Monday, December 13, 2010

Get it Together, L$

I think its about time for me to put my big girl pants on and deal. It's time for me to suck it up, get my game face on, and get ready to start the next big adventure of my life. I'm excited. I really am. But...I'm also a wee little bit scared.

(And by wee little bit scared what I mean is, I'm darn close to being too paralyzed with fear to get out of bed in the morning). Shhhh...

This is my last week at work which is both bittersweet and surreal. Can't even believe it. There have been days that seemed to last for three years and times when I was banging my head against the wall out of boredom and frustration, but by and large, the past year and a half has flown by. I don't even know that it has entirely sunk into my little brain yet that I really and truly am going to leave this place.

The past two weeks or so have been a freakin' emotional roller coaster for me (ok who am I kidding...that statement really applies to the past two years of my life, if we're being honest here). I alternate between being super excited about the new job/new city/adventureness of it all, being petrified to the point of asking myself if I'm sure I'm making the right decision and just wanting to hide under my bed until June, and being sad to leave such good people, yet resigned to do this thing. Am I a wreck or what? (The correct answer is yes, yes I am).

I think what it all comes down to is that this is just a really big change. Maybe the biggest life change I have experienced to date even, (I'll get back to you on that) but a change for sure. At this point I think I dont even know for sure if this is a good change, or the right change, a temporary change or a permanent one...at this point it's still just change. And change is scary.

All I really know for sure at this point is that I am finally moving. Both literally and figuratively. I hope I'm moving forward but even if I'm not, at least I'm no longer standing still either. I'm sad to leave my friends here, but I know that I can't stay and keep doing what I've been doing (on a number of levels), so its time for me to go. What it ultimately comes down to is that I've finally started to realize that there's sometimes a difference between what I want and what is right. Staying in NOLA would be easy now. I have friends, I know my way around as well as anyone, I've got a job, etc. It's comfortable and its easy. Even when I'm bored out of my mind at work there's a comfort to having a routine, to seeing the same people every day, and to the relationships I've developed here. But that doesn't make any of it right. I have too much yet to do with my life that I know I cannot accomplish from where I am right now. I see so many people who seem to me as though they have essentially given up; they'd rather stay in a situation, even when its bad, because they're too afraid to risk the discomfort of change. I don't ever want to be that. I hope I never reach a point where I let fear be the determining factor in what I choose for myself.

So...I'm going. It wont be easy at all, and between now and then I'd imagine I'll shed no small number of tears for all that I'm leaving here. I'm going knowing that there will definitely be tough days ahead, probably days when I feel lonely, days when I'm scared, and days when I really do just want to come running back to the feeling of security I have finally started to develop in NOLA. But I also know I can't do that. And I won't. I know that tough as it may be, this is what I have to do right now.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sometimes technology, I really hate you

No, really. I'll be the first to admit that my phone is more like another bodily appendage than a piece of hardware and that I'm not sure how I would function without the internet and my ipod and my blackberry. Seriously, I'm so dependant at this point that I'd probably just curl up in a corner and die without them. That said, some days I kinda just want to throw the stupid phone at the wall and never look back.

So the other day, everything I own decided to break at the same time. Bless her heart, I think my poor jeep is on its last leg and I'm just crossing my fingers that she'll last a little while longer until I can buy a new vehicle. The battery died on me this past week, so I had AAA come to my office to jump start the engine (in the parking garage, mind you). The guy was cool and offered to clean my battery connectors for me, since apparently they were in "God awful shape," and being one to never pass up a free offer, I agreed to let him. It went well until he was trying to put them back on and tighten them and one snapped apart in his hands. Fantastic. So then I got to go on an adventure with the AAA guy to buy new connectors. I guess its not all bad--if they were in that bad of shape they probably just needed to be replaced anyway.

Well, while all of this is going on (because nothing says "fun afternoon" like being stranded with a dead car and also a cell phone that doesn't work), my cell phone decides to spontaneuously combust. And by combust I mean die. It froze up and the only button that would work at all was the "T" which isn't horribly helpful, you know? So after I finally got the jeep running agin, I then got to drive out to the AT&T service store and wait around for an hour for them to determine that the refurbished phone they gave me three weeks ago when I was there for the same problem, was in fact broken beyond repair. I am now on my 3rd phone.

Last but not least, the heater in my apartment went out yesterday while I was at work. Guess who slept in sweat pants, under armour and wool socks last night...?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Crossing the Line

I have too much to lose, she said, if I cross that line. Like what? I said. She could not think of anything that day so she said she'd get back to me. Since then I've been thinking what I would lose if I cross my line & I haven't come up with anything either. There's always another line somewhere.

(Forwarded to me from my dear friend Jonnie. I can't take credit for this. I'm not even entirely sure I understand it yet...but I like it).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Only In New Orleans, Baby

On my flight home to Kentucky last week for Thanksgiving, I ended up sitting next to (what turned out to be) a very, very strange woman. She was nice enough, but--and I say this with all the love in the world...sorta--it was a solid reminder that there are all kinds of people out there and some of them are just nutcases. Straight up "I'm-on-a-day-pass-from-the-asylum crazy. No two ways about it. Anywho, she was asking me all about New Orleans; has it come back since Katrina? How much of the media coverage was accurate? What's it really like to live here? In talking to her I really started to think about this city that has become my adopted home and as such, have decided to make a list, to pay tribute if you will, to all of the wonderful, unique and frankly really weird things about this place. Here goes:

Only in New Orleans is "I got caught in a second line" a totally valid and legit excuse for being late to work. (Yes, this really happens).

Only in New Orleans can you attend the Annual National Pirate Convention each April. (Though let it be noted that it is still completely acceptable to dress in full pirate garb year round. We do not limit this priviledge to just one weekend per year).

Only in New Orleans can I see a woman out for her daily jog at 9:30 on a Sunday morning carrying a beer in one hand and a bag of potato chips in the other. I mean, maybe she needed a snack along the way?

Only in New Orleans can one eat beignets and drink cafe au lait at 4:00 a.m. after a night of debauchery in the French Quarter.

Only in New Orleans does the entire city shut down for the better part of two weeks to party for Mardi Gras.

Only in New Orleans is a complete stranger "Honey" or "Baby" or "My Love." Oh and--shaking hands? Yeah I haven't done that since I've lived here. It's a foreign concept to these people. In New Orleans you greet people with a hug and a kiss, always. It kinda freaked me out at first, not gonna lie, but now when I meet people and they only want to shake my hand I'm mildly offended.

Only in New Orleans did I literally jar my car battery loose over the course of normal, everyday driving on the streets here. How sad is that?

Only in New Orleans can yer mom an' dem go make groceries.

Only in New Orleans is, "Who dat?" followed by "Who dat!" a complete conversation.

Only in New Orleans have I had some of the most incredible experiences of my life. Maybe it hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows for me here, but I'm gonna miss this place.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Remember that time I wasn't thankful enough for what I had?

Since Thanksgiving is next week (holy fast-year Batman, where have the past 11 months gone?) this is an appropriate post I think.

Having accepted this new job has really given me a fresh perspective on my current job. Funny how a bad situation suddenly seems soooo much less overwhelming when you know you finally have an out, huh? And honestly, "bad situation" is a bit harsh, and probably pretty unfair...that's my point in all of this.

Over the past few months I've grown increasingly um...frustrated with my job. I knew when I took it that I was over-qualified and likely would not have the level of mental stimulation that I hoped for, but desperate times call for desperate measures and a girl's gotta eat and pay her bills, so I took it. And let's be honest--it's not like people were exactly banging down the door to hire me last summer either. Thanks, recession. So even though I sort of knew what I was getting myself into, I've had no shortage of complaints about how bored I was, how frustrated I was, how ready to jump off the roof of the hospital I was, over the past few months. And now I feel sorta guilty about that.

