Saturday, December 31, 2011

the year of Migration

If I were to describe 2011 in a word, it would be migration and I would mean it in a literal and metaphorical sense.

There were ups and downs, twists and turns, some doubling back and circling around. There were tears, angry arguments, frustrated phone calls and conversations in parking lots. There was unequivocal joy and dancing to silly music. It was a summer spent with no air conditioning (!!!) and a year of intense professional development. There were friends, old and new - bettering of relationships and viewpoints. There were memories made and ones relived.

This was my 2011.

In January I migrated from strength to weakness and then back to strength...on my less glorious days. This is a theme for me, a common strand that runs throughout the fabric of my life. Strength eaten away into crumbling and then from the pieces, more strength is built perhaps stronger then it was before.

In February I embarked on a continuation of my journey to physical health. I started running and training for my March duathlon. I never expected or thought I would be able to do this, but I did.

In March I was promoted to city editor. I migrated from one position into another and continue to learn something new every day about managing news, leading people and changing our world.

In April I visited my people and I wrote about him for the first time. I spent the spring playing softball with my family and doing a lot of babysitting for a mom and three kids who lived with us for a few months. Physically, I migrated, staying with a friend during the week and going home on the weekends.

In May I was loving my simple life and embraced being shirtless on the deck.

In June I spent 24 hours in Corpus Christi with my friend Colleen. I ended up with second degree burns on my face and first degree burns on parts of my body. But we ate at Scuttlebutts and were satisfied, and stayed at the Passport Inn.

In July there was a big news event in Killeen and I became more acquainted with my wild heart.

In August my wisdom teeth were removed and I drove my car for the first time in a year. I migrated from staying at one co-worker's house and staying at another's. I found the Cottage this month, though I didn't broadcast it.

In September I turned 28 and I wrote about my job.

In October there was darkness, but somehow light shone at the end. There were moments of hanging on the brink of a dark abyss and thinking "this time there is no return" but there was. There was a gracious return. I spent a week in Kentucky at the end of this month, and moved into the Cottage quietly.

In November I wrote about the Cottage for the first time. I saw a friend for the first time in 7.5 years.

In December I documented some of my endeavors of simplicity and frugality and the adventures along the way.

I migrated a lot in 2011. From one physical place to another, changing addresses. From one financial state of mind to another. From one emotional state to another, and from one level of handy-womanness to another.

"She lives life in her own little fairytale."

Project Saturday

I took a break from cleaning and watching college basketball to explore the old barn for a Saturday project.

And I found it!

An old, old window frame that I cleaned up, scraped off dirt and excess paint and hung it at the end of the bed.

I was trying to figure out how to decorate it or what to put on it and then I remembered I can write on it with a dry erase marker.

So that's what I did.

The best thing is that I can erase it and replace it with a different quote as I wish.

NYE heat

It is New Year's Eve day here in Texas and the weather is fine. Just fine. So fine, in fact, that I have all the doors to the Cottage open and if I were inclined to crank open the old windows, I would do that too.

But I'm not. So the windows remain closed.

I've spent the morning deshedding the Cottage and trying to keep the dogs out. They are confused and don't understand.

And after fighting with them many times, they win. Kind of.

Friday, December 30, 2011

the real goodwill

I will admit it.

Not only do I build my own furniture, but I shop at second-hand stores, too. Oh, and I get really excited about it prior to going and then when I've secured my deals, I text close friends to tell them.

I was involved in a discussion recently with people at work about shopping at thrift stores. Someone threw it out there, the other people around were awkward about it, I dove into the conversation, though the prideful part of me didn't really want to.

I can easily say it's a scar from my childhood and that wouldn't be far from the truth. But I can't say that now. I'm 28. The past is the past and the present is what I make of it.

What is it about equating your level of success with where you shop?

Or your religious affiliations with the length of your hair (as I did this week)?

If you saw me today, you would have seen me in my brand name jeans and assumed that I shopped there and perhaps spent too much money on them when, in fact, I paid $7.

I told my co-workers: it's not that I can't spend $80 on a pair of jeans, it's that I choose not to.

Earlier this week, someone commented on how long my hair's getting, and so I frantically asked a friend if I looked like a Baptist. She gave me an "eh, kinda" look and then added that if I were in a skirt, she'd think I was Mormon.

