Sunday, December 30, 2012

PARTY DOWN! I REPEAT, THE PARTY IS DOWN!

Do you remember last year when one of Steve's more influential co-workers threw a Christmas party and I had a small, but powerful come-apart about being worried that I'd been strange and awkward the whole time?  No?  Well, you should follow that link and read about it. Geez.

Anyways, the man had another Christmas party this year, and believe it or not, I wasn't the least bit nervous about going.  Part of it was that I knew what a lovely couple the host and hostess were, and I guess the other part was that, at the time, I was still on medication for whatever mystery illness I was being treated for and it made me feel too terrible to think about all the things I could do wrong.  Who knew feeling like death was good for the self esteem?  The only thing that had been worrying me about this party was the fact that I wasn't sure if I'd done the right thing for a host/hostess gift.  See, I know I could have gone to that party empty handed and it would have been OK.  Had they been good friends of ours, I wouldn't have felt it necessary to give a gift, but it just seemed like good manners to take something to this party. 

Well, everything started off better than I could have expected.  I was feeling a bit better by the time we got there, and our gift was a huge hit.  Seriously, they weren't just being polite.  I mean, they seemed genuinely thrilled about the towels I'd embroidered the name of their farm on.  (Yeah, they live in a place with a frickin' name! Awesome, huh?)  So I relaxed and figured that the rest of the party would be a piece of cake!

That's when God punished me for my hubris.

The host gathered us all together, prayed over the food, and we filled our plates with various little nibbles. Steve and I found out of the way seats where he could tell me who everyone was without them hearing us talking about them.  Things were going well, and we were laughing and talking, when someone came over to tell us goodbye.  We were sitting and the man was standing in front of Steve.  He shook Steve's hand, and I leaned forward - plate in hand -  to say goodbye.  I didn't realize how close to Steve I'd apparently leaned, but when the man released Steve's hand, Steve's elbow went into my plate.  Hard.  It was like a wrestling move.  Almost in slow motion, a jumbo shrimp, covered in sauce, sailed across the room.  The rest of the sauce, which had puddled on my plate, immediately fell onto Steve's lap. Crumbs fell, napkins fluttered, Steve froze in place and the crunch of my plastic dinnerware hitting the floor echoed around the room.  Now, of course, it probably wasn't really like that. It all happened so fast, but it felt like time had slowed to a crawl.  Steve's face had a look of panic on it that I rarely see, and of course, I lost it.  I started laughing so hard all I could do was sit there as Steve retrieved the shrimp and started piling the trash into my plate.  The man who had been shaking Steve's hand made a "yikes" face and fled, and I still sat there laughing like a lunatic.  Apparently the medicine I was on made me not care how loud I was laughing either.  Poor Steve was so embarrassed, and he couldn't even stand up because of all the sauce on his pants!  One of the caterers (the one I hugged last year was back, and I'm fairly certain he recognized me) quickly walked over and took the plate from me.  I sat and snort-giggled until Steve was able to get up and find a bathroom to clean himself up in.

When he finally got back, I was calm enough to go back to the food and get some dessert.  Now, what they were serving were these tiny little chocolate shells filled with various and sundry flavors of whipped cream, or something like that.  I got two, and walked back to the seats.  I sat down, picked up my first little dessert thingie, when my plate - which was sitting on my knee - tilted sideways.  I managed to catch the plate before my food went into the floor, but not before almost crushing my chocolate thing.  It startled me into saying "SON OF A WHORE!" a little bit louder than I meant to.  Of course, that set me laughing again.  Then Steve started laughing, and we were like two little kids in church trying not to laugh too loudly.  Once again, the caterer was at my elbow, taking away the plate.  It was then that I knew they had noted the frequency of my messes and had targeted me so that they could keep everything around me clean!

At that point I felt that Steve and I should walk around and talk to some people, so that we wouldn't have to hold plates anymore.  While we were doing this, I started feeling very ill indeed, so I walked outside on the deck to get some air and there were the dogs!  Of course, I immediately started petting them and talking to them.  When I started feeling better, I was getting ready to go inside when I noticed the sweet dog faces looking at me.  I could tell that they really wanted to go inside, and dummy me thought I remembered that they were trained only to go as far as the screened in porch, so when they followed me back into that porch I didn't think anything of it. I walked back into the house, and the dogs followed me!!  I don't think this would have been a problem, had they been small dogs, but the 110 pound lab decided that not only should it visit as many people as possible, probably to see if they had food, she was also just the right height to pretty much stick her face into the chafing dishes.  Luckily, very luckily, I managed to stop her before she did that.  The woman caterer walked over to me and said "I don't think they're supposed to be in here!" and she chased out the smaller of the two dogs.  It took longer, but the man caterer managed to shoo the giant lab.  By that point, I was fairly sure the catering staff was very tired of me!

After getting the dog out, I somehow managed to lose Steve.  Now, this house is big, but not so big that I could lose my husband in, but I swear he just disappeared!  I stood in the middle of the room kind of non-plussed, looking towards all the different groups of people and not seeing him. I finally had to start asking people if they'd seen him.  Of course, no one knew where he was, and I had a very bad moment of wondering if I'd embarrassed him to the point of just leaving me at this party to find my own way home!  After some searching, and more than a few more moments of panic, I discovered him, wedged into a hidden corner of the living room (seriously, I hadn't found him that whole time because of a stupid bend in the room) talking to some of his coworkers.  Yeesh.  As I made my way over, I stopped at the bar to get a cup of apple cider.  It was in one of those silver, heated coffee dispensers that you have to press a black flipper thing on the spout on its front.  Since I'd pretty much spilled everything I'd had in my hands that night, I only planned to fill my cup half-way, and as I was doing that, the fricking catering lady jumped over to my elbow to make sure I was doing it right.  Seriously.  I was starting to feel stalked.  I got away and made it over to Steve without spilling it, so IN YOUR FACE, CATERING STAFF!

After sitting there for a while, the yuck feeling came back fairly badly.  I had to surreptitiously tug on Steve's sweater and let him know I was feeling bad again and wanted to leave.  Although I'm sure he would have liked to have stayed longer, he was gracious enough to realize I honestly didn't feel well, so we got up and made our goodbyes to the host.  I'd like to say that we managed to get away without any further embarrassment, but no.   Because of where we parked, and because people had pulled in behind us, we couldn't get out of the driveway without some fancy maneuvering.  In fact, in our attempt to figure out how to get out, we had to drive up and reverse pass a giant picture window that looked directly into the party about 37 times.  We had to drive past and reverse so many times that it got stupid and we started laughing again.  Big Ben...Parliament.   I had to get out and direct Steve in what was probably a 42 point turn, one in which he drove a tiny way into the flower garden and almost hit one the dogs.  We finally managed to get turned around and we left the party, our dignity in tatters and flaps, but everything else luckily all in one piece.

I think there's a part of me that would love to think that my antics (for want of a better word, I guess) were adorable and that possibly I could pull off being seen as sort of a poor man's (or in my case a very poor, homeless, and possibly meth addled) man's Zoe Deschanel: a precious, elfin creature that can't help but be awkward and freakishly cute while knocking things over and spilling everything, but I don't think that's the case. Instead, I'm fairly certain I'm more like that kid your mother made you invite to things and they were always the one to spill the red punch on the couch and break your new birthday toys. 

I wonder if we'll be invited back next year?

Monday, December 10, 2012

UGH

I feel kind of icky about something I did the other day.  It was actually about 3 weeks ago and I'm still uncomfortable with myself for it.  It wasn't anything bad, per se, but still, I did something I can't stand when other people do and it made me not like myself very much.

There is a store nearby that sells artisan jewelry.  You can tell it's artisan because some of it is gorgeous, some of it is frightfully ugly, and it's all way overpriced.  That being said, Sara and I were perusing the shelves one day a while back and the sales girl was doing her salesperson thing hardcore.  Instead of letting us look on our own, she basically followed us around the entire store and told us about the stuff we were looking at.  Sometimes that can be a good thing, but when you're really just looking, it can get old fast.  Still, she was just doing her job, and she was annoying me.

I'd stopped at one of the cases to look at something and she launched into a spiel about how the designer is "so talented" and had won an Emmy award for costume design by designing jewelry for the Showtime/HBO show, The Tudors.  She went on to tell me "She had to design each piece separately. You couldn't just go an get stuff like that, you had to make it individually!"

OK, first off...the history of Tudor England is kind of my jam.  It's one of the only historical time frames that I've purposefully researched on my own, without having to do it for a class or anything.  I enjoy the whole sordid mess and I'm fairly knowledgeable about it, especially the reign of Henry VIII.  Second off, as someone who studied art history, I've done a LOT of looking at portraits of the time, and I've studied them as closely as I can without being able to actually stand near them with my nose pressed against the frames. Third off (thirdly?) I love jewelry. Not just wearing it and making it, but I love knowing about it, especially historical pieces of significance, and the dynastic portraits of the Tudor line have a lot of wonderful, beautiful pieces included.   I guess what I'm saying is that I'm quite familiar with what she was talking about.

