Friday, March 31, 2006

Not dying... yet

So I went to the doctor yesterday convinced that I was either getting pleurisy, pneumonia or some rare disease. (I was in the waiting room so long that I nearly read Steve Martin's "Shopgirl" in its entirety. OK, it's a novella, but STILL.) The doc tries giving me more cough syrup because she thinks my chest hurts from coughing so much. I tell her I'm really not coughing much anymore and I'm really worried about this pain in my chest/back. It feels like my chest is full of cement, I tell her. She says, in her heavy Egyptian accent, "OK, now you're scaring me. Let's get you an X-ray."

The X-ray shows no pneumonia, pleurisy or rare disease but it does show some irritation in my bronchial tubes. She gives me an inhaler and some pain pills (yay!) I stop by Jack in the Box on the way to the pharmacy, and there's this guy with a mullet working the drive-thru. I need to explain here that my doctor's office is not in Baytown but in Highlands, which, as Rachael explains on her myspace, is not even a city -- it's a community. It's a quiet little town where old trucks bearing bumper stickers such as "MY PRESIDENT IS CHARLTON HESTON" are not uncommon. I'm just trying to explain why there is a Mullet Man in the JB drive-thru.

Anyway, Mullet Man is a very friendly guy who asks why I'm not smiling. I say, "Oh, I'm sick. I just came from the doctor." Mullet Man says, "I know what you mean! Every year at this time it just feels like my chest is full of cement!"

So, it's not enough that I don't have some rare disease to explain why I've been feeling bad all week. What I have is apparently so common that even Mullet Man at Jack in the Box has it.

Completely unrelated to my story: While I was standing in line at the Target pharmacy, this overly hairy guy in a Hooters T-shirt lugged a 24-pack of Charmin up to the counter and yells, "CAN I GET A PRICE CHECK ON THIS?" I'm glad I was feeling too bad to laugh because I probably would have wet my pants.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Myspace of someone who has died

Alicia Bonura was a senior at West Brook High School in Beaumont. She died yesterday in a bus crash as her high school soccer team was traveling from Beaumont to Houston for a game. Ashley Brown also died. I didn't know either of them, but I feel connected to them in some way. I was also a teenager in Beaumont once upon a time. I didn't go to West Brook, but my brother did as well as my high school sweetheart. I've been to many West Brook football games, dances (ssh!) and said high school sweetheart and I even got caught kissing behind West Brook late one Saturday night. Of course I had my problems, but being a teenage girl in Beaumont was fun. I hope it was for Alicia and Ashley, too.

I was looking at Alicia's Myspace earlier today. I scrolled down to the bottom of her comments, and they were typical Myspace comments ("Hey, girl, whatcha doin'?" type stuff) until 3:07 yesterday afternoon. Then there's an eerie "Alicia, are you OK?" Then a flood of her friends pouring out their grief as they learned the news. I'm sad for her parents, who lost such a bright, vibrant Christian girl. I'm sad that on her Myspace profile, she says she's going to major in civil engineering when she enrolls at A&M next year. I'm sad that under "Children," she wrote "Someday." But on "People I'd Like to Meet," she wrote "I want to meet God soon."

No A&M, no children, but she did meet God yesterday afternoon. And in a weird, sad, sort of way, that makes me happy.

Back to the Doctor

I was telling Carol the other day how I don't like to blog about being sick. I just don't think it would sound very interesting. However, I'm sick. I've been through two rounds of antibiotics and I'm going back to the doc today. It seems to have all settled in my chest because my chest and back hurt all the time and little things like getting Jenna dressed leave me out of breath. I have to go sit and wait for the room to stop spinning. It still feels like there's an H3 parked on my chest, and I want to sleep all the time. Several people have said it sounds like pneumonia but I haven't had any fever.

Anyway, I have to get better because Michelle is coming to Baytown! With Aurora!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Confessions of a White Girl

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 29, 2006

With summer around the corner, many of us are busy reinventing our summer wardrobes and nailing down vacation plans.

And then there are those of us who are about to become socially unacceptable. Or at least unhip. I’m not sure which is worse.

I’m talking about us white girls. The white girls like me who are mostly Irish. We just don’t seem to tan very well.

