Monday, December 03, 2007


Being the youngest of eight children, I was always the last one to do things. I was the last one to ride a bike, the last one to shoot a gun and the last one to get underarm hair. I would have developed a complex, if I hadn’t of had my next-door neighbor, Vanesa, a brown haired girl, the same age as me. She was my equal and had done nothing before me. And I loved her for it.

But then one day, conflict arose in Eden, and we were no longer equals. I guess it started this one day when Vanesa and I were walking around her front yard shirtless. I don’t remember our exact age, but I think we were around 16. No, I’m just kidding. We were 7 or something like that. Anyway, Vanesa’s mom screamed at her and told her to put on a shirt. She’d never had to wear a shirt before, so we were both baffled at Vanesa’s mom’s response. Especially Vanesa, who threw a fit and then ran into her house.

The next day when I went over to Vanesa’s, she was wearing a shirt. I asked her why and she told me it was because she was a girl and her momma told her that girls had to wear shirts. I still didn’t understand, but for some reason it made me so happy and I felt so special that I didn’t have to wear a shirt and Vanesa did. It was the first time I felt like I was better than someone at something. It made me feel like a movie star. So from that day on, I never wore a shirt. Even in January when it was freezing outside, I didn’t wear a shirt. I’d wear a coat but didn’t have a shirt on underneath. And I soaked up the power like a sponge. I know you’re thinking, “This guy is crazy.” But you have to remember, I was seven years old at the time and having a shirt option felt like power to me.

And then one day the carnival came to E. Broussard Elementary and my reign ended. It happened at the hula hoop contest. I entered the competition because they were giving out trophy’s and I wanted one of those so bad. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even able to get the hoop one loop around me before it fell off of my thirty-pound body. I started thinking that it was humanly impossible and no one would ever be able to do it and that I might still have a shot at a trophy. But then Vanesa walked up and entered the contest and took home the first place trophy! I was so mad and jealous, that I went home and put on a shirt. It was like I’d surrendered. She had a trophy and I didn’t. That was way cooler than not having to wear a shirt.

So that afternoon I went over to Vanesa’s house and her parents were having a party to celebrate Vanesa’s victory. Well, I couldn’t handle that, so when no one was looking, I hid Vanesa’s trophy under her bed and then ran out of the house. A few minutes later, Vanesa and her cousin, Herbert came over to my house and searched my room for the trophy.

“I don’t have it,” I told them.

To tell the truth, I was kind of offended that she’d thought I’d stolen it. I was very religious at that age and didn’t curse or steal. Or smoke.

Anyway, so the next day, Vanesa told me that she found the trophy under the bed.

“I told you I didn’t steal it,” I said.

“Well, you put it under the bed,” she said.

I don’t remember what happened after that. We just somehow became friends again. I have never told anyone else that story because I was so ashamed of it. I’ve been carrying this guilt around for 31 years.

So, Vanesa, if you are out there, I am so sorry that I did that. The best times of my childhood were spent with you catching crawfish from the front ditch or playing in the forest by your house or jumping off your swing set to see how high we could get.

I never meant to hurt you by hiding that hula hoop trophy under your bed. I hope one day, you’ll be able to forgive me.

Peace, laughter and happiness,


P.S. If you had looked further under the bed, you would have seen that sometimes I hid your homework under there, because I was jealous that you were faster and smarter than me. I had a lot of problems going on back then.

Monday, October 29, 2007

january 1, 2000

I find it a little ironic that now that I have almost 12 readers, I haven't been inspired to write anything. But I know I can't let you down. So, I decided to pull out an old journal. It's from January 1st, 2000. I was living in Chicago and I quit my job and was wondering if I was insane for doing it. The entry is below:

January 1, 2000

Oh geez. I quit my job. I can’t believe I quit my job. I’m in a café called the Kopi Café right now. I have a horrible headache. Last night was New Year’s Eve. We were so freaked out that the world was going to end when it hit midnight. So we all got really drunk just in case. I think that’s why my head hurts. I can’t believe I quit my job. I’m writing this in a notebook with a picture of Bambi on the cover. All the other journals were like $20 and I didn’t think I needed to spend that kind of money considering I don’t have a job. When I bought the journal, the cashier gave me this pitiful look like he thought I was freak-show or something. I don’t care. It was $3. So I think I’m moving to New York. I can either do that or go back to work and tell my boss that I changed my mind and then I can beg for my job back. Oh geez, this girl I can’t stand just walked in the cafe. She works for this advertising agency we do business with. I’m going to put my head down and pretend like I don’t see her. I know she’s going to ask what’s going on and I’m going to have to either lie to her or tell her the truth. I think I’m still too freaked right now to talk about it. Anyway, I quit my job because I hate it. I just hate it. It can be kind of cool sometimes but the thought of doing this in 5 years makes me sick. Oh good, that girl left without seeing me. I’m sure I’ll be able to find a job in New York that pays a lot more than this one. I might have made a mistake. Everybody keeps telling me how expensive it is in New York and how hard it is to find an apartment. I just know I’m going to have to live in an apartment without a dishwasher. I promised myself I would never do that again. What the hell was I thinking? I can’t go back to that uniform company. Everybody is going to know about it and they’re going to think I’m so dramatic. But I love Chicago so much. I don’t want to leave it. But I know I’m going to hate it if I go back to that place. I have to go now. I think I’m going to throw up.

