Saturday, June 30, 2007

Chickaboom's birthday

It was my birthday yesterday and it was wonderful. Gone are the days that I expect surprises—like the Holly Hobbie cake my mom whipped up or the surprise 16th birthday party she managed to pull off—but I still consider my birthday somewhat magical. I will never downplay it, even as I get older. I may not advertise the year but I'll definitely hype the day.

To that end, I decided to throw a party for myself and basically invited everyone I know in town. My place is small and was packed with chattering, happy people. That was a gift in and of itself but the day was punctuated by a few surprises. It took me off guard when a friend's boyfriend (who I've only met twice) showed up with booze and barware. He acted as bartender for the evening, whipping up cocktails in various colors much to my and my guests' delight. A dozen roses arrived from a not-so-secret admirer; the flowers and the fella took my breath away. A close friend gave me a hoodie emblazoned with the nickname her almost-two-year-old daughter calls me. I would never have expected that in a million years. I can't wait to wear my "Chickaboom" sweatshirt around town, thinking about this magical birthday. There was no Holly Hobbie cake, but I can't have everything.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Apple of My Pie

The most memorable experiences involving me and a piece of pie:

Alison baked a blueberry crumble pie for my birthday a few years back. It was sweltering in Philadelphia, and after having drinks at a fancy white bar, a group of us piled into Mary and Ron's car to go get Tony Luke's pulled-pork hoagies in South Philly. We capped off the night by returning to my Trinity House and busting out Alison's pie and milk. A glorious nightcap to a night of eating and drinking with good friends.

Alison roadtripped to Michigan with me a couple of months later and made a variation on this recipe. Since it was peach festival time, she whipped up a couple of peach pies in the kitchen with my mom. Since it was raining, we ate them in the garage on a long picnic table covered with a plastic red-and-white checked tablecloth. It was just the thing to eat while listening to my stepdad Jim talk about dousing a wasps' nest in gasoline. "That sucker burned for four days." Yeah, yeah, whatever. The memory of that pie will keep me warm for a whole lot longer.

Whenever I make the trek over to Whidbey Island, I stop at the Whidbey Winery, which sells all sorts of island-produced wines. But it also sells a magnificent marionberry pie. Tart and sweet, it's just the thing you want after a long day in the car. Some (Kerry, Rob, and Laurel: I'm talking about you) prefer to heat up pie for a few minutes, but I like mine chilled with a cold glass of milk or a dollop of ice cream on the side.

I don't know what's in shoo-fly pie, but I can tell you, after flea marketing in Shipshewana all day, a thick slice of this buttery, sugary pie hits the spot. Find yourself an Amish restaurant in Indiana and order some up.

I love Dutch apple pie and I made a variation on this last Thanksgiving. Armed with a dough recipe from my new book (The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life), I made a granny smith apple pie but included dried cherries in the filling. Since we were all so full, I plated it by serving tiny slivers on white dessert plates with some French vanilla ice cream. Top Chef, eat your heart out. Or rather, eat this pie.

When I was a kid, Grandma Worick used to pop in around once a week. "Woo hoo, Jenny, John, Chris. I made some chocolate pie!" she'd exclaim in her thick German accent. Chocolate pie was a flaky pie crust with a whole lot of chocolate pudding dumped into it. We didn't complain. We just shoved it down our pieholes.

A lovely boy (who obviously knows me very well) sent me a cherry pie (shipped all the way from Iowa!) for my birthday (which is tomorrow). Breakfast this morning, as you can imagine, consisted of pie and milk. It's going to be a good day. Pie and affection are part of it, after all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Coach potato

I have eschewed therapy and its cousins for most of my life but a couple of years ago, I came around to the idea of a life coach. Sure, I could limp along just fine without one. I consider myself "farm stock," someone who can pick herself up by her muddy bootstraps and go on. For a long time, I didn't indulge my feelings, thinking myself weak if I cried, talking myself out of being upset, just sucking it up and getting on with things.

