"Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."
-- Unknown

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year's Eve best forgotten

This week’s writing assignment from MamaKat: Describe a New Year’s where you would have been better off just staying home.

This one is too easy, given that there is one cursed New Year’s Eve that stands out vividly from all the rest.

But first a little back story:

During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at Troy, I met a guy that I thought hung the moon. Sure, he was one of the biggest jerks I knew, but for some reason, I stayed infatuated with him for months. One day, he’d act like he adored me. The next, I was nearly a stranger. Each time he’d act like an ass, I’d swear to myself that I was going to quit answering his phone calls. All he ever did was let me down and piss me off. But then the phone would ring and all would be forgotten (yet never totally forgiven.)

It just so happened that this particular jerk had a younger brother who, as it turns out, was as infatuated with me as I was with his brother. (Weird, I know.) Although the younger of the two was definitely the sweetheart of the family, I wasn’t interested. I’d been hung up on his brother for too long. I was never mean to the brother, though. Always friendly — So what transpired New Year’s Eve of 2005 was completely unexpected.

The night started off okay. My roommate and I went to the Delta Chi house to hang out with friends. I remember that there was a great band playing that night – one of my local favorites. After the clock stuck midnight, I decided to go home and get some sleep since I had to be at work early the next morning. My roommate wanted to stay, but said she’d catch a ride from someone else. So, I went home, completely unprepared to face the fury of Hell by myself.

When I pulled into the driveway, I could tell there was someone sitting on the steps to my front porch. As I got out, I realized that it was the Jerk himself, obviously VERY drunk. (He was holding an empty bottle of whiskey. Classy, right?) Had I know what was coming, I would have gotten back in the car and driven far, far away.

But bleeding heart that I am, I thought he might be in some sort of trouble, or need someone to talk to, so I approached him and was greeted by the longest, loudest string of obscenities I’d ever heard. He called me every name in the book. Horrible, vicious, untrue things. He told me he hated me. Said I never meant a “damn thing” to him. Me. The nice one. The one that bent over backwards to be his friend, even after he proved himself the biggest jerk on the planet.

And you know what warranted this attack?? Apparently his little brother was heartbroken because I wouldn’t go out with him, and the Jerk held me accountable. After all the crap he put me through – for MONTHS – he was mad at me because I wouldn’t date his brother!?

When I finally managed to get inside and slam the door in his face, he stood on the porch yelling and beating on the door. I called a mutual friend of ours and made him come pick the Jerk up and take him home. Then he called me, incessantly, blocking his number – apparently thinking I was stupid enough to answer. I went to bed crying, mostly out of anger, wondering why I was stupid enough to fall for his crap for so long.

And guess what? The Jerk had the nerve to call me two days later, after swearing he hated me and would never speak to me again, to apologize for his behavior. His excuse was, “Well you know how I get when I’m drunk. I just thought you could have been nicer to my brother. He really liked you. I know you were never mean to him, though. I’m sorry.” He wanted to know if we were “cool” – couldn’t we stay friends? He said he didn’t mean any of it. I think I remember laughing and telling him where to go.

I don’t know if staying home that night would have fixed anything, since that’s where he was, so I guess the assignment should read, “Describe a New Year’s where you would have been better off just leaving the county or hiding in a hole somewhere.”

The Jerk is now married to someone far better than me. She would have to be to put up with him. The woman deserves to be made a saint.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ooooh, shiny...

These are the earrings I mentioned yesterday, for those of you who care (ahem... Jessica!) I tried taking a picture myself but it just didn't work out, so I did some searching and found this one on the company Web site.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I definitely made the "nice list"

Well, from the looks of it, I was the only bum who didn’t get on and write anything during the week of Christmas. I think I’m finally caught up on reading everyone else’s stuff, so now I’ll attempt a post of my own.

Man, last week FLEW by! It was a whirlwind of driving, laughing, family, presents and foam NERF darts (given to my brother as a gag gift from his girlfriend’s family, but the object of a very interesting night – as Sean tried to make a suction dart stick to his forehead. Yes… he’s 17. But it was hilarious.)

I had a wonderful time in Mobile with Mama’s family. We ate, laughed and exchanged presents – then played an impromptu game of poker. I learned that it’s really easy to bet big when you’re playing with imaginary money. “Yes, I’ll see your dollar and raise you a million.”

Then it was off to Mississippi for a few days (that’s where the NERF darts come into play.) It was great to see everyone over there again. I wish the drive wasn’t so long. I’d love to be able to visit more often.

Toby was a champ. He had a strenuous week of car trips and being shuffled around from house to house. Overall, I think he handled it pretty well. We both slept like babies last night. (Although, I’m not sure that’s an accurate depiction, because I hear babies wake up all the time. Who came up with the saying, anyway? How about ‘slept like someone who drank a bottle of NyQuil?’)

We got home last night to find that a stray cat had taken up residence in Toby’s dog house. Needless to say, he was NOT happy. Although he rarely, if ever, actually gets in it, he became extremely territorial. I think the whole neighborhood knew he was upset. I literally had to go pull him away from the door of the dog house so the cat could get out. He had her blocked in, barking incessantly, with every hair on his body standing straight up. I don’t think he realizes that the cat could have shredded his face if she wanted to. I’ve never heard a cat hiss that loud – more like a scream, really. And guess what? She was back in there this morning. Apparently Toby didn’t scare her very much.

Kevin came by last night and cooked me supper before we exchanged Christmas presents. He grilled steaks, made green beans and squash and cooked garlic toast. It was de-lish. And he gave me the PRETTIEST pair of Sorrelli earrings. I LOVE them! He did an excellent job picking them out.

Overall, I racked up this Christmas. I guess I must have been really good this year! No coal for me. Included in all of the loot was an Amazon Kindle, a Magellan GPS system, seasons 2-4 of House (best show EVER), Burberry Brit Red perfume, my guitar, a Jimi Hendrix strap for my guitar, an AWESOME houndstooth, fitted Alabama tee, some really good kitchen utensils, a pretty scarf, more Mitch Hedberg and a book and DVD set to teach me basic guitar skills. Cha-ching! My family was too good to me.

Ooh, and Sean gave me a box of guitar picks, new strings and some stuff to put on the strings so my fingers won’t hurt so bad. I’m looking forward to trying that out. I didn’t realize how painful it would be at first. Totally worth it though.

Anyway, that is the brief run-down of a very busy week.

What about y’all? Get (or give) anything cool this year?? I’d love to hear about it!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy what??

I can’t believe I almost forgot to share one of the funniest stories from this weekend!!

So, Sunday morning before Chase’s party, my parents went out to get a cake. Knowing that they had not ordered one ahead of time, they knew the choices would be limited, but they figured they could find a ready-made cake and have someone write “Happy Birthday Chase” in icing. Except that’s not quite what they got…

Mama was walking around the store, picking up a few other things, when my stepdad came up with cake, trying not to laugh. He pointed down to the cake and Mama saw, “Happy Birthy Chase” in bright green icing. BIRTHY?!? Really?? What’s that?

So, trying to be a polite as possible, she took the cake back to the bakery, where she had to explain to the girl that she left a couple of letters out of the word “birthday.”

And the girl’s response?? “Ooooh, I’m sorry. It’s my first day!! I can fix it!”

And that’s when Mama gave in to a fit of uncontrollable laughter. She had to walk away and let my stepdad wait for the cake! See, that’s the family curse that she passed on to me. We laugh at really inappropriate times. We get so carried away laughing, we can’t function. So she started walking around the store, laughing to herself. I bet the other customers thought she was mental.

Anyway, the girl kind of raked off the “y” and slapped the other letters on there and called it a cake. And let me tell you… it was pretty. So very pretty.

I wish I had a picture of the “Birthy” cake to share with you, but I was a bum this weekend and didn’t take any pictures at all.

However, if you’d like to see some really awful mess-ups, my cousin Jen linked a blog a last month that shows various cake disasters. If you’d like to check it out, click here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A weekend in review

I got my first real six string, bought at the Five and Dime… played it til my fingers bled. It was the summer of ’69.

Okay, so I didn’t buy it at the Five and Dime. It was a Christmas present and I think it came from Guitar Gallery in Birmingham. And my fingers didn’t bleed, but they are sore… and I guess we’ve come a long way since ’69, and it’s actually winter.

BUT… I did get a guitar this weekend!! And while I’ve already exhausted the one song I can play, I will hopefully be learning more soon. (And by “the one song I can play,” don’t think I mean that I play it well. I mean it’s recognizable and that’s about it.)

My weekend, as a whole, was pretty fantastic.

Friday night we did the duel birthday dinner for me and my step-dad. I was very pleased when I learned that the waiters at the restaurant weren’t allowed to sing or make a big deal out your birthday. We did get free dessert though. And I think it was easier to enjoy without the off-key shouting and clapping that I’ve come to expect.