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Review of This Week's Office

Last night's office had some funny parts but it was not one of their best. I think my favorite lines were from Meredith. "I've done some videos. I'm just not used to having so many people around."

I want to see more Meredith, Phyllis and Angela. I think the writers aren't sure what to do with Jim and Pam now that they're a couple. Nobody wants to sit down each week and watch cute interaction between the perfect couple each week. It will remind us of how many relationships we've messed up over the years.

I'm not sure I like the new Ryan yet. It seemed like a good transition at the time because his character was such a smart alec know it all. I'd like to see him fail soon to knock him down a notch. Maybe it's the beard that's bothering me. And he obviously knows Michael is an idiot. Why hasn't he tried to get rid of him yet?

Please provide feedback on this week's office and give me your favorite lines. That's what she said.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Menstrual Cycle Lesson

This past Saturday (October 20th) was election day in Louisiana. My brother was up for re-election as Sheriff and won and will get to serve Vermilion Parish for four more years. Congratulations, Mike! But this isn't about him.

While I was at the election party, a friend, who happens to be a teacher, walked up to me and told me that I needed to go to her class and give a lesson on menstrual cycles. My friend, let's call her Mary, said that because of a chapter in my book, The Chicken Dance, I have all the boys at her school asking what a menstrual cycle is. One boy raised his hand in class and asked out loud. Mary told him to come up to her and she'd whisper it in his ear. But about half way there, he realized what it was and asked, "Is it what I think it is?" Mary said, "Yes."

Well, I think that story is hilarious and is one of the things that makes life so great. But to avoid future embarrassment for young boys everywhere, I am going to give you a few hints. If you don't understand what a menstrual cycle is after these hints, then ask your parents. One, it doesn't happen to boys. Two, it happens every 28 days. Three, some people call it the same word that is at the end of a sentence.

Those are all of the hints I'm going to give. For more hints, read The Chicken Dance.

Much Love,


Friday, October 19, 2007

The Chicken Dance Commercials

Hey Everyone, (and by everyone, I mean the six people who read this blog)

Go to my website, and look for links to the three new Chicken Dance commercials. Enjoy and then pass around to your friends.



Shout Out to Erath Middle School

I spoke at Erath Middle School today and I want to thank them for being a cool group. Some of you said you liked The Office, so read below and leave comments about your favorite characters. When I get the pictures that were taken, I'll post them here or on my website

Also, need to thank Weston from Arkansas for making the banner on my blog. That's what she said.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Office Discussion

I just finished watching The Office which is becoming one of my favorite shows. If you've ever worked in an office before, you'll appreciate how realistic it is in a lot of ways. I thought I would check in with my viewers to see how many fans of the show there are. My favorite two quotes are:

When Toby says that all employees should disclose interoffice relationships to HR and Phyllis says, "Even one night stands?"

But my favorite is Angela: "I can be very fun. I like to play games. I dangle things in front of my cats."

I have to say my least favorite character is Michael Scott. I know this is going to cause some controversy but if someone would like to convince me to change my mind, I am willing to listen to them.

So viewers, let's hear your favorite characters and quotes from The Office.

Journal of My First Book Tour

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

After I picked my mom’s dog, Buster, up from the vet because he got mauled but a large animal (either my brother’s dog, Hercules, or a cow), my sister in law Jessica drove me to pick up my rental car. Then I drove to Birmingham. I’m alone in a hotel room right now. Tomorrow I am going to drive to Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books. I guess you can say it’s my first official day of my first official book tour. Some days I wake up wondering if someone has figured it out. I wonder if they’ve realized that I’m a fake. That I’m not really a writer but a Cajun farm boy who managed to throw a few sentences together and fool enough people to get a book published. I just can’t believe it’s happening.

