Once a year, Hollywood Housewife does a linkup where you document the minutiae of your daily life for one day. I participated last year and thought it would be fun to do so again! Although the action was ongoing on Instagram, I saved up my pictures for a blog post – mainly to keep people from unfollowing me en masse.


oneday14-collage (1)

6:21 am: Stumble out of bed after snoozing four times. Yes, my alarm clock is ten minutes fast. I started that in high school, and now my sense of Morning Time is too messed up to go back.

7:00 am: Makeup drawer, unedited! I continue to dream of a real vanity.


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7:15 am: Coffee and my current go-to breakfast smoothie: one frozen banana, coconut milk, almond milk, almond butter, flaxseed, honey, and a dash of chai spice. My dislike of eating the same things too often doesn’t seem to extend to breakfast (or what passes for breakfast on a weekday). I’ve stuck with this smoothie for several months now. While drinking it, I enjoy my daily few minutes of the Today show. The Orange Room is usually my cue to get out the door.


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7:30 am: As it happens, today is the day I’m getting a new roof! The workers arrive at 7:00, and by the time I leave, giant chunks of my roof are flying off. I feel sick watching this and am glad I don’t have to be at home during the process.


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Morning commute: time, temperature, and tunes.


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8:00 am: Arrive at work. Constants: my bird of the day calendar, and the dry-erase board I live and die by. My work centers around the sale of hotels and I have to be able to reference deadlines easily.

10:30 am: On weekdays, I usually wear glasses until around lunchtime, then put my contacts in for the rest of the day. It’s my compromise of my eye doctor’s “four days a week” contacts recommendation, and so far everything is fine!


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12:45 pm: Lunch: a very exciting Lean Cuisine and my current favorite drink mix. I don’t eat in every day, thankfully.


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1:00 pm: Hey look, it’s a beautiful day outside!

1:50 pm: Almost done Putting In Work at the fitness room. Fall Out Boy’s “The Phoenix” is rocking my running world this week.


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Outfit of the Day! We had a jeans day today. This combo of skinny jeans and wedges, which I haven’t tried before, makes me feel inexplicably perky and cute.


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3:00 pm: After about a month of insanity, my inbox is pretty light at the moment.

5:00 pm: I wore my favorite jacket in to work last week, and have forgotten to take it home every day since because it’s so much warmer when I leave. Today I finally remembered! No more shivering in the mornings!


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5:45 pm: My yoga class (which recently switched to Wednesdays after seven years of Thursdays) got canceled, so I had time to go to Caroline and Matt’s to meet their new baby boy! He’s adorable, and I can’t wait to be his cool Aunt B who lets him eat too much ice cream and stuff. ♥


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6:30 pm: HEY THERE, NEW ROOF! I can’t believe they did the whole thing in one day and didn’t leave a trace. It looks fantastic!


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7:00 pm: Dinnertime for Peach and me. I can’t bear to have salad again, but I need something fast, so I throw together Edamame Rice Bowls (er, Bowl). From memory! I’ve gotten terrible about cooking real food for myself and want to get back on track soon.


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Dinnertime reading: For some reason my Kindle won’t download either the new library book or the Netgalley I’ve sent to it, so I flip through the new Elle that just arrived. Of the MANY magazines I never subscribed to that arrive at my house on their own, Elle is my favorite. I LOVE the gray-and-pink dress and the cutout top on this page. Keep dreaming, me.


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7:45 pm: Real life: time for Peach’s daily dose. She seems a little bummed today, but perks up later.


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8:00 pm: How many vacuum cleaners does a one-human, one-cat household need? I splurged on the Dyson Animal two years ago when the Hoover started making a horrible noise, then ended up keeping the Hoover anyway because the Dyson wasn’t cutting it on carpeted areas. Full disclosure: I have a THIRD, handheld vacuum for upholstery. This is me.

8:30 pm: Lately I’ve gotten accustomed to streaming Spotify in the shower. I just bought a converter to plug my phone into my iPod speaker, but my protective phone case is too thick on the bottom for the plug to work properly. Result: LIVING DANGEROUSLY.


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9:00 pm: Crafty Hour in front of the Grizzlies preseason game! I had a craving for a hot cup of tea, so I’m enjoying some Earl Grey sent to me by Erin, and a cookie.


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10:45 pm: Wrapping up my day in the usual way: stretching, my main man Jimmy Fallon, and what I’ve started referring to as “Peachy Adoration Time” (she pounces on me the moment I head for the bed).

Thanks for following along!

