June 09, 2009 ~ 1 Comment

next step: godliness

ocd shower
This pretty much exemplifies my OCD: paired, color-coded bath products. I’m a little bothered by the asymmetry of the white products (it’s hard to even see the little sample bottle of conditioner next to the bath puff) but I can handle it.

For the past two nights, I have read one of my many books, done some serious cardio, watched season-one episodes of “Gilmore girls,” ate fruit and yogurt, took part in some version of a skin care regimen, took my meds and flossed. I’ve also taken two showers a day. All that sums up to some major inner and outer cleanliness, which feels GREAT. I am sore as heck, but that’s the best part—progress back toward my ideal level of fitness! I’m giving my arm as much of a break as possible, of course, so my lower body is getting most of the punishment.

But now I am tired and unable to think of anything else to say…

azulExcept this!! Carla had her baby girl this afternoon! So exciting and STRANGE to think she has a child. I can’t wait to meet her when I go home again, but it probably won’t be until Christmas… Wow. So long in the scheme of babyhood. She’ll be six months old by then! Crazy. Anyway, she came out 6 lbs 13 oz, named Azul Christiana. Love it. Here’s a photo! Goodnight.

June 08, 2009 ~ Comments Off

illness redux?

My fiery arm and I went to the doctor at noon on Saturday. The wait was minimal and the wonderfully nice nurse from my Catholic bible study who first got me an appointment there was working the front desk, so I got to catch up with her briefly. I felt infinite guilt for dropping the study when I was recovering from pneumonia. The breakup with Dennis and moving kept me away for the remainder. I just couldn’t be there anymore. But she didn’t prod for answers—she even offered to let me come live with her if I wanted. =) People are mysteriously nice sometimes.

Anyway, the doc sent me in for an x-ray right off the bat, which I knew would show absolutely nothing (ding!). When he came into the exam room, I shoved my list of ailments in his hand. I figured I’d keep track of all my aches, pains and weirdnesses in case a pattern revealed itself in my various problems. He stapled my list into my chart (surprising) and ordered some major bloodwork. The nurse came in to take four vials and give me an anti-inflammatory shot in my hip. She also handed off a prescription for two anti-inflammatory meds and one nerve med to try to deal with whatever was happening with my arm. Apparently my litany of symptoms prompted the doc to call for a CT scan of my head, which the nurse sprang on me as I collected my belongings and prepared to leave. Fun! I was just glad not to have to drink any contrast or wait two hours. I was in and out of the office in about an hour and a half.

Prescriptions filled, my arm is feeling a bit better, but the pain lingers. I’m not kept immobile by it now, though, which makes me think at least one of the three meds is working. The fact that I still have some pain when taking deep breaths, yawning and sneezing makes me think that the pleurisy inflammation never fully faded, so methinks it’s hanging around other places too.

I spent the weekend doing a lot of sleeping. I took a long nap on Saturday that lasted most of the afternoon and evening. Woke up early Sunday for breakfast with RP at Blue Plate Café before church. Went to the early service at Highpoint Church and then their Green Light class for those just starting out with the church. Watched “The Visitor” (wonderful film; made me rethink my stance on illegal immigrants… at least a little) and rounded out the afternoon with another nap.

The weekend ended with a bang when team Bigger, Badder, Bushier went into the Memphis Trivia Finals swinging on Sunday night! Dan McGuinness was packed and closed to all but trivia participants for the evening. A total of 67 teams were competing from across the city, so after just squeaking by to qualify for the finals (we were 12th place of 12 teams accepted from our semifinals location) I didn’t have high expectations for this leg of the race. But. BUT. I was astonished and grinning like a fool when I heard we were in SECOND PLACE at halftime. Second FREAKING place, people! Of 67 teams!

I can take no credit for this, aside from being the most gung-ho about trivia and getting the team there in the first place. I did answer one question that no one else knew (name of Oscar the Grouch’s orange worm friend) but that was hardly a big help. Our team was almost entirely not our own, too, which was kind of a bummer, but the replacements were extremely smart men from the promotions department at Channel 3. BC, our hub and the team’s namesake, didn’t attend because he was pulled between two teams initially and then got forced out by replacements. =\ But CB, our other regular, was there and the Channel 3 guys were his friends, so I was glad for all of them.

As we went into the final question, we’d dropped slightly to fourth place, but we were keeping hope alive. Though the riskier members of our team wanted to bet the full 30 points on the final question, I’m glad we went with 0, since we were way off. Final questions are tough. We had to participate in a tie breaker question at the end (total area of the State of Missouri?) but found out later it was to figure out who would be 13th and who would be 14th. =P But still top 15! Which meant we won a prize! So now we have a half-food/half-alcohol $50 gift certificate for T.J. Mulligan’s next door to my apartment complex (woo!) and $100 free play at Southland Park Gaming & Racing (woo?) So, we got free booze, bar food and some money for the track. Makes me laugh every time I think about it. =)

So, that was my weekend. My test results are pending from the dr., but they’ll call me in earlier than my six-week followup if anything crazy turns up. I’m excited about their testing my thyroid though—I have a good feeling that’s part of several longtime problems for me. So we’ll see! For now, it’s bedtime. Peace and love, kidlets.

