Saturday, January 28, 2012

Making the "list"

On February 12, 2008 I had surgery to repair a brain aneurysm.

It was a relatively new procedure back then known as “coiling” and the gist of what happened included a cable inserted into a vein near my hip/groin that held a tiny robotic arm that snaked its way up to my brain and installed a titanium coil into the aneurysm, as well as a stent in the artery to prevent collapse.

Neat, right? But so not the point of this post. Around that time I started dating the adorable man who is now my husband. We had lots of talks that winter leading up to the surgery about “bucket lists.” Who had ‘em, whether people needed them, and whether he was on mine. Ha!

I never got around to sitting around and thinking about what I wanted to achieve before “kicking the bucket.” I had kids to care for, bills to pay, husbands to nag…you know how it goes.

And it’s not that I’m necessarily morbid these days, it’s just that this stupid state has me so damned bored with it’s extreme cold and it’s “most frigid January in Anchorage history.” We’re housebound. We’re antsy. And we’re dreaming of things we can’t do right now because our cars aren’t starting and our finger tips freeze before we reach the mailbox.

But I’ve sat down and thought of a few and I’m ready to share. I didn’t number them. I don’t think the order is as important as just accomplishing them. And who knows when I’ll get around to them, but at least I’ve recorded them and if the law of attraction has anything to say about it, these experiences are already on their way to me. So there!!

So, in no particular order, here’s my “list.” (And yes, I’m refusing to call it a bucket list. It’s just a “list.”)

• Get a paper published in the Jane Austen Society of North America’s scholarly journal “Persuasions.” To celebrate, must visit Chawton, Jane Austen’s home and museum in England. Must. Will not be considered complete without the Chawton visit.

• Visit the great-grandfather’s hometown of Fredrickstadt, Norway. Eat some smoked cod without making a face and offending the locals.

• Read the entire collection of Roald Dahl’s children’s books. Watching the various movies DOES. NOT. COUNT.

• Watch a game at Fenway. Eat a hotdog, even. Jeer the Yankees with a fake Bah-stahn accent.

• Finish that journey to fluency in Spanish. Seriously. I was so close and then, well, I moved to Alaska and haven’t said much more than “hard taco, please” as practice. My bad.

• I’ve got this YA steampunk trilogy brewing in my head and the characters are based on my
kids. Obviously, this is the most important story I have to tell and life will not be considered complete until I get those three stories out into the world, publication or no publication. Tell their stories.

• Run a triathlon. I don’t have to win. I just have to finish. Just one. And yes, I have to ride the bike myself. And get up if I crash, which is likely.

• Visit James F. Wright’s grave. Say hello. And goodbye. Never really got to do either and I feel like that’s a chapter in my story that deserves some sort of closure. First step, of course, would be to find the damn thing. Good thing the man who raised me and who I consider my dad
happened to be very close friends with the brother of the man who is actually the biological father. Small, strange little world, isn’t it? Anyway, that Uncle Larry guy will probably know where his brother is buried and that’s always a place to start.

• Raise a mini-lemon tree. For real, not my version of keeping plants alive for a week before
killing them. I want a lemon tree that lives on and on. I want it to live in a bright, sunny spot in our home and produce real, live lemons. Save me from those godawful plastic squeeze lemons of fakeness at the grocery store.

• Shake Paula Deen’s hand. Don’t laugh. I love her. Like, a lot. Hell, it’s my “list,” I might even hug her!

Good start, eh?

And what about you? Do you have a “list” or do you just sort of make it up as you go?

Have a wonderful weekend. Hug someone special (but keep your mitts offa Paula, ya hear?!)


Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Law of Attraction: 2012

Simply put, your dominant thoughts will find a way to manifest themselves into your life.

I'm hoping and wishing for big changes in 2012 and it starts here. Mecca? Maybe not. But close enough for this half-frozen, sunlight-lacking soul...


