Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Were this post titled by you, it would be clever and wordy. But it’s not, so all we can say is HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Miss Thirty!!!

Happy, Happy Birthday! When I reconnected with you through Pillow Book, I marveled at how easy it was to feel like your close friend. I know we haven’t actually seen each other in years, but -–despite my former skepticism about the authenticity of “virtual” friendship--I so look forward to sitting down with my cup of coffee each week to visit with you and the rest of the PB community. By letting us visit your kitchen, your garden, and your thoughts (which are always incredibly clever or wickedly funny), you have created an enchanting little world that celebrates all things whimsical, intellectual, or just worth mentioning. The reason
Pillow Book is so loved is because of your touch—you are warm, genuine, and unfailingly interesting. Thanks so much for hatching this little venture, for making me feel like a kindred spirit, and for being you! Today, I celebrate YOU and your wonderful gifts—Have a fabulous birthday and know that you are admired and adored!
Melissa Ashby

How much I enjoy reading your Pillow Book Blog! Your insight is so valuable, your creativeness, inspiring. Having you in our midst, working and living life here is a gift not only to your family, but to each and every one of us that know you.

Happy Birthday to You!! Happy Birthday to You!! Happy Birthday Dear Liza!
May all your wishes come true!
Much love, Linda B.

Alexus said
From the time you sent me the link to your blog and I read every post in one sitting, I knew that your “Random Thoughts of Very Little Significance,” were quite significant. Your posts have made me long for childhood toys, really appreciate the simple things, and figure out what “looks like me.” Not to mention, make me drool over the delicious treats you’ve made. Liza, you are such a warm person and I am privileged to get to feel the warmth that emanates from your writing.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Even though it is your birthday, Liza Marie, I want to thank you for your gift of Pillow Book to me. Through your writings I am getting to know you as a young woman and reliving the special memories of your childhood. You are such an awesome person in many respects! Your intelligence is made known in the way you put your thoughts on "paper". Your ability to articulate and support your thoughts is also evident in your writing. But what I really see is your passion for life. It does not matter if it is a political cause that affects the world, a favorite toy that you loved growing up, or a childhood memory you have of you and your sisters, there is always the passion that stands out in your writing. Don't ever lose that special quality. It is what makes life worth living! I love you very much, and by the way Happy 30th birthday!
LOL, Mom

My sweet stunning birthday girl, Liza, you are inspiring and delectably witty. I love that you make me laugh when we're sitting around in mismatched running clothes, yes, we ran because we "love" to exercise, we have the same pair of cowboy boots (wasn't even planned...only due to the fact that we are country fashionistas), and you are a gut-follower no matter what you think others will say. The last one is pretty spectacular given you're only turning 30! Pillow-book has opened my eyes to even more of your beauty, expertise, and art of piddling. Our miles apart haven't always made time for each other, and I'm so blessed to be able to read your words on days we don't talk and I love that I have way too many mouth-watering recipes to make on my days off. Thank you for sharing your thoughts to the world and being my best friend. I love you. Happy Birthday, Liza Marie Turner! In honor of YOU....I'm clogging at OHCC for each patient and when they ask me why the cowboy boots and the best clog they've ever witnessed, I'll simply reply, "Well, it's my best friends 30th birthday, so it's a pretty special day." - Melissa