Me, being the insenstive dumbass that I am sometimes, posted it on Facebook. The comments I received from a friend reined in my judgmental thought process.

Why do I still do that?

I'm judging myself based on appearances, and paranoid that other people are making assumptions about my religious affiliations based on the length of my hair.

I'm afraid that if people know I shop at thrift stores that they'll make assumptions about my financial status.

Well, this is my public liberation.

I shop at thrift stores.
I build my own furniture.
I have long hair.

(and if you must know, I spent $35 for two pairs of jeans, a skirt and two pairs of work shoes. SCORE!)

he's not mine

He's like the neighbor kid who won't go away because your house is much cooler and way more fun.

My morning routine includes an obligatory "good morning, Blue" when I sleepily let Skye and Zeb outside. He plays with Skye for awhile and when I step outside 30 or 45 minutes later to play fetch with Skye, he chases her back and forth and proudly tries to steal her ball.

When I retreat back inside, he sneaks in and dives into the food bowl. And while I'm trying to leave for work, he prances around the house as I'm nudging him with my foot to get him to leave. He sits by the front door, just inside, determined not to go out.

But then he does and then he sits and watches me leave.

When I come home, it's a similar routine. He greets me before I get out of my car and trails behind me while I let Skye and Zeb outside. They play for awhile, and when I let them in, he darts back inside and we play tag around the kitchen until he leaves.

I'm not sure where he sleeps but it wouldn't surprise me if it were somewhere near the Cottage.

I can't hardly blame him. I'm a fan of the Cottage too.

she's not perfect

The Cottage has a flaw, though it began as a selling point the first time I walked through it and wanted to curl up on the carpeted floor and go to sleep.

Hot water does not flow from the shower head at a consistent rate.

The first couple weeks I was there, I thought there was a flaw in the hot water heater. Like, maybe it didn’t work.

But then one day I stood in the shower long enough to realize that the energy saving hot water heater wasn’t broken. It was saving energy. At my shivering expense.

My morning (or evening) shower is typically my thinking time, but it’s turned into a hot water manipulation session. Before I’m ready to get in the shower, I turn on the hot water and wait for it to warm up and steam the bathroom. Then I get in and I usually have enough time to get my hair wet and the shampoo foamed up before the water turns cold.

And then I stand out of range of the falling ice water, and while I’m standing there shivering, I have time to think. To think about if the hot water will return and what I’ll do if it doesn’t.

Sixty to 90 seconds later, the hot water returns and I spend the next 15 to 20 seconds fiddling enough cold water into the hot stream to make it tolerable. But by then, I’m so iced that any amount of hot water feels scalding and my tingly skin doesn’t know if it’s too hot or too cold.

I repeat this about three times.

By the time my hair’s rinsed and I’m clean, I can convince myself to wait through the cold water till my next batch of hot liquid that I can just stand there and enjoy. Other times, I just want out and into my towel as quickly as possible.

There you have it. My perfect Cottage isn’t perfect all the time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

this is not a family photo

Ah, Christmas. It came back around again this year, didn't it?

It was a good day with good food, good family, good card games, good movies, good wrestling, good photo shoot, good time spent together.

It was good.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Money scares the shit out of me.

Growing up, it was scarce and stored in manilla envelopes. Maturing into my adulthood, my math-fried brain and financial nerves of Jello-O have led me at times to negative balances and overdue statements.

My reaction, like in many instances, is to run. Flee. Take advantage of the flight adrenaline coursing through my psyche and don't let the door hit me in the ass on the way out.

Money is terrifying to me for a couple reasons, which I've learned to identify and better yet, I'm learning to conquer.

1) The need is always greater than my provision, which leads to
2) I can never provide enough

And then I want to curl up in the fetal position and die. Or moan very loudly, at the very least.

My solution is simple; the execution is excrutiating sometimes.

1) Minimize the need
2) Don't accept responsibility for things that aren't my responsibility

I don't have any trouble with the first one. I'm not an extravagant person; I don't need a lot.

First order of business, though, was to put myself on a budget. I guess it's a strict one, I don't know. I'm not sure what other 28-year-old's budgets look like.

I just know that I go shopping twice a month and both times I'm armed with a list and a budgeted amount.

I know that if I run out of eyeliner four days before my fixed shopping day, I don't run out and buy more. I wait.

