Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Soundtrack: I wish there was a 3rd Avett brother Edition.

I should apologize in advance for any glaring grammatical faux pas that will more than likely appear in this post. Because y'all, I'm exhausted. There are two primary contributors to said exhaustion. The first being the fact that my dog consumed 6 pounds of dog food while I was in the shower yesterday afternoon. Do you people know what happens when a dog consumes a week's worth of food in 20 minutes? Bad things. Very. Bad. Things. And those very bad things will not only keep the dog up until 4 in the morning, but the dog's person as well. But I'm not here to lament upon my unplanned trip to the vet and investment in the upholstery cleaner industry. My exhaustion is partially attributed to The Avett Brothers show that went well past my bedtime last night. I had the good fortune of being pal Erin's "plus 1" because her hubby was all mus-zak'd out from SXSW. [Thanks again, Erin & Bill!] Added bonus that the show was here in town! I'm going to end up loving this place yet, y'all. I've always liked The Avett Brothers once those two songs of theirs that they always play on the radio became a part of the regular rotation. I began to love them a little when I saw them perform on the Grammy's in the Mumford & Sons/The Avett Brothers/Bob Dylan trifecta that I call musical perfection. After last night's show, it's safe to say that I love them a lot. I even said "HP Avett" a few times in my mind until I realized that they were both married. I'm no music critic and I don't "know music" in the sense that musicians know music, but they were phenomenal. They had crazy energy. Since I can't properly describe it, I would encourage you to check them out for yourselves at one of their upcoming shows. You can check here to see when they are coming to a city near you. To prepare for the show, you can go here to listen to all kinds of their music. Legally! But because we all know that I play favorites, I will not sign off without sharing a [very] few of my favorites along with why they are my favorites.

  • Living of Love - "Your heart says not again / what kind of mess have you got me in / But when the feelings there / it can take you anywhere" Yes, yes it can. And by "it", I mean love. And I think they do too.

  • Kick Drum Heart - Ok, don't laugh [or laugh if you want] but there's something about this song that reminds me of The Who's "You Better You Bet". Go ahead and admit that you can hear it too.

  • Distraction #74 - Just another example of what happens when you "kinda love two girls".

  • Sanguine - I just especially love his voice in this one. And the lyrics. Don't forget the lyrics!

  • Spanish Pipedream - This is a John Prine song that they covered. Listen to it (when you search for it using your favorite search engine of choice) without tapping your toes. I dare you. I'd say that you have a better chance of finding Jesus on your own.
Dumbed down and numb by lack of sleep...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Space Between.