My life coach isn't necessary if I simply want to get by, but she's proven herself invaluable and necessary in helping me make my life better, bigger.

Instead of hiding my finances from myself and others, I now embrace Excel spreadsheets and Quicken. I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. More astounding, I quote Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Regularly. I have gone from getting agitated and crying discussing finances (I remember the first fight I had with my best friend Alison, talking about money over sausage at Ludwig's Garden) to broaching the subject with anyone and everyone.

I have developed a branding statement for my business, determining the kinds of writing, editing, consulting, and lecturing I want to be doing.

In addition to my coach, I have an accountant, an agent, and a lawyer, a support team I can utilize. Before, I thought I could handle it all myself and if I couldn't, well, I told myself I couldn't afford outside help. These people—my team—have helped me grow my business, make better deals, and earn more income.

I am talking and writing about what it means to be a blue-collar tomboy from a corner of Michigan who's living and succeeding in the big city (sounds like a sitcom, doesn't it?). Rather than trying to reinvent myself, I am trying to see what puzzle piece I am in the giant jigsaw of my family. My writing has become richer, more human, because I'm writing about things that matter and things I don't have figured out. I hope that's as exciting to others as it is to me.

As someone who works for herself, I need my coach and my support team to push me. As glamorous as it seems to those working for someone else, it's hard in every way to run your own one-person business. I work in isolation a lot and writing in coffee shops doesn't quite juice me sufficiently. Erratic cash flow is stressful and requires planning and discipline, something I definitely need help with when there's a sale at Nordstrom. Immediate deadlines push proposals and new business aside and I need my coach to chide me and give me homework to keep future projects percolating.

A better person than me might be able to do this all by herself, but I'm happy to know that at least I'm a better version of me. And I know with my weekly one-hour sessions, I can only keep getting better.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Productive procrastination in the past week

  1. Spent an hour and a half reorganizing my yarn stash and craft library
  2. Whipped up three jars of lotion with lavender, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils
  3. Knitted a few rows on a felted laptop bag
  4. Whipped up crêpes
  5. Rearranged the living room
  6. Began preparations a week in advance for my birthday party
  7. Wrote a quiz on how to determine if you are a prairie girl
  8. Took an online quiz to see what John Cusack character I most resemble (Lloyd Dobbler)
  9. Braided my hair
  10. Reread last two Harry Potter books
  11. Listened to Fresh Air podcast with Judd Apatow and Seth Rogan
  12. Added books to my online library list
  13. Worked on this list

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Poached eggs on toast

I'm under the weather today (literally, as it just hailed outside my window) so I'm hunkering down and taking care of myself. For some reason, however, I still lay in bed and moan, hoping my mother with materialize to take care of me. That's what I did as a kid and it worked like a charm.

Today, however, the only response I get to my wailing is in the form of my unsympathetic cat, who has more important things on his mind (namely, his next feeding). Sadly, one of the things I miss out on as a single gal is someone to take care of me. (Mac Daddy, I love you but you are a bit selfish.) As a self-employed person, I don't get a sick day either. I just take a quick tub, all the while fretting about the work that's not getting done. Boo hoo, right?

When I was sick as a kid, my mom would make me poached eggs on toast with a glass of 7-Up or cup of Lipton tea to wash it all down. I still seek out the same comfort food when I have to fend for myself. I don't know if I like any of it; it's just that I like the memories of love and caring that accompany it.

I've gotta go; the tea kettle is whistling.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Proud to Be an American

I think people generally regard me as funny, maybe obsessed with mindless pop culture, like Britney Spears’ meltdown or Katie Holmes’ new bob. But I also care about my family, and maybe my fascinations with the cult of celebrity and Project Runway are just coping mechanisms to more serious concerns about my loved ones.

My brother John has long been a member of the National Guard. Today he leaves for training and then he’ll be shipped off to the Middle East, where he could be stationed for up to 18 months. That’s a long time for anyone, especially a family man with three small children back home in Nebraska.