I must admit, it’s difficult for someone like me to express in words the impact of something like Liza’s Pillow Book. In part, this is because my emotional state is usually expressed in one of two ways—“grumpy” and “slightly less grumpy”—but also, it’s because the basic concepts underpinning the entries are frequently entirely foreign to me. I don’t read engaging and thoughtful works, unless you count monographs on nativism in nineteenth-century Maryland, and most good honest people would not. I have, at best, a fondness for the Avett Brothers. Most importantly, I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten an avocado, and I have no plans to change that unblemished record. But if I had to sum up the impact the Pillow Book has had on me, I guess I could sum it up in one word.
Crippling, intense shame.
But let me explain in an unnecessarily circuitous fashion.
I put up a fence in my backyard about two years ago to keep my entirely too energetic dog-weasel, Linus, from escaping into the neighborhood every two hours. This process was abetted by the fact that I was using prefab parts from Lowe’s designed for any schmuck with a hammer, and I had the good fortune of already owning a hammer. When I was done, I was the proud owner of a reasonably straight fence that only made the yard 20% more ugly. But the big problem was that I had measured poorly at some point, and the gate wouldn’t close correctly, thus defeating the intended purpose of said fence. While many a lesser man would have trembled in fear, I created a truly horrifying concoction of bungie cords, ropes, and dirt that allowed me to keep the gate closed. Now, this was not exactly the kind of work that would be approved by Bob Vila,
but I had done it on my own. Today, I thought, I have reached the height of my craftsmanship. Today, I am a yeoman.
Then came the Pillow Book. And with every entry, I became increasingly aware of my own deficiencies in handiwork.
“I decided I needed a raised garden bed,” would write Liza, “so I built one out of a few cedar boards, a hacksaw, and five nails I smelted myself out of some scrap metal I found at the junkyard. That made me a little tired, so I jogged the 5.6 kilometers [Liza just seems like the kind of person that would rather say kilometers to me-ed.] to the country store and got a Diet Dr. Pepper. Then I went back home and raised a barn constructed entirely out of recycled paper and dreams.”
I was reading a blog by Folk Hipster MacGyver.
Even worse, it didn’t stop there. Liza’s the kind of person who likes to think about things. Food, for example, had a meaning beyond “tastes good” or “makes you swell up and die if you eat one pound of it at once.” Recipes could show that sometimes the getting there was just as important as the destination. The dynamics of a small-town community were something to be admired as well as understood. And dogs…well…dogs needed to get dressed up in silly costumes on occasion.
I will readily admit that I am resistant to change, and my tendencies are more towards cynicism than optimism: see above comments on “grumpiness.” But I will also acknowledge that I’ve been doing some things since the Pillow Book started that I doubt I would have otherwise. I’ve tried to work with my hands more than I once did. I’ve dabbled in cooking foods with actual ingredients (results: mixed). I occasionally sit down at the piano back home and try to do something creative just to feel like I’m keeping up with the Ben Ashbys and Alexus Tolleys of the world. I made Linus wear a hat.
So, in the end, I guess you could say the Pillow Book has been an inspiration to me, but that’s not entirely accurate. I can’t say that the content of the blog resonates with me in the way it clearly has with some of the other folk who read it; at some basic level, I’m not sure I can ever grow to love the Avetts and avocados. But the simple fact that the Pillow Book exists is, to me, an inspiration. And this is because, for me, it sums up the reasons I’ve found Liza to be an inspiring individual since the days we struggled through a semester of scintillating readings with titles like The Washington Community and The Transformation of Political Culture. She’s always looking for ways to be a better friend, family member, and human being, and I think it’s rubbed off on all of us.
So, thanks, Liza.
Oh, and happy birthday.
- Stephen Q. Pickering

Reading Liza's Pillow Book has opened my eyes to who she has become...not that I have ever felt like I didn't know her, but reading something so personal and meaningful has allowed me to experience the world through her mind. I have enjoyed each and every entry, whether they are meant to be funny, serious, or philosophical. Mostly, I like the funny ones...easy for me to understand! haha I knew Liza was incredibly intelligent, witty, and was a good writer, but these blogs have really blown my mind. I had no idea how talented she was. I'm very proud of her for putting something so personal out there for the world to enjoy. So many of our friends and acquaintances are loving her blog as well. I think it has been a wonderful avenue for Liza to reconnect with our small town and the people in it. On a personal note, I am so happy she has decided to come back "home". It's wonderful to have both my sisters and parents so close by. I love being able to share the joy and happiness Isabella brings, with them too. Isabella loves her Aunt Liza very much, and so do we. Happy 30th Birthday, Liza! We are all so proud of your accomplishments, and I know there will be only more great things to come. :)
Love TJ, Leigh Ann, and Isabella

I want to thank you for Pillow Book and for all the precious memories it has rekindled in my heart and for making me think think think as I read many of your entries. I am glad that these writings have made me have opinions again. I look forward to reading each week. Hope you are able to continue writing with your new job, which by the way so proud for you!
Love, Aunt Carolyn

I really have a difficult time writing this kind of thing. I panic with the thought, "Becreativeandthankfulandcomplimentaryallatoncerigtnow". Maybe you should just tell Liza that I have really, really enjoyed what she has written. It's been flattering to be mentioned in her blog, fun to read about her activities, and great to laugh at her sense of humor. It was even better to see her, Jackie, and Andy in person. The internet is good, but face-to-face in person is the best!! Happy Birthday Liza!!! I'm glad you were born (Thanks Jackie and Curtis!) and that you and Caroline are friends. - Linda K.

