The Fabulous Familiar

Taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bird Poo or Turkish Bath? You decide.

I just saw in a glamour magazine that bird poo is the new trend in facial treatments. Apparently, some of the top spas are using the stuff that splats on your car as an exfoliating scrub. This blog entry is not going to be encouraging you to turn an aggravating splat on your windshield (which usually occurs right after a car wash) into your morning ritual.

Instead, it reminded me of another horrifying beauty treatment that I endured a few years ago while studying abroad in the country of Jordan. My friends repeatedly ask for me to tell this story; unfortunately, this is the way some of their friends are introduced to me: "The Turkish Bath" girl. While it will be quite a feat to put this experience into the written word when it has for so long had my body language and crazy hand motions and facial expressions to describe it, I will press on anyway and put this into writing:

I had spent like 7 hours walking around in the Jordan desert, and I was exhausted. We got back to the hotel and there was a sign that said, "Turkish Bath: 20 Euro." My friend and I inquired about what a turkish bath indeed was.

"Oh," said the guy at the counter, "it's just like an American spa. Just like American spa. Very relaxing."

With those words, I was sold. I could think of nothing better than getting a nice massage after a long day of tours. So...I signed up.

My first cue to RUN should have been when they led me outside of the hotel into a nearby hut. Still, I followed like a lamb to the slaughter.

When I got in there, these two Egyptian men in nothing but short swimsuit trunks were standing there to meet me and my friend who was also gullible enough to join.

"Put on this," they said, handing me a white sheet that could have doubled as a placemat. I looked from my body, to the placemat, body to the placemat trying to see how this was going to work at all.

Still, I obeyed. I came out, clinching this white thing around me for dear life. One sneeze and this sucker would have been gone. I hobble behind the man and he leads me into this nearby room. Instead of the candles, soft music and dim lights I expected from an American spa, I was instead met with warehouse-type lighting that could have been in one of the SAW movies. There is not a speck of decoration except for this huge marble slap that is about 3 feet high.

"Get on marble," he instructs flatly.

I expect him to leave the room or at least turn around because there is absolutely no lady-like way to get up on this marble while wearing a white napkin for coverage. Unfortunately, privacy is not a priority here in Jordan and he just stands there following his direct order. Thanks.

I finally belly flop onto the marble and he comes at me with buckets of lukewarm water. He begins to throw them at me like the scene in Fantasia {cue the music and the brooms!}

As soon as I would think he was finished, I would look up with open eyes and *WHOOSH* another waterfall would hit me in the face and make my eyes quickly become bloodshot.

He then came at me with these oven mits that had little scrubbers on them. You know why they call it a "Turkish Bath"? Because they basically scrub you down and, well, bathe you.

After we're done with that part of the session, he leads me to this other room, equally as creepy, and instructs me to lay face-down on this massage bench that is designed for body types like the Olsen twins. Half my body is hanging off and I stick my head through the hole as I stare down at the nasty floor.

The bucket of water ritual seems to be a constant throughout this whole ordeal, and he begins to pour water on my head again and proceeds to do this water massage that consists of circular motions that an 80-year-old woman would have the strength to do. So much for getting the stress knots out.

Because the chair is so narrow, my arms are hanging off the side. During one of his massseuse maneuvers, he pins my arm against the table in a not-so-ideal position. This is the point at which this nightmare becomes inadvertently PG-13 rated as my hand is (not by choice, mind you) TRAPPED. I am not going to expand upon how it was trapped or what made this situation less than stellar, but use your wildest imagination and you can probably guess why I was going forward the following Sunday.

Once he stepped back slightly, you better believe my arms flew up like a penguin sliding down an ice ramp.

After throwing more water on my face and washing my hair, he wrapped a dry towel around me even though I volunteered to do it myself. As he was wrapping me up, he began to whisper, "You from America? American girl?"

This is the point at which I thanked God for my time on Earth; for the opportunity to travel, and for letting me see the world before I died mid-bath.

