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

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


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.


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.


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

3 Comments + Posted in: friends, ocean, travel


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


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.


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


Psalms 27:14 caught my attention when I saw it in a blog post last week. While I’m familiar with the verse, I hadn’t seen it in this (unknown) translation, which illuminates its seemingly contradictory nature:

Wait patiently for the Lord.

Be brave and courageous.

Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

It’s an ice cream sandwich of a verse. A matched set interrupted by something completely different.

I’ve done a lot of thinking (and writing) about waiting and being brave in recent months. While I’ve never sat around twiddling my thumbs, I’ve only been willing to go so far in pursuit of goals or adventures. Worried about somehow overstepping God or taking a stupid risk, I’ve always left room for His “will” and guidance. I’ve seen Him come through big-time for so many people who exercised this kind of passive obedience. But it hasn’t been the right method for me. When I realized I’m nowhere near where I want to be in life, while others are either having things handed to them or boldly making things happen, I finally got fed up. I do believe desert periods in our lives, while unfun, are helpful for our faith and growth. But I’ve had a tent up in the desert for a long time, and it occurred to me that maybe I could pack up the tent and find my own way out, instead of waiting for God to escort me via a pillar of fire. Maybe He’s been waiting for me to get frustrated enough to do it.

So, right now it infuriates me to be told to wait. I’ve spent my whole life waiting. I’m ready to be brave and courageous. But apparently I’m supposed to do both. How is that possible?

Most of us have a hard time accepting that we do not have the ultimate say over our own lives. Our most valiant efforts can come up dry. Our best attempts to control outcomes can fail. Even worse, we might never find out why. I abhor a vacuum. My brain practically short-circuits trying to accept mysteries that I can’t tie up in a neat bow of purpose, situations with no solution. But as I get more aggressive about living, I’m going to encounter more and more of them.

Being brave and courageous is not a guarantee that everything will work out. It means more opportunities to trust God while we actively pursue things. Our proactivity is good, but it doesn’t exempt us from waiting. It’s another mystery that I have to struggle to accept.

4 Comments + Posted in: faith, reflections

Lobster diving is a long tradition in my family. When my dad and uncles were kids, my grandfather took them out diving every weekend of lobster season. It’s in their blood. After my family moved to Memphis, we usually scheduled our annual pilgrimage back to Miami around the four-day lobster mini-season at the end of July. We gradually transitioned to August, after the regular season was open. Then, when my Uncle Mike moved to Marathon (the halfway-ish point of the Keys), we took the show on the road.

If lobster diving is a big question mark to you, check out my informational post from a few years back. Good now? Okay. Here’s a very typical day of lobstering with my family!


6:15 am: My parents, brother, Uncle Dave (mom’s brother), and I pack the rental van and depart my grandfather’s house in Miami Shores. As usual, my dad accidentally gets on the Palmetto Expressway instead of the Turnpike; panic ensues even though they both go to the same place.

8:00 am: Breakfast stop at the McDonald’s right at the entrance to the Keys. They now have fruit and maple oatmeal, but no fancy coffee options.


9:00 am: Get our lobster licenses at Kmart in Key Largo. We used to get them at the Yellow Bait Shop, until the owner started requiring passports. ??? The Kmart clerk remembers us from last year.


10:20 am: Arrive at The Compound – what we call the small apartment complex Uncle Mike and Aunt Claudia run – in Marathon. My other paternal aunt and uncle are also there, visiting from Texas. The three brothers haven’t dived all together in 28 years. Our longtime friend Dale, who’s basically family, is also joining us as usual. Load up the boat and head out to the Gulf of Mexico, armed with my uncle’s prized personal atlas of lobster holes, given to him by an old sailor after Uncle Mike earned his trust over many years (true story). He says it’s our inheritance.


11:25 am: The first lobster is caught! I’m not a good scout, so I usually don’t get in the water until someone establishes that there are multiple lobster in the hole. Spoiler alert: I am not in the water much this day.



1:00 pm: Despite not doing much actual work, my mom and I attack our traditional Dion’s fried chicken with the fervor of wild animals.