Liza’s Pillow Book blog has meant so much to me in so many ways. I have often said that after several years of watching syndicated television shows and reading trashy romance novels, I finally found something to make me think and grow as a person. I look forward to every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to see what topic has stirred Liza’s
curiosity, her wonderful wit, or really pissed her off. However, I will admit that my favorite entries are the ones where she talks about her childhood memories or the quirky things that make Burkesville unique. I have no idea how she remembers all the silly things we did as kids, but I always laugh until I cry and wish we were those same kids to lose ourselves in fun.

Now, one of my favorite stories on Liza: As my fellow classmates of 1998 will remember, one of our senior trips was to Kentucky Kingdom Amusement Park in Louisville, KY. Our first stop was to eat at The Old Spaghetti Factory. I will never forget all of us sitting at the table acting completely crazy. The server, bless his heart, brought out loaves of bread and started taking drink and dinner orders. Well, our crew acted like we had never seen a loaf of homemade bread in our lives. We ate loaf, after loaf, after loaf to the point that when our actual meal got there we couldn’t eat very much.

In addition to our bread amazement, we also realized we had spent too much money. Now, our admission tickets were already paid for (thank God), but we realized we would not have any money for coke, popcorn, or any other junk food. So Liza decides that since we love the bread so much, and we have already paid for it, we will just ask for 5 more loafs of bread and stick them in the infamous green backpack. Then, when we got hungry we would just eat the bread. The rest of us knew her to be the genius of the group and thought that was a great idea. And it was….for a while.

We get to Kentucky Kingdom and as we are entering the gate, the security guards are checking purses and backpacks. Well, Liza started freaking out! She was convinced that the guards were going to think she stole all those loaves of bread and arrest her. So, in a fit of madness, she runs to the nearest trash can and starts dumping the bread. After the last crumb was gone, she walked nervously up to the gate, let the guard check her bag, and walked into the amusement park unscathed.

I swear I have never laughed so hard in my life! - Kristi

Liza Turner has been a wonderful addition to our city. The day she walked into our store (Main Street 210) I was so struck by her enthusiasm for our local businesses. I love the fact that she grew up her and at this point of her life she found home so interesting. We love what she has done for our business and I thank God for her being with us again.

Freda Crawford/Robin Taylor

I remember receiving an email from Liza a few months ago with the subject line that said- “Something I’m trying” and it was a link to Pillow Book. Needless to say, Liza’s blog experiment has been a great success for her and those of us who love her. Pillow Book grants us a glimpse into Liza’s everyday life in Marrowbone, which is a special treat, especially for her friends that do not get to see her everyday. Thanks Liza for always being true to who you are and sharing yourself with all of your “followers.” Happy Birthday and welcome to your thirties!! Love ya, Lindsay

The big 29. Sure, some people may say 30, but their math is off. I know the truth...August 10th, 2010 is Liza Turners 29th birthday. Liza, today I celebrate the loving, caring person who sat with me when I was sick, talks with me when I am frustrated and helps me be a better man everyday. Anyone who knows you is fortunate to have you in their livesz. From you wonderful baked goodies to your thoughtful blog you bring light to our lives on a daily basis. Thank you. I could never have found a finer, more beautiful person in everyway with whom to hitch my proverbial wagon. Thank you for everything. Oh, and I'm glad we went for ice cream.
Love Andy

Dear Liza,

In a way that may be quite unbeknownst to you, your Pillow Book has seemed – to me – to deepen our friendship, and also my comfort and confidence in my own life. And now I arrive at a point, a feeling, a friendship that has evolved in a way that is rather like love…in the sense that you think you couldn’t possibly love someone any more, and then you just do, and then you can’t imagine what it felt like before. Our friendship has changed over the course of the last six months – so much for the good – thanks to Pillow Book. Thanks to you.

