crying, smiling, singing, loving. magic.

My dad has had his moments.  By that, I mean he’s a quirky, silly guy, but every once in a while, he’ll blow you out of the water with sweetness.

For the rest of this story to make any sense, you must read this old blahg post:

And if you refuse to do so [being difficult], just know that the most amazing gift I’ve ever received was that my father stood up in our living room a few days before Christmas and sang me a song.  A song about love.

He ended the song [me in tears], telling me that I would have to learn it one day and sing it with him.

I said, “Of course!”  I thought, Noooo effing way.  Too embarrassing.  I can’t sing!

My father’s birthday was on Tuesday and I dreamed of being there for his big 60th.  I even designed the invitations for his big bash that is this weekend [today].  But it was not in the cards… and by “the cards”, I mean, “the bank”… It was not in the bank.

Text and calls went back and forth about how I was going to be missed and how as a family, we just couldn’t make it work this time for a visit.

And then something very unfortunate happened.  A family who we [evan and myself… oh my gourd, i just became a “we”er… get me some adult diapers… this is a problem] were housesitting for had their father pass unexpectedly.  It was tragic.  In the process of it all, the family [the daughters] paid Evan and myself a generous amount of money… money for the whole time we were supposed to have watched the house.  It was too nice.  It brought tears.

– Evan, we have to give that back.

– They’re dealing with a lot right now.  I think it would be less of a hassel if we just kept it.

– …What if we used it to go see my dad?… for his 60th.

– I think the girls would actually really appreciate us using the money for that.

So we did.  It was the night of my dad’s actual birthday, a Tuesday and I called him to wish him a happy day.

– Happy birthday, Daddy!

– Thanks.  It’s been a great one.  Your mom and I are drinking wine and making dinner.

– Oh, that’s great.  I wish I could be there.

– Me too, Rocky.  You know, I had this little day dream that you were coming here to surprise me for my birthday, but I realized it’s just not in the cards.  It would have been so great, but I know that you’re doing your best up there and would be here if you could.

– Yeah, I so wish it could have happened!  I love and miss you guys.  Have a happy rest of your birthday.

– Thanks.  I love you too, Rocky.

And I hung up.  I looked over to Brittnee [my amazing friend from college who picked me up from the airport] who was driving me to my parent’s house… to surprise them.

– Did you hear that?!  He’s on to me!

– No, he’s not.

– No, I don’t think he actually is… but it was close.

Brittnee and I stopped at one of my favorite mexican restaurants.  We had a margarita [to calm my nerves] and then it was time… time to go show up at my parent’s front door.

I was so unbelievably nervous.  I don’t know why.  I’ve never really surprised anyone like this before.

Brittnee pulled up, dropped me off…

– I’ll do a big lap around the block and then come back.

– Okay.  Thank you so much!

– You’ll do great.

– Thanks.

I walked up to the door, shaking.

I rang the doorbell.

Momma opened the door, took one look at me and screamed…

– Oh my god!

She looked like she had seen a ghost… she did not run towards me… she backed away in shock… walking backwards, with her eyes bigger than I’d ever seen them.  She shrugged her arms heavy to her sides, looked up, mouth open in shock and turned in a few circles.  Then she backed to the living room and said…

– Jim!  Get over here!  Get off the phone!  Or, don’t get off the phone… just come here!

Dad came over to the hallway and screamed…

– Ahhh!  Rachel’s here!  I gotta go!

…and threw the phone down.

I was laughing the whole time.  They started laughing, smiling so big.

I was still standing on the front porch.  They came and hugged me, laughing hysterically in disbelief.

They wouldn’t stop hugging me, but I wouldn’t come inside…   I kept saying…

– No!  Stop!  I had this all planned!  This wasn’t how I planned it!  Hold on!  Stop!  STOP.

