Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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The Chop

Yesterday I did one of the scariest things (that I swore I’d never do again) I can think of. I cut off my hair. Not just some, not just a little, but almost all of it. Possibly up to 14 inches…. of hair!! 

I am a very spur of the moment kind of person. If I get an idea, there’s a good chance I’ll see it through until the end (and spend a lot of sleepless nights until it’s done.) That’s exactly how I felt on Friday. I couldn’t get this idea, of chopping off all of my hair, out of my head. Not only did I want to at least try something new, but I wanted to help with a good cause. I donated 14+ inches of hair to Locks of Love on Saturday at my hair appointment. Countless people (my mother, mother-in-law, cousins, friends, other relatives, etc) I know have experienced a battle with cancer. I know men and woman alike go through treatment resulting in hair loss, but it’s the women losing their hair that really breaks my heart. I decided that since I am blessed to have hair that will grow back, I sure as hell could give my hair to someone who actually needs it. That decision was easy.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that many actresses I HEART have gotten the chop, too. Anne Hathaway, Carey Mulligan, Emma Watson, just to name a few, have all had great success with a super short hair cut. I have to admit, I’ve been pondering it ever since Emma Watson showed up on the cover of a magazine with just about a buzz cut. I thought she was so brave. I thought she looked beautiful.

I also thought, “I can’t pull that off, wish I could, but oh well.”

Then… this weekend, I realized that whether or not the look could be pulled off is hardly the point. The point is to help others. The point could also be to challenge myself, step outside of my comfort zone, and realize that it’s just hair.

It’s just hair. Seriously.

However, when I went from this:

pixie cut, short hair, it's just hair

how I started out the day

edited long 2

get ready!

To this:

short hair, pixie cut, it's just hair

my heart is pounding

short hair, pixie cut, it's just hair

still in twilight zone

I wasn’t thinking 100% “It’s just hair.” No. I was thinking, “Holy crap. What am I doing? I’ll be 28 or older before it’s this long again. Wow. I am excited. I am nervous. Should I just have her stop and wear my hair down to hide the fact that half of it is cut less than an inch long? Will I wake up and this will have never happened?”

But then I took some deep breaths, reminded myself that this would be fun, a new adventure, and oh yeah, I’m donating my hair for a good cause… I calmed down again.

I’m still getting used to it. I am excited to go on a run and feel that much more lightweight. My first shower was unreal. UNREAL.

You should consider getting a pixie cut for a good cause. I did it, which means you can too!!! Or simply give support to those who do, because every smile and compliment means more to me at the moment than I’d like to admit.

I’m confident that this will eventually feel normal. :)

short hair, pixie cut, it's just hair

the pixie cut

Love, Lou

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That’s What I Call Progress

writing, flowers, gardening

Not so impressive…. yet

Okay.

Remember this sad thing? I had a vision of a giant flower garden buzzing with bees (I did buy a “Save the Bees” seed mix, after all) and a lovely addition to our backyard. I honestly didn’t know if it would work.

But it did. I woke up every morning to water this patch of dirt, and kept it moist in the evening, too. I sang to the plants. (Not really, but I’ve been seriously tempted to…) Now, we have a lovely flower garden!!!

organic gardening, flowers, save the bees

an actual flower garden!!!!

I’m doing my part to save the bees, one flower at a time. I chose to post today because when I walked outside this morning, our very first sunflower had bloomed. I ran back inside and told Greg he had to come look.

Bonus: there was a bee. Hallelujah.

bees, organic, sunflower, writing

yay yay yay!

Now that’s what I call progress.

And not giving up… even when you start with just a pile of dirt that doesn’t look like much.

Happy Thursday!

Love, Lou


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New York Revisted {Part 3}

nyc, rock climbing, silly, writing, fiction

top of the world again

The good.

The bad.

The ridiculous/silly/fun/not really ugly at all.

Here’s a simple list, just to finish off sharing my trip to NYC with you.

IN NYC YOU CAN:

1) Climb up a huge rock, that looks way bigger in photographs, and feel really cool. (see above!)

2) Have a standoff between a lobster and a chihuahua. (Melissa has this little pet… Brutus… he and I don’t see eye to eye.)  (Also- Sea food on the coast… bring it on. Sea food in New Mexico? Kind of creeps me out.) …and eat some realllllly awesome food, cooked by the Williams kids.

sea food, lobster, nyc, writing, fiction

guess who won

lobster, cooking,

YEAH MAN (Chris making more delicious food… he’s the best cook I know)

sea food, coast, NYC, writing, fiction

Melissa and her GF crabcakes… YUM!!

3) Take a picture, all the while, your feet are soaking wet. Literally, soaking. But you don’t care so much, because you are in an awesome beer garden and listening to a live band.

nyc, rain, silly, writing

we failed to dance :( but YOU try when your feet are sopping wet

4) You can take the train all the way back to the airport. After riding it a few times a day, every day. I like the public transportation thing, but it’s hard to handle the crowds and the noise. Am I a wimp?

nyc, revisited, writing, fiction

goin home

There you have it.

Good night folks. This non-city gal is going to bed, to dream of quiet backyards and ratless sidewalks.

But I miss my sibs-in-law, always.

And because of them, a little part of me will always, actually, love New York City.

<3 Lou

 

 

 

 

 

 


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New York Revisited {Part 2}

Yesterday I showed you the good.

Today I’ll be showing you the bad.

Tomorrow- you guessed it!- the ridiculous (ugly… but really, I like the word ridiculous more! And more silly things happened than anything else.)

I’ll say it again:

New York City can be bad. It’s not my favorite place. I’m not into buildings that block my view of the sky, rats on the sidewalk, loud and crowded spaces and overpriced everything.

Plus, it seems to bring me bad luck. (We had days of rain, and there was a record breaking 4 inch downpour on Central Park… you’re welcome and you’re welcome, for booking my plane ticket. I told you some record breaking awful weather was in the works…)

Case in point:

new york, the bad, writing, young adult

yup

I seriously considered naming this blog

The Bird That Sh*t On My Head

but I changed my mind. (the * stands in for an A, not an I, just so’s you know)

This happened our last morning in the city. Greg and I had the morning to ourselves, we were going to a small coffee shop in walking distance, through a cute little park, and I was thinking, “Okay, NYC might not be so bad. I mean, look at this nice morning I’m having.”

Then, a bird pooped on my head.

Or rather, on my forehead.

Okay, face. Let’s just say face.

It was in my bangs, on the inside of my sunglasses, on my eyelashes, and my smile immediately turned into a frown.

“Oh, no, Lou!” Greg exclaimed.

“What the &*$?@!” I said right back. “Did that seriously just happened? How much bird poop is in my hair?”

To this, Greg didn’t respond right away, which worried me. There was a lot and he didn’t want to say it. I was fairly certain I’d get a disease, since some of it was so close to being in my eye. We turned around and I had to walk about eight blocks … the walk of shame if there ever was one.

“Do you want me to take a picture for your blog?” Greg asked me.

I said I’d rather not. I did, however, take a picture of the sunglasses, just as proof.

I showered and got ready for the second time that day and before we left the apartment Greg said, “Do you want to bring an umbrella?”

I didn’t respond.

SO… it seems NYC loves me just as much as I love it.

Another less than great fact: we had to take an overnight flight to get there. This is the girl who cannot sleep in cars, planes, or even really take a nap very often. This mask didn’t help one bit. But at least we didn’t have to change flights along the way!

nyc, the bad, writing, blog, fiction

eh

With the three days of full rain and wind, the bird poop, and lacking some sleep, this trip had more good than bad, I’m very happy to say.

Thanks for not laughing at me. Or if you did, thanks for also sympathizing…. with the girl who got sh*t on.

Love, Lou

 


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New York Revisited {Part 1}

nyc, writing, new writer, short stories, the good

metro card

This past week of my life can and should be divided into three parts.

The good.

The bad.

The ridiculous. (and kind of ugly)

Today I will focus on the good.

Yes, I’ll admit it. NYC had a few good qualities. A few good traits.

And just like last time, one of those traits was family. I love my sibs in law. Chris and Melissy are the best and they were great hosts.

Another is the museum. I finally had a chance to walk around the MET. This art museum could takes weeks to walk through.

My favorite room was the Degas room. I grew up with his paintings all over the place and I was once a dancer, therefore, add on the nostalgia. His work is beautiful.

degas, nyc, met, art, writing

no flash allowed!

When we were standing among all the ballerina paintings, I exclaimed, “This is my favorite room!”

And Greg, almost in unison with me, said, “This is probably my least favorite room.” 

Go figure.

Anyway.

Another GREAT thing NYC has to offer? An outstanding farmer’s market. Chris, Greg and I walked around, bought some honey and strawberries, and sat in the grass to eat it all up. What a wonderful afternoon!

nyc farmer's market, honey, writing

happy as a clam

honey, nyc, writing

you know I <3 my honey (finished the jar while I was there. no joke)

Next up on the good things about NYC list…. LATTES WITH FOAM ART!!! woop woop  I can’t get over it. You could call me easily pleased.

foam art, lattes, nyc, writing

so pretty!

It’s become a tradition for me to get a bag of roasted almonds. I love these little guys. Do I want to think about how old and/or unsanitary these nuts just might be? Not really. So I indulge once a year and enjoy every last sweet and salty nut.

nyc, writing, roasted nuts

yes, I am nuts 4 nuts

Who knew? A beach in NYC? Call me an idiot, but it had never really occurred to me that the Big Apple was a place where bikinis showed themselves and ocean waves covered your feet. I only picture a dirt city. Being that there is so much coastline available, however, I came to realize that one great aspect to living in this city is, in fact, the beach. The weather was perfect. We played catch with a football. We had a blast!

nyc, beach, the good, writing

melissy aka mermaid

I finally got to pose like this:

nyc, beach, writing

yay

NYC is the only place where I can truly enjoy jazz music. (otherwise, you couldn’t really call me a die hard fan of the genre) We went up to a bar called Dizzy’s, listened to live music, had THIS VIEW the entire time, and I drank the best dirty martini of my life. That, my friends, was a lovely night in the city. I must give credit where credit is due.

nightlife, jazz, nyc

so prettttty

In order to have more to talk about in the upcoming NYC blogs, I will end here:

I LOVE THE FACT THAT YOU CAN WALK TO SO MANY PLACES!!!

I love walking. LOVE IT.

The train, not so much. But whenever we strolled a few blocks, had a few miles to go on foot, I had a smile on my face.

walking, nyc, the good, writing

walkin with meliss

That’s all for now, folks.

Love, Lou


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Summer Reading Sunday {2}

(and it’s not midnight yet in New Mexico, so it still counts as Sunday)

Today is special because not only am I in NYC…

but because today’s reading list will be given to you by the letter W.

Yes, the 3 Williams siblings will be sharing a book they love with YOU and giving you some info as to why they love it.

{I know last week I said I wanted to read one book a week, but this week is the one exception. I mean… I’m in New York City. I have only made it half way through Her Fearful Symmetry. Will report back next week :) }

Here goes nothing.

{Also, along with traveling, and NOT having a smartphone, there are often technical difficulties. The way I usually upload photos from my camera is not working, therefore, the photos with the books won’t be up until I get home. This will have to do! Below is a reminder of what these beautiful people in my life look like.}

writer, short stories, go pokes, author

Melissy, me, Greg, and Chris

Melissa’s Pick:

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

This is one of my all-time favorite books because I love music and I love New York. It’s a story of two Cuban brothers who become moderately famous musicians and is set in a neighborhood just south of where I live near Columbia University. The story weaves its way through the memories of Cesar Castillo as he reminisces and reflects upon his life and he poignantly takes the reader on a journey through his experiences at each stage: self-assured and hopeful ideals of youth, the longing for greater meaning and purpose, the desire for a mate vs. sexual freedom, self-doubt in middle age after experiencing success,  insecurity upon the realization that age has set in, and finally the questioning of the worth of ones accomplishments in the final days. This book will make you intensely feel love, desire, passion, doubt, pain, and longing but it ultimately makes you stop and reflect about the meaning and value of your hopes and dreams.

Chris’s Pick:

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

I select Bridsong by Sebastian Faulks in part because it is an outlier among books I love.  

 

My favorite novels tend to either engage social or political ideas (American Pastoral by Philip Roth) or enable me to vicarelously experience another emotional life, and deepen my feeling of empathy with human beings at large (The Tenth of December by George Saunders). 

 

Birdsong stands apart from this in its pure visceral intensity.  It is the story of Stephen Wraysford, an English Boy sent to France to learn industrial management techniques in 1910, and returns again in 1917 in WWI because of the French he learned in his first stay.  The bulk of the novel is devoted to Wrayford’s time in the trenches, with prominent subplots devoted to a love which is subsequently lost.

 

The novel comes as close as I can imagine of experiencing the terror of mine warfare, where mining units try to tunnel under enemy lines and destroy the opposing trenches from below.   These units also face off against opposing minors, each side seeking out and blowing up the others’ tunnels, and often burying each other alive.  This was an aspect of the war I had not known existed and can’t imagine the courage required to descend into.   It makes for a powerful reading experience. 

Greg’s Pick:

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

This book is one of my favorites of the last year. It tells, in a series of intimate journals, the story of Logan Mountstuart-writer, lover, art dealer, spy- as he makes his often precarious way through the twentieth century. The book quickly sweeps through Logan’s earliest years growing up in Montevideo, Uraguay, to his years attending public school and Oxford where he is studying to become a writer. Mountstuart strikes quick and easy success giving him newly discovered financial capabilities to travel thoughout 1930’s Europe in hopes to find a inspiration for his second book. Logan is soon thrown through a whirl wind of a journey succeeded by 50 years of personal and professional mediocrity, disappointments, and setbacks.  I would recommend this book to anyone who finds fascination with European travel, WWII, and what it may be like to live and write amongst the classic writers and poets of our time.

Sounds good, eh? I know I have three more books to read this summer.

Love, Lou


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A Snapshot of a Novel…Perhaps

A note from Melinda: Tell me what you think. I wrote this today as a spin off of a way-too-long manuscript I wrote years ago. I’m using the same character as before, but the beginning of the book is different. Some factors are true, such as a sister writing a song, but others are entirely fictional. My mind’s been reeling lately :) 

{Not Yet Titled}

by Melinda Williams

My sister once wrote a song. This was back when idle time was possible. Back before every moment was a struggle. To breath. To laugh. To take another step forward. She spent hours playing her guitar. I spent hours sitting in my room and listening through the wall. First, she made up an entire folk story on her own. It’s a story that will stand the test of time. It might even happen… it might have already happened. The beauty of the story is that no one would know it if it had. Has anyone before ever managed to write a potentially true folk legend?

Imagine a dark night with only a small moon to light up the sky. The stars aren’t particularly bright, but the small sliver of the moon is an almost neon yellow. Now call this a Lemon Moon.

The Lemon Moon, so the story of ages goes, changes the world. It comes to take the better half of any relationship. Think of the person you are closest to in this world. A young boy could have a close relationship with the grandmother who raised him. Two sisters could be best friends with nothing, no man, standing in between them. But the closest bond, not better or worse than family or friendship, is the bond of two people who have met and fallen in love. The love between them must be real. This doesn’t always mean happy. It could mean sadness, hurt, betrayal and even hate. For doesn’t it take real love to hate? Imagine the person in your life who loves you. You love them, too. Maybe you met years ago before wrinkles set in and hair receded. Perhaps you met yesterday. True love requires no time line to exist.

In all its glory, the Lemon Moon takes the better half of these two people, no matter which type of relationship they’re from. If the young boy is truly, down to his core, a better person than his grandmother (though aren’t all grandmothers the best?), guess what? He’s gone. If one sister’s soul is purer than the other, she’s disappeared in this dark and almost starless night. If the one you love has loved you deeper, treated people kinder, and it is the cause of their true character… then you’re alone.

Right now, can you say which you would be? Would you disappear or be left behind with all the other lesser halves? And here’s the important part: you will eventually forget that they ever existed. You will be alone, you will feel lost. You will wonder where your other half is and eventually, you will only feel a small worry. You might reach out for someone in the night, finding only an empty bedside, yet not remember who it was you were expecting to feel. Your better half will eventually disappear from your memory entirely. Grandmothers will forget their grandsons. Sisters will forget sisters. Lovers will forget lovers. The Lemon Moon has taken them and the rest of the world is left to make due with what’s left behind.

My sister has written many songs, but has only created one legend. I’ve never written a song, but I’ve created my own through my actions. Here’s my story. My legend. And at the end of it, I hope you understand why, if the Lemon Moon were to really come true, I’d be the one left behind.

