Saturday, December 29, 2012

Florence + Christmas = Joy.

I just got back from Christmas in Florence for six whole days, which was absolutely wonderful. I spent ample time with really old friends, saw all the members of my family and even made a fancy dessert from a Christmas magazine for the first time.

cake roll

I mean, really, who knew I would be so excellent at rolling up angel food cake? Not I. The recipe made two cake rolls, so I brought one to Christmas dinner at my dad's house and the other to supper that night at my uncle's house. I thought it went over well in both locations. 

Abbey and me
Besides rolling cake, I also feel like I bonded with my cousins on my dad's side a little more this year. I've always liked two in particular--Anna and Abbey, who are my first cousin Tammy's young daughters. Whenever we see each other on Christmas day at my dad's, we talk about planning something else before next Christmas. But this year I think we actually will. 
My oldest friend Gayden and me
I suspect one of the reasons I enjoyed Florence so much this year is because I was completely alone, with no boyfriend, and I was able to submerge myself into feeling 12 all over again. I feel like I got back to my roots.

Now I've got the post-holiday blues, which typically happens to me after an exceptional Christmas. There isn't much going on this weekend and I just woke up a little while ago, wondering if it's warm enough to sit out in the driveway and read books and magazines. 
I crave other people's ideas for the new year. Everyone can use a little inspiration now and then. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DIY Beauty Blunders.

Tonight I decided that because I'm going home for Christmas in a couple of days, I needed to exfoliate my skin. So I whipped out my smart phone, searched for the words "oatmeal face mask" and started reading recipes. I already had plain oatmeal in my cabinet from the time I tried to make oatmeal raisin cookies. It was an utter disaster, so I can't imagine why I thought anything related to that accursed container of oats would go differently.

 I found a simple recipe that said to mix oatmeal with milk and rub it all over my face. I got out a bowl, mixed the oats and the milk at the kitchen counter, took it upstairs to my bathroom and tried to plaster it to my mug. Oatmeal went everywhere--by the time I got finished, it looked like someone had ralphed in my sink. Not pretty. Plus, the oats were not sticking to my skin.

Concerned that I was accomplishing nothing other than clogging my drain, I finally gave up and rinsed. Buttercup, my roommate's feline, got the leftover milk.

"I'm not sure what went wrong," I announced to Genessa, our neighbor Aaron, and Genessa's boyfriend Randy.

That's when I realized...I didn't cook the oatmeal first. Duh. 

So, I guess my skin will just look the way it always has this holiday season.

At least the cat is still hanging out in my room.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No Rain on this Parade.

Sunday was the Mount Pleasant Christmas Parade, and it was my first time ever riding in a float. It was awesome, besides being entirely too warm outside for a "Christmas" parade. Nevertheless, I wore a green shirt, drank champagne afterward and watched our group of elves hand out magazines to our adoring audience. It was quite the spectacle. Here's a picture; you can see my boss, Bill, standing behind me with his obnoxious megaphone.

But megaphone or no, it was an interesting night. With the unseasonably warm weather we had, everyone was worried about rain--actually, it did drizzle for a few minutes before the shindig actually got started. But by the time I was comfortably seated on the float and waving like a pageant winner, the rain threat had passed.

Oh, and we tied for first place in the "Media Float" Competition prize from the Town of Mount Pleasant. We all feel fiercely honored, especially since our float was thrown together at the last minute. To be honest, I think it was our spirit that won the prize. I know I did a lot of shouting.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Wish I Could Handwrite This Blog.

This morning I started my day with an interesting piece from Slate, on handwriting and its disappearance from culture. The author muses about how her own handwriting has evolved over the years, and it made me think about how mine has changed as well. You can read the article here.

In elementary school, my handwriting was awarded a "C" by my strict Catholic instructors. I had straight As in my classes except for my handwriting grade. Bother, right? But by public middle school, surrounded by preppy, cheerful girls with bubbly script, I decided to reinvent my handwriting to make it more girly and readable. I succeeded, and my teenage handwriting probably lasted me until, oh, my mid twenties? Nowadays, my handwriting is more like a hybrid between the original C-earning-letters and remnants of my training.

My handwriting a few years ago, as seen in a pocket notebook. 
But one thing is for sure; I still handwrite a lot of things. In fact, the other day I told Brian (my now somewhat famous coeditor) to handwrite an interview because his computer was acting weird at the time. I told him I always handwrite my interviews first. But he didn't want to. And luckily his computer got its act together in time.

In college and graduate school I handwrote every single paper I turned in before typing it. Friends wrinkled their brows at this information and asked if I felt like I was doing "more work" that way. No, I told them. I just like writing it out with a pen. And of course, I have handwritten journals and little pocket-sized notebooks all over my house...even a few in Litchfield.

There's something about that pen-to-paper action that gets my brain jogging in a different way than a blank computer screen does. I think it might be the ability to scrawl notes in the margins. Or it could be the paper smell. Or it could just be, as this Slate writer says, "nostalgia." After all, I come from a long line of almost ridiculously nostalgic people.

Here's to ridiculously nostalgic people, and here's to handwriting. Happy Monday, y'all.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Uncle Lou.

Friends, this week has been nothing short of crazy-busy. But in the midst of my busyness with deadlines and grading and whatnot, I received some rather astonishing news...I've been nominated, by Illuminations Magazine, for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. I'm as honored and thrilled as you might imagine.

During Thanksgiving last week, my sister and I ventured into our grandmother's attic for the first time in years. When we were younger (and my grandmother was more strict) we always begged to go in the attic, or for someone to, so we could discover the oldies-but-goodies inside. So, when my grandmother okayed it after we all cleared this year's holiday dishes, Marie and I were as thrilled as 12-year-olds.

I crawled around on my knees in that dusty attic for what seemed like an eternity, determined to find something more worthwhile than old curtains. I finally did--a boxful of old letters, photos and mementos. I handed it down the ladder to my mother, who was anxiously awaiting my descent, and everyone crowded around the kitchen table, eager to sift through family history.

It's funny...each of us found something particularly meaningful. For me, it was a letter that my great-uncle, Louis James Essey, wrote in the 1940's to a literary journal. Uncle Lou, who was one of my grandmother's older brothers, has always been one of my heroes. A self-proclaimed bibliophile, he worked as a journalist for the Charlotte Observer, never got married, wrote incessantly and didn't own a television. When I found the letter, yellowed with years and crumbly at the edges, I decided I would keep it. After all, Uncle Lou and I are both writers, and, more specifically, both poets. I brought the letter home to Charleston and it's nestled on my bookshelf.

I'm not certain whether Uncle Lou's poetry was ever published. I know he published countless essays, articles and reviews throughout his life as a writer, but his career as a poet is mysterious to me.

Still, it seems an interesting coincidence that I've now been nominated for the Pushcart. I can't help but wonder if Uncle Lou brought me good luck? Or, for that matter, if luck came from any of the other poets I've been fortunate to know throughout these years? Come to think of it, the nominated poem was inspired by Anna, my dear friend who passed last summer. Every time I write or read poetry, I think of all the poets I've met. Some of them are my personal friends, some have signed my collections...some are just out there, writing.

They make good company.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cooking by the Seat of One's Pants.

Over the weekend, I attended my friend Joy's annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner. It's one of my favorite things to do in November, mostly because it forces me to ...cook something.

In years past, I've had my plan well before going over to Joy's house. One year, for example, I made a pumpkin spice cake in the earlier hours of the day, complete with bunt-shaped pan. It was marvelous. But this year I was slack. I found myself laying around my house until 4 p.m., watching old Parker Posey movies, and suddenly realizing I needed to get dressed and go to Publix.

Hmm, I thought to myself in Publix, Should I just get something simple like a block of cheese and some crackers? Or should I really try to make something? I'd rather make something, but what?

I suddenly found myself in the magazine aisle, reading up on holiday recipes. I picked what seemed easy enough to throw together without even buying the magazine--a Southwestern cheese dip--and scoured the store for what I needed.