I don't know why what she said rubbed me the wrong way, and I don't know what possessed me to do it, but I went into smug mode and proceeded to pretentiously tell her that of course each costume piece had to be specifically made, because the real pieces would have been made specifically for the people and blah blah, Holbein, blah blah...smug.  She was kind of taken aback, I think.  I used my education to be a know it all bitch, and I am really uncomfortable with that!  I hate when other people use what they know to try and sound smarter-than-thou, especially when they're talking to someone who would have no reason to know the things they're talking about.  The only thing that accomplishes is making them sound like a pretentious ass, and I don't want to be like that.

So, I'm publicly calling myself out for being an art-snobby, know-it-all beastie.  I'm sorry the universe had to see me like that!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

ROCKIN' PNEUMONIA AND THE BOOGIE WOOGIE MYSTERY ILLNESS

Well, it actually isn't pneumonia, either the walking or running kind, this time.  What is it?  I dunno.  Neither the doctor or her PA was very specific.

I suspect I've got the black lung, Pop. (koff koff)

Oh, wait...let me start at the beginning.

*flashback waves and harp sounds*

I'm fairly sure whatever I had got it's humble beginnings while we were in New Orleans.  If you read my story from the night after Sara's wedding, when we went down Bourbon Street and wound up with the funk of the ages all over us, you might remember that my eyes had apparently taken the brunt of whatever was in the air that night.  I'm certain that there is some kind of mold in the air down there that comes from an old-ass city constantly being flooded and dried out again.  Whatever it is, it really, really tried to blind me.

Ever since then, my eyes have been painful, itchy, burning, and crusty.  I know that's disgusting, but I don't care because I'm being CLINICAL here, you guys!  Anyway, I thought it might be pink-eye, but it wasn't the same as the last time I had pink-eye, and that is certainly something I'd remember *shudder.*  I'd mostly be fine, but my eyes would get cloudy and I'd constantly have to rub them, and then they'd get watery, and then I'd wake up the next morning and my eyes would be welded shut with...whatever the crusty stuff was.  It was unpleasant.  I had some antibacterial drops that I'd put in, but they didn't do anything except make the inside of my eyelids peel off.  (CLINICAL, y'all!)

Anyways, not long after that, I started feeling bad almost every night.  I'd be OK during the day, but every night around the same time I'd start running a low grade fever, had chills, and had to lay down and wrap up in a blanket until I felt better.  Every night.  It was weird.  I probably should have gone to the doctor then, but I didn't want to take the time to do it because it seemed like a dumb idea when I was feeling fine.  Pretty soon after that I was sure I had some kind of weird sinus thing going on.  It wasn't an infection, but maybe some kind of allergy to something.  It made my head and face hurt, my nose stop up, my neck and shoulders hurt, and face and head misery in general.  Basically I just felt so awful all the time that it started to seem normal.  Once again, I should have gone to the doctor, but I kept putting it off for one reason or another.

All this was going on until a week ago when I began to get sharp pains in my chest.  They weren't heart related or anything, it just hurt when I breathed.  It wasn't all the time, and since the pains went all the way through me from my chest to my back, I thought maybe I'd just pulled a muscle or something, and every so often I'd tweak it just the right way to make it hurt.  Then I noticed my back would hurt on the left, then on the right, and then my chest would hurt again, and it wasn't until I started having trouble breathing that I realized it wasn't my back after all, it was my lungs...and it felt exactly like two years ago when I got walking pneumonia.  Seriously, it took me a month and change to get rid of walking pneumonia, and I didn't have a job back then so I could take the awful medicine that made me trip balls and hear the neighbor's thoughts. I couldn't deal with it now.



Anyway...so after two days of huffing an expired inhaler, and suspecting that I had somehow grown sea sponges in my lungs, and feeling exponentially worse, I finally sucked it up and went to the doc-in-the-box.

I decided to go after work Monday, and it was packed in there.  By then I was feeling really terrible, my voice was almost completely gone (a new development since that morning) and the walk-in clinic had apparently just updated their database, which meant I needed to fill out new forms! Joy!  I was wheezing and glassy eyed, but why not?  When I went back to turn in my form, it turned out that I'd left my driver's license at home in the pocket of the jacket I wear to the gym.  She was nice enough to try and find the scans of my ID that they had on file, but since scanning it had obliterated my picture, she wouldn't accept my new form.  I completely understand the bull-crap bureaucracy of the whole thing, but by that point I was feeling so terrible that I almost cried when she told me I'd need to go home and get it.  Well, the crying feeling actually was secondary to wanting to reach across the counter and rip her arms out of their sockets, but THEN I felt like crying.  I didn't though.  Luckily, I don't live that far away, so it only took me about 30 minutes to go home, change out of my work clothes, grab my license and get back.  Of course I had to sign in, again, because "We can't hold spaces, ma'am."

I almost punched her.

I shoved my license and insurance card to her and pointed to the form that was still out on the counter (I didn't have a voice, remember) and she told me to go sit down until they called me.  It took a long time before they even called me to come up and pay the co-pay so I could get my license back.  By then, I'd gotten over wanting to kill them all because I realized that the whole day must've been hectic and busy, and they weren't just being evil.  They were just tired and ready to go home.  Since I've worked customer service, I have a soft spot for others in that position, so instead of bodily harm, I just made a few jokes and waited until they called me back to a room. Friggin' finally.

I told the nurse what was going on and she took my vitals.  Then the doctor came in and I told HER what was going on.  She listened to my lungs and asked me if I smoked.  Nice.  She said "Yes, it sounds pretty pitiful" and then she pulled out the bed extender and told me I could lie down if I wanted.  She also informed me I'd need some blood tests and a chest x-ray.  A new person, I'm guessing a tech of some kind, came in and took about 9 pints of blood from me and then took me in for a chest x-ray.  Again, I had to make the bra-less walk of shame from the exam room to the x-ray room, but luckily it didn't take long.

When I got back to the exam room, I sat for ages, waiting on my results.  I had a book, but I mostly just sat there staring at the walls.  At least the room I was in didn't have one of those "The Various Ways a Body Part Can Be Diseased" posters on the walls.  They are both disgusting and fascinating all at once.

Finally, the doctor came in and said "Well, you tested negative for everything."  I was all...OK...thinking she'd at least tell me what I was being tested for.  She did not.  So I asked her "So, I'm not contagious?"  She said, in her musical Indian accent "Oh, yes, you're contagious. You will be until you stop coughing."  I'm over there thinking WTF?  I haven't been coughing!  What does she mean?  What do I have?  She asked me how I felt about getting some shots, which I agreed to only because I wanted to get better much faster. I started to ask her what I was sick with, but she left before I could get my wits about me to ask.  Then the PA came in and had to calm me down when I saw the needles, but I took the shots to the *ahem* hips like a champ. When she was done I said "So, what...I have some kind of crud?"  Instead of clarifying, she just said "Yes" and left.  Ok, then! Fine!  I don't need to know what I have!  I'll just hope it isn't monkey pox or anything!  After that I was given my prescriptions and I left.

I had to stop by church, and by then the injection sites on my hips were sore and my kidneys were on fire.  Like, I could actually feel my individual kidneys sitting there, burning.  It was a weird sensation, and it scared me because I thought I was having a bad reaction to it, but that part didn't get any worse.  I stopped by McDonald's on my way home to pick up a quick dinner, and then I went home.  That's where things got fun!

Almost the second I'd finished eating, I started tripping hard core.  I hadn't put two and two together when the PA told me I was getting a shot of steroids, but that is the medicine that puts me into a complete loop.  I felt exactly as if I was drunk, albeit I didn't get the urge to email anyone.  I was stumbling around and babbling and everything seemed like it would be fun to touch.  I finally had to just lie down before I fell over and that is when my day ended!

I've had time to think on all of this, and I'm fairly certain that I had various kinds of illnesses going on in my body for a while.  After I got the shots, I felt hot and tingly all over, plus I felt like...well, have you ever seen the movie "Transformers" when two of the big robots start fighting and you can't tell who is who, and it's just a big, confusing tumble on the screen? I felt like that on the inside.  I also had high pitched sounds in my ears, like a bell that was almost out of hearing range, but just audible enough to nearly drive you crazy.  The various prescriptions I'm on are the same ones I was on when I had walking pneumonia, and one of them is a cortico-steroid (I think), which is the medicine that whacks me out.  I've been at work since yesterday dizzy and doped up, and I had to work A/V duty for a funeral while I was under the influence.  Fun, right?   The ringing in my ears is still there, and I'm still on antibiotics and steroids, but at least I'm not contagious anymore.

So that's my story!  It was too long, probably, but I'm currently taking my steroids and I'm feeling chatty.  Also, they make me not care at all about anything, so if it was too long...eh.  :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

RANDOM ACTS OF BLOGGING

1) I'll be honest, I thought I'd have more time to blog since I'd be, once again, sitting behind a computer for most of the day.  Silly me.  You know, I feel like a complete dork when I say that my job is demanding.  Honestly, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm JUST a church secretary.  I don't have to save lives, or negotiate with terrorists.  I don't even have to go to meetings or teach anyone anything.  As far as jobs go, it isn't very important in the scheme of things, but daggum if I don't come home from work everyday feeling like I've had to run a military obstacle course while someone fires tennis balls at me from an air cannon. 

