Things I learned this week

“Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”  – Winston Churchill

I learned this week…

…that I am not destined for a career in field geology.   For the last few weeks, I’ve spent a great deal of time staring at dozens of rocks and minerals of all shapes and sizes.   Some are colorful, some are not.  Some have texture, some do not.   Some have cleavage, some do not.  Some look like flaky sheets of tissue paper, most do not.   Some are lithified, some are not.  Some have foliation, most do not.  During my exhaustive hours of observation, I’ve come to one very troubling conclusion: Minerals look like rocks, rocks look like minerals, and the probability that I will correctly identify any of them on a test is pretty low.

…that the Back to the Future trilogy, even in digitally re-mastered Blu-Ray, has not withstood the test of time.  The 1980s was the decade that set our imagination on fire.  It was a period of pioneering advancement in cinematography that raised the bar for cutting edge special effects and gave us the likes of E.T., Aliens, The Terminator, The Empire Strikes Back, Tron, Howard the Duck (what?  you know you watched it), and yes, Back to the Future 1-3 .  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, technology has continued to advance exponentially and what were once thought to be works of shear genius are now nothing more than six or seven hours of mind-numbing product placements, cheesy pop-culture references, and a flying skateboard that will not die.

…that people are strange.   I know.  This is no great revelation, but it is something that has become more obvious to me in the last few weeks.  I am a creature of habit. I value consistency.  It gives me comfort, adds a measure of equilibrium to life’s imbalances, and, above all, allows me some semblance of control – however imagined.  As such,  every morning on my way to class, I stop for breakfast at the same coffee shop.  Without fail, I order a toasted whole wheat bagel with light cream cheese and a medium coffee – heavy on skim, light on sugar.   Usually, I keep to myself.  I may be an early riser, but I am far from a traditional morning person.  I try my best to avoid interaction with people until it is absolutely necessary.  However, sometimes all of my efforts prove in vain.  This week I was ambushed, set upon while I innocently fixed my coffee, by a weird little man in a bright yellow polo.

He stood shoulder to shoulder with me as he added milk to his large coffee and said:

“I worked until 5 this morning.”

<eye roll>

Me:  “Oh?”

Him:  “Yes, and do you know what I read while I was on a conference call.”

<sigh>

Me: “Um…hmm.”

Him: “That in a few years we will all have cars that drive themselves.”

<weirdo alarm has been activated; move calmly, yet swiftly, to the nearest exit>

Me:  (As I reached for a lid and a useless cup sleeve) “Good to know.”

I’m going to have to find value in variety.

…that I’ve been nominated for a couple of blogger awards.  I know it’s probably a bit self-serving of me, but I do love a good blogger award.  Why, you ask?  Justification? Validation? Narcissism?  All of the above.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Who doesn’t like that?

The two awards, The Booker Award and One Lovely Blog Award, were both given to me by Wordsurfer over at Cresting the Words.  I sincerely thank you, Wordsurfer, for the honors.   Go check out her blogs Cresting the Words and Cresting the Sounds.  One deals primary with writing and such; the other music.  Good stuff. You won’t regret it.

As is usually the case, these awards come with rules and guidelines.  The Booker Award dictates that I must share my top five favorite books of all-time.  I’m going to ponder this one a bit and get back with you.  The One Lovely Blogger Award asks that I reveal 7 things about myself.  Here goes:

  1. I am an excellent Canasta player.  I will kick your ass.  Fear me.
  2. The smell of Ketchup makes me want to vomit.
  3. Alias is my all-time favorite television show.  I blame Ben Affleck for it’s demise after only 5 seasons.  I will never forgive him for that.  Ever.
  4. I will choose a spy thriller (movie or novel) over a chick-flick (or lit) every time with one exclusive exception – Pride & Prejudice.  There is just not enough Lizzy and Darcy in the world.
  5. I don’t eat most sauces, condiments, or dressings.
  6. Fall is my favorite season.
  7. I love beets.

Now to pay it forward.  The rules say I need to pick 15.  I never follow this rule.  I like a more manage number, and today I feel three is more my speed.

Kim the FanGirl:  She loves Florence + the Machine just as much as I do and writes about it (among many other things, of course).  She is a beautiful writer with a flare of description that will leave you breathless.  Check her out.