After dinner, I went down to Red Bones – the one bar in the Montevallo area. One of my best friends works there and she wanted to celebrate my birthday with me. The bar happened to be closed for repair, so it wound up being the two of us, the owner and about 10 other people having a VIP party, small-town style. (Basically just sitting around, goofing off and dancing to really bad juke-box songs.) It wound up being a lot of fun. I stayed out WAY too late, but it was definitely worth it.

Saturday, Mama and I went shopping and I got some more work clothes that were badly needed. I even got a dress! I’m SO not the dress type, but I guess I should have at least one in my closet. So now I do. I might just wear it grocery shopping later because it’s so pretty.

I also made a trip to Books-A-Million to spend my birthday gift cards (people know I’m a nerd, so I’m easy to shop for!) I spent about $95 on six new books. I’m pretty stoked. I picked up The Host by Stephanie Meyer (author of the Twilight books), The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt, The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber, and the three Chuck Palahniuk books that I haven’t read: Invisible Monsters, Lullaby and Rant: The Oral Biography of Buster Casey. I can’t wait to get started. The hard part is figuring out which one to read first.

THEN, it was off to the MOST amazing Christmas concert EVER. Trans-Siberian Orchestra. One word: Amazing. No… that doesn’t do it justice. Even though this was the fifth time I’ve seen them, they never get old. They went bigger and better than ever with the pyrotechnics and lasers this year. And the snow. OH MY GOSH… they blew so much snow over the civic center floor. (For those of you who live in areas where it actually snows, SHUT UP. I know you’re thinking, “Ooooh, snow. Who cares?” But for a girl in south Alabama, it was magic!)

Yesterday was Chase’s birthday party at the bowling alley. I can’t believe he’s 11!! When did that happen? He’s almost as tall as me. (I know… it doesn’t take much.) He and his friends had a great time. I wish I had their energy!! If you’ve never seen a group of 11 year old boys hopped up on sweet tea and birthday cake, you don’t know what you’re missing.

After the party, I hit the road and headed back to my new home-town for a couple days of work. My new Mitch Hedberg CD, Do You Believe in Gosh, really made the ride home enjoyable. I laughed until my face hurt.

Kevin came by for a quick dinner and some football (my Alma Mater, Troy, lost in over time to Southern Miss. Booooo.)

Then it was off to bed to rest up for the week ahead.

So there you have it – my busy, yet super-fun weekend.

What about y’all? Did you do anything fun this weekend? I’d love to hear about it! (Especially since I made you suffer through a play-by-play of mine!)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday humor and a lot of driving

I started a pretty funny book last night — Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. It’s a collection of holiday essays that have a bleak, yet humorous, outlook on the season. If you’re easily offended, please don’t read it. I don’t want to be responsible for your heart attack when you get to the part where the Korean step-daughter who dresses like a prostitute puts the baby in the washing machine – apparently her broken English misunderstood “WATCH the baby,” to mean “WASH the baby.” It could happen to anyone. Well, maybe not. But that’s just the sick mind of David Sedaris. You’ve been warned.

In other news, I’m headed to Birmingham this afternoon. Tomorrow is the annual TSO concert. I’m so excited! I can’t wait for the music and lights and snow… the electric violin and Carol of the Bells… AHHHG!! I’m all giddy just thinking about it.

I finally feel prepared for Christmas. The shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped, my plans are all laid out. Now all that’s left is the driving. I’ll be coming back to Andalusia for work Monday and Tuesday, driving three hours to my grandparents on Wednesday, driving another 3 hours to my dad’s on Friday, then back here (about 5 hours) on Sunday. Oh, then back to Birmingham the following weekend for Deano’s birthday!!! I get to pull babysitting duties while Jen sets up.

I added up all of the hours in the car and determined I’ll spend 21 hours driving over the next two weeks.

Looks like my iPod is going to be working overtime.

Incase my blog gets neglected over the next few crazy days, have a happy, safe and blessed Christmas (or Hanukah, or Kwanza, or whatever it is you celebrate… )

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My letter to Santa

This week's writing prompt from MamaKat: Write a letter to Santa.

Dear Santa,

I know it’s been awhile since I sent you a letter. It’s not that I stopped believing in you, honest. I just figured you were busy enough without my requests. Well that, plus I figured I was on the naughty list for awhile, with all of my miscreant behavior in my early college years. I didn’t want to chance getting coal.

But I can tell you with certainty that I’ve straightened up and forfeited my bad behavior (excluding the occasional glass of wine, but I hear that’s good for your heart.) So this year, I figured I’d write — just to be sure you had taken notice of my new-found sense of responsibility and moved me back to the nice list.

This year, my Christmas list is a little different than those from my childhood. I don’t expect toys or candy (well maybe a little candy would be okay). Instead, these are the things I’m asking for:
  1. Caesar Millan — Do you have any connections with the Dog Whisper, Santa? I’m sure you could pull some strings and have him come train my dog. I’m running out of socks and shoes and I’m getting tired of chasing him barefoot.
  2. Cooler weather — No offense, Santa, but quit hogging all of the snow and winter weather up there at the North Pole. It’s 80 miserable degrees outside today. I walked Toby in shorts and a tank top last night. If you can fit down my chimney you can surely send a little of that snow my way. You’re magic. Quit wasting it. Please?
  3. An elf or two — Is that possible? I know you have plenty of them. Do they reproduce? I’m sure you have an over-population issue on your hands. Send a couple my way. If they can make toys, I’m positive they can wash dishes, do laundry and keep my house clean.
See, those things aren’t that difficult, right? You don’t have to make anything or spend any money at all. In fact, I’d be willing to barter with you — I’ll give you something in return. Twenty somethings. I have about 20 extra pounds of weight just hanging around that I don’t need, and there are scrawny, malnourished children all over the world. I’d be glad to sacrifice some of my poundage for their benefit. I’m here to help. I’m not stingy.

Well, I guess that’s about it. (Unless you’d like to take care of my bills or pay my rent for awhile. No? Well, it was worth a shot.)

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season, Santa.

Eagerly awaiting my dog-training, snow-bringing, house-cleaning elf,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Countdown to Christmas

I saw a “Countdown to Christmas” sign yesterday that informed me there were exactly 11 days left until the 25th. Really? I mean I guess I knew that – but seeing it in big green and red font with flashing colors really made it official.

I guess it’s hard to feel Christmasy when the temps are expected to reach the high 70s this week. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the elves wear t-shirts and flip-flops while they’re making toys. Isn’t it supposed to be cold by now? Technically, I guess it’s summer for some folks, depending on where they live and all, but here, in the U.S., isn’t it supposed to be cold?

I did do some traditional Christmas things this weekend that should have really put me in the spirit. Saturday night I went to see the Nutcracker. For a small town, I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the production. Who knew so many people would turn up for a ballet? The senior company was really good and they brought in a few dancers from Montgomery and New York. It was a nice change from the bon fires and dirt roads that make up a normal Andalusian Saturday night. (Just sayin’.)

Yesterday, Kevin and I went to Destin to finish some Christmas shopping and celebrate our birthdays. We ate entirely too much at McGuire’s, then he treated me to a couple of grown-up work outfits. He was so sweet and patient walking around the stores. And I had no idea he was so fashion forward. He was picking out outfits, y’all. He went all Clinton Kelly on me, matching things up. I was kind of shocked.

While it was a lot of fun, shopping is still a little frustrating. I know all you short folks who read this can identify. Why do they make pants for women who are so dang tall? And shirts… don’t get me started on shirts. If you have any chest at all, finding a good fit up top almost certainly means it won’t fit around the waist. It will hang there all baggy, looking like a potato sack. I’m going to start designing clothes for women shaped like me. Everyone who’s not can shop somewhere else. It’s going to be called “Short and curvy” or something catchier when I’m feeling more creative. Anyone want in? There have to be more people built like me out there than there are stick-thin giants. Right? I think so.

Anyway, enough of that. I’m off my soap box.

For now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stupid storm...stupid fence...stupid dog

This morning started so well.

I actually got up when my alarm clock went off, feeling rested. As I got ready for work, I had a sense of peace. I got some of my Christmas shopping done yesterday, so I was feeling slightly less rushed about that. I found an outfit on my first try (which is an accomplishment for me lately, since very few of my clothes fit anymore… I’m sorry, did you say something about the treadmill sitting in my living room. Ah, yes. There is that.)

Anyway, my hair was actually agreeable for a change. It stayed straight, yet maintained a little body, not looking too stringy. Things were looking up.

Then I went outside to get Toby.

We’ve been having bad storms for the past few days, and apparently the wind blew down part of my privacy fence this morning, making a convenient escape for my little bundle of joy. When I realized he was gone, I couldn’t even be mad – I was too busy panicking. Toby has a bad habit of chewing off his collars, so he was roaming the streets somewhere, looking like an orphan with no identification. We have a strict leash law in town, so I was freaking out, thinking about him either getting hit by a car, or hauled off to the pound.

