Thursday, December 31, 2009

My year, summed up in picture and prose

As the year winds to a close, we all tend to think "Where has this past year gone? What do I have to show for it?" and more times than not, we struggle to remember what has happened to us. I've been very fortunate this year to have preserved my 2009 in pictures. Some of the pictures may make sense to you, some may not. You may even find yourself in some of the pictures.

The early months of 2009 were quiet and unobtrusive, for the most part. I caught a killer sale at Dillards, discovered a fantastic new author whom I adore and threw a couple of birthday parties for my kids. I camped out in 20° temps to be one of the first people in line for concert tickets. I stood next to a childhood classmate and watched him cry as Toby Keith sang about him and the hundreds of thousands of other American Soldiers fighting for our country. I snuggled with my kids, my husband and my pets. I sat through school music programs and embarrassed my kids by taking hoards of pictures. Why? Because I am my mother's child and pay-forwards are a bitch.

I traveled. Lord, did I travel! 6,000 miles overall in 2009. I finally hugged new friends I'd met online. I was introduced to the wonderful taste of Portello's Italian Beef sandwiches. I met New Kids on the Block (some of them more than once). I slept on the streets of New York City with a thousand perfect strangers that I now call sisters. I stood at the top of Rockefeller Center and let the wind blow through me. I stood at the base of Ground Zero and sobbed, letting grief blow through me. I rode the subway for the first time. I strolled through Central Park. And had a pretzel. And got lost. And got hit on by a hobo. And listened to a three piece band perform for pocket change. And loved every minute of it. Okay, not every minute of it. Being lost in Central Park kinda sucked.  I had Cuban food for the first time and discovered a serious love for fried plantains.

My niece, whom I also consider my baby sister, graduated from high school. One of my oldest and dearest friends finally moved back  home. We went camping. I nude-sunbathed for the first time ever. I learned to take time to stop and smell the roses, or in my case, peonies.

We traveled some more when I won tickets to the CMT Music Video awards in Nashville (Thank you, Reba!). I got to see the Ryman Auditorium up close. I also got to see numerous music icons. I got to see Kid Rock stoned out of his mind (and really? Who doesn't wanna see that?!) while trying to announce nominees for an award.

I traveled some more and met more BlockHead "sisters," in Chicago. I had caramel cheese popcorn from Garrett's. I shopped on Michigan Avenue. I stood at Navy Pier with my new "family" and played "Thriller" on my Blackberry when we learned that Michael Jackson had died. I stood the next day with the same family and sang along to "Man in the Mirror" as our boys paid tribute to the man and his music. I held hands with the son of a pop star.

I began a new fitness program and dedicated myself to a healthier lifestyle. I started a new tradition of attending my old hometown's 4th of July festival with my daughter. We ate snow cones, cotton candy (so much for that healthier lifestyle) and watched the fireworks blaze over the ball fields on the edge of town.

I traveled again. This time, RiceChex and I drove to Colorado. We spent several days in Denver teaching our good friend Crisillyus how to properly stalk a boy band. We toured historic hotels (for reasons that will remain unmentioned until the statue of limitations runs out) and outdoor malls. I got a kick-ass new makeover and sang Cher songs during Karaoke at a gay bar (I killed it, thankyouverymuch!). I met more new BH sisters (and reminisced with old ones). RiceChex and I then discovered that Kansas is actually the largest state in the Union as we traveled through it on our way to Texas. She and I learned that Oklahoma doesn't have winds that whip through the plains, but they have thunderstorms that last for 400 miles. I determined that there is no place hotter than Texas in July and that the Indigo Hotel is the most adorable hotel on the planet. I vowed to return to Dallas to eat at Porta di Roma's (ask for Michael!). I shopped in a regular store for the first time ever and purchased an adorable shirt at Anthropologie. I partied at a club with pop stars (and 500 over-the-top groupies) and saw Jesse Metcalf in person (he's as beautiful in real life as he was on Desperate Housewives). RiceChex and I discovered the biggest gas station in the world (everything really IS bigger in Texas!) and tried Beaver Nuggets for the first time (I'm a fan. She's not.).

