Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Anything You Want to Be

Recently, I was reminded of the best Halloween I remember growing up. As a rule, I pretty much hate Halloween. I don’t like anything scary. I don’t like to be tricked, I’m not a big candy eater, and the costumes of today are too ridiculous for my taste. However, there was a great year, back when I was about seven. (notice, I have on a sweatshirt… we are both wearing gloves… it was freezing cold in Minnesota. I was a little mad about the sweatshirt, but I still felt lovely!)

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cowgirl and Belle :) <3

Meredith was a cowgirl and I was … Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I remember it well. I had the idea in my head, and so Belle I was. I didn’t have a special yellow dress imitating the dress she wears in the movie. Simply feeling beautiful and believing I looked like her was enough. Don’t get me wrong, I think the costumes that are an exact match are cute, too. But I think there’s something special about a kid who smiles, knowing who they are for Halloween, whether or not anyone can guess it.

And believe it or not, I’m going to relate this back to reading a good book.

When I read a great novel, I automatically put myself in a character’s shoes. It’s perhaps WHY I get so wrapped up in books.

Here’s my list of books I could not finish:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Blindness by Jose Saramago

Room by Emma Donoghue

Why? Because I had nightmares. Yep. All three of these books (just to name a few) gave me nightmares… horrible, wake up shaking type nightmares, therefore I couldn’t finish them. I sought out people who had braved it ’til the end and made them tell me the ending. I couldn’t stand the thought of being on the road, afraid for the life of my child… afraid that I would be captured and eaten by cannibals. Going blind is probably my greatest fear, and while reading that book I had a nightmare that Meredith went blind, awful things happened, and I could do nothing to save her. Don’t even get me started on Room. I thought about it night and day. And for these reasons, I think these books are great. They are too good. They were so real, I believed I was there. It got into my head. I became the character in so many ways, and that created a world that I didn’t want to be in.

The same goes for books that I can finish all the way. That list is way longer, thank goodness!!

When I read Grapes of Wrath, I felt as if I were Tom Joad, or at least felt comforted knowing he was by my side through the journey to California. I felt I had lived in Greece and had a very strange upbringing when I read Middlesex. My stomach churned and I seriously doubted the people around me as I sat and read The Bell Jar. I cried at the end of Of Mice and Men, because I felt that I had been taking care of Lenny right alongside George.

As a writer, I hope to always place the reader in the story. A good friend of mine once read the first draft of my first manuscript… she gave it back with critique. She had written on the third page in, “Remember how it felt to read Harry Potter? We know Hogwarts. We’ve been there. Make the planet resonate with me in the same way… I want to be there, not just read about it.” That critique changed my writing. I realized that instead of telling, I had to show. We’ve all probably had a teacher give us that advice, but what does it really mean? It means that instead of saying:

I like the desert because I grew up here. My house is great. I don’t think I ever want to move away.

I could say:

The cactus growing in my backyard is enchanting. I have no doubt in my mind that New Mexico is rightfully named “The Land of Enchantment.” In the spring flowers bloom, which always surprises me. Flowers on a prickly cactus? When I still lived in Minnesota I never would have believed it. There are windows in every room where I live. The view changes daily, because the birds are always different and the sunset is never the same as the night before. So many people I know say they can’t wait to get away. Not me. I could live here forever.

By the way, that last paragraph is entirely true!!

What book did you dive into, almost literally? What character did you relate to so strongly, you felt as if you’d been walking in their shoes? Which authors do this best? I’d love to know!

<3

 

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Thankful for Holidays… they’re just beginning

Halloween is over (thank goodness).

We’ve had 1 Friendsgiving. Two more to go.

(Friendsgiving: a Thanksgiving dinner with friends, usually celebrated a week or two before real Thanksgiving… which is usually celebrated with blood relatives. This allows for a different experience, some creative food ideas, and more excuses to eat a ton and have fun… wait, did we need an excuse? Also- I like thinking that How I Met Your Mother is a great show to get ideas from, and they start this tradition because of Lily.)

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Some of our best friends sitting around our table… does life get any better?

Christmas is almost here.

The only music we play in our home is the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. Honestly- it’s the number one played thing on our iPods. Give it a try!(oh, and Taylor Swift’s Red, because I haven’t overplayed it quite enough to be sick of it yet… and I’m addicted to three of the songs)

Is it too soon to listen to Christmas music? I want everyone to chant with me… a big resounding NO. NEVER. I know. I, too, HATE when the Christmas decorations are all over the stores so far in advance, but the music is a different story. I’ve been known to put on Nat King Cole’s I’m The Happiest Christmas Tree in the summer. It’s just so damn fun, that song. (I’m the happiest Christmas tree, ho ho ho, he he he, someone came and they found me and took me home with them. SO cute.)

The reason why we get so into the holidays is because of the festivities that come along with it. I know we are not alone in this. And since it’s just so dang appropriate, I’m going to make a short list of things I’m thankful for. Not just because Thanksgiving is the closest holiday… but because life is that good.

1. Smoked Turkey 

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Smoked Turk

Each year Greg spends a huge amount of time to make this smoked turkey. It’s always worth the wait. Come over some time. You have to try it!!

