Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dress For Success

It’s an exciting time at work as we are in the midst of planning some upcoming special events that I suspect will act as great promotional and fundraising tools for our public television network. I feel reenergized by this work because, for many different reasons, special events are a rarity here, and I’ve missed them and what they can bring to the organization.

I look back on my former professional life in Austin and I have to laugh because there, the exception was NOT having an event during a week. I remember one particular stretch where we hosted a station-related event of one kind or another 7 nights in a row. On average, we had at least 1 event a week, and more often than not it was 2 or 3, often on weekends and almost always after 5:00. I must admit I miss the creative teamwork that went into making those events work, as we work more in silos here, but there was an exhaustion factor there that I don’t feel here and in the end, our return on investment on those events wasn’t always worth the effort. I believe there is a happy medium somewhere between my previous and current situations that best promotes excitement, interest and success.

But not-so-gracefully looping back to my point, we have a couple of great events coming up. And they require invitations.

Invitation writing is an art. One reason I like events so much is because each one is its own separate creature, unique unto itself. So what might apply to one event, won’t necessarily apply to the next, and this is certainly true of the language, look, design and tone of the invitation.

As I’m doodling with the invitation copy I’m stuck on that most-dreaded “attire” line. The attire line used to be the bane of my existence. It’s one of those lines that seem to divide people into camps – those who want to be straightforward or leave it off altogether and those who want to be super cutesy with the description. I tend to fall in the first camp, but my experience with special event fundraising has usually leaned toward the second. This was especially true when working with high profile community volunteers or board members on the planning committee. They ALWAYS seemed to think it was really important to be as creative as possible with the attire line.

The problem?

No one ever understood what it meant.

So what did they inevitably do? Call me. I spent numerous collective hours on the phone telling people what to wear to our events.

To prove my point, I looked back through my files and portfolio and jotted down these examples of suggested attire I found on invitations from the past ten years:

Night on the Town
Glitz and Glitter
Jeans and Jewels
Austin City Limits Chic (my personal favorite – you might as well call this one “Anything Goes”)
Dress to Impress
Fabulous Frocks
Hot, Hot, Hot
Boots and Bow Ties

In fairness, there were the occasional classic descriptions, too:

Black Tie Optional
Business Casual

The real rub was this; Austin is a very stylish town and the types of folks who came to our events were usually the types who attended every other social event in town so they really knew EXACTLY what to wear. So why call fashion-challenged me? I hated having to discuss with the major donors and beautiful people whether or not “Summer Picnic” meant strappy sandals and a sundress or linen cropped pants and a fancy straw hat. Because really? I didn’t know myself what most of these descriptions meant!

But I lost that battle all of the time. Oh, just thinking about it makes me cringe. If you only KNEW the kind of people I was dealing with on these planning committees you would so feel my pain…

It’s different here and I guarantee the attire line won’t be an issue. I just hope we can infuse our events with a little bit of creativity and enough inspiring moments that people will leave with an exciting impression of the Oklahoma Network, not caring one bit if their table mate was wearing haute couture or shabby chic.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Cold Winter Morning Walk

Inside Looking Out

Dot and I walked for 2 hours yesterday morning and it was COLD. The picture above is taken from my living rom looking out my front door. There's still some snow remaining from our storm a couple ofweeks ago, and it didn't go anywhere yesterday either.

But it was a crystal clear, bright, sunny, cold morning, and those are the best. I took my camera with me. I thought I'd try the black and white setting to see if that translated "cold" in any way. I think my shots just ended up looking poorly lit and a bit out of focus, but trust was cold!




Saturday, January 27, 2007

Austin Should Give Her the Key to the City

So, where have I been? Does everyone know about Gladys Hardy's debut on the Ellen show earlier this month, but me?

I LOVE Gladys Hardy. This is one of the funniest clips I've ever seen. If I could be half as cool as Gladys when I'm 88, all would be well.

Thanks to my dad for sending this my way.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Next: Nude Volleyball

I had a particularly bad dream last night. It’s probably the 10,000th variation on the same bad-dream theme I’ve been dreaming since college – the bad dream that always has to do with lots of water.

I probably have a version of this same dream two or three times a week where I’m in some sort of peril – from mild to extreme - and have to deal with scary water in one way, shape or form. Maybe it’s that I have to cross a raging river that is sure to sweep me away, or I’m on a ship that is sinking, or I’m driving across a dam that breaks, or I’m walking across a rickety bridge over a waterfall, or the mountain lake is freezing and I have to get off the ice before it cracks and I fall through. I could go on and on and on because I dream this stuff ALL OF THE TIME. I’m sure a psychoanalyst would have a field day since it’s so apparent that the water is symbolizing fear, or chaos, or the unknown, or… DA DA DUUUUM...death.

As I lay awake trying to shake off last night’s episode where I was on a raft rushing through a series of locks on a canal that was flooding behind me, I was thinking about why water always plays a part of my nightmares. I’m not afraid of water. I love playing in water. Granted, I’m not a great swimmer by any means, but I’m not paralyzed with fear, or anything. I’m a Pisces for goodness sake – we love water!

But in my sleepy state, I laughed out loud when I remembered that one time I did almost die in open water. Okay, maybe “die” is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much.

I almost died nine years ago at Hippie Hollow, topless in the lake, buoys up, if you get my drift. That’s right. Topless. In the lake. At Hippie Hollow, Austin’s nude beach. I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t been saved and my poor parents would have received that phone call, “Mr. and Mrs. Holliday, your daughter died today at the lake. At Hippie Hollow. Topless.”