We’re reminded — quite painfully — every March. After the fall and winter seasons, during which our alabaster skin has been hidden beneath pants and sweaters, we walk into Wal-Mart one day to be confronted by swimsuits and rows upon rows of tanning products.

Oh, yeah. It’s spring. It’s not OK to be white anymore.

Personally, I gave up on tanning the natural way years ago. The last stab I took at it was during the months leading up to my wedding. Concerned that my wedding guests might have trouble determining where my skin stopped and my dress began, I started making regular visits to a tanning bed.

Those are great places to take naps, by the way.

Once I was hitched, that was it. I had been to high school reunions and had seen the hardcore sun goddesses from the ‘80s who now looked ten years older than the rest of us. And I realized that skin cancer was very real and not just some myth made up by older folks to scare us. No more sun for me, thanks.

So what is a white girl to do?

Thanks to modern technology, we can now get darker skin where we get our hair color — out of a bottle.

But sunless tanning products present a whole new set of challenges to those of us who are pigmentationally challenged.

For one thing, they can make you turn strange colors. A celebrity columnist recently described Paris Hilton’s bottle-derived skin color as “pure-as-the-driven-Cheeto orange.” What’s unsettling to me is that Paris probably has enough cash to fund a cure for skin cancer. If she can’t find a sunless tanner that works, where does that leave the rest of us?

Sunless tanners can also streak, leaving you looking less like a bronze beauty and more like an orange-and-white zebra. It’s a look that could catch on... but don’t hold your breath.

Unless you’re applying some sunless tanning lotion. Because it smells really, really weird. Even though these products have improved drastically in the last five years or so, I have yet to find one that doesn’t smell like laundry left in the washer too long. I call it “Eau de Desperate White Girl.”

So, we’re not big on skin cancer, we don’t want to age before we have to and we don’t want to walk around looking like extreme University of Texas fans. What options do we have?

Here’s one. Let’s love our skin the way God gave it to us, get a cute swimsuit and hit the beach, anyway. (With a high-SPF sunscreen, of course.) If people don’t like it, they can wear shades.

For more information on summer skin safety, visit

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More vienna sausages!

We've been giving Jenna vienna sausages. (She's too young to realize how gross they are.) The other day, Chad asked Jenna if she wanted more vienna sausages. She smiled and said -- clear as a bell -- "Sausages!" Her first three-syllable word, and it's in reference to a potted meat product with mysterious ingredients. We couldn't be more proud.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Jiggly Tribute

Saturday, Julia (our little Greenpeacer...I mean, environmentalist) hosted a party celebrating the bald eagle's removal from the endangered species list. (This event actually happened in 1995, but it had been on Julia's mind because of the more recent news that the eagle may be on its way off the threatened species list.)

To mark the event, Julia and I baked a cake and made individual servings of blue Jell-O in muffin tins. They came out looking like bright blue breast implants. Natalie, Meagan, Grace and Belinda, the party's attendees, didn't seem to notice.

Then we all played "Mall Madness" (an atrocious Milton Bradley creation designed to foster shallow materialism in young girls), then Natalie and Meagan went home. Grace and Belinda spent the night.

Also this weekend, our small group met at our house Sunday night. Last time it met here, we had six people. Tonight, we had 19. I always think we have a reasonably-sized house until we pack it full of people. Then it looks kinda little. But it was great having everyone here and the singing was great.

Earlier today, I had gone to Wal-Mart. I try not to go there because I decided a few months ago that I hate Wal-Mart. I usually get groceries at Food Town and non-grocery stuff at Target. But today I just had time for one stop, so Wal-Mart it was. I was supposed to be getting diapers plus food for our small group (the diapers were just for Jenna), but I decided to stop by the shoe dept. Why not? And I found some really cool ones. But I passed them up because even at Wal-Mart, I don't pay full price for any kind of clothing.

Well, as I was standing in line at the deli waiting to order my half pound of turkey and baby swiss, I started thinking. It was the last pair of shoes of its kind, and they were in my size. To me, that's like God saying, "Take them, my child. They're yours." So I went back and got them. They're wicked cute, plus they are like me in several ways:

They are 1) cute,
2) cheap,
3) liable to fall apart and any moment.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Over the river and down the street...