I could actually go on and on about why the job is currently frustrating, but it would take a long time.  It isn't even anything really huge, just a lot of little things that have suddenly come to light that nobody noticed before. I can't finish one project without someone coming by and finding something else that needs to be done RIGHT NOW, and it all gets tangled up and the daily stuff can barely get finished. I'm hoping that eventually we can get everything caught up and fixed so that I won't dread going to work everyday. 'Cause right now, I do.

Office work aside, I've realized it's hard to work for a church in other ways.  There are so many people who call or come by asking for help.  Some people need food, which we can provide as long as our benevolence pantry has been stocked.  Most people need money, which we can't provide because we just don't have the funds.  So many people call asking if we help with rent, utilities, and things like that, and there's nothing we can do for them.  It's depressing as hell. Then we have the people who call with hard luck stories and come by with their hands out, but they're scammers.  They want the church to give them money, or pay bills, or give them food and what it all comes down to is that they want something for nothing.  We've even had someone call asking if we'd pay their cable bill!  We've had people come by crying because they don't have money for this or that, and when offered a short time job to earn the money, because that kind of pay can be worked out, they never come back.  That's depressing in a whole other way.  It also makes me angry, because I can't tell the difference between those who truly need help and the ones who just go from church to church asking for handouts. I'll be almost in tears thinking about the sick, little old lady who comes by asking to just pray with the pastor, only to find out that she comes by every so often to scam for money and the whole "Just want to pray with the pastor" thing is her way to get a foot in the door. 

I love my church, and I love the people I'm working with, but I'm swiftly losing faith in humanity by working there.

2) Thanksgiving was great, thanks for asking!  Once again we traveled to Georgia to spend the holiday with our Puckett and McGee family, minus a couple of them due to a wedding up north.  Our food was awesome, seriously, the turkey was the best we've ever made in my humble opinion, and except for an unfortunate canned sweet potato incident and the fact that I accidentally booby-trapped the coleslaw (I answered the age old question of how much cayenne pepper is really too much), everything was wonderful.  When we weren't eating, we were hanging out, playing games, and watching silly TV shows together.  The only difference is that we didn't do Christmas together that week.  Since Greg's wife and daughter were at the wedding, we've decided to put it off until another time when everyone can be there! 

3) Ha!  I was such an idiot the other day!  I had to go to Target to do some grocery shopping, and there were just TONS of people in there.  It was a cold day, so most of them were drinking cups of whatever from the Starbucks at the front of the store. (That's important, I promise.) As I was walking down an aisle, my foot slipped in some brown liquid.  I was wearing my Fuggs (Fake Uggs, if you don't already know) and the soles of them have very little traction. Anytime I walk on something wet or slick, I slide around.  Luckily I didn't fall down, but I thought that someone must've spilled their coffee and no one had come by to clean it up.  How rude, right?  Well, I walked a little further, and I slipped again.  Again, it was some brown liquid, and I thought that maybe someone had a hole in their cup and didn't realize it.  As I walked, my feet kept slipping in dribbles of this brown stuff.  I slipped and slid so much that it got stupid and I started laughing.  I couldn't figure out how in the world I was managing to walk in the exact path of the person with the leaky coffee cup!  I even started weaving the basket, just to see if I could get out of the path of it.  It wasn't till I stopped in the meat section for a second and AGAIN slipped in a big puddle of stuff that I realized one of the Coke Zero bottles in my cart had a leak, and I'd been bobbing and weaving all over the store trying to get away from the "coffee" on the floor, only to be spreading it all over the place myself!  I felt like such an idiot, and I'm glad no one else slipped and fell because of me.  At least I helped clean it up!  That's got to count for something, right?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

RANDOM ACTS OF BLOGGING

1) Well, it's official, I'm the new Church Lady (TM)!  I've been training twice a week since sometime in late July, I think, and I don't feel much more prepared to take over than I did that first week, but there you go.  The time has come and I'm going to do the best I can.  :)

My first official act as church secretary was to be a complete dorkfish.  See, the woman who just left the job has a similar name as my own.  Well, similar in the sense that her name is Katie and my name is Kelly, and if you are hard of hearing or not paying attention, you might mistake one for the other.  Since pretty much my first week, when I'd answer the phone, saying my name and everything, whomever was on the other end seemed to think I was Katie.  At first I'd try to correct whomever was on the other end of the line, but it happened so often that I gave up and just let whomever had called think they were speaking to Katie.

Right when I was in the middle of trying to complete a task I was completely unfamiliar with (this was after Katie was gone) I got a call from a lady who was upset about something.  Our pastor usually provides counseling, or at least a listening ear, to people who have problems both real and imagined.  One thing I've been specifically instructed NOT to do is try to fix people's problems, which I'm OK with because how in the world would I know what to tell them?  Unfortunately, when this lady called, she called me Katie, and I just went with it because she sounded upset and it would have been more trouble than it was worth to correct her.  When I told her the preacher was unavailable because he was out on a visit, she immediately launched into telling me her issue.  I didn't know what to do, but I calmed her down the best way I knew how (don't worry, it wasn't life or death stuff) and thought that would be the end of it.  Alas...she started asking me some questions about "my pregnancy" and "my doctor" and I kind of panicked.  I honestly didn't know what to do, because in not correcting her when she first assumed I was Katie, it would have seemed very weird to tell her who I was at that point.  Oy.  Luckily, I knew the answers to most of what she asked, and I just pretended I was Katie until she hung up.  On Sunday, the pastor told me that he'd actually talked to the lady later on that night, and she'd told him how sweet and helpful Katie was and how she was sure that the "New Girl" would be fine, but she was sorry to hear Katie was leaving.

*shakes head*

2) So there was an election yesterday.  I personally didn't vote.

Oh, wipe that look off of your face.  I had my reasons. 

I didn't feel I was informed enough to make a good decision about anything on the ballot, and believe it or not, I'm uncomfortable making uninformed decisions about important things.  As you well know, if you're a long time reader (or if you personally know me at all), you know that anytime I make a decision about anything without thinking about it first, things go awry:  things get set on fire,  I get fired from a job, or I end up getting caught up in things I don't want to be involved in!  I wish I had known more about the amendments and local candidates that were on the ballots, because I'd have liked to be able to vote on them, but I didn't understand a lot of what they were trying to accomplish.  I really, really hate politics.  It turns perfectly nice people into complete and total know-it-all, narrow minded jerks.

I prayed that the right candidates be chosen, so I'm hoping that prayer was answered.  My main hope is that the government doesn't cut the military and defense budgets too severely.  Steve's job, as well as most of the people's jobs in this town, rely on those contracts to exist.  I like my town too much to see it destroyed.

I was happy to see that some states have finally passed marriage equality laws!  Josh and Jeoff can't get married yet, though, but hopefully they can soon.  :) 

3) So, my weight loss has completely stalled.  Granted, I haven't been as hard at work as I was before we left for New Orleans, and I'd set that weekend as my goal date.  I didn't quite hit my goal, but I came close.  Now I need to start a whole new program with a new goal, but it's so, so, so hard.  I'm still seeing the dieticin I need to get my head back in the game and my body back in the gym.  It's harder now that I have a job, because that means I have to get up early to go and I'm too used to sleeping in to make myself do it.  I'd go after work, but at this point I'm still so stressed about learning everything that I'm exhausted by the time I get home and all I want to do is eat cupcakes and chips.  I wish I wasn't a stress-eater.  I didn't think being a church secretary would be stressful, but until I learn what I need to know and get more comfortable, my nerves will be pulled tight - and so will my pants.

4) I think my veterinarian is trying to emotionally destroy me.  A few weeks ago, we took Butler to be boarded while we were in Louisiana.  When I got there, the girl behind the counter called Butler "Bear."  Now, I can't blame them for that, because they only really see us a few times a year and it's on record that we had a dog named Bear, so the mistake is bound to happen.  The girl apologized and I said that it was fine...yadda, yadda.  Then she took the PA mic, and called "Bear Pratt is here for boarding."  She looked mortified, and she kept apologizing over and over.  I told her it was OK, but she looked like she'd kicked the dog, not just called him by the wrong name.  Several days after we got back from our trip, we got a card in the mail from the vet.  It had a big tree on the front, and on the inside it said that a tree had been planted in Bear's name in one of the national forests.  I'd been OK when she called Butler Bear, but that just sent me over the edge and I had another pitiful, snotty crying session on the floor of my kitchen over the fact that they got him a tree.  Does it ever end?

