27 October, 2010

Seriously Iris!?!

I was an hour late to work this morning. And the culprit?

Photo by Shance Brentham
Don't let that adorable face fool you. This little lady is a ball of fury when sick. This morning tried all my patience and eliminated any graces of motherhood I once possessed. 

First, she coughed up an enormous snot wad. On my neck. 

Second, she cried for fifteen minutes because I joked her voice sounded like a Gremlin. 

IRIS: Mommy, what's a Gremlin?

ME: (pulling up picture on the Internet) This is a Gremlin.

IRIS: Waaaaaaaa, you're so MEAN, Mommy! I'm not your friend anymore! (Note: She says this every time she is mad at us.)

Finally, after she calmed down and I firmly told her she cannot drink milk or have dairy this morning because it increases her mucus ("MOMMY! Don't talk to me about snot! Gross! Waaaaaa!"), we get dressed and head for the door. Before we go, I tell her it is time to take her Mucinex. Since she sucks up more snot that blows out from her allergies, she has a chest cold. This morning was the first time to take the Mucinex. I gave it to her in my bedroom as I laced up my shoes. 

This is what happened:

She drinks it. 

Makes a face.

Spits it ALL out. 

All over me.

All over the floor.

All over herself.

All over the bed.

Heck, the walls are practically medicine red by now.

Then, very calmly, she exclaims, "Well, that tasted bad."

We get redressed, mopped down, and cleaned up. She CRIES because she can't wear the outfit she spit all over.

IRIS: WAAAAAAA! I wanna wear a DRESS! Not these pants.

ME: Well, maybe you shouldn't have spit your medicine all over yourself. 

By the time we got out the door, I was ready to shank someone. All this happened without some sympathy, though. When I was a kid, we had to take the most TERRIBLE banana-flavored prescription liquid medicine for bronchitis. Soooooooo bad. So bad in fact, I dry heaved before I took it. So bad I still, to this day, hate the taste of banana-flavored things. 

To all my childless friends, BEWARE. The days they are complete Turd Fergusons  will make you appreciate the other 95% of the time they are the most adorable and perfect gift life will ever give. 

Photo by Shance Brentham

26 October, 2010


The minds are racing after my blog post yesterday. The very benign comment I "adjusted to some exciting news at home," prompted well-meaning friends and family to contact me asking the following:

"Are you moving?"

To the Pacific Northwest? I wish. 

"Are you pregnant?"
What? I was once pregnant? No way.

"Are you buying a house?"
Not unless the Swiss Family Robinson house is for sale.

"Are you going on a trip?"

Yes, I am planning visit my pal Nathan in San Francisco soon.

"Do you have more than ten bottles of wine in your house? And if so, can I come over?"
If so, I am going on a bender. And I'm not sharing.

My answer to all this? No comment. I know, I know, I KNOW. I am being my typical super-secretive self, and you'll just have to be patient. Something very wonderful is happening in my life right now, and I simply cannot talk about it. When I do feel like talking about it, I probably won't stop and you'll all yell, "Jeez, SHUT UP about it already!" I am that excited.

Thanks for all your love and thoughts. You are the best friends and family a girl could ever have.

P.S.--I ate an entire bag of beef jerky whilst writing this post. DAY-UM!

25 October, 2010

Mixtape Monday: October 25

Last week was super busy for this blogger--I started rehearsals for my show, adjusted to some exciting news at home and graded papers until my brains leaked out of my ears. Needless to say, I am counting down the weeks until Winter Break.

With the new rehearsal schedule for the show, my time at home during the week is limited. I am usually home after Iris is asleep, and my husband and I hit the sack not long thereafter. The only time I have with my little lady is in the morning. I get up a half hour early so we can snuggle on the couch before I head off to work.

Fifteen hour days. The last time I worked fifteen hour days, I lost ten pounds (I am a scrawny girl so you can imagine the horror), and my language regressed to monosyllabic grunts. A friend visited me shortly after I finished working my fifteen hour days. Poor guy--he probably thought I was either dying or a totally boring grandma of a friend. I could barely process thought during the entire visit!

This time however, it is oh so different.
Exhibit A:

NAP COUCH!!! I hit this for at least 30 minutes every day to recharge.

Exhibit B:

Tons of snacks!!! You should see our work fridge. Last week one of my co-workers joked, "Did your husband kick you out of the house?"