August brought the end of summer, the Iowa State Fair and the first day of School. I began Fall with more concerts and time spent with Chick Clique, my local girls-night-out group. I traveled with ProjectDance to Sioux City to help teach a dance routine, participated in the Race for the Cure and celebrated Halloween "Karen Walker" style with friends at numerous parties. November brought "New Moon," our family Cranksgiving at FatBoyz and some remodeling around the house. The office and living room both got make-overs. Friends and family helped us celebrate Christmas and I rounded out the year being cozied away at home thanks to Mother Nature's fury.

It's been a remarkable year and I am so thankful for all the memories I've made and the people I've made them with.

Thank you for sharing 2009 with me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Have I done the best I could?

I was talking with a friend tonight and we were tennis-matching back and forth truths about ourselves. I admitted to not being very fond of Christmas. He joked that either I'd had a miserable childhood or I didn't have cable television. I told him that Christmases when I was a child were great. But Christmas 1989 was the last really great Christmas I'd had. He asked me if I'd tried to recreate those good Christmases with my own family. I answered that I had, but felt like I'd fallen far short of my goal.

Now that I've had a little time to gnaw on it, I really wonder if I've tried all that hard afterall.

Christmases when I was a kid were SO crazy. I remember playing with my cousins and eating tons of great food and making audio tapes of all of our clan singing Christmas carols for my aunt who lived in California and couldn't be there with us. I remember the sheer number of people and the chaos that resulted from it all. I can't do that myself. I can buy great presents for my kids. I can cook a great meal. I can invite family & friends to my house. I can start Christmas traditions for my family, but I can't recreate the things that made my Christmases so great as a kid.

That's something only my mom could do.

And I miss her.

God, I miss her.

We're talking about a woman who sacrificed SO much for me...everyday of her life she sacrificed for me. She always went without things so that I had what I need and wanted. She knew what the cancer took from her, but she was much more aware of what it took from me and she tried to make up for it in so many ways.

I remember one of her last Christmases, she went on this big charade to surprise me with a Happy Holidays Barbie doll. I'd seen the picture of the doll in a magazine and as a huge Barbie girl, I fell in love with the blonde beauty in the red ball gown. I carried the picture around with me for weeks and weeks. I was too old to play with Barbies anymore, but I couldn't help wanting that doll. She was beautiful. My mother worked at Target that year and she managed to snatch one of the limited edition dolls that came in and she hid it from me and surprised me with it on Christmas. I still have that Barbie, but I will always cherish the memory more than the doll. It was symbolic of what my mother was...constantly selfless.

My mother was no saint. And I recognize that. She was a real person with real faults...but if there is one quality I wish I could draw from her, it's the selflessness she had.

When I remember those times, I really have to ask myself, have I done the best I could? And I have to answer "No."

Sometimes the truth hurts.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I wasn't alone afterall.

I miss you, mom.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
~Mary Frye~

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"I Made My Family Disappear!"

For the last thirty-six Christmases, I've celebrated with family, friends or both. My house was always the hub of chaos during the Holidays. Our family hosted get-togethers that rivaled those of the Kennedy Clan. Kids, grandkids, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, friends of friends, girlfriends and boyfriends of friends of friends - our house was FULL!

Those were always my favorite memories, too. Wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. My mother never skimped on a holiday meal, of course. Big, steaming pots and casseroles, desserts, appetizers, whatever you call the prequel to appetizers, side dishes, salads, name it. Pop & beer were always stored in the back porch, where it frequently got so cold the cans would freeze and burst. Yep..just wasn't Christmas without a foamy Pepsi can bubbling over.