My family has a history with the military. Grandpa Worick met his much younger bride (my grandmother) while serving in World War I. My dad’s poor eyesight (which my brothers and I have all inherited) made him ineligible for the Armed Services.

But my brother Chris caught the bug early, building tank dioramas of Rommel (the Desert Fox) in the basement. He’d rappel off the side of the bruderhaus, a rundown shed behind my grandparent’s farmhouse. I joined him, scampering up the pussy willow tree and propelling myself off the side of the ramshackle building, secured by ropes.

Chris joined the Army immediately after graduating from high school and put in 20 years before retiring. He served in Operation Desert Storm and married Monika, who, like my grandfather, he met while stationed in Germany.

John joined the Navy as soon as he graduated. I don’t think he was enamoured of the life the way Chris was; rather, he saw it as an opportunity to get away from Michigan and move toward something else. He was mostly stationed out of Norfolk on an aircraft carrier and sent me gifts from all over the world.

Meanwhile, I was kicking around the idea of applying to a military academy but the physical fitness part sort of squelched that. Well, that and the idea of wearing a drab uniform and sensible shoes.

After he got out of the Navy, John remained active with the National Guard, largely for financial reasons. Working on the railroad all the livelong day doesn't pay all the bills.

My mom loves America too, doing her part by participating in her local American Legion and its women's auxiliary. She dons white gloves for parades, coordinates silent auctions, and decorates the foyer at the Post with seasonal displays and flags adorned with small yellow ribbons. I'm jaded but I can't laugh at it all. "Proud to Be an American" isn't just mom's favorite song; it's her way of life. When her father, my Grandpa Hamlin, passed away last December, he was honored with a military burial for his service in the National Guard back in the ’40s. I was completely taken off guard when I lost it during "Taps."

I love America, and I love my brother. I hope both are kept safe.

Meanwhile, I’ll go back to wondering which starlet is going to flash her bits and pieces next. My money’s on Mischa Barton.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks

I'm still recovering from eating my way through the Mariners' game last night. I managed to put down a pulled pork sandwich, two beers, some of Liz's garlic fries, a bite of Kate's Dippin' Dots, and a half a bag of Cracker Jack. The sad thing is that I was patting myself on the back—the part that I could still reach—for not eating a sundae or tucking into Kate's tray of nachos.

Take me out of my normal routine and I think I get a free pass on eating crappy food. Roadtrips usually mean rolling into a rest stop next to the turnpike and picking up an extra-value meal and a vat of Diet Coke. A business trip means I pack away frozen yogurt and, depending on the time, a bad stir fry or burrito in the terminal before rounding up a BLT and a candy bar or cookie for the flight itself. God forbid I feel a hunger pang at 30,000 feet.

But sporting events take the cake. Mmm, cake. When I was a kid, I played softball, but I also watched my brothers play Little League in back of Stump School or some other place around the area. I got bored quickly so I trolled the concession table, picking up Pixie Sticks and Pop Rocks, and washing it all down with a bottle of Orange Crush. I never felt good after eating all this stuff but I lost all self control when there was a box of Bubble Yum in sight. That hasn't changed; it's just that a piece of Bubble Yum would probably set me back $1.50 at Safeco Field.

By the way, the Mariners beat the Pirates 3-0, in case you were wondering.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's all in the jeans

I love blue jeans. I mean, I love them. And my newest obsession is Old Navy's "Sweetheart" jean. They don't bind, they don't show crack, they are just long enough to wear with a slight heel but won't drag on the ground if I choose a girly flat.

My friend Liz turned me onto these; both she and her sister have the same pair. It's hard to believe that the same cut could be flattering on three very different body types but it worked for the girls in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, so I urge you to give these a try.

I might have to buy a couple more pairs. What if something happens to these? I can add the extras to my piles of jeans.