It's weird. Now that I know my time here is coming to an end, I realize how thankful I should be for the job I have. As far as first jobs go, this really wasn't a bad one at all. My boss has been nice to me, by and large I've enjoyed the people I've worked with and I've learned a lot. Maybe it wasn't the high-level, analytical job I thought I'd have, and certainly i wasn't getting paid what vain-Lauren thinks she's worth, but that doesn't mean the past year has been a waste. Far from it. And if nothing else, if the only thing I take away from this job is the knowledge that I'm not too good to do anything and that even the lowest man on the proverbial totem pole can teach me something...then I'd say those are lessons I'd be well served to remember forever.

I really do feel guilty for being so ungrateful. Maybe this isn't my dream job, but you know, at least I have a job--so many people out there aren't so fortunate. And yeah, maybe I'm not making tons of money but I'm making plenty to survive and far more than many people will ever make. I've met people through this job who have, quite literally changed my life (in both positive and negative ways probably, but nonetheless, they've helped shape who I am and am becoming). I've seen enough to have at least a little bit better idea of what I want, and don't want in a career and I've gotten a taste of the satisfaction I feel when I'm succeeding and doing well at something.

And those are all things I should be thankful for.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Maybe It's Time to Go

I'm sitting on my couch with Lucy Sparkle. I'm listening to hymns (yes hymns) on youtube. And I'm thinking. I have a lot to think about these days and I've found that there's no one better to soul search with than my dog and Jesus, so that's what I'm doing.

I'm thinking about the past year or so of my life; the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, all the lessons I've learned and all that I still have to be thankful for. I'm thinking about how I wouldn't wish the last year of my life on even my worst enemy, but how thankful I am for the the experiences I've lived through (even the bad ones) because I think I'm a better person than I was this time last year in a lot of ways.

I've learned what it means to really mourn a loss and to survive the grieving process. And it really and truly is a process. I think when I moved out in February I thought that I'd be sad and angry and hurt for awhile but that probably I'd just wake up one morning and be fine. As though a switch was flipped somewhere while I slept and the way I felt yesterday would be gone forever. Silly me. It doesn't work that way at all. The truth is that there have been some days where my job was the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning. There have been days when the emotional pain was so palpable that not only did I feel physically ill, but I would have sworn that my heart was indeed breaking into pieces in my chest. There have been nights that I've soaked my pillow with tears from crying myself to sleep, and then woken up with my eyes almost dried shut but still crying. You'd think the human body would reach a point where it would just run out of tears...but it doesn't. Or at least mine hasn't. There have been times when I I've cried myself out and I start to think that maybe, finally, I've gotten all the hurt out and that I'll never shed another tear as long as I live because I've used all mine up. But the real truth is that even now, almost a year later, there are still days from time to time where the hurt just hits me out of no where and before I know it, for no good reason at all, I'm huddled in a corner in my house sobbing my eyes out. These days don't happen as often as they did in the beginning, thank God, but that's what they mean by it being a process. The hurt doesn't just end one day. You don't wake up one morning ready to just put the past behind you and never look back. You just gradually move on with your life, one step at a time, until eventually there are more happy days than sad, more laughing than crying, more looking forward with hope than looking back with despair and you can finally start to believe that yes, this too shall pass and life will go on and you will be ok.

In this past year I've learned what it means to be a friend, a real friend, and to love people unconditionally; not because of what they do for you, or what they give you, or even (some days) how they treat you but rather just because of who they are. I've learned that there is good and bad in all of us and that my job is not to judge that, or try to fix that, but just to accept everyone I meet for who they are and do my best to be as good to them as I can be while I have the chance. I've learned that sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is just to be there. Not to try to fix anything, not to even pretend to understand, but just to sit down quite literally in the middle of the floor and cry while they cry and say, "You know what, this really sucks and I am sorry. I can't do anything to make it better but I am here and I'm not going anywhere." I am lucky enough to have friends like that.

In the past year I have learned that sometimes, no matter how much or how loudly I scream at God, things just aren't going to happen the way I think they should. And on that note, I think it's ok sometimes to get mad at God you know? And even to tell Him that we're mad at Him, because we're human and we don't have the capacity to even begin to comprehend His bigger plan. I think He realizes that, and loves and forgives us even when we doubt.

So I've been doing a lot of thinking and now a lot of rambling, because I've had a huge decision fall into my lap that had to be made and I've spent no small amount of time trying to be sure that I did the right thing. I've been dissatisfied with my job for awhile now, for a lot of reasons that I won't go into, but enough so that it has started to bleed over and make me miserable in my daily life even outside the office. I'm thankful to have a job, believe me, but it would be nice to get some sort of pleasure and satisfaction out of what I do. I mean, I don't think I'm asking for too much here.

This has all happened extremely quickly (and I'll spare you all the details) but the bottom line is that I was offered a new job last week. From the sounds of things its a great opportunity. It's going to be a huge step up for me, both in pay and responsibility and its with a company that has tons of room for me to grow and move up quickly. And the best part? They want me. They seem to see potential for big things, and they're willing to take a chance, to pay me probably far more than what I'm really worth at this point, and give me the opportunity to really push myself for the first time in, well, maybe ever. This job though? It's in Houston. As in, Texas. As in "too small to be its own country, too big to be an insane asylum, Texas.

So even though my current job doesn't in any way "do it" for me, and even though New Orleans was just about the last place on the face of the earth that I wanted to be this time last year, and even though I hate the climate here and have had just some miserable experiences and should have every reason in the world to want to get the heck out of dodge...I don't. I don't feel that way at all. Despite everything, I've come to love this dysfunctional little sweatbox and leaving isn't going to be nearly as easy as you might think. I have amazing friends here, an amazing church, and I've come to feel very comfortable and almost at home in NOLA. Almost.

But.

I have to go. I've thought about it a lot and I know that I'm making the right choice. As much as I do like it here now, I know that this isn't where I'm supposed to end up. It's not even where I want to end up and the longer I stay, the more i fear ending up in a rut and never being able to escape. Because I've learned that just because something's comfortable, or easy, that doesn't make it right. And New Orleans is great, but its not right for me. I think that it was right for a time; I think that maybe there's no better place in the whole world to mourn than this broken city. They say that misery loves company and I think that the people here, even though you might never see it on the surface, lost something in Katrina that they never got back. I don't know how to explain it really, other than to say that if you need to grieve, and you need to mourn and frankly just sort of lose yourself for a little while, this is the place to do it. Even the happiness here is tinged by loss and while there is a comfort in that, I'm not ready to give up on all the good in life just yet.

I did that, grieved and mourned and let myself get caught up in the city a little bit for no reason other than to numb the pain, and I don't regret it. Truthfully, I know I have lost a little bit of myself in the past year and I think I'm finally ready to get it back. I'm ready to be me again, to feel whole and happy and content, and I just don't think I can do that here. I'm not sure I like everything about the person I see myself becoming if I stay in New Orleans, and I don't want to take that chance. I don't know if the Republic of Texas will be my forever home either, but I do think this is the best thing I could be doing for myself at this point in my life and for now, that is enough.

Friday, November 5, 2010

He Knows My Name

I have a maker
He formed my heart,
before even time began
My life was in his hands

He knows my name
He knows my every thought,
He sees each tear that falls
and hears me when I call

I have a father,
he calls me his own
He'll never leave me,
no matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and hears me when I call.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Next Big Thing

I think I'm in a rut. Or a slump. Or maybe just a really bad mood that has now lasted for several days. Whatever it is, I know the cause of it but it still makes me mad at myself for letting it get to me when I have so much else going on that I ought to be thankful for.