When my parents divorced, our family events became a bit smaller, but still happened. Fewer people, but still lots of people and food. We included more friends in our gatherings, too. Then, mom died and we had one last Christmas with the whole family before we finally decided it was more work than it was worth. We had small get-togethers then, usually just us siblings and our immediate families. It was fifteen years before our entire extended family got together again.

That was a fun year. I'd been working that year on special presents for my aunts & cousins. I'd dug through old pictures and scanned & printed them off, creating unique calendars for each of them. The kitchen was full of those mouthwatering smells again. We played games and visited. The kids played and left chaos in their wake -- just how a family get-together is supposed to work. We've since tried very hard to keep those traditions going.

When my husband and I got married, we discovered quickly the need to alternate the big holidays. His family is much like mine used to be: huge gatherings with all the kids, their spouses and children. Hoards of food, lots of noise and so much wrapping paper in garbage bags afterward that Greenpeace has our family on their Most Wanted list. As time has gone on, though, I've grown less tolerant of the noise and the chaos that comes with eleven grandchildren (seven of which are under the age of 12). It's no secret that I'm not fond of children, nor should it come as a surprise that I prefer peace and quiet. Combine the chaos with religious judgement and completely different parenting styles for our children  and I spend most of the holiday in petulant silence. Sometimes the migraine I fake to get away from the noise isn't so fake, after all. As time has gone on, Hubby and I have developed a holiday tradition of our own: fighting about whether I have to attend his family's Christmas celebration. I always end up going, though in order to keep the peace. (Whenever he goes to see his family without me, he's bombarded with questions about what's wrong with our marriage since I'm not there.)

This year, I was granted a pardon.

Long story short, Hubby screwed up. He trusted his mother with something in confidence (which she didn't keep so confident) and quite honestly, I'm tired of pretending to be someone I'm not and since the valve between my opinion and my mouth is permanently disabled, it's bound to get ugly. I was still prepared to go...that whole keeping-the-peace thing, you know...but he told me the other night that I don't have to go with him this year.

What does that mean for me? I'm Home Alone this Christmas. Our family is going to my cousin's house on Christmas Eve, then we'll be dropping the kids off at their dad's before heading home. Hubby will get up bright and early Christmas morning and head to his parents'. I will be staying home. By myself. Just me (and three cats) (and a dog) (and whoever's on Twitter) (and Facebook).

I will be making a big pot of my mom's homemade tomato soup. And I'll spend the weekend sleeping in and staying up late, watching movies, reading books, soaking in a bubble bath and doing whatever the hell else I feel like doing.
I may even sing "White Christmas" a'la Kevin McCallister. You never know.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Who are you?

I was talking with a friend earlier tonight that I met online a few years ago. We were asking each other random questions and he asked me "If someone were to ask you "Who are you?" how would you respond?"

I was dumbstruck.

How exactly would I respond to that question?

I answered a simple "I'm the most complex person you'll ever meet," which is true, but definitely doesn't tell anyone who I really am. It doesn't tell them, for instance, that I *hate* waking up but do enjoy mornings. It also doesn't tell them that I can't stand fighting, but love a good debate. That I like cheese sauce and string cheese, but don't like cheeseburgers or cheese on my salad. That I can stay up for days on end, but also sleep for days on end once I crash.

It doesn't tell them that I value my privacy and my solace, but am scared to death of being alone later in life. Or that I can eat Frosted Mini-Wheats straight out of the box, but don't usually eat them for breakfast. Or that I moan in my sleep and always dream in color. Or that I sing well but always get embarrassed about receiving applause for doing so.

It doesn't tell them that my favorite color is orange. And red. And purple. That I have a brand new box of crayons that I bought a year ago but haven't used yet. That I have two fathers and never really knew either of them. That my mother died when I was 15 and while I didn't know her as an adult, my life's experiences have mimicked hers. It doesn't reveal that I'm highly sentimental about my family but rarely speak to my own sister.

