Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ready, ready, ready, ready, ready to RUN!

Two years ago, I ran my first 10k - the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston.

I can still remember making it to the top of the bridge and seeing the peach sorbet sunrise over the water. I took out one of my earphones so I could hear the noise that was made by those thousands of footsteps; it was surprisingly quiet. Methodical. Purposeful.

The pack of people stretched as far as I could see in both directions. Everyone had a common goal. Brightly colored t-shirts made a dazzling patchwork quilt that covered the road ahead and behind. I was drinking in, trying to store my first 10k in my long term memory.

On Saturday I will run this race again, and I absolutely cannot wait to be at the top of that bridge.

Some people think it's crazy that I actually enjoy running. But I really have developed a passion for it. Here's why:

1. It gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't kill their husbands. (Legally Blonde, anyone??)
2. No one can take my miles away.
3. I love the feeling of being good and sore, knowing my body has been worked and is getting stronger for it.
4. Running is one time of the day when I am doing something just for me.
5. I am really, truly focused and am intent on reaching a goal. I love pushing myself just to see how far I can go.
6. Races are just plain fun. Plus you get cool t-shirts. It's true when they say that people will do anything for a t-shirt.
7. The runner's high is no joke. I go into overdrive in the last couple tenths of a mile and feel kinda tingly all over. I feel powerful, like a locomotive. Nothing can stop me!
8. Running helps me de-stress. Teaching school is a very stress-filled job, so this is incredibly beneficial.
9. My pants fit better. Obvi.
10. Running is an automatic excuse to eat carbs. Going for a long run? Better grab a bagel. Is this contrary to #9? I think not.

Now I know:
The time it takes me to run the race is not as important as enjoying the time it takes to get to the finish line.

For the Birds

If you know me at all, you probably know I am not too fond of animals.

Nope, not even the Cottonelle Golden Retriever puppy. Ick. I have nightmares sometimes about people giving me a puppy as a gift, and I hold it at arms length away from my body, pretending to like it, kind of shuddering, not exactly sure what to do with it.

When I think of puppies, all I can think of is fur, constantly shedding fur matted to my couch. Sickening slobber coating my shoes. Pee pads and surprise poop piles and having to get up at 5:00 am to take it outside.

Honestly, some dogs are okay. I just don't want to take care of one. No thank you.

(For all of you quickly pointing out my true obsession with children of all ages, I have no defense. I guess I'm just a people person. I'll put up with baby spitup and poopy diapers all day long. I guess because I know they grow out of it. And they can talk to me. And they are people. End of tirade.)

Anyway, while I was at Barrier Island, I was walking alone to the dance hall for square dancing when I noticed an absolutely ginormous bird standing about 10 feet away from me.

Yes, I came face to face with a Great Blue Heron.

This stunning bird was about half as tall as me and could probably peck both my eyes out in a millisecond. When I first saw her I was a little freaked out, thinking she would pick up on my fear and go for the jugular.

But then I realized she wasn't freaking out about seeing me. She wasn't even phased by my quiet yelp or hurried unzipping of my book bag to grab my digital camera. Even the flash didn't scare her off.

She actually stayed quite still during my whole paparazzi photo-shoot. I couldn't believe how close I actually got to this exotic, majestic, insanely blue bird. Right when I got comfortable, she flew away. One flap of her four foot wings sent her about four yards forward. It was amazing.

As a writer, I knew I just had to capture this moment, put it into words. But not prose. No, only a poem would suit this moment. I hope you enjoy it.

PS: My class is currently writing poems about biotic and abiotic factors we saw on our trip. I'll post some of those when they get finished!

Great Blue Heron
By: Ms. Grimsley

You curtsy in calm pools of glittering green,
Wade in water brimming with life.
Endless living creatures bow down
To you and your majestic reign
As queen of the island.

Your slender legs are planted firmly,
Like a ballet dancer on pointe.
You exude grace
Just standing still.
You are silent, solemn, strong.

The wind, your heavenly chariot,
lifts you effortlessly, regally.
With just one flap of your sapphire gray wings,
You are lifted up, up, up.
Your blend in with the stormy sky and salty sea,
As you wave to your loyal subjects below.

Now I know: I may not be an animal lover, but they sure do offer copious poem-writing opportunities.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cooking with my Wi-Wi

If you haven't seen this You Tube clip from "Toddlers in Tiaras," then you are not living life.

Makenzie calls her pacifier her "ni-ni." Whenever it's not around she wails for it, screams for it, calls out for it. It's frightening, sure. Horrifying, absolutely. A good form of birth control? You got it! But overall, I find this little nightmare of a child downright hilarious.

So naturally, my Greenville BFF, my "Wingwoman," Mollye went from being my wingwoman to my "wiwi" pretty quickly.

Anyway, my Wiwi came over to cook with me tonight. Most of you remember, I hate and despise cooking. But we had actually had a BLAST! And what we made actually tasted so fab, I'd probably have eaten the leftovers had I not been going out of town tomorrow. Even more perfect - I'm going to Barrier Island (i.e. the BEACH) so seashell pasta just seemed perfectly apropos!

I'm sure posting the recipe is kind of violating some kind of bloggy copyright law, because I got it off another blog - but we added some of our own touches so I'm gonna risk it. I wish I had thought to take a picture, but we gobbled it up too fast!!!

Seashell Pasta Bake with Chicken, Spinach, and Tomatoes

1 lb. seashell pasta
1 pack pre-cooked chicken strips, chopped (you could use real chicken but why go to all that trouble?!)
1/8 c olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
5 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, including the juice (I used a can with basil included)
1/4 cup white wine (I might have added a little extra to make it saucier)
1/2 container ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°. Set a large pot of water to boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, salt it and cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking, set a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, heat the olive oil then add the chicken. Let the chicken cook 2 minutes and then add the garlic. Simmer with the chicken until it’s fragrant and begins to turn golden – about 3 minutes.

