Monday, December 21, 2009

We need a little Christmas...right this very minute.

I've been awful about posting this month - terrible sinus infections, work, and shopping drama have kept me pretty busy. I think one of my New Year's resolutions should be to update my blog more often...

But now the work week is almost over, and I'm about to head home to my parents' for Christmas and a chance to take a breath and really enjoy the season the way it should be. I can't wait to eat some comfort food, watch some cheesy Christmas movies, hear my dad read the Christmas story, and just BE.

Merry Christmas, friends! See you next year!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Poison & Wine

So I am obsessed with this song by The Civil Wars. Obsessed.

I've listened to it about twenty thousand times in the past three days.

"I don't love you, but I always will."

Genius lyrics.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Autumn daydream

I think I'd like to be her today.
Even if she does look a little sad.
But she's sad with style, and that's something to be proud of.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Lady in White"

This year for Halloween, I did...nothing.

That's right. Nada. And it was fantastic.

I stayed in my pajamas all day long eating good food, drinking coffee, snuggling with Gilbert, and watching my favorite scary movies. I tend to watch scary movies by myself most of the time, anyway - all of my friends are big scaredy-cats.

My hands-down, favorite scary movie is this:

I saw it for the first time when I was nine years old, and it scared the pants off of me. I can remember watching it through my fingers and nuzzling into my mom's shoulder, but so fascinated by it that I had to watch the whole thing. And 20 years later, it still gets me.

It's a wonderfully (non-bloody, which is a bonus point right there) creepy ghost story, mixed in with this great 1960's small town in the fall nostalgia - it's even really funny at times. Lukas Haas (the perfect quintessential child of 80's movies - Witness, etc.) plays the main character perfectly - his big wide eyes suck you in and make you feel the terror he feels.

Ah...makes me shudder just thinking about it now.

I just looked on Amazon and saw that they've released a Director's Cut DVD, so I think I'm going to plunk down the money for it soon.

Halloween's over, but I think everyone should go rent this one. Tonight. Watch it with someone you can nuzzle into. Watching through your fingers is optional.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

To ink or not to ink?

So I already have one tattoo (gasp!) on the second toe of my right foot. It's a lovely little treble clef, and I love it. I seriously haven't regretted it once since I got it almost five years ago.

I went to a conference with some friends a few weeks ago, and one of the speakers mentioned that he'd just gotten a tattoo, and held up his arm to show a cute design involving his kids' names.

And I got the itch to get a new one.

Now I'm not crazy about the whole arm-sleeve tattoo look. I don't want to look like my name is Bertha and I drive a Harley and play lots of hard-core softball. I'm pretty girly. I want one the inside of my right wrist.

A small one.

The two things I love most in the world are music and writing. I've got the music tattoo covered.

I'd like to get something in tribute of my other favorite hobby, so here's what I'm thinking - this, this word:

Write.

Very small. Very easily covered up by a bracelet or a watch.

What do you guys think?

Song I'm digging today: "2-1 (Instrumental)" by Imogen Heap

I really can't convey how obsessed I am with this CD. Well, with anything by Imogen Heap. She really is my very favorite singer, hands-down. And I'm so, so excited because Ashleigh and I are going to see her next month in Nashville!

I've had this CD in my car since it came out, and I still haven't gotten remotely tired of it. It's just that good.

I bought the special edition album, and it came with a bonus CD of instrumental tracks. While I love, love, love the original song "2-1" with vocals, this version is just as impressive. When the violin starts soaring over the piano, I get chills.

Every time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Good Coffee Fix

Well, the coffee shop "gig" went just fabulously. Fantastically fabulously.

Joe and I sang Michael Jackson and Run DMC songs all the way up, and then when we got there, Zach, the owner, gave us some yummy cheesy biscuits to eat while we set up our equipment. My mom, Holly Jo, and Ashleigh were already there, and they helped me make sure my music was in order and set up a camcorder to capture the event on film. I had to pretend it wasn't there while I was singing - I get weirded out by cameras, which is not good when your sister is a photographer (the camera is always, always out).

We started out with "Chocolate," and all was well until we started playing "Fix You" and realized that for some reason, my microphone was causing Joe's guitar to not pick up. It took us a little bit of time to fix that (no pun intended), but everyone was really cool about it.

I even got to sing some songs with Holly Jo, and I loved that.

My friends Aaron, Sara, Floyd, Linda, and Ben came, and some friends of Joe's that I'd never met before traveled up, too. It made us both feel pretty special that our friends showed up to support us like that.

I definitely can't wait to do it again.

Song I'm digging today: "Sleep Spent" by Death Cab for Cutie

I really dig Ben Gibbard's poetry and electronic meets soulful singer/songwriter vibe with the music he writes for Death Cab for Cutie.

I love the slowness of this song and how it allows the lyrics to shine.

Best line: "I can't expel the truth/It's much more than I thought I could do/And with time, my worth will stain/And split your heart from my name..."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mochas and Music

In a little quaint town in Tennessee, there's the cutest little coffee shop that serves the best mochas I've ever had. Every Friday they invite singer/songwriters to come play cover songs along with some original songs, and they've asked me to play tomorrow!

I'm pretty excited. My friend Joe has been nice enough to offer to play guitar with me, and I'll be singing and playing piano. My little sister Holly Jo is also coming to sing some backup with me. Last night at practice, Joe said "You know...you're not a depressing person at all...but your musical choices sure are!"

And I started looking at our set list, and sure enough - they are slightly depressing songs. Lots of Ingrid Michaelson, some Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, KT Tunstall...my favorite sort of songs. But they are a little gloomy.

So we decided to throw some fun songs into the mix - we're doing "The Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric (for those of you who loved "Stranger Than Fiction" as much as I did, you'll know that one!), and "Chocolate" by Snow Patrol. We might even break out some "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

So - here's our set list - you guys tell me what you think!

"Chocolate" - Snow Patrol
"Dream" - Priscilla Ahn
"Speeding Cars" - Imogen Heap
"Fix You" - Coldplay
"You Just Forgot" - Mindy Smith
"Better" - Regina Spektor
"Burgundy Shoes" - Patty Griffin
"Daydream Believer" - The Monkees
"Waste" - Phish
"The Whole Wide World" - Wreckless Eric (Joe's taking the lead on this one)
"Maybe" - Ingrid Michaelson
"Oh, What a Day" - Ingrid Michaelson
"Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon
"The Chain" - Ingrid Michaelson
"Under My Bed" - Meiko
"Keep Breathing" - Ingrid Michaelson
"Closer" - Jars of Clay
"Colorblind" - Counting Crows
"Falling Slowly" - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
"The Promise" - When in Rome
"1234" - Feist
"With or Without You" - U2
"Bicycle Tricycle" - Rosie Thomas
"If You Could Read My Mind" - Gordon Lightfoot
"Other Side of the World" - KT Tunstall
"Under the Weather" - KT Tunstall
"Boys with Girlfriends" - Meiko
"Boats and Birds" - Gregory and the Hawk
"Hummingbird" - Kris Delmhorst
"Take It Down" - The Wailin' Jennys
"Cannonball" - Damien Rice
"One" - U2

I know. It's a lot. However, I have to sing from 6:30 to 9 (with one 15 minute break), so it takes a lot of songs to fill up two hours. I'm also going to throw in some originals.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I eats me spinach.

So I'm feeling better this afternoon.

I had a good pep talk from my little sister, Holly Jo, last night after I blogged. I left the conversation feeling like maybe it hadn't been such a bad interaction after all, and I'd probably over-analyzed everything (I'm sooo good at that). She's so great with pep talks. I'm lucky to have her around.

And then Ashleigh gave me a good sound "stop this stupidness!" slap through email this morning, which I definitely needed.

So. I've come to this conclusion - as Popeye would say, I yam what I yam. When I get nervous, I'm awkward. I make stupid jokes. I stutter a little. I blush. And if NPG can't deal with that, well...his loss.

Someday, some guy is going to be very awkwardly happy with me. There will be lots of courtesy laughs.

And he won't. Mind. One. Bit.

Song I'm digging today: "Cornflake Girl" by Tori Amos

This song pretty much sums up how I'm feeling today - sometimes I'm clumsy and I don't always say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time.

