Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We're Sonic Fucking Death Monkey

Top Five Reasons Why I Love High Fidelity

I love that movie. And the book. And believe they’re each brilliant in equal but different ways.

So in a tribute to their collective awesomeness, I’d like to create a list of the top five reasons why I love them. Sure, I could keep it simple by saying it’s clever, funny, witty, dead on and real, but why keep it simple for a movie/book that’s all about how fucking complicated and messed up love is? (And how fucking complicated and messed up men are)

There’s even a warning right on the back of the book cover. It’s from a review in Details magazine: Keep this book away from your girlfriend – it contains too many of your secrets to let it fall into the wrong hands. Hilariously true.

1. Rob Gordon is a combination of every man I’ve ever dated, and I've seen all his weird little characteristics before. It’s eerie, in fact, and I think all the ladies in the house will agree. The guy who can’t keep his eyes on one woman, the needy guy who’s self-doubting, the over-analyzer, the obsessive, the guy who always thinks the other side is greener, the one who’s not over his ex, the selfish guy, the jealous guy…but also the guy who’s trying to learn and improve, the guy who wants to fix the relationship, the guy who’s always there when you need him no matter what, the guy who loves you the best way he can, and hopefully one day - the guy who finally figures it out.

2. It’s all so totally shameless and unapologetic. It says: “Yes, this is who I am, I am fixated and disturbed, I think about sex with other women constantly, I imagine a life with other women that’s better and easier, I am insecure and need lots of reassurance. Take it or leave it.” I respect its honesty and candor.

3. Music is so important in this movie/book, it’s like a character and finally gets the acknowledgment it deserves. Music is important. Music matters. It can cheer us up on a bad day, make us even happier on a good day, express thoughts and feelings we can’t find the way to express ourselves and serves as a thumbtack for all our biggest moments. I can remember songs I was listening to when all the big things happened to me, and I’m sure you can too. And when we hear those songs, we’re instantly transported back to those moments. Because music has magical powers.

[3b – Greatest shoutout ever to the compilation tape. I’m a big fan of mixes, and take them very seriously. I just love hearing people’s reactions. The making of a great compilation tape is a very subtle art. There are many do’s and don’ts…]

4. High Fidelity holds a mirror up to us so we get a close-up of all the ugly things we hate admitting about ourselves. But it softens the blow of reality and lets us feel better because we’re not as bad as the crazy people in that movie/book.

5. At last, of course, is the message. We all have to grow up in our own time and in our own way. There is not just one path to being the best version of ourselves that we can be. We have to first acknowledge our faults and weaknesses before they can be overcome. And we have to keep moving forward. For everything there is a season. And if Rob can eventually get his shit together, so can we.

I saw this movie in the theater when it first came out because ever since I saw him hold that boombox over his head, I’ve had a thing for John Cusack (Where are you, Lloyd Dobbler?!?). I pretended to like it, but I didn’t really get it. I thought he was a jerk and a jackass, and mistakenly thought they broke up in the end. Then a year or so later, I read the book. Again pretended to like it, but still didn’t quite get it. I liked him a little better, but not enough, and still felt confused by the ending.

But a year or so after that – I got it. I think I needed more life experience, more boy experience and more failed relationships to really understand everything that was going on. And since that day, I’ve just loved it. It’s one of those movies/books that reveal something new every time you see/read them again. Yes, we’re not perfect. Yes, relationships are messy and painful. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, and sometimes you never truly know what you had until it’s gone. And yes, we can figure it out.

So here’s to you, Nick Hornby. Thank you for teaching us that our guts have shit for brains, compilation tapes are about the people we make them for and that fantasy never delivers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Greater Love Hath No Man Than This - To Lay Down His Life For His Friends.

I’ve had a weird day. Well, twenty-four hour period, I guess. Last night, one of my best friends gave me the happy news that she’s engaged. We talked giddily about how he proposed, what they talked about, her ideas for the wedding. An exciting new beginning for a girl who deserves everything wonderful and all the love she’s finally found.

And today, I started the day by crying. Something tragic and awful happened in my sweet hometown yesterday morning. I knew about it then, but this morning started reading newspaper articles to learn more about what happened and why. I found an article about a hero. A sweet man who lived a good life, did good things, took care of everyone he knew and even those he didn’t. And he died yesterday. Why? So many people loved him, he touched so many lives, and I just cried.

One of my best friends has been in the hospital for almost a week with a very rare and scary condition that the doctors only just diagnosed but have yet to figure out what caused it.

Life is so fucking fragile. It changes so dramatically in a moment – with a blood vessel, with a door opening, with a first date. I’m reminded of the Joan Didion quote, “Life changes in an instant. You sit down to dinner, and life as you know it ends.”

I feel so aware of life’s unpredictability lately. I think since my grandfather went into the hospital a couple months ago. Wow, that’s weird. It was almost two months ago, I think.

I called him on a Saturday afternoon to chit chat for a few minutes. My mom and aunt were out of town so I’d been calling him every other day to check in. His wife answered and told me they were waiting on an ambulance to take him to the hospital. She made it seem like he just needed to see the doctor to get some new medicine. Then later that evening, while a dozen women were drinking wine downstairs, I talked to her, and it hit me how serious it all could be. I let a tear drop, then pulled myself together and went back downstairs.

I do love Elizabethtown, and Chuck is one of my favorite small characters. His first scene in the movie is priceless! It’s hard to tell on a small screen, but he’s wearing boxers that have his picture plastered all over them. He’s drunk and funny, but so heartfelt and caring. “Death and life, life and death, right next door to each other! With just a hair between them!”

But he’s right.

Death and life are right next door to each other. Blessings and tragedies happen every day, all around us, and we never know what’s coming next.

People are all that matter.

I joke that I’ve been a maid of honor so many times and think it's funny because of that movie. But it is truly an honor to even know these wonderful women. To be friends with them is humbling. I am so blessed to have such amazing, inspiring people in my life. They teach me, care for me, understand me, love me. I can call them at all hours of the night (and have). I’ve asked them to help me with a million things like donating to the charity benefit I’m organizing, deconstructing a fight I had with my boyfriend or moving me from one home to another.

If I did not have people to call when I need to talk or visit when I need to get away or to spend holidays with…I just can’t imagine life without the great loves I have in my life. And whether blessing or tragedy come, neither are the same without the people who share those moments with us. People are all that matter.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Work It, Girls!

This morning, I went to strip aerobics. Bow chica bow wowwww! A friend invited me, and I was curious and just had to see what it was all about.

When we first got there, my friend and I gathered around the front desk, filling out paperwork and checking out the list of classes the studio offered. Pole dancing, sexy yoga, exotic moves, belly dancing – you name it, they’ve got it. I, of course, had to ask about sexy yoga. I do yoga and have for years, but how exactly do you make it sexy?

“What’s sexy yoga? It sounds like the Kama Sutra. Haha do you use the Kama Sutra?”

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is no. "Just some sexy stretches." Not sure what that means, but I'm fairly confident downward facing dog is involved. Then I noticed the names of the instructors: Strawberry, Chocolate, K, Blaze, Seductive. Again, I just had to ask.

“K? What’s sexy about K?”

“She says it’s easy for guys to remember her name. They just say, ‘Ohhhh, K! Ohhhh, K!’”

Before class even began, I knew I was definitely going to have fun. The best part, if you ask me, is that we were told to bring high heels. The pair I chose was quite sexy. Black patent stilettos. I actually chose them because they have these little sticky heel cushions, but whatever – I feel hot wearing them too so that’s just an added bonus.

We step into the studio to find a wall-length mirror and rows of chairs. Blaze, our instructor, tells us that we’ll be chair-dancing later in the class. Hot. After she introduces herself, she asks us to come up with a sexy name and immediately points at me, “What’s your sexy name?”

“Uhh…” Think fast…think sexy…what’s sexy?...Underwear! “Lace.”

Everyone giggles, and I hear one "woo hoo." She continues to ask the other women in the class. Kinky, Brown Sugar, Luscious…their names are way better than mine! Why’d she have to pick me first? Sure, I like lacey panties, but I could’ve thought of something better. Lace just sounds like an old stripper at a truckstop or something. You know, the kind of place where you can eat chicken fried steak while watching a couple old sluts stumble around a catwalk and fall down a pole.