They stopped and took a few steps back and then I took a deep breath and started singing…

– When you find yourself alone… No way of getting home…

And I was the first to burst… I started crying, but carried on through the whole song.  My parents joined in and we all sang together.  It was nothing short of magic…

When you find yourself alone
No way of getting home
Wrap yourself in a blanket of stars
My love is there It’s the night that always burns
The day will take its turn
Picture my arms around your neck
My love is there

My love is there
It can find you anywhere
You’re gonna learn just how to trust
My love is there

If nothing’s going right
Fear sleeps with you and I
Oh, remember this if nothing else
My love is there

My love is there
It can find you anywhere
You’re gonna learn just how to trust
My love is there

Oh, you’re gonna learn just how to trust
My love is there

Crying, smiling, singing, loving.  Magic.  Perfect.

I came in, we laughed and hugged more.  Brittnee came back by with my stuff.  [p.s. Evan had gone to his friend’s house in Austin.]  We all chatted for a while and then Britt took off.

The three of us sat in the kitchen, drinking wine, listening to music, smiling, catching up, laughing.  Every time I would leave the room, I would hear them say something along the lines of…

– I still can’t believe it.

– The best.  Just the best.


Ryland [my little bro… four inches taller than me] came home from the rec center from playing basketball and I hid behind the front door.  He tried to open the door.  I pushed it shut.  He tried to open it.  I held it shut almost all the way.  He shoved, I shoved, he pushed, I pushed and finally I popped out from behind the door and said…

– What the hell, dude?!

He smiled so big and said…

– Wait.  Are you kidding me?


We all stayed up too late, laughed so hard, danced, ate, smiled, loved.  It was perfect.

And then Ryland went to bed and we all stayed up later and it got to the point of the night were you just have to pour another glass of wine, start a kitchen dance party and take pictures of yourself.

The night came to an end, but it will live in infamy.  So special.  Magic.  Thank you, sweet family, for a perfect homecoming evening/night.  Every minute of it was worth the trip.


go jim go.

happy birthday, daddy!

– Your dad is hilarious… Like, really hilarious.

Says Evan… after he reads this email…

Okay, wait, I should preface this a bit for you.

Well, actually, the email is pretty self-explanatory.  Just know that my mom was NOT psyched.  And dad felt like he needed to defend himself… so he sent me this email…

‘How I almost lost my VIP Merit Badge’ or ‘Why is there a security guard on horseback backstage?’

    I won tickets to the Old Settler’s Bluegrass Festival, a stellar event that involves days of camping except my tickets were just to get into the concerts, 6 trips, 50 mi. a turn, 300+ total.  Anywho, when my lovely wife, Virginia went to the radio station to pick up the tickets, there was a mix-up & instead we got 2 VIP All Access Backstage, Food & Camping Tickets.  It was too good to be true & was.  Sam Bush, Sonny Landreth, Richard Thompson, Foster & Lloyd, Tim O’Brien, just a fifth of the talent; eating with them, talking with them, & listening to them in privileged areas w/private jumbo trons.  Air conditioned, heated, & lighted bathrooms, w/running water.  Have you ever camped out at a festival for 4 days, you are lucky if they have port-a-potties.  You get the idea.
    Anywho, on Sat, the big day, Virginia says you have to get some of this pie, (it was catered by the Salt Lick, a 5* BBQ/Food Channel deal).  As I’m walking across the backfence of the backstage w/pie & 2 beers (Sierra Nevada), I see this young lady (field hippie) on the other side of the fence.  I had a WWWD (What would Willie do) moment.          Thanks again Willie for letting me be your guest & sit w/family onstage when sneaking into your concert in ’76.
    Me: Hello, Would you like a beer?
    Her: No Thank You.  Me:  Would you like some pie?  Her:  Yes, Thank You.  M:  Would your friends like these beers?  So I unload & go back to the commissary & get another piece of pie & two more beers.  As I walk past the same stretch of fence on my way to the private jumbo tron on the otherside, there are now 6 of the less fortunate on the other side of the fence; so hand off because I think its generous & I go back to the commissary.  4 beers, three of them with my fingers in them,carrying them like a waitress from Lubbock, that’s a good thing.  I get to the stretch of fence & now there are 12 people singing my praises & chanting “Go Jim Go”.  Back to the commissary.
    The folks at the beer hub were polite & efficient & said this “I’m sorry sir, you are taking more beer than you can consume.”  1st thought=’Have you ever seen me drink beer?’ but alas they were right, I was guilty of regifting their generosity & accepted my fate.  I go to the area that was originally the destination, pass by a bunch of new friends on the other side of the fence that will have memories of their festival & get to the jumbo tron.  As I’m there, no pie no beer, a security guard on horseback pulls up next to me.  They don’t even have security guards in the backstage area (you don’t need them, right?) but I have an equine pal next to me in the secluded jumbo tron area.
    We had too much fun, it was fantastic & I tried to share.  There was no malice and only humble was my intent, but I get excited (don’t we only go around once?)  I have since sent a letter to the OSBF to donate to their charity.  My intent in doing so is to preserve the WWWD moment.  In ’76 when he let me into his concert, sitting 20 ft from him onstage, my epiphany was that he is the Woody Guthrie of my generation.  My defense is spreading the joy & heart to those you can share with. 
                                                                                                     moresoonlater, Love BadDad


