May 28, 2009

Amazing Person #2

One of my dearest friends gave me a slap on the wrist this week for being a bad blogger. She is so right. I have neglected the blogosphere, so I thought it apropos to dedicate this post to her! Now, she needs a nickname. Let's call her.......Shiksa! That is a fitting name, and I think it will give her a much needed giggle.

So my girl, Shiksa. Where to begin?! We are kindred spirits. We met through her now husband, Dr. Bop (I'm on a roll!) and my ex, Mr. Microphone (somebody stop me!). Bop and Mic have been friends since childhood, and when introduced, I felt like I had known Shiksa about that long too. We were instant besties (a word I learned from her). The beginning of our friendship was mostly long distance - me in Atlanta with her in Chicago THEN me in Chicago with her in New Jersey. But really it wasn't until she moved back to Chicago, (at last, putting us in the same city) that our friendship grew some roots...and just in the nick of time.

Chicago was an AMAZING life experience for me, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I learned more about myself in those 3 years than I ever had before. But as we all know, life lessons can bring some seemingly insurmountable challenges and heartache. THANK GOD FOR SHIKSA! She was my lifeline in so many ways - particularly in a time when the newness of my new city had worn off; I was severely homesick; Mr. Microphone had left town for an internship; and I was in a job that I hated. The perfect storm.

ENTER Shiksa with a big ass umbrella.
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She was there for me in every possible way, and to make it all that much sweeter, we had an unbelievable number of things in common from politics to particular obsessive tendencies. Many a hardy chuckle have been had over unintentional "coincidences" that have made us wonder if we had that twin-like psychic connection between us. More than once, we have both arrived at our designated meeting point at the exact same time without breaking our stride. That even happened when I last visited in December. One of our favorite things to do was to get take-out ribs (zesty) from Twin Anchors and go to my place to watch Grey's Anatomy.

Shiksa was always at her best, though, when I was at my absolute worst. Eventually my relationship with Mr. Microphone came to it's inevitable end, and even with the obvious loyalty conflicts, she never left my side. Mr. Microphone is a compassionate guy, and he knew how close Shiksa and I were (are). After our break-up he told her to take care of me. Now, that's kind of a normal thing to do with mutual friends in such a situation, but I've never met anyone who took that assignment more seriously than she did. In fact, I think Mr. Microphone eventually came to regret making that request of her, as she became my consummate protector even if it meant putting him in his place. There were days when I wasn't sure I could even get out of bed. No worries. Shiksa was there with a Dr. Pepper and a frosted cookie to save my day. Through anxiety attacks, car accidents, break-ups, and muggings via knife-point, she (and many times Dr. Bop too) came to my rescue.

Now we are back to where we started - me in Atlanta and her in Chicago. When my last days in Chicago were winding down, that was the good-bye that I was most dreading. It didn't matter that I'd see her again in two months at her wedding, or that I knew we would keep in touch. Shiksa had become one of those fixtures in my life such that, saying good-bye to her was like leaving a piece of me behind. Actually I'm ok with that though, because I know that piece couldn't possibly be in better hands.

I love you so much, Shiksa, and I miss you everyday. I hope I have been, and can be, half as good a friend to you as you have been to me.



May 1, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!

BG turns the big 6-2 today. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Anyone who meets my dad immediately falls in love with him. He is one special person. He grew up in the same town where he still lives today. He and my 2 uncles were raised on a farm by two of the most humble and warm-hearted people on the planet. Nothing is more important to BG than family and God with Auburn football - well, Auburn in general - coming in as a close 3rd.

BG is the quintessential Southern Gentleman. He's a jolly, fun-loving guy who is so conservative he makes Rush Limbaugh look like a hippy. He has been known to call me his 'liberal daughter' which, to anyone who knows me, would seem hilariously inaccurate. Compared to him though, it is absolutely true. In the little corner of the world where I grew up, BG is one of the most respected and loved members of the community, and with good reason. Stranger or old friend, he loves nothing more than to make someone laugh. As long as you don't say 'Roll Tide', after 5-minutes of knowing you, he will consider you a friend. Not long after that, he will dazzle you with his steak-grilling skills and/or his precision on his high-powered complex lawn maintenance system. To call this piece of machinery a lawn mower, would be a gross understatement. It has a steering system that is so complicated, the average person would find themselves spinning in circles on the first attempt at operation. I am convinced it could reach speeds of at least 50 miles per hour though I've only seen him go up to about 30. Sheer genius at work, I tell you. But I digress...

