"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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Toby? Trained? Hahaha....

I think Toby has (undeservingly) earned himself a bit of a bad reputation.

While talking to my landlord this morning, she excitedly told me that she had run across some dog training videos that she had forgotten about. She said she immediately thought of me and would bring them by this house this afternoon. Really? I mean Toby’s not that bad, right? If you were to randomly come across some form of doggie behavior-modification video, would you immediately think of me? Sheesh. I guess I need to get a handle on the situation.

Oh, yeah. I didn’t tell you why I was talking to my landlord in the first place. (She didn’t actually call me about the videos – that was just a happy coincidence.) I locked myself out of my house this morning. I know. Smart, huh? See, I had my hands full with food that I was bringing to work and stupidly thought my keys were in the mess of other stuff I grabbed off the kitchen counter. Apparently not.

I was a little scatter-brained (more than usual) because I got out of the shower to find my living room covered in little bits of paper towel. Hundreds of tiny white scraps covering the couch and floor. I was dumb enough to leave an entire roll sitting on the coffee table last night. Incidentally, I took them into the living room after Toby ate a bug that he later regurgitated on the rug. So I guess all of this comes back to him. Maybe that reputation is well deserved, after all.

But you know, despite the mess, the dog hair, the damaged shoes, missing books and destroyed cell phones - despite the hassles and headaches, the incessant barking and constant neediness – I don’t know what I’d do without him. I complain about him a lot, but he always keeps things interesting. And he always makes me laugh (Eventually. Some things are only funny later – after the anger wears off.)

So bring on the training videos. I don’t know how successful they’ll be, but we’ll give ‘em a shot. If nothing else, maybe they’ll provide some interesting stories.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Prayers needed

So, I know I've been MIA lately. Sorry. The past week has been rough. I won't go into all of the gory details, but let's just say I had one heck of a stomach bug. Thanks to my new friend Phenergan, I was finally able to keep fluids and small amounts of food down by Thursday. Now, nine pounds lighter and significantly weaker, I'm just trying to build my strength back up.

In other news, I need all of you wonderful people to do me a favor, ok? I need you all to send up prayers and positive thoughts for my family. My dad's kidney function has dropped pretty low and he's going to need a transplant soon. My step-mom is being tested to see if she's a match. If so, hopefully things will happen pretty quickly and Daddy can be on his way to feeling better by early summer.

I don't think I've ever mentioned it on here, but there's a genetic disease that is pretty prevalent in our family called polycystic kidney disease, or PKD. My grandad had it, and my dad, aunt and cousin Jen all have it. They tell you to stay active and keep your blood pressure under control, but beyond that, there isn't much you can do. (Daddy, AJ, Jen... feel free to comment and tell me if I'm wrong about any of this. Y'all know better than I do.)

I really want to be tested so I can donate if Michelle isn't a match, but I've been told that the hospital won't even consider me because I've yet to be tested for PKD. (There's a 50 percent chance the the child of a PKD parent also carries the disease.) Obviously, if I have it, my kidney wouldn't be of any use to Daddy. Apparently it can lie dormant until your mid-thirties, so even if I'm tested now and the results are negative, I wouldn't be eligible to donate because of the chance of a false-negative test result. It's really frustrating to know that there's nothing I can do to help.

Anyway, if you want to read more about PKD, click here.

I know that things will be okay. My family is strong and faithful, and I know many people are praying for us. This isn't the first tough time we've been through. A little over a year ago, our prayer's were answered when my Aunt Jenny received a healthy kidney from a young man at her church. To read more about that, click here.

The more people we have praying for us, the better shot we'll have - so please, keep Daddy in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sitting and waiting.... again

I've truly developed a loathing for airports this week.

I got to Reagan National this morning to find that my noon flight had been canceled due to a "mechanical problem." Obviously I don't want to be on a plane that's experiencing any such problem, but the extra four hour wait will be pretty boring - which is why I just paid six bucks for a two hour Internet connection.

Man, I can't believe the week is over already. It seems like just yesterday I was checking into my hotel. And although I miss everyone back in Alabama, I honestly wish I could stay here awhile longer. There are so many things I didn't get to see. Of course, I think you could stay here for weeks and not see it all. Maybe months. I'll definitely have to come back soon when I have more time to sight see.