Unless one has given up all forms of media for Lent or has spent the last week in a secluded over the water bungalow in Tahiti, you probably know that the face in the picture above belongs to a man named Jamie Hood. Those of us who call The Classic City home are perhaps a little more familiar with his face because it has been plastered on a few billboards around town. If my fellow citizens are anything like me, they were probably on a bit of high alert each and every time they walked out the door to take their dog on a walk near a wooded area that happened to be only a few miles from the crime scene until around Thursday when the authorities narrowed down his whereabouts to a more specific location east and then north of town. [You can take the girl out of Hickory Flat, but you can't take Hickory Flat out of the girl.] The crime that this man committed is heinous. And inexcusable. And senseless. And all of those other one-dimensional words that we use in an attempt to describe a three-dimensional tragedy that will forever impact a number of people far too great to count. But since this picture began to circulate late Tuesday afternoon, the face that I see every single time I look at this picture is an entirely different one. A couple of weeks ago, I visited a local high school in order to speak with a Teen Parent Group about all of the wonders and benefits of higher education that were available to them. Let's be honest: I was probably just as prepared to be the keynote speaker at a robotics convention. Silly me for not anticipating ahead of time the possibility that some of these teen parents may actually have their children with them. I guess there is no other option when the nanny calls in sick at the last minute. I don't incorporate [sardonic] wit and humor to make light of the situation at all. In fact, I probably do it as more of a defense because the whole situation was absolutely heart breaking. You see, in the 10 years that I have been giving presentations to groups of high school students about going to college, not once have I ever presented while holding a baby on my hip. Until that day. And since that day I have not been able to get that precious baby boy out of my mind. He is probably about 18 months old. And like most any other kiddo in that stage of life, he was so busy and full of wonder and happy and easily entertained by something as simple as looking at a Spiderman folder. At least until something shinier caught his eye, anyway. He was the kind of baby that makes you wonder if you could fit him in your purse and carry him home with you. Because the reality is, his reality probably won't be filled with wonder and happiness for all that much longer in comparison to those 18 month olds out in the world living an "ideal" life. His reality is that he has a greater chance of going to jail than he does of going to college one day. So the week's constant news coverage of the loss of a police officer, shooting of another, and search for the shooter has led me to think a lot about the space between. What happens in a person's life between sheer childhood innocence when the natural response is to love all that is in the world and the point of committing murder? How does a person get to the point that he or she feels that the bad choices or obviously very wrong choices are only the ones that they have? How can a person become so hardened that even if he knows that the choice he makes is the wrong one, it doesn't stop him from making it? At what point is it ever okay for one to not have to be responsible for his poor decisions? [Hint: Never.] All of these questions absolutely make me stop and give thanks for grace and love and good people and their positive influence that have been so commonplace in my life. But a little lesson that I've been learning over the past two years or so is that just being thankful isn't my only responsibility. It's really not enough for me to just pause for a few minutes and say "whew, I'm glad that I never have to worry about getting to the point in my life to where I make such stupid decisions" and go about my day of looking at someone's 2009 vacation pictures on Facebook and checking the 5 day forecast to determine if it's going to be worth my time to straighten my hair before rain moves in and ruins the fruits of my labor. On the flip side though, I don't exactly know what is enough either. But I hope that I never become so apathetic by the dismal news that faces us in the headlines each day or absorbed in my own worries that I stop trying to figure it out. As I'm sitting here typing all of this, I notice the time in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. The funeral service for Officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian will begin in about 15 minutes. He is being buried in the cemetery near where I live. All afternoon I have heard the practice shots (???) that I assume are the prelude to the gun salute that will given in his honor during the graveside portion of his service. My heart is very sad for his family. Even though I know nothing about them, I do know a little about losing a family member. And since last Tuesday, his wife and his children have closed one space and entered into a completely new one. It's the space between life when their family was still intact on this earth and the time when it is not. It's probably pretty dark. Of course their grief will be great, but my prayer is that their hope will be greater.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrocks, Leprechauns, & the Fighting Irish.

This subject line [or entire blog post] really has nothing to do with much of anything at all unless of course you count the fact that today is St. Patrick's Day. Or March 17th if you're [insert all other nationalities besides Irish here]. When it comes to country of origin, I think I'm pretty much a mutt. Surely though I've got some Irish in me from somewhere down the line if I look to the pigmentation of my skin as a clue.

There are three reasons why I like this particular day, and none of them have anything to do with the road rising to meet me or the sun shining on my back or whatever.

Reason #1: Cake
.I might have mentioned once or eleventy dozen times how much I love the mint chocolate grasshopper cake from The Grit. Well, I made it last night. I won't share the recipe online because then before you know it I'll be like that lady who got mad at Neiman Marcus for charging her 43 million dollars for a cookie recipe so she made it her lot in life to share it with the whole free world. Or at least those of us fortunate enough to have an email address and internet access. You can find the recipe here though. Or if you're like me and fortunate enough to have a friend who will loan you her copy of the cookbook to score the recipe. Speaking of score...

Reason #2: Brackets close at 12:00 noon today, folks!

Have you made your picks? I'm slightly upset that Notre Dame isn't actually playing today because it seems only fitting that St. Patrick be honored in such a way. Or maybe this way all the players can honor him by drinking green beer [errr...gatorade] tonight in preparation for tomorrow's match-up against Akron.

Reason #3: This is just silly and it makes me laugh.

Tripp & Tyler Wishing You a Happy St. Patrick's Day from Andy Waddell on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"After all, tomorrow is another day."