I realized the other day that for the first time in quite possibly my entire life I'm not working towards something big. I'm not preparing for the "next big thing." I don't have a goal in mind that I'm focused on achieving. For the first time, maybe ever, I'm just sort of living. Surviving. Existing from one day to the next. Growing up there was always something I was working towards--the next grade level up...moving from middle school to high school...getting my driver's license...applying to college...going to college. Then it was finishing college...finishing graduate school...getting married...finding a job...moving. For the most part I've always been so busy looking ahead that I never had time to sit back and think much about the day to dayness of it all.

Then I take a look at my life right now and I realize I'm in a dead-end job that's going nowhere, I'm not in any type of relationship (serious and committed or otherwise) that is moving in any type of direction, I don't even have anything big that I'm working on in my personal life outside of work. I mean, I'm having fun and I'm not unhappy per se, but I don't feel much sense of purpose or direction right now, and frankly, that makes me sad. Sad and frustrated actually, because I like having a plan and a goal and something to look forward to. (And for the record, I'm not complaining about this, or looking for sympathy at all. I'm mostly just reflecting).

So I brought this up at family dinner night last night so that I could take advantage of the wisdom of some of my wonderful friends. I told them about this feeling I have of just existing right now. Of living day to day and of not having something big going on to look forward to. We talked about it a lot. We talked about what it means to be content vs. settling for less. We talked about what it means to be patient, and to trust that there is a bigger plan. We talked about how frustrating it is when it feels as though nothing is going your way, but how ultimately, things always tend to work themselves out for the best in the end.

I thought a lot about what they said and I started to ask myself, what's so wrong with just living life day to day sometimes? What's wrong with surviving? What is so bad about not always having something big coming up, not always having "the next big thing" on the horizon? My friend Amy pointed out that in America, we have come to expect to always be comfortable, to always be happy and to always be content. We are so averse to any type of discomfort, anything that we find the least little bit unpleasant, that we end up basically wishing our lives away by looking for the next big thing to come along. We get so focused on what we need to attain somewhere down the road in order to make us happy, that we completely miss out on the happiness that comes just from being alive and living every day. That's pretty humbling for me because I know I am very guilty of it.

Amy also pointed out that sometimes its GOOD to not have something we have to be working towards, because that gives us the opportunity to take our time and pick something that really matters to us, something that we choose to focus on, as opposed to things that we do just because they seem like the natural next step.

So! I made myself a goal that I'm going to do my darndest to stick to (which should be easy since I don't exactly have a lot else vying for my attention these days). My goal is to do my best to live in the here and now. I want to get to a point where I can be content, if not happy, about my current situation and circumstances. No, this isn't what I want forever and I'm still doing everything I can to search for new jobs and that sort of thing, but until the "next big thing" comes along, I want to be able to find some joy in every day. I don't want to wish my life away waiting for whatever comes next and end up missing out on all the good of right now.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Your Butt's on Fire!!!














That's really more of an inside joke than anything else, so for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, no worries. It isn't relevant to this post at all, just a suggestion one of my friends came up with for what we'll name our racehorse should we ever have one...I just think its HIL-ARIOUS.

Anyhorse, I just had the most fantastic weekend EVER. No, really. Ever. Maybe in the whole history of creation. It was that good.

I've been wanting to do this for a long time but this weekend I was finally able to take several of my friends home to Kentucky. We rented a mini-van, (because we're just that cool) and roadtripped it all the way up to the Bluegrass for a long weekend. Oh. My. Gosh. I can't tell you the last time I've laughed so much or had so much fun, much less been surrounded by such amazing, beautiful, talented girls.

It was the first time in Kentucky for all of them, so I really wanted to not only show them my home and where I grew up, but do whatever I could to give them the ultimate "Kentucky" experience. (Mostly cause I'm a biased snob who is thoroughly convinced there's no greater place in all the world. You can try to tell me differently but well, you're wrong). Holy Hotbrown Batman, we did so many fun things! We did Keeneland. We did a leg of the bourbon trail. We tailgated for the UK football game and stood on the old center court at Rupp Arena. We walked through Triangle Park at dusk, drove through "horse country" in Versailles and Lexington, and ate burgers at my favorite place in the world--Shamrock's. We drove down the Mountain Parkway to Jackson and spent the rest of the weekend riding horses, going to the church I grew up in, and going out on an old strip mine. We gorged ourselves on homemade chili and fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and biscuits, then sat out under the stars and made s'mores around a bonfire. The girls got to see my highschool, meet my parents, sister, grandmother and cousin, and tour UK's campus where I spent five of the best years of my life to date.

Out of all that you know what the best part of the weekend was for me? Aside from just being at home in general, it was the opportunity to share my home with some of the people I've come to be the closest to. It was a chance to finally merge my old life and my new life together; to take a step back and say "This is where I came from, and this is where I am now, and maybe the two don't have to be so far apart at all."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Family Dinner Night

I think one of the things I miss most about being in a relationship and/or living at home is the sharing of meals. When you spend the first 23 and 1/2 years of your life eating most of your meals with other people...the act of eating alone can feel awfully lonely. I hate that feeling. Loathe it, actually, to the point of refusing to fix food for myself when I'm alone. I love to cook, and I love to sit down to a really good dinner every night, but when it's just me I'm 9 time out of 10 just gonna rock a bowl of cereal hardcore.

So a few weeks ago I was talking to some of my friends who all agreed that its much more fun to eat dinner together than alone, but the fact that going out to eat can get a wee bit pricey after awhile...even here in NOLA where you can find good food for cheapy, kinda sorta puts a damper on it. All of a sudden, it dawned on me--just because I'm 1000 miles away from my family and no longer married, doesn't mean there aren't people out there I could eat with. I have fantastic friends who I LOVE spending time with and (BONUS!!) a few of us actually enjoy cooking. That, my friends, is what we call a win-win situation.

And thus, Family Dinner Night was born.

Family Dinner Night has got to be one of my Top 5 Best Ideas of All Time. SERIOUSLY. I rank this even higher on the scale-o-awesome than the Crossword Puzzle Wall I created in Graduate School. That's saying a lot. But seriously, we've been at it for a little over a month now and Family Dinner Night has quickly become one of the highlights of my week. I look forward to it for days in advance now!

There are four of us who participate and we get together one night each week at someone's house for dinner. We've decided to rotate hostess/cooking duties each week so that each of us is essentially responsible for one meal per month...and, oh yeah, its AWESOME. We eat, we laugh, we pray, and we even play board games together, but the best part, the very best part, is when we play High-Low.

High-Low is Jonnie's brainchild and its where we go around the table and take turns telling each other about the best part (our high) and the worst part (the low) of our day. It sounds simple, and maybe even silly, for a group of grown women (I'm the youngest and I'm 25) to play a game that Jonnie probably learned when she was 3 or 4, but you have no idea how great it really is. The act of not only sharing food but sharing your life--thoughts and feelings, excitements and fears, with other people is such a wonderful feeling...ahhh. I'm so thankful that I have friends in my life who are as caring as mine.

(And now, just to make your mouth water, here are some of the dishes we've created thus far...)



Pan-seared redfish and asparagus


Turkey and Pesto Paninis


French Onion Soup


Lasagna


Shepherd's Pie

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Best Things in Life

Sent at 4:23 PM on Tuesday
me: i am totally gonna cry
like happy tears
Jonnie: hahahahahahah, don't do that!
me: happy cry
Jonnie: You're loved. It's totally normal.
me: hahaha
i am very blessed
Jonnie: aren't we all.



