Sunday, December 23, 2012

Things I Never Want to Do Again: Move to Memphis

Downtown Memphis on my commute from work in 2005. I loved the trolley except for one bastard driver.
With Christmas just days away now, people at work (co-workers and clients) have been asking me whether or not I'm going back home for the holiday. My answer this year is NO. Mainly, it's because a plane ticket for me and my husband would cost about a thousand dollars. Money aside, the places I once loved in Memphis are almost all gone. The places that are still there have been renovated/deteriorated past recognition, and visiting sometimes makes me sadder than staying away.

I've only been away for eight and a half years (when my famous botched Canadian adventure started). The newer places are still there (the Wolfchase Galleria, for example -- though reports* tell me it sucks now).

*my Mom

So while I've got a few days off work and everyone's got me thinking I should be going home for Christmas (even though my mom, dad, and sister will all be in separate places, and visiting my old house by myself would be depressing), I'll go ahead and think about the places I liked that might not even be there anymore.

Looking at websites like these don't help either.

In alphabetic order:

Bellevue Baptist Church
status: still operating
We lived practically on this church's campus (as in my house was located there). Even before we got that house, Bellevue has always been a part of my extended family. The biggest event of the year was the Singing Christmas Tree -- which is provided in full on YouTube this year. (Ironically, the play is set in NYC this time -- and for some reason, embedding the video is not working out.)

Whenever my family would go to an event like this (either at Christmas or Easter or the Fourth of July), Pastor Rogers (now deceased), would recite the same invitation to salvation right before the conclusion of the show, so that I can still quote nearly the whole thing even now. ("... Jesus... you died to save me ... and you promised to save me if I would trust you. ... I do trust you, Jesus. ... Did you tell 'im that?")
I could see these crosses from my bedroom window
This was also the church where my cousin's funeral was held 2 years ago (which was the last time I was in Memphis).

Botanic Garden
status: still operating
Still makes me want a Japanese garden.

Brooks Museum of Art
status: still operating
Back when all I had was retail and clerical experience, I applied for a job here doing "anything". They never got back to me.
Light of the Incarnation by  Carl Gutherz -- my favorite in the permanent collection
Davis Kidd Booksellers
status: out of business
In my lifetime, this store had 3 locations, all basically around the same intersection. This was definitely the place I remember most with my dad (who is an avid bookworm, to say the least). I started out in the kids' section paying attention to the toys and coloring books, then moved to young adult, where I got hooked on Nancy Drew, then on to the Star Trek: The Next Generation novels (yes, really). I bought novels, nonfiction, magazines, books on writing, and imagined my own writing on the shelves.

Dixon Gallery and Gardens
status: still operating
One of my best friends still works here, actually. So maybe I would like to go back and visit her.

status: demolished

Remember Libertyland

Lowenstein Building
status: refurbished
When I was growing up, I loved this building. It was old, abandoned, and wholly captivating. The Memphis Flyer listed it as one of the eyesores of the city. Now you can rent a nice, modern apartment in that building.
Very before

How I remember it - empty.
Source: via Melanie on Pinterest


The Mall of Memphis
status: demolished
After a nickname like "The Mall of Murder", no one really expected it not to get torn down, right? Still, I had some great times with my family here. All four of us would go together just to get out of the house, or to buy Christmas presents. The ice skating rink made me want to be an olympic skater (never happened).
Remembering the Mall of Memphis

Peabody Place
status: barely operating
This place used to have a fantastic movie theater and Tower Records (which doesn't exist anywhere anymore). Now pretty much all that's left is Victoria's Secret, some restaurants, and office space.

The Pink Palace
status: still operating
My favorite part of the museum was the history section on the second floor, where you could tour a creepy-cool replica of a Piggly Wiggly from 1916.

