Wednesday, November 05, 2008

First steps

My poor head's been fogged today by a happiness hangover... enhanced, perhaps, by a wee infusion of gin from last night's impromptu election-watching party with the Weintribe. So I'll just let this one picture speak my thousand giddy words:

Wasn't it absolutely amazing? Do you find yourself listening to the speech over and over, pinching yourself that, yes: this actually happened? And do you tear up at the words and the realization every single time?

Do you admire how beautifully Chicago, the hometown of my heart, served as its backdrop? Oh, giddy squeal; oh, contented sigh. Oh, sweet mercy: yes.

Of course, I did realize this morning, when I awoke to my throbbing head and my cheeks, still tear-stained and sore from all the smiling, that the world today plays host to the very same troubles and challenges that plagued it yesterday.

But somehow, it feels like a new world, a more hopeful place. The potential for change, for one and all: it feels tangible to me now.

All because of a few first steps, taken long ago. Can't wait to see where the journey leads us...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Monday, November 03, 2008


On and off throughout the day, I've considered and rejected any number of ideas for my daily dose of bloggy obligation.

Some ideas are, for the good of all, better off dead (what I ate for lunch today; which came first: the chicken or the egg).

Some ideas may yet see publication before the month is over (what's going on with my right foot; the heretofore unanticipated perils of memes).

But ultimately, the one idea that's captivating me tonight, that's moved and stirred me for the past year, and that will keep firm grasp on my attention for the next sixteen-plus hours, at least, is the presidential election.

Wildly do I vacillate between strutting, giddy confidence that my candidate of choice will easily sweep up the necessary electoral votes to secure victory and residency in the White House... and anxious, hair-chewing fretfulness that things won't go my way.

Tomorrow, I'm sure, I'll feel a heady mix of nervous energy and hope and a desire to do something, anything that feels minimally active and participatory.

The best solution, I find, is to plug in, keep a finger on the pulse. I don't wanna wait until Wednesday morning to read the headlines in the paper; I want to know, minute by minute, what's happening, when, where and why.

To kick things off, I'm downloading a widget from that promises to stream updated return information as it happens.

I'll also drain the battery on my iPhone, I'm sure, by refreshing Twitter at a generally obsessive pace, as well NPR's Election 2008 site.

What about you? What are your preferred resources for election news and numbers? Would you rather fast-forward to Wednesday, or focus your attention on celebrity gossip? Talk to me.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sixty winks

I won't do it. You have my word.

I won't give in to the urge to rant and rave and froth at the mouth about the absurdity of today's time change.

I won't gripe in petty detail that it mucks with absolutely everything that matters, casually tosses me into a weeklong "No, wait: what time is it, really?" panic, plunges us into darkness just as the muppers ask to play outside for that narrow band of time betwixt dinner and bath.

I won't do it, because I? Have, by and large, slept through it.

And it's been quite lovely, actually.

This morning's sleepathon was prompted by a busier-than-usual Saturday night: first, a three-year-old's birthday party that ended with, um, absinthe, and second, a football game so horrendous and hateful that it prompted me to imbibe a whole lot more, if only to keep pace with my depressed and mumbling spouse.

So. Yeah. That was fun. Think I slumbered until... well, not until noon. But within sight of it.

Eventually, under some duress from still-depressed spouse and none-the-wiser muppers, I did rally: grateful, I'll add, for the extra time on the clock. It was decided that an outing was in order. Lunch! Chuy's. GOOD.

It didn't seem that unreasonable, really, to think that a nap might follow the consumption of all that Tex-Mex deliciousness. Just twenty minutes, I told a skeptical mr. f5. Promise.

Two hours later, it became apparent that the howler monkeys wreaking havoc in my dream were, in fact, my own three hyperactive muppers, dispatched by their father to wake up the slug in bed.


By now, of course, it was dinnertime. The adults, still bloated on chili con queso, declined to partake in the evening meal, so I whipped up some couscous, spooned it out to the muppers and summarily crashed on the big red couch.

Because I was so very tired. From all the sleeping, don't you know.

Honestly, I'd still be there now, happily sawing logs and paying no heed to the clocks that still need to be turned back, or the messy wake from my day of sloth... if a tiny voice in my head hadn't forged through the ether and reminded me of my bloggy commitment.

