Thursday, July 31, 2008

From Somewhere on the Third Floor Corridor...

Letter from the Hogwarts Alumni Office

by Mike Richardson-Bryan

Mr. Harry Potter
Godric's Hollow
BS37 A10

Dear Mr. Potter,

Greetings from Hogwarts! Has it really been nineteen years since you last strode the hallowed halls of Britain's finest school of magic? Even without the assistance of a Time-Turner, time truly flies.

A lot has changed at Hogwarts since you graduated. Aldis lamps have replaced owls, golf carts have replaced Thestrals, and safe, reliable lifts have replaced the more capricious of the moving staircases. And what's that in the library? Yes, it's the school's very first computer, a Commodore 64, which I'm assured by those in the know is the very pinnacle of Muggle technology. Huzzah for progress!

And there have been important changes behind the scenes, as well. Long-overdue restructuring at the top has produced a leaner administration that is more responsive to today's educational priorities, including student safety. Indeed, thanks to stringent new hiring practices, only one out of every three Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers turns out to be an evil impostor bent on murdering students.

But as much as Hogwarts has changed, it remains, at heart, the same school you knew and loved in your youth. Peeves still torments students and teachers alike, the Whomping Willow still exacts a terrible toll on migratory birds, and Moaning Myrtle still haunts the second floor girls' lavatory despite repeated attempts at exorcism and generous applications of Febreze. And as it always has, Hogwarts continues to rely upon the generous support of former students like yourself.

Such support has never been more important. The recent unionization of the House Elves placed terrible stress on the school's finances. That stress that can be felt everywhere, even in Hogwarts' legendary kitchen, where the need for belt-tightening means that each student is now limited to 5 lbs. of pudding per meal. Increases in tuition have helped, but endless fee hikes are not the answer. So until Professor Longbottom's Knut-tree experiment yields tangible results, we're counting on the generous support of former students like yourself.

Your support will allow Hogwarts to maintain its position as a leader in magical research. Consider the work of Professor Chang, who has attracted international attention with her groundbreaking research into the mating habits of Dementors (not so different from the mating habits of middle-aged divorcees, as it turns out, only with a lot less crying in restaurants). Without your support, such research may not be possible.

Your generosity will also allow us to keep the lights on and the doors open at the Trelawney Memorial Wellness Centre. Today's students face many temptations, from old standbys such as Butterbeer to more recent and infinitely more sinister addictions such as Gillyweed, or "Willy G." as the kids call it (and take it from me, there's nothing sadder than the sight of a once-promising student, lying face-down in a pail of water, "tripping out" on Gillyweed). Without a place to turn, many struggling students will not find the help they need when they so desperately need it.

Finally, your support will allow Hogwarts to remain within financial reach of all deserving students. Scholarships for needy students are always in short supply, and scholarships for dead, undead, and demonically-possessed students are particularly hard to come by. Without your support, many reanimated students may be forced to abandon their studies and go directly into middle management.

So what can you afford to give? Before answering, think back to your time at Hogwarts. There was lots of hard work, of course, but there was always time for fun -- chatting with your mates in the Common Room, sneaking out to Hogsmeade to buy sweets at Honeydukes (inevitably followed by hours spent chasing after an errant Chocolate Frog), dancing with your sweetheart at the Yule Ball, and the like. No doubt you have many such happy memories. If not, please check your Pensieve, they're probably in there. And after reviewing them, I'm sure you'll agree that you can't put a price on good memories -- but that if you could, it would include at least four figures.

The sad truth, Mr. Potter, is that financial support from your year has always been rather lean. This is not because your classmates are indifferent to the school's needs, but rather because so many of them are dead, killed by You-Know-Who and his minions, often quite horribly (speaking of which, a few more bits of poor Dean Thomas turned up just last week, a testament to the awesome power of the Fulminare Viscus curse). Now, considering that You-Know-Who was after you the whole time and that your unlucky classmates merely got in the way, it seems only fair that you should do your utmost to make up the difference. I'm sure you'll agree that your alma mater deserves no less.