Exhibit C:
Totally not my walking trail, but after those boring photos above, I had to mix it up.

Walking trails!!! I have a terribly bad habit of not taking a break when I work, except to refill my water cup or go to the bathroom. This time? Oh hell no! I get up every hour and a half and walk the lovely trail around our school field. I breathe deep and I try to focus on something other than work.

Exhibit D:

My So Called Life!!! I brought my friend Mandy pho a few weeks ago at her home as she recovered from strep throat. We watched the pilot episode as we ate our lunch. I have continued to watch the episodes during my lunchtime on Hulu. Seeing teenagers go through their problems (in flannel jumper dresses and scrunchies) reminds me not to sweat it. In the end, my wa-wa-wa-I-have-to-work-SO-hard-at-my-job-I-desperately-love sounds downright ungrateful. Like teenagers.

So yeah, I am getting by. It also helps I am married to the most supportive and dead sexiest dude on the planet. It doubly helps my daughter indulges me in our morning cuddle ritual, even if she thinks it is totally baby. It is great to have friends who who give an eff to call or visit or email, knowing I am in the throes of theatrical purgatory. You are all rocking my world.

My brain is officially mush, so I let Iris do the playlist this week. These songs get constant requests in the car on the way to school. Have fun and take care of yourselves.

MIX: Iris's Ride

"Money Changes Everything" by Cyndi Lauper

"White Winter Hymnal" by Fleet Foxes

"Beautiful Child" by Rufus Wainwright

"Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper

"Golden Age" by TV on the Radio

"Young Americans" by David Bowie (She laughs at me when I sing the quasi-rap at the end.)

"Men" by the dodos (She likes when we both yell AHHHHH in the chorus.)

"Time Frets" by Ze dos Frangos (I wrote the lyrics. This is my buddy Nathan's band.)

"Faerie Dance" by Plants and Animals

"Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

This is the first mix I could find all on Playlist. So listen and enjoy!

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

18 October, 2010

Mixtape Monday: October 18

My parents came to visit this weekend. WOOHOO! Little Iris was very happy to see them as she is guaranteed to have:
  • new clothes
  • new toys
  • tons of stickers from Grandma's work
  • money from Grandpa
  • the ability to stay up super late
  • take a break from her daily chores, and
 Iris is always euphorically giddy in their presence. She loves to entertain them with song and dance, her knowledge of things and her emphatic use of hand gestures.

After they left she asked me what music Grandma and Grandpa listened to when I was little. Sometimes children ask the right kinds of questions, and just in time for my Monday post!

This mix is a bit for my parents as it is the music they love, a bit for me as it is the music that shaped childhood, and a bit for Iris so she can understand my Mom and Dad through music. When the story of how my parents' entire Bad Company records were stolen at my Dad's 10 year high school reunion resurfaces, she will completely understand why they still tell it with unforgiving venom.

P.S.--Whoever stole Mom and Dad's Bad Company records--you're a dick.

Mix: Grandma & Grandpa's Boogie Woogie

"Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith (The first time I heard the full version on the radio, I was eight years old. We're driving in the car, my Mom screams "Oh hell yeah!" then instructs me to roll down my window. We drive down the road, radio blaring and totally rocking out. This was one of the first times I understood how music can, like a desert shaman, totally transform people.)

"Stepping Stone" by The Monkees (My Mom had a big crush on Micky Dolenz. I was always a Davy Jones girl myself.)

"Shooting Star" by Bad Company (No seriously, whoever did steal these records, you really are a dick.)

"Sitting" by Cat Stevens (My brothers and I will always be eternally grateful for Mom's Cat Stevens records.)

"Get Back" by The Beatles (I distinctly remember driving home on FM-949 at 11-years-old when my Dad explained to me what this song was about. Good thing music is here to help parents explain subjects like trans-gendered culture.)

"Summer Breeze" by Seals & Crofts (This song always reminds me of Mom ironing shirts on a Saturday.)

"We're An American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad (My Dad has the GREATEST concert stories about this band I have ever heard.)

"Strange Magic" by Electric Light Orchestra (My Mom has seen them in concert, and yes, I am jealous.)

"Texas" by Chris Rea (On the lyric "I say Texas, she says 'What?' my brother and I would yell "I say Texas, she says, 'BUTT!'' Kids.)

"Make Me Smile" by Chicago (I could stare at their album cover art for days).