After several minutes of searching on foot in the cool, misty morning (in wedge shoes, dress pants and a CREAM colored sweater) I got in my car and started driving up and down the streets looking for him.

About the time I was on the phone, on the verge of tears with my boss, explaining why I wasn’t at work yet – I saw him. I hung up the phone, put the car in park and took off after him. Did I mention I left my car in the middle of the street, RUNNING, with the door wide open? Thank God it didn’t get hit — or stolen.

As he got ever closer to the main highway, running at light speed, I started screaming. I guess I was loud enough to stop traffic, because about that time, an older gentleman stopped his car and started trying to help. After much, MUCH chasing and yelling and crying (mostly out of frustration by this point), we finally managed to get him.

Luckily, I had a towel. I had taken it with me when I initially went to get him out of the yard because I knew his paws would be muddy. So I wrapped him up in the towel, feeling pretty smart, and carried him home.

So, my hair that was looking so good this morning, now looks wind-blown and frizzy, and my cream sweater? Somehow still managed to get a muddy paw print on the right side, right under my ribs. And of course, I didn’t notice it until I got to work.

But let’s look at the positive side: 1) I got my exercise for the day; 2) Toby keeps my life VERY interesting, to say the least; 3) it was only misting, not full out raining; 4) it was only about 49 degrees outside – it could have been much colder; 5) …

Okay, this starting to sound pathetic! My morning sucked.

End of story.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Life on cruise control

I don’t know what my deal is lately. I feel like things around me are moving at light-speed, yet I’m standing still in the middle of all the chaos. I can’t seem to get anything accomplished.

My house is in serious need of a deep cleaning. I have dishes to wash, laundry to do, floors to sweep, furniture to dust… the list is ridiculous. I just keep putting it off. And you know what? I feel severely unmotivated.

Then there is the whole Christmas shopping thing. I haven’t started. Not so much as a single gift has been purchased. I have a vague idea of what I’m going to get everyone, but I’ve made no move to actually do so. I don’t even own wrapping paper. Or tape. Or bows. I should probably get on that.

I don’t know where the year went. There were things I wanted to accomplish this year that I never got around to. To my credit, I did finally graduate, finish an internship and get a big-girl job. I guess that counts for something.

And there’s always next year. (Which is freakishly close.)

I’ve already started a “goals list” for 2009. (Inspiration courtesy of Hebba. That girl makes lists for everything!) Maybe if my goals are staring up at me in black ink, I’ll be more likely to work towards them. I might even share them with you guys. Then you can hold me accountable and force me to not be so lazy.

Overall, I’ve been feeling a little insignificant lately. (Not in the sad, pathetic way.) I just feel like there is so much out there — so many experiences, so many opportunities — that I haven't taken advantage of. I don’t want to lead a mediocre life. I know it sounds cheesy, but I want my life to really count for something. I want to make a difference. I don’t want to feel like I missed out on anything.

I’m getting tired of living life on cruise control.

Carpe diem, right?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

726 pounds of love

Sometimes guys can be so sweet. And other times? Well, other times, not so much. Here's just a sample of a conversation Kevin and I had the other night.

K: I love you.
Me: How much?
K: Umm… 726 pounds?
Me: 726 pounds? That’s not very much.
K: Sure it is. That’s like five of me. If I was five times bigger, wouldn’t you think that was a lot?
Me: Yeah, but… that’s not even as much as a tree. There are lots of trees out there that weigh waaay more than 726 pounds.
K: Yeah, but there are some that weigh less.
Me: So you love me more than some, but not as much as others? Think about it! One tree in the WHOLE universe?? That’s not very much.
K: What universe?
Me: OUR universe. What do you mean "what universe?"
K: Well, how do you know it’s really out there? Have you ever seen it?
Me: Don’t try to change the subject! 726 pounds isn’t even as much as one of your cows. You love me less than a cow?
K: Well, if I had compared you to a cow, you would’ve said, “Are you calling me fat?”
Me: That’s so not the point!
K: Sure it is.
Me: UHG!!

What a sweetheart, right? At least he keeps things interesting.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

I’ve finally learned the reason behind that age-old warning.

I went over to Jenner’s blog today and noticed a neat little game she had taken part in. It seemed like a lot of fun. You get to list ten of your favorite things — with a little twist. The blogger that you take the game from gets to pick a letter for you, and each item on your list must start with the letter you’ve been assigned.

Well Jenners let her four-year-old Little Man pick out my letter. And guess what the precious child chose for me?


Thank you Little Man. This will definitely stretch my vocabulary skills to the max. I’m not sure I know ten things that start with Z, let alone ten things that I’d classify as favorites.

So, why don’t we get started and see where this takes us?

  1. Ziti – I am a pasta fanatic. I keep meaning to try the baked ziti recipe from Jessica’s blog and haven’t gotten around to it yet. Low-carb diet? Not in a million years.
  2. Zoo-light safari – Every Christmas, the Birmingham zoo is decked out in Christmas decorations. It’s a lot of fun to bundle up and walk through the lights. And of course, you HAVE to ride the train. But a little warning: Don’t mess with the lights!! A few years ago, while we were standing in line for the train, I got a little fidgety and started twisting one of the bulbs. Well, it fell out – causing a whole strand to go dark, and leaving me feeling around on the ground trying to find the missing bulb. Oops.
  3. Zippers – How much easier are things with zippers? Seriously, think of how long it would take if everything you currently own with zippers had to be fastened with buttons.
  4. Zinnias – I LOVE these flowers. They’re so bright and cheery. They make me ready for spring. I’m starting to miss all of the pretty flowers now that it’s frigid outside. I keep trying to focus on the negatives so I don’t get the winter blues… negatives like pollen. Thank God it’s not spring because my allergies would be acting up. See, now I’m happy with winter again.
  5. Zingers – Those witty little one-liners. I love them. I wish I was quick enough to come up with them more often.
  6. Zaniness – Everyone needs a little craziness in their life – but only the fun, zany kind. I appreciate an off-beat sense of humor.
  7. ZZZZZs – Yes, I mean sleep. I love sleep. Sleep is my friend. When I don’t get enough I tend to be very, very cranky – so for your benefit, you should love that I love sleep.
  8. Zack Morris – I was a huge Saved by the Bell fan. (Show me one person my age that WASN’T and I’ll show you a dirty liar!) When I was in the 5th grade, my friends and I used to pretend we were the characters. Dana and I got sent to the counselors office to resolve our “friendship issues” when we got into a fight about who was the better Kelly. Embarrassing? You bet. But so worth it after she gave in and I won. (I can’t believe I just admitted that.)
  9. Zodiacs – I love to read my horoscope. Do I honestly believe everything it says? No. But it’s still fun. And sometimes it can be eerily accurate. I’m a Sagittarius, which is a Fire sign. Judging by my sometimes fiery temper, I’d say it’s dead on.
  10. Zucchini – YUM. Any way, shape, or form. Zucchini bread, fried zucchini, sautéed zucchini, baked zucchini, grilled zucchini…. I have to stop because I’m hungry (and I sound like Bubba from Forest Gump.)

How bout that? I made it! And it wasn’t even that hard.

If you want to play, just let me know and I’ll give you a letter. If I can get through Z, you should be able to get through anything I dish out! (Except maybe X. But I won’t be that mean. Maybe.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Vacation memories

The cooler weather is tugging at my heart and making me miss family vacations to the Smokies.

While there have been a few truly miserable trips, due to a large dose of family bickering and a dash of drama, last year's vacation made up for the lackluster years in the past.

Since I'm feeling all nostalgic, I'm going to make this a picture post and share some of my favorite moments from our last trip.

We started off in Gatlinburg. I know I look rough in this picture, we'd been in the car all day. This was right before supper our first night there and I was giddy with excitement. Although we've been on trips like this countless times, I still feel like a kid when we finally get there. This is Chase, my youngest little brother, who will be 11 in just a few weeks. When did he get so old???
Here we are again, this time in the woods. I love this part of the trip. The sights and sounds of Gatlinburg are fun, but to me, the best part is being able to get out and enjoy nature.

Back in Gatlinburg, me and Chase are making idiots of ourselves. It was fun though! This was in the 3-D mini golf attraction. The pictures turned out to be the best part. It was hot and stuffy inside, and they kept playing carnival music, which kind freaked me out. I'm one of those nerds that read It and am consequently scared to death of clowns.

This was the view from under the swinging bridge on Grandfather Mountain in Boone, North Carolina. It was my first trip up there and it was honestly one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. This is the "mile-high" bridge — it hangs more than 5,800 feet above sea level. Of course I had to walk across it. :)

Also at Grandfather Mountain. This bear cracked me up. It was in a pen with some other bears, and they would all sit there and beg for treats. Chase got a kick out of throwing it food. It would catch it, gulp it down and immediately start begging for more.