Yours truly,

Fitch T. Fenwick
Director, Office of Alumni Relations
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

P.S. -- If you need one more reason to support Hogwarts, then consider your old house's Quidditch team. They're suffering their worst year in generations on account of the sad state of repair of their equipment (the beaters must share a single tattered broom, and the seeker has no broom whatsoever and so must to run around making "whoosh" noises and hope that the Golden Snitch dips low enough to be snared from the ground, which of course it never does). Something to think about the next time you're at Gringotts, rolling in your money or whatever it is you do there when the Goblins aren't looking.

Hmmm....sound familiar?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

* Yes, Penelope, it's time for a AshCentric ProRun roundup. I have to say, so far, this season's stylist have me a little baffled. Holla!

* An explanation of TTLY Syndrome and why it's killing me.

* A post of a hilarious Potter-themed letter sent to me by Jenn's husband Dan

* A little bit more about the volunteer group that I've undertaken - which I think is seriously happening since I met with my boss about it today (*gulp*)

* In the meantime, please enjoy this graphic from TagCrowd. It gives you a picture of what your blog says about you - it's kind of like a variation on magnetic poetry.

created at

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince hits theaters later this year (November 21, to be exact). And while I am one of the last in America who has yet to see The Dark Knight and the ONLY one of the female persuasion who missed Sex & the City in the theater and now has to wait for it on DVD (please leave your condolences in the comments section), you can bet your galleons I'll be at the Potter flick. The film's teaser trailer will be in the previews for the third installment of The Mummy series which is debuting this weekend. USA Today published screen caps today of two notable scenes: young Tom Riddle at the orphanage and Dumbledore's ring of fire. Other film stills floating around the internets feature Ron in his quidditch gear and Harry in Slughorn's office, presumably to gather that foggy memory. And while I'm still sad about my BIG S&TC faux-pas, I can at least console myself with the impending next-to-last installment of Potter. Oh, and the full trailer can be viewed here.*

*Um, I posted before watching the trailer. Which is AWESOME. I'm such a dork.

Great Expectations

It is with great pleasure that I announce that I'm going to be an aunt for the second time around. Justin and Eva are adding another one to the fold, and their family of three will be four come March.

They heard the baby's heartbeat early last week, and the doctor pronounced it strong and healthy. Unfortunately for poor Eva, she's feeling a bit green.

And me? At first, I felt trepidations - what if I don't connect with the new baby like I have with Dillon? And then, I remembered the day Dillon arrived, a totally unknown quantity, sparking the deepest, most unconditional love. And then I thought...I can hardly wait.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Late for the Terrible Twos

Just like last year, I totally forgot my own blogiversary. But then again, it would be out of character for me to be on time. I'll forever be the white rabbit, scurrying to make the next important appointment.

I started to let it pass without saying, but then, I rather thought I should embrace my new tradition of celebrating that which ought to be celebrated. So here's to the year that chronicled the beginning of the new job and, with great sadness, the end of my time with loved ones. In the space of 12 months - from July to July - everything changed. Change is constant, and while not always welcome, reliable.

As I head into the terrible twos of blogdom, you can like anticipate further self-centeredness, an increase in tantrums, and a few posts that remind me why you love me. Happy Blogiversary.

You've Got Mail

If y'all haven't been patrons at the Smartini Bar of late, maybe you've at least clicked on the sidebar links to my open letter to John Mayer. And maybe you subsequently clicked on the link that indicating that I had e-mailed said post to John Mayer. And if you haven't done steps one and two, please do so now. There you will find the kind comments from one Doogie Jacks/a.k.a. DJ imparting a message to me from JM. Whether or not John Mayer actually read my blog post...I don't know. But I like to think he did. I like to think he read it and it made him chuckle and he turned to somebody who answers his fanmail and the like and said, "DJ, put a comment up there. I like her style." Or something like that.

And by the way, John, if you're still reading, I'm not even sure I can come up with a haiku for the new 'do...but I'll work on it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Emotional Pickpocketing

Yesterday was the Rockstar's last day. Last week, I went to his farewell outing - a bowling extravaganza filled with shouts and razzing and toasts and a definite sadness tinging the whole affair. A part of me absorbed it...felt sad because he is leaving, and after a year, I'd like to think I could call him a friend. But it was also the memory of all that I went through last year seeping from the corners of my mind. As the departure was unfolding, I could see little flashes of my own life layered over his. When he hugged me yesterday, and I wished him luck, I felt like I was talking to myself a little bit...a little bit letting go of that person I was then and wishing her luck as she tries to become the person she is now.