2. Friends

I’m not trying to brag- but I’m really proud of all my friends. They are all amazing… nice, kind, funny, adventurous and talented. Also, this is on the list because, well, a few years ago I felt very differently. I was turning OLD, I think, and I was sad because I was pretty much lacking in the friend department. Then all of a sudden- life got FUN. We started calling up friends and doing dinner (Courtney and Drew, I think this started with you two!). I realized that life wasn’t over at 8 PM… that sometimes you can join your friends on their back porch to drink wine starting at 10 PM. What a concept! I realized that I’m younger than ever… I feel younger than ever. It’s mostly because of the friends I’ve made.

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Outside by the warm (and cracked…) chiminea <3

3. Hosting

I never thought I’d be much of a host. In fact, I still don’t do the best job (I often forget that anyone needs to be offered a drink, or introduced to others, or that people might not know where the spoons are…) but I try my hardest. We finally have a house, which has made hosting much easier. It’s nice to look back on the week and realize that our house is filled with new memories… friends sitting around eating, playing music, laughing and enjoying life. I think I’m addicted. I just might invite you over soon.

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Eating on our living room floor after pumpkin carving.

4. Wine

I’ve never been much of a wine drinker and then all of a sudden… I can’t get enough wine. Is there a better time to drink than the holidays? No, probably not. I think I started my alcohol drinking at a great time (ahem… whiskey…) because I just started to freeze whenever I step outside…

5. Music

Mostly thanks to Alex “fingersmith” McMahon of Wildewood, our home is now filled with some of the best music this world has to offer. Jeffrey Foucault, John Prine, The Everybody Fields, Joe Pug, Whiskeytown, Justin Townes Earle {my favorite} and more. And because of many local musicians here in Albuquerque, my holidays have been filled with shows, jams at different homes, and even my own first week playing the guitar (which I never thought would happen! But I am working on those three famous chords… G, D and C…)

6. Family

I’ve always been close to my family, but this year has been the best one yet. I run and go get wine with my older sister Emily. (She’s like a motivational fitness coach… she doesn’t let me slack off on a run!!)

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Becca, Me, Emily, and Jayme (the photographer!!) Girls night out <3

I spend tons of time with my twin, Meredith.

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Just one of the fun things Meredith and I have done this year!! The concert was awesome.

I chat with Jessica, who lives in Minnesota, and we share thoughts and ideas all the time.

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throwback… Jessica and me way back when!! I think I’m 14 in this pic!!

My parents are just so cool, too. They make the holidays for me- every tradition I try to keep is something they did (like leaves on the Thanksgiving table… toasting to the moment… ahhh)

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I know- I have the coolest parents in the world. I love them!

7. Books 

Along with cold weather, I also read a whole lot more when it’s chilly out. I love making tea and sitting down with a book. I am currently reading The Great Gatsby (for book club!), The Marriage Plot, The Hour I First Believed and Cannary Row (I could read Steinbeck all day long). I have never been such a spaz about reading, but lately I am shifting from my “one book at a time” way of life and diving into many. I like this.

8. Strawberry Green Chili Jam from the Grower’s Market

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YUM YUM YUM and so sad, I’m almost out.

This had to go on this list because I’ve been eating it all week. I got it from a super cute lady who does her own jams and spreads and man… is it good!!!! I am the kind of person who loves green chile in anything. Greg is skeptical sometimes, like with this strawberry jam- but that’s okay. More for me.

9. Making Mistakes {aka Not Everything Is As Easy As Black and White}

I didn’t think I’d be adding this to a “thankful for” list, but I am. Life has been made extra interesting lately by the mistakes I’ve made. A good mistake can make you feel alive, did you know that? Even if it’s guilt surging through you… that’s a real live emotion that gets blood pumping. The mistakes can be small or big. Some mistakes I’ve made lately include:

-playing guitar for my friends and being so nervous that I fumble through the song that I practiced all day long

-drinking too much wine and having a headache the next day

-letting certain things stress me out and taking it out on Greg (poor guy!)

-other things that I won’t mention on a blog (ha)

-not writing enough (at the end of the week I think… I could have so much more written by now if only I’d put in a few more hours…)

10. Colorful Eggs from the Farmer’s Market 

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So pretty!! and yummy!!!

It’s the small things in life. I saw these sitting on a table at the market and I went, “They’re so pretty! I have to have these!!” It’s amazing. I am currently obsessed with eggs, and these hit the spot. The shell is tougher than any conventional egg you can find. The taste is better… they even cook differently.

11. Being an Aunt to THESE TWO!!! 

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Carson and Landon <3

Emily’s two little boys, Carson and Landon, are amazing. They’ve showed me so much about life, from how to laugh at the little things in life, how to care about what is truly important, and realizing that family is number one. I was there for both births and have known them their entire lives… which (being the youngest sister)  is the first time I’ve been able to say that about anyone. From the day their were born they’ve had their own little personalities (did I say little? try BIG personalities) and they are so different, yet are the best brothers ever. They care for one another, give each other kisses, give me AUNTIE KISSES and hug and say I love you. What more could I hope for? I love these boys forever.