Every once in awhile I like to throw around Scarlett O'Hara phrases even though this fictional Southern belle and I are nothing alike. Unless you consider the shared blessing that we are natives of Georgia and the shared curse that we both have been known to swoon over "the Perfect Knight". And look how well that worked out for both of us. But I'm not here to discuss the [two] parallels between my life and the leading lady in American literature who was portrayed on the big screen by an English actress. Better than a Yankee, I suppose. Oh, I kid!

Just this past Sunday night, I was having a conversation with pals over a delicious and heavenly dinner at The Grit. In this conversation, I might have mentioned that I was going to work harder at loving the people who are the most unlovable because they are the ones who need love the most. How noble, HP.

Fast forward not even 48 hours later to this morning at work. I might have been in a rant to one of those same pals regarding some very unlovable people. Contrary to the belief of some folks, I've got far more important things to do than sit around dreaming up barriers and implementing policy to keep people from going to college. Why would I do that when I would rather be calculating the averages of the winning scores and losing scores in the NCAA championship for the last 10 years to come up with my scores for this year's bracket?

Over email today, another pal and I were discussing options for weekend fun. When she asked what I wanted to do my response was: "Drink. Heavily. Or bust knee caps."

Who is the unlovable one now? Just me...HP.

Later today I decided that I should check myself before I wrecked myself so I listened to a randomly selected online message. Here was the scriptual basis for said randomly selected message: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like." -James 1:22-24

When I get really honest with myself, I know that nowhere in the B-i-b-l-e are we told to drink heavily and bust knee caps. Even though when I get even more honest with myself, I sometimes think it would be really cool if it did. [...Until my knee caps or the knee caps belonging to one of my people were the ones getting busted.]

Because I needed the reminder in a bad way today and will potentially need it again before my morning coffee buzz wears off tomorrow, I'll share what we are told to do: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." - Ephesians 4:32

The truth is that not every day can be a 10. We are living in a state of delusion if we think that each morning Chesley is going to max out the wizometer by giving the day an 11 before we even wash the sleep out of our eyes. But "[b]ecause of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning..." -Lamentations 2:22-23.

This is great news for a girl like me who knows that while I can't erase today's attitude, when I put myself to bed in about 5 minutes, the attitude will be put to rest too. And because we are loved so much by a God that hands out grace as freely as I handed out eyerolls today, I get the chance to try again and do better tomorrow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

That time Emily Blunt gave me a dirty look.

Have I ever written about one of the times I was in Vegas last year, and we were at the Beatles Cirque show "Love" and sat in front of John Krasinski and Emily Blunt? No? Sorry, I guess that I'm so used to rubbing elbows with the Hollywood crowd that I forgot to mention it. Anyways, long story short, we sat in front of John Krasinski and Emily Blunt at the Beatles Cirque show "Love" and upon my party's discovery and recognition of them at the end of the show, the future Mrs. Jim Halpert was none too pleased with us. Personally I think she was just jealous that her man friend was more popular among my group than she was. Besides, it was around the same time that Pam was out on maternity leave at Dunder Mifflin, and Emily knew the consequences of being caught in public with a man who belonged to another woman. Oh look at me mixing up television and reality.

Anyhoodle, I write all of that as a segue [I love using that word.] to talk about Emily Blunt and Matt Damon's movie, The Adjustment Bureau. Suz and I went to see it the weekend that it opened. Y'all, I love it and I can't stop thinking about it. [That sounds like my life is more boring then it really is, but you know what I mean. Hopefully.] I will not go too in depth here because if you haven't seen it yet, farbeit for me to be the spoiler. Just go see it. I've got a Living Social movie voucher so if you play your cards right and ask nicely, I may take you because I want to see it again. And we all know my hang ups about going to the movies alone. People would probably think that I snuck my cat into the theater with me in my purse or something.

