The Fifty States

As my family road tripped to South Dakota this summer, we spent time talking to the kids about “adding a state” to the list they’ve visited. Cam and Arionna are each up to five states (MN, WI, CA, SD, and WY). It occurred to me this might be a good time to make a list of the states I’ve visited, so here we go!

Alabama – yes, more than once, I’ve got family there

Alaska – no

Arizona – driven through, but didn’t stop, but I have friends there, so I might

Arkansas – yes, stayed there during a road trip. Blytheville. The horror.

California – yes, went to Disneyland in the 4th grade

Colorado – yes, friends used to live there and I visited in…2002?

Connecticut – no

Delaware – yes, spent a small amount of time there when I was living out East.

Florida – yes, we rented a condo one summer and drove down and spent time there, went to Disneyworld as well. I was 16.

Georgia – no

Hawaii – no

Idaho – no

Illinois – yes, Chicago, several times, including twice in one summer

Indiana – yes, driving back and forth from DC, I spent some time in Indy with a flat tire

Iowa – yes, during family trips as a child

Kansas – yes, we have family in Kansas City, MO, and drove over the border to see some sights

Kentucky – yes, Bowling Green, home of the Corvette Museum, been there

Louisiana – yes, been to New Orleans, pre-Katrina

Maine – no, even though Elena lived there

Maryland – yes, practically lived there while in DC, did all my shopping in Maryland

Massachusetts – no, but Boston is on the list

Michigan – yes, apparently, according to my mom. no, I think, though we may have when I was a kid and I’m misremembering…Mom?

Minnesota – well, duh, I live here

Mississippi – yes, visited Biloxi during the Florida/New Orleans trip

Missouri – yes, family in KC as mentioned, visited there, got to walk on the field of the Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium, which is what stands out.

Montana – no

Nebraska – yes, during road trip to CO, visited Mindy’s mom in Lincoln (she was there on business) and then my car broke down in North Platte, so got to be guests of that booming metropolis. Also saw The Birds.

Nevada – yes, two separate times to Las Vegas

New Hampshire – no

New Jersey – yes, interviewed for a job there (and got it, but didn’t take it) and visited Atlantic City

New Mexico – no, like Arizona, drove through but didn’t stop

New York – no, but it’s at the tippy top of my list

North Carolina – no, but I’ve got family there

North Dakota – yes, visited colleges there

Ohio – yes, drove through many times stopped a few to see sights

Oklahoma – the home of Christian Kane? No, not yet.

Oregon – yes, Portland, to see Christian Kane. And Powell’s Books, but mostly, CK

Pennsylvania – yes, Pittsburgh and drove the length of it, my favorite state to drive through, thus far

Rhode Island – no

South Carolina – no

South Dakota – yes, visited Jason and family there, spent a week in Watertown, then this summer, visited the Black Hills

Tennessee – yes, once spent six hours in the Memphis airport by myself at age 13, and also stopped in Nashville on a road trip

Texas – yes, road trip, it’s where my sister got sick and we stopped at a hospital

Utah – yes, spent the night there on a road trip, it was the motel with the outdoor swimming pool and the bubble over it that collapsed on us

Vermont – no

Virginia – yes, practically lived there and also toured many sights

Washington – no

Washington DC – yes, lived there for two years

West Virginia – yes, during trips back and forth, and the bridge crossing into Wheeling, WV is perhaps my favorite in the country

Wisconsin – yes, more times than I could possibly count

Wyoming – yes, this summer, during our trip to the Black Hills, which added one state onto my list

Total? 31 states 32 states if we add the forgotten Michigan, plus Washington DC. And two that I’ve technically been to, but never visited (AZ, NM). That’s not bad, if I do say so myself. I’ve also been to Canada, Mexico, England, Amsterdam, Czech Republic, and Austria. So, 19 more states to go and I’ll officially have covered the USA, that will be a nice accomplishment. I’m already imagining the blog.

Thanks, Mom!

Hey, Hey, It’s My Birthday

37

It’s the normal human body temperature…in Celsius

It’s the number of plays written by William Shakespeare

It’s the number of weeks Michael Jackson’s album, Thriller, spent at #1 (coincidentally, also the first album I ever owned)

It’s the number of vertebrae of a Tyrannosaurus Rex

It’s the most commonly chosen number between 1-100

If you choose any single digit (1-9) and write it out three times. Say 3. 333, then add the sum of those numbers 3+3+3=9 and take the three digit number 333 and divide by the sum 9 and you get 37. Works for any single digit number.

