Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The War of Priorities

Finding myself amidst what I'm calling the War of Priorities.

A week after my first post, I have begun transitioning into a writing machine. That is, if you include lots of research and reading as part of the writing process - which it is.  Word count?  Not so much - yet. 

Happily, I recently got a really good idea for a first fiction novel (!) and have begun to map it out. I'm so into it - it's like "Hollywood movie" good - and not done by anyone yet, to the best of my knowledge.  Priorities for that project involve character development and establishing patterns of prose. I already know it's going to be in the first person, as so many YA novels are.  That's what works the best to place the reader in the middle of the action. There's so much to figure out!

Of all my projects, I'm most excited about this fiction novel. But admittedly, I have a tendency to start many projects and finish much fewer.  I have some other commitments I must finish before I can really sink into this one.

Here's the Big One: I got an email from my editor yesterday letting me know that the History Press is shooting for a March publication date, and will I have the Texas prison bands book finished in time?  The answer is YES - if I become a writing machine.  The question is, will I?

Ugh...I've been struggling with this project. Part of my struggle is because although the research is fun, the writing isn't as fun.  Non-fiction. Whoop-de-doo.  The other underlying issue is a deeper one...I'm suffering from a lack of confidence. I know I can write, but is it good?  Is it interesting? Will the end result impress the people I hope to impress?  Am I trying to be someone I'm not with historical research projects like this one? Gads. I'm not sure why I can't abandon these little mental roadblocks and just GO FOR IT.  I am the expert on this. I have the ability and now, finally, I have the time to write well.  Which I MUST do, by the end of October.  So I can have a publication date of March 2016. Pressure much?

Another contender in the War of Priorities is that I find myself trying to do this other thing that involves hanging out with real human beings during the day!  I do a weekly Writer's Group meeting, so that's one down.  I've got a couple of coffee shops conducive to writing for hours on end. I'm practicing guitar and singing harmonies with folks, talking about music - just trying to keep life fun and remember what really makes me happy. I'm making plans with close friends who are visiting town for one night,  and an old friend who just moved here. Most importantly, I plan to spend a fair amount of time with a friend of mine who lost her husband very suddenly a few weeks back.  They were my age - and SO in love - and she woke up one morning, looked over at him and saw that he would never wake up again.  It breaks my heart.

The fuss and furor of his sudden death have passed, her mother has finally left and gone back home, and she finds herself wondering how her days are going to be filled.  That breaks my heart more than anything. Although I can't be her husband, or anywhere close to replacing what she has lost,  I can be a friend - just be there for her in the weeks and months after he is gone. I can invite her to hang out and go do silly things like go to the mall or the movies, or play music together, or just sit and talk - but above all, I must do what I can to inject a little bit of balm and humor into her days, which are going to be long, painful and humorless for a very long time.


In the end, I've found that after only a week and a half of being unemployed - I'm TIRED!  Mostly it's due to the comedown of constant stress and lack of sleep. I thought sleep would even out after I left my job, but now I can't sleep until the wee hours of the morning on some nights...and I sleep for ten hours on other nights. What's with that?  Will it even out?  I sure hope so.  The other reason I'm so tired is because I've been getting regular physical exercise - swimming and walking, most days of the week.  I haven't been so active in ages and it feels great.

SO. What have I learned from these past few days?  When it comes to the War of the Priorities, all battles must be fought. And in the end, I will win. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Unemployment & Personal Freedom

For the first time since 2005, I don't have a job.

It's weird.

I spent my first unemployed work day running around town with my bestie Rachel, who was in Austin on an overnight for her job with SW Airlines. We ate like pigs, drank margaritas, had Mexican food & BBQ and caught up. We floated in Barton Springs and gabbed about our musical projects. It was the best "first day of not working" I could've hoped for - celebratory! Not commiserative.

Yesterday, my second unemployed day, was spent coughing, whining, and making chicken soup. Apparently the stress and insomnia of all the recent changes had finally caught up with me.  I wanted to do so much with my new-found freedom, but all I did was lie around like a pile of stinky laundry (which reminds me ----).

Since I found out our local office was closing in early June and that my position would not transition to working from home (aka, goodbye and thanks for playing!), I've been making lists of everything I will finally have time to do with 45 more hours in the week.  First and foremost on my list is actually NOT finding another job, but finishing my book.

 I've been working on my little book about Texas prison bands for 2 years and I no longer can put it off. I need to FINISH it by the end of October, and my editor at the History Press has told me this it the last chance I've got to postpone.  SO.  Being one that starts projects but never finishes (with a million excuses as to why), I'm determined to do this. Now, while I have time to focus, I'm actually able to reach this goal. For once!

I'm also in school this semester (still trying to finish my degree), and I am slated to write an essay for the Oxford University Press, first draft of which is due in December.  Luckily, a couple of months ago, I purchased an all-too-helpful little book entitled "How to Write a LOT", and it's been wonderful at outlining how to prioritize writing projects and deliverables. It's behavioral and not all introspective, which works great for me.  I've been referring to it heavily as I plan out my writing endeavors. It's reduced a lot of my writing-related stress.

Another writing goal I have is to land some paid writing gigs. Medical writing, technical writing, music doesn't matter. I just need to make some more money doing this so I can market myself as a paid writer and move forward with my goals.  I'm checking various outlets on the topic but I'm still learning about it all, so it's a work in progress. In the meantime, I'm returning to blogging to hone my skills on fast-paced entries. That's why for the first time in 3 years, I'm posting an entry.

I also plan to build up my fiction-writing chops.  My love of reading fiction and my love of writing are supposed to play out into something meaty to put out there for others, damn it!  I've been going to some groups for writing, and I plan to join others. I work much better when I have external factors pressuring me to work on my activities: band rehearsals, upcoming albums, work deadlines, book deadlines. Give 'em to me and I will meet them!

In a few weeks, when I'm about a month from my severance pay running out, I'm going to apply for the dole and start finding something in earnest.  In the meantime, I've got music to write, gigs to book, a book to write, and my health and sanity to regain.

