September 26, 2014

random quarter: happy memories

i call this one random, but it's not, really. in fact, these haven't been random in a while (i think i've run out of random, actually). but one of my blogging friends loved these posts. she's no longer with us, and i'm saddened by this because i'd enjoyed her friendship. she loved them. and i could use some happy thoughts, so... a chronological list.

one. march, i think. fourteen years ago. borders at meyerland plaza. i was working the five a.m. to two p.m. shift as a shelving clerk. my direct supervisor was not a nice man. the commute, the hours, the work, the man's lack of respect for me... all of these things had been eating at my sense of job satisfaction for several weeks. this, paired with depression, did not bode well for my mental or physical health. i hated coming to work, i felt like crap all the time, and i was on the verge of quitting. i'd volunteered for shelving crew in october. the hours, once eleven p.m. to ten a.m.. had seemed ideal: i could write in the evenings, work and then sleep. the general manager had said it would only last until january. i hadn't realized he'd meant the hours. they changed in january. so i was working when i usually was sleeping. i wasn't writing; i was barely eating, barely sleeping. the happy, then, was the note i'd found in my box when i'd come into work one morning. the general manager was away for an extended bit of time. the inventory manager had been promoted to interim general manager. she'd left the note: come see me. and the first words out of her mouth were: i'm pulling you off shelving crew. i about wept right there, i was so overcome with relief.

two. november, i think. that same year. borders again, but this time at stafford. i had just come in from a smoke break. i'd loaded up a library cart and hauled it to the science fiction section and begun shelving. (the same woman who'd saved me from the shelving crew that spring... she'd been promoted and assigned her own store. i had left the company in june--when that store's general manager had returned, he was not pleased that i'd returned to day shifts, and his treatment of me reflected that displeasure, and i'd had enough. when i'd learned that she'd gotten her store, i went to work for her). my general manager found me and said come smoke with me. i'd replied that i'd just returned from a smoke break. she insisted. so we sat out on the patio, and she discussed with me the trio of promotions she had available for me. that she'd thought enough of me to even discuss them was a pleasure. that she gave me a choice... i've never felt so welcomed, so respected.

three. borders again. stafford. i don't remember when. i was the front of store lead clerk, responsible for all the tables and bestseller/local interest/new release bays. i was damned good at my job. i knew it. my general manager knew it. but she'd told me after a corporate visit that our store had the best front of store in houston.

four. june, two thousand one. borders again, but this time in selma, texas. opening a new store. that was so much fun: new fixtures, new books, good music, no customers.

five. the best first date: thursday, march twenty-first, two thousand two. fours hours at international house of pancakes (with a quick jaunt to mcdonald's and texaco for fries and drinks). the first time i'd ever felt comfortable with a guy. also, the man said i was gorgeous. me. gorgeous. i'd been wearing a gray, long-sleeved american eagle rugby t-shirt, ragged, boot cut gap blue jeans and my docs. i wouldn't've used the word gorgeous. that he did thrilled me.

six. august. that same year. my victorian literature professor introduced me to the best book i've ever read: charles dickens' our mutual friend. 

seven. october. same year. victorian literature midterm. i remember sitting in the class for quite some time at a loss for what to write. i'd sat in the front row near the door on the first day, and my classmates and i'd kind of kept to sitting in the same spots. so i'm sitting there with my blue book opened, twirling my pen with my right hand, propping up my frowning face with my left. and my professor looks up at me, then looks pointedly at my blue book and makes like he's writing. i remember grinning at him. and then a few minutes later, the idea for my essay came to me. i was still scrawling on those blue pages when it was time to turn in our tests. i remember him telling me later that he'd been surprised by how good my paper was. that he hadn't realized it was mine until after he'd finished reading and scoring it. that he'd been happy that it was mine. i was happy to get the a plus. i'd never gotten one on a paper before.

eight. november. same year. this same professor  came into class, pausing before he'd gotten to his desk to slip a white letter sheet of paper underneath my notebook. i'd pulled it out and read. information about the university of illinois at urbana-champaign, about some masters program (an mfa in writing, i think) for which they were hoping to increase their student body. he hadn't looked at me (at least i don't think he had). he hadn't even really stopped. it was very fluid, this encouragement of his. quick and understated. he'd opened the door and breezed in, withdrawing the paper from his and slipping it under mine without breaking stride. i remember my thoughts had been on that slip of paper all day instead of my studies. it was the first time in a long time any professor had offered any kind of encouragement.

nine. december. same year. my linguistics professor had asked us to fill out index cards about the classes we'd planned to take the next year (or something like that), our academic goals... that sort of thing. i written on my card that i wasn't going to be in class next semester. writing that had made me sad because i'd thought of my parents and how they hadn't wanted me to take more classes. and she'd asked me after class had been dismissed why i wasn't taking any in the spring. so i told her. and she'd looked appalled and had exclaimed you're so bright! you should be in school! her faith in me, paired with that of my other professors that semester, was exactly what i needed.

