Calling All Angels

cwp Friday I couldn’t decide what made me more excited:  the thought of hearing Gavin DeGraw, or Train.  In a perfect storm of Friday, Summer, and My Favorite Bands, both were on the same stage in a concert that I couldn’t have dreamed up.  They were even going to have a band in between called The Script who came all the way from Ireland. They were all performing at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, an award-winning planned community off of I-45 outside of Houston, yet part of Houston all at the same time.

I had a friend who was supposed to come with me, but she ended up having to work, which is not always a bad thing.  So I recruited my twelve year old son, Christopher, to come with me.  I make him listen to a lot of Gavin DeGraw and Train in my car, so I knew he would know a lot of the words, even if he had internalized them under duress. Trust me:  we have “I Don’t Wanna Be” and “Soul Sister” down cold.  The thing I love about The Cynthia Woods Pavilion is that it is outside and easy to get to, and you could bring your whole family if you felt like it.  But I also wanted Christopher to know about George Phydias Mitchell, an amazing man who died last week on July 26th.  He was the man who developed The Woodlands, where over 120,000 people now reside, and he named the concert venue we were going to after his wife, Cynthia Woods Mitchell. Continue reading

The Pet Penalty


I’d never paid such a large deposit for an apartment before, but this was the requirement for the “luxury apartment” I rented upon moving to Houston.  It was because I was the owner of two golden-brown tabby cats.  The “pet deposit” was $250 per cat, plus there was a non-refundable “pet fee” of $250, simply for owning one.  This was in addition to the usual security deposit of $250.  On top of this, you paid a monthly “pet rent” of $10 per cat.  I agreed to all this, there being few alternatives.  Based on my previous experience as a renter, I expected that most or all of my deposit would be refunded.

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Honor the Texas Flag

Texans love to remind people that we were once an independent republic.  We throw that around a lot. People from California, Hawaii, and even Vermont like to push back that they too were once sovereign nations.  But Texas is bigger. And we were an independent country for almost a decade. California didn’t last a month, though they did get that cool bear-flag from their republic days. Texas had its own flag as well.  It was a single star on a field of blue. It’s the origin of the “Lone Star State” nickname.  Our current flag still has the lone star to remind us of our days as an independent republic. Did I mention that we were once an independent republic?

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Pursuits of Happiness; Or, Another Day in H-Town

This piece was reprinted in the 16 June 2013 Sunday edition of The Houston Chronicle as an essay in the Star features section.

Once I was at a conference in Dallas, or “Big-D” as they like to call it.  I think they like to call it that as it is almost the same exact thing as saying “Big Deal,” and so that tells you something right there.  The keynote was a well-known writer, Susan Orlean, and she had gotten famous writing pieces for The New Yorker and books of essays with exotic titles such as The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup.  She even wrote a book called The Orchid Thief which was made into a movie called “Adaptation” with Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep, so I was super excited to hear her.  I liked her writing, the way she observed things around her, put those things into prose that would stick with you, had the guts to talk to people she had never met.  In fact, you could say that I had an irrational exuberance regarding my second row seats in the Hilton ballroom where she was speaking.  Sometimes, there is no getting around it:  things are so thrilling, and it is impossible to be sad even if you have a really good reason.

But the first thing out of her mouth was, “I am so happy to be in Dallas, and not Houston. Houston is a hard city to love.” Continue reading