Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday: Why I Suck

This month I have basically let SPT fall by the wayside. Things around Illingworth Manor have been too traumatic for me to try and post photos of myself in an unflattering light. Besides, don't I do that enough with my words? I see that next month's theme is something about documenting yourself every day, and people, I might have to skip that one as well. Who has the time? My deadline to get my manuscript to the publisher is a mere five weeks away and I only have one chapter finished. So, fellow SPT cohorts, I love you....I love your photos....I love your stories. Please stand by while I get my life in order. And please keep making me laugh/think/cry. You are fun/smart/a gift.

In other news: I'm having another "procedure" on Thursday. Another round of privacy invasion. Another IV. Hopefully not another "everything looks good" which really means "we can't find anything wrong with you so maybe you should see a head doctor cause girl YOU CRAZY". This issue that I'm dealing with is WEARING ME DOWN. To the secret tiny core that even I can't see. So, please pray for me on Thursday. I know I've almost reached my yearly quota for prayer requests and it's only February...but I'm asking nonetheless. And thanks. And tomorrow is March. And today I drove to lunch with my sunroof open. And Deal or No Deal is back on. And Jack Bauer is still king. And Travis picked Sarah. Things are looking up.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Fins In The Water

I am terrified of sharks. Just thinking about sharks makes my insides quiver and my eyes dart back and forth like I’m up to something. I’m scared of their big grey bodies and their beady little eyes. I’m scared of that fin that sneaks up like a butcher knife slicing through the water looking for something to filet. I’m scared of the music you hear right before they chomp into your innocent flesh. Sharks. Are. Scary. Knowing this, it seems a little unbelievable what I did.

Ryan and I went to the beach last May to see my little brother get married. The wedding was held in the Outer Banks, an unpopulated line of North Carolina beaches accessible only by 4-Wheel drive. Both families (bride and groom) stayed in a giant yellow house right on the beach with three different levels of decks providing views for miles. All of us were quite excited for a mini-vacation in this beautiful, secluded spot. The first day there, Ryan and I took a walk along the beach with my brother and his fiancĂ©, Kellie. Kellie’s family had vacationed at this spot several times, so we felt free to badger her with questions like she was our own personal tour guide. As we walked, I noticed thousands of black rubbery things shaped like crab cakes scattered all over the sand. I asked Kellie what they were and she said “shark eggs”, casually, like it wasn’t something that would make my hair stand on end. Ryan and I looked at each other and gulped. Looking down the beach we saw that it was littered with shark eggs for miles. And miles. Our plans of not entering the terrifying water suddenly seemed smarter than ever.

For the first few days, while hanging out on the beach, we watched our house neighbor to the left take a catamaran out onto the water. He looked to be in his fifties, quite fit and tan, like someone trustworthy. Like someone you would ask to water your plants and walk your dog if you went out of town. Twice a day, without fail, Neighbor took his brightly colored catamaran out into the sea. We would watch him launch it with some difficulty, and then sail farther than the eye could see (without binoculars). Ryan and I would talk about Neighbor and how crazy he was to be going out into the water...on a catamaran.

If you’ve seen Jaws, you know that catamarans are highly attractive to sharks and their pointy, blood thirsty teeth. Loosely, a catamaran is a large tarp stretched across two floating beams with a big sail coming out of it. There are no seats. No seat belts. No steel, shark-proof cages. No panic buttons. Ryan and I would watch Neighbor go out on this flimsy sea vessel every day and shake our heads. “Idiot,” we’d mutter. “Doesn’t he know that he’s a moving target out there?” We knew how perilous these little trips were having heard that down the beach, earlier in the week, a guy caught a 7 foot shark while standing on the beach. WHILE STANDING ON THE BEACH. And here was this yahoo sailing out into the abyss with nothing but a lifejacket and some aqua slippers. Oh yes, Ryan and I had a grand time berating this man and his obvious lack of common sense. No one in their right mind would sail out into the open, shark infested sea on nothing more than a floating tarp! And then...