Oh, the shame…

And it’s all absolutely, 100%, positively, without a doubt, Beth’s fault.

I didn’t want to go to Hippie Hollow! I’m not a Hippie Hollow person! I would rather be dipped in honey and left on an ant hill than actually be naked in front of anyone! At no point in my life has skinny dipping ever sounded like fun.

I mean, HELLO, when I went to Saint Tropez in the South of France, probably one of the most famous nude beaches in the world, I was wearing a turtleneck! I kid you not, a turtleneck. I’ve got to get those pictures out of storage and find that one because it makes me laugh just thinking about it. There I am on the stunningly beautiful white sandy beaches of St. Tropez wearing walking shorts down to my knees and a cotton turtle neck, surrounded by really white, really blobby, really naked European tourists. (MUST find those pictures!)

But during that year and a half when I was roommates with Beth, she was on a mission to wrench me from the crazy self-inflicted confinement of my neurosis. She didn’t think I needed to be insecure, always playing it safe, afraid of adventure and spontaneity, forever worried about what others thought. She actually had the audacity to think that I should learn to be comfortable in my own skin just being me! I must admit that, in part, thanks to Beth’s efforts I now live a much more confident, freer life than I might otherwise have done. I don’t live so much in the “Lori Holliday Box”, as we used to call it.

But it took her making me do things that made me extremely uncomfortable to get over some of my issues. Things like going to a nude beach.

This is how our conversation went every single Saturday morning for about ten weeks straight that summer:

B: “Hey, let’s go swimming today at Hippie Hollow.”
L: “Absolutely not.”

It wasn’t until I lost a bet and had to pay with Hippie Hollow that I went. I was mortified, but more than anything I just wanted to get it over with.

Of course, once we got there I realized I had it built up in my mind completely different than it actually was. It was a beautiful, isolated cove that boaters couldn’t access so there were no gawkers and hardly anyone on the beach. It was easy to find a secluded place to ourselves.

I had my top off and was in the water in 3 seconds flat. (We certainly kept our shorts on – even Beth wasn’t that brave!) We swam out into the middle of the cove and laughed and laughed thinking that we were really funny. I was actually having fun! I felt pretty daring being half naked in the warm lake on that beautiful, hot day.

Until it hit.

With no warning, my lungs seized up and I was stricken with a bad bronchial spasm. No air in, no air out.

I had been plagued with this problem for awhile (I’ve since been mostly cured) and it had happened before when I was with Beth, so she recognized what was going on pretty quickly and sprang into action like a half-naked Baywatch lifeguard. She turned me on my back, put her left arm around my shoulders and neck and swam with her right arm pulling my big, mostly-naked, no breathing self to shore. All I could think of as I was looking at the sun with my girls facing skyward was that horrible phone call someone was going to have to make to my parents. Dear God, NO!

Beth dragged me onto the sand and neither of us cared much at that point that we were topless. I was trying to focus inward and will my lungs to move while she was pounding on my back yelling “BREATH, BREATH!”. A small group of people started to gather around us. Totally naked people. It was a sight to behold. One particularly tan man said, “Should I call an ambulance?” At that exact moment my lungs finally loosened up and I wheezed out “NOOOOOOOO”.

I’m not sure I could have lived another day if EMT would have arrived on the scene.

I just sat on the sand and focused on breathing. Everyone around me let out a collective sigh and the really nice naked people patted me on my naked back and went back to playing in the water. Beth and I sat right there for a good 30 minutes, in silence, just breathing. I was in full view and could have cared less.

When I was finally back to breathing normally, the absolute absurdity of the situation hit us and we started to laugh. And we laughed and laughed and laughed. For thirty minutes we laughed. Who else but me would have their worst fear realized – to be seen naked at Hippie Hollow – in such dramatic fashion?

By now, my twins were completely sunburned so we finally stood up and walked waaaaaay to the other side of the beach to get our t-shirts. No one cared that we were half naked. No one even looked. But I was pretty happy to cover up the old birthday suit and go back home.

Needless to say, Beth and I can get ourselves laughing until we cry when we reminisce about this one. Maybe it’s why I have nightmares about open water, but if that’s the case, it was worth it.

And if ever I return to St. Tropez, I might actually wear a tank top this time. Progress.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Scratching Origami Off Of Life To Do List




Pug needs lots of work.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What's Black and White and Red All Over?

For different reasons, I have great love for these five small Texas towns, listed in order of their population. Eastland (5,000), Cisco (3,000), Throckmorton (1,000), Walnut Springs (750) and Woodson (300). Many of the people I love are from these towns and some are still there. I spent summers in these places. My grandparents have always been there, and my parents are there now. As I’ve mentioned before, small towns provide unique experiences.

I’m endlessly fascinated by life, and those who live, in small towns. But, it’s at this point I feel the compelling need to justify to the Universe that when I poke fun, it’s coming from a place of love. Because I love these places. But Lord knows, small towns provide some of the best material for big laughs.

I keep up on the news of these places thanks to mom and dad subscribing to their different newspapers. Small town papers are AWESOME. Around eight pages in length, they usually come out once or twice a week and in their pages, like any good newspaper, you can learn about the heart of that community. The people. The events. The sales and good deals. The job opportunities. The livestock for sale. The church socials. The high school highlights.

