Quest in the Southwest: Day Three


Sunday was B’s actual birthday. We slept until ten and went for Mexican breakfast with three of the crew. On our way out of town for the day, we stopped by two more friends’ house to deliver beer and fajita meat and see their–gasp!–basement. (Texans don’t have those.)

img_6007We went west through Loveland, which got progressively hippier as we drove. A head shop had many stoner icons, such as Jay and Silent Bob, painted on the exterior. I also saw an actual totem pole. We backtracked to Devil’s Backbone after we passed it, but we didn’t do any hiking.

img_6013The drive through the Rockies followed the river, which was wide, shallow, and quick-moving. Much faster than us–I frequently pulled over to let other cars pass.

The Stanley Hotel charged ten dollars for parking. There was a café at the lower-level entrance and a tour sales office. All the tours were sold out or had one ticket left. In the ladies’ bathroom, with its black-and-white checkered tiles, I learned that Dumb and Dumber had also been filmed there.

After taking in the view from the main lobby upstairs, I had to check the Whiskey Bar for the moon landing newspaper page, and it was right where it should be.

We landed on the moon!

I bought a red rum shot glass in the gift shop. We went out the main entrance and walked through the rain past the hedge maze.

We went to TripAdvisor’s #1 restaurant in Greeley for dinner. The less said, the better. To be fair, the #1 restaurant in our closest big town is in a hotel, because no one ever leaves the hotel, so maybe we shouldn’t take restaurant recommendations from TripAdvisor. This particular restaurant had stopped carrying any local beers, and the pizza we didn’t eat became road food for my long drive the next day. We closed the place down, then stood in front of a convenient store to wait for our uber, my dark trench coat straight out of Silent Bob’s stylebook.


Quest in the Southwest: Day Two


Wimg_5986oke up around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday to go to the Garden of the Gods. I wanted a good cup of coffee, but as B. observed, hipster coffee joints don’t open early enough. I settled for grog from the gas station next to the motel. We caught the sunrise on the rocks.

Returned to the motel for our complimentary breakfast and learned our room had a perfect view of Pike’s Peak. It was probably the best view we’ve ever had of all the places we’ve ever stayed.


Gas station grog wasn’t doing the trick, so we had to stop at a hipster coffee place on the way through Denver. We passed Mile High Stadium and Turntable Studios. B. found Indian food in Greeley, and we eavesdropped on the faculty of St. Mary’s Catholic School during their lunch. Then we walked over to the Greeley Museum where, in my opinion, they have not adequately capitalized on the Spud Chips brand–not a hokey souvenir to be bought (or an image to be found online, apparently). I settled for a book on Rattlesnake Kate and have frequently shared her story with anyone who asks about my trip to Greeley–140 rattlesnakes!

Back at the hotel, I took a nap while B. went truck shopping with one of the couples we were there to visit. He arrived back at the hotel a few hours later with a different friend couple–the other was still truck shopping. We drove over to Crabtree Brewery, and when we pulled up, I was handed a box. Inside, a half dozen baby-themed gourmet cookies–a pregnancy announcement! The other couple met us at the brewery their new Chevy Colorado Z71. I had thought they were truck shopping for him, but it was for her. They were also pregnant. (The baby was actually born Saturday, January 6! Which shows how long it’s taking me to blog!)

Everyone met at Greeley Chophouse that night for B.’s birthday dinner. He’s still annoyed with me for not getting a photo–we were all dressed nice. There were cheese boards with edible beef-tallow candles, salads in baked-cheese bowls, prosecco, and chamomile saison. B. and I went to order a bottle of Hob Nob Pinot Noir from France, but boss friend pre-empted and ordered us a Domaine Drouhin from Oregon (they had recently visited the region and had the Goonies photo to prove it). As predicted, boss friend tried to pick up the tab, but I had already conspired with the waiter, Matthew, and took care of it.


