Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 in review

I've been dizzying myself reading through the last year's worth of archived stories for my newspaper for Dec. 31's edition of our annual Year in Review.

Personally, I've been nostalgic the past few days, which I think is a result of the season and the fact that 2010 is three days shy of being gone.

So without further ado, in a format similar to my celebration of 2009, here's my (personal) review of 2010:

I started 2010 in Weed, New Mexico on the ranch. In January, I lost a very good friend, Sam Conn. I cried again yesterday when I read what I wrote about him the day after he died. Some people you just can't forget and he is one of those people for me. I attribute much of who I am as a journalist to all the things he taught me. My newsroom, though far removed from Silver City, New Mexico, still feels empty without him.

I visited Kentucky in February when, in light of Sam's death, I considered my friends more importantly and learned that through death, you live life a little different. Death can be cleansing.

March saw my heart plummeting to depths I didn't think was possible. Drowning in reality was the only way I knew how to put it. Readers were concerned but sometimes there are things only the heart can know. It was also in March that I moved with the family to Van Horn, Texas, an event I didn't herald here.

I visited Kentucky again in April. The timing of the trip was spurred by a good friend's father's passing. Being at his funeral wasn't even a question. I wrote about my precious, precious friends, the backbone of my community, despite the distance.

I dreaded posting about May because of her. Her pictures are all buried in safe places out of sight; I still cry about her in moments when I miss her the most. I should stop talking about her now.

In June, I wrote about the affect my step-dad leaving for the second time had on my heart. I didn't write about it specifically - I knew he read my blog from time to time and I didn't want him to know then how deeply his actions wounded me. I've also never felt so much anger towards anyone as I did toward him.

Between here and here in July the family and I left Van Horn and moved to Marble Falls. What a time of beautiful transition and watching everything fall into place.

After more than a year of being out of journalism, I was relieved to be back in it again in August. It felt complete.

Looking back over my writing from January to September, I sense a sadness from the author - a heaviness. But in September, I feel a life coming back when I began re-discovering myself. It was a brave journey I started with two of my sisters and my brother and one I'm so grateful to have finished in November. It literally saved my life.

In October, I was blessed by the simplicity of the friendships in my life and I continue to be every day. I'm the luckiest girl alive with friends and family who know me, want to know me more and have been there to support me through a tough year.

Mom and I have always been close but our camaraderie was deepened over the summer and into the winter. It's such a unique phase of our life and of our relationship, but there's no place I'd rather be.

By the time December rolled around, I was proud to have lost 30 pounds - a feat I started in August. After years of trying, it seems I've finally found something that works and I look forward to losing about 24 more in the new year.

If I had to sum up 2010 in a few words, it'd be that it was the year of death and reawakening. There was a lot of pain and scary anger, many (angry) tears and a lot of sad ones too. It was cleansing, purifying and at the end, there was a lot of life too.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

horse barns and day cares

I've worked in a daycare, I've worked at several horse barns. The comparisons are lengthy but it all starts with hyperactive parents/owners who firmly believe that their child/animal is the most important part of your day and that as such your undivided attention must be devoted to it.

I don't know which is worse.

The parents, I can understand. It is their kid we're talking about.

I have no tolerance for the horse owners. It is animals we're talking about. And as much as they like to think that their pony is world class material, it's not. And no, I'm not spoon feeding it.

Tonight I fed over 50 horses at our neighbor's ranch. Some of their horses are nice stock, others are boarders and my worst nightmare is dealing with overprotective horse boarders.

"Now you know that Emma gets half a scoop of feed and only one flake of hay? Oh, and just half a flake of alfalfa. She's fat." I even get the arms in a circle as if I don't understand the meaning of fat.

Another boarder rushes out.

"Are you guys doing chores tonight?"

No, I'm standing on a mountain of hay throwing bales down to my little sister for no real reason.

"I'm guessing you know what you're doing?"

Again, no. I am a chore virgin and basically, I'm winging it.

"Did you give Merry Christmas and McDreamy two flakes of hay? Under the canopy for when it rains?"

I didn't but your friend with you did. She waved us off as we were driving by.

"No, I didn't feed them. I just picked up a flake, one, that fell off your wagon. I didn't feed them!"

Bitch. Throwing me under the bus? Really? But then...

"It was Merry Christmas' day yesterday, wasn't it?" I said, feigning interest.

Her owner gushed. And then ...

"That's like the only day out of the year her name is appropriate." Uh-huh. I went there. For reals.

She was in so much shock that the hired help actually used a big word like appropriate that she grabbed two flakes of hay and walked away.

Back in the barn, another boarder walked by.

"Oh, are you guys the new help?"

Nope. Just helping out a friend.

Bitchy horse owners are best spoken to in brief, declarative sentences with eyes averted to the ground and forward motion maintained at all times to avoid getting caught in their devious web of misinformation and misguided instructions.

But really, I want to say to them - who do you think properly cares for your animals the six days out of the week you're non-existent to them?

Amazingly, every seventh day you show up, they're alive and well. Shocking.

spoiled, rotten, love

Seattle's best?

I started my Christmas morning with a cup of coffee that tasted like dirty socks. I was informed it was "Seattle's Best" and judging from the look on mom's face, she didn't like it either.

I summarized that it tasted like a "crappy, shitty foggy Seattle day," which is probably the best Seattle has to offer - I don't know, I'm just guessing.

There were rumors surrounding Christmas 2010 that I was the Grinch.

I will admit, I just wasn't "feeling" the Christmas spirit, as I've discussed here before. Several things contributed to this, I think:

1) the weather. Hard to have Christmas when it's 88 degrees.
2) um, hello Dec. 25th. Where the hell did you come from?
3) lack of travel. This was huge for me this year. Usually either I'm having to travel home for Christmas or I'm waiting for people to travel to me. I was actually jealous of people who had a four-hour drive home to Houston. There's a certain element of excitement that goes along with the stress of planning for a trip, actually getting there and then having it all melt away when you walk in the front door.

