Studies in Royal Herpetology: The Tale of Bundy


Herpetologist – noun\ˌhər-pə-ˈtä-lə-jist\: One Who Specializes in Study of Reptiles and Amphibians

If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to check out my first Royal Herpetology post to learn more about this fascinating field of study: Studies in Royal Herpetology: The Tale of Bobbio

 “The Tale of Bundy”

“Optimist” is a word which refers to a person who thinks hopeful and pleasant thoughts about nearly everything. For instance, if an optimist had his left arm chewed off by an alligator, he might say, in a pleasant and hopeful voice, “Well, this isn’t too bad. I don’t have my left arm anymore, but at least nobody will ever ask me whether I am right-handed or left-handed,” but most of us would say something more along the lines of “Aaaaah! My arm! My arm!”
– Lemony Snicket

Oh – why can’t I quit you? True, it’s been a couple of years since I dared to subscribe to you and your tempting lure of false hope. And yet every few months, I consider signing up again. BUT WHY? Every normal guy I meet looks at me as if I were some interesting species of rodent. And yet every creepy weirdo finds me absolutely irresistible. Although I hear about so many happy soulmates who you have brought together, you have failed to bring me anything but losers and psychopaths.

Speaking of psychopaths, I think there’s a chance that the last actual honest-to-goodness date that I was on was with a serial killer. I’m going to call him “Bundy.” Much like the real life murderer Ted Bundy, this guy seemed charming and friendly. He reminded me of some awkwardly endearing British actor. Tall, lanky stature? Check. Roguish mop of hair flopping down into chocolatey brown eyes? Check. Beaky yet adorable nose slightly too big for his face? Check. Sweetly quirky sense of humor? Check.

Keep calm and carry on, amiright?

I guess it doesn’t matter how many bad dates I have. I’ve accepted that I will always be optimistic and excited by the possibility of meeting a good man. Though I try to fight it every single time, I can’t stop myself from hoping. Like Emily Dickinson wrote:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all.

To be honest? The cynic in me would like to shoot that stupid “hope bird” right out of my own heart with a BB gun so all of this nonsense and bullshit could be avoided.

Picture it. Greensboro. The summer of 2014. A certain curly-haired 31-year-old is hoping that curse on her love life may finally be broken…


Sophia Patrillo is my spirit animal.
After a month of texting and a couple of phone calls, Bundy and I planned our first date. Dinner at Applebee’s followed by a stroll through Barnes & Noble. So what if his sense of humor seemed even… quirkier… on the phone? Food AND books? What could go wrong?


A dead cat. That is what could go wrong.

Just kidding! Do you really think I have a bad date story involving a dead cat? That would be absurd! Stuff like that doesn’t happen in real life.

It was actually a dead kitten.

scared cat

A few hours before we were supposed to meet up, my phone rang. In a choked voice, Bundy told me that his kitten had just died. The Facebook photos of the tiny kitten he’d found on the engine of his truck immediately flashed through my mind. After reaching out to see if anyone would adopt it, he had decided to keep it. “Lil Bit” had only been a few weeks old. Bundy didn’t know that I already knew all of this, because of course I wanted to keep that Facebook stalking on the down low. I listened as he told me the story that I already knew.

If you know me at all, you know that I am an animal lover. So hearing Bundy’s words stirred a strange mix of thoughts and emotions in me:

  • Empathy – Poor Bundy! This is so awful. I would be completely devastated…
  • Disappointment – I guess we’re going to reschedule this date?
  • Relief – I guess we’re going to reschedule this date! (First dates are stressful, y’all!)
  • Happiness – He is so sensitive and sweet! It takes a genuine man to share his feelings like this.
  • Discomfort – What do I say? This is so weird. I am attempting to comfort my blind date about his dead kitten. Oh gosh, I think he might be crying. This is so awkward. Ahhhhhhhh…..


I asked Bundy if he would like to wait until another day to get together. To my surprise, he still wanted to go. “It would probably be better,” be sniffled, “for me to get out of the house and not think about it.”

That evening, Bundy and I parked next to each other in the Applebee’s parking lot. As he got out of the truck said hello, immediately my nurturing instincts kicked in. I hugged him and asked how he was holding up. He looked like a big, goofy, sad puppy. He apologized for being upset, and then handed me his iPhone.


“You want to see her? Here are some pictures. Lil Bit was such a sweet little thing. I can’t believe she’s gone. I hope I don’t have any wood stain on my clothes anywhere. Right before I came, I just finished building her a little casket. It turned out real nice. Actually, before I buried her I took a few pictures of her in there. Do you think that’s weird? Most people would probably think that was weird. But I think it’s going to help me cope. You know? I guess I won’t show you those pictures. Unless you want to see them…”

Um, yeah… No thanks, dude. Ignoring the unasked question lingering in the air, I pasted on a sweet smile, patted his back, and thanked him for sharing his feelings with me. (I may or may not have been channeling my inner second grade teacher at this point.) With that, we headed inside to have dinner.

Today’s Lesson: How to Avoid Douchebags

I suppose you could say that dinner conversation was interesting. Bundy must have been determined to swallow his feelings and move on, because he quickly became a lively, enthusiastic dinner companion. Over Oriental Chicken Rollups, I learned more things about him:

At least I got a free meal.
Bundy’s favorite hobby was photographing knives. He also enjoyed collecting them. Spreading out his collection on the perfect backdrop, with just the right lighting? That was his passion. Hmmm.


psychoBundy still lived with his mama on their big farm. He didn’t see why so many people were in such a hurry to move out of their childhood homes. At twenty-nine, he was in no rush to get his own place.

Bundy didn’t really like hunting. He didn’t get the appeal of sitting in the woods waiting for deer to come wandering through. But what DID give him a rush was killing “pest animals” on the farm. Clearing out a nest of squirrels from a tree in the front yard? AWESOME! Getting rid of the chipmunk family in the garage? SWEET! Taking down the groundhog by the driveway? EVEN BETTER!

omgIn fact, Bundy’s mama had a theory. She thought that the kitten had been sent to him to teach him a lesson to respect all forms of life. It turns out that Bundy had really wanted to go ahead and “take care” of the stray cats that hung around the farm. The only thing stopping him was the fact that his mama wouldn’t let him. That was how Lil Bit had ended up orphaned on the engine of his truck.

noAt this point I guess he finally noticed my look of horror, because he suddenly seemed self-conscious. Quietly, he asked me if that made him a bad person. Being direct and blunt is not one of my talents. In fact, I sometimes sugar-coat things so thoroughly that I could work part-time for Willy Wonka. So I smiled nervously, told him I was glad that he got to spend time with Lil Bit before she passed away, and changed the subject.

will wonkaHere’s the thing, though. The weird thing. The baffling thing. When he wasn’t sounding like a total psychopath, Bundy was actually funny and completely charming. Hilariously self-depreciating anecdotes were sprinkled with thoughtful questions about my own life. It was super confusing. So despite the red flags waving and the emergency sirens wailing in my head, I wandered over to Barnes & Noble with him.

ryanAs we perused the shelves, we discussed our favorite books. After a few insightful comments about some of my most loved novels, he suggested that we head to “the best spot in the whole store” and proceeded to lead me to the DVD section…

The children’s DVD section.

benWith a cry of delight, Bundy picked up a boxed set of the entire Magic School Bus series and hugged it to his chest. He didn’t buy it, though. He already owned it! Besides, although he loved the adventures of Ms. Frizzle, we still hadn’t reached his favorite cartoons.

