Dear Santa

11-29_christmas_mailbox_t670The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
~by Clement Clarke Moore (1799 – 1863)

“If you don’t believe you don’t get anything” That’s my mother’s rule, and it became my rule for my own children. Well, I had a couple rules actually: 1. believe 2. write a letter 3. give 10 toys to the children’s ward (you got so you give) 4. don’t ask for anything that has a commercial on repeat—be yourself & want your own things, rather than what they want you to want. Simple rules really. But that first one? The second? Those were the winners growing up, and no matter how old I get, I follow the rules.

I’ve been writing letters to Santa since I could hold a crayon. At some point, I stopped putting them on the fridge or giving them to mom, but I have continued, for decades, to address the north pole with my yearly plea for approval, reward for good behavior, and that one thing I just have to have.

I’ve been thinking about those letters a lot since I put mine for this year into the mailbox a couple weeks ago. I remember the smell of the kitchen the year I knelt by the stockings and wrote the letter to Santa when we lived in the house now torn down. I remember the wind howling outside as I wrote the letter the following year. And I remember that I asked for the same thing both years but didn’t get it. I remember being disappointed, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was I had asked for.

I’ve always asked for strange things. I blame Miracle of 34th Street. I rarely asked for something that could be purchased. I tend to ask for things only the universe, or Santa, could provide. Something magical, rather than something to send my mom into a rush of humans all being helped by an angry minimum wage worker who really just wants to get their own shopping done. One year I asked for world peace and a million dollars. Unfortunately, I was grown and gone and said this request over the phone rather than sending mom a letter—allowing her to hear the words rather than read them. And well, she’s my mom. Ever wonder why I’m weird? Blame her… I got this in the mail:


Yeah, she’s real funny…

I remember a lot of presents I’ve gotten over the years. I remember a lot of wishes and wants and requests. And while I still cannot remember what that was I asked for repeatedly so long ago, I know what I asked for this year. Another repeat request. Third year running, actually. Let’s see if I can get that Miracle of 34th Street response…

Dear Santa,

I’ve eaten all my vegetables and even re-tested some I previously shunned. I have been kind when I really didn’t want to, because my name is Kelli not Karma, and I know better than to try and do her job for her. I have tried really hard to shut my mouth and listen to others. You know what I want. And I believe in your abilities to come through…

~ Silly little gypsy girl

My mom believes. My siblings and kids believe (rules is rules). Heck, Audrey Hepburn believed in a lot of things (“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”)—I can only assume Santa was also on her list. Do you believe? And if so, what did you ask Santa for? Do you remember what you asked for as a child?

May you all get your Christmas wishes… Merry Christmas, everyone!

Just No

anti-bucketThis is not a bucket list. Oh, I have one of those. I believe I’ve even given you a peek into it at some point. There’s lot of fun things in there, and I will absolutely do every single one of them. But these items? No, just no. This is not that. This is the anti-bucket list. This is the list of things that I will never do. Not willingly. Not consciously. Not ever.

1. Jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Parachutes are only for emergencies, and even then I may need convincing.

2. Tie a giant rubber band to my ankle and leap from anything taller than a chair. Um, no. The idea of the ground rushing up to meet my face and just when I’m certain I’m going to die by pushing my teeth through my skull and crushing every bone in my body I spring back into the air and do it again? I’ll pass.

3. Swim with sharks. Not going to happen. No suit. No cage. No way. I saw that movie, it didn’t end well. And those cages? That’s just a happy meal box to them and I’m no french fry!

4. Rock climbing. I don’t mean a boulder at the beach. I mean a freaking mountain and me hanging off the sheer side of it with nothing but a rope and little metal hook in a nook to hold me there. The opening of Mission Impossible? Not unless I get to do it like he did… on a sound stage with a blue screen.

5. Vacation somewhere cold. Yes, I’ve been to 48 of the 50 states. Yes, I’ll go to 49 eventually. But that 50th? Forget it. Don’t need it. I grew up where it’s actually colder than parts of Alaska but I’m not interested in seeing the parts that are just barely warmer. The ratio of men to women is insane you say? Nope, still not interested. There are a million beaches to choose from, why the hell would I chose snowshoes when I can be barefoot in the sand?

I bet you have a list like this, as well. You may not think of it on a regular basis, but it’s there. Perhaps you’re only reminded of it when you see someone doing one of them and think, “oh that’s nice not ever gonna happen!” (Much like the moment which spurred this blog post.) So, play along why don’t you? I’ve been off the grid for a while. I’m not necessarily back—tax season, too many writing deadlines, and well, do I need other reasons with those two? So please… feel free to play along and tell me what’s on your anti-bucket list!

Forgotten Sunsets

Memory… is the diary that we
all carry about with us.
~ Oscar Wilde

As I wrapped up final edits and turned in Buried Memories (the novella formerly known by the working title Headlights), and quickly approach the anniversary of a memory I’d rather not have, I find myself thinking about memories. Not the actual events and people themselves, but rather, the phenomenon known as memory.

