Losing Robin

rw standing on desksI was on my way to buy groceries last week when the news came over the radio.  Robin Williams was gone.  I cried in the grocery store parking lot.  I was struck so deeply by it, that I had to find an excuse for my reaction–why mourn so deeply for a celebrity? A person I’d never met.  A man who brought joy with his comedy and movies.  A man who was manic and candid and childlike and brilliant.  He made some of my favorite movies.  I remember watching him on a late night show with my mom in the 90s–we laughed so hard, we fell on the floor, wiped tears from our eyes, laughed just as hard 15 minutes later in remembering to one another what he had said or done.  He was a bringer of light, even as he dealt with his own darkness.

I have purposefully avoided reading the negative commentary that inspired Zelda, his daughter, to leave Twitter with a bitterly sad note that she may never return.  Who feels they should speak ill of the dead in the moments after they have passed, regardless of how they passed?  Who thinks it’s justified to spew negativity at a person they’ve never met in the wake of her father’s death?  Who does that?  Only monsters, in my mind.

I cannot admit to living with monsters, though the evidence is all around me.  I have to believe that people like the ones Robin Williams portrayed in his movies are still all around us–John Keatings and Patch Adamses, Adrian Cronauers, Morks, and Chris Nielsens.  Teachers who make us think and step out of the cadence and stand on desks all to gain our own perspective.  Doctors who see the patient as a human, not a disease, not a problem to solve, not a thing, and who values laughter as a healing tool.  Radio deejays who play us the music, who tell us the jokes, who bring us the news, who buck the “man” while still sharing the unifying magic of song.  The outsiders who bring us their unique perspective and humor and wonder.  Dedicated spouses who will walk with us into hell and back, no matter how challenging the lives we share may become.  Those are the people I want to believe are the majority.

And though it is hard to talk about, and though some of us cannot understand the reality of depression, and though we can never know what kind of life another person lives inside their own minds and hearts, we CAN have compassion for another human being who struggles, who battles, and who loses that battle.  It’s not easy, and I am sad that this is how Robin left this planet, and I pray for his family to find their way to healing in the days and months and years to come.  And for those of us who can imagine the struggle, who can identify with the pain, please know that there is help, there are people who love you, that even though it seems as if there are no more choices, there are.  There are. Call 1-800-273-8255 if you are in distress.

Robin Williams, I thank you for the happiness you gave me through your art.  You made my life happier and brighter.  I stood on my desk in my high school English class to prove a point because of you.  Farewell for now.  I hope I get to meet you someday.  Thank you.

Taking Your Art Seriously

I write. I am a “writer.” I am, however, not what I would call an “author.” The distinction in my mind is the difference between being published and not being published. Authors are published. Writers write.

I have a good many friends who are authors, though, and if I am being honest with myself…I am jealous of their success. I am truly, truly happy for them, but I confess that I am also covetous of their ability to win the acceptance and approval of whatever powers that be that decide: “YES! You! This work you have produced–it is publication worthy!” Huzzah for them. Sincerely.

AND I know I have no room for grousing about feeling jealous or depressed about my own lack of authorhood BECAUSE it’s my own fault. I haven’t *really* tried to become published in the traditional way since I left grad school. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I put a short story on Amazon (about a year ago) to be sold like a Kindle “single.” For 99 cents. And of all the people I know who know I did this…let’s say something like 100 people (a low estimate)…7 of them dared to spend less than $1 on a story I wrote. And these are people I know. It’s demoralizing.

So yeah. Boo hoo. Pity party for me. In all honesty, I wrote a supremely snarky “nobody loves me” blog about the whole debacle, but wisely decided not to post it. Although, in retrospect, it’s pretty damn funny. I mean, if you like snark.

But now that party is over. I am just done wallowing. Because I decided, “If I don’t take my own art seriously, who will?” Self-publishing is one route to take, but just plopping something down on Amazon isn’t going to turn me into an author because I wish it to be so. It’s time to go back to the basics of becoming an author and go about it in a different way.

First, obviously, is writing.

Second, just as obviously, is attempting to become published by TRYING to become published. There is no wishing in publishing, dear self.

Third, is to return to my old methods that allowed me to gain insight and growth as a writer…by reaching out to my friends who are/were writers and get them to share work with me. And if they won’t/can’t, then it’s time to find a new group of writers to bounce ideas off of, and to serve as a voice of reason when I want to put a sasquatch in my short story. Or maybe they will say that sasquatch should stay. You just never know.