I was fortunate enough to spend yesterday evening and this morning with the wonderful Diane. Be very jealous. For those of you who read her blog on a regular basis, I want you to know that she is even more fantastic in real life (I didn't think it was possible!) She is warm, funny, intelligent, charismatic, compassionate, open-minded, non judgemental, thoughtful, honest and interesting. And those few words don't do her justice at all. If - for some crazy reason -you don't already read her blog, you should definitely start. She'll often make you laugh, occasionally make you cry, and always make you think.

Well - I'm off to bury myself in my Kindle for awhile. I have a pretty good book that's just begging to be read. Or maybe I'll stretch out across the seat here and take a nap. Think they'll wake me up before my flight leaves? I probably shouldn't chance it....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Alive and well in D.C.

I just got out of my first day of conferences and thought I'd take a minute to update y'all on my trip, thus far.

My flight (that was supposed to leave at noon on Monday) was delayed (joy). Instead of taking off on time, I didn't actually get air-born until sometime after 2:00, which made it equally joyful to make my connecting flight in Atlanta. I should have had an hour and twenty minutes to leisurely make my way to my gate. Instead, I had 10 minutes to get from concourse D to concourse A - not an easy task. Of course, by the time I got to my gate, that flight had ALSO been delayed. They apparently decided on that little detail while I was running on the moving walkways.

I landed in D.C. around 6:30 and took an exciting shuttle ride to my hotel. I got out of the van grateful to be alive after several near-death experiences and two near-collisions with pedestrians. After sorting out some issues with my check-in, I happily ordered room-service and sprawled out on my "heavenly bed" (that's the actual trademarked name - and not an exaggeration. It's amazing.) I ate a bellyful of of seafood pasta and the biggest slice of cheesecake I'd ever seen, then drifted into a deep, wonderful sleep.

Yesterday, I proudly made my way around the city by myself. I caught the Metro and rode to the National Mall, where I spent most of the day touring around the museums. I found that it's actually really relaxing to be able to do things on your own time and see exactly what you want to see, without having to wait around for someone else. Not a bad deal. Later in the afternoon, I headed to Arlington National Cemetery and spent some time reflecting on the men and women who have given their lives for our freedom. Seeing the sheer number of headstones is both visually breathtaking and emotionally overwhelming.

I got back to the hotel just in time for our welcome reception last night. I met a lot of interesting people from all over the country. I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better over the remainder of the week. Some of us tried to go to a local Irish pub last night to celebrate St. Patty's day, but after seeing a ridiculously long line wrap around the building, we decided to grab a bite to eat somewhere else and call it a night.

Today, I heard several speakers and learned a lot about my role as a communicator. I think it's excellent that they offer things like this for those of us who are new to the industry. Not only are we learning valuable information, we're building a wonderful network of peers.

Well, it's time to wrap this up. I'm about to head out for a tour of the FDR Memorial and dinner at Union Station. Stay tuned for more updates...

Hope y'all are having a fantastic week!

Oh... check out my new friend:

Ha!! The squirrels here are very.... friendly. I was sitting on the bench eating a cookie and apparently this guy wanted a bite.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gone again...

Thought I'd take a break from packing to catch up on y'all's blogs before I abandon you for another week. I leave tomorrow for Washington, D.C. and won't be back until next Saturday. I'm taking my laptop, but I honestly don't know how much time I'll spend on it. I hope to stay pretty busy.
I'll get into D.C. late tomorrow evening then have all day Tuesday to sight-see before my conference starts Wednesday morning.
I'm a little nervous about being in an unfamiliar city by myself, but I'm independent enough to know I'll be fine. Although, to be honest, I'm a little on edge about my cab ride from the airport to the hotel. I've been told that the cabbies drive pretty crazy up there. I just have to remind myself that thousands of people safely make it to their destinations every day. No need to worry...
Well, that's all for now - not much time to post today. I have a lot to get done before I leave. I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Friday, March 13, 2009

You might be a Southerner if...

I've been struggling to find things to write about lately. While there have been several things occur over the past few weeks that would make for interesting blog-fodder, I'd rather not shine the spotlight on them just now. There are too many thoughts bouncing around in this little head of mine to make much sense of anything. So, instead of updating you on my life (which is feeling a little surreal right now) I'll pass along a southern-fried meme. I don't remember where this came from, but I've been saving it for a rainy day.

1. Have you ever gone muddin'?
Of course! We used to go “muddin’ at sunrise” in my friend’s Jeep. Of course, that’s back when I could stay awake long enough to see the sun come up.