Add the salt. spinach, and white wine to the skillet and cook for an additional 3 – 5 minutes, or until the spinach begins to wilt. Add the diced tomatoes and juice. Let it simmer for 3-5 more minutes. Add 1/2 container of ricotta. Stir gently until it is all well combined.

Toss the contents of the skillet with the pasta and place in a casserole dish. Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

Makes about 8 servings.

Now I know:
Friends make everything more fun. (Duh).

Song Saturday #7 (belated)

When I was in 7th grade and 12 years old, I remember thinking that Bebo Norman was still single at 22 because God was saving him for me to marry. Of course he got married sometime when I was in high school.

At 26, I'm still single, and I'm still slightly bitter that Bebo is not available to sweep me off my feet...

In all seriousness, I dearly love every song Bebo has ever written. His lyrics are powerful, his voice is gorgeous, and his songs often tell a story that I can relate to. I can remember exactly where and when specific songs of his have impacted me.

Well tomorrow, I'm leaving for Barrier Island on a trip with our 5th grade. We're going to see the ocean. Broad, vast, and deep - just like God and his boundless, endless love for us.

When I look at the ocean, I will remember the words to this song, and smile.

Now I know:
Ephesians 3:17-19 is my prayer.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

By Bebo Norman

If there is a love song left to sing
Then what I have is what I'll bring
Nothing more is more than I can give

If there is a light left in my eyes
It must be your reflection from the sky
Cause all I know is this
You are the wonder of my world

You are an ocean that I can get lost in
The first wind on my shore
You are the sunrise to open my eyes
And the dark night is no more
You are an ocean, you are an ocean

Every time I turn around
There's so much more left to be found
And every glimpse steals my breath away

So pen up these eyes to see
More of you and less of me
And all my fear is turning into faith
You are the wonder of my world

You are an ocean that I can get lost in
The first wind on my shore
You are the sunrise to open my eyes
And the dark night is no more
You are an ocean, you are an ocean

I'm drowning in your love
I'm drowning in your love
Not coming up
I'm not coming up
Cause you're all I'll ever want
You are an ocean
You are an ocean

You are an ocean that I can get lost in
The first wind on my shore
You are the sunrise to open my eyes
And the dark night is no more
You are an ocean, you are an ocean
You are an ocean
You are an ocean

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Girlie Girl

When I was little my two favorite colors were pink and purple.

(But I couldn't say my "Rs" think "pink and puhple.")

When I was two years old I pitched a fit because my mom tried to put me in a solid colored onesie. She said I wouldn't stop crying until she put me in a shirt with a picture on it. Even then, I had strong opinions about fashion.

Growing up I owned approximately 1,000 Barbie dolls - most that still had their heads attached to their bodies. I loved dressing them up more than anything. When New Kids on the Block were big, someone gave me a Ken-esque member of the band that had a rat tail. I thought it was disgusting and cut it off. Even now I think about how I altered a Ken doll and wonder if my standards are just too high...

Nah, a rat tail just isn't acceptable. Not for Barbie, not for me either.

Disney Princesses and Dolly Parton taught me all I needed to know about true beauty. Flashy dresses, high heels, and big hair were my gold standards.

I loved for my Aunt Phyllis to put my hair in hot rollers even though I screamed when she tried to brush my curly, knotted hair beforehand. The teased, curly 'do of the 80s really made me happy. Especially when accessorized with a large fabric headband.

But when I got to middle school, all the girls started saying BLUE was their favorite color. Everyone started thinking pink was dorky and for little girls. So I changed my favorite color to blue, too.

All the girls at my school were into looking athletic, so I sported Adidas sambas instead of the sparkly pink jellies I adored in 5th grade. What a poser. I didn't even play soccer.
I ditched my Barbies and am sad thinking about where they probably ended up. They're probably still mourning me going off to college in a box in the attic. (Toy Story 3, anyone?!)

Well, when I think back about middle school and how I tried to change who I was to fit in, it makes me really mad. Why do we feel such constant pressure to be cool? What is being cool, anyway? Everyone else is just as clueless as you are at 12. Heck, everyone is just as clueless as I am at 26.

I started thinking about this little transformation at school today when I realized that my two lunchboxes are pink and (suhpwize!) purple.

And I have decided to publicly declare, for the whole internet to hear, I AM A GIRLIE GIRL!

I'm not ashamed to like Taylor Swift and I dang sure ain't gonna pretend I like watching sports 24/7 just to get you to like me. Deal with it.

I still like wearing high heels, even though I tower over tons of guys when I wear them and have been told they make me "intimidating."

I still like the way my hair looks when I curl it, and I think there is absolutely nothing more fabulous than bright pink Essie nail polish.

I love wearing pearl earrings when I go for a run.

I still think Dolly Parton is beautiful.

I think being true to yourself is beautiful, too.

Now I know:
If I could write a letter to my 6th grade self, this would be it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Go Ahead, Put Me on Hold!

So I'm on the phone, voicing my third complaint with CitiCard - crappiest credit card ever if you ask me - and am speaking to a pleasant Indian gentleman named Marvin (red dot, not feathers) about my situation.

He assures me everything is great and that my most recent payment posted. When I press him with the account information I'm looking at online, he quickly changes his mind and puts me on hold.

The muzac I'm listening to consists of wonking horns, which tend to annoy me anyway. I'm getting more frustrated by the second and am contemplating digging through the trash for all of those 0% interest credit card offers I've been throwing away...

