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fifteen things celebrated in november: a scavenger hunt

November 30, 2016

mental floss posted an article about fifteen offbeat holidays to celebrate in november. i made up a scavenger hunt using the dates referenced in the article as prompts. not only did i have to do the things, i had to take a selfie (and i LOATHE selfies) of my having done the thing.



one. november second: plan your epitaph day. here's a happy one for yall. buy a small batch of posies, visit a cemetery and leave the flowers at the grave of someone whose headstone struck some sort of chord with you. sometimes people leave quotes on them. my older brother's buried in colorado. his headstone is a bench upon which are the words laughter was his art. if you're feeling especially generous, maybe send up a prayer of thanksgiving for that individual's family and friends.

i didn't have to go far for this one. one of my mom's students is buried in a cemetery minutes from our home. i'd gone there to try to find her. the first to catch my attention was the grave of a one-day old boy named hank. i always liked that name. matthew 19:14. let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

two.
two. november third. sadie hawkins day. get a guy's phone number. do with it what you will.

three. november fourth. king tut day. yall know that bangles song walk like an egyptian? if you feel like strutting your stuff in public to the tune of that insane eighties hit, be my guest. or if you're in new york and can get to the met, supposedly they've got egyptian art on display. maybe a museum near you does? i got no idea. look into that. i'm cool with you browsing the stacks of your local library or bookstore. find a book about king tut or the egyptians... factual or fiction, turn to page one hundred fourteen, what's the fourth word on the eleventh line?

three. agatha christie's death on the nile. the fourth word on the eleventh line of page one hundred fourteen is it's.
four. sending a note to senator cornyn.

four. november fifth. guy fawkes day. ever wanted to give a senator, congressman or some other elected official a piece of your mind? i put a letter in the mail to the president the other day. i didn't care that he'll most likely never see it; it felt good writing it, addressing it and dropping it in one of the united states postal services boxes, complete with my jimi hendrix stamp in the top right corner. find out who's running things in your neck of the woods. try bitching to him instead of your twitter and facebook accounts.
five. shel, who plays the sax, and i at kyle field for the aggies vs. utsa game
five. november sixth. national saxophone day. find a sax player. get the man a drink. or girl, though... i can't say i've ever seen a woman play the sax. if you find one, lemme know.

six. at baker street pub and grill
and at the gooses acre irish pub
six. november seventh. international tongue twister day. go to your local bar when it's hopping. get a stranger to get through the woodchuck chucking wood or so and so selling seashells by the seashore. without tripping over the words. buy that person a drink when the deed's accomplished.

one of the gals in the book club to which i belong chose the twister. i limited it to one line: mrs. puggy wuggy has a square cut punt. the whole thing's pretty spectacular, really. she found it here.

seven.
seven. november thirteenth. world kindness day. do something good for someone. this can be anyone: family, friend, stranger... whatever. once you've done it, find out three things about that person. choose from the following: their best day; their worst (if they feel like sharing); their favorite book; favorite film; favorite band; favorite song; favorite food; best vacation; where'd they'd most like to go for their next vacation; the job they have now; the job they'd love to have; whether they like dogs or cats; coke or pepsi.

three things about the gal on the left: best day: one spent with family; where she'd most like to go on vacation: italy; favorite film: walk the line. and three about the one on the right: she prefers coke over pepsi. her best vacation was cancun (white sand, blue water, lots of liquor); favorite food's pizza (pepperoni with black olives from dominos).

oh, yes, we have old bananas. mama's saving them for banana bread.
eight. november fifteenth. clean out your refrigerator day. show me the nastiest thing in there. WHY IS IT STILL IN THERE?

nine. donating clothes to something special, montgomery county women's center's resale shop.
nine. november eighteenth. use less stuff day. i've got books on the brain lately, so... round up some of your books that are in good condition and donate them to your local library (or to a friends of the library group). AND/OR clean out your closet and donate the things to a women's shelter.

ten. idiot's identity spared because he's my brother
ten.
ten. november nineteenth. world toilet day. well this one's fascinating. my younger brother would have a field day with this one. there is such a thing as a bathroom guest book. find it. buy it. give it to that special idiot in your life.

eleven. november nineteenth. international men's day. how interesting that this occurs on the same day as world toilet day. get a gift card valued at no more than twenty-five dollars to some store or restaurant dudes love. dick's sporting goods, perhaps (though i hear their shit's way overpriced...so academy may be a better bet). give it to a random guy. just because.

the day i tackled this one, i was at starbucks with a couple of my writing friends. one of them suggested i get a gift card from the boardroom, which is basically a really upscale barber shop.

eleven. me bestowing a gift card to the boardroom, a place where guys go to get groomed, to a married man. not awkward at all. 

twelve. my spot at pappadeaux's.
twelve. november twenty-second. national start your own country day. i'm pretty sure half of america would jump at the chance. let's keep this one civil, though, yeah? where's your favorite spot? where do you go when the day is just too ugly and you need to see something good? show me what your country would look like. in a perfect world, my country would be on a beach in fiji or a flat in london... i'm looking for something a little more realistic here. there's gotta be a place you go when you need to get centered. show me that.

i'd intended to use a photo of lake woodlands as seen from the edge of northshore park, but there was a fence in my way. and then it occurred to me: in my free time, which isn't really free because i'm typically using it to write, i'm at deaux's, so... that is my spot. those are my people.


thirteen.
sammy hundley at the gooses acre irish pub. 
thirteen. november twenty-third. national day of listening. i know the purpose of this day. we tune each other out so often, and with such success. nothing proves that more than an election. we only hear what we want to hear. nine good things might be said, but there's that one word or phrase... music soothes the savage beast, and things are much too savage right now. check out who's playing at your local pubs or concert halls. pick a band you've never heard of before. go see them play. listen.