"This is good," said my roommate, Dana, awhile later, scooping up a sample taste with a tortilla chip.

"I'm not feeling it. It's not Thanksgiving enough," I announced. And frankly, I was less than impressed with how all I'd done was open up a container of queso and dress it up with some corn and cilantro.

"This is what I get for not having a real plan," I grumbled to myself. Undeterred, I went back to Publix, this time with the intent of somehow making sweet potatoes (that was Thanksgiving-y enough, right?)....but I had no idea how to cook a sweet potato. Or if I had the time.

"Is it considered a faux pas to use canned sweet potato?" I asked the Publix employee, a sweet-faced, teenaged boy who probably didn't know what faux pas meant.

"I don't think so," he hedged.

I finally grabbed what I needed, including a recipe on the back of the can that could be accomplished in thirty minutes. At that point, I had less than an hour until party time. Good thing I was already wearing my makeup.

In the end, my "quick" candied yams were gobbled right up. I feel satisfied that I went with my gut and nixed the cheese dip, although I'll probably uncover that and eat it later.

"You know what I love about going over to Joy's for Thanksgiving?" I later asked my roomies and neighbor. "It's an occasion for all of us to make food."

Since my sweet potatoes rocked, I'll probably make them again, maybe this week. And some other new things. After all, 'tis the season for kitchen adventures -- even at the last minute.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Table for One.

The holiday season is pretty much upon us, and it's actually the first one in AGES that I don't do I put it...a love interest. For the last ten years of my life there has been someone -- even if not a real relationship then at least someone I fancied -- and now, there is no one. It's so weird. I get to go to all these end-of-year functions, parties, dinners, whatever, all by myself.

Over the weekend I had a taste of the true solo adventure. Sunday morning I called one of my friends to see if she still planned on joining me at the Charleston Cup, the local horse race that my office got a bunch of tickets for. But she and her boyfriend declined. They'd been out late the night before and I realized I had to make the 30 minute trek to Hollywood (SC, not CA) on my own.

So I did. And the drive was pleasant. And the horse race was fun. I guess it's a little odd to be my only companion --my own driver, walking buddy...and the only person who pays for my parking pass. The funny thing about being single is that, even though I have gobs of friends, the feeling of being alone is always there because no one is obligated to you. Or, as a friend put it the other night, "No one cares if you stub your toe. Sure, you can call a girlfriend on the phone, but no one REALLY cares."

Whether that is a dismal, or freeing, prospect depends largely on the attitude one chooses to take, I've learned lately. I'm learning to embrace my freedom and not my loneliness. After all, if Robinson Crusoe and Henry David Thoreau and Emily Dickinson could do it, why not Denise K. James?


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Row, Row, Row Your Vote....

Now that it's Thursday I finally feel comfortable enough to tell all of you about my crazy experience on Tuesday, election day. Like many of my fellow Americans, I woke up intending to vote. But somehow things did not go as I had planned.

When I came into the kitchen that morning, Genessa was sipping coffee. "It's ridiculous that they didn't send us a notice about where to vote, now that Harbor View Elementary has been torn down," she noted. "But I found out where we go--Stiles Point Elementary, right up the street."

"Sweet. Thanks for telling me," I said. I got dressed and drove to Stiles Point, which was an absolute swarm of people, cars, voting representatives and mayhem in general. To make a long story short, I waited in that line, which wrapped up and down the Stiles Point hallway, for two solid hours. Granted, I had a really cool chick standing beside me, so we talked about everything from curly hair products (hers was a mass of spirals too) to the quest for true love (she was married so it was mostly about my own quest). Still, by the time I got to the front of the line, produced my drivers license and got ready to cast my vote, the news that I "was in the wrong place," was as frustrating as if I'd spent the prior two hours standing next to a smelly, yodeling, half man-half anteater.

"What do you mean the wrong place?!" I demanded.

"You are supposed to be at the OLD Stiles Point next door, not this new building," the nonplussed representative told me. "Sorry."

"I am NOT waiting another two hours--I don't have time," I announced, loudly enough for everyone around me to look at me. "I'm not voting, I guess. Unless you guys can make arrangements so I don't have to wait!"

They just blinked at me.

"FINE. I'm moving to Canada," I declared. I knew I was making a small scene but I didn't give a crap, frankly.

I plowed out of the building, ignoring the offers for Chick Fil A coupons and stickers. "I didn't vote!" I snapped at the goodie-peddlers. "So I don't GET ONE!"

I did make the half-hearted attempt to go to the "old" Stiles Point building across the parking lot, only to be greeted by a rude attendant who told me to "get to the back of the line" after I relayed my sob story.

"No way," I said, seeing how long the line was. "I'm out of here." And I was.

Safely in my car and headed to work, I realized that my voter registration card still had my old Mount Pleasant address on it. Inspired, I called the City of Mount Pleasant and asked whether I could vote in Mount P, given the fact that my card reflected that information.

"Hmm.." said the befuddled clerk after I ranted about how rude everyone on James Island had been. "Let me give you the director. He can help you. After what you've been through, there must be something we can do."

But the director was not willing to help. "Sorry," he said. "You cannot vote in Mount Pleasant. You have to go back to James Island. That's where you are living now. You should have gotten your notice about the switching of locations. What's your address?"

After I told him, he realized the problem. "We have you down for Apartment THREE, not B," he announced.

"Oh, perfect," I said. "No freaking wonder ...But I'm not going back home to James Island until 10 p.m. tonight because I teach on Tuesdays. Isn't there anything else I can do?"

"I can offer you opportunity to return to Stiles Point and cast your vote."

"OFFER ME THE OPPORTUNITY!?" I shouted. "Don't say that like you're doing something special for me...I could have done that anyway!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am," he replied. "It's the way the law works."

"Yeah, well, God bless America. Have a great day." I slammed the phone down.

So that was that. No vote for Denise K. James. I did, however, get an "I Voted" sticker gifted to me by Brian, my coeditor. When he told me he still hadn't voted at 2 p.m., I told him I was going with him and having a positive voting experience somehow, even if it wasn't my own.

And that's exactly what happened. We sailed into the designated Mount Pleasant building without any lines, he voted in the span of minutes, and handed me the sticker. Of course, it wasn't quite the same, but it was something.

"Now that the sticker is yours it should actually say, I tried to vote but couldn't," Brian joked.

I don't think I laughed. I was still too mad. But looking back on it now, it was a pretty amusing non-voting experience.

Hope everyone else's was better... regardless of your political party.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Home Remedies, Part Two.

I once posted about home remedies for getting rid of a cold. Well, that time has come again. I've been coughing a good bit the past 24 hours. Boo. What's funny is that I first started feeling "virusy" on Wednesday night of last week. I went home and texted my coeditor, Brian, that I was coming down with something.

"Eat a whole grapefruit, even the white stuff," he instructed. "Then hold your nose and breathe through your mouth. You need to heat up the germs inside your nose and kill them."

Since I always listen to Brian, I got dressed, drove to Publix, and wolfed down an entire grapefruit faster than you can say "dietary fad." I saved the second grapefruit I'd bought for the morning, then ate it, too.

For a day or so I felt better and thought I'd beaten it. Then, on Sunday, I woke up with serious scratchiness in my throat. I knew then that the germs were stubborn and had fled my nose only to settle in my chest.

So I did what any innovative person would do - I ordered spicy cocktails and spicy food all day long.

"What drink on this list would be good for a chest cold?" I asked the bartender. (Luckily we were having Thai food at Basil that night, so it was easy.)  "And can you suggest an entree?"

By the end of dinner I felt like I had smoke coming out of my ears. Still, today I'm coughing. I'm coughing as I write this, despite my spicy chicken sandwich at lunch, and despite the sip of booze that  my tutoring clients gave me. Yep. They gave me liquor to sip while I quizzed their daughter on Voltaire.

