Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Miracle at the Marriott.

WARNING: This may be my grossest, most TMI, most ALL CAPS post ever, but I cannot go on with my life until I put this out there. I have long recognized the therapeutic properties of confessional writing, and I am in desperate need of redemption and healing. 

But first, a little context. We’re in the Chicago area for a video game convention, and after a fun day of gaming and exploring, we check into our hotel around 9. Because we brought books with us (and are flying Southwest), we’re traveling “heavy”—four suitcases and four carry-on items. #bagsflyfree 

As Brett is checking in and I’m trying to corral some of our items from the curb (i.e., my hands are full), A BUG FLIES UP MY NOSE. I try to get it out, but not wanting to blow my nose au naturale on the sidewalk, I stagger inside to set down bags and find a Kleenex. I’m wiping and blowing, blowing and wiping and (gross level 5) black “stuff” is coming out of my right nostril, INCLUDING A SKINNY BUG LEG. 

In the lobby Brett gets our keys, and we’re about to head for the elevator. I’m desperate to flush my nose (and erase my memory), but Brett decides to get ice while we’re downstairs. He is down the hall long enough for me to question all my life choices and decide I will never survive this invasion, and oh-my-gosh, why does it feel like there’s something still in there? 

When Brett returns with the ice, I’m still in freak-out mode, so before we gather all our stuff, I try blowing my nose again. And this time, we have liftoff. When I look in the tissue (not my typical M.O., btw), I see (gross level 9) a MOTH. Wings, head, legs (five, I assume, since I had already seen one). A FREAKING MOTH. 

So as any good partner will do, I show it to Brett. In 27 years of marriage, I have never once offered or even attempted to show him anything that had come out of my nose, so you would THINK he would trust that this is an exceptional moment, an occasion worthy of the level-9 gross-out. But he responds, as one who hasn’t known me for nearly three decades might, with, “Ew! No! I don’t want to see that!”

But then. Then. 

As I’m standing there, evidence-laden Kleenex aloft, smack dab in the middle of the Elmhurst Courtyard by Marriott lobby, a miracle occurs. The moth, that filthy, five-legged interloper, TAKES FLIGHT. And Brett, even in his disgusted, can’t-make-me-look state, witnesses it. A phoenix, rising from the tissue. Defiant. Determined. Proud. 

So the next time you see me, if you avert your eyes or avoid me entirely, I understand. And I am sorry if this visual has grossed you out or made you aware of an unthinkable possibility. But this story, much like my unwelcome invader, had to spread its wings. 

#keepingitreal #notoverit #nevergettingoverit

Monday, October 26, 2020


I couldn't even pet her. This crazy-strong dog—part Blue Heeler, part Mack truck—was too wild for me. Frisco consistently saw my hands as chew toys or chicken nuggets, so anytime I tried to make nice, she jumped up and bit me. I couldn't handle her idea of "playing."

Most of the dogs in my childhood were much smaller and certainly more docile, so at first, I wasn't convinced this stray was such a great fit for our family. But oh, how Brett loved her! He was patient with her, willing to walk and play and wrestle the wildness out of her. He saw her rambunctiousness for what it was: "She just loves too much!" As Brett’s attachment to Frisco grew, my resistance faded. I love him, and he loves her; therefore, I'm a fan.

Frisco made herself at home at our Watauga house. She was especially fond of our pool—not because she wanted to swim, but because she loved hanging out while we did (and licking the pool water from Brett's hair!). Her favorite perch was our patio table because it put her at just the right height for ear scratches.

She also enjoyed the two-story deck that gave her access to our roof. Many a visitor was surprised to find our "guard dog" keeping watch from the shingles.

After we moved, it didn't take long for her to learn the new neighborhood trails, expecting us to take the long way home each time.

In the months after my mom died, we decided our backyard could handle another pooch, so here came my little punkin. When Daisy first joined us, she was just a "hint of a whiff of a puff," tiny compared to Frisco. But our big girl took to sisterhood like a champ, always patient, always sweet, always gentle with the new baby.