Luckily, the guy let me go and served me some hot tea. As I was sipping my tea, I began to feel my face turn back to its normal shade of beige instead of the firecracker red it had been for two hours. Instead of feeling clean, though, I felt dirty. I felt embarrassed. I just wanted to go back to the hotel and take my own bath, use my own soap and get clean with my own personal loofah.

As I marched back to the hotel, I began to see some of my fellow classmates. "How was the spa?" they asked. The red returned to my face and my only response was, "It was NOT a spa." Laughter ensued, and before I knew it, I began to laugh about it too. It has since become one of my classic stories of Ashton naivety.

Though at the time I may have chosen the bird poo, I look back and laugh that I didn't.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Personal Trainer

With 3 part-time jobs and graduate school dominating my time, there is little time to go to the gym and workout-- not to mention the cost involved. It is because of this strict time schedule that I have been forced to turn to workout DVDs. What began as curiosity has turned into a full-blown obsession. One row of my DVD collection is dedicated to Yoga Booty Ballet, Pilates, Turbo Jam and the latest--ChaLEAN Extreme.

The bizarre nature of workout DVDs is that you feel like you are part of a team, a team that is led by a motivator. The problem lies in the fact that you are suffering with people that you have never--nor will you ever--meet in your life.

I have actually gotten to the point now where I talk to the television. "You're killing me, Chalene!" I yell mid bicep curl. She responds with ridiculous threats like, "I know if you quit! That's right! I have planted small cameras in your living room to see if you are finishing your push-ups!" After a quick check in all my picture frames and mirrors, I conclude that stopping after 8 is not going to result in a knock on my door from the Extreme team.

I tried P90X for a little bit, but the trainer's voice and the creepy way he called us "Boys and girls" was enough to make me hit stop...for good.

Chalene, though overly enthusiastic and a bit quirky sometimes, is a very good trainer. This chick can be kickboxing her life away and talk to you with a tone that is so calm and steady that you'd think you were chatting over coffee. My roommate comes in to ask if I got the mail and she can't understand my short reply in between my intense huffing.

Chalene also does a good job of introducing her friends that are also on your side.

You have Mindy, the girl who probably used to weigh 450 pounds, but is now a size 4. But have no fear-- she dropped all that weight doing it at a "low intensity." So, if you want to "keep your feet on the ground," please watch dear, sweet Mindy who has a big smile on her face.

Then, you have 60-year-old Donna who looks like she is 35. She can do every push-up without going to her knees and is the verbal encourager. It's like having your grandma do a one-arm push-up while energetically chanting, "Come on, you can do it!" I haven't quite figured out if this is inspiration or just plain aggravation.

And let's not forget the girl who--every time they zoom into her six-pack abs--they remind you that she has 7 kids. Right when you begin to yell at the TV, "They had to be adopted!" Chalene reads your mind and kindly informs you that they all came out of her body. Fabulous.

Add the overly muscular man in the back who is more feminine than 60-year-old Donna and you have your workout team in place. Chalene is usually lifting only 5 pounds less than him at any given time and he whines like a baby the entire video.

Writing this entry is kind of like opening up a vulnerability for me. I find some kind of shame in the fact that I exercise in my living room and interact with TV human beings. I can't talk to my friends about Chalene, Mindy and Donna like people doing "Body Pump" at the gym can talk about their little workout buddies. It's the only thing I regret about my virtual exercise regimen.

Well, it's my lunch break now. I guess I better go home, strap on the 'ol tennis shoes and hang out with the gang. Cameras or no cameras, I'll probably do all the required push-ups anyway.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Next Bachelorette

You would think after my recent disappointment watching "The Bachelor," that I would have sworn off such ridiculous television viewing. With that behind me, I still watched the premiere of "The Bachelorette" last night, which will in turn probably lead to watching a season of the show.

As I watched 25 guys step out of the limo to meet cute, spunky Ali Fedotowsky, I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I became the next Bachelorette. While it is hard to picture 25 semi-normal guys pausing their lives and driving all the way to Arkansas to meet with me, I'm sure some interesting folks would crawl out of that limousine.

