Monday, August 31, 2009

First Photos

I took some pictures with my new 35mm camera this weekend... would you like to see them?

too bad!

No, seriously, the only down side to a film camera is that there are still 14 shots in the camera before I can get it developed, so you will have to be patient with me and hopefully this week I will take it out again and finish up the roll.

Things I am looking forward to this week:
~Friday night is a meeting of the Astronomy club that Mike and I found in our local area. We haven't been before, and we are both looking forward to meeting some people who know a little more about the stars, hanging out with other nerds, and generally learning more about our new hobby.
~Next Monday is Labor Day, which means my office is closed and I get a 3 day weekend!
~Taking the rest of the roll of film so that I can get my pictures developed

From what I did take this weekend, I am really digging the new camera. It has the ability to change the depth of field so that I can focus on just that one flower, or I can focus on the inside of the bloom, or whatever. Those artsy shots where the one thing is in focus and the rest of the background is fuzzy? I can do that now!

In other news, I participated in that IComLeavWe event this past week, which is basically a week where you commit to posting on other people's blogs that sign up. It was really nice to have that feeling that people were reading my work, and I hope that a few of them stick around, even though that event is over for August :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Message from a Friend

A while back I wrote about the importance of holding hands, and a few days later, I received a message in my facebook inbox. I am posting this story with her permission, because I thought it was too beautiful for you to miss...

I read your blog about holding hands a little while back.. it was beautiful and so poignant how something so simple made all the difference. It made me want to share this story with you.

Yesterday was our 4 year anniversary. Four years married but it will be 18 together in Dec. As we were walking down the main isle in Target, J held my hand and gave me a little kiss on the forehead. This is an everyday occurrence, we still hold hands, even to fall asleep sometimes . But at the same time he made a comment “Remember when we were young and holding hands was a really big deal.” He remembered the day he and I walked into school and down the hall holding hands for the first time. It was a big sign to everyone that said we are together now! I was taken back that he remembered that and then the day flashed in my memory as well. It was such a big deal that I was actually given demerits on the drill team for behavior unbecoming of a lady. I told him your story and how beautiful I thought it was. How I never realized that something so simple could be a big key. But then it hit me, when was the last time you saw a couple holding hands in public that was under 30? Under 60? I can’t even remember. It made me sad, holding hands is not a big deal anymore. It seems to me it is an overall sign of the lack of intimacy our society has lost. It made me wonder how many relationships would last, how many marriages would not break apart. Then I thought how lucky I was that my husband not only wanted to hold my hand but remembered the first time he got to do so in front of everyone. Anyway I just wanted to let you know that "always remember to hold hands" is my new motto!

This message from my friend meant so much to me. It was important to know that other people are still holding hands, and that she took the time to share this with me...

Isn't it lovely?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Every Which Way But Loose...

I am a bundle of emotions lately, and I can't seem to get myself calmed down or focused. I am up. I am down. I am irritated. I am happy. I am content. I am stressed. I am calm. I am weepy. I am angry. I am...

Usually I am pretty much in control of my emotions. I am a stable person, but more than that, I have a great fear of being controlled by my emotions, so I take great effort to make sure I am the one in charge. I trace this back to when I was a kid and I threw spectacular temper tantrums.

My mom tells the story of when I was just entering my terrible twos, and I was more than a handful. I believed in the glory and drama of a truly well executed tantrum. She tells me that they tried everything to break me of this behavior, until one day they found the key. I walked into the room (very calmly) and started pitching a fit about God knows what. When I didn't get my way, I lay down on the floor and started kicking and hitting the ground and screaming. My mom says I looked so ridiculous that she just started laughing. In her words "I know you aren't supposed to laugh at your kids when they are misbehaving, but you were a sight". As the story goes, when I heard her laughing, I stopped screaming, stood up, dusted off my dress, and calmly walked back out of the room.

This tells me two very important things about myself as a child
~ Even then I didn't like feeling embarassed, and apparently this situation embarassed me. I didn't like that I wasn't being taken seriously, so I stopped.
~I was smart enough to recognize a hopeless situation.

That wasn't the end of my temper though, no no no. I can remember in first grade when I got into an argument with another girl in my class and punched her in the nose (the only time I have ever punched another person in my life). Side note: the day after this happened, me and the girl became best friends, and remained best friends for the next 3 years until her family got transferred.