Buckle up, indeed, Ms. Frizzle.
He moved on to the preschool section. I watched incredulously as he thumbed through the Franklin selection, his excitement barely contained. Bummer – he already owned all the titles they had. So he skipped over to the Little Bear stack.

Hello darkness, my old friend…
“Have it, have it, have it,” he muttered as he read the title of each DVD. “OH YES! A NEW ONE!” he suddenly announced in triumph. But his glory was short lived. With a sigh, he put back Little Bear’s Rainy Day Tales because it “sounded kind of boring.”

“Kind of boring.”
I put my sugar-coating apron back on. “I like kid movies, too. But I like Disney and Pixar and DreamWorks movies. Bundy, can I ask you how you ended up getting so into preschool shows?” That was my sweet little way of expressing “DUDE, what the &%$#@ is wrong with you?!?”

“Get into them? I never got out of them! I started watching as a little kid and just never stopped! When I enjoy the gentle adventures of Franklin the turtle, it takes me back to a simpler time. I was innocent. I didn’t have stress or worries back then. So now there’s nothing more relaxing than coming home from a hard day at work, heading up to my bedroom with a nice mug of Earl Grey, and kicking back with Little Bear and his friends.”

okBundy walked me back to my car and thankfully only went in for a hug instead of a kiss. But his handsome alter ego was back. He had me laughing again with more funny jokes and comments. I WAS SO CONFUSED. Driving home, I didn’t feel like I’d just narrowly escaped becoming Bundy’s new skin suit. It was only with hindsight did I realize that my date might as well be a new episode of Criminal Minds.

Safely at home, I pulled out a notebook and wrote down all of my thoughts. I organized them into three columns – good, bad, and terrifying. The next morning at church, I shared the whole story and notes with best friend Katie. Unlike me, Katie does not sugar-coat things. She asked me if I was out of my mind. I whipped out my phone and texted Bundy right then:crazy

ME: Hey! I’ve been thinking about our date. You’re great guy, but I’m not really feeling a romantic connection with you…

BUNDY: Well crap.

ME: I think you’re awesome! But I know you’d be happier with someone who shares more of your interests, and ditto for me.


ME: I didn’t mean to sound flippant. I’m sorry if I’ve upset you.



Bundy is the only guy I’ve ever rejected who had such an angry reaction. I’m sure his intention was to hurt my feelings by calling me heartless. It didn’t work. Actually, I was amused and flattered that he assumed I had “a whole bunch of guys lined up waiting for their turn to date me.” They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I guess that’s true in this case. As a potential serial killer, Bundy probably did want to kill me! Funny enough, he ended up giving me an ego boost instead.

So, yeah… Never trust a guy who wants to show you a picture of his dead cat.

Wise words, kid.

Royal Herpetology Field Guide Notes

  1. Charm and humor can temporarily disguise psychotic tendencies.
  2. Barnes & Noble can be a terrifying place with the wrong person.
  3. Red flags and emergency sirens are not to be ignored
  4. Be cautious of grown men who still live with their mamas and have no intention of leaving. (Look at Norman Bates…)
  5. Photography can be disturbing when the photographer’s subjects are knives and dead things.
  6. Any future children I have will never watch Franklin or Little Bear.
  7. Beware of men who show up for your first date fresh from burying a body.

You look like my next mistake.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
*All gifs courtesy of
*Other images courtesy of:, quick,,,,,,, &

Stop and Smell the Frappuccinos

Appreciating Life’s Simple Pleasures

Tea at Biltmore
Tea at Biltmore

“Today is your big moment.  Moments, really.  The life you’ve been waiting for is happening all around you.  The scene unfolding right outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting, and the crackers and peanut butter that you’re having for lunch on the coffee table are as profound, in their own way, as the Last Supper.  This is it.  This is life in all its glory, swirling and unfolding around us, disguised as pedantic, pedestrian non-events.  But pull off the mask and you will find your life, waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted.”
– Shauna Niequist: Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life 


I love lists.  I always have.  My list-making began in bright Lisa Frank notebooks as a child.  I have documents of lists on my laptop.  Scattered around my house are journals full of lists.  I even have a book that’s just a collection of lists to be filled out.  So it was only a matter of time before I started putting lists on my blog.


This list was inspired by a post that my friend Jenilee shared on Instagram.  It’s such a cliché, but those little fleeting, seemingly meaningless moments make life special.  I started thinking about all the little things that make me happy, and this list was born.  The more I wrote, the more blessed I began to feel.  Without further ado, I present some little things that make me feel warm and fuzzy.

Thank you, Jenilee!
Thank you, Jenilee!

My Simple Pleasures

moon gathering

The perfect cup of coffee – not too weak, not too strong, with a generous splash of cream and a buttload of sugar, in a mug that’s as big as my head.


Fabulous fingernails – especially if I managed to do them myself.

manicure gif

Driving down the road with the windows down, blaring the perfect song on the radio while the wind whips through my curls.

Starbucks – everything about Starbucks.  So what if it’s a corporate, sell-out, basic white girl cliché?  Just seeing that double-finned mermaid siren queen, that lovely domed cup and bright green straw, makes me stupidly happy.
Caramel Frappuchinos for everyone!

starbucks gif

Hearing a group of kids singing along to a good song, especially when it’s unexpected.  Once I was playing Pandora during morning work time at school, and the song “Home” by Phillip Phillips came on.  Twenty-four sweet little voices all begin singing in unison, seemingly unaware of what they were doing.  I was enchanted.  And sometimes it’s hilarious!  Once during indoor recess, I was suckered into playing the Kidz Bop version of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.”  Suddenly my classroom broke out into a full-fledged music video – every child in the class was dancing.  I’ve never seen anything like it.
dancing brothers gif

The low rumble of a friendly cat purring in my lap.

Or on your head...
Or on my head…
Or by your side!
Or by my side!

The luxurious freedom of a day off, with no responsibilities, commitments, or chores.

whatever i feel like

The gentle pressure of a big dog leaning against my leg as I pet him.

good boy

Finding a song that perfectly captures my mood, be it joyful, blue, angsty, chill, or confident.  If you haven’t tried it before, you must check out – perfect playlists sorted by mood, activity, and genre!
(Know what’s even cooler?  After one little ad before your music begins, there are NO COMMERCIALS!)

music gif

When someone plays with my hair and shivers run down my spine because it is SO RELAXING.

Awwwwww yeah...

A warm hug from someone I care about… The embrace of a good friend that I haven’t seen for a while…
A bear hug from Dad when I go home to West Virginia… Hugging ANYBODY who smells really good…
I could go on!


The crack of a cold can of Coca-Cola being opened, the bubbles tickling my lips, and the sweetness hitting my tongue.

coca cola

Getting the wings of my eyeliner perfectly even.