But I'm ok with that.

Today.

Best line: "Never was a cornflake girl/Thought that was a good solution/Hangin' with the raisin girls..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

3rd Person Rant

You know what stinks? Having to be around someone that you really, really like - I mean, really like -

and who you're pretty sure is not that into you.

And you want to stop liking this person, because that would be much easier. But you can't. Because he's charming. And cute, with little wire-rimmed glasses and a crooked smile. And funny.

And you want to stop being awkward. But you can't. Because you're you (although inside, you know that you're absolutely, positively NOT this weird). And the more you try to stop being Awkward You, the more awkward you become.

And then you drive home and replay in your mind all the awkwardly weird things you said. And then you tell yourself "NEXT time I see him, I will be totally cool and laid back." But you never are.

It's bad when you are annoyed at yourself because you're being yourself.

P.S. Yep. New Piano Guy is giving me some "not so much" signals lately. I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow, but right now - I just want to crawl under my covers and mope. So that's what I'm going to do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Leaves are (almost!) falling

It's fall. And I'm so excited.

From right now until New Year's Day (yes, I know that's winter also, but fall is the start of the holiday season for me!) is definitely my favorite time of year.

People seem friendlier, the weather is crisp, there are sugary, spicy fragrances coming from everywhere, and coffee becomes exciting with flavors like pumpkin spice, peppermint mocha twist, and egg nog.

Plus, the clothes - I am certainly not a fan of summer clothing. The more layered for me, the better. I love tights and boots, all things wool, jackets, heavy coats, and cute flats. I think I might even get into the scarf trend this year, too.

I'm pretty pumped about hairstyles, too. I've been growing my hair out all year (and for those that know me, you know this is a HUGE feat for me - I usually get really impatient with my hair by the time it reaches my collarbone, and chop! It's gone), and it's now about an inch past my shoulders. This means almost all funky hairstyles are up for grabs for me now - braids, buns, side-ponytails, headbands...

And how cute is this hairclip?

I like that you can clip it on anywhere, too:

Definitely going on my fall wishlist.

And now...I'm going to get some coffee. Pumpkin-flavored coffee. And then I'm going to sit at my desk and pretend that it's actually sort of chilly outside, instead of muggy and rainy.

A girl can dream.

Song I'm digging today: "Locked Up" by Ingrid Michaelson

This CD (along with Imogen Heap's newest, Ellipse) has been in my car CD player since the day it came out. I'm a little obsessed.

It's quirky, it's romantic, it's sad - It's. Just. Wonderful.

Trust me.

I love that this song references The Wizard of Oz with the angry apple trees, and the "bah-da-dah"s at the end are so, so catchy. I have to sing and play the piano on the steering wheel whenever it comes on.

Best line: "Like an angry apple tree/I throw my apples if you get too close to me..."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Blind Date Hindsight

I went on a blind date last night. My boss set up me up with a guy he knew. He thought we'd be "so great" together.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be - on my end. Because I, for once, was the normal person in the narrative. This never happens to me, so I have to document it.

Mr. Blind Date and I ended up meeting at my church (mainly because it's smack dab in the center of town) and then I rode with him to Olive Garden (his choice).

I was relieved that MBD didn't have a hunchback or some huge mole that I was going to have to pretend to not gawk at, but the car ride to Olive Garden was a tad stressful. He was asking all the routine questions - are you from here orginally? (nope), where did you go to college? (Georgia), do you have a big family? (pretty average-sized), etc.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of returning the big family question and he immediately got very sober on me and said, "I did...until my sister died two years ago." Cue Debbie Downer music. After that, we didn't talk any more and the only sound was the weird gurgling in his stomach.

(Foreshadowing. Foreshadowing.)

Then we ended up having to wait around 30 minutes for a table at Olive Garden. Unfortunately, all the get-to-know-you questions had pretty much been asked, and then we had to sit next to each other on a teeny iron bench and rack our brains for interesting conversation topics.

It got a little better by the time we got to the table. I found out that he had worked for a summer at the hotel in Colorado that was the inspiration for The Shining by Stephen King (one of my favorite books and movies), so that was pretty interesting. We have a love of animals in common (both of us have a cat).

And that's where we stalled out. He ordered a steak-inspired pasta, but only picked at it. I thought maybe he was nervous, but suddenly he started squirming and got red-faced and said, "Wow. This food...is sitting...pretty heavy."

Then I realized it. He had massive, violent ED. Explosive Diarrhea. On a first date.

He started rocking back and forth and blowing air out between his lips in short bursts. Every once in a while, he'd clench the edge of the table, close his eyes, and shake his head. Then he'd look up at me and give a barking laugh, as if he was saying, "This? This isn't actually happening. I am dreaming. Right? This is a dream?"

I just sat there. It was like being in a horror movie and I'd decided to run upstairs instead of out the front door.

And then came the most awful moment - he went to pay for the meal, and the waitress came back and said in low, guilty tones, "Sir...our computer...isn't accepting your credit card."

Credit card declined. Poor guy. I started thinking, "How long do I wait before I offer to pay??" while he fished around in his wallet (held together with a rubber band...) for some cash. Luckily, he counted out enough crumpled bills to cover the tab, and I tried not to notice the waitress giving us the stink eye.

We walked to the parking lot and I kept trying to signal with my eyes that hey, the bathroom is back that way. But he seemed determined to hold it in until he had reached the safety of his own bathroom.

He drove me back to my car and we made a desperate, last-minute/last-ditch effort at conversation for a minute or two longer and I lied and said, "Well, this was fun!" and he lied and said, "Yeah, it was. Let me walk you to your car." And I started praying inside my head, "Pleasepleasepleaseplease don't try to kiss me...pleasepleaseplease..."

He went in for a frontal hug, but I stepped sideways and we ended up doing the friend-sideways-pat-pat-on-the-back hug. Whew. Relief. Then he trotted off to his car in a clenched shuffle and left in a pretty big hurry - most likely to find the nearest toilet.

Neither of us mentioned doing it again.

Because, you know. Diarrhea.

On the plus side, he didn't try to murder me.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Guess who's coming to dinner?

I have a blind date on Sunday night.

I'm not a big fan of blind dates - I had one a few years ago that turned out to be a disaster (let's just say that scary devil tattoos and crawfish were involved), so I'm a little cynical.

I have a feeling it's not going to go well, for a couple of reasons:

1. He's 12 years older than me. Granted, I'm pretty open-minded about age gaps. Some of the happiest married couples I know have a good many years between them. But 20's (me) and 40's (him) could be awkward.

2. He's a pretty radically different religious denomination than I am - as in, his church doesn't believe that women should wear jewelry. Or that anyone should go to the movies. Or eat meat. Or listen to non-Christian music. So I'm pretty sure this guy will think my real name is Jezebel. Ashleigh and Holly told me to show up wearing big flashy earrings, order a steak, and suggest a movie after dinner to see if that scares him off. Hmmm...

and

3. I still like New Piano Guy. A lot. I'm trying to reign myself in on that one - I'm so awful about falling way too hard, way too fast. I've always been that way, and I know I set myself up for heartbreak after heartbreak, but I can't seem to help it. I know I'll compare Mr. Blind Date to NPG, and I have a feeling he's going to come up short.

So. Any advice, dear blogging friends? Should I actually go on this date or call and cancel? I'm sort of on the fence about the whole thing.

Song I'm digging today: "Make Someone Happy" by Jimmy Durante

Ah. Classic good mood song.

I feel like I should be living in New York City, eating in little cafes with a cute Tom Hanks-type guy, and wearing a yellow dress with a flower in my hair every time this song pops up on my mp3 player.

Best line: "Make just one heart the heart you sing to/One smile that cheers you/One face that lights when it nears you..."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Humbug. In September.

I'm not happy today.

I'm not "my glass is half-full" optimistic. I need a refill.

I have the blahs.

Nothing particularly bad or upsetting has occurred in the past couple of days - do you ever have days where you just feel like the world is just a little bit duller than it was yesterday? Like maybe THIS is as good as things will ever get, and that's not a good thing?

That's how I'm feeling today.