Don't misunderstand.

My day was awesome. My family is awesome. Our Christmas had all the elements of our family Christmases - gifts, the simplicity and volume of us all being together, my voice scaring the poo out of my niece when I raise it any octave, and card games (always card games!) Oh, and 48 Hours on ID while playing card games. That show is suddenly a new obsession in my family. My little brother and I sat in the recliner the other night and watched an episode while rehearsing the Toys R Us commercial song and hi-fiving when we nailed it.

MICAH: "I don't"
ME: "wanna"
MICAH: "grow up"
ME: "because"
ME: "wanna"
MICAH: "be"
ME: "a"
MICAH: "Toys R Us"
ME: "kid"

Sounds easy. Totally not.

It was during this same session of watching 48 Hours on ID and River Monsters that he made a bet with me.

"I bet you $100 that you'll have a baby before the first year of your marriage. Wait, I mean be pregnant."

(side note: I'm nowhere near being married much less prego.)

We shook hands but then I realized I was in the dark.

"Wait. What am I shaking on?"

"That you don't think you will be," he explained and then informed me that I could not retract my shaking, which was fine with me. I don't see myself pregnant in the first of the invisible marriage.

But back to Christmas.

It was a good day, as I mentioned. Fun memories. I got a ceiling fan cleaned and some blinds. We cooked some kickass food and enjoyed each other's company.

I am blessed. And sleepy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa was slapped in the face

There are different camps of religious folks this time of year.

The ones who herald Jesus' birthday. The ones who don't mention him. The ones who criticize the ones who don't mention him. A large portion exhort everyone to remember the reason for the season (Jesus) and others put their foot down against commercialism of the Savior's birth while scrambling last minute for the 900th gift.

Santa Claus was slapped in the face tonight.

I had to cover a (pointless, pointless) event tonight where Santa Claus was toted around on a firetruck across town with two predetermined stops - one at an elementary school, the other at a grocery store.

I waited an hour and a half for him at the school, which happened to be hosting a church's Christmas Eve service.

Vehicles lined the street and around three blocks as people poured into the school to celebrate the baby in the manger.

Ten people showed up for Santa Claus.

For all the religious folks who stand up to defend the CHRIST in Christmas, rest easy.
Santa doesn't win every time.

Oh, and did you know that if you scramble the letters of Santa, it spells Satan?? **gasp**

when your mom calls, but didn't mean to call YOU

Mom just called, which in the world of texting is kind of unusual so since I'm just sitting at my desk waiting for the Santa-Clause-on-a-firetruck tour to start and perusing blogs I haven't read in awhile, I had time to answer.

Have you ever been talking to someone, making small talk, and then at a decidedly awkward point in the conversation, you realize that person 1) doesn't know it's you they're talking to and 2) didn't mean to call you? And it's your job to break the news to them?


She's my mom and it was still awkward.

She told me she was on her way home, we chitchatted about the weather ("it's raining here, is it raining there?") and then: "So how did Evalyn sleep last night?"

I thought she was joking so I went along with it, "Um, I wouldn't know because...wait, you know this is Holly, right?"

The admission-of-guilt pause. Classic.

"You were next!" she said in her defense, before I could even begin to tease her about it.

She assured me she did intend to call me, just not at that moment.

"I meant to," she said. "I just didn't know which one of my speed dial buttons I pushed."

Blame it on technology, Mom. It can take it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

the cat was short lived ... literally

"Bengal's dead :(", was a text message I got today from my little brother.

Moments later, he followed that with, "I think skye got her."

I expressed my deepest sympathy (and masked my secret being-okay-with-her-passing) and told him that I really didn't think it was Skye for multiple reasons: 1) they were never together that long and 2) Skye never had blood on her.

When Skye's killed something, she's proud. She'd much rathre run up to me, blood covered, with her tongue lolling out of her mouth and the most proud expression on her face than discreetly lick away the evidence.

As it turns out, Bengal died as a result of eating poinsettia leaves, which apparently are poisonous to cats.

I did feel bad, in all actuality.

But not bad enough to replace the kitten that turned our house upside down.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas and winter and other things I haven't thought too much about

Yesterday was the first day of winter. It was 88 degrees here in Texas.

Now we know how the great southern state feels about winter. I mean, I'll admit, 88 degrees is an improvement from the weather I was dealing with last December but there's still something to be said about coldness and Christmas and wintertime.

I'm still sipping my tea with a blanket handy just in case the temperature dips into, you know, the 50s *gasp*!

I did not care about the lunar eclipse (was it last night?) and therefore I did not stay up any later past my bedtime to watch it.

I care about Christmas from the standpoint of celebrating baby Jesus' birth. Otherwise, the reason I haven't blogged about Christmas before now is because I'm just not feeling the proverbial Christmas spirit.

Could be that it's hard to be festive in 88-degree weather. Could be that I'm a scrooge this year and am just not feeling it. Could also be that my profession does not lend itself to the Christmas spirit. The day is just another news day.

One thing I have thought about is 2011 and my resolution, which I never have. I've also been thinking about my Year in Review post. And my newspaper's last edition of the year, which is going to kick ass.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

he decimated my pie

I yelled when I went in the kitchen and saw my cheesecake destroyed.

I made it from a box for the family because it's a favorite. With cherries on top.

"Who decimated the cheesecake?!"

Considering there was one person in the form of a 13-year-old boy sitting in the recliner with a fresh piece, my options were limited.

"I want you to know that by ruining how this looks, you've ruined how it's going to taste," I told him.