You know how you have those memories of your childhood that were defining moments? Those crystallized memories that you can still see as clearly as the moment they happened? One of mine was the day that my mom sat me down to really talk to me about my temper. I must have been about 8 or 9 at the time. My mother, when I was a child, was the model of patience. I don't say that with any sarcasm at all. I rarely if ever remember her getting truly mad at us kids. I can remember as a kid that I always looked at my mom and wondered why I couldn't be like that, why I had all this anger inside, and she was at peace. And then she sat me down one day and told me the story of when she was a kid. She told me that she used to have a really bad temper, and that she had to learn to control it, or else it would control her. She told me that I needed to learn to master my temper too. That I COULD do it. I had the strength to control the anger that I felt was brewing inside, and that if I worked at it, someday it wouldn't control me. I couldn't believe it... my mom fought the anger too? My mother, the calm, peaceful one, she understood? She fought the demons too? That moment changed my life, and the funny thing is, that my mom doesn't remember having that conversation with me. She confirms to this day that she did indeed have a bad temper as a child, but she doesn't remember telling me the story. Amazing how the little things we do can sometimes have the biggest impact.

Anyhow... I fought, like my mom told me to. I learned to control it. I learned when it was worthwhile to argue, and when it made more sense to save my breath. I learned how much energy it required to care about everything, and then I learned to let go of the details. Focus on the important, don't waste time on the petty.

That brings me to today... well, at least to the person I am today. I still fight that fight at times. I still have to tell myself sometimes to let it go. And here is another fun fact about me... I don't buy into the "I am PMSing" excuse. I don't agree with the fact that so many women seem to feel that just because they are feeling hormonal, that excuses bitchy behavior. Sure, I am not in a great mood sometimes, but that doesn't mean that I have the right to make the rest of the world miserable along with me.

I believe in control, I guess is what I am trying to say with this long ramble today. I believe in controlling and focusing and using your emotions, and not letting them control, focus, and use you. And although I am not going to get into the topic today, I do understand that there are those people that need help controlling the emotions.

So all that to say this... I don't like when my emotions are in a whirlwind. I like definition, I like control. And on days like today, I feel like the little girl inside me is fighting to get out once again.

She won't win. Would someone please pass that message along to her?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Quote for the Day

Because work is crazy busy, getting ready to kick off the fall events and classes here at the church, I thought I would just leave you with a quote for now...

"If we only have the will to walk, then God is pleased with our stumbles"
~C.S. Lewis

I hope to be back later to post more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sick Tummy Makes Me A Sad Pancake

Ok, so here is a quick glimpse into the humor that exists in our household. I made pancakes for dinner again on Saturday night, and as I mentioned before, I cook a mean flapjack. This time, however, on the third pancake, I wasn't paying attention, and it overcooked a little too much for my liking. No problem, I just set that pancake on a plate off to the side and went on to cook the rest of the pancakes. Mike and I sat down to enjoy a good dinner, and afterwards, he was taking the dishes into the kitchen when he came across the lone pancake, still off to the side on its plate. Since the pancake wasn't burned, but merely a little overcooked, Mike asked me why there was a pancake sitting off to the side, all by itself. Once I explained my reasons, Mike got very quiet in the kitchen for a few seconds. Next thing I knew, I could hear him giggling to himself in the kitchen.. then he called my name, and when I looked up to see what he wanted, he was holding this:

and he said "being left alone makes this pancake a sad pancake".

Now, I don't know if it was the unexpected nature of what he had done by drawing a face on it, the fact that the pancake now looked like an emoticon of the food world, or if it was the ability he has to find humor in every situation, but it cracked me up. I couldn't stop laughing. And when I finally did, he just held up the pancake again and started telling me the reasons why I made this pancake a "sad pancake". I tell you what, that man knows how to make me laugh. And I truly find it a gift to be able to see the humor in the little things in life.

As for the rest of the title of today's post... I spent Sunday night and Monday morning with an upset stomach, and in fact, I stayed home from work yesterday, which is partially to blame for me not posting yesterday. And just when I got over it, Mike seemed to catch the same bug.

Luckily, we are both feeling better healthwise, and are, in fact, no longer sad pancakes.

I hope you all are doing well, and that all your pancakes have smiles today.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not Just Newlyweds

Do you know what phrase I absolutely hate?
The words I detest when spoken to me?

"Awww... y'all are just newlyweds"

Important to note: We live in Texas, so this phrase is always delivered with the "awww... y'all" beginning as notated above.

My husband and I are big on romance. He is a sweetheart of a guy who has no qualms at all about showing affection in public. We end every phone call with an "I love you" and a smooched "MUAH!". Yes, he does too, it isn't just on my end.

He tells me he misses me several times throughout the day when we are apart. I miss him terribly too, sometimes with a physical ache at being apart.

Mike gives the greatest hugs in the world, the kind that wrapped you up and insulate you away from the bad crap that the world is throwing at you. The kind that sooth your pain and make the whole world better because he is going to keep you safe in that hug.

We fall asleep every night wrapped up in each other's arms. We are snugglers.