Reading… so many things about reading.
The first moment I turn the page of a novel I’ve been dying to get my hands on.
The decadent luxury of a cozy bed, a good book, and a hot cup of coffee on a rainy day.
The bittersweet pang when I close that book and have to leave its world behind –
Hogwarts, I’m looking at you!
OR the relief that comes from knowing I’m not as screwed up as some of the characters I’ve read about.
*Cough, cough, Gone Girl, We Were Liars, The Girl on the Train, Dark Places…*

Going to the movies and getting absolutely lost in a good story.  That moment when the first trailer rolls?  YES.

movie minions

The magical time when dusk falls, the sun has just set, and the fireflies are dancing through the dark air.


When I shave my legs and they feel like silky dolphins!

Add freshly washed sheets to the equation? Perfection.

The first appearance of my “flip flop tan” in the spring.  That means summer is on the way!

flip flop

Recapping episodes of The Bachelor with my nanny…  especially when she drops little bon mots like these:
“The way I see it, ever who was meant for you, that’s who you’ll be with.  I believe that someone’s out there for everybody.” (She is so wise…)
“If he tries to get fresh, just smack it and say NO THANK YOU!” (She’s a down home version of Betty White!)


These words: “Previously on The Walking Dead.”
Or hearing the opening notes to the Downton Abbey theme.
Also reruns of Friends.
Actually – SO.  MANY.  SHOWS.


The absolute joy of a three day weekend – especially when I have Monday off!


The incredible satisfaction of crossing the last item off a to-do list.

to do

Photographs – everything about them.  Sometimes I wish I’d been a photographer.  There’s something magical about capturing an idealized moment in time.  Silly poses?  Selfies?  Pretty sunsets?  Stupid cat pics?  YES TO ALL. Snapchat and Instagram and Tunepics are my weaknesses.  And nothing beats thumbing through a stack of old photos.  It’s like a 2D time machine.  Whether it’s a shot of my college dorm room, a glimpse of myself and my cousins as kids, or a faded picture of a relative from the past, I am unfailingly fascinated.

Dressing up in costumes.  Halloween, a theme party, spirit week at school… if there’s an excuse to dress up and pretend to be someone else, I’M IN.

dress up

Catching up with old friends.  High school pals, college besties, buddies who have moved away… I miss them all.  I completely suck at keeping in touch, but when I do manage to get together with these people?  The combination of reminiscing about the good ol’ days and hearing about what they’re up to now is good for the soul.


Being alone.  Not as in the “why am I single, I’m totally going to die a spinster” sense of alone, but the “thank God I can take off my pants and sit on my butt and watch The Bachelorette while looking at stupid stuff on Pinterest” sense of alone.

not lonely

Movie quotes!  Funny or sad or poignant, they just make me happy!  I love all quotes, actually, but I’ll save more of those for a different post.  Here are a few of my favorites:

* I’m kind of a big deal.  People know me.  – Anchorman  (I can quote this entire movie.)

anchorman jump
* Here’s looking at you, kid. – Casablanca

* Did you ever think that maybe there’s more to life than being really, really, really ridiculously good looking? – Zoolander

* What is it you want, Mary?  What do you want?  You want the moon?  Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. – It’s A Wonderful Life
lasso the moon

* I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I think maybe it’s both.  Maybe both is happening at the same time. – Forrest Gump

* Hold onto your butts. – Jurassic Park
jurassic raptor gif

And finally, the feeling of peace that fills my heart, mind, and soul when I’m truly able to focus on
Psalm 46:10:
“Be still, and know that I am God.” 


I hope reading this has inspired you to think about some of the little things in life that fill YOU with joy.
Please share some of them with me in the comments!

happy audrey gif

Bury Me Naked in a Vat of CiCi’s Cheese Pizza

Adventures in Teaching:
Kids Are Really Weird, and I LOVE IT!


“Children see magic because they look for it.”
– Christopher Moore

Dramatic Reenactment of a Day in My Classroom
Over the years, I’ve worked with a TON of children.  I’ve been a nanny and a babysitter.  I’ve been both a private and volunteer tutor.  I’ve worked at three daycare centers.  I completed student teaching clinicals and rotations in college.  I’ve been a Girl Scout Troop leader and co-leader, helped run a kids’ book club, and taught Sunday school.  Last but not least, I’m getting ready to finish my tenth year of teaching.  TEN YEARS.  WHAT.


Anyway, one time I actually whipped out my calculator (um, my calculator app) and did the math.  I figured out that I’ve worked with about 662 kids in the past fifteen years.  Some of those kids are GROWN ADULTS now.


My first ever elementary school class is now finishing up their freshman year of college.  This absolutely blows my mind.  BUT those aren’t even the kids that make me feel the oldest… When I was 19, I was in charge of a summer elementary school room at a daycare.  A thirteen year old was in that group.  That means HE’S NOW 26 OR 27.  Where in the world has all the time gone?


If all this time around children has taught me anything, it’s this: KIDS ARE HILARIOUS.  I’ve seen a lot of shenanigans, hijinks, and buffoonery in my day.  I finally began recording some of the crazy things that my kids said when I broke down and got a Facebook page in 2009.  Just for you, Dear Reader, I have scoured my timeline and my journals to share with you the best of the best.  These are all 100% real –and some just happened last week.

1 2 3, Eyes on Me, Babe.

What Kids Think About “Miss Whitlock”

The sass is strong in this one.

Kid:  What’s wrong with your face?
Me: I didn’t feel like wearing any makeup today.
Kid:  It’s freaking me out! You look like an alien from men in black!

Guys dig the natural look, right?


(to his mother, who then relayed the message)
She acts all nice and normal here at school, but I bet she’s a real freak in her private life.
oh neil.


Your hair is like a sponge, but more beautifuler.

From that one time I taught David Lee Roth, Jr….

Your hair is like a poodle’s ear, and I just want to pet you.

“That’s why my hair is so big.  It’s full of secrets.”

I’m going to steal a lock of your hair.  SNIP!  SNIP!  When you least expect it!

This surprise made my whole day!

Kid:  *hugs me and buries his face in my cleavage*
Me:  That’s not how we hug!
Kid:  But you’re so soft and warm!  And you smell so good!  I could stay here all day!


Kid:  The smell of Miss Whitlock is good, but not as good as the act of Miss Whitlock.
Me:  Huh?
Kid:  That means you smell good, but even more than that you’re fun and awesome.
Me:  Ummm… Thanks!

Viva La Juicy = Heaven in a Bottle
Viva La Juicy = Heaven in a Bottle

When Miss Whitlock is happy…

And when Miss Whitlock is NOT happy.

Medical Mishaps:

For some reason, I decided not to use this flashcard for nonsense word fluency practice…

Me:  It’s important to make personal connections to the stories we read.  Did this one remind you of anything that’s happened in your life?
Kid:  It reminds me of the time I was playing soccer and got hit in the nuts.

From that one time I taught Stephen King, Jr….

The sun is shining in my face.  My eyeballs feel nauseous.

Nothing like a little note of encouragement on your desk to brighten your day!

Sorry I’m late.  I just got a testicle shot.  Oops, I mean a tetanus shot.

And they lived happily ever after! THE END!

I don’t feel so good.  I have a toothache in my knee.

“I’m not like a regular teacher. I’m a cool teacher.”

Words of Wisdom:

“The best thing I learned from Miss Whitlock was sarcasm.”

Why do people name their kids crazy things, like Dakota?  They’re just trying to prove how big the world is.  My son will have a nice normal name, like “Michael Jackson Jordan.”


If it weren’t for dogs, money would be man’s best friend.

sit down
Every damn day.