Oh, Daddy.


Happy Birthday!  I hope it’s an amazing one.


I wish I could be there to celebrate with you… I especially wish I would be there for this…


designed by moi… envisioned by pops.


 For my dad [who is amazingly more hip than me] I must share this… DADS ARE THE ORIGINAL HIPSTERS.


And my photo uploader thingamajig just decided to not work… so you’ll just have to explore that site yourself.  Have a great one, all!… [but especially you, Daddy… I love you so!]


western-shoot-out meets acid-rock-chic.

HAY!  Wanna seem my new scarf?

I knew you would…

an abbie miller original.

Abbie Miller made it and gave it to me for my birthday.  THE RADDEST.  [her and the scarf.]  I LOVE it.  But, am I cool enough to pull off this western-shoot-out meets acid-rock-chic look?

…I’m sure as hell gonna try.

Wanna know what I’m listening to right meow?

I knew you would…

[watch out, theres a sneaky track at the end.]


[older but refound and loving.]

everything, everyone… celebrate.

The Big 2-6 Birthday Recap.

8:00AM – Wake up.  I had work to do.   Open a package from my dear, dear family.

pretty little dress from my momma.

I took that in front of the Texas liscense plate for y’all.  Missing you.  Loving all the love you sent to me for my birthday!  I especially love this next gem because it is SO my family… my daddy… with obvious help from my momma.

band of horses... enhanced.

My folks are newly obsessed with Band of Horses.  They recently won tickets to a private concert and must have received this poster.  On it, they have colored it to make it look, well, rad… and all the band members have quotes.

Up in the corner it reads, “At the DJ Window”…

[from left to right.]

“I heard that she might be NATIVE AMERICAN & her real name might be RACHEL MORNING SCRAMBLE.”

“I wonder if she thinks I look like Ray LaMontagne?”

“My name is Evan Smith.  If you let me blow some harp with the band, I’ll introduce you to her.”

“She’s shorter than she sounds on the radio.”

“I’m hungry and I have a headache.  Does she take requests?”

Kind of amazing.  Thank you, lovely family.

And then I worked on some graphic design stuff like a big kid does on their birthday.  Evan made me brunch and brought me flowers and was just wonderful.

12:30PM – After I was done working, Evan sent me on a scavenger hunt around the apartment.  It was so lovely… with homemade cards and all.

What did the treasure of the hunt hold, you ask?

• Some kickass film for my Polaroid camera.  [so exciting!]

• A fixed and functioning typewriter!  [i’ve been using it to display cards for years… now i can write cards on it!]

• My favorite favorite lipgloss of all time.  [lipsmacker’s red carpet ready… stop judging.]  I’ve been wearing it since 8th grade but it’s been discontinued for years.  [my mom had a secret source for a while but even that dried up a couple years ago.]  Evan found some of it on Ebay… kind of amazing.  I was SO excited.

• Ginger beer!  [non-alcoholic.]  Evan BREWED ginger beer for me and made labels for it and everything…

it's delicious. what am i wearing, you ask? shhh... we'll get to that.

He pretty much nailed it.  Oh, sweetness.

3:00PM – Errands.  THANK YOU, RYLAND!  I went to the post office and picked up the book Jimmy Fallon’s  Thank You Notes that my bro sent me.  Pretty hilarious.  One of my faves…

4:00PM – Tennis with Allison.  Way fun.  Especially because we wore patriotic/awesome outfits.  I wore this number…

"that's 72 unforced errors..."