But man, are they funny. This is just a sampling of the hundreds of examples I have enjoyed over the years:

The copy writer for the advertisement department was in a hurry this day and forgot to run his ad through the grammar function on his computer.

Every town has their Gladys Kravitz and thanks to these social directors you will ALWAYS know who’s coming and going.

Everyone is kept honest by the Letters to the Editor, and your neighbors are given a public forum to defend themselves.

And the headlines always say it like it is.

I LOVE reading these papers because they are a FUNNY.

I’m bummed out because I can’t share with you my very favorite published piece of all time – a wedding announcement. I can’t lay my hands on it at the moment, but it was an amazing piece of writing offering a crystal, clear view into that moment in time when this young couple was married. Thanks to the efforts of its author, it was like you were THERE, at the wedding, sitting on the hay bales next to cousin Johnny who had been given a one day release from jail to attend the ceremonies.

The Woodson News (shown above) has become tame, and it drastically pales in comparison to the columns produced by its former writer, who has retired. I’m guessing the former writer was 90 years old, had been producing her column since the ‘50s, but she could dish up some SCOOP. I laughed until I cried when I read years ago that “Mary Ellen visited Clementine, who had her new leg in.”

Good stuff.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ranching 101

We enjoyed a big surprise at the Last Stop, the other day…

The birth of Fiesta de Blanco, our newest longhorn!

The surprise?


Who knew? Phana wasn’t fat! She had no bulge in her belly. In fact, she looked bony.

But the other day she didn’t show up at feeding time and dad began to worry. There weren’t many good reasons why she would miss her very favorite time of the day, but there were plenty of bad reasons. Did she get out of the fence?

Dad got on the 4-wheeler and searched all over for her, until he found her way far away from the barn, over on what we call Scorpion Ridge. As he approached, he finally saw the cutest little bright, white calf prancing around his mama. The little guy was bright white with liver brown ears, nose and feet. Adorable. Way to go Phana.

But we had no idea Phana was pregnant when we got her 8 months ago.

The back story is this. My friend Tim raises Spanish Longhorns and when he decided to downsize his operation he wanted to find good homes for his cows. He didn’t want them to be sold to the slaughter house, or used as ropers at a rodeo. He wanted them to have a good home where someone would treat them more like pets. Now that’s a hard sell. For most ranchers, the cow business is BUSINESS, and it’s not like giving away a puppy. A longhorn can’t exactly live in the backyard, so finding a taker who promises to treat the cows like pets is a challenge.

But as luck would have it I met Tim, we discovered our common interests, and I knew that mom and dad wanted a few cows on their place, so it all came together and Tim gave us Phana, Gala (Phana’s girl calf), and Rena. They came to live at the Stop in May of 2006. This month we picked up another bull calf from Tim named Wesson, who’s a real cutie and promises to grow into a big, beautiful bull. And just last week, Phana gave birth to Fiesta (As the first male longhorn born on the Last Stop we wanted to give him the name “Holliday”, so we used the Spanish version, “Fiesta”, as a nod to his Spanish heritage).

Now you have to add to the mix the regular, non-longhorn cows mom and dad already had. Dandy, Miss Moo, Laz, Cloudy and Sky (all named by a very young family member, in case you’re wondering).

This means there are now 10 members of the Thundering Herd at the Last Stop. Eventually, some of them will have to go away, but it’s pretty fun for right now.

And we are total suckers.

While the original idea was to have a few cows that would birth calves that would be sold and add some extra income, we treat them just like pets. They get lots of good food, scratched around the horns, and the majority of them will live out their lives in safety at the Last Stop.

Okay, truth be told, I love the cows but I’m much more skittish around them then mom and dad who get right up there and scratch their horns, feed them special cow cake and talk baby talk. The cows follow them around like dogs at their heels. It’s really funny. I’m always convinced that the Boss Lady, Dandy, is going to charge and trample me and Dot, all for that little piece of food in my hand.

I swear that big hog weighs 2,000 pounds and she’s so spoiled that she thinks she can get anything she wants. So I yell at her to “GO AWAY DANDY, YOU BIG SPOILED GIRL BULLY” and she just looks at me, inching ever closer for whatever I’ve got in my hand that I’m trying to give the younger, less bossy cows. “YOU ARE A MEAN, MEAN COW, DANDY”. Closer, closer. “YOU STOP IT RIGHT NOW YOU UNGRATEFUL DEVIL BEAST”. Closer, closer. “I AM GOING TO WALK ALL OVER YOUR HIDE WHEN I USE IT AS A RUG IN MY HOUSE”. At this point I fling the cow cake at her and Dot and I run for our lives. Ah yes, I’ve got the makings of an awesome rancher woman.

Oh well, I guess if I’m supposed to go out by being trampled by a gianormous cow named Dandy who’s chasing me for a tiny piece of food in my hand, I think there is a lot of humor to be found there, and I could live with that. Or die by that. Just make sure you enjoy the Dandy hamburgers that will be served at the luncheon following my services.

It’s cold and snowy right now at the Last Stop, so I’m surprised that mom and dad don’t have all of the cows bedded down inside the house, with the calves wrapped in blankets. Unlike the birth of a calf from a mama we didn’t know was pregnant, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

White Out

I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected for a few days, and it is still lingering with me. It’s the effect of the ice storm that reared its frosty head over the weekend.