2. Have you ever lived on a dirt/gravel road?
Yep. And it gets even better. I lived at the very end of a dirt road… in a camper… all summer long! I couldn’t find a rental house last summer while I was doing my internship, so a friend of mine let me stay at his camper on the lake. It was actually a lot of fun. I had a GORGEOUS view.. and the camper wasn’t one of those really nasty, trashy ones. It was pretty nice, as far as campers go.

3. Ever been swimming in a lake or river?
Absolutely. Like I just said, I lived at the lake all summer. Of course I went swimming!!

4. Ever been to a bonfire party?
More than I can count. I’ve also seen a drunken frat boy try to pull an Evil Knievel and jump the fire on a dirt bike. Never a good idea.

5. Have you ever driven a tractor?
No, but I have sat on the hood of a tractor while someone else was driving – and I fear that’s much worse.

6. Have you ever been on a horse?
Sure have.

7. Ford or Chevy?

8. Kissed someone in a pick up?
Yep. In the cab, and on the tail-gate.

9. What’s your favorite country song?
Fishin’ in the Dark by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band… or Cross My Heart by George Strait… ooooooh OR Amos Moses by Jerry Reed. Yeah… definitely Amos Moses!!

10. Ever done 90 miles per hour down a dirt road?
No…never quite that fast.

11. Worked / Lived on a farm?
Dated a farmer – does that count?

12. Been to a rodeo?

13. Do you own cowboy boots?

I actually don’t. But I do own steel-toe work boots.

14. Do you have a cowboy hat?

15. Have you ever said git r done?
Only when joking.

16. Country skyline or a city skyline?
Country skyline –definitely. Nothing like it.

17. Can you name a rodeo star?
Not one that’s alive. I know Lane Frost, but only because of the movie 8 Seconds.

18. Do you think tractors are sexy?
Not the tractor – but the hard-working guy driving the tractor

19. Ever rode a 4-wheeler?
Yep. Click here to learn how I almost lost a leg…

20. Are you from the country?
Not really… but I’m not from the city either.

21. If so, are you proud of it?
I would be, I guess?

22. Gone hunting?
Nope. I’ve helped plant deer plots and set tree stands, but never actually been hunting.

23. Gone fishing?
Oh yeah! I love fishing. Another perk of living at the lake all summer.

24. Is your heart in Dixie?
I live in Alabama, formerly known as the “Heart of Dixie” before they took it off of our license plates… so I guess so.

25. Been on a hay ride?

26. Have you ever line danced?
Not since grade school.

27. Camped under the stars?
No.. but I want to.

28. Have you ever been cow tippin?

29. Do you drive a pick up truck?
Nope – an SUV.

30. Fell asleep in a hay stack?
Negative. It’s kind of itchy.

31. Own a pair of overalls?
Nope. Not since I was 12.

32. Drank Moonshine?
Can I plead the 5th?

33. Include the word "yonder" in your daily vocabulary?
Not normally. I do say “reckon” a lot. As in, “Well, I reckon…”

34. Ever shoveled manure?
No. And I’m grateful for it.

35. Milked a cow?
No, but I have fed cows plenty of times.

36. Plucked a chicken?
Yuck. No. I have been inside a chicken house, though.

37. Is sweet tea your favorite drink?
It’s right up there with Dr Pepper.

38. Been to a race?
Never been to NASCAR, but my high school boyfriend used to drag race.

39. Know all the words to at least one David Allen Coe song?
Yep. The perfect country and western song…
“Well, I was drunk the day my Mom got outta prison. And I went to pick her up in the rain. But, before I could get to the station in my pickup truck, she got runned over by a damned old train.”

40.Have you ever made out in a back of a pick-up?
I think you should probably mind your own business. Nosey much??

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nothing stays the same

Weekly writing assignment from Mama Kat: What happened in the last year? Write about something you can do now that you couldn't do a year ago.

This past year has definitely been an eventful one. I can honestly say that almost every aspect of my life is different today than it was last March.

I’ve completed an internship, graduated, taken my first “real-world” job, moved, lost friends, lost a mentor, lost a boyfriend and struggled to find myself in the midst of all of the change.

