Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Soundtrack: Pursuing the Dream Edition.

Think back with me for a few moments to your childhood. If it's been so long since you were there that you can't remember much of it, at least think back to the period in your life when your dreams weren't completely eclipsed by your reality. Are you there? Good. How many of you wanted to be famous when you grew up? Somebody big who was known for something good. Personally, I'm still waiting for Lorne Michaels to call and invite me to join the cast of SNL. Hmmm...did you notice how I worded that? I'm still waiting. Waiting doesn't really equate to doing, now does it? Perhaps somewhere along the way some of us let go of our dreams because we realize how much blood, sweat, and tears they will cost us and we aren't willing to pay the price. Or we are confronted with the reality that there is a reason why there aren't multiple athletes who have won 8 gold medals in a single Olympic games, and perhaps that reason isn't lack of heart or desire but natural ability. As with anything the harder we have to work for something, the more we appreciate it. [Or am I the only one whose mama told her that when my friends were being given things left and right and I was throwing on my Kroger polo shirt for my Saturday night shift?]

Maybe you are in pursuit of your own dream. Maybe you are standing on the sidelines watching someone else in his or her own personal pursuit. Maybe you've become so bogged down with the realities of today that you abandoned dreams long ago. If that's the case, might I recommend that you have a conversation with a child. [Preferably one you know or else the child's poor mother will likely report you to the local authorities.] Ask them what they want to be. Ask them who their heroes are. Maybe they want to be a firefighter and their hero is their daddy. It's the spirit behind their eyes when they talk that is most important.

In today's post I'm one of those people standing on the sidelines watching and cheering and waiting for a dream to unfold for a pair who is working really hard. You see, I know these people. Don't believe me? Exhibit A taken by yours truly in my grandma's garage as they were passing through town. It's true. Their futures are so bright that they have to wear shades. One of them I've known since that morning in late March when I was confronted with the reality that the baby girl cousin I was hoping so badly for was well...a baby boy cousin. Ahh, the tribulations of an 8 year old. Individually they are Justin and Sarah. Together they are Common Thread. They've got some pretty exciting things going on in addition to midterms and final exams in Music City USA. [Does anyone even call Nashville that anymore? Will I ever have a shot as their publicist if I'm not down with the proper lingo?] What's more exciting than cramming for an exam and enjoying the freedom that accompanies the life of a college student? How about sets at The Bluebird Cafe (and other places!)? Or time spent writing and recording and filming? Filming? Yes, filming. Take a look.

You saw them here first folks. Now get out there and start living your own dream. You don't have to be a household name to be somebody big who has accomplished something good. Just ask Keith McVey.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I guess I'll just blog instead.

I've spent so much time looking at an Excel spreadsheet this weekend that I think my eyes are permanently crossed. Earlier this afternoon I paused for a much needed Sunday afternoon nap, took Cash for a much needed walk since he barked incessantly throughout the aforementioned nap, and then ran out to grab dinner. Wendy's chili. Because that detail is important. Not really.

Now I'm back home, Kyra Sedgwick is on the TV using her poor excuse for a Southern accent, and I'm all ready to settle in for a long night of school work. I locate my trusty flash drive and upon plugging it into my computer, I'm greeted with this message: "One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and Windows does not recognize it." I continued to try it in every single other available data port (or whatever those things are called) and the SAME. FLIPPING. MESSAGE. continued to greet me at each one. It's not a tragedy of epic proportion (yet) because fortunately I do have my data set backed up on my desktop. So I'm not crying (yet) even though every single thing I've ever done for graduate school is on this one flash drive. Papers, projects, presentations...all those things I'm going to need to reference in preparation for this little thing called my exit exam that is happening in ohhh...approximately 3 weeks.

Fantastic. My dog just dropped a tennis ball that he has been chewing on for 20 minutes on my keyboard. Pardon me while I go find a ShamWow. And I'm back.