(kid upon opening her new book during reading time)
If you need me, my brain is going to be off on a magical adventure!

Second most popular job? DOOR HOLDER.

Sometimes I wish I was a cat.  But then I don’t wish I was a cat because I want thumbs.
(Oh wait.  That wasn’t from a kid.  My BFF Katie Baker said that!)


(kid is trying to hook up a video game to the TV)
Me:  So, do you have your engineering degree yet?
Kid:  What are you talking about?  I don’t even got my cursive license yet!

Literally me every few minutes.

It is much more delightful to see a woman’s behind than a man’s, because all men and boys have hair on their butts.


I keep getting lost in my mind.  I can’t help it.  I just keep thinking about things.  My soul is too creative for this math test.

thumbs up

(several kids were talking and playing in the hallway)
Me:  Boys, should I go ahead and write your names on the board, or should I give you a warning?
Kid:  Jesus would give us a second chance.
Me:  Can’t argue with that.



Rick was later charged with assault.

Kid 1, Crying:  He said I’m going to hell!
Kid 2, Angry:  I’m sorry, but she is.
Me:  Why in the world would you say such a thing?
Kid 2:  Because she doesn’t believe in Santa, and Santa is Jesus’s grandpa.

This kid sure loved her Cosmic Brownies at snack time…

(during an intense round of “Heads Up Seven Up”)


(note from a former parent of a second grader)
Dear Miss Whitlock,
Please change the all of the scores on the midterm progress report to “above grade level.”  Colleges and universities look at these documents, and my child is getting into an Ivy League.


(during an observation with the assistant principal, after reading a story about presidents)
Me:  Who can tell me what a carnation is?
Me:  No….
Kid:  But you said President McKinley kept one in his butthole every day!
Me:  Buttonhole, dear.  BUTTONHOLE.

And then I’ll call 911.

Kid:  Are you married?
Me:  Nope.
Kid:  Well, I can see why.
Kid:  Oh, no! No!  I meant because boys are gross, and why would you want one?

I got Valentine’s Day flowers from a boy! So what if he’s only seven? JUST LET ME HAVE THIS MOMENT.

Me:  Tell me something you learned today.
Kid:  Bats use their sharp pricks to hang upside down.

That moment when a book character reminds you of someone…

steve again
… And you finally figure out who it is.

(waiting in line on picture day)
Kid: *grabs my boobs*
Me:  *removes hands*  DON’T EVER DO THAT AGAIN.
Kid:  Whoa…. *stares intently into my cleavage*
Kid:  But Miss Whitlock, I gotta know…. Are those things real?
Kid:  Because if all the sparkly jewels sewed to your shirt are real, then you must be rich!
Me:  Ohhhhhhhh!  *breathes sigh of relief*


Just Random

The look of love is in your eyes.

Do you ever wonder what it feels like to be a jar of peaches?

FIELD TRIP! Two second after this was taken, one of my girls screamed, “EWW! He’s turning around to show me his butthole!”

(after running a mile in gym class)
I am never running again!  Well, unless it’s when I’m a grown man and I have to save my baby from an alligator or something.


When I die, bury me naked in a vat of CiCi’s cheese pizza!

Honestly? I like doodling just as much as the kids do!

(Someone brought donuts in for a kid’s birthday)


Kid 1:  Can jaguars eat plants?
Kid 2:  No dummy, Jaguars are meatatarians!

“If you tattle everyday, nobody’s going to want to play.”

Me:  Line Leader, take us to the window at the end of the hall.
Kid:  (singing) To the WINDOW, to the WALL!  ‘Til the SWEAT drops down my –
Me:  Do NOT finish that sentence.

Portrait of My Cats! CUTE!

Why do they call it “Laughing Cow” Cheese?  I’ve been on a farm and seen those sucky things they use to get the milk out.  I don’t think they would make a cow laugh!

I don’t mind being called “Mom,” but I’m not too thrilled when they accidentally call me “Dad.”

You can’t make this stuff up.  Being a teacher is a lot of work, but moments of love and laughter like these make it all worthwhile.  Kids, y’all.  Gotta love ’em!

Studies in Royal Herpetology: The Tale of Bobbio


Herpetologist – noun\ˌhər-pə-ˈtä-lə-jist\: One Who Specializes in Study of Reptiles and Amphibians 

Royal Herpetology 101: Introduction to the Myth of the Frog Prince

Pucker up.
Pucker up.

It’s a saying that single girls hear over and over: “You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.”  Well, I’ve met a lot of frogs.  I’ve met some snakes and toads, too.  If I ever decide that I want another career, I’ve already got plenty of experience in herpetology.  I could probably win the Nobel Prize for Herpetology.  I’d be the freaking Herpetologist of the Year.  But unfortunately, I’m getting pretty darn tired of frogs.  I am sick of douchey, psychotic, losery frogs.

Losers, and Douchebags, and Freaks, Oh My!
Losers, and Douchebags, and Freaks, Oh My!

I am a magnet for weirdos.  All of my friends and family have been forced to admit that I seem to attract a higher percentage of creepers than the average girl.  Some of these guys have been total jerks.  Some have been perfectly nice, but unfortunate freaks of nature.  Some have been certifiably crazy.  And some have been a mutant combination of all of the above.

romantic comedy

I’ve been on so many bad dates that I’ve all but given up.  The upside?  I’ve collected a ton of bad date stories.  This column shall be called “Studies in Royal Herpetology,” because I’ve yet to find that elusive frog who’s actually a prince.  I know that my Prince Charming is out there.  I’ve seen the proof.  Many of my friends are dating or married to their princes.  I’ve met A LOT of honest-to-goodness princes!  Unfortunately, they never seem to be my prince.

Tom Hiddleston, if you're reading this - CALL ME!
Tom Hiddleston, if you’re reading this – CALL ME!

In the meantime, I guess I’ll keep wading through the pond scum.

“The Tale of Bobbio”

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening.  But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho Marx

where have you been

“Bobbio” was the very first online date I ever had.  I was naïvely optimistic.  His profile seemed perfect.  He was a fellow teacher and a hopeless romantic.  He was a quirky spirit with little bit of a nerdy side.  He was a dedicated Christian and an all-around nice guy.  He seemed mature and ready for commitment – two qualities that my previous boyfriend had definitely been lacking.  Soulful brown eyes gazed up at me from his profile picture; Bobbio was a handsome man around my age with a shy smile.  His emails were witty, funny, and heartfelt.  Jackpot!  (I’d soon learn that a better term for the situation might be Crackpot!) Our emails turned into phone calls.  Bobbio did most of the talking.  He asked me if I minded chubby guys.  Of course not!  More to love!  I was a little confused, though – in his profile, he had described himself as having an “athletic build,” and his pictures backed that up.  Bobbio also talked about Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Star Trek for a really long time.  Not my thing, but no big deal.  Harry Potter and Walking Dead are more my style of Geek Chic, but hey, whatever floats your boat.  Nerdiness can be endearing.  Finally, we made plans to meet up for dinner at Olive Garden.


I was so nervous that night!  The butterflies in my stomach were krumping with chainsaws to gangster rap.  I walked right past the man standing near the door until I heard him call out my name.  It was Bobbio!  Oh…  It was Bobbio.


