Farewell 2010…and a decade

While many may think I’m at a salsa party on NYE, I’m not. I wanted a last night by the tree, my son in the next room playing video games. He’ll graduate in 2012…too soon…and I haven’t had the chance over Christmas break to look back on the past year and thank God for all His blessings.

Many firsts in 2010…my students doing a book study with Sherry’s class in Ecuador via Skype. Classic Coup featured in Her Nashville, then my writing for the magazine. Examiner interviews with amazing people, like Alberto Fuguet and a salsera who inspired me with her story, soon to be published. Loving Middle Eastern food and eating it while watching the Super Bowl. First trip to Vegas and to Kansas City. Sharing Go-Jo with a friend before he hit the Road Less Traveled. Our bathroom restored over Thanksgiving when 8 Days of Hope came to town. The kindness of strangers.

And speaking of Tennessee Williams…my first trip to NOLA. Why had I not gone sooner considering it’s the most European-feeling city in America? There Kim did a reunion concert with her former husband/band member that loyal fans, Kim’s high school friends, and five of us from Nashville traveled to see. She sang like an angel, he played up a storm, and they bantered like June Carter and Johnny Cash. I’d met Kim post-Bill and her Rockabilly days. Seeing them slip back into something onstage so familiar and so different reminded me of the lives we all live and leave behind. Their reunion foreshadowed my own last fall when I saw girls–classmates most of whom I hadn’t seen since my high school graduation. Girls from ’77– different and yet the same.

2011 marks not only a new year. It begins a new decade. Since 2000 I’ve lost both grandmothers. Others have moved away or moved on. I look back each year to embrace the comfort of Wordsworth’s words: “We will grieve not, rather find/ Strength in what remains behind;/ In the primal sympathy / Which having been must ever be.”

In the last decade ten more senior classes graduated. My kids, pets, and I continued celebrating life with birthdays, vacations, Pokeman, American Girl, movie nights, soccer, drama, cheerleading and wrestling. I’ve seen my nieces grow up one street over, alongside my children. I became part of a salsa family that taught me to celebrate EVERY birthday–even the once-dreaded milestones. I’ve seen my sister, mother, and daughter see Italy for the first time. I’ve gone to the beach and Barcelona with friends, explored from Santa Monica to Malibu with Taylor and Cole.

New friends, new passions, new places…like Garden Brunch Cafe, Lassiz, Cantino Laredo, McNamara’s Irish Pub. And old favorites, comfort food, like clam chowder and beef stew, Radnor Lake and Mad Donna’s. A tradition, taking my sis out for her birthday, became new when Penny and I saw A Scattered, Smothered, and Covered Christmas at the new downtown dinner theater. Family and friends still here…passages as we change and move on. Welcome home from Africa, Sally, friends forever since we started Mrs. Monday’s K-5 class together. And hello friends-yet-to-be in 2011.

Once Upon a Time in Dublin in 2000…

And in Destin circa ’05 or so…

Throughout Italy…

Salsa…

And all the time in-between…

It has been a wonderful life…decade…year…

NOLA–January 2010
Court of 2 Sisters

Full Circle…I grew up near Fairview where family reunions were held at the “Jeff Davis” monument.

Home in film, The Curious Case of Benjamen Button

Sandra Bullock’s home

One school of Brad P and Angelina J’s children

Mike, our Southern gentleman and host, showed us sites after my first night of Zydeco.

High school friends of Kim at Stanley, my favorite restaurant named for the character I love/hate–especially when played by Marlon Brando.

Carnival at Lime with Em

Classic Coup featured in Her…photo by Jude Ferrara

Birthday dance …photo by Anthony Jure

Author/Director Alberto Fuguet

Teaching my seniors to salsa in the park

Taylor reading my favorite contemporary Southern novelist in Destin

Thanks to Emily and Cindy D, our resident photographers.

Fun with Nashville Writers Meetup at Southern Festival of Books

Founder of Hands on Nashville, Hal Cato, speaks at our Career Day

Senior Prank…my knight captured

…and out-on-the-town

My TA, Margarita, consoles me with random acts of kindness.

Examiner article covering Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Awards–Spanish translation

Sonja and Elle’s launch of the Superwoman benefit for battered women

Volunteers from 8 Days of Hope…two families rich in love who blessed mine

Christmas Catch-up

Apologies for disappearing since September…too busy living the “Rich Life” to record it. Since returning from Magic, I was more motivated than ever to grow Classic Coup…and meanwhile the mom/teacher/writer/salsera world kept spinning…

Now there’s the holidays when I really run behind…family coming to my house for dinner tonight and still grocery, cooking, gift wrapping to go. No complaints. At Christmas I catch-up on what’s most important… friends and family.

Tuesday Angela was in town and rather than talk Classic Coup, we met at Marche just for fun. Check out her pics of her first East Nashville experience–a part of town I adore. Also see her pictures of her European tour this fall, grab design ideas, pick up some recipes.

