So…Is That a No?

From: April
Sent: September 19, 11:26am
To: Jury Room
Subject: Exemption Question

I have been summoned for jury duty on October 7th and I am requesting exemption. I have a stepdaughter who is 9 that I take to school and pick up from school because my husband works far away from our home. I do not think this qualifies me as a “legal guardian,” but I am, however, the primary person that handles my stepdaughter’s transportation to and from school. Can you please let me know if I qualify for exemption?

Thank you.

From: Jury Room
Sent: September 19, 12:32pm
To: April
Subject: Re: Exemption Question

Fill out the juror info form and sworn affidavit from the bottom of the summons.  Mail or fax it to us.  You can go on the e-jury and do the same thing.

Remember, you are swearing to this.  You do NOT have legal custody.  So, I would say that husband is ultimately responsible for getting child to school.



Brain Science.

I’ve been seeing a neurologist for over a year now. You would think at this point, knowing this, people would stop asking me if I’m “drinking enough water.” (“That can cause headaches, you know.” Thanks. I know. And for the record, water is pretty much the only thing I drink.) But I know they are concerned and just trying to help.

I’m in week 3 of Biofeedback Therapy, my next adventure in migraine management. I was sent to Baylor Pain Management Center to meet with a biofeedback therapist who gave me quite an education on the brain and how pain works.

Chronic pain happens when the brain forgets to turn off the “pain alert” system. It can also occur when the body is still in recovery from the pain. The brain eventually learns to expect pain to be there, and sort of gears up for it even if it’s not going happen. You can train your body to stop chronic pain through learning to control your parasympathetic nervous system, which counteracts your sympathetic nervous system, or stress response (“fight or flight”). You are taught to slow down your breathing, heart beat, muscles and organs. You do this through breath control, mindfulness practice, and other relaxation training.

A more skeptical person might think this sounds kinda hokey. Glorified relaxation training. But, there are a lot of institutions that are paying more attention to the mind-body connection (thankfully) because of recent studies. I’ve always been a believer in a more holistic approach, so I am optimistic about this treatment. When paired with prescription medication, it is proven to decrease severity and frequency of migraines by 70%. I’ll take it.

During my appointment, I get hooked up to a computer that measures my breathing, skin moisture, shakiness, and skin temperature. I watch the levels of each of these on a screen, and during training I can see my body reacting in real time (try to “breathe naturally” while watching it happen on a screen!). I get a relaxation lesson and some reading material, and then I have to practice the relaxation techniques twice a day for 20-30 minutes. Generally I will meditate in the morning, then in the evening I will listen to one of the guided relaxation CDs that my therapist gives me. Occasionally I fall asleep during the session, but she assures me that I’m still getting something out of it.

It takes about 3 months of practice to affect a change in pain. So, here we go. If nothing else, I had a few good naps.

32 Things To Do Before I Turn 31.

My thirtieth year is upon me (in a couple weeks), and I have big plans. BIG PLANS. Ok, maybe not all-caps big, but slightly more ambitious than last year. But 30 is a big year, right?

If you’re making a list like this, it’s important to have a good balance of easier-to-achieve activities and some moderately challenging goals. I have never come close to finishing a list, but I don’t worry about it so much. I have to invest a little bit more of myself into it this year, and if I don’t finish every item at least I will have done a few really awesome things.

1. Visit Marfa, Texas. Dammit.

2. Attend a cooking class.

3. Visit the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

4. Stop eating so much crappy food.

5. Learn how to handstitch leather.

6. Go camping.

7. Take a hula hoop fitness class.

8. Take a belly dancing class.

9. Take more photos on overseas trips.

10. Draw every day.

11. Take an encaustic painting class.

12. Try a new restaurant every month.

13. Attend a coffee cupping class.

14. Make a friggin’ pie.

15. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store.

16. Read The Great Gatsby (again) before the movie release.

17. Play the violin more.

18. Visit the Kadampa Meditation Center in Arlington.

19. Start going to the Zen center again.

20. Write to somebody in power (i.e. a congressman) about something important to me.

21. Run a 5k

22. Make something to sell (leather or art).

23. Volunteer for something (an event or a cause).

24. Paint the bathroom…again.

25. Get rid of excess.

26. Learn about more local music.

27. Go to the Grand Prairie Farmer’s Market.

28. Create an installation piece.

29. Take an improv class.

30. Take a boxing class.

31. Meatless Mondays.

32. Be more generous.

Unfinished Business.