I kind of wonder if they usually do that for pets when they have to be put down, and maybe it just takes a few months before they get the card sent to them, or if they felt bad for calling Butler by Bear's name so many times that day and they did it to make up for that?  I don't know.  Maybe my wailing the day we had to put him down traumatized them and they're afraid that I'm so emotionally fragile that if they remind me of him I'll jump off the roof.  At any rate, Bear has a tree. :)  That was sweet of them.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: SARA'S WEDDING EDITION

New Orleans, LA to Huntsville, AL
October 7, 2012

I woke up this morning with a layer of funk that seemed like an actual, tangible thing.  It wasn't cigarette smoke, and it wasn't a dirty-person smell, but I think it was a mixture of all of the nastiness that I came into contact with on Bourbon Street last night. It was more like I'd rolled around on the ground instead of just walking though. Ick.  I also awoke with my eyes hurting so badly that I could barely see.  I'm not sure what could have caused it, but it felt like my eyeballs and eyelids had a terrible sunburn.  It actually hurt to blink or  to even touch the skin around my eyes, and they were watering so badly that it looked like I was crying.  I guess it could have been smoke and whatever else had been in the air, but I'd never felt anything like that before.  Add to that the fact that I felt completely hungover (and I hadn't had a drop of alcohol during or after the reception, just in case you're curious) getting ready to go home today was hard.

I took a bath, not completely certain that soap and water was enough to get rid of the funk, and when I got out I was feeling a tiny bit more human.  Steve and I cleaned up the room, packed everything, and checked out.  I'll miss our little, purple hotel room, but I'll be glad to get away from the creepy painting.  Eeeeeesh.

We had forgone the hotel breakfast, deciding eat on the road instead.  I wish we'd stopped at one of the small restaurants near the hotel, but we didn't really think about it until we were already outside the city limits.  We'd actually planned on stopping at a store I'd heard about, but even with the GPS, we got turned around and couldn't find it.  We just decided we'd forgo it this time and just start home. We stopped briefly for a Cracker Barrel breakfast somewhere just past Slydell, and from there we were on our way!

I could barely keep my eyes open, and I know that Steve was having the same problem.  I hate going to sleep while Steve is driving because I'm afraid he'll fall asleep without someone to keep him talking.  Luckily we had some of those 5 hour energy things (yucky but useful) and we woke up a little bit more after that.

We stopped in Meridian, MS to get gas and stretch our legs, and getting out of the car was a shock!  It was cold!  We'd gone from hot and humid New Orleans, to actual, fall temperatures!  I was more than ready for that!

The rest of the drive was uneventful, and when we finally got home and got the car unpacked, we were exhausted.

I have to say that the trip for Sara's wedding was probably the most fun I'd had in a long, long time.  I told a friend that I hadn't even known I needed it, but a trip away from home and a little fun was just what the doctor ordered.  Now I think I just need a week or so to catch up on my sleep!  :)

I think I'm going to have wedding withdrawal now. I've been helping Sara make stuff for her wedding for the past year and a half, and now that it's all over, my project board looks sad and empty.  So, you know, if anyone needs anything covered in glitter...just let me know!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: SARA'S WEDDING EDITION

New Orleans, LA
October 6, 2012
PART 2


Our first mission, post getting ready and pre taking pictures, was to get Sara down the steep-ass stairs of the house.  I hadn't really noticed how steep they were when going up them in my flip flops, but going down them in heels, holding a 40 pound wedding dress train, while simultaneously holding the hem of my own dress and death gripping the rail so that I wouldn't trip and bring the entire bridal party crashing to their deaths wasn't easy.  Honestly, I had a weird moment of wondering if the original owners of this house ever fell down these stairs and got tangled in their petticoats. Luckily we made it all the way to the ground floor without any mishaps! 

Since Sara wanted all the pictures over before the wedding, they decided not to do the whole not-seeing-each-other-before-the-wedding-thing and instead, they decided to do a quick bride and groom only photo shoot in the tiny park across the street.  All of us helped Sara across the street, making sure her dress wasn't touching the dirty ground, but you'd think we'd shown up for their honeymoon by the way we were dismissed by the photographer.  We didn't want to intrude, of course, but we also didn't want her hem to drag through the mud.  We retired behind a car and just watched at a distance.

I'll be honest, my favorite part of any wedding is watching the groom see the bride for the first time.  I can't help it!  You can tell so much about how he really feels about the woman he's going to marry by the face he makes, and I'd be danged if I was going to miss it this time!  Ron had his back to her when she walked up, and when he turned around, it was just priceless!  Awwwwww!  After that we did leave them alone to do their pictures and we went back inside.  It wasn't very long, though, before we got called into the parlor (or Magnolia Room, whatever) to have the rest of the pictures made.  It turned out that it was so hot Sara couldn't deal with being outside to do any more photos, so the rest would be taken in that room. 

That's me trying very hard not to
destroy the wobbly antique chair I was sitting on.

There was the requisite million different family pictures taken, and after a while, the wedding party had their turn.  The photographers took some funny pictures, too.  Sara decided that she wanted the bridesmaids to to be in a picture with Ron, but the photogs didn't know how to pose it.  I took it upon myself to decide.  I slid across the floor and grabbed his leg in the cliched "Hero Pose" and everyone else joined in.  I'd like to apologize to Leia for making her get down there, as she seemed a bit reluctant, but she was a pretty good sport about it!  I wasn't thinking about the fact that we were grubbing around on the floor before the wedding even started, but Ron loved it.  :)

The pictures went on until the guests started showing up, so we had to smuggle Sara back upstairs to await the beginning of the ceremony.  She'd been pretty chill all day, but I think that's about the time she got nervous.  She paced for a while, and then she sat near the window and listened to the violinist as he played Beatles music while people were being seated.  I've known Sara since we were 4th graders, and when she went glazed eyed, I knew she'd pretty much gone tharn.  She swore she was ok, but I knew that look!  We all started singing "Can't Buy Me Love" or at least the parts of it we knew to keep her with us, and by the end of it, it was time to go downstairs!  Cue the hobbling downstairs bit again, and we were off!

The actual wedding seemed to go really fast.  By the time I'd made it from the front of the house to the back, the wedding coordinator was waving me down the aisle, and I was the last one before Sara and her dad came out.  The wedding itself was so sweet that even I, who prides myself on never getting emotional at weddings (unless they play the damned Butterfly Kisses song) got a little verklempt!  Ron had to read his vows off of his iPhone, and since I refused to let Sara have her phone at the altar, she had to read it off of a piece of paper, but they were vows that they'd written themselves and they were beautiful!  My shoes were killing me, and I had a terrible fear that I was going to drop Ron's ring and have to go chasing it around the courtyard, but that didn't happen and the whole ceremony went over without a hitch!


Then came the reception.  I have to say, this was easily one of the most fun wedding receptions I've ever attended!  Of course, a lot of weddings I've been too have been kind of formal and conservative, receptions held in a church, no dancing, no drinking, and older family members sit looking slightly askance if anyone dares act a little silly.  The whole thing here just turned into a big party.  It started out a bit confusing.  Sort of out of nowhere, the first dance happened, but they didn't finish their song before the DJ was calling for the father of the bride.  We had to literally snatch his plate out of his hand and shove him through a door to dance with his daughter, because they hadn't given him any notice.  There was also a bit of confusion because we were told they were doing a line up (?) of the wedding party.  We assumed that meant we'd walk out with the partner we'd had during the ceremony, but the guy just started calling our names and we sort of just walked out into the dance floor, willy-nilly.  Then he started playing a song, with what I assume was the idea we'd all dance together.  We all kind of looked at each other, because we didn't know what to do, so we all just started dancing like crazy people.  I, for one, can't dance, so there was a lot of spinning and jumping around for me.  I have a feeling the other wedding guests either thought I was drunk, or that I was probably Sara's mentally challenged cousin who she let be in her wedding, but if that detracts from the fact that I simply just don't know how to dance, I'm OK with that! There is video proof of my dancing, but I haven't decided if I'll share it yet.

Photo proof is OK.

After that I went looking for Steve, who had found a seat off too one side, and I joined him there. Jordan and his wife sat nearby, so I spent a lot of time talking and having fun with them. Occasionally I'd get up and "dance" to some random song, and once I grabbed Sara's 12 year old step-son and danced with him.  It was mostly just swinging each other around, but because the DJ had mixes of songs, it took me a minute to realize we were dancing to "Hot in Here" which struck me as kind of inappropriate. But since we weren't bumping up on each other, I pretended it was not a song about getting naked.  Sara's sorority sisters did some kind of candle ceremony where they passed it around in a circle and sang a song to her and Ron, and then she blew the candle out.  They explained it to me before the wedding, but I still don't quite understand.  It was sweet, though.  Steve even danced with me a couple of times, which was amazing, because as we all know he doesn't ever dance.  I didn't even have to shame him into it! It was his own idea!  :)  I danced so much that I busted the inner zipper on my dress!  It wasn't that the dress was too tight or anything, we just hadn't taken into consideration that I might dance, or at least move around the way I had been.  We fixed it, though.  The party went on, pretty much without diminishing, until 11:00 that night.  The whole thing was just a lot of silly, sans souci fun!