Health. Sanity. Lowering stress.  YES. With this morning's writing exercise completed, it's time to go exercise my body.  I had a green smoothie with PB2 this morning and some toasted seed bread, so off I go for a boardwalk romp!  It's a nice, overcast day with a hint of cool in the air, so I'm going to take advantage of all the natural beauty Austin has to offer before I come home and work on all these other goals.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lovin' and livin' (and not as much pontificatin')

I cannot believe I've not posted on this blog in over two years!  I've kept up with my music-specific blog a bit more and yes, that's the focus of my life at this point...BUT I do enjoy posting on this blog as well. I don't need to tell all to a physical diary, but this is at least another way to keep tabs on my state of mind.  And reminds me (and others) of how clever I can be!  Haha.

Update:  still at the same day job and wishing I could quit...not that I hate the job, but I just need to focus on getting my B.A. so I can move forward with my other plans.

One of the most significant developments in my life since last post is that I have finally met the love of my life.  His name is Kevin, and right now he lives in New Orleans and teaches at Tulane University. We are planning for the future, and he's hoping to move here to Austin, which thrills me to no end.  I think he'll love it here.

I have continued on my endeavors for school and music, the bulk of which are written about on my other blog, No Future. Suffice it to say that because of Kevin's presence in my life and some determined efforts to make changes, I have attended my first academic conference about country music.  This years, my second time there, I presented a paper. That paper led to an invitation to submit to some senior scholars a proposal for an essay of a book. The proposal was accepted, so I'm working on that too!  And then last week I found out one other proposal was accepted, to present at the Louisiana Studies Conference with a paper entitled "Ninety-nine Year Blues: Country Music in the Louisiana State Penitentiary." I'm excited with how things are moving forward, but frankly I'm frustrated at the slow rate things are moving in general as I try to make this HUGE transition in my life.

Kevin has been a wonderful support and I love him SO much. I met him at the first conference I went to, and we got together several months later. With Kevin, I've found the kind of love I didn't think existed, and the kind of man who is rare indeed (and usually, taken).  I am happier than I have ever been, as far as love goes.

Physically, I've been going downhill.  I've put on thirty pounds in these two years, and I cannot seem to  break this pattern, for several reasons. First, I lost my car in an accident in September 2010, and went without a car for nearly a year. This affected my trips to the gym, and although I maintained some health benefits due to the amount I was walking, I wasn't able to keep up the pace I had set before.

Then after I got the car, I didn't seem to want to go to the gym. I'd gotten out of the habit and the new gym I joined (because of its location) didn't move me to do as much.  Too many healthy, hot guys in front of me and oddly, that did NOT make me want to work my ass off.  I wish it had.

Now I have a new car but no gym membership. I'm trying to keep healthy with hikes on the Green Belt, walks on Town Lake, and swimming at Barton Springs, but I will say every time I get on a roll with that, my scheduled gets messed up because I either leave town to go see Kevin, or he comes here to see me and things get thrown off.  I wish it didn't happen that way.  Maybe when he gets here, things will even out a bit.  I hope so!  I'm glad I met him at one of my heavier times, though, because I don't need to worry about anything like weight as our relationship progresses.

In any case, I'm doing GREAT in most aspects.  I hope to blog here a little more going foward...I think it's healthy for me.

Monday, May 3, 2010

For the love of food

I'm one of those people who possess a not-so-surprising love of food with a lot of poundage. But I looooove to cook, eat fancy food, drink wine, and so on. In the past couple of years I've become a huge fan of both watching Top Chef and enjoying fine dining (and a book with a bodice on the front and lots of archaic words).

Once I started to go out to these lovely places and watching more cooking shows, I started to think about Double Coupon Wednesdays at Sprouts, Newflower and Sun Harvest. And thus, I realized what my new passion would be.

Dry sea scallops for $7.99 / lb. Lamb loin chops for $8.99 / lb. Baby artichokes for $4.99 / lb, and herbs, herbs, HERBS!!!

That said, here's a sample of my attempts at lower-fat-yet-still-amazing evening menus for the past several days:

Saturday 02 May 2010

Pecan-crusted trout filet, pan-fried with 1 T. butter & 1 t. EVOO

Boiled sweet corn with butter & tomato chipotle rub (2 small ears)

Broiled tomato topped with EVOO, salt, pepper, goat cheese, fresh parsley, fresh basil, & dried rosemary

1 glass rosé wine

Sunday 03 May 2010

Roasted chicken with crushed garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, fresh parsley & fresh thyme

Mashed red potatoes with goat cheese, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, 1% milk, 1T. butter

Chicken gravy from the juices, with white wine & onion (1/4 c.)

Green beans amandine: fresh green beans, boiled and tossed in sherry-vinegar mustard EVOO mixture and topped with toasted almonds

1 scoop light ice cream topped with 1/3 c. strawberries, 2 t. chocolate syrup, 2 squirts whipped cream (small), 5 chocolate chips, 3 pecans

2 glasses rosé wine

Monday 04 May 2010 (School tonight - have to be quick!)

Boneless, skinless chicken thigh rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and curry powder (sauteed with cooking spray)

Leftover Mashed red potatoes with goat cheese, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, 1% milk, little butter

Leftover chicken gravy (1/5 c.)

Leftover green beans amandine

1/2 c. part-skim ricotta cheese topped with 3 chopped fresh figs, 1 T. honey, and a few walnuts (dessert, after class)

No wine tonight...feel good.

Tonight after enrolling for another History class for summer semester and doing a pile of dishes, I looked up Olivia's daily menu just for giggles. I love checking it out online and seeing what kinds of flavor profiles are going on. Same for Wink. And sure enough, after my grocery shopping this weekend, all of the ingredients for at least 3 of their menu items are in my possession!

So. Tomorrow I'm going to make:

- Slow-roasted beets sliced with red onion, fresh tarragon, fresh goat cheese, and a smattering of light sherry vinaigrette, served atop some arugula

- Seared scallops with wild mushrooms, baby artichoke, cream, arugula and herbed bread crumbs.

- And for dessert, either light strawberry ice cream or almond-scented ricotta topped with brandy-flambeed strawberries and a speck (!) of whipped cream.

Oh, and my mom sent me an ice cream maker which was delivered today. I've been eyeing some awesome sorbets...coconut lime, anyone? Of course she also sent me a really amazing diet scale, which I want but probably have to opt for "either / or" when it comes to fine dining cooking and losing weight.