3:00 pm: After missing a lobster because I used up all my oxygen chugging down to get it, I decide it’s way past time to retire the fins I’ve had since I was ten.



6:20 pm: Fifteen lobster short of our limit, we arrive back at The Compound. I’m thankful the men were willing to hang it up. One year, they were still diving as the sun set and then we got caught in a huge storm, prompting my cousin Cliff to shout the instant catchphrase, “THIS LOBSTER DIVING’S TEARING THIS FAMILY APART.”)

The bros! (My dad is on the left.)


My brother with some lobster. (Ladies, he’s single!!)

7:00 pm: Head back to the only hotel in Marathon to shower and change.

7:45 pm: Drag all of our exhausted selves to the Marathon Grill & Ale House. Eat delicious food while watching the Dolphins’ preseason game. They win! Confer with aunts and mom about whether we ladies are really up for another day of lobster struggle tomorrow. (We decide we’re not. I feel wimpy and relieved in equal measure.)

10:00 pm: Collapse into bed, still feeling like we’re on a boat. Make lobster-catching motions in our sleep.

5 Comments + Posted in: family, florida, ocean


At the beginning of every marching band season in high school, we had to stand at attention a lot. Sometimes for more than an hour at a time. Standing perfectly still holding up an instrument doesn’t sound strenuous, but after five minutes, you’re very aware of every muscle you’re using. It was always painful, at first. But over the course of the season, those “attention muscles” strengthened and locked into the right place automatically. After a month or so, it was as easy as lying down.

I never thought I would get to a place where running came naturally to me. But after months on a treadmill, I’m starting to have that old attention feeling. Even if I’m running down the street totally zoned out, my feet keep a steady pace. I don’t have to think about it anymore.

This week, I found out that my favorite cat Gandalf, my companion of twelve years, has cancer. I’ve always felt sure that he’d live to a ripe old age. A month ago, he seemed fine. Now he’s declining so fast that he likely won’t see October. As I looked at an X-ray of his fluid-filled lung and heard the finality in the vet’s voice, I felt my old grief muscles snap into place. In that hazy moment of shock, before I even had time to process the situation, I instinctively knew how to brace myself for a painful reality. I didn’t park on “This cannot be happening”; I automatically moved into “Okay. What do we need to do?” Because when it comes to loss, I have a lot of miles under my feet.

This is the first time I’ve recognized the value of my experiences as training. Not only for general growth, or to encourage others, but also to build my strength and capability for all the losses and crises still ahead of me. To make an increasingly worn path for my heart to follow. To give me an autopilot. It’s never easy, but it gets easier. People like to say that hearts, like bones, are stronger where they’ve been broken. I believe it.

The night before I ran my 5K, I thought about all the times I’d had a cramp, or felt overheated, or my stomach hurt, but I ran anyway. My training gave me peace that whatever happened, I could keep running anyway. As I now care for my feline BFF in his last days (which have come much too soon), it’s both reassuring and depressing to look back over my life and think, I already know this. I’ve done it before. I can do it again.

I have more to say along these lines, but it didn’t gel with the rest of the post. So, part 2 to come next week.

6 Comments + Posted in: cats, empowerment, grief


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4.5 stars)
Ifemelu leaves her native Nigeria for America after education strikes prevent her from completing college. She expects her sweetheart, Obinze, to join her within a couple of years. But life doesn’t turn out as planned for either of them. This novel is a large-scale treatise on race, family, politics, and identity. It’s also a love story. I’ve never read anything like it, and am now more motivated to diversify my to-read list.

Rock-Bottom Blessings: Discovering God’s Abundance When All Seems Lost by Karen Beattie (4 stars)
Karen Beattie has been through some stuff. Within a period of a few years, she was laid off, nearly went broke, lost her mom suddenly, and dealt with infertility and thwarted adoptions, all after getting married at 40. She understands the struggle to hang on to a positive faith when everyone else is easily receiving the things you desperately want. I related to her and loved her honesty and her story.