fourteen. watching martian child.
fourteen. november twenty-eight. red planet day. have fun with this one. i'm giving yall a freebie. interpret this one however you'd like, so long as it can be tied to mars somehow. pottery barn kids sells a planet mobile, for example. find that. get a picture with it. grab a copy of the martian, turn to page eleven and share the eighth word on the twentieth line. watch the film the martian child and share your favorite line. men are from mars, right? introduce yourself to a stranger and pick his brain; ask him anything you want. go to town. show me how crafty and clever you can be.

i chose to watch martian child. david (john cusack), a science-fiction novelist and widower, must decide if he wants to go through the plans he'd made with his wife to adopt a child. he meets dennis, a boy who insists he's from mars. i love this movie. i forget how much, and then i watch it again, and it's like my love for it grows with every viewing.

david: are you a friend of his or what? 
esther: no, he's a weirdo. he doesn't have any friends. 
he doesn't? where is he hanging out?
he's in the box. he doesn't come out until night.
why does he do that?
the sun. he hates the sun.
why does he hate the sun?
i don't know. because he thinks it's too sunny?

the bluebonnet squares dancing to the beat of blurred lines.
fifteen. november twenty-ninth. national square dance day. i'm sure there's a square dancing group near you. find out when they meet. catch'm in their act. find out what they love most about being involved in that activity.

songs that start with the letter d: a not-so-random sample

one. dare you to move. switchfoot. learning to breathe.
two. deeper than the holler. randy travis. old eight by ten.
three. desperado. the eagles. desperado.
four. distant sun. crowded house. together alone.
five. divine. korn's self-titled album.
six. do what you have to do. sarah mclachlan. surfacing.
seven. does this mean you're moving on? the airborne toxic event's self-titled album. 
eight. don't speak. no doubt. tragic kingdom.
nine. don't tell me (what love can do). van halen. balance.
ten. don't you (forget about me). simple minds. the breakfast club soundtrack.
eleven. double agent. rush. counterparts
twelve. doughnut song. tori amos. boys for pele.
thirteen. down. stone temple pilots. number four.
fourteen. down on my knees. trisha yearwood. hearts in armor.
fifteen. down with the sickness. disturbed. the sickness. 
sixteen. dr. feelgood. motley crue. dr. feelgood.
seventeen. draining. silversun pickups. swoon.
eighteen. the dream is over. van halen. for unlawful carnal knowledge.
nineteen. dream on. aerosmith's self-titled album.
twenty. dreams. the cranberries. everybody else is doing it, so why can't we?
twenty-one. dreams. van halen. fifty-one fifty.
twenty-two. drops of jupiter. train. drops of jupiter.
twenty-three. duck and run. three doors down. the better life.
twenty-four. duet. the airborne toxic event. all i ever wanted: live from walt disney concert hall.
twenty-five. dumb. garbage. version two.

motion picture monday

November 28, 2016


one. deadpool.
released: 2016.
starring: ryan reynolds, morena baccarin, ed skrein.
what makes it awesome: the first time i watched it, i did not think it was awesome. i enjoyed reynolds' and baccarin's performances, but i thought the story was stupid. and then i watched it again. and yeah, on the whole story is stupid, but there are parts of it that are REALLY good, and the dialogue is pretty damned badass.

released: 2016.
starring: mark wahlberg, kate hudson, kurt russell, john malkovich.
what makes it awesome: a friend of mine who works in the oil industry couldn't watch this one. he'd bought the ticket and stayed for as long as he could, but at some point it was too much for him to see. i wept on several occasions. i wanted to gut punch malkovich's character on SEVERAL occasions. visually, it's very well-done.

released: 1987.
starring: anne bancroft, anthony hopkins, judi dench.
what makes it awesome: anne bancroft, anthony hopkins, judi dench. the fact that it's based on a remarkable, true story. i'm in awe of the friendships these characters forged through their correspondence.

released: 2016.
starring: eddie redmayne, colin farrell, katherine waterston, ezra miller, samantha morton.
what makes it awesome: magic. i'm so excited rowling's brought her magic back to the theaters. it's a beautiful film, fun at times, somewhat frightening at others. it's long, but i didn't mind that.


five. hacksaw ridge.
released: 2016.
starring: andrew garfield, vince vaughn, sam worthington, luke bracey, rachel griffiths, hugo weaving.
what makes it awesome: the story. dear god, the story. the strength of character. and hugo weaving does, i think, his finest work here.

six. joy.
released: 2015.
starring: jennifer lawrence, bradley cooper, robert deniro, diane ladd, virginia madsen, isabella rosselini, elisabeth rohm.
what makes it awesome: the trailers do this film no justice. when i first saw them, i thought, oh great the cast of silver linings playbook united again. this film seemed to have that same kind of quality as the other, and maybe it does, but i don't mind it here. in fact, i'm kind of in awe of joy's determination and brain power.

seven. loving.
released: 2016.
starring: joel edgerton, ruth negga, marton csokas, nick kroll, michael shannon.
what makes it awesome: the strength of these characters. the quietness of richard loving. the kindness of mildred loving. their tenacity. this interview. if you only pick one movie on this list to see, pick this one.

eight. the martian.
released: 2015.
starring: matt damon, jessica chastain, kristen wiig, jeff daniels, michael pena, sean bean, kate mara, chiwetel ejiofor.
what makes it awesome: matt damon's character. the story's silly. but if you can get past that, it's entertaining.

released: 2000.
starring: denzel washington, will patton, ryan hurst, donald faison, ethan suplee, kip pardue, hayden panettiere, kate bosworth, ryan gosling. 
what makes it awesome: the way this team comes together when the world can't stomach the thought of that. this is probably one people should revisit right about now.

for those secret santa types out there...