Case in point: This morning.

I got stuck behind the garbage truck on the way to work this morning. I was already running a little behind and was pretty stressed that I was on the verge of being late. A truck behind them warned that "This vehicle makes frequent stops." What they really mean by such signs is: "You, too, shall make frequent stops and will be postponed in doing whatever you are doing."

I finally pull in the parking lot, throw my car in park and clickety-clack my way toward the office. Right about that time, the garbage truck takes a curve and the guy leans his body out from the back of the truck.

Oh no. I have seen this look before. Those wandering eyes. Yuck.

"Whatchu doing tonight?" confirms my suspicions.

I did what I have recently begun to do in situations like these. I nervously laugh, smile and wave. This really doesn't answer their question nor does it even fit the situation, but it's like an automatic reflex. Weird situations immediately elicit a Miss America wave. If you ask me a question and I wave at you, just go away. You have made me uncomfortable and should just try back another time.

I don't know what it is about me that attracts such...interesting attention. I am much more likely to receive a cat call and odd stare than I am a nice invitation to go get coffee. My romancers are more likely to be found in the parking lot of Wal-Mart than in institutions of higher education.

Well, for my admirers unaware, here are a few things that will get you a "wave" instead of a "hello."

1. Don't say something completely odd that catches me off guard-- There is no rule of romance that says you have to say something totally random and unique to get a girl's attention. I mean, you want to stand out, but if she has to be confused first before she understands, you have overdone it. If I am wearing a blue shirt, chances are, I don't even remember what I have on. Don't walk up and say, "I see that you are a fan of blue." Chances are, I will look at you strangely before figuring out that I am wearing a blue shirt and you were trying to be cute.

2. Don't do the "nod" followed by the "eye thing."-- If you approach me or hang your head out of a truck window and do the sudden jerk of your head in an upward position, this does not impress me. Also, eyes should be focused directly on mine as you say something nice--not doing a quick take of the entire picture.

3. Don't ignore subtle hints-- If a girl does not make eye contact or her body is not directly facing you, she is trying to get away. If every invitation is met with an excuse like, "I have work to do" or "I'm really busy," this does not necessarily mean you should keep trying to find a compromised date. If she really wanted to go out, she would forget about the looming work.

4. Don't whistle, yell or call me a pet name-- I don't even like pet names from someone I am dating; like I am going to appreciate being called "pretty thang" from a stubbly old man. There are some women who may like this kind of attention, but I am not one to follow a whistle. Save that for your yellow lab. I once had a guy overseas lick his lips at me. I don't think I need to explain why that one is just plain wrong.

5. Don't bring me strange gifts-- I once had a guy in high school who brought me some earrings as a love offering. The earrings were clearly pre-owned and still had ear crust on them (gag). Luckily, a few days later he asked for them back. Why? Because he had stolen them and the person they belonged to had noticed.

Unfortunately, this list could go on for days. I have more interesting stories than I can possibly recount in this entry. The bottom line is, I think some fellas make it very hard for a girl to just be nice. People complain constantly about girls who are snobby and rude, but the truth is, sometimes that is what it takes.

Countless girls try to be sweet to everyone they know and see and in return get years of annoying attention from guys who took their kindness too far. Just take the time to appreciate when people are nice to you and treat you with sincerity. Don't take off on it and make it mean more than it really does.

This goes for girls, too. Perhaps when stalking quits following kindness, more people will join in its practice.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Missing Chair

"To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time." ~ Clara Ortega

This weekend was a little surreal to me, to be honest. My brother Ryan got married to his college sweetheart, Chelsea. It's usually not until after weddings that I truly get in touch with my feelings. It's like during the event, my adrenaline is pumping and I'm making sure my dress fits and my hair doesn't look hideous, and it doesn't give me time to totally soak in my surroundings.

When I get home, it is like this unexpected detox. It's like every flood of emotions that didn't emerge at the ceremony suddenly hits. I guess it didn't really sink in for me until after the "I do's" had been said and they had left for their honeymoon. We all went to eat as a family that night and there was something missing.