ten. january, two thousand three. basalt, colorado. the last christmas at the cabin. my brothers and i didn't fight once. it was also the last time we'd all be together for a vacation.

eleven. april, two thousand five. the woodlands, texas. i'd applied for an editorial assistant's gig at a weekly newspaper. i was living in san antonio, but i wanted to come home. to do this i needed a job, and hunting's not my specialty. somehow i'd scored an interview at this paper. i donned a yellow blouse and a gray suit and headed for the editor's office. i sat there gripping the chair while she told me about the job. i remember thinking this sounds sort of perfect. and when she'd finished talking, i blurted out (in this painfully shy manner) can i have it? she studied me for a moment then said, yes, i think you can. 

twelve. july, two thousand seven. london with maria. best vacation ever. the best part, aside from her company, of course, was touring the churchill war rooms.

thirteen. july, two thousand eight. the second best date: dinner at tommy bahamas. i looked GOOD. i'd been working out, i'd quit smoking, and i'd dressed well (thanks to anthropologie). and i'd been wowed by the dude. i hadn't expected it. i'd met him online, and in the pictures he looked cute, impish. made me think of puck and peter pan. in person, he was much more impressive. but more, i hadn't considered that another dude could do that.

fourteen. july, two thousand nine. hiking alone in wales. there's a scene in two thousand five's pride and prejudice in which keira knightley's elizabeth stands on a cliff overlooking the countryside, reveling in the breeze, in the independence, the peace. i'd been walking toward hay's bluff, near hay-on-wye. i didn't make it to the top, but that's okay. there was a point when i turned and saw this view and reveled in the breeze and knew contentment. i was actually really glad to experience that by myself. had i been with friends, i wouldn't've been able to do so.

fifteen. july, that same year. writing this post.

sixteen. august. same year. writing this one. maybe i'll never become a successful novelist. maybe nothing of mine will be in print the way i'd hoped. but i'm damned proud of those two pieces. of my ability to take pain and make something pretty with it.

seventeen. june, two thousand ten. the hike to neuschwanstein. it was a bitch climbing that mountain. but the view... and then that castle. i'd never seen anything so beautiful in my life.

eighteen. november. that same year. college station. specifically kyle field. east side, first deck (NOT in visitor territory). the aggies had lost to the razorbacks and then the tigers (worst game EVER... at least that i'd seen in person. i'd never seen that field so dejected). they beat the jayhawks (big deal). they beat the red raiders (yay!). then they beat the sooners (hot DAMN)!! and the bears! THEN they beat those silly cornhuskers from nebraska. it was BEAUTIFUL. i've never yelled so loud in my life.

nineteen. june, two thousand eleven. sitting outside the guest house at the abbey of our lady of the holy trinity in huntsville, utah, under the shade of that box elder tree and enjoying that lush, peaceful view, the breeze, the cooler climate and the company of my mother's family. (also, we'd gotten there in time to see the lilacs! that hardly ever happens.)

twenty. december. that same year. and they say the leaves don't turn in texas. i call bullshit.

twenty-one. i can't tell you when i wrote this, but it's one of my favorite pages in the novel with which i've been tinkering. i did good, here. at least, i'm proud of it. that's all that matters.

twenty-two. february of last year. i read the language of flowers. it'd been a long time since i'd loved a book.

twenty-three. april. that same year. i read the fault in our stars and loved it, too.

twenty-four. june. same year. i didn't think i could love a book more than i loved fault, but then i read eleanor and park. i fell in love with this one on the first page. that hardly ever happens. i mention these stories because they keep me in love with my craft.

twenty-five. bugging the boys and girls at pappadeaux's. like today. today's a good day for that.

September 25, 2014

saving eliza

four years ago, whenever i pulled out my laptop, my then-one-year-old nephew would drop whatever he was doing and scurry over to me (either on his hands and knees or on wobbly, toddler legs), climb into my lap and get his hands on my mac. footballs! i wanna watch footballs! (he couldn't yet pronounce the lls, and he loved the s at the end, so it came out more like footbawss!). we watched a lot of aggies football highlights. we watched a lot of pro football highlights, too. one of the videos he liked was nfl's back to football ad from that year. it featured one of the first songs he'd learned to sing because we watched that video so often.

he's five now. he doesn't crawl into my lap anymore. in fact, it's a pain in the ass to even get the boy to give me a hug. (but he loves football, and he loves the aggies, so my attempts to brainwash him have worked.)

