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Party On, Garth!

Twenty-one years ago I met a boy — well, two boys to be specific. They were best friends and I was with my best friends and after a very strange first night we all ended up becoming friends for a short time and one of them became my boyfriend for an even shorter time — so short that my own mother doesn’t even remember him. I’ve seen him exactly once since then, and that was nearly two decades ago, too.

And yet to this day, he has left an indelible mark upon my life. You see, I grew up in a place and time where country music was verboten. You just didn’t listen to it if you wanted to be thought of as some version of “cool.” I think we still said that back then. But this boy and his friend — with whom I spent a great deal of time — loved it. I don’t think they listened to anything else. I was in the boy’s bedroom the first time I heard John Anderson’s Straight Tequila Night, which is still one of my favorite songs. (Fast-forward another dozen years to the first months of dating my fiance and we went to see Anderson play at a little bar called The Barn in Sanford, Florida. I guess old Johnny is a pretty big musical deal in my life.)

Garth Brooks, Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL, Oct. 18, 2014. ©Renée M. Liss

Garth Brooks, Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL, Oct. 18, 2014. ©Renée M. Liss

So the country thing stuck. It isn’t the only music I listen to, but it grew on me. I find it fun but also it can be pretty poignant. After all these years, it finally came full-circle when a friend mentioned one night that the legendary Garth Brooks was going to be in Jacksonville, Florida, for one of his new world tour stops.

I have a couple of his CDs, and like most of America, I love his iconic Friends in Low Places. Even so, I never really thought myself a particularly huge Garth fan. Regardless, he’s Garth Brooks. He’s a legend. I had to see him. And I did — last Saturday night with my best friend of way-too-many-years (who was there when I met the boy and there when I met my fiance and has just always been there for just about everything that has ever mattered whenever possible) and my fiance. I couldn’t wish for two better companions for that night.

Despite my belief that Garth was no more to me than a casual interest, sitting in that arena listening to him play 26 years worth of his music, I realized just how much he had been a part of my life’s soundtrack. Every song held a memory — most good. I was nearly in tears by the end. I barely sat down at all through the entire concert. I have never enjoyed myself that much at another concert ever. Had Garth played every song he ever recorded, we would have been there all night and it still would have been too short.

Others had mentioned that this man puts on a great show, but I had no idea what that meant until I actually experienced it. Every person walked out of that concert with a smile. I don’t think anyone left disappointed.

Garth isn’t young. I’m not sure his exact age, but he’s been recording music since 1988 or 1989 — I was in middle school then and I’m pushing 40 now. Yet he spent hours on that stage, playing guitar, singing, running around, climbing props like he was 5 years old.

I hope I get another chance to see him one day and if you do, go. Just go. Even if you hate country music, even if you have to spend your last penny. Go.

An addendum: I have been listening to Brooks’ music for the last couple days on CDs and MP3 and I had to add that you haven’t experienced him if you haven’t heard him live. He’s 100 times better in person.

50 Happy Things

I posted this yesterday in response to a challenge on a fitness site I frequent, but I thought it was a good post for here. I know, I know … I have been quite absent from this place for a long time. But I’m posting today, so you all may rejoice.

Anywho, here is my list of 50 things that make me happy: 

  1. A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones (even when the show deviates from the books and annoys me)Image
  2. Mad Men
  3. Getting lost in a good book (noticing a theme …)
  4. Rolling green fields
  5. Large bodies of water
  6. Swimming
  7. Finding clothes that look super cute on me
  8. That awesome pair (or 50) of shoes
  9. Cuddling
  10. Finding long-lost friends online
  11. Pinterest
  12. Writing
  13. Listening to music I love at full volume and singing along
  14. Dancing
    Image

    Center Stage screen shot.

  15. Long walks and talks with good friends
  16. Alone time
  17. Yoga
  18. Animals
  19. Mike Rowe (hee hee hee)
  20. Introducing people to things I love and seeing them love those things, too (i.e. yesterday I told my daughter’s boyfriend all about Top Secret! and insisted he watch it or he isn’t allowed to date her anymore — I know he’ll love it. Who doesn’t? But anyway, I’ve turned many people on to that movie and also Real Genius and none have been sorry.)
  21. Natalie Merchant live
  22. Sarah McLachlan live
  23. Editing
  24. A cheese plate and chocolate mousse from France at EPCOT
  25. The county fair
    Image

    2013 North Florida Fair. Photo by Renée M. Liss (c) 2014

  26. Cherry candy-dipped soft serve chocolate ice cream
  27. Shirley Temples (the drink)
  28. Waterfalls
    Image

    Ithaca, NY. Photo by Renée M. Liss (c) 2014

  29. Sitting outside reading a book
  30. Discussions with intelligent people
  31. Pretty language
  32. British sitcoms
  33. A dark, clear night looking at the stars
  34. Beautiful art
  35. Getting so lost in a movie that you wish it wouldn’t end
  36. Monty Python 
  37. Anything John Cleese
  38. Visiting old friends I haven’t seen in years and feeling like I just saw them yesterdayImage
  39. Halloween
  40. Baseball (live!)
  41. Boston
  42. A northeast autumn
  43. Snow during the winter holidays
  44. Throwing parties
  45. Realizing I have a wonderful group of friends where I live, even though I moved here as an adult and it’s difficut to meet people and make close friends once you’re out of school, especially if you move away from home
  46. Flowers
  47. A drama-free life
  48. Bookstores
  49. Caramel hot apple cider
  50. English breakfast tea with honey and cream

Call it Writer’s Block

On Facebook, I “like” a particular page for writers that regularly posts quotes about writing. Imagine that!