You agree, right?

He argued he didn't do it on purpose, the utensil slipped, the crust was too hard and that, in fact, how it looks has nothing to do with how it tastes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


There was a first in our family last week.

Evalyn was airlifted from our county hospital to a children's hospital with what we found out later was pneumonia that was preventing her from breathing.

I made it to the hospital just as the helicopter was landing. And just in time to see her being wheeled out, hug Katie real quick and take a few pictures before they lifted off.

Leave it to Ebbles to be the first in our family to go helicoptering.

By day and by night

I read an article recently about journalists who live with their parents and being completely okay with it. Like, it's normal. You know what's not normal? Being a journalist and NOT living with your parents.

By day, I'm a newspaper editor leading my noble staff to reporter-victory.

By night, I'm a tired and sometimes cranky big sister who gets frustrated at the dogs and yells at incompetent athletes on TV.

I also misbehave in McDonalds and try my best to tell a joke but inherently fail.

I used to be a journalist and not live with multiple family members. But now I've joined the honorable ranks of reporters who rub shoulders with important-titled people by day and at night cuddle on the couch with a sibling and a football game.

They are honorable ranks, really. There's no sarcasm there.

While I'm blogging this, my little brother is playing PS3 with a friend right next to me. My sister's alternating between watching them and reading over my shoulder.

I'm cataloging in my head my to-do list for tomorrow ... as newspaper editor and big sister.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I want to run away

A friend texted me this morning, "U ok? Haven't heard from you in awhile."

Things I Should Say:
"Oh yeah, I'm great. Life is peachy. How are you?"

Things I Want to Say:
"Life sucks right now and if I could go back and change the decisions of some people and how they've affected me recently, I would."

Things No One But Me Should Ever Know About:
"Do you ever feel like life has reached an unwarranted level of insanity and the only solution is packing your bags and finding a dark room somewhere where the sleep and strong drinks are endless and maybe, if you're lucky, someone's there to hold you all night long or not, depending on what you want?"

Despite the title which suggests that perhaps these are Things No One But Me Should Ever Know About, that's how I'm doing.

My heart is only brave for so long and then sometimes it just needs to hide.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


You don't know it but I was competing with myself to see if I could blog every day this month.

Competitive-blogging-by-myself fail, which is why I didn't make a big announcement about the non-existent blogging project because I thought that maybe if I didn't acknowledge it, it would just happen naturally. Plus, when it did fail (which I fully expected it to), then I wouldn't have another blog project that, you know, just never happened.

So now I'm like 7 blog posts behind schedule and maybe I can squeeze out some content in the next few days to make up for it.

Or maybe not. There's no telling.

Blogging for me is this thin line between Things I Want to Say, Things I Should Say and Things No One But Me Should Ever Know About.

Like for example, Things I Want to Say would be that I'm deshelling sunflower seeds in my mouth like an expert. Things I Should Say would be that I'm eating a perfectly healthy snack in the form of sunflower seeds. Things No One But Me Should Ever Know About would be that I just missed my cup and spit sunflower shells across my desk calendar.

Do you see the balancing act?

Almost a year ago I wrote an entry that probably goes down as My Most Embarrassing Post Ever. I'm surprised I haven't deleted it; I'm surprised I'm linking you to it again. It's kinda like that old ratty couch from college - it was free and it means something.

But my segue into the Most Embarrassing Post Ever was boldly blogging and while I still hold true to that (you're not going to read lies here!), you're also not going to read Things No One But Me Should Ever Know and even sometimes you're likely not to get Things I Want to Say because Things I Want to Say can sometimes be harsh and brash and ugly even though I think they could be categorized as Things I Should Say.

I started this post out talking about competition - the title's even 'competition - and what I meant to tell you was that right now, I'm placing third for the most bylines in my newsroom over the last two weeks.

I want first place.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Love in the form of Red Box

I worked 13 hours yesterday.

I wrote five stories.

I attended two meetings.

I found out I have a 32-page special publication due today by 6 p.m.

I got a text message from my 13-year-old brother that said, "Hey, Elsie helped me with a lot of homework so would you mind picking up the new Shrek for her? P.S. it doesn't matter if it's in HD because the PS3 is HD."

I stopped at five Red Boxes in three towns before finally landing a copy.

I got home at 10 p.m. and delivered the goods and told them my Red Box adventures.

"That's dedication," Elsie said.

Yes, dedication mixed in with a little love too.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm living ... but in what moment?

It's December 7th but I'm already living in December 9th (the day my newspaper's produced) and December 10th (the day of a very special holiday party) and December 11 (the day of country dancing) and December 25 (Christmas!) and December 29 (the day of celebrating my beautiful mother) and January 14 (the day I get to see very special friends who I miss very much) ...

As a planner and a journalist, I'm used to living two, three, four, five days out from today. But just this year when I failed to schedule a photographer to cover the first day of school because I'd been so focused on announcing the first day of school starting that I forgot to document that it started, I realized I can't forget to live in the moment that my readers are in.

Or, live in the moment that I'm in.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I like these people

One thing about living in Texas - we have our own genre of music. One of the bands is the Josh Abbott Band and they sing a song called, "She's Like Texas."

A few of the chorus' lyrics say this:

"She always holds her head up high.
She loves the company of her family.
She believes in God's greater plan."

Kinda like me.

I love the company of my family and am glad for the company I shared with some of them yesterday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm not asking for your social security number

We were joking in the newsroom yesterday that after 30 years in the business one would tend to be insensitive.

And I said, "Hell, after four years in the business I'm insensitive", which really isn't entirely true. I'm a pretty sensitive individual.

When I'm not sensitive, however, is when I'm pursuing an investigative story and I want answers. Then I mix sensitivity with a little bit of reporter-aggression.