It may have also been Frisco's age, but having a puppy around tamed our wild child. What's funny is that once I had a smaller dog that I could walk, Frisco herself was calm enough for me to manage. Brett's the chief dog-walker, but we spent many an evening with his and her pups towing us down sidewalks.

As Daisy grew, so did her diva-hood. (We don't call her the princess for nothin'!) She's the one who scratches the backdoor just seconds after going outside. She's the one who would growl if Frisco even looked at the favored squeaky fox. Daisy's the top dog who expects—nay, demands—first dibs at the treats.

But Frisco? She never growled at the little white doggy-come-lately. Even though Frisco was much stronger, she never bullied or overpowered Daisy. She was certainly jealous when Daisy had Brett's attention, but she was always gentle with the little sister.

Thursday night, it was Daisy's turn to be gentle. Within a 24-hour span, Frisco's demeanor had changed, and we knew our time with her was running out. Daisy seemed to know it, too, snuggling next to her buddy on the back porch, giving her space when she wanted it, and staying extra calm around us, the heartbroken humans.

As we said our goodbyes, loving on Frisco as best we could, we cried and reminisced and laughed and cried some more. Our big girl was tired, and it was her time to go. We each had our moments to scratch her gray forehead, to rub that big ol' belly, to remind her what a good girl she was. It was so, so hard to go to bed that night, to leave her, to scratch those ears for the last time. When we first got her, I couldn’t even pet her, but now that she’d been part of our family for so long, I didn’t know how to stop.

Frisco Dub, 2007(ish)-2020

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Macbeth ponders online learning.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from week to week
To the last syllable of recorded trimester.
And all our yesterdays have lighted students
The way to graduation. Out, out, online learning!
Google Classroom's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and Screen-castifies its hour upon the stage
But cannot replace face-to-face instruction. This is a time
Necessitated for health, full of Zoom and Google Meets,
All of us missing so much, yet learning still.
Our senior team turned in our last set of online lessons today. What a privilege to work with my innovative and tireless colleagues! Over the last eight weeks, we have developed lessons, videos, and websites for online learning that we know will benefit our students in the future, too--whatever that learning environment may be.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018.

Another November, another National Blog Posting Month reminding me that I need to write—not for clicks or comments but for ME! I miss blogging. I miss having a place to store stories that go with the photos I’m sharing on Facebook and Instagram. I miss having a virtual scrapbook, a written history of our family’s events. And I really miss getting to stretch my own writing muscles now and then.

Brett is the professional writer in our family, but he has always been supportive of others’ writing endeavors, mine included. For his latest two books, the SNES Omnibus volumes 1-2, he invited gaming industry insiders to share their perspectives on their favorite Super Nintendo games. Because insider status was part of our pre-nup, Brett allowed me to contribute my own stories for each volume.

My entry for volume 1 is here. Brett’s sweet post about my essay (and Ryan’s, too!) is here.

I’m honored to be included in his books, to be alongside the other contributors—true insiders and experts. And what a thrill to be in a book written by my favorite author!


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Houston Strong.

Because my aunt and uncle lived in Houston, I spent many holidays there. We'd visit most summers, too, spending a day at Galveston or Astroworld. And on more than a couple of occasions, we would head to the Astrodome to watch some baseball.

The Astros have never been "my" team—I'm a Rangers girl, after all—but I have always had a special place in my heart for the team with the groovy candy-corn-striped uniforms. 

This has been an exceptionally tough year for Houston. Hurricane Harvey caused unprecedented flooding, and this is on the heels of the Memorial Day 2015 and the Tax Day 2016 floods. My aunt's house was under feet of water in both of those disasters. She restored her home after the first, but when everything was destroyed less than a year later, she opted to move to higher ground. She is quick to say how blessed she is: that she had her daughter's house nearby for her temporary residence, that she had the means to move to a retirement community. She's also thankful she got out before Harvey struck. But for so many, recovery has not been so quick. Life has yet to return to normal. 