One afternoon Ryan and I were sitting on the beach enjoying the view when Neighbor showed up to set sail once more on his death trap. We asked him a few questions like “do you live here” and “is that your catamaran” and “have you seen Jaws”. Then it happened. Neighbor said the two scariest words in the English language. Wanna ride? Of course, I knew that Ryan, who is equally as afraid of man eating sharks as I am, would say no. I knew there was absolutely no way no how that Ryan would ever consider going out into the ocean on an eight foot by eight foot piece of vinyl. Therefore, I just smiled at Neighbor and politely said “Oh no that’s ok”, waiting for Ryan to put his foot down. Meanwhile, Ryan was thinking there was absolutely no way no how that I would ever consider going out into the ocean on an eight foot by eight foot piece of vinyl and therefore smiled at Neighbor and politely said “Oh no that’s ok”. Neighbor smiled back at us and said, “I’ll go get some lifejackets.”


As soon as Neighbor was well out of earshot I turned to Ryan in a sheer panic and said “What...are...you...thinking...Iamnotabouttogooutthereonthatthing.” Instead of responding, Ryan just turned a pasty white and started to stagger a bit, holding his hand over his mouth in case he vomited.

The Catamaran of Doom

I can’t really tell you what happened next. All I know is, I somehow found myself zipping up my borrowed lifejacket and helping Neighbor set sail. He didn’t pressure us or coerce us. He was really very friendly. And obviously he was some kind of magician because Ryan and I were in a hypnotic trance from which we couldn’t break free. After successfully launching the tarp, I mean catamaran, we all three jumped on. Neighbor said “hold on” and I looked around, helplessly wondering just exactly what I should hold on to. There weren’t any handles or straps or bars or over the shoulder harnesses. I was sitting on a smooth surface just big enough for the three of us, sailing away to my doom. Neighbor said “I hope we see some dolphins. Sometimes they’ll jump right next to the boat!” My heart officially stopped beating. We were in the middle of the Atlantic. I did not want any sort of sea creature, friendly or not, jumping around next to us, causing our tiny ride to tip over. Neighbor kept asking us questions, trying to make small talk, but all Ryan and I could do was perspire and make random grunting noises, eyes bulging out of our heads at every ripple in the water.

I know at this point you might be hoping for a big finish to this story like the boat tipped over or I fell off into the sea and was carried away by the waves or we had to be rescued by the Coast Guard. But what really happened is, we sailed out a few miles and then sailed back, safe as you please. We didn’t see any fins. No one fell in. And Neighbor learned nothing about his terrified crew. Even though Ryan and I had seen Neighbor sailing out every day, and coming back unharmed every day, we didn’t trust his catamaran. Even though he told us he had been doing this for years and had never had an “incident”, we didn’t believe it. Even though the wind was calm and the water was peaceful and fin free, we doubted. And while it’s true that we actually got on the tarp when we were scared out of our wits, we might as well have stayed on shore. Our fears of the unknown, the deep, won over and we weren’t able to enjoy the ride. The view.

(Note: This is a "working" excerpt from my book that I'm working on. Just thought I would share. Plus it will make my brother laugh. And he has a great laugh.)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Isn't It Refreshing?

You dig? Heather the Genius made me this spicy new template and I think I'm in love. After all, I do love me some Diet Coke. In fact, I think I'll have one now.

If you like the new look, leave a nice comment for Heather and tell her that she's fabulous and creative and you want to be like her. I know I do.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Video Montage

My favorite part about the Olympics is the dramatic life stories. Those five-minute montages about a sick mother or an athlete’s medal threatening injury complete with sorrowful music and a voice over. I love those. And I love that they show them right before the athlete competes for the gold. If they’re trying to make me anxious and on the edge of my seat shouting hallelujah at every triple toe lutz and ski jump landing then they’re doing something right. It’s hard not to root for someone with a back-story.


I sometimes (always) roll my eyes when they interview an athlete’s friend or teammate who says “she never gave up” or “he never complained about the pain”. It makes me want to shout YEAH RIGHT and change the channel to a CSI rerun. Surely Olympians aren’t made of something different than me? I have to believe that they have days like mine. Days that smother them and wound them. Days when they say I’m never skiing again! Skating Sucks! I’m no good at this and I’m just going to quit and get a job at The Home Depot!