The Pyramid
status: abandoned/refurbished (becoming a Bass Pro Shop -- disappointing)
I still remember going to see the Titanic exhibit here before watching the movie. Everyone in the group was saying how they were crying while looking at the pieces, but I didn't feel anything. Then I saw the movie about 10 times in the theater and cried every time. Would have appreciated the exhibit more afterward is all I'm saying.
I did see a very cool Ancient Egypt exhibit there (which was probably the most fitting thing to ever happen in that building) that I loved then and would go see again any time.
the sun glinting off the shiny surface blinded many a driver headed in or out of town
The Ugly Mug
status: online only
This used to be a cafe in midtown Memphis (across the street from the Blockbuster Music and Bookstar, which are both gone) where I'd hang out every possible minute. It was started by some people from First Evangelical Church, and quickly became the place to be for the youth group (of which I was a steady fixture). Didn't matter what day or time I went to the cafe, I'd run into someone I knew if I stayed long enough. The coffee was delicious (I abandoned Starbucks altogether), and I felt like I was part of something -- like I belonged. That feeling didn't come around often when I was a teen.
As long as any part of my family still lives here, I'll visit every now and then. I've never seen Graceland (except one time when I got lost driving and happened by it), and everyone tells me I "have to go". Memphis International Airport is becoming a nice, respectable place, unlike how it used to look when my mom would take me to pick up my Gramma (brown bricks, the occasional newsstand, that is all). I'm not at all ashamed of where I've come from. I've got some fond memories, but expecting things to stay the same just isn't realistic.

Though I tell everyone that Memphis is boring and crime-y, I've even missed posting about a few places that I would love to revisit (like the zoo, Overton Square, Theatre Memphis, etc). However, the time in my life when I could have moved back and been happy has gone.

Home for Christmas or not (technically, NY is my home now, so I'm home), with work break in full swing, I can officially start enjoying the holiday. Merry Christmas, you guys!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I've had some dreams since I was a kid. Have a pony. Be a ballerina. Be the mom so I can be the one who yells and says "No".

I've grown out of most of those things (the pony would still be nice). Here are some things that aren't necessarily resolutions for 2013, but goals for the next 10 years, for sure. They are all physically possible, and with enough research and determination (and maybe money), I can make them happen.

In no particular order:

1. Be Traditionally Published
I know it's got its pros and cons, but I still want it. My books at brick-and-mortar bookstores (provided they still exist in a few years), movie options, etc. There's so much validation in this one thing -- so much potential of being the "next big thing"...

I've already become part of the Indie publishing community with The Silent Treatment. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunities that I have now that weren't available even 5 years ago. I'm confident that even if I stay with Indie publishing and never get picked up by one of the "Big Six", by dream of being a writer will still be realized. I still want the "Big Six" though. (For those of you who don't know, the big six publishers are: Hachette, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon and Schuster.)

2. Cuddle a Tiger
It's right up there with buying a cheetah. Maybe this is a stupid idea, but no one in the world is going to change my mind, especially when I see photos of other people doing it.

As I've already posted, I would like to buy a cheetah -- and I still would! But realistically speaking, buying a cheetah requires a lot of space (they run fast), a lot of food (about 6 pounds per day), and the initial cost is horribly expensive ($15,000 - $20,000 just for the animal, not to mention the permit to house one). And shoot. My housecat has scratched me up just because she's being rambunctious -- what's a cat the size of a great dane gonna do when it gets frisky?

3. Become Carolyn Keene
We all know she's not a real person (come on, she's been writing for ninety years?), so I want in on this. Nancy Drew is what got me started reading like a voracious maniac in the first place. It's only right that I contribute. Plus, how cool would that be? (Realizing this dream can count towards the "traditionally published" one since Nancy Drew is owned by Simon and Schuster.)
The person in the first chapter who "seems too friendly" did it.
4. Be an Artist at Madame Tussauds
Maybe this sounds weird to some people, but having a hand at creating the figures at Madame Tussauds has been a dream of mine for about half my life now. It's got sculpture and painting and wigs and costumes and celebrities ... My family all knows how much I'll beg to go to the museum any time there's one in town. Now I live near one, so guess where all my money goes?
What's not to love?

5. Learn Bellydancing
I've already wanted to be a ballerina, but let's face it: you've got to start that when you're a wee kid or you're just never gonna be limber enough. Plus, I don't want to dance for a living, I just want to be able to bust it out at the work Christmas party when everyone's loopy. Plus, the costuming is awesome.

6. Live in Europe
Europe is so beautiful, and the lifestyle over there seems more laid back than here. Of course, maybe I'm just looking at a bunch of beautiful photography and coming up with my own ideas. However, after having lived in Germany for a month, I can say it's at least somewhat accurate (although I know you can't gather that much info in a month).

One of these dreams is currently "In the works" and I can't wait to hammer out the details so I can tell everyone. So come on, 2013 -- let's try not to suck!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Most listened to music 2012

Because I listen to a lot of music for varying reasons, here are my top picks for this year

In no particular order... 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Subway Art

One of my favorites: at the uptown E C Spring Street Station in SoHo

Christmas in New York 2012!