Belles by Jen Calonita (3 stars)
Since her single mom died in an accident, Izzie has lived with her grandma in the boardwalk town of Harborside. When her grandma’s Alzheimer’s becomes too severe, Izzie is whisked away to live with distant relatives in high-society Emerald Cove. Her new family includes Mira, a Gossip Girl the same age as Izzie, and they don’t exactly hit it off. I read a lot of YA novels that could be ABC Family pilots, but this one takes the cake in both good and bad ways. While it isn’t terrible, it’s a little flat and formulaic.

Singled Out: Why Celibacy Must Be Reinvented in Today’s Church by Christine A. Col√≥n and Bonnie E. Field (4.5 stars)
A much-needed discussion of how single Christians are supposed to live now, as many of us remain single into our 30s, 40s, and beyond. Raised with the expectation that our abstinence and single life would end quickly, we need more acceptance from and inclusion in the Church, as well as more long-term solutions. I agree with and appreciate all of the authors’ points, and strongly encourage anyone in ministry to read this book. I will say that it took me a long time to finish, because soon after starting it, I was no longer in the mood to think deeply about my singleness and its potential permanence. But, you know. Reality.

The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols (3 stars)
After making the majorette line at her high school, Gemma and her best frenemy Addison meet two cute football players at a camp at Georgia Tech. Gemma and Max have instant chemistry, so she’s stunned when he asks Addison out instead. While there’s a lot of great dimension to this plot and to Gemma and Max as characters, I can only ride the Misunderstanding Train so far, hence the 3 stars. (Also, Addison is incredibly annoying.) However, yay for a peripherally band-related novel. We band nerds demand more!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (4 stars)
Lara Jean, the middle of three close-knit sisters, is a closet romantic. Too shy to tell the guys she’s liked how she really feels, she keeps a box of confessional letters that she never intends to send (I can relate). Then someone finds and mails the letters, the boys – including her sister’s ex-boyfriend – start confronting her, and all hell breaks loose. This story is as much about family as it is about boys, and there are some unexpected twists. Fun times!

Books for August: 6
2014 year to date: 46

1 Comment + Posted in: book reviews


General Highlights:

August 2014 was my most eventful month in a LONG time. I turned 35 and milked it for all it was worth, including an Ingram Hill show and a triple birthday party at Mollie Fontaine’s. I successfully ran a full 5K for the first time. I co-hosted a baby shower for one of my best friends, who’s expecting her first baby. I partied on the Orpheum stage and the Peabody and Madison rooftops. I spent almost all of my waking non-work hours out with friends old and new. I met wonderful new people at dinner clubs and neighborhood block parties and church events until I reached complete introvert burnout. Then I went to Miami with my family for a week!


Read and Reading:

I spent most of August with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, an autobiographical novel about the Nigerian experience in America and beyond. (I intended to read it with the Red Couch Book Club in July, but the book wasn’t available at my library until later.) It was excellent, but took me forrreeeeverrrr for some reason. The rest of my book list, which will post tomorrow, was read on a plane. My two favorites were Karen Beattie’s Rock-Bottom Blessings – an honest reflection on life seemingly passing you by – and Jenny Han’s latest novel, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. (Lara Jean’s private, cathartically written letters to her past loves are discovered and mailed. Chaos ensues.)



I finally downloaded Ingrid Michaelson’s Lights Out album, and it’s great, especially the fearless “Time Machine.” I also discovered Grouplove via their The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack contribution, “Let Me In” (which I listened to about ten times one day). Other tracks I spun obsessively: Meghan Trainor’s confidence booster “All About That Bass”; “Love Robbery” by Kalin & Myles (I offer no excuse); T. Swift’s latest, “Shake It Off” (the video is exactly the kind of video I would make); and Beyonce’s “Get Me Bodied,” which blasted from the past to become my unexpected birthday-month anthem.

Ang – A Human Trafficking Film from Uncharted International on Vimeo.


In June, my brother Kevin went to Myanmar with Uncharted International to film a documentary about human trafficking. He posted the trailer this month, and it’s very powerful. They’re having a red-carpet premiere in Evansville on October 2. The documentary is NOT just a commercial for their ministry – some stuff went down while they were filming. I am continually in awe of my brother’s talent and so proud that he’s using it for good.