4 Comments + Posted in: life lately, linkup

girlsparkler

My life has been a nonstop flurry of activity since I was a little girl. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t hustling from one thing to another, and don’t know how to live any other way. I probably would have been content to read, draw, write stories, and ride my bike on my own every day of my childhood. Instead, I dreamed and contemplated in stolen moments between ballet, T-ball, Girl Scouts, and church involvement. When I started marching band at fourteen, I was allowed to drop most other things, but band was so all-consuming that it didn’t make me any less busy. At home, my family ragged on me when I spent quiet time in my room, or wanted to be alone for a while. I was supposed to be outgoing, do and experience as much as I could, participate in family life. Quiet down time – or rest – equaled laziness and social awkwardness. Meanwhile, kids at school gave me a hard time for being more interested in books than talking most of the time. Because I didn’t know any differently, I accepted that my introversion (though I didn’t even know to call it that) was a flaw to be overcome. The price of the overcoming was constant mental and physical exhaustion. One memorable day, I came home from practice, went to bed at six PM, and slept straight through to the next morning. But it never occurred to me to question or change anything.

I don’t share my story angrily or to cast blame. My parents had good intentions and succeeded in making me a more outward-facing and well-rounded person. But I was in my late 20s before I understood that the type of recharging I’ve always needed was not only legitimate, but also shared by about half of the population. That needing unstructured stillness to sort out my thoughts and feelings, needing not to be doing something and around people all the time, didn’t mean I was a lazy weirdo. It meant I was an introvert. I read Quiet and other introvert-power manifestos and felt validated. I learned to listen to myself and to scale back… a little.

But too often, I’m still that girl who powers through until she involuntarily collapses into bed at six PM – and now I’m the one making myself do it. I love people and going out and being involved in as many things as possible, but sometimes it’s not what’s best for me. I struggle to see free time to myself as a valid choice instead of a lack of options. The harder I push myself, the more my mood, health, and creativity suffer. But I have an innate Fear Of Missing Out and can’t seem to accept my own limits. After a lifetime of playing an extrovert, I don’t always know how to turn it off. I’m unsure whether I’m acting out of my true self, or my conditioning, or how different they really are anymore. Being where the action is energizes me… for a while. Then I hit my limit and want to go home. Being at home by myself is relaxing… until loneliness takes over. I can flip from give me some space to no one loves me anymore in a second.

introvert-homevspublic

Introvert Shame, with its shoulds and oughts, is entrenched in my heart. It’s powerful, and singleness makes it worse. Singleness means I honestly have to seek out and maintain community, because I won’t find it in my home, and it usually won’t come to me. However, I’m really thankful for my friends who stay friends even if they don’t see me frequently, who can be happy hanging out without going out, who also think an occasional night on the back patio talking over a bottle of wine is a good time. Especially when they’re willing to hike out to my house in the burbs to do so.

Singleness also means that if I’m not out there and on as much as possible, my singleness could be my own “fault.” The dating scene is an extrovert’s game, in which seeming boring is one of the worst fouls you can commit, and I’m only capable of sparkling effusively for so long. Eventually, I burn down to the metal wire of me. It’s an ongoing battle to believe that that is enough, in general, even if it’s not enough for some people. I am enough, and the right person will see me even if I’m not the go-to life of the party. And even if no one ever sees me, somehow that’ll be enough too.

I’m still figuring out how to respect and honor my inner introvert. Every time I think I’ve got it under control, I have another little crash and burn that proves otherwise. It’s a long road, and if you’re walking it too, I salute you.

11 Comments + Posted in: extracurriculars, personality, singleness

rare-bird

On September 8, 2011, Anna Whiston-Donaldson’s two kids went out to play in the rain with friends. Her twelve-year-old son, Jack, fell into a flooded, fast-moving creek and did not survive. Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love is an account of the accident, the aftermath, and Anna’s grief process over the following year or so as she lived out every mother’s nightmare, trying to put herself and her family back together.

If you’ve ever unexpectedly lost someone precious to you, you will relate to and feel validated by Rare Bird. Anna is despairing yet hopeful, faithful yet furious, and she doesn’t sugarcoat any of it. She perfectly illustrates how deeply it sucks to be a walking cautionary tale, to be the tragedy inspiring everyone around you to hold their loved ones closer (which is one of my lasting emotional imprints from my divorce). I’m thankful for her honesty, not only in admitting to her own raw emotions but also in talking about mystical experiences that might sound a little crazy to those who haven’t passed through a deep valley. I got chills as she described Holy Spirit-y things I’ve never talked about much, and felt reassured even years after the fact. I also nodded along with her words about how loss changes relationships, and you may be surprised by who does and does not show up for you – a side effect that doesn’t get much press.