More and more lately, I've been feeling the quiet beginnings of the panic. The disrupted stomach. The irrational anxiety of anticipating "it." I went to the doctor last week who asked if I wanted to up my dosage. And I said no, I should try and do this. I should try and do this life thing without having to adjust my medication up and up and up. So I'm pushing through, pushing up the threshold of discomfort and willing myself to work through it, one deep breath at a time.

I turned 29 earlier this month. And while I flogged my coworkers for the lack of festivities surrounding my birthday, it was really me that caused the disappointment. It was really me who didn't celebrate myself. It was really me who let my birthday be a reminder of all the things I'm not, all the things I lack, instead of all the things I am and all the things I have. What an empty feeling to be consumed by absences on a day that should be spent building a totem of great memories and accomplishments.

My laptop has been a source of immense frustration of late. One of the hinges has cracked and the lid won't stay upright, falling instead into an almost horizontal position. On top of that, some part of Microsoft Office is malfunctioning, auto-launching, and utilizing 99% of my CPU capacity. And it's like, Really? Is everything in my life broken?

Yesterday, on the drive home, I felt restless. I shifted in the seat. I peered through the grubby windshield at the searing cerulean sky. I saw a few blue-black crows perched in the naked branches of a dying tree. It felt like someone might cue the classic Sergio Leone whistle in the background. It was a showdown between me and waiting. It's been so long on this precipice, me perched, angled forward, looking for what's next. And held back by the gravity of all that's happened. I'm waiting for something - something good and hopeful. Something that gives me an indication that there is a way out of this valley of the shadow of death and not just endless wandering.

We start looking at the weekends coming up through the end of the summer and the fall and planning out who has to do what when and where. I realize how scheduled we are with this and that family obligation - things I would normally look forward to, but now seem like just another outing that will perpetuate our togetherness. I could stay home, stay away, but even the thought of it starts the guilt to gnawing away at me. In my mind, coulds and shoulds and wants and needs get so tangled up that I don't know what to do. So I stay tied up in where I am right now, resenting all the hands on the other ends of the strings that are pulling me in every direction.

Despite my bravado, I realized the other day that there's almost no chance that I'll even be married before I'm 30. And that's okay. Really. It is. I know that. But sometimes - just sometimes - I want to let my guard down and say that's not how I imagined things.

Last week, I had a really, really super important client meeting with the client I landed awhile back. I thought everything went well. I was nervous leading up to it, felt pretty A-game in the midst of it, and relieved as soon as the meeting participants filed out the door. I headed from the office to have a beer with some friends. I missed a call from my boss while I was in the bar. I called him back to find that at least one of the participants was disappointed and felt like we didn't deliver. And that fragile euphoria came crashing down around me, and I felt 16 tons of disappointment fall upon my shoulders.

This weekend, I woke up early to go to the salon with Anna, and when I got back home, I said, "I have to take a nap." And it was true. I was bankrupt.

With every passing day, it seems there's emotional thievery going on. These unexpected strains slip in and steal little pieces of me. There are those things that I face everyday that I know I'm going to spend my time and energy and willpower on - some that I even choose to exert some emotional funds for. But these stealthy hands that swipe my reserves are tearing me down a piece at a time, leaving me penniless. I'm utterly broke, with nothing left to give and not even enough for myself.


Haircut - On Saturday, I accompanied Anna to the salon for a haircut. It was monumental because a) she had grown her hair out for Locks of Love b) she hadn't had her hair cut since Ronnie died and c) I can't recall the last time she had anything beyond a simple trim done. But she gritted her teeth through the initial scissor slice and now she has a shoulder length 'do that's really quite fetching.

Ash - Dillon has suddenly switching from "Sha" to "Ash." On Sunday, when we arrived to keep him so that his parents could celebrate their wedding anniversary, he ran to passenger side of the van calling "Ash! Ash!" And when I left for work yesterday morning he wouldn't give me a goodbye kiss because he wanted to play "cars." Mama said he stood at the door pitifully saying "Ash?" after I left.

Floor - For the first time in almost three decades, my mother is having the floors in our living room, dining room and den replaced with hardwoods. The crummy deteriorating carpet is being toted out and replaced with gleaming blond oak beams. Already today, the living room is woodsy. And she agreed to only put the furniture back in the room that she likes as opposed to just loading back in what's always been here.