After dinner we walked to WeldWorks Brewing to drink Juicy Bits IPA and mango sour beer. It was actually my first sour, and it tasted like it should be healthy. Some of our friends are high scorers on the pinball games there…so look out now.

Quest in the Southwest: Day One

Jimmy McGill, aka Saul Goodman, planning our trip for us.

Last weekend was B.’s birthday, so we took a little road trip to see friends in Colorado and New Mexico. I got my toes painted Grand Canyon Sunset, stocked up on Barrow beer and HEB fajita meat, and off we went.

We left at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, September 29, stopping at Flo(rence) Do(nuts) for breakfast. The rain came down hard all the way through Lampasas and on and off for the rest of the day. We stopped to see the Great White Buffalo on the square in Snyder and each got a taco from Laredo Taco Company (located inside Stripes convenience stores, for the uninitiated). The windmills outside Lubbock were buried in fog, and we stopped at a coffee shop called Sugar Browns, where I bought a shirt with a buffalo on it for my high school friend, K. Our mascot had been the buffalo, and she had attended law school in Lubbock, though I don’t think the coffee shop was around at the time. I got a Sugar Brown latte and ordered B. a London Fog, which I ended up drinking.

Due to a hankering for chicken fried steak, we stopped at the Big Texan in Amarillo, which is actually famous for the 72-ounce, finish-in-under-an-hour-and-it’s-free steak, but neither of us were interested. We both agreed the Big Texan is “what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war…” or if Texas ever wins independence. The motel next to the restaurant features a wild west facade, creating a small town with four rooms per establishment. I did not see a house of ill repute, nor a saloon.

After a disagreement over whether the mashed potatoes were powdered or not, we bellied up to the bar to sample the house brews. We learned the Whoop Your Donkey Double IPA mixed with the Texas Red Amber Ale is called a Red Ass. I was quite taken with the Bomb City Bock, but as I was driving, had to limit my intake.

I got my traditional pressed penny, Zoltar told my fortune, and the two of us took on the shooting gallery. While I was waiting outside for my gentleman companion, I saw a man dressed as Mario, but, doubting it was intentional, decided it was very rude of me to take his photo. Still, this shot features the Route 66 sign and gets the point across without embarrassing anyone.img_5960.jpg

Leaving Amarillo, a picturesque hay pasture off the highway caught my eye. The round bales stretched for a mile on either side. I realized there were several vehicles parked along the access road and finally saw the graffitied cars planted diagonally in the ground. It was my first time to see the Cadillac Ranch.

Free image from Pixabay. Honestly, the round bales are what really made the scene.

We were listening to The Shining on Audible in preparation for the Stanley Hotel, and I’d also convinced B. to listen to a few selections from my backlog of podcasts. Still, we were about ten hours into the trip and I’d driven nearly 500 miles, so when I started to drift off, I finally had to ask to tap out. B. took over driving duties in what turned out to be Texline, and I missed driving the entire way through Texas by about a hundred yards. I drifted in and out of sleep through that corner of New Mexico, hazily catching the dragon on this building in Clayton, which is one of the coolest facades I’ve ever seen.

This is not my photo. It is from the Six-M Concrete and Metal Art website. They are the ones who created the dragon and a bunch of other cool stuff. Visit them at

I woke up for real in Raton, when we stopped at a gas station and B. had to go inspect an impressive pair of antlers looming out of a truck bed at the neighboring gas pump. It was an elk.

img_6413We climbed up in elevation and came back down into Colorado. On the descent, B. taught me to use my gears to decelerate, instead of riding the brake all the way down the mountain. Feather the throttle, he said.

Our first stop was in Trinidad, where the couple behind us in line saw B.’s I SURVIVED THAI HOT shirt from the late, great Thai Kitchen and started talking about Killeen, where they had been stationed before moving to Colorado, aka Free America.