We don't travel alone, we do it all together.

In 4 years of marriage, and a total of 6 years together, we have never, not ONCE, spent a night apart. I don't want to fall asleep without Mike there, holding me.

Does all this sound like a fairytale out of a book? Maybe. But it isn't. This is our marriage.

Mike and I have an all-encompassing love for each other. Since we first got together, our lives have been about our marriage. We are all we've got, we are all we need, we are all we want. We have OUR friends, not his friends and my friends.

This brings me to my point. Those that look at our marriage, look at our love for each other, and tell me that it is just because we are newlyweds. Just because we haven't been together for a thousand years, doesn't mean that what we have isn't real.

This isn't fake dating romance, people, this is true love. This is devotion to your spouse and consciously making sure that the romance is present. This is marriage, at its finest.

If Mike and I were an elderly couple, married for 50 years, people would look at us, see our behavior, and talk about how amazing it is that we love each other that much, that we are still that in love with each other. Why is it any less because we have been married a shorter amount of time?

The answer: it isn't. So do me a favor, and please don't belittle our love by implying that it is somehow going to go away the longer we are married. We are in this for a lifetime, and a lifetime from now, I will still be telling my husband that I love him before I hang up the phone each time. A lifetime from now, I will still want him next to me at the end of every day. A lifetime from now, we will still be newlyweds.

This is not some passing phase, this is love.

Oh, and don't even get me started on the ones that say "just wait until y'all have kids".

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Busy Busy

I have been so busy at work today, I am just now sitting down to write something.

I am in the process of updating our website here at the church, and it is cumbersome to say the least. The good news is that I am learning all kinds of interesting things about slide shows, and html code, and all that goodness.

Now if I could just find someone to design a good masthead for our website and teach me how to fix the design layout, I would be ecstatic.

Well, back to work for me now..

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I have received a couple really nice comments on the post from the other day about church and my faith... comments that have got me thinking further on the topic, and there are a few points that I feel I left out in my original post that I want to make, if you will bear with me.

~I am in no way ashamed of, or regretful for, the childhood I had. There was much that I learned along the way that still sticks with me to this day. There is much that was good in that life. I just had to learn to keep the good and let the rest go. I had to learn to use that good to form a foundation that I can continue to build more good on.

~Although this journey is an intensely personal journey of faith, I am not on the trip alone. Mike is there with me every step of the way. Mike has been there for me every time I face a point in life when I struggled with the past, and how to move on. Mike is the one that gave me the strength to stand up and be my own person. I know that sounds contradictory, but it isn't. I needed him there to tell me that it was okay to be whoever I needed to be. In an odd, paradoxal way, his approval was what I needed to move on and learn that I don't need the approval of others. I could not do this without him, I don't want to do this without him. And at the same time, Mike is on a journey of his own, but that is his story to tell.

~I don't have all the answers for you. I don't even have all the answers for myself. I am learning, I am growing. All the Bible knowledge in the world doesn't equal spiritual maturity. I am seeking, I am craving, I am learning.

~I am not going to say that the church that we go to is the right one for everyone. That is very important to me. This church is the right one for US. This church is not the reason we are getting back to God, but it is a tool to help us along the way. The important thing is that you find what is right for you. Find a place where you can grow, where you can learn, where you can ask questions, where you can form your own faith.

Tomorrow, I think I will move back to lighter topics, and tell you about how I came to be a Blue October fan. This is important, because that story leads to the story of how Mike and I came to be a couple.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Our Weekend Trip

So yeah... I failed at getting the pictures of me and Mike that I said I was going to try for. I did however get some pictures of the place that we stayed at!

We went to Lake Charles and stayed at the L'Auberge Du Lac Casino (means Inn on the Lake) (yeah, I am nerdy enough to have looked up the translation when we got home. We were there to see Blue October, a band that both Mike and I have a long history with.

We arrived in Lake Charles around 2pm, and went to check in to our room. The service at this hotel and casino was outstanding, I must admit. The lady behind the check in desk was very polite, and friendly, and made me feel like a guest in their hotel, not like I was inconveniencing them by making them clean a room for me. We went upstairs to our room, and found a beautiful room, done up in a slightly Western theme, straight down to these amazing chairs:

which for some reason really fascinated me and prompted me to take another picture, even closer, of the feet on the chair... did you catch those in the first picture?

Yeah... that's a hoof. I don't even like Western themed stuff, and I would SO put these in my house.

Anyhow, after checking in, we went down to the casino and contributed a little of our money to the economy of Louisiana, and then had some amazing Creme Brulee gelato in the dessert shop there. We met up with Mike's brother and his wife for the buffet dinner, which was somewhat of a letdown for me. The selection was not that great, and the food was very bland.