My disconnection started Thursday evening when my car sputtered to a stop in an intersection. That developed into a tow truck bringing me and my car home. Not good.

Late Thursday night, the ice storms started.

Friday morning I had to deal with my car – luckily the garage sent someone over to get it for me – and they were nice to take me to work, but the repairs were going to be rather extensive so I wasn’t to expect my car back until Monday. Ugh.

The storm was worsening, so the Governor called off work around noon, or so. A friend gave me a ride home, which I appreciated. I sort of just sat there with Dot and watched the snow come down. It was looking pretty bleak.

The weather guys on TV were going nuts. Completely nuts.

A friend stopped by Friday night. The snow/rain/ice/sleet had stopped falling so we ventured out and got something to eat. We didn’t go far. Roads too bad.

I left my cell phone in his car and he didn’t bring it back until Sunday.

So I was carless and phoneless all day Saturday and Sunday morning. Felt very stranded. It started storming again Saturday morning and did so most of the day.

I took Dot outside at one point and it felt like a bucket of ice pellets were being dumped on my head. I’ve experienced many, many snow storms in my life, but this is the first time I remember feeling like little BB pellets of ice were being dumped on my head. Very strange.

I managed to bundle up and walk Dot around the neighborhood a few times just to see what was going on. Cars stuck, everyone sliding on the ice, brrrrrrr cold…it was all pretty dramatic.

I never made it to the grocery store but it’s probably a good thing because according to the pictures on the news, each store was completely wiped out of everything – from meat to water to chips to batteries to toilet paper. Because we Oklahomans need to STOCK UP for what the weather guys were predicting might be a THREE DAY situation. Prepare as if it’s a nuclear holocaust, just to be on the safe side.

I had cabin fever by Monday, a holiday from work, and of course it turned out that my car really wasn’t going to be ready as planned – they need an extra day to finish the job. So I just puttered around and took Dot on a few walks.

Watched lots of movies, talked a little bit on the phone – when I had my phone and it wasn’t in someone else’s car! - bundled up and took walks, read. It was very peaceful, but a very surreal feeling, as well. I’m grateful beyond belief that we didn’t lose power. That would have been far worse.

I wasn't motivated to do anything productive. Didn't play on the computer or take many pictures. Again, just felt disconnected.

It’s still cold today. Very cold. Not expected to get above freezing for the rest of the week, so I doubt there will be much melting, at least on the neighborhood streets. The highways seem clear and fine but it’s still slow going on the main streets.

Winter can be kind of fun. Exciting in a way, because it’s different. But I need to clear my head and get focused and move out from the fog of a lazy, snuggly, housebound three-day weekend! First order of business is to get my car back, and I think I’ve been convinced that I really do need to have a land line telephone installed. That’s the next project on my list.

Must sign off and see if I can get back into the groove of things.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?

For no reason other than my Nigerian friend Sam has piqued my curiosity (and to help me keep up with the goings on of Oprah, Madonna and Angelina!) I’ve decided to memorize all of the countries in Africa. It’s pretty embarrassing how few I know.

Here’s my first start. I’m listing every African country I can think off the top of my head.

South Africa
Ivory Coast
Malawi (thanks to Madonna)

Okay, that’s it. I don’t even know how many more countries there are in Africa, but I’m going to learn them all. If I was really feeling industrious, I would memorize their capital cities, as well.

My friend Gbadabo “Sam” Adouyeye is amazing in his knowledge of the United States, and the world in general, and here I am struggling to remember if Congo is still an African country or if it was overrun at some point and now has a different name.

Beth can get me laughing when we talk about one night in Austin when we went out years ago. There’s a whole prestory to this story, but it boils down to this: we had quite a bit to drink and we were having a good time. We decided to go to an Irish pub for a little while before calling it a night. I started talking to a man who introduced himself as Harrison. He was a nice looking, dignified, older black man, with a fabulous accent who was telling funny stories about being a professor. He said he was currently teaching African studies at UT. He was very nice and was trying to chat me up a little bit, which I was finding very amusing because of the wine coursing through my system.

I ask Harrison where he was from and he said Nairobi. And I remember my masters degree having response as clearly as if I just said it. I even added a little hiccup for that extra attractive drunken flare. “Nairobi? There’s no country in Africa called NAIROBI (but the way I said it sounded more like NIIIIIIII-ROBEEEE - good and slurry). You are just making that up!”. In a very polite, professorial, non-inebriated way, Harrison responded, “Miss Holliday, Nairobi is the capital of Kenya.”

“Ohhhhhhhh…..THAT Nairobi! Well, yes, sure….hiccup….”

Beth happened to be walking by during this exchange, and after I finished saying “well, yes, sure…”, she whispered to me as she passed, “Smooth….”.

I’m thinking the humor isn’t translating as well as I would like, but it was one of the more humiliating bleach blond moments of my life and I’m not surprised that Harrison politely excused himself from my company at that point.

I was living with Beth during this time and it was that same night – the night I decided to drink all of the wine in Austin, Texas - when I woke up the next morning still wearing my dress and shoes from the night before, laying there on top of the covers with a pounding headache listening to the neighbor loudly mow his lawn outside the window. I grabbed a tshirt to cover my eyes and stumbled out of the room grumbling to Beth who was in the living room reading the paper and drinking coffee “HOW CAN YOUR NEIGHBOR BE SO RUDE MOWING HIS LAWN THIS EARLY”, to which she replied, “Ah, Lori, it’s 12:30”.