Here are a few vague reasons why I love it:
1. Matt Damon. [Honestly I could just stop there because he's reason enough.]
2. Prior to the movie, Emily Blunt had no formal training in ballet and she played her part as a dancer quite gracefully. Plus, she didn't frown at me this time.
3. I have spent the last year or so of my life pondering things like free will and fate and who is really in charge at the end of the day. [Even though I'm highly confident of who is in charge despite my affinity for sometimes trying to control things beyond my control.] While this is just a movie that was created by mere mortals with the purpose of entertainment for others, it challenges me to think about how free will and fate intersect with each other and how my choices not only effect me but folks around me as well. Nothing like the responsibility of messing with the lives of other people as added pressure to make good choices.
4. Matt Damon. [Oh I said that already, didn't I?]

Seriously, stop reading this and get to the movies!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Soundtrack: Running Edition.

I should begin by explaining that this week's musical montage does not necessarily feature songs to load up on your iPod for actual running. It seems that I've given running up in exchange for watching television. But now that I'm another year older, I have decided that I should reconsider my decision. Especially if I want to keep eating things like Vegan Grasshopper Cake from The Grit as I continue to march toward my golden years.

Today I'm going to focus on a type of running that I am really good at. As in, marathon quality runner. It's running from God. Whoa, this post suddenly got a little heavy. Stick with me. A couple of weeks ago at church we finished up a series on Jonah. By "we", I mean that I listened while Andy Stanley taught. For those of you who have forgotten the felt board version of Jonah's story from VBS, he ran so far from what God told him to do that he ended up in the belly of a whale. [Gross.] But there's more to the story that goes far beyond the felt board version. Andy's explanation is much clearer, funnier, and thorough than I could ever clearly relay so if you find yourself in the situation at work and your office network is down and Internet Explorer is working like a champ, check it out here. The series is called "White Flag". And it's awesome. If you don't time to listen though, after I share my "running" songs, I'll conclude this post with the theme and moral of the book of Jonah, in addition to my favorite quote of Andy's from the entire series. But first, please enjoy the music while your party is being reached...

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. Ok, so maybe this would be a good song to have playing in the background as you take to the open roads on a cool, crisp morning as you knock out a quick 5 miles. It just so happens that's about what I do each morning...on my drive in to work.

Run by Collective Soul. Remember Collective Soul? Have I got a long way to run? Goodness, I hope not.

Running to Stand Still by U2. I try not to repeat songs in this little soundtrack segment that I do, but I love it. By far my favorite U2 song. And sometimes when we do run, aren't we running so we can get to the place where we can stop? How often when we run, do we know that we're running from something without a single clue as to what we're actually running to?

Run, Baby, Run by Sheryl Crow. Y'all. Sheryl Crow is 49. I hope I look as good as she does when I reach that age [20 years from now - ha!]. Do you think if I resume running that I have a better chance? What? Eating more cake is actually the secret of aging gracefully? Speaking of cake...

The Distance by Cake. Let's all hop in the Delorian and do a little time traveling back into the 1990's for this one folks! Have you all heard their new song though? It's called "Sick of You". Oh how I love Cake. ...of multiple varieties.

Run by George Strait. What's not to love about this song? Nothing. That's what.

Runaway by Bon Jovi. We're all little runaways when it comes right down to it. Now, if I knew that JBJ was waiting for me at the end of my run, I might be encouraged to run a little more quickly. Just sayin'.

Glory Defined by Building 429. You know the good thing for us is that no matter how far or how fast we run from God, we will never outrun him. And maybe while we're running, he's not going to chase us but simply wait for us to come back. Because when the chaos that results from our running gets to be too much or those things that we thought were worth the running prove otherwise, inevitably we will run back to God because deep down in our gut, we know that he's what we need. [I know that was longest sentence ever.] You know, like cake is what we want but vegetables are what we need. And we can only eat so much cake before our teeth begin to hurt. I digress.

So, back to the aforementioned theme, moral, and quote...

The theme of Jonah is found in Jonah 4:2 - "He [Jonah] prayed to the LORD, ...'I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity'."

The moral of Jonah is found in Jonah 4:9-11 - Ok, so I hyperlinked the actual scripture but Andy boiled it down to this: Jonah was a good man but he was concerned with all the wrong stuff. [Yikes...I feel like my name could quite easily replace Jonah's.]

The biggest takeaway for me:

"God is generous with his grace and thorough in his discipline." - Andy Stanley [See Jonah 2.]