Julie at Word Flows:  I’ve given her a couple of these blogger awards but she remains on my short list.  She’s a great writer with the enviable ability to amass an impressive word count in a remarkable short span of time.  Check her out and follow her whirlwind journey.

Leanne Cole:  She is a photographer from down under.  I enjoy her work very much. Go check her out.

That’s all for now.  I reserve the right to revisit this issue at a later date.

…that last, but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my mother’s cat, Domino.  She’s a beautiful cat with a bi-polar personality.  I had to be quite sneaky in order to get this shot.  I’m sure such a deed will not go unpunished.  Even now, she is likely plotting my demise – something slow and painful.

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Things I learned this week…and last

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”

– Albert Einstein

This week I learned…

…that sometimes I do stupid things.  I know, hard to believe, but true nonetheless.  This week, I beamed myself in the head with my own car door.  I blame the rain – and my vain desire to protect my freshly straightened hair from falling victim to the frizz factor.  What’s the lesson to be learned here?  Making a mad dash from the house to the car through a steady drizzle with my head down doesn’t help me avoid getting wet, it just means I will inaccurately judge the angle of the opening door.  Ouch.

that you will never catch me driving along a rural Norwegian road at midnight.  It seems in doing so, one runs the risk of literally running into a moose – and a bear.  Crazy, I know. However, one unlucky motorist in Norway did just that.  I haven’t written a Man vs.. Beast blog in several months, but I can’t help to think that this incident lends credence to my long standing assertion that the animals are conspiring to take over the world.  Obviously, the moose and the bear were intent on a carjacking.  The question is:  Why?  Perhaps an errand for the Great Whites lurking just off the New England coast?  It bears consideration.  (See what I did there?)

…that the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is fabulous.  As one who is enthralled with history, especially biblical history, this exhibit gives incredible insight.  It was definitely worth schlepping an hour or so west, through rush hour traffic, white-knuckle construction zones, and torrential rain.   As I said in a previous blog, my family was wholly uninterested in tagging along.  That’s alright, I bear them no ill will.   I recognized the glazed over look they got in their eyes whenever I mentioned going.   It’s the same look I get when my husband mentions that Dream Theater is in town.   I shudder at the very thought…

…that my daughter is turning into a cynic.  This week, while we were camped out on the living room floor watching the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, a commercial for a popular adjustable mattress aired.  It boasted that 93% of users saw improved sleep.  Out of the blue, my daughter says:  “Sucks for that other 7%.”  Indeed, it does.

…that the war on women continues.  I don’t like to infuse politics into my blog.  I firmly believe political ideology is something that should never be thrust upon the unwilling.  I think doing so polarizes the nation, and breeds hostility and hate.  I believe the same can be said for religion.  I usually make a point to avoid the discussion of both.  Having said that, I’d like to take this opportunity to address something that I find troubling:  The far right’s preoccupation with the mysterious inner workings of the female reproductive system.  I’m not really sure where they received their general knowledge of anatomy, but I’d like to reassure the male establishment that my girly parts (and those of every other woman in America) do not have mystical superpowers bent on world domination.  While I agree, that might be kinda cool, and would perhaps lessen the sting of the dreaded “monthly inconvenience”, it is, in fact, not possible for a vagina to take down nations.

I think it’s time to focus on a more imminent threat to the country’s well being – a broken economy.

On a similar note:  If you’d like to have a good laugh,and have an appreciation for the ridiculous, check out the Borowitz Report over at The New Yorker.  Maybe not for everyone, but I sure do get a good giggle out of it every now and then.

…that classes begin again next week.  As always, I’m filled with a host of emotions: excitement, trepidation, annoyance.  I am taking a freshman level science course this semester.  I’m not thrilled.  Science is one of those things that I could do without.  I understand the relevance, even appreciate its need in molding our young people into individuals who can competitively carry our country into the future.  I get that.  I just don’t want to sit through a three hour lab with said young people.  Does that make me old?

…that a See’s Candies has opened up inside my local mall.  This is bad.  Very, very bad.  But it’s so very, very good.