My dad, has travelled the world and has stood in some of the most historic and amazing places in existence, yet his favorite place is simply anywhere his family happens to be - especially if that place happens to be Auburn, Alabama. From the womb, BG has instilled a love of the orange and blue in me and my brothers that runs so deep there was never any question about where we would seek higher learning. My dad spent his life around boys. He has 2 brothers and 2 sons. My mother once told me how I (the only girl for a while) have always been such a mystery to him. True, there is a lot about me that I'm sure has been hard for him to understand, but one thing we could always connect with was Auburn. No matter what - silly little girl, angst-ridden teenager, college co-ed, young professional - we always had Auburn. For my 12th birthday my dad and I went to the Auburn/Georgia Tech game in Atlanta - a real treat for me as I had him all to myself while usually my football knowledge was overshadowed by my all-knowing brothers. I remember a lot about that day, but most of all I just remember how great it was to hang out with my dad. We saw a pretty spectacular game too.

Five years ago today, my dad dropped me off in Chicago and made the long drive back to Alabama. While I was excited and nervous about starting that new chapter in my life, I was heartbroken and terrified to know, for the first time, there would be that many miles between us. I'm sure leaving his baby girl in a big strange city wasn't a great way to spend his birthday either, but he knew it was something I needed to do. Two years ago, as I was unpacking my boxes in Atlanta once again, I sent him a birthday card and promised that I would never move that far from home again.

BG has always been my hero. He has saved me figuratively and literally more times than I can count. I have never made a major decision without his input. His guidance is a lifeline for me. I don't say it nearly enough, but I love him more than he could possibly ever know. I've recently had some moments that have made me realize just how lucky I am to have such an incredible and loving dad. I know how much he loves me. I know he is proud of me. I know I can always count on him when (not if) I need rescuing. I just hope he knows that I feel the same way about him.


Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you so much.


April 12, 2009

Easter in Small Town Alabama looks like...

THIS.
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To frame this up properly, I have to tell you. One of the things I love most about me is that I come from a tiny - and I mean TINY - small town in Alabama. You can count the number of traffic lights on one hand. Everybody knows everybody. When I was a mischievous teenager, my parents knew about the trouble I had gotten into, before I got home. Time stands absolutely still in places like this. It is virtually the same place that I left when I went away to college. But anyway...
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We are nothing if not an informal bunch. I'm not sure if this is an indigenous trait to small town living or just my family. Presentation is completely lost on this lot. I am so mad at myself for not taking a picture of our Easter Sunday lunch spread to share with all of you. It was a mish-mosh of Tupperware bowls, re-used butter tubs, plastic utensils, plastic cups, paper napkins, and paper plates. Martha Stewart would have had a heart attack. The philosophy is essentially that, "fancy presentation doesn't add one lick to the taste, so why bother?!" Now if it DOES improve the taste, then it is absolutely worth it! Case in point: My brother got up several times throughout Saturday night slaving over his Big Green Egg smoking a turkey to perfection. This all makes perfect sense to me and my people.
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Now, once all the worshipin', fellowshipin', and eatin' is done, the Easter Eggs have been dyed, hidden, hunted, and found - what's left to do? Why, launch said Easter Eggs down the street with a giant slingshot, of course. DUH!



See, you have to be resourceful in a small town to keep yourself entertained. My brother's neighbors have the right idea. Who knew slinging hard-boiled eggs through the neighborhood could be so fun?! Well, we did, obviously. I'm sorry for all you yankees and big city folk who have never had the pleasure of experiencing this little-known Easter tradition. It's a great time to catch up with the neighbors while displaying some athletic prowess - two things that Southerners LOVE to do - and if it involves two big pick-up trucks - well, then, ALL THE BETTER!




Hope y'all had as much fun on Easter as I did!
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April 4, 2009

April 4, 2008

This was a VERY exciting day in my world. Something I never thought possible became official. Five faces I never thought I would see in the same place again...were in the same place again. There were rumors. Lots of them. There were rumblings. There was reason to believe in the weeks prior to April 4th. But that day it became real. Very real.

Now those of you who are reading this and are not New Kids on the Block fans, I am sure you are rolling your eyes at me right now. That's quite alright. I've been watching people roll their eyes at me for 20 years now because of this. I know it is impossible for you to understand. I know it doesn't make any sense to you. I am not embarrassed. I am proud. This has been one of the best years of my life, and it's because of them.

One year ago, I was lying on my sofa watching the Today Show...and waiting. They teased us the whole morning about this exciting announcement that was to come. It was not a very well kept secret, mind you. The plaza was FLOODED - flooded with torrential rain and RABID BLOCKHEADS! Then the time came...