It’s time again to reflect on how bad I am at finishing things. Before I looked at this list, I was certain I had finished most of it. Apparently I forgot what I put on this list, because I’ve been running around doing a bunch of things that are not these things. (I completed 11 out of 31, which is about a 35% success rate, in case you are wondering.)

1. Shoot a gun. I am not at a loss for people offering to take me out to shoot a gun. In Texas. Surprise surprise. I’m kind of scared! That’s why I put it on the list, but I think I procrastinated on this one.

2. Master an incredible apple pie recipe. I did look up a lot of pie RECIPES on Pinterest. (Damn you, Pinterest!)

3. Finish and go live with my website. Nope.

4. Meditate, meditate, meditate. I very proudly increased my frequency of meditation this year. To just about every day.

5. Create an illustration for a local event/publication/something. I’ve been illustrating David’s short stories. He’s probably tired of me dragging my feet on these each month, but I feel so out of practice. Some of these turned out better than others. Despite my insecurities, I think for these purposes, I’m going to count the Short Story of the Month illustrations a win.

6. Get a Coroflot page up. Nope.

7. Ride a horse. I TOTALLY did this! If you are looking for an adventure in the country, I highly recommend Sleepy Sheep Ranch. We rode horses, drank wine, and ate steak by a campfire with some superb Texans. It was A BLAST. And for my first time on a horse, I think I did okay. I got a little nervous when my horse kicked another horse. Wouldn’t you?

8. Wear at least one piece of jewelry every damn day. I did make an effort, but I don’t know if it happened every day. Who cares. This was a dumb goal anyway.

9. Get a new tattoo. I did not get a new tattoo, but only because it’s not in the budget right now. Especially since we did Number 10.

10. See Lady Gaga in concert. Yes. And it was effin’ weird. And awesome.

11. Take a ride in the karaoke cab. Sad face.

12. Start planning a European vacation with my new husband. We kind of started talking about this, and we had an opportunity arise, but it’s just not in the budget this year. Alas.

13. Acquire some rainboots. No rainboots for me.

14. Acquire some cowboy boots. The guy that sold me my boots was VERY shocked I was not from Texas. (He was not shocked at all.)

15. Go to the drive-in. Nope.

16. Visit a new place in Texas. I counted Waxahachie, even though it’s not exactly what I had in mind.

17. Get Jason Kidd’s autograph. And maybe Dirk’s. Oh, Jason Kidd. You broke my little heart this year. And not just because I didn’t get your autograph before you abandoned me.

18. Smoke a cigar. This one is so easy. Why didn’t I do this? I could be having a cigar right now.

19. Go to the top of the Bank of America building (tallest building in Dallas). This was a dumb goal too. Are you even allowed to go to the top of that building?

20. Go to Marfa! (This is a separate trip from #16). It’s a big joke between me and David how long I have wanted to go to Marfa and how we haven’t been there yet. I’ve wanted to go since before I met him. I’ll put it on next year’s list…and every list after that until it happens.

21. See more art. Eh?

22. Make more art. Never enough.

23. Regularly blog projects/drawings/art. I tried to do this, but it was mostly through Instagram. I’ll count it.

24. Plant some bushes. Poor, sad little yard. It keeps the burglars away.

25. Reduce clutter. A little.

26. More figure drawing. No.

27. More physical activity. Yes.

28. More books, fewer magazines. Kind of, but not enough.

29. Teach a class. No.

30. Take a class. Yes.

31. Own my thirties. My thirties are here, and henceforth I own them.

Baby, You Were Born This Way.

10. See Lady Gaga in concert.


Photo credit: Teddizzle via Flickr. He had better seats than we did.

Before the concert on Tuesday, I told David I’d never been to an arena show and he reminded me that I’ve seen the Smashing Pumpkins three times (once at the United Center in Chicago, once in Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis, and once at The Backyard in Austin). That’s true, but seeing Lady Gaga is a totally different experience than seeing an alternative rock band. Both are theatrical, but Gaga takes those theatrics to an utterly absurd level, as you might expect.

Our seats sucked. Hands down. Nosebleed extreme. It’s tough, though…those tickets were hella expensive. We were lucky to be there. Lady Gaga DID thank us for spending our hard-earned money to come out and see her, but something tells me that hard-earned ticket cash paid for her Giant Stage Castle. But, even though the seats were in outer space, we still had a good time. David brought his nerdy binoculars.


