a golden day

This weekend, on Saturday, a bunch of us got together at a friend's ranch several miles west of Houston.

It was one of those perfect, Texas-blue-sky days.  I have to say, while Texas summers are brutal, there are certain times of the year where nothing can beat a perfect, Texas-blue-sky-day.









Photo by Marcus.

My friend Jenny described the day as a "a golden day."  I love this.  I think every once in a rare while, everyone has one of those golden days, the memory of which reminds you that life is good and that people are good even on days when things aren't going the way you hoped. 

Here's wishing you a golden day very, very soon.


SongLovely day by Bill Withers

don't even get me started on "shitterton"

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Scene:  Family room, two laptops open.

Him (brow furrowed):  Flatonia?

Me:  What?

Him:  Flatonia?

Me:  Flatonia, Texas?

Him:  Flatonia?

Me:  Yeah ... what about it?

Him:  They named the town "Flatonia"??

Me:  Dude.  You're from the kingdom that named Nigg, Scotland.  I really don't think you have room to judge, here.


SongThat's right (you're not from Texas) by Lyle Lovett

chookooloonks life list #80: taste 50 types of rum (no. 1 - tommy bahama golden sun)

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Here's something sort of cool:  writing down the life list has already changed my life.  Kind of. 

A couple of nights ago, I made plans to meet my friend Victoria for happy hour.  Victoria and I have been friends for over 15 years, and it had been a few months since we'd seen each other.  So we decided to get together at a bar near home.

I arrived earlier than expected, so I sat at the bar to order my usual glass of wine.  But then, as the bartender approached, I remembered my life list.

Taste 50 types of rum.

"What would you like?" she asked.

"Um... what kinds of unusual rums do you have?"

"Rum?" she sounded surprised.  "Well, I have... Tommy Bahama Golden Sun..."

"Sold," I said.  "I'll have that."

And so I did.  Unexpectedly and despite its name, Tommy Bahama is actually a Barbadian rum, according to the bartender -- and when I googled it, it turns out that it's also a clothing company.  Who knew?  Nonetheless, the rum was quite tasty -- smooth, slightly sweet.  Very good.

After I took a sip, I pulled out my camera (from my new camera bag, words cannot describe how much I love this thing), and took a photograph.  One of the other bartenders standing nearby looked at me with curiosity.

"Oh, I'm a photographer, and trying 50 rums is on my life list," I explained.  "I'm taking the photograph to record it.  In fact, taking 1000 portraits is also on my list.  May I take your photo?"  And she surprisingly agreed.

Are you getting this?

I mean, think about it:  if I hadn't written down my life list, I would've never slowly savoured that single shot of rum that night; instead, I would've asked for my usual pinot grigio and been done with it.  Since I've taken lots of photographs of wine, I probably wouldn't have pulled out my camera if I'd ordered a glass.  And I certainly wouldn't have asked a total stranger if I could take her photograph. 

I'm starting to think that maybe the magic of writing down a life list is simply the setting of intention in motion.  Because even that little scene in that bar -- a scene which, ultimately, couldn't have lasted more than 3 or 4 minutes -- made my life just a tiny bit more interesting.



SongThe Bacardi Mojito "Muddle" song. This song sounds exactly how the bar we were in felt.

a few miscellaneous thoughts

Since the Mom 2.0 Summit, my body has been acting suspiciously like it wants to catch a cold.  I've been downing Emergen-C in my orange juice like candy, but I don't think it's going to work.  The good news is that as a result, it's unlikely I'll be at risk for scurvy anytime soon, so, you know, bonus!

One of the highlights of this past weekend was getting to listen to Gretchen Rubin speak.  A former attorney, she said one particular thing that resonated with me, for obvious reasons:  "I realized I'd rather fail as a writer than succeed as a lawyer."  Amen, sister.  I immediately bought her book, The Happiness Project.  I can't wait to tuck in.

Yesterday, I went to my mail box, and found The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally and Online waiting for me.  I had forgotten that I had actually been one of the people the author interviewed for this book!  I've scanned through it, and it actually looks like an AMAZING read if you're artistic or crafty and have ever even considered opening up an Etsy store, or otherwise making money with your art online.  I haven't read it from beginning to end yet, but so far, I'd strongly recommend getting it if you are.

Also, I'm unreasonably excited about my life list.  I've even begun with some of it here.  And I have a couple of ideas for a few other items on it that I think some of you might be able to help me with.  More on this very soon.


SongUnwritten by Natasha Bedingfield

the beautiful faces of mom 2.0

Jenny Lawson being crowned "Czar of Nothingness" by the Mayor of Martindale, Texas, as Allison Cznarnecki, Rachael Herrscher and Jyl Johnson Pattee look on.