I'm also not sensitive when I'm pursuing a non-investigative story about - oh- Christmas lights and I get a virtual "no comment." Fine. I guess somebody's not in the Christmas spirit.

Or I call a new restaurant to talk to the manager and I get a rude "She's busy. You'll have to call back early in the morning."

I didn't even say goodbye. I sneered and replied, "Okay then..." And I made a mental note to not ever write a story about the new restaurant.

(free publicity, people. you don't say no!)

I am sensitive when I'm covering a science fair and interviewing kids who are waayyyy smarter then me. To give you a clue on how smart some of these little guys were - I was reading them back their quotes to make sure I notated them correctly. I don't ever do that.

And it warmed my sensitive soul when I saw this story cut out and framed all pretty-like in the entrance of the science fair.

That helps make it worth dealing with silly people who turn down free advertising and treat me like I'm after a Watergate scandal scoop. It's Christmas lights and restaurants, people. In the grand scheme of things, not really all that important.

Maybe the bigger issue is that, as a reporter, I don't like being told no. As much as it bugs me when people refuse to talk to me, it makes me feel so damn good when people drop me little lines to thank me for a story or let me know how it impacted them.

Yeah, I might ask you a bunch of questions and you might not understand some of them but I promise you that when I sit down to write your story, it will have a piece of my creative heart in it. Even the one about Christmas lights.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I grew up in 31-feet of space - 28' minus the hitch

Ours was a 1983 Prowler by Fleetwood travel trailer, orange-and-white, 31-feet long, 28-feet of living space when you subtracted the length of the hitch/propane tanks. It was similar to the one pictured above but longer and with two doors.

Welcome to my home of (roughly) eight years.

I don't talk often here about the travel trailer days of my growing up years but yes, I was raised in a trailer with six siblings, a dog and two parents.

Interesting, huh?
You have a lot of questions, don't you?

Some of my friends have questions about my life in a travel trailer and one of them is: exactly how long is 28-feet of space? I can't even imagine it.

My friend Greg and his wife Kristin asked me one night and because a long tape measure was handy, Greg measured it:

I love this picture for the following reasons:

1) my friends love me enough to actually care about measuring off 28' in their kitchen to figure me out more.
2) I love that kitchen. Lots of good memories in that kitchen.

I love my life.

And that includes the past, the present and the future.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

to-do lists, I love you. I hate you.

I was going to bless your reading eyes with a picture of my to-do list.

When I took the picture, I decided not to post it because, you know, I might have stalkers.

But then I reasoned with myself that the whole point of this post was to show you how I color-coordinate my life. And I couldn't do that without a picture.

So I took another picture.

But when I enhanced the colors, I changed it to gray scale, which I realized defeated the whole purpose (color!) of posting the picture.

Instead of "undoing" my gray scale option, I deleted it, took another picture and started over.

Basically, I've been really busy today. And if you're wondering about the gap in the middle of the paper, that symbolizes a "break" between the morning and afternoon/evening. Ha! break.

I wrote five stories plus a column. I conducted a man-on-the-street survey. I rewrote a couple stories for our daily publication. I inputted a bunch of stuff (there's not a better word for it!) into our editorial system and edited the crap out of it. Or tried to. I talked to one of our 'editors' about a headline that misused "effect." He was pissed and venting about it.

"Look at the headline on the bottom of the front page," he said and I obliged.

"Oh, they used 'e'ffect instead of 'a'ffect," I replied immediately.

"When do you use 'e'ffect?" he asked.

"Well, 'e'ffect is a noun, 'a'ffect is a verb," I answered. I passed his venting test.

I organized my paper for tomorrow's production. I met with students, teachers and the principal at the high school to talk about an anti-bullying campaign (neat stuff!) and I tried to Twitter but of course, Twitter was not cooperating, which is why I don't like it. I don't like Twitter.

Back to the to-do list.

I love them. I love writing things on them and then crossing them off. Today, though, it felt like I was crossing one thing off and adding two more, which is why I hate them sometimes.

I have two stories to write still but creatively, I'm exhausted. If you couldn't tell. This isn't exactly the most creatively inspiring post ever.

So I shall end it.

today is different from last year's Dec. 1ish

I didn't blog Dec. 1, 2009 mostly because I was on a New Mexico mountain in the middle of 32,000 acres with feet of snow on the ground and no power.

But I journaled Dec. 3 and then posted it when power was back on.

It's a different life now but the same in many aspects. My family's still together but better and stronger because we live within 10 miles of each other. We're still feeding animals but we've left behind the isolation and loneliness of the mountain; we're in civilization now. And if you caught my man-drama hater rant from the other day, you'll know I'm glad we don't deal with that anymore.

I think the thing that is really the same is the nature of us. We sit and laugh and tell old jokes. We discuss latest politics and religion and news. We eat good food and leave the dirty dishes in the sink sometimes. We work together, play together, play tug-of-war together. I grab the nearest item (last night it was a straw) and declare everyone be quiet, listen to me and stop interrupting me. I do that sometimes, you know.

This Dec. 1, I'm sitting at my desk - an editor again with a lengthy to-do list today. I don't have to carry a knife with me anymore nor do I have to dress in layers. I'm better, I'm more healed, I'm happy, I'm thrilled and I'm realizing that this post is kind of a jumbled mess, which means I'll stop now and graciously allow you to exit my ramblings.

Monday, November 29, 2010

three things I need; two things I need to remember

If there's one thing I've made clear on this blog, it's how much I love, love, love simplicity. And if I've said it once, I've said it a million times - it's the little things that matter.

So when my brother's girlfriend (who also doubles as a longtime family friend) came back from a trip to Oklahoma with gifts for everyone that she hand selected with each person in mind, I was ecstatic to receive mine.