Thursday, October 11th

Drove to Nashville today. Seems like a nice city. I went for a 3 mile run. I walked most of the way. This summer I was running 4 miles a day without breaking a sweat. But I stopped for about 6 weeks because I hurt my knee and got lazy. My body is in so much pain right now. I’m getting old. Ordered room service and watched The Office and ironed my clothes for the next couple of days.

Friday, October 12th

Went for a longer run. Well, a longer walk. My body is really in pain now. My key didn’t work when I got back to my room. I didn’t have an ID so the front desk was reluctant to let me into my room. Thankfully I had a t-shirt on that said, “I support Mike Couvillon for Sheriff.” So they accepted that as proof that I was Jacques Couvillon. I think it freaked them out that my brother was a Sheriff.

Got a goody bag with a moon pie and a little bottle of Jack Daniels. A Mormon writer gave me her bottle because she doesn’t drink liquor. I was on a panel with Jack Gantos, who nominated for a National Book Award and Jeff Kinney, who was a New York Times Best Seller. It was so intimidating while I was waiting to speak. I thought about excusing myself and then going to the bathroom to drink the little bottles of Jack Daniels. There were about 25 people in the room including two nuns. Jack spoke first. He admitted that he used to be a drug mule and went to jail for it. Kind of made me uncomfortable because of the nuns. But I think everyone knew about it because he wrote a book called, “Hole in My Life” about the experience. Bravo to him for having the guts to admit it and write about it. He’s a really interesting guy. Jeff Kinney spoke next. I think he’s the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life. I read his book Diary of a Wimpy Kid a couple of days ago. It was awesome. I couldn’t believe I was on a panel with those two guys. Afterwards, we had a book signing. (Thanks to Karen Purdy for pictures) Jack had a long line. Jeff and I only had a few. It was cool to have Jeff there because I would have felt like an idiot.

That night I went to dinner with my publicist and some other writers. This one woman lost 170 pounds in one year. That’s how much I weigh. I couldn’t believe it. She did it with diet and exercise. She’s kind of a cool lady because she writes children’s books, romantic novels and works part time as a neurological scientist. Kind of makes me feel like I need to get on the ball. I think people think I’m crazy when I tell them that I’m trying to be a full time writer. I just need to keep reminding myself that it’s what I really want to do.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Couldn’t sleep last night. Look bad today. Almost didn’t check out in time. My clothes were wrinkled. I forgot my facial cleanser so I’ve been using soap. It made me break out. I look like a pimply teenager with a receding hairline and crow’s feet. Went to the wrong place for my panel. By the time I got there, Jeff Kinney had won them over. He had them laughing. When I spoke it felt like the quietest place on earth. But then I read a little and people seemed more interested. During the question session, everyone asked Jeff questions. He is so cool. When he finished answering, he asked what my experience was. When it was time for the book signing, a line of kids went up to Jeff. I went to the section where we were supposed to sign books. I only signed two. One was for a couple who was waiting for Jeff to show up. I convinced them to buy The Chicken Dance. They were from Louisiana and were in Nashville because the woman had a special antibody in her blood and was there to donate it because it cured other people. The other book was for a guy named Ed Sullivan who wrote a book for children about the Atomic bomb.

That evening I drove to Memphis with a writer, her three-year old son, her nine month old daughter and her mom. We stopped at a restaurant called The Log Cabin on the way. I picked the boy up and carried him on my shoulders. When we walked in the mother (writer’s mother) looked at us and said we made a handsome family. I wondered what it would be like if I had a family. I thought it could be nice and kind of felt a little sad that I was missing out on the experience. But then the son, Cal, poured milk all over the floor and cried because he didn’t have any more milk. Then the little girl started screaming. Everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. Especially a big, shaved head man who looked like that X wrestler who is now a governor of I think, Minnesota. That’s when I decided that maybe I wasn’t really the family type. Maybe I’m more of a loner. Is there anything wrong with that?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I went to TGI Fridays for breakfast. As soon as I sat down I noticed a woman and a little boy about the same age as Cal. He was wearing the same shoes (crocs) as Cal but a different color. He bit into an orange slice and made a strange face and his mother laughed. It was really sweet but really weird because last night, Cal did the same thing but with a lemon wedge. He made a face and his mom laughed. When the little boy from TGI Fridays left, he turned and said, “Bye oranges.” It was really cute. Made me wonder if I could handle raising a child again.

Drove to a bookstore to sign books. It wasn’t an official signing. I just signed books for them to sell. I kept getting lost and irritated but finally found my way. I stopped in a neighborhood that some might not consider too safe. But the guy I asked for directions was super nice and got me there.