And here we are. Not complaining about the time change; just yawning and yearning for more time in dreamland.

So, g'night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs snnklrrzzz...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

When it began.

Hi. Allow me to introduce myself. My nom de plume is mrs. f5, and I'm a blogger.

Except... well, lately, not quite so much.

It's not that I've lost interest in blogs; far from it. I voraciously read other people's posts and musings, and obsessively micro-blog my own daily comings and goings.

But keeping up the pages of this, my first and foremost blog, launched only two years ago... yeah, that's not been happening lately.

I can't say exactly why, although I have a few half-formed theories, but I can say, decisively, that I've missed the regular practice of writing... anything of any substance, really... and sharing it with a predominantly invisible forum.

So, when Mrs. Kennedy, for the third year running, threw down the gauntlet for NaBloPoMo, I resolved to pick the thing up and dust this thing off.

I'm hoping to revive, recharge, reconnect, reach out and remember why blogging ever seemed like a good idea. And to relive and realize how much fun it was, when it began.

I'll fumble and trip along the way, I'm sure. Already it feels awkward, to string together thoughts in more than 140 characters.

But I'm no masochist; I'll cut myself some slack when needed. So expect to see a smattering of pictures or back-links or video clips to fill in the spaces where the words get stuck.

And so it begins...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Back to school

As a general rule, I'm not an enormous fan of the meme-as-blog genre.

It's not that I don't adore the process of answering six dozen questions about what I enjoy for breakfast and what I wear whilst eating said meal of champions.

I do. So much.

But there's something about putting it all out there for the world (or, in my case, a half-dozen haplessly loyal friends and family members) to read. Because, well: why would you care?

Tonight, however, I fling aside my concerns for your well-being. Because when my sister sent the following meme to me, I just knew it should be shared with the blogosphere.

It's fun. It's compelling. And above all, it's a marginal fit with the alleged reflections-on-home theme that I'm hanging on to by the most gossamer of threads.

It is (wait for it... ) a recollection of your ninth-grade year.

Now: when you read those words, did you squeal with glee and clap your hands?

Or, perchance, did you visibly squirm and feel perspiration bead upon your forehead?

You squealing clapper types, with your perfectly aligned teeth and bouncing-and-behaving hair: bless your hearts for feeling any positive association whatsoever with what many recall as an awkward age in their lives. Now go sit down.

The rest of you? The ones who barely survived with your dignity intact, and who still, years later, involuntarily check the mirror after a meal to ensure that you don't have entire spinach leaves stuck in your braces?

Welcome, my friends; this is a safe haven for us.

As I've mentioned, my high-school years were somewhat nomadic. But the ninth grade was an extra-special time, because smack-dab in the middle of the year, we moved to a different state.

OH MY WORD at the angst as I was moved, against my will, from a lush and sleepy southern town that I absolutely adored to a stark, small city in west Texas that, I was convinced, resembled the terrain of Mars.

So, the answers to my meme are noticeably schizophrenic. Don't be alarmed. And by all means, feel free to play along.


Who was your best friend?
Debelah Stallperson. (No. This isn't really her name; I have taken minor liberties herein to protect the innocent. Or the unwitting. Not that Debelah falls into either category, of course. Debelah, honey, feel free to step in and defend yourself at any point in time.)

Who did you "go out" with?
We didn't go anywhere at all, of course, but for about sixty seconds in my first semester, I "went with" an utterly adorable boy named Wade. And then, stupidly, broke up with him for no good reason.

Toward the end of my second semester, I went steady with a tall Texan named Lucas, who towered over me by a full twelve inches. At no point in my big-boned life have I ever felt so petite and precious.

Did you have a crush on anyone?
Consistently, yes, and always on older, slightly nebbish boys who were none the wiser of my existence. This ensured a steady stream of bitter tears and unbelievably bad poetry.

What sport did you play?
Not a darn thing in the first half of the year. I didn't even take p.e.; we were given the option of taking art classes instead. (Seriously: volleyball? or cross-stitching? badminton? or wood-carving? I LOVED THAT SCHOOL.)

