So You Think You Can Sing

Singing. I sure wish I had that talent. Watching “The Voice,” I fantasize that I could do what these kids are doing. I want to move people with my voice. I mean, inspire them, not make them run for the exit.

If I had three minutes on stage what would I sing? “Without You” by Harry Nilsson? Dolly Parton’s “Jolene?” I’ve been practicing with my keyboard. Maybe I should play and sing the one song I know–“Jingle Bells.” Oh, the possibilities! Which judges would turn their chairs around? Could I allow Adam Levine to be my coach without falling in love with him? Would he be able to resist my charms? Perhaps I should play it safe and go with Gwen Stefani; although, she’s pretty hot.

I’d need a fresh outfit to cement my street cred. Something that says, “I’m happening in an ageless way.” Maybe I should start lifting weights to tone up my guns. That means ‘arms’ to all the cool cats. I’m definitely cool. As a cucumber. Iceberg lettuce cool.

And I’d need some instruction in stage presence. Should I practice holding the microphone like a diva? Do I stand still crooning into my mic or should I pace around the stage like a caged cougar?

Argh! So many things to consider. Maybe I’ll take up dancing instead. Now, if I only had the talent. Who knows how to apply to, “So You Think You Can Dance?”

Turn down for this, People!

Howard Stern, Neil Young, and Inspiration

I have an hour between testing sessions at schools, so I’m sitting outside in my car listening to Howard Stern’s interview with the great Neil Young.

The two spent a great deal of time discussing Neil’s songwriting legacy and what inspires him. Neil spoke about the ideas that come to him as a gift. When he gets an idea, no matter where he is or what he is doing he stops and takes care of the idea right then. His ideas, he said, come to him out of the ether.

Howard chose that time to play one of Neil’s greatest hits, “Ohio,” the lyric story of the murders at Kent State so many years ago. The inspiration came from the Time magazine cover that captured the horror of that day, an image that drove Neil into the woods where he sat on a rock until he had captured the song. It didn’t take him long–many of his songs came to him quickly.

He made me think a lot about inspiration. Some days the ideas flow like a wide open faucet and I’ll end up with five or six posts without breaking a sweat. That doesn’t mean they’re all great, but that’s not the point. Someone else, says Mr. Young can decide if what one writes is good or not. The world has plenty of critics.

Other days no ideas come. It’s like I’m knocking on a door, but nobody answers. On those days I just start typing. Sometimes what happens is surprisingly good, but usually it gets the delete treatment. I try to capture my ideas as soon as they hit me, but many float in and out of my head before I even recognize them as ideas. What I’d really like is for Neil Young’s creative genius to be magically implanted in my brain.

Fun fact: Did you know that Neil Young and Rick James once roomed together and played in a band called the Mynah Birds? They weren’t yet out if their teens.

Defrost the Kangaroo

One night last week I had a dream that I can’t quite shake. I was in the home of a friend and we were cooking dinner. It must have been for a special occasion, like Thanksgiving or Christmas because there were a dozen or more people milling around. My friend asked me to take the goose out of the freezer so it could thaw. A simple enough request except that she had at least ten freezers spaced around the kitchen, and I couldn’t find the goose in any of them.

Finally I found a butcher paper wrapped item that looked to be the right size and shape. I decided to unwrap it so it would thaw more quickly. Imagine my surprise when a quite alive and lively kangaroo emerged from the paper. She hopped around a bit before fleeing the kitchen. No one seemed even a little bit surprised.

I never did find the goose, but by then the dream moved on, as dreams often do, to a scene in which I was sleeping outside under a blanket of stars. Ok, I’d love some interpretation.

Peace, People!

Wagons Ho

Many years ago my little family embarked on what seemed like a journey of epic proportions. Native Texans, who’d never even had a proper interstate vacation, we found ourselves in the midst of a major move to North Dakota.