“Ohhhhh….12:30….Well, yes, sure….hiccup…” Beth was evil and made me play doubles tennis that afternoon, too. Many, many moons passed before I took another drink but we laughed pretty hard about me accusing the kind African man of making up his place of origin.

But after memorizing the African countries I’ll be better prepared next time, and when I’m finished I think I’ll move over and do South America next!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life in the Slow Lane: A Memoir

Having some time to kill the other day when on break from jury duty, I went to a public library for the first time in many years. I had forgotten how much I love libraries. I always feel such a rush of POTENTIAL when I first walk into a library – like I could learn or discover or escape into anything I want to. Like I might discover that story that will change my life. Like I might once again light the fire I once had for voracious reading.

I was poking around the biography section, as I’ve decided that real stories from real people interest me most these days. I was struck by the number of memoirs on the shelf. In general, I really like memoirs because they tend to be shorter and more prone to the author’s flights of fancy. Not so constrained by the exacting details of an authorized biography.

But it was the titles of these books that caught my attention. I’d never noticed before that it really is all about the titles. Right there in that aisle it dawned on me that the true secret to writing a memoir that people will read is being able to come up with the right catchy title, then calling it “a memoir”.

Now there are many great books that BEGIN with the word memoir, like Memoirs of a Geisha or Memoirs of an Invisible Man, but the catchy title followed by “a memoir” seems the most provocative.

The one I chose to check out was Thomas Healey’s “I Heard You Calling in the Night: A Memoir”. (Long-time alcoholic spiraling out of control until he got a dog that changed his life. Read it in 2 hours while waiting during jury duty. A bit dull. But I loved the name!)

Here were some other titles I saw on that ONE SHELF in the library, and there were dozens and dozens and dozens more like them:

Bad Boy: A Memoir
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
Money: Women, Emotions and Cash: A Memoir
Mr. China: A Memoir
Running with Scissors: A Memoir
House with Wisteria: A Memoir
The Scent of God: A Memoir
Darkness Visible: A Memoir
Lucky: A Memoir
Teacher Man: A Memoir

So I’ve been thinking about what I might call a collection of my stories. Never mind that there isn’t anything of great interest to share in my stories – no grand adventures, no great insights, no moral lessons or spiritual breakthroughs – but really that’s beside the point. It’s only important to come up with a great name. How about:

The Dotopotamus: A Memoir
From Public Television to Public Intoxication: A Memoir
Tell Me a Story: A Memoir
Donuts, Dogs and Hair Dye: A Memoir
Don’t Nobody Know: A Memoir

It seems I have some work to do coming up with just the right title.

The memoir that broke my heart into a million little pieces was James Frey’s book by the same name. “A Million Little Pieces” KILLED me, I loved it so much. The odd way it was written. The (seeming!) sincerity. The wicked images of the ravages of addiction. I was reading it over Thanksgiving 2005 and I couldn’t put it down. It was so compelling. FIVE MINUTES after I finished reading it, I got in the car and drove to the book store and bought its hard-backed sequel, “Leonard”. I never buy hard backed books so that is proof at how badly I wanted to see how this man’s life was fairing. After all, he had been through so effing much. And he’d survived! He’d been triumphant! He’s slayed the demon dragons that ruled his life!

And then the scandal hit. Frey’s credibility began to be questioned. People cited in the book came forward calling him a liar. All of the dirty little secrets started to slip out and the whole house of cards fell, literally, into a million little pieces and Frey was labeled a fraud. I thought Oprah was going to kill the guy since she had originally promoted his book so heavily on her show. He had lied about almost every detail in the book.

The way I see it, Frey’s book would have been every bit as popular and every bit as moving if he had presented it as a work of fiction. But it was those two little words that sealed his fate…”a memoir”.

I just finished reading Jame’s Pinnochio’s “A Million Little Lies” which is a hysterical parody of Frey’s book. It hurt me a little bit to read it, but it was funny nonetheless.

I wish everyone would write down the stories of their lives. I find nothing more interesting. Whether they are funny, sweet, sad, silly, or deal more with the darker side of life, everyone has a story to tell and I love hearing them all. Just remember to tell it true and come up with a really catchy title followed by “a memoir”. The rest is easy.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Jury of Your Peers

I’ve been serving on jury duty the last two days. My first time. I was dismissed at the end of the day today and I’m ultimately left unfulfilled by the experience. It was really an exercise in patience.

There were 450 of us in the jury pool, all sitting in a very small, poorly ventilated room. We were cramped like sardines, which I didn’t mind as much as I minded all of the coughing, sneezing, nose blowing and hacking. There were so many sick people in those tight quarters that you could see the germs swarming around our heads. You could hear the little devils laugh, “heh, heh, heh…” as they whizzed up your nose. Sure enough, I am feeling a cold coming on today.

The judge who swore us in Monday morning delivered a truly fantastic speech about how important we were to the process. About how we live in the greatest country in the world. About how our freedom isn’t free – it comes with responsibilities and one of those responsibilities is jury duty, ensuring that the rights of all are upheld. It was motivating stuff and everyone clapped when he left the room. I was ready to serve.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited.

I read the paper cover to cover. Balanced my check book. Made some to-do lists for work. Read some of my MacBook for Dummies. Then we were dismissed for lunch for an hour and a half. I went to the public library across the street and wandered around until I returned for more waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Every now and then groups of 20 or 25 would be called out, but my name was never included.

