"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, 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.