After quite the exciting weekend spending time with some great folks at the Mom 2.0 Summit, things should be able to settle back into some semblance of a routine.  I had a great time at the conference, which I wrote about at some length here, here, here, and here; but the best part of the conference for me was getting the chance to photograph some of my favourite faces around the web.

Here are some of them:

The breathtaking (in so many beautiful ways) Leah.


Heather.  She makes me laugh and laugh.


Loralee.  Her different:  she is a classically-trained opera singer.  How cool is that?


Alice.  The word that comes to mind most when I think of her is "enchanting." Seriously lovely person.


Mir.  Her smile positively lights up rooms.


Rachel.  Those eyes, man.  Those eyes.


Imelda.  Just being in her presence makes you feel calm.


Susan.  Whenever I look at her eyes, I just feel happy.  She has the happiest eyes.


Jon.  My favourite thing was watching is face as he talked about his family.  Beautiful.


I so enjoyed photographing all of them, and there were many more people I wanted to photograph, but didn't get the opportunity to.  No matter, our paths will cross again soon.

One more thing:  I loved the motto of this year's summit:

What You Do Matters


Because it does, you know.

Song'Til Kingdom Come by Coldplay


the story of the lawyer and her doppelganger

So this past Wednesday, I met with my publisher's graphic artist, to begin the process of laying my book out.  After the short meeting, before going home, I decided to stop into my favourite coffeehouse, Brasil, to have a quick lunch. 

I was sitting there, watching people come and go, thinking about how much I love this place.  I was also thinking about the book, and how everyone I was honoured to photograph is so different, and how that difference is the source of so much good.  And as I was going back and forth between those two thoughts, I remembered a time about 14 or so years ago, when I met someone who, at first glance, appeared to be almost my physical twin, standing pretty much right at the spot next to the bar you see above.  I've told this story before, about 4 years ago on a previous incarnation of my blog, but I think it bears repeating -- because, you know, when you have an experience this weird, you really can't tell the tale too often.  So if you remember this story, apologies for the retelling.  If you don't know it, honey, pull up a chair, 'cause this is a long one.

So, right: about 14 years ago, Brasil was pretty much a daily haunt of mine.  By day, it's a coffeehouse that served delicious sandwiches and salads; by night, it transforms into a wine bar.  Back when I used to go at night, there was this great DJ who used to spin neo-soul, trip-hop, jazznova and all kinds of really groovy music.  The clientele was (and still is) made up of artists (tattoo or otherwise), goths, punks and academics (Rice University is very close by).  I used to visit after work and have a glass of wine and chill out, usually reading a book by candlelight by myself.

One night, I noticed this huge guy walking toward me.  His arms were covered in sleeve tattoos, and he had several piercings in several places all over his body.

"Hey!" he said enthusiastically, grinning from ear to ear.  "I haven't seen you in ages!"

I looked at him blankly, smiling one of those weak do-I-know-you smiles.

His grin disappeared as he registered my confusion.  "Oh," he said.  "You're not her."

"I'm not who?"

"The Cigarette Girl."

"Oh, yeah. No.  I'm not the Cigarette Girl."  I've never smoked a cigarette in my life.

"Sorry to bother you," he smiled.  I smiled back.  "No worries," I replied.

So I didn't think anything of this, until the next night.  This time, I was standing in line at the bar (above), waiting for my glass of wine.  A woman walked up and tapped me on the shoulder, with a cheery, "Hi!"  I turned around, and her face immediately fell.  "Oh.  God, I'm sorry.  I thought you were the Cigarette Girl."

"Um, no, sorry, I'm not," I said smiling.  She looked really embarrassed, and slunk off to join her friends again.

A few days later, when it happened a third time, I finally asked one of the guys who worked behind the counter.  "Dude, seriously, who is this 'Cigarette Girl' people keep thinking I am?"

"What?"  He looked at me for a moment, and then he laughed.  "Oh my GOD," he said, "You totally DO look like her!  Wow.  You haven't seen her?"


"Oh, she's here all the time.  I don't know her name.  But she always has a bag of cigarettes with her.  And she looks ...well, she looks like you.  You can't miss her.  Seriously.  Wow."  We stared at each other for a moment before I left to sit down with my drink.

Anyway, a couple of weeks later, I was back at Brasil one evening, and the door opened.  I looked up, and saw ...

... me.

The woman who entered looked just like me, except with a slightly darker skin tone.  She was about my age, my height, my build, and she had my face.  She was wearing a hug duffel bag of boxes of cigarettes over her shoulder.  She had on Doc Martens and her arms and upper chest were covered in tattoos.

She went directly to the counter to give the barristas her order.

I couldn't help myself:  I walked over to her and tapped her on the shoulder.  "Hi," I said, when she turned around.  "You must be the Cigarette Girl."

She looked at me for a moment, and I watched as surprise registered across her face.  "Oh my God," she said.  "You must be the Lawyer."

I laughed.