After we moved, I played tennis. Not well. Badly, as I recall. Nevertheless, I was allowed to join the school team, and thus spent many an hour riding a bus along dusty roads to places like Iraan and Notrees for dismal tennis matches that I consistently lost.

Did you buy your lunch?
Honestly, I don't remember either school even having a cafeteria, although I'm sure they must have. I do recall thinking that foods like pita bread, alfalfa sprouts and kiwifruit were terribly exotic, so they made frequent appearances in my lunch box.

Did you skip?
Ooh, no, ma'am. And I'm not just saying that because my mother will read this; I was definitely a by-the-rules girl. Until my senior year, anyway, but trust me when I vow that there will be NO MEME OF ANY SORT ABOUT MY SENIOR YEAR.

Did you get suspended?
Never. Ever.

Were you in any fistfights?
Good heavens, no. YAWNSTRETCH, I was dull. Although I did get caught in the middle of a zany-but-dangerous Bible fight in my second semester, when I attended an itty-bitty Church of Christ-affiliated school. Interesting place, that school. Very interesting.

What was your favorite class?
Well, I loved English, of course, but in both schools, I pledged my undying loyalty to Yearbook. An hour a day was not nearly enough.

What was your school's name?
My first semester was served at Trinity Episcopal Day School, which boasted a graduating class of, oh, I'll guess fifty. Probably fewer.

For my second semester, I attented Midland Christian Academy: class of six. SIX.

If you could go back, would you?
Sure, for a day. Maybe two. And then I'd come running gratefully back to my life as a grown-up with all its responsibilities and challenges and sweet, sweet freedom.

Where did you sit at lunch?
Usually in the lunchroom, but sometimes in the parking lot. None of us could drive yet, but it seemed the thing to do.

Was there a smoking lounge?
No. The following year, I attended a much larger public high school and was shocked, shocked, I tell you, to see kids with cigarettes dangling from their lips.

Who was your science teacher freshman year?
Well, at Trinity, of course, it was Mr. OHMYGODWHATWASHISNAME? How in the world have I forgotten his name? The one? With the crazy eyes? You know! THAT guy! Yeah.

At Midland Christian, I had the distinct honor of being in Mrs. Isenberg's science lab. I'll never forget the care with which she introduced me to the class on my very first day, explaining to my new classmates that I'd just moved from Mississippi and would, naturally, be going to Hell because I was a Methodist and wore nail polish. Hi; nice to meet you, too.

Who was your English teacher?
I cannot believe that I can't recall one name from either school in what was, for all practical purposes, my favorite subject. This early-onset dementia really doesn't mess around.

Who was your history teacher?
The adorable Gina led our history class at Trinity. She gets special props for teaching us the chronological listing of our country's presidents, set to the tune of "Yankee Doodle." Also: a song listing the Greek alphabet, which served me well in my exceptionally short-lived career as a sorority girl.

I'm sure I must have learned a few nifty historical tidbits in my second semester, but from whom? The mind reels, but does not click.

Did you think you were cool?
No, because I so desperately WANTED to be.

Describe your outfits in ninth grade.
The overarching theme, as I recall, was Things That Are Big: big paisleys, big vests, big chunky sweaters from the Limited, big Tretorn tennis shoes, big BIG hair, big letters on our shirts (FRANKIE SAY RELAX), big jewelry.

It was all big. Except for gloves. Inexplicably, gloves were small and fingerless.

Did you even have a cell phone?
A what? A who? If you had a dime, I suppose you could use the pay phone in the lobby.

Who was your favorite teacher?
Joe came to Trinity from New York with almost no teaching experience. The girls in the class all thought he was a stone cold fox, and somehow preyed upon him to allow us to watch Purple Rain in lieu of our Latin mid-term final.

What? I wasn't asked to name the BEST teacher. Just my favorite. And Joe was my favorite. Because, well, have you SEEN Purple Rain? It's, like, totally awesome. And Latin's a dead language, anyway. Veni, vidi, vici.

What's your most memorable moment?
I'll grant you: it's hard to imagine this now. But at Trinity, it was absolutely accepted that on Serf Day, each freshman would be kidnapped from his or her home sometime before sunrise by a senior. We were dressed in outlandish and embarrassing garb, paraded through school and around town, and generally forced to do the seniors' bidding for laughs.