So Long Summer…

It has been a great weekend. And a great summer. Saturday I made a video for Classic Coup and saw Buckwheat Zydeco at the Franklin Jazz Festival with friends, April, Carole (her children Emily and Ewin), Emily, and Cheryl. I danced salsa at Mad Donna’s for the first time in much too long. Sunday I celebrated Bionic Woman/Best Bud Kim’s cycling 100 miles…and wished Happy Birthday to four of my favorite virgos on Sunday…Greg, Tonya, Sherry, and Beth. Today I lunched at Taco Mamacitas with friends, including Mayuresh who after cycling 62 miles Saturday helped me plan on Labor Day Classic Coup’s new website. Cole and I watched Star Wars and Big Daddy again. Still love that Scuba Steve.

Before the new week starts, here’s the remains of the day…
Favorite stores I discovered in Vegas at the trade shows for my Christmas wish list …and memories of a final summer trip to Kansas City.

In Blissful Company

Cara Lyndon Creations

Sora Designs

Ornamental Things

Hazel

This one is for my daughter, Taylor:
Alter Ego

Kansas City was full of surprises…the Country Club Plaza might have been the biggest. Designed after Seville, Spain and built in 1922, it was the nation’s first outdoor shopping center. Lights twinkling below the balcony of Brio Tuscan Grill reminded me of warm nights in Spain or Italy. KC even had great gelato at Balsano’s and… gondolas. I had my first experience at Fogo de Chao. Amazing. The Saturday Market and Middle Eastern lunch with Angela, Matt, and Haz was fun. I loved the live music, seeing Angela’s home, and planning the next phases of Classic Coup.

Check out the quilt Angela made and the place where the Magic happens…her studio…used for not only designing tees and sewing purses but also for “the dress.” No doubt Baby Muir will be the best-dressed boy or girl in the Midwest.

Magic in Vegas…Fashion Meets Education

Do You Believe in Magic? After last week I do. And I learned what happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas. That’s the point when WWDMAGIC is in town.

The August extravaganza is the largest fashion trade event in the world. Whether selling to the Big Boy/ Dynasty chains or to barely blooming boutiques, 1,100 exhibitors built booths and banked bucks as they sold to buyers under the showroom lights of the Las Vegas Convention Center and those of Mandalay Bay. Closing shop at 7, vendors courted clans of corporate officers and buyers, placing them on club lists. No doubt the private party held at XS would have made even Carrie Bradshaw squeal.

My quest was to take Classic Coup, my tee shirt company, to the next level. We’d had a good first year, but I still had questions about the fashion industry as the medium for our message: classic books stir critical thinking and compassionate living. Conversations that lead to understanding and action.

As a writer and teacher I’ve learned to be a good student—one who believes knowledge is power, who admits I have much to learn, who knows it’s all about where to go for the right answers. So on the advice of two friends in the biz, my designer and a buyer, I followed the yellow brick road… from Nashville to Vegas… to consult the Wiz…the Big M. Flying home through Kansas (where else would my designer live outside of Oz?), I delivered the ruby slippers…jewels I’d discovered, and in Angela’s living room we expanded our plans. Mission accomplished.

And oh so fun.

Though a Vegas virgin and a Europe enthusiast, this Nashville girl underestimated how much I’d enjoy Nevada’s town of gargantuan glitz and glam. Not since I’d driven into Paris the first time had I seen so many lights. And though I’ve never thought anywhere in the world compares to Venice, the massive Venetian comes close. Also towering above me were pro athletes checking out Spring 2011 collections. I was swept along in a rapper entourage when I bumped into (literally) Juelz Santana and Lloyd Bands at the Street show. Later that night they were the show at Billionaire Mafia’s after-party at Eve Nightclub. And while I didn’t see the other Paris, I was allowed to photograph Jessica Simpson’s “booth.” Beautiful. Epic.

Business meant pleasure in finding a new company for our blanks… discovering the most feasible way to sell at Magic next year… savoring seminars on fashion forecasts, trade tips for new businesses, advanced social networking and building brands. Most importantly, I networked with nice people willing to help a girl out…like Jill of another newcomer tee company, ATX Mafia from Austin, Texas and Industry Guru and creator of afingo.com Liza Deyrmenjian.

On our free limo ride that shuttled us from the city center to the bay, I shared what I’d learned with a pretty girl about my daughter’s age who came to Magic hoping to start her own line. It felt good to give back. As one who has always depended on the kindness of strangers (yes, we’re releasing our Streetcar Named Desire shirt this fall), I discovered a place to get the goods on spring and the rewards of goodwill hunting, never out of season.

*Below are some of my favorite booths and store names. Upcoming posts: links to my favorite finds, fun in Kansas City, the spring fashion forecast.