When I suddenly realize that the sultry beat of the muzac being pumped into my ear sounds familiar. I am being transported back to middle school dances. Is this...? No... it can't be.

But it is!

A smooth saxophone is leading the wordless jazz rendition of an old school Notorious BIG song. The melody plays as I sing, "Biggie Biggie Biggie, can't you see? Sometimes your words just hypnotize me...And I just love your flashy ways, guess that's why they broke and you're so paid."

I thought this music choice so incredibly ironic - especially considering it was a credit card company I was holding with.

I was actually smiling when Marvin picked back up and told me he had taken care of everything. I thanked him.

"You're very much welcome Miss Grimsley, have a wonderful evening in advance," he said.

You too, Marvin. You too.

Now I know:
There's a reason why CitiCard is so paid and I so broke.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God.

It was never between you and them anyway.

-kent keith, read by mother teresa-

Now I know:
It was never between me and them anyway.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Going Bald is Bad A$$

So every once in awhile when you're playing rock, paper scissors, you get some wiseguy that decides to shun the rules and throw a stick of dynamite in the mix. We all know what happens then. The game is over because you didn't know you could even use dynamite and that curve ball throws off your whole strategy.

To me, pediatric cancer is like a stick of dynamite in a child's life. And not just the figurative kind.

Cancer blasts away their sunny carefree days and replaces them with painful, scary treatments. The treatments inevitably take away their hair, leaving them feeling different and weird and even more unlike everybody else than they already did when they heard their diagnosis. Suddenly the normal days of school and playing in the backyard are replaced by sterile hospital rooms. In the game of life, an unfair and unexpected stick of dynamite has shaken the foundation that they stand on.

Did you know that each year, 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide? And that cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the U.S. and Canada?

I honestly had no idea, until my dear friend, a true hero in my mind, stepped up to bat to help beat pediatric cancer by shaving his head for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

My buddy Kevin Jenko.

I think he's saying, "Imagine this head without any hair!"

So Kevin decided to set his goal at $2,000, and I'll be honest, I thought that was a little lofty. He only had a few short weeks to raise that money, and most people our age right now aren't rolling in the dough. I knew I'd contribute, but I didn't have as much to give as I truly wanted to.

Well I definitely underestimated Kevin's mad fund raising skills. He got to $2,000 quickly and threw in an extra motivator. If he raised $3,000 before the day of the event, he'd shave off his beard too and just rock a single mustache.

Using office guerrilla marketing techniques, multiple posts a day on the events page on Facebook, and even personalized FB wall posts: "Hey John, did you know true Clemson fans like to help beat pediatric cancer?" - Kevin didn't just raise $3,000. He raised over $3,600.

Here are some pictures of his transformation:

I know his dad, who lost his battle with cancer, is extraordinarily proud of his boy today.

I know Kevin's grandmother, who is fighting cancer right now, is fighting even harder.

I know that Davis T., the little boy that is honored by Kevin's fund raising efforts, is smiling because he knows he's not alone in this fight. Because 110 strangers came together to help him today.

Needless to say, Kevin had a whole cheerleading section come to watch him go bald this afternoon.

Being at this event today, I had no idea how emotional I'd get. The weight of the cause and the reality of the treatments became so real as we watched men and women and children lose every bit of hair on their heads.

I kept thinking about the personal sacrifice that so many of these people were making.

I kept fighting back tears as I thought of the friends that I knew that had had their families torn apart by this vicious disease. I saw this mother and daughter team step forward to have their heads shaved. They were honestly two of the most beautiful girls I've ever seen. They just radiated beauty from the inside out. They raised $15,000 for pediatric cancer.

And I realized, suddenly, that we can ask all day long why bad things happen. We can wonder and worry and fret about pediatric cancer or the complete obliteration of Japan after the earthquake or the mess that's still in Haiti or the revolution in Libya.

But we can also think to wonder why anyone would ever step forward to have his or her head shaved when he or she didn't have to.

We can wonder why there are still people working tirelessly in Haiti.

We can wonder why so many people are taking money and time and sending prayers over the people of Japan.

Because that is almost more inexplicable than cancer.

In our over-mediated, sensationalized society, it's normal to hear about the bad things. So normal that sometimes I think we wonder if we serve a truly GOOD God. But y'all, with all the good that I saw going on today, I saw how God is working. He is working all the time to fight through the hurt and the brokenness. And I guess if we didn't have any hurt or brokenness, how could we ever experience healing, or goodness, or miracles?

I remember a friend of mine telling this story to me once, and I'll leave you with it.

For now, my hat is off to you, Kevin Jenko. You are a powerful ray of light in a dark world, and I for one couldn't be prouder of you and your bald head!!!!

Now I know:

Does evil exist?

The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists?
A student bravely replied yes, he did!"
"God created everything?" The professor asked.
"Yes, sir," the student replied.

The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God is evil."
The student became quiet before such an answer.

The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?" "Of course", replied the professor. The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"

"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question.

The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody and every object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (- 460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have too little heat.

The student continued. "Professor, does darkness exist?"

The professor responded, "Of course it does".

The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."

Finally the young man asked the professor. "Sir, does evil exist?"

Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. "These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love, that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor sat down.

The young mans name --- Albert Einstein.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Song Saturday #7

The way I see it, getting good advice is like purchasing a bathroom plunger.

Most of the time it just sits around, unused. You're not particularly attached to it. You don't even notice it most of the time. But when you really need it, nothing else will do - especially during particularly crappy situations. (Pun totally intended).

When I heard this song for the first time, all I could think about were the countless times I received advice from friends and family members.

I thought about my mom saying to dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I thought about her telling me to never buy cheap shoes or a cheap mattress, because you'd regret it for a long time. "A star shines no matter where you put it," she told me confidently. Because of her constant encouragement and love, I always felt like a star.

