I’m Kit Frazier, a former big city journalist and
award-winning mystery writer who bumped into a cowboy and woke up in the wild, wild west, on a river 60 miles from nowhere in the rolling Hill Country of Central Texas.
In the process, my Border collie and I have inherited two step children, a big goofy white Labrador retriever, a Ninja Kitty and more cows than you can shake a stick at.
I’m learning all kinds of new things, like how to muck cow poo for fertilizer, how to grow and mix feed, and all kinds of ways to live off the land.
And how to castrate bulls. You would think that would make Chap nervous . . .
And, of course, how to deal with surly teenagers, get them to eat vegetables, to explain to them that corn and potatoes are not vegetables and french fries don’t count, and *gasp* how to help them do their homework without actually doing it for them.
And I’m learning how to write with a whole bunch of other people, animals and chores that need attention.
Soon, I hope to be able to have houseplants that don’t commit herbicide . . .
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I thought I’d have changed the world by now . . . a thank you to Steve Jobs
IN TEN MINUTES, today will be my birthday, and, every year on my birthday, I take stock of my life, the year that’s passed, what I have and have not accomplished, and what I hope to accomplish this year, and I have to say, I’m a little disappointed. I thought I would have changed the world by now.
And roughly around the time Steve Jobs died today, so did Rogue, my little Mac iBook that I used to write five and ahalf novels (and no, I did not back up the half of the novel that’s lurking in my dearly departed hard drive). In a very real way, Mr. Jobs was responsible (or at least co-conspirator) in my career as a writer.
Like many writers, I was born with ink in my blood, and wrote my first mystery novel, illustrated with a 24-count box of Crayola Crayons on typing paper when I was six. It was a story about mysterious gifts left for good little mice.
*Spoiler Alert* The culprit behind these mysterious holiday high jinks was Santa “Claws,” a benevelant puss who snuck in screen doors and left little chunks of cheese for his mousy minions.
I wrote “books” and screen plays with an old blue Remington Scout typewriter, given to me by who else? Santa Claws (thank you Mama .
With gift of that rickety old typwriter, the lid, literally came of the Pandora’s Box of creativity and so began my quest to make people laugh.
I laboriously typed copy after copy of my little stories and sold them at school–one of which got me my first detention. Santa Claws rewarded that caper with a Commodore 64, and I was overjoyed.
And far more prolific.
One of my first masterpieces was “The Tale of the Terrified Typing Teacher,” a thriller about a young girl and her cat being framed by a tyranical teacher for the mysterious disappearance of all “K” keys (aha! a clue) on all the classroom keyboards.
Then along came Steve Jobs, who brought us Lisa–my first little Mac. The small, box-like computer changed my life. No longer was I detained for producing a few measly copies of Mad Magazine-style sagas about fiendish homework hoodlums and maniacal math problems designed to cause dizziness, memory loss and explosive diarreah.
That little publication earned me a standing ovation in the lunch room, and my very first mark on my Permanent Record in the principal’s office.
Steve Jobs was not just a business man–he was a visionary and a rebel. He was the founder (or at least the enabler) of millions of other Gen Xers who would go on to create mass creative anarchy, ten keystrokes at a time. He unleashed the imagination of an entire generation, and continues to do so today.
Today, in a keystroke of irony, as I began this little homage about my birthday and the death of the man who enabled my career, my iBook did the unthinkable. She performed a permanent crash, complete with a little quivering little question mark flashing on her blank screen. My little iBook was following, I suppose, Mr. Jobs back to the Mother Ship.
And so her screen has gone dark, taking with her the five and a half novels and every newspaper article I’ve written.
And no, I did not back up.
The Big Crash is the result of a woman roaring 80 miles per hour and hit me head on April 29, and in a nasty bit of irony, she was texting–not using an iPhone but some other low rent knock off–while driving.
This Big Crash put a big crimp in my Change the World Plan, due to the resulting constant stabbing back pain, memory glitches, the loss of my job, and a big crack in my little Mac.
Rogue (the name of my little iBook) held on as long as she could, bless her little hard drive. And while she and I weren’t able to Change the World this year, we did manage to make a few people laugh.
Right before the accident, I did a book signing in Dallas.
While I was happily autographing numerous acknowlegement pages, I noticed a woman in line, the way you notice the gaze of a person who seems to want something from you.
As she approached, tears welled in her eyes and she handed me my books. She said, “I know you’re supposed to buy the book here and then have it signed, but I brought these from home.”
