It’s Back to the Future day!
Today is the day (10-21-15) that Marty and Doc Brown fly (they don’t need….roads…..) to from 1985!
BOY – were they ever wrong about hover boards and self lacing shoes eh? *swipes words into my wireless handheld universe of everything cellphone.
My own time travel story also begins in 1985, when our family moved away from Brockton, Massachusetts and off to the desert of New Mexico. Jump in your DeLorean and cut to 2015 – and I met up with my “Mikes,” last seen when we were spry little 3rd graders, for the second summer in a row- our 39th August birthday this year.
I met the Mikes at the legendary institution that was Whitman Elementary. Twisting polished wood stairways, the imposing exterior and concrete playground where many a Red Rover came Over, the sea blue paint of the basement cafeteria, one GIANT Principle named Mr. Brennan, parachute day, THAT LIBRARY, and kids that somehow never, ever forgot each other.

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I didn’t expect what I encountered meeting up with these guys after 30 years…but it was incredible – comfortable, like we’d just always been friends. I even met some guys that came to Whitman after I left, and it was equally as easy. It’s a Whitman thing…that school was magic. We even went to a bar to grab some drinks and our ‘tender was Ms. Keri Buckley who I was a girl scout with back in the day. I of course, have the advantage of skipping all those hard years after kid-dom with this crew, but Sully and I even remarked how we remembered really being friends back in the day – these kids were cool to me…and they still are. Just now we’re all much bigger kids ūüôā

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So every year they do a “Cape Weekend” and this year they ran a road race together and next year…our collective’s fortieth birthday…I’m thinking I may have to join in that run. People come and go in life – we all know that. Social media, and Facebook in particular make it easy for our generation to find people from grade school days that we thought we may never talk to again. In my case, physically meeting up with these gents made the move back to MA feel a lot less lonely. This ‘project is to really thank the Mike’s for welcoming me home – Mike Goodwin, Mike Hennessey, and Mike Sullivan – it meant the world to me. I’ll see you in August.
There are plenty more kids in that 3rd grade pic that are on here as well, and I’ll tag them too as we’re all part of a Whitman family. Michelle Packard and her beautiful family. James Smith my FIRST ever (like kinder) crush and now a Tugboat Captain! Chau Duong who cracks me up and is the MOST real about her two little boys (I feel you). Linda Sepulveda I remember sneaker skates and snoopy sno cones. ¬†Kristen Klein gets her own post later – she was my bestie.¬†¬†Michael Patrick Tierney king of the creepy punny jokes. Phil DiRusso we missed each other by THAT much. Tim Snow who has a total joy about him that is catchy. Goody’s bro!!! Alexandra MacWade and Amelia Leason who also had their OWN post¬†ūüėČ
I’m sure I’m missing people…tag – or hey friend me if you want and I missed you on here ūüėČ

‚̧ Thanks to you all for being my first friends. My Density Popped me to you. ‚Ä™#‚ÄéTheFacebookProject‚Ĩ

This is the 6th anniversary of the very last day I spent with my friend Lisa Dungan.

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Lisa and I met because I worked with her husband at the time. We went to a work party, and I remember literally backing into a wall as she approached with this swooping confident stride and a devilish smile and a shot in each hand. Yes, I was “the Laura”, yes I would take a shot with her… and we were instantly friends. For anyone who ever knew Lisa, she was a force. A thunderstorm rolling in, beautiful, intimidating, not one ounce of inhibition. Nothing scared her. She caught rattlesnakes in her yard, she loved walking in the desert at night (clothing optional), she enchanted people into staying by her – when she was around she was in complete control and things were going to get interesting. I spent the better part of ten years with her, as her best friend, as her fellow amazon chick when we went out on the town, and as her roommate and ‘little sister’ for a time being. I watched her life unfold through lake trips and dog walks, we tried to enter “The Amazing Race” together – she DID enter a video for her favorite show “Survivor” – she pranked everyone each and every April Fools – she perped a high speed car chase (I drove) that I will never forget. She was an instigator. She was difficult, raging power. She was unstoppable.