November 25, 2016


if yall felt like getting me a present, just because, this'd be a good one, in a guy's large.

my contribution to thanksgiving dinner: blueberry banana cream pie

November 23, 2016


HEADS UP: this recipe makes TWO. not one. i forgot that part.

ingredients:
TWO keebler graham cracker pie crusts
four (or so) bananas
one eight-ounce package philadelphia cream cheese
one eight-ounce container cool whip
one cup powdered sugar
one twenty-one-ounce can blueberry pie filling

slice bananas and layer on the pie crusts so that the things are covered up (two per pie should do the trick; you could do more if you want, but i'm more about the cream and the blueberries, so...) combine cream cheese, cool whip and sugar in bowl and mix at medium speed until blended well. pour HALF the mix onto each pie. top each with HALF the can of blueberry pie filling. cover. refrigerate. DONE.

easy peasy. (so long as you remember it makes two.)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FOLKS!

I'M GRATEFUL FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YA.

the pejoration of privilege

November 21, 2016

priv·i·lege
ˈpriv(ə)lij/
noun
  1. 1.
    a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
    "education is a right, not a privilege"
    synonyms:advantagebenefit

let's talk about privilege, yeah? i keep hearing people use that word, and the way it's thrown around these days you'd think it's as vile and offensive as a four-letter word that begins with c and rhymes with punt.

my ancestors are welsh, irish, scot, english and austrian. i am the middle child of an upper-middle class couple -- high school sweethearts who attended the same university because my father couldn't bear to be too far from my mother. my father likes to joke that he wasn't the smartest one in his class but he was smart enough to marry the smartest one. he played football and was in a band and a fraternity. she was in band as well and a sorority. they became teachers. he became a school superintendent. they had my brother, who seemed to be pretty perfect. my mother had two miscarriages -- one before my brother and one after. and then they had me.

let's talk about privilege. my face has been cut up three times. my stomach and left leg have been cut up once and my right leg twice. if it weren't for my parents' love, if they hadn't wanted a daughter so badly, if my mother's parents hadn't been a doctor and a nurse, if she hadn't helped in her father's clinic, if my father hadn't attained a master's degree in special education... if my body had demanded more medical attention than it has, i could be rotting away in some institution.

let's talk about the patches i had to wear on my face or the metal braces that were on my legs for god knows how long during my infancy that my mother threw away the moment i didn't need them anymore. the times i've had people ask me if i'm talking to them when i'm looking right at them only it doesn't look like i am because one eye's off in lala land. the number of times people have asked if i've asian heritage because my eyes look like they do. the times i fell off curbs in my youth because i couldn't see. the times i'd be walking... just walking and something in my leg would snap or slip just because, the way i'd crumple, clutching my knee and screaming obscenities because the pain was immense. the times i've had to glue myself against an aisle in a grocery store or the wall dividing the dining area from the ordering stations in chic-fil-a because i'd lost all cognizance of space and my place in it and felt like i was spinning and about to tumble... and maybe break something else... because things in me break so easily. let's talk about the times people stare at me like i'm a freak. the number of times they ask me what the hell is your problem? and driving at night on a freeway? that's fun stuff. really. i love it. i do it because i have to, because damned if i'm going to stay home when i want to be out. but it was a whole lot easier when my town had twenty-thousand in it instead of a hundred thousand. it was a whole lot easier when people could give each other some room.

let's talk about the times my teachers assumed that because my father was who he was i would be this exemplary student -- well-behaved with strings of a-pluses in their grade books. i would make them look GOOD. i didn't. and when i didn't, their response was to recommend i be placed in special education or relegated from honors to level classes.

sure, if i came home without my books on the weekends, my father would haul my butt to school after sunday mass, unlock the place and practically drag me to my locker. he would not be happy about it. sure, my mom would bench my butt at the kitchen table to work on an assignment that was due the week before because she was so pissed at me for being so thoughtless and disrespectful... and lazy.

god knows i'd be living under a bridge somewhere if it weren't for them. god knows if my father hadn't been who he was, the peers who'd bullied me in my youth would've done a lot worse. with the exception of one altercation in fifth grade in which a boy jabbed my face with one of my perfectly sharpened pencils that left a permanent mark, they never touched me. i think they were too afraid to do so. but you can maim a person's spirit with words, and those wounds never heal so well as the physical ones do. hell, if it weren't for my folks, i doubt i'd be here today, banging on these keys.

you think because my skin is white that i can't know tragedy?

let's talk about the time i came home from school sobbing and telling my mother i wish i could tear my skin off. or the time a teacher put my desk in an appliance box so she wouldn't have to look at me because she couldn't bear the sight, because she didn't want me in her classroom but was forced to keep me because i was too smart to be in a different one.

i've buried a brother, a man i spent a decade hating. i carry that guilt with me, and it weighs on my heart something fierce. i have lived my life without ever hearing a man other than those in my family say he loves me and mean it. i battle some godawful mental demons on pretty much a daily basis.

tragedy doesn't play favorites. it cares not for race or creed or culture. it doesn't give a damn about color or shape. it'll screw with you regardless of whether you're single or married, rich or poor, black or white, fat or thin, kind or callous. it. does. not. care.

i don't presume to think that my experiences are greater or lesser than yours. i know damned well they're not. my parents made sure of that. they've spent years, YEARS telling me i wasn't any different from anybody else. i'm not. i know the ways in which i have been blessed. i know the ways in which i have been burdened. my limitations may be different from yours, but the fact that i have them... we all do. every one of us. i wish we could be more tolerant of each other. i wish we could be more considerate.