I know that if I've exceeded my gas budget, I'll stay at the Cottage for the weekend.

I buy neceessities like shampoo and conditioner on my designated shopping day, because I know in a week I'll be out, and that week will not hit my next shopping day mark.

If a bookcase isn't in the budget, I build one. If a table isn't in the budget, I build one.

I pay myself every month.

I took ownership over my money. I tell it where to go. It's no longer gone before I know it - it's all exactly where I tell it to be.

Don't get me wrong. Money still keeps me up at night when I'm consumed with greater needs than what I can provide for. I worry about the financial status of the people around me, the people I care about the most. I'm a fix-er and I want to ease their minds and help. It's a slap in my face when I think of the fact that I can't take care of it myself.

My love to fix things nearly matches my love of food. And just as I've learned to manage my love of food, I have to rein in my heart-crushing drive to fix everything for everyone. I simply can't do it.

That's a hard realization for a fix-er. You almost need rehab for that.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I would not call myself a health nut.

I like fast food, I can eat way too many peanut M&Ms, and pizza and beer is a favorite. I don't exercise as much as I should, I work too much sometimes and stress has a tendency to eat away at the hours I sleep.

Compared to my marathon-running and Iron Man participating friends, I have a long way to go.

But for me, I've also come a long ways and recent illnesses affecting those around me have made me thankful for the health I have.

I've given plenty of lectures in recent days about taking care of ones self, watching what we eat, exercising enough and sleeping as much as we need to. Watching some in my sphere fall by the wayside to various and sundry illnesses makes me thankful for the lifestyle I've managed to build despite the pressures of my job and life.

I'm getting enough sleep.
I'm eating healthy.
I'm exercising moderately.

I also have the odds stacked against me.

I have a chronic disease.
I have a highly stressful job.
I have a tendency to worry too much.
I like to use food for comfort and I fight sleep.

But in my quest to lose weight, has come a welcomed side effect, and many.

I can walk away from a buffet line when I see it has no healthy options for me.
I force myself to bed at a regular time every night regardless of the amount of work I have left to do.
I get up in the morning around the same time.
I maintain a similar routine each day that includes lots of coffee, down time and playing/training my dog before leaving for work.
I write when I feel the need.
I hold off on washing the dishes at night to give myself time to do nothing.
I build things.
I photograph.
I mentally separate myself from the worries I have to deal with tomorrow. It is, after all, tomorrow.

It has seemingly happened overnight, but each step has been intentional and each one has added up to where I am today.

It's possible.

I promise.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

and it's done

Nine months ago I visited my dentist.

In that time span, I could've had a baby.

But I didn't.

Instead, I got my wisdom teeth + 1 pulled.

Today my first root canal went very well, and I feel very accomplished that I took care of the problem.

The whole thing took more than an hour and I went home to see how I'd feel. I felt fine, so I balanced my budget, packed my lunch and came to work. I walked around with a Kleenex handy for unintentional drooling, and now the numbing has worn off and there's no pain.

I'm glad.

Monday, December 19, 2011

'Twas the night before a root canal

'Twas the night before my first root canal and all through the Cottage...

I'm mincing two cloves of garlic for my pot of chili,

And I'm sweeping the floor,

And making a salad,

And washing the dishes,

And feeding the dogs,

And thinking that I should pluck my eyebrows,

And wash my hair,

And wishing that the zit would go away,

And that when my dogs drank water, they wouldn't dribble it across the floor,

And that my sister will like the Cottage when she visits tomorrow,

And that it will be clean enough,

And I wonder how I'll feel when the root canal is over,

And what the rest of my work day will be like,

And how long it will be before I can eat,

And if it's going to cost more than what they told me,

And if it'll be worth getting up at 6 a.m, for,

And if it means it'll stop hurting randomly,

And how bad it's going to be if I can't go to work tomorrow.

I'm mincing two cloves of garlic for my pot of chili, and these are the things that I'm thinking on the night before my first root canal.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

weight comparison and my shallow PoV

I've been going back and checking myself out from a few years ago, thanks to Facebook.

Funny thing is, these photos weren't taken that long ago - two years, in fact.

And then this is the one taken Saturday. Thank goodness.

When I talk about weight, weight loss and the journey to get there, it is, in fact, a JOURNEY. It's one foot in front of the other, one small step at a time.