"Black Water" by The Doobie Brothers (I recall a great sing-along at a junior high dance with Coach Jacobs and Mrs. Mattingly. Three part harmony at the end of the song and all.)

"America" by Simon & Garfunkel (This song is one of my absolute favorites.)

14 October, 2010

Little Bird Jewelry Company

I had the rare opportunity to interview one of the forerunners in pipe cleaner jewelry design--Little Bird Jewelry Company owner Iris Elizabeth! (She prefers to not reveal her last name to protect herself from the paparazzi). In this exclusive interview, Iris Elizabeth discusses her inspiration for the Fall 2010 jewelry line, popular trends in fashion and what inspires her to create such breathtaking jewelry.

No Basement: When did you begin making jewelry? 

Little Bird: My mommy bought me a bunch of stuff at Hobby Lobby. I liked the colorful pipe cleaners, so I started making some jewelry with them.

NB: Describe your Fall 2010 line of jewelry.

LB: It has lots of colors. Tell me what colors you like and I will make something for you. If you don't tell me your favorite colors, I will just use pink and purple.

NB: What items are in your Fall 2010 collection?

LB: Bracelets, crowns and necklaces. My mommy helps me with the crowns. She puts the pointy tops on them.

NB: Why should people like your jewelry?

LB: Because it is soooooo soft! And I made it.

NB: Where do you get your inspiration for the jewelry line?

LB: I like to go camping. And Mommy buys me stuff at Hobby Lobby.

NB: What is your fashion style?

LB: I like to put on all my jewelry at the same time. It is pretty and I look grown up.

Below is Iris Elizabeth modeling the Little Bird Jewelry Company Fall 2010 collection. She wanted me to emphasize you can get the jewelry in ANY COLOR YOU LIKE.

13 October, 2010

Color Me Happy

I stumbled across this website while looking for sign generators. A silly girl like me could get lost in this. I made a few signs. I couldn't help myself.

Samuel Beckett Made Mommy Crazy

She was such a great mommy, until she started directing Theatre of the Absurd.....I can already hear the Little Lady telling the staff at the sanatorium what lead to my downfall. 

This week I began auditions for my directorial debut at the college. I am directing some short works of Samuel Beckett. Theatre of the Absurd at its finest.

Did I mention I like to challenge myself to the point where I scream, "THIS IS TOO HARD! I CAN'T DO IT!!" on a routine basis? After the auditions last night and reading the script for the 100th time, I thought, "Yes, oh yes you can do this."

Then Samuel Beckett looked me straight in the eye:

She gets a lump in her throat. Pause. Reflects. Pause. Stares at her hands. Pause. Reflects. Hears a whistle. Moves in the direction of the whistle. Pause. Reflects. Considers against it. Pause. Reflects. Stares at her hands. Pause. Sucks it up. Pause. Starts directing.

Oh my gosh, I just made the biggest theatre nerd reference in the history of theatre nerd references. I feel better getting it off my chest, though.

In all honesty, writing this blog feels like an absurd task of futility and incertitude. Am I just sawing away and no one is reading it? Is the sound of my own voice signifying nothing?

Pause. Reflects. Eats a cookie.


12 October, 2010

Mix Tape Monday: October 11

I noticed many other blogs have a specific, reoccurring post each week. I find this a good idea as it holds the writer accountable. I mean, look at me! It is TUESDAY and I am now starting my Monday post. Jeez, I need some discipline. 

Mix tapes are on my mind lately. It started when my friend Mandy let me borrow Ron Sheffield's Love is a Mix TapeIf any of you lived passionately through the music of the 1980s and 1990s, remember popping a cassette in your boom box to record songs off the radio, or ever spent hours making someone the perfect dramatically structured mix tape, this book will have you turning the pages for more. I read the entire book in about six hours. Sheffield has the brilliant ability to transform events into metaphor unlike any recent writer I've read. Such a treat of a book, especially for this Big Star-loving girl.

I take mix tapes rather seriously. I can't help it. I know it is only a mix tape, but I have heartily accepted my abnormal zeal as one of my many OCD quirks, and I am just fine with it, thank you. I construct a mix tape with equal parts emotional content and dramatic structure. It is essential to mix tape construction to order songs where a natural exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, resolution occurs. Freytag, you even haunt my OCDs. Damn you, theatre education.