Rare Bird is wrenching – I felt wrung out when I was finished and even cried on a plane reading it. But it’s also a beautiful story of a remarkable boy and his remarkable mother, and I was glad to bear witness with them.

Rare Bird is available now in bookstores and online. You can also find Anna at her blog, An Inch of Gray.

Recommended for: Anyone who’s experienced loss, or who wants to help and understand someone who has.

See also: Invitation to Tears by Jonalyn Fincher and Aubrie Hills; Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman




I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review program. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

1 Comment + Posted in: book reviews, grief

tattoowithfilter

Confession: I found my tattoo on Pinterest.

As my friend Melody said, it could have been “the biggest Pinterest Fail ever.” It wasn’t.

I saw the picture about two years ago, a nautilus tattoo on the inner side of a woman’s heel. The caption grabbed my attention: “The nautilus shell consists of ever-larger chambers in which the sea creature lives for a while until it outgrows them. Once it grows a new, larger chamber it cannot go back to the previous ones; they no longer fit. It has no choice but to move on. Yet, the old chambers are still a part of who they are.” I liked that so much that, even though I was sure I could never commit to having one image on my body for the rest of my life, I pinned the picture. Once in a while I’d go back and look at it.

Over the course of this year, my Year of Alive, I’ve warmed up to the idea of a tattoo. I can’t articulate all the reasons why – it just seemed like a natural next step. Still, I doubted I would ever actually do it. So permanent! But at the end of August in the Keys, I discovered that my aunt (previously ink-free, like most of my family) had gotten a large cross tattoo on her shoulder blade. As I talked to her about it, I suddenly knew I wanted to take the plunge too – and I knew when and where I wanted to do it. From the bow of a boat, several miles off the Seven Mile Bridge, I texted Bethany, “Crazy idea: do you know of any good tattoo parlors in Hawaii?” She replied, “I HAD THE SAME CRAZY IDEA.”

During the few weeks between Miami and Hawaii, I played devil’s advocate with myself about the tattoo. But the more I thought (and prayed!) about the meanings of the nautilus, the more sure I was that I should get it. As I’ve mentioned before, my “life verse” is Philippians 1:6: Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I chose this verse, or it chose me, when I was eighteen. (There’s a stepping stone in my parents’ backyard with “Philippians 1:6″ pressed into it as proof.) Through all life’s changes since then, no Bible verse has been more applicable. More often than not, I feel like I’m falling behind, losing ground in faith and as a person. My progress is never good enough for me. But this verse reminds me every day that God is on the case and will never give up working on and in me in this life. Onward and upward. It hit me one day as I drove to work that the nautilus shell is the perfect symbol of that concept. It’s also a symbol of the strength and independence I’ve gained, a reminder that I don’t have to and in fact cannot force myself back into chambers I’ve outgrown. I will continue to need new, bigger chambers until the day I die, and it’s a good thing.

Plus, you know. The ocean.

In Oahu, we stayed on a Marine base. I was counting on Bethany’s Marine friends to recommend a good tattoo place, and the group consensus was 808 Tattoo in Kaneohe. On the last day of the trip (planned so I wouldn’t miss any swimming time), I called to make an appointment and no one called me back for hours. Then I was sure I wanted to go through with it, because I was so bummed that it might not happen. I knew if I went home without this tattoo, I would never get it. Who gets a shell tattoo in Memphis? It wouldn’t make sense. This was meant to be part of my Hawaii experience.

Thankfully, they were able to work me in that evening. Originally Bethany and I were going to get inked together (she already has one piece, a purple bird on her foot), but she left her sketches at home. I was still glad to have her there as my advisor and moral support. When we arrived at 808, I showed my artist the picture I’d saved from Pinterest and he printed a stencil. I felt a little dumb for wanting the exact same tattoo in the exact same place, but all the nuances worked for me. I wanted it on my left foot, not my right… because in marching band you lead with your left foot, and I will always be a marcher in my heart (dorky but true). And I wanted the end of the shell facing up, not down, for the same general reasons you hang a horseshoe upside down. It seemed more positive.

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The actual work only took ten or fifteen minutes. I’d been warned that this part of the foot (and the foot in general) is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo, and I won’t lie: IT HURT. I may or may not have been repeating Eowyn’s “I fear neither death nor pain” in my head. But I also won’t lie: I felt like a badass. I didn’t cry, I didn’t make a lot of noise, and I only sort of crushed Bethany’s hand. And when it was over, I had exactly what I had wanted for a long time!