"You want a shot of brandy? That always helps me!" my student's mother crowed. I held my nose and chased it with sweet tea left from my lunch. Disgusting.

It's impossible to tell if I've cut the severity of this cold with all my zealous "home treatments," but at least the mission has been a fun one. I haven't taken any cold medicine yet and I don't plan to. After all, I have hot-n-sour soup and Kentucky bourbon in my kitchen. What more does a sick gal need?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

What's Mysterious About Inspiration? Everything.

Last night my friend Emily visited Charleston and all of us went to Friday night trivia at the Pour House. I proceeded to explain to Em how, this week, I finally wrote a poem that I've been waiting to write for months. Em is not a poet, but I knew she'd find the story behind the inspiration interesting.

A couple of months ago when the weather was still scorching hot, they tore down the original Harbor View Elementary School in my neighborhood. It was a creepy sight for a good few days--bits of building already gone, the parts still there not at all a sufficient reminder of happy elementary-age kids learning how to read and do arithmetic. I was inspired by the building being torn section by section, and the meaning behind it, but try as I might, I could not capture my feeling on paper.

Until the other day, when I visited Facebook and, out of the blue, saw where one of Emily's best drinking buddies just entered a relationship.

We probably won't see as much of that guy anymore, I thought to myself. And if we do, it won't be exactly the same. 

Then...BOOM!!! It was like a thunderbolt of inspiration over my head. I couldn't get the words out of me quickly enough. And the poem that erupted from my head was about Harbor View Elementary! Most peculiar, I thought. How would seeing a new relationship on Facebook cause me to find the inspiration for that poem I'd been dying to write for months?

Inspiration is like that. Now before I start getting a bunch of boos and hisses about the craft of poetry and how the craft is what truly matters (which is not something I'm arguing) I still maintain that the first inkling of a poem, the moment that tickles you enough to make you pull a notebook or computer out, is mysterious. All I can do in preparation for this mystery is be open to it, and not let good lines escape out of laziness or lack of convenience or whatever.

The Harbor View Elementary poem is now one of my personal favorites, and if I had ignored the funny detour my inspiration caused, I would not have it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wedding Meets Hippie.

As I write this, one of my oldest friends, Genessa (also known as G, or G Dogg) has a wedding to attend this evening for one of her friends. The wedding is at 6 p.m. in Mount Pleasant's Old Village.

Here's a little background: I've known G for ages. She's one of my dear college friends, and we've been housemates for several years now. And she's always been low-maintanance when it comes to her looks...with good reason. As a natural beauty and practically a professional athlete, she isn't what you'd call a girly girl. 

"What are you wearing?" I innocently asked G earlier today, while we worked together on writing a poem for her friend's card.

"A hippie dress and my flip flops," declared Genessa without hesitation.

I wrinkled my brow. "At a six o'clock wedding? No. You cannot wear your beach shoes. Don't you have a pair of heels?" Having assisted Genessa in preparing for special occasions in the past, I had a feeling the answer was no.

Moments later, the three of us (our other housemate Dana included) were trying to conjure up a laid-back, yet dressy, outfit for Genessa to wear. We finally decided on a simple black dress ...with sparkly black flip flops.

"These will have to do," I sighed, after we discovered that Dana's sling-back heels were too small.
"At least they sparkle!"

"Should I wear some silver earrings?" asked G, getting into the spirit of things at last.

"Yep..and a necklace,"I said, heading to my room to find one.

"I'll have to wear two, because this hemp doesn't come off," she informed me. I tried not to groan.

 We finally found a silver necklace and silver hoops to go with the black ensemble. I offered up my sparkly clutch, but Genessa replied it was too small to hold her cigarettes. When we set about putting on her makeup, Genessa balked at the eyeliner at first, but finally let me feather her lids with it. She barely grazed her lashes with the mascara, and chose the tamest lip gloss shade, of the few I offered, for her mouth.

In the end, she looked fabulous. Just like herself, but with special touches. I felt like both of us had achieved success in the process--she looked fancier than usual but not over the top.

"You look amazing!" I raved, snapping pictures of her with her iPhone for her boyfriend.

 It's funny; at first I felt like I was giving her a lesson in how to dress for an evening wedding. But in the end, I'm the one who learned that people have to be loyal to their own senses of style. It's a privilege to have a friend like Genessa in my life, someone stays true to herself no matter what.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Finally--A Night at Home.

Well it's the first weekend in eons that I haven't been to Litchfield, Greenville, Columbia, Florence, or elsewhere in the great state of South Carolina. So what better way to celebrate than to paint the town red with my gal pals Friday night? True, I spent most of Saturday sipping iced herbal tea and resting, but it was  SO worth it.

We started our evening with dinner at Basil. And can you believe that I had never eaten there? Despite the fact that I've been a Charleston resident for eight years, Basil has always been too crowded (no reservations) or just not on the agenda. I realized last night what everyone is always raving about. Yum.

After Basil, it was on to the Music Farm, where I was treated--or subjected-- to a free ticket to watch the Chippendale strippers. Ugh. It was not the most appealing show I've ever seen at the Music Farm. In fact, I can't believe I'm making it known on my blog that I was there. But since I didn't purchase a ticket OR any of my drinks, (my friend Ashley bought them, I suppose because she felt guilty for dragging me there, ha)  it was just another stop of the evening.

Following the Music Farm we barhopped from a new place called L.I.F.E. on Upper King, to Big John's Tavern, then BACK to Hall's Chophouse at the end of the night. It was super fun. I think my favorite parts were:

1. Running into my girl Leah and her husband Josh at Big John's Tavern. What a nice surprise. After I'd complained about taking a taxi across town and leaving my car on Upper King, I was handsomely rewarded with seeing them.

2. As I was leaving L.I.F.E., a girl I didn't recognize stopped me in the street and shrieked "You're that composition instructor at ITT!" "Umm, yes...Were you one of my students?" I hedged. "No, I just started working there a few months ago, and I've heard AMAZING things about you!" she gushed. "You are THE best instructor ever. I want to sit in on your class! May I buy you a drink?!"

This chick went on and on for so long, it was embarrassing. But I kinda felt like a celebrity. Ha.

Hope everyone else's weekend is going just as well. As for me, I'm relaxing for the rest of it! Plans include a picnic while basking in the sunlight, and listening to music at a house party. I love my city.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Write to be Other Writers.

Last night I had the experience of guest speaking at a women's writer group called Voices: Write to Be Heard. It was held at Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant and featured bloggers, book authors, plus freelance writers like me.

When I originally accepted the invitation to participate in the event, I had no clue that I would be anything more than one of the crowd. So when Holly, one of Mount Pleasant Magazine's contributors, asked me if I'd come along I said "Sure! Sounds fun!" I had no idea what I was in for.

Then when I got there I found a whole table with my name on it. The sign in the middle of the table said "Denise K. James," and I suddenly got the ominous feeling that I was expected to make some kind of...speech about freelance writing. Gulp.

"Ohh, noo," reassured Holly and the other chick-in-charge, Jennifer. "You won't have to stand up and speak. But people will visit your table and you'll answer their questions about freelancing."

What kinds of questions? I wondered nervously. I hoped I knew the answers. For Pete's sake, I would have studied if I'd known this was the deal.

But in the end, once the cup of coffee kicked in (I should have known better than to drink coffee in the evening but darn, I was exhausted and I needed brain fuel) I found myself spouting some of the most profound brilliance on the topic of freelance writing, ever.

Remember to daydream often, in strange places. 

Talk to strangers all the time. Don't be afraid of them. They can inspire you. 

Write your pitch letter with a crazy-good subject line so they don't trash it before they read it. Once, when pitching a magazine, I titled my email "Last Night's Bean Dip." 

Keep in touch with other writers. You need intellectual colleagues. 

Know your rates, whether they ask what you charge per word, per hour, per project or per article.

As I spoke, I felt like I really knew what the heck I was talking about. It was a good feeling. I handed out a few business cards, invited my listeners to contact me, and generally got some good networking done.