Dancing - Last night, Mom and Dad were still at Justin and Eva's babysitting, so I had the house to myself. I watched She's the Man, and when the credits rolled to "Move Along" by the All-American Rejects, I gave into a fit of spontaneous dancing in the den. The cats looked perfectly scandalized. I thought it was magnificent.

Thank You for Being a Friend

It was with profound sadness that I read about Estelle Getty's death today.  At the age of 84, she passed away from the advanced onset of dementia. 

I can remember watching "Golden Girls" when I was little and getting about half of the wry humor Getty delivered as the wicker-handbag-toting Sophia Petrillo.  The show debuted in 1985 when I was just six years old and ran for seven years.

But my true love for the show came from my first year of grad school.  Reruns of the classic comedy ran on Lifetime at 7 and 7:30, and it wasn't unusual for me to park my TV tray (and sometimes my "TV dinner") in front of the back-to-back "Golden Girls" goodness.  The jokes seemed smarter; the friendships more understandable.  I'd even go so far as to say that the sitcom actually is one of the precursors to "Sex & the City."  No really.  The level of adult humor in that show is astounding for the age of the women, the stage of their lives, and the prime time spot it occupied for years.

Getty was the youngest of the foursome and almost didn't snag the role because of her incongruous youth.  Thank goodness the producers took a second look.  Picture it.  Siciliy.  1940.

Rest in peace, Estelle.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Entrapment & the Waiting Place

In dreams, there are likely scenarios - loss of teeth, flying, falling, showing up to work naked. But in many of my dreams, there are also likely places. These places that I visit are sometimes real life places given a totally different context in the dream state. And sometimes, they are places I have never been except in my subconscious, but I know them. As soon as I see where I am, I have an automatic cue about the tone of the dream and what complexity my mind is trying to unravel.

Hotel Entrapment
: In my dreams - like the one I had last night - I find myself in a hotel. It is an upscale hotel. The facade is a pale blond brick, stately and historic, and the interior is very modern with chrome and glass. It is a total contradiction, I know, but so it is. I have never been to this hotel or any hotel like it; its features are some strange combination of places and things I have seen without really categorizing them. Or perhaps it is entirely conjured during my sleep. I am a guest at the hotel, sometimes willing and sometimes seemingly forced there by an unknown incident. Whichever the case, once I find myself there, I wish to leave.

I am usually pursued by someone during my dream. Not in a classic thriller-film-chase, but in an anxiety-inducing lurking-in-the-shadows way. Although I may never see who is pursuing me, I know their whereabouts, and even though I take steps to divert myself from where they are, I still find myself in the same corridor. Passing the door as quietly as possible, heart hammering. I do not want to make a misstep here. Sometimes I wake up at this moment. Sometimes I escape into another corridor and begin avoiding a new location. But often, I find myself face to face with the one I want to see the least, a hand curled around my wrist, all paths to an exit blocked.

The Pit Stop
: Late last fall, I took a trip to a sort-of nearby town for a day of team-building exercises with my chamber group. On the way there, we stopped at a gas station. It was a nondescript gas station, the kind that dots the two-lane country highways across the state of Georgia. In addition to the usual array of fountain drinks and cappuccino machines, they had a little counter that served up breakfast biscuits and the like. Perhaps it was because we were there for 10 or 15 minutes milling around, and I remember feeling a little listless and ready to get on with the show. Perhaps because it was a time in my life marked with a ubiquitous sense of limbo. Whatever the case, this little gas station has become the waiting place.

In my dreams, I am there and usually wearing a coat (it was bitingly cold that day). All sorts of different people come in and out - sometimes very familiar people and sometimes those acquaintances who lurk on the fringes of your memory. At times, I dream that I am driving down the road and, no matter which direction I'm going, I must stop. Even though I could have a full tank of gas and just eaten, I am always compelled to stop at the waiting place. I never quite know why I'm there, so the dream is fraught with a restless energy, a sense of looking for a sign to tell me what to do next. And at times, I reluctantly give in to the idea that maybe, all I'm there to do is wait.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ghosts of Trees

On the northernmost end of J. Island is a stretch of beach that's only wide enough for walking when the tide ebbs to its lowest point. When the tide rolls back in, it drowns most of the available sand and curls right up against the edge of the maritime forest.

