Into the Wild

Grizzlies at the Memphis Zoo

Saw these dudes the other day. Easy zoo living is making them soft!

Kick A


My ol Los Angeles chum, Heidi sent me a postcard from Thailand!  I feel that the photo represents the kickassness of a good adventure.

Speaking of adventures – as of 4:45pm today I am officially on vacation (from the land of florescent lights, not so much from this blog). Destination : the grand strand, the low country, and the Atlanta Cyclorama.


To Dig Yourself

In Arkansas, I learned that nothing sticks to diamonds. Nothing. Not dirt or water or mud or feathers or nickelodeon slime. Diamonds have no static electric charge. So when you see one in the dirt, you’ll see one. YaknowwhatImean?



To find a diamond you have to be dedicated. I read on a tourist website that the average visitor to Crater of Diamonds State Park  only looks for about twenty minutes before giving up.  We made a pact that we wouldn’t give up for twenty hours! Twenty weeks!!

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We’d been watching a few episodes of “Gold Rush Alaska” the night before and were pretty sure these guys were working on finding their glory hole. Our technique was as ambitious but not as showy. 


Aside from the people that brought diamond sniffing beagles, everyone else was all willy-nilly – grabbing at dirt and dumping buckets of water everywhere.  I heard more than a few people say “I’d probably find something if I knew what I was looking fer!” (to which I would silently say, did you not read the sign?! We are looking for diamonds sir!) I also heard more than a few mothers yell at their kids while dragging them over the 30 acre field of turned-over earth; “I told y’all to NOT get dirty!” (to which I would silently say, this is the metaphor for how things are gonna be with her the rest of your life, kiddos)

The upside of everyone else giving up is that there is some kind of mine etiquette that says the people walking out have to stop and see how you are doing and wish you well. It’s pretty cute when some six year-old girls carrying pink buckets tell you, “Good luck!!”


We called it a day after several hours of meditative sifting. No diamonds, but I burnt the three-inch section of the tops of ankles because I had my pants rolled up just so. I vowed to purchase a healing quartz crystal at another local mine as soon as possible.

No drowning our sorrows in beer though, Murfreesboro is a dry, dry county. Our consolation prize:


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Now a mainstream phrase, the term Tiger Blood has been around the snow ball world forever.

Turns out these really were New Orleans Style Snow Balls – the lady told us that she and her husband had moved up from Louisiana after all the hurricanes. It was just too much to always live in a state of impending evacuation. She said they had always come up there to vacation so why not? 

I kind of feel like a hurricane brought me to Arkansas too. A different kind of hurricane though - a kind of hurricane inside my soul that is feeling destructive for raw gemstones. We may have left the mine empty handed that day, but I’ve extended my search dedication time limit from twenty hours to twenty weeks to twenty years.

I will find you!!!


*the snow ball lady also has cute plants for sale.


Ol’ Five Foot and Other Headlines





I might have a travel story or two to tell if my arms ever unstiffen from the crispy sunburn I got while out digging for treasures in the middle of Arkansas. Check out these postcards I got at Coleman’s Crystal Mine.  We picked up some awesome rocky treasures in their shop to make up for the stuff we didn’t find on our own. They wrapped them in the local paper for safe traveling and when I was unpacking everything I couldn’t help but notice how interesting things are out near the Ouachita Forest:

(real headlines, as published)

  • ACFG, Forest Service monitoring caves for deadly bat disease
  • Greatest Shooter Contest in February
  • Spike Girls Have First CFL (Cabin Fever Luncheon)
  • Mature Bald Eagles still fascinate as they soar over Village
  • What ever happened to solemnity?
  • Paul and Eunice Luebke – work took them around the world     (profile piece about a sweet old couple)



I lived in a Motel 6 in a working class suburb of St. Louis, MO for a few months when I was just nineteen. That’s a fact stored deep in my bag of “check-out-this-sh*t”-facts that I carry in case someone in a group is getting more attention than me. It’s not like I am that annoying – I use the Motel 6 story way before, “I can tie a cherry stem in knot with my tongue…”

When I was living in the motel with my BF, I got one of my favorite jobs ever, working at a cosmetics counter in a mall. Loved the job, loved putting eye-shadow on older ladies – you would not believe how much the human eyelid varies from person to person – and I loved getting free make-up and selling really expensive face cream. However, I was pretty lonely and didn’t like going to mall bars with my department store coworkers and my BF was always busy working so I was on my own most of the time.

Like many others suffering from social issues who eventually turn to animals, I filled the hole in my existence by visiting a great dane puppy at the mall pet store every day I worked. He was kind of blue-ish grey with dark spots and from what I remember, very hyper.  I named him Sisco (pre-thong song) and I never knew if he found a good home because I quit to go to Mardi Gras with a friend. Those were the 90s, you could just quit jobs on Friday and get another one on Monday.

I thought those days were long gone, however, I find myself turning back to animals for guidance and companionship, but I’ve moved up from pet stores and on to the zoo. Behold my new part-time friends:


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*The cheetah kind of reminds me of Sisco.

The zoo is walking distance from our place and ever since I got a membership I’ve been going so much I figure I should get a good khaki outfit and a walking stick and start giving animal talks. I might wait for my hair to go a little gray first (and for my mascara to fall off my eyelashes). For now, I am pretty sure I will start a separate blog called “Overheard Parental Disinformation at the Zoo” but it will have to be anonymous because I fear retaliation for outing grown people that don’t know the difference between a zebra and a goat, so you will have to forget you ever read about it here.


