House of Hawthorne


We have a puppy and I have a confession to make: I have threatened repeatedly to eat her. “Oh yeah, Ruby ran off today but I caught and boiled this squirrel for dinner.” (Are we boiling squirrels these days? Or perhaps deep frying in some peanut oil Duck Dynasty-style.)

When she and I are alone in the house, all we do is yell at each other. Well, she barks, but it sounds like yelling. Or maybe I start barking. She’ll bite me in the eye, like she just did, spurring this blog. (I think she knows I’m telling all of you all of this, she’s doing some rare hiding.) I absolutely can’t walk around the house without her teeth clenched in my ankles, dragging her along. I am a pretty bad housekeeper already but when I go to sweep up the house she’s there, barking, taunting me. “You think that’s sweeping? You suck at everything. Can’t even sweep. Missed a spot, jerk.” (Okay, I might be transferring my insecurities to a puppy just terrified of a broom here. Maybe.)

I spend my days off being terrorized by this little thing, and so when I work and my boyfriend is off, I come home, ready for an update on the monster. “She laid on that blanket for a while… I dunno, I didn’t see her for a few hours.” What the hey? Where’s the monster? It’s going to look super crazy if I eat the puppy if he thinks she just chills all the time. He’ll send me pictures of her just sleeping. Like… not biting him at all. Just sleeping. We can’t decide whose dog it is because she’s a completely different person around each of us. (Did I say person?)

This is probably my fault. My attempts at disciplining the puppy are laughable. “You old rascal!” I say, shaking my fists, as my boyfriend points out that she’s like two months old and I just called her old for some reason. When I’m the angriest I’ve ever felt, I throw whatever is near at her. She blithely dodges it, turns on a dime and goes back to barking at me.

I’ve decided that eating the puppy would be untoward. First of all, she’s like super tiny. Where’s the meat, you know what I’m saying? Second of all, she does this thing when I come home where she wiggles her butt. It’s ridiculously adorable. Sometimes I step outside on the porch, count to ten, and come back in the house to see this wiggle. Also, I love running with her. I don’t do it often enough, I admit, but when she moves, she moves at full speed. She gets low to the ground and starts looking like a miniature greyhound. I end up running and laughing every time we go outside, and there are few better feelings in the world than both running and laughing. Sometimes I just have to be patient and have her bite me for a half an hour when I get home from work late at night so I can have her sleep on my stomach, and that is somehow worth it. I guess I won’t eat her today either.

Especially now that I blogged about it, it would be awfully fishy.

Help send Ruby to college or buy her a treat:



“You gotta take the bad with the terrible,” he used to say. For some reason, that always cheered me up. I knew from the stories my Grandmom would tell, and the way he would say lightly that he had been born in a teacup, that he had known struggle and poverty. By the time I came to know my grandfather, though, he was a great man and had lived an extremely rewarding life. Widely respected is an understatement.

I keep thinking about his memoir. It’s an amazing piece of writing to me. Elmore Leonard says to leave out the parts people skip, and my grandfather certainly did when he wrote the story of his life. It still has his sense of humor, but it is an extremely efficient document. Every single sentence tells a story it would take me pages to write. He moves ceaselessly around the world from Philly to Delaware to Joliet to Saudi Arabia and back through his life for fifteen amazing pages.

One of the most detailed and funniest part of the story is one that reminds me of one I would write. In it he details his early days, working as a very young man in a chilled fur room in a department store. It’s incredible to imagine the future father of my father, future fire chief, future husband to my lovely grandmother Elsie, as a young man working to help support his family,  sitting among these furs, waiting to fetch them for the wealthy of Philadelphia, but there, indeed, he sat.

That he wrote those stories down was such a gift. When he passed away, the outpouring of respect and admiration for the man was felt deeply by all of my family. My father and uncles all got up and spoke of his greatness, and all I wanted to do was get up and say how he was hilarious and silly and brightened up my life for the year I lived with my grandparents. He would walk around the house, singing songs he would make up on the spot. I know I can’t even begin to hope to live such a full life, but I know I can bring that kind of joy to the people around me.

Now I gotta call my grandmother. And probably stop crying at some point.


I’ve been trying to write the story of meeting my boyfriend, and it occurred to me yesterday I’ve got some really good meeting friends stories too. Most times people just integrate into my life through school, work, or let’s face it, the bar. And I love you guys too. A lot. But a few of my best friends sought me out, like lovely, charming heat-seeking missiles.

I had been training her for three days in all things bookstore related. I’ve worked with and trained so many people in my life that I try not to learn people’s names until at least a month goes by. I was walking out of work one day when she said, “Hey, Virginia!” She picked up two bear bookends and held them up paw to paw. “This is like me and you!” I paused and replied, “You’re either the craziest person I’ve ever met or we’re going to be best friends.” We’re best friends now.

I was striding through campus in the first week of college when I was approached by two incredibly enthusiastic people. “We love your backpack! We’re throwing a party tonight [based on the characters on my backpack, omitted to protect any present day coolness].” “Oh cool,” I said. And didn’t go. I learned much later after I had finally become friend and best friend to these people that they had made up the party solely to befriend me and couldn’t believe I didn’t come.

If I recall correctly, she came up to me and said, simply, “I think we should be friends,” and made me come back to her room with her after our Intro to Political Science class. And that was that. I ‘ve learned after knowing her for over 13 years now, that’s how she does everything.

It’s really hard to feel bad about myself when I think of stories like these. Thank you, dudes.