One of the things I love about living in southeast Texas is that occasionally, you have to take a ferry to get somewhere. That's what I did tonight. I met my friend Lesa at Monument Inn near the San Jacinto Monument and the quickest way to get there from my house is to take the Lynchburg Ferry across the San Jacinto River. Lesa and I ate some yummy stuff (shrimp creole for me) and had a nice time. We are two mommies who hardly ever get to go out at night with other moms, so that made it extra special. I'm thinking it's something we ought to do more often! In fact, we had SUCH a good time that I missed the last ferry and had to drive the long way around to get home. So I listened to loud rock music all the way home (U2's Unforgettable Fire), which I also don't get to do very often since I usually have young children with me who have young, tender eardrums. So it was a most enjoyable evening all the way around.


Right now I'm reading "The Shopping Bags: Tips, Tricks, and Inside Information to Make You a Savvy Shopper." This book caught my eye because I'm all about finding a bargain. One of the most important things my mom taught me was not to pay full price for anything. I don't even pay sale prices if I think they're not cheap enough. Just last week, I walked away from a $9.99 shirt at Target because I just know it's going to come down more. (In fact, I'll be there first thing tomorrow morning to check.) So this book is right up my alley. I'm not too far into it yet, but here's one interesting bit of information I found:

"Between them, Loreal and Estee Lauder own a large portion of all makeup lines on the market. So remember that your expensive Lancome lipstick may have been made at the same factory as the more affordable Maybelline."

I've never been into buying expensive makeup anyway, and now I have another reason to justify that besides just being cheap. I'm now also a smart shopper.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Time for Spring Cleaning

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 22, 2006

Spring is here!

This means wisteria is blooming, robins are flying around, and, for reasons yet to be explained to me, it’s time for spring cleaning.

How this tradition began or why it even exists is unclear. This is what I’ve been able to make of it: Apparently, we’re all supposed to live in utter filth until the Vernal Equinox. Then we make our families miserable by scrubbing the daylights out of our homes and performing completely ridiculous tasks such as dusting the tops of doorframes (like anyone ever looks up there) and sending the drapes off to be dry-cleaned.

I don’t understand it, but I’ll play along.

I’ll even offer some help with one of spring cleaning’s more unpleasant tasks in my handy guide called “Cleaning Out Your Closet” or “How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Week.”

First, if you have young children in your house, you know they will barely let you brush your teeth, let alone complete a major cleaning task. So you have to take action. I suggest sedating them. Might as well sedate your husband, too. Just make sure he’s awake in time to carry large boxes out of the house when you’re done.

Next, take everything out of your closet. I mean everything. Put it in piles all around your bedroom.

Now you can go through your clothes. Hold up each piece and ask yourself these questions:

1) Is it outdated?

2) Is it something you wore on a date with someone you haven’t seen in 15 years?

3) Is it ugly as sin but you feel like you have to hang on to it because your Aunt Sybil gave it to you and, well, you know how she is.

4) Is it a piece of clothing named for a celebrity who’s no longer famous? (i.e. M.C. Hammer pants)

5) Does it have baby spit-up on it and your children are teenagers?

6) Is it a Christmas sweater? Or a NASCAR T-shirt?

If you answered yes to any of these, it’s time to get rid of some clothes. Box them up. Then realize that if you get rid of all this stuff, you will have no clothes left. Open the boxes. Hang all the clothes back up in your closet.

There are still tennis rackets and sleeping bags and luggage and golf clubs and fans that don’t work all over your bedroom. Grab one of the sleeping bags. You can use it tonight to sleep in your daughter’s room.

Hey, there’s something you didn’t see before hanging behind your husband’s skis. It’s that outfit you bought last year on sale that you had forgotten about. The tags are still on it. It’s like you just got new clothes! For free!

Try the outfit on. Aren’t you cute! Go shopping.

Of course, you’ll bring home new clothes that will need a place to go. I will cover this in a future how-to guide called “Adding a New Closet to Your Home” or “Can This Marriage be Saved?”

My last piece of advice is to forget cleaning, get outside and have fun. It’s springtime, for heaven’s sake.

Deana Nall lives in Baytown with her family.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A blog that is more organized

I updated the links on my blog so they're not all lumped together. First, I have "Blood Blogs," or people who are related to me in some way. Then I have "Friends' Blogs," and then "Blogs of People I Haven't Actually Met." Then there are my links to "Rampant Consumerism" as well as "All About Me." I'll add more links later -- the Wiggles tape Jenna is watching is almost over.