I texted my sister yesterday and the reason I'm sharing it because it exemplifies how quickly weight can become a problem without you or the people around you recognizing it.

"Do you realize how fat I was?"

"Yes, I do. I'm sorry I didn't say anything."

"Oh wow, I wasn't expecting that. Ummmm....I'm just not sure why I didn't realize it. I think it's an indicator of where I was mentally and emotionally at the time."

"Oh for sure, and honestly I never saw you as fat...which is weird..."

"I know what you mean! It sounds mean, but..." and then I say something rude about myself...

"How horrible!!!"

"I know. I just apologized to myself."

"OK good. But ya, I didn't realize it was so bad...I guess your personality made up for it."

"It is charming."

"At times."

"Whoa, easy there."

Everyone around me is sworn to sound the alarm if I start gaining weight again.

this will do

Remember this?

I found it in a burn pile and I wanted it. It needed some TLC, but it fits in my corner just fine.

woke up needing a bookcase

I woke up yesterday morning in need of a bookcase.

Well, I've been needing one since I moved in the Cottage, but my weekends have been filled with other things, like building tables.

I present you with this weekend's completed project, which I spent no money on and did not measure one thing...

I've been looking for a home for this delightfully distressed piece of wood and I found it, thanks to many keepsakes I found in the bottom of boxes packed three years ago.

My pretty girl.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

food is necessary

You have to eat to survive.

I eat for a lot of different reasons, which I've expressed before.

This diet reminds me how often I turn to food for reasons outside of hunger. I'm bored, stressed, happy, depressed, anxious, lonely, celebratory, socializing...

Any emotion is cause for eating, and hormones too. Food is everywhere and convenient.

Sixteen months ago I started my weight loss journey and was exposed to the reality of the influence food had over my life.

It's true today, too, and it's probably going to be true for most of the days of my life.

My goal is to use food to my advantage, for my health, for survival, for necessity. I want to enjoy it and savor it.

To be honest, I am craving pizza right now. Instead, I ate a medium-sized helping of beef and cabbage soup for dinner.

It's a matter of choice, and one choice leads to another and another until you've created a habit. One small step at a time.

And it makes a difference. I was looking at Facebook pictures last night from two and three years ago and I can't believe the amount of weight I was carrying. It's like looking at a completely different person.

I'm thankful for this process, for the tangible physical evidence and the mental cleansing I gain.

People think I'm crazy for restricting my diet to this degree during the Christmas holiday. But part of weight loss is knowing yourself and knowing your body. I know that if left to my own discretion, I would eat myself into a weight explosion with all the holiday parties and dinner feasts.

So I choose to avoid that, lose weight this holiday season, and be ready in January to start training for my March duathlon.

Here's to health and happy eating.

when she calls, I answer

It's been like that since before she was born.

Irresistable. Compelling. Adrenaline-rushing.

My niece, Evalyn Grace, was born in June 2006, and when I got the call that she was coming, myself and a good friend boarded a plane in Nashville, Tennessee, and arrived in Austin as quickly as possible.

I can't walk through the Austin airport without remembering the moment we deplaned. I wanted to collapse, to kneel somewhere, to rewind and do it all over again. But I couldn't. We were running now to the exit to meet a friend of my sister's we didn't know.

He would take us to the hospital. To the neo-natal intensive care unit.

I don't remember much, except walking into the waiting room and seeing people, people with somber faces, tears, and people who wouldn't have been there unless something terrible was happening.

Something terrible was happening, did happen, and for many days Evalyn and my sister's lives were uncertain.

Evalyn would spend the first six weeks of her life in the NICU.

It was the first of many hospital visits and extended stays.

Some of these visits were fresh on my mind Thursday as I was driving to Austin to the children's hospital.

I'd gotten the text that drove me out of newsroom about an hour earlier: Evalyn was unresponsive, intubated and on her way in an amublance to the hospital. For some reason, this time felt different than her last couple hospital visits in recent months.

It felt like I needed to be there, and so I went.

Like the time we drove directly from the airport to the children's hospital after visiting home for the holidays. Or the time we left our house in the middle of the night to get her to the hospital. Or the time she was transported by helicopter. Or the time I got a speeding ticket trying to get there. Or the time the nurse overdosed her on medication. Or the time I yelled at a medical resident, and the times we've directed nursing care. The time we've hit the red button and the times the room has been flooded with medical personnel. The times we've eaten in Vanderbilt's food court and the times we've slept in a twin bed in an overflow room in their emergency department.