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

There's This Girl I Want My Husband to Meet

Now, settle down. I'm not talking any Alaskan version of "Wife Swap."

That’s just a cute way of saying that I sometimes I think about the other “versions” of me my husband will never know.

He’ll never meet the high school version of me and maybe that’s a good thing. While I might have been a lot of fun, I wasn’t always the nicest human being when it came to the opposite sex, so there’s always that.

The girl I wish I could introduce my husband to would be cowgirl I once was.

Now, I’m not saying I was a barrel-racing diva with real ranch cred or anything and the truth is that even in my Texas A&M hey day, getting on a horse was always a bit nerve wracking.

But something about the me from back then would have charmed the pants off him. (Not that I have problems charming my husband’s pants off or anything…have you seen the size of our family? HA!!!)

Cowgirl Megan wasn’t overly confident all the time, but she wore ropers and Levis on a Friday night out. She refused to wear those godawful pocket-less freakshows called “Rockies.” (The 90’s hick version of “mom jeans,” methinks!)

She drank beer. Probably too much beer, but any college girl who knows the difference between Shiner Bock and Milwaukee’s Best has some moxie. Cowgirl Megan two-stepped every weekend and loved country music. She knew the words to every Robert Earl Keen song and even got emotional, sloppy drunk when that sappy Gary Stewart song “An Empty Glass” came on. (That was actually pretty funny.)

She sat through sunsets and swam in creeks. She sat on tailgates and swung her legs back and forth for hours on end, just because. She left front doors open because there was this thing called a screen door. And they rocked...

She loved Steve Earl’s “Guitar Town” and drank her way through an entire pitcher of beer to retrieve her Aggie class ring once. (She lost that ring sometime in 2002 and hasn’t been the same since. So sad.)

(At the that point in time, my husband was enlisted in the Marine Corp. *drool* I think Cowgirl Megan and her counterpart, Marine Corps Patrick, would have been quite a team back in the day. Wild, reckless, constantly hungover. Fun, right?!)

Ok, so maybe once in a while Cowgirl Megan was a moron and did things like drink too much before the party started so she was unconscious and passed out in the back seat of her friend’s car for entire festivities, but still.

We’ll even overlook her penchant for fighting with sorority girls outside the Dixie Chicken that one especially hot summer and chalk it up to the madness that 87 straight days of 100+ degree weather will incite.

But there are days that I miss that girl. What’s more, I wish my husband got to know her before she turned into the bill payer, the floor scrubber, the uber mom. Not that I’m complaining…my life is a beautiful, beautiful thing…but Cowgirl Megan was a freer Megan and sometimes the chains of responsibility weigh heavy and the phsyical distance Alaska imposes between you and everything you grew up knowing is great. Sometimes you miss the Salt Lick and JJ's Pit BBQ just won't cut it.

Maybe more than him knowing that girl, maybe I want him to know the place and the experiences that shaped that girl. They were magical. They are magical.

I miss the things Texas represents from time to time… “ya’ll,” barbecue, bluebonnets, high school football, lazy rivers you can actually jump in without stopping your heart (though the occasional water moccasin might do that for you…just sayin’.) I miss them in a way that I wish my husband (and my kids) could experience it too.

I think about my roots on days like this…sub-zero, lacking sunshine, no fresh fruit to speak of, kids cramped inside a small living room because nobody’s interested in outdoor activities when your boogers freeze immediately on contact with the air.

And I wonder just how rewarding and different it might be to raise our family in a place like that.

Picture it: Cowboy Boy Wonder, Cowpoke Boo, Cowprincess Kenna, Cattle Baron Patrick…and Cowgirl Megan. Pick up trucks, blue jeans, and cowboy boots. Barbeque pits, sunny evenings on a porch swing, and country music.

Sometimes I think I’ll never live that life again…but you know what they say about saying “never,” don’t you?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crowded Kitchen: The Acai Mustache Maker (Smoothie)

I was reading an article yesterday and laughed my @## off at a commenter when they said that our sport (jiu jitsu) is known for a few things--acai bowls and cauliflower ear being chief among them.