…that I’ve been nominated for the “Addictive Blogger Award” by Katy Brandes.  I always get a big kick out of these awards.  It’s the narcissist in me, I’m sure, but it’s always nice to receive a bit of acknowledgement from one’s peers.  Thank you, Katy.   It is greatly appreciated and puts a big smile on my face.  And, I’ll admit, found me standing in front of my bathroom mirror channeling Sally Field:  “You like me!  You really, really like me!”

Just kidding.  About the Sally Field part – not about the the appreciation part.  I do sincerely love that you may be addicted to my blog.

As always, these things must be paid forward.  The list of blogs I find addictive is endless, but in the interest of brevity, here are the first five that come to mind:

Cosy Travels of a Viking and his Kitten – a chronicle of European travel highlighted by some truly beautiful photographs.

The Writer’s Advice – lots of writing advice with a sarcastic edge I enjoy.

Word Flows –  lots of writing inspiration.  One of my favs.

Mike Osborn Photo – some great photographs from across the pond.

The Sugarlump – love those cats!

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment.  I was going to bring you a fabulous photograph of the Monarch butterfly I saw this week at a local nature preserve.  Unfortunately, I never got a clear shot because my lovely daughter photo-bombed me.  So, in retaliation, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my mischievous daughter.  Enjoy.

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Things I learned this week

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

― Charles M. Schulz

I learned this week…

…that, at the ripe age of 40, I’ve finally taught myself to swim.  I have kept this under wraps for a while.  I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing – not my friends; not my family.  I’m sure they are going to be shocked because they’ve put up with my number one phobia for a very long time:  drowning.  It’s kept me from doing a lot of fun stuff over the years.  However,  I am thrilled to announce that this week, I did the front crawl from one end of the pool to the other – without stopping.    And I did it a dozen times.  All by myself.  With my daughter cheering me on.  Of course, being a 40 year old unaccustomed to the physical exertion of swimming, I nearly collapsed and drowned.

…that my daughter is an evolving enigma.  She has quirks and habits that I’ve come to accept, even rely upon, as evidence that she is an independent spirit.  Take for instance her hair.  She is cursed blessed with thick honey blonde tresses that frizz curl wildly around her beautiful face.  She hates every strand, and insists that she not be seen without it firmly secured in a slick-backed pony tail.   This is non-negotiable.  If, by chance, there is an instance of variance from the norm, there will be long sighs, nasty glares, and even tears.  This week she rocked my world.  Out of the blue, she announced, as she pulled the band from her hair and let it flow freely down her back, that in a year or two she just might start wearing it down.  The truly remarkable thing, and what threw me into a state of shock, was that we were at our neighborhood pool.  In public.  Surrounded by dozens of strangers.  Who have now seen her with her hair down.

…that the next installment in the Jason Bourne saga (sans Jason Bourne) has been unleashed on the nation.  In the past, I have railed against Hollywood’s dirty habit of unnecessarily rebooting and remaking movies in order to capitalize on the viewing public’s need for familiarity at the box office. I won’t rehash my feelings – you can read them for yourself, if you are so inclined.   I have to admit, I don’t understand the need for another Bourne film, especially one without its namesake.   When I first heard rumor of it, I thought it ridiculous.  I swore I wouldn’t see it, but curiosity got the better of me.  I saw it.  I hated.  As I write this, I am watching a the original Bourne trilogy in hopes that it will wash away the stench of The Bourne Legacy.

For some additional reviews of the movie, check out:

Om Malik

Movie Talkies

Sweep the Legs

IMG_2213…that a girl in China was found to have spider living in her ear – for a week.  A lot of things creep me out.  Spiders, oddly enough, are not one of them.  However, upon reading this article (and viewing the pictures), I was struck by a sense of familiarity.  Then it hit me – that spider’s brother took up residence in my car two months ago!  It may be time to dig out the old bug bomb.  I now have serious case of the heebee-jeebees.

…that I can check “staying up late(ish) to watch a meteor shower” off my list of things I must do before I die.  I stayed up.  I sat in a lawn chair in my driveway, stared up at the sky, and – got nothing.  I didn’t see anything, but low flying airplanes.  Well, there was that one thing, with the flashing lights and erratic flight pattern.  I told myself it was a weather balloon – because they’re always weather balloons, right?  By and large, though, I was bored out of my freaking mind.  I bow down to my geeky science loving friends who have the discipline for such things.  I, obviously, do not.