Drove into Blytheville, Arkansas. Spent the afternoon in my hotel room. Ironed my clothes and then ran to Taco Bell for dinner. Didn’t feel like eating alone in a restaurant again. Decided to let the TV keep me company. Can’t make a habit of eating fast food. I have to get up at 6 tomorrow and face 150 kids. Should be interesting. I am loving this life.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Went to a high school at 8 in the morning. It’s so weird to speak to high school students. I feel like I’m in high school again and it’s kind of scary to stand up in front of them. It was 150 students. Some of the fell asleep while I was talking. I kept wondering if they thought I was the biggest geek alive. I didn’t sell many books. I think they kind of liked it when I read to them. Some of them laughed. But I’m not sure if they were laughing at me or at the jokes. Nobody wanted to ask questions when I was finished speaking. The second group of high school students seemed more interested. No one fell asleep. I guess it’s going to depend on each group. One guy came and asked me to speak Cajun. It’s funny to think that people think it’s an entirely different language. They seem to like it though. That afternoon, I went to another high school. The drama teacher made some students dress up in chicken costumes and do the chicken dance for me. It was kind of funny. Then I went to an elementary school. They asked more questions. I think I like talking to middle school students more. They seem to be more interested. I guess I can understand. It’s hard being in high school. You’re constantly worried what people think about you. I’m not even in high school anymore and I was worried what they thought about me. Marvel from That Book Store in Blytheville drove me around to all of the schools. She was so nice. Mary Gay owns the store and she’s super nice as well. She told me that when John Grisham published his first book, he went to their store and asked them to sell his book and if he could have an event. They took a chance on him when no one else would. Now, he goes there every time he writes a book and signs all of their stock. Mary Gay said they usually sell around 2,000 copies to people all over the world because they know that the books are signed. Every time an author visits they let him/her sign a chair. It’s a really cool store. I hope I get to go back.

After the last school, I drove for 6 and a half hours in the rain to get to Monroe, Louisiana. After I ironed my clothes and ate some Wendy’s, I fell asleep. Well, I tossed and turned until morning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I had to get up at 5:30 this morning. Betty Joe (the coolest woman in the world) from Windows, a Book Shop, picked me up at 6:30 to go to a radio interview with a guy who was kind of a shock jock. He was pretty cool but spoke so loud and I was still half asleep. I could barely speak. The next interview was with a woman and was a little more subdue. She talked about her daughter’s mid-evil themed wedding and how she was going to wear a sexy witch costume and then cackle at her son in law at the reception. Then she looked at me and told me to put on the earphones and said, “We’re on the air.” I think this interview went a little better. It’s kind of hard to speak about the book. I guess I’m just not used to people asking me so many questions. I feel like Don after he won the chicken-judging contest. I went to two middle schools to speak. The kids were very energetic and asked a lot of questions. Some of them are really cool and I feel great that they seem so interested. But then I noticed some of the cool kids and I felt like they were judging me. One of them raised his hand today to ask a question and I was a little surprised. Then he asked me to do the Chicken Dance and I knew he was kind of being smart. So I just smiled and told him that it wasn’t in my contract. Isn’t it crazy that I got intimidated by a 6th grader?

After the second school, I had a book signing at Windows. The women who own it are Pat and Elizabeth. They are really amazing. They do so much for the community. They host a radio program and write book reviews for the Sunday paper. These independent bookstores really reach out to the community and try to get kids to read. I wish there was a bookstore in Abbeville that did the same.

I was so tired after everything that I fell asleep for a few hours when I got back to my hotel room. So that means that I’ll probably be up late tonight. I’m ready to go home. I love what I’m doing but it’s hard living out of a suitcase and being moved from place to place to speak to groups. But I’m still positive that there is nothing that I’d rather do than write and encourage others to do the same.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Chicken Bathroom Bingo

When I was in college, one of my fraternity brothers suggested having a chicken bathroom (the number two) bingo as a fundraiser. He explained that the way the game worked was that you put a caged chicken on top of a piece of plywood painted with numbers like a bingo card. People would buy tickets with numbers on them and hope that the chicken would use the bathroom on that number. None of us had ever seen chicken bathroom bingo before (say that fast five times) and thought it to be a little odd and perhaps dangerous.

We never had the fundraiser but almost fifteen years later, I decided to “use it” in my novel, The Chicken Dance. The local grocery store in the novel used chicken bathroom bingo to pick a number every Saturday morning, and the first customer who bought the exact dollar amount of groceries that morning, won a prize. One morning, Don’s mother was the winner and Don received a KC and The Sunshine Band album. It became a large part of his life and helped him to get through tough times.