Maybe I need to be put on the spot more often.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Litchfield: The Grocery Gamble.

There's a trend that I just have to address. It involves the kitchen at our beach house in Litchfield. Lately (well, probably all's just now I'm writing about it) I've noticed that it's common for family members and friends to arrive at the house, pour a cocktail, and...forget about food.

Case in point: This past weekend, my mom, her best friend Lorraine, and I decided to hang out in Litchfield for a couple days. We all got there on Friday afternoon and--you guessed it--immediately busted out the beer, wine, and spiced rum.

"What are we having for dinner?" I eventually asked, already two drinks in.

"Uhh, well, I brought us this roast," Lorraine declared, pulling it out of her cooler. "And here's some...potato salad. But it'd be nice to have bread, wouldn't it? Or some kind of real side?"

We peered into the freezer and were greeted with a loaf of freezer-burned Sara Lee. It was not appealing.

"Hmm," Lorraine mused. "Well, I suppose we don't need bread."

"Someone should have gone to the grocery store," I sighed. "Why does this always happen? It's like, everyone gets here, starts drinking, and we just have to make do with whatever is here because everyone is too blitzed to go to the PIGGLY WIGGLY!"

Another time, my poet-friends and I started imbibing and woke up the next morning, famished and craving a hearty breakfast. Of course, there was nothing in the fridge or the freezer except for old biscuits and American cheese. Not even eggs. And while we laughed at ourselves while eating our eggless, cruddy, cheese biscuits, I know we were all secretly disappointed.

So, now that I've gone and made this issue public by blogging about it, I think I'm going to have to fix the problem. Therefore I solemnly swear, the next time I go to Litchfield, I am stopping first in Pawley's Island to buy the essentials. After all, drinks are best accompanied by food.

Y'all hold me to it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Urge to be Honest.

On this blog, particularly lately, I fight the urge to be 100% honest. After all, I know that most people who read it don't REALLY care about me and my inner thoughts; they're just looking for something clever or funny to peruse over a morning bagel.

Well, maybe it's because my life has been so crazy lately, or maybe it's because I don't do that much writing in "real" diaries and journals these days, but I've been tempted to just spill the beans here about what I'm thinking. No filter (which my boss claims I don't have anyway). No white-washing it for public internet consumption.

So here goes: I've had a lot of change this year. I've ended a relationship, I've contemplated ending my housing situation and moving to other parts of the Lowcountry, I've started a new job, I've even talked about getting out of Charleston for good. And yes, there was the whole phone thing. (By the way, for those who don't know, I returned the iPhone and got an Android. Crazy, I know.)

Moreover, the iPhone/Android stuff is just the tip of a crazy iceberg. I can't seem to decide on anything fact, I've dubbed 2012 "the year of indecision." Every time I think something is nailed down, I end up second guessing it. The crappy part is, I've always relied heavily on my own intuition, whether it was about situations, people, whatever. Now I'm questioning my intuition, wondering if it has led me astray.

But I think the REAL truth of the matter is that I have too much noise around me to hear it. I think if I just sit quietly, sans smartphone and computer and other people, I can hear it. The problem is, once I step back into the noise, I forget what the quiet voice says. See, back when I was a lonely child with very few friends or lovers or technological distractions--back in the nineties--I had no trouble hearing the quiet voice.

It's harder now that I'm grown, with tons of other things going on. And my quiet voice didn't used to have to work so hard.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

iPhone iNdecision.

Last week I bought an iPhone. The BlackBerry, unfortunately, stopped taking a charge. I don't know what it is with charge ports and me, but that's always been the death of my phones.

I literally spent two whole afternoons in the Sprint store. The first afternoon, I went with the intention of getting my Berry fixed, or maybe getting another phone, although admittedly I wasn't emotionally prepared for another phone. The Berry had been with me for two years, and even though people are always telling me that BlackBerries are "on the way out" and that iPhones and Androids are enormously superior devices, I treasured my phone. 

So, I guess that emotional attachment is the reason I behaved so ridiculously at the Sprint store. I say ridiculously because, well, I'm positive that by the time I left with my new iPhone 4 on Thursday afternoon, the employees were ready to smack their foreheads in exasperation. The assistant manager, Jimmy, had spent many patient minutes explaining to me why I should buy an iPhone and not another BlackBerry or another unpopular, underdog phone. 

"It's an investment," he said. "When the software updates happen for iPhones, you'll be included." 

I sauntered over to the Android choices, unconvinced, and played with one Android that had both a keyboard and a touch screen. "Maybe I like this still has a real keyboard," I mused. 

"No," Jimmy insisted. "I mean, if you want to get an Android, get the [insert name of fancy, brand new Android whose name I forgot]."

I said that maybe I should forget the whole damn thing and just have the BlackBerry repaired or replaced or whatever the hell. The salespeople all shook their heads. "That's throwing money away!"

So when I left Sprint on Wednesday, the first day, I was thoroughly puzzled. I knew I would have to do something, though, so I went back on Thursday with the mission of leaving with either a working new phone or a work order for my old trusty. 

Still, I couldn't make up my mind. "I'll be back in twenty minutes," I said to Jimmy. "I need to see if the universe will give me a sign." 

"You're putting a lot of thought into this," he sighed. "Most people just grab something and go!" 

I walked around Town Centre, soliciting the advice of perfect strangers in Bed Bath & Beyond, American Eagle, and Banana Republic. I asked folks of all ages, genders, and technological levels. 

"I need your advice," I'd begin, with the salesperson of each shop thinking that I'd be asking about the fit of my jeans or a new, fall-friendly scent. But I will say that once people realized I was just asking for advice on my life, they were still friendly and helpful. 

In the end I went with the iPhone and I'm pretty happy with it. I'm still not used to typing on a touch screen but everyone says I'll get used to it. Plus, downloading apps for everything from Nietzsche quotes to closet organization tips takes the sting out of not having a keyboard.

I'd have to say that the most rewarding part of the whole experience was not exiting the Sprint shop with my new phone. It was talking with perfect strangers and getting their input. It reminded me that when I feel frustrated, icky, or flat-out alone, I can seek out the perspective of people around me. And maybe have my perspective changed a little. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Have Liquor, Will Travel.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine visited for the weekend and we went out for a drink. And she was packing--mini bottles in the purse, that is. So although we had ordered legitimate beers from the bar, she pulled out a mini bottle of booze and asked if I wanted it. I shoved it into my own purse; I was only having one beer and then meeting another friend somewhere so I had to be wary of driving conditions. 

It amuses me to share with you that the mini liquor bottle stayed in my purse for two weeks. It even survived a transfer into another purse. Every time I would look inside my handbag and see the liquor nestled there, I felt....somehow ready for anything. I'm not sure if carrying around a shot's worth of alcohol makes me a criminal or not. In fact I just go0gled it and all I saw was advice on how to make your own cocktails on a flight. Ha. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Learning To Walk Away.

Years ago, a then-friend encouraged me to adopt a kitten that he was keeping at his home and trying to find a family for. I was uncertain about having a kitten (I've never had a pet of my own) but i was willing to at least consider the opportunity. After all, the kitten was cute enough, and how hard could it be? But one night, after a few beers, I stayed over at the said friend's house and the kitten attacked me during the night. She bore her claws into my nose while I fitfully tried to sleep in that tiny guest room bed, and, when I opened my eyes to see what the hell was going on, she  practically scratched out my eyeballs. I retaliated by throwing the beast out of my space and announcing to my friend that this animal was not the right pet for me. Dramatic? Perhaps so. But the kitten had officially pissed me off. And my friend ended up finding the kitten another owner. I knew I'd made the right decision.