There’s a famous strip club in Atlanta called the Clairmont Lounge. All the strippers there are oooold. It’s where strippers go to die. And I do not want a sexy name that someone at the Clairmont could have! Ick. Before my next class, I will come up with a better sexy name.

And there will be a next class because I loved every minute of it today! Neck rolls, hip shakin’, long leg extensions. Oh yes. It actually reminded me of the dance classes I had growing up. Though I recognized some of the exercises as things I’ve done naked, which wouldn't have registered when I was younger.

We start out with basic stretches, some lunges, move on to an ab workout and push-ups. Holy Moley, I haven't worked out this hard in a long time. I'm gonna be sore tomorrow.

Next, we move on to floor exercises. We're stretching our legs and twisting into all sorts of contortions when I suddenly realize I also haven't had sex in a long time. My sex muscles are gonna be sore tomorrow, and I didn't even get a make-out. My poor pitiful life!

In the second half of the class, Blaze taught us our chair-dancing routine. Hot. Did I say that yet? I mean, I really felt hot and sexy. I got a workout and a self-esteem boost. What could be better?

I was looking around at the class, and there were women of all shapes and sizes. All sweating in our high heels and feeling sultry. Because every woman is sexy. There were some getting into it more than others, some were clearly a bit sexually repressed and some were awkwardly kicking the chairs instead of kicking over them. I was raised Southern Baptist, but thankfully broke out of that shell and rocked that dance routine.

I started thinking about what it is to feel sexy. There’s some TV show called How to Look Good Naked where women learn to love how they look naked. I think that’s great – we could all probably use some help in that area. Looking back, I know there have been plenty of times when I haven’t felt confident naked. Small breasts, sharp bones jutting out everywhere, white ass, messy hair, no makeup…but there have also been times when I felt incredibly confident naked.

I think that part of it is maturity. As I've matured, I’ve become a lot more confident in all areas of my life. Loving yourself is an absolute necessity. And a lot of it is the guy that I’ve been with at the time. Do we have chemistry? Do I really like him? Does he like me? Does he turn me on? I think all that and more goes into it. Of course the longer you’re with someone, the more comfortable you become with them so that can be in the mix too.

Possibly the hottest I’ve ever felt was with a guy I really liked, we had chemistry like fireworks, and I thought he was just the hottest thing. I was never all that sure how he felt about me, but for some reason the rest of it was enough to make me feel gooood. And he was great about giving me compliments. Honestly, if a guy tells me I’m beautiful or hot, that really goes a long way. Again, I’m a words gal, but I think compliments go a long way for every woman. So keep it up, fellas, keep em coming.

As for me, I think I’ll be keeping strip aerobics up. After all, I have that new bed to try out eventually. Might as well work on some new moves while I’m waiting for that special someone. Now if you'll excuse me, I’ve gotta go practice my body rolls now…

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Think Three Days is Money.

My mom always gives me really funny, but heartfelt, dating advice. My favorite was when I lived near a grocery store, and she told me that was the perfect place to meet guys.

“Mom, even if I saw a cute guy, I wouldn’t just go up and talk to him. I mean, what if he’s got a girlfriend? What would I even say?”

“Well…if you saw him near the meat section, you could say, ‘Hey, could you help me pick out a nice piece of meat?’ Or you could ask a guy, ‘Do you know where the cream of coconut is? I’m having a party, and I’m making pina coladas.’”

“Uh…thanks, Mom, but I barely know what cream of coconut is. I doubt a guy would. Or if so, that I would be his type…”

“Yeah! It’d be great. He’d think you’re fun, and he’d want to come to your party.”

“Mom. Guys don’t go to parties with pina coladas. They like beer.”

Needless to say, I never tried either of those suggestions out. While I was dating the one guy I ever dated that she liked and we were having problems, she gave me a book called Why Men Can’t Commit. Encouraging, Mom, thanks. When that same guy and I broke up and I finally owned up about how wrong the relationship was, she gave me another book. Smart Women, Foolish Choices. Not that I read either because I think if I did, my head would implode from all the nonsense.

So it should be no surprise to you that when that despicable book The Rules came out, she bought a copy and made me read it. She quizzed me on it. I’m serious. The book had priceless pearls of wisdom like, “Don’t cut your hair. Men like long hair.” And “Go to parties even if you don’t feel like it.” Really? How interesting and charming am I going to be if I don’t even want to be there? Ooo and another great one is, “Pretend to be interested in his hobbies.” So if I don’t like professional wrestling, I’m supposed to act like I do? When can I stop and be myself? (This is the question you are never supposed to ask because, evidently, the answer is never.)

There’s a lot of crazy advice in that book, and basically, they’re telling you to let a man do all the work and just respond to his overtures. So ok. I do like to be chased, and I'd definitely avoid getting involved in any situation where the guy’s “just not that into me,” but it all seems so calculated and manipulative.

So do “the rules” and game playing really work?

I just had a long conversation about this, and I think the answer to that question is most of the time, yes.

It's hard to know what to do when you first start dating someone. Again, that John Mayer song Tracing comes to mind. There are a few lines in it that I really dig and find coming into my head at just the right time. But my favorite says, I can't say I really blame you, for being bored with the beginning, always staring at the score, to figure out who's barely winning.

I do hate the beginning. It's not even that it's boring, but that I usually just want to speed through it and get to the good stuff - the real meat. All the back-and-forth is so exhausting and nerve-wracking, trying to figure out what he's thinking, what you’re supposed to do. But John’s right - there's always the feeling that someone is winning. As tacky as it is to say, there is a power struggle. And I’m a lover - not a fighter.

In the beginning, you’re always trying to read the signs and figure out just who this person is and whether they like you. He does the same thing. For me, if he waits too long to call after a date, I figure he’s watched Swingers one too many times and might be a player so I’m on guard. And if he doesn’t make a point to eventually say something to let me know he likes me, I assume he doesn’t. Admittedly, I may put too much stock in words because I foolishly always seem to believe whatever someone tells me. “I’ve learned the hard way that they all say things you wanna hear.”

Sure, I can be cool as a cucumber, bat my eyes at the right time, say the right thing – be flirty and mysterious. But I’ve also tried a couple of times to be out there, open and honest. I think that can sometimes be misleading and runs the risk of causing the guy to assume I'm really head over heels or something when I might just be intrigued. I actually think there's a perfect spot somewhere in between.

I’m a big fan of direct communication. It’s a necessity for me. A guy has to like that I’m a direct communicator, and he’s gotta be that way too for anything with us to go anywhere. I always look for clues as to whether those things line up, and if I sense that it’s not going to, I may still date the guy for a bit to see if I was wrong, but there’s always something in the back of my mind that knows this is just never going to work.

I guess my point in saying that is that I don’t think game playing is very direct or honest, but still necessary. So what is the right answer? If it works, shouldn't we keep doing it?

I think that only when you become calculating and manipulative, that’s when you run into The Rules territory. And I believe there is a nice place in between where you can be anxious because you like someone and still maintain an optimal level of mysterious. We all like anxious because everyone likes to be liked, and we all need mystery to stay curious and interested.

But contrary to what dating gurus may tell you, I also believe it's important to be yourself. The next line after the Tracing lyric I quoted earlier says, There is a reason strong moves slow. So maybe that's the point of the games. To slow things down a bit, and I think that's probably always a good idea.

My mom’s most recent attempt to give me advice led to her admitting that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Do any of us? That Rules lady certainly didn’t cuz she got a divorce a few years ago. Maybe she cut her hair.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

100 Things About Me

It's the get to know you dance...hello again, new friends, here's everything you never wanted to know about me and more!

Today I visited a blog I’ve been reading for a few years, and she had a list of 100 random things about her. I thought that’d be a fun challenge so here ya go…whether you like it or not! But oh my goodness is 100 a big number. Try to stay awake, if you can.