See. Nothing big. Nothing major.

But completely me!

She even has her telephone and paper and a pen and a tape dispenser and an eraser.

Could it get any more perfect?

Our Thanksgiving

I commented Saturday (the day we celebrated our Thanksgiving) while I was trying to carve the turkey how thankful I was that our holiday was so low-key and no stress.

Well, that's kind of what I said.

What I actually said was, "It's so nice to have Thanksgiving be so low-key without silly men making it stressful."

To be honest, I said, "stupid men," not silly men.

Call me a man-hater - I'm sure if you're one of the silly men I'm referring to you want to. I can take it.

I consider myself more of a man-drama hater. The man who got his panties in a wad over the fact that we all didn't gather around the table for lunches would not have been okay with Thanksgiving dinner served on paper plates and eaten in the living room. Nor would he have been alright with me carving (ripping) the turkey. Or that it was nearly 8 by the time we ate. Or that halfway through the meal preparation, none of us really felt like eating turkey and we considered postponing the meal another day, which would have been totally fine with us. But not with him.

We did all gather in a circle and hold hands. I held Evalyn and prayed. It wasn't a very good prayer, I'll admit. Someone even joked about having it "rehearsed", which it clearly wasn't. Stuff like that is okay with us.

"Damn, it feels good to be me...."

Thank you, Uncle Kracker for stealing the words right out of my mouth.

It does feel good to be me, to be us, in all our imperfections and quirkiness.

We're messy, we don't play by the rules sometimes, we break traditions and start our own, we're loud, we laugh constantly and sometimes our prayers suck.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I hurled my body at her

Our house was recently disrupted by a four-pound bundle of orange and white fluff that we said we weren't keeping but whose name is now Bengal.

Once they get a name, they're staying, which is probably why Micah rushed to solidify the animal's position in our family.

I mean, Bengal, really? Totally rushed-sounding name.


Shortly after Bengal's arrival to the house, in those first few days when we were going to take her to the animal shelter and then nobody did and then mom said, "We've done everything we can to find her a new home" and I said, "No, we haven't!" and then she got a name ... yeah, those first few days - I wrote an e-mail to a very dear friend who I e-mail very often and I said:

"So Micah brought home a kitten the other day that someone left at his school. It's really cute and everything, blah, blah, blah. But I swear - this 4 pound bundle of fur has disrupted the entire balance of our household! And I'll tell you why.

In case anyone forgot, I have a German Shepherd who enjoys chasing and killing small (and large) animals. And she is obsessed with hunting down this kitten. So my usual routine of letting Skye out in the morning, taking her to feed horses with me, letting her run around before I pen her up for the day and then repeating the whole process when I get home from work has been completely disrupted by the fact that now I have to make sure the 4-pound creature with a target on her head is out of reach. It's annoying."

This morning, it became more personal because, literally, I gave a part of myself for the life of this kitten named Bengal.

I opened the front door this morning - purse, camera and miscellaneous items in hand - I let Skye out so I could put her in the pen and suddenly all I see is a little pile of orange and white fur waiting on the front step. And Skye.

It was a weird moment. Even Skye was caught by surprise. She's been hunting this thing for who knows how long and suddenly, it's waiting right in front of her. She stood over it, pawed it, and then playfully nipped at it.

The kitten cowered and sat still. Thankfully.

Then there's me. Hyperactive, over-imaginative, thinker. All I could see was a dismembered kitten, a bloody mess and my ass getting chewed for allowing Bengal to be slaughtered.

In slow-mo, I think I yelled and then I threw my body at Skye.


At what point did I think that was a good idea?!

Why not try yelling. Or grabbing Skye's collar. Or, better yet, the kitten. All very novel ideas.

But no.

Out of all the plausible options, I chose launching myself with enough projection that I sent myself sprawling down the slight front step and onto the concrete patio. My purse and camera flew out in front of me and I landed in the fetal position.

It worked, which was my plan all along.

Skye was scared spitless and watched me tumble with a "WTF?!" look on her face, which gave the kitten enough time to scale a nearby tree.

I sat on the front step and tried not to cry.

Friday, November 19, 2010

fractions of time - I believe in them

If I ask you what time it is, I want to know what time it is.

I have friends (dare I say family members?!) who, when I ask for the time, will say, "Oh, it's 12:30" when I know it's not. It's actually 12:20. Those are important ten minutes; a lot can happen in ten minutes.

I just looked at the time on my work phone - 11:24 a.m. And I thought, "I'll take six minutes to finish eating my lunch and that'll give me an hour to write this story before my 12:30 engagement."

See? Six minutes are important.

Every morning, I at some point will announce, "Three minutes, guys! We've got three minutes before we need to leave." Those three minutes are the deciding factor between them going to school with a clean shirt or not. Important.

I arrived at my CPA graduation last night with three minutes to spare. Technically I wasn't late, although I felt like I was running behind.

Five, 10, 15 minutes is the difference between a great story and a shitty story when you're writing on deadline. Heck, even one minute is a deal breaker/maker then.

So here I am, six minutes past when I should've been done here and writing something else. Something on deadline. Kinda important.

Cheers to the under-appreciated minute.

I sprain my ankle standing still

I am quite possibly the only person I know who can twist my ankle standing still. At my deputy managing editor's desk. While talking about tithing and Christmas donations.

This was nothing like the last time I twisted it. In that case, I had extenuating circumstances.

This time? Nada one.

As a matter of fact, the probability of me twisting my ankle was slim to none. If you had asked me, "Hey Holly, do you think it's possible for you to sprain your ankle while you're standing still at the DME's desk talking about tithing and Christmas donations?"

Preposterous! would've been my response.