"NOT A JOKE!" I advised on Instagram.

“NOT A JOKE!” I advised on Instagram.


I’ve been home for two weeks, and I’m loving my tattoo more and more. I am so happy I did it. In addition to all the reminders I chose it for, I’m finding that it also reminds me who I am. When I hang up a frustrating call at work, for example, I glance at the shell and it seems to tell me, This does not define you. You may be compliant on the outside, but you are tough, and your spirit is still free.

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People are already asking me if I plan to get more ink, the same way they ask if I’m going to get another second cat. In both cases, my answer is the same. I have no current intentions to do so, but I won’t absolutely rule it out.

7 Comments + Posted in: milestone, one word: alive

whateverlife

I loved Julie Cross’s Tempest trilogy, a time-travel story with heart. Her follow-up, the standalone Whatever Life Throws at You, is contemporary and non-supernatural but boasts the same type of likable characters – rough and tough on the outside, marshmallows on the inside.

When Annie Lucas’s dad gets a job offer as a pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals, she practically forces him to take it. To Annie, getting both of them (and her ailing grandma) away from her flighty, usually-absent mother is worth any upheaval to her own life. On her first day in Kansas City, she has a meet-cute with Jason Brody, the wunderkind pitcher her dad is there to champion. Despite his womanizing ways and checkered past, she still feels drawn to him. But as they get to know each other (against everyone’s advice), that public image starts to fall apart. He starts playing up to his potential. The Royals start winning for the first time in decades.

Meanwhile, Annie deals with a lot of drama on the homefront – her own as well as that of her friend Lenny, daughter of one of the Royals’ star players. I appreciated the depiction of real, complex family problems instead of obvious Afterschool Special stuff.

I don’t know much about the behind-the-scenes environment in professional sports, but the PR crises and day-to-day lives of the players, staff, and their families in this book felt very believable. I also love the fact that life is currently imitating art with the Royals’ playoff run (Julie addressed this on her blog yesterday).

Whatever Life Throws at You was released yesterday and is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

Recommended for fans of: baseball, good father-daughter stories, Veronica Mars (there are similar qualities)


I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Add a Comment + Posted in: book reviews

Lanai Lookout

Until I got to Hawaii, it didn’t occur to me that I could take a tour of locations where LOST was filmed. By then, my friends and I were already booked. Besides, one tour claimed to visit 22 locations in two hours, and after only a few days on Oahu I knew that to be impossible. But we were already planning to drive around most of the island one day, and several of the stops on our list turned out to be LOST places! However, note that not all of the following places were on the show.

I’ve seen a few LOST reruns, but haven’t done a full rewatch since it ended in 2010. Luckily, Caroline, another of my best friends, just finished one. So I texted her photos throughout the day, and after squeeing, she’d remind me exactly what happened there. Teamwork!

Lanai Lookout

We drove down from Kaneohe to our first stop, Lana’i Lookout, on the southeast side of the island. These beautiful cliffs are barricaded at the top by a short wall and “DO NOT GO PAST THIS POINT” sign, over which everyone climbed happily. Also blocking the way was a man with a parrot. The parrot’s name was Jackie Chan, and he has been in two movies. I know this because his owner repeated it to each of us individually and tried to extort $5 for photos. But with such an amazing view, who cared? Oh, and this is where Desmond killed Kelvin after he came out of the Hatch.

Halona Blowhole

Halona Blowhole

The Halona Blow Hole, while absolutely gorgeous, didn’t quite live up to its advertised wave action. Or, as we put it, “That blow hole kind of blew.”

Makapu'u Lookout

Makapu'u Lookout

Turning the southeast corner of the island, we stopped at Makapu’u Lookout, because how could you not?

Chinaman's Hat

After a stop for sushi back in Kaneohe, we proceeded to Chinaman’s Hat. This little island was on my own list of things to see and I was very excited!

Chinaman's Hat

On our way up the North Shore, we drove past Kualoa Ranch, a very popular LOST location. But it’s private property and we didn’t have time to take the tour.

Banzai Pipeline

Here’s Banzai Pipeline, one of the most famous and dangerous surfing beaches in the world. I have to assume that it was an unnaturally calm day there.

Waimea Falls Botanic Garden

Our next big stop was Waimea Falls, which is inside a large botanic garden where many movies have been filmed (including Catching Fire). On LOST, Kate and Sawyer found some bodies here, and it’s also where she and Hurley “landed” on The Island after the second plane crash.