When I was living in Austin this summer, I ran across an advertisement for a bar called Ginny’s that played chicken bathroom (not really the word they used but this is a family show) bingo every Sunday night. I had never been to one and decided that I needed to check it out since I had written about it and people might ask questions.

I convinced a friend to come with me, and so we headed to the bar with different hopes and expectations. I fantasized about the chicken looking me in the eyes and then walking over to my number and dropping off a load. Then I imagined balloons falling from the sky and photographers coming from out of nowhere to snap a picture of me, and my winning ticket. I thought the Austin Chronicle would feature a story about me and that I’d have the publicity of my dreams for my novel. My friend hoped that there would be mashed potatoes and a biscuit with his chicken.

“What?” I asked him.

“When we eat the chicken,” he said. “I hope it comes with side orders.”

I asked him what he was talking about and he said that he thought we were going to play bingo and eat chicken.

After I explained it to him, he said, “Oh. Huh.”

“I told you we were going to play chicken bathroom bingo,” I said. “Where did you think the bathroom part came in?”

“I hadn’t figured that out yet,” he said.

I laughed until my side hurt while he stared ahead, upset that he wouldn’t be eating the Kernel’s secret recipe, while an MC yelled out a numbered printed on a little ball.

When we pulled into the parking lot of Ginny’s, we were greeted by a motorcycle gang, contestants from a beauty contest, a wedding party and about 15 dogs.

“Look,” my friend said. “I’ll go in but you have to promise me that we won’t stay long and that we’ll go out for chicken after.”

We shook on it and then made our way into the tiny bar. Inside was a band that played everything from Hank Williams Jr. to Lynard Skynard. The lead singer was a large man who wore a shirt that said, “I’m on a seafood diet. I see food and eat it.”

The rest of the crowd consisted of sorority girls, men with full-grown ZZ Top beards and gold teeth, and a 70 year old woman in a flowered mini-skirt and cowboy boots, who immediately grabbed my hand and told me that I had to dance with her.

After she spun me around for a few songs, she released me and I went stand in line to buy tickets for the bingo. Ginny herself sold me a ticket and kissed me on the cheek and wished me good luck.

“I don’t need it,” I told her. “I wrote a book about this.”

She gave me the smile most people give me when they have no idea what I’m saying and suspect that I might be a few fries short of a Happy Meal. And so I walked over to my friend and showed him our tickets.

“Are you ready to win $100 cash?" I asked. "At $2 a beer, we can pass a good time yeah, cher!”

My friend didn’t understand my Cajun expression and gave me the same smile that Ginny had given me. Then he who told me that he’d spoken to the bride and groom of the wedding party.

“It was a wild west themed wedding,” he said. “And right when the groom was about to say I do, an actor playing Jesse James came up and grabbed the bride. And then they had a pretend gun fight for her.”

“Are you sure it was a wedding,” I asked. “And that he wasn’t just describing a scene from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman?”

My friend introduced me to the mother of the groom and she assured me that a wedding had taken place and that the entire party had been drinking for three days straight. Then a man standing two feet away vomited on my shoes.

“Fantastic,” I said. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to go and watch that chicken and make sure it goes number two on 52.”

If you’ve ever watched a chicken and waited for it to use the bathroom, you’ll know that it happens in a matter of seconds. Chickens don’t squat like dogs, so there is no forewarning that something great is about to happen. It just walks around and so you have to watch to see if it leaves anything behind. When it did, the entire crowd cheered and seconds later the room was filled with little red tickets of disappointment, excitement and laughter, flying through the air.

Neither my friend nor I had the winning ticket, but since I’d only spent two dollars, and planned to write it off on my taxes as research, I wasn’t too depressed. I was actually kind of happy because the lead singer of the band (the one on the see food diet) won for the first time in the twenty years that he’d been performing at Ginny’s and I had been there to witness it.

Later that night as I drove my friend to a chicken restaurant so he could get his mashed potatoes and biscuit, I thought about my evening. Although I hadn’t written about a bar in the fictional town of Horse Island, I could picture Ginny’s standing on Main street, sandwiched between Horse Island Food and Furniture and Connie’s Cones and Condiment Stand. Some people have called The Chicken Dance whimsical and borderline unbelievable. Well, these people have obviously never been to Ginny’s for Chicken Bathroom Bingo.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dear Tony