And here we are again.....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Power of Positive Thinking

"Positive people tend to have many similar characteristics, such as respecting everyone's contribution to a project and knowing during hard times that things will get better. They have the power to make that change happen, an understanding that their attitudes can directly affect outcomes, and a commitment to increasing positive thoughts and diminishing negative ones. Are you putting effort towards becoming a more positive person? Avoid complaining when things are turning sour, realize that the negatives and the positives in life will level out, and take responsibility for your life and actions. You are the only person responsible for your attitude--and your life."

Too true, too true. Taken from one of Sparkpeople's helpful and relevant emails, today's motivational topic got me thinking about whether or not I am a happy/positive person.

One thing I've learned about myself - when my health isn't well, my brain isn't well. It's so effing difficult to maintain optimism when your body is experiencing so much pain that your goal for the weekend will be to clean the house or do the dishes.

Thank GOD I am past that stage. As an active person who finally learned the value of exercise and eating well, I never thought I'd get to a sad point like that. Well, 2 car accidents in 2 months cured me of that notion.

Even after a year of struggle (after the initial healing), I now fully comprehend the frustration so many feel when they find themselves relegated to a wheelchair or a walker after a sudden accident. It's trully mind-altering as well as body altering. It may appear "selfish" that so many of these people refuse to live a life like that and decide to off themselves...but now that I've been to that dark, pessimistic and all-consuming place in my mind, I can certainly get why they would.

I say all this because I find myself much changed in the past few years...from doing AMAZINGLY to doing pretty well to car accidents to doing poorly to slowly doing better and better every day, the health pendulum is swinging in a good direction once again.

I walked on Town Lake this weekend...twice. I just walked again with Monica before work today. If I can surmount the nagging Plantar Fasciitis caused by walking around New York in improper shoes during the Christmas break, then I might just be able to turn myself into a jock.

Is it odd to find yourself in better shape at 40 than you ever were at 20? Of course not...I hope to be svelte and athletic by the time I turn 40, and I can live with that realistic goal because I have 3 years to do it.

I've always been a fan of the "new lease on life" concept, and feel very strongly that one of the benefits to being an intelligent human being is learning to invent and re-invent oneself in order to keep the positive flowing and the negative at bay.

I plan to do that for the entirety of my life. Exercise, maybe a new coffee all makes sense.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Matamoras, Monterrey, and...South Padre?

For some reason, I've been planning several different road trips to take place this weekend, for the past month. It's not like this is a particularly special weekend; in fact, no time from work is being taken at all (not like when I go to New Mexico next month).

The thing is, the after-lull of my whirlwind last six months (school, work, boyfriend, breakup, band, quitting band, Niagara, West Seneca, Chicago, lovely Strep throat, 2 Texas road trips, Norway, and Barb and both Rachels visiting)...things have finally slowed to a point where the weekend has become to me a series of hours to be filled. Yes, I just said HOURS TO BE FILLED.

What? No one should feel that way, least of all me. I mean, do I look like Dilbert to you? It's pretty sad when I find myself looking forward to work on Monday morning because I'm so bored and lonely on the weekends.

Now don't get me wrong, I've been DOING, exercising, going out to eat, going out, having fun relaxing at home, playing guitar, reading, going to movies...but for the most part, I've been doing all of these things by myself. All weekend. Every weekend.

I'm more introverted than I used to be, but after a while, well...I get tired of me. Also compounded by the fact that I live alone (which I usually love).

Originally I was thinking of driving up to Joplin, MO for the HAMB drag races. There I could meet Rachel and see Kurt again after all these years. Instinct told me to put this one to bed, so I it was a 9+ hour drive. Then I remembered that Seth had talked about the Tumbleweed Festival in Garden City, KS. After researching that and talking about it with them, I debated on it.

The inevitable conclusion was that if I'm really going to take a road trip this weekend, it had better be someplace NOT in Kansas or Missouri.

And so...beach sounded good, Mexico sounded good, so I combined the two by finding on a decently priced hotel room on South Padre Island. Using this as a homebase, I can enjoy some sun and sand and seawater on BOTH sides of the border.

I figure Matamoros is a must; then perhaps Chad and I and whoever else comes with us can take a little sojourn down to Monterrey, which to me looks fascinating despite Steve's nay-saying. And Chad, a Chicago boy, has actually never been to Mexico so all of this will be a new experience for him.

The experience being: he'll probably look around at the town of Matamoros and say..."Isn't this just a dirtier version of South Congress and Stassney?" Heh.

I wish sometimes that I weren't a woman. It's difficult to do some of the things I fantasize about. My fantasy is to do them alone, for the most part...which can be tricky if not downright stupid in Mexico these days. The Mexico of my imagination is not to be trusted.

Nevertheless, here's one: I walk into the La Moreliana Meat Market at Alpine and Congress (where I used to be the most regular you ever saw) a ticket and catch one of those buses that head deep into interior Mexico. From some bus stop that I will only determine based on instinct and whim, I would get off the bus. From there there I'd rent or "borrow" a Mexi-hoopty and drive to Teotihuacan . And of course on this trip I'd also explore many, MANY places in the country that have been extolled in literature since the age of the Spanish Conquest. Ever read Bernal Diaz' "The Conquest of New Spain", written in 1585? You should. And of course the haunts of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, William S. Burroughs, and Leon Trotsky...and the glorious jungle. And San Miguel and Zacatecas and Veracruz and Cuernavaca and Campeche and Morelia and...well, you get the picture.

But for now? Matamoros. Monterrey. Baby steps.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Letting it all out

I went to El Mercado for dinner and drinks with a friend of mine tonight. I'm very happy for her since her blog, which is outrageous, tell-all (but no specifics) and thought-provoking, got picked up by a national website.

After years of feeling like,"Oh, people know me and my music so I'd better not say what I actually think", I've decided to it. Thanks, Ms. A, for reminding me that people sound their most amazing when they speak their own truths.

Even if they're misguided, off-base, over-emotional, or just plain wrong.