That red curtain dropped and there they were. Once again. I was 13 years old again. For anyone who isn't a fan, I KNOW this will seem ridiculous, but I was overcome. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. All 5 of them. Together. Smiling and loving every minute of it. They talked about new music. They talked about a tour (THUD), and they talked about how great it was to be back with their friends...US INCLUDED. Just amazing.

I had no idea at the time, but that was the first day of one of the most AMAZING YEARS of my life. I have met some INCREDIBLE people who are now my friends for life. I have had some of my WILDEST DREAMS come true (pun intended, Blockheads, HA!)...twenty years in the making. These adventures have not been without some drama, mind you, but I wouldn't change a single solitary second of it.

Kristin and Brittany - So happy we met you in Florida! You gals need to come to Atlanta, so we can hang out again soon!!


ORIGINAL GUTTER GIRLS! Jenn, Whitney, Kristi, Sarah, Kerri, Myka, Sanya, Kat, Katie, Logan - Thank you so much for adopting me! I feel like I've known all of you for years! What a special group!! It has been such an incredible pleasure getting to know you. LNS!

(PICTURE TO BE ADDED THIS SUMMER!!! WOOOTTT!!!)
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Jenny and Stacey - GREENVILLE 4! I HEART YOU SO MUCH! We have made some GREAT memories together. You are my sisters! I wish we lived closer so we could have slumber parties every weekend!!


Amanda - Girl. What to say?! You are one of the sweetest and most loyal people I have ever met. Thank you for all of your support when times were REALLY crazy. But mostly thank you for your amazing friendship now. I'm a lucky Blockhead to have a friend like you. I know there are MANY MANY good times ahead!! EEEEKKKK!!!!

And Ashley - WOW! What a year it's been! One year ago, I sent a PM to a girl from Atlanta who, like me, was making plans for an NYC trip in May. Little did I know what we had started! Can you believe all the things that have happened in the last year?! IT'S ALL HAPPENING! We have made some INCREDIBLE friends all while becoming best friends ourselves. Through our EXTREME highs and EXTREME lows (bipolar much?!), you know that I'll always be here for you. IT'S MILEY! You are my friend for life.

Last but not least...
Chanda - You certainly are not a NEW friend, but one of my oldest, dearest, and most treasured. You have been with me every step of this amazing journey, if not in person, in my heart. I would not have wanted to experience May 16th, 2008, with anyone else. It was the MOST PERFECT 24 hours EVER!!!! Thank you for being who you have always been to me!! I can't wait to be with you on MAY 29TH!!! Just as it should be.


I'm now at the end of another crazy week due, in no small part, to these 5 gentlemen. I have bought tickets this week for what, I am PRAYING, will NOT be the last ride of this crazy adventure. But if it is, at least I will know that I made the VERY BEST of it. I have absolutely NO REGRETS. And my love has been renewed for at least another 20 years!!!

BH4LIFE!
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March 25, 2009

Amazing Person #1

I have a very dear friend who lives in Chicago. He is truly one of the coolest people I've ever met. I'm going to give him a nickname here, but I have to tell you a little bit about him first. He and I met through a mutual friend and hit it off instantly. He is one of those people that can instigate bouts of side-splitting laughter in me easier than most...not that it's difficult for anyone, mind you (I'm a giggler), but he's just one of those people that is funny without really even trying. On top of his sheer talents as an accidental comedian, he has quite a story.

My friend has a genetic condition called bilateral acoustic neuromas or NF2. This condition began effecting him in his 20's and, at first, presented few problems as I understand it. Eventually though, he had to undergo surgeries to remove tumors and cysts around the base of his brain. The first signs of this condition presented themselves as hearing problems, and as a result of the condition as well as the surgeries, he has now lost the majority of his hearing, but that would NEVER slow him down. This guy has a successful career in marketing, is married to an equally amazing woman (also equally funny, of course), and has 3 beautiful children.

For the purposes of this blog, said dear friend is hereby nicknamed Loud & Clear or LC for short. LC would totally appreciate the humor in that name for the sake of its irony, but that's only one reason I think it works for him. Though he can barely hear what I'm saying most of the time and we hardly ever see each other since I moved away from Chicago, he's one of those people that just gets me and my humor. I think we have a mutual appreciation for each other's funny-factor, though I would say mine is FAR inferior to his. We have been known to trade emails that would make little sense to anyone else, but we find each other so funny that we just go back and forth as long as we can until one of us (usually me) just can't think of anything else funny to say. There is a little "funny pressure" in this friendship, but I'll take it considering the quality laughs we have shared.