Mama will be ashamed, but I can't remember the name of this waterfall. All I know is that it's the one you can walk behind. It had been dry that season, so it wasn't flowing very strong, but it was still pretty.

This is the view from the top of Grandfather Mountain. See all of those people standing on the edge of the cliff? I wanted to be one of them so bad, but was told that as long as I was on a family trip, I'd get nowhere near it. Guess I'll have to go back by myself for that one.

Overall, the trip was so much fun.

I wish I was there now...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chaos and craziness

Weekly writing prompt from MamaKat: Describe a time when your pet caused chaos.

Wow. Just one time my dear, sweet, innocent little angel caused chaos?? I don’t even know where to start.

First of all, he’s destroyed an insane amount of my things. For a dog his size, it’s amazing the things he can eat through. Like a down comforter. Or a cell phone. Or two TV remotes. Ooooh, how about 10 pairs of really cute shoes? While these things have been extremely annoying, they haven’t really been utter chaos.

Not that he’s incapable of making me crazy.

Looking back on it, the funniest instance I can remember happened just a few months ago.

I was home sick from work on a Friday afternoon. I felt so awful, I had not even changed out of my pajamas. My hair was a total disaster, piled on top of my head in some semblance of a ponytail caught in a wind storm. I looked like something from Night of the Living Dead. Anyway, Toby was at the door, whining to go out, so I picked him up and took him to the back yard. See, there’s no door that leads from the house to the yard, so you have to go out into the carport and open the fence… a lot of space for an annoying dog to make a get-away.

I guess he sensed that I was slower than normal on this particular day, so he wiggled and twisted his way out of my arms and took off down the street. Lovely. I knew if I went in to get shoes I’d never find him, or catch up with him, so I ran after him. Barefoot. In my pajamas. At 2:30 in the afternoon. My neighbors probably thought I was nuts.

Toby’s not stupid. Inside, when his attention is focused (which is rare), I can say “sit,” “lay down,” “come here,” “stay,” and he follows directions accordingly. Outside, it’s a totally different story. He suddenly become deaf, running from one yard to the next, peeing on mailboxes, trees, cars… anything he can find — leaving me to chase after him. Then he’ll stop and wait, almost like he’s ready to come home. I’ll get within a foot of catching him, and he’ll shoot off like a rocket.

Anyway, my house is just across the highway from the football stadium where the high school and tiny mite teams play. And their mascot? A bulldog. So here I am, standing in a stranger's yard, barefoot, in my PJs, yelling at my idiot dog, and out of no where, I hear this: “Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who, who? Who let the dogs out?”

How appropriate. Who let this little hellion out?? Oh, right, that was me.

It was like God was laughing at me.

Short, sweet and to the point

I saw this meme on Mel's post and thought it was interesting. You have to answer each question with just ONE word. You all know I am a talker. Or in the blog world, a writer. Whatever — I tend to ramble. That's the point I'm trying to make! See, I'm doing it right now. BUT, as difficult as this may be, I will try to follow the rules! :)

1 - Where is your cell phone? — desk
2 - Where is your significant other? — sleeping
3 - Your hair color? — brown
4 - Your mother? — strong
5 - Your father? — compassionate
6 - Your favorite thing? — laughter
7 - Your dream last night? — sad
8 - Your dream/goal? — happiness (cliché, right?)
9 - The room you’re in? — cube-land
10- Your hobby? — reading
11- Your fear? — alone
12- Where do you want to be in 6 years? — writing
13- Where were you last night? — home
14- What you’re not? — athletic
15- One of your wish-list items? — guitar
16- Where you grew up? — Alabama
17- The last thing you did? — feature article (I know, two words. Sorry.)
18- What are you wearing? — sweater
19- Your TV? — off
20- Your pet? — hyperactive
21- Your computer? — busy
22- Your mood? — eh…
23- Missing someone? — monumentally
24- Your car? — silver
25- Something you’re not wearing? — socks
26- Favorite store? — bookstore
27- Your summer? — intern
28- Love someone? — yep
29- Your favorite color? — blue
30- When is the last time you laughed? — today
31- Last time you cried? — dream (remember, it was sad.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Turkey Day pictures

Wow! What a long weekend! Am I the only one that had a hard time getting up and facing reality this morning??

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I fully intend on blogging about mine later, but seeing how I haven't been at work since last Wednesday, I should probably get busy here.

I'm way behind on reading y'all's stuff. I honestly haven't looked at a computer screen in five days. I'll catch up though...eventually. Probably not today.

I'll leave you with some pictures from Turkey Day.

Me and Sean, Thanksgiving morning.
Sean and the Murph-dog, playing the guitar. He actually taught me FIVE chords this weekend. I'm well on my way to being a rockstar. (I know five chords isn't much, don't ruin my delusion.)
My cousin Jessica, me and Sean. Yes...I'm short.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tis the season to be thankful

Well, it’s finally Wednesday…it’s just not the right time of Wednesday. But, a few more hours (which I’m sure will fly by) and I’ll be on my way to Ridgeland.

I realized this morning how dependent I’ve become on Wednesday’s writing prompts. With it being Thanksgiving this week, I can understand why Kat wouldn’t want (or have time) to read all of them. But seriously…I have to come up with my own post today?

I guess I’ll be a little cheesy here and do an “I’m thankful for” list. While it might not be the most creative idea, it does seem to fit the season.

I’m thankful for all of the people in my life who love and support me. Yes, Mama and I had our moments of hell throughout my adolescence, but at the end of the day, I knew she loved me. Not everyone can say that. At least I had a mom to argue with, you know? And I am so thankful that we finally understand each other after many years of fussing.

Yes, my parents got divorced when I was young, but I am so thankful that they both found someone else to make them happy.

I’m thankful that I have a step-dad who has NEVER treated me like a step-daughter (he always said the word "step" implied a lesser love.) He has always been there for me and Mama, and has sacrificed so much for me.

Daddy and I didn’t get to see each other much over the years, but I’m so thankful that I always knew he was just a phone call away, willing to hear me out and calm me down. He used to be my safe harbor, when the arguments with Mama got too heated, but I know now that he is much more than that. I'm so thankful that I feel closer to him now than I ever have before.

I am thankful that he found my step-mom and that through all of the struggles and hardships they’ve endured, their love has grown stronger. I’m thankful that over the years, she and I have bonded and become friends. I’m so thankful that she continues to make my Daddy and my little brother so happy.

And that brings me to Chase and Sean. I am SO thankful that they are both growing up to be such wonderful young men. They each have their own special talents and such sweet, sweet hearts. Chase is so smart and creative. Although he’s still very young, I know he has a brilliant future ahead of him. Sean continues to make me so proud. He stands firm in his faith and sets a great example for those around him. I know being a teenager is tough, but he is pulling it off remarkably well.

I’m thankful for Kevin. While our relationship has been tried and doubted, he has always, always been there for me. He is truly the best friend I could ask for. He believes in me and encourages me to be the best person I can possibly be. He brightens my day and makes me smile. He endures my cranky moments and honestly likes me best in jeans and no make-up. I’m so thankful that he actually loves me for who I am. There’s no pretending.

There is so much more. How do you narrow it down to a single post? I’m thankful for my job and my home. For having food to eat and being able to pay my bills. I’m thankful for my idiot dog, who makes me smile and keeps me company.

I’m thankful for all of you who read my blog and leave me encouraging comments; for all of the friendships I’ve made with complete strangers.

I have been so very blessed.

Thank you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is it Wednesday yet?

Wow, is it Monday already? Where did the weekend go?? It was pretty fantastic, and now it’s over. If it weren’t for the four-and-a-half day weekend I have coming up, I might be sad.

Friday night, I hit the road and headed up to Alabaster to visit the fam. My aunt and uncle and their two ADORABLE babies were over visiting and I couldn’t pass up a chance to see them.
Saturday we went to the new Bass Pro Shop that opened up near Birmingham. It was fun, but opening weekend probably wasn’t the best time to go. It was so crowded you almost couldn’t move around comfortably. Add three kids, 10 and under, to the mix and it could get a little hectic. (But still fun. I’m not complaining.) And in their defense, the kids were really, really well behaved.

After supper that night, I headed back home. I hate that I couldn’t stay longer, but I had Toby with me and I was afraid he’d bark in the middle of the night and wake up the baby. He’s not allowed to stay inside at Mama’s, and he gets lonely in the garage (as was evident by his barking EVERY hour, on the hour, Friday night.) He has a little separation anxiety. It’s like he thinks if he doesn’t bark, I’ll forget he’s out there. I called the vet this morning to see about boarding him while I’m at my dad’s this week, and guess what? They’re booked. Greeeeeaat. Prepare yourself, Dad – you’re about to get five days of Toby. I know you’re ecstatic.