Today, the page administrator(s) posted,

Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all. — Charles Bukowski

I don’t think I necessarily have writer’s block. I’m not really sure what’s going on with me. Last spring, I hit my stride. I was writing like a madwoman. I would estimate I was about two weeks away from actually finishing a novel for the first time, with two more on its heals. I was on a roll.

Then I went rollerblading one Saturday morning.

Write SomethingI shattered my right wrist and fractured my left elbow. I was in a lot of pain. I had to have surgery to put a metal plate in my wrist and after they removed the splint, I had to wear a brace. My wrist hurt all.the.time. Even if my brain hadn’t been muddled by the pain killers, the pain was too much and I could only type with my right hand, which got tiring.

I lost my momentum. I figured I’d be able to pick right back up where I’d ended, but I couldn’t. I had to restart the book I had nearly finished and now the writing is coming hard and in spits and spurts. I’m frustrated.

Last week, I committed myself to write one hour a day, every day. I managed two or three days of that and haven’t done much else. I can’t get in the mood. I’m annoyed with myself.

So here I am blogging and hoping this little exercise will help me get back on track. While I love that I at least am able to make a living by being a writer, technical writer for a government agency is not my dream. I appreciate that I can be a little creative, that I can spend my days writing and editing and even more, I appreciate the paycheck and benefits that come with it.

I’m also quite afraid that if I do finish writing a novel, I will not find an agent or a publisher. I am afraid to fail. I’m not afraid of failure on its face. I’m afraid to find out that being a novelist is not really the life I was born to live. I’m afraid to lose my dream. But if I never try, I will fail for certain. That’s even worse.

And so back to the grind.

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A Plan Forms

It’s time to get serious. I have been writing on and off quite a bit. I have four or five novels in the works, none of which I’m working on nearly enough and none of which are anywhere close to finished, but they’re all good in their own right and I have goals. I want to be a novelist. I want to write for a living. It’s important to me to get there.

And I’m fat again. It’s mostly not my fault. The weight I gained over the past few years was a direct result of my birth control, but now that I’ve had that removed, I need to take control and lose it. I started out well with that yesterday. I planned a full day of healthy eating and I walked and jogged more than four miles after work. Then I went to a friend’s house and ate this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this morning, I nearly got sick in the shower (if you’ve ever experienced morning sickness, it felt like that) and then a pair of pants that fit me fine last year wouldn’t even come close to buttoning. Yeah. That happened.

But no worries because even before the truffle/cheesecake incident, during my workout, I had formed a plan in my mind. I am going to remedy all my woes.

First, I will go to the gym three times a week to lift weights. On the days I go to the gym, I will do some sort of cardio exercise to round out a full hour and on the days I don’t go, I will do a full hour of cardio. I will also do at least thirty minutes of yoga every day. I will write for a minimum of one hour per day and I will read a book each week. I mean, I started the book review blog before my surgery and I feel like I wrote two great reviews and was on a roll and then … I stopped. And that isn’t OK with me. I have big plans for that blog. It has a theme and a purpose and it’s pretty. It’s time to get serious.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy http://www.fanpop.com.

I’m going to keep this short because I don’t think there’s a need to dissect this movie. I simply want to say that I think you all should see it. I haven’t read the book, but I’m told the movie compares very favorably. And the soundtrack is to die for.

In basic terms, the movie will make you feel:

You know when you’re on a roller coaster and you have that constant knot in your stomach from the tension of climbing hills and knowing that when you reach the top, you’re going to go really fast down a hill of equal proportions and while it’s exhilarating, it’s also incredibly scary?

That’s how this movie made me feel. And I was on the verge of tears from start to finish, even though there were some funny parts and sad parts and everything in between.

And it makes us children of the ’90s (well, adolescents of the ’90s, because really, it’s us Grungers who will really understand it) nostalgic for a different and simpler time.

Finally, anyone wondering if there’s life after Harry Potter, wonder no more. Emma Watson’s performance was superb.

Yeah … Another New Blog

I decided to start a new blog for the express purpose of reviewing books I read. My goal is one a week and a Friday post.

I will start a Facebook fan page for it probably this weekend, but if anyone is interested, my “about” page and my first review (A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling) are up and ready: http://inaperfectword.wordpress.com/about/.

I’ll still post here, but only non-book review posts. Enjoy!

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