I will admit that when you began this journey, it shook me a little bit. I was supposed to be the writer! But I have learned that when I define myself in relation to someone else, I am left with little say as to who I am. And so reading about this life and this person that you have so precisely decided upon, I found myself compelled to define myself more from within. The process has been so fulfilling.

I think it is the coolest thing ever that you make your own pickles, and you just go build a raised bed, and you sit on the porch in the dark making silly audio recordings, and you write the most funny and warm and endearing poetry. And I feel good because I know that these most wonderful elements are “you” to the fullest, and that I am honored to be one of the lucky many to call you a friend. And while I may not fill my days with such lovely activities as these, my life is good for the things with which I decide to fill it. Thank you for giving me this greater, stronger sense of self.

Your Pillow Book has also made me realize all the more that you are simply, and absolutely, fascinating. You are one of those special people whose thoughts are like the most wonderful puzzle. I love learning about you – through Pillow Book, through your letters, through your family and friends.

You are a treasure, my forever friend. My life has been enriched by you since the day we met 12 years ago. Happy Birthday, Liza! And cheers to all the rest!
Love ya, see ya,

*To anyone who missed the invitation to contribute, please know that the omission was not intended in the least. EVERYONE is invited to continue sharing anecdotes, warm wishes, and thoughtful words in the comments section. Happy Birthday, Liza! We love you!


  1. There aren't that many times when I truly have no idea what to say. Even if it's ridiculous or unrelated, I try to come up with something. This, however, I want to let soak in for a bit. I want to give it a proper response, one that without question expresses my most sincere gratitude and love for each of you. I have cried and laughed and held my heart in "ahhh" fashion even as I have quivered at the pictures you all have chosen. Really? Those were the best you could do?!:)

    This is the absolute perfect birthday gift. A suitable thank-you is forthcoming. I and love and you.

  2. Photos are all courtesy of one Ms. Carolyn Lee. She had some perfectly brilliant captions, but luddite me had no idea how to place them.

  3. Happy Birthday Liza-we love you!! :)

  4. Loved reading all of the wonderful birthday wishes! Liza, even though we haven't met in person, I feel I have a great sense of who you are through your thoughtful and hilarious posts. I hope this birthday, your 30th, is the most wonderful yet and know we are all celebrating the great person you are. All the best!

  5. Liza, what a wonderful gift Caroline and your friends have created for you! I always love to read your blogs, but I also love reading the comments. You have some very interesting, intelligent, and talented friends. You were an awesome child, and have become an awesome,(sometimes quirky) adult. Have an extra wonderful and adventurous day. Enough of this....I have an apple pie to make for someone's 30th birthday.

    Caroline--- Thank you so much for doing this for Liza! You know Liza... materialistic "things" do not mean as much to her as those of the "homemade" kind. The words and sentiments expressed in this pillow book entry are the best gifts she could receive. Also, thank you for being one of her kindred spirits. We love having you as a part of our "family".

    For all of those who have contributed and to those who may continue to do so.... Thank You for being her friends. Your kind words will always be held close to Liza's heart. Each of you are important to her, thus making you important to me as well.

  6. No deep comment here. Just wanted to say I giggle every time I see Jackie type "LOL".

  7. It really was such fun to get a sneak peek at each of these - everyone has such a unique style of writing and such distinct thoughts as to what PB, and Liza, means to them! I was getting pretty excited - and tired! ha - last night when waiting to post.

    Liza is in part the product of her own decisions, in part the product of her family, friends, and community. To Jackie, Stephen, Lindsey (because they commented above - this is not an exclusive list!), and all others who have and will contribute - thank you! It has been fun to celebrate such a tremendous individual : )

  8. Liza I know this is the best gift one could ever receive. I have had the same reactions to reading this that you mentioned. I did have short little cute captions for each picture and if I can remember them I will comment sometime about that. Just love that Caroline had this idea and that I got to add some of my pictures. Everyone has fussed at me for years for taking too many pictures but I do have a Turner-Lee library of pictures here if anyone ever needs to be reminded of a memory. When I have my next family get together I have decided to call it a memory time and get all my many many albums out so everyone can smile. I had fun looking but had to narrow the choices down. Thanks again Caroline for doing this and Happy Birthday to you Liza.

  9. Yeah, forgot to mention, kudos to Caroline for putting this together. Quite the friend you've got there, Liza.