If there’s one thing we all share regarding these silly little morsels, it’s the fact that we are not in control. Or sure, you can study for a test and memorize something. You can repeat something until it’s become seared into your banks. But you cannot truly choose which strange little moments your brain decides to store away for a rainy day, or which it will dump because it has randomly decided you either don’t need it or won’t miss it.

Or will you?

I can’t remember what my Nana got me for my 14th birthday, but I can remember all the words to a song I hated from that same year. I wish I could remember the present.

Importance isn’t the key. It was really important to remember those things for history tests… never could. It was really unimportant to remember the strange little details of a paper menu place mat I could still draw to this day. Desire has nothing to do with it. I really want to remember that great idea I had for my novel storyline, you know the one, that popped into my head right before I fell asleep. I have no desire to recall the smell of the strange man that sat next to me on that plane trip. And neither trauma nor drama are catalysts either. I have equally remembered and forgotten both good and bad things. My memories are not weighted either direction.

I’ve always tried to play with this… ability, for lack of a better word. For as long as I can remember. I’ve tried both studying every little detail to never forget something, and glancing broadly. I still have no control over which stay and which disappear. I’ve tried tying moments to a time or other sense—smell, taste, whatever. I still have no control.

As I watched the sunset last night, for the four millionth time, I realized I’ve watched four million sunsets (oh just let me exaggerate!). And while I can remember watching a handful of them—the events around it, reason, time, place, whatever—I don’t remember exactly what they looked like. I don’t remember the shades or bands of color. I don’t remember the shape the clouds took, or if there were clouds. I remember, or rather “know” I watched the sunset. But just as I’ve stared at the moon on countless nights, repetition doesn’t always work for making a memory. Of course, there’s also the difference between a true memory and a memory of a memory, which is really just an echo and has no real details, but like the knowledge of four million sunsets rather than the detailed memories.

There are things I have forgotten I wish I could tap into, and perhaps some day something will trigger them and just like that I’ll remember. There are other things I really really really wish I could forget as if they’d never happened. There are sweeping generalities I’d like to recall because it would bring the feel of what I’m trying to remember regarding this or that. And there are tiny little details that refuse to blur, and as such, keep unwanted memories intact like a waterproof photograph that you can’t even burn.

Memories are strange. Or rather, the phenomenon is amazing, but the subconscious, unconscious, little twerp living in my brain, in charge of filing this one and tossing that one, is a strange creature indeed. A creature I wish I could cage… and occasionally beat.



The Magical Coffee Pot

A morning without coffee is like sleep.
~Author Unknown


I have a magical coffee pot. End of blog.

No wait, that’s not what I was going to say. Scratch that. Start over.

I have had conversations with my coffee pot in the past. I have posted images of its poor shattered soul. And I have shared it with friends and enemies alike. It’s quite possibly the most important appliance ever created. And mine is magical.

I drink coffee in the morning, at work, after work, all night while writing, and right before bed. It does absolutely nothing to wake me up or keep me awake, but I love the happy sexy creamers I find and it’s warm and toasty and it just works. Don’t judge me.

The one and only time the coffee works to wake me up is when it’s being magical. Or rather, when I would prefer it just be a damn coffee pot.

As a writer, I pay attention to my dreams. I’m lucky enough to have lots of them—and apparently more nightmares than certain hippies deem normal, but if I can use the material, so be it! I’ve gotten more than a few kernals from dreams, several scenes, and a great “ah-ha!” moment.

But lately, the coffee pot erases all memories of my dreams. My morning routine is pretty standard. I robotically spring from the bed as if it were on fire but my joints aren’t quite awake yet and grace has nothing to do with this movement. I sneak out of the bedroom, trying to make as little noise as possible because no amount of coffee can turn a nightowl into a morning person and hippies should be left to sleep as long as possible. Pause in the bathroom long enough to wipe any leftover mascara from my eyes—because if I don’t, I guarantee I will rub those evil little stinging flecks into my eyeballs and grind them into my brain within the next ten minutes. Manage to walk down the stairs with one eye open. Start sweet talking the coffee pot as soon as the kitchen is in sight. Now if there’s been a dream, I know it when my feet hit the floor, will be thinking of it at the bathroom mirror, and trying to decipher its meaning and/or importance on the way down the stairs. And then I grab a mug, pour the creamer in, and the second the coffee pot is in my hand *poof* dream gone.

This is frustrating, especially if the only thing I can remember is that it was important to what I’m working on and now I can’t remember it. It’s annoying when the hippie asks how I slept and I tell him I had a dream…and then my eyes glaze over trying to grab something I know damn well is long gone because I touched the coffee pot. But last night? Last night was the worst!

I’m starting a new novella, The Three Dollar Notebook. I have notes, names, a path, an ending. Everything is lined up nice and neat and ready for fingers on keyboard. Except the opening. Oh, I know the scene, but that exact moment, that first sentence, is important. It sets the theme and the mood and the path. And I dreamed the perfect opening three days ago… you know, right before I woke up and got coffee!