It doesn't express how much I love animals and dislike most people I meet. It doesn't tell them that I don't watch the news or read the paper because it's too depressing. Or that I love Christmas but hate not being able to decorate and give gifts the way I would like to because of financial constraints. It doesn't reveal that I cry for no reason and every reason. Or that I find more sympathy for characters in a book or movie than I do real people most days.

Who am I? I guess now you know.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm just me

"Giiiiiiirl, you just....MMMM!"

Those were the first words uttered by the husband of a couple we're friends with when we walked into the Halloween Party last night. He ended the sentence in a growl and a shake of the head. I guess I don't see it. It's hard for me, really. Having been a heifer most of my life, I don't see that I'm any different than I've ever been. I'm just me. I have my moments of confidence, but like any woman with self-esteem issues, I constantly question compliments and the only things I really notice are how many fat days I have a week, how much the numbers on the scale fluctuate and how I haven't gone down another size in almost two months. I don't see this vixen my friends seem to see. I don't know that I ever will.

But even my husband says she's there. He said last night I carry myself differently. I'm more confident, less introverted and I even smile more than I used to. He said he wished I could see myself the way he sees me.

The thing is..and I may spend time in therapy for this, I guess I consider almost any declaration of accomplishment egotistical and an unattractive quality in any human being. So while I have learned to take compliments better, I still brush them off because they make me uncomfortable. I know I've lost weight. I know those thirty-ish pounds I've lost are a HUGE accomplishment, but to point it out, feels awkward to me. To celebrate them for more than a general statement of "I lost ____ pounds," to me, seems self-serving and the *LAST* thing I ever want to be is self-absorbed or egotistical.

I have over 400 followers on Twitter and I still sit back and say "what the hell?" I know many of those people follow me because of the weight loss I've achieved over the last few months, but it still seems weird to me. There are celebrities who've lost more weight than I have. There are tried-and-true people who live healthy lifestyles daily who are far more "together" than I am. Why the hell do 400+ people want to follow me? I'm just me, ya know? I tell people the same thing when it comes to my writing...or my singing....or anything else they try to compliment me on: I'm just me. I'm nobody special.

I'm MUCH more comfortable just blending into the background than being out there in the spotlight. And I'm discovering just how uncomfortable I am receiving compliments, too. This weight loss thing is much more difficult than I realized. It's so much more than just losing weight. There's responsibility with it, too. I didn't know about it. I sure don't know what to do with it and furthermore, I don't think I'm qualified to take it on. do I just lose the weight and return everything else that comes along with it?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Please Remember...

I was not there. I did not die.

I did not feel the tremors of concrete exploding above me in this morning's business meeting on the 56th story. The soles of my shoes did not melt to the floor as it was licked by the flames on the level beneath me. Jet fuel vapors did not saturate my nostrils when I gasped for clean air in my smoke-filled office. My clothes were not torn or ripped off my body when glass and debris pierced the safety of the stairwell. Rescuers will not scrape my splattered body off the sidewalk because I leaped to my death from a window a quarter of a mile in the sky. You did not see me fleeing in panic from the cloud of ash chasing me like a mugger through the streets of New York City. I did not yank every door handle looking for that one unlocked car to serve as refuge from the criminal grabbing at my sleeve. The gritty taste of soot did not stain my tongue in the snowy blizzard of ash that bleached my skin, hair and clothes.

I did not mutter the 23rd Psalm just in time for the nose of my plane to kiss the steel walls of a skyscraper. My throat was not slit with a box cutter by the man who held my fate. My cell phone wasn't dialed in the last minutes of my life as I hid in a tiny box of a restroom. I did not describe to my husband the terror I was encountering just seconds before my exit from this world.

Instead, I was here. I lived.