When she calls, I answer, and I'm not the only one.

There's a convergence of prayer and now that we all live within 40 miles of each other, there's usually more than one of us on the way.

Her's is an unresistable call.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

my Tuesday night

It's been a simple night, nothing fancy.

I left the newsroom early (for me), came home and followed my usual routine. Routines is what stuff is made of, isn't it?

It's funny the routines I follow without thinking. Purse and lunch bag go on the counter. I unpack the clean Tupperware from my bag, put it away and fold the bag into the cupboard. Simultaneously, I open the utility room door and let Zeb out, and gesture him out the front door. I tie Skye up.

And then I take my clothes and shoes off and change into my lounge-wear. I turn music on.

Tonight there was no work to do. I mean, there's always work to do, but tonight I took a reprieve.

Instead, I heated up a cup of weak coffee from this morning and crawled in bed, my back leaning up against my homemade (and nearly finished) headboard.

I Facebooked. I Pinterested. I emailed. I Internet-surfed.

I cut out coupons and played with Skye.

I had a session with my life coach. Everyone needs a life coach.

I worked on a project in the kitchen. A dug-it-out-of-a-burn-pile project that needs some TLC, and still needs a little more.

Started watching a Youtube video about 15 questions a single woman should ask a Christian guy before getting involved. By question 2 I was annoyed by the delivery.

I'm thankful, and I'm looking at the picture hanging on the wall at the end of my bed.

Let it be.

It's still a good reminder.

Monday, December 12, 2011

some things I've been heard saying to my dog

"I don't care if he hurt your feelings - GO!"

"You should've pooped when I let you out. Now you have to hold it."

"Get back in there. You know better."

"I love you but I don't want you on top of me right now."

"Stop being an asshole and play with your neighbor."

"You're annoying."

"You literally have two seconds to pee and if you don't, we're getting back in the car."

"Mama loves you even when you paw me in the eyeball...ugh, Skye! You always have to take it to the next level."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

playful neighbors

Blue has wanted to play with Skye for days, but her haughty obsessive self has been too preoccupied with Blue's cat.

Until today.

Today, they played.

let's git some varmints

There are ballsy animals living under the Cottage, and I think they have the flu given the noises that were drifting up through the floorboards last night. They were also tormenting Skye more than usual by purposefully running back and forth below the floor and letting her track them. I heard them laughing.

All that to say, it is on like donkey-kong.

Whatever is getting under the Cottage via this hole is about to have a new home.

The trap has been set and Blue is testing it. Blue's dad helped me set it, after he informed me and explained in depth that a possum or rat won't set it off because they're not heavy enough to trigger it. I was incredibly disappointed, but he cheered me up by saying I could at least try. Optimism. I love it.

Blue is a great demonstrator. See, come in here because you know you want grapefruit peels.

I've been saving food for days. I have no idea what the varmints under the Cottage want to eat. Let's hope they're looking for onion peels and celery stalks. If that doesn't work, I'll bring out the meat.

My helpers.

I'm gonne git some varmints.

for the record

I started the diet (THE diet) this week.

I have a goal.

I'm excited.

Prepare to watch me shrink.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the Old Man.

There is an Old Man staying in the Cottage.

He is my heart and soul, the only man in my life.
He knows what I want before I want it.
He understands my sign language.
He's the dog everyone needs in their life.

Monday, December 5, 2011

melancholy reflection

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you have was once among the things you only hoped for."

When I read this quote on Pinterest, I inhaled slowly and felt it resonate in my soul.

This is the validation for the moments I want to live in, why I must enjoy this moment for this moment is my life.

When I perch myself mentally a distance from my body and my life, I revert to this image I used to have of myself.

I would come into my small but comfortable apartment, or house, or was it a cottage?, and I'd set my purse down on my counter. No one was there except my dog. The air was silent. I would sit down at a desk that was situated near a window and I would write.

From my point of view, it was a mysterious life, but it was the life I wanted.

There isn't much variation from that mental picture and what I live every day, except the weight of responsibility didn't exist in my bird's eye view, which serves me well. I'm able to pinpoint the good things, the things that I wanted, the feeling I want to embody and the cares and worries melt away for a moment.