“That’s okay,” I said, and came around the table to sign her books. “Here, what would you like me to write?”
She said, “To Judy.”
“Okay Judy,” I said and she began to cry.
”I’m not Judy. Judy is my sister,” she said. “I read these books to her while I sat with her through chemotherapy. They made her laugh. These were on her bedside table when she died.”
So okay. I didn’t change the world this year. But I hope I did change it a little bit of it that day.
I’m going to leave the little question mark flashing away on my Mac.
And when I look at the question mark, I will continue to ask myself that one question, “What can I do to help change the world?”
How I got here . . .
Contrary to popular opinion, I do not up and marry every cowboy who asks me.
The first time I was proposed to traumatized both me and my mama, and it certainly did not end with a big white dress flowin’ down a long red church aisle.
It so happens I was my minding my own business (isn’t that how it always happens?), drawing pictures of kitty cats instead of doing my fourth grade math lesson when Bud Epperson turned away from making glue chips in his desk tray and informed me that he was going to marry me.“I’m gonna marry you,” he growled.I thought maybe he’d gotten too good a whiff of that glue, but he was dead serious –or as serious as you can get in the fourth grade—and he said, “I’m gonna hold you down and cut your fingernails and you’re gonna milk cows. I’m gonna marry you.”
Of course I was horrified and ran straight home to ask my mother if he really could make me cut my fingernails and milk cows.Horrified her ownself, Mama immediately enrolled my sister and I in Charm School.
Apparently, she thought teaching us to eat with the right fork and walk with books on our heads would not only whip us into marriageable shape, but would also make us impervious to the average, every day redneck.Sadly, redneckedness rubs off on you a lot faster than charm does.
Oh, sure, we learned how to artfully apply makeup, how to win beauty pageants and the proper way to cross your legs (at the ankles, with knees pressed together, which incidentally I found out later, is also a perfectly acceptable form of birth control and is still being taught in many a Texas school).
Mama knew a lot about charm, having pulled herself up by her own petticoats and escaped a life of redneckedness her ownself.She also knew through cowboy encounters of her own that these boys can be charming in their own right and they are like Cheese Doodles.
Once you’ve had one, you pretty much want the whole bag and then you’d spend the rest of your life with Doodle Dust down the front of your shirt.
And so it was that we were shielded from blatant redneckedness until well after the age when many southern girls lose their virginity in the back bed of a pickup truck, hanging onto a gun rack, which was always my mother’s greatest fear. It turns out there are worse things that could happen.This weekend, Chap and I are going to be castrating calves.
Somebody, get me a gun rack . . .
As you whiz past your Twenties with a fond goodbye and jump on that bullet train tearing toward Middle Age, you expect certain things out of life.
Yes, there are the inevitable down sides, like those nagging questions from well-meaning family and friends– “So, y’all are tryin’ right?” The obvious implication being, “You’re starin’ down the barrel of a barren womb and times-a-wastin’.”
Since when was a couple’s sex life ever so exposed as approaching Middle Age? You’re expected to provide a full report of where, when and how you are doing the deed, and what doctor you’re seeing, and “have you tried a turkey baster, Dear?”–this last one from my Great Aunt Margarite.
But there are supposed to be upsides to attaining one’s majority.
Like getting thicker skin, the kind that allows you to watch the six o’clock news without ripping through an entire box of Puffs Plus while your loved one holds you down to stop you from snatching up the cell phone to adopt the dog, the kid or the old lady who’s been wronged.
I still can’t watch the Christmas coffee commercials with the soldier coming home.
And now my very good friend is getting married. Again.
Surely we should no longer be expected to participate in weddings–our own or anyone else’s. The happy happy showers. The happy happy parties. The happy happy revolving-door of department store dressing rooms and china patterns. You would think that second marriages wouldn’t require a shower . . .
And, here it is, and I have been appointed as hostess, and have the lucky advantage of a six-month lead. And while I am truly happy for them and wish them the best of luck, I worry.
I hate to be a cynic, but with every other marriage ending in divorce (I know this from experience-as should she), it just reminds me of the old “Screaming Monkey,” adage–when you kiss a screaming monkey, you will inevitably get a nasty bite in the head. Go figure.
I admit it–as a writer who has seen a lot and done a lot and survived a lot, I may be a bit jaded. I am no longer a Hopeless Romantic.
But I like to think I’m a Hopeful Romantic.
And I wish the Happy Couple the Best of Luck. And I will supply a vat of Screaming Monkey Anti-Venom. And a super-sized box of Puffs Plus.