But the notion of "giving up" on something, particularly on something living, has not always been an easy pill to swallow. Nowadays, people hear phrases like "Never Quit" constantly. In fact, I think back now to an Offspring song with lyrics that declared "the more you suffer...the more it shows you really care...right?" I clearly remember my mother saying at the time how the lyrics were bunk, and not to take them to my teenage heart. My mother knew I'd have a hard time letting go of things. She was the same way when she was younger, after all. Of course, we both liked the song (hey, it was the nineties) but she did not want the lyrics to influence me. 

Throughout my life, it's indeed been difficult for me to walk away from friends who don't boost the well-being of my soul, lovers who do not understand me or love me in return, acquaintances who will not make the effort to become friends, and so on. I have a tendency to cling to those people until something outlandishly hurtful happens, similar to the kitten clawing at my eyes.

And it's not just me. I know at least a few other people who have the same issue; they keep something or someone that is best just discarded until it practically cripples them with dead weight.

So, I'm taking this opportunity to tell myself --and all of you-- just to stop. Go ahead and delete that person that you don't talk to, go ahead and delete that text message you were saving from the one night that you heard from your drunken college lover at 3 a.m. Learn to get rid of seeds that won't ever, can't ever grow. This nonsense is stifling your, and my, garden.

I won't even be offended if, after reading this, you decide not to speak to me again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stop Your Motor.

This morning I woke up at my usual time. The problem was, I had gone to bed super-late...and it was the umpteenth night in a row of staying up at least a little bit past my bedtime. I had a real brain fart, if you will, at the gas station around 9:30 a.m. when I climbed out of the driver's seat and attempted to put gas into my car without turning off the engine, something I never do.

But I actually learned today that not turning off your engine might be a personal preference. When I sorrowfully announced to my boss that "I was so tired I almost gassed my car while it was running," he responded that it's not a big deal and that he does it all the time. Note that my boss is not a person I typically take life advice from! But then someone else said the same thing. Is it actually okay to leave the car on?

I think, for me, the whole reason I've always thought that gassing a running vehicle is dangerous is because of my childhood, when my mother would buy "two dollars" worth of gas at the station up the street from our house. The station had signs everywhere that said "No Smoking. Stop Your Motor." Since my mother smokes, I used to pretend that the sign actually said "No Smoking. Stop Your Mother." Ha. Either way, I knew the car would be turned off.

So, despite what my boss and anyone else says about it, I'm sticking with turning the Saturn's key before I fill'er up. Provided I've had enough sleep to remember.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The 4th: A Recap.

I just returned from a truly epic vacation with my family in Litchfield Beach. Independence Day this year was one of the most spectacular on record, not to gush or anything. However, as I sit here at work, I can barely move. Why is that? Because my muscles ache to high heaven after falling out of my Uncle Joe's boat and into the saltwater marsh.

Let me explain. My Uncle Joe, a seasoned boater, invited me out on the morning of the 4th for an impromptu boating adventure and I happily accepted, second cup of coffee be damned. It was the funniest boat trip I can remember. 

First, we actually got pulled over by a boat cop, and Joe got a warning ticket for "not having either a horn or a whistle" on board. Who knew that a small boat like the one we were in needed such a plethora of emergency items?! Luckily we had life jackets!!

After we parted ways with the boat police, we made our way back to the floating dock at the house. Here's where the mayhem began. I tried to leap from the boat to the floating dock, while the two were connected only by my hand. Only I didn't quite make it. The boat floated away, my fingers slipped and --SPLOOSH!-- next thing I knew i was knee deep in oyster shells and mud softer than my own heart. I struggled to hoist myself onto the floating dock, but much to my dismay, my arms have zero strength and, between the pluff mud practically engulfing my lower body and my lack of biceps, the whole thing took awhile. When I got out, I resembled some sort of marsh creature and my toes and legs were slightly scratched after coming into contact with the oyster shells. But I survived. 

That was Wednesday and I'm still sore. My upper body feels like I subjected it to a crash-course in weight lifting. It hurts to move too vigorously. But you know what? I wouldn't take it back--it was funny and interesting. And we writers thrive off funny and interesting stuff, even if we get left a bit achy. 

Besides the boat adventure, other highlights of the trip included meeting my Aunt Stephanie's sweet 13-year-old niece, who said I was "more fun than any other adult there," spending time with my best friend John Myers, seeing my grandma, pool-lounging with my childhood pal Gayden, and the awesome fireworks on Wednesday night. My little BlackBerry did me proud, until the very end, when it was completely tuckered out from so many photos on the beach and went to sleep. I couldn't blame it. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Muse Knows a Mule.

Today I found out that four of my poems will appear in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature this fall! I'm pretty excited. The Dead Mule School is a quirky online literary journal that asks all the authors to submit a "southern legitimacy statement" rather than a regular bio. (Mine talks about saltwater marshes and homegrown tomato sandwiches!)

Visit The Mule

Another cool thing about the Dead Mule School is that they publish everything -- poetry, fiction and essays. I look forward to reading my own work alongside some great prose from other southern writers. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Today is amazing so far, and it's only 1 p.m.

I woke up this morning promptly at 7 a.m., after retiring early last night, and lolled around in my bed until around 8. I came downstairs, made great coffee with real cream, and came directly outside to sit on the porch.

I have spent the last five hours on the porch, much to the amusement of my neighbors and roommates. I've done everything from read a couple of essays by E.B. White (one of my favorites as y'all recollect),  talk to my neighbor, lie in the driveway for about half an hour soaking up the sunshine and watching the rolly pollys (ok I did have to move a few feet for that part), sing along to songs, and now write a blog.

Later, there will be a trip to the library and a house warming party to enjoy. But for now I can't see any reason to move.

I think I could live my entire life on this porch if I really tried.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lost in Paradise.

This morning, I woke up in a cozy bed and came downstairs to my air conditioned living room, where my roomie had made me a cup of (not excellent but drinkable) coffee. Now I'm on the internet, blogging and reading whatever moves me. 

Last night, I had a yummy dinner, plus a beer, with two friends.

I live on James Island, right outside of Charleston, SC. I'm the Managing Editor of a community magazine with a cool boss and colleagues. My mom loves me. My sister lives down the street. 

Yet sometimes I feel lost. 

The other day I was driving to a book club meeting in West Ashley when, by accident, I turned off into a neighborhood a little ways before the street where I meant to turn. 

No need to turn around; this neighborhood probably leads back to the highway, I thought to myself. 

But as I kept driving I realized I was getting lost. Twists and turns led me down narrow streets with cute houses, people working in their yards, gardens, and kids riding scooters.

I don't know where I am, but this is a nice place, I thought to myself. There are worse places to be lost. 

Right now, in life, I have the vague sense of being lost sometimes. I question whether I should stay in Charleston long-term or move elsewhere. I question decisions regarding my personal life and my career. I question everything, pretty much. 

But I'm lost in a pretty nice place -- my life. My life is full of good moments and reasons to be happy. It occurred to me, while I was driving around that neighborhood, I didn't have to be in any particular hurry to find the highway. I eventually found it after a pleasant drive. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Are Sneakers and Sports Bras Necessary?

Today I went on a bike ride around the cute neighborhood across the street from my house. Now before you get a picture in your head of me wearing a pair of fancy sneakers, exercise shorts, and a sports bra while hunched over my handlebars and grunting, I guess I should clear a few things up.

I am not serious when it comes to exercise.

I tend to forgo the proper shoes and just wear flip flops. I ride around leisurely (not huffing and puffing) noticing the squirrels with acorns in their cheeks, the men repairing dilapidated roofs, and the shapes of clouds. I listen to the music on my phone, but I don't wear earbuds--I just let whomever is around me hear what I'm hearing.

I'm sure in comparison to the other folks in the neighborhood, I look like I'm 12 years old and like I don't take my "workout" time seriously. Everyone else I saw today was wearing an actual workout outfit, actual Nikes, and a stern expression--like if he or she didn't burn the proper amount of calories, life simply would not go on. Me, I looked like I was just pondering a Wednesday afternoon, one hand on the handlebar of my beach cruiser and the other reaching out to grab the breeze.

