Friday, July 31, 2009

Where I'm From

Has anyone out there heard that country song Where I'm From? I heard it one day when I was scanning the stations on my way home from work and at first I wasn't too impressed. Then I heard the chorus and suddenly, I was all nostalgic and started thinking about home.

I love the fact that I grew up in what was once a small little community by the name of Hickory Flat in what was once a rural little county. I remember when the main intersection was a four-way stop with a blinking red light. Seriously, it's true for you "transplants" out there reading this who thought that there was always a Publix shopping center and restaurants that served beer. If we needed groceries or had an insatiable urge for something to eat at a restaurant other than fried chicken and greasy vegetables then it was a 20-25 minute drive. My mom and I went to the same elementary school, and no we weren't students there at the same time. It's not that rural. Not only did we attend the same elementary school, Mr. Browning was the principal when we were both there. It's true, and no she wasn't a teen mother. I loved the afternoons when daddy would pick me up from school and take me by Hickory Flat Store so I could get a fountain drink and an after school snack. I don't know why but for some reason those fountain drinks were the best. I grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandparents. My kindergarten friends were my high school friends. Their families were like an extension of my own family. My "home church" is where I learned that I needed a Savior and it was there that I found him. Throughout my entire childhood I was deemed as the one who would never leave home. I even thought that until my sophomore year of college which I mentioned here briefly a few months ago. Perhaps it's a bit ironic that the one who everyone swore would never leave is probably never going to go back for more than a visit.

Time has certainly changed many things. I think that is only inevitable in this living life thing that we do every single day. A couple of weekends ago whenever I was at home, mom and I were talking about home and kind of what it means to me. I told her again [she's been know to forget things] that I have known since college that I would not end up living in Cherokee County. This doesn't mean I know where I'll finally land, but I do honestly believe that God was preparing my heart for my future when I was still in college. Perhaps He had to start so early because I was such a homebody throughout my entire childhood. Sure, I did stuff with my friends, but I absolutely loved being at home with my family. I was always the little girl who went home from slumber parties in the middle of the night because I missed my mama and daddy. In our conversation, it became evident that one of mama's main concerns was that I didn't plan to come back home because of some sort of negative association that I might have with my childhood or something. Well that certainly couldn't be farther from the truth.

In fact, I love that I had the childhood experiences in the kind of environment that I did because those things have shaped who I am at my core. There is such comfort and a sense of security that comes from be a part of a community. My family certainly benefited from this when daddy died. When I go back to Hickory Flat now, just by appearance it is a much different place than the home I grew up knowing. In a way it makes me a little bit sad, but then I stop in at Bruster's for an ice cream and decide that maybe growth isn't so bad after all. And I'm not referring to the kind of growth that results from too many trips to Bruster's. Besides, it isn't the stores or lack thereof that I think of first when I consider where I'm from. It's the people. It's the experiences. It's the memories.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm such a girl.

Alright, I'll admit it...I just watched part of The Bachelorette finale. Each season I roll my eyes at the absolute ridiculousness of it all, but each season I watch the first and last episodes. [Who is the ridiculous one now?] I really could care less about all of the drama that happens in between, and you should all be thankful that I don't watch each episode or else I might feel compelled to blog after each one which would lead me to commit a cardinal sin of blogging: relentless rants with no purpose.

So the show was 2 hours long and I tuned in when there was about 40 minutes left. I didn't know the guys who were left and I'll admit that I was absolutely confused when she was crushing the hopes and dreams of one young Romeo with 35 minutes of show time remaining. Of course she gave him the same schpill that every Bachelor and Bachelorette throughout the course of history has given the first loser [Because like Ricky Bobby says, "if you're not first, you're last."] He's great, he's wonderful, she never imagined that it would turn out this way, but she loves another man. He's heartbroken. Here's my question - Did he honestly think that she was in love with him? Could he not pick up on the fact that maybe she just wasn't that into him? Or was she giving him the "I Love You" vibe right up until the last minute? If so, I believe some people would refer to that as she was having her cake and eating it too. And we all know what gluttony can do to a girl.

So Kitzyn or whatever his name is was off crying in the limo while some other dude appears from nowhere wearing weird shoes and a sloppy looking suit. Is that his style or was he trying to look "harried and frantic" for the camera even though all of us at home know that this show has been perfectly scripted and staged. And if you don't already know that, then I'm sorry to burst your bubble. Please don't ask me about the existence of the tooth fairy unless you really want to know the truth. It's times like these when I wish that maybe I had watched a little more closely throughout the season [or at least followed it online] because I might understand a little better as to why this guy is taking up air time. He confesses his undying love to Jillian. She's emotional. She's confused. She doesn't understand why this is happening when she was prepared to tell another Ken doll that she wanted to spend happily ever after with him. She needs time to think. Here's my question: If she was so certain 3 minutes before when she dropped whats-his-face like a bad habit, then why is she so doubtful now? Does she really love Prince Charming if confusion enters in so easily? Sure I don't know the history between her and weird shoe boy, but seriously. I understand that perhaps I'm the wrong person to be asking this question because I've never been proposed to thrice in one night. After a brief counseling session with Love Doctor Extraordinaire, Chris Harrison, she makes up her mind and sends sloppy suit and shoe boy packing.