"Where are you sitting?" she asked.  "Would you mind if I joined you?"

"Not at all," I replied, pointing to my table.  "Please do."

I returned to my seat, and when she got her coffee, she sat down.  "So, I'm Kay," she said.

"You're kidding," I answered.  "I'm Karen.  But some of my friends call me K."

"Incredible," she said, shaking her head in disbelief.  "I can't believe how much we look alike."

We laughingly traded stories of mistaken identity.  I thought she was really funny and smart.  I immediately liked her.

"So, what do you do with all these cigarettes?" I asked.

"Oh," she grimaced.  "It's this promotional thing.  I hate smoking, actually.  But you know... gotta make a buck."

"What do you do?"

"Well, I go to lounges and clubs, and I walk up to people who are smoking, and I ask them if they'd like to trade their half-empty boxes of cigarettes for a full box of this brand."

"Oh," I said.  "Well, at least you're targeting people who already smoke," I said, half-heartedly.

"Yeah, I guess."

It seemed like such a weird way to make a living, and she seemed smarter than this, capable of so much more.  So I asked, "So ... is this your full-time job?"

"Oh HELL no," she said, quickly.  "I couldn't live on what I make doing this!  This is just for a little extra money."

"So what do you do?"

She looked me dead in the eye, and said, completely matter-of-factly:

"I'm a dominatrix."


Blink. Blink.

"I'm sorry," I said stupidly, "did you just say 'dominatrix'?"

She smiled.  "Yes.  I'm a dominatrix."

"Like ... whips?  Chains?  Cat-o'nine-tails?  That sort of thing?"  I asked, realizing that I sounded like a complete prude, but unable to hide my disbelief.

"Right.  Exactly."

I stared at her dumbly.

"It's not about sex," she added quickly.

"Well, right, no, of course ..." I started mumbling.

"It's about domination."

"Uh-huh, right.  Yes.  Of course.  Obviously."  I struggled with what to say next.  "So ... how's ... business?" I smiled wanly.

She laughed.  "Booming, actually," she began, and then she proceeded to tell me all about it.  She told me about the domination house (I think that's what she called it, I really don't remember now) and about the other girls she worked with.  She told me how her clientele was primarily made up of professionals -- doctors, lawyers and even schoolteachers (!).  Eventually, I stopped feeling uncomfortable, and I started asking her questions that she gamely answered. 

After a while, she looked at her watch.  "I better get going," she said.  "I've gotta get rid of these cigarettes."

"Oh, of course.  Well, nice meeting you," I said.

"Yeah, you too!" She smiled as she stood.  "Hey, we should meet for coffee again.  Should we trade numbers?"

We did, and even spoke on the phone a few times after.  Once, I remember talking with her in the middle of the day while I was at the office, and she mentioned that she was engaged.  "Really?" I said, somewhat surprised.  "Your fiancé doesn't have a problem with the work you do?"

"Not at all.  He owns the domination house."

Well, of course he does.

Anyway, I never saw her again after that first meeting, and after a few phone conversations, we never spoke again -- not for any real reason, just that apparently lawyers and dominatrices have less in common than you might initially think.  Interestingly, no one ever mistook me for her again either.  She just sort of disappeared, as if she'd never existed in the first place.

Still, all these years later, I've often wondered what happened to Kay.  Who knows:  maybe she decided that the domination world was too stressful, so she gave it all up to become a writer and a photographer and a blogger ...


SongWhip it by Devo


love thursday: my girl


I took this photograph of Alex last week, to enlarge and frame for Marcus' desk. 

Man oh man, how I love this face.


* * * * * * *


Happy Love Thursday, everyone.  Please leave your stories or links to your words or images of love in the comments below.

And go look at a face you love today.


SongGet back by Demi Lovato.  This song brought to you by Alex.  OBVIOUSLY.

random thoughts: looking for rhythm again

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I'm in this strange limbo.  After 2 weeks of my routine completely up-ended as I worked toward my Monday deadline, I find myself sort of spinning, unable to get my footing, and I'm having a hard time getting back into my rhythm.  I'm busy playing catch up on all the items I've let lie dormant for a while (the superpower forum being one of them -- I know, I'm sorry, we'll be back up and running very soon, I promise), but this week the Mom 2.0 Summit begins, and in addition to speaking, I've got some unexpected writing and shooting duties to assume as well on behalf of a local online publication (I'll link to it in the coming days).  I'm looking forward to all of it -- not to mention there are several bloggers coming to town who I'm really excited to reconnect with -- but if I'm honest, I'm also craving a little routine, a little quiet.

So -- any advice as to how to put a little calm in an otherwise hectic schedule?  I suspect I'll be having a lot of green or herbal teas in the next few days (not to mention burning a little extra incense and playing some calm music in my workspace), but any other little nuggets of inspiration will be gratefully received.


SongDestiny by Zero 7