1. My favorite color is pink. Yes, I am that girlie.
2. I once shoplifted when I was 4. Mom wouldn’t buy me toys so I stuffed a few into my tights. I still remember lifting my skirt and pulling each one out.
3. Red wine makes me feel sexy. And no, I didn’t fall off the bed as I said that like Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.
4. I once met Mr. Big from Sex and the City, and he told me I have “great tits.”
5. I bought a fish with a guy I dated in high school and starved it to death when he stopped calling. All the water dried up, and there was just a tiny fish skeleton left in the fishbowl.
6. When I get horny and have no one to make out with, I eat chocolate and pretend it’s a better substitute. Sometimes it really is.
7. I can’t whistle. And believe me, you can’t teach me.
8. I like camping, but hate the sleeping on the ground part. I’m like the princess and the pea when it comes to sleeping.
9. I have a crush on a CNN war correspondent. He’s Australian and his nose looks like it’s been broken about a billion times. He’s tough and smart and it’s wicked hot.
10. Sometimes when I drink too much, a Yankee accent comes out of this Southern girl’s mouth. I think it’s because when I lived in New York, I drank a lot so my drunken state has an accent from its natural origin.
11. I like text flirting.
12. Last year on my birthday, I had 4-5 beers, three shots of SoCo and lime…I think a lemon drop too…and threw up in my childhood friend’s sink.
13. The first time I got drunk, I was 16 and tried to convince my friend it would be ok to let me take a nap on the bathroom floor at her brother's engagement party.
14. My favorite foods are: peanut butter, pizza, fried chicken, and anything with crab meat. Yum. And if french fries were a man, I'd marry em. Oh sure, I like filet mignon and lobster ravioli too, but these are my faaaavorites.
15. I’m a big fan of onomatopoeia.
16. I get energy from being around people so I hate living alone. Sometimes I talk to myself or my dog just to have someone to talk to. Aw poor me. (Do you see the example of onomatopoeia? I didn’t even do that on purpose. I just love it that much.)
17. My new favorite song is called “Johnny & June.” Look it up, take a listen. I do want a love like Johnny and June! But without all the addiction and adultery.
18. I love shoes. Especially high heels because they make me feel tall and pretty. And I’d have Steve Madden’s love child in a heartbeat for a lifetime supply of his shoes.
19. I think my high school boyfriend broke up with me because I wouldn’t give him a blowjob. I was an angel...or a prude.
20. I am 1/8 Cherokee Indian. Some woman tried to get me to apply for all these Native American scholarships for college, and I thought that was shady. I’m just thankful I tan nicely in the summer.
21. I have never smoked a cigarette.
22. My mom is my best friend.
23. I hate it when a guy does “baby talk.” You’re a man. You should be grunting or something.
24. Ooo but I do love to be called “baby.” I am a paradox.
25. I used to want to marry young, travel the world, be poor and live off of peanut butter sandwiches and sex. I dream big alright.
26. I like cheese omelets, but am too lazy to learn how to make them. I just assume one day God will give me a man who can grill (I don’t do that either, but did I mention I bake?) and make cheese omelets.
27. I prefer ceiling fans and open windows to air conditioning.
28. I used to love coloring books, but thought I had to make things the “right color” and make outlines on all the pictures. I didn’t like that. My creativity is messy and unique.
29. I believe that the universe talks to us.
30. I have a hard time with the “boyfriend” word. I’m picky about that. You will be corrected if you use the boyfriend word before I want you to be my boyfriend.
31. Sometimes I end sentences with “yo.” I don’t know why.
32. I once had two dates with two guys in one day. I also had two dates with one guy in one day.
33. Virginia Woolf is my favorite.
34. I was an English major and read only half of the books I didn’t like. James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man…you bore me.
35. Dixie Carter once told me “Go Vols!”
36. I cannot name all the Supreme Court Justices. It is hard. You try.
37. I secretly want a black baby because they’re so gosh darn cute.
38. I can climax from intercourse.
39. I could never live in Alaska. Or [substitute place with cold climate here].
40. My favorite city in all the world is Florence, Italy, and it’s my dream to retire there. What? Mamma said dream big.
41. I ordered a steak in London and sent it back because I thought it was overcooked. They sent a new one, and I was wrong. It wasn’t overcooked. Their meat is just funky. I started going to Burger King when I craved red meat over there.
42. Before 2008 is up, my goal is to learn how to make the perfect crab cake.
43. I’m not afraid of bird flu. Even if Fox News and Lou Dobbs think I should be. Seriously, Lou, why are you always gettin’ the people riled up?
44. My first kiss was in the 6th grade with a guy whose nickname was Sergeant Slobber. I had nothing to do with the nickname, but he sure did live up to it.
45. I don’t do bald, and in fact, I inspect every guy I date for clues as to whether or not he’ll ever be bald. Scalp is icky.
46. I have never been to Chicago, Boston, New Orleans or Austin. But I want to.
47. I love surprises.
48. I love margaritas and tequila shots and think tequila is my happy juice.
49. I like packing and hate unpacking. Sometimes I wait days.
50. I saved every love letter I’ve ever been given. It’s been…5 years since I got one. Emails don’t count. Why don’t people write letters anymore?
51. I have danced on bars. Many.
[I just remembered I threw that last love letter away. Shit. Hope it’s not the for reals last!]
52. After having a fight with my boyfriend about Adam Sandler, he burned my living room down. It's a long story, but that's the gist.
53. I hate that with cell phones it’s so easy to track me down. Sometimes I don’t answer just cuz I’m not in the mood to be found and wanna be all incognito.
54. I’ve been a maid of honor three times. Four if you count the time I was the only friend invited to one friend’s wedding. And five if you count when my friend whose boyfriend is ring shopping gets married. I am the girl from 27 Dresses, and it is eerie and troubling when you personally identify so much with a cheesy romantic comedy.
55. Rachel Ray annoys me. And what’s with her boobs? They change size and sometimes disappear entirely.
56. I’ve never had sex outdoors.
57. I have a long, thin neck and sometimes it gets sore when I wear a necklace that's slightly heavy...or turtlenecks. Superman had kryptonite, Achilles had his heel...I have a pansy of a neck.
58. My cousin, JEM, and I used to play a game where we’d race to get home from the school bus and whoever got there first would lock the other out. I got locked out a lot. He also used to pee in front of me until we were like 13.
59. I always run water when someone I don’t know well can hear me pee. I blame JEM for this.
60. I was in a showchoir. We had two costumes. One was gold lamme, and the other was blue sequins. I have great jazz hands.
61. I pray often.
62. I hate my hands, but love my fingernails.
63. I always wanted to be a ballerina despite my flat feet and spelled my name the French way for all of 5th grade because that was how my French ballet teacher spelled it.
64. At the end of each year, I count up how many times I cried. So far this year, it’s been 4, which is rather a lot for me. Once when my last boyfriend and I had a bad fight (he had a temper...do they all?), once when one of my very best friends got married, and twice about my sick Papaw.
65. I scream when I orgasm and have a hard time climaxing if I’m concentrating on being quiet. Many roommates have heard me…it’s embarrassing…
66. I love road trips. The first road trip I ever took was with two friends, and we drove from Knoxville to Atlanta for a weekend. When we left, I scraped the garage with my car. And when we were in Atlanta, we missed our fancy dinner reservations because we got lost and went around the 285 loop all night. "Look, kids, Big Ben! Parliament!"
67. I like to eat bread when I get drunk.
68. When I was little, I loved to watch Pinwheel on Nickelodeon (shut up to those of you who are too young to remember this show). There was a man who captured sounds in boxes, and I wanted to capture a cloud in a box because I thought it’d be pretty. Until I learned clouds are really just air and not as soft or thick as they look.
69. I dance a lot. On the subway, when I’m walking along the sidewalk, in my kitchen, when I’m driving. I can’t help it. I was born to boogie.
70. I love to throw dinner parties. It’s my favorite.
71. Twice I’ve gone to work still drunk from the night before.
72. I hate close talkers. Get outta my face! I also hate it when people I don’t know touch me. These two may be related.
73. I hate drunk Marines. And no, I will not buy you a Bud Light!
74. My dog uses puppy pads. I know it’s gross, but she’s really little and when I first got her, I was gone for ten hours a day.
75. I believe in true love and soulmates.
76. I am not good at sports, but I love to watch. I played softball for one year in the 6th grade and never caught the ball or hit it once.
77. I’m a sucker for Central Park. And the Capitol. Two different cities. Two inspiring landmarks.
78. I’m a great cook and love it when people finish their plate and ask for seconds.
79. Identical twins totally creep me out. They’re like natural clones. Remember those scary ghost girls from The Shining? How scary were they? I have a serious fear God will give me twins just for having this ridiculous phobia.
80. I’m suspicious of anyone who’s not passionate about something.
81. I turned a guy down for senior prom. He showed up on my front porch wearing a suit and had a bouquet of flowers. It was the sweetest thing, but I already had a date. We didn’t talk for five years, but now we’re friends. Sorry!!
82. I briefly dated a premature ejaculator. It’s not as funny as it was in American Pie cuz you’re actually not supposed to laugh. And I also almost asked another guy if he was hard before realizing he was just that small. Managed to stop myself after saying, “Oh no, are you not…” Yikes. Guess it’s tough to be a dude.
83. I’m just as scared of rollercoasters at 29 as I was at 9.
84. I think the most romantic things that have ever been done for me have been done by guys I didn’t have romantic feelings for. No fair.
85. My mom had a driving contract she made me sign when I got my first car. It had 20-something rules on it, and I broke almost all of them. Oops.
86. A friend and I used to sneak out all the time just to walk around the neighborhood. Yeah. We were bad to the bone.
87. I don’t get Family Guy.
88. I love it when a guy kisses me and holds my face in his hands. Like he’s saying, “You. I want to be kissing you.”
89. I went to the O Town album release party.
90. I once did speed dating because it was free, and I thought it’d be funny. It was. All the dudes were engineers, and all the girls (except me and my friend) were teachers. Aw stereotypes are true!
91. Every day, I try to match my underwear to my mood. Today I’m wearing little boy shorts cuz I feel playful and sporty.
92. I prefer men in boxers. Briefs make me giggle.
93. A friend and I used to always give each other’s guys nicknames. She’s married now, but still makes time to come up with nicknames for my dates. Timeless classics are Condom Pocket Guy, Tupperware Thief and Quick-Draw McGraw. Aren’t we clever? If you name the puppy, you’ll get attached to him, but nicknames work great.
94. Every time I see water, I wish I was in it.
95. My high school health teacher told all the girls we need to marry a man who’s not afraid to walk in the rain. I think lectures like this and about how the establishment (e.g. the Boy Scouts) was always getting him down led to his forced retirement. Thanks for the good times, Herky. Yes, that was his real name.
96. I make the yummiest chocolate chip cookies, but somehow my aunt’s are better even though we use the same recipe. This makes me crazy.
97. I do not like Grand Marnier.
98. A guy has never bought lingerie for me. This is wrong and must be fixed.
99. I own all the Rocky movies because I love him and he makes me believe in myself! But I'm ashamed to admit I've never seen Rocky 5. I have to watch it, no matter how bad you say it is. He’s my Rocky, and I shall do it for him.
100. I can stick my whole fist in my mouth.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lovin' Life, Lovin' You - 24/7