And so, on this day in 2009 as I sat on her bed with her – she so thin from the chemo, she so dark skinned from the liver cancer, she with no makeup on and yet so beautiful – her vulnerability shocked me. We hugged, I cried, she couldn’t cry anymore. I said I didn’t want her to go, and told her I loved her. I believed I could come back over the next day and say it again and again and again, as I had every day since she threw a ridiculous party and drank red wine and played “Only the Good Die Young” to announce she was given 2 years to live. She lived 10 months. Ten months where we fought desperately to get her into the Mayo Clinic or MD Anderson – but they didn’t take people who did not have insurance and she lost her job a month before diagnosis (so do not ask me again why I fought for healthcare). Ten months where we wrote to the Ellen show, we sent her to Hawaii to swim with dolphins, we filled days with bucket list things that a 41 year old doesn’t usually have to write down. Ten months of nights when she was scared and I would leave my house at midnight to stay with her. Ten months from diagnosis to the morning I lifted her purple pedicured, lithe body onto a stretcher to be taken for donation to cancer research- this strange honor I found in being her only pallbearer.

There has been no event in my life that shook me like that day.

It sharply changed the direction of my winding, ridiculous road. Which is exactly what she would’ve wanted it to do for me. The strange thing about the death of my best friend is the amount of joy I have in the memories. She was such an inspiration in how she lived her 41 years on this earth that I have little sorrow when I think of her. Just the missing. I hate missing Lisa. She would love my little boy. She would love my move to Boston. She would love all the fabulous weddings and birthdays and babies and … life that happened after she left. So I hate the missing. But I am honored that she taught me what is really important, and to hold on to the beauty of life.

‚̧ ¬†Thank you for being my lesson. ‚Ä™#‚ÄéTheFacebookProject‚Ĩ

lisa

What is more throw back on this ‚Ä™#‚Äétbt‚Ĩ than Homecoming? And what is more fun than the parades, the bands, the giant mums if you’re from the Southwest, the football game and –
the Queen?!
Everybody run. The Homecoming Queen’s Gotta Gun…
Songs have been written about that wonderful phenomenon known as Homecoming Queen. Our’s was Melissa Dooley.

I originally met Melissa when we both started at Highland Jr. High. We had several classes together over the years, and ran in different circles, and even went to NMSU together. She was always undeniably wonderful to me. Specifically she was SO encouraging… She told me I should run for Student Council (and I did, and I won). She told me to try out for cheerleader (and I didn’t …and thank god I spared myself that embarrassment)… In some weird “Tai to her Cher in Clueless” move, she BELIEVED in me -and you guys, I was an awkward mess for a large chunk of 7th-10th. I think Melissa believed in everyone. It’s no wonder she went on to become a teacher – and now the MOST amazing mom to two little cuties. She has this unwavering belief that you can be more than what you are. And she. is. HILARIOUS. Which I did not know fully until she and I traded baby and birth stories behind the scenes. Her tell-it-like-it-is approach helped me through the worst of the worst post C-section. Her sense of humor has to have played a part in her own AMAZING and very difficult pregnancies that she handled with unbelievable grace and spirit. And it for SURE played a part as she may or may not have attended NKOTB concerts as an adult….. (she totally did). She is all about family, fun, giving back, caring about those around her, and keeping it really really real. What more could you want in a Queen? ¬†So from Hobbs Royalty to her beautiful home/husband/kids and beagle, I am so proud to call Melissa my friend.

‚̧ ¬†Thank you for being my friend, daydream believer, and a Homecoming Queen. ¬†‚Ä™#‚ÄéTheFacebookProject‚Ĩ