Dear Tony,

Since you are the only one who reads this blog faithfully, or only say that you read it faithfully, this week’s blog is going to be a letter to you. I can’t believe we're 38 and you have three kids. Dude, we’re like grown up now. Do you remember how cool we thought we were in college? It’s a wonder that we didn’t get beat up. Anyway, yesterday I had a book signing at Lily’s. It was kind of weird to have these people spend $16.95 ($18.31 after taxes) to read something that I wrote. I hope they don’t read it and don’t like. Do you think people can return books? I hope not. I’ve already spent my advance. So, do you ever think about political office? You told me in college that one day you were going to be governor of Louisiana. Is that still the plan? So, you don’t think you look the same as you did back in college? I totally still look like I’m 21. Well, except the hair is growing on my back instead of my head. Oh yeah, two people that I hadn’t seen since college showed up. One was Michelle Vidrine who I was really good friends with my freshman year and the other one was Muffy, a girl I met in my first English class. She’s the one that convinced me it was cool to wear biker shorts to class. I’m sorry but in 100% weather, biker shorts are not cool. I went to her wedding in college and I never got her a wedding gift. I feel so bad. I’d give her a book but she already bought one. Oh well. So tonight I had another book signing. It was at this cool store in Abbeville called The Depot. It was kind of a book signing/party because there were drinks and meat pies. They were really good and this guy named Chef Bobby donated them. His food is amazing. So that’s a party, right? It was kind of cool. I saw a lot of people that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I forgot how friendly people here are. Everyone in the Parish has been very supportive. So I guess what I’m saying, Tony, is you need to buy the book. And you need to buy your parents a book because they were like parents to me and I’d like them to have one. But not a free one. One that cost $18.31 plus tax. I know they’d want you to pay full price for it. Hey, remember when we made that deal that when we got old, the richer of the two would pay off the other one’s credit card debt? Well, guess what. I’m thinking of going to Aruba next month and I don’t have a job. So, I guess that means you win. I’m just kidding. I wouldn’t make you pay up on that debt. We were so stupid in college. But now we’re grown men with ear hair and arthritis. You have a great career, a beautiful wife and three kids. And I’m living in my momma’s house in the same bed in the same room I grew up in minus the Lionel Richie poster. But, I wouldn’t trade it for the world right now. We need to meet up soon. Let me figure out my schedule and I'll email you. Or write it on this blog. So, if you really read this like you say you do, you’ll send me an email and tell me that you read it.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Loss of Something

I was always taught that to lose something was a bad thing. But what if the search for the lost item reveals something much more valuable? Is the loss still a bad thing?

I was presented with this question, when I lost a pair of three day old sunglasses. It began with a trip to my now number one favorite swimming hole in Austin. It’s usually a dried up pile of rocks but due to an enormous amount of rain, the pile of rocks has turned into beautiful, flowing river.

My first time to the river to swim was with my sister, Kay who was visiting me. People of all ages sunbathed on the banks of the rivers, or rode inner tubes up and down or just let the rushing water carry their bodies down the stream.

I decided to join in the fun, and let a gushing stream of water pull me down the river. It was a bit scary at first but also somewhat of an adrenaline rush. That is until I lost my sunglasses.

Normally, I would have considered them a casualty of an afternoon of summer fun. But they were only three days old and had been purchased to replace another pair. So I jumped on the banks of the river and then ran down to an area where the water leveled out.

Across the river, a little further down was a small cliff. Perfect, I thought. I could climb to the top of the cliff and look for my sunglasses which I hoped would be floating somewhere around in the water.

On top of the cliff sat a group of teenagers. I wondered if they were also looking for sunglasses or maybe a missing shoe. I was wrong on both accounts because the teenagers were simply waiting for their turn to jump off of the cliff into the water below.

I looked down at the water and my heart sped up. I have a terrible fear of falling and I began to wonder why I had climbed up there in the first place. I didn’t see my sunglasses and so decided to climb back down to the ground below.

But then this one kid who couldn’t have been more than fifteen stood on the edge of the cliff with his back facing the water.

“I’m going to do a back flip,” he said. “But not a real fast one because I’m so drunk.”

At first I thought, Wow. I want to see this. But then the adult in me said I should do something to stop this drunk kid from killing himself. But before I could even think about what to say without sounding like an un-cool old guy, the kid jumped and did exactly what he said he was going to do. He cut a slow back flip and managed to live.

So I start thinking that if a drunk fifteen year old boy could cut a slow back flip from this cliff and not kill himself, then there was no reason that I, a 37 year old sober man, couldn’t at least jump feet first without killing myself. But I was so scared. I wonder what would happen if I slipped or if it wasn’t deep enough. I had a slight ear infection and wondered if the jump would irritate it. I came up with tons of reasons why I shouldn’t jump. But finally decided that they weren’t good enough and wondered what it was that I was really scared of. I didn’t know and decided that I should find out.