So I'm just going to listen to depressing music (oddly enough, that makes me feel better - I can't bear happy-go-lucky tunes when I just don't feel that way myself), maybe go to the vending machine and get a calorie-filled Coke, eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and sit in my office and grunt. Just like Harry in "When Harry Met Sally...".

Song I'm digging today: "Caught a Lite Sneeze" by Tori Amos

I've been listening to Tori Amos for years, ever since my friend Danielle brought her first CD, Little Earthquakes, to my house and said "You have GOT to hear this!"

This is a weird song, but it's so catchy, especially the piano hook. Amos always throws in some "...what?" sort of lyrics to her songs - sort of like "ok, that rhymes, so it's going in," but this song does convey the frustration of being surrounded by people and not being with the one you really want to be surrounded by.

Humph. Welcome to my life.

Best line: "Boys on my left side/Boys on my right side/Boys in the middle/And you're not here..."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Version of Me

Today is a busy day - lots of work to do, so I don't have a lot of time to blog (sad. I wish I could just stay at home all day in my pajamas, drinking coffee, listening to music, reading, blogging...sigh. In a perfect world...), but I do want to share the Bible verses I read during my devotional this morning:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

It's comforting to know that no matter how lousy I feel about myself sometimes - and I've had some lousy-feeling days this week - God is continually transforming me into a better version of myself - a version that is closer to who I really am in Him.

It really is a cheerful thought.

Song I'm digging today: "Matinee" by Hurts to Purr
This song is so perfect. I mean it - perfect. I love to go to the movies by myself - it's the perfect escape from the real world. I can eat all the sugary candy and buttery popcorn that I want without any disapproving eyes. I can watch a sappy love story and swoon over the cheesy dialogue without having to justify it.

But I don't think I could have written a better song about the feeling of losing yourself in a great movie and also tie it into the uncertainty of new love at the same time.

I never post entire lyrics to a song, but seriously - I couldn't pick out a "best line" from this one. The whole song is amazing. Plus, the lead singer's Ingrid Michaelson meets Doris Day voice just makes it even better:

"It’s a perfect day for a matinee
The rain falling
It’s a perfect day for a matinee
And I’m calling in sick

So I can lose myself in a dark room
With two old ladies laughing when I do
And the ushers are watching, too

It’s a perfect day for a matinee
And I think I love you
It’s a perfect day for a matinee
And I’m hoping you love me too

Hoping so hard that I need to escape
And calm down my heart to a regular pace
But I miss your hand on my knee
What a wonderful way

It’s a perfect day for a matinee
And I leave the theater, it’s light out, it’s light out
It’s a perfect day for a matinee
And I’ll call you later, tell you what the movie was about

And you’ll laugh and ask why I went alone
And I’ll lie and say I thought everybody’d already seen that one
But you would have gone
You would have gone

Oh you would have, you would have gone"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I've got a crush on you...

Don't you just love it when you have a new crush and everything in your day just seems happier, brighter, newer, hopeful...?

Nope - it's not Piano Man. Piano Man turned out to be a dud with a secret girlfriend that he doesn't mind cheating on, and I will not be "that girl."

This is actually a new piano student, and he's funny, tall (love that! I'm 6 ft., so feeling short next to someone is a new and pretty awesome thing), and best - he's as awkward at flirting as I am. But we're managing to do it.

I've found myself listening to every sappy love song on the radio and thinking "Ah...beautiful! Gorgeous! Wish you were here!" (Yep - definitely a "French Kiss" reference there.)

I'm trying new hairstyles.

Making sure my apartment is spotless, because you never know - he might want to come over.

Wanting to cook more.

Singing in the shower, in the car (well, I always do that), humming in line at Publix, at the bank, at work (I'm sure I'm driving everyone nuts with that - sorry, friends).

Getting excited when I hear his ringtone on my phone or getting that thrill when I get a text from him. Calling Ashleigh and Holly Jo to make sure I don't say something stupid in my reply.

Having in-depth conversations with Ashleigh and Holly Jo about what was said, what looks were exchanged, what was I wearing? What was he wearing?

It's like being in 8th grade again. But it's so, so much fun.

Song I'm digging today: "Falling for You" by Colbie Caillat

In honor of today's post - I am a little obsessed with this song at the moment. I just keep hearing it on the radio, and it just makes me happy. Caillat has this knack of hitting exactly the right vibe with all of her songs - and this completely captures that heady new crush feeling.

Love it.

Best line: "I can't stop thinking about it/I want you all around me/And now I just can't hide it/I think I'm falling for you..."

Monday, June 29, 2009

I'll take the cereal, please.

Last week (thanks in part to a book on money-management that my little sister gave me), I sat down and took a hard look at my financial situation. It wasn't pretty. I have come to the conclusion that I am pretty much a moron when it comes to responsible spending and saving. I'm such a sucker for pretty things and Mexican food (most of the time in that order) that I end up spending money that should be reserved for things like...electric bills. Rent. Actual non-Mexican food. I always scrape by at the end of the month, but it's become a constant source of anxiety for me.

So. I've made a huge decision (for about the fifth time, but this time it's going to stick - I promise) - Scrooge is going to have nothing on me for the next couple...years. Now I'm not going to go nuts and forego all things fun (i.e. movies, music, etc.), but I'm tightening my belt considerably.

I have actually now gone a whole week without spending money in a restaurant. I've just been eating whatever is in my kitchen (which turned out to be more than I thought - I found an entire case of Chef Boyardee after unpacking the last box labeled "kitchen"). It can be done. And I have discovered a new love for an old favorite:
I've been eating it for almost every meal - I'd forgotten how much I love this cereal. Gilbert's been all about it, too - he gets the leftover milk.

Penny-pinchers, unite! Also - if anyone would like to bring me some chips and salsa, please, please feel free. :0)

Song I'm digging today: "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" by The Postal Service

I'm a huge fan of Death Cab for Cutie, so this collaboration between Death Cab's Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello is right up my alley. It's pretty much DCfC with a little techno influence - sort of the male version of Imogen Heap. And I love that Jenny Lewis makes some appearances, too.

This song basically sums up how it feels when you realize that the long distance relationship you've been nurturing is falling apart, and your significant other has a completely different life apart from you. And you just don't fit into their plans anymore. Tear.

I love the background vocals singing "Where...I...am..." It just nails the isolated feeling right on the head.

Best line: "You seem so out of context in this gaudy apartment complex/a stranger with your door key explaining that I am just visiting/And I am finally seeing why I was the one worth leaving..."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Steve Martin and Strawberries

Yesterday after church I made the two-hour drive to my parents' house for my dad's birthday/Father's Day dinner. Dad's birthday is June 20th, so it's always within a few days of Father's Day (and sometimes on it), so we always have a joint celebration. Mom and Dad's church didn't have church last night, and neither did my sister and brother-in-law's church, (mine did - but I played hooky) so we were able to enjoy a nice family night together.

When I got there, Mom was pulling in and she had pizza from Pizza Hut (my dad's favorite) in her front seat. I'm normally a Papa John's gal, but I have to admit - sometimes there is nothing like an old-school slice of Pizza Hut pan pizza to bring you back to first grade and the whole "pizza is my favorite food. EVER." mentality. I helped her bring in the food, and as soon as I walked in the door, WHAM! - the girls attacked me. By girls, I mean my parents' new children - their three dogs, Honey (golden retriever), Max (Pomeranian/chow mix), and Lucy (Jack Russell Terrier).

We all piled up tv trays with pizza and breadsticks and settled in front of the tv for a movie of my dad's choice - he chose "Taken," with Liam Neeson. Ok. I didn't think I'd like this movie at all. I'm usually more of a quirky comedy-type movie person, but this movie is good. Like really good. So good that Holly Jo (my sister) and I started talking to the movie. Literally. As in "Oh, no. No, that's not good" and "He just DID that!" and "Don't do it...don't do it...Ok, he did it." (Also, on a random note - Holly Jo and I have discovered that every time we watch a movie together, we constantly look at each other for reactions to anything funny/romantic/sweet/sad/horrifying, etc. Friends have called this the Amanda and Holly Sister Movie-Watching Connection. I know we weird people out by constantly staring at each other during any movie/tv watching experience. We're sorry. It can't be helped.)