It Starts Early and Affects Us Forevah

They got rid of the last of the men on Friday. On Monday I will return to an all female office. I am thinking about bringing in some donuts. I can hear the I shouldn’ts and the I’m on the south beach’s now…

It is not good to generalize, but sometimes it is helpful.  I am debating on going on the business talk circuit to tell the world to fire any and all female executives. I saw that there is a big motivational conference coming to town and I’m thinking of hopping on the wagon. Like joining the circus. You won’t hear from me again unless you buy a ticket.

I will be the last person to come on stage because my message will be so powerful and controversial. The first thing I will say is “Have you done a thorough psychological analysis on the people managing your people?”  the crowd will go silent. I will ask “A REAL background check? Do you know if she has unresolved daddy issues? Was she teased in high school?” Everyone will shift in their seats. “When you hired that regional director, did you call her old employees to see if she was an a**hole?”  And when they all hang their heads I will scream “PEOPLE THIS ISN’T ABOT MOTIVATION – THIS IS ABOUT PREPARATION!” and I will have a huge power point slide projected behind me that says “Success is 2% Motivation and 98% Preparation” and Curtis Mayfield will come out at this point.

“You are wasting your money at these things as long as you aren’t taking care of the real problem. You can’t expect people to be motivated when they have an unproductive fire-breathing b*tch busy with personal vendettas up in their business!”  Cue the horns.

Then we will have a little horn and funk dance participation thing (because people remember things better when they get physical).

Then the horns will break down and I will tell everyone if they only remember one other thing, to remember my drama rule:

When a person declares they “don’t want any drama” it is clearly a no-mean-yes kind of situation.  This is always true. Without exception. The music will repeat this: always true, without exception…no-mean-yes-sit-ua-tioooon… “And it is always true” I will say. “It may only indicate that the person may genuinely not know that they are the cause of everyone’s grief…but we know they are addicted to drama…”  At this point some people will be getting some sideways glances and I will know my job is done. I will say “Curtis!! Take em’ out” and he will play an instrumental medley of Pusherman and People get Ready.

Backstage on the circuit Rudy Giuliani and Lou Holtz will be discussing how to get rid of Laura Bush and make room for me, because we all know there’s only room for one women in charge! Act accordingly!!

PS – I am a good third-wave feminist but it is a known fact that none of that applies when you are slugging along in the bowels of capitalism with women suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.


Skim For Highlights

Like Ignatious J. Reilly and Greenburg (no need to see the movie – I’m referring the only interesting characteristic of the whole film), I have a compulsion to write letters (emails too) of complaint to businesses (and sometimes people) that deserve a good talking-to. I’m not all piss and vinegar though, I will also write letters commending excellent service like the email I sent to McDonalds for a certain employee’s outstanding attitude and impressive ability to remember my own personal sugar-to-cream ratio preferences for my iced coffee.

I have many, many things to complain about lately – including, but not limited to: the Emperor’s-New-Clothes-Style-Celebration of the movie “The Social Network” and the horrific labor politics being hashed out in Wisconsin. However, when one is powerless one must focus on small changes, so the issue I am focusing on this month is starting a campaign to force Amazon to create a mandated rating system for their Used Marketplace. In the new system it would be grounds for account termination if a seller listed a book that actually has writing on the pages, in any condition other than “acceptable” or below.

Aren’t you tired of buying used books on Amazon that have been marked “Good” or “Like New” and then when you get them there is yellow or pink highlighting all over the place – or worse - ink-pen underlining and sloppy freshman-lit notes like “sense of place” and “METAPHOR” written near, or sometimes even OVER the actual words on the page?  It reminds me of being at the movies with a row of teenagers right up in my ear with their stupid comments and hormonally quavering giggles. God. Shut up. I can’t hear the elderly couple repeating everything to each other over here.

Unless signed by the author, no book that has been marked up by the hands of another should be rated in “good” condition. It is an outrage. Who underlines or highlights in a perfectly good book anyway? I cringe when people fold back the front cover of a paperback or put their drinks on top of a book just because it happens to be resting flat on a table. Coaster? NO. Notepad for your bullsh*t thoughts about the text? Definitely NOT.

The only time I ever marked up a book was when I was forced to by an English prof who told me marking the life out of the page was the proper way to read – “highlight or underline the key phrases as you go” – I was like, “for what?” Still, he stood right over me and made me highlight a sentence and then make a note in the margins. I wrote, the words “key phrases” and then he finally left me alone. If I was forced to highlight again, I would highlight every sentence I read as I went along and just use the place where the highlighting ends as my bookmark. That makes about as much sense as highlighting in the first place.

I make all of my notes for reading off-line, on colorful post-it notes or a notepad that I have nearby. Am I alone in this? What do y’all do? I mean, tell me about a time when defacing a book in the name of “engaged reading” ie: highlighting and underlining, has ever helped you. Do you go back, open up a book and say “I know I highlighted something verrrrrry important somewhere here….” or do you ever go back at all?


FYI: Amazon’s artificial intelligence customer service got back to me and made no acknowledgement of the Used-Buyer Manifesto I sent them (too powerful?). They just said to report unethical sellers to their investigation team. They want me to turn nark.