Every relative was in their rightful place, but Ryan wasn't there. There were no quotes from "Friends" being added to every conversation and I missed his "Hey, hey, Ashton" introduction to get my attention before saying something completely goofy but endearing.

I realized that I am now giving him over to a new girl. I may no longer be the girl he goes to for girl advice or when he is hurting, but I realize that getting him to this point should be my greatest joy. I seriously think that I worry more about my brothers than I do myself; I get overtly jealous of the girls they date and I am inwardly scrutinizing their every move. I feel blessed that Chelsea surpassed my greatest expectations and that I no longer have to worry about Ryan's future.

Watching him Saturday was kind of like we were playing dress up again, but he was playing for keeps. I can only hope that my years of making him play "house" have paid off. I hope that one day he will graduate from plastic toast to maybe authentic scrambled eggs. Or, if all else fails, maybe he can serve her Pop Tarts on a tray like he did for me when I was dressed like royalty.

There may have been one chair missing, but this weekend filled my heart up in other ways. Just seeing my family laughing and interacting together this weekend will always be a great memory for me. There was a dance at the reception and almost every relative took their turn on the dance floor.

Even PawPaw Bob made his entrance after we dragged him. It didn't take long for the beat to get to him and he began to jump up and down like a rabbit with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Mimi asked what she needed to do. We followed with, "Just raise your hands!" She complied and the fun began. We all did the ChaCha Slide, the Cupid Shuffle and everything in between. I haven't laughed that much in a long time. I caught the bouquet and my cousin Levi caught the garter. The DJ announced that he could perform another wedding right here if we wanted him too. By the disgusted looks on our faces, he soon realized that we were relatives. "It is Kentucky, you know!" he responded. No thanks.

Afterward, we all went to eat at Olive Garden and I loved getting to catch up with Hannah and Scott, Ali, Maddie and JC and the rest of the family. The waiters probably weren't thrilled to see a party of 20 come in, but I couldn't have been more excited to spend time with everyone.

Rooming with Aunt Chiara was a blast. I love to make her laugh and we spent so much of our time in the hotel doing just that. The rehearsal dinner was Africa-themed and was a special tribute to our family's history. All of the decorations belonged to my grandma, and the pictures brought my family's mission work in Africa to life. Curry is such a family tradition for us, and we shared it with the rest of the dinner guests. When I saw the displays as well as the people there, I was proud to be a part of this family. I am sad that Papa Huddleston couldn't make the trip, but his story was well represented the whole weekend. Special thanks to Aunt Jamie and Mema for helping my mom make this happen. You two were phenomenal and I love you dearly.

Tears are starting to form in my eyes right now; part of it being that I am Ronda's daughter, part of it being that I realize that writing all day on this entry couldn't describe what this weekend meant to me. Though the road trip was long and treacherous at times, I loved getting to spend it talking to the gals of the family. Mema's wisdom and even Mom's playful nagging meant a lot to me.

The wedding went off without a hitch and it was beautiful to see my parents give their blessing to the two of them; Ryan's voice was as steady as the sun and it became apparent to me that he had somehow become a man while I wasn't looking. I was sitting down at the reception, realizing my new role in his life, when he suddenly came over and said, "Hey, hey Ashton."

I looked up and he directed me onto the dance floor. As I took his hand in mine, I realized that--though our relationship would definitely change--I would not be forgotten. That I may have served a purpose in getting him here, but that my purpose in his life was not over.

I once heard it said that sisters are a little bit of childhood that can never be lost, and I hope that I can continue to be that for him. As he adopts new responsibilities that come with having a family, I hope he can look to me as a reminder of the boy who used to slide a sword into his underwear and be Robin Hood or the kid who always pinned a tail on and became a different animal every day. As long as we all have each other, our inner being and childlike spirit will never completely disappear.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

10 Things Not to Say to Single People

Most of my blogs recently have stemmed from articles I have read recently or in the past. A month or so ago, my friend e-mailed me an article that had a compilation of things not to say to single people. It made me laugh because I resonated with so many of them and found solace in the fact that there are several others who feel the same way.

