Archive for the ‘Kids Are All Right, The’ Category



Someone to Watch Over Me

Shane and I headed out this morning on what we decided would be an epic adventure–at least by our standards. We’re easy to please. The morning started off pleasantly enough. We made our first stop in Valley Springs, Arkansas, for a quick lunch at Sonic. It was then we decided we’d play a game–for at least the first day–to see how little we could spend on food. (We brought only a few bottled waters with us and no food at all.) Our total bill there came to $4.82. That was a pretty good start, but we thought that was probably going to “win” the lowest meal amount for the day.

From there we detoured briefly to Eureka Springs to see the Christ of the Ozarks, a structure at the Great Passion Play complex. The monument, which stands almost 70 feet tall, sits atop Magnetic Mountain. It’s worth noting that as we pulled onto the complex, the heavens actually opened. It rained so hard that we had to wait about 15 minutes for the storm to  pass so we could take our photos. Considering the rest of the day, I’m pretty sure it was an omen of things to come.

Here’s the thing. I was once told the statue doesn’t have feet because if it had been that much taller, it would have required one of those red flashing lights to warn aircraft. To prevent the Giant Jesus from having a flashing red beanie, they just left off (or maybe cut off) the feet. I doubt this story is true, but it would be SO awesome if it was.

After we shot pictures and video of Jordan’s crate in the van next to the Giant Jesus, Shane had me pose next to the monument. He suggested I kneel down and touch the bottom of the robe, which is how I got a photo of me touching the hem of his garment.

We also stopped by the Crescent Hotel, a former psychiatric facility now said to be haunted, on our way out of Eureka. We hadn’t really taken into account the narrowness and bumpiness of the streets in Eureka and how that would affect our navigating them in a large van carrying a person locked inside a box. Oops! Hope there wasn’t any damage to Jordan or his computer equipment.

Not long after we crossed into Missouri we began experiencing intermittent interruptions on the mobile wireless. Finally it just went kaput, so we were sort of in the dark as to what Jordan was doing during that time. It was frustrating, so we decided to take a break and grab a bite to eat. We pulled into a McDonald’s and grabbed a meal. The final total was $4.30, so we actually came in .52 under our first meal.

Our Internet kicked back up just outside Kansas City, and once there we saw a couple of sights before settling in with our host for tonight. Jordan arranged for us to stay with a friend with whom he once worked at the Kansas City Zoo. We were thrilled not to have to pay for a motel room, and the friend had made us dinner and had cold beer to boot. Awesome, right?


The zookeeper has two dogs and three snakes.

I can’t think about it too much or I’ll end up sleeping in the van curled up next to Jordan’s crate, and that’s just weird. So tomorrow, when I’m out of here, I’ll tell you more.


If I survive.



Mileage: 450 some-odd miles. (Shane has the exact total, and he’s asleep.)

Liquid consumed: 16 ounces water+32 ounces sweet tea+12 ounces soda=60 ounces total

On-the-road bathroom breaks: 3



Portland Bound

Some of you know that I leave for Portland in a couple of hours. Technically I’m doing it as part of the transportation crew for my friend Jordan’s gallery opening in said city.

But if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you also know that Jordan will be locked in a box for the first seven days of that trip. As such, I won’t have any contact with him, even though he’ll literally be no more than six feet from me during that time. That started last night when we bolted him into the box.

The good news is that Jordan’s brother Shane is doing the bulk of the driving on the trip, so I won’t have to worry about keeping up with my work, staying on top of the social media end of the trip, and driving. What’s even better is that I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest; in fact, I’ve never been north of San Francisco on the West Coast. It was about 88°F when we locked Jordan in the crate, and it was 100° at the hottest part of Friday with the heat index factored in. I’m so looking forward to what promises are temperatures in the 70s and 80s this coming week in Portland.

Since Shane and I will have no contact with Jordan but will still be driving across the country, we decided to treat the parts of the trip that aren’t about Jordan as a straight-up road trip. We’re hoping to see some awesome stuff along the way, although it likely won’t be quite so awesome to him since he just returned on Tuesday from a month in Italy.

This is not the first trip Shane and I have taken together. I know we made at least two trips to Kansas City together. (Our ultimate destination was an hour or so north of KC, but who wants to  mention she’s been to Lamoni, Iowa, multiple times?) We also used to spend a lot of time driving backroads here in rural Arkansas, and there’s more than one adventure to be told there. Remind me to tell you about those at some point on this trip… (No, seriously. Remind me. Otherwise I’ll forget, and one of those stories involves us sharing a bed in a hotel room that actually had a cat and a litter box in residence.)