today i learned a couple flying from sacramento to philadelphia were booed by passengers in first class because the pilot had requested that couple be allowed to deplane first so as not to miss their connection. so as not to miss their flight to dover where they were to claim their dead son, a soldier who'd been given a gold star for his service. the folks in first classed booed them because of how inconvenienced they were at having to wait, that someone in coach should receive preferential treatment when they'd paid the exorbitant costs of flying first class so they could be more important.

the pilot gave that couple a privilege. because if ever there's a time one should be given it's then.

this is america. land of the free, home of the brave. i keep saying that. i know. i've used it one too many times. i will use it as many times as i must. we are for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness here. we are for life. we should be helping each other live and love. we should be helping each other.

i've had the youngbloods' in my head so often lately. come on people, now. smile on your brother. everybody get together. try to love one another right now.

that thing you know you need to do but really don't want to do because IT WOULD BE SO MUCH WORK and i'd really rather just lay on this here couch and watch a movie

i got F A T, yall.

like FAT hobbitses fat.

i don't know what it is with me and lord of the rings, lately. blame it on the film challenge, i guess (THREE MORE and i'm finished with that fucker, by the way. I AM STOKED.)

when i was in high school i was that kid who had like NO fat. seriously. three percent of me was fat. that's how NOT fat i was. and how i was tortured for being so ridiculously skinny, since birth basically. i wasn't that much bigger than smeagol. and yall, i ATE. ALL THE TIME. and when i say i ate, i mean i ATE: burgers and pizza and pasta and all the sweet things i could get my scrawny lil hands on. i'd park my scrawny body on the couch and binge watch star wars and dirty dancing and the breakfast club and binge on premium crackers and kraft american cheese slices and coca-cola. i would snag one of those four towers of crackers wrapped in that white stuff that never opens cleanly, a couple of slices of cheese, a can of coke, and i'd eat the whole package of crackers in one sitting. sometimes i'd get another one.

i did this because i hated being skinny. in high school, when my doctor said i was twenty pounds underweight and that was more unnerving to him than if i were twenty pounds overweight and he insisted i drink ensure three times a day, i did it gladly. sometimes i had more than three.

the trouble is i swam. a LOT. i'd get up at five a.m. and swim as few as three thousand and as many as five thousand meters before school started. when yall were watching the olympics' swimming events this past summer, one length of the pool is fifty meters. i swam breaststroke because it was easiest. in freestyle, i felt like i was drowning. in back, i couldn't swim straight. and fly? you actually have to have back and shoulder muscles to pull that one off. i didn't. but my legs, man they could kick. the fact that my knees were fucked actually helped.

and then i got to college, and they revealed just how messed up they were, and that was the end of swimming for me.

it should've been the end of my dietary habits. it was not.

i was looking over some older posts by lauren, and came across this one called body changes. she'd written it two years ago. i'd missed it.


when i saw that picture, i busted out laughing.

smeagol and gollum:
you should go for a swim.
NO! we hates swimming.
that's not true, you love to swim. 
NO! we swam, and it hurts us. IT HURTS US! it would kill us.

i could make myself swim freestyle. i'm sure my joints could take it. it's essentially forward windmills and a scissor kick. but there's that whole tugging of the lycra thing... and then peeling it off afterward. the tugging and the peeling sucked when that suit was a twenty-seven. it's like a damned forty-two now. it would HURT.

i remember watching the cheerleaders and the drill teams do their thing in pep rallies and wishing i had their curves. and now i have them (though they're built of fat rather than muscle) and i don't want them.

mom's chatting with me about what to make for thanksgiving, and i'm like blueberry banana cream pie.

i cut out the liquor. i've not had an adult beverage in TEN WEEKS. isn't that enough for you, body?


fifteen things to celebrate in november: a sort of scavenger hunt

November 17, 2016

i love the idea of scavenger hunt posts. though i've tried this before with no success, i'm trying again. not so much because i want yall to play along, but because i need to play. but it'd make me so happy if yall would play, too.

mental floss post an article about fifteen offbeat holidays to celebrate in november. so i'm tying the hunting to those holidays. if you wanna play along, you've got 'til november thirtieth to find or do these fifteen things, take a correlating photo (a selfie with the thing), and make me a picture post of all the lovely. i'm not setting up a linky for this. if you participate and you want me to see the pics, leave me a comment here with the link. the fifteen things are thus:

one. november second: plan your epitaph day. here's a happy one for yall. buy a small batch of posies, visit a cemetery and leave the flowers at the grave of someone whose headstone struck some sort of chord with you. sometimes people leave quotes on them. my older brother's buried in colorado. his headstone is a bench upon which are the words laughter was his art. if you're feeling especially generous, maybe send up a prayer of thanksgiving for that individual's family and friends.

two. november third. sadie hawkins day. get a guy's phone number. do with it what you will.

three. november fourth. king tut day. yall know that bangles song walk like an egyptian? if you feel like strutting your stuff in public to the tune of that insane eighties hit, be my guest. or if you're in new york and can get to the met, supposedly they've got egyptian art on display. maybe a museum near you does? i got no idea. look into that. i'm cool with you browsing the stacks of your local library or bookstore. find a book about king tut or the egyptians... factual or fiction, turn to page one hundred fourteen, what's the fourth word on the eleventh line?

four. november fifth. guy fawkes day. ever wanted to give a senator, congressman or some other elected official a piece of your mind? i put a letter in the mail to the president the other day. i didn't care that he'll most likely never see it; it felt good writing it, addressing it and dropping it in one of the united states postal services boxes, complete with my jimi hendrix stamp in the top right corner. find out who's running things in your neck of the woods. try bitching to him instead of your twitter and facebook accounts.