Anyway, when I got home from church Sunday, I decided to force-feed myself holiday cheer. I cranked up the Christmas music, got out the tree and proceeded to decorate the house. And you know, it kind of worked. After the initial frustration of putting the tree together and stringing the lights (WORST thing EVER – next year I’m buying a pre-lit tree) I actually started to feel the excitement. I think the candles helped. The Christmas Tree candle made my house smell so good, it was impossible not to feel a little giddy at the thought of Christmas.

Speaking of giddy – I had almost decided not to even mention this in my blog because SO many other people have already been raving about it, but I can’t help it. I guess I’m jumping on the Twilight bandwagon. I read the first book over the weekend and was absolutely captivated. Yes, it’s probably geared more toward the high school, teenage readers, but I fell in love. If for some reason, you’re trying to avoid the series because of all the hype – give in and go buy them. I won’t make you suffer through all of the brilliant details because a) you’ve already read them, b) your planning on reading them and I don’t want to spoil it for you, or c) you have absolutely no interest and don’t care to read about how absolutely fantastic the first book was. (And it was SO fantastic.)

So that was my weekend. Spending time with family, Christmasfying the house and reading a wonderfully amazing and spectacular book. (Did I mention it was fantastic?) Now it's two and half days of work, followed by a loooong weekend of fun in Mississippi. I am so beyond excited about seeing everyone over there. Is it Wednesday yet??

Friday, November 21, 2008

Spread the word about Annie's Candles

I just want to say THANK YOU to Jessica over at SouthernYankee!!!

My candles came today and they smell absolutely fantastic!! She picked out the scents, and I could not be happier with what she chose. I got a Christmas Tree and a small Apple Jack and Peel, and they have definitely helped put me in the holiday spirit. I was debating not even decorating this year, but the Christmas Tree candle has made me excited about busting out the decorations next week and Christmasfying my house!

Go check out her blog, if you haven't already. And if you are like me and LOVE scented candles, show some support for her mom and ask her about placing an order!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prepare yourself...

Alright guys, I’m here to talk about something different today. You’re going to be shocked. Are you ready for it? Today I’m going to talk about music.

I know, I know… totally out of character for me. I’ll give you a minute to recover.

Okay, now that you’ve picked your jaw up off your keyboard, let’s get started.

If you haven’t already picked it up, I strongly encourage you to go get David Cook’s self-titled CD that was released this week.

Remember David? The big-hearted, word-nerd of a rocker from last season’s American Idol?

Y’all, his CD has blown me away. I haven’t been excited about any new artist in a long time, but his voice is incredible. It’s warm and soulful, yet still kind of raw and edgy.

I haven’t found a single song on the album that I don’t like.

And to top it all off, he seems like a really genuine guy – definitely worthy of his new-found success.

But that's just my opinion. Go check him out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Longing for the magic

This week's writing prompt from MamaKat: I remember when...

P.S. I know I'm doing this really early this week (don't get used to it). But I've been designing Christmas luncheon invitations at work, and this topic has been on my mind.

I remember when I used to get so excited about Christmas.

I would start early, counting down the days until my birthday. I knew that once it was here, Christmas was less than a week away. I knew there would be family gatherings, lots of food, a few good laughs and always plenty of presents to go around.

On Christmas morning, it was like the ordinary rules of the universe didn’t apply. On any normal morning, I would have to be coaxed out of bed. (Maybe “coaxed” is too gentle a word. Let’s try “yelled at until I finally gave in and got up — very grumpily.” That’s much more accurate.) But on Christmas morning, I was up before dawn, shaking boxes and waiting impatiently for my parents to get out of bed so the fun could begin. I think it’s that way with most kids.

But I vividly remember when this Christmas cheer began to fade. I remember going home over the holidays my first year in college. I’d been living in the dorms, and my spirit was not overflowing with the normal joy of the season. I don’t know, maybe it was the stress of my first year of finals – but something felt different.

When my littler brother, Chase (then 5), came to wake me up to see “what Santa left,” I mumbled something along the lines of “It’ll still be there in a few hours. Go back to sleep.” That lasted about 15 minutes, and he was back, telling me to get up. It’s been that way every year since then.

Where is the magic I used to feel during the holidays? I still enjoy Christmas, but I miss the excitement that used to be there.

The last few years, the only thing that has lifted this holiday funk is the newly instated family tradition of Trans-Siberian Orchestra concerts.

At first, I wasn’t sure it would be something I liked, but I have found that during the first few notes of their opening song, I catch a glimmer of the childhood excitement, fighting its way through all of the other things on my mind. By the end of the concert, my heart is completely filled with Christmas spirit.

If you’ve never heard of TSO, I suggest you check them out – especially if you need a little holiday boost to get you in the right frame of mind. Their CDs are good, but I will go ahead and warn you — it's not nearly the same as hearing them live. You don’t get to see the light show or watch all the stories unfold in front of you. You don’t get the experience of snow falling all around you, inside the auditorium. These guys go ALL OUT. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed.

During these shows, I remember what it feels like to completely consumed with the magic of Christmas.

I could use that right about now.

"In the moments of our lives, both the joyous and the tragic,
if the truth is to be told, we are all pursuing magic."

Gambling and other addictive habits

When it comes to contests, I am (always have been) perpetually unlucky. You could put 10 pieces of paper in a hat, nine of them with my name and a singular, lonely strip bearing someone else’s — And you know what? Against all odds — against the very laws of probability — the name drawn would inevitably NOT be mine.

I should NEVER go to Vegas.

But the tables of chance have finally turned in my favor (and my name was only entered one time)!

Thanks to Jessica over at SouthernYankee, I will soon be the very lucky recipient of a wonderful candle, made my none other than her “Mum.”

Jessica’s mum makes an array of scents that sound amazing. She asked the winners which one we’d like, but I simply could not choose, so I told her to surprise me! I’ll definitely be back to share the (certain) good news of how great it is after it arrives.

In other news, I’ve gotten back on track with my reading and have plowed head-first into the newest Greg Iles book, Third Degree. I started it yesterday after work and have successfully managed to knock about half of it out already. It’s pure genius. It has me a nervous wreck, in the best way possible. I literally feel the anxiety of the main character; I feel that familiar twinge of panic for her as she finds herself in an impossible situation. It has me turning pages, ignoring phone calls, forgetting supper and forgoing sleep.

I hope to finish it tonight.

To me, reading has always been like a highly addictive drug (or what I’d imagine a highly addictive drug would be like, since I’ve never actually tried one). It consumes me. While I’m on my “trip,” I lose all concept of time; I have no notion of the events taking place around me. Nothing else is necessary. Not food or sleep – I get lost in an alternate reality. Some other place and time where I see vivid images of people that seem so real, I almost feel guilty of spying on their lives.

When it comes time to put the book aside and carry on with my daily life, I have a hard time functioning. In the back of my mind, I’m still dissecting the plot - trying to figure out what’s going to happen or analyzing the personalities of each character, creating back-stories and imagining different outcomes. It’s a bit obsessive. I’ve always been told I have an overactive imagination. I guess I can’t argue with that.

My favorite authors are artists. Instead of painting or sculpting, they carefully craft their words in a way that can evoke joy, fear, excitement, uneasiness and nostalgia (all in the same novel). They have an uncanny way of making their characters a perfect blend of familiarity and intrigue – relatable enough for readers to connect with, but mysterious enough to keep the interest fresh. They vibrantly describe places and thought processes, vigilantly weaving plot twists and somehow managing to pull all of the loose ends together by the end of the book (or sometimes series).

In any case, they keep me coming back for more - impatiently awaiting their next addictive masterpiece, longing to feed my inexorable habit.

Hi. My name is Heather and I’m a book junkie.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Never break a pinkie promise" and other recommendations

Over the weekend, I got tagged for a really interesting meme. (THANKS DIANE!!)

Like you, I was stoked to get a chance to blog about books. At first. Then, I realized that describing four of my favorites in 30 words or less would be dang near impossible.

But I promised to give it my best, and I try to never go back on a promise. (Especially a pinkie-promise. Did anyone else do those as a kid? They were supposed to be unbreakable! If you went back on a pinkie-promise, you were pretty much cursed for life. At least that’s what I grew up believing.)

Anyway, let’s get started:

Fiction – This was probably the hardest of all the categories. I tend to stick to fiction, so there’s an infinite number of great books to choose from. After much (MUCH) deliberation, I decided on this one:

Blood Memory by Greg Iles – Mystery, suspense and heart-pounding action all wrapped into one amazing book. I literally did NOT sleep until I finished all 767 pages. Greg Iles is my hero.

Non-fiction – I don’t read a ton of non-fiction, but this one won my heart. You guys already know I’m a sucker for the four-legged, shedding, slobbery type.