I thought about my grandmother telling me to enjoy being young, because time goes by in the blink of an eye. I hear her voice telling me not to worry about eating another helping of hashbrown casserole or another homemade biscuit. When I put my feet under her table, I never count calories. And let me tell you something, I'm glad I don't.

I think about my pastor telling me that one sign of maturity is knowing the difference between "no" and "not yet." I remember another sermon I heard on leaving margins in your life, leaving time and space for God to do work instead of scheduling out every second of every day. I remember the feeling of relief when Phil told us that it was okay to have quiet time any time of day - that it didn't have to be in the morning for it to count.

I remember my guitar teacher responding to my complaint that I didn't have time to file my nails every day. (This was when I was thick in the middle of my classical guitar studies). "Do you have time to brush your teeth every day?" he asked. "Then you have time to file your nails." He taught me that you make time for what is important.

If you sat and thought about it for awhile, I'm sure you'd hear voices too. What are they telling you today?

Now I know:
I'm pretty dang lucky for all that good advice.

You could say I'm a little bit crazy
You could call me insane
Walkin' 'round with all these whispers
Runnin' 'round here in my brain
I just can't help but hear 'em
Man, I can't avoid it

I hear voices
I hear voices like
My dad sayin' work that job
But don't work your life away
Mama tellin' me to drop some cash
In the offering plate on Sunday
And granddad sayin' you can have a few
But don't ever cross that line
Yeah I hear voices all the time

Turns out I'm pretty dang lucky
For all that good advice
Those hard to find words of wisdom
Holed up here in my mind
And just when I've lost my way
Or I got to many choices

I hear voices
I hear voices like
My dad sayin' quit the team
And you'll be a quitter for the rest of your life
Mama tellin' me to say a prayer
Every time I lay down at night
And grandma sayin' if you find the one
You'd better treat her right
Yeah, I hear voices all the time

Sometimes I try to ignore 'em
But I thank God for 'em
'Cause they made me who I am

My dad sayin' work that job
But don't work your life away
Mama tellin' me to drop some cash
In the offering plate on Sunday
And granddad sayin' you can have a few
But don't ever cross that line
Yeah I hear voices all the time
Yeah I hear voices all the time
All the time

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Little Things

Tonight my mom is in town. She's only been here since dinnertime, but I already feel a million times better about life in general.

My mom always has that effect on me. :)

As I recounted the weeks' events, we had country music playing, natch. The song "Don't You Wanna Stay," by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson (AMAZING) came on, and it reminded me of a cool moment that happened this Wednesday morning.

I got up late for school. I felt tired and grumpy. We have four weeks left until Spring Break, and I've been feeling like I have to ride my broom to school every morning just to get many of my students to take school seriously.

While I was still lying in bed, I said a little prayer that God would help me to have a good day in spite of being tired, and that he would give me the energy to get through it all with an attitude of joy.

Then my mom called just to say good morning. I felt a little better.

I've been running a lot lately and have been surviving on Lean Cuisines for dinner every night, so I was super hungry. A bowl of cereal just wasn't going to cut it. Even though I didn't have time for it, I decided to stop by Chick-fil-A and treat myself to a big gulp diet coke and a chicken biscuit.

I hit every green light on the way to Chick-fil-A.

There was no line in the drive thru.

And then my jam, "Don't You Wanna Stay," came on the radio. I blasted it and arrived to school with a huge smile on my face - five minutes early. The rest of the day flew by.

I especially liked that I had a gigantic styrofoam cup to keep refilling with diet coke all day. "Isn't that dumb?" I said to my mom. "That a styrofoam cup would make me happy?"

My mom replied, "Nope. Sometimes it's just the little things, honey."

How true.

I think if I spent more time collecting these "little things" and storing them up in my heart, I could carry that joy with me all the time.

Some of the other little things this week that have brought me JOY are:
  1. 70 and 80 degree weather. Hello Rainbows! How I've missed you!
  2. Cashing in a hot stone pedicure gift certificate I got for Christmas from one of my little girls in my class. I love seeing my light purple toenail polish when I wear my Rainbows!
  3. Reading the second book in "The Hunger Games" series in one sitting Thursday night. Yes, it is that riveting. Cannot wait to start the third one!
  4. Eating at PF Changs tonight after a week of Lean Cuisines. Heavenly.
  5. Walking around the Shops at Greenridge with my mom, with no agenda and no rush.
  6. Having our "Holiday Book Club" today, when my kids that read a book over Christmas vacation get to talk about what they are reading. I love how they got so into the discussion, they didn't want to go outside to recess on this insanely gorgeous day!!! That's what I'm talking about!!!
  7. Having our sweet school counselor bring in some clothes she didn't want anymore and finding an adorable pair of Big Star jeans in the stack that fit me perfectly.
  8. Hearing from an old friend out of the blue.
  9. Writing a song with my Thursday afternoon guitar class.
  10. Getting this in my fortune cookie:

What are some of your little things?

Now I know:
There isn't one big key to joy. There are a million little ones.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It Would Have Been Funny...Part 3

All those that know me, know I don't mess around when it comes to my food.

I like having three square meals and I want them on time. Delay my chance to eat, and I guarantee my crankiness level will increase exponentially until I am fed.

This next shining moment of mine happens at a particularly vulnerable moment. I was at a job I didn't feel qualified to do. I was trying desperately to seem put-together and confident. And yes, I was ready for lunch.

And then my boss has to feed me...

If you haven't noticed, these are pretty much weekly installments.

Last week held a true jewel of a humiliating moment. A real gem of hilarity...if only it hadn't happened to me.

It all started with my company's United Way campaign to raise money for the Meyer Center - an amazing organization that provides help to 2-7 year old children with developmental disabilities.