And I’m going to take this little gem from my cousin. She is a painter, and recently she quoted a friend of hers who said, “art is an equation; the more you put in, the more you get out.” Such a simple adage, but a good one to remember.

So. Here goes. Taking my art seriously.

And the Saga Continues…


That place downtown?

Yeah. Not available.


And now a cleansing breath. And now a positive attitude? And a possible aversion to blabbing my business all over the blog-o-sphere because I am apparently jinxing myself?

Well, no. Although I have some belief in hoo-doo, luck, and spirit worlds and the like, I’m going to go ahead and share the latest development in reception places.

I have been driving past this little place like three or four times a week and the thought would occur to me: “That place is cute. Maybe I should check it out.” And then I continue on about my business and forget about it as soon as I get out of the car. But when that place downtown (after the guy totally led me on about how I was first on the list and November 9th was a very real possibility and blah blah blah) fell through last night, this other place jumped to the front of my brain. Finally, at the prompting of my friend, Rebecca, I emailed them to ask if it was available.

Here’s what they said(!):

“Our rate for private events is $200 per hour and only during nonbusiness hours (before 4 pm). If you would like to have the event during business hours, there is no charge but it can’t be a private event. If it is a private event, you’re welcome to decorate, bring in food, provide entertainment and all ages are ok as long as minors are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Our capacity is 75 inside, and 300 outside.

Just let us know if you’re looking for a private event or would like to have the event during normal business hours. We do have a private area we could reserve on the patio during business hours for no charge.

Thank you.”

SO! Now I’m all like “yes! this could really work!”

But my business analyst brain is in overdrive thinking of the possible if/thens.

My ceremony is currently scheduled to take place in mid-town from 3:00 – 4:30.

If we keep this time, then we can (very Bud & Sissy-esquely) crowd on to the porch of this place and have a little shindig with whomever wants to join us back there.

If we do that, then I need to ask about bringing in food, if we can have a dj and/or mariachis show up, what’s the deal with paying for drinks for the people in our group, and let people know that kids can’t come.

OR we could stop at the house, eat, and move as a group to this place leaving the kids with a babysitter at the house, to be retrieved later.

OR (and I’m going to lean toward this one in the short term) I can see if I can move the ceremony to, say, noon. Then, we could all arrive at this place around 1-ish. We can eat and drink and be merry to our hearts delight until 4 (for only $600!). We can arrange for food and kids to be shuttled off to the house (very nearby, btw), and move ourselves to the back porch area, where we can continue to carry on with the celebrations, albeit in a more open to the community way. We may still want to figure out a way to have “our” music, if the venue is cool with that, as long as it’s not too loud or too competitive with the jukebox. Or heck, maybe we’ll just pour a bunch of money into the jukebox and dance the night away like a real honky tonk!

And now, I’m suddenly freeing up my brain to think about decorations and other things on my to-do list like, I don’t know…invitations???!!!  They need to go out ASAP!

Another cleansing breath.  Whew.  Maybe this is going to happen, after all!

Time to get Creative

Bad news. The Getaway Motor Club is not for me. There was no obvious signage on the outside of the building, no sign, no parking. It looked like a warehouse…and I don’t mean I didn’t like it because it was “industrial” on the outside…it was like a scary-looking warehouse. Like rusted out doors and strange, not-patched holes in the exterior. It’s just not going to work. Especially not for what they quoted me ($3500).

And the other place, “The Sanctuary” was already booked on my day. Boo.

So. Yeah.

The good news is I can see this as a challenge that can be solved…somehow. Someway.

I have a very good lead on a very cool spot, but the only problem is that I have to wait for some contractual stuff to get settled between the building’s owner and the people who will be leasing it in the very near future. The owner seems super cool and told me I was first on the list. The price is right. And get this…it’s in the heart of downtown Austin. It is actually across the street from where C and I had our first official date. Since we met in the middle of 6th Street on New Year’s Night, it seems fitting to celebrate this day downtown. It is also practically around the corner from where the ceremony will happen. The only thing to worry about is the limitations on what we can bring to the venue. If they want a licensed caterer only to bring in food, then we will figure out a way to get someone to make my family’s food on the cheap. My friend, Kristen, is full of insider know-how with some really great ideas about how to get around the licensed caterer thing without paying an arm and a leg for it.

AND IF for some reason this doesn’t work…I am willing to rent a warehouse space and turn it into my dream space. And quite frankly, it would probably cost the same as one of these venues (or less) renting for a whole a month. Austin being Austin, people do this all the time during music festivals for shows and whatnot, so I think it’s a very real possibility.