Instead of lamenting over a corrupted flash drive, I've decided to take a little time out to regroup which means I'm enjoying a glass of chocolate milk while taking a few minutes to blog. Today's topic: nothing in particular. Typically I recount the trivial and mundane in my personal journal instead of on my blog, but it's been so long since I've journaled that I couldn't tell Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson its whereabouts if my life depended upon it. Since this post seems to be taking a turn toward television, perhaps now is the best time to share yesterday's discovery of The Wonder Years, Doogie Howser, M.D., and Family Ties on the hub network. What's the hub network, you wonder? I wonder the same thing.

Last night we went to Terrapin which certainly makes for a fun Athens activity. I highly recommend it if you are going to be in the Athens area. And if you are going to be in the Athens area, then you should invite me to join you. Unless you are a blog lurker and I don't know you because that would be weird. No offense, blog lurkers. While there I fell in love with a pit bull puppy and discovered a way in which the United States could employ a cheap and harmless interrogation technique that would crack even the most hardened of criminals. How, you wonder? Step 1: Take them to a college town. Step 2: Find a popular place that serves lots of alcohol. Step 3: At the end of the night lock them into a stall in the ladies room. I swear after 5 minutes they will start talking simply to escape the ridiculousness of the conversations taking place around them. I'm certain that when I was in college, I never talked about the tribulation of hiccups or the strife that results when one wears her suede boots too early in the season. Who am I kidding? I probably talked about those very things last week. But not with a super cool gal 10 years my senior that I had never met before while in a drunken fog. So that makes it completely different.

I could continue with this ramble but at this point it's like beating a horse that has been dead for an hour already. Instead I'll leave you snapshot of how Cash spent his weekend.

I really wish someone would give this dog some attention. It's beginning to impact his self-esteem.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Read this. You won't regret it. Trust me.

It's your lucky day, blogosphere. Two posts in one day from little ol' me...HP. While I'm not responsible for the content of this post, I certainly wish that I could be as funny and as serious and as relevant and as to the point as Jon Acuff is in his writing. You don't even have to thank me for introducing you to him and his blog. Wednesdays are "serious" as you'll see right here in today's post titled Packing., but I encourage you to look around on his site and try some of his other posts out for fun. Trust me when I say that fun awaits. Enjoy.

Soundtrack: I love Pandora Radio Edition.

Perhaps you've noticed that it has been a couple of weeks since my last Soundtrack post. My apologies. I have been a little busy plus I have been hopelessly devoted to my Mumford & Sons Sigh No More CD. Seriously, if you haven't checked it out, go directly to iTunes and download the entire thing. You will not regret it. If you do, well then gift it to a friend because I'm confident that your friend will portray you as a hero who delivered them from the pit of musical monotony. I'm that confident. I'm also confident that there are at least two folks who enjoy Soundtrack Wednesdays. How do I know this? One of them told me so this past weekend which is why Soundtrack Wednesday is back. [At least for this week.] Since I haven't really been listening to the radio all that much, I've spent some time listening to Pandora at work this week. I've decided to share with you my favorite selection that was played on each of my Pandora stations during the hour or so that I listened to each one. You all do know about Pandora, right? If you don't then stop reading this silly post and hop on over to You will not regret it. Have you noticed that this is a post that has guaranteed no regrets twice now? I've obviously fallen victim to the political propaganda that accompanies a midterm election. Back to the music...

Explanation: For this post, I'm listing my "radio station" on Pandora first and then the song and artist I've selected to share with you all. Hyperlinks? Sorry, not this week.

Phil Wickham Radio: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing the Chris Rice The Living Room Sessions version. I had totally forgotten about his cd titled The Living Room Sessions, but I'm glad this song reminded me of it. It's just him playing the piano. Judging by the title, I think he would like for us to believe that the recordings took place in a living room somewhere. Perhaps they did.

Natalie Merchant Radio: The Reason Why by Rachel Yamagata. This was the first time I've ever heard this song but I liked it. Very much a tune that would be featured on Grey's Anatomy/Alias/insert other prime time drama show here during a really critical moment of the weekly episode.