I've made some mighty fine mix tapes in my day. The Collected Works of Elliott Smith for my friend Janet stands out as my finest. I distinctly remember getting a "DAMN GIRL" from her after she listened to it. You're welcome, my dear. I made it for you because I care.

Mix tapes can be the words when language fails, introduce an entirely new band or genre of music and provide multilingual superpowers with a few well-played strums of the guitar and beat of the drums. They are better than a card and sometimes easier to process than conversation.

Below is my first mix for the blog. Sunday night George Jones was on American Routes radio podcast. His conversation about Texas country and honky tonk reintroduced me to the country music of my childhood.

Country music was on the radio as we hopped through the pasture in the farm truck, at every family get-together, at every dance and at every wedding. As a child I was mesmerized at the skill involved in two-step dancing. Especially two-step dancing at a big German-Texan wedding. After the first keg floats and the reception guests are good and hammered, the men grab their women and scoot to the dance floor. There is a beauty in the grist of cowboy boots to sawdust and the graceful spinning of two people during the bridge of a song. If the dancers are lucky, they won't spill one drop of beer from their cups. Even better if someone refills it for you mid-dance. Ultimate nirvana when you get so tipsy you don't care who sees you smooching like newlyweds.

If any of these songs play at a wedding, you'll see me spinning on the dance floor, holding on to my partner and gracefully swilling beer.

This mix is especially dedicated to my husband. No one makes dancing more worthwhile.

PLAYLIST: Hochzeitsfeier

"I Always Get Lucky With You" by George Jones

"Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes" by k.d. lang

"Honky Tonk Man" by Dwight Yoakam *I want to see this man in concert so bad it hurts.

"Good Hearted Woman" by Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard

"Any Day Now" by Ronnie Milsap

"We're Gonna Hold On" by George Jones & Tammy Wynette

"Give Back My Heart" by Lyle Lovett

"Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That" by Dolly Parton

"Forever and Ever, Amen" by Randy Travis

"If I Needed You" by Townes Van Zandt

"Why Not Me" by The Judds

"Right or Wrong" by George Strait

09 October, 2010

Morning Cuddles

Saturdays mornings are one of my favorite things in the world. My daughter climbs in our bed as we doze through the early morning light. She always flops into the bed and nuzzles in the warm space between my husband and me. We talk about what we dreamed that night, what we're going to do that day and what we want to do on Sunday.

The coffee brews and cartoons chirp quietly from the TV. We linger over our breakfast, constantly picking at some fruit. One more piece of toast, one more dollop of jam. We stay in our pajamas until at least mid-morning. The laundry gets started, dishes are done. Inevitably something delicious will start baking in the oven. Sometimes we Skype with some family.

After lunch we venture out of doors and walk to the park, maybe hop in the car and have a day adventure. Maybe we do nothing at all. The pace is so slow, we miss absolutely nothing. We are together, elbow to elbow, all day.

It is important not every day is like this. It would be a shame if ever our Saturday morning lost its shine.

08 October, 2010

Zoltar Speaks

Back in August, I was at a theater conference in Los Angeles. My dear friend Jessica and I decided to play hooky one afternoon and take a cab down to Santa Monica. As we meandered around the boardwalk, we stumbled upon this:

And yes, yes indeed, I nearly shat myself. ZOLTAR SPEAKS! After taking this photo, I quietly whispered, "I wish I were big."

Ohhh, Big. The greatest movie Tom Hanks ever did. See, I am an early Hanks fan. I watched Bosom Buddies with my mom, still laugh hysterically at The Burbs and fell desperately in love with the movie Big when I was eight-years-old. Yeah, yeah he got Oscars for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. In my mind, he deserves an honorary Oscar (do those exist!?!) for this scene:

Get used to tangents--they happen a lot in this here neck of the woods that is my brain.

Back to Big.

If I recall, the movie Zoltar Speaks had glowing eyes, so this must be the kinder, gentler model. Fine. This seemingly useless artifact ignites a memory. I don't care about possessions much (except my mint condition People magazine the week John Lennon was murdered), but items have the power to resurrect feelings and thoughts you haven't felt and thought about in a long time.

The Zoltar machine reminded me why I adore the movie Big.  The entire premise of the movie is a 12-year old boy wishes he were an adult. Once it happens, he gets to touch some boobies. Heyo!

But seriously, folks. He perceives the world without invented complications or pessimism or cynicism as the other adults in the film. He is frank in conversation, admits when he is wrong and doesn't mind admitting he is confused or afraid. As an eight-year-old I distinctly remember thinking, "I don't know a single grown-up like that."  Where is the balance between the mind of a child and the mind of an adult?

Jessica and I had a heck of a time on the Santa Monica pier. We dipped our feet in the Pacific, collected rocks, talked about the multi-colored houses, ate ice cream and then attempted to walk all the way back to Los Angeles via Santa Monica Boulevard. We made it about five miles before we hailed a cab outside a pawn shop. We believed for a bit there was no road too long, no idea too ridiculous, no story left untold.

07 October, 2010

The Reason

This is my wee bairn. She has my eyes. The sass she gets from her father.

She was born near Christmas, and she is the greatest gift of my life. I am beside myself most of the time in her presence. She is compassionate, forthright, appropriately blunt and can sing Cyndi Lauper with such moxie.

I must be quite candid--I never wanted children. This had nothing to do with carbon footprints or the anxiety I still experience seeing a family with a stroller the size of a mid-size sedan. Very early in adulthood I created the undeserved notion I was not hardwired for mommyhood. I assumed I would make a terrible mother because I didn't like the smell of warm breast milk or the invasion of my sacred sleep. I liked living life with passion, yet no one tells you kids provide exactly that. My little lady reminds me constantly that right now is the moment that matters, and the one I sometimes expend so little energy to experience.

Thanks Little Lady. You are the real thing.

So It Begins

Hello all. Welcome to my blog No Basement at the Alamo. Please hold all questions until the end of this tour, okay? Thank you. I encourage you to read the rest of the posts with Jan Hooks's FANTASTIC accent. It will help you through the boring parts.

So I started a bloggity blog.


Now I actually have to write something.


Is it too late to hire a ghostwriter?


So it begins.

Most of my family and friends live far away. Where I live in Texas is not the mecca of excitement (unless you love mega churches and strip malls and big hair), so this is my place where the echo of my voice is less cavernous.

I promise my grammar and sentence structure will get better. I can FEEL my husband shuddering.

So here is where the blog thang started. Last month I watched Pee Wee's Big Adventure with my four-year-old daughter. She LOVED it. I haven't seen it in about 20 years, so this was my first adult viewing of the movie.

What a difference a little age, wisdom, marrying, screwing up marriage, fixing marriage, getting an education, living in utopia, tumbling into dystopia, traveling, getting lost, baby-making, toddler rearing, sandwich eating did to my perception of this movie. As a kid it was inexplicable entertainment, now I see the whole Tim Burton masterpiece as a meditation on life.

Here is the inspirational scene for this blog:

I am not very wise, so I use popular culture, music, movies and literature to make sense of my world. This three minute scene essentially sums up my current view on life. As a youngster, I was like Pee Wee as he arrived at the Alamo. FINALLY! He will get his bike. Life will resolve itself. Good will finally prevail! Then the reality there is no basement at the Alamo crushed Pee Wee's entire promise of peace and stasis. I consider the last ten years of my life my "no basement" discovery.

As a native Texan, the tour of the Alamo is hilarious. None of this stuff is at the actual Alamo. No one is that enthusiastic whilst on a tour. Jan Hooks doesn't work at the Alamo! Believe me, I looked for her. The gift shop isn't in that location in the courtyard! The image is not the reality. Very seldom in life it is.

So this blog is my ideas about life once you really start to live it. Without disillusionment or two-bit promises. Most of the time it is a fun journey, but it is also a constant struggle of finding what is real in an unreal world. I am interested in the space between blind optimism and unproductive pessimism. Hopefully you will be, too.

This is the life of a Texas lady simultaneously attracting flies with honey and pouring vinegar. The blog will inevitably be peppered with family stuff, as they are the most interesting thing in my life. I also tend to talk a lot about music and live entertainment and food and adventures.

I have time when I have it, so if you don't hear from me assume a) I have nothing to say, b) I am traveling or c) I died. If I die, my husband will remove the blog. Don't worry, it is in the will. Written on a bar napkin. In blood. A story for another time!

So rock on. Let me know your thoughts. Do something nice for someone each day.


No Basement

P.S.--Big thanks to my buddy Sean for designing my masthead. He took a lot of odd comments and images and spun it into gold. You are my Rumpelstiltskin, dear.