#FineArtsFriday: Anderson Fair

The Bouquet:

A historic down-home funky-town venue hosting a fabulous artist who ranged from sultry to classic to funky to country without breaking a sweat.

The Pallet:

Almost two months ago (yes, the end of year snuck up on me) I made the trek to Anderson Fair for the first time to see the venerable Ginger Leigh.

For those of you (like me) who are culturally unaware, Anderson Fair is a fun music venue that’s hosted music’s finest since 1969.  There’s even a documentary called For the Sake of the Song:  The Story of Anderson Fair.  The venue has played host to artists such as Lyle Lovett and Nanci Griffith.  And the place feels reverent. There’s a weight to the darkness as you settle into the rows of small round tables, staring up at the small stage.  Maybe it’s the decades of creativity (they require any musician who plays there to write their own songs), or the careers it has launched, or the wild block parties in the height of Montrose’s hippier days.  But being there, you know you’re steeped in history.

The artist I was there to see, Ginger Leigh, was someone I happened to meet at a wedding in Stratford-upon-Avon, and boy did I not know what I was in for.  She started up with a fast-moving southern rock number that had me ready to get up and dance a jig, and by the end of the night had cycled through a few numbers with a bit more soul, a funk piece that they retooled into jazz on the fly, a classical Italian piece, and a few covers.  But what else kind of range would you expect from a Texas-girl who spent many of her formative years in Italy and other places around the globe? She has ten albums, including her recently released Hey Funky You (the title track of which I’m listening to on YouTube while I write). She’s got soul.  She’s got range. She even has a few jokes.

The Pairing:

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#MondayMotivation: The Work is the Reward

The Bouquet

I found a realization at the bottom of my personal development books and writing podcasts the other day:  There is no easy street; the reward for hard work, is harder work.

The Palette:

What do I mean?  My whole life, I’ve been working for the moment when things would get easy.  In grade school, I worked hard to get into a good university.  In University I worked hard to get into a good law school.  In law school I worked hard to get a good job.  At my job, I work hard to get more responsibility.  And in all of these things, I thought the end game was to get to the place where I could finally put it on cruise control and have some damn contentment.

But there is no easy street.

Your reward for all of your hard work, is just harder work.  The prize at the bottom of the cereal box is just more cereal.  Whatever your path.  You start the business; you grow the business; you sell the business; and you start again.  You finish the book; you polish the book; you query the book; you sell the book; you publicize he book; and you start again.  You hone your craft; you audition like a boss; you get the part of the lifetime; it ends and you start again.  The reward at the end of all of these things is harder work.  The trick is to get to a point where you love the work that’s consuming you, so that when whatever your doing asks more of you (more time, more money more emotional strength), you don’t begrudge giving it.

So if you’re drowning in work that isn’t feeding your soul just to get to that paradise at the end of over-achievement, beware.  Things won’t get easier.  Find the thing that feeds you, even if it’s just making a lot of money (no judgment), and put your energy to that.  Because otherwise you will burn out.  Life isn’t a sprint and it isn’t a marathon.  There is no finish line.  Life is a treadmill.  And if what you’re consuming yourself with isn’t giving more than it takes, you’re going to have to hop off, and it’s hard as hell to get back on.

Pairings:

  • Rachel Hollis: I recently read “Girl Wash Your Face” and I spend my weekday mornings listening to her Livestream on Instagram.  She’s doing something called #Last90Days, which is a challenge to end the year with the same intentionality we use for our New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s peppy.  It’s positive.  And it’s inspiring as hell.
  • Write Along Podcast:  The inspiration for this paradigm shift actually came out of left field while I was listening to a new Podcast from David Chen and C. Robert Cargill.  They were discussing Cargill’s career (he’s a film critic, novelist, and screenwriter, although there’s more to the bio if you’re a Junk Food Cinema fangirl), and how there aren’t king-makers any more.  And that’s when it hit me that all of my writing goals are leading me to a steeper climb.  Also, Cargill has that great whiskey voice that’s fabulous to listen to before bed.
  • The Ed Mylett Show:  Another podcast (I have an addiction).  I’ve only listened to the episode from February 1, 2017 and the episode with Rachel Hollis, but his insights are on fire.

 

 

 

How to Vote for Judges

The Bouquet

The most frequently asked question I get this time of year:  How do I decide which judges to vote for?  Well, here’s my answer!

The Palette

So we made it to election day!  Congrats on another awkward family Thanksgiving (I’m fleeing to Canada).  But I promised at the start that this would not be a political blog.  And it won’t.  Instead, this post is to address the question I get asked most this time of year:  How do I know which judges to vote for?

Different states handle electing or appointing judges differently.  The Federal judiciary is appointed and confirmed (another topic I will not be touching on . . . ).  In some states, judges are appointed by the governor and then confirmed through an election without an opponent.  Some judges run without party affiliation.  In Texas, judges are appointed by the governor for the remainder of a term, and then they run in a partisan election.  This can cause . . . problems.  Especially in years where a party (or both) is (are) particularly fired up.  So before we all run out to vote straight ticket, I thought I’d take one last try to make a plea for moderation.