That's always how it is, isn't it? If we're not careful, we're wishing so hard for the next step and the next phase of the journey that we forget this moment is the one we wanted.

After I moved to New Mexico a little more than three years ago, I was miserable. I was lonely, so lonely, and fenced in with fear. Despite my internal turmoil, I had the wherewithall to comprehend that the moments I was living were ones I wanted and were ones I'd be thankful for later. My responsibility was to keep an open heart and absorb the daily exercises.

They were nine of the most beneficial months of my life.

I was pulling clothes out of the dryer the other day and suddenly this thought was in my head: these are those moments again - ones you're getting bored with, but ones your life wouldn't be complete without.

I never want to fast forward through my life just to get to the best part, because the best part might be this part.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

High five in the face

I hit myself in the face with a hammer.

Who does that?

People like me, who get so involved with the umph needed to pull out a nail that I get my face so close, and my brother says, "Be careful, you're going to hit yourself in the face."

A couple plays later (football talk), it happened.

I couldn't get the nail out and before I knew it, my face (mouth, more specifically) was perfectly aligned with the hammer handle that when its inevitable slip happened, I felt like I was in a bar fight and had been sucker punched.

My hand immediately flew to my mouth and I could feel tears marinating in my ducts.

"Are you okay?" my brother asked, not missing a beat in the nail he was extracting. "I told you to be careful."

I wasn't speaking. Just holding onto my face.

"I called it," he chuckled. "Are you okay?"

And then, my line:

"I don't know, am I? Are my teeth okay?" And then I started crying.

At this point, I can tell you I'm breathing, which I suppose means I'm okay. But I need you to tell me that I have all my extremities and that I'm not bleeding out.

I just have a fat lip. It's cut on the inside and bruised, and my gum above my front teeth is cut.

Later that night, my brother said, "I bet you $5 you're either going to have this as a Facebook status or a blog...wait, probably both."

Consider it done.

a budget isn't a bad thing

"We have $15 to spend, that's our budget."

I was speaking to my brother, and he hopped back out of the truck.

"There is noooooo way we can get what we need for $15. It's not even worth going."

I convinced him that, yes, we could go and that we could get what we needed on a budget. And if we needed more, we would have to wait.

Off to Lowes we went.

In fashion true to the nature of my family, it became a competition.

We needed two 2x4s. We found 16' long ones for $5.71. But they were the first ones we found and I suggested browsing a little bit more.

We found 10' long ones for $2.37. I let him do the math.

"If we get two of the 10-foot long ones, that's still less than the 16-foot long board and we get four extra feet."


The same scenario repeated itself when we chose a 1x3. And in the screws/hardware aisle, he compared prices to what we needed, checking, reading labels, checking again.

Then it was a drill bit for the drill.

All the while, I'm maintaining my position that we are not fighting in Lowes.

We typically always do, and trust me, there was plenty of opportunity today. I don't get mental images of projects and therefore, I question everything. Do we really need that? What's that for? I don't think it has to be that size. And since I'm always right, of course I'm right in Lowes!

Today, I questioned out of curiousity so as not to offend his creative genius. Truth is, he does know what he's talking about in Lowes and I should just push the cart.

We went $7 over budget. The screws got us. But, later we had to return them and purchase another 1x3, which set us forward about $3.

He was keeping track and I think it clicked.

On the way home, he said working a project on a budget makes sense, because it allows you to do other things with the money you might have overspent.

I emphasized the point that a budget doesn't mean you can't afford to make a purchase, it's that you're choosing to allocate your money elsewhere and more wisely.

We got home with our goods and he got right to work on our project.

"After we're done with this," he said, in between him sawing and me holding, "we need to make something that we can sell so we have money in our budget for the next project."

I like the way he's thinking.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

smelling a memory

I used to scrub toilets for a living in the not-so-distant past, relatively speaking.

But I had completely forgotten about this one place, until I poured a good dose of Pine-Sol in my kitchen sink and before I knew it, I was back within those cinderblock walls.

It wasn't jail! Not those kind of cinderblock walls, although at the time it felt like it.

It was a summer, maybe 2004 or 2005, and it was in Kentucky. It was me and my three sisters and we found work just down the road from our house at a couple different Kentucky Lake resorts. Me and my two sisters were cleaning ladies; our other sister was the cook in the little resort cafe.