Does this count as exercise? I'm sweaty as I type this, and I feel relaxed. It definitely counts. So why does everyone else act so serious about a simple walk, jog, or ride? Am I just weird for watching the squirrels?

Or are they weird for ignoring them?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Bloom.

In elementary school, one of my science projects involved playing different kinds of music to flowering houseplants and noticing whether they preferred rock n roll, classical or rap. (They loved the classical tunes the best!)

I think that's when my love for flowers and plants first appeared.

So, I've decided on a new project: I'm going to grow some flowers. I mean, I've always craved flowers around me (to the point where I even bought a bouquet for myself at the beach over the weekend) so why not foster my love for them and grow them?

Tonight I met my friend Teresa for a drink and we discussed venturing to a plant nursery this weekend so I can pick out some hearty blooms. I'm excited.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Life: Another Mini-Story.

Long ago, when I had a MySpace blog (remember that?) I wrote about the night that I bought a vegetable that seemed to be a zucchini, yet ended up being a cucumber when I started dissecting it on the cutting board.

This is a metaphor for life, I wrote at the time. Things are so surprising. 

Well, the other night it happened again. This one was even weirder if you can believe it.

I was at the Poetry Society's final evening of the '11-'12 season. I ventured to the powder room before the show started and the lights were off. It was pitch black in the restroom (which is a single) and I groped for the switch. No dice. The light remained absent.

Ok, I thought to myself, I really have to pee. So I dug out my keys and turned on my little flashlight that dangles from my keychain. The light, although small, was enough for me to tend to my business and wash my hands afterward. I shined it at myself in the mirror.

I look like a ghost. 

I don't know what made me run my hands over the wall again when I was on my way out the door, but I did, and I found yet another switch. There's two? I thought to myself, flipping the other one.

You guessed it--the room flooded with light. The other switch, the first one I'd checked, had been nothing but a fan.

I was embarrassed at my own silliness but also inspired. Life has been pretty strange lately, and I felt like the incident was showing me that, yes, sometimes you have to use the little flashlight to get you through a problem. But the big light will show back up if you search for it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

On Overhearing Young Writers.

I was in the book store yesterday and without meaning to, I eavesdropped on a conversation between two young girls who were sitting at the small table next to me. They were interviewing each other for the possibility of sharing a dorm room, I realized, and were therefore sharing personal information -- their majors, their family values, their credit card ownership or lack thereof.

One girl said that she planned to become a journalism major. My ears really perked up then.

"Broadcast journalism?" asked the other girl.

"No, print," she responded. "In print, you can really say what you think. I want to write for magazines. If I get an internship I can find a decent job right after college."

Then she remarked how she also wanted a family one day. "I don't want to give my WHOLE life to writing; I want a husband and children. But I want a career too," she mused, like any modern woman.

It took all of my decorum not to pipe up and say something. But I didn't want these girls to know that I'd been listening. Anyway, what would I say? That writing is effing hard work, and she probably won't get a job right after school? That if she REALLY loves writing then family life might be placed onto the back burner a while? That magazine writing isn't all "saying what you think?"

But no. As adults, we make a pact with the youth. It's just the way we make a pact with small children that we will not spoil their ideas on the moon being made of green cheese, the possibility that wild animals can be friendly, or that toys do come to life at night.

It's my responsibility to let these 17-year-old girls find out their own truths, through trial and error, just the way I did. Everyone's truth is different.

I, for one, still like the idea of petting an animal in the wild.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Drivel: A Memoir.

I just googled the phrase, "How to avoid writing chick lit."

I know. I'm a jerk.

But the thing is, I'm working on writing my memoir and I'm afraid it's going to turn into chick lit. It's a romance (of sorts!) after all, and it's in my (womanly) perspective and, well, I just worry about it.

Because what I really want to write is awesome literature.

Go ahead and laugh. It's fine. I understand how silly I'm being. Really. I'm a snob when it comes to books, though. I don't read chick lit. Or vampire novels. Or any wildly popular anything. I try to take the less beaten path with my reading choices. (Uh, magazines don't count.)

So you see, I'm worried that my memoir, which is still in the early stages, won't ever become anything more than a beach read for giddy gals. I've sought out advice on how to avoid this from actual human beings as well as the internet. They have recommended similar things.

Talk about the human condition.

Have massive character development. 

Use literary "themes."

It's enough to make my head swim. It's a weird feeling, worrying that you may not be a good enough writer to compose something worthwhile -- something you'd want to read yourself.

Then again, all first drafts are bad, right?

I just have to keep trucking. And trucking.

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Life: The Unplugged Version

Tonight I wrote in a real journal. Like, made out of paper.

It was the first time I'd written in my journal in over three years.

I used to keep a regular journal--so regular that I called it my diary. I wrote most every day from the time I was ....six or seven? Then in my mid twenties I stopped writing so much. I have no idea why I stopped writing so much. I still write poems, I'm still working on a memoir, and I still love to write. But the urge to chronicle my life became more and more unnecessary as the years trucked on. Perhaps I found other outlets. I was a bit of a loner (believe it!) when I was younger. Perhaps my diaries were a form of friendship, someone to confide to.

Tonight I sought out that lined paper again and filled up four pages. I wrote about what is going on in my life right now--career and personal. The truth is, I've been feeling out of sorts lately with all the changes I've brought on myself and brought on by other stuff. I decided that writing it all down would help. My diary never judged me when I was a young, insecure teenager. It probably won't judge me now that I'm an adult.

A sheet of paper is good like that. It listens.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Retro 'Zines.

Over the weekend I celebrated the wedding of my childhood friend Mariann and I stayed at my grandmother's house for a change. I was packing up my bedroom to return to Charleston today when I made an interesting discovery: two really old fashion magazines peeking out from under my old bed. Yes folks, the room is like a time capsule. The reading materials are largely the same. When I unearthed a copy of Marie Claire and a copy of Glamour, both from the mid-nineties, I was intrigued. After all, I read those two magazines now, so I was curious about the differences I might find. I chucked them into my overnight bag.

Wow, are they ever different! I don't really remember reading these particular mags in 1996 (I would have been 16 at the time; I mostly read Seventeen and YM back then so I must've snagged these from my mom) but they are nothing like their 2012 counterparts. There are the obvious things, like ad design and (horrible) fashion, but reading the outdated information is a real hoot. One person wrote in and asked if she "should search for jobs on-line in addition to the newspaper ads." I guess they hyphenated the word "on-line" back then. I had to snicker; nowadays no one bothers to search for jobs EXCEPT "on-line."

Overall, the magazines seem a lot more...pure. More copy, more useful tidbits, less fluff and fanfare. Marie Claire hasn't changed as much in the past 15 years as Glamour has. Glamour was actually more of an adult magazine back then. This copy from 1996 seems less frivolous. It describes the correct way to bandage a wound, it has several pages describing how to cook 15-minute meals (in a practical, not trendy-by-the-latest-tv-chef-way) and even has a page called "Health & Pregnancy" that describes what characteristics are normal for newborns! I'm flabbergasted. I mean, my 2012 Glamour uses phrases like "OMG, LOL," and features very little, if any, practical advice.

I'm wondering if this is because Glamour has essentially changed audiences through the last 15 years, from grown women to college students? OR, are women getting sillier and more juvenile? What say you, readers?

By the way, it's rad to see actual models, like Laeticia Casta, on the front cover, rather than the same, tired A-list celebrities. It looks like 1996 had a few things right.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Men & Pregnancy: Make Like a Breech Birth and Butt Out.

I absolutely HAVE to talk about this, because it is starting to really bug me out.

Okay, so, it's no secret that I don't have any kids yet or heck, even a husband. BUT that doesn't mean I want MEN reminding me of random birth statistics every second of the day. I'm serious. The last few times anyone has brought up marriage and children, the male friends in my life have thought it necessary to talk about how "once you're 35 years old, the risk of birth defects, autism, etc, are HIGH."