Marley and Me by John Grogan –This book made me laugh, cry and laugh some more (before I cried again.) The mischievous Marley will make you cherish your dog even more.

Autobiography – This one is a toss up, both by the same amazing man. I’m going to go with the most recently published.

Cash by Johnny Cash I opted for this one over Man In Black just because I feel like it’s more complete. Even if you don’t care for his music, his story will touch your heart. He tells it with exceptional grit and honesty.

Any genre – I cheated here and picked another fiction book. Don't act surprised.

Diary by Chuck PalahniukPalahniuk’s book are inventive, shocking and slightly disturbing. He has a unique way of digging deep into the inner-workings of his characters to reveal some greater truth. This book manages to be hysterical, heart-wrenching and horrifying all at the same time.

If you haven't read these books, stop what you're doing and go buy them NOW. You won't regret it. In fact, I bet you'll thank me for the wonderful recommendations!

I also got another Superior Scribbler award this weekend, this time courtesy of the wonderful Mel. If you need a good laugh, check out her blog. She has a wonderful way of making me smile, and I know she'll have the same affect on you.

I'll be back later to pass the award along to some deserving bloggers.

As for the book meme? Anyone who wants to give it a shot, be my guest! I'd love to hear about all of your favorites!

Friday, November 14, 2008

(At LEAST) 200 days and counting

Is it next summer yet?? I really, really want it to be next summer… can we just skip forward a few months?

I was all excited about fall and winter – enjoying the cooler weather, relaxing over the holidays – and now, all I can think about is Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Thanks Dad!!

My aforementioned, musically talented little brother and I are both major adrenaline junkies. High speeds, insane heights, unexpected twists and sharp turns? BRING THEM! Well, lucky for us, Cedar Point has SEVENTEEN roller coasters. Did you catch that?? SEVENTEEN! That’s like sitting a drug addict down in a room full of crack.

Well, Daddy had the brilliant idea to suggest that Sean and I take a road trip next summer and check them all out firsthand. It could be the most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard. Thank God Sean is old enough to share the driving responsibilities. (Yes, it makes me feel old that my little bro is driving. Of course, he’s 6’3 and hasn’t been my little brother in quite some time. Maybe I’ll eventually get used to that.)

So now, instead of enjoying the moment, I’m aching for time to pass so I can be on my way to some of the best thrill rides in the world.

Have any of you ever been? I’d love to hear stories and get suggestions on the best rides. You know, the one’s you’d hate yourself for if you missed.

I’m realizing more and more how impatient I am. This idea was just suggested last night, and I’m already wanting to know when we’re going, what we can see on the way, where to stay when we get there, what else there is to do in the Sandusky area… Somebody tell me to chill out! I might stroke out from excitement by the time the trip actually gets here. (If it does, in fact, ever get here. This isn’t set in stone. It was just suggested and my imagination is already running wild with it like it’s a guaranteed thing.)

Good grief. I’m going to be heart-broken if this doesn’t work.

Anyway, this is my not-so-little brother and me this past summer. I think he must have been slouching because I know he’s more than a head taller than me. I think he squatted down some to make me feel better about myself. I hear he's gotten bigger...like some sort of freaky, giant Sasquatch or something. (Only kidding Bubba...I'm just jealous 'cause the height gene skipped me for some reason. Although, I am going to need you to stop growing soon.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coulda been a flower child

This week’s weekly writing prompt from MamaKat: If I could live in any era of history, what would it be? (This was the obvious choice. I can answer without hesitation.)

Sometimes I feel like my soul is from another time. I listen to music, read books and watch movies from my favorite decade and feel a strange sense of nostalgia, even though it was years before I was even thought of. (Actually, I was never really “thought of” until it was too late. I hear I was an “uh-oh” baby. But anyway…)

So, what decade would I love to visit? The sixties, of course. (That shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who know my musical inclinations and love for old films.)

There are so many great things about this era in time:
  • Music – Okay, you should have known this would be at the top of my list. But how can you not LOVE sixties music? The Doors, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, the beginnings of Led Zeppelin (their first album wasn’t released until 1969), The Who, The Kinks, Van Morrison, Otis Redding, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard….the names go on and on. And then there was Woodstock. I would give anything to see some of these bands live. Unfortunately, it is much, much too late for that. Well, technically I could still see the Stones, but who would want to? One of them might fall and break a hip.
  • Audrey Hepburn – The sixties gave us Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady, two of my all-time favorite movies. Although my favorite Hepburn movie was Sabrina (1954), this was still a great decade for Audrey.
  • Literature – Some of my FAVORITE books from childhood were written in the sixties. Although the Boxcar Children series began in the forties, ten of the books were written between 1960 and 1969. It just so happens they were my favorite ones. ALSO, Madeleine L’Engle wrote A Wrinkle in Time and The Moon by Night, the first two books of hers I ever read. They led me to her 1980 book, A Ring of Endless Light, which I can honestly say I read at least five times as a teenager. (If you saw my copy of the book, you’d know. It is definitely well-worn.)
  • Television – Oh my gosh, the sixties had some of the BEST shows. The Flinstones, Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Jetsons, Mr. Magoo, the Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, the Addams Family, I Dream of Jeannie, Mr. Ed, the Dick Van Dyke Show, Gilligan’s Island, Green Acres, Get Smart, Flipper…There should be a channel dedicated to JUST shows from this decade. TV Land is decent, but lately they’ve been slackin’.
  • Revolutionary thoughts – The sixties was a decade of radical thoughts and protests. People stood up for what they believed in and spoke out against injustice. The Free Speech Movement took place in 1964 at Berkeley, where students demanded administration to acknowledge their right to free speech and academic freedom. Martin Luther King, Jr., made his famous “I have a dream” speech and anti-war sentiments were made known by the flower child generation. People didn’t stand around idly waiting for things to happen or change to occur. They stood up for what they thought was right, even if it meant persecution.

I know it was a painful, tumultuous time in the lives of many Americans, but we have learned so much from people of this era who were unafraid to speak their minds and push the accepted boundaries.

I want to be like Keith Richards...

Okay, I don't want to be JUST like Keith Richards. I don't want to fall out of trees or swagger around talking nonsense. You'll have to keep reading to find out what I mean!

So, I know I've been a slacker with the whole posting thing lately. Sorry. I don't know what's gotten into me. I always have good intentions and then I sit down to blog and NOTHING comes out.

In fact, I've been so idea-less that I searched for writing prompts to get the brain waves moving.

One of my favorite blogs I've found with daily prompts is One Minute Writer. The idea is to pick a topic and jot your thoughts down in less than a minute, but you KNOW I don't follow rules. And a lot of these topics can be expanded on. You can't possibly say enough in a minute! (Well, maybe you could, but I'm a bit talkative and I tend to ramble, so there's no way I could keep anything limited to 60 seconds!) See, I bet this paragraph took longer than that, and I haven't even gotten to the topic yet!!

After looking through days and days of prompts, I finally found one that appealed to my mood today:

"If you could have one talent that you don't naturally have, what would it be?"

Well, since I really don't have any natural talents, I guess this prompt is pretty limitless.

See, unlike my oldest little brother, who can pick up ANY ball and instantaneously be a master of that sport; who sings and taught himself how to play the guitar AND drums... and unlike my youngest brother who has developed a unique talent for art (you should see one of the paintings he did at school this year!) and received his black belt when he was 8... I can do next to nothing.

I mean, I'm an excellent movie watcher and book reader, but those aren't talents. I'm decent in the kitchen, but not good enough to be labeled "culinarily gifted." I'm great at watching sports, but unfortunately don't have an athletic bone in my body.

So what talent to I pine over? Which one would I really, really love to have?

Definitely the musically inclined thing.

I am a music fanatic. Inside, I feel like I should be a rock star. Really. But I absolutely CANNOT sing. At all. Ever. It's almost painful to listen to. I wish I could. I would pick up a guitar (which I have no clue how to play) and write song after song. It would be great. Of course, the world would love me, I'd become famous, give money to charities and retire to some island. Then I'd sit on the beach and play my guitar until my fingers were so old and arthritic that it was no longer possible.

I'd be like George Jones, who's still singing even though he's voice is all warbly and shaky sounding. Or like the Rolling Stones who just REFUSE to go away, even though they're my grandparents' age. (Before long, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards will be on stage with walkers.)

But really, more than anything, I'd just like to be able to sing the hymns at church without wondering if the people around me are cringing at all of the notes I'm missing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sharing the love

I came back from a wonderful weekend to find another sweet award from Diane. If y'all have never checked out her blog, move it to the top of your to-do list. She is AMAZING. Funny, thoughtful and as real as they come.

This one is the Proximidade Award, meant to signify bloggy friendship. I have to pass it along to eight bloggers that I consider friends. As I'm still kind of new to the blogging community, I don't know if I have eight people to pass it on to, so forgive me if I don't follow the rules. I think it has to be given to people I don't know in real life, so that narrows it down even more. So here's who I'm sharing with...

