When I was a young girl, I found myself burdened with a desire like no other. It outweighed most everything and laid heavy on my mind. I was determinedly convinced that obtaining my desire would make my world complete and provide me with some sort of unspoken power. I innately knew this to be true, long before ever having an inkling of what that power actually was.

About once a year, my folks, with my sisters and I piled into the Gran Torino station wagon, would set off in the middle of the night and head to Tennessee to visit my grandparents. I was usually nestled in the way-back, having made a cozy bed in the center of all the suitcases, creating my own private hideaway. The sun would begin to rise about the time we crossed the state line, rousing us from our sleepy slumber. As we made our way to Clarksville, I would spend most of the time gazing at the landscape as it flew by the car window, thinking about why the ground moved so quickly while the treetops took so much longer to leave my point of vision. Or watch and wonder as rain drops traveled up the window instead of down. Or ponder a fly trapped in the car, questioning his speed in the air, in the car, versus outside, and how confusing it must be for him when he did finally escape in a completely different state.

Most of the time in the car, my mind was occupied. Yet, somewhere along our route we would pass a Boot Outlet. And on every trip, my thoughts would then turn to cowboy boots and I would eagerly ask if we could stop. I was told “Next time” or “Not now.” Man, I wanted a pair of cowboy boots more than anything. Not any ol’ pair of boots, but COWBOY boots they had to be. I was only 10, maybe 11 at the time, but I knew. I knew there was some magic that came with wearing those boots. I wanted to be privy to it.

I kept asking and finally got a pair of cowboy boots when I was 13 years old. With those boots came the magical feeling that I could do just about anything. Whenever I wore them, there would be no hiding, there would be no fear, there would be no kissing ass, only the kicking of it. I had tapped into the unspoken power. I was proud to be who I was. And who I was was a girl who wore cowboy boots.

I’ve owned at least one pair, if not more, at any given time since then. Dingo, Justin, Nocona, Lucchese, Old Gringo, and others I’ve surely forgotten, have all stood or still stand on my floor today. Every pair I’ve ever owned has provided me with that same sense of indomitability, that same sense of “I got this.” For me, a girl of 13 or a woman of 50, I can think of no other singular item that provides such a sense of strength and confidence, such transformational magic, as a good pair of cowboy boots.


Well. Maybe lipstick. But definitely cowboy boots.


Jack and Ginger

Any young girl in the Piedmont area of North Carolina worth her Levis grew up drinking Jack and Ginger. Sure, there were future sorority girls who focused more on wine coolers and fruity beverages made with vodka. And there were girls obsessed with boys and skinniness who only drank lite beers. And, of course, there were plenty of swell girls (who were surely smarter than the rest of us) who didn’t drink at all. But then…there WE were. The girls wearing Levis and cowboy boots, t-shirts and flannels. Our hair was long, our laughter was loud, and we carried a sense of bravado and recklessness that all the other girls either hated or secretly admired from afar.

Occasional boyfriends we had, yet many more friends who were boys. We learned at a very young age, like around 12, that we really didn’t give a fuck. We already knew life was short and wasting time worrying about cliques and drama was never going to pay off in the end. What we didn’t realize was that by our mere existence, drama followed us everywhere.

We were friends with other girls’ boyfriends. We thought they were funny. They thought we were smart. We rocked out together to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. But, apparently, that was unacceptable.

We spoke our minds and said what we thought. We had opinions, dammit, and we shared them for all to hear. Come to find out, that was unacceptable too.

We questioned authority and sought new experiences. Keep in mind- we had already figured out the brevity of life. So we talked to strangers, skipped school, lied to our parents, argued with teachers, and still managed to graduate from high school on time. Talk about pissing off the status quo.

We were just trying to live and let live, but we seemed to be getting under the skin of a lot of people along the way. And so…we drank.

We drank. We smoked. We listened to music so loud in our friends’ bedrooms (friends who happened to be boys) that we became numb to the reality that we just didn’t quite fit. We smoked pot, we smoked cigarettes. We drank rum and coke, we drank shots of bourbon, we drank Jack and Ginger. And, if we managed to make it out the other side, we moved on and continue to speak our opinions, laugh loudly, and not give a fuck.

Life is short, after all.

kentucky mule2

I no longer drink Jack and Ginger, but I do enjoy a Kentucky Mule on a hot day.

  • Healthy shot of bourbon
  • Juice of one key lime or 1/4-1/2 of one regular lime
  • 2-3 dashes of mint bitters – I prefer Fee brothers
  • Add ice
  • Top with Ginger Beer. As pictured, I definitely prefer Fever-Tree.

I was experimenting with Fever-Tree’s “Naturally Light” ginger beer at the time of this photo. Lightly sweetened with natural fruit sugars, if you’re watching your carb or sugar intake, it’s certainly a nice alternative. Ultimately, I prefer the regular version, sweetened with cane sugar.