May 17, 2009 ~ Comments Off

a tribute to team trivia

We are all linked in certain ways to certain people. The smaller the group, the closer the knit, the more bonded we feel. On the broadest scale, we are human beings, relating to each other because we share a phase in evolutionary progress. We are Americans. We are Tennesseans. We are Memphians. As the sizes of these groups lessen, our loyalty builds. If we hear about a fellow Memphian in the grander scheme of national news, we experience a sense of camaraderie. If a coworker or neighbor is put on public trial, we will stand in support of his cause.

It is loyalty and community like this that sometimes surprises me, especially under circumstances of competition. So when I heard applause break through the hanging smoke of the crowded barroom tonight, I was brought nearly to tears. The 12th-place name announced was ours, and the clapping came from a team across the room, one with whom we’d been competing the past few months at a similarly smoky barroom across town. To hear anyone applaud for us besides ourselves was surprising, but it reminded me how closely knit we feel coming from the same Wednesday-night Fox & Hound subset of the Memphis Trivia League.

Here is a quick rundown of how the league works for those unfamiliar… Teams convene at 43 bars across Memphis and the surrounding area and vie for points, gift certificates and standing at their respective bars. This regular competition goes on for a number of weeks, during which teams can be comprised of any number of players and show up whenever they want. At our location, first, second and third place teams each week received $50, $25 and $10 gift certificates (respectively) to the Fox & Hound for food, games and non-alcoholic drinks. Other bars have their own system for compensation. Each win gives that team a certain number of points that are tallied on the online leaderboard. Once the regular season ends, the top five teams from each location qualify for the first round of semifinals. Seven bars’ worth of teams compete in these initial semi-finals. With no-shows, 28 teams were in the game tonight at Brookhaven Pub & Grill off Poplar. From here, the top 12 teams will advance to the next round of semi-finals and on into infamy.

In all those weeks at the Fox & Hound, we began forming bonds, not only with our own teammates, but also with those who faced similar challenges. With a cheating team constantly coming out on top, we became closer with the often second-place winners, Spinal Tappin’ That Ass (hereafter STTA). They are a kind-mannered bunch of nerds (like us) who win totally on their own smarts and merit, no iPhones necessary. We always felt better when STTA beat Boats and Hoes (the cheaters, hereafter B&H) and when STTA showed up so low in the standings at halftime tonight, we were sad for them. B&H didn’t show their faces, but we still wanted STTA to make it through. They deserved it after such a valiant effort in the regular season. Little did I know, but STTA was cheering us on too.

When the final 12 teams were called that qualified for round two, we clapped when STTA was tied for 9th place. And when they called us as team 12, STTA cheered for us. Not just clapped, but CHEERED. They then walked over to our table, congratulated us with big smiles. Even as competitors, we were so happy to see that both teams had made it through. I rarely see such genuine sentiment these days. We were bonded by our shared location, our honest/fair playing practices, our desire to beat B&H into the ground and a general nerdiness that comes with being trivia players. And we were both underdogs, rising from the ashes of 25th+ place and 20th place to reach 9th and 12th. That’s a lot to go on.

Humanity astounds me sometimes. Even when I feel like the most selfish person alive, I still know that I’d be happy to see STTA win it all. It wouldn’t make me feel like I’d won it all by association. And I wouldn’t feel envious that we didn’t make it that far. I’d just feel happy that these great people won. That they showed us support, and we showed it back, and they took the win. I hope that happens. They’d deserve it.

Go BBB, go STTA. Team Trivia FTW.

May 11, 2009 ~ 3 Comments

when she bars the door and strikes a match

I am speechless. I have no idea how to express to all of you the realization I’ve now come to about myself: I am insane. I am honest to goodness loco, people. And all it took for me to see that was an empty 1-liter bottle of Mountain Dew.

Said bottle was labeled in black Sharpie, “Matt’s from the first day we met—6/12/04, Rivertown Crossings Mall.” This empty soda bottle was from the first day I met my second boyfriend, in 2004!

This was not the extent of my unearthed crazy however. I had an entire box filled with notes, greeting cards, ticket stubs, Pizza Hut placemats, crispy roses, wrapping paper bits, USED BIRTHDAY CANDLES IN A LABELED ZIPLOC BAG. This was just one relationship of five, so you can imagine how the memorabilia adds up over time.