(Exert taken from my gChat conversation with my dear friend Jonnie today, after being surprised at work by flowers that she and a couple of my other friends sent. Tell me I'm not the luckiest girl in the world).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Classy and Fabulous

First let me just say that I freaking LOVE birthdays. Yours, mine, your neighbor's grandson's best friend from second grade...it doesn't matter. Birthdays just make me excited. On October 5 I celebrate the quarter-century mark which is terrifying and exciting and a little depressing all wrapped up in one big, bubbly mess of emotion...but that's really neither here nor there with regard to this post. What is of extreme importance though, is the fact that this year, for the first time in my life, I have very close friends whose birthdays fall one day before and one day after mine. Um...if that doesn't scream joint birthday party, I don't know what does.


Another friend of ours graciously agreed to host a birthday party for us and let me just say, it was so super wonderful...I cannot thank her and the rest of our friends enough for making the weekend of my 25th birthday such a wonderfully special time. Best night ever! The theme of the party was "Classy and Fabulous," which was derived from the Coco Chanel quote that "A woman should be two things; classy and fabulous." There were cupcakes galore, champagne and balloons, music, dancing, and of course, the best part was spending the night celebrating with some one the most amazing friends anyone could ever ask for.

This is the first year actually, that I won't be with my family on my actual birthday which at first I was afraid would be a little bit of a downer. But! (Not that I won't miss being with them that day) I feel so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful, loving friends that I have absolutely no reason to complain at all.

Holy Awesomeness, Batman!

Jimminy Christmas, where do I start?! It's been a fantastic couple of weeks and by fantastic I mean, well, fantastic. Let's see, where to begin? Let's first back it up to last weekend when I spent three days in the booming metropolis of Alexandria, Louisiana with my great aunt, uncle and cousins to attend the wedding of my cousin, William and his(now)new wife, Kristin. So much fun. I love weddings anyway and theirs was so nice and so beautiful...ahh! I had a great time helping them decorate and prepare, and just getting to spend some time getting to know Kristin a little better too. Oh and eating wedding cake. I never pass up an opportunity to gorge myself on wedding cake. And how gorgeous was she, by the way? PLUS! My mom and Nanny came down for the wedding so on top of meeting and getting to know some of my extended family I'd actually never met, I also got to spend the weekend with them. It was great.


After the wedding Saturday night Mom and Nanny came back to New Orleans so that they could spend Sunday here in the city with me. I took them to church with me that morning, and then gave them the Lauren version of a driving tour of the city. Nanny hadn't been since Katrina, so there was much that had changed. We wound through Uptown and the Garden District, ventured into the 9th Ward, and finished up in the Quarter, then had lunch at this fantastic little gem of an Italian sandwich shop a few blocks from my house.


After that, we decided that the weekend just wouldn't be complete without a little shopping. I mean, come on. We went in search of a new rug and bookshelf for my apartment and ended up coming home with...dum dum dum...wait for it...LUCY SPARKLE!


That's right, I got a puppy! Ok, so puppy isn't entirely accurate as she's actually seven years old, but whatever...look at that face! The Louisiana SPCA had their traveling shelter at the mall on Sunday and when we went in and I met this one, I pretty much decided I had to take her home. I didn't really have a choice, did I? I've thought about getting a dog for awhile now but had just never taken the time or made the commitment to go look for one, but once I met her, I decided that Lucy was the perfect fit for me. I like to think of her as my birthday present to myself. The shelter was calling her Goldie but I think she's much snazzier than that, so I have since renamed her Lucy. Lucy Sparkle actually! (My sister totally gets credit for the fantastic name). She's now been home with me for a week and (fingers crossed) so far, seems to be adjusting perfectly. She's house trained, very obedient, walks well on the leash and as of yet, hasn't chewed up a single piece of furniture or eaten any of my underwear. I can't really ask for more than that, can I?


Ok so, I was going to try to cram all of my fantastic-ness into one post but I think that would be just a little too extreme for all of us, so I'm going to give you a chance to let this soak in before I hit you with the awesomeness that was my 25th birthday party! Until then...

Teddy bears and kisses!

Lucky Me

I have many, many things to catch you up on--and I will, (pinkie promise) but for now can I just say that I have THE BEST friends in the whole wide world?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Learning

“That's what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we've changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way, is winning.”
Richard Bach

I Don't Do Dating

Let's talk about boys for a minute, shall we? Boys and dating and relationships and the utter messiness of it all.

Here's the thing; I've never really been into dating. Like casual dating. Like seeing multiple guys at one time, going out on dates with different boys on different nights of the week, getting to know several different men at once, dating. I've just never done that. (Well ok, there was that one time in college where I might have kinda sorta had two boyfriends at once...but it was really unintentional and flat out exhausting and by the end of it I swore I'd never do that again). And anyway, that only lasted a couple days so I don't think it really even counts. I've always been more of a relationship type of girl. Maybe to a fault, but hey, whatever. Literally, since my senior year of high school I've pretty much gone from one "serious" committed relationship to the next, with not a whole lot of time or dating in between.

In fact, in fact (and I'm just being real honest with you here--cause why wouldn't I be? Say what you will about this, I really don't care) when I moved out in February, I jumped very quickly into a relationship of sorts with another guy. It was easy to justify to myself because we weren't technically "together," we were just really good friends who were going to have dinner...and then go to a movie...and talk to each other a hundred times a day...and...you get the idea. I told myself that it wasn't a real relationship so it was ok (because even I knew that I needed time to deal with and heal from the marriage and divorce) but in all honesty, it was just another relationship, no matter what name we put on it at the time.

For what it's worth, I liked this guy a lot. A whole lot in fact, and my previous failed relationship notwithstanding, I was pretty much willing to jump in with both feet and not look back.

Unfortunately, at least for the time being, that relationship hasn't worked out and I've decided that it's best if I start trying to move on. It's not at all what I want to do, but at the same time, I kinda figure life's just too short to waste a whole lot of time on something that isn't working. So...even though in a lot of ways i have absolutely zero desire to do this right now, I've decided that maybe, for the first time, I should give the old dating scene a chance.

Blahhhhhhhhhhhhh

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fate and Timing and...blahhhhhh

If I'm being perfectly honest with you (and I have no reason not to be), I'm more than a little frustrated these days. It's work, it's my personal relationships... basically, its just life in general and the fact that mine is not exactly on track the way I want it to be or feel like it should be at this point. Then again, I'm not exactly sure what track I want or need to be on right now, so maybe that's part of my problem.

I've come to the conclusion in the past couple of months that, as much fun as it's been, New Orleans is likely just not going to be my forever home. There's a lot here to love for sure, but I just don't see Lauren staying here forever. That's not to say I have any idea in the world where it is I want or am supposed to end up, I just get the feeling that this ain't it. So, for the past little while now I've been applying for jobs. Everywhere. No, I'm serious. Everywhere. Since I have no idea where I want to go, what I want to do, and really no ties or obligations to anywhere in particular, I've basically been playing the old "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks," game.

Now, seems to me (being the logical person that I am) my complete and utter lack of stipulation on type of job/city I live in, would make it easy to find something. I mean, that makes sense, right? Apparently, not so much because while I've had several interviews, nothing has worked out or fallen into place for me yet. It's more than a little frustrating for me now, but it's also really made me stop to think about why I'm still here in New Orleans.

The idea of Fate is, in and of itself, a big and very messy subject to tackle here so I won't do that exactly. But what I will say is that I tend to think that there is a bigger plan than what I will ever know, that everything happens for a reason, and that in the end, things ultimately work out as they are meant to. That said, I have to believe that (all of the heartache of the past year notwithstanding) there was a reason I ended up in New Orleans and by that same token, I have to believe that there is a reason I am still here now. I can look at the past year and point to many, many reasons I think God put me here at this point in my life. I think there were a lot of lessons I needed to learn that I couldn't have learned anywhere else; I think there were a lot of people I needed to have put into my life and I think there are people whose lives I needed to become a part of. But in my mind, I've learned my lessons, I've made my friends, and I've done all I know to do. I'm ready to go. I'm ready to leave. I'm ready for whatever comes next.