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The garden itself was beautiful. We had to walk about a mile through it to get to the falls.

Waimea Falls Botanic Garden

Waimea Falls Botanic Garden

Waimea Falls Botanic Garden

Waimea Falls Botanic Garden

Aside: Bethany and I were also planning to jump off a famous cliff at Waimea Beach. Honestly, neither of us particularly love jumping from high places, but it seemed like a YOLO Hawaii must-do. While Google Mapping us there, I read a review that began, “Be sure to jump at high tide. Jumped at low tide, shattered my tibia and fibula.” The story continued for a while, concluding with, “Still a great experience. Would jump again.” Despite that encouragement, being unsure of the tidal situation, we decided to cross that activity off the list.

After the falls, we stopped in Haleiwa at the famous Matsumoto Shaved Ice.

Matsumoto Shave Ice, Haleiwa

THEN we headed to Mokuleia Beach, aka THE CRASH BEACH from the pilot! I’m pretty sure we were down the beach from the actual filming site, but it was still very recognizable. And breathtaking.

Mokuleia (LOST) Beach

Mokuleia (LOST) Beach

Mokuleia (LOST) Beach

Mokuleia (LOST) Beach

Mokuleia (LOST) Beach

We stayed until the sun set. On the way back, we pulled into Camp Erdman, a working YMCA camp that doubled as The Others’ village. Bethany and I totally geeked out over the familiar yellow cabins. Unfortunately, it was dark, kids were going to actual camp activities, and my water shoes had blistered my feet so badly that I couldn’t put them back on to sneak around the premises. Still, just seeing the camp from the van was very satisfying.

Others' Cabins (YMCA Camp)

And that was our DIY LOST tour of Oahu!

6 Comments + Posted in: travel, tv

artist unknown

artist unknown


I Love the 80s by Megan Crane (4 stars)
Since Jenna’s fiance dumped her, she’s coped by indulging her obsession with the 80s – not hard to do, since she works at an all-80s music channel. Her greatest passion is rock icon Tommy Seer, who died mysteriously in 1987. While changing a light bulb during a lightning storm, she’s magically transported back to several months before Tommy’s death, and into the life of her aunt Jen, who worked at the same music video channel. After playing a role in one of the band’s most famous moments, Jenna finds herself involved in Tommy’s life and decides to try to save it. Needless to say, this novel requires total suspension of disbelief, but it’s a lot of fun.

Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross (4 stars)
Downloaded from Netgalley. Review to come later.

I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (4 stars)
I saw this collection of essays on my library’s Kindle site and decided it was past time to start reading Nora Ephron. She’s a writer’s writer with lots of interesting stories and insights!

Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without A Date by Katie Heaney (4 stars)
In this hilarious, wise, and honest memoir, Katie Heaney shares her romantic history or lack thereof – from her kindergarten crush to the last guy to break her heart. Anyone who’s been single for a long time should love it!

Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love & Karaoke by Rob Sheffield (4 stars)
In Love Is A Mix Tape, Rob Sheffield told the story of his young marriage and the sudden loss of his wife. In this new memoir, he tells how he found a new love – and karaoke. It’s kind of rambly, but I enjoy his ramblings!

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (4 stars)
When Lucy and Owen meet in an elevator during the NYC blackout, their chemistry is obvious immediately. But after knowing each other only a short time, they both move away in opposite directions. Though they communicate only through sporadic postcards and try to move on with their lives, they can’t seem to forget about each other. This novel is a little disjointed and longer than it needs to be, but it’s heartfelt, and I give it 4 stars purely for emotional reasons.

The Best of Us by Sarah Pekkanen (2.5 stars)
A novel about four women who accept a college friend’s invitation to vacation together at a beach house in Jamaica. All of them, including the host, are hiding secrets that start coming out in unexpected ways. It’s very soapy with lots of plot twists. I’m a Pekkanen fan, but this was my least favorite of her books. (Though it has similar themes to Outer Banks by Anne Rivers Siddons, which to me is the epitome of good soap.)

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker (3 stars)
Clementine is spending her sixteenth summer on a boat with her parents and sister, sailing down the Mississippi River. So she has plenty of time to think about her recent estrangement from her best friend and how everything went wrong. When she meets James, also sailing with his dad, his friendliness and cheer starts breaking down the walls she’s built around herself. This is a cute story with a unique setting, but for some reason I wasn’t in love with it.