I decided to take a few of my favorite comments and expand upon them. Though the past few blog entries have pointed to being single in some shape or form, please don't mistake this for bitterness. The point of "The Fabulous Familiar" is to laugh at the familiar--and let's face it-- this is my "familiar" right now.

So, with that introduction out of the way, here are a list of things you may have heard, or even said yourself at some point in your life.

1. It happens when you least expect it.

This one always makes me smile because it makes me picture myself as a dear, sweet gazelle minding my own business in the African safari. There I am, snagging some tasty grass and all of a sudden--out of nowhere--comes this monstrous lion coming to take a chunk out of my side. It's like people are saying this to you so you don't feel responsible for you poor love life. Like somehow by walking along blindly like a Dodo bird, you are going to bump into the man of your dreams. This also merits the tapping of the foot, followed by the plea to God, "I'm being patient, God. I'm not expecting it. I'm not even looking for someone right now."

2. You just haven't found the right person yet.

Thank you, Captain Obvious. I love this one especially after you have been dumped because it's like salt on an already open wound. "So you mean to tell me that this guy who just left me cold for no apparent reason wasn't the right person?" It's like watching your friend barely get a pair of pants to her knees and going, "I just don't think you've found the right size yet." Well, duh.

3. So, why are you single?

If I knew that, dear, do you think I would be single? I have always been tempted, when asked this question, to just lay everything on the line: "Well, thanks for asking. I smack when I eat my food, I snore really loud, I have a plethora of back hair and my hormones make me crazy."

4. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Well, I know, but I wanted that fish. And he didn't want me. Saying this to single people is particularly not comforting because it is taking away the focus from their current heartache. If a child's puppy died, you wouldn't say, "Sorry, Bobby, there are plenty of dogs out there in this world." So why do we do it to single people?

5. You should consider yourself lucky. You are free; I have to do {insert boyfriend/husband's name}'s laundry and he only brushes his teeth when I make him.

This one cracks me up because they act like having a boyfriend is not a choice. Sweetheart, I'm pretty sure if you wanted to be single that bad, it could happen for ya. Actually, I could probably write out an instruction manual if you need one.

6. It was just bad timing.

This is one of the great lies of relationships. If a guy breaks up with you because of "bad timing," FLEE. All bad timing really means is that all the time in the world wouldn't make you right for each other. This phrase is used as a cop-out (I have even used it on myself). It is a way for us to blame outside circumstances for the lack of rightness.

7. The ambiguous, "He's out there."

Who's out there? I mean, I know there are men in China, Latin America and Iceland. How does this observation make me feel any better about my current situation? I am not putting down my tub of ice cream on the condition that there are men out there. Part of the reason I am sulking, honey, is because he is "out there" and not "over here."

8. The totally uncorrelated personal experience.

This is when the Homecoming Queen who is still happily married to the Quarterback decides she is going to be a source of consolation. "I remember when I tried to talk to Chris in the lunchroom in 10th grade, he just barely looked my way at first. I mean, being single is so hard." Okay, sister. Comparing an adolescent disappointment to being in your mid-twenties or thirties and being short on romance is kind of not helping me feel better.

9. When you find the right person, you'll know.

The reason I love this one is because I thought at first--with every failed relationship--that I "knew." I mean, are fireworks going to go off? Is he going to have a neon sign on his forehead? What is this "you'll just know" business?

10. You just need to put yourself out there more.

I'm sorry, miss. Does getting a account, going on mission trips, going to church functions and attending college for 6 years make me a hermit? I mean, what's a girl to do-- stand up on a billboard and scream at the top of her lungs? Just because a girl or guy hasn't found true love doesn't necessarily mean they are not putting forth effort.