** This is for you...hang in there...

A couple of nights ago, I was looking for some paper and picked up an old journal someone gave me years ago I thought I had never used. I opened it to tear a sheet out and saw that I had written in it. Once. Three years ago in September.

2005 was the worst year of my life. And maybe the best because I learned so much. (I always have to add in the optimism, don’t I?) It was a painful, painful year. I probably cried more in that year than I have cried in my entire adult life.

Let’s see…in six short months...I got cheated on and my poor heart broken. My sweet grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer (on my birthday no less...and you wonder why I hate my birthday). My grandmother had a bad car accident with a lot of legal drama. I had an unhealthy relationship with someone who hurt me over and over again because I let him. I could have left. And eventually I did, thank God or I’d never be able to forgive myself. Finally in late August, I was laid off from the horrible job I hated and thus could get out of my lease and leave Atlanta if I just had somewhere to go. Someone I knew had a cousin that needed a roommate in DC. I said yes. Without meeting her or seeing the apartment. Or having a job. I just had to get away. And you know, I even turned down a job offer that would have let me stay. I am a real free faller.

It wasn’t scary to me that I was moving to a new city, living with strangers in an apartment I knew nothing about or even that I was unemployed. I was so thankful to have an opportunity to escape. I was unhappy and needed a reason to take a chance on me. I was there for my family through those rough months, and I needed to be there for me too. It’s hard to explain really what I was thinking or feeling. I felt free and easy...but nervous at the same time.

I saw the movie Elizabethtown during this transition and connected with it instantly. It’s definitely one of my all-time favorites. It makes me laugh and cry and think. I love all the characters. They’re so well-defined, even the smallest ones you understand. Like Chuck and Cindy, who the title of this post comes from. I think it’s a magical movie with close-ups on the full range of human emotion and the human spirit. But to me, the movie is all about hope – in fact, it’s the most hopeful movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not just about how you survive, but it’s about how you can do it while keeping your chin up and a smile on your face. It’s a crazy thing to have your whole world crashing in on you, but still feel fine. Still have hope.

A good friend of mine talked to me last night about hope. She said hers was struggling lately.

The Bible ranks it right up there with faith and love – it’s just as powerful and important. But can be so hard to hold onto. We need hope. We get out of bed every day hoping it’ll be a good one or that we’ll at least make it through. We take vitamins hoping we won’t get sick. We go on dates hoping it’ll be worth it in the end. And we spend time with our loved ones hoping we’ll all be together again soon. We need it, yes, but what keeps it alive is desire.

I’m just a girl. And a simple one at that. I don’t know how we hold onto hope, but I think I know why. It’s all we have. We have to hold onto hope because sometimes it’s the only thing that will keep us going. Even prisoners in concentration camps found a miraculous way to hold onto their hope.

There’s a beautiful verse in the Bible that says, Hope is an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Another says that God has plans to give us a hope and a future. So that makes me think that hope comes from God. That He gives it to us for a reason. Even if it is hope that is not fulfilled, it serves a purpose of some kind. Maybe to move us from Atlanta to DC. Maybe to make us more aware of every minute we have with someone. Maybe to get us out of bed. Maybe to change our life.

It was hard, but beautiful reading the words I wrote three years ago. It’s like they were written by a stranger. I was so sad. So much had happened, and even though I wasn’t really scared, I was worried that I might never find all the scattered pieces of me. I was worried that in all the chaos and calamity, I didn't know myself. And I was worried that the downpour of tragedy would continue. Once everything goes wrong, you start looking for the next shoe to drop. But even in the midst of all that, I had hope.

And it worked out. I did change, but for the better. I know myself so well now. I am stronger because I know how strong I can be. I know what my vessel holds and who I have with me in rough and still patches. Going through all that tells me that the next time the sky falls, I’ll be alright. I have faith in that. So maybe hope builds faith. And it builds love because those that saw me through those dark days, I put my hope in them, I leaned on them, and our friendships are so much stronger now than ever before. And my hope is stronger too.

So the most painful year of my life was the most wonderful year of my life. Good things do come to those who wait.

No true fiasco ever began as a quest for mere adequacy. A motto of the British Special Air Force is: 'Those who risk, win.' A single green vine shoot is able to grow through cement. The Pacific Northwestern salmon beats itself bloody on its quest to travel hundreds of miles upstream against the current, with a single purpose – sex, of course – but also...life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back Where I Come From

Oh my gosh. I love Tennessee. It is hilarious. Especially, I think, to people who are not from here, but as an old Tennessean, I think I have the right to laugh a bit louder.

We had a terrible thunderstorm last night. That's not funny, of course, but the rednecks reacting to it just cracked me up.

My mom and I went to visit my grandfather yesterday, and he lives about two hours from Knoxville. Mom drove up there so I was driving back. I kept desperately searching the radio for the new Sugarland song (Ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo!) when we heard a severe thunderstorm warning for the area we were driving into. We heard that at an exit along the interstate we hadn't yet approached, there was a powerline down on the other side of us so we knew we'd hit some traffic. Those rubberneckers. Gotta love em.

All of a sudden, it hit! Thunder, lightening and a monsoon of a downpour. My mom is, of course, freaking out next to me offering helpful suggestions like "Slow down!" and "Be careful!" About as helpful as when I advise Peyton Manning to "Throw the ball!!" and tell my Vols to "Get a touchdown!"

The worst was yet to come, though, because soon it started hailing. This really sent her off. She continued with her helpful remarks.

"Oh my gosh! It's hailing! Can you see that?"

"I don't see why it has to rain so hard. Do you??"

"There's a truck next to you!"

Yes, thank you. My mom is the ultimate backseat driver. Her gasps and tight grip on the door didn't help much either. She was really concerned about the hail, which is understandable, but there's not much that can be done about it at the time. I really hate it when people pull over on the side of the road during a storm. Be tough, and weather it out, people. Parking on the highway for half an hour just seems useless and chickenshit to me.