Tonight, the Houston Astros are World Series champions. I know this doesn't fix everything, but I also know this title, not to mention memories of this remarkable seven-game series, will bring some light to the darkness. 

Congrats, 'Stros. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

A hitch in my get-along.

It started a few months before the school year ended: a little twinge in my knuckles, a small pang in my big toes. There was the one time my shoulder freaked out on me, and I couldn't raise my right arm more than a few inches away from my body. Thank goodness I can still use my left arm, I thought, foreshadowing the next morning's discovery that my other shoulder was messed up, too.

There have been days when I have needed help to get dressed, mornings when I let my hair stay curly because it was too hard to hold the straightener, Sundays when Brett had to bring my meds to the sound booth, nights when I couldn't sleep because of an aching foot or a sore hand.

Of course, this wasn't all the time, and school and everything else kept me too busy to dwell on these occurrences. Besides, I've always heard that your body does crazy stuff as you near 50. I should've called a doctor, but I put it off. This summer, my excuses ran out as the pain became more consistent. These days, I never leave the house without Aspercreme or Icy Hot in my purse, and my summer to-do list of home repairs sits untouched because I can't hold a paint brush or climb a ladder most days. I made the call.

At my first clinic visit, the doctor took X-rays and ran a blood test for gout. "You're too young for osteoarthritis and too old for it to be rheumatoid," she told me before sending me on my way with an arthritis med. I was relieved to have something besides naproxen to help with the pain and soreness, but I knew this wasn't an actual remedy. And no, I don't have gout.

At my second visit, the doc ordered another blood test to check for autoimmune issues. As I suspected, it came back positive. "You were right," the doctor said. "It's rheumatoid arthritis."

Sometimes it sucks to be right.

I anticipated this answer, and I KNEW a diagnosis would likely not mean an end to the joint pain. Still, in my mind, I kept thinking this pain was temporary, that soon I'd be back to normal. Certainly I have hope that my symptoms will be manageable, and I'll do whatever I can to slow the joint damage. But the very real possibility is that this pain and weakness will become my new normal, and that scares me to death.

This is where I'm supposed to say that my faith is sustaining me, that even though there are many unknowns, I know Who carries me. Sorry, but I'm not there yet. We have been through so many crises; you would think I could take assurance from my past. But my past is flashing before my eyes. My parents did not have RA but both ended up disabled, and when I think of this chronic condition, I can't help but picture their home, walkers and crutches and braces and Ben-Gay and bottles of pills lining the kitchen counter. It's hard to separate my envisioned future from their lives I saw firsthand.

So, friends, I need your help. I need your prayers, your positive thoughts, your encouragement. I need your success stories of people living with RA, your tips and tricks and meal plans. I need a good rheumatologist! I'm back at work in less than a month, so I need a game plan, a better attitude, and coping mechanisms in place ASAP.

Many of my friends and family members are walking much tougher roads than I am, so I feel guilty for even mentioning my diagnosis. But I am weak (literally!), and I know that with help, I can be strong.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Flashback headers.

If I close my eyes and think waaaaay back into the past, I can remember when I used to blog! Life has gotten in the way of my attempt to document it, but I'm still thankful for the stories and photos that made it here once upon a time.

Today I'm decluttering my laptop, but before I delete files, I want to document these old blog headers that are taking up bits (and bytes) of my hard drive.

Behold, the past!

Spring 2010
Summer 2010

Fall 2010

Holidays 2010
Winter 2010 (version 1)
Winter 2010-2011 (version 2)
Spring 2011
Summer 2011

Fall 2011

Holidays 2011
New Year 2012
Spring/Summer 2012

Fall 2012
Holidays 2012

Winter 2013
Spring 2013

Summer 2013

Fall 2013

December 2013

Winter 2013-2014
Spring 2014
Summer 2014
New Year 2015
Fall 2015
Summer/Fall 2016