I was all for our field trip to read to the kids. I was all for donating a portion of my check to go to the United Way. But this one facet of the campaign, well, it delayed my lunch and simultaneously vaporized any self-confidence I possessed.

For this special part of our campaign we met for lunch one day in the conference room. I kind of had a bad feeling about it from the start, as it was promised in the email invite to be an "eye-opening experience."

Yeah, "Eye-opening experience." That's a euphemism for "Sit back, relax, and get ready to feel like a total idiot."

As we sat down to delicious Two Chef box lunches, Erin, our campaign coordinator, handed out little note cards with our disabilities listed.

Yes, it was an "empathy" lunch, much like Pi Kappa Phi's Spaghetti "Empathy Dinners."

Well, I was delt a real card, I'll tell you that much.

While other members of our staff were fortunate enough to get "autism" - only allowing them to speak in words of 3 letters, or "blindness" - how hard is it to fumble around for your sandwich? puuulease! - I was given the card of all cards. The only one in the stack.


So, Erin tied my arms behind my back.

"Awesome," I thought. "I'll just wait it out until the game is over and I'm allowed to 'take off' my disabilities. Then I'll eat."

I wasn't going to ask for help. I wasn't going to smash my face in my salad and dig around like a squirrel rooting for acorns.

No way, no how. I was keeping my dignity in tact. And I planned to do that by holding my own fork.

Or so I thought.

Lucky for me, I was sitting beside my boss, who happened to have Cerebral Palsy. This meant that his fingers were taped together like crab claws. Also lucky for me, my boss was totally into playing the game.

So he wasn't going to let me off the hook.

No, he was going to help me eat.

In other words, he fed me.

It started with my water bottle, which he poured generously into my watering trap with his crabby claws. Since that didn't work, he got out a straw and put that in the bottle. Alas, the straw fell down into the bottle and we couldn't get it back out. No fingers, remember? So, he poured the whole bottle - straw and all - into a cup, which allowed me to sip unassisted.

Not to be set back by our first mishap, my boss takes my roll and stabs it with a knife. He then proceeds to play "airplane" with me, forcing me to take a generous bite.

I chew it as long as I possibly can, trying to delay the inevitable next bite.

Then we go for the salad. He really piles on the bite here, and drenches it in my side of balsamic vinaigrette, so that dressing is dribbling down my chin while my cheeks are stuffed like chipmunks'.

He proceeds to wipe my dressing-drenched chin with a napkin clutched by his crab-like claws.

The paper napkin gets stuck to the tape on his fingers, however, making for a really awkward situation all around.

Moral of this story:

Keep a pocket-knife in your boot like MacGyver. If anyone ever tries to tie your arms behind your back before lunch, you'll be able to escape.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Nap Taker

Today I got home from school and decided to "rest my eyes."

Yeah, right.

Three hours later I woke up to a rumbling stomach and a feeling that going back to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight was pretty much out of the question.

Fellow nap takers, I hope you enjoy this poem by poetic genius, Shel Silverstein.

"The Nap Taker," by Shel Silverstein

No -- I did not take a nap --
The nap -- took -- me
Off the bed and out the window
Far beyond the sea,
To a land where sleepy heads
Read only comic books
And lock their naps in iron safes
So that they can't get took.

And soon as I came to that land,
I also came to grief.
The people pointed at me, shouting,
"Where's the nap, you thief?"
They took me to the courthouse.
The judge put on his cap.
He said, "My child, you are on trial
For taking someone's nap.

"Yes, all you selfish children,
You think just of yourselves
And don't care if the nap you take
Belongs to someone else.
It happens that the nap you took
Without a thought or care
Belongs to Bonnie Bowlingbrook,
Who's sittin' cryin' there.

"She hasn't slept in quite some time--
Just see her eyelids flap.
She's tired drowsy -- cranky too,
'Cause guess who took her nap?"
The jury cried, "You're guilty, yes,
You're guilty as can be,
But just return the nap took
And we might set you free."

"I did not take that nap," I cried,
"I give my solemn vow,
And if I took it by mistake
I do not have it now."
"Oh fiddle-fudge," cried out the judge,
Your record looks quite sour.
Last night I see you stole a kiss,
Last week you took a shower,

"You beat your eggs, you've whipped your cream,
At work you punched the clock,
You've even killed an hour or two,
We've heard you darn your socks,
We know you shot a basketball,
You've stolen second base,
And we can see you're guilty
From the sleep that's on your face.

"Go lie down on your blanket now
And cry your guilty tears.
I sentence you to one long nap
For ninety million years.
And when the other children see
This nap that never ends,
No child will ever dare to take
Somebody's nap again."

Now I know:
Maybe my kids will be cranky at school tomorrow because I took one of their naps today.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cotton Candy Love

Tonight me and the rest of America propped up our feet.

We took three hours to consciously forget about all our mundane chores, bills to pay, papers to grade, and the unbearable tragedies going on in the rest of the world.

We collectively turned on the TV with bated breath to see who, oh who would receive the final rose from Bachelor Brad Womack.

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I like mindless trash TV - enjoy it even. It's cotton candy. I wouldn't eat that crap every day, couldn't choke it down every week. Too much hurts my teeth. But once a year at the fair, a big swirly puff of bright pink sugar clouds is just what you're looking for.

That's what the Bachelor is for me. I don't watch every episode, and usually miss the first half of the show. But you bet your bottom dollar I tuned in tonight for tonight's final rose ceremony.

And I was so incredibly disappointed. It was like seeing the little man behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz.

Like having to get a filling after eating too much cotton candy.