And so I took a deep breath and then took a few steps forward and jumped. Every muscle in my body tightened. I could feel my heart beating so fast that I thought it might pop out of my chest. And suddenly my whole body became cold. Then I hit the water. And that’s when I realized what I had done. I had conquered a fear. And in a weird way it made me realize that if I could jump from the cliff that I could handle all of the things that life will hand me. And I learned all of this while searching for a pair of three day old sunglasses.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

An Old Journal Entry from Buenos Aires

November 1, 2006

Right now I’m in my apartment eating some empanadas from a place called, Solo Empanadas. They are so good. They should open a chain in the US. They’d make millions.

This afternoon I went for a run and found a running trail through a bird sanctuary. The trail goes along this huge river for a while. It’s really beautiful. There are parrots and these big lizards about the size of a Chihuahua everywhere. It’s kind of freaky when one runs in front of you. But they don’t look like they bite so I should be okay.

There were a bunch of people playing soccer in the fields before the running trail. Every where there is a patch of grass in the city, there are people playing soccer. I think I’ve only played the game once at summer camp for about five minutes. I’m a little scared to tell people here that I don’t really watch soccer. I think that would be a sin here.

I also saw a bunch of heart statues in this plaza. I guess it's part of an outdoor art exposition. I think it's really cool. They did the same things with cows in Chicago and New York and with Pelicans in Lafayette.

I went to the grocery store this morning. I bought what I thought was suntan lotion but when I rubbed it on my skin, I realized that it was liquid soap. I guess I need to learn Spanish. When I first lived in Paris, I did the same thing with cat food and pate'. But if all I have to worry about in life is bringing home soap instead of suntan lotion or cat food instead of pate', then I guess I’m doing okay.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Top Ten Things I Noticed About Argentina

When I moved to Buenos Aires for a couple of months last fall, I promised my family stories of Argentina. I wrote tons of stories with the intention of publishing them on my blog but never got around to it. Well, I guess better later than never would apply here. I am going to try and publish some of these stories along with some of the stories of Austin. And I’ve also thought of ways to combine the two.

But this blog is going to be short and be about the top things I noticed about Argentina:

1. Food is cheap but clothes are not. You can get a great bottle of red wine for $5.
2. People at stores don’t like to give change. They want you to give them exact change even if they have a bucket in front of them filled with enough change to do the backstroke in.
3. There are people who walk around with carts and bags filled with plastic bottles. I don’t know if they work for a recycling program or if they just like plastic bottles. I’m not judging. I’m just saying that it’s interesting.
4. Argentines are proud people and truly believe that they live in the most amazing country in the world and that they are the most beautiful people in the world. Once I went to the bathroom in a bar and I couldn’t get to the sink to wash my hands because there were twenty-five guys fixing their hair. I guess if I had hair, I’d do the same. A lot of the guys have faux hawks or tails
5. Patagonia takes your breath away. Mostly because it’s cold and not too far from the South Pole. But it is simply beautiful and makes you look at life in a different way.
6. They speak Spanish in Argentina.
7. There is a large river in Buenos Aires that looks like an ocean. It has waves and you can’t see the other side. Yet, they call it a river. It takes you to Uruguay.
8. The empanadas are amazing. They are even better if you eat them while watching a couple dance the tango.
9. A seven o’clock appointment means anytime after eleven. Even the next day is fair game.
10. I loved every minute of it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rope Swing

About a twenty-five minute drive from Austin and a thirty minute hike through the forest is a beautiful river with a rope swing. Bohemian liberals and teenagers rest on the large flat rocks in the river. They seem as relaxed as if they had been born there and that they are safe from all of the evils of the world.

On a recent, warm summer day, two of my friends and I headed to the river with the rope swing. One of my friends described the scene as a Country Time Lemonade commercial. The other as the beginning scene of a summer camp horror movie before the killer finds its victims.

We set our towels down on a rock directly across from the rope swing. I jumped into the water immediately because I wanted to feel like I was part of the beauty of the river and the people surrounding it.

And then I sat down on my towel to relax and that’s when the rope swing captured my full attention. I became fascinated with watching the people swing from it. Some of them took it on as an Olympic sport. They cut flips and dove. They had grace and style as they dismounted from the rope into the water.

At one point, my friends asked me if I wanted to go on the rope swing. I told them no and then I sat and watched them. I thought the water might be too cold and I was too comfortable and I came up with a ton of other excuses why I couldn’t go.