What I'm starting to realize though, and who knows? Maybe this is the final lesson I need to learn here, is that it's really not so much about what I think I'm ready for. It's much more about the bigger picture and the bigger plan and the totality of life than about what I think I want today. A good friend told me once that "God is far more concerned with our character than our immediate happiness," and I've been trying to remind myself of that lately...while I cool my heels and bang my head against the wall here in New Orleans.

So...yeah. I don't know whether I'm still here because I have more to learn, or whether I'm still here because God is using the people in my life to reach me in ways I don't realize, or if maybe he is using me in their lives...I just don't know. But I have to believe that there is some reason behind it all, and I have to believe that when the time is right whatever comes next for me will fall into place and I'll be able to look back on these past few months and be thankful for the extra time I spent in NOLA.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Life Lessons from Winnie-the-Pooh


"You can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn't spell it right; but spelling isn't everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn't count.”

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.”

“A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.”

“You can't always sit in your corner of the forest and wait for people to come to you... you have to go to them sometimes.”

Looking at the Stars

“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.”

Some of you may know this already but I took a few days off last week to go home to Kentucky. Not just to Lexington, which is where I usually end up when I say I'm going home, but home home, to the mountains. I was home for a whole week and it was wonderful. I don't necessarily advocate running from one's problems, but I also know that sometimes, we all just need a break. I needed a break.




So I packed up and hopped a plane to Kentucky, where I spent the week sleeping more than I have in the past six months combined, eating myself senseless on my Mom's home cooking, going for runs in the cool fall weather, and watching the first Kentucky football game of the season too. I also rode my horse for the first time in over a year and even mucked out a stall or two...and believe it or not, I actually enjoyed it. Sometimes I think, good, honest, physical labor is good for the soul.

While I was walking from the barn back to the house one night, I happened to glance up and notice how bright the stars were. It was amazing. You can't even see the stars at night in New Orleans so I don't remember the last time I just stopped and stood with my head hanging back, and took in the beauty of the night sky. Our preacher even commented on it Sunday at church, about how he was out that same night and couldn't remember a time in his life when he had seen the stars shining so brightly.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crossing the Bar

By: Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)


SUNSET and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.



This poem was read last week at my great grandmother's funeral. She was quite an amazing lady and would have been 103 on her birthday in October.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lesson Learned: Don't Try to Fly With Your Pocket Knife

So I just got back to NOLA after spending a week (yes, a whole week--haven't been home that long since I left for college my freshman year) back home in Kentucky. Can we just talk for a second about how fabulous it was to be back in the Bluegrass during football season? Oh my Lord. Probably it was just about the greatest week ever, and no, in case you passed out and hit your head and are feeling a bit delirious, I did not want to come back to the death heat and humidity of New Orleans. Not one little bit. Not that I had a choice in the matter as this is where the job is which currently pays my bills...but I surely didn't board the plane back down here in the greatest of moods, that's for sure.

Anywho, my attitude notwithstanding, I got the Lexington airport yesterday in plenty of time to catch my flight but I got stopped as I was going through security (no, I didn't set off the metal detector, thank you), when the TSA guy pulled me aside and told me that they were going to have to rescan my purse, which I thought was a bit odd just because, well, that's never happened before. So they run my purse through the x-ray thingy again and I can see all the little security guards conferring with one another as they point to the computer screen where my bag is being displayed. Hmmmm...

I started doing a mental inventory of what I could possibly have in my purse. It was a short list because I'm just not a big purse person. I know some women carry their whole lives around in their purses and you'd be likely to find just about anything in there but I'm not one of those people; I carry as little as humanly possibly. I was sure I had taken my pepper spray out and left it on my kitchen table in NOLA before I flew home last week so I knew it couldn't be that. I remembered that I had a fingernail file, but it was just one of those cheap cardboard ones, which I thought were still allowed so I figured it wasn't that either. Really, I had no idea what it could be.

The TSA guy asked me to step out of line so he could search my purse, so I went over to this table that was set up off to the side and watched as he pulled out my wallet, my cell phone, hairbrush, chapstick, pocket knife and...WHOA. Yes, I had a pocket knife in my purse! And not just any little old knife either--this thing was hardcore. Like three blades and a file and a corkscrew and everything!



I feel as though I should be at least mildly embarrassed because who does that anymore? Who tries to go through airport security with a weapon in their carry-on? In my defense, I had completely forgotten that I even put that in there weeks ago and what's scary is that you'll recall that it was caught as I went through security on my return flight...which means that I made it through airport security with that thing once already on my way to Kentucky last week...

Yikes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out. Let me repeat one word for you. Leave. Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It's a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed."--Donald Miller

There might be some big changes coming for me soon. We'll see...I don't want to jump the gun or count my proverbial chickens before they've hatched or anything, but I think its fair to say that, one or another, change is on the way. I'll keep you posted...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why I Love Her


Because when I decide that I want a cupcake for dinner, not only does she back me up 100%, but she totally understands the need to drive to three different places in order to find the perfect cupcake.

And then wash it down with ice cream for dessert.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Messiness of Relationships



I'm just going to be real honest with you here--I suck at relationships. In the past year I'm pretty sure I've broken just about every rule there is in the marriage/dating handbook (I assume such a book exists somewhere--I've just never seen it)and probably a few that weren't in there at all. True, not all of the failures were 100% my fault, but I also know that I'm not without blame either so I can't just sit back and play the victim. Though that would be a lot more fun, now that I think about it...

Anywho. I've been thinking that maybe I should write a book, the topic of which would be "What NOT to Do If You Want to Have a Successful Relationship." Maybe I'll come up with a catchier title, but you get the gist. I feel as though I am the walking poster child for all of the ways relationships can go bad and surely there is someone else out there who could benefit from my hard-learned knowledge. Cause Lord knows I've got enough of it now to go around. I would be a great case study for some relationship psychologist somewhere.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I realize I've got waaaaaaaay too much material for just one post. Heck, I've got way too much for several posts. Maybe what I'll do is just start by telling you my story, and save my words of wisdom for another day. How's that?

Friday, July 30, 2010

One Day At A Time

One day at a time –

This is enough.

Do not look back

And grieve over the past

For it is gone;

And do not be troubled

About the future,

For it has not yet come.

Live in the present,

And make it so beautiful

That it will be

Worth remembering

One Year Later



This post is actually a couple weeks late as it was really the first week in July (2009) that I packed up and moved down here to what I lovingly refer to as the greatest little sweatbox in the south. I promised a year ago to give you my uncensored, unbiased, unabridged thoughts on what its like to be here in New Orleans post-Katrina and while I know I've given you little bits and pieces from time to time, I think you really do have to live someplace for awhile, and really immerse yourself in the culture, before you can fully appreciate, understand, or explain it. And yes, I realize that was a run-on sentence...don't judge me.

Any-the-who, lets talk about New Orleans. I think that on the days I don't hate it, I love it as much as any place I've ever been. It's quite the conundrum, but just about everyone who lives here will tell you the same thing; that they have a definite love-hate relationship with this city. Lord knows its the most unique city I've ever been to, and that's saying a lot.

By now you all know my feelings about the climate and the weather here, particularly in the summer. From May to October we have the "gates of Hell" death heat and the humidity is at like 5000% percent or so. It's the opposite of all things good and pleasant, really. And honestly, even though it does cool off and on occasion get downright cold in the winter, there aren't really seasons here like I'm used to, and I miss that.