Don’t judge me.

 ~~~~~

Three Years Earlier

I’m getting married today. It’s officially midnight. I’m twenty-nine years old and in a few hours I’ll be expected to walk down the aisle. I wish this night could last forever.

“Just keep this song on repeat,” I tell Eliza. She glances over at me and returns her eyes to the road.

“Is it going to make you cry more?”

I wipe my cheek with the back of my right hand. “No.”

We drive down the highway until the edge of town is only three minutes away. Eliza switches lanes to get off and turn around, back toward our parents house where we’ll spend the night.

“Keep going,” I whisper. She doesn’t say anything, but she listens and doesn’t get off on the exit. She pushes the gas pedal and we keep driving on. I can only close my eyes and pretend we are leaving for good. I can imagine a life so different than the one I’ve been zombie-like in getting through each day. I almost tell Eliza to pull over and let me out… confident that I can run faster than this Kia can carry us. My legs are restless, just like when I try to fall asleep each night. My hands are practically shaking in my lap. Eliza knows these things but she doesn’t need to acknowledge them.

Another twenty minutes pass by.

“Evvy?”

I sigh and press the tips of my fingers against the window, staring up at the moon. It’s just a small sliver. Tomorrow night will be dark, which just figures. “Yeah.”

“Yeah,” she says, and takes the next exit.


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Summer Reading Just Got Better

Summer reading- it isn’t just for school.

Remember when you signed up for your first honors English class and suddenly regretted it because there was a summer reading list?

I do.

Back in high school, I didn’t come close to finishing all of the assigned books, whether it was summertime or not. I wasn’t as much of a reader as I am now. (Thank God that has changed!)

I had a request (so exiting!) here on HeyLouWrites to give out a suggested summer reading list to YOU… from LOU. Of course, I was game.

THEREFORE,

each week I’ll tell you which books to read, why you should read them, and give you just enough of a scoop about them to give you a hint as to whether or not you’re interested. Personally, I think you should give every book a try.

Because why not?

After all, I won’t be grading you on this. There is no deadline. No weekly quiz, no final exam. And you won’t be called on to read out loud.

How much more could you want? :)

Every Sunday this summer I’ll give you two reading suggestions, as well as the book I’m currently reading. My own personal goal is to read at least one book a week. YAY

Ready? Okay. Let’s get reading. 

summer reading, books, writing, reading

LOVE THESE BOOKS

BOOK ONE: THE WILD CARD

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk 

“A girl calls and asks, “Does it hurt very much to die?”
“Well, sweetheart,” I tell her, “yes, but it hurts a lot more to keep living.”

This book is not for the faint of heart. It’s crude, sexual, violent, rude, inappropriate…but most importantly… awesome.

Yes, this offensive book is a page turner from page 1. (Or should I say… page 289?)

Tender Branson grew up in a cult. He knows he’s ugly, and he is terrified of sex. Terrified. He urges people to end their lives, something he has contemplated doing a lot lately.

“…the only difference between suicide and martyrdom is press coverage.”

In true Palahniuk style, which, to be honest, I can’t handle every time, this book will outrage you and surprise you. But I guarantee you will like something about good ol’ Tender.

BOOK TWO: THE BESTSELLER

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery 

“The real ordeal is not leaving those you love but learning to live without those who don’t love you.”

Someone once told me they couldn’t finish this book because the main character was too pretentious.

I said that was precisely why I couldn’t put it down.

When I bought the book, the guy at the book store said, “Okay, it’s amazing. Just be prepared to face the fact that you will never be as smart as the main character. Like ever.” I took his word for it and started reading in my car. (while it was parked- I get sick if I read in a moving vehicle. which is a total bummer.)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog does something I love … it shows the growth and change of a person, all within a few hundred pages. Renee is a simple concierge in a fancy hotel. People treat her like crap all day long because she must answer when they call. But in reality? She is way smarter. She knows more about everything, and she often finds grammar mistakes in the snobby notes the rich people leave her.

For anyone who loves grammar, this book will make you laugh out loud.

And for anyone with a heart, this book will make you bawl your eyes out.

I didn’t think I would. Sure, I liked Renee and the other protagonist, Paloma (a young girl who wants to burn her apartment complex down), by the end, but I wasn’t aware of how attached I’d grown until the last page.

Find out who you are, what you believe in, how well your grammar skills truly are, and why your family is probably normal, compared to most.

“Personally I think that grammar is a way to attain beauty.”

You will soon understand how a hedgehog could be elegant.

BOOK THREE: MY BOOK CLUB’S CURRENT READ

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

I LOVED The Time Traveler’s Wife. I can’t wait to get this book and read it. Niffenegger won’t let me down, I can already tell. I mean, look at that amazing title! Isn’t it just lovely?

Next week I’ll tell you how it was.

Now get reading!!! Let me know if you pick up any of these books this week, if you’ve already read them, and then, of course, what you think once you’ve read them.

Can’t wait!

Love, Lou