It’s the age deemed officially too old to work for the FBI (and Homeland Security, and Treasury and the CIA)

It’s the year Amelia Earhart disappeared (1937)

Richard Nixon was the 37th president

Rubidium is the 37th element on the periodic table

It’s the television channel reserved for radio astronomy

In roman numerals it is XXXVII

It is also my age for the next 365 days. Now that my future no longer contains the option of becoming a profiler and working for Hotch, I shall strive to find a way to go on. But so far, 37 hasn’t treated me too poorly. I got a call from about 20 8-year-olds (and one 37-year-old) who sang me happy birthday. It’s not really your birthday until you hear all those tiny voices singing confidently….until they reach your name! But it was a terrific way to start my morning.

In the manner of technicalities, I’m not actually 37 until 5:00pm today. At that exact time, my mother and I will be watching a movie, it starts precisely at 5:00pm. And no birthday of mine is complete without a handsome man, which is why I chose London has Fallen with Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart. (Okay, that was mostly because there is nothing else out I’d want to see but I do want popcorn on my birthday). Of course, my favorite handsome man, Christian Kane, has been singing to me since I woke up this morning. Literally my fave CK playlist has been on repeat, nothing better than hearing his voice on my day.

Lastly, I’m treating myself to Jimmy Johns for lunch today. Seems a good way to celebrate. I’m also leaving work early, another good way to celebrate.

Happy Birthday to me, and thank you to all of you who reached out to me on this day.

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(gratuitous photo, just because it makes me happy and it’s my day. Also, this was now FIVE years ago)

Reading and Writing

You all know my love of reading. It’s not like it’s a surprise.

Here’s something you may not know. I think I’d like to write a book. I’m not big on competition or criticism or rejection, so nothing may ever happen if I do, but I think I’d like to do it. I’ve had many people tell me, over the years, that I should, but should is a long way from want, and even further from will.

As each year passes, I find myself more and more intrigued with putting my ideas down, shaping a story, crafting something purely from my own mind. Which brought about a very real concern, I don’t know how. I mean, I get the basics. And I know there are plenty of writers who don’t know how to write and simply do it anyway, but that’s not me. I need to know things, to understand them, or I won’t do them.

Which is why I am taking a class this winter. A writing class. I haven’t had a writing class since my freshman year of college, and that’s…well, it’s more than a few years ago. My buddy, Lane, is taking it with me and we shall see how it goes.

Ok, so the logistics of getting more information are taken care of. I have ideas stored away for when I’m ready to write. I know I am not the most motivated person, on my own, and I have ideas to address that. So, am I ready?

I just don’t know.

When you read as much as I do, there becomes an undeniable sameness to books. Doesn’t matter if I’ve never read the author before, or that particular genre before, books aren’t a mystery. They follow a frame, a format, and they are patterned. If you read, books are not a mystery. Even mysteries. There’s nothing new under the sun, that’s what people say. I know this better than most. I’m aware that anything I create has been done before, the question isn’t if it’s new, it is if it’s good. Am I going to be good at this? I have no idea, but that doesn’t bother me much. It would if I wanted this to be a career and had every intention of getting published. And I’m not saying I wouldn’t try that, just that it isn’t my goal. My goal is to do this because I want to do it. I want to know that I can do it.

I don’t yet know what I will write. I have ideas that are romance, fiction, dystopian, science fiction/fantasy, and a couple combinations thereof. I could write several different things. Maybe I will write several different things if this turns out to be something I enjoy. Maybe not.

I’ve been a reader my whole life. Suddenly I feel like it might be time to be a writer. I’ll keep you posted.

Happy NEW Year!

Welcome to 2016!

It’s hard for me to believe I let half a year go by without blogging. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, not to me. But I’m assuming the posts don’t lie. I still think about blogging all the time, I find that I still compose posts in my head, I think I just let it get out of control.

I was trying to blog about everything in my life and it started to become a challenge, and then I fell behind and it became more challenging, eventually I think it just became so overwhelming, it was actually easier NOT to post anything.

I don’t want it to be that way. I like blogging, I like writing down my thoughts and feelings for the future. I love recording the books I read and having a space to talk about that. No one reads the same things as I do, so I hardly ever have a chance to talk about them, so I like that this is a space for me to clarify my feelings.

What I don’t need is a place to write account logs of everything I do in my life. I take photos (and post them on IG, but that’s a whole other thing) and I don’t need this to be a living record of how I spend my time. Life’s too short for that. Memories are meant to be made, not recorded. I want to step back some from the personal and focus on the things that appeal to me.

That’s my goal for this year. Simplify. I know people do that, they choose a word to embody a goal. That’s not me, I don’t do resolutions and all that crap, but as I’ve pondered this new year, the past year, my life, I keep coming up with that. I started this past year at Christmas and it felt great. I have projects and plans for my home and I’m excited to start them. And now my blog. I want to get back on track and I want to simplify. Don’t expect me to write every day. Don’t expect long posts about birthday parties or weekend adventures. Don’t expect. Just read, if you like, appreciate if that’s your thing, or stop, if it isn’t working for you. I don’t do it for you, I do it for me.