So I’ve spent three days glaring at the magical coffee pot trying to remember that perfect opening. I’ve thought about it in every free moment, and a couple not so free moments—I must admit I may have zoned out of a conversation or two lately, oops. And I finally gave up. I spent several hours just trying to create that perfect line while I was doing other things, making soup, fixing the graveyard, checking out the Harleys at the fairgrounds—because multitasking is sexy. And then I started the novella anyway. It’s a good opening. I like it. I may love it when I finish and go back and reread. Or I’ll change it then. But I’ve moved on. I’m over it. I’m off to the races on a story I know is going to come flying out in a matter of days.

And wouldn’t you know it…

This morning I remembered the line while wiping the mascara flakes off my eyes. I repeated it over and over like a mantra, out loud, as I walked down the stairs. I paused long enough to get a cup of coffee and…


Damn magical coffee pot.

Vuja Duh

“Everything’s working out perfectly. The guys are at the swimming hole, and I’m home with a tooth ache. Nothing could possibly go wrong.”
~ Alfalfa “Little Rascals”

I’m a tooth grinder when I sleep. Always have been. Not that I always do, every night, but that I have, on occasion, since I was a child. I blame my mother, who also grinds her teeth. When I’m stressed or sick, I grind a little. When I’m really stressed, I grind like I’m digging for gold. And considering what those within hearing distance have said, I’m stunned I don’t wake myself up doing it.

The past several months have been a “touch” stressful, and therefore I’ve been a bit on the grinding side (not pun intended). But lately, oh joy, my body has found the nocturnal desire to up the stress-induced self-abuse. Yay #taxseason!

Since Saturday, I’ve been in excruciating pain. Not the normal “oh hey, my jaw is sore this morning I must have been grinding” crap that usually goes away by noon. No, this was a special kind of pain. The kind you wish on others. The kind that makes you compare it to childbirth, and childbirth is preferable. And I also noticed, I’m not just grinding, but clamping down so tightly that I’m waking myself up. Hmmm… cue the dentist.

So apparently—one appointment, one x-ray and one befuddled “hmmm” from the dentist later—I’ve done the equivalent of a herniated disc… to my jaw hinge! Not TMJ but just damage to the TM joint itself, with internal swelling on the nerves that run along my jaw and up to my ear. Awesome. Spectacular. Excuse me? Seriously? How do we fix that? Oh well, we don’t. Again, yay. Pain management and a sexy mouth guard while I’m sleeping and giving it time to heal. And before my “friends” start with the “you talk too much and broke your jaw” comments, no, talking actually helps it. It’s the clamping down and biting my tongue and not talking that has caused this. ohhhh I can blame mom, taxes AND my new-found edit button!

But I digress. It’s Thursday. We should turn this around to be all about YOU now, right? Yes! Soooo… in the realm of completely stupid self-injuries, what have you done? This isn’t even my normal 12-year-old habit of hurting myself in idiotic ways (i.e. tripping on grass, paper cuts with non-paper items, finding a way to hurt myself in a padded room). No, this is special. Now, that aside, you may not be a 12-year-old hiding in an adult body and hurt yourself on a regular basis like I do. Or you might. Regardless, you may choose one of those instances if it fits. What’s the lamest self-induced pain you’ve ever given yourself?

Come on… make me feel better about this while I wait for the pain meds to actually work. Tell me a story. Tell me a funny story that makes me giggle. Or a painful story that makes me wince. But tell me something. Join the stupid injury club—we have cookies!



There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.
~Benjamin Franklin

I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction and essays lately—historical, philosophy, theology, and a smattering of random bloggish type thoughts. One of the personal blog category included an entry called “I Am.” It was rather interesting.

And came in handy when a lost-looking teen showed up on my porch the other day.

After much discussion regarding both her normal state of confusion at being a teen, and how you can only learn to love others once you love yourself, I sent her on a little homework assignment. I told her to go write five pages about herself. Each sentence should start with “I”—I am, I like, I hate, I want—and to dig inside to find herself. I had hoped she would begin to figure out what who she really was beyond just her name and place in the family tree. She came back with a clearer look on her face, a lighter heart, and a deeper understanding of who she was inside. It worked. It was a good exercise. I might just make ALL the teens around here do it.

And you.

That’s right. Welcome to this week’s Garage Talk (I know, it’s Friday not Thursday. Forgive me). You don’t have to post your “I Am” here. To some this will be a very personal exercise. But I do think everyone should do it. And if you do, then let me know—post here. You can simply state that you did it, or you can tell me how it went, post a snippet, or let us know what you learned doing it. My assignment to you all, but your call whether or not you take the challenge and how much of it you share with the class.

Mine. Oh it’s been done. Eye opening to say the least. And something that, oddly enough, sparked a few ideas for the fiction. Gotta love when the muse works in weird ways.

Now go on. Get your coffee. Do the day job. And think about what defines you, what your “I Am” would say. Then write it down.

*photo yanked from Dancers are Made of their Passion

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