Studly had gotten the first of several important promotions in his career. To move up with his company we literally had to move “up.” It was a big deal for us, and an opportunity to make our lives better, so in spite of the heartache of leaving our families back in Texas we embraced this move to the unknown.

That’s not to say that there weren’t tears. Our eight year-old daughter cried for at least the first two hours of the 13 hour drive. I cried almost that long. We waited for Christmas break to make our move so the kids could start a new semester in Linton, North Dakota. The gray December skies outside our car matched our moods.

Studly who had been living in North Dakota for the better part of two months, had flown home to Amarillo to drive with us to our new home. Our belongings were following in a moving truck. There were four humans–Studly, our son J, daughter A, and me in our small car, along with one medium sized hyperactive dog and a doped up cat. Surprisingly we traveled well as a group, stopping only for meals and potty breaks, and we made good time.

Somewhere in the sand hills of Nebraska we decided to look for a place to stay for the night. We were north of North Platte and south of Ogallala on highway 87 when I spotted a sign advertising a motel eight miles off the main highway. Studly pointed the car west and soon we were pulling into the parking lot of an old fashioned motor court, the Shady Lady Motel, with a sign in the front window that read, “Where Strangers Become Friends.”

The name of the motel and the sign should have been enough to make us think twice about staying the night, but we were exhausted so Studly went ahead and rented a room. We stayed exactly three minutes. Nothing about the room made us want to stay–not the cobwebs in the corners or the mouse droppings on the floor or the weird toilet/shower combination situated next to the ancient television set. I insisted that Studly march right back into the office and check us out. For once he listened to me and we got back on the road.

Less than 30 miles from the Shady Lady we came upon the Thunderbird motel at a major crossroads. To the west lay Ogallala, Nebraska, and to the north lay Pierre, South Dakota. The Thunderbird was a clean, inexpensive, welcoming oasis on our journey. The pets were more than happy to get out of the car and soon snuggled together in one of the rooms–a phenomenon that would never occur again, but the cat was still stoned on tranquilizers, and the dog was just goofy.

After a good night’s rest we headed toward Pierre. At this point, Studly began lecturing us on the dangers of living in North Dakota. His two month long experience in the great white north had apparently qualified him as an expert on extreme winter living. He warned the kids about attempting to walk home from school. He lectured me about driving on icy roads. He lectured the pets about taking too long to do their business. By the time we hit the South Dakota line the kids and I were scared to death of frostbite, hypothermia, and snowmobiles, not necessarily in that order.

Studly stopped at an army/navy surplus store in Pierre (rhymes with “beer”) so we could purchase winter hats, gloves, and coats. Newly armed, we felt confident that we could survive even the worst winter in North Dakota.
Of course, that winter turned out to be one of the mildest on record for North Dakota, but it was great for helping us acclimate.

The months right after our move were picture perfect. Studly had found us a beautiful home to rent on the banks of Beaver Creek (crick to the native North Dakotans). Our children became very close friends out of necessity. I wasn’t working or going to school, so for once I got to be the mom who had chocolate chip cookies baked just in time for the school bus to deliver the kids home every afternoon. Yes, we missed the folks back in Texas, but it finally felt like we were living our own lives, like we’d cut the apron strings and ventured out into the wonderful, wide world. Those were very good days. Cold, but good.

Peace, People!

Girl Gone Wild

Studly and I went to see “Gone Girl” this past weekend. I’d read the novel, and told Studly I really had no interest in seeing the film, but a couple of his golf buddies said it was really good. So, golf buddies’ opinions trumped wife’s opinion and off we went. I’ll try to avoid any spoilers here.

First off, Ben Affleck is nearly perfect in his role as the husband/suspect. In fact, the entire cast was dead on. My problem is that the movie sticks quite nicely to the novel, which is to say that once it was all done, I was left feeling really, deeply pissed off. I kept trying to gauge Studly’s reaction throughout the movie, but he was inscrutable. He laughed when appropriate and cringed when it was called for, as did I.