I swear I paced around my bedroom for 10 minutes after discovering this trove, wondering aloud how I could’ve thought these things were worth saving. The sad part is, these items mean nothing to me now. I remember almost nothing about the events associated with these mementos. The things I do remember don’t require bits of paper and plastic and extensive cataloging to stick in my memory. Though I will say I’m happy to have found my hand-painted “My First LAN” T-shirt. THAT I will wear again. =)

Even as I scoffed at my hoarding, some of the items also gave me pause. It occurred to me how my memories of people, places and events do not always accurately convey the reality. I remember this boyfriend and the surrounding circumstances a certain way, but those items revealed a different reality. And maybe what drove the reality was silly and stupid, but it’s just so strange to realize how little I recall now of the emotions and exchanges and actual relationship. What I remember are the really bad times, the hurt, the confusion and the stupidity (mine). I remember the time spent on the road, the stress I felt over the circumstances, the cold water. But there was something good in all that—there had to have been, I suppose, or we wouldn’t have been in the middle of it. It’s just so hard to see through the shroud of negativity I’ve placed on the situation now. It has nothing to do with the person himself, but everything to do with the situation and the timing. And me.

I just can’t believe what I’ve found in these past two days. I spent years collecting bits and pieces of memories, most of which were other people’s. I have programs from plays/concerts I wasn’t in, yearbooks in which my picture did not appear, photos taken from afar. What were these items meant to remind me of? The fact that I never truly lived and instead chose to live through the feelings brought on by others? That’s all I can think of now when I reflect on these yellowed, tattered remnants of bygone years.

What I note as I look back is that my best memories (those that are truly mine) have almost no physical manifestation today. There are a few snapshots scattered throughout my boxes, but what remains are the mental flickerings of middle school and high school with Mandy and Carla. College with the former. Even the days of pursuing unrequited love.

I’ve cried and laughed several times as I’ve looked through all these pieces of my life, amassed in the basement of my mother’s house. And, even more often, I’ve sneezed. But the lesson I’ve come away with is that these things aren’t me. They are things I want to remember, things that helped shape my personality along the way. But they do not define who I’ve become. I am so much more than these dusty boxes, empty soda bottles and coupons that expired in 1988. I am ready to rise from this rubble and start the next phase of my life. AND NOT KEEP ANOTHER DAMN THING, NO MATTER HOW SPECIAL THE EVENT. Good grief.


April 21, 2009 ~ Comments Off

emerald isle, ahoy!

So, here’s the deal, since I’ve been fairly absent of late and a lot has been going on…

I decided to take a trip to Ireland. Why? Well, during one of many long discussions with my coworkers about my relatively poor mental health recently, one of them mentioned his past trips to Ireland. It reminded me how much I’ve always wanted to go there, so I thought, Why the hell not? So I’m going. October 3, 2009. The flight is booked already.

Why Ireland?
There are several reasons. To me, Ireland epitomizes laid-back culture: quiet villages, neighborhood pubs, friendly locals, green landscapes, seaside cliffs, rolling hills – it’s like a freaking wonderland over there, but still so understated and navigable. While I’d also like to see Italy and Australia, those are places that require more than a week’s vacation. And while Ireland deserves more than a week, I can manage the Republic in 7.5 days, so that’s what I’m going to do.

What’s the plan?
There isn’t one, really. I started planning this transcontinental getaway about a week ago, with the intention of going the first week of June. But various obstacles cropped up and I found a cheaper flight in October ($600!!) than the already cheap flight in June, so I thought I’d save $100+ on the flight, $70 on expediting my new passport, $50 on lodging (low season in Oct.), various fees on being an under-25 car renter, etc. Besides, I now have 5 months to make that plan that I’m thus far lacking.

No, really – what’s the plan?
If you must know, IrishTourism.com got the ball rolling with all their awesome self-drive vacation packages. I started out with their 7-day tours of the Republic and wasted invested a lot of time figuring out details, prices and the like. At this point, I’ve decided to take the reins entirely and go with straight B&B vouchers, no strings attached, no requirements for where I need to be or when I need to get there. I will plan ahead, of course, but nothing will be set in stone. I will rent a cheap car (maybe even learn to drive a stick before I go, so I can get around even more cheaply) and set off into the green. I’m salivating a little just thinking about it. =)

Most likely. Though I’ve had vague interest from a few parties when I issued an open invitation to join up, I rather doubt anyone will accompany me, and I fully intend to hit the trail alone. I’m OK with that. And Ireland? It’s one of the safest countries for me to do it. Not entirely safe, of course, but I don’t plan to enter any dark alleys in Dublin either. In fact, I’ll probably stay away from the cities as much as possible, hitting the Dublin highlights my last day or so before hopping my flight back to the States. But I’m not afraid. Not of long flights, a crazy number of unknowns, staying in various rural B&Bs by myself. I think I will be cared for in Ireland, and I will keep my eyes open and my mind alert. Except when I’m gazing out over picturesque cliffs into deep blue waters beyond. Then? I’ll just gaze.

So, that’s what I’m doing in October. What about you?