In the middle of the action, my dad looks at us and says "Of course, (insert one of the character's names - I won't ruin it for you guys) has been the bad guy all along - he's the one who was taking the money in exchange for - " at which point my mom interrupts with "John! They didn't know that!"

Claaaaaaassic Dad (if you saw Justin Timberlake's last SNL appearance, you'll get that reference).

After the movie, Alex (my brother-in-law) cut up watermelon for everyone but me - I hate all things melon - and distributed his famous homemade chocolate ice cream. Then we all went into the computer room to watch YouTube videos of old Steve Martin banjo-playing clips (he's so cute - I would totally marry him if he asked - and if he weren't already married).

Alex and Holly Jo left around 8:45, and then Mom and Dad and I plopped on the couch, ate some fresh strawberries (yes, more food) and watched "Father's Little Dividend," the original "Father of the Bride 2" with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. Very cute.

I would say that all in all, even though it was miserably hot outside - seriously miserable - it was the perfect summer day. I wish I had more time to just hang out with my family.

They're fun folks.

Song I'm digging today: "On the Radio" by Regina Spektor


I love, love, love Regina Spektor's quirky, sort-of Russian accent-y style of singing. Even her sadder songs sound a little happy. I can't listen to this song without singing the little "buh bada bada bahmb" part under my breath.

You just can't be in a bad mood after listening to this cd.

You can't. I dare you.

Best line: "On the radio/We heard 'November Rain'/That solo's awful long/but it's a pretty song/We listened to it twice/Because the DJ was asleep..."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Viva la cat!


Gilbert

Last week, I had to make a hard decision - moving from a 1500 sq. foot apartment to an 858 sq. foot place meant that taking care of the three cats I had (yes, three. I know. I was becoming the scary single cat lady) was pretty much impossible. I've never been a love 'em and leave 'em kind of pet owner - I feel like if you make the commitment to accept a pet into your home, you need to care for them forever. Unfortunately, space-wise and financially - I just couldn't do it anymore. So after lots and lots (and lots) of tears and family and friend consultations, I decided to find good, loving homes for Herschel and Gunther. I'm still searching, but my parents have graciously offered to keep them until those homes are found.

I decided to keep Gilbert (named after Gilbert Blythe from my favorite childhood book, Anne of Green Gables) - I've had him since he was just a little over five weeks old when his mom abandoned him on my aunt's front porch almost six years ago. Gilbert's always been a sort of loner cat. He's seemed really content to just hang out under the bed or on top of the couch (or once crawling up into a hole in the cabinets in my last apartment and inspiring a terrifying search by yours truly, who was convinced he had somehow managed to escape onto the crazy busy road outside), and very rarely much of a lap-cat. I've always known he loves me - he waits until I get home every night to eat dinner and always comes to rub appreciatively on my legs afterwards. But apart from an occasional cuddle, Gilbert's seemed to prefer "alone time."

Until now.

The first night without Herschel and Gunther was tough. I came home sad and Gilbert just seemed confused. He kept jumping up on my bed during the night and meowing at me, and then going from room to room making little mewling sounds. I know he was looking for the boys. It killed me. But the next morning, to my surprise - I woke with Gilbert stretched out beside me, his head on my shoulder, fast asleep. I even made a little "awwwwww..." sound and he woke up, looked at me with that great lazy-eyed cat stare, and proceeded to nuzzle his head into my neck. Pretty out of character.

This has happened every morning since then. At some point during the night, Gilbert jumps up on the bed and curls up next to me just like a little kid - he even manages to get under my arm so I'm actually cradling him. I know to those of you who read my blog and don't have pets, this must sound sort of nuts - but I'm LOVING it. I'm beginning to think that Gilbert isn't actually a loner cat - maybe he just missed having one-on-one time and had felt a little neglected.

I really think that as a single chick, having a pet makes a huge difference in your outlook on life. They force you to think about someone other than you - you can't indulge in self pity and just lay in bed all day long, because guess what? There's litter to scoop. There are food and water bowls to fill. If you have a dog (and I love dogs, too), they have to go outside a couple of times a day. There's play time that must happen.

Plus, what's more homey and comforting than coming home to a cute living room with books and candles and a lovely cat curled up on the sofa - who's happy to see you?

So. Viva la cat. Or dog. Or even goldfish. Whatever makes you happy.

Song I'm digging today: "The Scarlet Tide" by Alison Krauss

Both of my grandmothers passed away within a month of each other - one two days before Christmas and one in January. It was a pretty tough time for my family. My parents gave me this CD for Christmas, and we all listened to it and actually decided to use one of the songs - "Away Down the River" - at both Grandma Iva's and Grandma Dorothy's funerals. So this CD means a lot to me and my family.

That being said, I've always loved Alison Krauss. She has this completely other-worldly quality to her voice that always amazes me. I know if I ever met her, I'd scare her - mainly because I don't think I'd be able to form any other sentences than "I...just love you. So much."

This song, which I think is actually from the "Cold Mountain" (saddest movie EVER) soundtrack, reminds me of people sitting out on the front porch of old antebellum homes and drinking lemonade whilst (yes, whilst) fanning themselves and chatting about prohibition or something. Okay, maybe that's a bit too specific. But that's how this mind works, friends.

Best line: "I thought I heard a black bell toll/A little bird did sing/Man has no choice/When he wants everything"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Emergent? Not so much.

My dad actually recommended this book when we were browsing in Barnes and Noble a few months ago. It seems like lately I've been reading only fiction - my favorite thing to do on a lazy weekend is just get lost in a good story. But my dad insisted that I would love this book and in fact bought it for me (so I felt like I had to read it).

I was really, pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it - and how much I agreed with what it had to say.

Like almost everyone else in America, I devoured Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz when it was first released, and even went to hear him speak twice. I had sort of convinced myself that we could be best friends. Sure, there were a few sections of his book that I disagreed with, but I had never read a book by such an engaging (young!) Christian before.

I was living in Nashville at the time that I first started reading Miller, and soon was caught up in the "new style" church. You know - coffee in the sanctuary, hymns replaced by U2 anthems (which I really do like - there are some killer U2 songs that I've always thought belonged in church), ridiculously good-looking praise band teams, but mostly - I was intrigued with the notion that it was okay (even encouraged) to pretty much abandon the stodgy sort of church I had grown up with and embrace this "we don't have all the answers, but we sure are asking the questions" type of Christianity.

After BLJ, I read Miller's other books and enjoyed them, even though there was a nagging voice in my head saying that I should re-think some of his views. Same thing with other emergent writers like Brian McLaren and Erwin McManus. Some of what they say pretty much blatantly disagrees with Scripture, even if it does sound cool and funny. As much as I wanted to jump on board with the emergent church (after all, their conversion rate is astounding - their approach to witnessing is bringing people in by the thousands. Maybe because they are so accepting. But I digress.), I couldn't shake my theological differences.

A few months ago I bought Velvet Elvis and Sex God by Rob Bell. And that's when my problems really began.

Don't get me wrong - I like Rob Bell. He's cool. He's laid-back. He tells a great story and makes me think about Christianity in a way I haven't before. I love the Nooma videos. But I felt like Velvet Elvis (especially) just asked a bunch of questions and gave no definitive answers. It made me feel like Bell and his posse wouldn't really like me or my friends and our need to know why. In almost every chapter Bell exhorts embracing mystery - mystery is what Christianity is about. It's all a mystery. It's okay to not know anything. Hmm.

And when he says things like this: "The Bible is open-ended. All we can do is tell people what we think the Bible means - give them our version" it makes me want to shout "What?" The Bible is open-ended? I'm pretty sure the Bible is pretty darn clear in what it says. Bell seems to think that most everyone (pre-2004 or so) who "interpreted" the Bible was misinformed and wrong. He even goes so far as to say that Scripture alone is a nice thought, "but it is not true."

I can't be cool with that.

As I was reading Why We're Not Emergent, I found myself thinking "Yes! That's what I meant!" over and over. All of the beefs I had with emergent leaders like Erwin McManus, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet, and yes, even my dear Donald Miller, were expounded upon.