There are, of course, many more where these came from. I think sometimes the best thing you can do for a single friend is just be their friend. Laugh when they want to laugh about it, listen when they want to whine about it. There is no rule of friendship that says a response is necessary. Even tearing down their former boyfriend or girlfriend doesn't help with the pain involved. Only time and a friend's compassion will truly open doors to a brighter outlook.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Killer Queen

I have recently gotten into the Fox show "Glee." My love for musicals mixed with the unavoidable interest in teenage drama has placed this show directly on my doorstep. Though my brothers would probably hate a show where people can--at any time--break into song, I love it.


Because at any given time, a word or phrase by someone makes me want to burst into song. Giving in to social norm, I usually keep it to myself or hum softly, but nevertheless, the urge is still there.

This show gives teens the opportunity to burst into Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" after someone has talked about not being accepted for who they are. What's funny about that particular episode is that after the head cheerleader talked to a girl about how she was beautiful no matter what people say, I immediately began to sing that song to my friend who was with me. We later laughed that they broke into that song shortly after.

I got to thinking today. If my daily life were a musical, what would it be like? If every urge to sing didn't have to be restrained, what songs would follow me throughout my day?

Because each show usually focuses on one artist or genre of music, I have decided to do the same. Because most people--of all ages--are familiar with the band "Queen," I will use them to document my day today.

8:00 a.m. My alarm rings. I quickly hit the snooze button and roll over. After it goes off again, I groan loudly and get out of bed. I trudge into the living room, passing my roommates. My hair towers 3 feet high and my face is frozen into a disdainful look. "Good morning," someone musters up the courage to say. I grunt and move on to the bathroom. As soon as the door is closed, cue roommates to break into song: {She's a Killer Queeeeeen...Gunpowder, Gelatine, Dynamite with a laser beam...}

8:30 a.m. I go to put on my dress pants, only to find them a little tighter than usual. I probably shouldn't have eaten all that cookie dough last week. I start to tear up when I hear a voice from the sky calling down to me: {Oh won't you take me home tonight? Oh down beside that red firelight, Oh and you give it all you got, Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin' world go round, Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin' world go round} I suddenly begin to feel better about my situation and a smile lights my face as I squeeze into my pants.

8:45 a.m. I go to get in my car, and it won't start. As much as I try, the engine sputters and then comes to a complete stall. I am going to be so late for work. What should I do? It is at this time that I notice several people speeding by for their morning stroll on their bike. They sing to me in unison:
{Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like}

8:55 a.m. I'll ride my bike, that's what I'll do. I get on my 10-speed and fly down Robbye Lane. The neighbors down the street, whose dogs chase my car every morning and evening, have once again let their pooches go on the prowl. I have had enough. Nothing is standing in my way to get to work on time. Cue music: Dun dun dun.

{Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust}

Do I feel slightly guilty about the havoc I have wreaked on my bike? A little. But maybe the dogs won't chase me anymore.

9:10 a.m. I am a little late to work, but that is to be expected with the morning I have had. My mind seems to be on other things while at work. So many decisions to be made; so many things on my heart. A co-worker asks, "Hey Ashton, are you OK? You seem a little out of it today." It is then that I stand up on my desk and declare:

{Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Look up to the skies and see
I'm just a poor girl(Poor girl)
I need no sympathy
Because I'm easy come, easy go
Little high, little low
Any way the wind blows
Doesn't really matter to me, to me}

12:00 p.m. I head out on my lunch break and run into an old friend at the restaurant. When I ask her how things have been going, she informs me that she just got engaged and is getting married in a few months. I smile, congratulate her and then wait for the question: "What about you, Ash, do you have someone special in your life?" The guy behind the counter begins to provide the intro through his microphone and I soon answer her question in song:

{Can anybody find me somebody to love?
Each morning I get up I die a little
Can barely stand on my feet
Take a look in the mirror and cry
Lord what you're doing to me
I have spent all my years in believing you
But I just can't get no relief, Lord!
Somebody, somebody
Can anybody find me somebody to love?}

The restaurant claps, and I sit back down and get back to quietly eating my meal.