And then finally, the moment we've all been waiting for: Ed appears on the scene. For the third time in one night a love struck male professes his undying love for Jillian. Here's my question: Do these guys feel a sense of obligation and pressure to propose to her because she has essentially picked them all along the way? But before Ed goes any further, he's got to know if she loves him back. Good move Ed...way to play it a little cautious because heart breaker Jillian was definitely on a roll and things do happen in threes. Of course she loves him with all of her heart because well, she's obviously out of options for finding a husband since this is her last proposal and it's doubtful that she'll be invited back for a third season of this silly show. So she says that magic word "YES!" and all is right in the world.

Ok, so here's why I'm such a girl...As much as I roll my eyes and scoff at the reality of couples on these shows ever actually making a trip down the aisle together, I still got chills and a little bit teary-eyed and caught up in the happiness of it all. Even if it was scripted happiness and that new Martina McBride song that I like so well was cued at just the right time, I along with the rest of the saps in America had the opportunity to witness happiness and joy in the making. It sure beats watching Larry King Live.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oil and Water

Any guesses as to what this is?...Personally, I cannot look at this picture for very long because it gives me kind of the same feeling that a diagram of the skin does. And in case you're wondering, it's not a good feeling. So let's take the zoom out a little bit and see what we have. Prepare yourself because it's quite a pitiful sight.Seriously...look at those eyes. It's those eyes that have kept me from selling him to the lowest bidder on more than a couple occasions during his puppyhood. However I know of one particular feline who would be more than thrilled if I were to actually make good on that threat of selling him.Until I do though I suppose that Slate will just continue to take matters into his own paws.

[Edited to add: Many people have inquired as to what exactly those things coming out of my puppy's nose are. Simple: cat claws.]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cue Peaches and Herb

[Warning: If you've come here for thought-provoking and inspiring reading material, on this particular day you've come to the wrong place.]

Confession: I was once a fan of reality television. You know...back in the good old days when reality television was quality viewing material and wholesome entertainment for all. What? You can't think of a time when this ever was the case? Well, obviously you hadn't yet discovered the wonder of satellite or cable television then because in my opinion, the peak of reality TV was when the all-too-short marriage of Nick and Jessica was chronicled on MTV's Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. I'll be the first to admit that even though I never missed a single episode, back in the day I was a little skeptical (read: far too jaded and cynical for such a young age) that the two would actually make it to a time when their grand kids would be impersonating James Brown on a staircase in honor of their golden anniversary. Nonetheless I really wanted their marriage to work because well, it was a marriage and typically I'm a fan of them lasting. Call me old-fashioned for having such silly notions.

Well for those of you who are attuned to all of the major current events in the world [read: pop culture], it is old news that Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo took the exit for splitsville a couple of weeks ago. I don't really know much about their relationship since it wasn't broadcast for the free world to see on TV, however I do know that typically when two people dive right into a serious relationship very shortly after ending other serious relationships the chances of divvying up the good silver are pretty great. [I'm glad that I'm putting my psychology degree to use here because I was beginning to feel that I was never going to actually use it.]

And then yesterday I read that Jessica Simpson got dropped like a bad habit by her Cowboy, Tony Romo. The day before her birthday, no less. Poor girl...first the news media drags her through the mud because she "blew up" to what was probably a whopping size 6 [and then made a poor fashion decision in wearing those jeans] and now this.

As unfortunate as it is that both of these relationships have seemingly come to an end, I'm a little optimistic here because who wouldn't love a Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica Reunion? It's really a opportunity for second chances all around...a second chance for Nick and Jessica to mend fences and live happily ever after as well as a second chance for reality television and myself to do the same thing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The only thing missing was "y'all".