Our night wasn't over, however.  We'd promised that we'd go to Bourbon St. with Sara, Ron and a bunch of other people. Steve and I were beyond exhausted by then, but we still wanted to at least go for a little while, so we went back to our room, changed into comfortable clothes,  hopped into a cab and headed off into the wilds of downtown New Orleans.  Our first stop was just below Bourbon Street, at a place called Lafitte's.  It is supposed to be the oldest bar in our country, and it kind of looked it!  It was beyond crowded, and Sara grabbed my arm and pulled me into a tiny, dark place full of people.  There were no overhead lights, and it was extremely loud.  I purposefully photobombed some people for the second time in my life, but I think it was because I had reached the stage of tiredness where I just didn't care about manners anymore.  I finally had to get out of there, because I felt like I was being smothered by the dark and the constantly shifting crowd of people inside.  I found Steve, Leia, and several other members of our party outside and talked to them until everyone else got there and we could walk to Bourbon Street proper.

It wasn't a far walk to get there, and I had no idea that the city kept it blocked off from everything else, but it was an experience.  Let me just say...Bourbon Street is gross.  It smells so bad, and it is so loud, and there are so many people yelling around you that it's like drowning in flashing lights and music.  People stood along the balconies of the buildings, holding beads and hoping for reasons to throw them.  Don't worry, I kept my top on the whole time!  It didn't seem fair to get all the beads for myself, you know!  ; )  It was a block of complete, bright, insanity.  My first impression was that I'd fallen square in the center of Pleasure Island, from Pinocchio, but Steve hit it on the head better than I could.  He said it was like being on R rated Main Street USA right before the fireworks start.  That was actually more apt than anything else I could have thought of.  As we walked, I bunch of guys started yelling "Roll Tide" at us.  We couldn't figure out how they knew we were from Alabama, but apparently someone in our group was wearing a Bama shirt or something.  I'm not so sure yelling Roll Tide in Louisiana is such a great idea, but there you go.  Of course, some charming character in our party yelled back at them "F*@K THE SAINTS" and that's when we decided that we should probably move on quickly.  Oh, and I'm fairly certain I stepped in a puddle of vomit.   New Orleans, Ladies and Gentlemen!

It seemed to take forever, but we finally broke out of Bourbon Street and headed over to Pat O'Brian's, hoping to get in to hear the dueling pianos, but it was packed.  I'd forgotten my ID, so someone handed me their military ID which got me past the bouncer.  She didn't look anything like me, but I'm assuming I didn't look under 21, so that was ok!  We got stopped dead in the entrance tunnel, and we couldn't go any further.  Poor Leia was about to fall asleep on her feet, Steve had gone into a slight agoraphobic catatonia, and I almost had a panic attack due to the sheer pressure of people around me trying to get in.  We finally just had to admit defeat and leave.  We were so tired, and most of us were leaving town the next morning, so we had to tell Sara and Ron goodbye and grab a cab back to the hotel.  It took a long time to get that cab, but I'd never been so glad to leave a place.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not sorry I went, and it was fun to experience everything, but I was also very, very glad to get away.

Once we got back to our room, I was finally able to pull my hair down and get comfortable.  This is what a day long wedding and trolling the streets of New Orleans does to a person:

And yet, the makeup was still there. Amazing.


It had been a wonderful, exciting, happy day!  I'd had so much fun.  I was glad it was over so I could finally go to sleep. 

Notable Sightings:  Sara looking gorgeous on her wedding day, Drunk guy at the wedding embarrassing his wife on the dance floor, Drunk lady being carried - Weekend at Bernie's style - along Bourbon Street, A 7 foot tall drag queen,  a man in his jockey shorts humping the back of some guy's head, and 3 women wearing full on wedding gowns as they stumbled along the streets of New Orleans. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: SARA'S WEDDING EDITION

New Orleans, LA
October 6, 2012
PART 1

Today was the big day!  *Insert girly, ultrasonic squeal here.*

Bridesmaid duty started early today, when we all gathered at Sara's hotel room around 8:30 to pack up the cars and hie ourselves thither to the wedding venue.  It sounds like much more of an epic journey than it actually was, because we were actually only staying about a block away from the place, but we couldn't carry everything all at once and we had a lot of stuff to do!

Sara and Ron were getting married at Margaret Gardens, an antebellum home in the Garden District.  When I first saw the place, I was a little taken aback, because it didn't look like a place people would get married in, but once you got inside...oh my!  The place is absolutely gorgeous, although in my opinion, they could have used more art! :) After we carried all of our things inside, we began to unpack the decorations that we had brought and put them around the parlor.  Sara and I had made most of the things that she was using, so I was very proud that everything looked so nice!  I can't take much credit for what was there, though, because Sara (who swears she doesn't have an artistic bone in her body) actually told me what she wanted.  I just made it flesh, so to speak.

After unpacking and making the owners of the building move tables around to our satisfaction (hee!) we headed out towards Cafe Amelie, an awesome little restaurant on Royal Street.  Hilary, another one of the bridesmaids, picked it kind of at random, but it couldn't have been a better place for us to go.  We were seated inside, because it was still hotter than the armpit of hell outside, and we got to have a nice, relaxed brunch.  The food was so very good.  So very, very good.  If you're ever in the area, I recommend this place!  I have a new, and completely unexpected love of grits now, and I've got to figure out how to make them like they do in New Orleans.  Also, and I'm not proud of this, I had dessert after what was essentially breakfast, but it was worth it!

Leia, Sara, Anna, Me, Hilary and Baby Rose!

 Once we got back to Margaret Gardens, we went upstairs to get all of our stuff settled.  We would be getting ready in the Bridal Suite, the bedroom and sitting room on the second floor of the building where Sara and Ron would be spending the next couple of days.  The room was set up with soda and  champagne, so we were ready to go!  Unfortunately, almost the minute we got inside, I sat on the bed and it collapsed!  I broke the honeymoon bed!  I don't know what happened, I promise!  I didn't jump on it, or take a flying leap, I just sat down and the mattress hit the floor!  We tried fixing it, realizing that the mattress had somehow fallen inside of the bed frame, but we couldn't lift it.  Leia, the bridesmaid who scared the wedding coordinator so badly, went out and found someone who worked there.  I'm not sure exactly what she said, except that the word unacceptable was used, but someone came up, post haste, and fixed the bed.  They even had to go to a hardware store for something to make sure it wouldn't fall again, but Leia cracked the whip and soon the bed was fixed AND remade. I suppose it was lucky I'm the one who broke it, instead of...well...it falling down later that night.

We decorated and did some last minute detail work until the hair and makeup ladies came by to get us all skanked up! This was some serious business.  The makeup lady had an air compressor in her arsenal because we were going to get the full airbrush treatment!  It was so weird!  She asked me what I wanted her to do, but I had no idea what to tell her because I tend to apply my makeup in the traditional manner, so I told her to do whatever she wanted as long as she didn't make me look like a drag queen.  It was cold and it tickled!  I also came within an inch of having a panic attack when she sprayed around my nose and I couldn't breathe in.  In case you're wondering, airbrush makeup is supposed to last longer and photograph well, and since we were getting ready roughly 5 hours before the wedding so that the pictures would be over before the ceremony began, we needed something that would last.  The makeup job looked great, as long as you didn't get too close.  Up close I looked the way a dead person at a funeral looks, but hey...no one was going to get that close, so I was ok!   The hair stylist came next, and she curled and pinned for what seemed like twelve hours, but she did a good job!  Well, at least I think so.  The front looked great, but even though I did the "two mirror reverse look" I couldn't tell what the back of my hair looked like.  There just wasn't enough light.  Eh, everyone said that it looked fine, so who was I to argue?

 I assure you I'm wearing pants.

We finally got dressed in our official bridesmaid attire, and while the photographers snapped away, we managed to get all 800 yards of Sara's gorgeous wedding gown on her body.  I've never seen such a cloud of beads, tulle and satin, but she looked absolutely perfect! I basically had to crawl under her skirt to get her shoes on, and after a few more pictures and final touches, it was time for us to go downstairs and begin taking photos with the rest of the wedding party!

 

Monday, October 08, 2012

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: SARA'S WEDDING EDITION

NEW ORLEANS, LA
October 5, 2012

This morning I awoke at what I'm pretty sure was the deepest crack of dawn with my eyes swollen up.  Apparently, there is something outside that hates me and wants me to die, starting with my eyes. I looked like Admiral Akbar.  Schexy!

We got up, got ready, and went to breakfast!  We were soon joined by the rest of Sara's party and after everyone was done, we left to head towards the French Quarter to do a bit of looking around.  Poor Steve had to stay behind because he had to catch up with the work he'd missed while he was on travel, and he had two conference calls to do.  Boo.

No, we didn't get Pat O'Brian hurricanes at 10:30 am, but we did get hats!

We grabbed a cab and made our way downtown, and then began our walk down to the French Quarter for coffee and beignets.  Along the way we stopped to look at the art along Jackson Square.  I saw tons of gorgeous stuff, but I couldn't afford any of it!  I wish I could have gotten one of the paintings, but I generally don't keep that that kind of scratch on me.  Someone in our party actually bought something, and we had an interesting talk with the artist while he wrapped everything up for her. He told us about Bill Traylor, an Alabama artist, which was very interesting!

Sigh.  One day...

We also got filmed for some sort of thing, but I don't know what it was for.  There was a guy who worked as a living statue, and we all grouped around him and wore weird hats while they filmed, so if you see us anywhere, let me know what was going on!

