Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Little Rock to Dallas

I thank the publishing gods for giving us audio books and I thank the igods for giving us iTune movies. Those two things kept Caiden and I occupied while driving in excruciating Texas heat for 2 more hours than we thought it would take. It's pretty amazing how fast a six hour drive can go by while engaged with the Hunger Games.

But once at the lake in Frisco, it was smooth sailing. Caiden swam off the dock with John for a bit and the view from our living room is all lake all the time.

John, my brother, is up from San Antonio. I figure it's been at least 2 and a half years since I've seen him so this has been lots of fun. We went tooling out on the lake today with the resident pontoon and Caiden did some swimming. When I jumped in I felt the cold of the Titanic in my lungs and through my hyperventilating, I felt goosebumps all over my body. But the 111-degree heat of later in the day rid my skin of all those pesky things.

We made it to the Southfork Ranch, of the TV show Dallas fame after a quick stop at the Chinese Cultural Center (which was closed and rather shack looking).

But what is the most important thing to do while cross country tripping? Staying out of the blessed heat that I swear the sun reserves just for Texas and maybe Death Valley.

And while we could have picked any number of museums and indoor activity places, we chose an old standby. Movies. Pirates Band of Misfits was a nice way to beat the heat followed by fruit drinks at the smoothie store.

Tomorrow, it's off to Amarillo.

Best part of the day for Caiden: Uncle John & the movie; except Uncle John needs to get off his iPhone (haha!)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nashville to Little Rock via Graceland

After a frantic chase to locate my cell phone and iPod (Mom, thanks for finding them under the bed and meeting me at Shell with them), we were off about an hour behind a thinly veiled schedule.

To grab some snacks, we stopped at Trader Joe's in Nashville and then settled in for the long road to Memphis. Caiden watched Thumbelina and Barbie videos; I listened to the Hunger Games on audio iPod (which is what drove the frantic search in the first place -- thanks Suzanne Collins also for giving me reason to look for it). I finished it by the time we pulled into a local vegan cafe in Memphis on Young Street. "Vegan" in this case meant "fake meat" cafe but it worked. Caiden had me make a deal with her though. For every vegan restaurant I pick, she gets to pick a sufficiently carnivore one. We shook on it.

Graceland the mansion is very cool but that's it ... the tour is a cattle herd and doesn't give you the time to really enjoy the house or the grounds and no way was I paying more and more money to see the extra 5 or 6 or 7 exhibits. Crazy nickel and dime location. But it was a stop on the trip worth the $40 for a couple of hours of walking around. I do not recommend anything but the basic tour. You'll get the idea.

Then on to Little Rock for a quick pass through and stay at a local Holiday Inn on the West side of the city. This will be the only time we stay at a hotel. I'm looking forward to the lake tomorrow.

Only two stops for gas today ... roughly $100 total. Not too bad. I'm guessing this trip will cost us about $1500. I'm keeping track.

Well, down for the count. Here's to a long night's sleep!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Travel Blog?

I'm heading out tomorrow with my 11-year-old daughter ... Middle Tennessee to Colorado Springs via Memphis, Little Rock, Dallas, Amarillo and Santa Fe ... in the family Nissan Pathfinder.

Really looking forward to Graceland, the lake, museums and roller coasters!

Spent today packing up four bins, three suitcases, several shopping bags and a cooler. Also, transporting herbs from my mom's garden.

Starting at 0'dark thirty ... off to sleep now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beware the Smokers at the DMV

I need a new driver's license. So I rolled up to the DMV fifteen minutes before opening today. Since there were others waiting in their cars, I decided to mosey on up and wait by the door.
First in line. In and out, right?

Well, it is the DMV -- a government run racket that prides itself on nonexistent customer service, wait times of at least 90 minutes and overcrowded seating areas. It's as if one person isn't allowed to fill out paperwork, present alternate forms of identification and write out a check by themselves. In Podunk, Tennessee, it takes Momma, Sister and Bubba.
That being the case, I thought I was sitting pretty at being the first in line.

My problem started with an overweight smoker who probably was an All-State linebacker in high school. He was puffing away and slurping up coffee as we all stood outside under overcast skies. The American Flag had wrapped itself around the pole, like it had no energy to flap anymore. Probably sick of the guy's smoke.

But anyway, this guy was doing what I would normally consider a pretty innocuous and habitual thing to do in the sticks while waiting for government doors to open. Smoking and drinking.

When he turned toward me, however, I saw a bulge under his t-shirt, at the waist band of his generous-sized khakis. This wasn't just any bulge. It looked like he shoved a Sherman tank in there. Why he bothered to cover it with a t-shirt is beyond me.

I stared and stared and of course tried to do it subtly so he wouldn't think I was staring. But, through my trained and highly sharpened eye for such things, I saw what appeared to be the muzzle of a 9mm Glock -- that's a semi-automatic pistol -- aiming for where he probably wouldn't want it to hit.

That pistol makes up 65% of the hand gun market. So it's pretty common.
What's not common is the semi-concealment of it at the DMV.