The advantage to being there was that while we were eating, 4 out of the 5 members of Blue October came in to eat their dinner, and we got a chance to say hello to a couple of them. It was really nice to see that they still remember us, even as big as they are getting.
After dinner, we hung out for a while until it was time for the show. It was a free concert by the pool in the casino, so there were TONS of people there, and only about 1/3 of them there to see a band. The band Ours opened, followed by Switchfoot, and then Blue. Mike and I found some comfy pool recliners around the other side of the pool to relax in and watch the show. As it turned out, we could see the projection screen perfectly from where we sat, and there was a cool breeze blowing there as well. The music was wonderful, and it was really good to see Blue in concert again (one of these days I will tell you about our history with Blue).

After the concert, we met back up with the family, and went to the cafe there and had some dinner, even though it was midnight. And then back to the room to crash!!

All in all, a really great trip, and a great time spent with family.

Oh, and here are a few other pictures I took...
The view from our window of the front entrance and fountain

A closer shot of the fountain

The beautiful golf course there on the grounds
I have a feeling we will be back there again...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Softly and Tenderly

I started to cry yesterday during church.

This is not the post I wanted to write today. This is not a post that I was sure I was ever going to be able to write. I had funny stories of the weekend trip to see Blue October halfway composed in my head. I was going to tell you the history of my love of the band, or maybe even start the story of how I met Mike. I had a funny picture of an awesome chair from our hotel room that I was going to post for you. I was witty, funny, and anecdotal all at once.

And then I started to cry yesterday during church.

I am not even sure Mike knew I was crying. I was fighting to keep the tears back, but they welled up and threatened to pour over during the last song we sang.

I have quite the history with church and religion. It is part of the heritage my parents passed down to me, it is part of the fiber of who I am, it is very much a part of what makes me, ME.

I was raised in a strict conservative Christian household. We weren't allowed to wear pants until I was 14 years old, we didn't go trick-or-treating on Halloween, we didn't believe in the Easter bunny, or the tooth fairy, or Santa (even at a small age). We weren't allowed to watch Scooby Doo because the story lines dealt with ghosts and witches, taboo topics in our household. We went to church every time the doors were open, we said grace before each and every meal, we memorized Bible verses at a young age, I can still recite the books of the Bible in order, and I was the Bible drill champion of the church for several months.

But it was more than that, it was so much more. Christianity was woven into every fiber of our life. Our belief in God, our worship, our faith, it was more than this. I don't honestly know the right words to explain it to those that were not raised with such an all-encompassing faith, but it was more than a part of our lives. It WAS our lives. Every thing that we did, every thing that we touched, every word, every action, every song you sang or tv show you watched was expected to be held up to the measuring stick and it was expected to meet the criteria.

I don't know if everyone is affected the same way, but for me, this completely shaped the way I viewed my world, and the way I viewed myself. There were positives and negatives, of course. It gave me a sense of belonging to a community, a sense of safety in knowing, or thinking that I knew, everything was laid out for me. There is a sense of comfort in having a set of directions laid out for me that I can follow. There was a sense of knowing how I measured up. But therein lay part of the problem. I felt that I was being measured, constantly.

I remember in my early 20's, I was working in the youth group in a church in Arkansas. During our youth Bible study one week, the lesson was on "loving your neighbor as yourself", and the emphasis was on the fact that in order to love others, you have to love yourself. You have to accept yourself as the creation of God, and see how valuable you are. Anyhow, the preacher was going around the group, picking out random people and asking them if they liked themselves, and why or why not. I KNEW he was going to call on me, and I dreaded it. I didn't want to answer that question. Just as I predicted, he called on me, and asked me "Jennifer, do you like yourself?", and I started to cry. The great big gulping sobbing cry that becomes more embarrasing the longer it goes on. The cry where your whole face becomes red, and you can't breathe, and people are trying to comfort you, but it only makes it worse. I couldn't answer his question, I couldn't look at him, I couldn't speak. I just wanted to go away and fade. You see, at that moment I had a revelation. I realized something that I had never realized before.

I didn't like myself.

Why? Because I wasn't good enough. Because I could never be good enough.

Looking back, I think that was the turning point in my religious life. From that point forward, I couldn't find the comfort that I had known as a child. I couldn't find the peace and the knowledge that I belonged. Instead, I felt the condemnation. I felt that I couldn't meet the standards, I couldn't measure up, I failed. Slowly over time, I began to like myself less and less.

I left Arkansas and moved to Dallas on my own. I quit going to church, because it felt empty. Worse than that, it didn't feel empty, it felt full of reminders of how I was failing, how I was going to fail. I just couldnt take it anymore, the feeling that people were standing there in disapproval, with their checklists of the ways I was supposed to be, the things I was supposed to do, the words I was supposed to say. Their rules were smothering me. I had to walk away.