five. november sixth. national saxophone day. find a sax player. get the man a drink. or girl, though... i can't say i've ever seen a woman play the sax. if you find one, lemme know.

six. november seventh. international tongue twister day. go to your local bar when it's hopping. get a stranger to get through the woodchuck chucking wood or so and so selling seashells by the seashore. without tripping over the words. buy that person a drink when the deed's accomplished.

seven. november thirteenth. world kindness day. do something good for someone. this can be anyone: family, friend, stranger... whatever. once you've done it, find out three things about that person. choose from the following: their best day; their worst (if they feel like sharing); their favorite book; favorite film; favorite band; favorite song; favorite food; best vacation; where'd they'd most like to go for their next vacation; the job they have now; the job they'd love to have; whether they like dogs or cats; coke or pepsi.

eight. november fifteenth. clean out your refrigerator day. show me the nastiest thing in there. WHY IS IT STILL IN THERE?

nine. november eighteenth. use less stuff day. i've got books on the brain lately, so... round up some of your books that are in good condition and donate them to your local library (or to a friends of the library group). AND/OR clean out your closet and donate the things to a women's shelter.

ten. november nineteenth. world toilet day. well this one's fascinating. my younger brother would have a field day with this one. there is such a thing as a bathroom guest book. find it. buy it. give it to that special idiot in your life.

eleven. november nineteenth. international men's day. how interesting that this occurs on the same day as world toilet day. get a gift card valued at no more than twenty-five dollars to some store or restaurant dudes love. dick's sporting goods, perhaps (though i hear their shit's way overpriced...so academy may be a better bet). give it to a random guy. just because.

twelve. november twenty-second. national start your own country day. i'm pretty sure half of america would jump at the chance. let's keep this one civil, though, yeah? where's your favorite spot? where do you go when the day is just too ugly and you need to see something good? show me what your country would look like. in a perfect world, my country would be on a beach in fiji or a flat in london... i'm looking for something a little more realistic here. there's gotta be a place you go when you need to get centered. show me that.

thirteen. november twenty-third. national day of listening. i know the purpose of this day. we tune each other out so often, and with such success. nothing proves that more than an election. we only hear what we want to hear. nine good things might be said, but there's that one word or phrase... music soothes the savage beast, and things are much too savage right now. check out who's playing at your local pubs or concert halls. pick a band you've never heard of before. go see them play. listen.

fourteen. november twenty-eight. red planet day. have fun with this one. i'm giving yall a freebie. interpret this one however you'd like, so long as it can be tied to mars somehow. pottery barn kids sells a planet mobile, for example. find that. get a picture with it. grab a copy of the martian, turn to page eleven and share the eighth word on the twentieth line. watch the film the martian child and share your favorite line. men are from mars, right? introduce yourself to a stranger and pick his brain; ask him anything you want. go to town. show me how crafty and clever you can be.

fifteen. november twenty-ninth. national square dance day. i'm sure there's a square dancing group near you. find out when they meet. catch'm in their act. find out what they love most about being involved in that activity.

a few of my favorite things

November 16, 2016

i am a republican, though i'd say i'm a pretty moderate one. my friend tyler is a democrat. a devout one. in fact, she is more devoted to the democratic party than any other person i know. sometimes the things that come out of her mouth make me cringe and shut my browser because i can't stomach the sentiment. her steadfast support of hillary clinton is, to me, both admirable and abominable.

but she's my friend. warts and all, god love her. i hope she would say the same about me. 

today she put up a post called the little happies.

i'd started a similar post this morning... this one. but i stopped because i'd spent so much time on twitter reading all the rantings about how horrible trump is going to be for this country, which made me cringe and shut my browser a few times. i was showing my mom some of the snippets of vitriol and i'd mentioned to her that if i went to tyler's twitter, i'd see all kinds of things that would hurt my eyeballs. when i finally looked, the second thing there is a link for that post and a picture of a crayola caddy and a girl coloring in the background. this is why i love tyler. that right there. because despite her love of the democratic party (not to mention sooners and razorbacks) she will say or do something that will remind me that once upon a time, if our paths were to have crossed as children and we'd been playmates, we would've been coloring at the same table. only my book would've been something disney or care bears.

anyway... i read her post. at the bottom of it, she'd welcomed hearing of others' little happies. so here are some of mine:

one. my friends ann, kelly, lara and jenn. the first three are my writing friends and members of the critique group i'm in. if i don't go to group or join them for a morning writing session, they're quick to question why i'm not there, quick to say they miss me. i've never really known that kind of friendship. i've never had friends like them. i love that i do now. and jenn... the woman's a miracle, really. that our paths have crossed is a wonderful blessing to me. that she thinks so highly of me is one, as well. just yesterday, she was saying how i needed to stop being afraid of success. that i need to quit depriving the world of me.

two. i was about to haul my butt to austin to see a movie. i hate austin. it's full of liberal longhorns and coated in burnt orange. YUCK. but i so wanted to see joel edgerton in loving because i'm confident he has delivered an oscar-worthy performance in it that i would've made the trek. then i learned that river oaks theater in houston will be showing that film on friday. it's not gonna be an easy movie to see. i know that. but i've watched the trailer for it a dozen times now, at least, because there are parts of it that fill my heart with such wonder. like when he and ruth negga, playing richard and mildred loving, are sitting there and he says i can take care of you. she lays her hand on his back and says i know that. my eyes well up every time i watch that, but they're happy tears. and in the last scene in the trailer, when he says tell the judge i love my wife, those tears fall. because it's beautiful. everyone should know that kind of love. how they know it shouldn't matter. 