She may kill me but here is yearbook proof – with super cutie Brandon Harper…¬†

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and then proof that she literally has not aged a day – the Melissa 2.0 upgrade with super cutie Troy Aikman. ¬†ūüėÄ

melissa

Robin Behl‚Äč is too big to fit into this font. She is too big to be explained. She is too big to be “summed up” in my little project. She’s a tea kettle, so much is packed into that tiny frame, heated up and bursting forth into life. I’ll just try to harness a little bit of the whistle.
We met in Hobbs. I have her prom picture she handed to me in 1994 at my graduation, – she a Sophomore who was going to miss me. We had no idea we would become lifelong friends. And then we were friends at New Mexico State. Then I went to her wedding where she was whisked away on a Mesilla Valley Fire Department engine with what became her true marriage when the first dissolved – a family of men she fought fires with, a family of men she grieved with upon losing one of her own, her family of heroes. And she became an EMT. And she saved lives and told me to stop smoking. And then she jumped in a little car named Frankie and drove all over North America. Then she stayed in a little ice hut in Greenland. She became a Physician’s Assistant. And she saved more lives, and she worked in cardiology, and she was just brought on to Columbia Med Cardiology Department in New York City. ¬† Little Robin Behl with the magnanimous giant heart, healing hearts.
She is a nature lover. She is an adventurer. An explorer. Strength beyond her body, world-view beyond her sight.
She is the most expressive mover. She is a dancer. She is an artist. She is a human poem.
I cannot say enough about my friend Robin, because she is too much for this. And there is so much more that will need to be written and added as her fluid movement never stops.
If you are lucky enough to also have her as a friend in your life, you know.  Tiny little Robin is as big as the towering skyscrapers she dances between.  behl

‚̧ Thank you for being my friend. ¬†#TheFacebookProject

Katrina Barney and I met on my first night training as the new bartender at My Brothers Place. At the end of the night I had my inaugural shot of Rumplemintz with her, and then we moved in together and lived happily ever after (it’s really my thing, see…I meet someone, we do a shot, we move in…)

We wound up being THE BEST of friends/sisters/confidants. I have a hard time trying to condense all the memories into one brief story with some people, and Katrina is no exception. Aside from persuading me to leave one of the most deeply unhappy relationships of my life and break into my future, she also spans a decade of being right by my side in choosing to go get that Masters in Entomology (I mean, so it didn’t go as planned, but…she prompted my return to academia and a feeling like I could really do more), in living with me at our favorite favorite house ever – hosting some of the most wonderful gatherings – sitting up until the wee-est of hours discussing politics and history – holding allll the hands as our mutual best friend Lisa lived with and died from cancer.

Katrina and I have shaken our heads at each other’s boy choices, and applauded some. When one of us had the day off from the bar, we would go to the bar and wait until the other closed up. I was her Plus One cross-country wedding date. We were the cutest Harry Potter and Wonder Woman ever. She was my “surprise present” from Jim in Boston one year where we tore up the Duck Boats, and she and I have visited each other each year since. She is incredibly smart but always leads with her heart, and I cannot say it has lead her wrong. She went from a Geography Grad mapper to a Nurse – and because of a very specific incident where Katrina “took care of” an injured rodent from Lucky dog once – I really knew she had that in her. She is the only person that understands Southland Tales with me. We made a pact once, during the “end of days” craze in movies and media, that we would never kill the other for food. That’s big you guys. That’s real love. (I also bring it up because it contractually still stands and I don’t want her to forget)

She is my garage party moving day Boston Commons Yeungling West Virginia NMSU travel luck Billiards Caldo desert soul mate. We really do always pick right back up – in life and in conversation.

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I don’t know how I ever could’ve made it through my thirties without you, seriously.
Every time I visit you I promise to always leave a little something behind because it means I love you ūüėÄ