While I’m still getting this up and running, I want to be able to give some time to it. If you like what you’ve read so far,


If you donate, you can suggest something for me to blog. An album to review, a story you want to hear, or if you miss my radio show, I’ll do some of that! Blogging will get cut way short otherwise, not to blackmail my friends. This is a shot in the dark but here we go. Thank you in advance.

I keep secrets from everyone I know no matter who you are. Here’s some truths though:

I have to rehearse conversations all the time. I literally cannot answer phone calls on the first go. If I do, you are on some real inner circle shit.

I don’t understand messy or how to take care of money or like basically anything. I don’t know why. I think about it a lot but can’t execute for some reason. It is the most important thing in the world for me to figure out because I need to be a good woman to my man.

All the things I say I’m good at, (writing, hosting radio shows, partying, making everyone like me, singing but I’m not that good) don’t pay shit. Unless you are the best ever and who is? I’m just okay.

I have always worked, ever since I was 12.

The finest moment in my life was hosting a Model Senate for high schools in Baltimore County. Jessica and I killed that shit.

I should go to sleep.


I’ve lived in Kentucky for six months now, give or take a week, and as a girl who sometimes used to describe herself as hip-hop, or more usually (and honestly), a huge nerd, I’ve adapted to my surroundings. I’m not definitely not what an actual Kentuckyian would call country. I am often accused of sounding, for example, like I am from Wisconsin. I can’t shake the south suburbs of Chicago accent, or my college years spent in Baltimore, deejaying and promoting hip-hop shows. I’m always going to know every line of Jay-Z’s The Black Album. But I have made some strides. I’m not country yet, but:

I like country music a lot now. I always was skeptical of people who said, “I like all music, but country.” Heck, even in Baltimore my best friend and I tore up a Dolly Parton cassette tape. I didn’t know anything besides that, Johnny Cash (duh) and the Loretta Lynn/Jack White album really. But now I’ll keep the country stations on pretty regularly. This has been the result of a lot of conditioning on the part of my boyfriend, but he’s actually got really good taste. Particularly, I urge all my hipster “only like old country” friends to check out Jamey Johnson. He is the real deal.

Jamey Johnson – That Lonesome Song

Catfish pieces to sushi pieces eaten ratio: roughly 28 to 0.

I have dipped tobacco and enjoyed it. True, the first few times were under extreme duress. But I’ve done it three times since, half to amuse my boyfriend, and half because it actually made me feel really good.

I couldn’t necessarily manufacture moonshine on my own, but I feel like I’m ready to at any given moment.

I still allegedly can’t cook very well but every recipe I try is from the Pioneer Woman or Paula Deen.

I know more about Duck Dynasty than I ever expected to, and have recently learned their self-made hunting videos are even more entertaining.

A house is not a home without a gallon of sweet tea.

In fact, I have made an extremely large and unsuccessful batch of sweet tea cupcakes.

My boyfriend’s and my two favorite places to go on dates (um, I mean, get food, they’re still dates only for my overly romantic and silly self) are the Waffle House and a place called Kountry Kastle. At Kountry Kastle the food is cheap because they don’t give you plates to eat off of, we reckon.

I have started saying “I reckon” every once in a while, for a special treat, and am no longer completely aghast at being called “ma’am.”

I have shot a bow (technically), a gun, gone fishing more times than the rest of my life combined (technically, again, here, mostly just sat and drank beer and never touched a fishing pole), cleaned fish (once) and practiced sitting still to go hunting. I apparently am terrible at not moving constantly so it will be a while before I’m allowed to sit in a deer stand.

I can walk into gun shows and places like Paducah Shooter Supply and not be completely freaked out.

One of my favorite things to do is fly down a backroad with my boyfriend at the wheel. Doing anything next to him is great actually. That’s why I moved to Kentucky in the first place. Oh, and the cost of living. Speaking of:

Jamey Johnson – High Cost of Living

I don’t think I’ll ever make it to true blue country, honestly. I’ll always be born and raised in Joliet, Illinois, and I’ll never try to be someone I’m not. I’m still trying to find my place in this Kentucky life in a few ways. I just recommend getting out of your comfort zone if you can. You may grow in unexpected ways, and if you have a sense of humor about it, and if you are somehow as lucky as I am, a partner-in-crime who is an amazing guide to your new life, actually might find yourself having a blast.


I was working until 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and at about 11 a.m. a woman who I never will forgive said to the person she was currently on the phone with, “You know, they say what you’re doing at midnight on New Year’s Eve is what you’ll be doing the rest of the year.” “Oh my God, please don’t say that.” She looked up and registered me as a human being and laughed into the phone, “Haha, this girl working at the gas station right now just told me not to say that, haha.” “Have a great night and happy new year,” I said, meanly. Okay, maybe not meanly. I’m a customer service pro.

Ever since she said that, it’s been spinning around my mind. (Be careful what you say to strangers, they may be terribly prone to overthinking.) Last year on New Year’s at midnight, I was exactly where I wanted to be, kissing my boyfriend. Not some big romantic kiss, and it turns out he may or may not remember it, but it was very much emblematic of 2013. True, we didn’t just kiss all last year, despite my very concerted efforts. But it set a good, solid tone, at least for me.

I really am grateful to have a job, don’t get me wrong. Eating food is cool. It really is. I kinda just want a New Year’s Eve re-do, even though I know there’s nothing magical about that particular minute. And I really must say if that lady hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t still be thinking about it, and may have not made some of the tiny steps I have since to get something else going in my life. So as mad as she made me at the time, hopefully I’ll end up thanking her. Just seriously, please be careful what you say to strangers, you really might be talking to the world’s biggest worrier.

I hope your 2014 is magical.

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