It was definitely memorable. It was mostly fun. It was a blessing that Debelah's big sister, Sus, whom I utterly adored, kidnapped me and took it pretty easy on me. 'Cause otherwise it might have resembled something like this.

What were your best accomplishments?
Bouncing back after the complete and total emotional devastation of that mid-year move. And then managing to kiss the impossibly tall Lucas.

What action do you regret the most?
Oh, that's easy: taking every tiny thing so friggin' seriously. Thank goodness I learned my lesson. (Note sarcasm. Which, as I recall, was not appreeeeeeciated by our art teacher.)

What did you spend the most time doing on weekends?
Afternoons would be frittered away at the mall, either in the video arcade with our friends Q*bert, Frogger and Ms. Pac-Man, or catching the newest John Hughes flick at the two-screen mall cinema.

Time also would be dedicated to shopping for high-fashion accessories at Claire's, with special priority given to Duran Duran buttons and anything from Madonna's Borderline video.

Evenings might be spent cruising around town with Debelah in Sus's Herbie the Love Bug with the top down and, ideally, Rock Lobster playing at maximum volume... so that all might share our joy.

I swear that I don't remember leaving the house in Midland until the end of the school year.

Got invited to any proms?
There was Trinity's Homecoming Dance in my first semester, but nothing at Midland Christian, because, of course, dancing was for sinners. Those kids were crazy 'bout watching Footloose.

However, I did attend the athletic banquet with Lucas and wore a perfectly lovely Gunne Sax frock.

How many years ago did all this transpire?

Mercifully, this draws to a close my recollections of this special time in my life. And now I need a nap.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Homeward bound

"Home, Jeeves!" ordered Fussy.

Oh, so I paraphrase. What Eden Marriott Kennedy actually said, was: if you're the masochistic (or foolishly optimistic) type who's looking for a reason to blog every day for a month, I'll give you a theme.

This month, she dictated, the theme will be home.

As luck would have it, it just so happened that I was, in fact, looking for an excuse to start clacking away at the keyboard again. I may not make it for thirty consecutive days (taking my prior failed attempts into consideration), but the goal of breaking through my self-imposed writer's block, even if it's short-lived, seemed achingly achievable.

And home: well, lately, I can't stop thinking about the subject. Where it is now, where it was, what it will be and who I see there: my mind's just been a-churning as I've both metaphorically and literally been reconnecting to my home bases recently.

So: if you're so inclined, follow along as I spend the next few weeks sifting through the good and the bad, the absurd and the awkward, the sweet and the tangled musings I have on the topic at hand.

C'mon in. Pull up a chair. And make yourself at home.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Mis hermanas

Thanks to Tracey by way of Jenny, this is the song that's been running in a constant loop through my head all the livelong day. Can't make it stop. DON'T WANT TO. Love you girls.

And fresh off a showing of Sex and the City on the big screen, I'm thinking in all seriousness that fab red sequined jumpsuits are poised to make a comeback any second now.

By the way: the sweet Sledge sister who's stuck in the back, trying desperately to hide the fact that she alone wasn't blessed with the family dancing gene? Yeah: TOTALLY ME.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

From the beginning

"So, where are you from?"

It's an utterly innocuous question, a standard ice-breaker, a door to potential familiarity and friendship... but it gets me almost every single time.

Almost every single time, I stammer or stutter, trying to deliver the goods as succinctly as possible.

It seems misleading to answer, "Oh, all over... " because that makes my childhood sound far more exotic than it really was.

To my sister's and my disappointment, we weren't members of a carny family. Yes, our father was in the military, but by the time we came on the scene, he'd earned the luxury of staying in one place, which meant that we had no need for passports until our early twenties.

For two girls with wanderlust, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

So, no: there was no especially fascinating reason for our moving hither and yon. And really, it wasn't even all that hither or terribly far yon; for the most part, I grew up in only two states: Mississippi and Texas. But within those states, we danced a little jig.

Vicksburg to Jackson for a while, then Natchez. A side trip to unincorporated Mendenhall. An enormously abrupt change of pace, to the dusty Texas town of Midland. Back to Vicksburg: specifically, the blink-and-you'll-miss-it suburb of Bovina. And for me, at least, Austin.

