Cruising into a new year

It seems it is time to cruise into a new year.

I welcome it. Like many of you, I’m kind of tired of 2017 and think I’ll see it more clearly in the rearview mirror.

One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, put it in terms I can wrap my head around. Highly paraphrased, she said that new years are great because you get a shiny new one every single year no matter how badly you jacked up the last one.

This gives people like me hope.

It’s like trading in a car at the end of the year, all dinged up with cigarette burns in the seat and an engine that’s knocking. And then we get a brand new one! No miles, so clean, so incredibly undeserved.

And at the end of this new year, what our car looks like will be totally up to us.

I’m kind of fond of this car, but it’s time for a new one.

This year has been interesting, which is an elusive way of saying it has been full of friends, family, worries, surprises, understanding and unimaginable gratitude. And still, my car is a little dinged up. This scenario is probably like most everyone’s, I think.

Some months I’ve slid into sideways on two wheels; and others the most ambitious thing I did was get my tires rotated.

But come Monday, I’m going to wake up and there it will be – my brand new car. I think this is called Grace.

At any rate, this year my new car is a mythical Toyota Land Cruiser I’ve ordered in my mind due to the aura of adventure it has around it, as well as a large seating and towing capacity. I have big plans for the new year.

The best parts of 2017, after I thought about it, were the times I wandered furthest from my comfort zone. That was when I made my greatest strides, wrote the best parts of my story and learned the most about myself and others.

I met the most beautiful people, had the best talks, and took some of my greatest personal risks. And while I took some dings in the process, I still wouldn’t change it.

I haven’t made resolutions since about 1976 when I vowed I would meet Shawn Cassidy while I placed my left hand on the Tiger Beat poster on my bedroom wall. It didn’t work, and I lost trust in the process. But I’m thinking about trying it again.

So if I have any resolutions in the new year, it would be to continue to see what my new car is capable of.

I’m ready for my Land Cruiser, and for 2018.

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Drivel and quips

I can’t lie.

(OK, I can lie, but I won’t.)

I got nothing.

There is nothing more painful, to me anyway, than sitting at a keyboard – we writers call it showing up on the page – for several days in a row and having snippets of drivel and clever quips to type as I think of them, but nothing solidly hilarious or mind-bending.

That’s where I’m at – riddled with snippets and quips instead of sentences and paragraphs.

A friend diagnosed me with a post holiday creativity hangover that prevents me from having a congruent thought long enough to write about it.

If there is a cure, I’m sure pharmaceutical companies will make a fortune in 2017 and beyond, but not from me unless they put it in chocolate.

I was whining to this friend about how a lot happened during the holidays that were funny, heart-warming and/or mind-bending, but like with booze, too much of this stuff can fog my brain.

The Christmas holidays were quite literally a two-week event in my world, having attended parties and get-togethers with close friends and family before going to South Carolina to spend the actual day with our grandson and children.

Upon return, we had a three-day New Year’s weekend slumber party at a friend’s house where I was thrown from a Big Wheel in  their garage, which is precisely when I think all of my writing talent left my body.

Still, every minute was a bliss that I apparently can no longer find the words to describe.

Instead you get a few quips and some drivel, taken from conversations I can remember the entirety of.

Many of you know I love to sing, although rumor has it that I cannot and probably should not.

The fact that I do not care about this rumor is the reason my mother gave me the funniest line thus far of 2017 on Monday, January 2. I was in the bathroom at work, singing Ave Maria, when my mother asked, “Are you singing Ave Maria in the bathroom?”

I answered, “Yes, and I’m sorry. I thought I was at Target.”

My husband does this funny little thing when I sing in the car. One day when we were going down the road, Seven Bridges Road by the Eagles came on and I proceeded to become the fifth harmony. My husband asked me very sincerely, “Who sings this song?”

This bothered me for two reasons: 1. He loves the Eagles and why would he be asking me this question unless he was having a serious memory lapse?, and 2. I had to stop singing to answer.