In the years between then and now, I have learned a lot about myself. Mike has helped me figure out a lot about myself. I learned that I need to have a faith of my own. It ISN'T always going to be the same as those that wear the title of Christian. I don't agree with all the teachings of ANY church. I can't go back to that church that I was raised in. I had to strike out and find out where I belonged. Most importantly, I needed to learn to like myself. And in order to do that, I had to learn to live on my own two feet. I had to make decisions for myself, instead of turning to the church for answers to every little facet of my life and personality. I became my own person, I became my own self. I learned who I was. In the process, I threw away some of the teachings of my childhood. I learned that it was okay to reject some of the teachings, and that it didn't mean I rejected it all. I learned to think through my faith and understand it, and not accept it blindly.

Mike and I have found a church that we love. We attend most Sundays, and I work at that same church. I am slowly but surely finding my way back to a faith that I can base my life on.

But the relationship is different. It will never be that all encompassing overwhelming ruler of judgement that I used to measure myself by. It can't be. I refuse to let it be. It is instead, now a tenative friendship that is forming. I can't commit to the life I used to live by. I don't want to be in that life. I am very happy in the life that I have found with Mike, and in the faith that we are growing together as a couple.

So why did I start to cry yesterday? We were singing "Softly and Tenderly" and it came to the chorus.... "come home, come home, you who are weary, come home"... and my heart broke... because I feel like I am coming home. I am finding my way back to a HEALTHY relationship with God, and just as importantly, a HEALTHY relationship with church. And because, in this one area of my life, I have been so weary for so long... I have been tired in my soul since I was a child. I kept trying and trying to be good enough, and I wasn't. And now? Now I am in a place where I am beginning to learn again that I can just let go.

I can let go, I can enjoy faith, I can relax and be happy. I am strong enough to remain ME without allowing doctrine to overrun the amazing person that I am already.

It is safe now for me to "come home".

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I usually write to sort out the chaos that exists in my mind. But today, the chaos is preventing any real writing, any real cohesive thinking.

I leave at noon today for our trip out of town, and I cannot wait! I will try (please see the success, or lack thereof, in the previous attempt on Phantom weekend) to remember to get some pictures taken this weekend and posted here so that you can see a more recent picture of us.

I despise this feeling os scatterbrained-ness. I am the planner, the organizer, the thinker, and I don't like feeling like I can't pull it together and sort it out.

Apologies, my friends...

I will post more when we get back from our trip.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My New Toy

Isn't it beautiful? I ordered this last night from B&H (, from their used department. It is a Canon EOS 2000 Rebel. It is a 35 mm film camera, comes with the lens you see here, lens cap, camera strap, and all for the low price of $119. I am a little wary generally of buying used equipment like this over the net, but B&H is a very reputable store, and they stand behind their sales. This is the same store that we got the Canon digital camera from, and I have heard nothing but good stuff about them from others that shop there as well. I also bought some batteries for it, and a cable release. A cable release is a cord that attaches to your camera and allows you to release the shutter without touching the actual camera. VERY important for long exposure shooting like astrophotography, because even the slightest touch to the camera with your finger can cause vibrations which will blur the picture. Anyhow, the camera and its accessories should be here next Wednesday (YAY!)

A special thanks to my photographer friend, Lauren, for helping me make my final decision. I knew what I was looking for, in general terms, but needed some help deciphering the techinical specs listed on the camera to make sure this would meet my needs.

I am currently poring over the book I linked yesterday to figure out the best film to use for the shots I want to start off with. I cannot say enough good about this book. Not only is it full of information, but the author includes hundreds of pictures as well, and under each picture, lists not only the f-stop and exposure time, but the type of camera and film that he was using for the shot. VERY helpful for the beginner, let me tell you.

Another thing I am excited about, another factor that helped me finalize my decision on the Rebel is that it is a Canon, and that is the same brand as my digital. My digital camera has the ability to change out lenses, and this means that any lenses I buy for the 35mm will also fit on the digital, a huge factor for me.

As you may have noticed, I am VERY excited about this. I believe this is a hobby that I can get into, I think this is something that I could be good at. I believe this is something I will enjoy, and I cannot wait to get started!

A very very special thank you to my wonderful husband for understanding my need to find a hobby that I enjoy, and for putting up with my rambling on and on about exposure times and film types. I love you, Mike!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pancakes, Pictures, and Paraphernalia

Mental paraphernalia, that is (and yes, I had to look that word up to get the spelling correct). I have a lot of random things to share with you today, so I am going to group them all together in this one post. This one, wonderfully aliterated-titled, post.