What the hell? I mean REALLY? If i needed a bunch of gloomy, unwelcome statistics about the importance of satisfying my biological clock, I would most certainly ask for it. What is even WEIRDER is that WOMEN don't ever say things like this! On the contrary, women talk about how it's "totally possible to have babies in your forties nowadays." I even MET a woman in her early forties at my book club meeting over the weekend who was in her fifth month of pregnancy and doing just fine!!

The only sense I can make of this annoying trend is that men don't like the idea of adoption. The men who are saying this stuff are in their thirties themselves, and perhaps they, too, feel pressured?

I, for one, am not buying into the hype. If I have a kid under the right circumstances in the next few years, then fine. If all I have is a published book and a bunch of craft beers, that's fine too. There is more than one path to a fulfilling life.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Feeling Horny? Don't Call Me.

The horn on my car has been broken for a good few years now. In fact, it's been broken so long, my old friend Alex said he would fix it for me. That was in 2009.

Nowadays, I've pretty much gotten used to not having a horn to honk in the crazy traffic of Charleston. Oh, you say you're from Atlanta or D.C., and Charleston doesn't have traffic? Well, try combining a city that is quickly outgrowing its britches (read: infrastructure) with hapless, southern drivers and there you have it.

Fortunately for myself, I've drummed up a few tactics that I've started using on the road in lieu of a horn. They aren't nearly as satisfying, mostly because, well, other people in their cars might not see or hear me. But these methods do take the edge off in a moment of desperation.

1. Name calling. Not just the old stand-bys like "jerk" or even "asshole." I've gotten pretty creative with them and the graver the offense, the more elaborate the name calling turns out to be. For example, if you flat-out cut me off in heavy traffic, I might shriek that you're a feather-plucking piece of pyrotechnic poop.

2. Fist waving. A new version of the middle finger. This is sometimes delightful when I KNOW the person can see me. I'll ball up my angry fist and wave it in the rear view mirror, hoping the person directly behind me can see it.

3. Crazy faces and/or mouthing words. I've done everything from sticking out my tongue, to crossing my eyes, to mouthing the words "Turn your f&*king lights on!"

4. Shouting out my open window. This is by far my favorite but it's only used in extreme cases and during sunny days. I have been known to roll the window down in traffic and yell things like "GOOD ONE, DOUCHE-CANOE!" to the offending party. (I usually don't go for the creative names in these cases; I'm so angry at that point I can barely think. The cruder, the better. )

So while I might not get another horn during the life of my Saturn, I've definitely gotten proactive about releasing my anger during my commutes. I find that my anger is instantly relieved after saying something as silly as "lily-livered lizard licker," so as far as I'm concerned, it's a just a bonus to think beyond the horn.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Best Week Ever! (For Me, Not For Vh1)

I finally feel like I've hit my stride with the new job this week. I'm enjoying it more than ever, and even on the crazy-stressful days I know there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. 

This week, I put together our Summer cover photo shoot with the help of Brandon (one of our sales guys) and Chase (our intern/photographer in training). It was INCREDIBLY awesome. The weird part is, I can't really explain why it was so awesome. I wasn't in the canoe with Chase and Brandon--I was watching from the various docks of Shem Creek as the model-paddleboarders made us proud. I've been to Shem Creek a billion times. But yesterday afternoon I felt like I was orbiting the moon, I was so happy. I haven't felt that way in a long time.

Chase and Brandon, keeping it real. 

Our diligent paddleboard models 

Afterwards, I drove home in a blissed-out state, calling everyone relevant to crow about how terrifically the shoot went. Right when I thought I couldn't get any happier, I saw this giant turtle in the middle of my street, trying to cross. I jumped out of my car, scooped the turtle up and carried it safely to a neighboring yard so it wouldn't get hit. I felt totally heroic. 

Besides kicking butt at work and out in the natural world, I also inexplicably scored a bottle of free vodka from some pr firm in another state that thought I should have a "sample" (it was full size!) in case I wanted to write about it. Go figure--I'll take it! The vodka is nestled on my bookshelf right now, waiting for the right occasion to crack open. THEN, today on Facebook, I won a free three-pack of Palmetto Brand Pimento Cheese! I love the stuff--it goes great with crackers. In fact, all i need is pack of crackers and I've got myself a party. 

I sorta feel like throwing one, too. 

Hope y'all's weeks were just as great! 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lottery Snobbery.

This might strike most of you as odd, but I'm not buying a lottery ticket for the HUGE jackpot worth over 500 million. In fact, I've never really played the lottery, but I'm not playing this one on purpose.

I don't know how to say this delicately, but I think the amount is obscene, and I wouldn't want to be the winner. Maybe it's the fact that I know how much good that amount of money could do around the country and in the world, if it was used with purpose. I mean, one individual like me could never squander it all--and I would never want to. I'd want to give it away. I know, I know--a good amount will go to tax. But I probably wouldn't even be able to spend a portion of it on beachfront houses and cars without getting a feeling of pause.

I'm aware that this post might make me sound square, silly or just plain unpopular but I don't care. I'm also not trying to ride a high-horse and call myself a selfless person. But the level of fame, frustration and responsibility that would come with that jackpot is too much for me; I'd rather not bother.

I know I'd feel indebted to the world around me, ready to shave off a million at someone who smiled at me in the street. Wouldn't you?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I'm pleased to share the good news with y'all that three of my poems are appearing this summer in Illuminations: An International Magazine of Contemporary Writing. The journal is currently published at the College of Charleston, and has been around since 1982. I'm excited and honored to be part of it.


Thursday, March 22, 2012


All my life I've remembered my dreams. It's to the point where I've kept dream journals, thought hard about the people in my dreams, about the implications of them, and everything else. On the down side, my dreams often prevent me from getting the deep sleep that I need. 

Last night I dreamed about two people I know, sharing an odd house made of tunnels. The tunnels were narrow and I had trouble fitting through them on my visit. I clearly remember trying to crawl through the narrow passageways of the house on my way from the living room to the bathroom. The strange part was that the actual rooms were normal-sized--only the hallways were meant for crawling. A lesson in the difficulty of transitioning, perhaps?

Another thing about my dreams is that they aren't super trippy. I don't dream about giant anteaters chasing me through fields of squash. I don't have nightmares. Most of my dreams involve the people I know in real life in slightly peculiar circumstances. I also laugh a lot and wake myself up, because the dreams are funny. 

I was in Litchfield with a few friends not too long ago, and I unearthed one of my dream notebooks from my teenaged years that I'd been keeping at the beach house.  I laughed out loud reading the dream descriptions, and wondered why I've recalled my dreams so vividly for so long? I'm not sure of the reason. I guess part of it could be that I'm an unusually light sleeper--every single noise and movement wakes me up unless I'm in Stage 4 sleep, which is rare for me. Needless to say, I often wake up tired and cranky with a head full of odd images. 

As I write this, I'm guzzling a cup of coffee and struggling to wake up so I can begin another day at the new job. I'm also wondering if I should start another dream journal. After all, if these dreams are going to keep me awake and cheat me out of restorative rest, why not get some use out of them and record them for creative purposes? Short stories? Poems? 

Joseph's Dream, by Gaetano Gandolfi

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Do a Good Deed Every (Work) Day.

I had an interesting time at the office today, and it's only my second shift at the new magazine job.

It all started when a sweet-faced girl with a southern drawl walked in and meekly asked me if we were looking for writers.

On a side note: it's been weird managing a team of writers, that is, a group of eager people who are dumping story ideas into my inbox and repeatedly asking me things like "How many words? When's it due?" Essentially, I'm dealing with a crowd of ME.

But this girl seemed a bit different. She was timid, and didn't have a resume. She kept hanging around the parking lot of the building, even after I informed her that the publisher, Bill, was not there.

When Bill finally got back, the girl was still waiting around to ask him for work. I was a little surprised by her lack of pride, admittedly. But Bill, being the jovial and awesome publisher that he is, invited the girl inside right away. She earnestly explained to both of us that she was searching for whatever we had available--whether it was writing articles, distribution, or sales.