Nevertheless, there I was. Talking about whether one should tithe off the gross or net amount of lottery winnings (these are the important things we talk about in newsrooms!) and suddenly, my right ankle folded, I'm sure a grimace crossed my face and I limped the rest of the day.

I was even shoeless.

You can laugh because I am.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

graduating ... again

In 29 minutes I will be graduating from the Copperas Cove Police Department Citizen's Police Academy. It's a process I decided to go through and chronicle in a column format.

And if you think I'm dumb for putting location-ary information on my blog, don't panic. Number one, it's not my address and number two, (not to toot my own Google horn) I'm a big deal on the internet. Google me and once you get past the YouTube videos and images (which I have nothing to do with), you'll find me on the third link down.

I told you.

I hope you sensed the sarcasm and don't think I'm really an internet-fame junkie.

But here I am, now 25 minutes pre-CPA graduation, and it's got me thinking about graduations period and how many 'things' I'll actually graduate from in my lifetime.

I graduated with my GED, then my bachelor's and masters degrees. I graduated from the World Journalism Institute and now the citizen's police academy.

Not bad for having been raised in a travel trailer with no formal education till the age of 19.

I've graduated from other things too.
Like, the Discovery! program that has completely changed my life (and I say that in all honesty - no sarcasm).
I've graduated from ...
... being a baby reporter to an editor for the first time and hopefully a better one now.
... from legalistically judging people to allowing God's grace and freedom to flow freely.
... from social awkwardness to not-keeping-my-mouth-shut.
... from building walls around my heart to keeping them down.
... from a prickly pear to a vulnerable human being.
... graduated from stress and worry to peace and courage.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm a Reporter

There are moments, usually in the middle of the night, when I remember I'm a reporter.

Because we, as reporters, do strange things.

A couple weeks ago a storm woke me up. My first thought when I was standing in the kitchen was, "How is this impacting my readers? Do I need to write about it?" Those were followed shortly by thoughts ensuring the animals all had proper coverage and that nothing was left out getting soaked that shouldn't be.

When I'm driving a back road and see a sign for an equine swim facility, I think, "That'd make a great story!" So I make it happen.

I drive home at least three nights a week pushed past the point of exhaustion.

I do take naps on my desk. And then wake up 25 minutes later unable to see. When I texted my opthalmologist friend, he said the fronts of my eyes were probably swollen from resting my head on my forearm for that long. Who knew?!

People tell me the strangest things. Things that are so off-base from the topic I'm interviewing them about that inside I'm shaking my head in wonder.

I was with a rancher today riding around on his place talking about the dangers of his former job as a narcotics detective. He then told me it was really no more dangerous then mine because really, I had no idea who I would be interviewing and that at any time I could be "raped, shot, or robbed." I had never thought of my job like that before.

I read TIME magazine and post an excellent quote as my Facebook status. And then read it to my little brother and sister on our way to school the next morning and get their feedback.

Officials in public meetings whisper when they know I'm watching and I think that's funny.

Information comes flying at me so fast, especially in meetings, that I have a built-in Information Sorter in my head. Some things I'm not even listening to. And while I'm not listening, I'm starting to write the story on my Blackberry. They think I'm texting; it's actually news-writing in action.

I fail at leaving lengthy interviews early. I will stay and let them talk as long as they want to and then race back to the office to make up for lost time.

I keep multiple to-do lists around my desk, purse, and Blackberry. There's always something to do. Like blog.

I let a piece of everyone's story affect me just a little.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

he gets his own post

You've seen him before, my 13-year-old brother. Like here:

I love this picture of him. What a great day that was.

So you might be wondering why Micah's getting an entire post dedicated to him. A big part of the reason is that I was gently awakened at 11:48 last night by the meticulous sounds of someone very gingerly unloading the dishwasher. When I went into the kitchen, Micah met me and put his hands over my face.

"Don't look," he kept saying. "Just go back to bed."

I tried to tell him not to stay up too late on a school night. He said "alright" and then insisted I go back to bed, which I did.

When we got up this morning, the house was spotless. And I don't mean in a just-picked-up kind of way. I mean, the table was clean (he'd been building a catapault there the past week), the kitchen counters were wiped and everything straightened .....

.... the shoes were lined up by the front door ....

.... and even the magazines were evenly spaced as I like them ....

.... and all the while, the kitten he rescued from his school's campus was dancing at my feet.

Now you know why he gets his own post. He cleans, he rescues animals, he loves football. And he still sits with me in the recliner while we watch The Biggest Loser.

I love him.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Skye baby

She's really never this sweet or lovable so when I woke up Sunday to this face, how could I ignore it? Seriously. Love her.

These are a couple glamor shots from the other day when we were watching football.

I heart her.

Just get over it

If there's ever been a time in my life where I felt like a football player it was Saturday night when I was rolling around on the ground after spraining my ankle coming down my friend's apartment (outdoor) stairs.

Yes, that just happened.

Okay, so I have weak ankles anyway. But there were extenuating circumstances starting with 1) it was dark outside 2) I was wearing my boots and 3) the ground at the bottom of her stairs is uneven and not suitable for a perky trot coming off the landing.

Perky trot fail.

So usually when my ankles wipe out I never 1) hit the ground in a full-body roll or 2) stay on the ground in a full-body roll.

As a result, family came a-runnin'.

Don't let their initial concern melt your heart. Daniel stood over me laughing while asking, "Are you okay? Oh my gosh, Holly, are you okay?"

Mom wasn't laughing; she kept repeating something along the same lines.

And I held my ankle and leg and pounded my head in the grass.

Then, here it comes.

"Come on, Holly, just like playing football, you gotta get back up," I think it was Daniel who said that.