When I answered “The Eagles,” Mr. Fun Vacuum said, “Yeah, and you should probably let them.”

Our son flew in from Madison, WI, the Friday before Christmas, where the high temperature that day was 27 degrees. Prior to that, there were a few days where the high was below zero.

That night in South Carolina, the temperature was dropping and had hit around 40 degrees, and we were all sitting outside visiting around a propane heater while rubbing our hands together like we were experiencing the last warmth earth was going to offer before the sun burned out.

After a pause, my son looked at us thoughtfully and said, “I think it’s cute how y’all think it’s cold.”

During the same trip, I was brought to near complete exhaustion by an 18-month-old, and found that I can sing the Mickey Mouse Club Hot Diggity Dog Song with a knee pop, even in my sleep.

We played Cards Against Humanity, ate copious amounts of every food group plus Chex Party Mix. I marveled at my kids’ generosity in spirit and love; and at the amazing tiny creature who with his eyes, could convince me to hang out in the hall closet with him for kicks.

Also, I kept still in the moments he would just sit with me on the couch and let me marvel at him. We visited Santa, and sat on the potty and speed-read through a hundred books that were upside down.

And for efficiency, the last paragraph is applicable for the New Year’s weekend slumber party with my friends.

I’ll be back next week, and the one after that, hopefully with my thoughts aligned in such a way that you are not forced to endure my brand of attention deficit disorder.

Until then, look up as often as you can in 2017. Sing in the bathroom and in the car. Eat the good food and spend as much time as you can in the moment appreciating the family and friends in your life.

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2014 Warp-up

For a record sixth year in a row, this was not my year to send out Christmas Cards.

It’s not a personality defect – I could pave the road to hell with my intentions – it’s just that given a choice between paving stones and Christmas cards, well, you know which one I chose.

I  actually tossed around the idea of writing a Christmas letter, which is actually a letter written after Christmas and mailed around New Year’s Day when that second wind hits.

I considered this method of greeting even though no one in my family had their first ballet recital; had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; or graduated law school. Then I thought about what I would write if I did do one of those letters and I have to admit, I had a good year.

So I wrote it down.

I’ll take the dog for $2,400, Alex

My 2014 began with my dog, Erma, eating a $2,400 beach towel. It didn’t begin as a $2,400 beach towel,  it actually cost $18.99 in it’s original form when purchased from Target. It’s value grew to $2,400 on it’s way out of Erma by way of a skilled veterinary surgeon. Erma is fine now, although a slow learner as I just dug an entire paper towel out of her slimy throat.


Erma, the day after surgery, with no hint of a lesson learned in her eyes.


49 and holding . . . . nevermind

I turned 49 years old last January and around that auspicious date had the thought that I should lose 10 pounds before my fiftieth birthday. I only have 15 pounds to go and three weeks to get there.

Meanwhile in Dayton, Ohio . . . 

I attended my second Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in  April where I got to learn, laugh and rub elbows with the likes of Phil Donohue, author, columnist and damn funny woman Gina Barreca, comedian Judy Carter and some of the funniest women in the United States.

Late one evening several of us were sitting in the courtyard of the hotel telling stories involving Israel, Toastmaster’s and traditional marriage when it came completely unhinged. Judy Carter laughed so hard she threw up in the bushes next to the reception tent. This caused Gina Barreca to emit a combination laugh/scream so loud it woke the people up  who were sleeping in rooms adjacent to the courtyard, which in turn caused me to wet my pants. It was a vicious, beautiful cycle of laughter, wailing, puking and happy pee.

Gina and Judy

Two of the funniest women on earth, Judy and Gina.

In yet another exchange earlier in the day, I complimented Gina on her hair. It is curly, beautiful and everything I wish my naturally curly hair could be, since mine is an underachiever with a bad attitude and an early-1970’s Robert Plant complex. I especially complimented her bangs, which were perfect in a way mine refuse to be, asking, “How do you get your bangs to do that?” She answered, “Doll, where I’m from, ‘bangs’ is a verb.” I hope and pray that ends up as a chapter title in one of her future books.