4 p.m. I get off job number one and head over to job number two for the rest of the evening. I am tired, ready to just go home. I feel defeated. The pessimistic voice in the back of my head begins to chant:

{You got mud on your face
You big disgrace
Somebody better put you back in your place
We will, we will rock you
We will, we will rock you}

8 p.m. The last person has left the clinic for the evening and we begin to gather our things. After my rendition of "I Want to Break Free," one of the providers begins to sing, "We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end..." Soon, we all grab hands, sway back and forth and sing in perfect harmony,

{We are the champions -
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cuz we are the champions - of the world!}

9:30 p.m. I turn on the Law and Order: SVU marathon and decide the world is at peace at that very moment. No one can get in the way of my happiness while watching Detective Stabler body slam criminals. Right before they catch the criminal, my satellite goes down. I am enraged:

{Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time
I'm having a ball don't stop me now
If you wanna have a good time just give me a call
Don't stop me now (cause I'm havin' a good time)
Don't stop me now (yes, I'm havin a good time)
I don't want to stop at all.}

10:45 p.m. I go to bed. I can't sleep with music on so the screen fades away into darkness.

Perhaps if ABBA's "Dancing Queen" wakes me up in the morning, I'll get off to a better start.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I just read an article that discussed whether texting hurts or helps romance. I found this very interesting considering I have been asked out via text messaging, I have been dumped via text messaging, and I have had guys who wanted to carry out a relationship via text messaging. Oh, and let's not forget about creepers who pounce via text messaging.

When the men in the article were asked about texting etiquette, many said the problem is that some men just don't know how to do it right:

"Funny, flirty, and confident messages will nurture the attraction between two people. This requires that men be original, think creatively, and author with purpose. Send something that reminds a woman who you are or how you made them feel."

Amen, good sirs. I absolutely, positively cringe when I receive a first text message from a guy that says, "Sup?" Though "what's up" isn't much better, it far surpasses the lazy combination that is "Sup." The only proper response to this really is "Nm. u?" which I refuse to respond with.

If they want to know 'sup', by golly, they are going to get it: "I went to work out around 9 today, then went to the grocery store to get some cereal because I was out of it for breakfast this morning, and I have a feeling tonight I will watch the Lifetime movie network."

When getting creative, however, please don't overdo it. A guy once found out I was having a rather bad day and sent this gem: "Hope you get to feeling better. Remember, it could be worse. You could be a female sea lion. They are pregnant 364 days out of the year." In this case, falling back on the traditional, "Thinking of you. Feel better soon!" would have sufficed.

Also, when a girl responds with something witty or original, don't just respond with "Well" or "LOL" unless you are indeed laughing out loud, which I highly doubt you are. Respond with something that really lets her know you appreciated and understood what she was writing to you. One-word answers seem like the easy way out. According to the women interviewed, questions like "Sup" gave them these 3 impressions:

1."I'm scared of you."

Every time you communicate with someone, the recipient is aware that you had multiple methods available. You could have called, e-mailed, showed up at her doorstep, sent a singing telegram — the possibilities are endless. When a guy texts, it's clear he chose to do so, leaving the suspicion that he's too scared of you to actually speak with you, doesn't have clue how to start a conversation, or is suffering from a social anxiety disorder. None of those things are sexy. Ever.

2. "I don't really care if you respond or not."

A text loosely translates to: "I don't really care about you. It might be fun to go out tonight, but I'm too tired/bored/uninterested to make any real effort. So if you get back to me, great. If not, I can finally catch up on Lost. Bonus if you drive over here and I can do both."

3. "I just sent that text to every single woman in my address book."

I think texting is great, don't get me wrong, but I don't think it should replace all human interaction and replace good old-fashioned communication. It is so much easier to ignore a one-word pick-up line on a cellphone screen than it is a deep, human voice.

I know that dating is hard; rejection is often feared and break-ups are looming. That is no excuse for our recent obsession with the choppy, abbreviated written word. Don't send me a text message saying you can't see me anymore, talk to me like I am an adult. If you think I am interesting and funny, tell me after I say something witty, don't send me a text later saying that you LOL-ed later about my comment at dinner. It is time to tap not onto our keypads, but rather into our courage. Perhaps when that happens, we will actually follow through with our romantic TTYLs.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bathrooms, Hymns and Smells, Oh My!

