Garden Song

How to Turn the Perfect B&B into a House of Horrors

I spent most of last night lying awake in the attic room of a 3-story house in Natchez, Mississippi. It’s called Garden Song and was built in 1836, then turned into a bed and breakfast only a few years ago. I chose it as a midway stopping-point for our return from Georgia, to appease my 14-year old daughter (who loves all-things-creepy). She preferred a B&B further out of town, which resembled a crumbling, nightmare-version of Forest Gump’s home, but I talked her out of it. An overnight stop would be pointless if I couldn’t sleep, and that place surely housed God-knows how many restless spirits. I talked her into Garden Song, which was in-town and bursting with Southern charm (and even better, great reviews).
We were the only guests for the night and our proprietor was out of town, so we surprisingly had the whole place to ourselves. My girls and I made the most of it for hours, lounging in the parlor and enjoying the sodas and wine that were left out for us. One of the master bedrooms was left open, so we also helped ourselves to the designer toilet that lived there. I double-dog-dared my youngest to try some of it’s more exotic options, which resulted in her first use of profanity. (What the hel…heck, Mom?!!!)
The sun went down and the house started to feel a little larger, with darkened corners and closed doors I hadn’t noticed before. I told the girls to head to our room, which took up the majority of the 3rd floor. Teeth were brushed and jammies were donned, but our earlier bravado had vanished. The door was locked, lights were dimmed and, even though there were two beds, we all crawled into one. Continue reading →

Fisk & Sarabia

Want to Be on a TV Show or Movie Being Shot in North Texas???

I was on Good Morning Texas this week, to update everyone on May’s big movie releases. We tried something new as well, and discussed all the films and TV shows that are filming in North Texas and how YOU could be on them. Well, you wouldn’t believe how many people have asked me about that since, so I decided to put all the links in one place to make it easier for everyone. Continue reading →

Wiig & Hamm
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Rewriting the Rules of Sex (A Group Project)

I had a thought recently, after reading the story about Aziz Ansari’s really bad date. Well, I actually had many thoughts, such as:
“OH NO! Not Tom Haverford!”
Or, “Why would a famous guy pressure someone? Why wouldn’t he just move on?”
And, “Oh girl, I’ve been there. I bet he even did the head-push, didn’t he?”

We, as a society, are having so many revelations right now, about men and women and how we interact. The one thing that’s coming across loud and clear though, is this:
The status quo simply isn’t working for anyone.
Lines are being redrawn all across the board, but the one we REALLY need to focus on now is the line leading into the our bedrooms.

Yes, I think it’s time to Rewrite the Rules of Sex.

We’ve been discussing it, complaining about it and laughing about it for years now but it’s time of officially DO something about it. Men and women need to outline what IS and IS NOT APPROPRIATE in the bedroom, and to be extremely clear about it. We need to be open and honest, and to do it in a way that doesn’t accuse or ignore. Continue reading →

2018
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My New Year’s Resolution: The “Anti-Resolution” for 2018