And one of the guys with us yelled, "Just like the Longhorns, Holly. You get back up!"

So I did. I mean, if the Longhorns have the courage to get out on the football field week after week then I definitely can put the pain of twisted ankle behind me.

In case you were wondering, I screamed when I went down. It was just one shrill shriek. I wonder if the Longhorns ever do that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This is us

My alarm went off this morning at 6:30 as it always does.
I located it under my pillow and hit the snooze button as I always do.

"I'll take the kids this morning," Mom said from the bed next to mine.

"Umph," was my reply.

Despite my inability to speak that early in the morning, it's amazing the coherent thought process I'm able to conduct.

If she takes the kids that means you get, what? An extra hour of sleep? Maybe? But if you get up now and take the kids and then go to work, you can get tons of stuff done and maybe come home early. That maybe is a whole lot more probable than me, your body, actually feeling better after just one more hour of sleep ... maybe.

The alarm went off again, I hit the snooze again and laid there for a minute.

"Gov. Perry won the election."

That was me talking. I'd worked till 10 last night covering local election races and refreshing the Secretary of State's website a million times to get results.

"Oh really? That's good. I like Perry."

That's mom talking from the bed next to mine.

"Greg won city council too." Me again. I'm thankful for my reporter friend who kept me in touch with the results from her local election and her husband's subsequent election. Really, I was more interested in that election then my own.

"That's really great," mom said.

I got up and went outside to feed the horses. Next on my morning agenda was rousing the kids for the first time, showering, rousing the kids again. Mom made French press coffee - my favorite.

While she sang her annoying morning song, I urged the kids to get up faster to make her stop. I brushed my hair in the kitchen while I told her about my election night. With four minutes before having to leave, I ran and grabbed my shoes and hurriedly told her about a phone call I'd had with a friend earlier yesterday.

"I can't finish right now but I'll tell you when I get home," I said, adding more almond milk to my strong coffee and closing the lid on my travel cup.

"Really, Holly," my little brother whined from the couch where he was putting his shoes on. "Finish your story!"

I hadn't even realized he'd been listening. "I'll be home early today, I promise. And then I'll catch you up."

"Enjoy your day off today, Mom," I said. "Don't worry today. Just don't even look at the bank account or obsess over it. Just enjoy your day." (yes, I use that many "justs" when I'm talking.)

"Me? Obsess over it?"

I gave her the same look she gives me when I try to deny any action.

"Looking at it 100 times won't change anything," I said. "C'mon guys, we gotta go. We're about 4 minutes behind."

A round of "I love yous" and "see you laters" sounded off and I shut the door behind me.

Remember when I said we don't have a normal mother/daughter relationship?

Well, actually, we do.

This is our normal.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Me and her

We're walking this incredible journey together - one that physically started a year ago this month when I joined her on the ranch. What a ride since then.

She's my best friend. Our relationship is one not many daughters have the honor of sharing with their mother.

While I'm washing the dishes in my work clothes, she's helping one of her kids with their homework. I drove 75 miles today to get to her only to follow her home. We lamented the fact we were in two vehicles so we just talked on the phone the whole way.

Moments like those make the other moments, the more stressful ones, fade.

We have stressful moments, you know. I'm guessing the kind that makes some husbands and wives sleep in seperate beds and maybe walk away from each other. We wonder if we're going to make it, if we're doing enough, if we could do more.

We console each other, pat each other on the back, laugh together and most definitely cry together. We yell at each other too and not because we're mad. I guess we're just passionate and we both think the higher the octave, the more the other person will understand the point.

We annoy each other too.

I hate her lamp. She trips over my dog every morning. I'm always picking her Sweet-n-Low packets off the counter. She gets mad when I leave her keys in the truck. She criticizes my driving; I pull over and offer her the wheel.

But I love her.

There's no other person I'd want to be walking this journey with than her.

It ended becase Monday said so

It was a weekend I was dreading the end to.

It's not that it was especially spectacular. As a matter of fact, it was very simple. But in the essence of its simplicity was a touch of comfort, a bit of sass and a lot of laughter in the face of time.

But as the hours ticked down last night, I wanted to dig my toes in the sand and not let the weekend deliver me over to Monday.

So I laid in bed sandwiched between one sister and one brother for awhile and we laughed way too hard and talked way too long but had way too much fun.

I tried to remember the midnight hilarity of our conversation as it happened but it was too fast and my brain was too tired. I've forgotten most of it already.

It was our, "Damn you weekend for being over" statement.

By 12:45 a.m., we were all in our own beds and when my alarm went off this morning I laid there in the fetal position not wanting to open my eyes.

Monday is here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Faces of Bowling

We spent an afternoon in a bowling alley.

Sometimes we're coordinated for pictures. Sometimes we're not.

Sometimes Daniel wants to demonstrate his wingspan and pretend he's a giant bird.

Sometimes we're normal. And sometimes Katie just has that look on her face.

Sometimes Mindy throws a strike and is happy about it.

Sometimes Elsie isn't happy about her toss.

Sometimes it's just not a good night for bowling.

Sometimes it is.

Sometimes it's not.

Sometimes all you have to do is smile regardless of the gutter ball.

Sometimes the walk of shame is best done with your head down.

Sometimes with your hands in the air.

Sometimes some people don't want to bowl.

Sometimes you don't understand.

Sometimes you have to wear a poker face.

Sometimes you can't hide nothin'.

Sometimes the whole world has to know and sometimes you have to use your scary face.

Sometimes you're just happy.

Sometimes a good roll to the pins becomes a touchdown.

Sometimes you can't look.
Sometimes you surprise yourself.

Sometimes it's a wish and a prayer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Today I was struck with insurmountable pride in my family.

We are someone I want to be more like.

We trip and fall but we get back up.