I kept hoping that the film would have a different ending than the book, but I guess I was one of the few who found it unsatisfying. When all was said and done, Studly turned to me and said, and I quote, “What the hell?! Yep. That’s what makes us soul mates.

Peace, People!

Studly’s Addiction

My husband is a man of moderation. He doesn’t drink to excess. He doesn’t smoke. The strongest drug he takes is Advil. But he does have a problem: Bad TV.

“Cops,” “American Jail,” “Gas Monkey Garage,” “Tosh.0,” “Ridiculousness,” etc. Our evenings are filled with this stuff and nonsense. He roots for the tasering of suspects and the face plants of skateboarders. Our remote control firmly within his grasp, he flips between horrible programming with a gleam in his eye. It could be worse, I suppose. I have a friend whose husband is into Court TV.

Is it any wonder that I drink? I read, as well, but the drinking is the most beneficial. Wine allows me to sit with Studly and tolerate these programs with a vacant smile on my face. We hold hands. I pretend we are watching something with substance like “Criminal Minds” or “The Walking Dead.” Hey, I didn’t say I was perfect.

Peace, People!

Vampires and Zombies and Werewolves, OH My!

A blogger whose posts I follow posed the question yesterday, “What is the difference between vampires and zombies? I jumped on the question immediately, because while I don’t know much about anything of importance I know a great deal about supernatural creatures.

My response to my friend was that zombies are dead, while vampires are undead. In my scholarly opinion, zombies, while deadly, are not inherently evil, while vampires are. They are both quite dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula is the guidebook for all things undead. Anyone claiming to be knowledgeable about vampires who has not read Stoker’s tome is a mere pretender. While I can appreciate the sparkliness of Twilight’s Cullen clan, they are not true vampires. They are some aberration and should be treated as such. Cute and cuddly, but hardly worth guarding against with garlic and holy water.

Zombies, by all accounts, are simply reanimated dead people driven by a desire to eat human flesh, preferably brains. Some accounts attribute the zombie condition to an infected brain stem which remains functional despite the death and decay of its host body. The virus is the only living thing inside of said zombie. And they do decay, unlike vampires.

Werewolves are an entirely different matter. They are very much alive, perhaps too much so. One must survive a werewolf bite or flesh rending attack in order to become a werewolf. Perhaps that explains why they are so few in number. For the better part of each month werewolves live quite normal lives, attending PTA meetings and congressional hearings; however, during the full moon they transform fully into bloodthirsty beasts and terrorize all within their hunting range.

I hope this small treatise clears up any confusion about the nature of these denizens of the dark. If you have any questions of a scholarly nature I’ll be glad to entertain them at 1-888-Vampire. (Not really. I made that part up.)

The Walking Dead

series starts tonight if you’d like more zombie input.

Peace, People!

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Whack A Mole

Several weeks back I spotted a suspicious mole on my left forearm. It came to my attention as Studly and I were out rowing in our kayak. Of course I freaked a little and called the doctor the next day. I really expected him to chuckle, pat me on the head and send me away, but to my chagrin he wanted a dermatologist to look at it.

His office referred me to a reputable clinic, and as I write this I’m sitting on the exam table awaiting the arrival of the doctor. Of course the spot has now faded to a mere freckle, so I feel like a complete imposter, but since I’m here I thought he could do a complete body check. Heaven knows I’ve got plenty of body to check. We could be here awhile.

(Pause for exam)

Okay, the doctor has come and done his thorough exam. He’s concerned about the freckle spot and wants to do a biopsy. There’s another spot on my shin he wants biopsied as well. This is getting to be quite an ordeal. Right now, his nurse is preparing to numb my two troublesome areas with a rather long syringe.

(Pause for gasps of pain)

Damn, the one on my shin hurt like a sonofabitch. Remind me to forgo any offers to tattoo that particular area of my body. Now, I just have to wait until someone comes to perform the actual biopsy.