"It's hailing so hard, I think we should pull over." - Mom

"Ok, it's your car. I will if you want me to." - Me

"It's hailing! Ooo look at the size of it!" - Mom

"Yeah. Do you want me to pull over?" - Me

"It's raining so hard! Watch out!" - Mom

"Mom. Do you want me to pull over or are you ok?"

"Look at the hail! It's soooo BIG!" - Mom

I decided to keep on driving, but became rather alarmed when she started shouting, "Be careful! My brakes don't work!" Not the thing you want to hear as you're navigating on an interstate in a thunderstorm. I yelled back, "Why am I driving a car with brakes that don't work!?! Are you crazy?!?"

I had the radio turned up because music calms me, and eventually they stopped playing songs and started talking about the traffic and the power outages. Then the rednecks started calling. To the station's credit, the first caller was legitimate and offered important information. She was stuck on the other side of the interstate, where it was closed, and told people the best way to turn around and get away from it. After that, though, every Jim Bob and Ellie Sue wanted to hear their voices on the radio.

"Yes, we have a call from Ellie Sue. Are you there, Ellie Sue?"

"Oh sure, uh huh. I'm here. I'm out here on Cedar Lane. There's a tree down."

"Ok, a tree down, you say?"

"Yuh. It's down, but itaint in the road or nothing. Ain't blocking traffic any. But there is a wreck. It's at the traffic light."

"Oh...ok...the traffic light?"

"Yuh."

"Ok, then thanks for calling."

I asked my mom why the woman thought anyone needed to hear about a road that had only one traffic light. She said, "All the rednecks have cell phones now."

More ridiculous calls followed. And they aired all of them. Rednecks (and I can call them that because they're my people) just love to be on the radio or on TV. Before a UT football game, every drunk idiot calls up from his tailgate just to say "Go Vols!"

And I just hate it that whenever a tornado hits in the Southland, they find the most ignorant redneck - always fat, sometimes in a moo-moo, sometimes with a mullet and/or handlebar mustache. I remember I was in Birmingham about ten years ago when a tornado ripped through downtown Nashville. I remember this exactly. A man with a blond mustache and mullet, wearing a ripped up t-shirt and jeans, was on CNN, and this was what he said:

"Uh huh. Well, we was comin' on outta that there Nascar Cafe, and I looked up in the sky. And you know what the first thing I thought was? I thought about that movie Twister, ya seen it? And I thought about how them Hollywood movies are spot on. It looked just like them twisters in that movie. Just like em, I say."

Oh, thanks for makin' me proud to be from the Great State of Tennessee.

In the town where I was raised
The clock ticks and the cattle graze
Time passed with Amazing Grace
Back where I come from
Now you can lie on a riverbank
Paint your name on a water tank
Or miscount all the beers you drank
Back where I come from

Back where I come from
Where I'll be when it's said and done
I'm proud as anyone
Back where I come from

We learned in Sunday school
Who made the sun shine through
I know who made the moonshine, too
Back where I come from
Blue eyes on a Saturday night
Tan legs in the broad day light
TV's, they were black and white
Back where I come from

Back where I come from
Where I'll be when it's said and done
I'm proud as anyone
Back where I come from

Some say it's a backward place
Narrow minds on a narrow way
I make it a point to say
That that's where I come from

That's where I come from
Where I'll be when it's said and done
I'm proud as anyone
That's where I come from
Back where I come from
I'm an old Tennessean
And I'm proud as anyone
That's where I come from

29

I love Ryan Adams. L-O-V-E in all caps! I think his lyrics are so poetic and poignant, and he's such a gifted musician. Sometimes, though, he is too sad for me. I have him in my Top 5 because I think he's sexy in all his mysteriousness and talent, and I joke that I love how he's so brooding and I want to fix him. He was on drugs or an alcoholic (or all of the above) for awhile and then got sober. I think he made this CD while he was in that process.

It's called 29. And every song represents a year of his twenties. It's a really beautiful idea, and I don't know what all the songs mean, but it's interesting to imagine and to learn a little bit more about someone. These are his songs:

29

28 - Strawberry Wine
27 - Night Birds
26 - Blue Sky Blues
25 - Carolina Rain
24 - Starlite Diner
23 - The Sadness
22 - Elizabeth, You Were Born to Play That Part
21 - Voices

Every year on my birthday, I take stock. I know, I know that's not what birthdays are about, but we have to measure ourselves somehow don't we? Or else we can't grow. Even looking back at my life, I always think about what happened that birth year. And I like that my clever crush Ryan Adams does that too. Since my birthday a couple months ago, I've been trying to figure out what song titles would match up nicely with each year of my twenties. I think I've finished the list. Almost every year is a song title, but two years are lyrics. Mine are more obvious and simpler than his, but I never claimed to be an artist. Though maybe you can learn a little about me too.

29
28 – Awake is the New Sleep
27 – Come As You Are
26 – If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep On Going
25 – Wild Hope
24 – Did I Shave My Legs For This?
23 – Standing Outside the Fire
22 – If I Can Make It There, I’ll Make It Anywhere
21 – To Be Young

Ryan created his CD when he was 29 so that year was left blank. It's hard to name something you haven't yet fully experienced. And the same is true for me. I don't know what will 29 bring. The adventure is in the mystery, but so far, so good.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Always Say Yes to Crazy!

Eee! I am just grinning ear to ear. I had a good, long conversation this afternoon with one of my all-time favorite people. This guy is The Funnest Person I Know. And probably will ever know because I can't see how anyone could top him. Fun is literally his name.

He's goofy and wild and always up for anything. I love people that are always up for anything! He said today, "The way I see it - you have to gamble to win" - and for him, I think this means, "You always have to say yes to crazy to have fun." Though he's usually the one with the crazy idea you just have to say yes to.

We're college pals, and after graduation, he moved to Buenos Aires, then to Guadalajahara, next to the Virgin Islands, after that South Dakota (not as exotic but definitely different) and most recently spent a year in Beijing. Now he's moving just 4 hours from me to go to law school. Yay! I see a lot of fun in my future.

We stay in touch by email and phone and occasionally get to hang out. It's amazing we're still close despite the lengths of time we've lived on separate continents, but we both always make the effort. Now that he's going to be closer, I can't wait for old times to be here again! Every time I'm with an old friend, it's as though we've never been apart - the friendship just picks back up and doesn't skip a beat.

Talking to him today just warmed my heart. Do you know what I mean when I say that? Warmed my heart? I mean if my heart had a living room, there'd be a big fire and my heart would be toasty happy all curled up next to it. There's a magical thing about old friends, isn't there?

Now before you say it, no we never dated and no we never will. He's a wild horse that can't be tamed, and our friendship is too good to shake up. He actually told me years ago that I'm the Free Fallin' girl. He said I'm a girl that a guy knows he has to commit to, but also knows he can't until he's the best he can be so he runs for the hills. I think that was his way of telling me why we never dated, but there are a few other good reasons for that. Believe me, I've heard enough lines in my life to recognize when I'm hearing one. Actually, I think that I'm the Free Fallin' girl because I'm never afraid to jump and always enjoy a good free fall. So does he, and that's probably why we get along so well. We're kindred spirits.

We've had a lot of fun together. I remember one day, he biked 15 miles to my apartment just for a lemonade. He went to the Cornbread Festival where my pal got himself in the local paper after placing 1st in the Cornbread Race and 2nd in the Cornbread Eating Contest. We spent more than a few late nights with Mario Cart, and he was my date to every sorority party, where I think he even spiked the punch. He had this hilarious old man Buick (I think he bought it for $500) that had the ceiling lining completely gone so one of his friends carved a giant penis in the foam. We always have the best talks. I think it's a rare and beautiful thing to have a real conversation with someone. Usually, it's all fluff and no soul.

Today, he said he thought of me in China and had a story no one would appreciate like I would. My interest was peaked.

While he was in Beijing, he made friends with three German guys. They'd been going out to bars and just talking, but one night decided they wanted to do something. I guess they don't play darts or pool in Beijing because my pal brought Monopoly to the bar. German Monopoly no less.