…that while working on my WIP this week, I discovered that Anna’ brother is a lot more trouble than he’s worth.  Luckily my writing group was more than willing to come to my rescue.  If you write and don’t have a writing group – get one.  You won’t regret it.  Unless your group sucks.  Then you might regret it.  So choose wisely.  I did.

…this week’s awww moment is brought to you by these water droplets clinging to a spider’s web.  I know, there really isn’t anything warm and fuzzy about it.  So what.  I like it and it’s my blog.  Enjoy.

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Things I learned this week

“Lost a planet Master Obi-Wan has.  How embarrassing.”  – Yoda

I learned this week…

that Snoop Dogg has changed his name to Snoop Lion.  I’m so relieved.  I don’t know about you, but I was beginning to question the longevity of his career if he should continue on with such a moniker.

…that I should never be trusted to do two things:  dress myself or pick out eye glasses.   I think it’s a pretty well-known fact that if given a choice between a pair of respectable black slacks and a pair with obnoxious stripes, I will pick the stripes every single time – and wear them with a printed top.  I am a fashion failure.  I get it.  I embrace it.  A few years ago I got glasses.  I went down to my local optical mart, tried on a few dozen frames, ignored the annoying optician’s suggestions, and took home a set of glasses that would never leave their handy-dandy carry case.  I hated them.  This week, out of necessity – my eyes have decided to act their age – I went to get a new pair.  I opted to go back to my optometrist’s office because it was convenient – and I get a discount.   I chose a few frames, and asked the peppy little optician for advice.  She took one look at what I had chosen, said no, no, no, and promptly made me start the process over.  As it turns out, my taste in glasses is just as flawed as my taste in trousers.  I am now the proud owner of a pair of glasses that I like – and wear.  Yay for pushy, obnoxious optician lady who is immune to my stink eye and biting sarcasm.

…that I have the best writing group on the planet.  This week our meeting turned into an impromptu photo shoot when one of our members came dressed up in an anime costume.

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There’s a special place in my heart for this girl.

…that I won something.  I never win things, but this week I found out that I won a copy of Tania L. Ramos’ new book Be Still.  She is an independently published author who still maintains her day job as a registered nurse.  I admire her tenacity and dedication to her craft.  I can’t wait to read her book.  Go check her out her blog.  Oh, and while you’re at it, check out Nerdy Book Reviews. Some good stuff over there, too.

…that dress shopping with my daughter is going to be a test of my resolve.  She is entering 7th grade band and unlike last year when the required concert uniform consisted of a black embossed polo and khaki pants, this year she will have to wear a black dress.  Yes, my friends, a dress.  My daughter doesn’t wear dresses…or anything that might be construed as girly.  She is a jeans and t-shirt kinda gal.  If she ever feels the need to spice it up, she might go so far as to slap on a button up shirt and a pair of low top Converse sneakers.  But that’s where she draws the line.  We hit a few stores this week in search of this black band dress.  We didn’t find one, but I was rewarded for my efforts with lots of heavy sighs and eyes rolls.  Can’t wait to tell her that she won’t be able to wear her sneakers with the dress we’ve yet to find.  That ought to go over well.  The last time I got her in a pair of dress shoes was the last time she wore a dress – her brother’s wedding.  She cried over the dress, and exchanged the shoes for a pair of bright blue Crocs as soon as the ceremony was over.

…that IKEA on a Saturday is torture.  Two visits to IKEA on the same Saturday is a special kind of Hell that is beyond adequate description.

…this week’s awww moment isn’t an awww moment at all.  It’s just one of my Chihuly exhibit photos.  The reflection of the glass gives the appearance of paint bleeding through the water.  I think it’s kinda cool.

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Things I learned this week

“Knowledge is power.” – Sir Francis Bacon

…or was it Kim Kardashian who said that?