I decided to get my driver's license tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Interview with a Wanna-Be

Q- So, how did you get started writing?
A- With a pencil and a pack of wide-ruled paper. Dad kept my first novel. I wrote it when I was 8.

Q- Why didn't you start your writing as a career after college?
A- Because you can't make any money at it.

Q- Why do it now?
A- Cause if I wait any longer, I'll die. Seriously, at some point in our lives we look in the mirror and realize that if we don't go after what we really want, then we'll never do it. We'll always do the safe thing and what our parents want but does that make us happy? Happy isn't about money; it's about fulfillment. Writing makes me feel whole. If I can make a difference with it also, then that makes it all the better.

Q- What do you hope to accomplish?
A- Words on paper Man, words on paper. No, really, I think we should all chase dreams because we love them not because they'll make us money. We should work to live not live to work.

Q- What are you working on now?
A- A romance between an abused woman and her former husband's college friend. The crux of the novel is about trauma therapy that helps rape and abuse victims but also those with post traumatic stress disorder. I don't put a lot of stock in therapy, per se, but I do think Prolonged Exposure Therapy is one of the most effective out there. It's evidence-based which means there are studies to show it works. I've seen Vietnam Veterans who've been through it finally be able to eat in a crowded restaurant without their backs to the wall. It's amazing. If I can get anyone to this therapy through my book, then I'll feel like I actually made a difference in the world.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Old Women & Cameras

My mother thinks she's old. Of course I've been hearing that since I was a kid. Her mantra is "I'm too old to learn that." The irony is that the woman went to law school in her mid-forties when she went, so obviously she can learn new things.

Today's lesson was in a new digital camera. Strange buttons. Weird slots. Crazy clicks. Twenty minutes of video instead of stills.

But now a whole new set of action photos that she couldn't get with her old disposable job.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Food, Inc

Ok, let's be real.  I tried to be a vegetarian in college cause all the cool, hippie kids were doing it.  I managed to rid my diet of all meat except chicken.  Then pregnancy came along and I read somewhere that red meat assisted with brain development in the fetus and broke my sabbatical.  There is not much doubt that wherever I read that was sponsored by the beef industry. 
Now, years later, it's time to try veggie again.  Not really for any PETA loving reason but more for a fat reason.  I grew up down South where the nation's largest and most diabetic people live.  There are also astronomical rates of heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer.  Since all of those run in the family, it was time for a change. 
The first thing was research.  My buddy Liz had me watch "Forks over Knives" -- a documentary about the benefits of plant-based eating.  Medical doctors  who grew up on dairy farms build an incredible database of facts showing plant-based diets can actually reverse all those diseases and take folks off their overpriced medication. Good nudge there.  Although my sister's response was that while the information was compelling, she would wait until she got sick before she switched up her diet.  Oh well, this is also the same girl that one year went on the lemonade diet and the next read a book that told her to fill up on McDonald's to get her chemical levels even. 
So anyway, Hubs and I took two weeks to eat veggie.  No meat, no seafood, no dairy.  The hardest part for me was the cheese and eggs. 
Then we decided that cold turkey really wasn't our thing and we could eat some fish.  And we needed to do more research.  Enter "Food, Inc." 
Now, I've seen farms.  Big farms.  Slaughter farms.  It's all rather disgusting and degrading but growing up down South, it's normal.  We eat meat and folks, it really doesn't come from cellophane-packaged boxes in the meat section of the grocery.  But the info in this film gave us another nudge.  It's amazing the little power we actually have over our own food.
But now Hubs and I own a juicer (which I love because it has only four parts to clean) and a Vitamix Blender (an incredibly expensive indulgence but totally worth it), and eat more fruits and veggies than ever.  The smoothies are so yummy and so filling that I'm not nearly as up and down on my blood sugar and don't feel bloated after I eat.
It's amazing too the amount of energy I have.  Used to I was always complaining of being tired.  Now I'm up all day running around with no need for a nap.
Guess all the cool, hippie kids were right.  Now I just need to learn to play that guitar that's been sitting in the corner with the dream catcher and the burks for the past ten years and I'm all set!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Colorado to Tennessee - Again

So I'm driving in my fourth cross country trip in the past year.  This is only the second one with the Hubs.  We decided to do something different this time and skip St Louis and take on Cape Girardeau.  Now that's a cute little, college town on the Mississippi River.  We really didn't see Southeastern Missouri State University but then again, we didn't have to.  The locals whipped up the collegiate spirit with flags, posters, bumper stickers and what not and it's not even a season for athletics.  Actually, school just let out.  But just the same, what all that hoopla represents is a tight knit group and a friendly place to hang out for lunch.  A Cajun place downtown on Main by the river served up some nice alligator, crawfish etoufee and gumbo.  Hubs went for the bread pudding and scarfed it right up.  After stretching our legs, it was back in the car for the second half of our 13-hour day.  Since he was driving and I was nursing a really full stomach, it was easy enough to curl up with my pillow and nap it out -- all the way to Nashville.