I will never be able to get my hair clean enough after wearing that hat!

We stopped at Cafe du Monde, and it was so hot that the thought of eating a sugary donut was too much for me, so I just got an iced coffee.  I swear, Cafe du Monde is the only place I can drink the coffee without sugar!  Delicious!  We moved down to the French Market, which is a big, open air place that sold all manner of things, and we shopped there for a while.  I got a couple of really great pieces, both locally handmade, so I was glad!  After we left there, we decided to to go to lunch, But the place where we wanted to go was kind of far off. I'm not sure how long we were walking around, but as we went I started to realize that I was getting sunburned!

NO!  You have no idea how careful I've been this summer, trying not to get a weird farmer's tan.  The sunblock, the big t-shirts and hats that I've worn while mowing the lawn, the sheer not-going-outside!  I knew that I'd be wearing a strapless dress and I didn't want to have stripes!  I didn't even think about getting sunburned while walking around down here, because it's October and it isn't supposed to be hot and/or sunburny!  So I did the only think I could think of and I ran to the closest store I could find and I bought a hat.  I bought a comically huge, Eliza-Doolittle-At-Ascot hat and wore that around for the rest of our walk.  It was dead sexy!  I looked like a chubby lamp with a huge shade.

We also found a Lush store, which I didn't know had a branch in New Orleans!  While we were looking around, Sara's step-daughter held up a bubble bath thing that was covered in gold glitter and asked me to smell it.  My depth perception was off and the dumb thing hit me right under my nose and left a very sparkly Hitler mustache.  I tried wiping it off, but it just spread around on my face, and my clothes, and my arms!  With the glitter and my hat, I looked like a deranged drag queen. Eh, when in NOLA, amiright? 

We had lunch at Acme Oyster House, and I ate the best shrimp po'boy I've ever had!  Oy, it was good.  By the time we'd finished eating, we were exhausted.  We decided to go back to the hotel and rest a while before the rehearsal later that evening.  Unfortunately, we didn't really have enough time to rest.  I had to shower and change, and almost immediately start getting redressed.

Steve and I decided to walk down to the wedding venue once we were ready, not realizing we were supposed to wait on everyone.  Oops!  Luckily they weren't that far behind, and we were able to get everything worked out as far as the ceremony went.  Sara's wedding coordinator wasn't there on time, but Leia, one of Sara's other bridesmaids, saved the day!  She was awesome, and I think she terrified the wedding coordinator into submission and all but had him on a leash by the time it was over.

We left the venue and walked over to Zea's, the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner was held, and it was great!  Everything turned out so nice!  The only dark spot, for me at least, was the toast I gave.  I've never done one before, and I got nervous.  Everyone else was being so heartfelt and weepy, and I wanted to say something awesome.  However, I'm fairly sure it was the worst toast ever given.  I honestly don't remember exactly what I said.  I suddenly got nervous, mentally blanked out, and when I came back to myself, I just know that I felt like I said something weird and probably inappropriate.  I don't think I ever want to do a toast again. Ever.  I hope Sara forgives me.  Eeeesh.

After the dinner, Steve and I came back to the hotel and now we're winding down.  Tomorrow is Sara's Big Day!  I'm so excited!

Oh, and my feet hurt.

Notable Sightings: Two living statue guys, who scared me stupid. I hate those guys. 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: SARA'S WEDDING EDITION

Huntsville, AL to New Orleans, LA
10-4-2012

Steve and I left home this morning after kind of oversleeping a bit.  Oops!  He'd gotten home from Albuquerque near midnight after a work trip, and so we'd gotten in bed later than we had intended.  We had to jump up and get everything ready to go, since we were bringing some of Sara's wedding stuff down for her, and we finally got on the road at about 9:00.

We started out with a big WTF this morning when we stopped for gas.  We pulled up to the pump, and right in front of us was a lady with a big leather glove on her arm.  She was holding a giant red tailed hawk!  Wha?  That is not a normal sight at our local Chevron station!  That alone would have been weird, but Steve made it weirder.  When we both saw the lady and the bird, we looked each other and then back at the bird.  Out of nowhere I heard Steve mutter in this tiny, scared sounding voice say, "All I need is to get some gas."  I looked back at him and he was still staring, wide eyed, at the hawk.  I wasn't sure what was wrong, but I thought he might be scared the bird lady would bring the thing over to him while he was out of the car and the bird would attack him.  I had a bad moment thinking he was going to freak out because of a heretofore unknown avian phobia.  Fortunately, he was just zoned out, having an inner monologue, and for some reason he said the last bit of it out loud.

When we finally got on the road, the drive was almost uneventful.  We did see a white, convertible hearse filled with flowers, which is not something you see everyday.  I also got sick to my stomach, which is always a great deal of fun when you're on a road trip.  Luckily I had some medicine with me, so that was almost gone by the time we hit New Orleans.

We're staying in an awesome hotel called Masion St. Charles.  It's an odd little place, owned by the Quailty Inn folks.  The website says that parts of the hotel used to be Antebellum homes, but I'm not sure our particular building is one of them.  THe room has very high ceilings and unusual dimensions, but it could have just been built to look like an old house, I guess.  The room decor is unusual, but more fun than a regular hotel.  We have black and purple striped carpet that makes it look like Tim Burton might have been the interior decorator.  Also there is this painting, and it scares the heebies out of me.  It'll be fun trying to sleep with that guy watching me!

Pleasant Dreams.

When we finally got checked in, we had dinner at Voodoo BBQ, which was delicious, if you like barbecue, and I do.  There were quite a few of the wedding guests there already, so it was a little awkward at first. There were so many new people to meet, but we still had fun getting to know them.  I'd also like to mention that New Orleans is freaking HOT.  I forgot how absolutely humid it is here, and even though it probably wasn't more than 85, maybe 87 degrees, it felt like 95.  Yuck.

Our first outing that was planned was a ghost tour, done by the Haunted History tour company.  We waited forever for our cabs to arrive, and we wound up getting there right before the tours started.  Unfortunately, Steve and I almost immediately got separated from the rest of the group.  We payed our admission first, and we thought everyone else was behind us.  By the time we started walking with our tour group, we realized that everyone else had been put in a completely separate group, and no one knew where we had gone.  Apparently, Sara panicked when she couldn't find us (Sorry!) but we finally got in touch with each other by cell, so she knew we hadn't been kidnapped and sold for parts on Bourbon Street! :)

Our tour was very interesting, although it would have been better if we could have heard everything that the guy was saying.  New Orleans is so freaking loud, even on the quieter streets.  One of our guides was a psychologist/sociologist (I think) that specialized in human perception, which is one of the reasons he is involved in the whole paranormal thing.  He actually works with ghost hunters as the person who goes over their data instead of going on the actual hunt.  Since he isn't tainted by the spookiness of the actual hunt and he knows the things that simple psychology can explain, he can look for truly unusual things without getting floor creaks and regular noises confused with paranormal activity.  He seemed like a fascinating man, and I think he'd be interesting to talk to.  The only bad part of the tour was this jackass (sorry, Aunt Brenda) who thought he was so funny, and he really, really wasn't.  He was annoying, and he kept making bad jokes and being a jerk.  Luckily he, and his drunk girlfriend, left before the tour was over.  Yikes.  At any rate, we heard some really good stories, one of which still gives me chills.  It had nothing to do with anything paranormal, and everything to do with the fact that the people involved were tortured and the husband killed in such a terrible way by people they knew.  We also saw the LaLaurie Mansion, which is famous in ghost lore and supposedly a very haunted house.  I'd read about it many times, and never expected to roll up on it unexpectedly, even on a ghost tour!  The history behind what happened there is awful, but again, mainly due to the human inhabitants of the house rather than the ghosts.  In fact, I'm going to say that the tour, while interesting, didn't really seem like a ghost tour to me.  I mean, yes, we got ghost stories and info on supposed hauntings, but it seemed like we got more regular history about the buildings we saw than anything really spooky.  I'm OK with that, because I enjoyed the tour, but I would have liked a few chills about things going bump in the night!

New Orleans in a truly interesting city, and I wish I could have learned more about it on our tour, but they only had specific places they talked about.  I've also learned that New Orleans smells SO BAD.  Oh, it was horrible.  I have an almost super-human sense of smell, so it was an assault on my nose that almost made me faint.  Luckily we moved around so much that I wasn't enveloped by any particular stink for too long.  The place is dirty, filthy, and completely amazing.  

We finally met back up with everyone and made our way back to the hotel.  We are now chilling - literally- by our excellent air conditioner and are about to go to bed.  I can already tell that this place, like Athens, GA and Savannah, GA, is going to be a two shower a day town. I just hope I brought enough underpants!

Goodnight!

NOTABLE SIGHTINGS:  The gas station raptor lady, a convertible hearse (in north Alabama, not in NOLA), two Eastern European hookers in shorts so short and tight that everyone picked out sympathy wedgies, the looks on Ron's kid's faces when they realized the two women were were hookers, and a cockroach the size of one of my middle fingers crawling in an empty margarita cup. Seriously, I could have forgone the taxi and ridden that guy back to the hotel!