When I was there last week, I parked my car in one of the crude spaces near the picnic area and followed a little trail through the forest. The ancient live oaks stretched their gnarled branches over the path and the garlands of spanish moss filtered the sunlight into a spotty pattern on the forest floor. The path wended through the trees, so old and wizened, it felt other worldly. When I finally cut a swath to the other side and found the sandy stretch, it was really quite breathtaking. The beach was wide; the tide receded to the point that it washed just over the rippled sand dunes, and at its very edge, fishermen were more than knee-deep in the water.

The late afternoon sun buttered the landscape in a mellow golden glow. And down the naked strip of sand were trees - whole trees from root mass to spindly tops, washed up on the sand. The beach is called Driftwood Beach for this reason. But whereas I think of driftwood as scraps of sun-bleached board, these were water-stripped live oaks whitewashed by the sun and saltwater. Weathered smooth and replanted in the sand.

I found myself wandering through this beach-side forest, a beautiful wasteland of trees. It was serene; the wind tunneled away the voices of the few other beachgoers. Most people had already deserted the beach for dinner, and the further I walked along through the sand forest, the more remote it seemed.

I marveled at these amazing natural sculptures, carved from nothing more than wood and elements. They were austere and haunting. At another time, they were vibrant whip-slick saplings, and now they lay hollow and abandoned on the dunes.

The water gently lapped the shore; the sun oranged and grew soft. I climbed into the upstretching branches of one of the horizontal live oaks and gazed at the expanse of the Atlantic. To my left and right, branches arced and once-green root cords twisted in a massive wooden knot. These husks of trees weren't less than they once were; they were simply beautiful in an unexpected way. Trees outside the bounds of imaginable trees. Like the way that lives, imagined one way, end up a boneyard of unrealized dreams or directions abandoned. Clean white sculptures of what we once were or lives we never lived and haunting us with their imperfect beauty.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Facing the Negativo

The last couple of weeks, I seem to have fallen prey to The Negativo. Suddenly, my first reaction to everything is negative. Anger, irritation, impatience, anxiety, dread. It's seething just underneath my skin, and it's provoked at the least infraction. And then it's like the worst version of me just jumps down the nearest person's throat. For example,

* The Dirty Film Boys are back, smelling up the common area. Every time I walk to the bathroom, the one closest to the door turns and stares at me. I am SORRY if the click-clack of my heels on the concrete annoys you, but get over it.

* On the way back from J. Island last week, my Garmin lost its ever-loving mind and directed me into the least populated corridors of the state. And when I turned around for the second time that day using the interstate median out of frustration, I promptly found myself sidelined by the state patrol. I had never ever cried on a cop until that day. "Happy belated birthday," he said. "I'm just going to give you warning."

* The Fam is experiencing too much togetherness. Patience is fraying; tempers are flaring. We're all slightly sick of the sight of each other but are quite at a loss how to avoid the suffocating conditions. Anna, though doing remarkably well, just isn't quite ready for abandonment and so we go and we sit together and we try not to kill each other.

* Work has me tense and knotted. I love my job, but right now, it just feels like everything is on level ten. There are too many balls in the air and I'm, I don't know. By the shift in the office environs because of the Rockstar's impending departure. And the potential replacement's frightening Type-A over-achieving ways.

* I'm totally annoyed by people who do things better than me. How ridiculous is that? But it's like, I want the universe to give me a break, to give me some arena where I'm a winner free and clear. But instead, I'm on the insecurity train and riding shotgun.

* Another wave of grief seems to have washed over us all, and at times, it makes me resent every spark of happiness in the world. I want to tell other people not to smile. Because every time I think we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, it fades into the distance, and all I can hear is the echo of our voices in a long dark cavern that never seems to end.

* I hate waiting. I'm so mad at waiting. Waiting for the next thing. Waiting for it to be the right time to buy a house. Waiting for the time when I'll feel like writing a book. Waiting for friends to blossom out of acquaintances. Waiting for a time when I don't stand in a room full of people and feel like the loneliest person in the world. Waiting for a time when my whole life isn't hijacked by mourning.