This book wasn't about bashing these men - in fact, DeYoung (a minister in East Lansing, MI - same town as Mars Hill, Bell's church) and Kluck (a former sports writer) actually affirm the good and true things that emergent leaders are preaching. But they don't shy away from taking issue with false teaching, and I admired that.

Here are some of the gems that I underlined while reading:

"None of us ever infinitely understands God in a neat package of affirmations, but we can know Him truly, both personally and propositionally."

"There is the possibility of certainty, because God has spoken to us clearly and intelligibly." YES. Because God is NOT the author of confusion, after all.

"In our world of perpetual squishitude, why offer people more of what they already have - vague spirituality, uncertainty, and borderline interpretative relativism? Why not offer them something hard and old like the Law in which we delight, and dare to say and believe 'Thus saith the Lord'?"

"Don't the 1,189 chapters in the Bible tell us lots of things about God that we are supposed to do more with than doubt?"

In answer to McLaren's ambiguous but obvious belief that God is a tolerant dad who wouldn't send anyone to hell if they're really, really good (seriously - he basically says this in his book The Church in Emerging Culture) and that any church that talks about hell is intolerant (and that seems to be a recurring complaint in emergent literature - intolerant! Intolerant! Villagers, light your torches!), DeYoung says "The early church was important because it was intolerable, and it was intolerable because it was intolerant. Not socially intolerant or coldhearted or obnoxiously abrasive, but intolerant of any salvation but the cross, any God but theirs, and any Lord but Christ." Booyah.

Ok. It's obvious I liked this book. Get it. Read it. Tell me what you think.

Song I'm digging today: "Colors" by Amos Lee

While I like almost every song on this CD, "Colors" is my favorite. It always makes me think of the terribly and wonderfully sad movie "Splendor in the Grass." I love the thought that when you're not with the person you love, the world is just a little bit grayer and everything is just a little sadder.

Best line: "Your mama called, she said that you're downstairs crying/Feeling like such a mess/Yeah, I hear you in the background bawling/What happened to your sweet summertime dress?"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I was The Cheese.

Last night I went back to my old apartment (which, now that it's empty, made me feel strangely melancholy - everything that had given that apartment personality - my personality, I guess - was gone - just a lot of bare white walls and blah beige carpet) to pack up the rest of the stuff that didn't get moved over on the first day - mainly cleaning supplies and food from the fridge.

About halfway through I got lazy and just started stuffing things in big black trashbags and carting them to my car. When I got back to my new kitchen, I started unloading the food from the bags and putting them into the fridge. I've had the same package of string cheese for about four months - I really don't like string cheese, but it's supposedly a healthy snack, and I try to fool myself into believing that I actually like it from time to time. Cheese takes forever to go bad, so I can't bring myself to throw it away. Waste not, want not and all that jazz. So I placed the cheese on the top shelf and continued putting kitchen items away.

I went to throw away the trashbags and felt something small in the bottom of one of them - one solitary string cheese had escaped its packaging.

The cheese stands alone.

I actually said it out loud (yes, sometimes I talk to myself) and then of course, I had to sing it. "The cheese stands alone...the cheese stands alone...hi-ho the dairy-oh, the cheese stands alone." It got me to thinking - what kind of sick twisted song is "The Farmer in the Dell"?

I can remember being in preschool, standing in a big circle of kids where one has been designated as the farmer - he chooses his wife, his various animals, kids, etc. - and then there's always one sucker. One kid left at the end who is The Cheese. The Cheese is then circled maliciously (or that's how it seems in my memory) while little screeching voices sing "The Cheese stands alone...The Cheese stands alone..."

And guess who was usually The Cheese when I was a kid? That's right, folks. Moi. I was The Cheese. I suppose it mainly had to do with the fact that I was usually the new kid, the one who hadn't been on play-dates with the others, etc., but it still smarted. The Farmer was always the cutest boy, The Wife was the prettiest girl, and The Cheese? Well. It didn't take a fourth grader to figure that out.

This is where it starts - it's just before the official name-calling, hair pulling, all-out bullying of elementary school and middle school. It's the precursor to the meanness of childhood. We learn early.

I'm not saying we should outlaw "The Farmer in the Dell." I still remember it, and it's a catchy tune. But maybe we should make sure that it's not always the same kid who ends up being The Cheese.

That or it could make a pretty good horror movie - "The Children of the Dell." All kids with white blonde hair and blue eyes and background music made up of those same children singing scary Latin music . And The Cheese, back for revenge.

Song I'm digging today: "Extraordinary" by Mandy Moore

Ok, so I need to preface my song choice with this - Mandy Moore, as a rule, gets on my nerves. She isn't a great actress (she does this whole squinty eyed pouty lipped thing in every movie that drives me nuts - someone somewhere has told her this is sexy, but I think they have confused "sexy" with "twitchy"). I don't think she's the greatest singer.

But I loved this CD. It was an attempt by her (or her label) to make her appeal to fans of Shawn Colvin, Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson, etc., and honestly - it worked for me. I'm almost 100% sure it's because this entire album was co-written by folks like The Weepies and Rachael Yamagata, but the songs really do suit Moore's voice and odd intonations. It's my guilty pleasure CD.

This song just makes me happy - it's so darn catchy, and I can't help but sing along every time it pops up on my mp3 playlist. It just feels like a sunny autumn day.

Best line: "The wind is playing in the trees/Kicking up confetti leaves..."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

As promised...

This weekend has been craaaaaazy (sing that in an "I am Helga" operatic voice)!

All day yesterday (and most of Thursday) involved packing and moving into my new sweet little cozy apartment - I really am delighted by how cute it's shaping up to be (pictures coming soon!). Thankfully, I had some really great friends and family show up to help me cart and lug everything out of the old apartment, down the street, and up two flights of stairs. Having had surgery two weeks ago, I'm still on the no-lifting over ten pounds ban, so if I'd had to do this all by myself, it would probably have been around August before I was settled in. So - Aaron, Alicia, Amy, Gregg, John, Kam, and Pam - holla! You're awesome. (And thanks to Ashleigh for hooking me up with about a zillion boxes from her office.)

I'm still up to my eyeballs in boxes left to unpack, so this blog is going to be short. However, my sister has emailed me the hilarious (to me, anyway) picture that was the start of my doped up giggles in the hospital. So - as promised - here it is:

Yep. I felt like Herman Munster.


Song I'm digging today: "Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop" by Landon Pigg

Thanks to the greatest Christmas gift I ever bought myself, Sirius satellite radio, I've stumbled across some great relatively unknown artists. I first heard this song driving home late one night (and before the "A Diamond Is Forever" commerical), and went immediately to my computer to download (legally) it.

Landon Pigg seems to have captured the exact Amateur Poetry Night at your local off-the wall cafe vibe with this song - and frankly, the whole CD.

And he's pretty cute.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day...Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day...

I'm moving to my new apartment on Friday, so I had to go into the leasing office yesterday afternoon to finish signing all the papers. I got there right at noon, which was the time I had set up to meet with the apartment manager. Of course, she wasn't there.

But Bonnie and Linda were.

Bonnie prefers to be called "Miss Bonnie," which I refuse to do because she annoys the junk out of me. Bonnie is my version of Seinfeld's Newman. She never follows through on any apartment-related activity that I request - be it maintenance requests, general questions, or most recently this whole moving dilemma. She never remembers who I am, and when I follow up with her, she frequently gives me a completely different answer than the day before. She's good at the little personal digs, too - you know, saying things like "as I said previously...." and "as you well know..." The little sayings that make you want to jump through a phone and get slap-happy.

Every time she returns a phone call to me she opens with "Hi, Amanda...this is Miss Bonnie," to which I always reply loudly "Well hey, Bonnie." I know it gets under her skin, which is precisely why I love doing it. It's this little game we play, and I always win. If Bonnie were in her 70's, I would probably address her as "Miss." However, Bonnie is about 42. Bonnie and I are going to throw down someday - we might end up in the fountain outside the leasing office, just like the great Dynasty pool fight.

