Put some pants on

I’m beginning to question that old saying about how we all “put our pants on one leg at a time.” Because lately, I’m noticing plenty of people who have stopped putting pants on at all. This weekend Tom and I went to a Laundromat to wash a king-size comforter in one of those high-capacity washing machines. While we were there, I saw a man sitting on the back of his pick-up truck. He was staring down into his smartphone’s screen and he was wearing a white t-shirt and pajama pants with the Harley Davidson logo printed all over them. It seemed a little strange, but I figured he was probably washing his real pants and wasn’t too worried about appearances [...]

The book signing parade!

Wow, what a crazy three weeks it has been! I officially launched my new book, Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection, on November 2nd at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville. And when the book signing began at 6 p.m., it was eerily quiet in the bookstore and I was worried. Maybe nobody would come. Maybe this whole “write a book” idea was an epic failure. And then I heard it — the marching band. And that’s when we realized that we’d scheduled the book signing to begin at the exact same time that the University of Arkansas Homecoming Parade was happening on the same street as the book signing. (They tend to close off streets where parades [...]

The Rockwood Files Book Launch: Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile

It’s here! My first book is now available on Amazon and in Nightbird Books. Woo-hoooo! You can order a copy by clicking HERE. Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection is a compilation of my best newspaper columns over the past 17 years. In it you’ll find chapters titled “The Marriage Files,” “The Firstborn Files,” “The Middle Child Files,” “The Girl Child Files,” “The Soapbox Files,” “The Pets & Pests Files,” “The Holiday Files,” and the “Just-for-Fun Files.” This book has been a long time in the making, but I’m thrilled with the finished product. I hope you will be, too. The amazing Lisa McSpadden of Lisa Mac Photography did the photos for this book, and Greg [...]

The Big “What if…?”

Last night we heard the familiar sound of footsteps on the stairs well past bedtime. From the living room, I heard Tom talking in the kitchen to the kid who couldn’t sleep. Over the years, we’ve heard every “I can’t sleep” excuse in the book – not tired, too thirsty, too dark, monster under the bed – but this time was different. This time it was a question, one of the biggest we’ve faced: “Dad, I know that people die sometimes. And I know we believe in God and Heaven and everything… but what if we’re wrong?” We probably should have seen it coming. In the past six weeks, we’ve been to two out-of-town funerals for family members. The kids [...]

Why I still don’t feel like a grown-up

By now, I expected to feel like a grown-up. And sometimes I do, like when we sign tax returns or go to a funeral, which is certainly not a ringing endorsement for adulthood. But most of the time, I feel like an imposter – like a kid who somehow ended up in a grown-up’s body and is still trying to figure out what she’s doing. Part of me wonders if it all comes down to coffee. I don’t like it. Never have. I want to like it – badly. I love the way it smells. I love the quaint little coffee shops where it’s served. I love the warmth of the coffee cups and the way the steam rises and [...]

Running with scissors

Women are known for our ability to form deep and meaningful relationships. And perhaps no relationship is as complex and multi-layered as the one we have with our hair. Most men don’t understand it and have been heard saying ridiculous things such as “It’s just hair.” Or the ever popular “It’ll grow back.” But they miss the whole point. Because our feelings about hair are rooted way down deep. No other part of our bodies has this kind of power over us. Bad hair can set the tone for the day. A woman wailing “I hate my hair!” while standing in front of the bathroom mirror won’t emerge from that bathroom in a great mood. And bad hair makes the [...]

The Mama Curse

Well, I hope you’re happy, Mom. That mama curse you put on me so long ago is now working overtime and I am, indeed, “paying for my raising.” For those not familiar with this brand of maternal magic, let me explain. The “mama curse” is spewed out at an exasperating child when the mama is at her wit’s end. There are countless variations on it, but the gist of it goes like this: “One day I hope you have a child who acts exactly the way you’re acting right now! Then you’ll know how it feels.” When my mom hexed me, I was young and just rolled my eyes in the charming way children sometimes do. Little did I know [...]

My life as a dog washer

For years I’ve said that the main reason I became a writer is because it’s my only marketable skill. Lucky for me, I’m nerdy enough to like stringing words together and have a genuine interest in prepositions and participles, which comes in handy. But before my first writing gig, I tried other jobs. I was 18 when I snagged my first real position as a dog washer at a local grooming salon. I loved dogs and had plenty of experience washing my own so it sounded like a fun, easy summer job.And it did turn out to be fun, but it was never easy – especially the first day. I’m not sure if the owner was trying to get me [...]

Why I clean before the cleaners come

Today will be a good day. Because by early afternoon, the kitchen and bathroom counters will be clean, the floors shiny and there’ll be fresh vacuum cleaner tracks throughout the house. Every other Wednesday by 2 p.m., life is good and orderly and smells like lemons. It’s wonderful. But before that happens, I’ve got to clean up around here. Why? Because the house cleaners are coming! Tom always thinks I’m nuts when I fly into my pre-cleaning routine before our bi-weekly Swat Team of Clean arrives. But women understand the two reasons why we clean right before the house cleaners come: Because we don’t want the house cleaners to think we’re slobs. Because the cleaners will be able to clean [...]

The trouble with Charlie

I’m beginning to think that, although our dog Charlie has been blessed with a super-powered Beagle nose, perhaps he didn’t get a great deal of Beagle brains. I’d like to believe he’s the smartest dog around, but it’s getting harder to ignore the mounting evidence that indicates otherwise. It started shortly after we adopted Charlie. For weeks we tried to convince him that the things he kept digging out of the cat’s litter box were not, in fact, gravel-coated candy bars. I was disgusted and had to fashion a hiding spot for the litter box so Charlie wouldn’t use it like a snack bar. There are also times I find Charlie happily chewing on his own back leg, as if [...]