Finally, around 5:00, the clerk read another list of names, including mine. I was kind of excited to go to the next level of voir dire, or whatever that’s called, to see how a jury was selected. But it turns out the list I was on were the names of those jurors who were to report to juvenile court on Tuesday.

Ugh. I wasn’t looking so forward to hearing what I envisioned to be tragic cases involving young people.

But, I showed up this morning on time and ready to go. And I waited. And waited. And waited. I read more of my MacBook manual. Again read the paper. Talked on the phone to check in on work. And waited. And waited. During lunch I sat out on a bench and ate. Then waited some more. It was one of the longest days of my life. Around 5:00, the clerk came and told us that all of the cases had plead out today and none had ended up going to trial. So were dismissed, no need to go back tomorrow.

It really is quite a process and I completely understand the need to have big numbers of people from which to pick and choose, but I also learned how very few cases actually make it to a jury trial. I would have liked to have had the experience of serving on a jury.

But in truth, I’m glad I don’t have to hear any sad stories or make any potentially hard decisions regarding a person’s fate. I know I could do it, but given the work I have waiting for me, it’s probably better that I get back to my desk and leave jurisprudence for the next round of the randomly chosen residents of Oklahoma County.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lassie, Come Home!

I need your help, please! Collectively, we must find a way to will a wild, lost, little CHIHUAHUA at the Last Stop home.

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for people to dump unwanted dogs in the country, but it’s very unusual for those dogs to be little Chihuahuas. But that’s exactly what mom and dad have on their place in Texas right now. A wild, scared little Chihuahua! They’ve tried to lure him in with gentle voices and food, but he’s really skittish and bolts away. He seems to be attracted to the barn, so maybe they’ll be able to gain his trust if they hang around the barn long enough, too.

Because if they’re able to get him, then Dot will get a little brother or sister! I was supposed to get a Chihuahua puppy years ago – Zeus was his name – but the little guy died before he was weaned. So giving this lost wild baby a home would be very rewarding.

So, I would appreciate you helping me by please doing whatever it is you do – pray, light a candle, think a good thoughts, wish out loud – and let’s see if we can get this little one home before the cold or a coyote get its little tiny hide first. Thank you!

Friday, January 05, 2007

He's Not Really A Doctor - He Just Plays One On TV

When I saw the news headline earlier today that said “Girl’s Surgery Sparks Debate: Parents Stunt Daughter’s Growth”, a wave of nausea instantly swept over me. I quickly went on to read that it is a terribly complicated situation where the parents of a severely retarded young girl approved surgery to remove her breast tissue, give her a complete hysterectomy, and dose her with mega amounts of hormones to stop her growth. The parents believe this will make life-long care of the girl easier if she stays small and easy to manage. The ethical dilemma in the whole thing is painfully obvious.

But when I first saw the headline, I thought the parents had stunted their daughter’s growth because… she was tall.

I have always been tall. Really tall. Crazy tall. I don’t remember being too bothered by it all until I went to school. That’s when my difference became clearly apparent, so I got to endure lots of teasing and taunting. We all had our childhood crosses to bear, and that one was mine. I’ve been the height I am now – about 6 feet without shoes – since the 7th or 8th grade. The most treacherous time was in junior high, but thankfully high school and college were just fine. I hardly even think about being tall now, and when I do, it’s not a sore point. It’s just who I am.

But I was REALLY tall as a kid. Because my parents were concerned, they took me to the doctor when I was young to make sure that I was okay. I was growing so fast my legs hurt and I had stretch marks appearing because my body was changing so rapidly. I don’t remember my exact age for this doctor’s visit, but I believe it was around 11 or 12.

Dr. Keckley poked around on me and did whatever else he did during the exam. I was pretty unsure about why we were there so I was nervous and forever self conscious whenever I had to talk to anyone about my size. But I got through the exam okay. After Dr. Keckley finished, he turned to my dad who was in the room with me and said, “Mr. Holliday, we think your daughter might be a giant.”

That’s right, that’s exactly what he said.


This little gem of a statement was followed by a resounding, booming, shrieking moment of stunned silence.

Okay, let’s forgo the play-by-play of what happened next – you can only imagine - and get right to the analysis.

What kind of a country bumpkin, evil spawn of satan, no bed side manner having, Puerto Rican medical school graduate, asshole doctor says, MR. HOLLIDAY, WE THINK YOUR DAUGHTER MIGHT BE A GIANT when said giant eleven year old girl, obviously scared and insecure, is SITTING RIGHT THERE? The man’s license should have been revoked.

As an aside, let me just say that it was also Dr. Keckley who, a couple of years later, was treating me for one of the one million kidney/bladder infections I was plagued with when he told me that some girls get bladder infections if they are sexually active, “…so Lori, ARE YOU A LOOSEY GOOSEY?” A loosey goosey? I was 12! I still wasn’t totally sure what loosey goosies did but I knew it was nothing good. I was so upset about being called a loosey goosey that poor mom had to work extra hard to get me over that one. Primarily because it had taken me so long to recover FROM BEING CALLED A GIANT! The man’s license should have been revoked.

Dr. Keckley scheduled me to go to the hospital to have some x-rays taken of my pituitary gland – the gland in your head that regulates growth hormone – to see how much juice it was producing. That test would confirm his diagnosis. But BEFORE I went in for these tests he begins discussing treatments for giantitis, or whatever it’s called, again right in front of me, where one option is to REMOVE THE MAJORITY OF MY SHIN BONES!

