The artist

It’s important to know your strengths in life. During my last breakup, I drove all the way to a craft store to pick up art supplies in an attempt to express my feelings.
Then I got there and realized, I have no talent for painting or drawing.
I came back home and wrote a bad poem.

Things townies hear

It’s been almost two years since I moved back to the county where I grew up. I left the state, but not the region for a few years. I now live in the state capital, not the nearby smaller community where I lived as a child.

It’s good to be home. Still, it’s a little strange running into to people from my past all the time. And I do mean ALL THE TIME. They’re everywhere. It’s like they live here or something. They’re a constant reminder of the awkward, shy girl I was in high school and they always make for uncomfortable small talk.

Here are a couple awkward encounters I’ve had:

*The babysitter – I hadn’t had a sip all night. Actually, I was purposefully avoiding alcohol, even though a show at a bar put me in arm’s length of it all that night. I didn’t need the calories, for one thing. But when a cute friend suggested we take a shot together, I caved. (Did I mention he’s cute?). So it would be the exact moment he handed me the tiny glass filled with fruity liquor that a woman with long dark blond hair and a vaguely familiar face approached me.

“Are you Lori?” she said. I assumed we knew each other from my day job, which puts me in contact with lots of people. Or from the stage where I’ve been singing lately with a couple friends.

“Yes,” I said, smiling.

“I used to baby sit you at church,” she replied.

Yes, she did. I remembered then. She helped supervise in children’s church when I was a small thing. I remember her as the infinitely cool, but tyrannical teenager with long blond hair and an attitude.  I’m sure she remembered me as the home-schooled little girl with a homemade dress and a sparkly purple and yellow kids’ Bible.

Now, there we were, 20 years later and just 10 miles up the road from the teetotaling congregation where we grew up. My, how things change.

“Cheers,” I said, clinking my coconut rum shot glass against her Magic Hat bottle. At least she wasn’t drinking grape juice.

“Buy you another?” I should have said.


*”Do you want to dance?” There’s a bar here in town where you can find me nearly every week. One Thursday evening I noticed a somewhat familiar face in the crowd. I couldn’t place him. Thought maybe I’d graduated with him but when he approached me I found out otherwise.

“You may remember me from Husson’s Pizza. I hung out there from 2000 to 2003,” he said. I did not, in fact, remember him. But his thick, rural Appalachian accent took me right back to my hometown. (Sounds a little like this guy).

“Oh, OK. Hi!” I said.

I later turned down the offer to smoke pot with him and his repeated, repeated requests that we dance to “Sweet Caroline,” which was blaring over the bar speakers. (No one else was dancing, I might add).

In that moment, in a way that’s difficult to explain, it was like my entire hometown was hitting on me.


A favorite scene from my hometown.

Newbie guitarist seeks songs

Wanted: songs for a beginner guitar player to learn, master, then take on the road during (very distant future) world tour. Must be catchy and suitable for a female voice to sing along to. Acceptable chords: G, C, D, and E minor.  F-chords-heavy songs need not apply, as my hand currently hurts just thinking about forming it.  B-heavy songs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Preference will be given to happy songs and anything by Josh Ritter.

Send proposals to or comment below.


Talking to strangers

In the evenings lately, I’ve taken to practicing guitar on the front stoop of my apartment. It’s a nice change from the inside of my place, where I typically play.

I use “play” loosely. I’m learning. If I have a guitar in my hands you can usually hear rough versions of OCMS’s Wagon Wheel (Not Darius Rucker‘s version. Sorry, I still love me some Hootie, though). Josh Ritter’s Idaho or the opening notes from Falling Slowly (from the award winning movie and Broadway musical Once).

The other day in the middle of my umpteenth “Rock me, mama,” and G chord, a man in a beat-up brown Oldsmobile stopped his car in the middle of the street and parked in front of my apartment.  He got out with his two little boys (there was a baby still in the car, one of the boys told me). He wore an old wifebeater and shorts.

“Hey, can you show me how to play your guitar?” he said. He must have sensed my hesitancy. “I promise I’m not gonna run off with it.”

Sure, that’s what I would say if I were about to steal someone’s guitar. I suspended whatever fear I had of talking to strangers/getting robbed, raped or murdered. And showed him a G chord and how to hold the thing.  He was actually quite nice, despite the whole leaving a-baby-in-the-car thing.

“You know that song, ‘Hey there Delilah?'” he said. (How could I not?) “I really wanna learn to play that. I figure if I ever get a girl, I could sing her that song.”


The view from my stoop



Out of commission

The bike is out of commission for a while. Last week I was riding it and the brakes started locking up. I didn’t realize that was the problem at the time though. I was in the middle of traffic when it became more and more difficult to pedal. I went from a nice cruising speed to barely crawling by, putting all of my leg strength in and not going far at all.

Finally I came to a dead stop, got off and pretended to know what I was looking for when I gave it a once-over. Making it worse, there was a man with face tattoos on the corner watching the whole time, giving me the what’s-this-girl’s-problem look. And I was wearing my helmet, so I already felt ridiculous. I pushed it the rest of the way home, mustering up what was left of my dignity and giving the face-tattoo man a nod and a “how’re you?” as I walked by.

I think it’s time to take the $20 bike in for a $30 tune-up.

Life’s rough, get a helmet

Thanks to a generous friend and his desire not to, as he puts it, “feed me soup,” after a traumatic brain injury, I am now a legitimate, helmeted member of the cycling community. Just this morning I put the helmet on and biked to my favorite coffee shop in town to blog.

As helmets go, it’s pretty stylish. (That may be akin to saying that one toddler is a less-sticky toddler than other toddlers. All toddlers are pretty sticky, and all bike helmets are pretty unattractive.) It’s black and white and has a knob for adjusting in the back.

I am safer, though. And safe is the point.

Does anyone have any tips for looking OK in a helmet? Any recommendations for sticker decorations?


Porch envy

noun. A condition common to 20-something professionals (and others) who leave their tiny apartments on bikes or on foot and wander around their historic-district neighborhoods. Characterized by a strong desire to sit on a porch swing and sip lemonade on a summer afternoon and grow flowers in a hanging basket.
See also yard envy and dog ownership envy.