‚̧¬†Thank you for being my best friend. ‚Ä™#‚ÄéTheFacebookProject‚Ĩ

kat

Douglas Webb Doug and I met playing trumpet together as Hobbs Eagles. He became one of my closest friends – we all spent a lot of nights at the North 40, or the track, or Sonic, or the movie theater…summers in the parks on swing sets trying to smoke Swisher Sweets. We’d play Trivial Pursuit at my house, watch MST3K at Shannon’s, pick up Alma and Thera and Oscar and cruise out to look at that¬†glowing tombstone in Monument. He drove a little sports car that I will never forget the look of but cannot think of the name! We called him Dougie, Doogie, Dougie Fresh…he was so bright and focused.
We all moved along into “adult life” and I went away to NMSU. Doug worked at the Correctional Facility in Hobbs where he met the love of his life – thankfully it was his now wife and not an inmate. ūüėÄ
I lost touch with him for a while…learned that he joined the Army, and by the time I found him on Facebook he was deep in Afghanistan with Thelma holding home base at the frozen tundra of Fort Drum. Thankfully, Doug is back home, retired from a life of defending all of us, and a true Southern Gentleman as he always has been. He came back with a solid head on his shoulders because he was born with a solid head on his shoulders, he is surrounded by strong men and women and is what anyone would want in a son (I know your family is so proud of you!). He’s the guy that kisses his mamma and takes his beautiful lady country dancing.
And even with all the guns you own, I still love you enough to put up this picture of us, on our incredibly fun road trip to the Horde Festival in 1996 – at a roadside stop in Cloudcroft. Always the one in the white hat ūüėČ

doug
And I’m serious…about any zombie attacks or world order shit…I’m coming back to NM- and I’ll call on you for defense initiatives while I rewrite our nation’s documents by memory.

‚̧ Thank you for being my friend (and making it back in one piece) #TheFacebookProject

I have not met you. We absolutely should meet, though.
Jane (IF THAT REALLY IS YOUR NAME) (IT’S NOT)(RIGHT?) is one of my sister’s friends in NYC. She is an absolutely inspirational writer. She wears her heart on her sleeve but it’s a really strong heart so it’ll kick your ass if you mess with said sleeve. She is passionate about race relations and fairness and understanding in this country, and is often deeply concerned about the future. I think this not only stems from her love of her wonderfully gifted children, but also from her upbringing and world view which I had tiny glimpses of by reading through her blog. She’s a transplant from the South, and I believe she is headed home to SC soon – after a very long time away – and I’m excited to see her past and present and future collide and make some really great memories (healing and happy preferred) from her trip.
I think we share similar ideologies. She has taught me a great deal more about WHY I believe as I do, and WHY I consider myself a Democrat and an advocate. She has inspired me to be more open and honest in my writing and to not candy-coat. She challenges me in my own thoughts constantly on here, which is always refreshing and invigorating. Jane taught me what white privilege means, to look at every story from ten different angles, and that passive irritation at the media isn’t helping our children’s very real future.
Outside of all that heavy stuff, Jane and I could probably really enjoy a binge watch of shows on TV together, I would LOVE to go out on one of her rare outings because I think she would give me more music than I could handle to love. She is married to a DJ/Musician, she is wildly sentimental, she has a shock of pink hair and the most beautiful smile that radiates genuine joy.
I hope your trip home is filled with that joy. Thank you for teaching me and keeping me enlightened, and for that hot wheels tip.

‚̧ Thank you for being my friend. ¬†#TheFacebookProject

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Have you found that person yet – you know the one – from grade school that just vanished one year? ¬†And everyone asked what ever happened to so and so? ¬†And then you see them miraculously appear on Facebook and you say Holy Hotness Batman because they grew up to be a cowboy straight out of a Sandy Bullock/Reese Witherspoon RomCom? ¬† ¬† NO? ¬† Well then you didn’t go to elementary school with Stacy Shepherd, did you?! ¬†Look at this! ¬†stacy

Amiright ladies?

Well it turns out Ol Stacy got himself a nice little slice a heaven in the desert of Arizona (I do not know why I went full Western narration so I’ll stop). ¬† ¬†Here is the deal. ¬†I met Stacy in Mrs. Stewart’s 5th grade class. ¬†We went on to spend 6th grade in Mr. Buck Walker’s class (The OG…the man the myth the legend that inspired Stacy to be the kind of guy that tips his hat and opens doors) ¬† – this is Stacy with Mr. Walker, as he sat in my memory for the good part of 25 years –