Fancy store decorations

A close-up of the tree at Rockefeller Center

Window display at the American Girl Store

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Arrojo Underground

Finally did something other than writing the other night!

As you all probably know, I went to Arrojo's cosmetology school last year, where I learned all my mad hair skillz. Some of my classmates work at Arrojo now, and they were part of Underground, an annual hair fashion show. In it, they showcase the upcoming trends and mountains of creativity.

Check out this video from Fashion News Live, where Rocco explains the event better than I can:

Outside before the doors opened

Bangs that go waaaaaaaaaay back

Probably my favorite one ... creepy cool!

crazy awesome braiding!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New story!

When I told absolutely anyone that I'd finished my designated NaNoWriMo story without having reached my word count, they all said, "Why don't you start a new one?" So I did!

While Exchange in Eichstätt is still in the editing process, I've begun "Kat Shergill #3", which will pick up about a year after the last ended. No spoilers yet (and no release date for #2 yet). I might still not reach 50,000 words, but at least I'm giving it a real effort, and maybe 2 stories out of it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I was afraid this was going to happen. I ran out of story before I filled up my word count. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

In my line of work I get asked the same questions a lot. The one most recently is: What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

I like to say something noble like "talk to my family for hours ... maybe get a videophone going", but I really just want to get this word count under control. I've got 4 days almost consecutively off, and I think I can pull this off. (but try explaining that to a stranger.)

Maybe I'll cook some Indian food in addition to whatever the Pilgrims would have eaten (twice-baked potatoes, right?).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reading of Biblical Proportions

One thing the hurricane had me doing a lot of was reading. (I've also been trying to write a lot, but as you can see from my word count widget, that's not going as well as I'd hoped.)

I've had a copy of the graphic novel Blankets for a while now, and haven't gotten around to reading it. The reviews I've seen says it's charming and touching, and the artwork I'd seen while flipping through was quite nice. When I started reading, though I wasn't quite prepared for some of the subject matter in the story -- nothing bad or shocking, but ... actually, it did shock me.

The author dealt with Christianity in a non-offensive, non-"Christian Fiction" way, which is almost impossible to find. The characters went to church, to church camp, read the Bible, had some sex, talked about divorce, frolicked in the snow, had sibling rivalry, struggled with everyday things ... all with equal importance. When the main character found himself gravitating away from the "church experience" of Christianity, he still held onto some of the core beliefs, treated everything with reverence and respect.

Honestly, near the beginning of the book, with the first mentions of "church", I found myself dreading yet another God-bashing, and that I would feel more alone than I already do in my faith (being a Christian in NY is not the easiest thing I've ever done). Instead, the book dealt with some of the same issues I have -- that I don't necessarily want to sing the simple praise songs with groups of people, I don't necessarily want to shun art schools and ignore real things that happen in the name of being a "Good Christian". Part of being a Christian is dealing with some ugly things that happen every day, but still holding onto something good that sets you apart from others. 

Another book that was vastly different from Blankets was The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. I expected not to like this one either, because I thought he was going to make fun of the Bible as being the most ridiculous thing one could ever follow. Thankfully, I was wrong. The author focused mostly on the Jewish laws and rules. When he got to the New Testament and struggled with accepting Jesus as God, he did it respectfully, and I appreciated that.

At the end of his year-long experiment, he didn't come out of it as a convert, but as a "reverent agnostic". He appreciated that prayer was sacred, as were people's beliefs. Sometimes all we ask for is not to be bullied.

The other books I've read recently are lighter material (you're welcome). One was I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern (of Shit my Dad Says fame), and another was 
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Both were light and entertaining, though I enjoyed Mindy's book better, not necessarily because she and I share experiences (we don't, really), but it seems like she's a person I would like to hang out with. Inevitably, we'd probably both get the feeling the other was doing stuff without them.

Justin Halpern's book dragged a little, but was mostly entertaining since he really does seem to suck at girls and it's fun to laugh at someone else. His dad was also a prominent character, which is always a treat. This book was much more cohesive than his previous bestseller -- which I started, but never finished.

Currently reading Four Past Midnight by Stephen King. Haven't yet finished the first story, Secret Window, Secret Garden (which had been adapted to Secret Window, starring Johnny Depp). It's a lovely piece of fiction that's getting me through my daily commute with as little fuss as possible. And really, what's better than picturing Johnny Depp as the main character?