For me the biggest culture shock was adjusting to the demographics of the city which are so much more diverse than where I grew up. I've never lived in a place where I am a minority, but most of the time here I feel as though that's the case. People here have their own distinct dialect, accents that border on the impossible to understand, and by and large...very poor grammar. That sounds harsh, but what can I say? Facts is facts. I will say though, that New Orleans has maintained the renowned hospitality of the old, deep, south--the people here are as generous and loving and friendly as you could ever hope to meet. Well, when they aren't shooting at or shanking each other anyway. There's very much a mentality of "what's mine is yours," and the generosity most people have, especially when they are hosting you in their home, is endless.

In terms of culture and personality, this place can't be topped I don't think. New Orleans loves a good party and by golly, we'll look for just about any excuse in the world to have one. And if we can't think of an excuse, well, we'll probably just go ahead and have one anyway. When I first moved here I was a bit shocked at how carefree people here were--I've mentioned the liaises faire attitude of the city before. Everything just moves at a slower pace here than it does in the rest of the world and if something doesn't get finished today...well, let's go get a drink and worry about that tomorrow. (And let's be honest, its not going to be just one drink...it's going to be cocktails and dinner and wine). Because that's just how things are done here. If there's one thing this city isn't lacking it is alcohol and good food. Wait, I guess that's two things. Whatever.




Speaking of food...good Lord I believe I could do a whole post on the food in this city alone. It's incredible. Gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee, po'boys and bread pudding are the staples here; everyone has their own variation and those things are served at quite literally, just about every restaurant in the city. It's a wonder I haven't gained a hundred pounds in the past year given all of the deliciousness I am surrounded by. There's obviously a ton of fresh seafood to be had, but truthfully, you can find just about anything your heart could possibly desire.

Jambalaya

Shrimp and grits

At this point other than the weather, I may have lead you to believe that New Orleans is all teddy bears and gumdrops (or sazeracs and po'boys, whichever). For all of the good here though, there are things that I think I'll never really adjust to, no matter how long I stay. Despite everything, New Orleans is still a very broken city in many ways. Katrina is partly to blame for sure (even five years later there are things that have yet to be repaired or replaced. At this point I assume they maybe never will be). But on top of that, there's also a ton of corruption in the local government, a crime rate you wouldn't believe, enough poverty and illiteracy to choke a horse and an overall attitude of ignorance mixed with defiance. It's like the people here realize that their city is broken, but rather than admit to and work to fix it, there is a weird sense of pride that many of them seem to take in it. I feel as though people think New Orleans will lose its charm if they actually repair roads and sidewalks, or clean the trash off the streets, or maintain the infrastructure in general. So good food and music aside, after driving over pot holes big enough to swallow my jeep, waiting for stop lights that have been broken for months, getting lost because many street signs were never replaced after Katrina and twisting my ankles while trying to run down sidewalks that look like they were paved by a jackhammer...there are just some days I think I've had about as much of this place as I can stand.

I guess if I could summarize this whole rambling post into something more manageable, I will say this. When I moved here a year ago, I had no idea what to expect. I was petrified out of my mind, but excited for an adventure. People warned me when I came that New Orleans would "get into my blood" and that I'd come to love this city like no other. They say that once you live here, you never really leave. You may move away, but New Orleans has a place in your heart forever and for the rest of your life you'll never find a place that quite compares. At this point I can honestly say that this is true for me. Despite all of the bad memories I have of the past year (and God knows there are plenty) I am so thankful for the opportunities I've had here, and the experience of living in this place that I can't even begin to make you understand. I feel that everyone living here is in survival mode to some degree; it's not an easy place to live and every day I get up and have this feeling in the back of my mind that I need to put a suit of armor on because I'm going out to do battle. But that's ok. That's part of what makes this city so great.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thankful

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colassians 2:6-7

I joined a covenant group at church and as part of that, I'm supposed to read an assigned scripture every day. I suck at doing this. I read the Bible approximately never...mostly because I always come away feeling more confused than I was before. That said, this was today's scripture which my friend Deborah texted and told me I had to read (so I actually googled and read at my desk at work).

And now I feel mildly embarrassed because I know I do not act thankful every day, even when I am. In light of that, she and I began making a list of the things that we are thankful for. Here's mine...

I am thankful for Deborah and Leah, Jonnie and Lindsey and Nicka. I am thankful for my jeep, Rayne United Methodist Church, the amazing Bible study I have become a part of, my parents, shoes, living in America, cheesecake and mint juleps, and good books.

I am thankful for Abby and Dixie and Dexter, roses, chocolate milk, airports and long baths. I am thankful for snow and for sushi, for the days I can be out on the farm with my dad and for the mountains of eastern Kentucky in the Fall.

I am thankful that no matter how badly I screw up, my grandparents think I am perfect. I am thankful for sleepovers with my friends, Keeneland, Kentucky basketball, babies, long runs on nice days and pedicures and massages.

I am thankful for unconditional love, singing old hymns in church, my job, being healthy and safe, front porches and corny jokes. I am thankful for fireplaces, health insurance, wasabi almonds and thunderstorms.

I am thankful for my iPod, being able to travel, the experience of living in New Orleans, good guy friends, air conditioning, unlimited text messages, and my education.

And I am thankful for the grace of God.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"When life is too easy for us, we must beware or we may not be ready to meet the blows which sooner or later come to everyone, rich or poor."
--Eleanor Roosevelt

I really like to write, but lately it seems like every time I sit down with the intention of updating this thing I get so caught up in a torrent of thoughts that I don't even know where to begin. What do I say? What don't I say? How do I feel about this, that and the other? I don't even know myself sometimes so forgive the fact that this may be a random, rambling, stream-of-conscious-thought post. I'm just going to take what comes out and run with it.

I like the above quote a lot, because I think it neatly defines the past year of my life. Up until a year ago I had lead one of the cushiest, easiest, more perfect lives ever. Really. Nothing even remotely "bad" had ever happened to me. Which basically means that the past year completely blindsided me. There have been some good times for sure, but this has also easily been the worst year of my life in more ways than one.

That said, in a weird and sick sort of way, I think I will eventually end up looking back and being incredibly thankful for at least some of the events of the past year. Some things I could have happily lived another 80 years without having happen mind you...but I also know that I've learned more about myself and about people and about Jesus in the past twelve-ish months than in the other 23 years of my life combined. It's almost as though I had to fall flat on my face in order to get it through my thick head that unfortunately, the world does not in fact, revolve around me.

I think I am not at all the same person I was a year ago. That Lauren was a little hard, a little cold, a little too close-minded for her own good. She didn't like getting too "emotional" with people and she certainly didn't like hugs. This new Lauren has learned that at some point we are all going to have our struggles, that life is just downright unpredictable and by golly, I'll hug anyone coming or going. And I've realized that we can say whatever we want--but none of us know exactly how we will react to something until it happens to us. I have cried more, cursed more and yelled at God more than I ever have in my life. But on the flip side, I've also prayed more, and loved more and had more compassion for other people than I ever have before either. For all the bad that has happened to me this year, I feel as though I've become more open-minded and tender-hearted towards others than I thought was possible for me. Never again will I judge someone or think harshly of someone for whatever circumstances in life they are going through because my gosh, who am I to judge anyone?

Monday, July 19, 2010

THE INVOCATION

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are, I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own: if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you're telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself, if you can bear the accusations of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy. I want to know if you can see the beauty even if it is not pretty everyday, and if you can source your life from God's presence. I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "YES!"

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn't interest me who you are, or how you came to be here, I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in empty moments.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just Some Thoughts

Sometimes I get a little too overwhelmed to say anything origional of my own. On days like this though, I take a lot of comfort in reading inspirational quotes from other people because hey, it means at least someone out there has it together, right? Here are some of my favorites for today.

