Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I'm not going to provocatively tell you where I put my handbag in my Facebook status. I won't tell you what color bra I'm wearing to catch your attention. I won't wear shirts that say "Save the Boobies," and I have to admit I don't even have a bracelet.

But, I do have a story.

Her colleagues called her Dr. J. The prisoners whose teeth she worked on at work knew her as the "hat lady." A child's mistake gave her the nickname Cinde Doctor. My dad knew her as Cinde, and I knew her as Mom.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. Her cancer was so developed at the point of diagnosis that she was given only six months to live. However, my mother was not one to accept things lightly. During her battle with breast cancer, she worked hard to give me the firm foundation of morals and work ethic that I still carry with me today. Her determination and strength gave her seven years with my father and me after her initial diagnosis of only half a year.

In the picture, you can see she is bald. This is after yet another bout with chemotherapy that caused her to lose her hair. The picture was taken at the Fowler's house, a close family friend. Lindsey recently discovered how to make hairbands, and without thinking ran up to my mother, who was near the end of her life, and gave her a hairband to wear on her bald head. Without even flinching she grabbed the hairband and put it on her head with no thoughts or self-pity toward her situation. It became yet another thing she could laugh about. This was the kind of person my mother was.

It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For this month there will be many status updates, races, and other awareness raised, which I think is a wonderful rallying cry. However, I have to tell you that every month I am conscious to the research for breast cancer and the pain and struggle that those who suffer from the terrible illness. Research has made great strides toward a cure, but they have a long way to go.

Until then, I'll keep praying. I'll give when I can. I'll keep hope that this kind of care can and does last past October.

I love you, Mom. I miss you every day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Diaries of a Rock Star

Because you don't want to hear about me playing ukulele, and because that is all I do anymore, here is a random posting for you.
I will always be the first person to defend Conor Oberst. He is a genius. A mad, blubbering genius. But this, this is just ridiculous.
There are confirmed excerpts from his official, "friends only" Livejournal account that I stumbled upon today. Unfortunately I can't seem to find the way to access it and read more, and this was posted a long time ago, but I laughed for a good minute while reading these. I'll commentate in bold...

December 19th, 2004

...6am and the bathroom tile is freezing. The mirror betrays the awful truth of my being. i try to wash the misery off, but softsoap can't cleanse me of my misfortune [Nothing like product placement to kill poetic blogging]. sleep is so hard to find. maybe if i do another line? my heart is exploding with the joy and pain of the universe! or maybe that's the coke....[Most definitely the coke.]

January 7th, 2005

...winter has come and the bathroom tile is freezing. i'm drowning in fame and choking on my memories. new york is big and hard [...that's what she said]. nebraska is gone, across an ocean of regret, the smile on my face hasn't come back yet. winona called when i was drunk[Judd?!]. reality bites. today i should do something productive. i think i'll go shopping for jeans. or write an album. maybe it could be called, "i got the blues, but i need blue jeans"[...]. that's good. i'm so tired of all the fake people here. why isn't anybody real. omaha? somewhere in middle america. that was real["...buuuuuuuuut coke was harder to find."]...

March 29th, 2005

...i am balled up in my shower, crying, and the bathroom tile is freezing[...sigh]. i must let go of rock and roll before it kills me. who could possibly have the strength to handle my life[Oh come on now, being a drug addict is only hard if you're poor]? if the women don't kill me, the cocaine will. happiness is an impossibility. it is but an illusion, created to torment the simple songwriters of the world! i just want to play paddycakes with jill cooper, that girl from 4th grade who wore flowers in her hair. we could sing raffi and laugh at the absurdity of all things real and imagined[Creepy!]! the drugs aren't working, mommy. please take this pain away. i want a falafel. and happiness[ditto]...

Monday, July 19, 2010

North American Scum

Well, I've shaved my armpits and returned aux Etats-Unis. So, now I am a wannabe Francophone with an obsession with Paris shoes and a taste for Camembert cheese. I get a little confused when I look around and there is not a building older than the United States looming over me. I am once again able to communicate myself and have a personality, even though my English skills seem to be rusty. Also, I am poor.
I don't think I have ever been more satisfied with a decision.
After having to pay my own way to France, I will say without a doubt that it was 100% worth it. There is a small window of time when those kind of opportunities are offered to a person, and sometimes they never exist at all. I realize how lucky I am to have done this, something that many will never do in a lifetime. I also have had a reinforced idea of how many special people that I have in my life that were waiting for me back home.
Okay, I know that is super cheesy.
The main demand I have had since my return is, "So, tell me about France."
It is extremely difficult to sum up two months of your life into a reasonable anecdote, both for length and content. The easiest way is for little parts to come out piece by piece, rather than talk everyone into a stupor. With that said, I do have giant, sweeping conclusions that I have made about France.