The other night I had a meltdown. Ryan didn’t freak out since I’ve been having fairly regular meltdowns. I cried a lot and said I suck as a writer and I’m going to quit my book and never write again! There’s no use! Later that night we were watching the Olympics and there was some story about some athlete and their overpowering will to succeed. Their determination to fight through the pain and the disappointment. Their lack of complaining. The background music seemed to ooh and aahh at their mighty achievement. The hurdles they have overcome. I looked at Ryan with a quivering chin and wondered aloud if I was perhaps the weakest woman alive. If I was the only person whose problems overshadowed me instead of my overshadowing them. No he said.

But then I noticed...none of them win alone. There’s always someone to hug or wave to or say hello into the camera to while waiting for scores. There’s always a coach pushing or a mother gushing. And even though I don’t have thighs like Sasha Cohen or a backside like Kelly Clark, we do share one thing in common. When I’m feeling down and out, I’ve got friends who tell me it will be ok. When I’m feeling gloomy, I’ve got Internet friends who encourage. When I totally give up, I’ve got Perfect Ryan telling me that I can do it. That I will do it. That I have talent. That he has total faith in me. And whether or not he’s right, he makes me believe that I can do it. With people like that in my corner, my video montage might look hopeful and strong. Heroic. I might look like someone who doesn’t fall apart when the chips are down (when the truth is I eat all the chips in sight when...well you know).

So why can’t I have thighs like Sasha?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The State of Things: Vol. 2

I felt like I should update since I put my deepest darkest out into the world. I’ve had quite a few concerned phone calls and emails (which I appreciate, truly). The summary is - I’m fine. I’m not on any ledges or hanging any nooses. I’m just fed up with the state of my health and tired of doctors and painful, expensive procedures and $50 prescriptions that all result in a big fat nothing and overwhelmed by my book deadline and changes at work. It’s all a bit much. And as I told my smart friend Joni, I’m not able to mask my true feelings. Instead, I shake them out onto every person I meet. So...

A. Thanks for letting me shake
B. Thanks for listening and loving in spite
C. I wrote about ten sentences last night for my book. Progress! The deadline is in six weeks and in order to finish in time, I need to write 6,700 words a week. More sentences are needed, quickly. Send sentences. And hurry it up.
D. I ate trashy Mexican with Perfect Ryan for lunch today, and that seemed to clear a few clouds, although the sun isn’t shining yet. But tomorrow is another day, right?
E. Beware. There may be more gloomy posts a’comin.

Still Glamorous –

P.S. I’m not chickening out on this month’s SPT....I’m just overwhelmed (obviously). I will try and join in next week. I would just hate for the general public to miss out on my ugly bits.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The State of Things

I think I’ve said the phrase “I can’t take much more of this” or “I’m literally at the end of my rope” more times than I should have. I probably thought I meant it each time I said it. I probably felt like that moment in time was an epic disaster that I would never survive. And each time I come to a new end-of-my-rope moment in my life, I look back at those past moments as laughable. Sure, it’s all part of growing up and those moments were points of stretching and expanding. I do understand (to an extent) the process that we all go through to become who we are. If I’m forced to, I can look back at most of those times and see the good in them, the good results. The learning. My main complaint is – why do these moments seem to keep getting worse? I cried more this weekend than I care to remember. I don’t want to be all “woe is me” about it because I know we’ve all got problems. Most of the people in my life are facing one or more situations that are overwhelming and life swallowing. I know that by many standards, I’ve got it pretty good...and I agree, I do. If I had to write out a list of good things I’ve got going, it would be a long, long list. But it’s the short list that’s keeping me awake at night. It’s the short list that wearing me down to a bloody nub. It’s the short list that’s leaving me short of breath and patience and will. I’ve had a few friends say “I wonder what it is that God is trying to teach you?” which makes me want to either stomp on their toe or lock myself in my bedroom with no plans of ever coming out. I know they mean well, even know they may be right. I know this time in my life might be a “season” or whatever. I know I haven’t been truly abandoned. I know all of this just might push me to be a better person or more of a grown-up or a better parent someday. But that does not change the fact that I’m in it right now. Up to my hairline. I’ve already passed the point of gasping breaths and now I’m just holding my breath, underwater, waiting for the end. Ok, that sounds drastic, but it is how I’m feeling. There seems to be no end in sight. No answers. No healing. And yet I’m constantly battling with myself about it all, telling myself that it’s not so bad and things will get better and I have much to be thankful for. I tell myself to suck it up. Then I cry some more and worry that I just might actually be at the end of that stupid rope.