Last night, Mike and I wanted a snack, so I made up some pancakes. I realize this is not groundbreaking news, but you haven't had my pancakes. I make a really mean flapjack, my friends. I worked for two years at a Wendy's during the breakfast rush, and I know my pancakes. I make them big, light and fluffy, really cake-like. I am not a fan of the crepe. I smothered mine with strawberry jelly, and went to town. It was wonderful!

When I got home from work, this was waiting for me:
Mike bought it for me as a surprise, and it came in the mail yesterday. I had no idea it was on its way, so I was wonderfully surprised. I have an amazing husband, the kind that sees things that I would like, and loves to surprise me with them. And excited? you better believe it! I did a little bit of reading in it last night, and it gives all the information that you could possibly need, from how to take pictures without using a telescope, to what kind of film to use, what cameras work best, etc. And also exciting is the idea that I am going to be buying a "old-fashioned" camera at some point for astrophotography. Turns out that digital cameras dont have the exposure time, and the sensitivity to light that regular cameras do, so YAY! I will get to do some equipment shopping in the near future.

This Thursday I am taking off work at noon, and Mike and I (along with Mike's brother and his wife) will be headed to Louisiana to a casino there. Our main reason for going is to see Blue October in concert there (more about our history with Blue October in another post), but let me reassure you that we are planning on enjoying the buffet dinner, and planning to do a bit of gambling. I am really looking forward to this trip for a variety of reasons. It has been probably close to two years since we have seen Blue in concert. I have never stayed in a casino hotel room before (YAY!), and the buffet? Do I even need to go into my love of food, and what a buffet means to me? Most importantly, I am looking forward to a trip with Mike and our family.

My boss, the preacher, gets back from his family vacation on Thursday. They have been gone for three weeks now, and it has been really quiet around here. While that is nice for a while, I am looking forward to having them back and there being a little more life around this place.

I guess that is all for now, my friends. The clutter in the brain is cleared out, and I can focus on the work at hand.

I will leave you with this question though... what sorts of clutter do you find in your mind today?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ich Habe Ein Kopfschmerzen

5 years of German language classes from 8th-12th grades, a former near-mastery of the German language, and this is one of the only phrases that I easily recall. This is one of the only sentences that pops into my head automatically when the situation calls for it, and rightfully so, I guess.

Translation? I have a headache.

Boy do I ever. Not at this moment, exactly, but frequently and habitually.

I am a chronic headache sufferer. I occasionally suffer from a migraine, but they only hit me about 3-4 times a year. At least, that is how often I get the really bad, can't do anything but sleep, kinds of migraines. No, my chronic headaches aren't that severe. Migraines, severe migraines, are a life-stopping interruption of all that revolves around you in your life. Everything is forbidden, people understand, there is sympathy. Chronic headaches are a dull haze that shadows your life, but you still have to go on. You still have to work, and cook dinner, and drive to the bank, and function. People feel sorry for you if you have a headache, but they don't expect you to stop your life until it goes away. That is reserved for the migraine sufferers. Mike is a rare treat in that he always makes me stop and take my medicine and he understand when I can't function like I would like to, because of a pain inside my skull.

I have had headaches as far back as I can remember, and there has never been a definitive reason found for them. When I was really young, about 6 or so, I started getting them, and at that time, we thought it was because I have such long thick hair, and the weight of it was pulling on my scalp, creating pressure and giving me a headache. We stopped pulling my hair back in a high ponytail, and the headaches eased for a while. But they never really went away. When I was a teenager, the doctors said it was from hormonal changes, when I was a young adult, they thought perhaps allergies. Now, they don't have any answers anymore. It is just something I deal with.

What triggers them? Well, let's see.... certain smells, if the light is too bright, if I don't keep my glasses clean, if the music is too loud, they are worse in the fall and spring, they are worse if I pull my hair back tightly, they are worse when I don't get any caffeine, they are worse when I am stressed, they are worse when I get hormonal, they are worse if I dont get enough sleep, but they are also worse if I sleep too much, they are worse if I cry, or when I get a cold, or when I have been in a car too long, or, or, or... you get the idea.

How do I cope? I do just that, I cope. I am personal friends with Aleve. I try to get enough sleep, but not too much. I style my hair in the most relaxed way possible. I try to control my stress, etc. I take over the counter medicine that chases away the pain, and I pray that it won't come back for a while.

So to those of you out there who have chronic headaches, I understand. I really really do. I understand the half-closed eyelids and the sad smiles that say that you are coping. I understand the need to just sit and rest for a moment. Most of all, I understand that you want people to care when you quietly sigh and say once again "Ich habe ein kopfschmerzen".