Food - This is the most frequently asked question, I think, and I must say that I am the complete wrong person to ask. I love food, but I cannot discern or really articulate why I like it. Mostly because I'm not picky and do not have a refined taste. I ate a lot of really delicious things in France, and I did appreciate that it seemed like lighter foods rather than the heavy food I eat at home, but really that is a household difference more than anything. I did eat about a ton of French pastries though, and I will say that they easily and safely kick American pastry ass.

Clothes - It is true that the French are generally better dressed. However, you won't get spit at for wearing jeans and tennis shoes, just easily spotted as a foreigner. BUT, jeans are completely acceptable for everyone, which was a generalization that a lot of people have asked me about. When I first arrived there were more skinny jeans on the streats than Urban Outfitters could passively shake a stick at. I will have to say that I very much prefer the French style of presenting oneself. I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to wear heels out shopping. Maybe not practical, but hey, no one ever accused them of being practical. I will say that when I got back, though, I wore Nike shorts, a t-shirt, and no make-up for three days straight. It. Was. Awesome.

Politics - It is obvious that there are flaws in the French government. They're on their fifth republic! Of course there are glitches, otherwise they wouldn't keep changing it. BUT, there are also huge problems with our government and everyone else's. There is no perfect solution. So before you start writing SOCIALIST across my front door, hear me out and keep in mind that I think it would be a horrible idea to completely adopt the French style of government. With that said, I think that the French people and government are, as a whole, more altruistic than their American counterparts. There are rarely protests regarding their ridiculously high tax rates (and believe me, they protest for everything), largely because they recognize that the redistribution of wealth is a moral more than monetary obligation. The French have a better understanding of the nature of the work world and know that unfortunate circumstances are not always the fault of the individual.

Music - What a let down. I guess in my mind there were mini-Edith Piafs and Bridgett Bardots roaming the streets, but the French mostly listen to American music. This is unsurprising if you look at the control the American music industry has on the rest of the world. I will say that they are less harsh on street performers, who set up on the street whenever they like, amps and everything. I also realized my mistake in assuming there is only one genre to sum up all of French music. Of course not! It's the same in the US. The music that the French create falls into all different types of categories. It does not have to have an beret wearing accordian player to be French (although there were some of those).
This was actually my blog topic for the class, so if you want to read more of my thoughts, go here.

In conclusion, I loved the trip. I love that my French improved ten fold while I was there. I will most definitely be returning one day, and maybe for an extended period of time. On that note, I am, at my very core, a Texan, and there are certain parts of me that would never mesh well in the French culture. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate and attempt to embrace that opposition. It certainly doesn't mean that I was rejected as a result.
Also, there were some rad people that I met both foreign and fellow Longhorns, and I'm excited to forge those relationships. I really couldn't think of a better way to start a friendship than, "Remember that time when we met IN FRANCE..."

Thursday, July 1, 2010


It is HOT.

I know that if you happen to be reading this you are probably from Texas. I realize it is hot in Texas, but let me tell you something that the Promiseland adopted that France has not.

One of the best feelings in the world is coming in from a scorching day into cool, cool air. I go from scorching days into a three-bedroom sauna. Seriously, the only source of fresh air is an open window. During the cooler weather this was perfect, but literally overnight the weather went from cool to nearly unbearable.

But, wah wah boohoo for me, huh?

I went to Saintes Maries de la Mer last weekend, which is a little beach town that Bob Dylan used go to. It tripped me out thinking about old Bobby writing songs on the beach. We also went to Arles and Avignon. Arles was probably one of the more charming places we have visited. I saw the café featured in Van Gogh's Le Café la Nuit. It was very Romanesque, which is by far my favorite architectural style. On the way back to Lyon we stopped at the Pont du Gard to swim in the river underneath, which was freezing. Imagine New Braunfels, but colder. Regardless, I spent about two hours getting acclimated, then jumped from a rock and almost died in sea(river?)weed. I still sound like I am complaining, but I am totally not. We picnicked there and it was very cute and picturesque.

I am so depressed about my pictures not uploading! You are going to have an overload when I get back 'villeside.

