#christmaspajamasinjune

Do you have a favorite pair of Christmas pajamas? Fancy, footed or fabulous – this seasonal attire is something most of us can get solidly behind, right? Maybe you like to get a jump on things by wearing them on the day after Thanksgiving or get the most out of your celebration by wearing them well into the first week of January. That seems totally reasonable and even quite festive.

But my 6YO daughter is a special character in the play of my life. One who plays by her own set of rules. A small example being her public display of Mrs. Claus well into the hot summer months. In Texas no less, where it is known to hit triple digits well before Memorial Day. This matters not to her, she’s the queen of her castle.

On a recent road trip across the featureless dust bowl of west Texas, she took this this nocturnal winter season costuming all the way to the blazing hot desert of New Mexico. We arose early to start the trip.

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Surely she will want to change by mid-morning, I thought.

A few hours in and we are in the wind farms of west Texas.

The pajamas remain.

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A little while later we stop for a picnic in some place called Seminole.

The pajamas remain.

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Then we cross the state line and take an obligatory pose in front of a blazing hot sign in Hobbs, NM.

The pajamas remain.

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We arrive to our first destination and hang out for a bit with some skinny wooden aliens.

It’s 105 degrees and the pajamas remain.

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I wasn’t sure how much longer she was planning to continue.

Then, in an instant, those Christmas pajamas were tossed aside.

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Had the 105 degree heat finally taken its toll? Had she finally realized it was silly to be wearing Christmas pajamas in June? Was she embarrassed to be wearing pajamas in public? No, none of these adult hangups entered her 6YO mind. It was simply time to swim.

Some may say I should have insisted that she put on “real” clothes. Or suggest that I give her too much lead on her rope. Or even that I should be more stern seeing as her appearance is a reflection upon me, right?

Wrong.

She can teach us all a few things. Just like she teaches me each and every day.

Such as if you love something enough, don’t over think why or worry about what others might think. Even if this something is a bit impractical for your current circumstances, you should love it out loud. Wear it. Picnic in it. Pose in it. Celebrate it. Proudly.

Each of us have our beloved Christmas pajamas. The question is – are we willing to take them out and display for all to see in the middle of June? I hope so because when we do, all those standing by and watching will love us even more for it.

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Open Letter to the People of New York

Dear People of New York,

Do you feel like you are unable to pursue your dreams? Do you feel oppressed by your regulatory environment? Do you feel like your liberties have been stolen? Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott seems to think so. So much so that he invested funds from his growing war chest in a campaign to recruit you to our great state of Texas. To be a bit more specific, Abbott seeks to bring freedom-loving New Yorkers, which in his mind, equates to the gun-toting among you.

A series of online ads began appearing on news sites in New York City and Albany immediately following the passage of far-reaching gun-control legislation by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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Signed one month after that earth-shattering day in Newtown, CT, New York now has some of the toughest gun laws in the U.S. In the ads, Abbott cites strong job growth and lack of state income tax as reasons to “Get on down to Texas, y’all.” It’s true that over the past few years Texas has seen a huge influx of people from high-tax states, including large numbers from New York. Mostly high-income earners seeking to stretch those nice salaries with our lower taxes and lower cost of living. It makes perfect sense, really. We love it when newly arrived New Yorkers think our houses are cheap. “What’s that? You said you would like to pay cash?”

Then there is the gun-toting part. Abbott’s headline, “Keep your gun, come to Texas,” is paired with an image of Texas colored completely orange with the line reading, “Each orange dot represents a Texas gun owner.”

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A mildly creative way of implying that you won’t be singled out here, because we are all packing heat. He further suggests that your liberty has been stolen along with your gun and makes the case that you can use your new surplus of cash to buy more ammo. I am certainly no expert on the New York state of mind, but I suspect you have a more balanced definition of liberty and much different plans for your money.

Which leads me to my next question. Are you as insulted by Abbott’s simplistic view of your values as I am embarrassed of his characterization of Texas and Texans?

I am Texan, born and bred. Along with the good things like chicken-fried anything and best damn quality of people you’ll ever meet, I have done my best to accept the less savory things that come along with this label. Such as, but not limited to, truck nuts, quarterly secession threats, insular thinking, a pretense that being gay is a choice and the relentless attempt to regulate a woman’s womanly parts by imbecilic, bible-beating politicians. Oh and a rampant, dick-swinging gun culture. Last I checked, we weren’t living on the frontier and I don’t care anything about dreams of an armed insurrection against a mythical and oppressive federal government.

Along with strong job growth and low cost of living are a few less favorable facts of which I should make you aware. Like that 1 in 4 people in Texas are uninsured; the public school system is abhorrent; and the state has one of the nation’s lowest per capita spending in mental health. Texas can sometimes be like a whole other country – a third world one with more money than good sense. Which takes me back to Abbott.