  • The fancy-pants Sevens that I can only wear with four-inch heels and a long shirt (there's too much fabric in the leg and not enough in the bottom).
  • The really faded, ripped Old Navy ones that I wear on days when I'm feeling Fragonard (my friends' way of saying plump).
  • The ones I got on sale for $30 when I crossed the street to the Gap after getting frustrated trying on $200 super-low-rise jeans at Nordstrom.
  • The cool Joe's Jeans that have big sailory-type grommets around the waist that I got at a consignment store in Boston when I was there for a book signing (which no one showed up to).
  • The cropped jeans with the cool stitching on the back pocket.
  • The men's Levis I wear when I want to look tough.
  • The Paper, Denim, & Cloth ones that were too long so I cut the hem and left the raggedy edge.
  • The Red Engine jeans that I fit into when I lost 30 pounds which I can't bear to chuck now that I've gained some of it back.

The list goes on. I think I'm so obsessed with jeans because I didn't have much in the way of cool clothing growing up. I went to a Catholic school, which meant, yes, uniforms. They didn't seem so sexy at the time. All I wanted was a pair of Guess jeans with zippers at the ankles. I finally got them and wore them to a basketball game one Friday night. After years of chasing trends and wearing clothing that was always slightly off, I finally felt cool and spot on.

And not much has changed. When I'm in a pair of perfect jeans, I pass for stylish and together, even though I might feel nerdy and messy on the inside. This time, I only had to lay out $29.50 to feel cool (a heck of a lot cheaper than those magical Guess jeans), definitely money well spent.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Welcome back, Potter

I started rereading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night, wanting everything to be fresh in my mind when the movie (which is going to be totes awesome, by the looks of the trailer) opens. Then I'm going to move onto Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so I'm up to date when the last book drops. Yes, I've pre-ordered the book.

When I read these books, I start believing that magic is possible. When I was a kid, I went for books like The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and Ghosts I Have Been by Richard Peck. That was scary, thrilling stuff. I liked my Judy Blume, too (Wifey was pretty thrilling, as I recall!), don't get me wrong, but books of mystery and adventure were what I routinely ordered from those Scholastic and Troll book club flyers that were circulated in the classroom. When the books arrived, I remember my classmates getting one or two while a huge stack landed on my desk. Even then, I was greedy about my books.

If my wall of books (six bookshelves stacked next to each other) is any indication, not much has changed.

By the way, I just heard that there are plans in the works for Harry Potter's World, an amusement park to be located in Florida. In theory, I think this level of commercialization and exploitation is crass, but as a fan (in spite of my muggle status), in practice I'll be queuing up for some butterbeer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cooking and crêpes

I just made smoked salmon and goat cheese crêpes for lunch. They were delicious. I have to say, I am rather astounded that I can make a crêpe at all. I never even had a bagel until I went off to college. I grew up eating hearty steak and potato suppers, strange concoctions in the pressure cooker, tuna casseroles on Fridays during Lent, and sandwiches of the Jif, Smuckers, and Wonder Bread variety.

When mom steamed white rice and topped it with a dollop of butter aside a pork chop and some lima beans, we felt downright exotic.

I don't actually cook much these days. I have my few staple dishes—lasagna, baked beans, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, fruit crisp—and I rarely stray from them. But a couple of years ago, my friends Mary and Ron gave me a crêpe kit for my birthday. I looked at the tag on the gift, and then I looked at them as though they had lost their minds. Yes, I'm a foodie in that I like to tie on a fancy-pants feedbag at high-, low-, and no-concept restaurants. But as a single gal who doesn't like to waste money (on anything other than shoes and video poker), I don't experiment in the kitchen. I don't whip up a Barefoot Contessa entrée like my friend Jared, who served me a gorgeous cold beet soup a couple of weeks back. I don't concoct new and daring dishes by melding four recipes like my best friend Alison.

I follow recipes.

So I followed the instructions for seasoning my crêpe pan and whipping up light-as-air crêpes and I started filling them with all sorts of sweet and savory combinations: ham and swiss, salmon and chevre, strawberry and chocolate, classic lemon and sugar. I even hosted a brunch with crêpes as the main attraction. I wowed my friends and myself.