I saw D. last night after not having seen him since that awkward conversation on the last day of April, when we (okay, HE) decided that we shouldn't date anymore.

And though we all know that the first time seeing someone after you split is always hardest, I didn't expect to lie awake all night crying over the fact that through every action he made, I felt more and more insignificant. I liked his girlfriend. She was WAY different than him, but then he always said he and I were too similar. Whatever. That doesn't really make sense and in the end it's just someone else saying in a kindler, gentler way (or so they think) that they're "just not that into you."

Especially when you find out they hooked up only a few days after you split up. And took her on the trip to Mexico that you and he'd been planning for months after the last time you two went and enjoyed yourselves more than you ever had before.

Asshole. I wish I'd known you never gave a shit.

I'm glad I went to the barbecue, even after I pulled up and saw his car and knew it'd likely turn out to be the kind of night it did. I needed people around, and truthfully I want the best for many people, even (or especially) him. But something besides the wine had to set me off like that, seeing as I'm pretty damned happy and satisfied with things these days.

I think I've got it nailed down after all these years:

1) I hate feeling insignificant.
2) I hate being ignored.

I'm true blue, heart o' gold if the other person doesn't regularly do one of the above. Otherwise, what the hell am I doing with them?

It's a little sad, but the ego in me wants to scream out, "Hey, Baby! I'm on magazine covers. I tour Europe at least once a year. I blow my own mind. I blow most people's minds except yours lately, apparently. You missin' OUT, baybay."

But the truth is, I don't need to say that, and I'm well aware that this attitude is not my pervading reality. I only really WANT to say that when someone makes me feel insignificant or ignored.

It's time to write some more songs, methinks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Very interesting

It's been a long time since I've regularly blogged on this site, so I just went back and re-read a few. In one of my blogs from late 2006, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish n 2007. It's taken awhile and a lot of it sure didn't happen in 2007, but surprisingly I've achieved the majority of the list.


Start back to school - DONE! STARTED THIS SPRING.
2) Visit Uncle Sam - STILL WANT TO
3) Record/release Casey Sisters CD/DVD package - DECIDED AGAINST IT
4) Play in Europe once more- DONE! ABOUT 3 MORE TIMES SINCE THEN
5) Record with Don Cavalli - DECIDED AGAINST IT
7) Visit my mom - DONE! 10 DAYS AT CHRISTMAS 2007
8) Finish my solo album - DONE! RELEASED IN 2008, DOING JUST GREAT
9) HOPEFULLY no more car wrecks - NONE SINCE THEN, WAHOO!
10) Meet someone who falls for ME in return DONE, LIKE 3 TIMES SINCE THEN
11) Drink less - DONE! I DRINK LOTS LESS
12) Eat less--LOSE fifteen pounds - DONE! I'VE LOST 30 AND I'M FEELING GREAT
13) Take a trip to Big Bend - STILL WORKING ON THIS ONE
14) Jaunt off to Mexico for a few - DONE!
15) Refinance car - DONE!
16) Start 401K at new employer DECIDED TO WAIT UNTIL IT'S WORTH IT.
17) Start savings account - DONE!
18) Get a little Schnauzer - STILL THINKING ABOUT IT
19) Buy a powerbook - DONE, THANKS TO STEVE
20) Buy a nice guitar - DONE THANKS TO STEVE
21) Buy a decent bed - DONE! AND I LOVE IT.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mo' livia

Tonight I had:

Charcuterie Plate - rabbit rillette, homemade prosciutto, stone-ground mustard, crostini and peppered grapes
Beet Salad - roasted and stacked with fresh tarragon, arugula and goat cheese
Pan-Seared Amberjack with bacon lentils, fried garlic, capers, frisee & butter-poached egg
Small scoop of heavily chocolate ice cream

Tonight's the first night that the manager came over and actually asked me to provide him with a critique. I felt so sheepish giving him my honest opinion that I need to develop a tougher skin, I guess. I eat there a lot so maybe they're going to listen, and maybe I should say something.

Never had rabbit rillette before. Don't know what's in it yet, but I'm sure I'll be appalled when I find out. Prosciutto was a little too vinegary.

Their beet salad was yummy, as always. This was the dish that made me a convert of this restaurant, and I can't tell you how happy I am that although they change their menu every day, they always leave this on there. Even though I've learned how to recreate a nearly identical version at home, I never seem to go there without eating this delicious salad. It's something about the tarragon (which I usually find overpowering), the goat cheese and a barely-there vinaigrette that tastes so awesome with a bit o' bitter greens.

Because they change the menu every day, they're constantly experimenting with new items. Sometimes it's a hit (their scallops usually KILL), and sometimes it's a miss.

In general, I want to tell them that their primary mistake is that the main courses tend to be too heavy-handed. For instance, their "linguini alla chitarra with clams" is always on the menu (and always a prix fixe item) but I'd seen enough after the first time. The pasta's a great texture but they need to go WAY easier on the italian sausage. It's very heavily spiced, and that renders everything else in the dish totally indistinguishable. If a fresh clam can't be tasted, what the hell am I paying for? And then there's the the fear that the acid was going to cause blisters in my mouth while eating it, and the heartburn that occurred later.

Most of the other instances where I find Olivia lacking when they go overboard on the pancetta, adding eggs and sauces until whatever the protein is (scallops, pork, beef, etc.) doesn't stand a chance. It's no fun to order something with the intent to have something a little sinful, but then turns out to be so sickeningly rich, you want to throw up less than halfway through. I blame the pancetta...seems to be the culprit every time.

So tonight the manager came over and asked me what I though of the amberjack, and I told him flat out that the dish was beautifully crafted and all the items tasted delicious both by themselves and in various combination, with one exception: the fish.

First off, I was chomping and chomping on the sear, trying to get through to the fish. When I did get to it, the inner texture was somewhat overdone. But I was the most disappointed when it just tasted like...nothing. I mean, NOTHING.

Now, I'm no Top Chef, but I love good food and I've waited and cooked in some really nice restaurants over the years. I've never gone to school for it, and I know damn well that I don't know jack when it comes to professional cooking, but at least this evening I learned that I'm experienced enough (as a cook, gourmand, whatever) to tell what a dish needs.