Then there's Linda. I like Linda. Linda reminds me of my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Stapp. Her hair is always neatly tied up in a bun, and she's usually wearing a bright shade of floral. She is unmarried and loves to talk about her cats with me. She is perfectly organized and always - always - returns my phone calls promptly, and usually with the solution to any query I've had. She is always cheerful.

So yesterday when I walked into the office, Linda beamed out a "Hello, Amanda!" while Bonnie looked at me with no recollection of who I was and shuffled into her office to avoid having to work with me. (About ten minutes later, she poked her head out of her office to ask Linda a question, then looked back at me and said - I kid you not - "Oh. It's you.") Linda explained that Belinda, the never-there apartment manager, was at lunch but should be back soon.

So I waited. And waited. I wasn't too put out, because I really wasn't in a huge hurry, but poor Linda started to get antsy on my behalf, and decided to engage me in some apartment gossip. She proceeded to tell me about this elderly tenant that had just called the office to tell them that he had just come into a rather large inheritance - around $250,000 - and would like to pay a few years' rent right now. "Wow!" I said, and then Linda said something that completely shocked me:

"I wonder if he'd adopt me. You know, I could make him happy. I could dress up in a Britney Spears schoolgirl costume for him."

Yes. That. Just. Happened. And no one was there to witness it with me! I had to literally bite the insides of my cheeks to keep from making an "Ew, ew, ew!" face. Thankfully, Linda started laughing so I could laugh with her, but I'm still shuddering. It was funny, but man...I have a new mood killer to think about when Piano Man is around. That's a mental picture I can't shake -Scary Sexy Linda with pom-pom ponytail holders and knee-socks. No, no, no. Noooo.

Song I'm digging today: "Cry" by Hans Zimmer

So The Holiday is my favorite movie of all time (yes, I'm serious), due in large part to the music. The soundtrack is amazing. I listen to it every day at work - it motivates me to be all proactive and be like Kate Winslet's character in the movie, who I've decided is basically me with a British accent.

This song captures the essence of everything I want in life - introspectiveness, adventure, and lots of strings. Yep. I'm looking for more strings in my life (and if you love this movie as much as I do, you'll get that reference).

Monday, June 1, 2009

Good to the last drop?

I stopped by Starbucks this morning for my weekly Monday coffee fix, and just happened to arrive a microsecond after the most annoying customer in the world - you know the type. The "I've been to Starbucks a zillion times, yet I still have no idea what I want...or maybe I know what it is...but I can't remember what it's called...and what exactly is in an espresso?....Hmmmm....ok....and exactly how lowfat is this muffin?....Reeeeeeeeally....Do you think you could heat that up for me?....Not too hot....I'm sorry, I'm looking for a more organic type of sweetener, and all you have is Splenda and Sweet 'N Low....yes, I realize honey is organic, but....is it processed honey?" type.

Kill me now. Just take out an Uzi and put me out of my misery. Someone.

So then when it's finally my turn I spit out my order - "Venti Espresso Truffle. No. I don't need a receipt," then look around Starbucks triumphantly, waiting for someone to acknowledge my responsible, fast ordering behavior. But no one cares. They're all watching Miss Organic Sweetener trying to figure out the space-age rocket science that is the coffee sleeve.

I seem to be alone in my coffee-ordering frustration.

Song I'm digging today: "Gossip in the Grain" by Ray LaMontagne

No one can paint a mood like Ray LaMontagne - I've pretty much decided that his voice can immediately move me from any feeling of annoyance or anger to mellow laid-backness. Yes. Mellow Laid-Backness. I'm coining a new term.

This song makes me feel like putting out a blanket in a little clearing in the woods during the fall and watching the birds. Seriously. I've never done that in my whole life, but this song makes me want to do just that.

Best line: "Truth be beggar that holds his tongue/Dines on none/None but air alone"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mel Gibson is not Judas Iscariot.

Mel Gibson was on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" last night, and even though I knew I was about to witness a scary trainwreck, I couldn't help but watch.

It was tense even as Mel walked across the stage, and when he sat down he couldn't stop crossing and uncrossing his legs. First sign of nervousness. He immediately picked up his water mug and took a big drink. Second sign.

Of course Jay wasted no time in getting straight to the jugular - "What's going on with your marriage? You're getting divorced, right?" Mel admitted that the rumors are true - yes, he and his wife are divorcing - they've been separated for three years - yes, he has a girlfriend (and I realize that the fact that he and his wife were separated does NOT excuse this behavior, so don't think I'm condoning it), yes, the girlfriend is pregnant. Then Jay went so far as to ask what caused the dissolution of his marriage. Mel answered "I pretty much took a hatchet to my marriage." I breathed a (slight) sigh of relief. At least he wasn't playing the blame name game.

Then he said something that made me ache a little for him - "I thought you wanted me to come on here to have some fun." And he looked at Jay Leno, someone whom I'm pretty sure he considered to be a friend, and for a moment, there was a flash of betrayal on his face. You sold me out, Jay.

Now I'm the first to admit that Mel Gibson has screwed some stuff up. I was one of his champions a few years ago, during the whole "Passion of the Christ" controversy. I thought (and still think) it was an extremely brave movie to make, especially in the social climate that it was made in. But I remember being nervous for him then, too - my dad and I even had a conversation about it after I came home from the movie, spent from crying. My dad said "You know, the moment that someone in a position of power or fame shares with the world that he or she is a Christian, the devil starts standing at attention. And he will tempt him in any way he can."

And then came the drunken anti-Jewish tirade. Hollywood started sharpening their claws. Mel "Mr. Passion of the Christ" Gibson is a racist idiot. Mel Gibson is evil. Mel Gibson is right up there with Judas Iscariot.

I was horrified at his behavior - I really liked him. I really wanted to like him. Once again, he admitted his guilt and took the heat. No more movies. No more talk-show appearances. Old friends denied their connections with him.

Mel was laying low.

And now this.

And of course I've gotten caught up in the whole "Jon and Kate Plus 8" debacle going on right now. My friend Amy and I were talking tonight, and we almost feel like we know these people. We hurt for them. We want to take them aside and say "Can't you see what you're doing? Stop it! Stop it right now!" Which, of course, we can't. Because we don't know them at all.

And I guess that's my point. None of us actually know these people, but we all seem to feel very just in summing them up in one sentence - "Mel Gibson is a bigot." "Kate is just mean and money obsessed." "Jon is an idiot." My friend Hannah even saw a "reputable" news-station asking viewers the question "What would Kate Gosselin's hair look like on...Halle Barry...or Angelina Jolie?" What? How did we jump there?

I read an interview with the contemporary Christian singer Bebo Norman a few months ago, after he wrote a somewhat controversial song called "Britney," which was blatantly about Britney Spears. The lyrics spoke of an apology from all of "us," and how we had acted like we knew her, we loved her, and then boom! we rejected her just as fast. Bebo said that he had been sitting on his couch flipping through TV stations and came across another TMZ-type show making fun of Britney Spears. Disgusted, he began to turn it off just as the screen froze on a picture of her. Crying. Hard. Bebo said he suddenly realized that she was a person. A woman who was hurting. A child of God.

That's what has been bothering me since last night. Mel Gibson has made some pretty horrendous mistakes - he gave into some hideous temptations that were sent to him for just this reason, and he will pay for these mistakes for the rest of his life. Jon and Kate - same story. The repercussions of an alleged affair will echo for a long time in their family.

But they're still people. Just people. Who fail. Just like me.

We've already written the ending to their story - failures. Disappointments. I'm so thankful that God doesn't share our viewpoint. Our stories are never over. They go on and on. There is re-creation every morning. He makes all things new. We can rise again, victorious after a long defeat.

We're all so fast to cast the first stone. I think I'm going to hold onto mine for a while longer, thanks. Lord knows it's just one of many that I've caught coming my way. I'm not too eager to pass it on.

Song that I'm digging today: "This Year's Love" by David Gray

It's been raining so much here lately that my playlist has been reflective of the weather. I'm a real sucker for any piano-driven song, and when I got this CD in college, this was the song that stayed on repeat. The gloomy piano part, the melancholy voice, the bittersweet lyrics - ah...music to my soul.