Either the dude was a time traveler, or he’d used some pretty outdated photos on the website.  The guy standing before me was about ten years older and fifty pounds heavier than his profile pictures.  Needless to say, I was caught off guard.  Nevertheless, I just adjusted my expectations and decided to head into the restaurant with an open mind.

Me thinking about my life choices.
Me thinking about my life choices.

Let’s be real – I always thought I’d just love being showered with flattery.  As it turns out, one or two sincere compliments are perfectly lovely.  Continuous, over-the-top compliments are perfectly creepy.  Bobbio started with the adoration from the moment I shook his hand and continued until the moment I finally shut my car door at the end of the night.  For two awkward hours, I was treated to a steady stream of comments like these:

– You’re so beautiful, I can’t concentrate on my spaghetti.
– Your eyes are hypnotic.  They’re magnetic.  I’m going to drown in them. *accompanied by prolonged intense eye contact*

target gif

– My last girlfriend was embarrassed of me.  She made me drop her off down the street from her work because she didn’t want her coworkers to know about me.
– Please don’t put me in the friend zone.  I don’t need any more friends.  I need true love.
– I fall in love too easily, I admit it.  But you’re worth the risk.


– My best friend told me not to come on too strong, or I’d scare you away.  But I have to say what I feel! *Note – His best friend was a 60 year old woman that he taught school with.
– Are you sure you don’t like Doctor Who?  I have the box sets of every Doctor Who show and movie ever made.  We can cuddle on my couch and have a marathon!


– No, I’m sure I don’t like Harry Potter.  Sorry, that’s not my jam.  It’s for children.  But let’s talk about Star Wars!
– Please don’t lose any weight.  You have curves in all the right places.  Your body is perfect. * Note – This one is extra super creepy, amiright?!?!?

Welcome to Online Dating!
Welcome to Online Dating!

Aaaaand so on.  And on.  And on and on and on.  By the end of dinner, my head was spinning.  As he paid the bill, I excused myself to the restroom and proceeded to have a mini nervous breakdown.  I was such an idealist, such a daydreamer, such an optimist!  Before Bobbio and I had actually met, I was convinced that he was going to be Mr. Wonderful!

What an idiot.
What an idiot.

Remember, it was my very first online date.  I had not yet become the wise and jaded old crone that I am now.  These days I am a bundle of contradictions.  I am a dreamy realist and a realistic dreamer.  I am an optimistic pessimist and a pessimistic optimist.  I am all these things and more.  Ask me again tomorrow, I may give you a totally different answer.  I’m a woman, dammit – I’m expected to be complicated!


Anyway, I pulled myself together, made a firm decision not to kiss Bobbio, and headed out into the lobby.  It turned out that Bobbio had a different plan.  As we walked me to my car, I fretted about how to end the date.  Handshake?  Hug?  High five?  Fist bump?  Tap dance solo?  Suddenly Bobbio grabbed my hands, leaned in close and whispered, “I’ve been waiting for the moment since the day I was born.  Can I kiss you?”

shock gif

I was the proverbial deer in the headlights.  A voice inside me cried “NOOOOOOOOO!” Yet another voice said, “Meh, whatever.  Why not?” My actual voice said “Umm…. okay.”

Dramatic Reenactment of the Goodnight Kiss
Dramatic Reenactment of the Goodnight Kiss

Dear Reader, I cannot quite explain to you exactly what happened next.  Imagine a massive, amorous lizard.  Imagine a colossal snake unhinging its jaws to swallow its prey whole.  Actually, imagine a ginormous, overly affectionate anteater.  Have you ever seen a dog trying to slurp up every smear of peanut butter out of an almost empty jar?  Imagine that, but in human kiss form.


It was horrible.  It was traumatic.  It was revolting.  But worst of all?  It was never-ending.  The dude WOULD.  NOT.  STOP.  And I just stood there, taking it, too awkward to end it.  Finally I mustered the courage to gently push him away and take a clumsy step closer to my car.  Aaaand he leaned in again.


“Wow.  That was addictive.  Can I kiss you again?” Do you know what I said? Do you KNOW what I SAID? DO YOU KNOW WHAT I SAID? “Umm… okay.” (Sigh.)

ew gif

Dear Reader, try not to judge me too harshly.  The important thing is that I learned from this disaster.  These days no one is going to TOUCH me unless I want them to, much less repeatedly poke me with their gross tongue.  But back then, I was much too concerned with being nice.  I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.  So the kiss continued.

Actual photograph from the night of the incident.
Actual photograph from the night of the incident.

Then he told me he’d call me.  And that he couldn’t wait to see me again.  And that I was the best kisser he’d ever met.  (I guess there’s no denying my smooching prowess, even in less-than-ideal circumstances.)


FINALLY I got into my car and bucked my seatbelt…  but the horror wasn’t over yet.  “Just one more,” he begged – and then he was leaning down inside my actual gosh darn car to kiss me one last time.  With an audible slurp, I broke free, said goodbye, and peeled out of the Olive Garden parking lot.


That was a royal mess.
That was a royal mess.

That’s what you’re thinking, right?  THE END! Because there is no possible way I’d give Bobbio a second date, right? RIGHT?

Umm… wrong.

urkel gif

Bobbio was so perfect in theory.  He was almost everything I thought I was looking for.  He was a Christian!  He was a fellow teacher!  He liked kids!  He was mature!  He was ready for a relationship!  He thought I was amazing!  Heck, he didn’t even want me to lose any weight!  I was upset and confused and disappointed… so I talked myself into giving Bobbio one more chance.  Let’s call it a case of temporary insanity.


A few days later, we met up at P.F. Chang’s.  I soon as I got out of my car and saw him standing there, I immediately made my decision – NOPE!  I finally trusted my intuition enough to listen to my gut.  But I couldn’t just scream “PEACE OUT” and burn rubber. I mean, I suppose I could have, but I’m not evil. And I also really wanted some Chinese food.

Give me the Crispy Honey Chicken, and no one will get hurt...
Give me the Crispy Honey Chicken, and no one will get hurt…

The nerves were gone.  I was relaxed, confident, and delightful.  So OF COURSE that made me even more darn irresistible to Bobbio.  He began to talk about our future together.  I smiled, nodded, and gave vague, polite answers to his increasingly personal questions.  Then our waiter brought us a plate of complimentary garlic noodles, on the house!  Bobbio grimaced and complained that the garlic smell was too strong.  To his evident dismay, I smiled brightly and stuffed my face.  When it was time to leave, I asked for a to-go box and bagged up the leftovers!  What did I care?  I was no longer concerned about making a good impression.

friends flip off gif

When the meal was over, Bobbio sprang from the table and made a grand announcement: “I have a surprise for you!  It’s a present!  Don’t worry, it’s not a ring.  I’m not ready to propose – YET!”  I followed him to his car, thanking the Good Lord that it was parked in a crowded, well-lit area.  I didn’t think Bobbio was dangerous, but you never know.  (NO, SERIOUSLY.  YOU REALLY NEVER KNOW.  One time I unknowingly went out with an ex-con… but that’s a story for another post.  I wasn’t kidding when I said that I was a magnet for weirdos.)

What the heck is wrong with me?
What the heck is wrong with me?

As soon as Bobbio opened his car door, my eyes began to water and my nose began to run.  Keep in mind that I was standing several feet away.  It was like the vehicle was packed with tiny invisible ninjas who jumped out and began squirting AXE Body Spray directly into my nostrils.  Bobbio reached in and presented me with a colorful gift bag.