When he asked me what I thought, I told him that the dish would have been amazing, had the fish been just a little less cooked and if they'd added some sort of acid or distinct flavor to the fish. Why pay for a slab of expensive protein that tastes like nothing and adds nothing?

I felt sheepish telling him this, but it was my honest opinion. I admitted I've never had amberjack before...but from what I could tell, it's a firm-fleshed but mild-tasting fish. So if it is, maybe the way it was prepared isn't the way to go? I think a citrus marinade or some other form of acidic zest would have given the fish a winning place in that dish, not a losing one.

When I got home, I looked up amberjack as a food and lo, and behold! I learned that it's an extremely easy fish to overcook and also that it's so mild tasting that marinades are strongly suggested with it. Now I feel sort of proud of myself for nailing it!

Don't get me wrong, though. Olivia's great. Their wines are divine, as are the risottos. It's an amazing building and I love the vibe. There's always something on the menu that I've never tried (amberjack, pork jowl, lambs' tongue fricassee). And as long as I don't order a dish that SOUNDS heavy, it's usually pretty damned good.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Good friends, good food, good wine, good times

I've been trying to enjoy some of the simpler things in life. For instance, instead of rushing around in the mornings, a coupel of times a week I get up an hour earlier and put on coffee, toast a whole wheat english muffin and place in between one scrambled egg, a piece of turkey bacon, and a smattering of reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Hang out at home and have a leisurely breakfast, which somehow puts me in a much better work mode.

Monday night I met with my friend Laurie Gallardo (you might know her as "The Voice of KUT"), and we spent the evening sampling an amazing rosé wine from Italy (Bisson's Golfo Del Tigullio Cieligiolo rosé 2008). We talked for a couple of lovely hours about life, love, music, books; and reminiscing about obsessions from our childhood. I had lamb fricassee, a beet salad with goat cheese and fresh tarragon, seared snapper and scallops with a lovely sauce and chunks of fresh watermelon. I finished with a scoop of blackberry sour cream ice cream.

In the mornings I've started getting up, throwing on a swimsuit and driving just a couple of minutes down the road to Barton Springs...where I wake the hell UP when I hit that water! I'm trying to build up my stamina to do some laps there, but it's a far cry from my gym pool and I'm only up to several back-and-forths so far.

I mean, it's a big in the mornings (the best lap time) I'm terribly distracted by the wildlife under the surface of the springs. So many fishes, cliff drop-offs, and beds of seaweed (or springweed?) under the surface...but with its swimming pool sides and a diving board, you'd never know unless you went early before the murk's been kicked up.

Last night I visited with Kim Lenz...she's in Austin for a week between gigs at the Continental Club and some private party with Chris Isaak. I haven't spent any real time with her in years! I'm supposed to go sing a few songs with her, and I hope it all works out.

Sometimes in the morning, I hit Town Lake for a walk. Sometimes it's Deep Eddy after work. And sometimes I'll pop over to Monica's and we'll put Desi in his stroller and take a nice walk around her neighborhood.

It seems that my home life, though admittedly more solitary than I'd prefer, is developing into a peaceful place where I do stretches, hang out on my back porch, and check out the moon in the sky almost every night.

Another new turn of events lately is that I've recently been back in touch with an old friend of mine from Kansas City. For almost a year, we had one of the sweetest platonic friendships of my life. I know it's a universal feeling for people to rekindle friendships after losing touch, but this one really warms my heart and fills me with joy. I want to meet his little son and see where he lives, outside Sante Fe. Incidentally, since I've lived in Texas, I've wanted to pop on over and see many, many places in the state of New Mexico, which I loved as a little girl and has forever held a special place in my heart. Maybe I can do this in the next month or two.

So far my plan (quite unrealistically) includes:

- Santa Rosa, NM - The Blue Hole! It's a lake 81 ft deep/clear to the bottom, 63F temp year-round. Scuba/snorkel heaven.
- Tularosa, NM - 3 Rivers Petroglyph National Recreational site - 1000-3000 year old petroglyphs!
- Roswell, NM - UFO Museum and Research Center.
- Carlsbad, NM - Carlsbad Caverns National Park. 8th Wonder of the World.
- Alamagordo, NM - Museum of Space History.
- Lincoln, NM - Billy the Kid Museum, Lincoln National Forest (home of Smokey the Bear)
- Cloudcraft, NM - National Solar Observatory
- Clovis, NM - Nor-Vi-Jak Studios, where Buddy Holly recorded most of his hits.
- Los Alamos, NM - Bandelier National Monument - tons of 12th century Pueblos!

I love New Mexico. I love Texas. And life is a-ok.

Friday, June 19, 2009

How long has it been?

I've just realized I haven't been on this blog in OVER A YEAR. I'll be in touch soon since I'm now disinterested in Myspace and Facebook doesn't seem to have an adequate platform.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

In the corner of my mind....

Misty watercolored memories! Wow, I don't know what happened here, but....

This morning while doing some sort of aimless, pleasurable websurfing, I found this great site on 20th-century "series books" for school-age girls:

It's amazing how mild curiosity can plunge one pell-mell into the roiling emotions and yearnings of their youth, no matter what the era.  As of late, Steve has been delving into his own school-age era, particularly with music. Today, I joined him, only it was my own journey, and it was with books.

 I think it's a beautiful thing that no matter what era you grow up in, there will be specific culturally related obsessions that probably have no value outside of what they meant to you, and your young heart.

It's always a pleasant surprise to find the odd childhood obsession that actually stands the test of time (meaning you can honestly see the over-arching cultural value at age 40 that you could at age 11). But more often, it's a nostalgic pang that hits a seldom-touched deep in your heart. 
I was a HUGE reader of series books as a little girl.  I always loved the excitement of a specific group of characters and families, and completely fell prey to the "targeted demographic" of these books.  I ate them up daily, nightly, all weekend long, all summer long with a jam-covered spoon: "All-of-A-Kind Family", the Noel Streatfield series; Trixie Belden, Bobbsey Twins,  Nancy Drew, and later, Sweet Valley High.  I also learned that one of my favorite books as a child ("Understood Betsy") was written by Dorothy Canfield and published in 1917. Dorothy Canfield was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. Who knew? Certainly not me!  I only read the danged thing.