It was also fun to see all the kids dressed up in their Gaga concert gear, which mostly translates into Nearly Nude with Platform Heels. Even more amusing than their get-up was seeing the get-up they conned their middle-aged MOTHERS into wearing. Good sports, those moms.

Gaga had an impressive performance. She changed outfits between (almost) every song, and they were crazy, alien-looking costumes. She sang all the good songs and mentioned “Dallas, Texas” a few too many times. Dancing happened. She dropped the F-bomb as much as I would. We had a ton of fun, and then I was really tired at work the next day.

“See Lady Gaga in concert.” Check.

100 Days of Meditation


4. Meditate, meditate, meditate.

For many years, I’ve been a sporadic meditator. I’ll go a few weeks meditating every night and then stop for a while, or get on an every-few-days schedule, or sometimes not meditate for months. I’ve been to three different Zen centers in three different cities and was never in place long enough to be a regular member. It’s become important to me to make this practice a part of my daily routine, and I think I am finally there.

In September, I found out about a “100 days of Meditation” group on Facebook, where the 100th day landed on January 1, 2013. I used it as a superficial excuse to get into this habit once and for all, and I have succeeded in establishing a regular routine for myself as a result. Before I started, I was perusing the internets to see if I could find any discussions of meditation habits and so on. I found an article on Zen Habits where the author advised that in order to build a routine you should only commit yourself to meditating 2 minutes a day. Ha! I obnoxiously thought about how pathetic that was, and I could do AT LEAST 5 minutes per day, and work my way up from there. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m now up to 15 minutes per day, working up to 20 but not pushing it. If I am extra tired, I allow myself to meditate for less time, because it’s not really that fruitful anyway if I am sleepy.

The photo above is a screen capture of my meditation timer app, the day I hit my 100th day of meditation. I’m still going. The best part about all this is that I am gaining a little bit of my willpower back. I learned that once I started something, and once I was so many days in, I did not want to miss a day because I had already made it so far. (I even had to meditate at the airport one night in order to make it. You do what you gotta do). Sometimes I give up on myself a little too easily, and sitting every day has helped with my follow-through. All in all, one of my best accomplishments on my “31 Things” list.

Wherein I Steal David’s Year in Review Idea.

Without any grace whatsoever, I tell you that 2012 was a load of shit. I may be acting a little dramatic here, but I’m certain I have a better time ahead of me in the new year. I won’t go into specifics. What’s the point? I will say that it wasn’t all bad. Actually, it started out pretty great with a family road trip and a promotion. I met my new nephew, Alex, who is as similar to my brother as I can imagine. I discovered leather working, and continue to practice this new craft. David and I celebrated one year of marriage. And so on.

2013 will be the year I turn 30. I predict a year of awesomeness ahead.

Memorable events for 2012:

* David goes freelance!
* I got promoted to Senior Designer
* Family road trip to Wisconsin for Nicole’s wedding
* Our one-year wedding anniversary at Spa Castle
* Updating Kennedy’s room
* Loudon Wainwright, Andrew Bird, Shovels & Rope
*Leather tooling classes at Tandy Leather

Favorite comic books I read in 2012:

(I don’t read comics, really. However, every now and then David will send one with me when I go to China. This year, I found this one on my own. I enjoyed it.)

* Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China

Favorite TV Shows I watched in 2012:

* Parenthood
* Modern Family
* The Mindy Project
* Don’t Trust the B* In Apartment 23
* Nashville
*Up All Night
*Downton Abbey

Favorite movies I watched in 2012:

* Moonrise Kingdom
* The Avengers
* The Hunger Games
* The Dark Knight Rises
* Silver Linings Playbook

Favorite food for 2012:

* Anything from Potager

Favorite music I listened to in 2012:

(I have a more extensive music post here.)

* O’ Be Joyful, Shovels and Rope
* Adventures in Your Own Backyard, Patrick Watson
* 2, Mac Demarco
* Bones, Fenster
* Threads, Now Now
*Sun, Cat Power
*Lonerism, Tame Impala

It didn’t occur to me until I started writing this that my list and David’s will probably be very similar. He relies on me for music recommendations and I think we probably see more of the movies he wants to see at the theater. We balance each other that way. Or something. In any case, if you want to read a nearly identical list on another blog, go here.