(Pause to hum the Jeopardy theme song)

The biopsyists (?) just entered, a young man and young woman (they both look 12) wielding sharp objects. I wonder why they’ve sent in two people, then, I realize they’re tag teaming me. He goes for my shin.

(Pause for sharply indrawn breath–totally unnecessary given the aforementioned numbing)

She goes for my forearm. He bandages my shin. She bandages my forearm. Simultaneously they pat my hands and rush out the door as quickly as they blew in, telling me I can get dressed. I feel like the Doublemint twins have left the room.

(Pause to get dressed)

(Pause to wait)

Waiting sucks. Please send good vibes my way if you’re so inclined.

Peace, People.

Health Alert!

I had to see my doctor this afternoon for a minor issue and found a warning sign on the office door:

If you have traveled to or been in contact with anyone traveling to any of the following areas please immediately notify our staff and you will be referred to our local emergency room for evaluation.
Guinea Liberia West Africa Sierra Leone Nigeria Senegal

My first instinct was to run to my car, drive home and dive under my covers. Instead, I went in and sat in the waiting room amongst a group of hacking, sniffling, sneezing, achy, sick people.

So now I think I might have Ebola. I know the incubation period is longer than a few hours and that one needs to come into actual contact with bodily fluids from an infected Ebola patient in order to contract the disease; nevertheless, I’m probably the next victim.

Hypochondria is a bitch.

Peace (and prayers for the real victims), People.

Aging Gratefully

I celebrated my 58th birthday on Sunday. 58 Two years away from the big 60. Whatever happened to the years between 28 and 58? I find some fun in grumbling about my age, but honestly, I don’t think I’d go back to any previous milestone. There are many things I like about being older. For example,

1) These days I can find humor in the oddest situations. Several years ago I was having some “feminine issues.” I didn’t have an OB/GYN at the time, so I made an appointment with my general practitioner, a very capable young man. Midway through my pelvic exam he said, “hmmmmm.” Then he excused himself and came back with another doctor in the clinic, an older woman, but way younger than me. Now they were taking turns peering into my hoohaw and hmmmmming. I looked at the RN who kept patting my shoulder reassuringly and said, “If we join in we’ll have a quartet.” The doctors cracked up and decided to send me to a specialist.

2) All I need to do to look good is to take off my glasses. I get ready in the morning without the aid of my eyeglasses, and I don’t look at myself very carefully before I leave for work. Thus, I’m often surprised at my appearance when I see myself in a mirror during the day. Who is that crinkly-faced woman looking at me? Why don’t her earrings match? Did she put eye makeup on the right side, but not the left? I just know that if I live to be 80 I’ll be one of those elderly women who puts two bright, unblended spots of rouge on her cheeks and a slash of lipstick somewhere near her mouth.

3) Everything sags and I just don’t care. The bags under my eyes have become close friends with my cheeks which have merged with my chin, and my breasts form a bridge from my torso to my hips. Undressed I look like a ride at Disneyworld. Wheeee! In the bathtub I regularly pretend to be a prehistoric creature emerging from the depths of a lagoon. Everything jiggles like Jell-O on steroids except my elbows and kneecaps.

4) I’m never cold anymore. My internal thermostat is set somewhere between “extra warm” and “ohmygod it’s hotter than hell in here and I need to strip down to my skivvies and run through the sprinklers right now before I spontaneously combust.”

5) I have grandchildren. Nothing compares with that.

6) I used to be a prevaricator, but now my friends know I can be counted on to tell the truth. They know that if they ask me if that dress they’re trying on looks good on them I’ll give them a tactful, yet brutally honest answer. And, I expect the same. A friend who lets a woman go out in an unflattering outfit just to save her feelings is no friend at all.

Maybe this just all boils down to taking everything in stride, enjoying one’s blessings, and being true to oneself. Whatever it is, I wish I’d been like this when I was younger. I’d probably have a lot fewer crinkles now.

Peace, People!