LC and I don't get to catch up as much as I would like, but I have saved a lot of those emails. That is my go-to stash when I'm having a bad day or just need a giggle. No matter how many times I read them, laughs are guaranteed.

Here's a little email banter we had a while back. For it to make sense (or at least as much sense as possible), you need to know that we have a mutual appreciation for "The Office" and more specifically, we both love Dwight. As such, we also love quoting Dwight as frequently as possible. Another note is that LC HATES the term 'HOTlanta'. Proceed...

*AJS is me cuz nicknames are just fun.*

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LC: How's Atlanta? I mean "hotlanta"....HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Whew! That's good stuff.
So anyway, I've now added "those are the money beets" to my everyday lexicon. It kills me every time and is an excellent way to quickly weed out the funny from the not-so-funny if you ever find yourself in a group of new people. Even if someone doesn't know the dwightness of the source, just the phrase "money beets" should be enough. It makes me want to start a band. People would throw beets on stage when we played, it would be just like a Bare Naked Ladies concert, only with more beets, of course...and fewer Canadians.

AJS: I'd like to play the tambourine and/or triangle in the band. I'm really good.

LC: We're actually auditioning cow-bellists all week. We can't seem to find anyone with that certain indefinable cow-tone that we're looking for. If you think your skills on the triangle are transferable then we'd love to hear you.

AJS: I see your dilemma. Good hand-held percussionists (that is to say, those that play handheld percussion instruments as opposed to very small drummers) are hard to come by. I believe I can fill this void. I'll have my people call your people.
WHAT THIS BAND NEEDS IS MORE COWBELL!!

LC:
"Hand-held percussionists"
That's the kind of stuff that makes me sad that you moved far away. I once developed a mad crush on a girl in high school because we were on a mission trip to a Choctaw Indian Reservation and passed a house with an old lawn-mower in the front yard displaying a sign that read "Small Engine Repair", to which she saw and responded "hey - we found the pediatrician!" You would have wanted her too.

AJS: Excellent Research on tiny drummers.
Did said mission trip take you to Alabama, by chance? If so, I think I know this repairman/pediatrician. He also sold fireworks. Pretty awesome. I mean seriously, where else can you get your weed eater (small engine family) serviced and shoot bottle rockets while you wait? Together at last.

LC: I think it was in Philadelphia, Mississippi, actually. But when you're from up here, Alabama and Mississippi are really the same place...and everything we learned about those states came from movies or shows like 'A Time to Kill' or 'Designing Women'. So needless to say, I've been aware that everyone in your general part of the country is an interior decorating/klansman, sweats a lot, and is often subject to unwelcome visits by either the NAACP or genial African-Americans named Anthony who drive deliver vans.
.*How could I compete with that?! And scene.
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I miss you, LC!! Let's banter again soon. :)

March 21, 2009

Beasley

Let me tell you a little something about my best bud. His name is Beasley. He'll be 4 in June. He is black...and white. He loves me unconditionally and is always happy to see me...and everyone else. All he wants in life is to be near me and occasionally some food, water, and a squeaky toy.

I adopted Beasley back in the Fall of 2005 from a Havanese rescue organization called HALO. It was the best decision I ever made in my life - well, one of them. I was living in Chicago at the time and having a pretty rough go of things - for that matter, so was he. When I first brought Beasley home, he thought all humans just wanted to hurt him. He was just a shaky little ball of fur - a lot like his new mom minus the fur. He had no idea what he was suppose to do with those toys or that that soft cushy thing would be nice to sleep on.

Slowly but surely we got to know each other. He learned that his favorite place to take a nap was snuggled into my legs on the sofa resting his little head on my knees. He learned that those little rubber squeaky things could provide hours and hours of the most fun he'd ever had. And most importantly he learned that I loved him and would never ever do anything to hurt him. From that point on we've been a package deal. We moved from Chicago where he loved the snow and walks along Lake Michigan, to Atlanta where he can run and run outside in the warm sun almost year-round.

As the man in my life, he is my consumate "protector" - letting me know when ANYTHING (and I do mean ANYTHING) may possibly be afoot outside. Although it may annoy me sometimes, I love him for that and so many other things. He has licked a lot of tears off of my cheeks and jumped around with me when I've been excited about one thing or another. He's the last face I see before I go to sleep and the first one I see when I wake up.

He's my little man. My best pal.




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