Girl Country Radio: Georgia Rain by Trisha Yearwood. Confession: It was all I could do to let this station play for more than about 15 minutes. I was totally not down with girl country earlier this week. In fact I'm not even sure why I even set this station up like I did in the first place. But it's not your job to figure out why I do the things I do so I'll quit typing my thoughts. As soon as I heard a Georgia girl singing a song about the Georgia rain I immediately interrupted my work flow to change stations.

The Killers Radio: Automatic Stop by The Strokes. What? I like The Strokes. Who doesn't like The Strokes?

David Gray Radio: Lonelily by Damien Rice. Damien Rice has a cool name and he used to sing with a cool chick so that means he's cool too, right? Yes, yes it does. Plus he's Irish. That earns him 5 more cool points. Even though I do prefer Delicate and 9 Crimes to Lonelily.

Jon Foreman Radio: And Then You by Greg Laswell. Pop quiz: Who is Jon Foreman? I heard this song for the very first time on Tuesday too and I'm pretty sure it was written especially for me. Remember how your grandma used to sew clothes for you and put those little tags in them that said something to the effect of "Made especially for HP by Mu" with a little white cat on the tag? What? Only my grandmother did things like that? Well, I apologize for your misfortune. Anywho, if a song could come attached with a little stitched tag, know where I'm going with this. In a nutshell, it's about how we try to do things all by ourselves and then You [uppercase Y can only mean one thing: God] come along and do things the right way, the best way. I'm like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day when it comes to that lesson.

Christopher Cross Radio: I Keep Forgettin' by Michael McDonald and Sail On by Lionel Richie. I'm sorry, but I couldn't choose just one song. One day last week coworker pal Em O-W discovered Christopher Cross Radio. I mocked her and then on Friday I secretly created my own CC station. It was an epic fail. So much so that I skipped the first two songs. On Monday I tried it again for the sake of you, my readers, and it was all I could do to tear myself away from the station and move on to the next one. Air Supply, Ambrosia,'s like the trip to the skating rink in the 70's that I'll never have.

Zac Brown Band Radio: Her Man by Gary Allan. Whaddya' say we pretend like the song I heard was Gary Allan's Smoke Rings in the Dark instead of this one?

Sugarland Radio: Enjoy the Ride by Sugarland. How about that. I finally include a song by the artist for which the station is named.

O.A.R. Radio: Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. Hallelujah that this station played one of my favorite songs ever or else I would have to devote my time here justifying an O.A.R. station. If you are going to choose just one of these fabulous songs to listen to today then please pick this one. It's the best one on the list IMHO.

James Taylor Radio: My Stunning Mystery Companion by Jackson Browne. Jackson Browne...he's like that sweater in your closet that you always forget about but when you stumble across it you remember how much you really do like it.

Jason Mraz Radio: All We Are by Matt Nathanson. He opened for Sugarland last year and sang this song. And that's all I have to say about that. Good story, huh?

Sarah McLachlan Radio: I Never Told You by Colbie Caillat. Time for truth: I never told you [until now] that I'm not a Colbie Caillat fan. Even that first song of hers...Bubbly. Pleh. I do like this song though primarily because I don't really think she sounds like herself in this song. Maybe she's maturing. Maybe I'm grasping at straws.

Chris Tomlin Radio: Hosana by Hillsong United. Y'all. Keith Urban and Olivia Newton-John aren't the only Aussies who can carry a tune. I love Hillsong United. It makes me think that I should be on some sort of church retreat with everyone gathered around a campfire while someone plays the guitar. Even though I'm not really sure why because never in my life have I been on a church retreat with everyone gathered around a campfire while someone plays the guitar.

Monday, October 18, 2010

There's No Place Like Home.