It's true, and while cold weather and other assorted factors have kept me off the mat lately, the recent drop in temperature and rampant release of flu bugs makes me rethink the benefit of working a little more "jiu jitsu lifestyle" into our winter. Sure, we don't have the beaches the other schools have in So Cal (yes, I'm jealous), but we've got the sunshine. The blinding, eyeball-burning sunshine (which in Alaska in January usually guarantees that it's well below zero and into the negative digits. Blah.)

We love our local Acai Alaska shop, but the problem is that we just might love ourselves into the poorhouse if we frequent it as much as we'd like. They're not cheap! (For good reason, I know. But still...)

Costco had a special on Acai juice today (two smallish jugs for about $7.50). Can I get a "hooray?"


So, in honor of our half-frozen homage to the jiu jitsu lifestyle, here's a quick Acai smoothie that boasts all the superfood benefits of acai, bananas, and blueberries.

Acai Superfood Smoothie

Blend until smooth:

1 banana
1 cup frozen fruit (we used blueberries)
1 cup Acai juice
1/4 cup water (or more, depending on the consistency you like)

It passed the "Boo" test, too...hence the name "mustache maker." The boy sure loves his "smoomies."

Enjoy the day!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesdays with Laundry

There are no wise words today. No sad words, no declarations. Not much other than some soap and dryer sheets...maybe a glimpse into the 80s with me. Does anyone else have memories of childhood that seem to involve laundromats? Lots of laundromats?

I grew up for a spell in Chester, Vermont and I distinctly remember a few things about that beautiful little of them being the laundromat.

I remember eating an entire pack of gum I stole out of my mom's purse underneath the folding table. I remember playing with a deck of Captain Caveman playing cards I'd gotten for Christmas from my aunt Dee. I remember finding a $20 bill outside in a snowbank and feeling like the luckiest four-year old in the world because my mom let me pick out a candybar at Gould's store.

Our washing machine is a piece of crap right now and either will, or won't, depending on the moon's gravitational pull and what color underwear you happen to have on, drain the water during the spin cycle.

Sometimes you have clean clothes, sometimes you have dirty clothes soup.

Out of socks and sick of "questionable" sweatshirts, the Boo and I loaded up 800 pounds of laundry and hit the Jewel Lake Washateria and hung out together. Turns out, wasn't so bad. What's more? He seems to be the laundromat fan that I always was.

And just to be super helpful and nerdy, here's a couple links to great laundry tips and advice. Who says you've got nothing new to learn on a Tuesday afternoon?

2. Laundry folding advice from Mamas Laundry Talk
3. 5 Easy Laundry Tips from Men's Health News
4. Money Saving Laundry Tips from

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, January 9, 2012

What now? A 2012 conundrum.

Happy 2012!

I know I’m about nine days late wishing you a happy new year, but here I am!

The Christmas holidays kind of flew by as a blur of baking cookies and sick children, and once we survived those, I found myself on a 35-hour nightmare plane ride that never seemed to end.

Though truth be told, I really only flew from Alaska to Phoenix, Phoenix to El Paso. In El Paso, I had a great couple hours with my parents, picked up my son, took a shower, took a 45 minute nap, and returned to the airport. From there, we waited on an hour delay before the plane that was originally supposed to take us to L.A. rerouted us to Ontario, CA because of fog. Once in sardine-smelling Ontario, we boarded touring buses like a band of refugees and drove to LAX. Our connection to Seattle had been delayed, thankfully, so after a nasty Burger King burger, we flew to the Emerald City. Our flight home started off great until 27 minutes into the flight, the pilot turned us around because both de-icers had broken. AUGH!

I’ve never been the biggest fan of flying and for some reason, I though the “cheap” flight would be fine. Never again. I’ll save my pennies for next summer’s retrieval mission and if I have any say in it, the boy and I will be in first class, baby!