"A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective when when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all-knowing and therefor all of us need both love and charity."
--Eleanor Roosevelt


"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
-- C. S. Lewis


"A ship in the harbor is safe. But that's not what ships are made for."
-- William Shedd


"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."
–- Plato


"It is one of the severest tests of friendship to tell your friend his faults. So to love a man that you cannot bear to see a stain upon him, and to speak painful truth through loving words, that is friendship."
-- Henry Ward Beecher


I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.”
-- Peitro Aretino

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Psalm 56:8

You put my tears into your bottle; are they not in your book? When I cry out to you, my enemies turn back. This I know, for God is for me.
Psalms 56:8


When I was little and would cry, my dad used to tell me he was collecting my tears and keeping them in his pockets. Kind of the same thing, no?

No Surprise

I've practiced this for hours, gone round and round
And now I think that I've got it all down
And as I say it louder I love how it sounds
'Cause I'm not taking the easy way out

Not wrapping this in ribbons
Shouldn't have to give a reason why

It's no surprise I won't be here tomorrow
I can't believe that I stayed till today
Yeah you and I will be a tough act to follow
But I know in time we'll find this was no surprise

It came out like a river once I let it out
When I thought that I wouldn't know how
Held onto it forever just pushing it down
Felt so good to let go of it now

Not wrapping this in ribbons
Shouldn't have to give a reason why

It's no surprise I won't be here tomorrow
I can't believe that I stayed till today
There's nothing here in this heart left to borrow
There's nothing here in this soul left to say
Don't be surprised when we hate this tomorrow
God knows we tried to find an easier way
Yeah you and I will be a tough act to follow
But I know in time we'll find this was no surprise

Our favorite place we used to go
The warm embrace that no one knows
The loving look that's left your eyes
That's why this comes as no, as no surprise

If I could see the future and how this plays out
I bet it's better than where we are now...
But after going through this, it's easier to see the reason why

It's no surprise I won't be here tomorrow
I can't believe that I stayed till today
Yeah you and I will be a tough act to follow
But I know in time we'll find this was no surprise

The kiss goodnight--it comes with me
Both wrong and right, our memories
The whispering before we sleep
just one more thing that you can't keep

Our favorite place we used to go
The warm embrace that no one knows
The loving look that's left your eyes
That's why this comes as no, as no surprise.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Read This



If you're looking for a good summer read, or really, a good read in general, I highly recommend this one. It's sad, but the fact that it's a true story makes it really beautiful as well.

Slacker McGee

That's me.

The one who has gotten horribly lazy about updating this thing as of late. My bad.

Anywho, since you asked, I will tell you what's new with me. The short answer is, "Not a whole lot," to be honest. After the most tumultuous year EVER I think I can finally say that my life has taken a turn for the normal. At least for the time being it is starting to feel that way. Things are finally starting to calm down and feel good and comfortable and happy again...can I get a Hallelujah Amen on that?

Work is, for the most part, going well. Admittedly, I use the term "well" pretty loosely here though. There's nothing wrong, I'm just quickly coming to the end of my initial one-year agreement and am going to have to make some decisions soon. I know I don't want/can't afford/won't stay in my current position once I reach the 12-month mark--it's been fun, but its time for me to peace out and move on down the road, yo. I really like the company though, and the hospital where I work, and am now good friends with so many people here...I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll find another position for me here. That's what will happen in a perfect world anyway. Given my massive failures at achieivng anything close to perfection within the past year though, I'm not holding out just a ton of hope at the moment.

Ooooh! Wanna hear a funny story? Yeah, I thought so. (Actually, that may be too much of a build-up; this really isn't all that funny at all, come to think of it. If anything its just ironic because if you know me and my history with vehicles you'll realize that I was long overdue for some vehicular mishap). Ok so, back it up to this past Tuesday night. I leave the grocery store, get in my jeep annnnnnnd nothing. I got nothin.' No lights, no power locks, no radio, and the engine won't even pretend to turn over. That thing was deader than a doornail. Long story short, two hours later I'm back in the parking lot with a couple of friends, putting a new battery in the jeep. At this point I wasn't even positive the battery was the problem...but based on the layer of corosion we had to scape off to get the old one out, I figured it was a solid investment either way. Lucky for me, we popped the new battery in and the old jeep started right up, good as new!

I went on my merry way, thinking that I was maybe the most brilliant mechanical mind to ever walk God's green earth until I went to leave work yesterday afternoon and my jeep was, once again, deader than a doornail. Seriously?!? I called my Dad and AAA and the repair shop and while I was waiting for a tow truck, all the possible scenarios started running through my mind. Dad thought it was the alternator. Another friend thought it was the starter. "Maybe the old jeep has just finally given up and died and I'm going to have to buy a new vehicle," (which I don't want and can't particurally afford right now). That would suck to the 10th degree. Well, the AAA guy showed up and low and behold, he started digging around under the hood and discovered that I just had a loose connection on one of the battery terminals and that's why I had no power! He tightened it up for me and I was once again, back on my merry way. Apparently the streets in this city are in such craptastic shape that driving over all the potholes had literally jarred my battery loose. Blah! Get your act together, New Orleans. You're killin' me here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

All In

It is human nature, I think, to learn from our past mistakes. Not always, granted, and sometimes it takes making the same mistake several times in a row before some of us get it through our fat heads not to do that again...but on the whole I think we are programmed to pick up pretty quickly on what feels good and what hurts, what to do, what not to do, and the consequences of our actions.

So, I consider myself to be a pretty quick learner. Actually, I'd say its one of my greatest strengths. I have very few real world skills to be honest. I'm not an expert on anything and for the most part, don't even know how to do that many things well. But if someone teaches me, I can learn. My one caveat to this is with relationships. I think perhaps I kind of suck at relationships. I've come to this realization over the past few months and while enlightening, I'm still very torn about how I feel about it.

I feel most people who come out of a failed relationship (especially relationships that fail in epic proportions like my past one) are probably a bit hesitant to jump into a new one. And rightly so, I'd say. There's that whole "I've been burned once, I don't want to let it happen again," thing to think about, plus let's just be honest--breaking up SUCKS. It's emotionally and mentally draining and unless you're a complete sociopath with no feelings at all, it takes time to heal from that. I should know. I've been dealing with this recently actually, and I've heard from everyone I know that I need to take things slow, I need to "guard my heart," "look out for myself," and "take care of me and not worry about anyone else right now."

All very wise advice. Aaaaaand I completely suck at following it.

As much as I'd like to be able to meet and date people casually, without developing any real feelings for them, I realize I cannot do it. I've tried, and I just can't. And truthfully, I don't see the point. I've decided that the only way to love people is to love them completely. If you're not willing to dive in head first, to take a chance, to risk getting hurt again (and again and again and again), then there's no point in doing it at all. I think love is crazy and messy and you know what? I may get hurt a hundred times before this whole thing is said and done (and by whole thing I mean my life), but that's ok. I'd rather look back and know that when it came to other people, I gave them everything I had to give. I didn't hold anything back and I loved them as completely as I knew how. And if I get burned, so help me, I'll laugh at myself for being an idiot. But at least I'll never miss out on something fabulous because I was too afraid to try.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Just In Case You Were Wondering...

It is HOT here now. Like really, really, hot. Like...gates-of-Hell-you-sweat-just-thinking-about-it hot.

And it's not even officially summer yet...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Very Great Man

Let me tell you about my Granddad, because he was a very great man.