I gaped at the radio in disbelief when Tim McGraw was interrupted with a late breaking news story of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. I surfed the radio stations searching for more information on this catastrophic event. When a journalist's voice was replaced again with song, I would punch the "seek" button on my Alpine until another somber voice was heard. I contemplated turning my car around and returning to the sanctuary of my home. Algebra just didn't seem quite that important anymore. Math won out as I parked my car on campus. The repeated stories echoed through the empty hallways from radios turned on a bit louder than usual. A television in the student lounge boomed ominously to an astounded audience of students, most barely old enough to recall the Oklahoma City bombing with any accuracy. Many had never seen disaster of this magnitude. For that matter, none of us have.

I don't remember sitting through Prof. Jensen's examples on the board today and I still don't understand #20 on the worksheet she assigned. I can't even tell you how I got home this afternoon. Somehow, I managed to pick up my kids and meet my husband at the door with a sigh of relief. The television became our Midwest connection to the horror on the eastern seaboard. We watched in grotesque interest when CNN rolled footage of limp bodies plunging to the ground in some twisted form of suicide. I didn't blink until the video was shown a third time as the plane suddenly appeared in the right of the screen, veered suddenly and exploded through the 83rd floor of the second tower. It wasn't until the whispered words became harmonized verses as this country's congressmen sang "God Bless America" that I finally felt emancipated enough to cry.

My six year-old asked me to show him on the globe where the "bad man crashed his plane." I did. I also showed him where we live. I repeated in "kid terms" what happened and whom they think did it. I attempted to explain why the person is mad. My son, a young man who at times carries the weight of the world on his shoulders said to me, "Mama? I don't want there to be a fire. I don't want to die." His body will not be laid to rest with the thousands who perished in this disaster. But there is a small part of him that will be buried. A small part of all of us will be.

Music of patriotic mourning steals the silence of my quiet home as it nears 3am here in the Heartland. Still a bit shell-shocked, I sit in this chair typing sporadically as ideas pierce the numbness of my mind. With tearstained cheeks, a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach that cannot be loosened I pray yet again. I beg God for some whisper of understanding or a sheet of peace to envelope me so that I may at last sleep tonight.

Today, someone took a proverbial bite of the Big Apple, but I was not there.

I did not die.

(written September 2001)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Best motivation I've heard all week

I went this week and bought scrapbook materials to do a book as a gift for Jonathan Knight. In my search, I found a really cool sheet of paper on clearance. It was really motivational. It's dark brownish-black with white & red lettering on it. Nothing else..just the writing. I'm trying to find out who wrote it. I know part of it comes from Gilda Radner.

Life is made of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. Some say that life is a party. You join it after its started and leave before its finished. The lover of life makes the whole world into his family. Life delights in life. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich. Why not? is a slogan for an interesting life. Life is haphazard and full of beauties which I try to catch as they fly by, for who knows whether any of them will ever return? Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies and be it gash or gold. It will not come again in this identical disguise. Blaze with the fire that is never extinguished. Nothing is to small to know, and nothing is too big to attempt. Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get. Be strong, go with your heart and believe in mieracles because anything...anything can happen. Dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you've never been hurt Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though heaven is on earth. May you live all the days of your life. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty, never grows old, to laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. Life is like playing a violin solo in public and learning the instrument as you go along. May I never miss a sunset or a rainbow because I am looking down. I have found that if you love life, life will love you right back. That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet. The purpose of live is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give it away. Life engenders life. Energy creates energy.

It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich. Old age is no place for sissies. There is no fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult whereas I am merely in disguise. Life itself is the proper binge. It has begun to occur to me that life is a stage I'm going through. It's going to be a long, hard drag, but we'll make it. The way to know life is to love many things. Rules for happiness: something to do. Someone to love. Something to hope for. I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned the hard way that some poems don't rhyme and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gone Too Soon

I want so badly to be able to write about meeting up in Chicago with my girls for the NKOTB show. I want to make you laugh and wish you were here with us, but I can't bring myself to be funny right now. I have such a heavy heart and have been this way all night.

Regardless of what you thought of the man as a person, Michael Jackson was one of the most amazing artists of all time...and he will be missed. The music industry was forever changed because of his life.

May his legacy be not one of shame...but one of talent, kindness and love.