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pathetic New Year

I am an unashamed design show watcher. I love all of them, I watch DIY and HGTV and TLC and the random shows anywhere else I can find them. I admit, it's a guilty pleasure.

Did you know that once, many years ago, I almost enrolled in the Institute for Design in Dallas when I lived there? Only thing that stopped me was that the people I emailed for information never responded, and I got mad, and refused to pursue the issue further.

Anyhow, this is the story of how design shows equaled perhaps the most pathetic new year's eve and new year's day of my life. At the time, I was single and living in an apartment alone in Dallas. I was more than just single, I was extremely single, radically single. Single to the point of having no friends outside of work. Single to the point of getting off work on Friday, renting 6 movies at Blockbuster, and not setting foot outside my apartment door again until Monday morning, when I left for work. I was much more than single... I was alone.

New Year's Eve rolled around, and being as single as I was, I had no plans. I am not sure how I ended up watching Trading Spaces, but it was their New Year's marathon, which meant that they were showing them all that day, through the midnight celebrations and long into the next day. Somehow, I started watching them... and I kept watching them. I watched them through supper, and long into the night. I heard celebrations outside at midnight only because it was in between episodes. I fell asleep on the couch that night watching Trading Spaces with my cat. And when I woke up the next morning, I watched some more, until they started showing the same episodes that I had seen the night before. Then I turned off the TV, gathered up the cat, and went to my bed for a long nap.

Pretty sad, eh? I celebrated the end of the year, and the beginning of a fresh one on the couch, alone, watching design shows.

Wanna know something even worse?

The next year? When I was still in Dallas, still single, still alone? I actually PLANNED to spend my New Year's that way.

Fast forward to my life today. Mike and I rarely stay up to midnight to welcome in the new year. We generally fall asleep at our normal hour, and get up the next day to enjoy the start of a fresh year. This is how we prefer it. Because you know what? Awake or asleep, conscious or not, I am right where I want to be each New Year's Eve now. In the arms of the man who rescued that sad, sad girl off her lonely couch and gave her something to look forward to, something to really celebrate.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hereditary Nerdity

In the past couple days, my uncle Tim has started playing World of Warcraft with Mike and I. That is to say, he has been playing for several years, but he is starting to play on the same server as we do, and created a character to join our guild with. Last night, he set up his Ventrilo (a voiceover chat program that we use) and joined in the real life conversation.

As we signed off for the night, and took our headsets off (can you see the level of nerdiness that this post is going to contain?!), Mike said to me "your uncle sounds just like your dad, and they both sound so nerdy"

Now you have to understand one very important fact here. For Mike to call someone nerdy is a compliment of the highest order. It isn't an insult by any means. It means "this person understands our gaming obsessions" or "this person understands the inner workings of computers on my level" or even "this person can sit down and talk about the finer variances of comic book heroes and villians". It means, in short, that this person is one of us. They are someone that Mike and I would CHOOSE to start a conversation with.

My response to Mike's comment about my uncle sounding nerdy was to say "see! I told you before that I come from a long line of nerds".

I come by my nerdiness honestly. My father has been a war gamer my whole life. I was raised in a strict religious household, and yet, was taught that Dungeons and Dragons was a good thing. It was the people that took it too far sometimes, not the game itself being evil. I was raised to appreciate a healthy imagination, the ability to put yourself in the role of a character. I was taught to understand the intricacies of which stats would affect your toon in which ways. My father is one of 5 brothers (one of which is Tim), and all of them share this same love of not only gaming, but knowledge in general.

So you see my friends, I am afraid I had no choice but to accept the nerdiness in life. This is something I cherish, something I am proud of. It is a foundation of my relationship with Mike, as well. We can sit down at a quiet restaurant, he will reach across the table and hold my hand, and we will proceed to discuss the ins and outs of the previous weekend's raids.

So where was I going with this post again?

Ah yeah, hereditary nerdity. I am proud of my heritage of geekiness. I am proud of the fact that I am a nerd. And I am proud of the fact that my husband finds my nerdiness sexy.

"Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one."

~Bill Gates

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Never Stop Holding Hands

Sunday morning, as I sat in church next to Mike, he reached over and took my hand.

This is not a news flash of epic proportions.
This is not an unusual occurence.
This is not an action that shocked me.

This is the type of love that Mike and I share. We hold hands in church. He puts his hand on my leg as he is driving down the road. He puts his arm around me in the movie theater. We touch, we are reassured by the touch of the one we love. We yearn for, and thrive off of, that simple touch.

I can remember when I was a child, sitting in the back seat of the family car, and seeing my dad and mom holding hands in the front seat as we drove down the road. I can remember the kids teasing them, and one of my siblings threatening to write a book called "Hanky Panky in the Front Seat". I remember the feeling of security that I felt when I saw that joining of hands, that intertwining of fingers. The world was okay, we would be safe, our family would be secure, because Mom and Dad were holding hands. I have wondered from time to time how long prior to their divorce did they stop holding hands?