We made it to Colorado Springs without incident, and B. surprised me with an Alice-in-Wonderland-themed restaurant for dinner. I felt under-dressed and scrubby as we descended into the Rabbit Hole, but we didn’t have to wait for a table and the waitstaff was hospitable. I had a Tweedle Bee spicy cocktail and B. had a Beehive from Bristol Brewing Company, I think. He did order the rabbit, while I went with rabbit food: carrot-ginger-lavender soup and cauliflower mac-and-cheese with tofu. On the way back to the hotel, our Uber driver broke the tie and convinced me not to attempt to drive the road to the top of Pike’s Peak.

Editorial Vision

“Nevertheless, we will persist. I refuse to cancel a pitch meeting on account of that man.”
–Jacqueline Carlyle on #45 in Before Tequila Sunrise (a bottle episode with a very sentimental name)

I’ve been watching The Bold Type, getting in touch with youthful idealism and all that. I like all the girls, most of all Sutton. 

But the character that makes the show for me is Jacqueline: Melora Hardin, AKA Jan Levinson-Gould from The Office, songstress of the most cringe-worthy rendition of Son of a Preacher Man ever.

(Also, Ryan (Pinstripe) from The Bold Type resembles Ryan from The Office. Just sayin’.)

Jacqueline is decidedly not a devil in Prada. She really believes in her girls, and I learned a lot from watching how she lets them do their jobs. When Pinstripe recommends Jane imagine herself in Jacqueline’s chair, that was actually very good advice. Do you want the top job in your company? If not, then why are you there?

I did not know until Episode Nine that the show is based on the life of Cosmo editor-in-chief (not editor-at-large) Joanna Coles. But the Cosmo connection is fairly apparent, as is the Nora Ephron influence.


When Jacqueline takes the weights in the season finale and shares the story of her own rape, I cried. It happened over twenty years ago when she started her journalism career, right when she was about the age of the girls in The Bold Type. Did she think about reporting it?

“Not even for a second. That would have ended my career; or at the very least, defined it […] Me pushing you on this story was misdirected. It was not about you, it was about me.”

Which brings me to the heart of my love for Jacqueline, and probably the heart of The Bold Type, once Jane comes back around.

You have to believe in the publication. It’s the big sister you never had, or whatever. If they are not doing work you can support, not pushing you in the right direction, you have to separate yourself.

I left a freelancing gig a year ago because it became painfully clear I did not share the editor’s vision. She butchered one of my stories to the point that it alienated a source and made her regret trusting me with her story. That, I can not abide.

And thank God I got out, because this is the cover of that publication’s latest issue:

Oh boy. Yes, that is an extremely beige photo shoot. As a formerly entrenched young professional in the community this publication claims to serve, I can confidently say this cover does not represent the diverse, youthful, and inclusive group of career-minded women I encountered every day. All this represents is a limited editorial vision. I’m glad I got out when I did. (There is also a glaring grammatical error: generation is singular. It should be “a new generation of leaders brings fresh ideas.”)

When you’re young and trying to make your name as a writer, you sometimes go along to get along. Once you get a bit older and wiser, you learn how to take a stand. If something doesn’t feel right, by all means get out. You don’t want this on your hands.


“Getting laid off just seems like a good excuse to do something different.”
–Kat, The Bold Type

I’m knee-deep in the layoff episode of The Bold Type right now, reflecting back to the “layoff” scene from The Handmaid’s Tale.

My layoff is over. The department is completely closed. The one girl they left behind to help with the transition has found a new job, so it’s over.

Jane copes with the layoff by getting cold-called for a dream job. Poor Jane. This is why I can’t relate to her. There is nothing but praise for her writing, though the show provides very little justification. “Of course, you’d have your own column.” Of course.

The Handmaid’s Tale

We got an Amazon Fire Stick, which, OMG, changes the entire unemployment landscape. Shows that were previously unavailable to me, like my beloved Canadian soap opera Being Erica, are now a click away. So I immediately binged Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Episode One:

The ear tag. I was just thinking yesterday how I never got one of the cartilage piercings (some girls just looked better in them), and here we have an ear tag with a serial number on it.

Margaret Atwood’s cameo at the Red Center–laughed out loud.