God bless you, Michael. May your death be more peaceful than your life.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Miss you, Dad

Without writing for the next six hours about the relationship I had with my dad, I'm going to try to sum up a list of memories I have of him.

Dad, I remember....
1. "wrasslin" with you when I was a kid
2. the pancakes you made me that were bigger than the plate. I still don't know how you ever flipped those suckers.
3. reading bedtime stories to you because you couldn't read very well.
4. sitting on your lap steering while you worked the "foot feet" in the car when I was 10
5. when you whipped the hell out of Duchess for bucking me off when I was 5
6. that Christmas when you and Mom tricked me by wrapping up a Cabbage Patch Kid as a gift to you and you told me to unwrap "your" present.
7. the time you took PeeWee, our lamb, to the auction house and came home with two goats (I can't believe Mom didn't strangle you)
8. fishing with you on the Skunk River bridge
9. the silver heart pendant you gave me for Christmas the year mom died (which I still have)
10. how your hand felt resting over the top of mine when you gave me away at my first wedding.

There are sad memories, too...
1. Standing in our driveway crying on my 8th birthday because you had to leave on a run (he was a truck driver)
2. Seeing you tied up to so many tubes in '83 when you had your heart attacks
3. Having you leave for good without so much as a goodbye or an explanation when you and mom divorced
4. Not having you there when I got remarried
5. Missing my chance to tell you goodbye before the cancer took you away.

I visit your grave, but not as often as I should, I suppose. I guess, to me, you're not there. You're on a run somewhere. You're calling us collect once or twice a week and you're loving the hell out of life. You're puffin' away on a cigarette or drinkin' a Schlitz. You're cussing out somebody who's pissed you off. You're lovin' up on mom, even though she never really got all that mushy with you. You're listening to Red Sovine on your tape deck and fudging your log books just a little. You're getting mouthy with the waitress because you know she secretly loves a good debate. You're on the riding lawnmower cutting the grass in our monster-sized yard. You're on a fishing boat in Minnesota catching a hoard of walleyes. You're giving us kids a dirty look for the bald jokes we flip at you. You're laughing that goofy laugh of yours. You're out there somewhere where it doesn't hurt...where life isn't hard...where unconditional love is the only love you experience. You're happy...and smiling...and watching over us kids and the grandbabies.

Not a day goes by when I don't think about you, Dad.

I miss you...and I'm sorry for the things I lost out on in your life.

I love you so much.

Daddy's Girl

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A revisit to Square Peg

A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog called "Square Peg in a Round Hole" and in going through my archives I wanted to revisit this one.

It's amazing to me what a year's time can do. These friendships with females that I seemed to have lacked all these years have finally arrived...and plentifully, I might add.

Thank you to my "Million Sisters" who have helped complete my life.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

People never cease to amaze me

"Just spent 15 minutes consoling a man on the street who had just gotten his heart broken. He was crying."
This was the status of an acquaintance of mine on Facebook this morning.

I'm so caught completely off guard by this random act of kindness that I can barely think of where to start. I commented to her that he may always remember the person who broke his heart, but without a doubt, he'd also always remember that perfect stranger who came along and hugged him at just the right time.

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Everything.

Is it a coincidence that my friend came along when she did? Did she just happen to be walking down that street and just happen to run across this man? Did the planets line up just perfectly to allow this act of kindess to occur? I don't think so. I think it was meant to be.

I was reading the news story this morning about the man who opened fire at the Holocaust Monument and was disgusted by what happened. I said "THIS! THIS kinda shit is why I don't watch the news. I don't want to hear about this!!" And then, not even two hours later, I see this message and I think to myself "THIS! THIS is why I don't watch the news....because you don't see THIS on the news." You only see pain and death and chaos. You don't see stories about selfless generosity like what happened here.