For all of you that weren't tuned in, I'll catch you up to speed. Gosh, what a beautiful proposal it was. Think Barbie and Ken in South Africa. It's sunset. She's looking totally bridal with freakishly white teeth, platinum blonde hair and a face that is almost too symmetrical to look real. His big buff bod in that perfectly cut suit, twinkly blue eyes, and fabulous facial hair are all working together to make my heart beat a little faster with anticipation. This is it - the big moment.

"I want you to be my forever," he said.

The music swells. They kiss.

You think to yourself, wow. That's how it happens. That is true love.

And then less than 10 minutes later you get the "After the Final Rose" portion of the show where Emily looks like she's been sucking on a lemon (still with freakishly white teeth - I bet she never eats cotton candy) and Brad is terrified of looking a fool again and so he tells her he loves her 100 times within 25 minutes. And probably continuously during the commercial breaks, just in case someone is listening then, too.

Although they say they are still "in love" and engaged, you might as well hang it up. Emily wasn't feeling it - so much so that she called off their wedding and doesn't think she will move to Austin anytime soon.

It's just a stupid show, but these people are real. And my heart fell a little bit, because if this is what America looks to as true love, then we are setting ourselves up for a higher divorce rate than we already have.

If Barbie and Ken can't make it, if this good looking, successful, seemingly IN LOVE power couple falls apart after a couple of months in the real world, then what do the rest of us have to hope for?

Well, I'll tell you folks. In the crumbling vestiges of Brad and Emily's relationship, there is a gigantic hole where something beyond feelings comes into play. LOVE is second place to a little thing called GOD'S LOVE, which is permanent and everlasting. It steps in when you're feeling snarky or stubborn. It forgives when you have every reason to hold on to hurt and anger. It is patient, it is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

If you hope to sustain that kind of love on your own, you might as well try keeping coffee warm in the freezer. Sure, it's hot when it goes in. But leave it in there a few minutes and you better head to Starbucks or invest in a good microwave.

Now I know:
Cotton candy doesn't keep you full long.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Yes, I Carry a Book in My Purse

This Mary Engelbreit poster was produced in the mid-1990s, which were some of my most impressionable years and a time when books were honestly my very best friends.

I was notorious for reading at the dinner table, in the car, in the bathtub for hours til my fingers were pruny-er than anyone thought possible. I would read in my bed way past bedtime, under the covers with a flashlight. I would read walking down the halls at school and even walked headfirst into a pole once because I wasn't paying attention to where I was going.

Yes, I was that girl. The living definition of NERD.

My mom pokes fun of me because I still, to this day, carry a book in my purse everywhere I go.

She also frequently brings up the time my chemistry teacher called me at home because he forgot his teacher's edition at school and knew I'd be the *one* student that brought my chemistry book home - despite the fact that we didn't have any homework in his class that night.


Right now I am reading a book that I would totally walk into a pole reading. It's called The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Everyone has been buzzing about it at school and I don't know what the heck took me so long to pick it up!

It is a cross between The Giver, by Lois Lowry (one of my ALL TIME favs) and a Clive Cussler novel, if only for the incredible action and adventure that is packed on every page.

I started it yesterday at about 2 in the afternoon, and by 5:30 I was on page 247. I simply couldn't tear myself away. I didn't eat lunch. I had to make myself put it down to get in the shower. And then I sat on my bed with sopping wet hair reading it until my hair was dry.

I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but I actually let out a squeal of delight and anticipation ("EEEEE!!!") when I finished the cliffhanger second section.

Not to be lazy, but I can't write a synopsis better than they did at Scholastic publishing. Here's the back cover blurb:

Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Amazing, right? Put it at the top of your reading list.

Even if you're not a nerd, you'll love it so much I bet you'll even carry it around in your purse.


Now I know:
If you have never said "Excuse me" to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time. ~Sherri Chasin Calvo

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Song Saturday #6

If I ever got the chance to meet Jason Mraz, I'm sure I'd scream and swoon, probably faint even, like a girl seeing one of the Beatles.

He's one of my favorites and is one of the very best performers I've ever seen live. I've had the chance to see him twice, once at Converse College in Spartanburg, and again last year at the Peace Center.

In case you didn't know, Jason Mraz isn't just a singer.

He isn't just a songwriter.

He is a performer.

No...he is an ARTIST. Jason Mraz puts on a show that makes me wish it was a painting so I could hang it up on my wall and bask in its glory every single day.

I've been to a lot of concerts. A lot, people. But this kind of concert is special. You don't feel like you're listening to the perfectly mixed and balanced CD. You can still sing along, but the performer is changing things, mixing them up, adding some sounds and riffs and ad-libs that you've never heard before. And music that you thought couldn't get any better? Well, it gets better.

It's like indulging in a warm chocolate chip cookie. Cookies are good, right? But listening to Jason Mraz sing is an ooey-gooey warm straight from the oven chocolate chip cookie.

When he steps on stage, Mr. A-Z starts singing what you think is a new song - its something you've never heard him sing before. Then you realize - he's making it up on the spot. That's right, he's improvising an entire song. Maybe he thought out the hook beforehand, but the perfect phrases are flowing from his mouth like wine from a bottle. Just like wine to parched seas of people, begging him for just one more note.

Or maybe fat people on a diet begging for one more taste of that warm chocolate chip cookie...?

Anyway when I saw him at Converse, Jason came out rapping/singing about being at an all-girls school. He was flirting with all of us at once, effectively winning us over in 30 seconds. Brilliant.

At the Peace Center, his opening song brought tears to my eyes. I own every song he's ever put out, so I knew this was either a made-up diddy or something yet-to-be released. I desperately tried to cling to each word and memorize it.

Because something he was singing was resonating deep within me.

This song, "Who I Am Today," is a song of gratitude. About all the good and the not so good and the unnoticeable people that make you who you are.