First, I think it’s important to understand what a judge does, especially a trial court judge.  Trial court judges don’t write judicial opinions, which means their decisions don’t have precedential value.  Meaning, in plain English, other judges (even the same judge), doesn’t have to use the same reasoning on every case.  They aren’t making law that will be binding on anyone, unlike say . . . the Supreme Court of the United States.  Instead, trial court judges make sure that trials are fair.  They make sure the lawyers follow the evidentiary and procedural rules (yes, it is as sexy as it sounds).  In my humble opinion, granted I’ve only been involved in half a dozen trials, the most important trait in a trial court judge is experience.  Democrats and Republicans aren’t going to preside over cases all that differently; it’s about experience.

Now, the trial court is all about trying to figure out what happened and how those facts match up with the law.  If one of the parties feels like they weren’t given a fair opportunity to present their case, or they believe the trial court judge messed up in applying the law, that party can appeal.  This next court level, typically referred to as the courts of appeals or appellate courts, look at the trial (or other rulings by the trial court), and decide whether the trial court misapplied the law or the rules.  This can sometimes require interpretation of the law, which can get political.  Judges from the right tend to stick to the actual words written by the state congress and apply it without expansion, whereas judges on the left tend to look at the spirit of what they think the state congress meant and apply the law with that in mind.  These ideologies aren’t hard and fast like they are for legislators, but there is some truth in the assumption.  And then, if one party feels like the appellate court has made a mistake, the matter gets appealed to what is typically called the state’s supreme court.  The state supreme court then gives the definitive interpretation of a law until the state’s congress amends it.

So now we understand the purpose of all of these judges (and how party sometimes is more about money for your campaign than actual beliefs), let’s talk about making your decision.  Judges will have bios like any other candidate.  They aren’t allowed to say in advance how they’ll rule on an issue, but you can find out their level of experience.  You can also find recommendations through your local bar association.  I know, I know [insert joke here].  But we do appear in front of these judges and deal with their rulings daily, and we practice with or against their opponents.  We know these people and their level of ethics and competence.  For the most part, lawyers would rather a good judge than an easy win on a case.  And lawyers also fill out surveys on the judges yearly.  You can Google your city name and “bar association” and probably find the results of those surveys.  Also, some groups of attorneys do issue lists of endorsements of judicial candidates.  For instance, the Harris County Association of Women Attorneys interviews all of the judicial candidates and publishes their recommendations.

So today, as you’re standing in line at the polls, consider Googling the recommendation of your local bar association.  Our justice system, especially at the trial court level, should be more about competence than political rhetoric.  Please.

Pairings

If you’re in Harris County, there are two great references I always recommend:

  • Houston Association of Women Attorneys:  Their recommendations are available here (https://awahouston.org/materials-temp-name/current-judicial-endorsements/).  I know people that have been on the committee.  They interview every candidate they can and make well-reasoned recommendations.
  • Houston Bar Association Judicial Poll:  The Houston Bar Association polls the attorneys that appear before the current judges, which gives y’all a chance to see our feelings on sitting judges.  The poll also includes opinions of their opponents, who are people in our field that we have interactions with as well.  It’s here:  https://www.hba.org/judicial-poll-results/.

 

BEWARE THE BLOG

The world is dark y’all.  And it’s scary. But it’s also bright and brilliant!  I’ve spent the past few months finding passion again in my life and I want to share it with you.  So here’s the plan:

Each week I’ll have a blogpost about something exciting or inspiring.  

The first Monday of the month is #MotivationMonday, where I’ll write about something I’ve found inspiring or motivating — a podcast, a book, a painting, a person.  You name it, let’s get going!

The second Wednesday of the month is #WomanCrushWednesday.  A little over a year ago a friend of mine (Melissa Lehnhardt, author of amazing Feminist Westerns– check out her stuff, seriously) shared a post on Twitter about the absolute dearth of female historical figures being mentioned in social studies class.  What? Did women not exist in old–times? No, they just weren’t recognized. It’s time to celebrate the women who rocked the olden-days, corsets and all!

The third Friday of the month is #FineArtsFriday.  Houston is the most international city in the United States.  It’s one of only 4 U.S. cities with a standing theater company.  It has a world class opera and ballet. And yet, no one knows about it!  This post is dedicated to all the amazing artsy-fartsy bullshit in Clutch City.  

Finally the fourth Sunday of the month is #SundayStories.  I plan to share a short story of my own or a review of another piece of literature that lights up my personal muse.  

So here we go.  This month: a podcast that saved my life, a woman who inspires me to step into the courtroom even when I’m scared shitless, the one Houston event I look forward to all year long, and a short story of my first (and probably only) true love.  

If you want to be in the know from post to post, click on that wonderful Follow button, and I’ll keep you entertained.

So come on kids, let’s fly.  

A Pragmatist Takes Flight

Greetings and salutations internet!

I’ve been hatching the plan for this blog for a few years now, but honestly the whole idea has seemed pretty scary y’all.  I mean, what if it comes up in a Senate confirmation hearing someday?  But I spend my day job steeped in worst-case scenarios and painful pragmatism, and I’m ready to have some fun.

So, if you want in on the secret magic of Houston, or to learn fun tidbits about ladies from history, or to get a little inspiration on a Monday morning, or to hear a short story on a lazy Sunday afternoon, come on back y’all.  I’ve got something to say.