Books for September: 8
2014 year to date: 54

Add a Comment + Posted in: book reviews

sep-cat

General Highlights:

Sorry to start off all Debbie Downer, but September brought serious lowlights. On the 3rd, when I took my beloved cat Gandalf to the vet for what I thought was a minor problem, I found out he had cancer. It was advanced enough that I had him put down, at home, on the 15th. It was my worst emotional whiplash since my divorce. Adjusting to life without Gandalf after twelve years will take a long time, but with lots of love from my friends and family (and the continued company of my other cat, Peach), I’m doing okay. Right in the middle of all that, I also found out that one of my good friends from college had died suddenly. She moved away years ago and we hadn’t been in close touch, but obviously I was shocked, upset, and so sad for her family.

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In happier news, I spent Labor Day with my two college roommates/BFFs, Kathy and Emily. Em lives near Nashville, so it’s rare for the three of us to be together at once, let alone with their husbands and all their kids too.

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Oh, and I went to Hawaiiand got a tattoo! But more about that later!!


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Read and Reading:

My favorite book this month was Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without A Date by Katie Heaney, at which I LOLed repeatedly on a plane. I also enjoyed Megan Crane’s time travel romp I Love the 80s, and Rob Sheffield’s latest music commentary memoir thing, Turn Around Bright Eyes. (His first memoir, Love Is A Mix Tape, is still one of the most poignant, unique books I’ve ever read.)


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TV/Movies:

I’m rejoicing at the return of my current fave, The Mindy Project! And not just because Mindy and Danny are together now (where is my own Danny Castellano??). This cast is one of the best ensembles on TV, and every character is hilarious… though Morgan has a special place in my heart (I busted up at his “Dog Fair” from last week’s episode). I still love New Girl too, but Mindy has surpassed it.

As usual, I don’t have time for a lot of new shows, but I want to watch A to Z (The Mother is in it!) and Red Band Society.


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Music:

This month I saw one of those “If you like this, listen to this” columns in a magazine. It indicated that British singer Banks was an artist I would like, so I checked her out on Spotify. By the next morning her new album Goddess was on a loop in my car. I tried to pick a favorite track to recommend and could only narrow down to, like, five. She’s everything I hated to like about Lana Del Rey, but with more talent and depth, and enough independence that you’re not distracted by worry that she’ll end up in a ditch somewhere.

I’ve been listening to The Bridges steadily all year, but haven’t given them any press here. The Bridges are five cousins and siblings from Alabama and North Carolina, and they have a truly unique (and awesome) sound. Their only full-length album, Limits of the Sky, is kind of folky and retro. Then they took a grittier rock turn for their EP, Our Monster, which I like even better. It sounds like it was actually recorded in a garage… in the best possible way. Love love love.

Also, after realizing I already liked three of the songs, I finally purchased a Fall Out Boy album. Fall Out Boy has grown on me stealthily. I don’t know why I fought it.


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Wearing:

I swung by Cooper-Young Fest a few weeks ago and scored a “When You’re Bad, You Get Put In The Corner” shirt from Memphis Made! I’d wanted one for a long time. #ilovememphis

I didn’t shop much in Hawaii, but we hit up a thrift store in Kailua (Bethany is the thrifting queen), where I found this Gap polka dot skirt. I asked Bethany if it was too young because I’m trying to dress a little more my age, and a lady nearby piped up, “Never do that!” She looked about 65 and was clearly taking her own advice!! Anyway, the skirt is totally me and makes me happy.


Random Happiness:

I got to spend a lot of time with Kathy in September. Normally the bulk of our togetherness happens during basketball season, but this month I went to her birthday party, we had that reunion at her house, and she came over several times to see Gandalf (he used to be her cat too) and me.

I attended a two-day new members class at the church I’ve been attending for several months. I still need to work out a couple of things, but I can pretty much join any time now and am excited about it! This is the first time I’ve mentioned my church change on the blog, but now that most of my friends from my old church are in the loop, I’ll be sharing more about the “move.” It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one.

At work, I got a new computer after being six months overdue for a switch. My old one was basically a paperweight. It’s so refreshing to have a computer that takes less than five minutes to shut down.


Pinterest Quote of the Month:

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Lanai Lookout

Travel:

Did I mention I went to Hawaii?


On The Blog:

I wrote a tribute to my cat and our life together, and about my discovery that my heart is stronger than it used to be. I shared some thoughts about the dichotomy between waiting and being brave. I also gave an account of a typical day of Florida lobster diving with my family!