Also, let me tell you about one of the best things that could have possibly happened. Through out the year, France generally doesn't have sales in stores because of very strict government regulation, BUT on June 30 of every year until August 1 there are LES SOLDES. Now, what are these? Well, they are, quite simply, THE SALES. I am talking Black Friday type sales for a month. I am pretty sure I just walked around buying things and giggling for a few hours, and round two is starting tomorrow. My dress, according to my host mom, is getting quite European.

AND my French is improving. Most notably my comprehension, but my speaking as well. In fact, a shopgirl gossiped with me about how strange she thought it was that the girl before me switched from speaking fluent French to broken English. SHE COMPLAINED TO ME ABOUT ENGLISH SPEAKERS, SHE TOTES THOUGHT I WAS FRENCH.

This blog has gone on long enough. I will try to update more often so I am not directly recounting my days.

...and by the way, how are y'all?

Thursday, June 24, 2010


What I have been listening to:
I Shall Be Released - The Band
Tell 'Em - Sleigh Bells
Quick Canal - Atlas Sound
The Wild Hunt - Tallest Man on Earth
Square One - Tom Petty
Heart of Gold - Neil Young
Walk in the Park - Beach House
Lonely Boy - King Khan & BBQ Show
Odessa - Caribou

...and also thinking of songs that I will soon cover on ukulele.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Moi, je joue.

Fortunate thing: I have a really awesome camera to take pictures, courtesy of my Uncle David.
Unfortunate thing: Said camera is too fancy for regular drivers, so I can't upload pictures until I get back aux Etats-Unis.

On that note, France is BEAUTIFUL. Really, I can't get over it. There is too much to soak in, and I don't understand how on earth people possibly process everything in less that a month or so. I doubt I will have done a sufficient job by the time I leave here. I've been doing a lot of writing that I couldn't manage to do at home, which is really nice. I take a walk after dinner most nights, which has become one of my favorite parts of the day (aside when we eat cheese after dinner, Chamembert is my favorite), and also the time when my thoughts are clearest.

All fun aside, I have been doing a lot of work. I am taught by some crazy lizard-lady French woman who licks her lips too often and puts on too much eyeliner. We just had our first test. It was BRUTAL, but I guess I am learning French?

We just got back from the Alps, where I, of course, had to do some hiking. It was absolutely gorgeous up there, with lots of greenery despite the cold. We drank out of a mountain stream and I was a total earth child for the day. At the end of the hike we did was this pretty fantastic waterfall with a very strong flow, kind of rarity in the mountains in Texas. Just to prove my inner-Texan, I did the whole thing in Nike shorts, a Phi Delt t-shirt, and a scarf. Pretty awful at first, but the group that went with me moved pretty quick.

Today is the Fete de la Musique, which is basically a day of tolerated street performers. I am pretty excited to see how it all works, even though my host family rolled their eyes and called in the Fete du Bruit (Day of Noise). Speaking of music, my host brother's friend played Kesha on the piano and sang with a really thick accent. Funniest part: "The party don't start 'til I walk in."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adventures in France

It would be horrible of me to recount everything I have done for you. You wouldn't really care to read all of it and it would be terribly, terribly boring. I wanted to upload the pictures that I took, but it won't let me at the computer lab at the university. I'll try again at home. Contrary to my dad's belief, France is NOT a third-world country. They have all the modern conveniences that we enjoy here, like WiFi and television. I'll make this easier on the eyes and do a list of the thigns I have noticed thus far, and I'll keep this short until I can get a visual.

  • The French are very weird about setting utensils back on the table, yet they have no problem just putting bread straight on the table and eating from there, even in restaurants.
  • They keep doors shut at all times.
  • They walk without swinging their shoulders, which is a really intimidating posture.
  • Men are NOT shy about whistling and jeering at you in the street. Women either.
  • Cheese is dessert and salad is for after the main course.

Most of the time I've been walking around the city and writing. A lot. I've been doing some reviews (I know, I know) and writing some really sloppy poetry that I destroy almost immediately after. My host family is very sweet, and speaks nothing but French to me. They are patient, though, and have to repeat themselves a lot. They have five kids, but they are all out of the house. The youngest is still in high school, but he goes to a boarding school about an hour away and comes home on the weekends. They have a friend of the family who lives with them while she's going to school, but she is extremely anti-social and apparently works a lot. You almost never see her going in and out of the house.

I love it here. It's very pretty and the people are much friendlier than I expected. Shows that it's too easy to buy into preconceived notions. I miss home a lot, though, but I sent out of my first round of postcards yesterday, and hope to hear back (hint hint).