Once again, I mainly ate salads when I was at home this month (like this one, with homegrown cherry tomatoes!). But I painted the town restaurant-wise. I hit up Interim and Belle Bistro for my birthday, and was in Overton Square constantly. Then I enjoyed pounds of fresh fish and key lime pie in Florida. September might be a good time to rein it in a little.



I finally tried Maybelline’s Baby Lips lip balms, and they live up to the hype! They’re SPF 20 (good for the beach/pool/boat) and have the perfect amount of color. Cherry Me and Oh Orange make my Fall complexion happy.

Random Happiness:

In August my insurance company agreed to cover a new roof for my house! I’ve been worried about this situation for many months, and the lifting of the potential financial burden is HUGE. Now I can travel and live more adventurously again. Thanks be to God, and to my BFF Alanna’s fiance, who helped me with the claim.

I got a new boss at work this month! This, too, was an answer to prayer. We haven’t worked together too much yet, but I have a good feeling about her.

Pinterest Quote of the Month:




As aforementioned, I just got back from my annual family trip to Miami and the Keys. (I visit Miami at other times too, but this one is set in stone.) I’ll post a recap (including what a day of lobstering is like) later this week!

On The Blog:

In connection with my birthday, I shared 35 quotes that shape my life, listed my role models, and talked about my birthday bond with Elvis.

I had some empowering epiphanies in August, and finally realized that I can trust and depend on my friends. I felt a major shift in my life and heart this month. I hope it sticks.

Posts I Loved:

♥ Cara at Little Did She Know: The Beautiful Already. Cara is killing it these days, so just go read all her posts!

♥ Allison Vesterfelt at Storyline: The Easiest Way to Get Exactly What You Want (a lesson I have learned powerfully this month)

♥ Amy at The Messy Middle, reflecting on family tradition: When The Baton Is Passed to You

♥ On Pop Theology: Harry, Severus, and David: The Danger of a Single Narrative

♥ Myla Smith: The To Don’t List

♥ Kate Conner: Look Up (Why I Hated Women’s Ministry)

♥ Amber at Tabula Rasa: Less Than

♥ LOL of the Month: Glennon Melton: See No Jesse, Hear No Jesse, Speak No Jesse

What I'm Into

6 Comments + Posted in: what i'm into


For me, and I think for most people, one of the worst things about singleness is the pervasive sense of alienation. We may have happy, active social lives, but when everyone goes home and the house is quiet, we don’t belong to anyone but ourselves (and God, but that’s not the focus of this post). We are not anyone’s primary loyalty or priority. No one has vowed to love and cherish us, lodge where we lodge, or stick by us until the bitter end. When you get down to it, we’re on our own.

I’m really fortunate to come from a close family, and I know I belong to and with my parents and siblings. But I’ve never felt completely secure in my friendships. For various reasons, as a teenager and young adult, I never quite let my guard down. I always felt like the dispensable one in any relationship. I half expected my friends to ditch me at any time. During my 20s, I formed several solid, healing friendships that are still in place. Then my marriage fell apart. The foundation cracked, and some other connections that should have been solid cracked with it. Even as my head acknowledged my ex-husband’s neglect and abandonment as an isolated incident, not representative of my relationships in general, my heart kept saying, The only person you can depend on to have your back is you. Do not get too attached or dependent on anyone. People always leave. I’m thankful for the strength this outlook gave me (and still does, sometimes), but it wasn’t much healthier than my old passive insecurity. It was just the empowered flip side. Understandable under the circumstances, but not a good long-term philosophy. I’ve spent years working my way out of it.

This summer, I have finally stopped holding my breath in my close friendships, near and far. It’s been a time of growth and positive change, with hopefully more to come, and as it’s unfolded my friends have been so steadfast. I’m living more dangerously, in a good way, and they’ve cheered me on and then helped me up without one “I told you so.” I’ve been friends with some of these people for over ten years, but I fully understand for the first time that they really love me. They want me to have the desires of my heart almost as much as I want them for myself, and they believe that it’s possible when I can’t anymore. They see my bruises the same way I do – as badges of honor. We are all in the arena together, and when we share wise words with each other, they’re often followed by, “You taught me that.” (Then we all feel pretty awesome for being able to quote ourselves to ourselves.)