So there’s where we are. Its 2012, the kids are now 8, nearly 3, and a little past 6 months. P is getting ready for the toughest semester in school yet, and I’m still trying to find a moment of time to decide who I want to be this year.

Things are bananas. Add to that some real heartbreak in our life when it comes to a very important institution my husband and I have been a part of for a very long time, and maybe you can tell that my heart just isn’t where it’s supposed to be right now. I feel like the sands beneath us are constantly shifting with the weight of broken heaters, broken friendships, raggedy gossips, giving up what you’ve fought so hard to build, and the day-to-day trials of trying to make even the most perfect of circumstances work (and we all know they’re never perfect, anyway), and I’m just worn out.

It's a mild depression. It's a sense of not going anywhere, despite spinning your wheels as fast as you can. It's that point where the things you used to enjoy (facebook, email, etc) became a source of stress and drama...and really, who needs fake drama when there's so much REAL drama to create in the world?? I'm kidding. Sort of.

It’s only the ninth day of the new year and I woke up with a heavy heart, some extra pounds weighing me down, and not a lot of steam to push me forward. I think it’s a damn shame, to be honest, and it was about noon time at my desk today when the most glorious peak of sunshine finally made its way through the trees and buildings of our city to blind me in the eye and make me take a second to recover. (Both metaphorically and literally--I really did sting my eye staring straight at that gorgeous sun out of disbelief that it had finally arrived.)

The past weeks have given me a lot of time to think about all the things I try to pack my plate full of, and how often I ignore my mama when she tells me I’m doing too much. Too much worrying about people who don’t matter. Too much planning and hoping for things without thinking them through and deciding what’s a real priority and what’s not.

And it’s true. If there was a gold medal for consistently rushing from good idea to hastily implmented process, I'd be an Olympian. I'd be the Michael Phelps of rushing headlong into things.

I thought long and hard about what to do with the blogs I’d created in the past couple of years. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I thought it would be wise to separate out my interests. I had a book come out in 2011 and thought I needed a separate venue to promote it—mostly because I didn’t feel like explaining to certain groups of acquaintances that I wrote that sort of stuff—but partly because it was a new, shiny website. Then there is the Hungry Little Blackbird, an effort that I absolutely love, but inevitably end up neglecting for a few months a year while I finish a book or bringing forth a baby. (Yes, it’s been one of those years.)

I also teach. Did you know that? Well, I do. I teach writing workshops online and in-person and this year’s going to a wild ride for me as I move away from teaching adults and get into teaching kids. I’m thrilled about it, and last year I thought it was be wise to have a blog about that, too. A blog I never got to update.

Do you see a pattern yet? I seemed to have about a million irons in the fire and with all the change and flux we’re working through right now, there’s just not enough me to make it all work.

So what now?

Well, who knows? But my first step is to take the first half of 2012, at least, and operate off of one blog. One platform. Jam all of my hobbies and dreams and pursuits into one place. I always thought the key to finding your niche online was to make your content as specific as possible, but I’m finding that’s not always the case. Sometimes it just drives you crazy, as it is currently doing to me.

So I’m putting all the other pursuits like HLB, my author site, my teaching site, and whatever else is out there on hold. And putting it all here. Cutting myself some slack and giving myself ONE place to dump all my energy into.

Don’t get me wrong…this new year is a tad bumpy on the takeoff to be sure, but if you know anything about me, you know I don’t sit around and play the victim too long. Sure, I love the wallowing in the Ben & Jerry’s for a week or two, but eventually I get bored with myself and paddle my way out of the %$^% creek.

So maybe this is just me collecting my canoe, my life vest, my oars, and my picnic basket. Turns out it’s kinda nice having everything in one place.

Happy 2012 and here’s to a year of making things happen.


Oh, and P.S.: I need to plug in my Happy light. I know, I know. Vitamin D deficiency isn't really helping much. Noted.