This past weekend in the city that I currently call home, Homecoming festivities took place for a little school known as the University of Georgia. It was on Saturday that Uga VIII (aka, Big Bad Bruce) made his debut. He's no Chocolate Labrador Retriever, but he is pretty cute. You can see for yourself through the hyperlink I've included. While we're on the subject of the Bulldogs though, I am cautiously optimistic that the prodigals have returned home with their two game winning streak. I don't know how long their stay is going to be but just as any good father does we'll love them while they are here. As for me, I headed out of town before all of the excitement in Athens got underway because I know of a place where the fun is well, more fun...Gold Rush!
I haven't been to Gold Rush since I left Dahlonega over three years ago and my how I have missed it. For those of us who graduated from a little school known as North Georgia College & State University, this is the equivalent to our Homecoming. Hold up. I'm not talking so much about the craft festival component of Gold Rush that brings people into town by the boat loads even though I do love painted gourds and flower pots as home decor (No, not really!). But the festival absolutely adds to the whole experience. On Saturday when I got into town, I immediately made my way to the food section to get my Holy Spud from the BCM (formerly known as BSU) booth. It's a Gold Rush staple. Nothing like a buttered baked potato to provide one with the necessary carbs to remain energetic throughout the whole day. I met Mag and Carrie and their kiddos over on the Price Memorial lawn so that I could have ample running room for playing chase with Colt. Nothing like a 3-year old to make sure I didn't carb overload.

I spent the remainder of my afternoon stopping in at the Phi Mu sweet tea stand so that the poor girls could smile excitedly and say "oh, how cool" when I identified myself as a former Phi Mu. Believe me, I did plenty of time at that same sweet tea stand so I know how excited they really were to see some old lady grinning from ear to ear as she reflects upon her college glory days. After I paid my dues there, we proceeded to head down to the square in preparation for the Gold Rush parade. Think Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and then take out all of the floats and high school marching bands. Then, add in a bunch of cadets in uniform, the Golden Eagle Band (Talons of Steel!...shouldn't they really be brass? Just a thought.), and gentlemen dressed in Confederate gray with really loud guns, and a few convertibles carrying local beauty queens. It's the greatest small town parade you'll ever see. Finally after the parade it was time to head over to campus for the NGCSU Alumni Reception to catch up with old friends. The fun kept on coming for me folks because once that was over, I headed to the outskirts of town to see even more friends. My cup overflowed!
The thing about Gold Rush is that unless you were a student at North Georgia, it's really difficult to get all jazzed and enthralled when I write about the specifics. Really though I'm writing about the emotions and memories and feelings associated with going home...wherever that place is for you. For me that place is Dahlonega. I feel more at home there than anywhere else. It was my college town, but then for 6 years after graduation it was the town where I called home. I found my best friends there. Life lessons happened there. It was there that I began to understand that a relationship with God meant more than asking him to live in my heart and going to church on Sunday. I got my first real job there. I paid my first real bills there. It was the place where I discovered that I could live all by myself and not only survive it but love it.

On Saturday night as I was driving back to Mom's house, I began to think. There are some days when I just absolutely miss Dahlonega and everything about it. I would live there again in a heartbeat. And then I thought about the symbolism of what that longing really represents. Dahlonega is great but it's nothing compared to my forever and ever home that is waiting for me in Heaven. It's going to be like a non-stop North Georgia alumni reception less the cheap beer served in plastic cups and direct sunlight beating down on me to the point that I begin to sweat through my shirt. It's going to be a homecoming that my mind is far too simple to comprehend. And quite frankly I'm glad because otherwise I have a feeling that I would spend far too much time trying to pick out the perfect outfit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Same old, same old.