I learned this week…

…that Kristen Stewart cheated on Robert Pattinson, sending a shockwave of despair through the fanatical world of Twilight fans everywhere, shattering dreams of a sparkling vampire happily ever after.  I don’t think my faith in monogamy will ever be restored.

…that water yuppies do exist.  I know, right?  I was just as surprised as you, but my research doesn’t lie.  Until this week, it was a term that was wholly unfamiliar to me.  I stumbled across it while researching houseboats in Amsterdam – a perfect place to hide someone who doesn’t want to be found, by the way.  It’s one of those words that just struck my fancy.  I’m dying to use it in the course of a casual conversation.  I haven’t figured out how I’m going to manage that yet.  When I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

…that pumpkin patches are rarer than diamonds.  Or, so says my daughter to her friend while enthralled in a game of online Minecraft.   This is good information.

…that an orthodontist visit + a hormonal preteen entering 7thgrade + talks of a full set of braces = E.P.I.C. meltdown.  Take heed people.

…that the Cheer Moms at my daughter’s gym may have finally sacrificed their coach to the almighty Cheer God.   Their perky ponytails, color coordinated tees, and snarky, narcissistic chatter as been oddly absent from practice in recent weeks.  Now who am I going to sit and judge while I should be writing?

…that Jen Garner has made a warm and fuzzy Disney flick.  Excuse me while I bang my head on my desk.

(Pause)

Now that I’ve given myself a headache, I think I’ll go console my broken heart with an Aliasmarathon and a bag of Oreo’s.

that Donald J. Sobol died on July 11, 2012.  I’m not really sure how I missed this, but I did.  He is most noted for penning the Encyclopedia Brown seriesof kid’s books about a boy detective in high top sneakers.  I loved those books when I was young…um…younger.  RIP Mr. Sobol.

…that this week’s awww moment is brought to you by one of the bunnies I stumbled across during a recent early morning walk in the park.  I don’t believe he’s the criminal who has destroyed my flower beds, but I took his picture anyway.  You know, just in case I need to identify him in a line up.

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Things I learned this week

“There is no monopoly on common sense, on either side of the political fence.”

– Russians.  Sting, 1985.

I learned this week…

…that the gender of certain species of tortoise is determined by incubation temperature.  Who knew?  Becomingcliche did, that’s who.  Check out her blog for some more fun facts from the reptile house.

…on this day in history, Ronald Reagan said:

“Americans are brothers not because we share the same past and the same ancestry, but because we share the same ideals and the same hopes for the future.”

I think in recent years, we have lost sight of this unifying concept of American brotherhood.  If the current political climate is any indication, I don’t think we are destined to rediscover it any time soon, either.

…that procrastination is an art form that must be nurtured and practiced if one is to become sufficiently proficient.  This weekend I was supposed to write a paper on the socialization process of Palestinian children growing up in the war-torn region of Gaza, specifically Rafah.  Instead, I decided to do a little cleaning – or clearing, if you will.  I completely cleared off my DVR.  Wasted an entire day doing it, too.

…that the film Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy is a brilliant and spellbinding Cold War era political thriller.  If you like this sort of thing, which I do, I recommend that carve out a little time to see this one.  You will not be sorry.  It is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by John le Carre.  I will admit that I have not read the novel, and I understand that doing so will give clarity to certain aspects of the movie, however, I didn’t feel that this hindered my overall understanding of the plot.  Check it out.  Or don’t.  Whatever.

Check out bookfilmblog’s review for a better understanding of the film.

…that there was an entire season (to present) of Once Upon a Time episodes piled up in my DVR queue.   I don’t like clutter, therefore, it was necessary (from a mental health standpoint) for me to rectify this situation.  I spent all of this past Sunday watching nothing but episode upon episode of this ABC show.  I initially set the timer for my daughter.  No, really.  I had no intention of giving this show that time of day.  It was about fairy tales and princesses and crap.  I don’t do princesses.  I do murder and intrigue.  My preconceived notions are rarely wrong (stop laughing), but I’ve got to say that this show sucked me in.  Sure, it has a sort of odd dual storyline that takes a bit of getting used to, but it is surprisingly well written and totally unexpected.   I love a show that leaves me gaping at the television in stunned silence.  Example:  Red Riding Hood (in the fairy tale world) is not a victim of the big bad wolf, she IS the wolf – who just ate her own lover.