Hello, blogosphere...long time, no write. It really has been quite awhile since I've posted anything on my little piece of Internet domain, but as I've stated before, I do my best blogging when I have at least 3 papers due for school. Since I'm not taking classes this summer, the ink well is essentially dry. Except there is no ink, nor have I ever used a fountain pen a day in my life. Before I bore my three readers out there to absolute tears with my nonsensical rambling, I'll get on with the purpose of this post: a recap of my trip to America's Heartland, otherwise known as the Midwest.
Thanks to Orville and Wilbur Wright [who are incidentally from the Midwest] and their efforts way back in the day to make air travel a reality, Ryan and I met up in Chicago last Thursday to kick-off the 4th of July weekend. This was my first visit to The Windy City so I was without a doubt quite excited. On Friday, we headed over to Wrigleyville for a Cubs game.
What a great game - the Cubbies beat the Brewers in 10! And don't even get me started on Wrigley Field...
It really is a beautiful ballpark. Maybe it's because we had absolutely amazing seats, but there really is no need for a jumbotron either. A good old-fashioned scoreboard will suffice.
I was such a good fan that after the game, I got a cap of my very own...
Needless to say, I was very enthused about this because even though Ryan was kind enough to bring me one of his caps that I could wear during the game, apparently my head is larger than the average man's so it was a bit small. I'm just chalking it up to the big hair that I've been blessed (read: cursed) with instead of developing a complex about it.

The Cubs fan indoctrination process was halted briefly on Saturday in order for us to head east via train to Indiana to visit Ryan's hometown. This was the part of the trip that I was most excited about in spite of a slight case of nerves since a hometown visit also meant meeting the family. Of course in the grand scheme of things I felt that I really had nothing to be nervous about because 1. there was no way on earth that it could have been more uncomfortable and nerve-racking than the circumstances under which Ryan met essentially my entire family and the majority of my best friends: at my father's funeral. What can I say?...Just another episode in the bad sitcom that will one day chronicle my life. [I should add that Ryan was quite a rock star throughout it all though.], and 2. Johnny Appleseed, David Letterman, Michael Jackson, John Cougar Mellencamp, Axl Rose, and Crystal Gayle are all from Indiana and really can one be more wholesome and down to earth [the Midwestern culture as defined by Wikipedia] than Axl Rose or Michael Jackson? Don't answer that question.

It can go without saying that I felt very welcomed by everyone which certainly put me at ease. [and no, I'm not just writing that because it's the polite thing to do] The town where he is from is very small and for the most part, it seemed very much like a small town in the South. Except "y'all" isn't found in their Slang Handbook. Come to think of it, I don't think that there is a Slang Handbook...bless their hearts.

After we got to Culver on Saturday afternoon, we had an amazing lunch out on the lake which was followed up by an incredible dinner complete with homemade peach pie. Ryan's mom is quite a cook!
Perhaps the above picture best captures my delight over such great meals. You see, my own mom kind of stopped cooking in an act of rebellion after daddy compared her mashed potatoes to his mother's not very long after they got married. As with many disputes between married people, the kids are always the ones who suffer the most. :) Unfortunately it was a rainy 4th in northern Indiana so the fireworks show was postponed until Sunday. This actually worked out really well though because the show just took place after the parade.
Now, I know what you all are thinking and before we go any further, please allow me to clarify: there were no Shriners in little red cars nor were there local teens hurling candy to the crowds from the back of pickup trucks in this parade. By parade I mean, a parade of summer campers marching in a standard military parade formation.
As we sat and watched, I was reminded of my college days and the many times I sat on the drill field and watched the parades at North Georgia except here there was a lake in the background. And while I always loved watching them at North Georgia, 9 year olds are much cuter and more fun to watch. Not to mention the fact that these little guys were a little better than the GEB of my time...
On our way back out of town on Monday morning, we made one last stop with Ryan's dad and sister at the local coffee shop. Of course I still haven't learned to drink coffee, so I just stuck with my standard substitute: hot chocolate. When we got back to Chicago, we took an architectural boat tour of the city. It was fantastic and provided numerous photo opportunities.
What? You were expecting pictures of buildings? Alright... This was one of my favorite buildings on the tour even though it isn't one of the famous skyscrapers. If this one whetted your appetite for more, just click here. After the tour, we took the subway back to Wrigleyville one more time. After visiting with Ryan's friend Meghan (whom I got to meet along with his friend Amy and both of their families in Culver on Sunday), we headed back to Wrigley once again. This time the home team was playing my hometown team: the Braves. In spite of my attire, I did catch myself doing the Tomahawk Chop. [What can I say...old habits die hard] But no amount of tomahawk chopping was going to stop the Cubs. We got to see them win once again...Go Cubbies!
Tuesday morning began with massages at the hotel spa. Have I mentioned that this guy treats me like a queen?
I'm quite a lucky and very thankful girl! Before leaving the hotel, we were able to watch some of the Michael Jackson memorial service just as all good citizens of the world were doing on Tuesday afternoon. Finally, our last stop before heading to the airport was a riverside restaurant...
Speaking of airports, yesterday I took Ryan to Hartsfield because he was headed to Portland for the weekend to visit one his best friends. I was fortunate enough to get a gate pass and we got to visit with Mike, Suzanna, and Caroline for a few minutes before they headed out to Canada. Caroline was a big fan of Ryan's at their first meeting and it appears that she still is. Now, whether or not she's a fan of me is questionable. Little does she know that she doesn't have a choice in the matter though...she's stuck with me!