this morning as i surfed the web while i was waking up, i came across the story of four-year-old eliza, an adorable child suffering from a hideous disorder called sanfilippo syndrome. this vicious disease will slowly rob her of the ability to speak, to walk, to run, to dance... to sing. it will ravage her brain and body with seizures. it will kill her if it's not stopped. and it can be.

but it will cost a LOT of money to stop it. a couple of million dollars. a ridiculous amount. and raising that much money to fund a clinical trial in which their daughter may or may not be able to participate seems like a ridiculously hopeless thing. maybe it is. but they started a gofundme campaign anyway. they've raised more than a million dollars so far. and they've challenged people to sing two lines to their daughter to help raise awareness, to help raise the money. 

i thought all day on the two lines i could sing. i thought of bill withers' lean on me. i thought of pharrell williams' happy. and then i thought of my nephew. of the songs he most enjoys. and i remembered high hopes. 

and it's perfect, really. because i do hope. and my hopes are high.

so... here's me singing my two lines. and i challenge you, dear readers, to sing a couple yourselves. and maybe, with a lot of help and courage and love, we can save this little girl and others like her.

September 19, 2014

the pick ten: ninth issue

one. the southern living dolly parton interview

two. steel magnolias. this here film's got one of the best casts ever assembled: sally field, dolly parton, olympia dukakis, shirley maclaine, daryl hannah, tom skerritt, sam shephard, dylan mcdermott. and julia roberts: i would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special. there are people who've not seen this film; i'm amazed by this. if i lost my film library, this'd be the first film i'd replace.

three. this hat. if one of you lovely readers felt like spoiling me with something lovely, i wouldn't mind finding this in my mailbox. just saying.

four. the woman who made that hat? she wrote this blog post, which included this picture:

i recommend a combo of numbers one and five, paired with a couple of advil or tylenol. that tends to work best for me.

five. fronzilla shared this photo on facebook. 

six. sarah and friends blogged about the best book they'd read this summer. what was yours? link up, and find your next good read!

seven. red band society. this might just be the best show on television this season. WATCH IT. you'll be glad you did.

nine. my friend annette pinned this photo of toy car wall art.

ten. and my friend heather pinned this bit of inspiration:

September 16, 2014

the pick ten: eighth issue

one. repurposing an old dresser for neat bench seat. and this has been parked in iphoto for so long, waiting for me to do one of these posts, that i've forgotten how i found it. i sort of dig it (even though it's painted, and i am NOT a fan of painting wood... i'd probably stain it, instead).

two through five. my friend jenn called my attention to the next batch of photos via a random assortment of facebook pages. 

six. lauren wrote about her home state of arizona. and posted the below photo, which i found amusing.

seven. xena the warrior dog. the saved becomes a savior. and my heart... my heart, it lives for stories like these. (i just learned of this story the other day, by the way, so... not new, but new to me.)

eight. shannon's post about changing light bulbs.

nine. conversations with gladys. i'm sure you've heard them before. these are good go-tos for the darker days when i could use a good belly laugh. oh, honey. let me tell you. we got... austin, texas had a little bit of ice and two flakes of snow, and they shut the whole city down... the local news, they showed a icicle hanging off a fellow's roof to his house, and that was the big news here in austin, texas. (i only learned of these a couple of months ago, so i'm late to the party for this, as well. like the tale of xena, i put it here so that i can find it again later.)

ten. argo, the lincoln lawyer and the hundred foot journey. of the films i've seen this month, these are the best by far. (it's not too late to join in on the fall film challenge, yall. come on! play along! five people will each receive a redbox gift card for ten bucks, and one will score one to amazon for fifty bucks!)

lots of good in these here parts, too...

texas a&m university/kyle field
lake conroe
sam houston national forest
bernhardt winery
the bluebonnets in the spring!
blue bell ice cream
the cynthia woods mitchell pavilion
mercer arboretum
and, of course, the city of houston

the good in my day

i read in a magazine or on a website or something... somewhere... about how one should write down the most beautiful thing about the day. and that looking at this list will help a person see her life differently, more positively.

home. the library. assisting a design specialist with an in-home consultation. the lincoln lawyer. work. the hundred foot journey. conversations with stephanie. mom's brownies. the compliments i got on my attire. i finally (FINALLY!) got all the images (so far) uploaded to facebook for the film challenge. giving the brendas some happy (also called swapportunity... i haven't been able to do much in the past few weeks so it was nice to be able to share). clocking out. panera's autumn squash soup. my flannel star wars sheets. sending kathryn some happy. marble slab's chocolate and coffee ice cream with crush peanut m&m's. starbuck's blueberry muffins. pottery barn teen. jimmy john's subs. the movies with caterine. meredith's smiling face. sending melissa some happy. the waterway just after sunset. dinner with josh and dianne. lunch with melissa.
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