One note about the Wiggles -- don't those guys seem to be enjoying all that singing and dancing around a little too much?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cool Soap and the Name Game

I usually only have shameless plugs for Target, but I found a product I want to tell everyone about. It's called Fresh Scents hand soap and I found it at Kroger (Target has it, too.) It's really good-smelling soap with air-freshener beads in the bottom of the bottle. I got honeysuckle and it smells SO YUMMY and goes perfectly in my bright yellow bathroom. I'm hoping the Fresh Scents company will see this and send me a case of the stuff.

And now for the Name Game, which I stole from Lauren. My daughter Julia did it, too.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet and current street name) Snoopy Burnet

2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME: (grandmother's maiden name on your mother's side, your favorite candy) James Almond Joy

3. YOUR "FLY GIRL" NAME: (first initial of last name, first two or three letters of your first name) N. Dea

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite animal, name of high school) Monkey Beaumont Christian

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born) Carol Hobbs

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (first 3 letters of your last name, last 3 letters of mother's maiden name, first 3 letters of your pet's name) Nalickspa

7. JEDI NAME: (middle name spelled backwards, your father's middle name spelled backwards) Lorac Sgninnej

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My Purseful Driven Life

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 15, 2006

I have a confession to make. I am a purse abuser.

Purses do a lot for me. They carry around all my stuff. Thanks to my purse, I always have my Chapstick, Orbit gum, hand sanitizer, lotion and billfold — all things to which I am addicted on one level or another.

In return, I treat my purses horribly. I throw them around. I cram junk in them that should never go into a purse. They end up under furniture, in the floorboard of the car, and being dragged around the bathroom by my 18-month-old. It can’t be a pleasant existence.

I can’t seem to help it. Because I have so many people and things that I have to take care of, my purses lose out. But I have to have them, so I keep buying them and being mean to them.

Which begs the question: Why do women need purses in the first place? Why does half the population have to have an assortment of stuff with them all the time while the other half doesn’t?

In my opinion, purses function as one of the great contradictions of our society. We women get all bent out of shape of someone charges us with being “high maintenance.” But at the same time, we carry these mini-suitcases around with us everywhere we go.

On the other hand though, I’m not convinced men don’t need purses. I’ve been threatening to buy my husband one for years.

My bad purse-treating habits have been on my mind because I just got a new purse.

This new one replaced the one I bought at the end of my last pregnancy to be my combination purse/diaper bag. See, this time around, I was determined to be a cool mom. No canvas pink diaper bags with Classic Pooh on them for me. Instead, I bought a sleek, multi-compartment black bag that would announce to the world, “Look at me. I can be a mom and retain my sense of style at the same time.”

But I soon grew tired of reaching in for my billfold and pulling out a diaper instead. Or a sad, forgotten sippy cup one-third full of fermented apple juice. Or a wadded-up napkin containing a piece of cantaloupe that my daughter had decided, in mid-chew at a bridal shower with no trash cans in sight, she didn’t like.

So my purse/diaper bag became just my purse and I gave in to the pink canvas diaper bag. Which left plenty of room in my purse for junk. Receipts I would never need again. Long-expired coupons. Zip-Loc bags containing crackers that have been ground to a fine powder. Renegade Cheetos that have given everything in my purse an orange sheen. I found myself, like many women do, carrying a purse full of garbage around.

And that’s when we purse abusers buy new purses. Not because we find a cute one on sale, but because buying a new purse is easier than cleaning the old one out.

Fortunately, my new purse is so little that the things I need will hardly fit into it, let alone the junk I don’t need.

So maybe there’s hope for me after all.

Deana Nall lives in Baytown with her family.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

More Fun at Target

Chad and I were in Target today. (Legitimate mission. Chad needed something -- in fact, it was his idea to go there. All I got was a Pepsi.)

ANYWAY, I spotted her again. The plain-clothes cop. Except she saw me looking at her, which was kind of embarrassing. I just think her job would be so cool. Getting paid to walk around Target all day and occasionally wrestling some punk to the ground. There are worse ways to spend your day.

My favorite recent Target purchase: Matching T-shirts for the girls that say, "Everyone Loves a Blue-Eyed Girl." They have the brown-eyed version, too, for you people like Carol who have brown-eyed girls.