I’m also super stoked about the fact that we’ll have long, uninterrupted hours with nothing but the open road and the playlists on my iPhone. You’ve probably already guessed about 80% of said content is showtunes and Glee tracks. It doesn’t hurt that Shane has a master’s in music and is about to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with an emphasis in choral conducting. I suspect we’ll have perfected our “Anything You Can Do” performance before we cross the Missouri state line.

Don’t forget that you can also follow me on Twitter, where I’ll occasionally enable geo locations in case you want to track our route/progress. Make sure you check in for tomorrow’s post; if the tentative itinerary pans out as expected, I’m almost certain to offend two major religious groups Saturday.



Going Postal

Yesterday I was on my way to Little Rock to watch the limited theater release of Company with a friend when the air conditioner went out in my car. You just can’t make a 65-mile one-way trip in the 95°F+ Arkansas heat without air conditioning unless you want to sit alone in the corner of the theater, so I was pretty pissed.

Then I remembered I was going to be locking my friend in a box and driving him across the desert in July, and I felt pretty crappy about mentally complaining about having no air conditioning for an hour when he’ll be without it (or a toilet) for six-plus days. (Then again, he once showed up at my 400-square foot house unannounced looking for a place to stay with five other guys who’d been living in a van, so he’ll probably be okay.)

After I arrived home from the film (Which, by the way, was AWESOME. You really should see it if you have a chance, as Katie Finneran and Patti LuPone in particular absolutely KILLED it.), I had messages from Jordan (the boxed artist in question) that his upcoming project had gotten quite a bit of coverage in the last 24 hours. In point of fact, his website hits went from virtually nil to over 30,000 in one day thanks to the widespread media coverage, including on sites like and Kotaku. Of course I was thrilled about the press, because I’m so excited about Jordan’s work and this trip in particular.

Here’s what gets my goat, though. Almost every single online article I’ve seen (I must have scanned at least 30 over the last two days) gets almost every detail wrong. As a former professional journalist who now works as a freelance editor and writer, I was appalled at the lack of accuracy.

On the one hand, I’m quite accustomed to my name being misspelled; in point of fact, I’ve spent most of my life answering to “Brandi” or “Brenda” rather than my actual name (“Bradi”), so that was no biggie.


But I just can’t get over the fact that professional sites publish stories with such glaring inaccuracies, especially when they’re (presumably) taking the information directly from Jordan’s site. What’s even more confusing is that Jordan has his contact information right there on his site, so the writers could have resolved virtually all these mistakes by simply shooting him an email. (And to be fair, in the last couple days Jordan has fielded a fair number of emails from journalists from both print and online publications who presumably will get the story right.)

Perhaps the most stunning and consistent error I’ve found in these articles is that they abbreviate “Arkansas” as “AK.” That, my friends, is completely and totally wrong. Driving from Alaska to Oregon presents a whole different set of challenges than driving from Arkansas to Oregon. Of course, this mistake is also quite common. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve given my address to a customer service representative on the phone and had this conversation:

Me: ….in Bald Knob, Arkansas.

CSR: That’s “AK,” right?

Me: No. “AK” is Alaska.

CSR: Really? I thought Alaska was “AL.”

Me: No, that’s Alabama.

CSR: And you said it’s “AR”? Are you sure that’s not Arizona’s abbreviation?

Me: I’m sure. Arizona is “AZ.”

I know that because of my professional field I’m far more aware of grammar, usage and mechanics than the average person. But you guys, the AP Stylebook is your friend. And was I the only one who had to memorize postal abbreviations in, like, eighth grade? Is that a skill schools just don’t teach anymore? No wonder postal carriers always seem so surly.




In her youth, my cousin Navy used to refer to things as “dis-reppearing” rather than “dis-appearing.”  (In my head, I equate this with Xander’s understanding of “blinvisible.”)  This was almost certainly an issue of mispronunciation, although I like to think of it as a toddler coining an all-important sentiment.

I have, ever sense, thought of tangible objects as having the ability to “disreppear.”  To me, when something “disreppears” it disappears and then reappears — kind of like when you lose your keys and then find them exactly where you left them, even if you looked in that spot 500 fucking times.



Oh, Baby

My cousin Bailey is expecting her second child — another boy — in January.  These are photos from the shower I threw for her this weekend.

This is the diaper cake I made.  The instructions said 60 diapers and 60 minutes; it took me 73 diapers and three hours.  You can barely see the little "roses" made out of baby socks, which I thought were the coolest thing ever.