I am giving you a mission today - be selfless. DO something for someone ELSE today. Not for what you can get back. Not what it will say about you as a person. Do something that will make someone else smile today.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I've spent the last year in a reminiscent phase. I called old friends I hadn't talked to since high school, I reconnected with an old boyfriend because I always wondered where he ended up. I also planned a reunion for my graduating class. Recently, one of my favorite bands reunited after 15 years and I attended one of their concerts with a couple of life-long friends of mine.

All of these things have brought me great joy....but at the same time, I feel the changes that have taken place over the last 20 years or so. I was telling Billy Hufsey on his fan page that nostalgia can be a double-edged sword. One side of that blade is so comfortable - it's what you know. It's what's built who you are. The other side of that sword can be a bitter reminder of what you haven't accomplished in life...the goals you set early in life that just haven't come to fruition. It's hard to come to terms with that sometimes.

When I was a few months away from my 30th birthday a few years back, I was fighting depression badly. My sister told me " have to look at the older people...determine what they've done in their lives before 30 and what they've done after thirty. I guarantee you your thirties will be great for you - you have so much left to do!!" And so far, she's been right (don't ANYBODY tell her I said that. I'll deny it!!). I've been a wife and mother for the last 13 years, we've bought our home, established stability for our kids and I've even managed to build my own photography business. In my free time, I also write. Someday I hope to combine those two passions into an amazing project (or Until then, I'm just enjoying the ride.

I like the scenery. I may sit down and sniff a few roses along the way while I'm at it. :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Guilty Pleasures

Got the idea from The Maryland Girls and thought maybe it would give a little insight as to what makes for a good day in Mel's world.

Sweet tea. There is nothing better on the planet that a tall glass of sweet tea..the sweeter the better. I drink probably a quart of it a day in the winter and a half gallon of it in the summertime. I can't get enough of it!! I blame my Southern roots for this little addiction.

Bubble baths. Avon Soft Pink bubble bath is my marinade of choice. I get my favorite book (or prop the TV up just right in the bedroom door) and spend HOURS....yes the tub. It takes me less than 10 minutes to actually bathe. It's the soaking and escape that I enjoy the most. I light candles...sometimes I listen to music. Love me a bath!!

Hot wings. I could literally eat these things every day for the rest of my life. I don't, for obvious dietary reasons, but it sure is fun to think about. I consider myself a hot wing connoisseur. I like 'em hot, but flavorful. Buffalo Wild Wings is a great place with a variety of flavors, but there are better places out there. A.K. O'Connor's is probably one of the top places around here. Granite City has good wings too. Dominoes is my favorite - good heat, not as fattening since they're baked instead of fried. Unfortunately, they don't deliver all the way out here. I haven't yet found "The" wing place, so if you've got suggestions, lemme know!

TV. This should come as no surprise. I blame my mom, actually. From the time we got out of bed until the time we went back to bed at night, our television was on. Even when we weren't home (the noise may distract a burglar!), the tv was on. I have gotten better, though. I've turned ours off in exchange for music, recently. Some habits can be beaten.

Sleep. Again, I think it's an escape thing. Sleep is the one thing that evades me the most, but something I can do for days, if I am able to seclude myself from reality long enough. I love hunkering down in blankets (the room has to be cold, though) with Kitty and wasting the night (and sometimes, day) away!

Twilight. Fortunately, now that the books are done, this may not be as much of a guilty pleasure as it once was. I do love the story, though...and I know I'll still have random vampirisms and I'm sure there will be a countdown on one of my web pages for the New Moon movie next November. But for the most part, I think I can manage this one without becoming overly obsessed.

NKOTB. This is one guilty pleasure that I'll never give up. It's twenty years old, afterall. Jon and Joe...Donnie and Jordan...Danny. Stick a fork in me, I'm done! Their music, their humor, their cameraderie, their personalities...all of it draws me in and holds me captive. I came *very* close in '08 to meeting them. I won't miss out in '09. I've done my research, I've paid attention on the forums to the facetime stories. I've got my mind right. Let's GET THIS!