This is where people spent their money to spend a week or ten days in cinderblock barracks. Or poorly decorated cabins. But they were on the lake and daddies got to fish with their sons and mothers got to lay out with their daughters. More power to ya.

While the over eager youth groups camped out in the barracks, rows and rows of shady, Pine-Sol drenched hotel rooms were available for the single person or couple.

And we, the cleaning ladies, sped around on golf carts with our industrial-strength Pine-Sol, which is now on my kitchen floor.

We didn't last there very long. The owners of the joint were aggressive assholes. Cleaning ladies and cooks we may have been, but respect we will deserved.

We migrated just a bit farther down the road to another resort with actual condos and rustic cabins with hot tubs and whirlpool jets.

And a higher grade of golf cart.

"Hey, do you remember that shady resort we used to work at? And () was the cook?" I texted my sister.

This was in the midst of a rapid fire texting conversation that involved her telling me she couldn't bring an orange snack to our all-orange Texas Longhorns watch party this afternoon. As a matter of fact, it's a red snack.

"Where was this? I don't recall," she replied.

"In Kentucky. It wasn't Tracy's place; it was the other one. They tried to not pay () one time so we all quit. It had nasty-ass cabins and huge barracks with cinderblock walls."

"Yessss!!!!! Haha, I remember."

What is it with us and cinderblock walls jarring our memory?

"What about it?" she followed up.

"I remembered it this morning because I poured pine-sol in my kitchen sink and my whole house smells like it."

"Ahhh, the memories!"

A few seconds later:

"Do you remember the toilets we cleaned at Riverside RV park for $1 a day?"

No, no, I do not.

That, dear sister, is a memory I am not privvy to. I will leave it to you.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Facebook is no diary

It's said that Facebook isn't your diary, and it's directed at people who incessantly update their statuses.

So, Facebook might not be my diary, but this is. Sort of. It's one of many, anyway.

...buying TP makes me feel like an adult.
...I walked in my bathroom, looked in the mirror and cursed. dog prefers drinking out of the toilet.'s creepy when you live alone and you see something somewhere that you swear you didn't touch. Who else is in the Cottage?!
...yes, I know my hair is green and blue. I did it on purpose.
...I'm glad to work in a place where I have a friend who will hug me good night.
...sometimes, I walk out of the bathroom without my bra or shirt on and then realize the front windows are open. And then I'm thankful those windows face an open field.
...the lip that I hit with a hammer is swollen five days later.
...scraping ice off my windshield with a CD is not what I'd like to do.
...does discussing your life insurance policies with a couple siblings make you an adult?
...has moments when the thought of selling my dog on Craigslist makes me very, very happy. We had one of those moments tonight.
...breathes a sigh of relief every time I come home and see that the crockpot has indeed NOT burned the Cottage down.

a picture of me in my arms

I had an armload of crap this morning as I was busting ass to leave the Cottage to go to work.

And the crap, I later realized, represented a lot of who I am.

On one arm was slung my purse, which is an oversized bag, basically. It's got important stuff in it like a journal, notebook, calendar and random bosslike stuff.

Over that was my lunch bag, but not my regular green one, which I couldn't find and then later found under my desk. I packed my usuall - soup, some veggies and 60 cents. Yep, 60 cents loose in the bottom of my lunch bag. For one diet soda at lunch.

I was carrying my keys and phone in one hand. In my other hand was my dog's water dish. In her water dish was a Tupperware container of water. Uh-huh, she went to work with me for the second day in a row. Her leash was looped over my shoulder.

And tacky glue was in my other hand.

Because, as luck would have it, in the state's worst one-year drought, we had rain yesterday. And the rain dampened the duct tape that's holding one of my mirrors on and it had fallen off. My fortune worsened when the roll of duct tape in my car ran out. So I was left with packing tape. There was no way it was holding in the misty rain.

Tacky glue did not work.

But there you have it. My important things.

Phone = lifeline to people I love and ones I don't, but are necessary. Dog paraphenalia. Calendar. Keys. Food. Glue.

What else do you need?

I was thinking about this last night when, shortly after I'd gone to bed and cocooned myself in the covers, I smelled smoke.

I had even started closing my eyes and then, it was there. Smoke.

You know how it is - you're warm, you're cozy, you're sleepy. Your house could be burning down.

