalt. she'd drive her white buick riviera, with mom in the passenger seat and my brothers in the back. we'd listen to her eight-tracks: george strait, john denver, barry manilow, helen reddy and the carpenters.

lately i've been thinking about the songs i learned in my childhood. the ones i favored....

george strait's all my exes live in texas. john denver's annie's song, somedays are diamonds, the cowboy and the lady, perhaps love, san francisco mabel joy. barry manilow's mandy. helen reddy's delta dawn, ain't no way to treat a lady...

i googled the most popular songs of 'seventy-three (the year of my birth) and every year after for a decade. i surveyed google's list of the songs most frequently mentioned on the web for each year, and the ones i liked the best? 

delta dawn (there's a helen reddy version and a tanya tucker version, and i'm pretty sure we listened to them both). annie's song (john denver). send in the clowns (judy collins/barbra streisand). all out of love (air supply). king of pain (the police). owner of a lonely heart (yes). faithfully (journey).

delta dawn, what's that flower you have on?
could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
and did i hear you say he was meeting you here to day
to take you to his mansion in the sky?

she's forty-one, and her daddy still calls her baby.

isn't it rich? aren't we a pair?
me here at last on the ground, you in mid-air
where are the clowns?

isn't it bliss? don't you approve?
one who keeps tearing around, one who can't move
where are the clowns? there ought to be clowns.

just when i'd stopped opening doors
finally knowing the one that i wanted was yours
making my entrance again with my usual flair
sure of my lines, no one is there.

don't you love farce? my fault, i fear
i thought that you'd want what i want. sorry, my dear

but where are the clowns? there ought to be clowns.

there's a little black spot on the sun today.
it's the same old thing as yesterday.
there's a black hat caught in a high treetop.
there's a flagpole rag, and the wind won't stop.

i have stood here before, inside the pouring rain
with my world turning circles, running 'round my brain.
i guess i'm always hoping that you'll end this reign,
but it's my destiny to be the king of pain.

i know there was happier music. i know there was. i'm sure i liked it. but i don't remember it affecting me the way these songs did, even as a child. i knew how desperate some of them were, even then. 

the ones i remember liking the most were denver's san francisco mabel joy--my god, that's a sad story--and manilow's mandy. 

i can't listen to delta dawn now. i feel as foolish as the people in the town make her sound.

thank the lord for older brothers and their appreciation of things like acdc, zz top, van halen and def leppard. and mtv.
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the fall film challenge: picky recommends


for those of you interested in attempting this great feat, i have for you a list of the one-to-three best examples, in my expert, film-connoisseur opinion, using the links provided in the original ffc post, for each category.

one. any set in new york city. 
hitch. donnie brasco. one fine day.

two. any incorporating hot air balloons in the story.
the count of monte cristo.

three. any featuring a child as the main character.
kramer vs. kramer. home alone. my girl.

four. any disney film.
cinderella. pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl. inside out.

five. any set in egypt/has an egyptian character/stars an egyptian actor/actress.
night at the museum. night at the museum: secret of the tomb.

six. a close friend or family member's favorite film.
(from the responses i'd received when i'd polled friends and family)
love actually. the princess bride.

seven. any with the word great in the title.
the great raid. 

eight. any starring harrison ford.
star wars: episode v-the empire strikes back. morning glory. sabrina.

nine. any featuring an idiot as the main character.
ace ventura: pet detective. billy madison. tommy boy.

ten. any mentioned in levis strauss' list: denim in the oscars: a look at jeans in cinema.
brokeback mountain. ghost. field of dreams.

eleven. a film about a knight.
robin hood: prince of thieves. a knight's tale. king arthur.

twelve. a love story.
about time. dedication. five hundred days of summer.

thirteen. a movie about something miraculous.
saving private ryan. mr. magorium's wonder emporium. apollo thirteen.

fourteen. any starring an actor/actress with the same first name as yours.
(but of course, this only works if your name's jenn... which is actually pretty common, so...)
a beautiful mind. love happens. marley and me.

fifteen. a film about the olympics.
miracle. the cutting edge.