* I resent practicality. I want to throw caution to the wind and plan trips and be carefree. I have 80 percent of my vacation left. I have no idea when or how to take it. And sometimes, when I think about it, I just feel more tired trying to think of how to use it. I just sort of want it to go away.

* I worry about us all...all of us with our respective heart conditions. Anna's broken into a million tiny pieces. Dad's grown tired and stressed. Mom's heavy with her worry for us all. And mine empty and lonely and guilty and sad for feeling all that it feels.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Myriad of Miscellany

* Completely annoyed by Kid Rock's new song that samples liberally from Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and Lynard Skynard's "Sweet Home Alabama." You can't make it better, Kid.

* Christian Bale was on VH1 this morning talking about The Dark Knight in his native Welsh accent. Dreamy.

* Les Mis is coming to the Fox Theatre in September. I am pee-in-my-pants excited!!!

* At a chamber function last night, was invited by two almost-40 married men to have a drink at a bar along with my intern who is 21. Wrongness.

* This morning, I tried on no less than six outfits with four different pair of shoes before I left the house.

* I'm considering possibly maybe starting my own charitable organization. More later as my plans take shape...

* Headed northwest for the weekend and considering a trip up to old B.C. for taking photos. A new round of 26 things started last week, and I've got to get crackin'.

* Me, at work today? Totally useless. But that's okay...I've already put in about 50+ hours this week.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Jumping the Gun

jump the gun (idiom) - to begin prematurely; act too hastily

@ Blockbuster - Selected Feast of Love based on the co-starring power of Greg Kinnear and Morgan Freeman and assumed from the description that it was a Love Actually-esque film with multiple story lines - or as the box suggested, "A romantic feast for anyone who loves love." We decided to watch this film while enjoying delectable birthday treats like ice cream cones and brownies. Within the first fifteen minutes, there was a naked-to-the-waist lesbian sex scene. Um. Did I mention I was watching with my parents?

@ Work - After lamenting the neglectful behavior of my co-workers last Thursday, I had to consume an enormous slice of humble pie today. They marched in at 4 p.m. to The Beatles "Birthday" with an ice cream cake and a gift of Notable Author Finger Puppets. We enjoyed said ice cream cake while the Rockstar's birthday mix played on in the background. (It included Lil' Wayne and Kansas.) I felt incredible remiss in having been so irrationally upset.

@ the Mental Level - Right now, I'm deep breathing through what I'm hoping is indigestion. I've been hoping that I've had indigestion a lot lately. I just chewed up a Pecid AC...and the taste took me back to the place my brain seems to be wanting to go. Like a little this-time-last-year party trick. With the shrink and the doctor and the medication - let's face it: I thought I was done with all this. Perhaps it's just an allergic reaction to getting old.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

It's Official

Welcome to the end of my twenties.
Happy (Please?) Birthday to me!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

29 Candles

At the firm, emails go out notifying everyone of individual birthdays. As a general practice, if I remotely know the person having a birthday, I send a quick email with well wishes. I assume that in the Atlanta office, much of this well-wishing is done in person with greetings passed off cube-side or from the office door.

On Thursday, since we had yesterday off for the 4th, an email went out with an early announcement of mine and one other birthday. I secretly anticipated the onslaught of emails and quick calls of birthday wishes. Instead...I got nothing.

Of the 60-plus people firm-wide, I heard from five. Just five. The Exotic wished me well as she left; The Rockstar said, "So when is your birthday?" as he left. The Boss and The Goofball gave no acknowledgment whatsoever.

I sat at my desk, willing a few more phone calls or emails. Nothing came. On top of that, I got in an argument with The Goofball - one that gave me that shuddery I-could-almost-cry feeling because I was so irate.

I waited and waited. I was so irrationally frustrated and hurt by the neglect that I stayed at the office until almost six (when I could've gone home at 4:30) because I just couldn't get up and walk out of the office and keep it together. As I passed The Boss' office, he wished me a good 4th.

When I got to the car, I sat for a moment in the stifling heat and gave into the lump in my throat. And when I got home, no Jack Ryan in sight to make it all better.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy(?) Birthday to Me

A birthday card from my health insurance company:

Front: Happy Birthday to You! (adorned with a tacky flower shot)

Inside: And as a gift to those who love you, please...schedule your annual pap smear and mammogram today!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wisdom - Observed, Overheard, Noted

* Observed...a prominent billboard along the road I travel to Atlanta reads "JESUS" in large top-to-bottom black letters on a field of black. Only last week did I notice the other side of the billboard readable from the opposite direction (in the same large black letters): "COMING SOON!"