If you're like me, you're cursing under your breath and threatening, as you get out of bed out of obligation to check it out.

"I just got the covers warm, there better be flames."
"If I get outside and I don't see a forest fire, I'm going to be effing pissed."

But then, counter arguments start:

"Damn. A fire would be so much work and I'm tiiiirreeddd."
"That means I'd have to figure out what I'd want to take with me and I don't have the energy for that. But wait, what would I take?"
"If I ignore the smell of smoke, I could die. I could lay here in my bed, all warm and snuggly, and then the flames could overtake me."

My last thought before falling asleep was something along the lines of: smoke means there's fire, which means there's a fire somewhere in the wind vicinity of me. Who would be burning anything at 11 p.m.? Maybe I should just call the fire department and report the smell of smoke....

This morning, I think I answered my own question of what I would take. I had everything I needed in my arms. Basically.

I might remember your name. Other things, maybe not

I don't have a good memory.

I know that I know things that could relate to a myriad of conversations that would validate my opinion, make me sound smarter, perhaps give the people around me confidence in the adamant dispensation of my words.

But more often than not, I don't interject my opinion, because what's an opinion that you can't back up? And when the questions start rolling in about why I think the way I'm thinking, I don't want to have to say, "I can't remember."

My short term memory sucks.

It's evidenced in many ways, but the biggest one is that I'm always writing stuff down. Always. By the end of the week, my desk is littered with Post-it notes and scrap pieces of paper with random messages, to-do things, key points from conversations and things I must not forget.

Friends and observant people I work with know this. When I say, in answer to a question, "To be honest with you..."

..."you don't remember," a good friend finishes my sentence.

I sigh. "No, I don't. But I have it in an email, I'll forward it to you ASAP."

The longer a conversation, a scenario, a meeting or an interaction marinates in my head, the better chance I have of recounting each detail.

It's something in my life I have to deal with on a conscious level. I can't pretend it doesn't exist, because it does. It means I have to circumvent its impact on my life. I have to be proactive.

So I'm armed with clearly labeled notebooks to coordinate with each title I have and my calendar. And any other documentation I might need to rely on.

What's tricky is when I have to remember what direction I entered the gas station from while traveling. That always gets me. Did I turn right to get in here or left? Bceause that's going to tell me how to get out and in what direction I need to head on the interstate/highway.

I've had to sit and think about it awhile.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


A friend texted me tonight:"Remember that time we ran into you in the parking garage at Western and you ended up sitting with us at the game?"

My first reaction: I was weird then.

I was awkward and self-conscious. I felt inferior to everyone, shy and a little (okay, maybe a lot) introverted.

This was a memory I had completely forgotten about.

I've been thinking a lot about this recently - memories. They've been invading my mental private space and temporarily taking my breath away in a grimacing sort of way. For me, memories bring back a feeling, the feeling I was feeling at the time, and in some instances, it's a painful blip on the mental radar.

Despite my propensity to short-term memory loss, I have chosen to not forget. I made this decision subconsciously one day while I was driving home from a college course in the spring of 2003 or 2004. I remember my hands on the wheel, and I remember a memory. I don't recall which one, but it hurt.

I welcomed it. Everything. The memory, the loss, and the pain. Its heaviness lasted for just a moment and then it was gone.

And I lived, stronger than before.

It's an internal choice I made at that moment, at moments before and certainly moments after - I'm not defined by badness. I'm characterized by how I respond, how I react, what I learn and by how I navigate these murky waters.

The bad memories don't offer a re-do, but they do grant an opportunity to analyze, assess, taste it, ask questions (how did that affect me? what did that do to my heart? what, if anything, could I have done differently?), and then move on.

Moving on...forward motion...the mistakes of today, sure, they're there. But how can tomorrow be better?

So, back to the shy and awkward girl...

...I don't know if I was actually shy or awkward. My damaged soul was in a lot of ways. I was fighting against myself in many instances, learning how to be normal, trying to figure out what normal was and estimating that I never would be completely normal by normal standards. I don't think I was okay with that at the time.

My perception of myself has changed since running into people I barely knew in a parking garage.

Today, I love myself. That's probably the biggest difference, and what a difference a difference makes!

My core feels robust, my soul alive, and when all sorts of memories come piling in, I can wince a little and acknowledge that yeah, I was weird back then.

But I kinda still am.