Something from the book, and history–they lock up the Bible so servants can’t read it. The Bible.

The salvaging was done completely wrong, though. That’s not Offred. In the book, that’s one of Ofglen’s shining moments. [Editorial note: within the context of the entire season’s arc, it makes more sense. But we’ve left the book material by this point.]

Ofglen was married to a woman!

Episode Two

June was an assistant book editor! And a preacher’s daughter?!? Maybe? “My father’s parish” can mean he belonged there or he led there.

“Would you like a cookie?” “Aw, isn’t she well-behaved?”

Three Little Birds…and Tears for Fears. Excellent music choices this episode. One of the instructors at my yoga studio has three little birds tattooed on her shoulder.

Episode Three

Barr & Monroe publishing? “You can’t work here anymore; it’s the law now.” That layoff scene had me shook.

So my publishing department was just shut down at work. Eleven people: ten women and one man. The man was immediately offered another job on campus. None of the women even received help from HR to locate another position. They kept one clerk for a few months to help shut the place down and gave her the work of three people to do.

I had to rewind because I though Alexis Bledel’s hair was Rory-Gilmore-short in the first scene and we were looking at two different prison sentences, but it was tucked into her shirt.

Episode Four and Five

Started applying for jobs.



the country girl (1954)

I just went through and published the drafts I had saved in this blog over the past three years. This last one is a bunch of quotes from the movie The Country Girl, the source of this blog’s name. It was Grace Kelly’s ugly movie, and everyone knows going ugly will get you the Oscar. I feel like this period of my life has been my own ugly movie–it may not look great on the outside, but I’m going to come out of it a winner and go on to become fucking royalty.

– She wasn’t always like that.

– I know.
They start out as Juliets and wind up as Lady Macbeths.

– When I first met her, she was as fine a person as you’ve ever seen.
She had background and breeding.
She had a nobility about her that made me feel proud to be with her.
I was a good deal older than she was, but it didn’t seem to matter.
She wasn’t a flighty kid.
She had a poise and dignity that was ageless.

Those first few years, I never knew a better life.
A wife who was everything I’d been looking for.
A son who was smart, healthy.
Then our son died.
I came home from the theatre one night a couple of months later.
This kid, I don’t think she ever had a real drink in her life before.
There she is, stretched out across the bed, dead drunk,
her wrists cut and bleeding.
She was jealous that I had my work, something to live for.
She felt she had nothing.

Inside of a year, she was a hopeless drunkard.
In an effort to give her some purpose in life,
I made her feel that I needed her in my work.
I let her pick the songs I should record, the shows I ought to do.
She started taking over everything. She became very possessive.
She wanted to make the decisions, had to be with me all the time.
Whenever I was away, she acted as if I’d run off with another woman.
She had fits of depression.
One time she set fire to a hotel suite.

That’s when I hit the bottle.

Work Hard and Be Nice to People

[*This is a draft from a year ago.]

Networking is yuppiespeak for “talking to people.” Some people do it well, some people do it poorly, and some don’t do at all. One of the reasons I have risen in the ranks of the Local Yuppie organization is my ability to talk to people–because sometimes it seems like I’m the only one willing to do that.

I’m not even that good at it. I was an extremely shy kid, but Ireland cast a spell on me and now I have the ability to hold a conversation with anyone. Yes, I have kissed the Blarney Stone, which sure and begorrah has given me the gift of gab, but the true credit belongs to the Irish pub, where I learned how to talk to anybody and everybody.

One of my biggest complaints about the Local Yuppie organization is that they can be a little cliquey. I remember when I first started coming to events, before I had actually joined, how difficult it was to even identify the members of the board, let alone get them to talk to me. Some of them were outright hostile. I actually enjoy getting under people’s skin, so rather than scare me off, that actually motivated me to get more involved. There were a few events where I showed up just to see how badly I could piss off the ones that clearly didn’t like me.

