Monday, March 17, 2014

New Website



I've been a freelance writer since the end of 2006. And in all that time, I've never had a website.

No more, glory hallelujah.

Now, thanks to my friend Brad at 4tunate Design, I have a place where editors and readers can view my past articles, see the cool people I've interviewed and subscribe to future blog posts.

In fact, I've already been blogging from there for the past few posts. And I'm loving it (ba-da-ba-bap-ba.....).

I'll leave Crystal's Cliffnotes up for a little while longer, but please, if you want to keep reading about my crazy life, subscribe to my posts, like me on Facebook and let me know what you think of my new site. 

And if you're really feeling wild, share my articles and blogs with a buddy.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 14, 2014

High School Hearts


There was a long list of things we didn’t have: money, life experience with serious relationships, college degrees — heck, not even a high school diploma — and a place of our own. After all, we were just teenagers. AKA we had no clue, and the world let us know it.

The list of things Nick and I did have at age 17 was a lot shorter, but in the end, mattered more: love, commitment and the crazy, irrational belief that we could make it no matter what the naysayers told us.

Today, we have enough money to live a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. We have over 11 years of “us.” We have college degrees, a mortgage, a dog and three kids. We’ve lived in two states, two countries and two continents as man and wife. By all accounts, we now know what we’re doing.

And yet part of me still longs for the days when life boiled down a hand-written love poem on a first Valentine’s Day, grammar and punctuation mistakes and all.


That yearbook smile still drives me mad
With all that’s changed, I’m so glad

You’re still loving me
With that some old high school heart

~From “High School Heart” by John Michael Montgomery

The presents may have gotten more expensive, the clamor may have increased in the background and maybe we don’t have to drive 85 miles an hour down River Drive to make my curfew.

But that boy is the same. The girl is the same. The love is the same.

No, I take it back. That boy and girl have changed into a man and woman who have learned that true love isn’t entirely about the romance, the gifts and the holidays. That love has grown and matured into an all-encompassing river of everyday choices and actions, wild and calm by turns but always active and alive.

Happy Valentine’s Day to the one who, from nothing, has given me everything.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hair Hits & Misses


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England -- where even the hair salons are older than America

As much as I love Stacey, my amazing hairstylist back home, I knew I couldn't hang onto her forever. I tried my hardest, scheduling one last precious wash-and-cut a mere 48 hours before we left. And being the sweet woman that she is, she scribbled down instructions on a notepad for how I liked my hair done.

"For your new stylist in England," she said. I took the paper, grateful -- Stacey knows I don't speak hair.


This week, I discovered neither Stacey nor I speak British hair.

When you Google "British Hairstyles," this is the image that pops up. How handy.
After nearly three months of UK living, my tresses were in need. So I asked a fashionable, hip-with-it mom at playgroup where she gets her hair done.

"By the lady with tattoos at the salon here in Gayton," she answered.

So that's who I asked for when I made an appointment. "Aw, you must mean Danielle," the receptionist said.

So off to Danielle I walked. (All six businesses in this no-stoplight town are within walking distance of my -- and any -- house in Gayton).

The first discovery: just like in the States, British salon waiting areas don't carry Sports Illustrated or ESPN magazines. Massive disappointment.

I sat down in the chair and Danielle handed me a cape. With sleeves. This was a new contraption to me. As all American women know (and perhaps some men), our capes just drape around you and are put on by your stylist.

Not here. While trying to do it myself, I got tangled up in the sleeves. They were beyond my abilities. Poor Danielle had to rescue me from the wicked, sleevey cape.

I have done so much for Americans' reputations in this county.

"So what would you like?" she asked. I handed her Stacey's note. "I want my bangs and layers refreshed," I answered.

Danielle looked at me blankly. "What are bangs?"

Oh, no. All thoughts of this appointment ending well disappeared on a Norfolk wind.

If anyone tells you that Brits and Americans speak the same language, they are liars.


The finished product. Avinly says, "You mess with my mom's hair, you mess with me!"
After a quick hand gesture, she got it. "Oh, you mean your fringe!" she cried.

Fringe? You know, now that she mentioned it, I did recall Anne Shirley requesting a fashionable fringe in her hair, only to be shot down by sensible Marilla.

The next half hour followed suit. I would say something, she would have no idea what it meant, I would gesture wildly with my hands, she would study Stacey's instructions and eventually translate.

I couldn't say, "You know, the way Carrie Underwood has hers." Because well, Oklahoman country singers aren't real big here.

I couldn't say, "Layers like Rachel had toward the end of Season 8."

I couldn't say, "Not quite Brooke Shields' volume, but close." Because Lord knows when it comes to my repertoire of UK celebrities, I peter out after the Beatles and Paul McCartney and there is no way under the sun I want to look like them.

Eventually, however, we made it work. As Danielle rubbed some product in my hair, I inhaled the delicious aroma.

"Yum, that smells just like Laffy Taffy!" I said.

More blank stares. "You know, taffy?"

Another stylist asked, "Is that like toffee? Or perhaps a lolly?" No and no.

As I was paying (more differences here -- no tipping, for starters), the owner walked in.

"Hi, Crystal," he said. "How are you doing?"

I have a great memory, but I didn't recognize the man. "Have we met?" I asked. He shook his head. "Then how do you know my name?"

He laughed. "Crystal," he said, "EVERYONE in Gayton knows who you are."

The other stylist eye's lit up in recognition. "I knew I'd seen you somewhere!" she cried. "You're that runner with the giant double buggy!"


Well, then. At least they know I'm not totally uncoordinated, the cape incident notwithstanding.