Friday, October 16, 2009

Redirecting 'Afterlife', Introducing 'Texasville, CA'

It's official. The focus-less 'Afterlife' is dead. No really, no afterlife for 'Afterlife'. It's time to give this blog a purpose.

And as I'm finding a purpose for my writing in general, I thought it was only appropriate to devote this half-hearted attempt at blogging to the same thing: Texas. And all its murky glory.

Since leaving this God-forsaken state, I just can't stop thinking about it. Or talking about it. Or writing about it. Texas gets in your blood like West Nile after a skeeter bite (skeeter = read 'mosquito').

How do you write about a place when you don't even live there? From 2,000 miles away, I see Texas through new eyes and they find many more things to love, cherish, and celebrate about it. And as I mine the history books, blogosphere, the headlines, and the world wide web for these tidbits, I will share them with you. Hopefully, Texans on their beloved turf will appreciate it more and those who scoff at it from afar will scoff less.

You can never go home again. But at least you can write about it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Latest Obsession: Reading

Lately, I have a dilemma. I want to read. I understand--entirely--that this does not make me unique or special in anyway. But it is noteworthy since I haven't felt the urge to put my eyes to a printed page since college graduation. What can I say, books and me needed a vacation from one another. We had reached the point of saturation.

These days, I just can't get enough. I used to make these crazy lists of all these books I want to read and I find myself doing that. Ambitious, I know. My most recent list includes:

-All of McCarthy
-All of Russo
-All of McMurtry
-All of Charlaine Harris (exclusively Sookie Stackhouse)
-All of James

At the rate I've been going--specifically the rate since graduation until, well, now--this list would take me the rest of my life. Which brings me to a point that I have not wanted to accept or acknowledge: does anyone really enjoy McCarthy and find him easy to read? The Road was truly spectacular. Loved every word. But Blood Meridian--my only other diversion down this dark road--was a challenge. I will admit, it's profound sprinkled with moments that are truly remarkable. But it was a struggle. Anyone? N-E-1?

What sparked this reconciliation? I was Wikipedia-ing one day--a favorite pastime--and wandered over to Anne Rice's page. I discovered that she is a "reverted" Catholic Christian and that she's written a book about it all. I was intrigued, as I often am, to hear other people's reasons for choosing faith and spirituality. I dashed off to the library to pick up this book and went home with Texasville, We Were the Mulvaneys, and The Painted Veil. Thus, we were reunited.

The Painted Veil is delightful by the way. Maybe will add 'All of Maugham' to my list?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Libraries, Literature, Love

I am excited--BEYOND MEASURE--about this weekend. Is it because of the Tech vs. Texas game on Saturday? Close, but, um, no. Actually, I'm dancing in my seat right now because the relentless little hopeless romantic that lives inside me is so revved up about the release of Bright Star.

I'm not going to pretend like I'm a John Keats fan, much less an expert. This particular section of Survey of British Literature II is a little fuzzy and not because it was at 9 am. But, I think all lovers of literature--poetry and prose--relish the opportunity to have a peek into the real lives of the enigmatic characters of literary history. And Keats is definitely one of the brightest stars (wink) in the cast. Even I have to admit that.

Bright Star is the story of his three-year long secret love affair with Fanny Brawne, passionate and tempestuous, that ended only with his untimely death. Okay, so it's not a wink-wink, ho-ho romcom in which the omnipresent Katherine Heigl tries her darnedest to pass as a romantic lead. I get the feeling there could be tissues involved. And sleepless nights. And a tender ache in the chest as the credits roll. But nevertheless, I will be there. Even if it does cost me ten dollars.

I might not be quite this excited if the film's creator wasn't the beloved and brilliant Jane Campion, director of the The Piano and my personal favorite, which I've seen at LEAST 100 times, The Portrait of a Lady. I haven't seen all of her movies, but I haven't seen one I didn't like. Think this one's going to be a winner. Leave the boyfriends/husbands at home. They can watch the Red Raiders/Longhorns game.

Speaking of Keats, and college, and survey courses, I was in a public library for the first time in a long time yesterday. Whoa, things have changed. I have to admit, I was little disappointed at the selection. You never appreciate the things you have until they're gone, like a university library. Even at that, Southwestern's library wasn't exactly epic. But it was three stories tall. And they certainly had every book I could ever want. Pickins' were a little slim at this particular branch of the Sonoma Co. Library system.

But what stunned me was this: gone are the days of library cards and the cathartic stamping of the due date on a sleeved chart inside the book of your choice. Things have gotten a smidge high tech. Check out process is as follows:

1. Scan library card--name and profile appear on computer screen.
2. Computer message tells me to 'place books on table' (table being a black pad under the screen.)
3. I cautiously and skeptically place book #1--Larry McMurtry's Texasville--on said 'table'.
4. Title miraculously appears on screen. Serial number and all.

Aside: Before proceeding, I'm looking around trying to find the conspiracy in all of this. I look at the lady behind the desk to see if she's typing in my titles. Apparently not.

5. I place remaining books, in a single stack, on the 'table'. Each title appears accurately on screen.
6. Complete transaction.
7. Dialogue box appears: How would you like your receipt? Email? Fax? Print? Or Text? Email please.

Yeah. Space-agey or what? Maybe I'm behind the times, but I was so charmed by it all. Plus it's one of the few places in town with free Wi-Fi where I don't feel pressured to buy coffee. So awesome.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Still Alive

Indeed, you may--or may not--have noticed that new posts on this blog have recently been reduced That's right. Very little blogging has been going on at this particular site.

I have little to say on the subject except that I have been doing a little too much of the above...I'll give you a minute to assess the image now.

Done? Mmmk. A little bit too much of THAT, along with working, traveling, bridesmaidsing, and other such shenanigans have significantly diminished my time and desire to blog. However, I feel the drive and inclination to continue said blogging coming back.

Do you ever just run out of crap to say? That's kinda what I was experiencing. But then maybe I was just saying it elsewhere. Who knows. But I've missed the ole blog and my sprinkling of readers. And so, I'm back. Hopefully.

In other news, I'm strongly considering a subtle renaming of the blog to match the direction it seems to naturally follow, which is a longing for all things Texan. Along with a few digressions into the areas of movies, television, news, and goofy anecdotes. Should be fun.

Speaking of which, how about that Gerard Butler? I just can't seem to get enough of that guy lately. Bad movies notwithstanding. When you're willing to sit through The Ugly Truth just so you can spend two hours with him, you know there's an issue. So what if it's just in a movie theatre. And it costs you ten dollars. IT'S WORTH IT. Suddenly Schumacher's Phantom of the Opera has strange appeal. Mmm.

I will be back for more. See you there.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Finding Life Outside the Cube....Genius

Dude. I am stoked--repeat, stoked--to have stumbled across this blog today! I was just milling around Lindsey Pollak's blog (also awesome) when I read a familiar phrase: "Anti 9-5..." I clicked and it spoke to me.

You all must know how much I love Tim Ferriss's Four Hour Work Week. Um, it changed my life, that's all. But let's face it, Tim is more about time management than the art of freelancing. Freelancing is merely a means to an end in his eyes.

This nice lady, however, gets down
and dirty about how to create success as a 'creative' freelancer. In her blog, The Anti 9-5 Guide, she even speaks to those freelancers in such lines of work as 'professional organizing.' Man, I cannot wait to click through every page of this little gold mine.

Or turn
every page of this one! Michelle Goodman--said anti 9-5er--has also written two, count 'em, TWO books about life as a freelancer and how to make it work! Only one of which is My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire. The answer is 'yes,' I've already ordered both of her books from

Michelle's other little treasure, The Anti 9-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube, is also en route to my home. Isn't it so awesome to randomly find people that share your same thoughts and outlook on life? It sure makes the world seem a little cozier.

courtesy of

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Never Fear, MoreDating is Here

Ugh, I know. There's been a sad lack of postage going on at All Growns Up. What can I say: I've been busy working for the man. And with that, there just really hasn't been that much to write about. First Rule of Blogging: Don't Blog When You Have NOTHING To Say. I try to follow that rule, even though I've been known to break it. As you can see....

However, if you've been paying attention to the days quickly passing by in 2009, it might have come to your mind's eye that the dreaded V-day is upon us. Yes, it's Valentine's Day time y'all.

This time of year, I usually get the stink eye from single-looking passers by because I'm a 'missus'. But even when I was a single gal, I never thought Valentine's Day was one to sit inside, watch Fatal Attraction, and accept the fact that you've gone up a dress size. It's just another day, y'all. No really, it's just another day. And no, I'm not saying that because I always had a boyfriend... I usually got flowers and candy on Valentine's Day...from my dad.

But that doesn't mean that it isn't nice to have someone of the opposite--or the same--sex to spend the day with that preferably is not a paternal figure. So being that the big day is still five days away, I'd say it's crunch time.

Okay, five days might create some pressure if you're hoping to find your soulmate before this Saturday. But on Valentine's Day, all you need is a great date. My recommendation? Wander over to is a brand-spanking new dating site where you can mix and mingle with single folks in your area from the comfort of your desk chair. And, if you find someone that seems like a promising V-day partner in crime, you can even plan a date with their restaurant and date-planning resources.

Basically, it's a one-stop shop social networking site for those looking to add a little oomph to their dating life. Log in now and you can be one of the first people to explore this awesome resource for single people everywhere! You'll be a MoreDating legacy! And, who knows, you might even fill your February 14th schedule.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike, This Tan's for You

It's amazing how much those first influential reads really stick with you. For me, it was the A & P, one of many short stories written by the great, and now late, John Updike.

It was an assigned read for one of my early creative writing courses, taught by famed Texas writer, Ron Rozelle. He had a knack for these kinds of tales, even though they were a little much for most high schoolers.

Basically, it accounts one of those not-so-epic life experiences that are still so bitterly disillusioning. Sammy, a store clerk at the nostalgic grocery store chain, A & P, heroically resigns his job after three gorgeous, tanned, bikini-clad girls are reprimanded by the store owner for being inappropriately dressed.

I remember most that he described--in detail--the glowing half moon of white just under the girls' butt cheeks (yes, I said butt cheeks) where the sun failed to do a thorough job. Yeah, a not-so-subtle allusion to raging teen hormones.

Sammy's big gesture, however, leaves him empty-handed. When he ventures into the parking lot sans A & P official apron, the girls are gone. He is jobless with no damsel in distress to comfort him. His standing up to injustice got him nothing, not even a smile.

Yeah, it's a little bittersweet. A keen observer of the every day, Updike was. I'd say it was one of the first stories of its kind that I encountered. Previously, I'd been a fan of more dramatic literature. After a dose of Updike, I appreciated the pain, heroics, and greatness of those little poignant moments in everyday life. And I enjoyed reading about them when written as well as he wrote them.

So thanks, Mr. Updike, for making me--and many others, to be sure--a better reader, writer, and thinker.
(Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Celestial Seasonings: 'Green' Tea

I know, I'm totally on this anti-coffee/pro-tea rant right now. Promise it will end soon. But I just had to throw this in there about the tea brand, Celestial Seasonings! It takes a lot to impress me in the time it takes my tea water to warm, but CS managed to do that this very morn.

I'll confess, I'd been a little frustrated with my 100% Natural Celestial Seasonings tea purchases. Unlike many teas, the bags don't come individually wrapped or with strings and tags. You have to keep them stored in the box as opposed to conveniently carrying them about in your hand bag. And when tea time is over, you have to stick your fingers down into the cup and fish out the squishy, wet tea bag. I know. Gross. Especially when it's all cold and stuff.

I'd pretty much decided that I was going to phase out Celestial Seasonings and stick with my more 'hip' brands like Tazo and Stash, but they had a 'Buy One Get One Free' sale on CS at Safeway yesterday. Due to economic motivations, I caved.

So glad I did! On the inside of the box, it clearly explains the reasoning behind their unconvential packaging. The tea bags themselves are made from natural fibers and because they don't include the string, tag, staple, and individual wrapper, CS claims that it's able to 'save more than 3.5 millions pounds of waste from entering landfills every year!' How awesome is that?

Not to mention, the boxes themselves are made from recycled materials and the tea itself is based on fair trade and sustainable harvesting standards.

Maybe I'm a little late on the draw and everyone new this about Celestial Seasonings, but they've just won me over! I will be a CS drinker from now on! I particularly like their Raspberry Zinger Caffeine Free Herbal Tea and the Country Peach Passion Caffeine Free Herbal Tea. Yum.

Now there's no need for coffee drinkers to feel left out of the green revolution. I loved--and still love--my filterless coffee pot. I don't know the numbers around waste as it relates to paper filters, but I'm sure it's staggering. A coffee pot with a permanent filter creates less waste and it's less messy! No more trying to run the wet, used filter over to the trash can! Yeah, you know exactly what I'm talking about!

Not to mention, I'm sure you could even take the same bag or canister to any place where they sell coffee beans in bulk and they'd fill you up. Besides, freshly ground coffee tastes better anyway.

Way to go, Celestial Seasonings. I feel inspired to do something greeny. Like, stay home and have a cup of tea.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kate: 1, Caffeine: 0

No, this isn't turning into a caffeine bashing blog. I fully support other peoples' need, want, desire, and obsession for caffeine. Well, I did until I started reading this crazy book, Caffeine Blues.

Stephen Cherniske's book is practically ancient at this point--it's ten years old. It might as well be fifty years old in terms of medical research. Nevertheless, I think the info is still relevant. I'll say this: it gave me the heebie jeebies.

I've been avoiding this book for about ten years. I'd see it, perched ominously on my bookshelf, and I'd tip toe past, trying not to make eye contact, like you might a rabid dog. I knew what awaited me within its pages. I didn't want to hear it.

I'm not about to turn into one of those self-righteous ex-coffee drinkers. Coffee and I were reunited briefly over the Christmas break. But then I quickly returned to tea, especially after spending a few hours thumbing through Caffeine Blues: Wake Up to the Hidden Dangers of America's #1 Drug. Yeah, there are some big words in that title.

Some folks can enjoy the occasional cup of coffee and live a normal life. But most of us abuse it. If you're not sure whether coffee is actually effecting your health above and beyond the occasional headache, Cherniske has a fun little quiz for you. And I do mean fun. Here it is, recreated just for you:

Do you experience any of the following on a recurrent or frequent basis?

  • Energy swings or periods of fatigue during the day
  • Mood swings or periods of depression during the day
  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal distress; cramping, diarrhea
  • Constipation and/or dependence on caffeine for bowel movement
  • Tension or stiff in your neck, shoulders, jaw, hands, legs, or stomach
  • Premenstrual syndrome; menstrual irregularity, cramps, sore breasts
  • Painful/sensitive lumps in the breast
  • Insomnia
  • Clenching the jaw or grinding teeth during sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability, including inappropriate 'fits' of anger
  • Involuntary movement in the leg (restless leg syndrome)
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Light-headedness/dizziness
  • Wake up feeling tired
  • Generalized pain (back pain, stomach pain, muscle aches)
  • High blood pressure
  • Ulcers
  • Anemia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or memory loss
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Coldness in the extremities, especially fingertips
  • Hand tremor

Yeah, it's a heck of a long list, isn't it. I'd tell you how many of these things hit home for me, but I'd be a bit embarrassed. A lot, I'll tell you that. Here's what Cherniske says about your quiz results:

"If you have 12 or more 'yes' answers, your caffeine intake represents a critical health risk that may actually decrease your life expectancy."

Wha?? That's right, he thinks that excessive caffeine intake can actually shorten your life!! Crazy.

At one point, I would have thought, "Who would want to live longer withOUT coffee?" I figured life's short enough as it is. So here's to coffee-less month number three!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009 Beef #1: Corking Fees

I know that it's probably bad karma for my very first post of the new year to be such a negative one. I'm gonna go ahead and apologize for the forthcoming subject matter. It's overwhelmingly whiney, but I just can't help myself.

You know that feeling when an establishment--such as a restaurant--serves up a plate of utter disappointment? I know, it hurts. Especially when it's your favorite establishment. It happened to be tonight, folks. You walk out of the restaurant with your chest pounding and your Californian cuisine rising up in your throat. It makes you want to hurl a meager tip comprised of pennies at the scroogie owner.

Today was my birthday, y'all. Yup, the big 2-5. I'm officially a quarter of a century old, which would be cool if just about all of my friends weren't touting the same accomplishment. So my hubs took me to my favorite restaurant in Petaluma, CA, which will remain nameless. I'm vengeful, but apparently not THAT vengeful.

I first noticed that something was off when a bit of a foofaraw arose behind the wine counter. The owner was rifling around to the soundtrack of fine stemware crashing. However, instead of shouting out an embarrassing albeit more adult-like four letter word, she sought the member of the wait staff that was the farthest away.

She than began to publicly, and not delicately, reprimand the server as to the proper storing and stacking of the stemware. At one point, the phrase "it's not rocket science" was heard throughout the petite restaurant. Yah. Awkward.

Restaurant Ownership Rule #1: Do not break your own stemware. Restaurant Ownership Rule #2: Do not reprimand your employees in front of your customers. It's just bad form, no? I have to say, I was more embarrassed for the accomplished head chef/owner than the poor girl, who handled the situation with infinitely more poise than her supposed superior.

But then came the real blow, which I'm substantially more miffed about because it directly impacted my pocketbook. See, I don't know if you've heard, but apparently there's an economic crisis going on. And since the hubs and I intended to celebrate said birthday with more than one glass of wine, and this particular establishment boasts a BYOW rule to the tune of a 'meager' corking fee, we decided to pick up a mid-range bottle.

Our eyes were bigger than our livers, apparently, because as the end of our meal began to draw near, the bottle was shockingly full. We only thought we were shocked by how much wine we didn't drink until the bill came. Corking fee? Pshshs. A corking fee to the tune of twenty bucks. As in 2-0. And when I gingerly questioned the sum, the owner condescendingly brought to my attention that the corking fee is normally twenty-FIVE dollars and she'd knocked off five bucks out of the goodness of her heart. I'm convinced she dreamt the figure up while preparing our meal because nowhere, repeat, nowhere, is a $25 corking fee posted on the menu or otherwise.

Maybe I'm a little naive as to the reality of the corking fee here in Northern California. It's entirely possible. But I have to say, I was stunned. I thought, corking fee...maybe ten dollars. Maybe. That's stretching it. So basically, we enjoyed a $17 bottle of wine for the price of $37.

So here's what I'm thinking of doing: we go in there, order water, share an entree, and sit there for three hours requesting infinite refills of water and bread. Maybe they'll charge us a 'tabling' fee? I wouldn't be surprised.