Whoa.

…that one goes through stages similar to those of grief when coming to terms with failure.  I have moved into the acceptance phase.

I’ve accepted that my novel is crap.

Stay tuned for my Sunday updates (yes, I promise to be better about posting them) as I start the writing process all over again.  I think this time will be better.  It has to be better, right?  Right?  Hello?

***Warning – Pet Peeve of the Week***

…that I am a stickler for personal space.   Johnny Castle once said:

“This is my dance space. This is your dance space. I don’t go into yours, you don’t go into mine.”

That Johnny Castle was a smart guy.  Cute, too.

I digress.

I was patiently waiting for the cute little girl at Target to ring up my purchases the other day.   Beep, beep, beep.  As I waited, a woman, not much older than me, pushed her buggy into line behind me, unloaded her groceries, and then came to stand next to me.  Right next to me.  I mean, so close that our elbows brushed.  It was all I could to keep myself from having one of those impulsive ticks.  You know, the one where your fist balls up all by itself and clocks the person standing next to you.

…and finally, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little…um…rodent.  Hamster?  Kangaroo mouse?  I don’t really know what it is, but it sure is cute.  I also do not have the original source, and I sort of think it may have been manipulated, but I don’t care about all that nonsense.  It’s cute.  It made me smile.  That’s all that matters.


Things I learned this week…and last week…

…that the need for a vacation from the vacation is a sign that said vacation was a smashing success.   I just wish the vacation recovery stage came with a pitcher of margaritas and a laundry fairy.

…that I much prefer the beginning of daylight savings time to the end.   You might think that this is just another one of my many irrationalities, but my reasoning, for once, is actually quite sound.  I have an internal clock.   I’m sure you have one, too.  I call mine the Beast.  He’s a snarky little bastard who lacks the ability to adequately adapt to changes in time.  While everyone else is hailing the extra hour of sleep they get in the fall, I am wide awake, staring at the bedside clock, cursing the Beast – and my husband who is happily snoring his way through dreamland oblivious to my plight.  In the spring, when the clocks leap forward an hour, the Beast and I again find a sort of harmony.  He lets me sleep until 4 a.m. and I stop trying to goad my phobia troll into pushing him down the stairs.

…that People Magazine, MSNBC, and Entertainment Weekly all tell me that the film remake/reboot – whatever – of the late 80s television show 21 Jumpstreet doesn’t suck.  Bite me.   What happened in the 80s should stay in the 80s.  Hollywood needs to stop re-imagining the films and television shows that shaped my adolescence.

…that Sea World San Antonio will require all potential patrons to navigate three distinct lines before they are deemed worthy of entrance to the park.  This sort of reminds me of the three challenges Indiana Jones faced in Petra during his quest for the Holy Grail.

…that there is nothing more relaxing than sitting on a bench, beneath a towering old live oak, and watching squirrels frolic through its branches.

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…that the animals are coming out to play again.  And by play I mean take over the world and relegate the surviving population to a small cornfield in Iowa – a fate worse than death, I assure you.  In the last two weeks, there have been four shark attacks along Florida’s Atlantic coast.   Luckily, all of the victims survived; however, when considering the close proximity of the attacks, one can’t help but wonder if this is part of a larger recon mission aimed at testing our east coast defenses.

…that sharks aren’t the only animals taking a bite out of the human race this week.  In Orlando, a woman out walking her dog this morning, was bitten on the rump by a bear.  Yes.  Bitten on her butt.  By a bear.  Clearly, Florida is a hotbed of animal revolutionary activity.  I am making a mental note to avoid the state for the foreseeable future.  You can read more of her story [here].

…that you know its time for a complete scene rewrite when your writing group asks if your featured character is a transvestite (he is not) and then proceeds to giggle themselves senseless at a string of sexual innuendos you failed to notice during the writing process.  I love my writing group.  They are the best friend who tells you all those things you don’t  really want to hear, but for your own good, must:  “Yes, your ass looks fat in those skinny jeans.”

…last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this little guy who was a great source of entertainment for me while I sat in a San Antonio park this past weekend, enjoying the beauty of life.

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