This is the diaper cake I made. The instructions said 60 diapers and 60 minutes; it took me 73 diapers and three hours. You can barely see the little "roses" made out of baby socks, which I thought were the coolest thing ever.

This is the whole reason I hosted the shower.  Someone linked to a similar cake a long time ago, and I immediately thought to myself, "I have GOT to have one of those."

This is the whole reason I hosted the shower. Someone linked to a similar cake a long time ago, and I immediately thought to myself, "I have GOT to have one of those."

This is Bailey, the guest of honor, and her derby teammate Amber, aka "Tara Niploff."

This is Bailey, the guest of honor, and her derby teammate Amber, aka "Tara Niploff."

This is me and my youngest sister, Kyli.  She came a couple of hours early to help me, and thank goodness she did!  She is the shower-throwing QUEEN.

This is me and my youngest sister, Kyli. She came a couple of hours early to help me, and thank goodness she did! She is the shower-throwing QUEEN.

The Menu:

  • Cholives
  • Sausage Balls
  • Cheese Cubes
  • Vegetable Platter
  • Fruit Platter
  • Cockdoggies
  • Ham and Cream Cheese Pickle Rolls
  • Pinwheels
  • Mixed Nuts (except I picked all the cashews out and devoured them the night before)
  • Blue Punch

We played a couple of games that no one seemed to have played at a baby shower before, so that was nice.  She also got lots of nice gifts.  For party favors, I made cinnamon buns with notes on them that said, “Thanks for helping Bailey celebrate her bun in the oven!”

My favorite thing about the shower, though, was that it was very ecologically friendly.  We used my “picnicware,” so none of the plates or utensils were tossed in the trash.  We did use plastic disposable cups, but I handwashed all of them for reuse except the four that cracked, which went in the recycling bin.  Instead of napkins, we used tiny terrycloth baby washrags in white and pastel blues that Bailey got to take home at the end.  By the time it was all over, I had one dishwashwer load and one sink load of dishes and two Wal-Mart bags of trash.  I thought that was pretty good for 20 people!



My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel is the title of a really famous book by Daphne De Maurier.  This novel was on one of the many bookshelves in my parents’ house when I was growing up.  I never read it, but it always stuck out because I have a cousin named Rachel.  And like the novel, my cousin Rachel’s story is about Italy and love and death and tragedy.  (But not murder, so keep your pants on.)

My Cousin Rachel grew up in Bald Knob, Arkansas, just like me and the rest of my kith and kin.  She is the second of four children, and if anyone in my family could be considered normal, it’s this girl.  But then again, she has a certain flair and is very headstrong.  She home schooled her senior year of high school at a time when not many people were doing that in Arkansas, because she’s a little bit of a rebel — whether she’ll admit it or not.

My Cousin Rachel fell in love with and married a hometown boy named Brandon, who was (by then) in the Army, when she was 18.  They produced a beautiful daughter named Sydney.  This new family from a podunk Arkansas town soon found itself living in Italy, where Brandon was stationed.

My Cousin Rachel was a young wife and mother when her husband had a terrible car accident in Italy that left him virtually incapacitated.  Some of Brandon’s injuries were so horrific that the nurses couldn’t stomach tending to him.  So this stranger in a strange land changed the dressings on her husband’s wounds when medical professionals wretched behind closed doors.

My Cousin Rachel moved back to the States after Brandon’s medical discharge.  I guess that’s how it goes: one day she was living in a cosmopolitan European city among the ruins of an ancient civilization, and the next she was back in Bald Knob, America, meth capital of these United States.  But she isn’t one to complain, and she made a life for her disabled husband and young daughter.  Soon she was pregnant with her second child.

My Cousin Rachel held it together when the police officer showed up at her door late one night to tell her Brandon had been involved in another terrible car accident.  This time, however, he had not survived.

My Cousin Rachel was a widow barely in her second decade of life with a toddler and another one on the way when her husband ceased to be.

My Cousin Rachel birthed her second daughter, Taylor, five months after she buried her husband.  She worked her ass off.  She ate and slept and went to church and reared her children and laughed and smiled and made hilarious comments and never ever ever one single time expressed anything resembling self pity.

My Cousin Rachel kept her shit together, and I will never understand how.

My Cousin Rachel met a man at a church gathering, and they married a few years ago.  Jeremy is a strong, handsome, hard working man who adores her and her daughters.  She has since birthed another child, a son named Jacob.  They live outside of a small town, surrounded by flora and fauna and a million pets and other assorted wildlife.  Her children are polite and well mannered and intelligent, just like their mama.

My Cousin Rachel skims this blog on occasion, so I know she’ll eventually read this.  And then I’ll know that she knows that I think she’s amazing.