I will never sleep again.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

RANDOM ACTS OF BLOGGING

1) Why do I have so much trouble when getting my hair cut?  As some of you know (the ones who have seen me in person, anyways), for the past year or so, I've been growing my hair long again.  I'd decided to do it so that when Sara's wedding rolled around, I could actually get my hair styled up, because my regular haircut was too short to really do anything interesting with.

Almost the only thing I'd been doing with any regularity was getting my bangs cut, and even something as simple as that wasn't without its problems.  You'd think that just getting about a quarter of an inch of hair snipped off of a relatively small part of my head wouldn't be difficult, but every stylist who ever cut it managed to do it differently than the last.  After many, many trips to the salon, I'd finally figured out what to tell them to get my bangs to look consistent-ish, and I shouldn't have changed anything.  Alas, Friday afternoon I made one simple request: I asked him to make the edges of my bangs a little bit longer so they would blend into the rest of my hair.  He said he'd have to cut some of my longer hair to make that happen and I didn't argue.

While he was cutting, we began to talk, and I didn't really start paying attention to what he was doing until he'd grabbed a handful of my hair and ran a pair of scissors across it.  Oy.  To make a long story short, I walked in to get my bangs trimmed, and I walked out with a completely different haircut.  Don't get me wrong it's a great cut, probably the best one I've had in two years, but yikes!  At least there is still enough left for me to have fixed up for the wedding.  I hope.

2) I'm so embarrassed.  My Facebook friends already know about this, but I'm going to elaborate a little bit.  I had a very busy day yesterday.  You know, one of those days where your "To Do" list is stupidly long and detailed and you just go from one thing to the other without much of a break.  I can only assume that's why I didn't have any idea that my pants had split right down the back, from my waist to the back of my knee.  It wasn't even a split seam, it was a full on, ripped-through-the-fabric hole that I didn't notice.

I was folding laundry when Steve got home from work yesterday.  I was in our room, standing by the bed when Steve walked in.  He started laughing and told me about my pants.  I almost fainted.  I'd been shopping!  I'd been in public places!  I had no idea when the hole had appeared in my pants, and for all I know it had been there the whole time and no one felt comfortable telling me!  AHHH!

I've been thinking about it, very hard, and there is a chance it happened when I got back in the car after getting groceries.  I remember my pants catching on the seat belt thing in the car.  I also seem to remember sitting down in my office and thinking I sat on something, so it could have ripped when I was at home, but I can't be sure!!!!! It could have just been the ripped edge catching on things!

If you're wondering why I told people about this, if it was so embarrassing and all, I figure if I've got to deal with the embarrassment, I might as well let others get a laugh out of it, too.

3)  Mr. Lee got to see Mitt Romney last week. I don't know if that's actually anything to brag about, but I thought it was pretty neat.  He was traveling for a photo convention and stayed in the same hotel with him one night.  He said the security guys basically just held everyone up while he walked through the hallway, so it wasn't like Mr. Lee got to talk to him or anything.  He said that a presidential hopeful was staying in the same hotel as 400 or more photographers, and he doesn't think any one of them actually got to take his picture. Too bad!  I think he could use all the help he can get! :)

4) I have a lip balm problem.  It's getting out of hand.


If you enlarge that picture, you can see only a fraction of the insane clutter that is my life.  Don't judge me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

ONE OF THOSE DAYS

Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up feeling super confident in yourself?  You know, you feel like you have everything under control, you get to work on time, you don't spill your coffee and you're having a great hair day?

Well, that was my day today...for about an hour.

Today marks the first time during my part-time/part-time employment with the church that we've lost a church member.  When you have people super involved and connected to the church, as some of our elderly members are, when they pass away things tend to get busy. Not only is it a sad day, but arrangements have to be made, phone calls come in and go out, and all kinds of things have to be coordinated if the visitation and funeral are going to be held here at the church. Since I currently only work two days a week, I wasn't here yesterday and I missed the initial rush of information and arrangements.

This morning I got into the office, I sat talking with the current secretary while all of the morning stuff was being taken care of.  She told me about what happened the day before and we just chit chatted about Sunday school rolls and membership programs and stuff like that.  The preacher arrived, looked at me and said "You know you're supposed to sing tomorrow, right?"  Negative.  I did not know that.  Whomever was supposed to have called me to let me know had forgotten to do so.  Honestly, though, that wasn't a big deal.  I mean, singing at a funeral is very hard, but of course I'm going to do it if asked.  My main thought about it was that I didn't even know this man!  Why did they want me to sing at his funeral?  I mean, yes, I know his daughter and everything, but it seemed odd that they'd want me to sing.

About an hour later, it was time for what I call "Trial By Fire," which is a very grand term for when I take over the secretary's desk and left to my own devices.  Basically, she sits back and watches, and I can ask her questions if I need to.  Usually there are very few problems, but today so much was going on that I just lost my brain.  My first problem came when I had to do a recording for the phone tree, which is where we record a message and send it out to church members automatically so that we don't have to call people individually.  I recorded and re-recorded the message until it sounded good, and then started the automatic calls.  I then get a call from someone telling me that I'd forgotten to say what day the funeral would be on.  I felt like a moron!  I had to re-record the message again, which was fifty times harder now that I'd screwed it up already) and send a second message to the people on the phone tree.  There are now members on the list who have two messages waiting, which isn't going to give them much confidence in my ability to do simple tasks.

After that pretty much everything went downhill.  I couldn't get phone calls to transfer (which is something I've never had happen before) and it made me seem completely incompetent to the pastor. I discovered that some disgusting person had clogged up a toilet in the basement and hadn't told anyone, leaving it to fester for two days.  I had to unclog that, and not only did it almost make me puke, but then I pretty much had to boil my hands just in case.  I had people calling and asking for directions, and I couldn't get the mental picture of the roads in my head, so I'm fairly sure that a few people hoping to come to this funeral are going to end up in Tennessee or something.  The worst part, though, was when the pastor came in and asked me if I would look up some information on the deceased man so he could put it in his eulogy.  I said "Is he even a member here?"  He just looked at me like I was insane.  I told him I'd never met the man, and he insisted that I had.  He went as far as looking up an old directory, which has pictures of everyone in it, and he pointed him out to me.  Holy cow, not only did I know that man, I liked him a lot! He was so nice. For some reason, I hadn't connected his face to the name!  He loved to hear me sing, which I suppose is why I was asked to sing at his funeral.  Oh, I felt so stupid and terrible for not realizing who he was, and the preacher must think I'm the airiest of all air heads.

So now I'm just hunched down in my chair, trying not to touch anything else, hoping that whatever bad juju I've got leaves me alone for the rest of the day so that they don't change their minds about letting me work here.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY

Talladega, AL
September 8, 2012

I actually thought it would take me a long time to fall asleep in a strange place, but since I felt so lousy, I just sort of dropped off.  Silver lining is that at least I got a lot of sleep!  I woke up this morning feeling almost human again.  I had two alarms set, one on the iPad and one on my iPod.  Unfortunately, I left my ear buds connected to the iPod and the alarm wasn't audible.  I am a genius.  Luckily, I had awoken on my own before the iPad alarm went off, so at least I didn't oversleep.  I lay in bed for as long as humanly possible, though, but finally I had to get up and get ready.

Before I tell you about my day, I'd just like to take a moment to thank the person who decided on using florescent lighting in the bathroom.  Oh, and for also using it over a large mirror where I might accidentally see myself naked, no less.  If I didn't have body image issues before, I have them now.  Oy.  Seriously, cheap lighting or not, no one should ever have to look at their own body in that kind of harsh, unflattering illumination.  I may never recover.  *shudder*  I also had to put on makeup in that room, and I'm fairly certain that I ended up looking like a drag queen.  The light was so bright that I couldn't gauge when I had on too much.  I kept putting more on to cover all of the ugly, but the light had some kind of x-ray quality that shone right through the makeup!  By the time I was done, I had to wipe half of it off before going anywhere.  I couldn't go into a room full of Baptists looking like a hooker!

After finally getting ready, it was time for breakfast. I honestly couldn't stand the thought of eating in the cafeteria again, not after last night.  Blerf.  I was very glad that I had secreted an emergency granola bar into my bag (since I will never again travel anywhere without food, after the debacle in the Charlotte Airport) so at least I didn't go hungry!  Yay!  The first session started at 8:00, but I hadn't found a class that had anything to do with my actual job during that time, I used that hour to clean up my room and pack the car.  When that was done, I grabbed the giant 3 ring binder that they had given us the day before and I went to the main building to wait for the QuickBook classes to begin. 