I realize that I tend to gravitate towards depressing music. But as Elton John says - "Sad songs say so much."

Best line: "Won't you kiss me on that midnight street?/Sweep me off my feet,/singin' 'ain't this life so sweet?'"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Old GB - yeah, you know me.

The gallbladder came out Friday morning. People try to downplay it to you when they talk about it, saying stuff like "Oh, it's not that bad." "You'll be up fixing dinner by the evening." "You'll be sleepy, but by Saturday you'll feel great!"

And let me say - all those people are liars. Because it hurt. It really hurt.

I was more freaked out about the IV than I was the actual surgery, and surprisingly, the nurse I had in the pre-op room was really good and got me on the first stick (which almost never happens with me).

Then the nurse asked me if I wanted something to "take the edge off," and I told them yes, actually, that would be fantastic. And then I got loopy. Everything became hilarious - everything. My dad and sister said I just laid there giggling for no reason. The funniest thing to me became the fact that I was too tall for the hospital bed and my feet were sticking out from under the covers. I don't think they anticipate 6 ft. tall female patients. In fact, we thought it was so funny that my sister took a picture of it. I'll post it as soon as she emails it to me.

Unfortunately, the saline they started pumping into me made me have to go to the bathroom like every ten minutes. My sister told me she thought that maybe it was all in my head, but I'm sorry - my bladder begged to differ. There really isn't a worse feeling than the male nurse wheeling you into the surgical room and knowing deep down that you really, really have to go to the bathroom. So I said "Um...is it normal for me to have to go this bad after I went just like...ten minutes ago?" To which he informed me that I evidently have a nervous bladder. So I just went ahead and apologized if something "unexpected" occurred while I was in LaLa Land. He just laughed and told me to count backwards from ten. Luckily for him and all the medical staff, there were no surprises on my end. Literally.

Then I had this awful Stephen King-ish moment - they were putting me under, but I could still hear them talking. I couldn't talk or move, but I could hear every word. They were saying "Yep, she's out" and "Hello, Dr. M., she's all ready." Inwardly I was panicking, screaming inside - "NOOOOOOO....I'm still awake!" I just knew I was going to be one of those horror stories where you can't move or talk but you can feel and are aware of everything. Shudder. Luckily, just as I was really beginning to freak out, I went all the way under.

After everything was over, Ashleigh helped me to get into the car and drove me to her house with my dad and sister following behind her. I don't remember much of this, but I know that she and my sister helped me up the stairs and into bed, and I slept for pretty much the rest of the day and into the next morning, waking up for about 30 minutes when Kam brought me a yogurt smoothie and then again at around 8:30 PM when Ashleigh made me eat a sweet potato so I could take my painkillers.

I have to say - I've got such great friends and family. There are lots of good things about being single, honestly. I can spend my money on things that I want. Go to movies I want to go to. Go on vacation whenever. Have as girly an apartment as I want.

But there are some parts of being single that really stink - namely, when you're sick and you have no one to take care of you and hold your hair when you need to throw up. I'm so lucky that I have friends here in town who are willing to do that for me, and have literally done exactly that without complaining or making me feel like a burden. Friends that are willing to give up Memorial Day weekend fun so they can look after me.

Ok, I better stop. I'm getting verklempt.

So all in all, the surgery hurts more than they lead you to believe, but it's day two now, and I'm actually beginning to feel a good deal better. Once the soreness wears away, I think I'll be back to normal.

Bye bye, gallbladder. You were not good to me. I do not miss you.

Song that I'm digging today: "More Time" by Needtobreathe
I really love the percussion in this song - it just drives the song on and on. Plus, the bluesy/country/rock sound is pretty infectious. And I completely identify with the idea that everyone feels like if they'd just had or have more time, you can figure out exactly what's going wrong in your life and relationships. Problem is, most people aren't really willing to give you enough time.

Best line: "So say what's on your mind/'Cause I can't figure out just what's inside."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's only a matter of time until I hate my neck.

I am having gallbladder surgery tomorrow.

I'll be 29 next month.

Coincidence? I'm beginning to think it's not.

I was talking to some college-age friends this week, and they were talking about finals, summer vacations, and just general student-life topics, and it struck me that it has been almost eleven years since I was a college freshman. It really doesn't seem like it was even five years ago - I still remember the outfit I wore my first day of class (red jean material shirt, black jeans - hiiiiiiideous. This would be before my friend Ashleigh took me aside and told me that I was - in her words - homely, and that she could help me. Which she did. However, I've never let her live that statement down), and the first guy I had a crush on at school (Andy something).

What struck me more than the swift passage of time is that while I remember these events clearly, my memory of myself is totally different. I was just a completely different person then - shy, awkward, with very rigid opinions on everything. Well. I might still be awkward, but I feel like I have a much greater sense of my own personality now. I'm not saying I am 100% sure of who I am or who God is turning me into, even after 28+ years, but I do like myself a whole lot more than I did eleven years ago.

It is a little bit depressing to realize that this is my very last year of being in my twenties, though. I will be 30 years old next year. I know I'm going to wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and see a middle-aged woman looking back at me. Wrinkly neck (is that called a waddle or something?), crows' feet, smile lines, grey streaks, arms that will jiggle until I'm dead...

The gallbladder is just the beginning.

Song I'm digging today: "How You Survived the War" by The Weepies
I know my last song was by The Weepies too, but I'm on a kick with them at the moment. I love the mellow feel to this song and the guitar work is phenomenal, as usual. And sometimes my life does feel like a war zone - we all do what we can to get by, and it's different for everybody, I think.

Best line: "You never multiply all these divisions/You give yourself the least of parts."

Monday, May 18, 2009

That's real nice, Clark.

Tonight was Piano Man night - I always get a little psyched about it, because it's always nice to just stare at him and shamelessly flirt. Well. I like to imagine that I'm flirting, but I'm probably just awkward, a la Paul Rudd in almost every movie he's in.

The truth is, I really don't want a relationship with Piano Man. My plan is just to win him over so we can at least have one good make-out session. Or twelve.

So when he moon-walks into my office (so cute) for his piano lesson, I'm totally unprepared for his suggestion: "Ok, Miss - we're going to take a field trip." What? We're going somewhere? Together? My heart skipped a beat. Then he says "...to buy me a piano." Ok. So it's not a date. But we're still going somewhere. As a pair. There is make-out potential here.

We walked outside and towards our cars. Then he suggests we drive separately, so I can "get home more easily after he finds a piano." This is not a good sign. He says he'll follow me, because he's not 100% sure where he's going. Fine.

I walk to my car, praying that I'm not walking funny or that there's not something on my butt since he's watching me, and I click the unlock button on my key.

And here's where it gets good: I hear the door unlock...behind me.

Yes, folks. I'm standing in front of the wrong car. Granted, it's the same make and color as mine, but come on.

I said "Wow, this would be great if it were my car." Silence. Crickets. Then I hear him laugh a little (courtesy) and say "What are the odds?" Ha ha.

Long story short - we didn't even find a piano. We walked around the music store and he stopped every few minutes to play on a guitar, and then we walked out. He said "See you in two weeks!" I said "Ok."

Oh, yeah. He wants me.

Song I'm digging today: "World Spins Madly On" by The Weepies

I'm a little obsessed with this husband and wife band. This is the first song I ever heard by them, and it always makes me think of sitting on the front porch of my parents' house with my headphones on, watching it rain.

Since then, I've bought every CD they've released, and they've all been fantastic. I even got my sister hooked.

Best line: "I watch the stars from my windowsill/The whole world is moving, but I'm standing still..."


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Curled Up or Sprawled?

I was reading a book on my couch last night and came across the phrase "she sat curled up contentedly in a chair, reading Proust" or something to that effect.


And I started thinking - when does anyone actually curl up in a chair, unless there's some extreme stomach pain involved? With me, it's more like "she sprawls contentedly on her couch, reading US Weekly." Curling up causes your legs and/or arms to fall asleep or cramp up and then you have to shift and shake the life back into the appendage that had been folded in half.