Inside was a stuffed rabbit – not an actual taxidermy specimen (once again, thank the Good Lord!) but a cute brown toy bunny.  This was the source of that masculine stench.  The rabbit was saturated in eau de desperate, wearing a pink ribbon, and holding a letter. “Meet Bunnio!  Get it?  My name is Bobbio – and this is Bunnio!”

“It’s quite pungent.  It’s a formidable scent… It stings the nostrils.  In a good way.  I’m going to be honest with you, that smells like pure gasoline.”
“It’s quite pungent. It’s a formidable scent… It stings the nostrils. In a good way. I’m going to be honest with you, that smells like pure gasoline.”

From another man, with better taste in cologne, this would have struck me as a really sweet and thoughtful gesture.  But then I read the letter.  It was basically a typed list of directions in Comic Sans on how to take care of Bobbio, complete with cheesy clip art.  Here are some actual, unedited excerpts (although it killed me not to correct the grammar mistakes):

– Please apply lots of hugs and kisses on the Bunnio daily, at least 10 times!
– Make sure Bunnio is always entertained!  Shows to avoid include American Idol as it makes Bunnio break into dry heaves!…  Bunnio does enjoy The Real Housewives of Atlanta and New Jersey though, but don’t judge… only real rabbits wear pink!
– Bunnio is phone friendly, so you can insert your phone into Bunnio’s back and it will sound like your friends are talking from the Bunnio rabbit itself!  Don’t try with creepy sounding people, or nightmares may be a side effect (please note, not all models of Bunnios have this function.  Upgrades are available after a year of ownership)
– Bunnio is prone to loud snoring!
– Do make sure that Bunnio eats right as he sometimes tends to overdue snack foods and finds it difficult to get into his rather fetching pink ribbon!
– Bunnios love cold so make sure that AC is at least on 70 degrees or slightly lower at all times!

horrified chandler gif

I thanked Bobbio for his lovely gift and let him kiss me goodbye.  This time I was at least assertive enough to firmly push him away after a quick peck.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  I drove straight to my friend Liza’s house to share the tale – and the memento!  I was too cowardly to actually call Bobbio to reject him, so Liza helped me craft an email message.  I tried to be as gentle and caring as possible.  I can’t remember exactly how it was worded, but it was something along the lines of “it’s not you, it’s me.”  Spoiler alert – it definitely was him, not me.  He messaged back within minutes – he thanked me for my time and my honesty and told me that he wasn’t shocked because “his Spidey senses had been tingling.”

THE END (for real this time)


Royal Herpetology Field Guide Notes –
1.  It doesn’t matter how good someone seems on paper if you’re not into him.
2.  Online dating profiles aren’t always 100% accurate.  (GASP!)
3.  Flattery will get you nowhere if it’s disturbing in its content and frequency.
4.  You are in no way obligated to kiss someone, even if they ask politely.
5.  Saying no to a request for a kiss (or anything else!) does not make you a rude person.
6.  Beware of men who give you toys on the second date!

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Makeup Junkie: My Signature Look (with Bonus Bold Lip!)

makeup junkie

“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion.
But cosmetics are easier to buy.”
– Yves Saint-Laurent

I have a confession to make: I am addicted to makeup.  To those of you who know me, this won’t exactly come as a shock.  It’s a love affair that began at the tender age of twelve.  My mom first started putting eyeliner on me in the sixth grade.  I still remember crying one day when we overslept and she didn’t have enough time to apply it before I caught the bus.

You WISH you were this cool in the seventh grade.
You WISH you were this cool in the seventh grade.

To some people, putting on makeup every day is a chore.  That’s so not me; to me, makeup is art.  But instead of hanging on the wall in a museum, it’s on my FACE.  Or even better, I’ve created a masterpiece on someone else’s face!  I love doing other people’s makeup just as much as I love doing my own.

I used to be the kind of girl who wouldn’t go to the mailbox with a bare face.  Not anymore!  Over the years, I’ve grown comfortable in my own skin.  Natural is beautiful… But makeup is my war paint.  It makes me feel confident and sassy.

wings 2

When I’m getting dolled up, I want to be comfortable. I relax on the couch, and use a lighted vanity mirror with both regular and magnified sides.  On a normal day, I’m usually finished in about twenty minutes.  Getting up early enough to “put on my face” is worth it to me. It’s fun and relaxing – my morning art project!  The tutorial I’m about to share with you took a bit longer because it includes many of my special tips and tricks.

makeup 21
Sammy thinks he’s my assistant.

Just like clothing, makeup can set a mood.  I have a lot of different looks in my repertoire, but they usually share a few of my signature elements: “cat eye” liner, light to medium shadow, and soft lips.  I use a mix of drugstore and high end products. In this tutorial I’ve included the products that I wear, but feel free to substitute your own favorites!  Today I’m going to teach you how to get my classic signature look.  I was feeling super fierce on the day I did this, so I added a BONUS bold lip.

makeup intro

Begin with a clean, moisturized face.  Smooth a primer over your skin.  Don’t forget to blend it in under your eyes!  Right now I’m using e.l.f. Mineral Infused Face Primer.  If you need foundation, now is the time to apply it.  I often skip this step and simply touch up the red spots on my jaw with Dermablend Cover Crème concealer in Warm Ivory.  If you have any pimples, scoop up a small speck of the concealer with the edge of your fingernail and pat it on.  Don’t rub it, or it will just smear around.  Then set your camouflage work by patting it a small fluffy brush loaded up with loose or pressed powder.  I use Benefit Bluff Dust.  (Don’t worry about blending just yet.)

makeup 1
Ugh, zits are the worst.

Then smooth a highlighting concealer (such as Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer) under your eyes and up into the inner corners.  Blend it carefully and then set it with powder as well.  I really like e.l.f. Undereye Setting PowerPat it on very gently with your ring or middle finger and blend, blend, blend.  Finally, take a fluffy brush, dip it in your face powder, and swirl it all over your face.  Don’t forget your concealed blemishes and eyelids!

I love my kabuki brush. "IT'S SO FLUFFY I'M GONNA DIE!"
I love my kabuki brush. “IT’S SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!”

It’s time to add a little color.  Contour your cheekbones very lightly by sweeping Rimmel Natural Bronzer in Sun Light in the hollows of your cheeks, stopping parallel with the outer corners of your eyebrows.  Remember, a bronzer without shimmer is best for contouring. Use a light touch, so you don’t end up looking like a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Then take your fluffy powder brush and blend again.

YES. Contour lightly...
YES. Contour lightly…
NO. Although RuPaul probably is prettier than me, to be honest...
NO. Although RuPaul probably is prettier than me, to be honest…

Next use Flower Kiss Me Twice Lip & Cheek Chubby in Think Pink on the apples of your cheeks, and blend it in very well with your fingers.  (All this blending will keep you looking more Impressionist Renoir than Cubist Picasso.)  Now you have a lovely rosy complexion!

BAL35990 Portrait of the actress Jeanne Samary, 1877 (study) by Renoir, Pierre Auguste (1841-1919); 56x47 cm; Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia; French,  out of copyright
Dot it on...
Dot it on…
That's better!
That’s better!