My Cousin Rachel doesn’t know this, but I admire her more than any other person I know in real life.  I could never say that to her in person.  It would be awkward for us both, because we were reared in a family predicated on pretense and denial.  We’d probably end up avoiding eye contact and making weak jokes, and then we’d spend the next four years pretending like we didn’t know each other at family functions.

My Cousin Rachel is an incredible woman.  I hope she knows that, even if I never have the courage to say it to her aloud.



The Lost Girls Find Happiness

People often think that because I love Buffy so much, I must have a “vampire thing.” This is completely not true; I don’t like scary/horror/gorey movies at all. In fact, the only vampire movie I’ve ever seen at the theater was The Lost Boys, and that’s just because I was 13 and the Two Coreys were in it.

In junior high my friend Kim was very much in to said movie. She wrote the first fanfic I ever read, way back when we were in eighth grade. (All that writing paid off, as she’s now a published author.) And she must have had a knack for sleuthing, because she somehow tracked down Jamison Newlander‘s home phone number way back before the Internet let you find out far more than you ever should about celebrities.

That’s why Kim gathered up five or six other girls (including yours truly) one day after marching band practice for The Phone Call. We had all pitched in our silver change to “fund” The Phone Call. There we stood, huddled around the pay phone outside the Home-Ec building, all giggly and excited. There was the kathunk-a-thunk of the change going in, then the dialing, then the ringing… and then the answer. “Hello?” someone asked on the other end.

Honestly, I don’t remember much after that. I know Kim spoke to one of Newlander’s parents, although I believe the actor himself wasn’t home at the time; however, I think Kim called back at a later time and spoke to him.

This is the part where I’m supposed to say something like, “What I wouldn’t give to be 14 again.” But that sentiment is ridiculous, because I would give my left pinkie toe to forget 80% of my teen years.



Sixteen Years Ago Today

Sixteen years ago today, I was a high school senior.

Sixth period was drawing to a close when a PA call instructed teachers to secure their classrooms and institute a campus-wide lockdown.

I was putting to bed the latest issue of the student newspaper when the announcement came. The other six staffers assumed the confinement was due to the drug dog making one of its twice-yearly campus visits. I knew better, because I had a sinking-but-certain feeling in my gut.

In that moment, I knew that B. had come back to kill us all.


Earlier that day, during fourth period choir, B. and the director — who, ironically, was a close friend of B.’s parents — had engaged in a heated verbal altercation. B. stormed out of the classroom, and no one saw him for several hours.

Turned out I was right. There was no drug dog on a leash; rather, there was B. with a gun — storming into his sixth period business class and jumping on a table and waving the gun and carrying on like a lunatic — and his classmates cowering in fear.

One student in the business class, A., was outside the classroom when B. entered it.  Hearing the commotion within, she fled to the principal’s office and reported what little she knew. As the secretary made the lockdown announcement, A. and everyone else in the office locked themselves in the book storage closet.

It was over before it even began, really. B. fled the classroom fewer than 60 seconds after entering; he was off campus before A. even reached the principal’s office.


The police found B. in under ten minutes. He was sitting in his car in a gas station parking lot four blocks away, crying, with the gun on the passenger seat. He was arrested without incident.

B. insisted he’d never intended to harm anyone; rather, he’d wanted everyone to watch him die. And he hadn’t followed through — at least in part — because he didn’t know how to turn off the gun’s safety. (I know, I know. 18-year-old boy + Arkansas upbringing + doesn’t know how to turn off gun safety = creepy anomaly.)

Should I have been able to predict this? B. and I had known each other since kindergarten. He was my first kiss in first grade. The previous summer we had spent a month together in Europe. I worked with him every afternoon at a small business that employed only six people; hell, A.’s mom owned that business.

But none of us ever expected anything like this.


B. spent ten days in a children’s psychiatric ward. Upon his release, he took a couple of classes via correspondence to earn his diploma. He graduated from a top-notch university. He earned his real estate license and completely restored a 102-year-old house himself, netting a sizable profit. He sheltered rescue dogs until permanent homes could be found for them.

On this blog, B. is better known as Rocco.



Full Fetal Overload

12:06 am · category: Kids Are All Right, The


Courtesy of my cousin Kim, the midwife.



Reverend to the Rescue

3:29 am · category: Kids Are All Right, The

A couple of weeks ago I performed the wedding ceremony for my cousin Bailey and her new husband Nick. The ceremony began at 8:00 p.m.; I arrived at 7:58. But I was smokin’ hot. Also, look at those things. They’re awesome!