I once wrote and taught a class about feeling hopeless. About that feeling of being in the bottom of a well, and no one can hear you. No one’s throwing you a rope. If I remember correctly, I do think I was honest with the class that I didn’t have all the answers. That there’s no such thing as a 10-Step process to overcoming despair. That the one thing I could give them was the story of Hope – that we have access to a Savior who never disappoints (although the surrounding “religion” can sometimes tirelessly disappoint).

I think the hard part for me is, even with all that information, all that truth, life can still knock me senseless.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

That Meme That Everyone's Doing:

Here's a meme that has made the blogging rounds (famously, even) and finally landed on me via Meredith and her Coolness.

Four jobs I’ve had:
1. Doodles – the Chick-fil-A mascot. I was 13 and it was hotter than heck in that suit. I wore a bathing suit underneath and still had to take a break every fifteen minutes so I wouldn’t pass out from the heat.
2. House painter – between my junior and senior year of college. This job was even hotter than the Doodles costume – and dangerous. I once had to paint a guest house surrounded by bee infested bushes. Painting behind thorny bushes while dodging bee stings is no sort of good time.
3. Hostess at a five diamond restaurant called The Wild Boar. I wasn’t even allowed to enter the dining room. The maitre’d told me that my job was to “stand behind the hostess stand and look good”. I also had to say “good evening” as the guests arrived and I had to hang up their heavy fur coats in the winter. This resulted in several $50 tips. It also resulted in many encounters with the very wealthy and the very snobbish.
4. Marketing chick for an indie rock label

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. Say Anything
2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
3. Anchorman
4. Uncle Buck

Four places I’ve lived:
1. Lynchburg, Virginia for about six months
2. Bangor, Maine for about seven days
3. Nashville, Tennessee (including Spring Hill, Franklin and Donelson) for eight years
4. Louisville, KY for a year and a half

Four TV shows I love:
1. 24
2. American Idol
3. The Amazing Race
4. Lost

Four places I’ve vacationed:
1. Seattle
2. NYC
3. Florida – many many many times
4. Mosta, Malta

Four of my favorite foods:
1. French fries
2. Las Palmas trashy mexican
3. Moose Tracks Ice Cream
4. Peanut Butter

Four albums I can't live without:
1. Patty Griffin – Flaming Red
2. Frou Frou – Let Go (I might have this album title wrong)
3. Amy Grant – Lead Me On
4. Sarah McLaughlin – Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

Four sites I visit almost daily:
1. AmSouth Bank
2. Yahoo
3. MySpace artist pages for my bands
4. 1,000 blogs

Four places I would rather be now:
1. With Perfect Ryan
2. The beach
3. Healthy
4. Debt-free

Four items in my purse
1. A prescription for Indomethacin
2. Planters 100 calorie peanut butter cookie crisps
4. Receipt from Dr. Woodall’s office
5. Digital camera

I won’t tag anyone since most everyone I know has done this or would be angered by the tag. Good day to you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

It's Not All Bad

I just wanted to say that My Valentine, Perfect Ryan, is the nicest Valentine in the whole universe. As is obvious to everyone within earshot, I’ve been going through some stuff. Some bad stuff. Some painful stuff that has prevented me from being pleasant or fun or cleaning bathrooms. If anyone deserved a big fat Valentine, it was my Ryan. But of course, I had nothing to offer him since I’ve been locked in the house and glued to the couch moaning and wailing about poor pitiful me. One would think he would take the opportunity of Valentine’s Day to run away from me for a minute or two. Instead, he gave me a Valentine as soon as we opened our eyes. And he took me to Sonic for late night sundaes. And he told me he loved me. And I knew that he meant it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Everything Looks Good (Bad)

I'm not going to talk about the surgery and the crushing disappointment that I feel. The overwhelming Why. I just can't.