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Isn’t he a cutie? ¬†That tie…the smile… ¬†and…Stacy wasn’t too bad either. ¬†ūüėČ ¬†Every single girl had a crush on him. ¬†He was funny, warm, inviting, and for me personally he was memorable and kind. ¬† My hair and I had a pretty rough go of it for 6th and 7th grade. ¬†I mean…really I was beyond awkward. ¬†Tall, a perm that should not have happened, the fashion sense of …well no one sensible, it was the Wonder Years for me. ¬†The Paul Wonder Years. ¬† I still do not allow pictures from that time to be released from the vault. ¬†Stacy carried my books for me one particularly rough day in 6th grade, because he obviously has a momma who taught him how to be decent. ¬†He sat next to me in Mrs. Cearly’s 7th grade Life Skills class and we would joke about things, he’d fill me in on Horror films I didn’t watch, he would do his Woody Woodpecker impersonation. ¬†He never once made me feel as dorked out as I looked (haha). ¬†He never once treated me like I was different. ¬†That made a big impression on me – and it was a sad sad day when we arrived after the summer to an 8th grade with no Shepherd.

Time marches on, and here we are – Stacy now a business owner for over a decade and I met him just in time for quite a life change leap. ¬†He is a Team Roper (that means he is one of the guys on a big Quarter with cow sense fah dayyysss and he lassos and/or ties a steer), and has decided to go Pro and start a ministry along with it (I think you should call it HOLY COW but… your idea is probably better). ¬†stacy2

He is centered, focused, traditional. ¬†I asked him to tell me a little about his past and he said “I’ve been in love” which was like AWWWWEEE because it takes a special person to note that as a marker in their life. ¬†Stacy is special. ¬†I think back to him making my time on the blue marble easier, and I can see that he has honed those gifts and makes a lot of people feel that same way today.

All of life’s blessings to you, Stacy! ¬†The universe is about to release the gate…

‚̧ Thank you for being my friend ¬† #TheFacebookProject

It’s Friday. You’re feeling a little Rock n Roll. I’m feeling a little Facebook Project-y. Let’s put the two together shall we?
I met Joanne Braman-Palmer‚Äč when I was a little girl sitting on my Grandma Lawrenson’s front porch on 2nd Ave in Rensselaer. She was my Aunt Patty’s best friend. I remember her then as I if I had just met a rockstar myself. I was not wrong. She had starburst eyelashes and blonde hair – I’m pretty sure she was wearing the coolest slouch boots I’d ever seen in my life – and she handed me Moon Zappa’s “Valley Girl” single on vinyl. “YOU GUYS will get a KICK out of this!” Fresh off the presses in 1982. We did get a kick out of it, and for years I was proud of having that record, from the coolest girl in the world… this Jo from 2nd Ave.
Well, my impression was not misplaced. Jo came out to visit my Mom this Spring (once the glaciers cleared from the worst winter EVER) with her husband Jim Palmer‚Äč (quite possibly the best joke writer on here, and also my son’s insta-favorite). She was just as radiant and rock n roll as I remembered. She has tattoos in memory of people she loves, one of them very beautifully for my Aunt Patty, who she was with til the end phone calls, the very end, of her battle with cancer. I’ve been that bestie too….it is at once an honor and a giant suck. What a deeply important person you are to our family, Joanne. Your stories fill in the puzzle of 2nd Ave for me. So many families on that street with so many intertwined stories. My grandmother has always been this vision of intense strength and unwavering conscience – you’ve given me stories that affirm that.

Now JoAnne makes magical yard art, wall art, fairy trinkets and witch spell goblets and all things enchanted. She is the spiritual stronghold for her friends and family. She is clairvoyant. She is still very much Rock n Roll, and to my delight, she shared with me pictures from the time when I met her and felt that stardust on her sleeve. I want to share them all…I’ll share my four favorites.

‚̧ Thank you for being my friend #TheFacebookProject

Jo with John Cougar Mellencamp.  johncougar joanne

Jo with Steven Tyler. ¬†You know, huggin, doin each other’ s hair like they dooo….steven tyler joanne steventyler

Tommy Lee…with like ONE tattoo, and Nikki Six….hanging with Joanne…like they doooo….tommylee

Today is the day that the New Horizon spaceship Instagrams its pic of the coldest, rockiest, off – kilter planet (I’m from New Mexico so it’s a planet) from the Sun, Pluto. ¬†Today is also Bastille Day, France’s “Let them eat cake” revolution. ¬†Big day, Earthlings. ¬† Big day because, also, on this day, Ma and Pa Hilty a few moons ago birthed a Stimpy. ¬†Scott Hilty (aka Stimpy Bear, Stimp).