  1. Jessica — I think we were separated at birth. Seriously.

  2. Mel — I'm so jealous that you and Diane actually get to hang out. I bet being around the two of you is hysterical.
  3. Hebba — I admire your take on life SO much.

  4. Breean — You haven't posted in FOREVER, but I love your stuff when you do!

  5. Diane — I'm breaking the rules. I know you gave me this award, but I'm giving it right back. You are one of the best blog friends ANYONE could ask for. How could I not give you this award?
  6. Jen — Again, breaking the rules. Yes, we're technically cousins, BUT, I followed your blog for a long time while you were in New York, so at that particular time, we were just blog friends, right? We didn't actually get to hang out. Justification enough for me.
Okay, so that's only six, and I cheated on two of them, but that's all I have for now. I haven't built up a huge network of blog friends, but the ones I have are amazing. I never imagined I could care so much about people I have never met. Thank you all for sharing your stories and making me smile.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What really irks me

All of this week’s writing prompts from Mama Kat seemed like a lot of fun, so I had a hard time narrowing it down. I really wanted to write about waking up with amnesia in an igloo with four dollars, a rock and a toothbrush, but after much thought, decided my creative juices just aren’t flowing strong enough today.

So instead, I will share 10 of my absolute worst pet peeves:

  1. The feel of cotton balls — Okay, I don’t know if this is a pet peeve, or more like a really strange aversion, but I HATE the way cotton balls feel. I know it sounds weird, but just thinking about it makes my skin crawl. There’s something about the texture that makes the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And it squeaks. Have you ever heard it? Ahhg…I’ve never met anyone else who is as freaked out about cotton as I am! Hey, don’t judge! I’m not as psycho as I sound.
  2. The sound of grinding teeth — Kevin grinds his teeth sometimes and it drives me nuts. We’ll be sitting there watching TV and I'll hear him start. In my head I see the damage he’s doing to his molars and I cringe.
  3. Traffic — I touched on this one in my last blog. I HATE IT. I have often been told that patience is not my strongest quality. When I want to go somewhere, I want to go. Not sit still for twenty minutes on the interstate or get stuck behind someone driving 25 in a 55.
  4. Prejudice — I know this a big jump from traffic, grinding teeth and cotton balls, but on a very serious note, I don’t understand how you can judge someone based on your own preconceptions. All-in-all, we’re not that different. We all want to be healthy, happy and loved. People can be so cruel.
  5. Ignorance — Now, an ignorant person is not the same as an unintelligent person. Some people learn on a different curve. I understand that. What I don’t understand is someone who never tries to learn; someone who walks around blind to everything but their own interests. That fires me up!
  6. Dog hair — Again, I LOVE Toby. But enough with the shedding already!! Pretty, chocolate-brown sheets, meet a barrage of white dog hair! AHG! Last time I went to see Dr. Jones (the vet), he informed me that because Toby is a terrier mix, he will probably shed year-round. Something to do with him being hyperactive. (No…not Toby! Hyper? You don’t say.)
  7. The alarm clock — Enough said.
  8. “Oh my gosh, guess what? Oh, nevermind, I shouldn’t tell you.” — DO NOT DO THIS (or any variation of this)!! It will drive me up the wall. Don’t start a story or a statement then decide not to tell me. It’s not in your best interest. I will hound you non-stop until you are so annoyed you tell me whatever it was you almost said to start with.
  9. Commercials that get REALLY loud — You ever been watching TV and suddenly been deafened by the volume of some local commercial? It’s annoying. In my advertising class in college, I learned that they do it on purpose, to catch your attention. Well, guess what? It worked. And now I don’t want whatever you’re selling because you just made me spill my drink everywhere.
  10. Talking through movies If I’m watching something I’ve never seen and someone near me is blabbering on about something, it ticks me off. For some reason I get obsessive about catching every last syllable of a movie or TV show, like some key word or phrase is going to be missed, causing me to not get the full experience. I use the rewind button like no one’s business. Sometimes I’ll watch one scene five times if I feel like I missed something. I know, I have a problem. But I’m admitting it. I hear that’s the first step.

    I know most of my pet peeves are trivial, but I guess that’s the point. They’re the little things that get under my skin and drive me crazy. And for all of you that know me: you better not start rubbing cotton balls in my face or saying, “Oh, nevermind!” just to get a rise out of me! Spitefulness is one of my unlisted pet peeves. Just remember that! :)

A weekend escape

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my small-town life.

I love that I’ve only been here six months and everywhere I go, I see at least five people I know.

When I lived near Birmingham (where I had been since 4th grade), I rarely ran into anyone I knew. I can’t imagine starting over somewhere like that by myself. Jen, you’re my hero. For years, I thought I’d love living in New York, but now I realize how alone I’d feel. I’m most definitely a “people person.” Running into familiar faces has helped me adjust to my new town so much quicker than I ever imagined.

I love that the people here have welcomed me so warmly and gone out of their way to make me feel at home.

I was shocked this summer when Scott’s parents let me stay in their camper at the lake. They had only met me once, but when they heard I’d be in town for an internship and couldn’t find anywhere to rent for two months, they happily offered up their weekend retreat for me and Toby. Not only would they not let me pay them, they regularly called to make sure I was doing okay. Their kindness was just the beginning of what I’ve felt ever since.

I love that from home to work, and back again is three miles round-trip (six if I go home for lunch!)

I can drive FOREVER on a tank of gas. Also, as I am perpetually running late for everything, it’s amazing that I can pull out of my driveway at 7:28 and still make it to work on time. Couldn’t do that in the city!

I love that when I moved into my house, my neighbor welcomed me to the street by bringing over four jars of fruit preserves.

This is not a joke! My very first afternoon in my house, the doorbell rang. My neighbor, who is in her sixties, was standing in my driveway with an armful of brightly colored jars.

Side note on why she was in the driveway by the time I got to the door: I live in an old house with the chime-type doorbell. The chimes hang in the hallway and when the doorbell rings, they clang together (VERY LOUDLY) and usually scare me to death. Well, when I moved in, I didn’t realize there were different rings for each door. One chime for the side door, and two for the front door. So that afternoon, when the doorbell chimed once, I went to the front door and got thoroughly freaked out when I opened it and no one was there. I began to wonder if my house was haunted. While I was standing there at the door, the chimes rang again, which only heightened my sense of paranoia. I had just about decided to quit unpacking and move somewhere else when it dawned on me (genius) that there was another door. So, I ran through the house, opened the side door, and low and behold…no one was there. Key panic. I walked into the carport, and only then did I see my sweet, sweet neighbor, standing there looking startled with her arms full of jarred fruit.

I love that I don’t have to sit in traffic — EVER.

I never thought much about it until I didn’t have to do it anymore. Now, when I visit Mama, I get a strange “road rage” at having to drive around so many other people. They cut you off, slam on brakes, ride your bumper…It’s so frustrating!

Overall, there are many, many things that make small-town life wonderful.

HOWEVER, this weekend I’m going up to Alabaster for the weekend and I could not be more excited. Sometimes, I miss having a theater that shows more than three movies, a bookstore that’s not located inside Wal-Mart and a coffee shop that stays open later than 5:00. (Again, not joking. What are you supposed to do when you get a late night need for caffeine?)

Every place has its pros and cons, and at the end of the day, the pros win out down here in the deep, deep South. But every now and then, it’s nice to escape to a busier place for a few days. Even if it does just make you thankful for your quiet, small-town life when you get back home.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The woes of being "too nice"

So, apparently November is National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo for short). Basically, if you sign up, you have to post 30 posts in 30 days, or one per day each day of November. Several of my favorite bloggers have signed up, which means I'm in for a month of good reading material.

I, however, am NOT signing up. I know if I did, I would inevitably miss a few days and feel like I failed, and I just can't handle that. :)

Actually, it has more to do with the fact that I don't think I have enough fun or important things to say. I have no babies to brag about, no exciting life to keep you entertained or raging opinions to let loose on the blog world.

Try to hide your disappointment.

In other news, I had a rude awakening this weekend. I have realized that I am WAY too nice to some people. I tend to put myself out there, even with people who have proven they don't deserve it. This became very evident Friday night. Here's the story:

My freshman year in Troy, I lived across the street from this guy (we'll just call him Jerk-face, of JF for short.) JF and I were pretty good friends, most days. Everyone thought he had some bi-polar issues, but that's another story. Anyway, I took up for him when others didn't and we stayed friends all through college. Cut to my junior year. I was working at Wal-Mart and had become friends with a girl in the department next to mine. We'll call her Two-face, or TF for short. TF was engaged to a guy who basically tried to buy her affection with nice things, but rarely gave her the emotional support she needed. She wanted out, but was afraid to end things with someone she had been with for so long. She'd talk to me about things, and I'd listen, never knowing quite what to say, except to tell her she deserved better. Eventually, she called things off. It wasn't long afterwards that she became interested in JF. She asked me about him and I encouraged her to give it a shot. So, she did. They hit it off, and before long, they were engaged. Now, I'm not sure when or WHY this happened, but TF suddenly quit talking to me. I wasn't invited to the wedding, and I started hearing rumors that she thought I wanted to be with JF. Seriously...I told her to date him, why would I do that if I wanted to be with him? I don't know if it was because he and I had been friends for so long and she was jealous, or what her issues with me were, but they eventually cut all contact with me.