Posts I Loved:

♥ Abby at Accidental Devotional speaks my language: Heartbreak: A Spiritual Discipline. (I should ask her if she’s an INFJ too)

♥ Hollywood Housewife on moving on: Know When It’s Over

♥ Some real wisdom here from Glennon Melton at Storyline: 3 Ways of Looking at and Thinking about Other People

♥ Emily Freeman talks about our individual narratives: When You Want to be Joyful but You’re Not Quite There Yet

♥ Cara at Little Did She Know: On Brokenness and Mole-Whacking

♥ LOL of the Month: Suburban Turmoil: Enough With The Burlap.


What I'm Into

4 Comments + Posted in: what i'm into

MCCS Kaneohe

Sometime in August, Bethany, my close friend of ten years, invited me to Hawaii. She and her husband and sons, plus her sister-in-law and SIL’s boyfriend, had booked a beach cottage on the MCCS Marine base on Oahu (where they have friends), and there was an extra spot. I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, and this was a fantastic opportunity – super cheap lodging and wonderful travel companions. Plus, I had some discretionary funds from the new roof I no longer have to buy. I thought about it for two days and then I booked my plane ticket for a week in Hawaii in September. Best decision ever.

MCCS Kaneohe

MCCS Kaneohe

Our beach house had a large back patio overlooking the mountains, rainbows, and ever-changing waters of Kaneohe Bay. We had a beach across the street, and our own private tide pools at the bottom of the hill. I spent several afternoons clambering over the rocks, sometimes sitting quietly, sometimes playing chicken with the waves (spoiler alert: I lost), sometimes channeling Ariel.

part of your world
PART OF YOUR WOOOORLD

Early on, when we struggled to sleep past 5 am, Bethany’s SIL Melody and I got up to watch the sun rise over the beach.

Oahu sunrise

Oahu sunrise

Oahu sunrise

Oahu sunrise

We ate Pineapple Whip at the Dole plantation in Wahiawa, malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu, ahi tuna and lilikoi popsicles at the Kailua farmers’ market, shaved ice at Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa, and moonfish at Duke’s Waikiki.

Dole Plantation

Leonard's Honolulu

Matsumoto Shave Ice, Haleiwa

Waikiki

We hung out with Bethany’s friends at one of the world’s largest sandbars, in Kaneohe Bay.

Kaneohe Sandbar

Kaneohe Sandbar

Kaneohe Bay

We visited Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor

We went to the Paradise Cove Luau.

Paradise Cove Luau

Paradise Cove Luau

Paradise Cove Luau

Paradise Cove Luau

We puzzled over whether the little guy on the sign was really running toward the tsunami.

tsunamisign-kaneohe

When I accepted Bethany’s invitation, I had no idea how much I would need this trip. It would have been a dream trip at any time, but it was especially restorative so soon after the loss of my cat and in the midst of other stresses and tough things. I’m so grateful.

Bethany is a fellow Floridian, in reality as well as at heart, but she says Hawaii is her true home. After being there with her, I understand and somewhat agree. The unrelenting beauty and peace of Hawaii are unlike anything I’ve experienced anywhere else. I can’t wait to go back.

Kaneohe

Stay tuned for posts on our DIY LOST tour of Hawaii – and the story of the permanent souvenir I brought home!

6 Comments + Posted in: friends, ocean, travel

collage-gandalfkitten

In the fall of 2002, my then-boss took in a stray, pregnant cat. When the four kittens were born, she offered one to me and Kathy, my roommate of five years. I’d never had a cat before, or any pet larger than a rabbit, but Kathy and I talked about it and decided we liked the idea. My boss told me the kittens were dark gray. Kathy and I, fresh off our first reading of Lord of the Rings, decided a cat named Gandalf the Gray would be the coolest thing ever. By the time we went over to choose a kitten and saw that they were actually black, it was too late. His name was already Gandalf.