I met the gruff and grumble Stimp in the Fall of 1996, his abrasive icy¬†exterior was my own planet Pluto – and I figured my fly-by would be short. ¬†I was wrong. ¬†As a solid member of my friend group then, and roommate¬†to Jeff and Drake (and many others before)¬†at the Kappa Sig Chisolm Trail party house (NOBODY TOUCH THE WHITE DISHTOWELS), he and I softened up to one another and slowly but surely became tolerant (albeit many an eye roll from Scott) of one another’s presence. ¬†Finally I was coerced into picking up Scott from the El Paso airport at Christmas and we would drive, the two of us, alone, in my car to Albuquerque to meet with our crew. ¬†That trip changed everything. ¬†For the first time we HAD to talk to one another, and we haven’t stopped since. ¬†I was christened “chick” – which is Stimp for “you’re okay with me, we can communicate now.” ¬†We not only had interesting conversation, but we also shared humor, a need for connection and gathering with our people, and in the end (who knew!?) THE LAW!

Scott left his undergrad at NMSU with guns blazing on the Rodeo USA dance floor in full “Eff you, eff you, eff you, you’re cool…eff you” and face planted in my lap (I mean to be fair EVERYONE was buying him shots)before heading on up to UNM for Law School. ¬†Then University of Houston post grad, then Dallas (I don’t think he missed an Aggie Lobo game in all those years). ¬†I got HORRIBLY lost once trying to visit him on a work trip – he lived “Oh just an easy turn off the Dallas High Five Interchange”… I pulled into his parent’s driveway at 1 in the morning shaking, the door opened, I was handed the strongest Bombay Sapphire and Tonic I’ve ever had, my cigarette lit by George (Pa Hilty), and I became an honorary family member.

I honestly have too many endearing stories with this man, which is why he is my Brostie 4 lyfe. ¬† (I have that tattooed in Olde English on my back) ¬†(no I don’t) ¬† ¬† He is the male version of me. ¬†Angry, unruly when pushed too far, a perfectionist, loud and declarative, opinionated, loyal, moody. ¬†But Scott has shown me in all these years that someone like us also has the ability for great understanding and calm – he and I both have taken a role as caretaker, final hand hold in this realm, of our loved ones passing from Cancer. ¬†(he his mom and I my best friend). ¬†He was my behind the scenes (and necessary) friend/attorney/counsel during my rape trial and beyond. ¬†Perhaps we received a deeper need for connection with our people because of life experience…a deeper spiritual feeling about why things happen, and the meaning of life. ¬†Zen Stimp is a very good place to be, and he has found his zen and his “Broad” – broad is Stimp for “I love you”, and Stimp met this broad Jamie:

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I can’t say I’ve ever seen him so happy. ¬†Content… centered… ¬†it comes with age, with a great partner, some yoga…mad crazy amounts of facial hair (Stimp can grow a helluva woodland face pet). ¬† It also comes with great beer (and PBR), great food (blueberry bread and BEYOND), great friends – Scott has surrounded himself with his passions and it shows.

I am eternally grateful to my Brostie Scott. ¬†For keeping me up to date on what you crazy Burquenos are doing, to making sure I’m doing okay wayyy out here, talking me down off some ledges and throwing me a cheers pic (we started the picture cheers when I had my one night/one beer a week outing after Finn was born, just to feel like a human being again and with no one I knew around…that among other things has helped me find a light in some dark places). ¬† ¬†Thank you thank you thank you.

‚̧ For being my friend. ¬† #TheFacebookProject

I’d give you a lip print dome today if I could. ¬†Happy Birthday. ¬†GIT PLOWED. ¬†ūüėČ

scott