When I moved to Andalusia, I had forgotten that this is where JF was originally from. Last I heard, JF and TF were living happily ever after in Auburn. Well, Friday night a friend and I went to the local football game, and as I was walking by the concession stand, I saw them. Now, here's where the "too nice" thing comes into play. Without even thinking about it, I went over and tapped TF on the shoulder, smiling like an idiot, happy to see her. She turned around, and I swear, Laser beams were coming out of her eyeballs. Turns out, they live here now. I tried to make small talk, but it was like pulling teeth. I even blurted out, "Good to see y'all!" as they turned and walked away without saying bye. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Know what makes it even better? I apparently work with JF's dad and didn't even know it. Wonderful. I bet I'll be seeing more of them. We'll probably be best friends before long. (Yeah, right.)

Anyway, there's my long, sad story of friendship gone awry. I'm still not sure what I did to deserve being shunned, but hey — I'm probably better off without them.

Maybe they're miserable together and blame me for setting them up.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dog for a day

Well, Skippy is no longer Toby's little playmate. Mr. Joe came and picked him up this afternoon to keep for another lady until Monday. She has a girl dog, so they're hoping the dominance thing won't be an issue. I HATE that things turned out like this. I was so excited!

But, you know...for the few hours that Toby was outside with him last night (before I had to go separate them) the house was almost too quiet. I know I get aggravated with him, but he's pretty good company... for the most part. I'd probably wind up missing him if he was outside all the time. Yeah, he's hairy and smelly and slobbery and he jumps on my face when I'm trying to sleep, but he makes my life interesting.

A flaw in the plan

The plan was working wonderfully. At first.

Skippy arrived around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, and I immediately thought, "Oh! Now there's a happy dog!"

His tongue was lazily hanging from his mouth, a big doggie smile on his face...cute as he could be. I put him in the backyard with Toby and let them do their sniffing and circling and getting to know each other. It genuinely seemed to be going well.

This is when I sighed and thought, "I'm so smart! Why did anyone doubt this? Look how great this is!"

Toby could NOT have been more excited. Poor thing. You'd think he had never played with another dog before. He was bouncing around like he was on crack, panting like a wild-child. You could see the happiness in his cute little puppy eyes.

Skippy...well, it wasn't so much happiness as annoyance.

I failed to consider there would be a male dominance problem. Skippy claimed every chew toy in the yard, the food bowl, the water bowl and anything else Toby seemed slightly interested in. I'm not talking about merely taking it away from Toby. No, little "Skippy" would ATTACK. Not so skippy, afterall. Bared teeth, deep, threatening growl. Sweet little Toby would just wag his tail until Skip jumped on him. Then (being so brave) he would tuck is ears and run. Yes, he is ferocious. No doubt.

I think the deal-breaker is the fact that Skippy won't let Toby get within three feet of me. Seriously. He JUST met me. You don't get between me and my baby. He's been here longer. Don't run him off!

I know that all of that is neccesary to establish the alfa dog, but I just wasn't expecting it.

I'm not too proud to say I might have been a little hasty in my decision. (Yes, Mom. I admit it. Maybe I should have thought it over a teensy bit longer.)

There are about five people at work that are really interested in him, so I know I won't be stuck trying to make it work. I feel like I should give them time to get to know each other, but at the same time, I don't want them to fight all weekend.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

A new addition

Okay. I have some news that I am BUSTING AT THE SEAMS to tell you. Are you ready?

There will soon be a new addition to my family.

This is the part where Mom said, "No. No there won't be. You're not pregnant are you?!"

No, Mom...no babies.

Just THIS:

Let me introduce you to Skip, a three-year-old cocker spaniel who needed a new home. (How could I refuse?)

The shock collar around his neck will be GONE. He's been staying in a yard without a fence, but since my yard is fenced in, there will be no need for all of that!

Here's the plan:

Skip (whose real name is Skippy, but whom I will undoubtedly NOT call Skippy) has always been an outside dog. That's all he knows. He is supposedly VERY mild mannered and calm and I am hoping beyond hope he will be a good influence on my little hellion.

I've been trying to ween Toby from the house. I have a huge backyard for him to play in, but he gets lonely out there and resorts to barking incessantly until I let him back in. My plan is to put Skip out there with him for company and finally rid my house of tiny, white dog hairs. (THEY'RE EVERYWHERE.)

And I never thought I'd be one to mind it. I've always had an inside dog, but lately I've been getting frustrated.

I LOVE Toby, but I am so tired of my house smelling like dog, even after his baths. I'm tired of my sheets, couches and floors being covered in dog hair. I'm tired of stepping on chew toys when I get up to pee in the middle of the night and finding raw hides hidden under my pillow when I'm trying to fall asleep....

So, we'll see how this works out!

He will be delivered to my house this afternoon, so there will be more pictures to post soon.

Life at the edge of the table

This week, I’ve chosen a lighter writing assignment from Mama Kat. Instead of getting deeply introspective and pondering the everyday happenings and interworkings of my life, I will dazzle you with the thoughts of a glass on the edge of the table.

Since I’m magnificently clumsy, this is how I picture it:

“Oh God, I wonder if she realizes how close to the edge she sat me. Seriously, I can see the floor from here. I saw what happened yesterday. A FULL glass just toppled out of her hands. She said it “jumped”, but I know better. That girl can’t hold on to ANYTHING. Wait…what’s she doing? She’s coming this way! Maybe she’ll see how dangerous this is and move me back. No….oh GOD NO!! She’s tripping…she’s going to hit the table. NOOOOOO…..”


Monday, October 27, 2008

So many festivities, so little time

It feels like it’s been forever since I posted anything!! To my faithful readers (all two or three of you), I’m sorry for leaving you out to dry. I know you must be dying to know all of the exciting events that have been taking place in my life.

Well, fear not — I had a very busy weekend, so there is plenty to fill you in on.

It got kicked off early Friday night. When I got home from work I went through my bookshelves and, much to my surprise, realized I had a book that had never been read. So, I was all set to spend a quiet night at home when my phone rang with a much more exciting offer — a night of rides at the Covington County Fair. Mikey and Jessica picked me up around 6:30 and we headed to the fair grounds. We had a great time, but the trip wound up being a bittersweet reminder that I’m no longer 13. The rides that I LOVED as a kid left me feeling sore and disoriented. And until this year, I had never noticed how rusty some of those things are. And they throw them together in less than a day! Is that safe? Who inspects them and decides they’re ride-ready? Where did these worries come from? Ahhhhg, I’m getting older and I don’t like it!

Anyway, after surviving all of the carnival rides and returning home only slightly nauseated, I went to sleep so I get up early Saturday morning to enjoy more fall festivities. Saturday started with a trip to Opp to help Mrs. Cheryl and her daughter run a booth at the fall festival. We were in charge of “Go fish” — the game where the little kiddies throw a fishing line over the booth to hook a prize. Some kids got a little ambitious and I worried someone would lose an eye before it was all said and done. Thankfully, no one was injured and everyone had a great time. After our shift was finished, we strolled around, checking out the arts and crafts and eating yummy festival foods.

Then it was home for a short afternoon nap before heading back to the County Fair to watch a friend of mine sing in the talent show. (She placed 2nd! Should’ve won 1st, if you ask me…not that anyone did.)

Sunday rounded out the weekend with church, followed by pumpkin carving with Kevin. I’ll post pictures of that later — I don’t have my camera handy. It will be evident by the pictures that I am NOT an artist. I bought a kit with stencils, but Kevin informed me that using a kit was cheating. He helped me scoop out the guts, but left the “free-hand” carving up to me. Not sure that was the best idea, but hey…it was fun. That’s all that matters, right?

Anyway, that was my weekend — another reminder of why I LOVE this time of year.

However, I’d love it more if my heater worked. I called my landlord earlier and she swore she’d try to have it fixed by this afternoon.

OH, speaking of my landlord, she offered me another rental house that’s cheaper than the one I’m living in. It would save me about $200 a month, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. The yard isn’t fenced in, which would be a pain with Toby needing room to run. AND it would mean lugging all of my furniture across town AGAIN. So, I’m weighing the options but leaning towards staying where I am. I'm going by to look at it during my lunch break, but it's not sounding hopeful.