Last March was my last semester of class in Troy. I was frustrated with school and terrified that I’d never find the internship I needed to graduate. I worked a crappy part-time job (with full-time hours) at a clothing store – letting myself constantly be pushed around by my idiot boss. I had no time to do anything but go to class and work. Finally, when I realized I’d never graduate if I didn’t get busy and line up an internship, I quit the crappy job. Thanks to a tip from a fellow journalism student, a wonderful reference from my beloved advisor and some form of divine intervention, I wound up snagging an internship with the company that I now work for full-time.
When I got here, I instantly fell in love with the people and the town (small as it may be.) I felt like I was home. I didn’t want to leave, and began dreading the whole job-search ordeal that would have to take place before the end of summer. Thankfully, a few weeks before I graduated, my boss offered me a job. I interned up to the day before my graduation, and started full-time the day after. It was seamless.

When I came here, a lot of things changed very quickly. I went from living with two other girls and both of their dogs, to living in a house with just me and Toby – from paying a third of the bills, to paying all of them on my own. From living in a town where I knew everyone, to living in a town where I knew virtually no one. From seeing my boyfriend every day, to seeing him once a week or less. I had to learn to adjust. I had to learn how to be on my own in every sense.

And you know what? It’s hard. I’ve struggled with a lot of emotions over the past several months. I’m doing fine, but it definitely hasn’t been a cake walk. The last month or so has been the hardest – dealing with the pain of realizing a relationship that I had been in for several years might not be the best thing for me. The hardest part is knowing I’ve hurt someone I care about.

But I can honestly say that I’m stronger, wiser and more independent today than I was this time last year. I know that I can count on myself to get by. I think that’s probably my biggest accomplishment to date – feeling secure in my ability to provide for myself.

I can’t wait to look back this time next year and see what’s changed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I'm back

I'm alive!! I know I haven't been on here in a week, and I apologize for getting so behind on all of your blogs... I'll have to try to play catch up this weekend!

First of all, can I just tell you how exhausted I am?? It has been a long week, folks. I left early Tuesday morning to pick up the Youth Tour winners from our local high schools and drive them to Montgomery to meet with other kids from across the state. We spent the next few days touring the capital city. We went into the State House, the Archives building, the Capital building and the Rosa Parks Museum. Then there were socials in the evenings, meant to serve as a way for the kids to get to know each other. The first night was a river boat dinner cruise with a DJ and the second night was cosmic bowling. Overall, everyone had a great time, and I think I did my chaperoning duties well. No one got hurt or snuck away to do drugs, drink or ... have relations. I consider that a success.

I realized on this trip that I'm nowhere near as young as I like to think I am. I had a hard time keeping up with a group of 125 sixteen and seventeen year olds. They had an 11:00 curfew each night, but were allowed to stay up later as long as they were hanging out in a chaperone's room. I thought I was going to have to tape my eyelids open at one point - no lie. I really think we should have scheduled in a nap time at some point each day. Ha. Can you imagine telling a group of teenagers that it was time to take a nap?? Yeah right...

There are so many stories I could tell about what we saw, the drama that played out between some of the girls, or some of the conversations I wish I had never overheard - but frankly... my brain is way too tired to think of any of those right now. I went to a little hole-in-the-wall bar with a friend from work last night to see a band. I had a great time, but I stayed out waaaaay past my bed-time. I feel pretty useless today. It's funny how just a few years ago, I could stay out till sunrise, then go to class all day and work all evening. I almost never slept. Now, if I get any less than my full eight hours of sleep, I feel drained and worthless. Weird.

So, I'll save those stories for later. As for right now? I have a ton of laundry to do, and even more work to catch up on from being out of the office most of the week. Blah.

Oooh, and for all of you Twilight fans out there: one of the kids on the trip this week looked just like Edward Cullen. The girls were going nuts. It was hilarious to watch. The poor boy looked terrified as groups of girls would ambush him and beg for pictures. I didn't take one, but I will leave you with the real deal:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow in the deep South

So, Friday it was 72 degrees. Today? This:

The back deck at Mama's house when I woke up this morning.

The front yard.
Ignore the fact that I look like a total doofus. My ears were FREEZING!!
Overall, Toby was pretty unimpressed by the snow - although he did seem to like the way it felt on his tongue.

The strangest, biggest-headed snow man I've ever seen!!

We really enjoyed the weather today, but I decided that I definitely could not live somewhere where it snows all the time. I hate wet, soggy shoes. (I guess I could wear snow boots?) By early afternoon, the sun broke through and things melted pretty quickly. It was fun while it lasted!