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.