I remember when I was little and we'd go to visit my grandparents in the summer, Granddad always made sure to have his hammock tied up and ready for us before we got there, because he knew my sister and I would want to go out and swing in it. I remember him coming home from work--how dignified he always looked. He was a tall man and always wore such nice, expensive suits...I used to think he had to have one of the most important jobs and be one of the most important men in the whole world. I remember joking with him on Thanksgiving every year about how early he was going to get up to start working on the turkey (I always said I'd get up at 4:30 with him but lets be honest here--I never actually got my lazy self out of bed anywhere close to that early on a holiday). I remember how he'd go out in the back yard in the evenings after work to check on his rose garden, and how he not only taught me to grow and care for roses, but would come up to my house every spring to help me plant new ones.

My Granddad loved sports. He coached my mom's teams when she was growing up, then he coached in the church leagues after that. He and my Nanny came to so many of my basketball games and softball tournaments over the years that most of my teammates came to refer to them as "Nanny and Granddad" as well, and he's the reason I'm so much taller than everyone else in my immediate family.

At his funeral over the weekend, people told me over and over again how brilliant he was, but also how kind. They said he was truly a man of great intergrity, and the fact that there were over 400 people at his visitation says to me that he was as well loved and respected as anyone I know. People told me how proud he was of me, of all his grandkids, and how much he loved us. They talked about what a good man he was, all of the kind things he'd done for people over the years, and about how much they are going to miss him.

If you were to ask me what exactly my Granddad meant to me, I would tell you that I inherited his height, his weak stomach (we are/were both complete wimps when it comes to blood) and his absolute loathing of little green peas. I credit him with my time spent as an Upward basketball coach, my expensive taste in shoes, and my love of roses and cheesecake. But more than any of those things, my Granddad was a classy, classy guy and I am so proud to have known someone as good and as kind as him. I think I've learned a great deal about how to live life by watching my Granddad over the years...more than I probably even realize. Granddad loved my Nanny more than anything else in the whole world except for Jesus, and he made the best fried chicken I've ever eaten. He was a gentle giant who was worth paying close attention to when he had something to say. He was practical to a fault, always half an hour early for everything, and downright hilarious once you got to know him. He played golf, dabbled in the stock market, and would send me e-mail at 2:30 in the morning when he was undergoing chemo treatments, joking that the steriods they gave him ("Barry Bond shot" as he liked to call it) kept him from sleeping for two days.

I am going to miss my Granddad a lot. I can't even imagine what it will be like on Thanksgiving and Christmas when he's not there. I'm going to miss his late night e-mails, his dry sense of humor and his fried chicken. But I know that he is finally at peace; he will never be in pain or have to suffer again and for that I am very thankful. I like to think too that even as I type this, he is up in Heaven, tending to God's rose garden.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Does This Make Me Crazy?

Ok, this one's going to be controversial I think, so consider that your fair warning. And if I offend you, I apologize. It's not intentional. I'm just shooting from the hip here so there's a better-than-50% chance I'll say at least a few socially inappropriate things. Onward!

I think it would be fair to say that I grew up in a household of tough lovin'...especially when it came to our health (emotional and physical). What I mean is, Mom and Dad didn't put up with a lot of whining or complaining. I was allowed to miss exactly one day of school my entire growing up years, and it was only because I was so sick I literally couldn't stand upright. My parents were under the impression that if you can walk and you're not dying, you're well enough to go to school. Not a whole lot of middle ground with them. When I broke my arm during the country basketball tournament in 4th grade, mom told me to get back out there and "walk it off." To keep playing until my arm just didn't hurt anymore.

It wasn't that they were hard-hearted or didn't care, because of course they did, its just that you darn well better be on your death bed or about to bleed out before you complain about being in pain. I say all this with a bit of sarcasm but the truth is, by and large I think Mom and Dad were right on track. Of course they cared about our well-being--they just didn't want to coddle us and turn my sister and I into complete wimps. They didn't want us to whine, or to fall apart at every little hurt or inconvenience. Basically, they wanted us to be tough. And by and large, I'm very thankful this was the case. I think that on the whole this was a really good thing.

I will say however, that growing up in an environemnt of tough love made me more than a little jaded with regard to how I feel about other people's health and well-being. This was the case with physical health for sure, but I think it became the case even more so with mental and emotional health.

I don't know why exactly. I've pondered on this for awhile now and can't really come up with an exact reason. Certainly I didn't grow up around any mental health issues. No one in my family ever experienced anything like that, so I don't know why I came to associate mental and emotional issues with weakness. (Told you it'd get controversial). But I I think I did. I dont know if I ever really admitted it to myself consciously, but deep down I've always harbored a distinct lack of respect for people who were dealing with any type of mental or emotional issue at all. Lack of respect and maybe pity. In my mind, these people just weren't mentally tough enough to handle life. I thought they were weak, and were just making things up essentially. It's horrible I know, but there you have it. That's really how I think I felt at times.

Ironically enough, within the past year I've found myself visiting not one, not two, but three separate counselor/psychologists--of my own free will no less. I should warn you that this is not easy to admit or to talk about, but in the name of keeping it real and being honest, I'm going to put it all out there for you. Back in the Fall when we first started having problems, Zack and I went together to see a marriage counselor. I don't regret trying but I can say with all sincerity that it was a complete waste of time and money for us. I honestly had no idea what to expect (as we've established I've avoided these type things at all costs up to this point in life) and I was not impressed. I'm sure it works for some people, I know there are success stories out there, but for us personally, it was one gigantic, epic, FAIL.

The second counselor I only visited once, in a last-ditch effort to get a second opinion of sorts.

The third head-doctor though...this is the hard one to talk about. The third one I'm seeing now. And by now I mean I've been going to counseling for the past couple of weeks. This is something I thought (swore) I'd never need or do, because you know, I'm soooo mentally tough and all. But the truth is, I needed to talk to someone and no matter how mentally tough we think we are, sometimes life throws you a curveball that you just don't know how to handle. Getting divorced was a curveball for me. I've come to realize in the past few weeks to a month or so that I am bitterly, bitterly angry. Way deep down, buried inside so deep I didnt even realize it for the first few months...there's a firey ball of anger and resentment so hard and hot I can barely stand it sometimes. I am not an angry person. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I think I'm blissfully unaware a lot of the time and wil break my neck to reconcile whenever there's a disagreement. That's why this angry was so scary. I didn't know where it was coming from and I didn't know how to control it.

Lately I've found myself acting out in unusual and uncharacteristic ways and I think I've determined that its this anger that I've neglected to address, manifesting itself in other areas of my life. There have been times when I've just broken down and started crying for no good reason at all. I've gotten really, really unjustifiable mad at very silly and trivial things, and taken my emotions out on people who were for the most part, innocent bystanders. I've found that I'm having trouble focusing on anything--instead I sit down to work on something and my mind begins to wander back over the past year or so and before I know it, two hours have gone by and I've accomplished nothing. Stuff like that. I don't sleep very well a lot of the time now, and I feel so restless I can't stand it sometimes. And underlying it all there's this anger, this aggression, that is so strong sometimes I'm afraid if I don't get up and walk away that I'm going to physically hit something.

I don't think that's good. And I know its definitely not how I want to live.

So...having reached my wits end, I decided to go talk to a professional. I finally admitted that maybe I needed someone to teach me how to constructively deal with all of the emotions I've bottled up because frankly, trying to do it myself wasn't working. I sucked at it tremendously if you want to know the truth. And really, at this point, what have I got to lose? My reputation has been shredded, I've acted in ways and done things I swore to myself I'd never do...might as well round out the list with "seeking psychiatric advice." "Who knows?" I told myself, "Maybe being crazy will be fun!"

So there you have it friends. My confession of the day is that I'm not nearly as mentally tough as I thought I was. Sigh.