That just reminded me. The other day Julia and I were talking about different eye colors and I started singing "Don't it make my brown eyes blue..." She said, "That's not correct grammar."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Remember the 1950s?

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 8, 2006

Remember the 1950s?

I don’t. But I’ve seen a few episodes of “Leave it to Beaver,” so I have a pretty good idea of what the decade was like.

Houses were spotless, husbands smoked pipes, and moms were completely fulfilled getting dressed up every day to do laundry.

And the food was utterly disgusting.

It’s true. This was the same generation that thought carrots and raisins tasted good together, especially if you washed it down with a tall glass of buttermilk. Something was going on with peoples’ taste buds back then, and it wasn’t pretty.

And now, this culinary phenomenon has been captured in a book called “The Gallery of Regrettable Food.”

(My brother Brian, who, like me, is always scanning the Internet for inane information with which to fill brain space, ran across the book this week and passed it on to me.)

This fascinating book details, in full-color, stomach-churning photos from actual 1950s cookbooks, every conceivable culinary nightmare to grace American tables during the Eisenhower administration.

There are meat and Jell-O recipes guaranteed to turn anyone into a vegetarian. There are recipes involving coffee that shouldn’t be legal. There’s a recipe for 7-Up salad that calls for lime Jell-O, vinegar and hot apple sauce.

Here are some other offenders:

• “Meatballs in Pink Sauce.” What makes it pink? If you find out, don’t tell me. From the Knudsen Dairy Products Cookbook.

• “Corned Beef Salad Loaf.” Another horrifying meat and Jell-O concoction. Also from the Knudsen company.

• A recipe that begins with “Wash and dry rabbit, cut into serving portions.”

• “Chicken Salad Upside Down.” This treat from a picnic cookbook is made and served in Dixie cups.

• And my favorite: “Dr Pepper Jell-O with Olives.” It looks just like it sounds. I would include a photo, but this is a family newspaper and I don’t want to scare the kids.

Speaking of kids, I found something just for them in a

7-Up cookbook. The classic children’s treat, “7-Up in Milk.”

Yep, mix equal parts 7-Up and milk to make a “... delicious blended food drink,” the cookbook says. Hey, I’ve seen children ingest some pretty wild stuff. Even I was known to knock back some Elmer’s Glue once in a while. But milk and 7-Up? Just say no, kids!

These recipes reminded me of something that happened to my dad in the ‘50s. He was having a dinner at a friend’s house when his friend’s mother served something she called “Olive Pie” for dessert. The pie consisted of green olives entombed in a glob of bright green Jell-O. He still has a hard time talking about it. For years, I thought my dad was making this story up. I’m sorry, Dad. I believe you now.

I realize that not all food was this scary in the ‘50s. My grandmother was a homemaker back then and she had a heavenly chicken and dumplings recipe that didn’t call for any vinegar, olives or Jell-O. These cookbooks are giving ‘50s-era cooking a bad rap.

The truth is that I’ve always wanted to travel back in time to the ‘50s. The music and cars from that era remain unsurpassed. But I know one thing. If I ever find my time machine, I’m taking a sack lunch.

Monday, March 06, 2006

My child and her mouth

My sweet little first-grader embarrassed the holy soup out of me today.

To make a long story short, here's what happened. The Accelerated Reader program at her school has changed its point system for K-2 grades. In the past, the longer the book was, the more AR points were given for it. Now, the students get one point per book no matter how long it is. As a result, students like Julia, who has been reading longer books like the Narnia and Little House series, are wanting to go back to reading the short, easy reader books so they can get points more quickly. I don't see how the change motivates anyone -- advanced or slower readers. Last night I wanted to start reading "Anne of Green Gables" to Julia and she said no, because in the time it would take her to read it, she could be reading the shorter, easy books and get more points.

This has been frustrating me and I guess I communicated that to Julia because today she told the teacher to expect a phone call from a VERY ANGRY MOMMY. I know this because her teacher emailed me trying to calm me down because she believes I am a VERY ANGRY MOMMY. I am so embarrassed. I'm not one of those psychotic parents I grew up hearing about from my mom, who taught first grade. I was so turned off of parents like that from hearing my mom's stories that I'm inclined to not say anything to a teacher, even if something is bugging me. And now I'm known as a VERY ANGRY MOMMY.