He makes friends with everyone, as do I, and I think that's really where fun can happen. When you talk to strangers. He got the whole Chinese crowd into the game. They had to teach them of course, but once they did, people ooo-ed when someone landed on Park Place and laughed when the top hat went to jail. They were picking sides, cheering and shouting, arms waving frantically. He also said they taught the Chinese how to pronounce all the words and that they would say "Monopory." Aw. Apparently, as it was German Monopoly, all the road names were in German, and his impression of a Chinese man trying to pronounce a German word...well, just try to hear it in your head.

Finally, he told me that he just knew I would have had a real blast with that and all the absurd, goofy laughter of their Chinese Monopoly fans. I agreed that absurd, goofy laughter was right up my alley.

There is absolutely nothing better in life than old friends and laughter. He challenged me to a Monopoly game when he visits me in Atlanta, and though I'm sure I'll lose, I know there'll be a lot of absurd, goofy laughter and making friends with strangers.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Let's Hear It For the Boys!

I love my guy friends. They spoil me to bits, and I just eat it up. In Atlanta, I have some girl friends, but my closest friends are all guys. And I was thinking today about how great dude friends are. I thought I’d make a list why.

1. They never cease to amaze.

One of my guy friends periodically sends me picture messages of his hairy ass. Such fun.

2. They really know how to knock a girl off her feet.

I do like being picked up. I don’t know what it is about that, but no matter who’s doing it, I get all giddy. I have one friend that picks me up and throws me over his shoulders sometimes. It’s good fun unless we’re both drunk. Alcohol makes him want to spin me around and ignore my pleas for “Heeeelllpppp!” and alcohol makes me want to throw up.

3. You can always count on your guy friends to tell you the truth.

If I want to be coddled, I call up a gal pal, but if I want the truth, I talk to a dude. My dude friends will always tell me when a guy’s just not that into me or if my date acted like an absolute douche. And if one of my guys doesn’t like someone I’m dating, they’re never afraid to tell me just how they feel - e.g. "He just sucks," "His shoes were fruity," and "That's what you get for trying to date a guy who thinks like a girl." Of course, they also tell me when I’m having a bad hair day or when my outfit is so stupid they won’t stand next to me.

4. My guy friends will eat up whatever I make, even if it’s bad.

Sometimes I go through cooking fits where I cook and cook and cook way too much food for this little person. And when I do, I can always count on a guy to eat it all up for me. In college, I tried to make chocolate mousse, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the right consistency and actually bent spoons. Never fear. My friend ate up not only his serving, but everyone else’s too, saying it was yummy and chewy like taffy.

5. They have good ideas.

My friend, Goofer, visited me in NYC for New Year's and told me he always wanted to pee on a New York sidewalk. He wanted a picture of him realizing his dream so now I have a photo displayed in my home of my friend peeing on his shoes, giving the thumbs-up. Another friend thought it'd be funny to steal a booster seat from Taco Bell. He was right. It was funny to see him run out the door with a plastic child seat hidden under his shirt. He's such a sweetheart, he even gave it to me as a birthday present.

6. They often give bad advice, but it's always good for a laugh.

Gems like, "Don't be dumb - get you some," "You don't have to pick. Just date them both," "Three shots of So-Co will be ok," "The next time a guy does that to you, kick him in the nuts," and "Don't smell it, just drink it."

7. They teach me about sports.

For instance, I've learned: "They're not points, they're runs," "You don't throw a basketball, you shoot it," "Offsides = false start, It doesn't matter they have different names, it's the same thing," and "You can never be too loud while watching a game." I do have to say, though, there is one thing I've heard over and over again that they're just wrong about - "It doesn't matter how hot Derek Jeter is, he's still overrated." In my expert opinion, it's his cuteness that puts him over the top and will ensure he has a spot in every All-Star Game until he's in a walker.

8. I never have to worry about what I wear when I'm with my dude friends because I know I'll always look better than them.

They don't iron. They do the "sniff test" to decide if something's clean enough to wear. They think socks are optional. They think there's never a time or place where it's not ok to wear a baseball hat.

9. Sometimes they use their cock-block powers for good, not evil.

For instance, when a bar guy asked me where I was from, and after I answered "Tennessee," told me, "Well, you're the only ten I see." As if he had a sixth sense, my dude friend showed up just in time for me to say, "Have you met my boyfriend?" And when the guy in the mullet, black sweatshirt and Air Jordans asked my dude friend if I was his girl, he thankfully was smart enough to say yes.

10. I'll always be their favorite girl. Aw.


Sure of What We Hope For, Certain of What We Do Not See

There’s a full moon tonight. When I was growing up, my favorite thing to do was to lie in my backyard and look up at the stars.

We live near the lake so if I sit on my back steps, I can see the moon, the lake and the stars. But lying down, I had a beautiful view of the biggest sky I’d ever seen. It’s still probably the biggest. I’ve heard Montana has the biggest sky around, but I’ve never been there. I like my East Tennessee sky just fine.

Tonight, the moon was so bright I thought the outside house lights were on. It was big and glowing. I could hardly see any stars for all its dazzle. And the lake sparkled the lights back and reflected up, like it was looking right at me.

There’s just something about the water. And the moon. I felt so small. I am so small.

Whenever I see the mountains or the ocean or a beautiful sunset, I wonder how people don’t believe in God. Or when I see or experience pure love, between mother and child, or people who would sacrifice anything for one another, I wonder. Maybe that’s na├»ve of me. I don’t know. But I do know that I believe. And when I see a round, shining moon that looks like it could swallow the sky, I wonder how anyone could see that and not feel God.

I’ve been feeling God a lot lately. Like a hand on the small of my back guiding me into a room. Or a whisper. I just know that everything’s going to be alright. School is hard, death is hard, life is hard. But it’s going to all work out. I am small, but He is big. If He feeds the birds, He will feed me.

There are a lot of things about myself that I keep private, so I don’t talk about my faith often. I keep it tucked in tight. But it’s strong.

The Bible says, Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. But I don’t just have faith in God. My faith is so much bigger. I have faith in those I love. I have faith in myself. I have faith that no matter what, things are going to be ok, I will carry on.

William Wordsworth said, Faith is passionate intuition. Isn’t that beautiful? I had to google that. I thought it was Keats. And in my little search I found another quote on faith from Gandhi – Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow in. I think that's so insightful because you do have to grow in your faith constantly.

I feel I’m growing a lot lately. Or maybe just realizing for the first time how far I’ve come and just where I am. I haven’t just felt God guiding me. I’ve also felt Him telling me I’m on the right track. I am at peace right now. With all the chaos, somehow I’m peaceful and know that I’m right where I am supposed to be and I'm who I'm supposed to be.

There are things that ground us, that calm us in the snap of an instant. There are a couple friends whose voices do that for me. Always family. And the moon and the stars and water. I feel God in all of that.

When I was little, my mom and I had a song we sang to the moon. It’s a silly song, but it was ours. I’ve never met anyone else who knew it so she may have even made it up. And when I would visit my father, I could look up at the sky and moon and know it was the same sky and same moon my mother saw. And I’d feel better, closer to her. Sometimes now when I look at the sky, I think of those I love and all those I will love that I haven’t yet met, and I know it’s the same big sky that holds us all.

We are small, and our world is small. And the same God is in all of it – the big stuff and the small stuff. Can’t you just feel it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

That's Our Bush!!

Sorry, gang, the last one was a bit of a bummer. Don't wanna be Debbie Downer! There are lots of funny things happening in Tennessee too. One of them being the George Bush calendar my mom has hanging in her kitchen. I know you've been wondering what he does in his spare time, and now you have the answer - photo shoots.

I am a black sheep in my family for oh so many reasons, but one of the biggest is that they're ultra conservative Republicans. My mom donates money to the Republican National Committee and even donated money to Bush in 2000 and '04.

As a thank you, they give her a calendar each year that's full of pictures of Bush, Cheney and their sidekicks. My all-time favorites are the photos of Bush with a turkey (they look strikingly similar) and the year Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face there was an ironic photo of Cheney on a ranch.

I think even staunch Republicans agree our President doesn't photograph well, and these patriotic calendars provide evidence of this. To my mom's credit, she hasn't given any money to the elephants in a couple years. She was mad they didn't do enough on immigration (thank you, Fox News).

I asked if she was going to donate this year, and she said no, she's mad about the economy. Convinced my family would be the only ones approving of the President as the country goes down in flames, this surprised me. "Oh, so do you think the Republicans are to blame for the economy?" No, she said, she blames "all of 'em. I'm mad at all the politicians."