And if worse comes to worst, then we WILL just traipse on down to a bar somewhere and take over the place. Or build a dancefloor in the back yard. Or…I don’t know…flashmob on 6th street.

The short term impact is obviously the delay in sending out invitations. It’s really too late to do a “save the date” AND invitations, so…with time running out, I need to nail something down very, very soon.

Cross your fingers, people. And pray. Please.

The Great Boot Conundrum

So…I’m wearing boots to my wedding. Not just a “regular” old pair of boots, but some fairly fancy ones, albeit ones I would still wear in “real life.” Now, for me, that means I’d probably sport these and my other favorite boots at least once a week (each) at work during the fall and winter and early spring. They need to be versatile, but, quite frankly, beautiful.

Now. The conundrum begins with the fact that I have a wonky ankle and big feet. It is not easy to find a size 11 of anything, especially women’s cowboy boots, that don’t make you look like you are walking around in boats. A flattering boot, however, even in size 11, can make you look like a rodeo queen, at least from toe to knee.

In all honesty, I am kind of a boot snob, and quality is of ultimate concern for me. I expect this pair of footwear to last at least 10-20 years. I expect this because I have boots that I have already had for 10-20 years and they could go another 20. I also expect cowboy boots to be made in the USA or Mexico because, hello, that’s where people wear them and therefore (one would think) the craftspeople should better know how to make them correctly and to last. At least that is my rationale. They also cost a pretty signficant amount of money and an animal had to give its life for the existence of the boots. In short, these are not *just* wedding boots, they are an investment.

This is my first choice:
first choice

This is a boot made by Corral, and is made in Mexico (like all Corral boots, according to their website). I like the wow factor, I think they are gorgeous and unique, and the shaft isn’t so tall that it would dig into my leg. However, finding this boot is not easy. No store in town has it. Boots are something you really should try on, so I tried other Corral boots with a similar toe style and they all fit fine. But some of the boots, in size 11, look like boats to me. It’s hard to keep perspective, though, when you are looking at your own feet in an outfit nothing like the one you plan to wear the boots with. I can only find these on the Corral website, which means no price reduction can be finagled in the store via sale or coupon.

This boot is a possibility because I like the way it looks on me:
second choice

But they don’t have this kind with the turquoise inlay in my size in the store (they have one with brown inlay – boring), which is less of an issue, really because they are easy to find online. I think they are more brown than I was envisioning for myself and I wanted something with a bit more pop of color. Pretty on the foot, though. And arguably more versatile for day-to-day wear.

I also like this one, but I haven’t found an 11 to try on:
fancy stitch

It has the pop of color and looks pretty in the picture, but I am afraid of the boat effect. I tried on a different pair of a similar style boot and it was like me and Big Foot were trading footwear at a sleep over. HUGE looking. That’s not something I even want to think about on my wedding day. Of course the one I tried on was a mostly light color and light colored things exaggerate size…but still! I don’t think I can buy it unless I see it on my foot first.

So…then I thought about a different color/style/brand…and really it’s limitless. I kind of like red boots like these:
red boots

But what about these? Hmmm…heel is too low.

I lurve me some Tony Lama boots, but they don’t make my size in women’s, which means I’m left looking at men’s boots, and none of them are fancy enough for a wedding.


So, I think I’m going with my first choice. If something happens (like they are considered special order and it’s going to take 90 days to get here) to this plan, I’ll have to reevaluate my second choice and carry a bigger bouquet to compensate. Or go red.

Too many options!!!

Please excuse the vanity…

I guess all blogs are fueled by some kind of vanity.  But these next few months of posts will be dedicated solely to the decision making process around…my wedding!  Possibly the most vain of the vanity projects.  But no, seriously…it’s fun and I want to share stuff easily with my friends without clogging their email/text inboxes.  So here we go…the ever-handy blog!

And as you may guess by the title of this blog, my wedding is going to be inspired by my home state and the attire we are so commonly stereotyped as wearing:  cowboy duds.  I kept having this idea of an “Urban Cowboy” kind of wedding…just a small ceremony, then head on down to the Broken Spoke for some two-steppin’ and beers.  But then it seemed like the older folks would feel out of place at a honky tonk, and no kids would be able to go, and I really want some kids to be there, so…there are going to be some more significant purchases and planning to coordinate than Bud and Sissy did.

First.  Easy things.

This is the cake I want:
Que bonita!