But if truth be told, I still prefer grilled Polish sausage or my mom's pot roast or perfect mac and cheese to coq au vin and its bon amis. Hmmm, I bet leftover pot roast would be pretty tasty wrapped up in a crêpe. That sort of experimentation I can totally get behind.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Just a small-town girl, livin' in a lonely world...

I've been feeling rather pleased with myself lately. See, I love cheese, and not just the kind you eat. I also consume all sorts of low-brow pop culture with a vengeance, and I don't hide it. I own my cheese, yo.

For years, I've been counting Die Hard among my top five favorite films. I think it's the perfect action movie. Many people have taken issue with this; I've even gotten diatribes as introductory e-mails from potential dates surfing They take my love for John McClane and Hans Gruber (Is there a better villian out there than Alan Rickman? Come on.) as an opportunity to pitch a Clint Eastwood movie.

I don't e-mail them back.

But maybe I will now. Last week, Entertainment Weekly named Die Hard as the best action movie ever. Eat that, Dirty Harry fans.

And my go-to karaoke song, also a favorite, was the final song selection for the Sopranos: Don't Stop Believin'. I won't, Steve Perry, I won't. I am a small-town girl, livin' in a lonely world. I haven't taken a midnight train going anywhere but close enough.

And then there's The Office. Andy and Jim, trashed on Jager, start singing Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls. I wouldn't call Amy and Emily cheese, but they are probably my second-favorite band so even if the song was used to comic effect, I felt validated.

And that brings me to Bon Jovi, my all-time favorite band. People always, always raise an eyebrow when I proclaim my love for JBJ but I have to tell you, like Die Hard, this band knows its place in the world and does it better than anyone else. Pure cheese, yes, but also pure gold.

Back in ’87, when I saw Jon Bon Jovi swing over me at Cobo Hall in Detroit on the Slippery when Wet tour, I knew I was witnessing grade-A cheese. And I ate it up.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shoot the Freak

I recently visited my cousin Amy in Brooklyn and, along with her husband Paul, we trekked out to Coney Island for an afternoon. We did it up right—we rode the Cyclone and were bruised before we climbed out of the rickety car, we ate hot dogs at Nathan's (site of the annual hot dog-eating contest), we piled into a photo booth (you'll hear about my obsession with photo booths eventually). But the craziest thing we saw was a sideshow, tucked in a dilapidated alley between two boardwalk shows, called "Shoot the Freak." The banner below it? "Live Human Target." A barker heckled the crowd, cajoling them into paying up to $20 for 75 paintball pellets for a chance to shoot an air compression rifle at a guy down in the alley pit. The target wore a plastic codpiece and helmet, and carried a paint-splattered shield.

By the looks of that shield, they did brisk business.

When we walked by, a man and his son were tag-teaming the target. This is a far cry from the bearded ladies and the strong men of yore. While I watched the spectacle unfold on the boardwalk, some memory tugged at the corner of my mind. When I was a kid, I remembered reading a series of books about the All-of-a-Kind Family, a Jewish family living on the Lower East Side. The five sisters wore matching pinafores and helped out in their dad's rag shop occasionally. As a game, their mother would hide pennies all over the parlor and as the girls cleaned and dusted, they'd have to find all the pennies, ensuring a thorough cleaning. How genius is that? It's a industrious variation on an Easter egg hunt. But during one hot day, they escaped the city to wade in the water and take in the sights of Coney Island.

I don't think they watched a Japanese man eat 53 hot dogs in 12 minutes, or looked on as a boy shot a rifle at another human being. We've come a long way in some areas but as I watched the guy in the pit lackadaisically moving from side to side, I think about how far we still have to go. Don't get me wrong: I loved Coney Island. It is defiant in its traditions, even if you can smell the slow decay. I loved the gaudiness of it all. I dug the arcade games, the old Russian men in Speedos, the smell of the ocean mingling with grilling hot dogs. But what scares me is that there are far too many people plunking down cash to shoot at another human being without any sort of awareness. Rather, they are just trying to kill an afternoon.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Accent-uate the positive

My friends are circulating this great online test to figure out what kind of American accent you have. Check it out at

I was excited to take it, sure that it would not reveal my Michigan origins, but rather my culture, breeding, and education. Yeaaaahhh, um, no. It totally outed my Midwest roots.

