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.