I want really basic flowers (one small bouquet for my one attendant, a bit larger one for me, boutonnieres for my guy, his best man, my dad, and something for my mom…I think that’s all) that look like these (or close to it):
tropicana roses

There ceremony’s going to be here:
ZBG Rose Garden

And I could be wearing something like this:

Or this:

long lace

Or this:

(they won’t let me link a photo for some reason…go look at the Anthropologie website and search for “Lacefall Dress.”)

You get the idea.

What’s really giving me trouble is the reception place. It needs to be big enough to dance at. It needs to allow drinking. I want to have a potluck (more on this in another post), so they need to let my guests bring food i.e. not limit it to a licensed caterer. And it needs to not be too expensive or already booked. This wedding is happening soon, y’all.

This is the front runner, though it is too expensive for me to cover alone. I am trying to do this without my parents help, but it might have to come down to that if I can’t find an alternative fast. There are pictures on Yelp and it is available (or was last week :\). They will allow the potluck, they have a bar, and I wouldn’t need to bring in tables or anything, I don’t think. It’s not much to look at on the outside, but it’s the inside that counts. And all I really care about is dancing the night away, so this place can provide that.

Getaway Motor Club

A different place I just found today could really be a lovely locale for a mingle-minded reception with enough space to do some dancing. If the weather is bad that day, it’s kind of limited in space, but if the weather is its usual Austin-balmy self, this place would be ah-maze-ing! I am still waiting to see if it is available, so nobody freak out yet at how cute it is. It is also very potluck friendly, and much closer to the ceremony site than the other one.

Amala Foundation - Sanctuary

There is still a lot to do, but things are moving in the right direction!

Tweaking or Just Tweaking Out?

Tweaking words is the name of the game.  Like a sound engineer with one of those giant soundboards of nobs and levers and sliders and digital output, I am constantly trying to nip my writing into something better, something perfect, something *just* right.

At some point, though, you have to stop tweaking.

My current battle is with this new publication I have on Amazon.  It is the short story “Church of the Palomino.”  I can’t post a link to it here, but you can search by the title and find it.  Please go…search, find…and do what you will (i.e. buy it)!

So, the object of my tweaking has shifted from the story itself to the description of the story.

It used to say this (a blurb I fashioned around midnight one night in a feverish attempt to meet my self-imposed publication deadline):

A widower finds solace at The Palomino. Or thinks he does. The object of his worship is an exotic dancer. Circumstances draw them together one fateful night, but things don’t turn out as expected.”

When I read it the next day, my reaction was, “WHY did I start my description with “A widower?”  A WIDOWER?  Really, what was I thinking?  That’s not going to sell a story!

So, then I started using this hashtag in a handful of tweets about the story: #everybodylovesastripper.

Much better, I think.  More light-hearted anyway.  And everybody DOES (or should…strippers are people, too).  So, I updated the brief description to this:

“Everybody loves a stripper, right? Well, formerly puritanical Max does. As a widower he finds solace at The Palomino. Or thinks he does. The object of his worship is Lexi–self-described as “a stripper with a heart of stone.” Circumstances draw them together one fateful night, but things don’t turn out as expected.”

I also managed to introduce the characters by name and include some meatier descriptions of them aside from “widower” and “stripper.”  The problem with describing a short story that has a twist at the end is that you don’t want the brief description to give it all away.  I am so tempted to have this whole diatribe about the relationship between these two characters and what they effectively do for one another, quite by accident, just by having a conversation and living through a couple of strange experiences together.  And it really has nothing to do with who they are or sex or any of the stereotypical things you might think when you put “a widower” and “a stripper” together.  He is not a dirty old  man.  He is lonesome and sad and desperate.  She is a girl (not a woman) who has been driven to this way of making money, because it is her best bet, given her circumstances, for survival.  They are just two people.

But I want people to get that for themselves when they read the story.  Someday I will put down my “English professor” agenda and just let my writing live on its own.

Back to tweaking…out.  I am a watcher and a hoverer.  I can admit this.  The number of times per day that I check my “Amazon Best Sellers Rank” is almost equal to my rank, which is, as of this moment: #152,433.  Woo hoo?  It has gone from 196k to 98k and back again in a matter of hours.  It kind of freaks me out.  And considering how little this story has sold, I know that this number is mainly dependent upon the success (or lack thereof) of others.  So, I’m easing off of the watching, because you know what they say about a watched pot…

As hard as it is, I have to just let it be, and hope that it does well.  And stop tweaking out.  And start working on the next thing!