sixteen. a film on time magazine's list: the top ten newspaper movies.
(actually, i don't like any of'm on that list, so you'll get no help from me.)

seventeen. any with a question in the title.
(and i can't think of a single title for this one, either, that i can recommend. the closest would be who's afraid of virginia woolf? but damn, that's a depressing flick.)

eighteen. any with a score of ninety percent or greater on rotten tomatoes.
star trek (2009). the lord of the rings: the two towers. the bourne ultimatum.

nineteen. a film about a superhero.
marvel's the avengers. 

twenty. any with subtitles.

twenty-one. any incorporating unicorns in the story.
harry potter and the sorcerer's stone. legend.

twenty-two. a film about a personal victory.
memoirs of a geisha. life as a house. the way way back.

twenty-three. a film with black or white in the title.
men in black three. snow white and the seven dwarfs. little black book.

twenty-four. any set in a country you would most like to visit.
(for me, this would be austria)
the peacemaker.

twenty-five. a film set in a zoo.
we bought a zoo. 
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the good in my day: july

grand junction, colorado. the picnic with the deonier clan in the cemetery (sounds morbid, but it was actually really nice). dinner at the rockslide. lunch, then cards with the cousins. the drive to palisade, alongside the bookcliffs and mount garfield, driving by the house in which my mother's family grew up, and driving toward the monument. pappadeaux's. ashley. aidan. willis. alex. john. brendas. beth. randi rae. jose. jim carey's commencement speech (i watch this often; it's a good one). trainwreck. harry potter and the sorcerer's stone. wendi. brian. luby's fried fish, macaroni and cheese and dinner rolls with land of lakes salted butter. the wonder twins. babin's broiled halibut with crab meat and capers in lemon butter. john williams. shipley's donuts. fresh boxes of crayolas. giant coloring pages. zulee's. heb. massage envy. club crackers.
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motion picture monday

one. the blind side.
released: 2009.
starring: quinton aaron, sandra bullock, tim mcgraw.
what makes it awesome: sandra bullock got that oscar for it. but really? michael oher's story's a pretty remarkable thing.

two. cinderella man.
released: 2005.
starring: russell crowe, renee zellweger, paul giamatti
what makes it awesome: paul giamatti got that oscar nomination for it. but really? james j. braddock's story's a damned remarkable thing. also, i really liked russell crowe in this movie. the trailer still gives me chills, and i've watched this movie dozens and dozens of times.

three. draft day.
released: 2014.
starring: kevin costner, jennifer garner, chadwick boseman.
what makes it awesome: not kevin costner. not by a longshot. but the cinematography's pretty nifty, and the story's good.

four. fever pitch.
released: 2005.
starring: jimmy fallon, drew barrymore, kadee strickland.
what makes it awesome: jimmy fallon. love that man.

five. for love of the game.
released: 1999.
starring: kevin costner, kelly preston, john c. reilly.
what makes it awesome: now here, costner does good. this is my favorite of his films, hands down. i also love kelly preston in it. this of my favorite of her films, hands down. and the story, yall, is SO, SO good. i love how well-constructed it is. i love how it mixes past and present, and how the past has such a huge influence in the outcome of one game. i love the opening credits. if you haven't figured it out yet, i am a HUGE film geek. i love watching a story start to unfold, and when it's done well, like it is here--with the perfect music and the characters slowly coming into focus... it's just neat. this is a really good movie. almost makes me like baseball.

six. miracle.
released: 2004.
starring: kurt russell, patricia clarkson, noah emmerich.
what makes it awesome: the history. the music. the cast. the opening credits--they're the best ones i've ever seen. but dear god, yall... the story. the triumph.

seven. seabiscuit.
released: 2003.
starring: jeff bridges, tobey maguire, chris cooper.
what makes it awesome: can't stand tobey maguire. can't STAND him. never really been a fan of jeff bridges, either. or chris cooper for that matter. but they're so, so good here. it's a long movie, plodding along at times--but i think that's the point, considering the world was barely plodding along when this story took place. considering that the characters, when their paths cross, are so broken and lost. the music's pretty. the trailer still gives me chills, and i've watched this movie dozens and dozens of times, too.
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