12. The Tone It Up Girls

I feel healthier than I ever have before, and it’s due almost entirely to the inspiring Karina and Katrina of Tone It Up. They’re hot, funny, cute, and very motivating. I love their (free!!) workout videos on YouTube. I love Booty Calls, too. ha ha

13. The Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Doesn’t get much more inspiring than this…

Yes, this movie gets its own number. It’s so good. The entire movie just screams Thanksgiving to me… the warm colors and the theme of family and friends. The theme of mistakes, and then turning them around. The way we can conquer our fears and accept the wolves in our lives… just watch it. It might change your life. The movie inspires something in me. It makes me feel good about being different.

<3

There are so many things to be thankful for, it’s almost overwhelming. Mostly, it’s the smiles and laughter of people I love.

What makes the holidays for you? What’s your favorite thing about them? What are you thankful for? I’d love to know!! <3


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Go Pokes

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Lou n Lou.. Go Pokes!

{This was not a weekend trip to write, read, or eat healthy food… all of which I usually do on a daily basis! This is purely about football, chili cheese fries, and bright orange.}

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m not much of a football fan… I don’t like watching it on TV and I don’t understand half the rules (I know- I sound like a painfully typical gal.) HOWEVER, when it comes to Oklahoma State University, I am now a fan by marriage. I say that not because I don’t actually like the team, but because I literally probably wouldn’t even have heard of them if it hadn’t been for Greg’s family. His parents went there, his brother went there, and the entire family has been going to the Homecoming games every year since before Greg can remember.

I have been going to games since I was 18. This year was my FIFTH Homecoming trip. (and I’ve been to at least three other OSU games)

I feel so integrated into the Williams family and this tradition has no little part in that. It has a huge part in that.

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Last year’s Homecoming!

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TWO years ago!!!

My first time in Stillwater was fun, exciting, and intimidating. The entire town was wearing orange and I, somehow missing or underestimating the “EVERYONE WILL BE IN ORANGE” memo, was wearing a blue shirt. It was one of my first times with Chris and Melissa, Greg’s siblings, and I was overwhelmed. There was more than one moment when I turned to Greg, told him I needed a hug, and started crying in the middle of the grass on OSU campus. I think he was worried about what kind of girl he had taken on the trip. His family is not full of criers, and I cry quite a bit.

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THE blue shirt. I cried about five minutes after this picture was taken.

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just for fun… Greg and me. AGES 18 AND 21!!!!!! oh, how time flies.

This time of year and going to the game has become a tradition for me and something I really look forward to. Stillwater is a cute little town and I love Greg’s family. It’s amazing how time flies. When I was seventeen I already knew I’d be marrying this funny bald guy… so I am not surprised that this is my sixth year as a Poke fan. However, it is crazy how fast it all went. I didn’t really have a grasp on what we would look like (figuratively and literally!) at this point in time.

College is over, I’m trying to be a writer, Greg is in a cool band, and life has never been better.

Turns out, life just keeps surprising us. I’ve let things slide that I never thought I’d be able to. I’ve taken risks than turned out to work really well in the long run. I’m a completely different person than I was on that first Homecoming trip. Greg is, too.

The thing that is most similar is how much we laugh!!! I swear. It’s the number one reason why I married him :) but enough about that…

ANYWAY- this year was so fun. The Pokes won!

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In the stands watching the game!! Melissa, me, Greg, and Chris :)

We all got to hang out and have a good time!

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Before some horrible shots were passed around…

We ate some delicious food! (I didn’t let myself feel like crap for eating entire pizzas, bunless [I do gluten free!!] fried onion cheeseburgers, chili cheese fries/tots, and ice cream. I simply ENJOYED it. It tasted damn good, too.)

(Chris, pictured here, is the one who introduced A Prayer for Owen Meany into my life. We bond over a few drinks and talking literature. He’s the best! I will be forever in his debt!!)

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Chris and the Lous!!! Eatin’ some Eskimo Joes

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I have the funniest husband in the world.

I got to hang out with my hilarious and amazing sister (in-law) Melissa, aka Melissy, aka Billy pop, aka Bills

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Bill and Lou

And best of all… I finally had an entire wardrobe of orange to take along with me. It was my most successfully orange year, in fact.

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my father-in-law Frank. Biggest OSU fan on the planet!!!! He always wears orange.

Going to the games has given me a good perspective on relationships and accepting the fact that we all have very different interests. Just like I’ve mentioned before, I hate the word “let” in a relationship. I don’t “let” Greg watch the games every week with his dad, I like it when he does. When else can he scream like a maniac, bond with his dad, and have pure guy time? This is the best outlet. And the game? I can get just as into it in person. Yup. If I’m there and in the stands, I can cheer and yell and high five along with every other Williams (oh, and every other Poke fan, too!). It’s FUN. It’s fun to get into something that I otherwise would never have had an interest in.

Because it’s not all about me. It’s about Greg’s interests, his family, my family, bringing our traditions together, and having a good time!

Bonus: I didn’t even cry this year.

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:)