It’s January 7th of 2018 and I’m finally getting around to my New Year’s Resolution. Yes, I know it’s a little late but my kids are still out of school, for some reason, and I haven’t had the head-space to consider it. My resolutions usually center around Diet & Exercise, so I was cruising the internet for “healthy options” (I was almost sold on the Whole 30 until I saw it forbade alcohol-Next) when I remembered a lecture I recently gave my daughters.
We were in a restaurant bathroom when they noticed an old advertisement on the wall. It was a picture of a voluptuous woman, who was thrilled about the eleven pounds she had just put on. The caption promised weight-gain for every woman, so “you too” could be so beautiful. My girls were flummoxed.
“So people WANTED to gain weight back then? WHY???
“Because,” I told them, “the world is constantly trying to sell us something. That’s why they’re always telling us that we need to fix things. They’re just trying to make money off of our insecurities.”
They both shrugged and we all walked out of the bathroom, as if I hadn’t just laid down a massive truth that should’ve changed how we felt about ourselves forever.
It’s true, though.
If you need proof, just take a stroll through your nearest art museum. You’ll find constantly changing images of beauty throughout the ages, including rolls of fat and tiny penises. If I keep focusing on changing my body, am I not just buying into that? Even worse, am I telling my daughters that they should, too?
That’s when I decided to focus my resolution on something that was less personal, like Making More Money. I started considering ways to redirect my time and build up the bank-account when I remembered another lecture I gave my girls, just last month.
We were driving through one of the exclusive neighborhoods in Dallas, and looking at the Christmas lights. My girls were picking out the houses they would live in, if they had that kind of money, when I decided to lay some wisdom on them.
“You know, every single one of these homes contains some kind of heartbreak. They might look beautiful on the outside, but life goes on like usual on in inside. There isn’t enough money in the world to protect you from sadness. Remember that. Money doesn’t change everything. There will always be dragons to slay.”
As a mother I’m always looking for those “Teaching Opportunities,” or as my kids would call them, “Ways to ruin the mood.”
It’s true, though.
Wealth can’t buy you happiness, so shouldn’t I focus my energy on something that’s more fulfilling? Shouldn’t I give my daughters a better example?
I started thinking about resolutions centered on Inner Peace, or some other form of Self-Actualization, when I remembered yet another lecture I gave the girls recently.
I think I was riffing on a line from the movie Parenthood when I told them:
“There will never be that moment in your life when you feel like everything is complete. You will never lose enough weight, earn enough money, or buy enough stuff to make you feel whole. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can come to peace with yourself and your life. Then you can focus on appreciating what you have, instead of constantly struggling for more.”
Yes, the 13-year-old rolled her eyes so hard at that one that she almost fell out of her chair. Continue reading →

You Filthy Animal

The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Done (A Motivational Tale for the Holidays)

See that sign above?
It’s hanging in South Dallas, in a fun area called the Bishop Arts District.
It’s also where I went to hide this weekend after pulling the dumbest stunt of my life.
My family was visiting from out of state and we had planned, like we always do, to take a Christmas-light carriage-ride that very night. We do it any time my family visits for the holidays and it’s something we all enjoy. It isn’t cheap so we usually share the cost, but this year my husband and I picked up the bill, as our gift to everyone. We were discussing our concerns about the weather that day, when my husband got a call from the carriage company.
“Julie…was our carriage ride LAST night?”
My husband had a look of panic in his eyes, because he probably already knew the answer. The world might be filled with people who wouldn’t make that kind of mistake, but he knows he isn’t married to one of them.
“NO,” I screamed. “It’s tonight! Why would they even say that?”
I kept insisting it wasn’t possible but an awful feeling settled into my stomach because, deep down, I also knew. Continue reading →

Pickles

PUT THAT THING AWAY: A Tale of Unwanted Pickles

It’s come to my attention that my daughters occasionally read my blogs. While I don’t relish the idea of them seeing this particular story, I think it’s an important one to share. See, women don’t often talk about the unwanted junk they’ve been flashed in their lives. It happens with far more regularity than I think the world is aware of, though. Maybe it’s time we shared these stories, even though they’re gross. That’s why I’ll be referring to penises as “pickles” from here on out. For the sake of my girls.
The first Unwanted Pickle I ever saw was in middle school. I was 11-years-old and my 6th grade teacher had an awful smoking habit. She left us alone in the classroom several times a day, which was when the boys took over. Most of them (I can’t honestly remember if it was ALL of them) would whip out their pickles as soon as she shut the door, and dance around the classroom. We, the girls, would cover our eyes or bury our faces in books to try to block it out, while the helicopter dance played out around us. I remember one young man skirting disaster after laying his pickle on my friend’s desk. She had a hefty textbook nearby and tried to smash that mini-gherkin, but he got out of the way just in time. This Lord of the Flies display went on for a few days before someone finally told on them. It led to a separation of the boys and girls for a “What IS and IS NOT Appropriate” discussion, but that was about it. I don’t remember any of the boys getting into trouble and the whole situation eventually went away. I never even talked about it with my classmates after that. Most of those boys grew up to be good guys, and some were even my friends. Continue reading →

Mass Shooting
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ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING: It’s Time to Change the Conversation