Ultimately, I met and married a long tall Texan, which cemented, I believed, my citizenship in the Lone Star State. Of course, the Texan had actually been born in Philadelphia to a man from West Virginia and a woman from Georgia.

So I devised my own label: I was, I proudly proclaimed, a Texsippian.

That suited me just fine for some time. But then we moved from Houston to Chicago, and pretty soon, the Windy City felt like home. It was settled, then, once and for all: we were Chicagoan Texan expatriates.

My identity crisis sprang anew when we moved back to Texas, this time to Dallas. And, as I was reminded on our sojourn south last week, my self-imposed label should really be expanded to incorporate Florida, home of my birth, into the mix, too.

Thirty-eight years. In thirty-eight years, I've inhabited approximately eighteen dwellings in ten cities and four states. More than many, I like to imagine, with no small sense of pride, but fewer, I'm sure, than others.

And still I manage to stumble and trip over any sort of efficient explanation of where I'm from.

But that's never once stopped me from asking the question in kind.

So. Where are you from?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Seaside Sunsets

These were worth several thousand words to me.... Mr. F5

Monday, April 21, 2008


Hello, Mr. F5 here. Since our primary author seems to have a case of writer's block (aka "a good nights sleep") I thought I would make a quick addition to the blogosphere by adding some of the original artwork creations of the eldest junior Mr. F5. Enjoy. Lithographs are available upon request.


Spiderman meets the aliens (aliens played by Sam and Nia)

"Pirate ship" (modern)

"Happy Aliens"

"Prisoners into outer space"

"A moment in the Loo"

"Thinking about Mom"

"Dinosaurs need hugs"

"Super space man blast off"

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My heart skips a beat

My big hunk of man, snoring on the couch? Of course I love him. This day and every day: that's the deal we struck nearly two decades ago.

But this guy? The guy wearing the fedora? Well, I might love him a little bit, too.

Jeff, darling: please, come back to Texas. We can enjoy a sumptuous picnic lunch in this adorable park I know. Just you, me and your mighty red pen.


Thursday, April 03, 2008


What makes a vacation so spot-on perfect that you're still glowing and yearning and yammering about it two weeks later?

Was it finding myself in a coordinate on the map that I'd only imagined before?

Did the anticipation make it that much sweeter?

Was it the brief walking tour of a foreign land, followed by the step back in time?

Or slipping the surly bonds of earth to temporarily overcome acrophobia?

Did it help that we landed in a spot that felt like our very own pied-a-terre?

Is it because we toured fabulous vineyards as VIPs because we were FOCs? (You know: Friends of Chuck. Oh, you don't know Chuck? You really should.)

Was it driving along winding roads that hugged lush green hills, with the wind in our hair?

Or could we have been anywhere in the world, really, as long as we were together?

To that end, maybe it was returning home to a trio of happy, healthy muppers, not one iota the worse for our absence, and realizing: we could totally do this again sometime! We need to do this again sometime. Once the grandparents recuperate, of course.

Was it any one of these things? Or the combination thereof?

The answer, of course, is yes. Yes, yes, yes. See for yourself, if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Playing the fool

I was sitting at the clean, industrial desk of a cubicle in a quiet office, my pen hovering over a to-do list.

I was thirty-one years old and drove a shiny black Jetta. Which on this evening, six years later, sounds absolutely precious, and a little exotic.

Almost a year after moving to Dallas, I had a public-relations job that I mostly loved, and I happily shared a wee house with one tall, handsome husband and one sweet, grizzled dog.

On sunny afternoons, of which there were many, we'd stroll down the street to our favorite pub, grab a seat on the patio, and have a few beers. We'd just, you know, hang out.

On this late Monday afternoon, I still had a few hours of work ahead of me, even though most of my cubiclemates had already gone home.

I consulted my to-do list. An interview to transcribe, an article to write, a deadline ahead. Check, check, check.

Oh, and note to self: on the way home, stop by Walgreens for tampons and condoms.

Huh, muttered I, to self. Do I need to go the bathroom again? What's this: my tenth trip down the hall today? At least? This, coming from the girl with the iron-clad bladder?