I bought this tennis dress at a second hand shop as a joke… but now I’m kind of obsessed with it.  I mean, it came with bloomers… how could you not love it?  Allison and I had an absolute blast running around in hilarious outfits, playing some good tennis.

6:30PM – Go to a BBQ at Dan Long’s in honor of me.

6:32PM – Start feeling party anxiety.

6:33PM – Start drinking the biggest Heineken I’ve ever seen.  [because it’s a new tradition from last year.]

7:02PM – Stop feeling anxious.

I had such an amazing time at the party.  So many loved ones, a trampoline, good food, ginger beer for the masses [with your choosing of dark rum or whiskey as an additive].

And then Evan told me it was time for birthday cake and I had to go outside.  I did.  And everyone started singing “Happy Birthday.”  [i started singing before realizing you don’t sing that song to yourself.]

Evan rolls around the corner of the house with a road bike that he’s holding my wish-a-saurus on.  [wish-a-saurus is my dinosaur candle holder… obviously.]  I find the whole scene kind of weird, but whatever.  I’m thinking,  I mean if Evan wants to use one of his bikes to show off the wish-a-saurus, that’s okay.  And, where’s my cake?  I mean it’s weird and awkward, but be nice, Rachel… he’s done so much fo… wait a second.  IS THAT BIKE FOR ME?!


– Yep!  Happy Birthday!

photo by dan long... one of the nicest friends anyone can have.

Then Evan said…

– All of your friends chipped in to buy you a road bike.

He started listing all the names of people who helped and I just couldn’t take it.  I started crying… couldn’t help it.  And I’m not a crier!  I mean, I’ll bawl at any Kate Winslet movie, but not in real life.  I couldn’t/can’t believe it.


And the fact that all these amazing people in my life came together to do that for me… oh god, crying again.

Too much.

Thank you to all of my beautiful friends.  I feel insanely lucky to have you all in my life in the first place… getting a kickass bike from y’all makes me feel beyond unworthy.  Thank you one hundred times over!

8:30PM and on – In awe of everything, everyone… Celebrate.

the whole damn year.

I’m usually all about celebrating my birthday for a whole week.  Proclaiming that it’s “MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!  We’re gonna BBQ/eat at Trio/go rafting/watch movies/etc. etc… cuz it’s MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!”

But this year, I didn’t really want to.  Didn’t want to make a fuss.  Didn’t want the hoopla.  I’m getting older, it’s okay that there isn’t a rager, a whole week celebrating me.  [yeah, no, i know how self-involved i sound… rest assured.]

So, this weekend, we went to a nice dinner.  [“we” being some ah-mazing friends who i’m so lucky to have.  and, oh, p.s. today is my actual birthday.] And we did what we would just normally do on a weekend in Jackson.  Adventures.

And when we were all laughing to ourselves on an island in the middle of the Snake River, with the Tetons as a backdrop, setting up a sign we found floating down the river, I couldn’t help but smile inside and out.  I realized I’ve been celebrating this life, my life, almost every day.

This was not a special trip rafting for my birthday, to celebrate.  This was an adventure so amazing, yet so common in our glorious lives of general celebration.  I was so proud of my friends, my family, my community, myself… for celebrating relentlessly.

And, yes, I did it.  I lived, breathed and survived another year.  [i will accept many a congratulations for this.]  But the wonderful thing is that I laughed and played and created and danced and loved and toasted and celebrated… the whole damn year.

i will find joy.

I take a lot of pictures of myself.  This is no surprise to anyone who has been to this here blahg before.  I’ve considered changing this sites url to… yeah, yeah, yeah.

And I get made fun of by my friends tons and even find myself feeling so, so silly pushing the button to begin the countown on my Photo Booth.

But, I am sure that in five, ten years… whether I’m doing something reigning in much fame and moola… or eating macaroni and cheese out of the pan I made it in [still]… I will find joy looking back at these ridiculous photos from volunteering to play music in a basement while the sun shines all over the mountains around me…

Oh, goodness.

And that’s where the magic happens: