In the midst of tragedy

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord… 

I’m struggling, readers.  As you may have noticed, I’ve been absent from the blog for awhile, and it’s taken a tragedy to bring me back.  I sit here with endless thoughts and words running through my mind, but without the slightest clue how to go about organizing them in a coherent manner.  I have no plan.  But still, I must proceed, if for no other reason than to process these feelings of grief and confusion the only way I know how – through writing.  

Photo: Never EVER be mean Girls to your Friends. Even in the moment ❤️ please learn from this !!
Meet Hailey: a beautiful, kind, vibrant 21-year-old woman filled with passion.  Passion for the Lord, passion for the outdoors, passion for learning, passion for working with and educating children, passion for her adorable Beagle, Hank, passion for her family, her friends, and for the love of her life, Stephen.

Meet Stephen: a handsome, generous, kindhearted and fun loving Christian man whose heart has been dedicated to Hailey for over six years, and who (along with his parents and sister) has been extremely special to my family for my entire life.  


Hailey and Stephen set the bar incredibly high when it came to healthy, happy, loving and truly admirable relationships.  Their example is one I strive for daily in my own relationship.  It didn’t take much to see that they were absolutely crazy about each other – their happiness radiated wherever they went, and it never faded with time.  Not only did they share that rare, soul-mate kind of love that many yearn for, but they had an immense, visible respect for one another, along with unending mutual support, inherently positive attitudes and steadfast faith in their Lord.  And they had so much FUN together.  They were going to make it.       

And then, the unthinkable happened.  There was a tragic accident, which took sweet Hailey’s life.

And now – after traveling home to pay my respects to her family and to Stephen and his family; after seeing them utterly shattered, shocked and grief-stricken; after hugging them, and crying with them and not knowing what to say; after attending the emotional service celebrating her life and being astounded by the number of people gathered there whose lives she touched; after seeing her beautiful, peaceful face one last time – now, I’m here.  And I’m thinking and feeling and processing and taking it all in.  

And my heart is breaking for Stephen because he lost his true love.  
And my heart is rejoicing that Hailey was able to find her soul-mate in her 21 short years.
And my stomach is sick with grief for her family because no one can ever prepare for this.
And my faith is shaken.
And I’m simply dumbfounded that this could even happen.
And I’m angry because it isn’t fair.
And I can’t stop asking “Why?” 
And I’m reminded of how much I take for granted.
And I’m holding my husband tighter. 
And I’m praying harder.
And I’m thankful for today.
And I’m hopeful for tomorrow.
And I’m comforted by thoughts of Hailey as a gorgeous angel smiling down from Heaven.
And I feel privileged to have known her and grateful for her kindness to my family. 

And all I want is for God to wrap His arms tightly around the Bordeaux and Stafford families, and everyone who is hurting during this impossibly difficult time, and for Him to never let go.

Because as much as I’m feeling right now, I cannot even begin to imagine what they are going through.  They’ve lost a daughter, a sister, a one-day wife, a dear friend, and a genuinely wonderful person.  And it’s just so sad.  But, based on my experiences with her and all the stories and memories I’ve heard and read from her family and friends, her life, though cut short, was full – full of purpose, full of love, full of energy, full of happiness, and full of faith.  

And I know that faith is important at a time like this, so, through the confusion, anger, and doubt, I’m praying.  And if you happen to be reading this and are a person of faith, please send up a prayer for Hailey and her loved ones.  She was a truly beautiful soul, and she will continue to be loved and missed by many.               

(Pictures taken from Facebook.) 

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An open letter from Jesus

Dear Christians,

It’s me, Jesus.  You know, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind, Emmanuel and all that.  So…We need to talk.  I know it’s rude of me to just show up out of the blue like this, but you’ve got me a little bummed out, and, frankly, I just had to speak up.

See, when I left you guys, things were going pretty well.  I mean, it wasn’t perfect, but most of you really seemed to get me and what I was all about.  We’d spend time together, just shooting the breeze.  We’d talk about the world, life, love, and, before we knew it, I was introducing you to my Dad.  We were pretty close.

Remember when we’d travel together, frequenting all the local joints, starting up conversations with the regulars?  Man, we met some interesting people.  We’d listen to their stories, and sometimes I’d throw in a parable of my own.  So many teachable moments.  Those were the days.

I really miss hanging out with you.  Lately, it seems the only time I see you is on the occasional Sunday at church.  You’ll run up to me and give me a giant hug or a high five, and we’ll sit down and have a friendly chat – you know, catch up like old pals.  But, then, if our paths cross later on in public, you act super weird – like I’m some A-list celebrity and you’re one of the privileged few allowed in my inner circle.  It’s as if any outsiders – those who haven’t met me or who just don’t find me all that interesting – simply don’t make the cut in your book.

What’s up with that?  I mean, don’t get me wrong – it means a lot that you think I’m a cool dude and all, but you know I’m all about inclusion.  I have no inner circle.  No matter your creed, gender, race, background, economic status, whatever…let’s hang out!  I can’t stand that elitist “members only” nonsense.  Have you forgotten how awesome people can be if you just take the time to get to know them?  So what if they’re different from you – that’s even better!  Different is good.

Dad wanted to remind you that, no matter how different (or wrong) you feel someone is, you all have something in common: He created you in His image, and He loves you equally.  Just as you are.  No matter what.  Like any good Dad, he doesn’t pick favorites, and neither should you.  Remember the conversation we had awhile back about loving one another?  Maybe I wasn’t clear.  I meant love everyone, not just the popular kids.  I’m not feeling the love, guys.

I hope you’re not taking this the wrong way.  I’m just asking you to open your minds a little, embrace the diversity this world has to offer.  Let yourselves be challenged.  Experience other cultures.  Listen to a different point of view.  Spend less time judging and more time loving.  I promise, if you put yourselves out there, you’ll find that most people are pretty neat.  And, you know what?  I’d bet they’d think you were pretty neat, too!

Anyway, glad I got that off my chest.  I hope we’ve all learned something here.  Just remember, when in doubt, it’s simple – do whatever I would do.  And spread the LOVE.  I’ve got faith in you, Christians.  Do me proud.

Oh, and Dad sends His love.

Peace,

Jesus

Photo courtesy of: http://www.ibelieve.com

On crying in a bathtub on my wedding day

No, trusting blogosphere, my headline was not intended as a hyperbolic ploy to lure you in and win your readership (though I can’t say the thought didn’t cross my mind…)  It’s true.  I did in fact cry.  In a bathtub.  On my wedding day.  Now I’m sure you’re cringing as images of Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride come to mind, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  No need to flood my inbox with referrals for your best friend’s cousin’s hairdresser’s marriage counselor.  And please no phone calls to my mother about your concern for her daughter’s well being.  Let me explain.

You see, this weekend I had the privilege of attending the nuptials of one of my dear, dear friends.  And, make no mistake, it was beautiful.  An exquisite, magical and overwhelmingly joyous occasion for all.  As I watched the happy couple dance the night away, gazing lovingly into one another’s eyes with that familiar “newlywed glow,” I couldn’t help but reminisce about my own wedding day.

I remember waking up in my hotel room, my sister curled up next to me in our comfy king sized bed and my bridesmaids sleeping quietly nearby.  We’d been very fortunate at check-in the day before as the front desk staff, upon discovering that the honeymoon suite was unoccupied for the night, graciously upgraded us at no extra charge.  I felt like royalty awaking to a spectacular view of the Charleston Harbor, the historic peninsula not far off in the distance.  The plans had been finalized to the very last detail.  The ceremony had been rehearsed.  There would be no more fittings or tastings or meltdowns over budget crises and last minute changes.  For the first time in months I awoke to a sense of calm.  This was it.  I could breathe.

So while the bridal party serenely indulged in a last half hour of sleep, I tiptoed into the larger-than-life bathroom and treated myself to a wedding day bubble bath.  My favorite Pandora station quietly serenading me, I rested my head on the edge of the tub, allowing the warm water to rise up to my chin.  Eyes closed, I took a series of deep breaths, and as I exhaled I felt my mind clearing, a weight lifting from my chest.  I allowed myself to be fully present in the moment – to soak up the significance of the day.

And as I banned all checklists, timelines, menus and floral arrangements from my thoughts, I found myself processing the very reason for my presence in this particular place at this particular time.  The reason for all the excitement and stress and planning (not to mention the obscene amount of money donated by my generous parents for “the cause”).  On this day, in a few short hours, I would stand in front of my soul mate, professing to him my eternal love and promising him the rest of my days, in front of God and everyone.

And that, oh blogosphere, as I lay chin-deep in fragrant bubbles, is when the tears came.  What began as a minor sniffle quickly escalated into uncontrollable sobbing.  In that moment I dismissed the strange episode as wedding jitters.  I simply needed to “get it all out” to avoid unleashing the flood during my walk down the aisle.  But looking back, I’m able to accept the tears for what they really were.

They were joy.  They were fear.  They were the nerves that often accompany the approach of a life-altering event.  They were the acceptance of an era’s end.  They were a step toward adulthood and responsibility, a step away from the safe arms of parental dependence.  They were an unwillingness to give up being “Daddy’s little girl.”  They were an irrational notion that this all may be a dream.  They were an image of my almost-husband standing at the front of the church, seeing me in my wedding dress for the very first time.  They were the simultaneous excitement and sheer terror of sharing a home with a messy stinky boy (Sorry, hubs).  They were thoughts of growing old together.  They were plans for puppies and hopes for children.  They were love.

(Cue affectionate sighs and sentimental music.)

So yes, blogosphere, I cried in a bathtub on my wedding day.  And, dare I say, it was the best cry I’ve ever had.

For you, just in case.

I had a moment today.  One of those moments where a memory invades your mind with such abruptness and intensity that you’re forced to pause and allow it to run its course.  Patiently you must wait as the past has its way with you, however inconsiderate and unexpected its visit may be.  The past is not known for its manners.

This particular memory introduced itself kindly enough, greeting me with a familiar smile.  The type of impossibly happy grin one doesn’t soon forget.  Just a face and a smile, this memory, attached to tall brown body, lean and lanky with just enough muscle to reveal athleticism.  No definite time or place in this moment, just an image.

But as my moment continued, the image became muddled, its presence fading, thus evoking a surge of emotion long suppressed.  The smile vanished, replaced by a look of something resembling fear, and then nothing.  Blank.  Once lively and welcoming, now empty, hollow.

I’m revisited by this image from time to time.  Compelled to entertain it until it grows tired of me and moves on, its weight lingering uncomfortably, like a heavy wool blanket.  The image, as you may have guessed, is of a friend.  A friend whose life, though short, was abundant and purposeful, so vibrant and significant it remains permanently and subconsciously ingrained in my soul.

Long after these moments pass, I am left burdened by an overwhelming sense of loss.  There is no feeling of regret, no longing for answers or closure, just the sting of grief accompanied by the precipitous reminder of how swiftly the ones we love can be taken from us.

Which brings me to you.  On days when moments like this one catch me off guard and knock the breath out of me, I cannot help but imagine what it would feel like to wake up in a world where, suddenly, you were no longer with me.  I don’t wish to delve into the details of how utterly and horribly sad it would be – of course it would be sad.  It would be devastating.  That said, I think the worst of it would be the missed opportunity to tell you what you mean to me, how incredibly important your existence is in this mad and chaotic world.

So often I’m reminded that you’re not simply a thing that I have found, labeled, defined and claimed as my own – something neatly packaged and one dimensional.  You are not, in fact, a thing at all.  You are a person, a unique individual.  A being with a heart that beat and a soul that thrived long before I was even a blip on your radar.  Every day I take advantage of your unwavering presence in my life.  I forget to appreciate your passion.  Your generosity.  Your love for me and for life and for cooking and traveling and nature and music and so many things that I’m probably yet to discover.

I’m taking this moment to let you know that I’m thankful for the little things that you do for no other reason than to make me happy.  I’m thankful that you never leave the house or hang up the phone without telling me you love me.  I’m thankful that you take the time to share your interests and emotions with me.  I’m thankful for all the support and advice you give me and for the times when you know I just need someone to listen.  And I’m thankful that you’ll read this post and tell me its wonderful (even if we both know it’s a bit sappy).  I am so thankful for you.

And I wanted you to know.  Because, even if this post was brought about by the memory of a tragic event from the past, you are my present and my future.  You make the tragic memories and the nightmares and the doubt and the disappointment – and all the little things that contribute to life’s obstacles – okay.  You help me find purpose and hope and constantly encourage me to keep on pushing through.  You make me better.  And I’m telling you all this not out of the fear of uncertainty, but because you deserve to be recognized just for doing a really awesome job at being you.

So this is me saying thank you and plastering my love for you across the blogosphere because, you know what, it’s about time.

I am 1 in 34

This is a beautiful post that really hits close to home for me.

Katherine Osnos Sanford

katherinemae 1 in 5 Americans has a tattoo
1 in 6 has light eyes
1 in 13 has food allergies
1 in 30 has red hair and freckles
1 in 50 has an artificial limb
1 in 68 has Autism

My daughter is 1 in 68. The CDC recently released numbers saying that 1 in 68 children are Autistic. Each one of those children has two parents who also carry that diagnosis with them, always. Does that make me 1 in 34? I think it does.

In every house, in every child, in every family, Autism looks different. But if you are a parent of a child on the spectrum, no matter where they fall, there is some common ground. I know you when I see you; we walk the same path lined with eggshells, and potholes, but it’s ours.

Below is a list that anyone in the 1 in…

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On my latest conundrum

Greetings, dearest blogosphere.  I write to you today in the midst of a conundrum.  Or what I’ve been told should be regarded as a conundrum, though it did not occur to me as such until yesterday evening whilst dining on the couch with my husband, carrying out our nightly tradition of watching the Food Network.  As I recall, I was reprimanding him for staring at his phone (in a manner which suggested that looking away would surely kill him), incessantly refreshing his eBay page to track the bidding on several records he hoped to add to his collection.

You see, ever since we acquired an old record player from Craigslist, my husband – bless his heart – spends our “quality time” obsessively perusing eBay and other relevant sites in search of  rare pressings of highly acclaimed musical masterpieces whose conditions must meet his inconceivably strict qualifications.  It’s a process.

eBay
Me?  Bitter?  Never…

Our exchange proceeded as follows:

“Hellooooo?” I repeated.  “You’re supposed to be actively watching an hour of mindless television with me as I recount each riveting detail of the very important office work I did today.  This requires your undivided attention.”

“What?  Oh.  I’m watching.  I’m listening.”

Two minutes pass.  “Hellooooo?”

“YES?  Okay babe, listen.  Enough with the nagging.  Not that I don’t enjoy vegging out with you on a nightly basis, but have you ever thought about…getting a hobby?  Like, an actual hobby.  And religiously watching New Girl and gushing over how awesome it would be to be best friends with Zooey Deschanel” – Pause.  Let’s be real.  Wouldn’t it be, though? – “does not count.”

Silence.

Commence internalized self-loathing and doubt.  Suppress brutally defensive and accusatory remarks.

Instead, smiling, “I have plenty of hobbies, my love.  You can go back to what you were doing.”  Aaaand back to watching Guy Fieri attempt to fit an entire foot long hoagie into his mouth.

guy fieri
Splendid.

While existing in a perpetual state of eBay-comatose seems to me to be a bit of an odd hobby, I must admit the hubs had a point.  What with the limited free time that having a full-time job and keeping up with household chores, not to mention the responsibility of caring for two animals, provides, it does beg the question “What could I – or should I – be doing with this precious time?”

So many things, blogosphere.  The possibilities flood my mind to such a capacity I fear my head may explode at this very moment.  Oh God.  He’s right.  I SHOULD BE DOING ALL OF THE THINGS!  But where to begin?  Which things are the things I should do first?  Which things are the most important?  Or the most rewarding?  Or…

Do you now understand my conundrum, beloved blogosphere?  Please know, I am not to be mistaken for a woman who lacks ambition.  Oh, I have loads of ambition.  The issue here is my tendency to let my ambition…let’s say to learn how to play the guitar, for example…manifest itself in a way that is, well, insane: “I am going to master the guitar!  And become a singer/songwriter!  And get discovered during an open mic night at a small, picturesque cafe and become an overnight sensation!  And…”  Whew.  I apologize – I know it can be overwhelming inside my head.  I’ve been there.  This is the trouble with all of my could-be hobbies.  They are hijacked by the evil warlord Ambition and subsequently shot down by the self-proclaimed hero Laziness.

Upon realizing that I cannot, in fact, become a master-knitter (yes, blogosphere, this was a real-life aspiration of mine) or an award-winning photographer or a Wimbledon-bound tennis player or the next Julia Child within the allotted 10 or so hours of free time bestowed upon me each week, I so often find myself saying “Screw it,” and plopping back down on the couch in hopes that, through osmosis perhaps, I can soak up the talents and life experiences of the people living inside my television.

masterknitterpinhbz-julia-child-0809-depic-wimbledon

This has yet to take place, but I’m still hopeful.

Maybe it’s not my unrealistic ambitions holding me back, but rather my sheer indecisiveness – my inability to stick with something long enough for it to hold my interest and fuel my desire to continue improving.  If overnight success was a real thing, I would have hundreds of hobbies!

Or, come to think of it, maybe it’s just plain laziness.  Maybe I subconsciously concoct these “larger than life,” unattainable and obviously over-ambitious goals so that I can quickly and inevitably fail, chalk it up to a “poor fit,” say “Well, at least I tried!,” and return to my spot on the couch before the imprint of my butt has a chance to fade.

Am I proud to spend the majority of my weeknight down time as a couch potato, blogosphere?  Not really.  Do I hope to one day muster up enough motivation to discover my extraordinary gift for interpretive ice dancing?  Of course.  But after a tedious work day, a 30 minute bus commute confined in the midst of smelly strangers, a forced workout, 18 loads of laundry and a mountain of dishes that, unfortunately, will not wash themselves, sometimes my brain feels like this:

EggDone2

And all I want to do is this:

exhausted frenchie

So there you have it.  High praise to those of you who have the time, energy and talent to overcome the monotony of the work week and lead highly interesting and productive lives.  As for me, I’ll have a nap.

 

Photos courtesy of:
http://postgradproblems.com/10-factors-when-picking-a-new-city/
http://letterstostupidpeople.blogspot.com/2010/07/dear-jackass-ebay-buyer.html
http://www.tkga.com/?page=abouttkgamasters
http://www.applianceauthority.com/recipe-of-the-day-julia-child%E2%80%99s-herb-lemon-garlic-roast-chicken/
http://www.thevideoink.com/news/watch-wimbledon-but-not-nadal-live-on-youtube/#.UzsYlvldXTo
http://contentinacottage.blogspot.com/2012/07/exhausted-french-bulldog.html
http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/FriedEgg.htm
http://www.crwashsurveyor.com/3793/opinion/getting-off-the-couch-this-summer/

On my extremely vivid night terror

Oh, hey blogosphere.  It’s been awhile.  I apologize for my brief absence, but I’ve been low on inspiration lately.  Until today, that is.  The horrific episode that interrupted my otherwise peaceful slumber last night should suffice as inspiration enough.

Let me set the stage for you – be forewarned, my dreams have a tendency to favor the inexplicable and bizarre…: It’s 3:30 a.m., and I’ve just made my nightly trip to the restroom.  Yes, sometime between my 25th and 26th year I developed the inability to sleep through an entire night without relieving myself.  I am a five year-old.  Or an elderly person.  You decide.

Anyway, I crawl back into bed after this intolerable yet inevitable ritual, which usually ends in me colliding with a wall or door frame, whispering an expletive and waking my disoriented puppy who gives me a disapproving stare, confirming her deduction that I am a bumbling buffoon.  My husband does not wake, but rather rolls over with a grunt and a snore.  In minutes, I have returned to dreamland.  I find myself in my childhood bedroom, with its bubblegum pink walls and set of twin beds, Barbie dolls strewn about the floor.  I’ve just barely registered my surroundings when the walls melt away and the beds rise up, transforming into massive sand dunes.  What was once my whitewashed bookshelf has folded itself outward into an oversized sandy staircase, descending from the height of the evaporated ceiling.  The stairs are the width of doors and become presently inhabited by a multitude of tanned spectators adorned in black tunics, the women’s faces barely visible through headscarves.

“Where am I?” I wonder.  It would appear I am accidentally in attendance for some ancient foreign hero’s entombment.  “Am I in Egypt?  The Middle East?  India?”  The sobs of the mourners are deafening and distracting to the point that I almost miss the sight of a bejeweled altar materializing at the foot of the stairs.  Atop this altar is a long golden silk pillow, on which rests the lifeless body of said hero, wrapped in shining cloths.  I am at first too mesmerized by this curious scene to be afraid.  The man looks so majestic in his death garb, and those grieving around me are teeming with passion.  Then it occurs to me: there is a corpse in my desert bedroom.  This is going to be a problem.  During my moment of realization, the mourners file down to the altar, now carrying fiery torches.  They encircle the body and proceed to touch their torches to his cloth wrappings.  In seconds, he is engulfed in flames.  I begin to plan my escape, but, as is often characteristic of dreams, as soon as I’ve figured out my next move, the scene has dissipated.

I am once again in my childhood bedroom.  The walls have returned to their original pink.  There is no giant staircase.  The beds are beds again.  Everything is normal.  Except for one thing: to my horror, on one of the twin beds lies the corpse, its cloth wrappings scorched and slowly unraveling to expose charred, decaying flesh.  I am terrified.  I inch my way to the door, willing myself invisible, only to find that I am locked inside.  Suddenly I am overcome with fatigue and, to my own confusion, I find myself walking toward the other bed and collapsing onto it.  I am an arm’s length from the now uncovered, smoking body of a nameless, ancient man, the sight of whom repels and unnerves me.  My instinct tells me to run, but I feel a heavy weight on my chest preventing me to do so.

In my paralysis, I witness the corpse morph into the figure of my own sister.  Clouded by smoke, for a moment, I fear that she too is deceased, but she eerily rotates her head on the pillow to face me, revealing frightened eyes.  Like me, she is unable to move, and I sense that she sees something behind me – something horrible.  Her gaze is intense, and she becomes abruptly wide-eyed.  She vanishes.  In that moment, I feel a firm grip on my wrist and an even heavier weight on my chest, prompting me to scream, but no sound emerges from my mouth.  I begin to panic, trying furiously to move my body and make myself heard.  Finally I am able to muster a “Help!” which leaves my lips much louder than I anticipated, waking me with a jolt.

I awake to my husband’s hand nudging my wrist, whispering to me to wake up and telling me that everything is okay.  I am drenched in sweat and shaking uncontrollably.  I pant as if I’ve just been chased.  My eyes glance around the darkened room half-expecting to see an unwelcome image from my dream.  My husband, of course, has fallen back asleep immediately, though I continue to tightly grip his hand.  The following morning he has no recollection of my nightmare.

This is one of the several times that I’ve experienced a night terror accompanied by sleep paralysis.  While the dream itself was frightening, it was my inability to move or speak that caused me to panic.  In the past when this has occurred, I’ve realized that I’m dreaming and managed to bring myself out of it, but this time reality brought itself into my dream.  When I thought I’d been gripped by a ghost, it was actually Scott gently holding my wrist, causing me to scream aloud, thus ending the paralysis.  I’m no expert on this phenomenon, but I’ve been affected by it frequently enough to have done a little research.  While fascinating, it can cause some serious anxiety!  If you’ve ever experienced an episode like mine, I would love to hear your story!

 

Photo courtesy of http://neuroticthought.tumblr.com/post/34053225722/neurosciencestuff-scientists-read-dreams

On my lack of patience for the utterly incompetent

Alright, brave blogosphere, this is your fair warning.  Prepare yourselves.  What is about to happen will quite possibly fall under that category of musings one tends to keep to herself, more often than not, for fear of disrupting the natural order of things and the contented indifference of the general public.  My friends, as you may have well guessed, I refer to the rant.  That noisy airing of one’s urgent qualms with life’s happenings in a manner that may as well include podiums, megaphones and a faithful posse of picketers chanting phrases of the obscene variety.

I will try to keep the obscenities to a minimum, for the children.

In this particular instance, the origin of my feelings of rage and fear of potential spontaneous combustion can be easily traced back to one comprehensively loathsome source: the utterly incompetent.  You know them.  You’ve seen them in action.  Dare say, you may even be friends with them.  Well, dear blogosphere, my utmost apologies, but THEY MUST BE DESTROYED.

Okay, okay, I suppose that was a bit harsh.  Deep breath.  Positive thoughts.  You see, I have recently been bombarded with such people – people who (bless their souls) lack the basic life skills to, well, you know, successfully or efficiently accomplish anything.  Ever.  Normally this wouldn’t irk me, disturb me or pose any threat to my happiness or productivity whatsoever.  Normally I would simply go about my business as a capable human, and they would go on wrecking everything they touched, poor fools, and our paths would not not cross and everything would be fine.  But all of that changes, treasured blogosphere, when the unthinkable occurs: I need them for something.

*GASP*

Oh dear.  Upon this realization, the first thing that occurs is a combination of bewilderment and panic.  “How have I possibly found myself in a situation where I must interact with this imbecile in order to obtain the thing that I need?” followed by “Shit.  Chances are I am never going to get the thing that I need” and then, in the less dire of cases, ultimately followed by “Oh well, let’s have a nap then.”

Unfortunately, my present situation does not lend itself to such casual acquiescence.  The thing that I need requires my full and immediate attention and has little patience for my laissez faire attitude.  The thing that I need is a house.  You heard me, a dwelling purchased by people who claim to have reached “adulthood” and must therefore prove to their friends and family how grown-up they are by ditching their dingy, mismatched digs for a proper abode suitable for holiday visits and the upbringing of children.  Yep, apparently I must prepare to accommodate my future children who do not yet exist.

Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of being a homeowner is positively thrilling.  Here, I’ll even present you with a list of the reasons I think buying a house is a swell idea:

1. The yard.  A little patch of earth that is mine to do with as I wish.  Oh the possibilities!  I can plant things and watch them grow! (Assuming acquiring said yard will magically improve my plant-growing abilities…)  My dog can run around outside instead of doing laps around my bedroom!  I can grill things!

2. The space.  Finally, a place to display all the wedding gifts that have been crammed in the closets for the past year!  And more closet space in which to cram other things!  And a kitchen that two people can navigate at once without head on collisions ensuing, sending bits of food flying about!

3. The financial benefits of buying vs. renting, and other grown-up reasons.  My husband would be happy to explain these to you because, let’s face it, I can barely add and subtract in my head.  This is one of those areas in which I would be determined utterly incompetent.

Which brings me back to the subject of my fury and intense desire to blow things up – the subject which has presently driven me into such a tizzy that I have devoured an entire bag of chocolates whilst writing this blog.  See, sweet blogosphere, in my 27 years of life, I still have yet to fully understand the concept of finances.  I’ve mastered the basics.  Those who have money can buy things.  Those who do not have much money can also buy things, but it’s probably not a very good idea.  I do not yet have a lot of money; therefore, I do not buy very many things.  There you have it – the whole of my monetary expertise.  Thus, when posed with the daunting tasks of getting pre-approved, establishing a reasonable budget, understanding what the hell a mortgage actually is, I went straight to the bank.  (Like I said, I’ve been desperately avoiding being a grown-up for a very long time.  I may as well have been hiding out in Neverland.)

See, the bank, sweet blogosphere, is where people who know what mortgages are tend to hang out.  You make an appointment, show up with your financial papers, and the rest is a breeze.  At least that was my previous understanding of the matter.  In reality – my reality – this assumption of competency among mortgage consultants was tremendously miscalculated.

*I interrupt this post to inform any mortgage consultant who is currently reading this that I do not accuse you of arrant incompetence.  I refer merely to the particular ninny I have been in contact with.  There are no blanket statements being made.  Thank you.*

Precisely one month ago, my husband and I strolled into Wells Fargo for our appointment with the kind, efficient woman who would go above and beyond to expedite our pre-approval process, who would keep us up-to-date with the progress being made, who would answer all our questions in a timely manner and who would get us into our new home in no time.  We made this up.  This did not happen.  In actuality, the consultant we were paired with was – how do I put this – BAT. SHIT. CRAZY.  This is not an exaggeration.  Not only was she certifiably insane, she proved time and time again that she was quite incapable of doing her job.

Let me elaborate.  Said woman – let’s call her Pam – Pam greeted us in the manner you would imagine a cheerleader on cocaine greeting someone.  I believe she told us her name and entire life story in about ten seconds, all the while bouncing around the room fiddling with the 90’s style scrunchie that held a pony tail on top of her head.  She then sat us down and began to gather our information.  Here is the gist of our conversation with Pam:

Pam: HELLO!  WELCOME!  So-you-want-to-buy-your-first-house-do-ya?-My-name-is-Pam-and-I-will-be-your-Wells-Fargo-mortgage-consultant.-So-glad-you-could-make-it.-Sorry-if-my-phone-rings,my-daughter-has-been-sick.-She’s-six.-They’re-so-cute-at-that-age-aren’t-they?-Anyway-let’s-chat-about-getting-you-folks-into-a-house!-Sit-down,make-yourselves-comfortable!-I’m-going-to-need-your-tax-information,your-bank-statements,your-contact-information.-Here-let-me-write-that-down.-E-mail-addresses-please?-Got-it.-Okay-so-how-did-you-two-meet??

Me: Well…

Pam: Oh!-Wait,I-seem-to-have-misplaced-your-e-mail-addresses.-Could-you-repeat-them-please??-While-you’re-at-it-let’s-get-those-cell-phone-numbers-again-too.-Okay,where-were-we?

Me: I was just…

Pam: Ah!-Did-you-give-me-your-W2’s-yet?-Oh!-Here-they-are!-(reaches under desk)-Let-me-go-make-copies!-Be-back-in-a-jiff!

And so it went.  By the end of our meeting, I believe we’d given her our contact information about eight times, but who’s counting?  Pam assured us that we were in good shape and should hear back from the underwriter in a few days – a week at most.

Now, I’m not going to go off on how I could do Pam’s job better than she could, nor am I going to pretend I know what in God’s name an underwriter is, but I am going quietly state one tiny little fact: PAM IS FULL OF LIES!  I’m sorry.  I got carried away again.  I just find the following sequence of events so perturbing that I have to restrain myself from smashing my face repeatedly into this keyboard.

January 26, 2014:
We meet with Pam.  Pam assures us with full confidence that we will be contacted by the almighty underwriter promptly.  Pre-approval is imminent.

January 27…28…29…30:
Nothing.  Aside from an e-mail from Pam asking me, yet again, for my husband’s contact information.

January 31:
Pam calls.  There has been an ice-storm, a polar vortex of sorts (thank you for that brilliant description, Becky), such that the entire city of Charleston has completely ceased to function in its apocalyptic state.  Pam wants to chat about the weather.  “The bridges have closed!” she exclaims.  “Giant slabs of ice are falling and crushing cars!  Isn’t that crazy?!”  Pam, you are crazy.  Tell me about my mortgage.  And then, “Oh by the way, I’ve been out of the office so I haven’t had a chance to send off your paperwork.  Sorry, bye!”

I hate you, Pam.  I proceed to stab household objects repeatedly with a fork.

February 15:
Pam informs us via an e-mail written, presumably, by her six-year-old child that she has just submitted our paperwork for review.  Today.  REALLY, PAM?!  Thank you for validating my hypothesis that you are UTTERLY INCOMPETENT. [insert lengthy string of expletives here]

February 16-?:
Pam goes to California.  Pam does not tell us this.  We check our phones with the ferocity of a rabid squirrel.  Our shoes become worn from frequent pacing.  We hear nothing.  We are livid.

February 26:
We cannot take it anymore.  We contact Pam.  “What’s that?  The underwriter hasn’t contacted you?  He contacted me a week ago.  I was in California.  Someone from the bank should have called you.”  YOU SHOULD HAVE CALLED US, PAM, YOU B****.  “You’ve been pre-approved, by the way.  You should probably start looking for a house, you know, your lease runs out pretty soon, doesn’t it?”  I punch my hand through a window.

Whew.  Let me pause for a moment for some meditative breathing.  That’s better.  Now, in a race against the imminent approach of our lease’s end, I suppose we will hastily begin our house hunt.  But all is well.  Even the most severe incompetence may be tolerated with patience and a positive attitude, especially if the intended result is achieved.  At least that’s what my therapist keeps telling me.

So, in conclusion, ever-so-attentive blogosphere, if you are contemplating buying a house in the Charleston area at some point in the next twelve years, I would advise you get on it.  And send Pam our love.

Picture courtesy of:
http://www.creativityfuse.com/2010/09/enough-knowledge-to-be-dangerous/frustration/

On my absurd fear of the zombie apocalypse

*Warning: scrolling down will expose you to graphic photos of the zombies to which I owe the onset of my absurdly irrational fear.  Read on with caution.

Yes, blogosphere, it’s true.  While others reserve their (perhaps unspoken, but undeniable) end-of-the world, doom and gloom theories for nightmares involving, I don’t know, nuclear war or global warming – something as plausible as alien invasion, even – time and time again I unfailingly choose zombies.  For reasons unbeknownst to me, my painfully vivid visions of global destruction always include a graphic scene of one of my friends – undead in this case, obviously – launching his decaying figure in my general direction before I go all Rick Grimes on his ass with a crowbar.  Well, in the good nightmares.  In many instances I wake up in a cold sweat, frantically checking to ensure all my appendages are intact and bite-free because, moments before in dreamland, my Dad or sister, grey-eyed and ravenous, had lunged at me from behind and…well, I’ll spare you the graphic details. [insert any given Walking Dead attack scene here]

Jeez.  That’s what I get for breaking curfew all those years.

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Oh, hey Dad.

“Why zombies?” you might ask.  “Why pick the most illogical, improbable scenario – and probably one of the most gruesome – to embody the fears of your demise?”  Valid question, blogosphere.

I could go into a long, drawn out analysis of my childhood woes and their possible influence on my worrisome daydreams of death-by-zombies.  I could try to assemble a timeline documenting the escalation of my distress.  A fancy one with bullet points and arrows, theories and deductions.  But, no.  I’m pretty sure I can chalk it up to one thing.  Television.

There once was a time before zombies ever posed a nightmarish threat, fantasized or otherwise, to society.  Our go-to zombie flicks and Halloween costumes were non-existent.  There was no Zombie Survival Guide, Abraham Lincoln was just a regular president, and Pride and Prejudice remained untarnished and zombie-free.  One could go about his or her business worrying about ordinary, legitimate apocalyptic travesties, such as a massive, world-encompassing natural disaster or a lethal airborne pathogen.  Or the human race just simply destroying itself.  No zombies.  But then a few writers and filmmakers got wind of some gnarly Voodoo legends over in Africa and Haiti, and Poof!  Enter the undead, forever changing American horror culture and the nightmares of its followers, myself included.

I should clarify: I was never – and still am not – a horror buff.  Let’s face it, while I carried them around in my backpack to seem hardcore to my peers, those Goosebumps books were a little much for me, and Are You Afraid of the Dark was completely out of the question.  The slumber parties I hosted did not include ghost stories or Ouija Boards.  Basically, after experiencing the terror that is The Exorcist, I figured I was good for life.  I was perfectly fine staying at home watching Hallmark movies with my mom rather than accompany my friends to the latest box office nail-biter.  I am not brave.  The number of scary films I have endured willingly without trickery or coercion is exactly zero.

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Yes, yes I am, actually.  Thanks for asking.

So when The Walking Dead hit the scene and the zombies returned to the spotlight, I feigned disappointment at my inability to afford cable and carried on unfazed.  That is, until I stumbled upon the realization that the show’s protagonist was none other than Andrew Lincoln.  Oh you know, that beautiful specimen from Love Actually.  Thus prompted my thought process: Love Actually –> heartwarming romance –> Andrew Lincoln –> yes please –> Walking Dead –> heartwarming zombie romance?  Mmmk.  I can work with that.

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Hello gorgeous.

And oh, dear blogosphere, it all spiraled downward from there.  Sure, there was some romance.  Sure, Mr. Lincoln played a handsome, heroic, order-restoring, zombie killing machine in a sheriff’s uniform.  And, yes, the mildly stimulating plot line held my interest well enough.  But the zombies.  Heavens.  There should have been a disclaimer: Oh, hey viewer, if you enjoy the luxury of sound sleeping and pleasant, zombie-free dreams, watching this program is probably a bad idea.  Just saying.  Maybe change the channel.  Okay, back to the show.

But it was too late.  I was hooked.  And since my husband had also developed an affinity for the show, there was no turning back.  Every Sunday night we got our weekly dose of gore, and, like clockwork, that night I could expect a recap as soon as I drifted into dreamland.  Only this time I would be the main character.  Oh boy.

As time went on, I became accustomed to my nighttime battles with the undead.  I suppose it became second nature to associate fear with zombies, so, upon any mention of an impending apocalypse, my mind continues to instinctively produce images of barren fields, abandoned cars and homes, and flocks of walkers migrating from one rotting corpse to the next.  Sigh.  Why can’t I imagine the end of the world as some sort of peaceful occurrence instigated by a higher power who transports us safely from the earth’s demise to Heaven or its equivalent?  I mean, at the very least, couldn’t I picture something that takes me out quickly rather than forcing me to live in fear until I am inevitably devoured alive before awaking (assuming there is something left of me to awake after the feast) to shuffle about, slowly deteriorating, until someone smashes my head in or blows my brains out, ending it all for good?

You tell me, blogosphere.  What’s a girl to do?  I suppose the damage is done.  My absurd fear of the zombie apocalypse will continue.  And as for the dreams?  Well at least I can say my subconscious self is a bad ass, at least half the time.  Because, chances are, if there ever actually was a zombie apocalypse, I’m pretty sure not even my copy of the Zombie Survival Guide (Yes, I own it.  Yes, I’ve read it.) would save me.  I’d probably end up looking like this girl:

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She looks like she used to be cute, though, right?

Great.

Pictures taken from:
http://www.blogs.amctv.com
http://www.dailydead.com
http://www.aintitcool.com
http://www.thewiseguise.com
http://www.polyvore.com

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Thanks to Becky and Stickman, the world now has THIS, and for that it is better.

BECKY SAYS THINGS

Oh, brave Listener. We’ve all had a bit of a rough time recently.

There are several reasons why we are all feeling a bit peeved, irked, and somewhat vexed:

1) It is February. February is an obnoxiously depressing month, it knows it, and it doesn’t care. February is insufferable.

2) We are still paying off our Christmas credit card bills. This is intolerable.

3) Our New Year’s resolution diet and exercise regimes have failed miserably and we are eating more doughnuts, peanut butter, and full fat milk than ever before to cope with the depression of February and Christmas credit card bills.

cheerful5

4) The couples amongst us have had a relationship-busting argument on Valentine’s Day, and the singletons amongst us have just been reminded that they are SINGLE and ALONE and destined to remain that way for the rest of their sorry lives.

5) There is nothing to look forward…

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