And whoo boy, am I tired. Did I really fall asleep in mid-sentence with Trey's mom the other day? And then sleep, undisturbed, for two hours? Well, it was a pretty big lunch... and it is, in fact, an incredibly comfortable chair.

Wonder if I'm coming down with something. Oh, man: I'll bet I'm coming down with something. Perfect. That's just perfect.

What the heck is wrong with me lately? My moods are all over the place. Just last week, when Sarah was in town, I was throwing a tantrum about something or other, and she spat in exasperation:

"What the heck is wrong with you lately? Are you pregnant or something?"

Crazy. I mean, yes, she's my sister, but honestly, sometimes she just...

Oh, shit. OH, shit.

No. No way. Can't be. Lesse: last period here, anniversary there...

And in that moment (pen hovering, office quiet, desk clean), a light bulb clicked on over my head, flickered for a second, then began to hum.

My bubble of panic drowned in a sea of barely guarded, giddy anticipation, with "what ifs" bobbing up all around me, and a ridiculous, delicious grin on my face.

And a few minutes later, when I screeched into the Walgreens parking lot in my shiny black Jetta, I bypassed the tampons and condoms, and headed for the pregnancy tests instead.

It was the best April Fool's Day ever.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


To begin with: I'm fine. Honestly.

Touched by your concern, eager to hear your very own favorite weeper songs and films, and utterly amazed that anyone, up to and including my mother, read that whole long post.

I am, to quote Mary J., just fine.

Interesting side note: although I amuse myself with the notion that I share with my better half the things that are on my mind and (awww... ) in my heart, I'm never really sure how much of my blah blah blah actually penetrates his consciousness.

He is, after all, from Mars, whereas I hail from Venus.

Still, I was surprised to awaken Saturday to the realization that a large chunk of the morning had easily come and gone without my involvement.

The kids were fed and dressed; the kitchen was sparkling clean. And I got the sense that everyone was, I don't know, tip-toeing around so that I could sleep even longer, if I so desired.

"Wow," I yawned and stretched as I shuffled out of the bedroom. "What's going on here?"

"Oh, I just figured you needed your sleep," Trey said. (Awww... )

"Also," he added, a little hesitantly, "I read your blog this morning, and now... well, I'm a little worried about you. Are you okay?"

Fine. I really, truly, honestly am just fine.

However, I may be blogging about depression again pretty soon. Like, next Saturday. Because sleeping in? Is probably my favorite activity on the planet.

So that's how the weekend began. And get this: it ended on an even better note.

Because today, we all piled into the car, and we drove north. Oh, so far north. I mean, we could not have been more northerly if we'd had a sleigh and eight reindeer.

That's how much we've missed our wonderful, irreplaceable, formerly across-the-street neighbors: so much that we were willing to drive halfway to Kansas just to see them again.

Yes, I exaggerate. But at one point, Carter did actually pipe up with the observation, "Mom, we've been driving so long that it feels like we're on vacation!"

And you know, it was a vacation to see our friends again.

Kirsten, who kept me from falling apart that infamous day Spencer decided to take an unchaperoned tour of the Arboretum, and kept me in the loop on all the neighborhood gossip.

Rod, who brought over a tray of Kirsten's famous banana cake on the day we moved in, and who made a mean platter of ribs for us tonight.

And their two sweet, handsome, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boys, both of whom I utterly adore. Even if they have this odd notion that burnt orange is the world's ugliest color.

It was such good, relaxed fun, seeing them again. Laughing and swapping stories. Bickering about politics. Watching the kids play together, just like they used to in our back yard.

And although I've finally stopped clutching my chest every time I see the strange brick building that stands where their sweet house used to be, I still miss them all the time.

Here's the thing: you fall in love with a house for its floor plan, back yard or school zone. But you don't always get terrific neighbors as part of the deal.

We did. We know how lucky we were.

So if Kirsten calls tomorrow with news that the house across the street from them is absolutely perfect for us, and it's just been listed at a Franklin-friendly price... well, then: halfway to Kansas, here we come.

And now that I've got Jen all riled up, I'll end with one last happy house note: this one.

It's not halfway to Kansas, but it is the perfect place for one weekend, twelve adults and (seriously?) fifteen children.

Cannot wait.