I also remember my father telling me when I saw a teenager that if you wanted your marriage to last, if you want to make sure you don't ever "fall out of love", that you have to work on it, that it takes a committment, that you have to hold onto that love with tenacity.

"Most importantly", he told me, "never stop holding hands".

It went far beyond the simple act of holding hands. He was telling me to always be the one to reach out to your husband or wife, always be willing to be there, communicate your feelings in a touch. But he was also telling me to never lose the magic of that simple communication. Never get so busy in your life that you neglect to enjoy the simple moments. There is no wealth, no house, no toys, that are worth sacrificing the surreal peace that can be found in a pair of clasped hands.

There is a magic in Mike's touch. In the greatest times of stress in my life, I have been able to escape away from it all into the grip of his hand on mine. The rest of the world can fade away until it is only his hand in mine. I know that I will be safe, I will be protected, I will be loved and cherished, and all this is communicated through my husband reaching out his hand and taking hold of mine.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Quiet Afternoon

It's very quiet here this afternoon... very quiet. I don't know what to do with myself when the days get this slow and silent. Time seems to stop moving altogether, and the hours creep by as I await my time to be able to head home to Mike.

I don't deal well with the quiet. I thrive in the hustle and bustle of life, with moments of quiet thrown in here and there, but too much is a bad thing. My mind starts to work in overdrive, and too much introspection (is that even a word) is not good. It strips away the bubbly happy person that I am, and leaves me moody and feeling isolated.

I think maybe I am more of a people person than I ever realized before.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Weekend, the food, the fun, the family... but mostly the food

I don't know about the rest of you, but I had a wonderful weekend! Let's do a little bit of recap, shall we?

I got off work at 12, as I always do on Fridays, and I went and got my hair trimmed. Possibly the only part of the weekend that I DIDN'T enjoy. I know most women see the hair salon as a form of pampering themselves, but to me, it is a torture session, every time. While others find it relaxing to lie back in the chair and have someone wash your hair for you, I find it to be condemning. I always feel as though the stylist is washing my hair thinking "this girl does NOT get her scalp clean enough" or "lord, look at the damage that this girl is doing to her hair". And the funny thing is, I take pretty good care of my hair, I don't color it, I rarely blow dry it, but still I find this part of the hair cutting process to be a pronouncement of judgement on my ability to groom myself. Then the actual cutting process.... this involves me standing up behind the chair so that the stylist can trim my hair, because my hair is long enough now that it can't be trimmed while I am sitting down. So yeah, not a pleasant experience, but it needed to be done, and now it is done and out of the way.
After the hair cut, I picked Mike up and we went out to lunch with some friends. The kinds of friends that don't put on airs, they are who they are. And who they are happens to be the simple country folk that believe in honesty and in good times and good food with friends. We had lunch at a little Italian/Mexican restaurant here in our small town, and the food was fantastic, as was the company. I had some supreme nachos that lived up to their name, and sent me home with a belly full of goodness.
Friday evening was full of lounging around the house, playing some World of Warcraft, having a few drinks, and relaxing with my husband.

We had nothing on our agenda at all for Saturday, and that is just the perfect way to spend the day. We lounged around the house, played some Xbox, played some World of Warcraft, and then lounged around some more. In the afternoon, Mike's parents called to find out if we wanted to go to dinner with them (duh!), so that evening, we headed out to Novrozsky's, and Mike and I had a chicken fried steak baked potato. Can I just say YUM! They cut up a chicken fried steak, put it in the baked potato, cover it with the gravy, and top it with cheddar cheese. It is divine, wonderful, and great, all wrapped into one.

We slept in a little later than usual on Sunday morning, and then got up to go to church. After the church service, we went over to his parent's house where his mom had made some homemade chicken gumbo. Dee's gumbo is the reason neither of us will ever order gumbo in a restaurant. It CANNOT be better or even as good as the heaven in a bowl that she serves up. And one of the best things is that we really get along with his parents, and we enjoy sitting around talking to them, so meals never feel like a rushed uncomfortable affair. Good times, good food.
More relaxing was on the schedule for the afternoon, more nerdy games, and then dinner time! For dinner, I pulled out all the stops and made fried chicken, mashed taters, gravy, and rolls. Was I stuffed to the gills after dinner? You betcha! Is that a meal that is worth the time and effort to make? You betcha!

So there you have my weekend in review. Lots of good times relaxing with Mike, lots of good food, and good times with friends. Everything a weekend should be. Everything I needed this one to be.