"You have a Northern accent. That could either be the Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland/Buffalo accent (easily recognizable) or the Western New England accent that news networks go for."

Back in college, I tried hard to mimic newscasters' voices and inflections. For a few weeks during my sophomore year I sounded vaguely like Tom Brokaw. I can still go into newscaster speak or sound like the guy from Moviefone: "WHY don't you just TELL me the name of the movie you'd like to see?" During regular conversation, however, I couldn't shake the flat sound of my accent, so I tried instead to become more animated while talking, using jazz hands and facial expressions to make up for my deadened vowels.

My judgments have extended beyond myself. It took me a long time living in Philadelphia to hear a South Philly or thick Jersey or Longheyeland accent and not think, "Man, she should really do something about that." Back in the 80s, Valley Girl accents drove me nuts. Due to some choice Patrick Swayze movies and The Dukes of Hazzard, I drew some conclusions about folks with a Southern accent. I've since gotten to know people from all over the country and know better than to draw a conclusion between their regional peculiarities and their wit and intelligence. In fact, I've been downright charmed by a honeyed Southern voice and laughed until my sides hurt because of a New Yawk accent intentionally used to full effect.

I'm still waiting to be won over by my own voice, but I'm working on it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The D list

When people ask me what my hometown is, I always pause, thinking, "Well, technically, my first years were spent in Sodus, Michigan, but then I moved into Benton Harbor but I went to school in St. Joe, but maybe I should just say Southwestern Michigan, not far from Kalamazoo, because people might actually know where that is." By the time I settle on Benton Harbor, my head hurts.

So you can imagine my delight, when watching Kathy Griffin's Life on the D-List, a Bravo TV guilty pleasure, to find her sitting in a restaurant in Benton Harbor. She was doing a gig later that night at Lake Michigan College (or LMC, which was always confusing, since I went to Lake Michigan Catholic, also LMC). Now, I only remember going to LMC to research a term paper and to perform in several plays on their stage since my high school didn't have a theater (my stage career started with a Tri-Parish production of Godspell the summer before my freshman year and ended with my unforgettable performance in Don't Drink the Water, a role for which I channeled my inner Edith Bunker).

But those weren't the only memories Kathy's visit conjured up. When she sent her assistant to wait tables at Texas Corral, I sort of fell off the couch. I had a high school reunion last summer and I got to be the girl I never was in high school: life of the party, flirt, lush. I swear I was drunk for 72 hours. It was glorious. I felt free. (Of course, this only lasted until I got to the airport in South Bend, but it was nice taking a break from my serious, worried self). As a teenager, I was so focused on getting out of town and leaving this world behind that I opted out of nights spent TP-ing Mr. Carr's house or drinking at the beach or cruising the mall.

But not during that reunion weekend. During the pre-reunion festivities at Babe's Lounge, I drank, played pool, flirted with Rhonda Winters' brother, as well as with Bill King. Bill came from farm country as well, and back in fifth grade, he was my boyfriend for a hot second. But nothing ever came of it.

Until that reunion weekend. Before I left town, Bill and I went out by ourselves, chowing down at the Texas Corral, drinking margaritas, and catching up. With his baseball cap pulled low, he told me about his divorce, his job, his daughter, and I could see the life that I rejected. Honestly, it didn't look too shabby; it just wasn't mine. But I'm happy to visit a couple times a year, especially if it includes a trip to Texas Corral. That there is some good eatin'.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wal-Mart, take two

I just talked to my brother John, who schooled me on Wal-Mart's camping-friendly policies. They have always encouraged sleeping in the parking lot. That's why they made the parking spots so big.