* Overheard..."He who uses the crystal ball always eats glass."

* Noted...Between E. Clayton and Washington Streets, a brick wall. In no particular order, some bricks have the word "RESIST" painted in white.


I would like to clarify - for the record - that we only rode around Anna's neighborhood with Dillon in the back, unsecured. We did not go on any main roads. Just so you know...that we're Southern but we're not crazy.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Graveyard of June Posts

During the month of June, my dashboard was the place that posts went to die. I either drafted or conceived more posts that never happened than ever before. As we move into the new month, I think that it's only fair that we lay these posts to rest.

Tossing My Cookie

A visit to Deb's lakehouse included a visit to Ike's Sports Bar, a happening little joint in the middle of South Carolina that hosts karaoke on Friday nights. Before my name was called for "Devil Went Down to Georgia," Deb's husband John treated us to a little liquid courage in the form of an oatmeal cookie shot. For the record, it tasted like the candles your grandma burns at Christmas. I performed my little Georgian heart out and spurred a couple of South Carolinian gentlemen to clog through the final verse. And then, as we left, I threw up. On the sidewalk. And then in the bushes - where I remained until STGD came to collect me and noted that I looked like a rape victim who crawled out of the shrubs.

South Georgia
I traveled to south Georgia last week to visit with a new client. A drug and alcohol addiction residential recovery program. It was a profoundly moving day. In the house, these young women gathered around the dining room table to tell us their stories. Incarceration. A lifetime with addicted parents. Broken homes and families. And their amazing comebacks from the brink of disaster. I was humbled. I was moved to tears. I rode back to Atlanta, gazing out the window and thinking of my blessings - both the kind I already had and the ones I acquired that day.

I missed my opportunity to express my thoughts on Brangelina at the Smartini Bar. I'd just like to say for the record that I am equal parts fascinated and repulsed by the Brange. I admire their contributions to making the world a better place - I really do. I mean, they just gave kids in Iraq $1 million. But I also resent the fact that - even when I don't read Perez - I have to know every move they make. I confess, too, that I always feel slightly sorry for Jennifer Anniston - what must she be thinking, with no hit movies in quite awhile and just that endorsement deal for Smart Water? I'm also kind of creeped out by the feeling the Brangelina is trying to start their own eco-friendly, multi-cultural, uber-beautiful super race. In which case, I'm totally screwed.

What's in a Name?
Last Wednesday, I was talking to Justin on the phone, and he had Dillon. "Say hi to Auntie Ashley," he prompted.

"Hi," says Dillon.

"Hey, buddy," I say. "What're you and Daddy doing?"

"Can you say 'Ashley'?" Justin asks.

"Ashhhh-eeee," Dillon says, very clearly.

I get euphoric over the fact that he says my name. He knows me! Except that over the weekend, I test him. "Who am I?" I question.

He looks at me and says, "Sha." Definitively. Clear as a bell. He might've said "Ashley" but my name is "Sha."

Simple Pleasures
Things that make me happy that cost nothing...
* Taking pictures
* Riding in the bed of a pickup truck
* The return of my Southern accent
* Blackberry picking
* Crossword puzzles
* The smell of ozone and wet asphalt during a summer shower

Sex & the Panda
So Eva and I make plans to go to Sex & the City while I'm in town and working at the Atlanta office. She searches out a time that fits with my arrival from the office and her babysitter's 10 p.m. limit. We rush to the theater - sans dinner - and stock up on soft pretzels, popcorn, and chocolate. We find a good seat and watch the previews. Which seem a bit odd - a football movie starring Dennis Quaid. Wall-E. Another sports-themed movie. And fifteen minutes later, the opening credits for Kung-Fu Panda roll onto the screen. For about thirty second, there's total silence and then the theater full of women of all ages erupts like a bunch of magpies. Long story short, the theater goofed. And the new run time? Past the babysitter's curfew. We left, unsexed, uncitied and unhappy.

You were good posts. May you rest in peace.