You and I both know that he is poking fun with this campaign. If it isn’t immediately obvious, he ran these ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal in New York City and Albany rather than rural areas like Allegany, where his message might be taken seriously. The whole thing was simply a demonstration of Texas-style bravado in an arrogant attempt to gain Abbott a seat at the national political dinner table.

Like when he appeared on Lou Dobbs on January 15, “it is tongue in cheek, but there is a deeper message here,” he said. “Texas really does stand as the last bastion of ultimate freedom in this country. Over the last decade, more than 4 million people moved to this state, and one reason is freedom and one reason is economic opportunity.” He then went on to echo a sentiment I have heard too much of recently, “why can some have armed guards, but not regular people.” And by “some” I can only assume he means “those elitists” who seek to do something over nothing. It takes me miles beyond embarrassment when an elected official from my state chooses to deliver paid-for and politically motivated sarcasm to an audience only a short drive away from a place where twenty tiny graves are still fresh.

Know that we don’t all fit the image that Abbott puts forth and regret that his mildly witty, yet tone-deaf campaign makes us out to be gun-crazed fanatics. And some of us actually embrace what it is to be Texan, but have higher aspirations for this place we call home. Clearly Abbott has aspirations of his own, like perhaps a gubernatorial run in 2014. You can’t always see it, but things are changing down here. Maybe it has to do with the millions of people from elsewhere with their different ideas that are moving here day after day along with the growing cultural diversity of our communities. As the tide shifts, I believe these forces will bring about a broader, more balanced definition of liberty among my fellow statesmen. Voices like Abbott’s will inevitably be drowned out by reason and I hold out hope that his recent tongue-in-cheek exhibition will become his stark reality.

Sincerely,

Amber, a Middle-Class White Girl from Texas

I held this letter for weeks, unsure of whether to publish it here or not. Then, I heard that the freshman Senator Ted Cruz (R) from Texas wished to bring a gun to the Senate floor today (for demonstrative purposes), but was unable to do so because assault weapons are banned in the District of Colombia. Upon hearing this, I dug the letter out again. These people may represent me, but they don’t represent my views or my vision for Texas or this country. If I want change, I need to speak up. Starting now.


Only in Texas: Rudolph the Holiday-Adorned Sport Utility

This is the first post in a series I call “Only in Texas.”

Douchy Xmas in Texas

Oh, but wait there is more…

Rear Douchbag Xmas in Texas

No doubt, the holiday-adorned longhorns are hilarious. I wonder how often this vehicle sees some off-road action. I suspect, never. Another clue is the “I *heart* my wife” bumper sticker. Either this man has not one ounce of backbone or has had one too many indiscretions. Maybe it is this same wife that went to town on these decorations to ensure no woman would come near her man.

If so, it is highly effective.


Lift and Sink

I have always been somewhat of a lunatic, which I attribute to my early days of swallowing bugs whole on a not-so-street-legal motorbike with my Dad, aka Captain Safety. It is true that these mostly ground-based escapades made a firm impression. However, I remain completely bewitched by the heavens and the seas. Wild and unruly places where anything can happen. Where natural forces can and will steal breath from your lungs and the life within your limbs instantly and without even the smallest of consequence. Bewitched maybe, but my time in the heavens and upon the sea has been limited. Read the rest of this entry »


Mittens

A wee bit back, I introduced you to the Procrasti-hater. That sinister twin to my Type A {absolutely awesome productive badass} personality who gets her willies by taking {the productive badass side of} me out back behind the honky tonk at last call and beating me to a bloody pulp.

Today, it is high time you met Mittens.

I have only recently rediscovered Mittens. Thanks to one part turning 39, one part Rouge Chaplain and one part walking around in my head.

But man is she back with a vengeance. Read the rest of this entry »


Ode to the Swimming Hole

First off, I am not a poet so ‘ode’ is by far too generous for the words that will follow. Alas, I am afflicted by visions of my own grandeur. So, let’s stick with ‘ode.’

As summer gets into full swing, we seek out places to cool our blazing hot Texas (insert where you live) jets. Just thinking about it makes me get all giddy like a little kid. Brimming with the anticipation of that clear, crisp plunge. Ahhhhh…

As this is an ‘ode’, I shall reflect fondly upon the summer refreshment of my youth. Read the rest of this entry »


The Mapping of My Discontent

Have you ever been unhappy? {Can you see me raising my hand? Here, right over here…Hello, I have my hand raised over here!}

What…what is that you are asking? How did I go about dealing with it?

Why, blame others, of course.

What was your next question? Speak up, I can’t hear you…Was that how did I go about discovering the source of my unhappiness?

First, let me provide you a teensy-weensy bit of context. Read the rest of this entry »