Eyebrows are next, and they are very important! They frame your entire face. You wouldn’t hang The Mona Lisa in a plastic poster frame from Walmart, so don’t frame your face with bad brows. I LOVE the bold brow trend.  It’s important to find a shade that goes with the tone of your hair.  For me, it can be hard to find a pencil that’s not too reddish.  In these pictures, I’ve used Maybelline Brow Precise Shaping Pencil in Soft Brown, but my current favorite is Flower Raise Some Brows Defining Brow Pencil in Light Brown.

It might be time to fire my assistant.
It might be time to fire my assistant.

Fill in your brows with light strokes.  Shape the edges as you wish, and blend it out with a hard angle brush or a spoolie.  Don’t worry if you feel a little like Anthony Davis and Helga Pataki’s love child at this point.  Once you finish the rest of your makeup, it will all balance out. (Disclaimer – a third grader taught me about Anthony Davis. Do you really think I’d have made a sports reference all on my own?)

makeup 6

Grab Milani Eyeshadow Primer and spread a light layer over your lids. Don’t skip it – the color will be truer, and it will prevent creasing!  Then use a fluffy eyeshadow brush to smooth the lighter shade in Nars All About Eve shadow duo over your entire lid and up into the crease.  This hue is like the natural color of your skin – but better! (The technical term is “shimmering flesh,” but that sounds horror movie creepy.)

makeup 7

Then use a lighter shade to highlight your brow bone and the inner corner of your eye, such as the creamy nude satin tone Virgin from the Urban Decay Naked Palette.

makeup 9

Now use a pointed shadow brush to shade Naked (a light brown, aka buff matte, from the same palette) into the crease.

makeup 8

Finally, use an eyeliner brush to trace that same eyeshadow softly under the lash line.  And of course, use your fluffy shadow brush to blend once more.

makeup 10

Now it’s time for the eyeliner. I am a faithful fan of Revlon Colorstay Eyeliner in Black Brown. I’ve tried many different liners in my life, but I haven’t found anything more amazing in fifteen years. This stuff will not budge. Start near the inner corner of your eye, but not too far down. The closer you get to your tear duct, the more quickly your liner will smudge as the day goes on. If it’s a hot day or if your skin can get oily, you always run the risk of looking like The Winter Soldier.

"Do I need a touch-up?"
“Do I need a touch-up?”

Now make short strokes toward the outer corner of your eyelid, staying close to the lash line. Don’t try to draw one continuous line, and really work the pencil down into the roots of your lashes.  Use your other hand to very gently pull your eyelid taut for a smoother line. But remember, be gentle! You don’t want to give yourself extra wrinkles on down the road.

"Why don't I ever get carded anymore?"
“Why don’t I ever get carded anymore?”

Once you have traced your natural lash line, then flick it out at the corners to create a cat eye or wing.  Start with the teeniest little point, and then gradually make it more dramatic to your liking.

This is my favorite part...
This is my favorite part…
One of these things is not like the other...
One of these things is not like the other…
"May the wings of your liner always be even." - Traditional Makeup Blessing
“May the wings of your liner always be even.” – Traditional Makeup Blessing

After you’ve lined both eyes, use my trade secret! Take an eyeliner brush and load it with a dark shadow.  Now carefully use it to trace the liner! The shadow gives it a smoother finish, blends any harsh edges, and provides even more staying power.  Here I used Triple Fudge, an intense dark brown, from the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette.  Try to keep it right on top of the liner, and don’t smudge it above the line. That would give you a smoky eye, which can be totally sultry and sexy – but not the look we are going for here.

Velvety finish!
Velvety finish!
Liner is on point.
Liner is on point.

Now it’s time to make your lashes luscious. Use an eyelash curler before you apply mascara. I know a lot of girls skip this step, but it really gives your eyes an extra oomph.

Not painful, I promise!
Not painful, I promise!

Different mascaras are going to work best for different people, just like the hair products that work on your best friend might not work so well on you.  Right now, I’m into Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara.  It will go on even more smoothly if you’ve warmed it up first. Stick it in your pocket as you work so that your body heat will do the job for you! Before you begin, dab the point of the wand on the back of your hand to prevent clumps. That way the excess mascara doesn’t end up globbed on your eyelid!

The mark of a true artist.
The mark of a true artist.

Press the base of the wand at the base of your lashes, and slowly wiggle it back and forth as you stroke upwards. Don’t forget to give a quick swipe to the back of your lashes as well. This is especially important if you have naturally light eyelashes.  How many coats you apply is going to depend on the formula of your mascara and the intensity you want to achieve. Here I’ve applied three coats.  Each layer gets a moment of drying time as I do the lashes on the other eye.

makeup 18

For your bottom lashes, I recommend Clinique’s Bottom Lash Mascara. The formula is very smudge resistant, and the tiny little brush is perfect for depositing just the right amount of product on each lash.

Sometimes good things come in small packages.  Many men would probably agree with this statement.
Sometimes good things come in small packages.
Many men would probably agree with this statement.

When I have time, I use a dab of liquid highlighter. Place a small dot of Benefit High Beam at the top of your cheekbone and blend it in a “C” shape to up above the brow bone near your temple. Its ethereal pink shimmer will add dimension and radiance. Finally, give your face a spritz of NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray!

Sorry I accidentally flipped you the bird in this one.
Sorry I accidentally flipped you the bird in this one.

At this point, I’d normally throw on some soft lip gloss or a natural lip stain.  But on this day, I was feeling fierce! I was ready to take on the world – or at least a roomful of twenty-five rowdy second graders. I decided to go with the bold red lip. When you wear dramatic lipstick, it’s really important that your lips be smooth and flake-free.  You can use a lip mask, such as Mary Kay Satin Lips, or just buff your kisser with some petroleum jelly and a soft toothbrush.

Almost finished...
Almost finished…

Next, line and fill in your lips with lip liner. Colored works fine, but here I’ve used NYX Retractable Lip Liner in Vanilla Sky, a natural nude shade. Some people like to exaggerate the boundaries of their natural lip line, but I can’t.  That technique works great for some people (I’m looking at you, Kylie Jenner), but I just end up looking like a clown.

When Kylie exaggerates her "natural" lip line.
When Kylie exaggerates her “natural” lip line.
When Marjorie exaggerates her natural lip line.
When Marjorie exaggerates her natural lip line.

Use a lip brush to coat your pout with Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick by Kate Moss in Kiss of Life, a fiery matte red. After you have filled in your lips with color, stick your thumb in your mouth, close your lips around it, and slowly pull your thumb out.  HEY – I know what you’re thinking, but get your mind out of the gutter!  Any lipstick that would have ended up on your teeth is now safely on your thumb.

I already feel sassy.
I already feel sassy.
Well THIS is awkward.
Well THIS is awkward.
Lipstick-on-Teeth Crisis averted!
Lipstick-on-Teeth Crisis averted!

And there you have it!  Your makeup is flawless. You are stunning, confident, and fabulous.  Remember, inner beauty is key…  But a little mascara never hurt anyone. 🙂

XOXO! Marjorie

The Secret Life of Marjorie Whitlock: The Artist

secret life of marjorie whitlock

Much like the 90s pop diva Mariah Carey, I am often lost in a sweet, sweet fantasy, baby.