 One summer I lived across from the Lawrence Municipal Swimming Pool AND the Lawrence Public Library, which were right next to one another.  I'd swallow down some breakfast in the morning and trot across the street to the library, where I'd spend the morning with one of the above-mentioned books...and every afternoon I'd take the day's haul with me over to the swimming pool where I could swim and daudle for a while in the hot summer afternoon sun,  and hop out and lie on a towel to read my library books.

I didn't only read series books, of course.  I read the hell out of books about ghosts and hauntings in the US,  young girl ice skaters, dancers, or gymnasts,  horrific 15th century versions of fairy tales, fables, and mythology, and even Little Black Sambo (my brother loved for me to read that book to him). The children's section of the Lawrence Public Library was the most wondrous baby-sitter I have ever had in my life. Every day was a new adventure, and I was never, ever bored when I was there.  There was always some aisle in which I hadn't spent much time, and I learned so much as a result. I cannot even count how many books I read in that library from ages 8 to 10. 

This entire rambling blog was inspired because this morning I revisited a series I was obsessed with in my teen years.  I actually spent entire summers in my room reading the "Sweet Valley High" books over and over again; only coming out of my escapist haze to descend the stairs and crankily re-join the world for meals...and then back up again to the comfort of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their world of faux teen angst and thinly disguised, badly written social platitudes.  Here's an informative site for those of you who might understand, complete with book covers and synapses that gripped my heart and took me back 20 years.

 My stepmom called my SVH summers "depression," and in retrospect I agree that it probably was.  But what a lovely depression I could sink myself into!  It felt a hell of a lot better then listening to everyone in my new stepfamily blather on loudly. Our house was so LOUD back then, and nothing was said that I found interesting, except for when my dad spoke (which wasn't that often, comparatively).  All that changed when I got a drivers' license, of course. I had a much more tangible means of escape then.

We young fans of SVH were in puberty, way over-emotional, and totally unsure of ourselves. We were really starting to be immersed in the flashy, gluttonous, mercenary vibe of  1980s America. All of our parents were getting divorced.  Compound that with the trials of being chubby and awkward in middle school or junior high school and the usual young girls' whim of yearning to be someone you weren't, and there you have a target demographic...and there I was, raising my hand and begging for more, more, more!  

I do not expect people who weren't pre-teen girls in the flashy 1980s to understand the obsession with the Sweet Valley High series.  But any girl who was born in America in the early-to-mid 70s would understand the sugar-sweet "coolness" that these books provided from 1983 to 1990.  God, but I loved them, and collected them long after the obsession had cooled.  I collected all of the books up to about #100 (which was at least 50 books past the point where they should have quit because they had totally run out of ideas)--including special editions, and later even some of the Sweet Valley Twins series, although I knew I was a little too old for those by then.

 One day in my early 20s I knew that I would never need these books again, and I gave them away to a charity that assists disadvantaged women and their children.  Today I would LOVE to pull out that big, battered cardboard box and rifle through them; maybe re-read a couple for old times' sake.  I don't need them anymore, but once in a while, like today, I just want them.

At the time I discovered the Sweet Valley High books, my father was no longer teaching and instead was working as a manager at "Adventure, A Bookstore" in Lawrence, Kansas (typical over-qualifications for Lawrence, where your bartender has a Master's degree). I spent hours in that bookstore every day after school from 7th grade right up to when I got my drivers' license.  
It's funny, though...I was never drawn towards particularly good literature, but when I tally it all up, I must have read about eight or nine of those 250-page books a week. Not just Sweet Valley High...the bookstore had a very well-developed Young Adult section, and at any given time I had pretty much read approximately 50% of the inventory in that store. The owners of the store really liked my dad, my little brother and I, and were totally fine with me coming there after school and burying my nose in their stock. 

I know I usually read one book every day after school (I'm a fast reader). Also, to my writhing joy, every couple of weeks my dad brought home for me a couple of paper grocery sacks full of books that'd had the covers ripped off (for publishers' inventory, therefore the books are not sellable). I read, and I read, and I read. I mean yes, 70% of it was Young Adult schlock, but at a not-at-all overstated average of 8 books a week for five years, that means I read over 2,000 books from 7th grade until my senior year.  And still had time to learn to drink Purple Passion, smoke Marlboro Reds, and make out with shiftless boys (if they were dropouts, they were that much hotter to me).

But THOSE days are another blog entirely.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Random thoughts, part 456.

I've lately taken to posting a lot more on my Myspace blog, for some reason. But no matter what, things have been going very well so far this year.

While my health and weight issues aren't improving as fast as I'd like them to, I have had a lot of creative and networking/money-making opportunities offered to me that are making my life exponentially more busy...and exponentially more rewarding.

I've already had several weeks where I can't even get a moment to myself due to rehearsals, work, overtime, projects, guests, and whiny, needy people. And to those people, I'm learning to set boundaries.

I got a promotion and a significant raise at my job, which will put me firmly into the "I can take care of myself" mode, and will allow things to run on a more even keel. I think I can finally stop living paycheck to paycheck now!

On the personal relationship scale, I've often though of myself somewhat critically as extremely self-involved, to the point of mild ego-mania. However, I've learned lately that on a sliding scale of creative types, I'm not nearly as bad as I'd envisioned. Which gives me hope for me yet.

Okay, I just wanted to blog a little something 'cos I don't feel like working anymore on this pretty Friday, but I can't ask to leave early since I'm going to have so much vacation time eaten up soon.

Rachel's running around somewhere around Austin, happily enjoying the day, and I'm chomping at the bit to get out of here.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hilarious (to me)

I love Shandon S., because he is one of the only friends I have that actually sends me messages like this. He's a true Texas boy, just like his famous papa.

how r u??the piture your using kix butt..very cool...

Monday, January 28, 2008


I suppose it stands to reason that when one or two areas of my life start going well, they are offset by one or two others taking a turn for the worse.

My band is going great, my record is coming out. I've got shows in Las Vegas and France planned, and today, at my job, I just got a great promotion (and a raise).

Unfortunately, my body feels like it's falling apart, so I'm not able to really enjoy any of those things.