Every bully, every behind-the-scenes worker, every heartbreak, every success, every miserable failure, every bad test grade, every pat on the back, every engineer and teacher and janitor - they shape your life, they make you who you are today.

I'm trying to live in green, and this song is my new anthem of gratitude.

Now I know:
Thank you to everyone reading this. You make me who I am today.

Who I Am Today

I thank the boys who kicked my ass when I was 17
I thank the ones who chose to laugh and those who acted mean
I thank the bullies for all their scraps and accidents and then some
They shaped my life; they made me like who I've become

I thank the girls who gave a hand and showed me how to dance
I thank the ones who laughed and passed who never gave a second chance
I learned that it's okay for some to go and some to stay
They shaped my life; they made me love who I am today
They shaped my life; they made me love who I am today
And I, I know, that life is good

I thank the captains of the boats who brave the seas
I thank the farmers for the sowing of the seeds
I thank the men who paved the roads I'm traveling on
They shaped my life, they took me down the path I've gone
They shaped my life, they took me down the path I've gone

I thank the volunteers for giving up their time for free
I thank the engineers; all those who keep our water clean
I thank the janitors for all their years behind the scenes
They shaped my life they taught me generosity
They shaped my life they let me see who I could be
So, i, i know, life is good

I thank the galaxy for how it made up gravity
I thank the sky above for hosting clouds to float on top of me
They gave me air to breathe and give me rain and give me snow
They shaped my life, they gave me so much room to grow

I thank the frogs, and daddy long legs and the bees
I thank the microorganisms under every tree
I thank the fertile soil for the life behind the food I eat
They shaped my life they gave me possibility
And I, I know, that life is good...
yes I, I know....

I Thank the boy who kicked my ass when I was 17
I thank the ones who laughed and those who acted mean
I thank the bullies for all the names they called along the way
They shaped my life; they made me love who I am today
They shaped my life; they made me love who I am today
You shape my life. You make me love who I am today.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It Would Have Been Funny...Part 2

For your reading pleasure, a sticky second installment in the series.


My ability to consistently embarrass, humiliate, and/or make a mess of myself has reached its absolute peak.

At least I hope so.

This morning's tale does not come close to the monstrosity of yesterday's, errrr, disaster. But, it IS a pretty sticky situation.

I eat a granola bar every day for breakfast. Every, single day. Every day.
It's a South Beach Diet bar, the peanut butter kind. Small but delicious. And filling.

But today, I wanted to change it up. I had gotten some of that healthy bread from the grocery store, and hadn't used a piece all week.

"Some buttered toast might be nice," I thought to myself. So I pop two pieces in the toaster. Tap my toes impatiently as they brown.

And get out the butter.

Just a pat.

Then. I see the jam in the fridge. Cherry jam. With big chunks of cherries. So sweet and delicious. I knew I had to spread some on top. But I don't have restraint. Or good sense, it seems. Jelly on toast is fine.

But jelly on toast - TO-GO?!

Maybe if you lay it on thin. But no, not me. It was a tablespoon-full on each piece, at least.

Maybe if you put the jelly sides in, like a sandwich. But I like them separated. Open face.

Maybe if your hands aren't full of other stuff. But trying to juggle a purse and a drink and the open face cherry jam toast is not going to happen. It's just not, people.

I do make it out the door. Lock it.

Down three flights of stairs in pointy toed heels. Phew.

I make it down to Stanley, my Saab, and set the purse on the passenger seat.

I swing my leg into the car, but, holy smokes, the momentum gets the better of me.

Oh no! The toast! It's slipping!

Flying through the air in that sickening slo-mo.

I'm like a cartoon, flapping my arms, mouth in a perfect "O" from the "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" emerging from my watering jaws, the "NOOOO" that is shaking the very foundation of my apartment, waking sleeping babies, scaring old ladies walking their purse sized puppies, and making the guy getting into his car next to me get into his car a little faster.

And as Isaac Newton figured out that hallowed day, the apple falls from the tree because of a little force we call gravity.

That's right, children. The toast will always land jelly-side down.

One piece falls between the seats, chunks of cherries slithering down the sides of the console and onto my perfect carpet.

If you do not know this already, I am a maniac about my car. It is a nice car, to be sure, so crumbs do not belong. I actually pulled my car over to the side of the road once to make my sister get out and find a small piece of biscuit that she dropped between the seats. True story.

So jelly!? On my carpet?! Maddening.

The other piece flies jelly-side down onto the passenger seat with a sickening, sticky thud.

I won't detail the aftermath, but I will say that the cleanup was an interesting process. I had cherry jelly on my hands, my jeans, my sweater, and my face when it was all said and done.

I used the dew on top of my car to wet the one scrap of napkin that I had saved in my glove-box, but that didn't help much.

Moral of the story:
Keep baby wipes in your car. You'll never know when you might need 'em.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It Would Have Been Funny...Part 1

I can't believe that this much time has gone by, but it's been five years since I started a little note collection on Facebook entitled, "It Would Have Been Funny If It Hadn't Happened to Me."

Trust me, y'all. It's still funny. In fact, I got a pretty extensive laugh out of reading these stories for the fifteenth time.

So for the next several days, I'll be sharing some tried but true stories from my real life, events that make me shudder and burst out into hysterics all at once.

This first installment is back from bygone days at my first real job as an assistant account executive at a small PR firm in downtown Greenville. I was a green (and not in the good way) 21 year old golden retriever, just fumbling through each meeting, each project, each moment of the day. Even then, I knew I wasn't meant for the business world.

As my sister would say, I was "CTL" (clueless to life), and then it got even worse.

I hope you enjoy reading about my humiliation as much as I do.