All this, and now they want me to be president. Not because I’m the best person for the job, but because they didn’t build a sustainable organization and now no one wants to run it. I’ve heard other young people in the community complain about feeling unwelcome in the organization, and I know it’s true because they did the same thing to me at first. For people who are less contrarian than me,  that’s a total turnoff. The organization doesn’t grow because most people don’t choose to hang out with assholes in their free time. We get enough of that at work.


An issue came up a while back that has been a problem before: when to hyphenate?

My issue was with the word fund-raising, used as a noun (although that may not make a difference). I prefer the more modern “fundraising”–so do the New York Times and the Associated Press–but I need a better reason than “it sounds old fashioned” to justify the edit. Gregg’s manual suggest treating compound nouns as two words unless the dictionary says otherwise, and lists fund-raising as a hyphenated example. It looks like nonprofits frequently argue over this term as well.

Grammar Girl, my go-to guru, has focused her hyphenation podcasts mostly on adjectives, such as the time CNBC ticker writers appeared to be squabbling over the issue: “Is the glass half full or half-empty?” In this case, no, you do not have to hyphenate, but she is sure to emphasize that there are many exceptions to the rules of hyphenation.

Compound modifiers are often compound adjectives, like you are applying the adjective as a single unit to a noun. And it’s important to ask: will the hyphen, or lack thereof, affect your meaning? If you’re feeling wrinkly, you may need to re-press your jeans, not repress them like bad memories.

The terms designated in Gregg’s are “hyphenated,” “spaced,” and “solid.” Solid is my favorite descriptor of a word, and it’s the one I’m trying to push for fundraising.

Other words I’ve had questions about were heads-up, clean-up, proof-reading and copy-editing (the title of one of my graduate courses) and, a bizarre attribute that came up in a tipsy conversation: odor-aware.


Literary SJP

“I’m really very literary. I’ll sit down and read a whole magazine, cover to cover.”

Sarah Jessica Parker just announced the first book she will publish for her SJP for Hogarth imprint. This is not the first time a celebrity has gotten her own publishing imprint. Lena Dunham’s launched last year, and a quick search reveals Gwyneth Paltrow, Johnny Depp, and Oprah Winfrey all have their own imprints. I’d read about Derek Jeter’s around the time he retired, and am not surprised to see Anthony Bourdain has one as well. There’s lots of commentary out there about how boutique publishing is now just part of a celebrity brand. You prove yourself to be a tastemaker and a thought leader.

I am still wanting to see the day Jessa Crispin gets her own imprint. It doesn’t seem like something that would interest her, but I’ve always imagined her somehow infiltrating the system, planting herself in a corner office with a bottomless budget, and publishing really weird shit while drinking whiskey and smoking a cigar with her heels up on the desk.

That’s not really what sells books, I guess, and the publishing industry as I always imagined it doesn’t exist anymore. The story goes, it was a gentleman’s game that permitted women to while away some time until they got married, everybody enjoying three-martini lunches until Amazon came along and spoiled all the fun. I don’t know for sure; I wasn’t there, and I’ll never get the chance to find out.

Still, we got books out of the deal. The business of books has always baffled me. A mentor-type who has had a long career in finance asked me about work the other day, so I babbled on a bit about ebooks and sales and not knowing how to price anything and then he commented, “It’s fascinating to follow a market, isn’t it?” That comment cracked open something in my head. Books are a market, like any other. Volatile, subject to whims, and vulnerable to outside influences. It’s art, yes, and I’ve always known that, but even fine art has a market.

Exploring the intersection between the two is what took me to grad school. The program was a masters in literature and publishing, for heaven’s sake. Literature and publishing. Art and commerce. Does what it says on the tin.

Four years later and I’m still sitting here, twiddling my thumbs because I’m just NOT SURE. I still don’t know what all this means. It’s my writing style to a T: do a bunch of reading and research and throw a few interviews into the mix but never get to the bloody point. If I were to take a step back and apply the lessons I’ve learned in journalism, the obvious question to attack would be “How does one get rich through books?”