three. coca-cola fizzing in an ice cold glass.

four. i'm kind of getting burned out on writing again. that's not a good thing. right now, as valuable as those friendships with fellow writers are, ultimately what keeps me going is the love i have for my work. the pieces i'm playing with right now haven't gotten nearly as much of my attention as others have. they are the murky middle, and if i can't make them good, then the scenes of isabel and reese that i favor, like the one below, won't matter.


this one makes me happy. lots of the ones i've written do. that's a hard thing for me to remember sometimes, so i'm kind of glad i'm putting it down here.

five. pappadeaux's. i spend more time there than anywhere else. i probably spend more time there than the employees do. but i'm there, really, because they're there. they've been a huge help to me on many occasion.

six. lord of the rings. tyler says she's a bigger tolkien fan. i've never read the books, so that may be. but i'm pretty sure i could go toe to toe with her on the films. that'd be a fun thing to fight about.

an army of one

November 14, 2016

in the religion (renamed the politically-correct belief) section of the houston chronicle's sunday, november thirteenth issue, there's an article entitled the silent (mis)treatment: show hospitality to everyone you encounter by ben byrum. in it he talks about the experiment he conducted as a college freshman. new in town, new to the church and having difficulty making friends, he decided one sunday that if after services had gotten underway no one had greeted him he would walk out. he waited for five minutes and nothing. thirty seconds before the service, he began gathering his things.

i was planning to go back to my room and stay there for the rest of the day; after all, nobody seemed to pay attention to me. with fifteen seconds left, my math professor turned around in her chair, which was a couple of rows in front of me, and almost as if she had turned around just for me, she flashed a me a smile and said, "i'm glad you're here, ben."

he stayed. he couldn't tell you what the service was about, what songs were sung, but he remembers feeling noticed and how painful not being noticed was.

further in the article, byrum shares a tale from the seventies about a man in his thirties who wrote a letter, walked from his san francisco apartment to the golden gate bridge and jumped. byrum said the man had left the letter in his dresser.

it was discovered by investigators when they searched his apartment. it was a suicide letter that read, "i'm going to walk to the bridge. if one person smiles at me on the way, i won't jump." 

i wept when my mother told me about this article, these stories of invisibility. the writer had gone to that church on several occasions. he'd chosen it because it was the most popular among the student body. that man... i can't even begin to imagine how his despair must've grown with each step toward that bridge.

christ, how difficult is it to smile at someone? just smile? that simple act of kindness could've been the light for that man.

today, i spent my afternoon at pappadeaux's. i went to barnes and noble's for a couple of books. i got gas for the journey home. when i pulled into the station, i noticed a girl huddled on the corner of the curb. i asked her if she needed a ride. she asked me if i was going to tomball. i wasn't. that's twenty minutes southwest of where i was, and home is ten minutes north, but i told her i could take her wherever she needed to go. in my mind i'm praying please god, don't be some psycho bent on wreaking havoc. i mucked out my car, gave her a bag of chips, which was the only food i had on me. she'd not eaten all day. she had no money. her phone was dead. her friends had left her there. she was a twenty-seven-year-old psychology student and a mother of two. she reminded me a little bit of my brother's wife: petite, blonde with pigtails dyed blue, dressed in a sweatshirt, jeans and chucks. her birthday's in three days. her friends had left her there. i told her she needed to get some new friends.

she'd been waiting at that gas station since ten a.m. when i'd met it her, it was half-past eight.

now sure, a whole lot of bad shit could've happened. i can imagine all kinds of scary, yall. i knew the risks. i just kept thinking if someone had left me there, and i had no way of getting home, i would've been praying hard for someone to show me some kindness. i asked her if anyone had offered to give her a ride, thinking that maybe they'd asked and refused because it was out of their way. she said no. i thought of the story in the paper, of the man, and asked if anyone had even smiled at her. she said no.

i'm a christian woman, but i don't go around bragging about it. that's not how i define myself. those commandments? i'm pretty sure i've broken at least half of'm, some of'm i break with phenomenal consistency. i say god a helluva lot more than i should, which means i break that third commandment several times a day. my faith's a crazy mix of catholicism, astrology and greek mythology, which means i'm breaking the second one with pretty much every breath. and i love my mama and daddy, but i do not live the way they want me to, so... there's three of'm that i've all but obliterated. but that passage in matthew... twenty-five: forty: inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me... i'm not always good about it, but i try to keep that one in mind.

so there's that. but more... i've gone through too much of my life feeling as invisible as that author and the man who'd made that godawful trek to that bridge. nobody should ever have to feel like they don't matter.

can you imagine how many had gawked at that girl today? how they'd thought so little of her?

ain't no way in hell i would've left her sitting there. ain't no way.

i'm not some social justice warrior. i don't think i get up on my soap box too often. not nearly as much as some of my friends do, anyway.

but good god, yall... we can do better. we can do so much better. it just takes one person... one smile. one kind word. one gesture. it just takes one.

forty-three... one for every year of me

i was digging through audrey louise's blog for a particular post and came across one from august (way to miss that one, eh? i miss a lot of things, but that's because i'm REALLY bad about looking) entitled forty-three rando-s. it's just a list of questions, and yall know how i love that shit, so...