I've been known to use that phrase, though (my first blog, even), along with countless other authors trying to describe the perfect "homey" scene. I think it's because "she was curled up" immediately brings to mind a dainty, feminine girl all folded up on herself, sipping tea while pushing up her cute Lisa Loeb glasses. What girl doesn't want to identify with that? And more importantly, who wants to identify with the alternative, and more true statement: extremely tall girl, sprawled out, one leg on the coffee table, in an old Jacksonville State University t-shirt, ratty grey Old Navy sweatpants from five years ago, and quite possibly a box of Krispy Kreme donuts (if it's a Saturday, Ashleigh - I'm not cheating, I promise ;-) ) close at hand?


Maybe this is why I'm single.


Song I'm digging today: "Dogs" by Damien Rice


This is quite possibly one of the prettiest melodies Damien Rice has written. I know it's still just May, but this just sounds like summer to me.

Favorite line: "And she gets splashed in rain/and turns away/and leaves me standing."

I'm ready for Damien Rice to come out with another CD. It's about time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

"That's just the way they are..."

If I hear this phrase used to describe someone when they do something rude one more time, I will pull my hair out.

So what if it's just the way you are? The way you are is annoying. The way you are is rude. The way you are is unacceptable.

That excuse holds no water for me.

Rage.

Song I'm digging today: "One Day Like This" by Elbow

In contrast to the violent way I feel today, this song is just the perfect combination of airy strings and whimsical (yes - whimsical) lyrics. It makes me want to go sit in a bright yellow kitchen and drink coffee all day long.
Best line - "Holy cow, I love your eyes/and only now I see the light..."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spring fever, Alice in Wonderland, Robert Goulet, and a Piano Man















I don't know what's into me, but I am in the mood to redecorate everything - my apartment, my office, even my wardrobe.

Starting at the beginning of this year, I became obsessed with anything of the Victorian/Edwardian/30's & 40's vintage vein. I know I'm way behind, but I discovered Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/) in January, and felt like there was finally a place for me to find really cool house-type decorations, along with jewelry and clothing.

People who know me know that I'm a headband maniac - I just love them. Anthropologie has some great ones right now with the huge flowers on the side, although I haven't quite gotten up the courage to wear one outside of my apartment. I'm afraid people will look at me and say "hello, Alice in Wonderland."

I'm also really into old cameo jewelry right now, too. My mom found me an entire lot of antique cameos on eBay a few months ago (it even had a set of cuff links - maybe someday I'll marry a guy with an affinity for this stuff, too - although that might be a little girly for a guy), and my favorite is this locket with the cameo of a goat. Yes, a goat. Every time I see it I see Will Ferrell in my head doing his Robert Goulet impression: "Hello, Mr. Mountain Goat. Staring contest. Go. You win. You do every time." Goulet!

I'm moving into my new apartment in about two weeks, and I've started packing up my current apartment. I've determined that this new apartment will finally live up to my actual style preference - not just the decorations I've had since college. So I'm being ruthless with my packing - Goodwill gets the stuff that just doesn't go. I'm also going to paint the new place - I've never done that in an apartment, but my philosophy is that your house (or apartment) should be your haven and if you can't have everything you want the way you want it in life (and you just can't), your apartment should at least reflect what you want out of life. So.

Through the looking glass we go.

Song I'm digging today: "Goodnight and Go" by Imogen Heap

I've been teaching piano lessons to a guy my age who the ladies in my office have lovingly dubbed "The Piano Man." Yes. He is my new crush. Mainly (and yes, I know it's shallow) because he is completely, totally cute. Disarmingly cute, actually. And funny. In fact, it's been sort of tough to teach him piano lessons because I am frequently distracted by his cuteness. Now every time I hear this song, I think about him ("Why'd you have to be so cute?/It's impossible to ignore you./Oh, must you make me laugh so much?/It's bad enough we get along so well./Say goodnight and go."). Sigh.

Imogen Heap is probably my very favorite singer/songwriter - her lyrics and use of unexpected melodies inspire me with every single CD. Her new CD comes out this year, and I just. Cannot. Wait.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Joggin' in a jug

This morning I drove to my parents' church to be with my mom for Mother's Day. It's about a two hour drive, so I left around 7:45.

I just want to share with you all the "it could could only happen in this state" event that I witnessed on my way up the mountain.

As I was rounding the big curve, I looked to my right and saw a middle-aged man in full-out jogging attire (we're talking spandex shorts and everything) booking it on the path down the mountain. And as I was looking at him, he raised his hand to drink from what I thought was a water bottle, but no, I was wrong.

It was a bottle of Bud Lite.

Only here, folks. Only here.
Song I'm digging today: "Meet Me by the Water" by Rachael Yamagata

Just a good old-fashioned "I wanna make out with you" song. I love her voice, though - it almost sounds like she smoked a pack of cigarettes just before recording the song, but for some reason, it works for her.

I'm not advocating smoking - just the smoky voice. ;-)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Who needs therapy when there's Barnes & Noble?

So it's been a sort of gloomy week altogether for me.
Monday started out with a kick to my self-esteem - it sucks when you find out that someone you think a great deal of doesn't really think about you. At all.

Then Wednesday wasn't actually bad - but I didn't feel like I had time to pause and take a breath. Projects, plannings, meetings, execution of projects...by the end of the day my energy was zapped.

And then yesterday - more apartment drama. I swear, the staff here at my apartment complex doesn't know their residents from Ronald McDonald. I've been trying to relocate to a new apartment for a while now, and my lease for my current apartment is up on the 31st of this month. Every time I talk to the main office, not only do they never remember who I am, I get a new story and excuse as to why the new apartment isn't ready yet. And, I might add, it's always a crap excuse.

So by 6:00 yesterday afternoon all I wanted to do was drive to Chick-Fil-A and order about three chocolate milkshakes, drive back to my much-too-high-priced apartment and vegetate on the couch. Unfortunately, I've signed a blood contract with Ashleigh that we will eat healthily.

Thankfully, there's a haven for the weary - a respite for the depressed - a cocoon of safety for the oppressed.

No, I'm not talking about church. I'm talking about Barnes & Noble.

I walked in last night and immediately felt like...well. Home. The coffee aroma, the plaintive Ray LaMontagne drifting over the speakers, and books as far as the eye can see. Ah...

I just wandered around for about an hour, looking in all the book sections that interest me - fiction, Christian inspiration, biographies - and picked up and put down about sixteen books, telling myself that they will still be here two years from now when I've finished the jillion books I still haven't read on my bookshelf.

Then when I was in the music department, wonder of wonders, my apartment manager called my cell phone to tell me that (gasp!) a new apartment had just opened up, and I will be able to move in at the end of this month.

And the sun came out again.

Thank you, Barnes & Noble. I'm sure I'll see you again soon, even if you're not (quite) as good as a Chick-Fil-A chocolate milkshake.

Song I'm digging today: "Days Go On" by Greg Laswell

I discovered Greg Laswell in (surprise, surprise) the new music section at B&N. He's been played a bunch lately on "Grey's Anatomy." The whole CD is good, but I like that this song sounds completely upbeat, but has some pretty depressing lyrics: "I beg your pardon, love, but you've interrupted me/and the sad song that's played like a drum inside of me.."
Just fits the whole melancholy mood I've had going on lately.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

So...

Yes.
I have been seduced.

By blogs.

I've held off on this for a while now because I've been sort of nervous about it - maybe I'm presumptuous to think that people actually care what I think about...anything. But I've been reading some really great blogs for a few months now, and they've finally gotten to me.
Every time I read them, they make me want to go hole up in a coffee shop somewhere with my cute little green laptop and write about social injustice, meaningful books, and quirky music - anything really deep and intellectual.

The truth is I spend more time curled up on my couch watching the latest DVRd episode of "The Biggest Loser" (and if Ron doesn't get kicked off this week, I'll eat my remote).

But I do love to write - I really love it, and I haven't written anything besides church newsletters for a long time.

So here I go. We'll see how it goes.

Song I'm digging today: "Foundations" by Kate Nash
So this song has grown on me. Her cockney accent is a little distracting at first, but by the time it hits the chorus I always find myself head-bobbing along with the music. And I like the frenzied feeling to it - this relationship is building to this cataclysmic fight about...nothing. Like a lot of the relationships I've been in.