"You see...I've been homeless since Friday," she whispered. "My house has been foreclosed. I've spent the last couple of nights in a hotel while I look for work."

Bill and I looked at each other.

"How awful," sighed Bill. "Do you have gas in your car?"

"Oh, yes sir. I have a tiny bit of money...but I really need work."

I stayed silent while Bill sized the girl up. She seemed innocent enough.

"Tell you what. I'll let you distribute some magazines for me," he finally said. "Can you drop off some copies of our Summerville edition in that area? I know it's not much, but I hope it helps you."

The girl was overjoyed. She happily replied that she could do it, and left the office a moment later with one of the sales guys, who was instructed to take her to the warehouse for copies.

After the incident was over, Bill turned to me. "Did I do the right thing?" he asked.

"Yes, I think so," I hedged.

"She seemed sincere," he decided. "I did what I felt."

Later, I couldn't help but think about the meaning behind Bill's outreach--and how good it is to know that I have a boss like that. I've known a lot of people who say they'll go the extra mile for someone in need, but to see it actually happen is refreshing.

Talk is cheap, after all. No matter how good we media types are at doing it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Gig!

So I landed a new gig yesterday: I'm now the managing editor of Mount Pleasant Magazine!! It's a quarterly publication produced by a company called Media Services. I start next week and I'm super duper excited!

Yesterday, my new boss took me out to lunch and gave me the good news that I'm hired. Then he took me to the office and showed me my desk (complete with phone and desktop computer) and introduced me to everyone else around the office. I feel like I made a good first impression.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What People *Want* to Say.

Hi Folks!

This past week has been busier than a wooly mammoth waxing studio. But somehow, in the midst of running around, I've learned something important about people. Everyone is DYING to talk about something personal, and if you invite them to do so, you'll become the sounding board.

I spent a good portion of the week interviewing people for articles in Style & Design. I guess my realization of this fact started with my interviewees, who were eager to spill all kinds of beans to me.

"I can't get through a civic meeting without bringing my Ativan," revealed one woman.

Then a minute later, she offered me a shot of the vodka she brought back from New Orleans. It was only 11 a.m.

"I don't normally drink this early," I admitted. "But if you want to put a splash of Kahlua in your coffee, I don't mind."

I think she actually wanted me to say, "YES! Let's take a shot."

One recurring theme I noticed was ex-husbands. EVERYone I talked to was ready to talk crap in that department.

"It was the most traumatic time of my life," confessed one lady. "I should have never gotten married at 36 years old. I missed my window!"

"My ex left me living in a trailer and driving a car that breaks down on the bridge," said another woman at Tuesday Morning. (I had wandered into the store to inquire why the hell Food Lion had closed next door, and I couldn't therefore buy a greeting card for my old boss' birthday.)

"I'm ...sorry to hear that.." I replied helplessly after listening to her plight.  I was starting to wonder if I had "Please spill your secrets" written on my forehead at that point.

It's funny, but if you give strangers an inch, they'll spout out their autobiographies. As a talk-a-holic, I try not to follow suit.

Anyone else encounter this lately?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My GOODNESS Razors are Expensive...Who Wants Beer?

I have this terrible habit of balking at prices when I'm out shopping for things like toilet paper and makeup...then spending GOBS of money at the restaurants and bars. Illogical, no?

I was thinking about that today when I went to the drug store and the grocery store to purchase several items. I bought lipstick, household cleaning products, other random toiletries....and razors.

For those of you reading this who AREN'T female, you might not know that a package of (good) razors for the legs of ladies can cost about $15. I don't get why. I mean, are they expensive to make? (Oh, right. We're paying for the pink handle and the palm tree on the package. Ugh.)

When I plunked down my moola for the decent set of blades, I felt as pissy as I always do when I'm forced to spend more than $5 on something I keep in my bathroom. Yet at the neighborhood bars, $15 barely covers the price of dinner and a few cocktails. And I'm all too happy to pay that price for food and booze!

The only thing I can come up with to explain this attitude is perhaps the fact that I value food and booze more deeply than luxurious toiletries?

Do any other gals find themselves feeling this way? Or am I a freak?

Happy March!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lock In.

It all started when I got up this morning, VERY begrudgingly, since I slept a total of two winks last night. I don't know what it is lately--I guess I have a lot on my mind--but it's just hard to sleep throughout the night. I feel like an infant, but with bills. Ha.

So anyhoo, I'm late for poetry circle and on my way out of the door when I realize..I can't open it. Yep, the door is locked and JAMMED no matter which way i turn the knob or the lock. I try over and over to let myself out of the house, but I feel like I'm just going end up breaking the door knob. Ugh. To make matters worse, the cat is staring at me, wondering what the hell my deal is.

I start to get frantic. The back door of our house leads to a balcony, which I certainly would NOT be jumping off of. Neither of my roommates were home. I was helpless. So I whipped out my phone and called my two poetesses.

"You won't believe this," I moaned. "But I'm stuck INSIDE my house. The lock is jammed or something. Help me!! It's too embarrassing to call the fire department!!"

They said they'd come right over. We had decided that if I could at least open the window, they could help me get the screens off and I could crawl through. But as luck would have it, before they even arrived I managed to get the door open. (Good thing I didn't call the fire department, right?)

"Gosh," said Bridget later as we munched our breakfasts. "I was disappointed that you were able to open the door yourself. I wanted us to rescue you!"

I was touched. I sat there, enjoying the homemade bread Bridget made and the delicious eggs that Ali scrambled, thinking how lucky I am to have friends like them--ready to come to my rescue, no matter how absurd the request.

There are worse ways to start a day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cake & Champagne.

My birthday was yesterday, but the past several days have been chock-full of celebrations. It all started last Thursday when my friend Emily came into town for a visit, followed closely by my other best gals, Alice and Mandie, on Friday afternoon. Mandie had rented a house out on Folly Beach, and we girls spent most of the weekend drinking cocktails lazily in the sunshine and enjoying the rare occasion of togetherness.

Next, I had a proper birthday party on Saturday night in downtown Charleston, and my friend Aaron sprang for a few bottles of nice champagne. I felt incredibly fortunate to have so many friends raise their glasses to my life. 

And that wasn't all! Last night for my "real" birthday, we had a lovely meal at a new restaurant on James Island. And tonight, my good friend Katrina made me dinner and a fabulous birthday cake, complete with homemade raspberry icing. It was absolutely delectable. 

So yeah, I guess I'm a tad spoiled. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sitting Room.

I've always adored sitting rooms without televisions in them. Let the book case be the focal point, I say. (I mean I guess I'm biased, being a writer and a book-lover, but so what?) Or let the people be the focal point. Anything but an ugly television spouting stupid commercials and crappy sitcoms. Over the years I've seen dozens of gorgeous sitting rooms with huge book cases, cozy fireplaces, and perfect ambiance thanks to the lack of tv.

This is not to say that I haven't liked a few tv shows over the years. I love Mad Men, for example. But a tv show could never take the place of my love for books, or my love for people. I just don't get the way television fanatics can get absorbed into the screen, mindlessly zoning out in front of it for hours. Ugh.

Today the cable man visited our house and hooked up our cable, which we hadn't been using because we thought there was something wrong with the line. There wasn't--it just needed hooking up. Now, my two roommates are totally catering to the television and its newly-discovered life force. They rearranged the furniture so that the "comfy chair" is near the tv. I came home from yoga tonight to a completely different living room--one smothered by a talking box.

I've decided I'm striking back by making a reading corner of my own, in my bedroom. Luckily my bedroom is the biggest in the house so there's room for me to put the other chair in it. I know that sometimes I'll feel like reading and writing--NOT listening to the tv--so having my own little cozy corner might be beneficial. At least until i have my own house with someone who appreciates the finer things in life, like a sitting room without a television.