Off the Page

No Telling

This has been an unanticipated, extended blog break, hasn’t it? The thing is, the dozens of times I sat down to write, I came up blank. I firmly believe there’s no such thing as writer’s block, but I do believe in a kind of swirling madness that keeps writers unfocused and off the page.

There’s simply been too much going on and most of it was bad. Writing about unhappy events day after day feels too much like a junior high diary flashback, and we all know that’s no place to park a healthy psyche. Besides, there are enough Whiner Blogs out there who do this sadness-and-sorry thing much better than I ever could. I did a great deal of scribbling with fountain pens and Moleskines, not that I’ll ever want to read back over any of that maudlin crap. The beauty of a notebook is that 1) you can close it, and 2) you can throw the whole mess in the forgettable top of a closet or sling it into a fireplace.

Then the heavens opened up, remembered all that karma/balance business, and dropped something lovely in my lap. One of my other blogs, Easy Street Prompts, was listed on Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers. I danced, I twirled, I made up celebratory songs and sang them with the Perfect Grandson. Then I ran away with friends to Branson so we could do the post-final-exams shopping trip. We drank wine, ate sushi, and stormed the outlet malls. Glorious, I tell you.

Not until I returned did I remember the Easy Street site was kind of a forgotten mess. It took a little paint and html coding, but all is right with the world there now. In the process I found that making up prompts for others helped to get me back on the (nonflammable) page.

While I still don’t feel like writing up the sad things just yet, I’ve decided angry and funny are perfectly comfortable right now. There are plenty of fist-waving disasters and head-shaking crazies out there to keep me on the page while I work through those other things.

I believe I’m mostly cured now. Between inclusion on the Writer’s Digest list and that Liz Claiborne bag I fount at 70% off, I’m golden.

Worshipping at the Outlet Malls. Can I have an Amen?


We’re back and we’re broke and it was a marvelous Outlet Mall Getaway. I could have put up photographs of the gorgeous Marriott where we lounged like excommunicated queens, or shown you proof of the tornado devastation we saw along Hwy 65. I might have even posted a picture or two of the several large-as-small-cities outlet malls where we pounded pavement and spend our unearned Dubya money, but I didn’t. The fact is I only took three pictures on the entire trip and one of those was so awful I just deleted it forever. This one, taken on our way back at a roadside flea market stop, is my favorite anyway.

I hate people who are so busy immortalizing their good times on film that they forget to actually have a good time. At least that’s my excuse.

Ah, Branson. What an interesting place. The whole town exists for tourism and it does a pretty good job. Take Nashville, clean its face of the arty coolness factor, add some old Vegas neon, and set the whole thing to music with a steel guitar. Sprinkle in some high-end swanky hotels and townhouses, then pepper the whole city with red-roofed outlet shop promise. That’s Branson, Missouri. Like Disney World, it has several different themes. I imagine an extended Branson experience would be much like visiting The Magical Kingdom, actually – except you’d have to section out the experiences yourself because Branson isn’t about to put it in neat little excursion piles for you. It’s charming.

I bought a lot less than I thought I would and my feet hurt a great deal more than I expected. It was a serious shopping trip. The Perfect Grandson is well-dressed for a least a month now and I found shoes that are actually made for walking. Although I don’t think we ever saw a bookstore, I still found goodies elsewhere. The only real defeat was my unsuccessful quest for the Perfect Bag. If you can’t buy it in Branson, it’s possible it simply doesn’t exist. It may take me a week or so to make peace with that.

The best part of the trip was the easy, no timetable, sauntering nature of this Gal Trip. We told stories and laughed and finally just exhaled after nine months of students (except for someone who’s been on sabbatical for a whole semester, bless her heart).

I’d like to go back, next time with a different entertainment focus. Kind of the Campy Branson Tour so I could include a stop at the wax museum, take the ghost tour, spend an afternoon at the Monster Asylum, and hit all those marvelous miniature golf courses. I live to people-watch. In the South, we can be eccentric like that and no one cares.

I’ll leave you with the only other picture I took. It’s from some gas station in Clinton, so it’s more of an “en route” kind of thing. You know, I do weddings as well.

NaFloScribMo hits the road and the Outlet Malls


I’m leaving in the morning for a Road Trip With The Girls to Branson for a couple of days of shopping frenzy. And while I realize there are all manner of feisty country music venues in Branson, I think it’s safe to say we’ll not be attending any of them. This trip has a purpose and that purpose is shopping. We’re focused.
Those Tax Stimulus/Rebate checks are burning holes in our handbags.
Picture this: Five or six writing professors in a minivan driving the tornado-decimated back roads of Arkansas en route to the half-price shopping mecca of Branson, Missouri. Look out, roadside yard sales. Clear the doorways, country flea markets. The shopping starts the minute we turn on Hwy 65 and won’t stop until we’re all dead broke. Or Wednesday, because this is only a two-day jaunt. There won’t be a single man in the car, so we can stop every ten minutes if we feel like it.
Outlet malls as far as the eye can see – that’s Branson. Forget the tacky ‘Las Vegas-South’ shows, we don’t have time for choreographed entertainment. We’ve got to spend Dubya’s parting gift.
I plan to come back with photos and fresh Overheard Conversations, so look out.