Once upon a time, I was innocently drinking my coffee from Coffee Underground. Im sipping it when I suddenly feel the urge to GO.

So I run down to the one-seater in our break room. But no sooner have I flushed then the water starts backing up. "Great," I sigh. I can't leave it all filled with water. That would just be gross.

I jiggle the handle. The water just starts filling up. Faster now, over the rim. I thought it would go up and go back down.

But no, this is a small-scale model of the Hoover Dam. This makes me want to say another kind of "dam." This is a dam disaster.

Panic ensues.

WHOOSH! Toilet water, on my black pointy toed shoes.

"TERRY!!!" I squeal, filled with the most permeating humiliation and defeat ever known by woman-kind.

Terry is the renaissance man of the office, the paperwork guy, the building guy, the guy you ask when you don't know what else to do guy.

I thought he'd hear me, but it was no use.

I looked everywhere in the 5x5 space for a plunger. A stack of super absorbent beach towels. A shrink ray so I could successfully flush myself down the toilet, too.

Determined not to let the crapper get the better of me, I remove the lid, and jiggle the mold-covered balloon thingy with my bare hands.


The water is puddling now, coming up around my ankles in a sickening swamp of sewage.

"TERRY!!!!!" I scream. I can't get the water to stop. Nothing I do fixes it. No beach towels are appearing, although I prayed so hard I'm surprised God didn't beam them down just to shut me up.

Unless! Haha!

I can stop the water flow by holding the mold-covered balloon thingy up in the air.


Until I realize that when I let go of it, the water starts back again. A waterfall. A deluge. A tsunami of sewage.

And I'm standing in an small ocean of toilet water.


I prop up the balloon thingy with a can of Lysol so the water stops, and miserable, defeated, I trek up the stairs to Terry's office, leaving toilet-water tracks behind me.

As we go down to get the crusty old mop and bucket, Terry as embarrassed as I am, I shudder at the day I've had.

Alas, pointy-black shoes soggy and armpits stained with plunging-induced-perspiration, the clogged toilet and I part ways.

So, moral of this story: leave the toilet clogged. I don't know why I didn't stick with my old motto: "Deny, deny, deny." Don't try to flush again. Just walk away and no one will be the wiser.

Now I know:
Forget business. Go into education. Then you can blame it all on a kid.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Tonight, I'm in a good place. I'm not feeling stressed to the max, or overwhelmed, or worried about anything. I'm not wishing away the days until Friday. I'm not dreading my alarm clock.

Instead, I am full of contentment and peace. I am comfortable.

It's a luxurious, decadent, rare feeling.

I know it won't last long, but I am reveling in this quiet moment.

To me, tonight, comfort is:

1) The big brown overstuffed couch I'm sitting on, the home base of my house. The place where I read and blog and grade and nap and watch Grey's on Thursday nights.

2) The big old gray UNCA volleyball t-shirt that I've had since 8th grade. It that has been washed and worn so many times it is softer than a box of Downy's dryer sheets.

3) The feeling of a real book in my hands, the ruffly sound of the pages turning and the scratchy sound of my pen making notes in the margins.

4) The southern taste of the sweet tea, BBQ sandwich and macaroni and cheese I had for dinner, filling me up with warm carby goodness.

5) The conversation I just shared with my mom, chatting and reliving the day's mundane events. Nothing revolutionary. Just comfort in knowing she cares, genuinely cares about me and my life.

6) Sharing a laugh with a best friend on the phone and taking a moment to let the encouragement, friendship, and support she gives soak in and make its way to my heart.

7) Reading a sweet comment from my baby sister on my Facebook wall and realizing how much technology can be a blessing - not just a time wasting curse!

8) The clock moving closer to bedtime - the thrilling prospect of 7 hours of nothing but rest and rejuvenation. Sleeping is all I have to do until tomorrow.

I better go get some sleep before I remember my to-do list.

Now I know:
Comfort is all around. If you stop and relax for a moment, it might even find you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Artsy Fartsy Friday Part 2

So there's art you can see.

And art you can wear.

And art that makes you stop and stare.

It may even make you want to swear. Or inspire you to go bald and shave off your hair.

Art that gives you creepy dreams,

Or makes you want to squirm and scream. (Clowns have that effect on me).

I hope this doesn't make me a hater...but I particularly despise this baby ballerina Darth Vader.

All of this art that gives me a fright, I saw this Friday at Art and Light.

The back room is always such a special treat,

A place where baby dolls and a dash of crazy do meet.

Now I know:
Art doesn't just make you think. Or make you look good. Sometimes it's just really dumb, for real.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Artsy Fartsy Friday Part 1

I heart art.

Paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints. Bring it on.

But what do I love even more than all those things?

That's right. Art you can wear.

In a turn of unplanned events I ended up visiting a few galleries in downtown Greenville Friday night with my wingwoman Mollye.

She's been raving about this pottery class that she's been taking from a local potter and jewelry maker named Lily. I have always admired Lily's jewelry and positively drool every time I see her stuff at craft fairs around town. The design is impeccable and the colors are fabulous. Plus I think buying local made jewelry is just the responsible thing to do.

So on Friday night, we ended up popping by the lily pottery studio. I got a fabulous deal on this gorgeous purple ring. It has an incredibly cool wide silver band and cushion cut setting. The design on the clay is intricate, but the overall impression of the piece is simple. I adore it and will certainly be showing it off all summer.

If you are looking for a birthday gift for a friend, a Mother's Day present for your mom, or a just because gift for a special girl in your life - you totally need to check out lily's gallery in the Pendleton Arts district. You will not be disappointed.

In fact, I bet you'll end up picking up something for yourself, too.

Now I know:
Art doesn't just make you think. It also makes you look good.