I brought Gandalf home to the apartment on a pleasant October evening. He was old enough to leave his mother, but still tiny enough to hold in my palm. I had to do laundry that night, and worried about leaving him alone even long enough to run to the washing machine. But he adjusted quickly. By the end of the week, he was wrestling with us and acting like he owned the place. (Later, when his propensity to bite became a problem, we learned you’re not supposed to use your hand as a kitten toy. What did we know?)

pious cat

pious cat

I was surprised at how much joy a cat brought to my life. He wasn’t super affectionate in his early years, but he was hilarious. He loved to stand to the side of the doorway that connected the bedrooms with the main living area, pounce on us when we walked through, wave his paws, then trot off clearly pleased with himself. He also perched on the high bathroom window while I showered, right where the steam leaked out around the curtain. When I turned the water off, his purring was deafening.

gandalfselfiecollage

Kathy and I both got married in 2004. We’d long had a deal that whoever married first forfeited the cat. She beat me by five months, and her now-husband was weary of cats anyway, so everything worked out. I kept the apartment and Gandalf, who was friendlier by now, but still had a low tolerance for togetherness. So in 2006, my ex and I decided we needed a very affectionate second cat to socialize him. Enter Peach.

collage-gandalfpeach

At first I was afraid I had ruined Gandalf’s life, but in time he and Peach grew to tolerate and even enjoy each other. More importantly, the plan worked, and continued to work after we moved to my current house in 2006. Gandalf remained skittish around strangers, but became much more affectionate with me, more tolerant of friends and family who were at the house a lot. Everyone but me had to present their hands, palm turned in, for him to smell. If he bowed his head after smelling, they were permitted to pet him (briefly). If not, they had to back off. Because of this ritual, my sister called him “Sultan” (although “Buckbeak” would have been more appropriate.)

collage-gandalfcrafts

As Gandalf got older, he became a wonderful companion. He followed me around the house, slept next to me every night, loved to “help” with house projects and craft projects, and kept me company while I wrote. At mealtimes, he often sat at the table like a person.

collage-gandalfxmas

When I got divorced, Gandalf was one of the few steady bright spots in my life. His comforting presence in the house, and his excited greetings when I got home each day, helped me adjust to living alone. I also appreciated his meowy “talkativeness” on a new level. Maybe it sounds crazy, but when I talked to him, I usually felt like he got the gist of what I was saying. Anyone who knew him will attest that you could have a conversation with him. When my dad and handyman replaced my oven, Gandalf famously hopped up onto the counter to supervise their work and stayed there the whole time, meowing his commentary. He also had a repertoire of un-catlike noises – he could sound like a goat or a pigeon or even a sheep.

collage-gandalfhugs

Of my two cats, Gandalf has always been the healthy (if anxious) one. Peach has a chronic disease, so I’ve been prepared for the possibility of losing her for a long time. But I fully believed Gandalf would live to be twenty years old. So when he had a distressing vomiting episode at the beginning of August, and the vet said he was fine and probably ate something bad, I didn’t question it. Nor did I get extremely concerned when he started losing weight and having what seemed like mini-asthma attacks. I suspected a hairball blockage, something possibly serious but fixable. When I got back from Miami two weeks ago and he was no better, I took him back to the vet. Before the exam, I said blithely, “I think it’s a bad hairball, or maybe something wrong with his teeth, you might want to check them.” But the vet returned with a drawn face and took me to see the X-rays that showed a lung full of fluid. Heart disease, he said, or cancer. (The tests confirmed cancer days later.) Either way, unless I wanted to take Gandalf to a specialist (which I didn’t, for many reasons), he would probably only last a few more weeks. He was about to have his twelfth birthday.

To make everything worse, I couldn’t just let this take its course. I had a personal deadline by which I had to make a decision about his life. He perked up slightly after his lung was drained, but I knew it was only temporary, he was still in pain and not tempted by any of his favorite foods, he was not going to get better. So after his diagnosis, I spent as much time as I possibly could at home with him, for a week and a half. Then yesterday, September 15, a mobile vet service came to the house, and I said goodbye to the best feline friend I will ever have.

I’m seriously overwhelmed by the love and support of my friends. Yesterday I received condolences of one kind or another from probably a hundred people. There are so many “it’s just a cat” people in this world, but most of my friends are not part of that number. They understand what he meant to me and that I’ve lost a member of my family. For years, I prayed regularly that I would at least be in a relationship whenever I lost Gandalf. It seemed unimaginably hard to handle that loss all alone. Well, I’m still as single as the day is long. The thing I specifically asked not to happen, happened. But I am not alone. The gift of this situation is the bone-deep knowledge of how not alone I am, and that means more than I can say.

gandalflookatme

Two of my wisest friends, independently of one another, told me they believe Gandalf was a cat of purpose. Like his namesake, he was sent into my life for comfort and guidance in times of need, and God took him sooner than expected because his purpose was complete. That gives me a weird sense of hope. Regardless, my Gandalf was without a doubt a “soulish creature.” If there are any animals in the next life or the new earth, I am absolutely sure that he’ll be among them. I believe I will see him again.

15 Comments + Posted in: cats, grief, memory lane

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