When we left, I thought that I’d had a great day and was lucky to experience the river. But there was also something following me as I hiked out of the forest and I didn’t know what it was. I was beginning to wonder if my friend was right and I was in a horror movie and the killer was on my trail. Ironically, I was more accurate than I realized.

This came to me a couple of days later when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. covered in sweat. My entire body was tense and stiff. I decided to go for a run to clear my head. And while I was running, I realized what followed me out of that forest. It was fear.

I’m thirty-seven years old and throughout my life I’ve quit several jobs without having a new one. I’ve moved to several cities throughout the US and other countries without knowing the language or a single person. And yet, I was scared of a rope swing.

I wasn’t scared that I would be physically hurt, but I was scared of what the people watching me would think. I was afraid that I wouldn’t look as graceful as many of them had. It’s the same fear I encounter whenever I dance or throw a ball or ride a horse. I have flashbacks to all of the times I was teased for my clumsiness.

I’ve let fear hold me back from doing several things in my life. And everyday I try to conquer this fear because I don’t ever want to look back and say, “I wish I had done that.”

As long as I continue to carry that fear around, it will continue to kill my spirit a little more each day like a cancerous tumor or like the murderer in a horror movie. I don’t know that I will ever fully conquer my fears, but I know that I will take a first step towards doing so. That being said, I promise to you and myself that before summer is over, I will go back to that river and I will swing from that rope. And I will have a great time doing it. Even if people laugh or point, I will know that I did no harm to the world and I am only curing myself.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Kid Again

Sometimes trying to write is as painful as trying to write. I’ve been in Austin for a few weeks now and I’ve been trying to come up with some funny way to tell you what I’ve been doing. But I just haven’t been inspired. But because I know I have five readers dying to know my every move, tonight I’m going to try and write my first blog entry about Austin.

For starters, I should tell you that right now I’m lying on a mattress on the floor, which I pulled into my walk in closet. I was sleeping on two air mattresses when I first got here because they fit in my truck and the delusional part of my brain told me that they were rugged and bohemian. After a few nights, I decided that if I wanted to be rugged and bohemian, I’d grow a beard and wear hiking boots, because those air mattresses were about as comfortable as listening to parents tell the story of the first time they were intimate together.

So, back to why my mattress is in my closet. The window outside of my bedroom is pretty thin so I can hear a lot of outside noise. This closet is the most quiet room in the apartment.

I just killed a roach. Either it is the same roach I saw a couple of minutes ago or I seriously need to run to the grocery store tomorrow and buy a gallon sized can of Raid. When I killed the roach, it splattered something nasty on my sheets. So I just changed my sheets.

But back to Austin. The reason I came here for the summer is because I visited a couple of months ago with a friend and liked it. The people are incredibly friendly and there is a great running trail by the river. I also needed to be alone in my own space.

Having my own apartment is sweeter than pouring honey on top of pile of sugar that is covered in syrup. And floating in melted chocolate.

It’s been several years since I’ve lived alone. I didn’t really like it because I’m from a big family and I’m used to always having some sort of commotion going on in the background. Sometimes I would just turn the TV on even though I wasn’t watching it, just so I didn’t feel so lonely. Those are the things I remember about being alone. I didn’t remember all of the amazing things that go with living alone.

1. It is my apartment. I can leave dirty dishes in the sink for months. (Don’t worry mom. I’m not)
2. I can make a sandwich at 4 in the morning in my underwear and not worry about waking someone up.
3. I can take baths and listen to heavy metal music for 3 hours if I feel like it.
4. I am ruler of the thermostat.

I could continue with the list but I think you get my point. But there are other things which are less obvious that I’m enjoying now. And in a weird way, all of the things I’m doing are things that I used to do as a kid.

I’ve been sleeping in a sleeping bag. I have sheets and a comforter but I just enjoy sleeping in a sleeping bag. It reminds me of my first sleeping bag. It was covered in Indians. My parents gave it to me for Christmas. I loved that thing and would sleep in it year round.

The other night, I lay on the floor, surrounded myself with candles and read a young adult book for ages 8 and up. Then I blew out the candles and fell asleep right there in the middle of the living room.

Right now, as you know, I am laying in my closet on my mattress. And to tell you the truth, I kind of like it. When I was a kid, I used to play and sleep and pretend that I lived in all of the closets in my parents’ house.

So I guess the reason I moved to Austin was so I could be a kid again. Which is kind of weird because I was finally starting to feel like an adult. That’s called irony. I think I just figured that out.

Anyway, I don’t expect this blog to win any Pulitzer prizes but I just wanted to let the four people who read it know what's going on. I will keep you posted on how long I sleep in this closet. And how it feels to be a kid again.