I was reeling. All I processed in my overly active pea brain (which had been reduced to that size thanks to a pituitary glad the apparent size of a grapefruit hogging all the skull space!) was that I was a giant and my legs were getting cut off.

By this point, Dad was pretty irritated by Dr. Keckley’s lack of compassion given that I was sitting right there, so they postponed the conversation until another time and dad took me home where I’m sure he called his bank to open a savings account into which he began depositing the massive amounts of money that my eventual therapy and possible mental institution stay were going to cost.

I went in for the tests. Very scary. I had to have radioactive plutonium (or something very similar I’m sure!) injected into my body so they could get shots of the gland, and they shot the stuff in with a PINT SIZED SYRINGE WITH A THREE INCH NEEDLE into my NECK. I saw that thing coming at me and I just knew I was a gonner. After they pointed the Star Wars looking x-ray gun at my head and got the shots, Dr. Keckley gave me that huge syringe (obviously minus the needle) and I played with if for years afterwards, using it as a water gun.

Well, it turned out that my pituitary gland was just fine and I wasn’t a giant. Just a very tall girl who hit her growth spurt really early. Oops. False alarm. No giantitus. No amputated shins. Just kidding! Sorry folks. Shake it off, kid.

To this day I sort of hope Dr. Keckley burns in the fires of hell forever for making me feel like I was a medical freak of nature, but it was all finally over and things got better.

I still laugh out loud every time I watch King of the Hill and see Hank’s dad, Cotton Hill. Cotton’s shins were shot off in the war, but the doctors were able to reattach his feet to his knees. That’s EXACTLY how I would have looked had the evil Dr. Keckley had his way.

It’s a wonder to me that ANYONE survives the challenges of childhood!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places - I Should Be Looking In Makati, Philipines

I had fun playing with Google Trends. You can compare the world’s interests to your favorite topics. You enter in a topic or search term and you can see the top 10 cities around the world that have searched most often for that same topic. There is a page of small type explaining the way Google computes these answers, so who knows how accurate it really is, but it’s interesting to play with.

I went to Google Trends as part of my New Year’s resolution to develop my interests and get more involved in things I like doing. I figure that if I can learn what cities support the things I like doing, I might make an effort to get to know that place better. Or move there.

So on a whim, I quickly wrote down 10 GOOFY things I like. Period. No overthinking it. No tying it to an actual hobby that I might develop. Just writing down 10 things I like. Here is my list, embarrassing as it is:

1. Keb Mo
2. PBS
3. Documentaries
4. Dogs
5. Single Men
6. Digital Photography
7. Karaoke
8. Walks
9. Fried Foods (this was a nod to my darker side!)
10. Sports Illustrated

And here is what I discovered via Google Trends.

Denver, CO Googled Keb Mo more than any other city in the world. Austin came in 5th. Reminder, I’ve spent the majority of my life in Helena, Montana, Denver, Colorado, Austin, Texas and now Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I have always loved Denver so it’s no surprise that they have exceptional musical taste.

It seems that Madison, WI searched the most for PBS, but Austin made an appearance in the top 10 coming in at number 9. Go KLRU!

Documentary lovers seem to live in New York, NY. You can guess that the other cities listed were quite well-know and cosmopolitan with the exception of Thames Ditton in the United Kingdom. I have no idea where that city is, but they were the 9th busiest city Googling documentaries.

Dogs. We all know I love dogs. And so does #1 Denver, CO and #10 Austin, TX! I also found it interesting that #2 was Richardson, TX, which is not too far from the Last Stop. So it seems the places I love, also love dogs.

Single men. Lord knows I need a date, so who else is out there also looking to meet Mr. Right? It appears that would be the city that never sleeps, New York, NY. Lots of desperate ladies in the Big Apple.

Digital Photography lovers live in Sydney, Australia. Love it!

I think Karaoke cracked me up the most. There were no U.S. cities in the top 10. You might think that Asian countries would show up given that there exists a stereotype of Japanese business men singing Peaches and Herb’s “Reunited” in loungy bar rooms. Nope. The top 10 cities searching for Karaoke were all in Eastern Block countries, led by #1 Vilnius, Lithuania! Coming in at #9 was Zagreb, Croatia and I’ve spent time there before. Had I known our mutual affinity I could have wowed them with my rendition of the theme song from The Jeffersons.

Walks. I like taking easy walks. So do the good folks in London because they’ve searched the term more often than anyone else.

I have to admit I eat too many fried foods but so does #2 Oklahoma City, and #3 Austin! I guess I’m right at home enjoying a little fried okra right here in OKC. I found it interesting that the teeny tiny little people of Singapore search Fried Foods more than any other.

Good old Sports Illustrated has been one of my favorite reads for many years now and that puts me in good company with those from Madison, WI. You got to love Madison. They are number one with PBS and Sports Illustrated. I think that’s awesome.

So, based on my interests it seems like living in Denver or Austin would be a good idea. Wait a minute…déjà vu… I think I need to hang with my fried chicken eating compatriots in Oklahoma City for awhile.

After looking up my ten interests on Google Trends, I reverted to being a 12 year old and entered a variety of other interests. It seems that the residents of Chennai, India are the most interested in sex, while those in Makati, Philippines think most about love. Baltimore, MD is trying the hardest to lose weight while Waltham, MA is drinking the most margaritas.