I can scarcely imagine what wandering around VLV is going to be like when my body is in this shape. And SxSW will be significantly low-key, also. Muck and the Mires are coming back to town and they want to hang out. Also, Eddie Munoz is coming in, playing with Magic Christian. I look forward to seeing him (albeit from a distance). Eddie wanted to stay with me but I had to say 'no' since I don't have the room (or the physical/emotional energy). Muck and the folks are so great that I will definitely want to hang with them as much as possible for the duration. I guess I've got to figure out how to "rock" this disability and get myself a really stylin' cane or something. Maybe get a regular metal one and cover it with "pulp" paper and shellac it, etc. Something a little unexpected and punk rock, hehe.

I am at the heaviest weight that I've ever been, and words cannot even express the singularly frustrating place I am in, not being able to do anything about it. I cannot exercise they way I need to and yearn to, and in fact cannot even lead a normal, semi-active life right now. As I was taking a shower before work this morning, the thought occurred to me that the whole process would be a lot easier if I had one of those "shower chairs." That's horrifying and sad to me. I'm still grappling with the fact that my life is actually changing because of this physical problem. I'm having emotional issues thinking about things like that if I actually *did* have a baby, how would I actually be able to do it physically? Afterward, how would I be able to care for it the way I want to? I mean, parenting is HARD on you.

I am going to have to find some free mental therapy, somehow.

I spent last week holed up at home, recovering from my insanely busy prior week. But with that necessary down time came REAL "down" time. I became frustrated with my body and now it has started to settle into a bona fida depression, and I am trying, but right now I can't see my way out of it.

My lack of contact with Steve has been necessary due to his state of mind, but the fact that we have a hard time communicating these days hurts me and makes me sad. There's a big hole where all of our laughter and fun, our mutual inspiration and discovery used to be.

Contact with the person I have been recently dating has also had its very import heightened, because of my current fragile state of mind. Who wants to be 'needy?' Not I. Definitely not I.

I don't like to fall into old traps, or walk my old, well-worn paths of paranoia and self-loathing and immature delusions. Somehow, because of the pain my body is feeling, all of those old traits are beginning to surface with a vengeance. I have to quell them. I must quell them.

I can't wait until my first Physical Therapy appointment. And until this stupid left foot injury heals (4-6 weeks, I have to wear this stupid foam shoe!). And now I have to buy some new socks 'cos my old ones, while quite rockin', are, well...old and faded.

So. The good news.

I got a promotion! I'm really, really happy about that today.

Monica and I might get a haircut together tomorrow, and then I've been working out with weights and abdominal exercises for the past couple of mornings too. It really needs to sink in to me that every little bit helps, even if I can't hit the elliptical trainer anymore. I've got to pull myself together before this depression gets too tough for me to yank myself out of.

I'm rooting for me.....

Monday, January 14, 2008


It's been over a month since I posted last. I suppose it's because I've been either sick, incredibly busy, out of town, or posting on Myspace instead.

Things are coming to a head with my record, finally. I think I should have all those details out of the way very soon. In addition to this project, I've been treading water trying to keep up with my bandmates for the Teen Sensations. We've now had band pictures taken, gotten our first gig, and scheduled a recording session with lots of extra practices thrown in to boot. Exhausting, but for me it feels worth the effort!

On a personal side, I think this year I am taking back my life and loosening my relationships with those who don't make me happy. I plan to guard my down time with a vengeance and not be so bound by "obligation". My decisions and activities are going to be much less directed by guilt, and more directed by a genuine, unapologetic urge to make myself happy.

I am actively looking for a fulfilling long-term relationship for the first time in my life. I am really okay with admitting that I would like this, even though it really has no basis on who I actually meet and/or fall in love with (I wish it were that easy!). I'm going to take better care of myself by choosing a partner who will make my life a joy to live, as I will to theirs. One step at a time, step at a time.

I am tackling things with vigor, and that includes taking care of me. I look forward to this year very, very much and I have high hopes that I will grow in leaps and bounds.

This week is busy: planning and down time tonight, band practice on Tuesday and Thursday, a photo session on Wednesday and a date after that (and if I'd gone to Jerry's BBQ on Friday, I actually would have met him for the first time there! Oddly coincidental). Barb is in town on Friday evening, and The Teen Sensations are recording all day Saturday, from 10am to 10pm.

Mamma mia, but I am busy, and hooray for that! I'm not really stressed about these activities as as I have been in the past, because I firmly believe that I am actively following my desires and laying out my boundaries...and looking people in the eye and smiling at them.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I am grateful for my friends.

At least, this time I bawled with gratitude for the email I got from Monica this morning. I thrive on nurturing, loving compliments from those who really matter to me. Lord knows I always give it to them.



Thank you so much for being such a great friend.

Last night was the most fun I've had in a while. I didn't realize how much the isolation would bum me out. Having you come over and hang with me means a lot, more than you can know.

If you want to make a walking date for a couple of times a week, count me in. Of course Desi has to come too which may or may not be a pain.

I haven't read your blog but understand your frustration. I know I have said this before but you are not only beautiful inside and out but amazing in a zillion other ways. The people that don't glimpse your attributes beyond physical are missing out and ultimately are the ones who lose out. You are fortunate to connect with those that see all of you and get to weed out the duds without the hassel. You are a great friend and person and don't you forget it!


Feeling Minnesota

I copied and pasted the following from the blog of my friend Brennen Leigh's older brother, Seth. He used to live in Austin, but now he's back in Minnesota. His blogs are always fascinating--one other great one I read was about him having coffee with a hooker in Costa Rica. Another is about a town in the south of France with a small municipal swimming pool that. He went to the pool to go swimming, but they wouldn't allow him to go in unless he changed. Turns out they don't allow men to wear swimming trunks in that pool, "for safety reasons". It's a rule that all male swimmers MUST wear Speedos. Seriously. And then they presented him with some that were lying in the Lost and Found box. This is the best thing: Seth plays with Brennen Leigh, and was in the south of France for the same festival I will be be playing next summer. So now I must add the "Speedo swimming pool" to my list of sights to see! Heehee.

Anyway, I digress. Here's something he wrote in his blog that makes me crave some REAL weather for a change. It reminds me of many old-timey stories I read voraciously in my girlhood.