We take care of each other and offer a hand or even a finger if that's all we can spare to the person next to us.

We dream big, we love like crazy, we fight hard and play harder.

We are each a small part of this bigger unit that sometimes feels like it's running off without our permission.

We are ...

We are love.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Random sentence

What's the most random thing you've said all day?

You're stumped. I have an answer.

I texted my brother Daniel and asked him if he was having a good day. He said "ya, great! How about you?"

And here it is, folks.

"I'm good! I want to quit my job and travel the world. And I want to make wooden puzzles and sell them at Christmas bazaars."

He hasn't replied.

You know how when you're just becoming friends with someone or starting a relationship every word is measured carefully so you don't offend anyone. You scan the dictionary before you have a conversation so you can whip out a new word and impress them. I'm always careful to tone the southern accent down a little and not use "ya'll" and under no circumstances, "all ya'll." Or when a photographer out on assignment for me wakes me up, I rehearse "hello" about 10 times before I answer the phone. She still guesses it - "did I wake you up?"

But what a great point in a friendship when you can just be yourself.

How my day's going is exactly what I said.

I'm good.
I want to quit my job and travel the world.
I want to make wooden puzzles and sell them at Christmas bazaars.

He said, "Haha, really? That's awesome!"

Because that's what a great friend says.


I made a contract with myself 39 days ago in a hotel basement in Austin, Texas.

It hangs around my neck. It's written on this blog. It's a statement on my bathroom mirror.

Seven words strung together, two of them key, which I hand-selected out of a plethora of options. I didn't know how these words would change my life.

Funny, isn't it, how we make contracts with other people but the notion of making one with yourself is ridiculous?

I'll be the first to admit that the journey I started 39 days ago is absurd. My Wilson ball is silly, the fact that I'm madly in love with 34 people who I just met 39 days ago is ludicrous. That just doesn't happen in the real world.

But what if it's supposed to?
What if it really is completely normal to put 35 random strangers in a hotel for a weekend and have them emerge 72 hours later different, glowing, laughing, healed?

It sounds like reality TV.

Only this time, there's a bonus. It is reality and it can be for everyone. I'm living proof.

I am a courageous and strong woman.

I am...

...someone my German Shepherd wants to snuggle with.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I have some catching up to do and I plan to do that by blogging every day this week. Because if I don't, who will, right?

So let's see ....

Life is good.

My dog got in a fight and while I hated the sound of them fighting and the whole scenario, my dog-mom heart was proud that my baby girl was on top. I finally was able to end the whole foray by pulling her off by her tail.

I was nearly killed by a miniature pony yesterday. I've never inhaled so loudly in my life.

Suddenly, instant Folgers coffee in a tea bag is good to me. And black, nonetheless. This diet has done weird things to my normal eating patterns.

Speaking of diet, 30 pounds have stayed off. I'm getting ready to start the process over again and hope to lose another 30 or at least 25. I'm able to wear clothes I haven't worn in 2 years and look forward to some major shopping when I'm down another 25-30 pounds.

I want to take a road trip. Really bad. To the point that every time I pull into a gas station, I want to be somewhere else ... traveling to a known or unknown destination. I don't think I will ever be satisfied staying in one place very long. Or at least staying in that one place without exploring to some degree.

I'm really glad fall is getting here so I can wear scarves that are actually the size of a small blanket.

I have a small squishie yellow ball with a big black smilely face on it that sits on my clunky keyboard. Its name is Wilson and Wilson represents something very special to me.

Until tomorrow ...
...cheers to innovation and new ideas.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

This diet has changed the way I eat a hamburger and even what hamburger I eat.
This is an organic beef patty topped with a slight amount of mozzarella cheese and mustard with sides of onions, tomatos and avacados.
The cheese and avacados are a splurge on this maintenance phase of the diet.
And for someone who's never liked mustard, I love it now that I don't use ketchup ever.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Faithful Suitor

Do you trust me? God asked.

I was offended. Hadn't my life been proof enough that I trusted him? I'd just quit my job, was getting ready to go back to Kentucky for an undisclosed period of time FOR HIM and would I really do that if I didn't trust him?

The first night he asked, I said yes.
The second night, I said no.
The third night, I said no.

I couldn't figure out why my honest answers were that ... honest. He'd never blatantly failed me. Sure, life was ugly sometimes and went in directions I'd have chosen not to go but I didn't blame him for it.

But still. Trust him explicitly?

Laying there that April in my mom's house on our ranch on the top of a mountain, I realized that somewhere along my journey, I'd slowly taken the reins of my life out of his hands and was trying to desperately hold them all together in my fragile ones.

Buried under the rhetoric of my soul was a fear that if I handed everything over to him, he was going to mess it up more than it already was. But if I maintained my rocky control, I could have some say over the outcome. And if the outcome was a disaster, at least it'd be my fault.

Almost two years later, on Monday I wrote in my journal, "I'm trusting and I trust you."
My pen paused in awe over the words and then I wrote, "Wow. I'm trusting."
Yesterday I wrote, "Is it possible that I'm trusting you more and more every day? That just a year-and-a-half-ago I didn't trust you?"

There's a pile of hay outside our barn right now that's a signpost to me. Yesterday and this morning, discouragement, stress and worry tried to overtake my soul and I looked outside to see this. I grabbed my camera and went out to spend time with this hay.

"You provided and we didn't ask for it. You saw the need and you fulfilled it. You are a great God."

"So if you can see the things we need and provide for them before we ask, how much more the things we're asking for? And how much more can we trust you even when the answer's no?"

Our neighbors down the road said, "Come get 30 bales of hay."
The next day, it was 100.

There are 100 bales of coastal hay sitting outside our barn right now and they're all a sign to me.

"You are trustworthy."