Good times.

Then there was Boston . . . 

My son, although not an attorney, did get his master’s degree in English from UMASS in May, which is even better because we use words every single day. The commencement ceremony lasted a record number of hours, and ended when the last remaining graduate on the stage entered a nursing home.

My daughter, mother and two of my sisters made the trip to graduation and we stayed at a hotel in the heart of Boston, where good food abounds at every corner. We ate wild boar tacos, drank a mescal old fashioned (which I renamed “Satan’s Scrotum” and do not recommend unless you really want to sweat out something that smells like lighter fluid mixed with regret) and generally sampled all things not easily found in north Texas. However, one of my sisters whose name I won’t divulge (Kim) was seriously upset that she couldn’t find a baked potato anywhere. After a couple of mescal old fashioneds, she blacked out and hushed her mouth.


Kim (the one standing IN THE CHAIR) encouraging UMASS grads to pursue better health through baked potatoes.

Also, I managed to meet a man named Isis who was on the secret service detail of the Turkish Prime Minister and staying at our hotel. I learned zero Turkish words that trip, but speak Turkish sign language almost fluently.

He can’t take me anywhere

My husband has insisted for a while now that he “can’t take me anywhere.” (His words, not mine. He can, he just doesn’t like to) So, when he did take me somewhere –  Jason’s Deli – the 18-year-old taking our order asked us if we were with the party in the back. I answered, “No ma’am, we are with the business in the front.” Then I laughed and laughed, all by myself.

How I found out Jesus uses the U.S. Postal Service . . . 

I work at a weekly newspaper that mails issues to subscribers. Outside of our community, we suspect our papers get to their destination by way of the good old-fashioned Pony Express (and possibly some mescal), but without the express part. Sometimes it takes a week to get 30 miles. Finally, in November a sweet woman from a neighboring community put her problems in getting her Iowa Park Leader in a timely manner into God’s Hands, and this is envelope we got her renewal check in:


I sincerely hope her prayers are answered, although history tells me it will be another 2 weeks before we know.


Not that I’m getting older, but . . . 

I officially anounced it last week when the gag order lifted, but it’s worth mentioning again – I’m going to be a grandmother(!). A G-Ma. Grandmummy.

And although the baby will be born a foreigner – all the way in South Carolina – my own father was an immigrant from Oklahoma, so it will be just fine.

What I didn’t talk about was the month-long debate that can be equated to a peace summit in which grandparent names were chosen, then shot down in a blaze of relatively little glory. All I will say for now is that my grandchild will not be calling me Queenie even though I had a couple of tiaras on stand-by to wear to the birth.

 And Finally,

Raise a little hell.

A quick back-story about these socks: We attended a Christmas party where we were required to bring a $5 gift. I brought these even though they were $7 on sale, mostly because I wanted the hell out of them. So I made my husband take them during the gift exchange because I knew he wouldn’t wear them on a bet and they would end up on my sweet feet.

I was right, and now I own a pair of power socks.

hellraiser socks

The best socks in the history of ever.

I love them because they remind me that raising a little hell is not a bad thing. Standing up for what you believe in; changing the things you don’t like; righting wrongs . . . . those are things worth raising hell over. So go out this year and be a hell raiser. Raise money or awareness for a cause you believe in. Dare to laugh until you puke, without an apology. Stand up for a person who is being unfairly treated – for God’s sake, stand up for yourself. Dare to treat yourself like your own best friend during the next 365 days.

Most of all, find your moments of happiness and joy and spread ’em around a little.

Thank you for coming to this blog and playing with me every once in a while. You keep me going and laughing and thinking, and for that I am truly grateful.

Now go out there and raise a little of your own hell in 2015.

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