do you like bleu cheese? i'm gonna say no, but i can't do so with sheer confidence, because it's cheese, which is my second favorite food group, and i'm sure i've eaten that stuff and not minded doing so...
have you ever smoked? YES. sometimes as much as three packs a day. but i've not done so since june twenty-fourth of 'seven, so... yay.
do you own a gun? no. never will.
what is your favorite flavor? red and white peonies.
do you get nervous before doctor visits? yes. i've spent one too many days in doctors' offices. in clinics. i hate being in them.
what do you think of hot dogs? blech... until i eat one, and then i'm like this is pretty good, actually, so long as i don't think about how it's made.
favorite movie? i have to pick one? fuck. i'm gonna go with dedication. i love how unconventional it is. i love the dialogue. i like pretty much every performance by the cast, even mandy moore's.
what do you prefer to drink in the morning? something cold, carbonated and caffeinated. typically coca-cola or dr. pepper.
do you do push ups? no.
what’s your favorite piece of jewelry? i bought a london blue topaz ring a couple of years ago. i wear it to remind me of things i've lost and how careful i need to be. but also, i'm very fond of the color.
favorite hobby? watching films.
do you have attention deficit disorder? nope.
what’s the one thing you dislike about yourself? that i'm capable of having sheer disregard for others' well-being and interests.
what is your middle name? kristin.
name three thoughts at this moment: i need to shower and get dressed and apply for some jobs today; i need to get this fucking story finished; i need to thoroughly clean my room.
name three drinks you drink regularly: coca-cola, dr. pepper, unsweetened iced tea.
current worry? that i'm never going to find work i love.
current annoyance right now? it's cold in this house.
favorite place to be? london.
how do you ring in the new year? watching films.
where would you like to go? london.
do you own slippers? no.
what color shirt are you wearing right now? maroon.
do you like sleeping on satin sheets? never done so. i prefer flannel.
can you whistle? no
what are your favorite colors? green, maroon, navy.
would you be a pirate? no.
what songs do you sing in the shower? whatever's in my head in that moment.
favorite girl’s name? were i to have had a daughter, she would've been called griffin antonia.
favorite boy’s name? he would've been called either jonathan lucas or matthew nathaniel.
what’s in your pocket right now? nothing.
last thing that made you laugh? no idea.
best toy as a child? i was fondest of coloring books and crayolas. also fisher price's little people.
worst injury you ever had? fractured collar bone.
where would you love to live? london.
how many televisions do you have? one.
who is your loudest friend? probably traci.
does someone trust you? i don't know.
what book are you reading at the moment? nothing's captured my attention so well as to inspire me to finish it.
what’s your favorite candy? smarties.
what’s your favorite sports team? the green bay packers, though it's killing me to watch their games this year.
favorite month of the year? november.

six weeks and counting

November 11, 2016

six weeks and two days. did you know that's how long you've got to get your christmas shopping done? i didn't. not really. i mean, i know it's november. i guess i should say i didn't think about it, because let's face it, there's been a more pressing matter that's commanding attention.

but you know what? i'm gonna think about christmas. i'm loving that mattie at northwest native has inspired me to do so. because yeah, let's get some christmas spirit up in this bitch. please.

let's practice being kind to one another. let's show some love, right? we're coming up on thanksgiving. isn't that what the holiday season's all about? instead of commiserating, can't we cheer each other up?

i'm gonna try to get done with shopping earlier this year so i can really enjoy the spirit of the season. i bought my wrapping paper the other day. i've gotten one gift down: a friend's getting an autographed copy of daniel kraus' the death and life of zebulon finch, volume one: at the edge of empire. it's about a zombie. this particular friend favors crap like army of darkness and evil dead. he will like it. how sad is it, though that i bought shit for a friend before buying anything for my family?

pretty soon my mom's going to be asking me what i want. i'm the only one in my family who's ever been good about making a list. and when i tell you list, i mean LIST. when i was a kid, i'd go through the best and jc penney catalogs. i'd mark the pages of the things that interested me. i'd write the details on a legal pad: the item, its sku, cost and page number. there would be pages and pages of gimmes. nowadays i type it into a word document, arranged by store... item, size if applicable, sku, cost... same shit, just not on as grand a scale. last year was the first year i didn't make a list. last year, i wasn't feeling particularly jolly, though (see previous post). i'm a little better now. i'll be making a list. :]

the worst day... and the best day

November 10, 2016


so this is what the sky looked like at approximately six p.m. on october seventh of 'fifteen in the woodlands, texas. this is what it looked like when i stepped out of pregnancy assistance center north after being tested for hiv and two other sexually transmitted infections, the results of which came back negative. thank god. so grateful was i that i just wanted to sit and look at the heavens for a while. and that sky, doesn't it look heavenly?

so that could've been one of the worst days for me. but it wasn't. instead my world looked like this.


i'm not too political. i hate talking that shit. politics and religion are personal preferences, and this is america, land of the free. we get to believe what we want. we get to say what we think. those are beautiful privileges, as stunning as the sky in these two photos. i was so in awe of the colors in that sunset, the softness of them that i pulled over onto the side of a VERY busy road to capture them.

if you look closely, you can see the congestion of rush hour traffic on the interstate. i'd rather look at the sky, though. i'd rather think there IS a god above, watching over me, no matter how much i might think he's been absent in my life... that day, as i sat on the sidewalk outside pacn, i was sure he was taking care of me. that sunset was a gift.

i'm tired of all the hate. and there is so much of it. i've enough of that in my head. the things i tell myself... the things i told myself before i'd gotten those test results that day... the things i've said since (because, of course, i'm still learning of the damage i've done for having been with him). there is so much ugliness in me, and it's so easy to spew that shit.

all the drivers on the road just then... how many of them do you think took a second to appreciate that sky? i'd imagine more of them were cursing at the cars that weren't moving. or chatting with their friends and family as they made their way home. i'd imagine they were more concerned with getting ahead of that one car that was crawling along...