Who knew?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

10 reasons why I'm suspicious of the Nancy Drew movie

1. In the books, Nancy was 18 and dating Ned, a dreamy college boy. The kid playing Ned looks like he just stopped drinking out of juice boxes.
2. Nancy is cool—not only did readers admire her, but so did everyone around her in the books—and Emma Roberts is playing her as a cute nerdy outcast in a plaid skirt. It's like Rory Gilmore is starting Chilton all over again, but this time, there are CGI ghosts to investigate.
3. In my mind, Nancy belongs in the 1950s, wearing tea-length dresses and stopping for lunch at ladylike tearooms.
4. The movie's subtitle is "The Mystery in the Hollywood Hills," a far cry from River Heights. I don't want to see Nancy hanging out at the Chateau Marmont or Club Hyde. She hangs out with the wrong crowd and the next thing you know, she'll be going without proper undergarments and showing her hoo-ha when getting out of a car.
5. Tate Donovan plays dad Carson Drew. Seriously?
6. I'm afraid there's going to be a makeover montage, like in Clueless or Pretty Woman. Okay, maybe that wouldn't be so bad.
7. I don't get to see her ride bareback, perform in a figure skating competition, scuba dive, tap dance, or otherwise perform some crazy skill she just happens to be studying when a related mystery pops up.
8. Where are Nancy's chums Bess and George? Instead, the trailer shows a chubby boy as her sidekick. Wha, wha, whaaaa?
9. I love me some Liz Phair, but not on the Nancy Drew soundtrack.
10. If I go, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be surrounded by tweens. It will be like a Delia's catalog come to life.
(By the way, I'm the author of Nancy Drew's Guide to Life. Check it out!)

Pig tales

I recently experimented with pigtails. Yes, you heard me. I'm well on the other side of thirty and now that my hair is long, I'm discovering all sorts of things I can do with it. Like make an adorable braid behind each ear. Sometimes I feel like Jonathan Winters when he played Mork and Mindy's son who aged backwards (Is it called "aging," or should it be called something like "younging"? Hmmm.). Now that I am a freelancer, I rarely reach for the clothes that used to make me feel powerful and put together. Now, I slip into flip flops and jeans before heading to the coffee shop around the corner. Is that so wrong?

Perhaps playing with my hair is just another method of procrastination. I can only brush my cat Mac Daddy so many times before he bites me.

Regardless, I think the braids are super-cute. When I was a little girl, I had long golden hair that my mom would brush into Cindy Brady sausage-curl ponytails (check out the photo). I guess it got too much to care for or I was moving into the early 1980s and the hair just didn't go with the yellow braided headband I wrapped around my forehead when I wanted to get physical, physical. The braided headband and the eighties are long gone, but I guess my childlike spirit keeps rearing its adorable head. I'll flat iron and swing my hair around when I'm attempting to catch a bartender's attention, but when I'm working or playing, I'm going to rock braids now and again. But I think I'll draw the line at the sausage curls.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Did you just say Wal-Mart?

My mom just went on a roadtrip to Texas and Nebraska in the camper she and my stepdad got a year or two back. I had visions of them stopping at KOAs every night, swapping stories and a cold one with fellow campers.

The reality was a bit different.

I called mom a couple of times on the cell phone she carries but rarely uses. The first time I called her up, she could barely hear me over the beeps and whirrs of the slot machines around her. They drove 700 miles and stopped at a casino for a "relaxing" four hours. Then they slept in the camper, which they parked in the casino parking lot, and hit the buffet the next morning.

I can't make this stuff up.

But it gets better. I called her another time when she was able to hear me better and she told me that for 10 days or so, they only spent about $250 on campground fees because they stopped for the night more than once in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Apparently, this is becoming accepted practice amongst the RV crowd and it makes sense from a business standpoint. For the inconvenience of having a rush on the bathrooms in the morning, Wal-Mart has a crowd waiting when it opens its doors. Crazy. Crazy like a fox…on both sides. Wal-Mart makes money, travelers save money. Not exactly communing with nature, but a memorable experience nonetheless.

I must confess, I sort of wish I was along for the ride (at least for a day).

A sampling of my books