And for me, this is about simplicity. Welcome 2016, it’s simply wonderful to meet you.

Luke Bryan

I’ve been noticeably absent from the blog for a while. And, as the author, I’m just assuming my absence is notable. At any rate, I want to share this cute story with you.

Last night, I was out with my brother Zack for his birthday. Now, it was way later than I usually stay out and I just wanted to go home, but it was his birthday, so I manned up and decided to go have another drink with him. He chose Demoris. Fine. Haven’t been there in YEARS, but fine by me.

Let’s pause to go back to this weekend. Saturday, I am catching up on email. I get a newsletter from K102 with country updates. I don’t always read it, but this time it said Luke Bryan in the subject line. I love Luke Bryan. Love him out loud. I’ve been saying for a couple years that I’d go see him the next time he came here. Of course, I somehow missed when the tickets went on sale, even though I had it marked on my calendar, and the concert sold out. So I don’t get to see him. Disappointed, but I’ll live.

Anyway, this newsletter was about the upcoming concert. Evidently they’ve partnered up with Miller to do a promotion called Luke-ing for Luke. They’ve put cardboard cutouts of Luke Bryan all over the Twin Cities. If you find one, you take a selfie with it and Tweet it to K102 and then you’re entered in a drawing to win tickets. Now, the newsletter made it sound mysterious, like you had to hunt for these cutouts. I immediately thought it was a cute idea and about 10 years ago, I’d have called up Kelly and we’d have spent a Saturday driving around town hunting down these cutouts. But I don’t do that now.

Back to last night. Zack and I head into Demoris, which is a nondescript sort of place in Oakdale of all cities. We sit at the bar, I just settle on my stool, when I see, across the room, a lifesize cutout of Luke Bryan!

I jumped (okay, not really, the boot doesn’t allow jumping, but I mentally jumped) off my barstool and grabbed Zack’s arm and said “come with me”. I dragged my brother across the bar and gave him my phone and made him take a pic of me with the cutout. “I don’t do that now” apparently doesn’t hold up when I’m faced with the reality of Luke Bryan’s handsome cardboard face.

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So I explained this to Zack and he said, “so of all the places in the Twin Cities they put one of these at Demoris?” See? We both thought it was weird. I said I guess so and then proceeded to tell the bartender who also had no idea why we were taking pics with a cutout.

Today, I looked up the rules, in order to Tweet it, which I did, and as of this posting, my Tweet is featured on the page (this link here) explaining the rules. I imagine that will be true until someone else Tweets with that hashtag. Turns out that on the website they give a list of all the places you can find a cutout, which was not in the newsletter. I thought it was way more of a contest. But still. If you see one, take your pic with it and Tweet it in. And please take me to the concert if you win.

And that right there is why it is worth it to sometimes say yes when you actually want to say no.

Mom’s 60th Bash

Not much of a bash, as we were all gearing up for surgery, but we managed to sneak in some fun. Just sharing some of the amazing photos.

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Reading the card with Grandma

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I couldn’t love this any more. Simon was taking photos and he took this.

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And this is one of my new all-time faves. Uncle Chad is beloved by the kids, but this? This is too cute. Someone will be getting this for a birthday gift.

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Like I said, Simon was taking photos.

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Uncle Nick stopped by for a visit. He’s pretty fond of Cam.

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And this, he’s playing dead on her lap and she’s just letting him. Then he’ll get bored or she’ll say, “Simon, you’re too heavy” and he’ll move. They are so funny together.

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Now Arionna has the camera and Simon darted away, he was playing my guitar next to me on the couch but wouldn’t be in the picture.

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And lastly, Grandma with her Grandsons. How darling and perfect. And they were tired, this was the end of the night.

It was a lovely family day and I hope Mom enjoyed it as much as I did.

The Second Year of Cam

I honestly don’t think I ever blogged his first birthday. It’s cool. But I wanted, not to recap the whole Curious George party, but just to post a couple of the photos, to remember.

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Big sister, and Cousin Layla

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A smattering of guests

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A birthday party? And so no one will yell at us or tell us to stop banging on the piano!?!

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Family unwrapping station

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He started to cry when they took the cake away to cut it. I really think he thought it was all for him!.

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Oh, much happier now. And who needs cake AND pudding?

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Last, but not least, my darling little nephew, all happy to be 2 and delighted by Curious George. Happy Birthday, Cam, Auntie Livi loves you bunches and bunches!