The QuickBook classes were technically why I had come to the workshop, so I was  anxious to get started.  The program makes my brain hurt, because it does so many things.  I think it's basically like balancing a very complicated checkbook, really, but it's intimidating.  The lady who was teaching the class (or rather a crash course, since it was more of an overview than an actual class) was in her 60s, and I have a feeling she thought I was much younger than I really am.  When she started talking, she said she'd been working with the program since 1999, when everyone thought computers would quit working when the year rolled over.  She looked at me and said, "...but you probably don't remember that."  I'm clearly older than 12, but I wonder how young she thought I was?  Actually, I don't care.  I think I'm going to send that lady some flowers! :)

I'd love to say I learned a lot about the program, but the two classes left a little to be desired.  The instructor was clearly an expert, so it wasn't her fault at all.  There was a lady in the class (who had also been in a couple of the other classes I'd taken) who kept interrupting the teacher with questions specific to her church.  She apparently works for a church unlike any I'd ever heard of, that has some complicated bookkeeping issues.  I don't begrudge her asking the questions, but she talked so much that we pretty much got an overview of how to use QuickBooks for HER kind of church, and it didn't apply to the other 99% of the people in the classroom. Grrr.  In fact, she talked so much that the rest of us had to walk out of the class while they were still talking, because the session was over.  Sigh.

It was lunch time by then, and I still wasn't feeling the desire of eating in the cafeteria, and since there was only one other session after that, I decided to leave.  There weren't any classes for me in the last session anyways, and besides, I had an adventure planned! 

There is a place called Wright Dairy in Alexandria, AL, and I'd wanted to go there for months.  I'd been looking for a local place to buy cheese and milk and had found information about this one during my search.  Since I realized I'd be nearby, I decided to visit!  I suppose it doesn't sound very exciting, but I love the idea of a family owned dairy, and I wanted to get some cheese and milk from them and take it home.  Don't worry, I had brought an insulated bag to carry it in.  I was ORGANIZED!  I set the GPS and drove about an hour out of my way to get there.  I didn't have any trouble finding it, but when I got there, there was a sign that said it was closed for renovations and wouldn't reopen until the 15th!  BOO!  I had checked and rechecked their website to make sure they would be open when I went by, and according to their site they should have reopened on September 1, but alas, I guess their renovations had gone over time or something.  I felt very Clark Griswold-ian at being thwarted, but there was no moose to punch, so I just drove away. :(  Oh well, you never know what is happening with a place like that, and if it is family owned, there are a million reasons why it wouldn't be open, so I forgave them.  Certainly I'll be back down there one of these days.

So I gave up on that adventure and headed back home.  I actually drove into a pretty vicious rainstorm in Boaz that made driving almost impossible, but I passed through pretty quickly.  I remembered that I was going to have to go out later that evening and get a frozen lasagna to bake for the youth's fundraiser lunch the next day, so my adventure turned out to be stopping at a Piggly Wiggly not too far from where I live.  I don't think I've been in an actual Piggly Wiggly since I was 7 years old, and it was classy.  Any place that plays the Bama game over the P.A. must be top notch. After that,  I came home and crashed.  It had been a long couple of days. 

Friday, September 07, 2012

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY

Talledega, Alabama
September 7, 2012

After getting on the road this morning, I finally stopped feeling so anxious.  I guess I had just freaked out about the whole thing so hard that I'd broken through to the other side. Well, that and I took an anti-anxiety pill. Those things are very helpful!

I had only been driving for about 5 minutes though, when suddenly everything was engulfed in a thick, white fog.  Greeeeeeeeeat.  It was probably the worst fog I'd seen in years and when I ran into it, I was trying to drive along a curvy, mountain road. That was not fun at all.  I kept expecting the fog to lift, because the sun was already up fairly high, but it couldn't get through. It was like Silent Hill. You couldn't see the cars ahead of you until you were practically right on top of them, and you couldn't see anything along the sides of the road, so it was very creepy.  The fog lasted almost the entire drive to Talledega.  I also got behind the slowest people in the universe, so I didn't make it to the campus until later than I had hoped, but I was still there in plenty of time. Yay!

Getting checked in was super easy, and I was given a giant folder full of stuff immediately, so all of the worrying I did about wondering around aimlessly was for nothing. Eh.  My fist class was for new. Treasurers and financial secretaries, and it was fairly interesting. Well, at least my mind didn't wander off while he was talking.  We headed to lunch after that, and while I was standing in line, I got a bunch of text messages all at once. It was weird, because I don't usually get many texts at all. I couldn't ignore them because they were actually about something really important, so I hope the other attendees didn't think I was being standoffish. I'm not usually one to use my phone while I eat, but this couldn't be helped.

The food was sort of bland and industrial tasting, so I couldn't make myself eat very much. I ended up throwing most of it away and going to the chapel, where our next session would be held.

We had a fairly brief session out there, and I had a very bad moment when I thought one of my ex boyfriends was there and about to get up on stage to talk. I thought he was the guy I dated the summer before my senior year who was so much older than me, and there is no way that meeting wouldn't have been awkward, but thank goodness it was just a guy who looked like my ex. Yeesh. I feel bad, though, because I know the man on stage saw me staring at him very intently while trying to decide if he was the guy I thought I knew. I'm sure he thought I looked unhinged.  Sorry, guy!

We had a couple of other sessions, and most of the information just flew right past me. I've been trying to pick workshops that pertain to what I will actually be doing at church, but the thing about tax forms pretty much blew my brain apart. She talked so fast, and she said a bunch of stuff like, "you have to fill out form w-4 and then make sure it has a w-3 cover letter, and then the next thing you have to do is make sure the T-2000 is stapled to the BMX and then filed under purple, because the IRS always checks for purple." She might as well have been speaking in Klingon. I'm just glad I get to keep the book, because I'm going to have to go back and read everything again to see if it makes any more sense.

At dinner, I did something that makes me feel so rude, and it was completely unintentional. I was sitting alone, trying to choke down another meal when a lady asked it she could sit next to me. I think she was just looking for someone to talk to, because almost everyone there had a coworker along, so she was lonely.  I'd eaten about as much as I could make myself, and I sat and did. Little chit-chat with her, but I was starting to feel kind of yucky and I didn't want to sit at the table anymore. I told her, kind of abruptly, that it had been nice to talk to her, but I needs to go back to my room to see if my air conditioning had been fixed. (It hadn't been working at first.) I didn't mean to be rude, I promise, but she looked kind of taken aback. I feel really bad if I was rude, because I wouldn't have done that on purpose.  I was feeling quite awful by the time I got back to my (thankfully) much cooler room.  I had begun to think I was comings own with the flu. My muscles hurt all over and my stomach hurt, and I was cold and  dizzy. Maybe it was the food, who knows, but I proceeded to be unwell in that room.

I was still cold and sore and so very tired when I finally managed to pull myself together again, and since I still had one more class to attend, I went back to the classroom.  I sat there trying not to fall asleep, or get sick again, while she talked. The class seemed to take forever. We were supposed to have some kind of "fellowship time" after the class was over, but I just couldn't do it. I came back to my room, changed into my pajamas, and wrapped myself up in a blanket. These people probably think I'm a huge snob, or at least quite unpleasant, because I haven't been too friendly with anyone. Well, I'm not being mean, I guess, just being kind of to myselfish. I hope no one thinks I'm being rude, I just don't feel well.  Tomorrow I'll be attending the Quickbooks classes, and maybe I'll feel better then and can be more chatty.  Who knows?


THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

OK, so adventure seems like a strong word to use here, but whatever.  Anything can be an adventure, right? :)

I'm on my way (or, at least I will be soon) to the financial workshop I mentioned in my last post.  Whee.  I finally got in touch with someone who would tell me where I needed to go when I got there, so that helped me out tremendously!  Now I know where to check in and where the thing is going to be. 

I've realized that I am not as laid back as most people would be about attending something like this, or at least that's the impression I'm getting.  I don't like not knowing what I'm supposed to be doing!  If this were a vacation or something I wouldn't care. I don't worry about about schedules for that kind of thing.  However, someone paid for me to go to this workshop and I'd rather not be moseying in two hours late to something because I'd been circling the compound, going from building to building asking where I'm supposed to be.  It's been 17 years sense I've been to this place, and since I was in a big van with a bunch of other teenagers, I wasn't exactly paying attention to what was going on when we got there. 

I think I'm way more anxious about this sort of thing than I need to be, honestly.  Part of it is that I don't tend to drive long distances by myself very often (and ever since I ended up in that person's barn, I'm not sure I trust the GPS completely.)  The next part is that I'm worried it'll all be over my head.  Damnit, Jim, I'm an artist, not an accountant!  What if I can't retain anything?  The other part is that I'm a complete flake and I'm worried that I'm going to do something dumb.  That probably speaks volumes about my self esteem, but seriously, I do dumb stuff all of the time without realizing it and I don't want to do anything that reflects badly on my church.  I'm rarely ever appropriate, especially when I get awkward, and since I'm going to be in a room full of people I don't know, I'm going to get awkward. Oy.  Can you get excommunicated from the Southern Baptist Convention?

This is the first time I've ever traveled for work, for any reason.  I've never even stayed in a hotel by myself before, so this is a whole new thing for me!  All I want is to get there and back safely, and hopefully learn the hastared computer program/financial stuff in the process.

Anyways, so there you go!  Keep your fingers crossed for me!  I'll either come back a tiny bit more comfortable with the idea of dealing with our church's finances, or I will have been chased from the place with torches and pitchforks. 

Of course, maybe I'll just skip the whole thing and make a detour to Auburn to watch football with some friends.  Would that be so wrong? :)