I then tried for thirty minutes to get Helena, Montana to come up on ANYTHING, to no avail. Perhaps the Internet hasn’t reached that far north yet. Yes, the good folks in Vilnius, Lithuania seem to be Googling their hearts out (when not singing karaoke), but Helena has some definite catching up to do.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Yahoo, Ruby's 2!

I am filled with warm fuzzies when I say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Ruby Kate Holliday!

Sweetest Little Cowgirl

Miss Ruby,

You make the world extra special and I love you soooooooooo much.

Two is a really fun age and I can't wait to see you grow and play and learn this year.

You are one totally awesome little buckarette!

Yours Always,
Aunt Lori

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma!

This is an interesting time to be a new Oklahoman because this state is gearing up in world-class fashion to celebrate its 100th year of statehood in 2007. While Oklahoma will officially celebrate its 100th anniversary on November 16, 2007, all across the state, communities and organizations have been getting ready and the celebration kicked off in Tulsa in November.

A Centennial Commission was formed in the late ‘90s and funded with millions and millions of public and private dollars. They have been working ever since to assist in the planning and funding of hundreds of unique projects across the state. Communities and organizations are creating monuments, public art, fountains, parks or cultural facilities that reflect local or state history, while others are restoring historical sites and structures. Most are planning special commemorations or are enhancing traditional festivals and annual events.

It seems that everyone is getting on board. Almost every business, school, organizations, media outlet, cultural venue, library and museum is planning feverishly to celebrate Oklahoma’s unique history in their own way. The long list of projects that are part of the Oklahoma Centennial Celebration is quite amazing.

There are also some national programs that will coincide with the 100th anniversary including the issue of a special Oklahoma postage stamp that says “Oh What A Beautiful Morning”, as well as this state’s commemorative quarter.

I’m proud that my employer – public television – will be right in there producing special documentaries and specials on the state’s history and broadcasting the largest public events of the celebration, the Gala Celebration and Parade happening in the fall. Our talented documentary unit has already produced a series of Centennial Stories that are both unique and entertaining.

It seems that the goal of the Centennial Commission is two-fold; to support and lift up those in the state through these various statewide Oklahoma pride and beautification programs, and to promote to the rest of the world that Oklahoma is a creative, interesting, thriving place to be.

I must admit that Oklahoma’s image needs to be shined up. Coming from Texas, I never even thought much about Oklahoma and when I did it was in a joking fashion, usually having to do with OU football. When I envisioned Oklahoma in my mind at all, it was usually scenes of the dust bowl and those poor Okies who lost everything in the depression.

Since living here, I have learned that this state has an interesting past. What other state had its beginnings in such a dramatic and wild fashion as the land run? The Trail of Tears brought 62 Indian nations to the state, 39 of which remain today. There was oil. Lots and lots of oil that contributed to creating unique political situations and the higher education system in this state is among the best quality and value in the country. Believe it, or not, there are actually pockets of natural beauty, too! Oklahoma really does have a lot going for it, but it needed to dust itself off, clean itself up and promote its best assets to its own people who tend to have an inferiority complex, and to the rest of world who have the wrong preconceived notions of the state.

And that’s exactly what this Centennial Commission has done, and I applaud their efforts. They have elicited the right leadership that has resulted in projects of the highest, world-class quality.

I’ve enjoyed a few different Centennial events, already.

The CD “Oklahoma Rising” was released a couple of months ago and it’s a great sampler of classic and contemporary Oklahoma artists from all genres. Natives Jimmy Webb and Vince Gill teamed up to write to the title song that will be the anthem for the year. Oklahoma Rising is a pretty good song although I don’t think mainstream radio will know what to do with it – it’s sort of country and sort of eclectic and sort of praise music – so it doesn’t fit nicely into any one category. But it’s a good song.

Oklahoma also had a great float entered in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Sandi Patti sang Oklahoma Rising.

I thought that parade entry was pretty unique until I watched the Rose Bowl Parade yesterday! The whole event seemed like one big tribute to Oklahoma and it was incredibly well done. The opening sequence featured Miss America (an Oklahoman) who introduced the Oklahoma Centennial Marching Band and the dance troupe from Oklahoma City University who performed the parade’s theme song. That adorable Oklahoman Kristen Chenoweth sang the theme song and it was great.

Oklahoma then had an unprecedented 2 floats in the parade, which the parade officials called extremely rare, but they were both so good that they wanted them both to be included. One of these floats, “Unique History”, won the most coveted award, the “Extraordinaire Trophy”, beating out that cool fire-breathing dragon float. You have to admit, when that guy came flying out from the center of the float using a rocket pack, that was pretty dramatic and cool. (Granted, they have so many awards in that parade that almost every entry wins something, but this was a biggie!).

Again, I’m proud of my PBS station because we had a crew there covering the event and gathering footage for some special OETA productions.

It was a good Oklahoma day. Granted, OU lost the Fiesta Bowl last night to little Boise State, but even losing in overtime, that was one of the most exciting games I have ever seen. And I always love it when the underdog wins.

So maybe that’s why I’m so in hopes that Oklahoma, a perennial underdog in the continuous 48 states, enjoys its time in the sun in 2007. Maybe people will begin to see the state differently. Or maybe it will just be a great party. Either way, it’s going to be a big year here! You should come check it out.