I'd like to tell you about this calendar and its photographic genius. Every year, the calendar opens in January with a photo of Bush being sworn in on inauguration day. This can only be to let us know that he is still The Decider, and it's particularly fitting for this year as he's struggled to remind everyone he's still in office.

That brings us to February, where we have a photo of the First Couple. Laura Bush, looking surprised as always, and both seem to be flaring their nostrils for an unknown reason. Perhaps David Gregory asked a biting question? Steven Colbert at the White House Press Corps Dinner again? Or maybe our fearless leader cut the cheese.

March has a picture of Prez in the Oval Office. Pretending to work. Aw cute. Was this taken on Bring Your Son to Work Day? Or maybe he actually does work in the Oval Office sometimes and doesn't spend all his time on the ranch?. Ha. That's just weird.

April reminds us that the job our President should really have is Baseball Commissioner. He looks especially stupid sporting a bright red Nationals jacket, waving at the crowd. I think he would have even been a good Baseball Commissioner. Though let's give him credit for trying. I do remember a State of the Union address that focused almost entirely on the problem of steroids in Major League Baseball.

In May, Bush seems to be mobbed by very happy soldiers who are stoked about being stop lost. He's probably telling each of them that he gave up golf for the war. And other things he doesn't care about or do often. What a sacrifice for guys who gave up their lives and families...for oil.

June shows him awkwardly standing next to a big brass band in what appears to be New Orleans. Oh, I get it, he's reminding us he did go. The look on his face says, "Uh...great...are we done yet? Did you take the picture? Do I get a Hurricane?"

July...July is hilarious and scary all at the same time. He's wearing a cowboy hat, aviators and is looking out, perhaps into the sunset. I honestly think I saw Brad Pitt make this very same pose in Thelma and Louise. Ew. Our President thinks he's a moviestar. Or worse. Hot. Ew ew ew gross!!

August reminds us that there's a Republican National Convention to support with our hard-earned dollars. Dubya and Laura are grinning in front of a crowd that is really happy to see them. Clearly taken a couple years ago. Laura is reaching her hand out...gesturing that she's trying to escape...or trying to "phone home"...hard to tell which...

In September, Dubya and Laura are eating dinner with a bunch of firefighters and police officers. There's an old man in the background staring at them despondently...kind of angrily too. He probably punched Bush in the nose after the photo was taken. I love firefighters.

October is a photo of Dick Cheney in front of a giant American flag. He's grinning as though we actually were greeted as liberators. Sigh.

November has Bush waving while holding his Scottish Terrier. The look on his face makes me think he's surrounded by protesters.

And we end with Christmas. Cuz this is God's country. Laura is clenching her teeth as though Dubya had one too many whiskeys. Old habits die hard!

Thankfully, these ridiculous calendars are dead after this year. Phew. I just hope my mom sticks to her guns and doesn't give any more money to the RNC ev-er a-gain.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Need a Holiday in Spain

Sigh. I’m at home in Tennessee now, and I feel so heavy. There are things happening to my sweet family, messy things, sad things. It’s hard to talk about family sometimes. Especially to people who don’t know your family, and then who does know your family if they’re not in it? I am being the good child. I am trying to take care of everyone and everything and be the glue. But I'm overwhelmed right now and scared. Worried that I can’t fix everything. When I get overwhelmed, I like to get away, and I’ve been planning a big vacation because I know I’ll have earned one soon.

Yes, wherever you go, there you are. But being somewhere far away is like hitting the reset button. There’s a reason people say vacations are refreshing – it’s because they can refresh you.

I haven’t decided yet where I’ll go. Or when. It’s especially hard to know when. I like to imagine that as soon as the dust settles, I’ll get in my car and drive. I think a vacation alone would be alright. Drive til I reach the ocean, stay at a cheap motel and collect my thoughts. I also thought I could go to Italy alone. I’ve been a couple of times now, and I’m confident I could hold my own and that it'd be freeing for me. Italy is so calming.

When I think about going to Europe, I think about Barcelona. I was there once, but just for a short day, a few hours really, and that’s not enough. It was like a chance meeting that you can’t get out of your mind. I fell in love in those few hours and need to go back to start a relationship with that city. I mentioned to a friend a few months ago that we should go this summer, but then life happened and plans changed. I don’t think I’d want to go to Barcelona alone, and really, who would just pick up and travel with me to Spain for a week? Or forever. Ha. Barcelona would be a trip to plan, and one I’d rather take with a friend who’s fluent in Spanish probably so that narrows it down even more.

Escaping somewhere warm and tropical is enticing too and will probably be the winner. A mini-road trip solo is tempting and not out of the question, but I think I need a big trip too. Tropical would be relaxing and rejuvenating. And I could go on a moment’s notice. I’ve already decided I’d book the hotel and pay for it for a friend who could hop on a plane to meet me. That’s another one I couldn’t do alone. Who would stuff the lime down in my Corona?

I’m glad I’m not the kind of person who runs when things get hard. I’m just the person who needs to run once the rough patch has been weathered through.

When I think about being here in Knoxville after he dies, when I think about seeing my mom and my aunt so broken, and what I could do and how I can help…I think about all of that, but I can’t imagine how I’ll feel or who’ll take care of me. Spain, Italy, Cabo. They could take care of me. I’ve always been one who attaches herself to places. There are a few cities who occupy a piece of my heart, and a quick trip to one can always chase the blues away. A week or more in DC in August, as many days as possible in New York in September…that will help keep me sane, but I’ll need something bigger and grander to really escape.

I love the Counting Crows. I really love just about all of their songs…and the piano mmm. “Anna Begins” always reminds me you have to take a chance on love, “ColorBlind” makes me want to make love! Ha! Corny, but so true! And “Raining in Baltimore” is good when I need a phone call or a big love or a sunburn. Beautiful lyrics in all their songs, and these are just the serious ones. I like the happy, fun ones a lot too. But for obvious reasons, “Holiday in Spain” has been playing on rotation in my mind for the past two weeks. Leave my wings behind me…

Got no place to go
but there's a girl waiting for me down in Mexico
She's got a bottle of tequila, a bottle of gin
And if I bring a little music I can fit right in
We've got airplane rides
We got California drowning out the window side
We've got big black cars
And we've got stories how we slept with all the movie stars
I may take a holiday in Spain
Leave my wings behind me
Drink my worries down the drain
And fly away to somewhere new
Hop on my choo-choo
I'll be your engine driver in a bunny suit
If you dress me up in pink and white
We may be just a little fuzzy 'bout it later tonight
She's my angel
She's a little better than the one that used to be with me
Cause she liked to scream at me
Man, it's a miracle that she's not living up in a tree
I may take a holiday in Spain
Leave my wings behind me
Drive this little girl insane
And fly away to someone new
Everybody's gone
They left the television screaming that the radio's on
Someone stole my shoes
But there's a couple of bananas and a bottle of booze
Oh, well Happy New Year's, baby
We could probably fix it if we clean it up all day
Or we could simply pack our bags
And catch a plane to Barcelona 'cause this city's a drag
I may take a holiday in Spain
Leave my wings behind me
Flush my worries down the drain
And fly away to somewhere new
Take a holiday in Spain
Leave my wings behind me
Drive this little girl insane
Fly away to someone new

Monday, July 14, 2008

She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy

I’d like to dedicate this little diddy to a good friend – Brad – who loves Kenny and even looks like him. And I don’t mean he looks like him as in my mom says so and Brad says so. I mean that people often approach him and ask if he is Kenny. Just when he’s wearing a baseball hat because, unlike dear Kenny, Brad still has a full head of thick hair. Brad also took me on my first tractor ride. Romantic, right? And I was ironically wearing a shirt that said, “It’s Better in New York.”

Well, I'm what I am and I'm what I'm not
and I'm sure happy with what I've got
I live and love and laugh a lot
and that's all I need

A friend told me a few weeks ago that he guessed it was “ok” that I liked country music since I’m from Tennessee. This friend is from New Jersey so I guess it’s ok that he said that. Really, there are many great things about country music. A good country song tells you a story. It’s honest and true. And makes me feel like I’m at the lake drinking a cold beer in the summertime. Everything you need to know about life, you can learn from a country song.