November 26, 2007

I just thought I should let you know about the first visit by Old Man Winter. Today was a tolerable day; temps were in the 30's and I didn't even have to bust out my hat and mittens.

However, as darkness fell, a terrible wind came roaring out of the northwest from across the lake -- taking most of the shingles on the far side of the roof with it. The oldtime thermometer on the garage door read 9 degrees. I suspect I will wake up to the sight of a frozen lake; the view we'll get to look at until about May Day, when the last snowbanks will finally disappear.

Alas, that is a long way off. It is best to resign oneself to the cycle of weight-gain, alcoholism, incessant bitching, and seasonal-affected depression that is just a way of life here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The weather man said this little system is just sort of a "tease" compared to the mess of an Alberta Clipper that's going to be unleashed upon the Red River Valley from the Great White North later this week. The guy on TV said the storm should only produce a few feet of snow and it shouldn't cause too much of a disruption.

In our culture of Scandinavian Optimism, this essentially means we're all toast. Think about temperatures that are ten times colder than your grandparents could ever exaggerate .. not being able to leave the house for five to seven days .. people being found buried alive in snowbanks or frozen in their cars in downtown Fargo .. school being cancelled because they can't FIND the school under all that snow .. just another day in the Upper Midwest.

So, the last outing of this fine evening found me fumbling around the yard with a flashlight that barely worked in a blinding snowstorm trying to retrieve all of the shingles that blew off the roof. As if that didn't sufficiently suck -- tomorrow I get to go up on the roof and put them back on in -10 degree windchill. Does a teetering ladder, icy steps, and gale-force winds sound like a good idea to you? If I should happen to survive this affair, I must also locate all of our deck furniture, eaves troughs, several trashcans and a large outdoor grill that has gone missing in the first blizzard of the season. Cheers.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cold Hard Facts of Life

I'm going to get plenty of diverse opinions about this, but I hope it doesn't truly offend anyone.


You know what I think is really sad? That big women in our society are likely be alone for a longer time. I hate to say this, but it occurs to me that if I had a daughter (while I was raising her with plenty of exercise and healthy food), I would know that her chances of finding a long-term relationship might be significantly lessened if she were a big girl. I mean, I would NEVER want to put that pressure on a daughter, but it's true if you really think about it.

The majority of men in today's society absolutely do not consider women with fat rolls first, when thinking of a potential mate. They see a woman being 'fat' as an overall detractor, roughly equivalent to a potential mate not having a steady job, or being divorced or having kids, or something. Meaning it's a factor that is not insurmountable, but it's not an "ideal situation."

I mean, I understand that men are visual creatures by nature, who would prefer blossoming youthfulness-- smooth lines, soft skin, no body hair. Women are (subconsciously) angels to worship, and waifs to protect. I also know that this is something that many forward-thinking, sensitive men may not want to admit to themselves, let alone a woman.

Picture a smart, happy, healthy, loving, creative, active woman.

If this woman were skinny, it is a fact that she would find herself with significantly more romantic opportunities than a woman who is forty pounds overweight...even if otherwise, they were the exact same person. And yes, it is completely feasible that these two women may exercise the same amount, eat the same amount, and so on, and still one would be larger than the other one. But we all know it is a certainty that the smaller woman will meet more interested parties. With these odds in her favor, her chances of love, marriage, and children are greater than those of a larger woman.*

And so the American woman with the "unlucky" genes has a harder time in our society's "survival of the fittest" race. And it's a self-fulfilling prophecy as well, because the more times the bigger woman is passed over as a potential mate, the more bitter and resentful she becomes. Her self-esteem worsens and she becomes one tough nut indeed, allowing no interested parties into her world, or her heart, at all.

I think it's extremely unfortunate that our modern society has virtually gone against nature and trained all of us, men and women alike, to believe that waiflike thinness is more desirable for procreation.

Hmmm...possibly even more unfortunate is the fact that I'm already inwardly criticizing myself, because this entire blog seems "spoken like a fat woman angry at the world."

*Of course, what she does with these opportunities is another matter.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In the immortal words of Rusty Warren--"Getcher Knockers Up!"

I've been "ensconsing." That is, myself into my cozy little me-nest. I have a stack of good books to read, tasty and healthy food in the refrigerator, a (mostly) clean and organized living space. I have kicked up my exercise and my sleep and my water intake, and I am content.

Oh, I always have worries--about my upcoming trip, my record, keeping up my car, fearful dreams about more car accidents as this road trip looms, whether I'll be able to take a class this spring, whether I'll ever stop living under a shadow of fear (that all physical and mental surroundings that I've built for myself will be destroyed) ...and whether or not I can live with the fact that some I love dearly can feel themself doomed to unhappiness and live their lives accordingly, and I'll never really make that much of a difference whether or not I am in it.

I need joy. I do not want clouds cast on the moments that I have learned to enjoy. I MUST stamp those dark little feelings out rather than dwell on them, else I shall doom myself to a dark, sad little cycle within my own head, forever and ever and unable to escape. I choose instead to turn to the things which give me constant joy. A new kiss, lungs tight from running, bath steam rising hot above my reddened skin beneath the water. Jammies and hot tea and cute cats and the thrill of accomplishment when I finish a song or a piece of writing.

Although the company I invited to share my dinner last night never showed up (as is de rigeur for him), I didn't mind a bit because I already had something joyful, small as it was. I had researched some of my healthy-food cookbooks over the weekend and decided to try something new. I took bulgur wheat, ground beef, green beans, onions, garlic, spices and roasted tomatoes, topped it with parsley and romano cheese and baked it into a delicious Mediterranean peasant dish. It was perfect to eat while I watched rainforest-dwelling villages get crushed beneath the sumptuous, bloodthirsy Mayan empire...and wished I had the internet, so I could educate myself to my heart's content on pre-Columbian Mayan civilization. But even as I wished it, I didn't want to waste my time staring at another screen after the movie was over. Instead, I took to my bed with my new book and a freshly arrived fashion magazine with pretty pictures.

Inspiration, relaxation, and non-procrastination. For me, they are cornerstones of a healthy and happy existence.