"We are creatures of habit. We all want to get around like we used to. It is our tendency to resist being stretched. We have gotten comfortable, and established in a routine.
Someone has said that Ruts are just open ended graves. But for most of us Ruts define the way we live.
We get up every morning and get out of that some old bed, put on those same old clothes, walk to that same old table, eat that same old breakfast, pack that same old lunch, put those same old kids on the bus, kiss that same old spouse, drive that same old car to that same old job, get off at the same old time, drive down that same old street, pull into that same old drive, have that same old dinner, watch that same old program, get in that same old bed. Then you get up the next morning to do the same old thing all over again."
-Eric Snyder
Above is a part of a sermon that I heard for the first time a little over a year ago. For whatever reason, I thought of it again this week. The words have set up camp in my mind and like the bedbugs in the NYC movie theaters, they will not leave so I decided to think about them a little more. Since the blogosphere is my oyster, I've decided to share said thoughts with you three. You're welcome.
I am absolutely a creature of habit. Remember my whole lament from a couple of months ago about the lack of Carnation Instant Breakfast in Athens and how I was either going to have to move or quit eating breakfast altogether? I'm telling you, the only thing worse than a creature of habit is one with a flair for the dramatic.
"Creature of habit" has such a negative connotation doesn't it? First of all the word "creature" conjures up all sorts of images of things that might lurk around on the bottom of the ocean floor or in the deep recesses of the hundred acre wood. Please accept my apology for the Winnie the Pooh reference. I loathe Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger too!). Then, the prepositional phrase "of habit" doesn't exactly scream fun and excitement now does it? Nope, it doesn't at all. I happen to believe it screams monotonous and boring with a little dash of stubbornness for added effect.
This week I began to think about how and why I evolved into the little creature of habit that I have become. The answer is pretty simple really: It's easy. It's safe. the end of the day, is that enough? I really don't think so. I think when we choose what is easy and safe and feels good at the time, we eventually begin to resent the very things that initially provided that security. Are you tracking? What happens when resentment builds? Nothing good, that's what. We begin to feel trapped and smothered in our creature comforts. Suddenly we find ourselves itching to break out of that same old routine and if the itch is bad enough we'll run once again to what is easy and accessible [but new! and improved!] to scratch it as quickly as possible. It's living, but is it really?
Recently I decided that I wanted to get involved at church through serving as a small group leader for middle school or high school girls. You want to talk about ripping me completely out of my comfort zone? Well, that's a big way to do it. Everything was going along swimmingly and one day I just dropped the ball. And never picked it back up. Sure, I can give a thousand [lame] excuses: last semester of school, I don't know how long I'll be in Athens, blah, blah, blah. But the reality is serving would require me to stretch and bend and potentially even break [again] and breaking is the very last thing that I want to do right now. It's uncomfortable. It's scary. Heaven forbid I allow myself to be used in a good way for the glory of God. I mean, doesn't he just want us to be comfortable and live a good life by being kind to others and then sit around and wait for the big prize in the sky? Um. Nope. If that were the case then Jesus would have lived out his golden years next door to John the Baptist and his family. Mary and Martha would have squabbled much less often. Paul would have never had to have his name changed on his social security card. [What's that? He never had 6.2% of his earnings put into a mysterious account to be held for him until he turned 62? Oh.] This Earth is not my forever home but while I'm here, I'm pretty sure that my function isn't to while away the hours until the Left Behind series comes to life.
Snyder speaks of ruts and how most of us make our homes in them. Ruts are different than valleys. What happens to ruts when it rains? They fill up and the water doesn't go away immediately. What happens when there's standing water? It becomes stagnant. What happens in stagnant waters? Mosquitos. What happens to mosquitos? We squash them. Um....I absolutely didn't intend to go down that trail when I started this paragraph but it works [kind of] so I'm keeping it. A couple of years ago I wrote a similar post about the lesson to be learned from garden eels.
I think it's human nature to take the easy route. And before I go all "there were two paths in the woods and I took the one less traveled and that has made all the difference" trite, I'm going to wrap this little post up. There is something to it though. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that by choosing to follow Christ, we've got a free pass and a life of ease ahead of us. Personally I believe it presents us with more challenges [adventures!]. We are required to take risks [adventures!]. We are required to walk in the dark [adventures!]. Before we know it, we've become bonafide thrill seekers waiting for our next adrenaline rush. Who's in?
*The scriptural reference from Snyder's talk is Isaiah 54:1-4 in case you're wondering.