Yesterday was a country music extravaganza. We saw five bands and heard 7 ½ hours of country music. It was awe-some. After LeeAnn Rimes had us up and dancing, my cousin C and I took a bathroom break. We were standing in a long line for the women’s restroom when we saw a woman laying into a guy. It was a very loud, very public fight. I heard her say, “You’re a fucking asshole,” “You lie, you’re a liar, you lied to me,” and “How could you do that?”

The girl was beautiful, but the guy looked like a guido from Long Island. Probably needed someone to Nair his back, had a big ol’ beer belly and even had a thick gold chain. The worst was that he seemed totally unphased and even bored with the fight. Just had this look on his face like, “What?” I have no idea what this girl was doing with him, but if we’re honest with ourselves, ladies, we’ve all slummed it before.

C and I are loud mouths so we start shouting things like, “You tell him, honey!” “You can do better!” “You’re too good for him!” All the things we’d want to hear if we were fighting with a loser. Gotta support a sista, right? “That’s right! Tell him what’s up!”

Commitment
Someone who'll go the distance
I need somebody with staying power
Who will make me go weak in the knees
Commitment
And everything that goes with it
I need honor and love in my life from somebody
Who's playin' for keeps

Eventually, we got the women standing around us to join in, and we were all cheering her on. Guido took off with his tail between his legs. Unfortunately, so did the girl. We all clapped and cheered for her, but she walked off in tears. Poor dear. I hope she wasn’t fighting while LeeAnn played “Commitment” cuz I think that day it would’ve been her anthem. We saw a real live country song in action.

Now the greatest thing about a country music extravaganza is all the drunk rednecks. Sure, we looked like idiots too in our matching orange shirts and cowgirl hats, but we were sober. The woman in a moo-moo behind us was so wasted she started hugging everyone and professing her love. She told my mom about three times, which was almost scarier to my sweet mama than walking past a gay club in Chelsea, and finally the woman asked Mom if she loved her too. My mom said yes, and the woman used Mom’s cowgirl hat to stand her beer bottle on. If that’s not redneck love, I don’t know what is.

Life's too short, let's get to livin' it
Let's give it all we can give it
Let your hair down, turn the music up
We gonna paint the town flat, tear it up
The party starts here get in line
Beer thirty, a honky tonk time

The couple in front of us were equally entertaining. The man was wearing a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off so we had a better view of his fat arms. The woman was wearing a tiny tank top that showed off her granny bra and muffin top nicely. I kept debating which was classier – showing the granny or the muffin top. It’s a toss-up. Both were wearing camouflage hats. The man had a camo cowboy hat on, and the woman a camo fishing cap. Welcome to Georgia, y’all.

After awhile, C and I needed another beer and bathroom break. Before we left, Camo Fish showed up with a footlong hot dog covered in mustard, relish and chili. Yum. We definitely missed the best part of the day, but I almost think hearing our moms re-tell it was funnier. Apparently, while we were gone she put on a little phallacio show with the dog. Imagine my surprise when I return to hear my mother say, “That woman just gave that man a blowjob with a hotdog.”

I don’t know what that means, but hearing my mom say “blowjob” was disturbing enough. She has no business even knowing what that word means. Between fits of giggles, Mom explains that the woman held her hotdog up to the man’s mouth and pretended to give it a blowjob. When I said, “Ew, with the mustard and relish on it too?” Mom told me Camo Fish licked all of that off. Slowly. Tell the truth, fellas, is nothing hotter than a woman sucking up chili?

At this point, another couple standing in front of us turns around. The girl is a Georgia fan, and the guy is a Tennessee fan so they ask C if they can take a picture with her. Apparently, it’s some kind of lame bet, and the girl’s punishment for having terrible taste in football is to be photographed with a Vol. C says sure and makes friends with them before telling the guy it’s about time he put a ring on his girl's finger and made an honest woman out of her. He says, “Is that so?” and C tells him he’s “of age.” He turns around, and we are no longer friends.

Til you put a girl in it
You aint got nothin
What's it all worth
Without a little lovin
Put a girl in it
Some huggin and some kissin
If you're world's got somethin missin
Just put a girl in it

Finally, our star shows up and rocks our faces off country style. As soon as Kenny’s on stage, my mom starts asking when he’s gonna tell her his tractor’s sexy. Her favorite song. He plays all his greatest hits, and I find I am strangely turned on by this small man and his tight ass. I decide it’s his big hot arm muscles and crooked grin. I always prefer guys from the North to Southern guys, and there are many good reasons for that. But damn, there were some hot men in cowboy hats last night, and I decided to add “cowboy” to the list of hook-ups I should have before I settle down.

Camo Fish and Camo Cow are having fun too. All the people around us are standing on their fold-up chairs so, of course, we are too so we can see. Camo Fish is swaying with a beer bottle in one hand and a Gatorade in the other. She’s water-backing like a true alcoholic. Throughout the set, I tell her a total of four times that her beer bottle came dangerously close to my head. Her excuse is that she doesn’t drink. O…k…well, ya sure are now, sweetheart.

When the sun goes down, we'll be groovin
When the sun goes down,we'll be feeling alright
When the sun sinks down over the water
Everything gets hotter when the sun goes down

Eventually, the inevitable happens. Camo Fish falls. On my mother. It’s a domino effect, and everyone topples to the ground. My mom shoves Camo Fish forward with a fury I haven’t seen since I was little and drew her a picture on the wall. Camo Fish apologizes and minutes later fights with Camo Cow. He storms off, and she gives him the bird. Oh, I love rednecks.

In defiance, she climbs back up on her chair, and everyone in our section exchanges worried glances. The guy next to me with a unibomber beard and acid trip t-shirt motions that we should push her off. We ask her to get down. She does and then says, “Y’all are cute. Are you in some kind of a club?” pointing at our shirts. I respond, “Yeah. Family. The kind you can’t get out of.” She says cool and stumbles off. Applause all around.

It was a great concert. Kenny proved why he’s always Entertainer of the Year and even played my mom’s favorite song. All in all, another great family outing.

She thinks my tractor's sexy
It really turns her on
She's always staring at me
While I'm chuggin along
She likes the way it's pullin' while we're tillin' up the land
She's even kind of crazy 'bout my farmer's tan
She's the only one who really understands what gets me
She thinks my tractor's sexy

Sunday, July 13, 2008

If You Build It, They Will Come.

I have a break-up routine. It’s been perfected over time because God knows, I’ve been through more than a handful. What? I learn by mistakes.

The first really bad one set the routine. The Firestarter dumped me. And there is no other word than that – dumped. It’s hilarious to think about now and has become a really funny story, but eee gads was I inconsolable at the time. It wasn’t even that I loved him or missed him so much. It was he dumped me?!?!?

After that break-up, I got my hair cut and colored so I looked and felt like a whole new woman. I went shopping and bought new underwear for the next guy. And I redecorated. I also lost weight because I was so sad and stressed, I couldn’t eat. That has since been dubbed “the break-up diet.” Oh, and I always have to watch The Notebook. Ridiculous, I know, but it makes me feel better because whatever I just lost wasn't a big love, and it makes me hope that I'll have one eventually.

It’s been a few months since the last break-up, and this one really wasn’t bad at all. It was over for a long time before I finally ended it so it was really anti-climatic. I just knew for…3 months about, that it wasn’t right. And that’s ok. I took a chance and a risk, and I gave it my all. And had a great time too, learned a lot about myself and about what I need in a relationship and a partner.

I did, however, still get my hair cut and colored. Went shopping. And bought some great new undies. I have the sweetest little matching bra and panties set. Very lacy and sexy. With the tags still on, just waiting for me to wear them for the first time so someone can rip them off. Mmm…

But here’s what clenches it this time. I just bought a new mattress. Well, let’s be honest, Mom bought it for me. A queen-sized pillow top. It’s decadent and yummy. Hel-lo, lov-ver.

And it'll really be a whole new bed because I have to buy new sheets and a new duvet since everything I have now is for my old, lumpy full. I think this new mattress and new bedroom is a good sign. All the evidence and mojo from all my previous relationships is going out with the trash, and I’m starting with a literal clean slate. The way I see it – if you build it, they will come. Eventually, right? I’m paving the way for someone special. I have been for awhile, I think.

It’s a nice mattress, fancy lingerie, my hair has never looked better, and really I’ve never been better. So I’ll be extra choosy about which handsome man to break in the new mattress with. I have a feeling it’ll all be worth the wait.

 
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