There was a loud noise in the back of my church Sunday. We were right in the middle of the service, so it was a little alarming. I still don’t know what it was. Maybe a hymnal falling on the floor or a door shutting, but it startled me.
That’s when I started to imagine it.
I saw us all jumping to the floor as an unseen person from the back took shots. I imagined my husband and I diving to cover our children. Then I thought of the aftermath, and how quickly a small congregation like ours could be decimated. How entire families would be lost.
That’s when I shook back to reality and mentally scolded myself for those awful, paranoid thoughts.
I hate to admit it, but I have them often now. Anytime I hear a loud noise and I’m in a public place. Like the balloon that burst during the Parkinson’s Foundation walk I attended Saturday or the falling chair at the mall last week. I hear the sound and then the What Ifs play out in my head.
I scold myself. I tell myself I’m being morbid and paranoid.
But yesterday, right around the same time that the What Ifs were playing out in my head, they were playing out in someone else’s reality.
My stomach lurched when I heard about Sutherland Springs, just as I’m sure yours did. We are all shocked and horrified, but are any of us really surprised?
We aren’t because, for some reason, this is what happens today. This is the world we live in and despite the legislation battles that will wage now, then slowly die off until the next shooting, nothing will change.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Nothing. Will. Change.
Is that really what we want? And before anyone takes this opportunity to spout some pro or anti-gun mantra, let me remind you that it isn’t working. Every comment about guns that’s been screamed into the void of social media or printed on a bumper-sticker has changed nothing. Continue reading →

Legend of Two Wolves

The Great Facebook Wars & The Battle of Two Wolves

Facebook had me completely annoyed by 6:15 this morning.
I think that’s a new record for me.
I woke up at 5:30, made coffee at 6, turned on the computer at 6:10 and was almost immediately annoyed. A battle was raging, like usual, and everyone was voicing their opinions. I made the comment that maybe no one really CARED about our opinions, which was met with even more heated opinions. I deleted the comment in a huff and got the kids ready for school.
An hour later, we were carpooling with the neighbor boys and the kids had turned my attitude completely around. They were so funny and full of life that it caused me to pat my daughter’s leg and say, “Thank you. This is what I needed.”
It made me think of the parable about the two wolves, so I told it to the kids as we drove to school. I had to paraphrase it this morning, but here’s what I found online:

A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, “The one you feed.”

My daughters groaned and rolled their eyes. Continue reading →

Pixels, mother!, Alien: Covenant

Your Opinion ≠ Reality (A Film Critic’s Lament)

A friend of mine just saw the movie mother! and made an interesting statement about it on social media. She didn’t like the film at all, and she went on to say that anyone who said it was “brilliant,” was just jumping on some artsy-fartsy bandwagon.

She’s not alone in this opinion. I’ve watched the mother! debate rage all around me, and even took part in a few of them. Not because I loved the movie. I didn’t. In fact, I’m still not sure how I feel about it, even after reading countless explanations and a dissection from director Darren Aronofsky himself (find that HERE, and see if it makes any sense to you). I debate in favor of mother! because I recognize it has artistic merits and that it spoke to many people in a way that it didn’t speak to me. That’s an important and sometimes difficult lesson to learn when you’re a critic of anything:
Your opinion DOES NOT EQUAL reality.

I might think that a movie is good, while other people consider it a complete waste of time. I liked that stupid Adam Sandler movie, Pixels, while every other critic in the world torched it like a dumpster. I also hated the new Alien: Covenant, and stood in abject horror as the critics around me screamed “Brilliant! Instant Classic!!!” Continue reading →

Flags Lining Street

Am I a Good American?

I took a walk yesterday and noticed the American flags that lined my street. It was 9/11 and an important day of remembrance so I wasn’t surprised to see them. I was, however, surprised when an unexpected feeling washed over me:

Guilt.

It took me a minute to put a name on it but as I stood and looked at those flags, I felt an unmistakable sense of guilt and a question popped into my mind:

Am I a bad American?

It wasn’t something that had ever occurred to me before. I’ve always been proud of my country and felt that I knew my place in it but I’m not so sure anymore. The things I feel strongly about, like freedom of speech and the belief that all men and women are created equal, are actually topics of debate now. Concepts that have always been pillars of truth to me are now disputed and sometimes even considered unpatriotic. In fact, about 50% of my country disagrees with my core and most basic beliefs.

So who is right? What does patriotism mean when an entire country is split on what is patriotic? Continue reading →