In a word, my daydreams are cinematic.  I’m talking epic, $100,000,000 budget, Baz Luhrmann directed blockbuster extravaganza kinds of shenanigans.  Have you ever seen the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?  Ben Stiller’s character is so caught up in his imagination that he often misses out on real life.  They could do a reboot starring me: The Secret Life of Marjorie Whitlock.  All of the books and movies I’ve inhaled over the years have rotted my brain, y’all.

Honestly, this happens to me every single day.  Take Sunday, for example.  After church, I stopped by Starbucks to catch up on some paperwork whilst people-watching with an iced chai tea latte.  (Besides, in my bold red lipstick and new dress, I looked way too cute to go home.)  As I grabbed my drink from the counter, I noticed him.

The guy was adorable.  Tom?  Jim?  I didn’t have my glasses on.  I couldn’t read his cup!  I know there were three letters, so let’s call him – JOM.  Anyway, Jom was this cute, hipstery artist dude.  Intelligent blue eyes framed by sexy nerd glasses, dark hair perfectly disheveled, ideal amount of stubble, and the BIGGEST NOSE I HAVE EVER SEEN ON A HUMAN MAN.  The boy was the flesh and blood hero of a modern Disney Pixar animated short.

disney starbucks artist dude

Guys, it gets better.  Scattered across the table were some kind of fancy colored pencils and a sketchbook.  He had taken a break from drawing his amazing artwork (because of course he was talented, duh) and was deep in conversation with a precious little girl.  She was maybe five years old, and she was clearly in love.  I don’t know if she was more taken with the cartoony amazingness of Jom himself, or of his actual cartoons.  I took a seat at the table across from him and began shamelessly eavesdropping.  (Let’s be real, you’d totally do the same thing.)

At first I thought they must know each other, but the girl’s parents soon emerged from the line.  For over fifteen minutes, Jom indulgently answered the kid’s questions about his “crayons” and even let her draw in his sketchbook.  Finally her parents managed to pull her away.  Before the family left, she asked Jom for a drawing.  Her mother replied, “Sweetie, the nice man already drew you a picture!”  Finally they were out the door, the draft rustling the pages of his work magically.

Aaaaand that’s when my imagination kicked into hyper-drive.

(Is “hyper-drive” a real word?  Whatever, it seems fitting.)

secret life walter

Jom and I lock eyes across the room.  I blush and fumble with my papers.  I try to focus on my work, but I can’t help but notice that he seems to be noticing me, too.  Intently he works in his sketchbook, glancing in my direction every few moments, his long fingers scribbling furiously over the paper.  After a time, he stands and packs up his supplies.  I watch disappointedly as he zips up his beaten leather messenger bag and heads toward the door.  But wait – what’s happening?!?  He’s coming to my table… HE’S COMING TO MY TABLE.  This is not a drill.  I repeat, THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

“Hey.  Um, I hope you don’t mind, but I just had to draw you.  You’re so stunning – I had to try to capture it on paper,” he mumbles awkwardly adorably.  Then he hands me his sketch.  There I am, captured in reds and blues and yellows, smiling demurely from the page.  At the bottom is Jom’s name and phone number.  Iron and Wine begin singing “Such Great Heights,” and so begins the start of a great adventure…

paperman spoof

Except, no.  Because what REALLY happened is that I watched Jom say goodbye to the precocious little girl, put on his ginormous headphones, and get lost in his art.  After a time, he stood and packed up his supplies.  And I watched disappointedly as he zipped up his beaten leather messenger bag and headed toward the door.  And he kept right on walking until he was gone.  At that point I finally snapped out of it.  With a sad little smile I got back to work.

Roll credits.

Welcome to The Youngish Adult Diaries!

“There comes a point in your life where you’re officially an adult. You’re old enough to vote, drink, and engage in other adult activities. Suddenly people expect you to be responsible, serious, and grown up. We get taller. We get older. But do we ever really grow up?  In some ways we grow up, but for the most part we still have the same problems that we did when we were fifteen.  No matter how much we grow taller, grow older, we are still forever stumbling. Forever wandering. Forever young.”
– Grey’s Anatomy

welcome to the youngish adult diariesORIGIN STORY – Am I a writer?

Every good superheroine needs an origin story.

When I was young, I thought I wanted to be a writer.  As a kid, I wrote countless stories.  I made little comic books.  I wrote little articles for the elementary school newspaper.  My bedroom was littered with notebook papers covered in doodles, lists, poems, anecdotes, and magazine clippings.

In high school, I wrote constantly.  I received one of the top scores on the state writing assessment.  I took a writing course in a special summer program called The Governor’s Honors Academy, and wrote a novella.  I filled journals with funny, angsty, and cringe-worthy musings.  In my college admissions essay, I earnestly vowed that no matter what path my life took, I would always be a writer.

Then I started college, and got busy with other things.  Before I realized what had happened, my only writing was term papers.  Then I became a teacher, and my writing was for lesson plans.  Occasionally my inner writer would surface.  I’d teach my students about creative writing and compose a story for them.  During a poetry unit, I wrote a rap song incorporating all the kids’ names, and christened myself “Queen LaTeacha.”  Another year, the students got to write and publish stories, so I penned a children’s picture book.

Years passed.

Then last summer, I took a class at church based on the book The Dream Giver.  It’s about how each of us has been given a big dream to pursue, but we have to be brave and persistent enough to work for it.

I didn’t know what my dream was.  I shared this with my teacher, Mike Miller.  His two word reply was simply this:  “Look back.”

So I did.  And eventually, I remembered.  I couldn’t believe that something that was once so very important to me had simply disappeared from my life.  Thus, the idea for this blog was born.

What is a Youngish Adult?

I’ve always heard that you should write about what you know.  (I’m not sure that I completely agree with that, unless J.K. Rowling really IS a witch.  That would mean that Hogwarts is real, and there’s no way I’d be a muggle.)

Suddenly I’m thirty-two and still trying to figure out exactly how the hell it happened so fast.

Sometimes I scrutinize every wrinkle. I’ll complain about contemporary music, and scoff at the ridiculous “kids these days.”  Sometimes I feel like a lovably cantankerous old lady.  Listening to kids in their early twenties plan their adventures, I roll my eyes and feel ancient and weary.  It’s all very “GET OFF MY LAWN!  …But first come inside and I’ll make you a nice cup of tea!”

Sometimes I race down the highway in my Mustang with the windows down and the music blasting.  I attend midnight screenings of movies aimed at teenagers.  Hours of my life are wasted scrolling through Buzzfeed posts. Sometimes I feel so incredibly young.  I picture myself as the heroine of some spunky indie comedy romance and dream of what could be.

In reality?  I’m caught between those two worlds.  I’m not yet middle aged.  I’m nowhere near old.  I’m not a kid anymore, and have moved past the young adult phase.  I guess you could say I’m… youngish.

Here’s what you can expect to read about on
– Funny, Heartfelt, and/or Ridiculous Essays and Stories
– Makeup and Beauty Tips and Tutorials
– Pop Culture Tidbits
– Cautionary Tales of Bad Dates
– Things I Wish I Knew in my Twenties
– Possibly Snarky Movie, Music, and TV Reviews
– Other Assorted Random Awesomeness

So here we go.  Let’s do this.
“Hold onto your butts.” – Samuel L. Jackson, Jurassic Park