look at how much the sky changed in those two photos.

barack obama was granted eight years to serve as president of these united states. he believed he could offer something of value. he said and did what he could to provide the american people what he thought was best.

for better or worse, donald trump has been given the opportunity to serve. maybe you didn't vote for him. maybe you did. either way, it's okay. if hillary clinton had been given the opportunity, i'd feel the same. these were our choices in the end. these were the candidates for president. this is how our democratic republic works. one winner, one loser.

i would hope we could find the courage and fortitude to look the sky, to consider how quickly things can change, to focus on what good can come of this. surely there must be some. i dare you to find it.

protesting... inciting fear... letting the hate and angst out... how does that make this better? how does that help you? how does that help those around you? how does it help this country? how are we honoring the privileges our government grants us?

the five most difficult things about writing (from an incredibly amateurish perspective)

November 7, 2016


one. the words will not come. i'm a member of a critique group that meets regularly on wednesdays, and over the past two months, i have taken a total of four pages of the novel that has been in inconsistent progress since january of nineteen ninety-fucking-seven. i know. I KNOW. i suck. we'll get to that in a minute. last week, i took three pages. the week before i took one. and when i say pages, i mean typed, double-spaced pages of twelve-point times new roman text. i write by hand, so those pages, in the case of those from last week, were six in number and single-spaced...

one of the servers just interrupted this train of thought with: that doesn't look like your book. she's standing right next to my barstool, her face inches from mine, her eyes wide and dark, her lips set in a smirk of utmost displeasure. she is batting her lashes at me and glaring.

the scene that has plagued me is one that i am rewriting because the words that were there were shit, and i hated them so i killed them because i knew i could do better. i know i can. i need my reader to feel for my character, and in reading what was written, i felt like my reader would've hurled the book across the room, kicked it a few times and then thrown it in the trash. i can't have that. i love my characters too much to allow that to happen.

so the words won't come, even though i know exactly how this scene will play. i know that when it's done well, my reader will want to be hugging both of these characters, these children of mine.

that's the other reason why the words won't come. these ARE my children. and the scene i'm writing involves them getting handsy with each other, so it feels pretty perverse to be writing it. i don't like watching porn. i'd rather be getting it on than watching two people do so. i sure as shit don't want to be writing that stuff. but if i don't... my reader's gonna hurl the book and kick it and...

it's not like the scene will necessitate that much of the handsy... my girl's gonna freak the fuck out and then have to explain to her boy why she did so. and her reasons for doing so are justifiable and good. but... she wouldn't give them unless she absolutely must, and the only reason she'd do so is because they were getting handsy and she had to put on the brakes all the sudden. the shit that happens before and after is written. it's just those handful of sentences that will connect the dots... i need them, and i can't write them.

two. the words will come, but not in opportune moments. like when i'm in the shower. or when i'm driving. yes, it'll make me sound like a crazy person, but basically, i will hear my characters' voices in my head. and i can't record the conversation because. i'm. in. the. damned. shower. or on interstate forty-five, which is packed like sardines, only instead of gross fishy things, it's monster trucks and expensive sports utility vehicles and luxury sedans, all traveling faster than the state-mandated speed limit of sixty-five miles per hour. there's no such thing as following distance here, yall, which is probably why the stretch of this particular bit of interstate is one of the deadliest in texas. there's no way in hell i can chicken scratch that shit on a whataburger bag or snag my cell phone to leave a voice memo so i can jot them down later. the words will have to wait. and if i'm lucky, they'll stick with me until i can write them down. but that hardly ever happens.

three. the words come, but they belong in some other scene or some other character. like the words that came to me yesterday while i was in the shower and, later, running to popeyes to get my dad his lunch.

four. i allow myself to be distracted by the television or the servers or the pretty day or the good book or movie or football game or... because writing IS work. anyone tells you it's easy, that person is a lying sack of shit. pardon the cliche... but it's true. try putting seventy thousand coherent words together in a manner that's going to make someone LOVE them. i dare you.

it's SO much easier to spin your wheels on a back road in the country on a pretty day while listening to stevie ray vaughan and guzzling dr. pepper than it is to spin them while sitting for hours staring at a blank piece of paper and sipping iced tea.

in that rare instance you write something that's brilliant... it's. BRILLIANT. and then you stick it between two chapters that you thought were decent. the brilliance of that one chapter makes it so ALL the other chapters look like crap. so much so that you question your ability to write, and you end up thinking you're shit, and, mentally of course, YOU hurl the manuscript across the room, kick it a few thousand times, and then bury it in your closet. and days, weeks, months... maybe even YEARS go by before you find the courage to dig it out again.

five. you have to work. like a REAL job that actually pays your bills because the chances of your writing ever doing this are slim to none... while you're getting your english degree, your professors are saying this over and over again... you're probably not going to make any money doing this... it's like they DON'T want you to choose this path... because honestly what sane person would WANT to write seventy-thousand words, get rejected seventy-million times and get paid seventy dollars for the work? sure that's an exaggeration. but it's a good one.

so the only time i end up being devoted to this manuscript of mine is when i'm NOT working.

the two biggest reasons it's taken me TWO DECADES to get this bitch in the ground, so to speak (i've seen kevin smith in catch and release far too many times), is because when i'm working a full-time job, especially one that requires me to stare at a computer screen eight hours a day or where i'm surrounded by books (because those people CAN write and convince someone that the writing is good enough that it does indeed merit publication... that's not intimidating AT ALL)... the last thing i want to do when i get off work then is stare at a computer screen and work on a book that's going to be rejected seventy million times. i've never handled rejection well. i can't bear to think that these eight characters i've created will endure so much rejection, too.