Instead I'll talk about the pain and how I far underestimated its intensity. I'll talk about the IV and how it burned. The nurses who were so kind and genuine. The support hose they put on me to prevent blood clots. How the other patients were there for cataracts. How when it actually happens, it happens fast. How I was awake for a moment in the O.R. and I saw all the instruments and metal devices as they spread out my arms like I would be flying. If only I could have flown.....

I'll talk about my friends and how kind they all were and the beautiful flowers they brought. How Perfect Ryan took the news, which showed me how much he loves me. How he cared for me 24 hours after 24 hours with no sign of exasperation or boredom or annoyance. How daytime television sucks when you don't have cable. How the nurses look at you differently, afterwards, when the news isn't what you had hoped.

And it wasn't what I had hoped.

The good news is that "everything looks healthy" which sounds like a celebration is in order. But. The point of this surgery was to find the source of pain that's been beating me down for the last seven months. Instead they found nothing. So - I went through this painful surgery, painful recovery, only to be told "we still don't know what's wrong".


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday: All of Me (The Ugly)


Alright. This month's Self Portrait Tuesday theme is "All of Me" - embracing mistakes and loving the ugly bits.

So here it is. My ugly. Not that I usually edit photos on this site, cause I don't. I tend to let things hang out as they will. But this is "all of me" today. Angry. Tired. Unkept eyebrows and chapped lips. Pale skin. Irritated. Bad angle. My face looks terribly long. Bad hair. Menacing crutches in the rear view. This is about as real as it gets, people.

Lately the world seems to be spinning backwards upside down with jolting stops that shake your innards. Too many friends with deep wounds and shattered dreams and bad news from the doctor and financial woes and on and on and on. And of course there's my own drama that weighs so heavily. And so, this photo is how I feel. Raw. Ugly. Drained. Utterly fed up.

For more realness - check it here.

P.S. For anyone who still cares to care, my surgery is happening tomorrow morning at 8am - as long as my body cooperates and doesn't freak out again with flaming tendons and unneccessary pain. Let's all hold hands and hope.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Until June

If you're feeling sad or lonely and you need a pick me up, or if you're having a great day and want to make it even greater, or if you have an inflammed tendon and you're on crutches and your office is on the second floor of an old haunted house and just getting to your desk is a trial by fire, or if you're having surgery Wednesday and you wish it was over already goshdarnit, or if you like music.......go listen to my new band Until June. You will fall in love as I did.

P.S. If you do not fall in love, shame on you. And try again.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I Got the Boot

So, ask me about my surgery. No really, go ahead. Ask me how it went. Because I'll tell you - IT DIDN'T. If you want to know the gory details, keep reading. If you just want the summary - scroll to the end.

Monday, our record company moved offices. This consisted of carrying boxes, moving desks, going up and down stairs, etc. I noticed that my left big toe felt kind of cramped, but thought nothing of it. Monday night, I woke up several times in the night from my toe throbbing, which I thought was odd. Tuesday morning it was throbbing so much I had to limp to walk. It felt like I had just rammed it into a wall, which I thought was odd. Still, I assumed it would just go away. There wasn't any swelling or redness. I figured it was just a muscle spasm. Tuesday night all hell broke loose. My foot was screaming in pain. I was SCREAMING in pain. I sobbed for six hours. I didn't sleep at all. The next morning I went to the surgery center in a wheelchair, ony to find out that I coudln't have the surgery due to my mystery foot injury. Instead, I was sent to an orthapedic surgeon for x-rays. And now I've got this.

The Boot

So now, I've missed three days of work due to my foot injury. I've been in writhing pain due to my foot injury. I've been on serious narcotics that make me sleep all day due to my foot injury. And, my surgery has been rescheduled for Wednesday morning - so I can miss even MORE work and take even MORE drugs and be in even MORE agony. Oh joy.

Summary: THIS SUCKS.