So how is your Monday?

Friday, March 03, 2006

It's a Big Big World

There's a new show on PBS called "It's a Big Big World." It features a character named Snook who is a tree sloth. When he talks, he sounds really laid back -- I guess because of the sloth thing -- but to me, he sounds like he's been smoking weed. This is an observation I couldn't share with my children so I thought I'd share it with you.


Yesterday I had a blow-out on the way to pick up Julia from school. Thankfully I had made it into our neighborhood, so I drove the Suburban as far as I thought I should and then parked it, put Jenna in her stroller and walked to Julia's school. Julia had already had a bad day with "the mean substitute" (on the days they have this sub, all the usually good kids end up moving their clips. Hmmm...) so when I told her we had to walk all the way home (almost a mile), she didn't take it too well. My husband, who I like to refer to as SuperChad, came home and changed the tire. I'm just glad the tire didn't blow out that morning, while I was taking four little girls to their respective schools.

The day got better when we met my dad at Cracker Barrel for dinner. He had spent a couple of days in Beaumont and was on his way back through town.

Today I'm meeting my best Baytown girlfriend Lois at the Starbucks in Target. Lois, Starbucks and Target -- three of my favorite things all at the same time! Life doesn't get much better.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Where do I get my column ideas?

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published March 1, 2006

"Where do you get your column ideas?"

People ask me this quite often, and I usually come back with something like, “Well, with two kids, I’ve always got something to write about.”

But this is not entirely true.

Some weeks I sit down to write and my column just flows effortlessly onto my Word document. Then I hit “Send” on my email and move on with my life.

Then there are days like today. Ideas may be floating around out there somewhere, but they’re just not coming to me.

So I thought I would let you, the reader, into my “office” (I don’t have an entire “bat cave” like Jim Finley, just a corner of my living room) to take you through my column-writing process. This is called “How to Write a Column When Inspiration Has Slipped Out the Back Door Without Leaving a Forwarding Address.”

Sunday: Hmm. Wednesday’s coming up in a few days. Might be time to think of a column idea.

Monday: Wow. Wednesday’s even closer now.

Monday, 9 p.m.: Now it’s really, really time to write the column. Surf the Internet looking for celebrities to make fun of.

Monday, 9:18 p.m.: Nothing. Go see what’s on sale at

Monday, 9: 43 p.m.: Eat an entire sleeve of “Thin Mints” Girl Scout Cookies.

Monday, 10:11 p.m.: Write 250 words on the smoking ban.

Monday, 10:39 p.m.: Decide you don’t want to go there and delete the whole thing.

Monday, 10:51 p.m.: Go check on your children in their beds. Aren’t they so sweet and cute? Get sentimental and teary-eyed.

Monday, 11:07 p.m.: Realize you are too tired to be witty. Go to bed. Surely you’ll come up with something tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6:45 a.m.: Get up, get two kids dressed, make their breakfast and lunches and get them out the door to their respective schools.

Tuesday, 8:55 a.m.: On the way home, stop at Target. Get a grande Caffe Mocha from Starbucks. Wander the aisles in a stress-induced daze.

Tuesday, 9:24 a.m.: Back home. Buy some time by emailing the managing editor to tell him you are giving your column one last read-through.

Tuesday, 9:37 a.m.: Stare at your blank screen. Fight back tears.

Tuesday, 9:56 a.m.: Eat the other sleeve of Thin Mints.

Tuesday, 10:03 a.m.: Think of how Jim Finley writes his columns several months ahead. Seethe with jealousy.

Tuesday, 10:23 a.m.: In sheer desperation, get up from your computer and bang your head against the wall.

Tuesday, 10:26 a.m.: When you come to, in the midst of your delirium, you find it. A column idea! Write 520 words lickety-split.

Tuesday, 10:49 a.m.: Email your masterpiece to the managing editor. Congratulate yourself.

Wednesday, 7:12 a.m.: Read your column in the newspaper. Be relieved that most of it makes sense. You don’t have to write another one for a whole week. That’s good, because your head still hurts.

There you go. I don’t usually allow the general public into the deep complexities of my creative process. So consider this as my gift to you.

Now, to get ahead, I’m going to start working on next week’s column. And I need to find a Girl Scout. I’m out of Thin Mints.

Deana Nall lives in Baytown with her family.