Yes, many of my friends have spouses and families, and hopefully the ones who don’t eventually will too. But that loyalty can coexist with other loyalties. Yes, some friends come and go, but some are with you for life, no matter where life takes you.

I don’t deserve it. But I can hang my hat on it. And it’s good to be home at last.

19 Comments + Posted in: friends, relationships, singleness, thankful

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Two of my close friends, Alanna and Hillary, have birthdays the same week as mine. This year we turned 29, 30, and 35, respectively, so we decided a triple birthday celebration was a must! Of the three of us, Hillary is the most in touch with what’s cool around town, so we welcomed her suggestion of the Mollie Fontaine Lounge near downtown. It was an EXCELLENT choice.

The lounge is across Adams Avenue from the historic Woodruff-Fontaine House (as well as the Mallory-Neely House and the James Lee House Bed & Breakfast). The house was built in 1886. There are bars downstairs and upstairs, and several lavishly decorated rooms for lounging. It’s perfect for a large group – you can just take over a room and not bother anyone. (Though a guy poked his head in to ask if we were having a pajama party. ???)

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I had a peachy gin concoction (I forgot the name immediately, which might be further proof that it’s good?) and the mac and cheese. Both were heavenly.

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Myla and I both wore animal print, which was funny since “wild” is not our primary characteristic.

Okay, let’s pretend this is RSVP Magazine:

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This party was a wonderful finale to my uber-extended birthday celebrations (yes, I’m done – you’re welcome)! I definitely plan to go back to Mollie’s.

2 Comments + Posted in: birthday, friends, memphis

I have been away from this blog, kicking off 35 with a BANG.

Last Thursday, Hillary and I went to the Peabody rooftop to see Ingram Hill, a local band that’s had some national success. I’ve been a fan since the early aughts and love their recent stuff too, so I’d been looking forward to this show all summer. The rooftop was packed with Memphians of a Certain Age who knew all the words. While I really wanted to hear “The Day Your Luck Runs Out” and “Finish What We Started,” they played so many other great songs that I can’t complain. After the show, we got a picture with Justin, since we’re practically the only locals who didn’t already know him. (I was briefly in marching band with the original drummer, but he’d never remember me.)


On Saturday morning, I ran the Elvis Presley 5K at Graceland! Until a few years ago, I couldn’t run at all. I slowly increased my intervals of running and have done many 5Ks running and walking. But it remained a struggle until last fall, when, miraculously, my shin splints disappeared and I no longer felt like I was suffocating when I ran. I started “training” for this race in May, determined to run the whole thing without stopping. Well, I DID IT, and couldn’t believe how easy it was and how great I felt afterward! My time took a big hit – 39:35 – but my goal this time was endurance, not speed. I could have gone faster but wanted to make sure I wouldn’t melt down at the end. Now I know I can push harder! Memphis is a city of highly competitive runners, so I often feel apologetic for being excited about something like a 5K. But it was a big accomplishment TO ME.

Early on in the race, I caught up with a block of sailors from the Millington Navy base who were running in formation. Thinking these people know about endurance, I decided to hang with them and had a great time! Plus, if I’m running with the Navy, I must be doing okay!

My dad came out to support me, which was really nice of him (as usual). Then he took me to Pancake Shop for a birthday breakfast.

That night, I went downtown with some friends. We had an amazing dinner at Belle Bistro on Union near Main, then drinks at one of my favorite places in Memphis, the Madison Hotel rooftop. Unlike the Peabody rooftop, it has an outdoor bar/lounge area and an unobstructed view of the river and bridge. We missed the sunset, but the night view is beautiful too. Looking out over the dark river slightly placates my longing for the ocean.


On Sunday afternoon, I Love Memphis was having their own birthday party at the Wiseacre brewery, so my friend Ashley and I hung out there for a couple of hours. Later, my parents took me out for my birthday dinner with them. I chose Interim this year and was NOT disappointed! The seared yellowfin tuna was to die for.

This isn’t even the end of my birthday celebrations – I also have a joint party with two of my best friends tomorrow night! If all this is any indication, 35 could be a pretty great year. May it be so.

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