Friday night was quite interesting at my household. After hosting a Premier Jewelry party, it soon became quite apparent that the weather was becoming scary. We turned on the radio, reminiscent of the old days and gathered by it for instruction. When they encouraged us to gather in a bathroom or safe room, we complied. My friend Anna from home drove all the way to Searcy to have such an adventure, bless her heart, and the jewelry presenter signed on for more than she bargained for. Her one-year-old son thought the whole ordeal was quite fun, jumping on the pillows in the tub.

Saturday was along the same lines; Anna, Loramy, and I ventured out to FroYo's for some icecream and then (unwisely) decided to stop at Red Box to get a movie. Shortly after arriving under the awning, the sky breaks open and rain pours. One guy looked at me, "Hey, have they issued a tornado warning yet?" "I'm not sure," I replied, "but it is sure making it's way over here." His eyes get really big and he begins to run back to his car. "I got struck by lightning last night so now I don't mess around!" he says while he hurriedly makes his way to a safe haven. As I do in all inappropriate times, I bust out laughing once he has left. Everyone else under the awning begins to look at me; though they try to look at me as that heartless girl that laughs at other people's fate, they couldn't help but crack a smile at the boy who defied lightning's strike to go rent a movie.

I have lived in Arkansas my whole life so tornadoes and being trapped in bathrooms is nothing new to me. I remember freshman year in the dorms when we would have to gather on the first floor until the storms cleared. Girls from up north and places that don't have this type of weather were in hysteria, and it blew my mind that a tornado warning was such an unknown fear. I guess it is the equivalent to me being caught up in a hurricane and a Florida girl yawning.

All this history being said, every time this happens I can't help but be reminded of family times in Paragould, Arkansas. I always knew it was serious when I would come downstairs and see Dad gathering the old radio, a few pillows and his book of the week. "Come on!" he would call as he headed down to the basement. The groans could be heard amidst the raging winds because everyone hated that basement. The stairs would creak as you walked down and it was evident that a few wasp had already beaten us to the shelter.

We would sit on the stairs and listen to the reports on the radio, hoping it would pass as quickly as possible. An extension from 10:00 to 10:45 was torture and it meant 45 more minutes in that dreadful setting. Pretty soon, a horrid smell would slowly disperse throughout the basement.


"Wasn't me!"

Everyone would deny that they caused the basement's new aroma, but it would usually be quite apparent when either Ryan or Kelsey would start laughing, proud of making an already unpleasant situation smellier.

Ryan would always pipe up with some amazing idea like, "Hey, Dad can we sing some hymns or something?" He would pass out the hymnals that were for some reason stored down here. I have to admit that my attitude was not always the best when stuck in these situations. I would like to say that I was like the Apostle Paul and would joyfully sing in the darkness of the basement. Most of the time, however, I would sing "A Shelter in the Time of Storm" through gritted teeth.

Looking back, I now know that we would have made FOX news had people learned of our family's ways. I can see a Pulitizer-winning photograph of the five Reelys huddled with no shelter over them, clinging to their songbooks and in the midst of deadly gases.

As long as I live in Arkansas, I will have plenty of more storm shelter memories to come. Sitting in the hallway with my friends post-jewelry party will definitely be up there on my list. I just thank God for keeping us safe through this once again and my heart is heavy for those who were not so fortunate this time around.

I am reminded of one of my favorite Christian songs, "Praise you in This Storm" by Casting Crowns which says,

I was sure by now,God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I think my family had the right idea when they "forced" us to sing hymns while the storms raged. It not only calmed our nerves, but it reminded us of who is really in control. I think storms are that reminder for me; that reminder that I can't do everything on my own and that--in reality-- I can't control everything. This is quite a realization for a control freak.

I try to remember that no matter what storms--figurative or real--appear in my life, I should praise God in the midst of it. He is the only one that can make the rain stop, the clouds part and the sun come shining through.