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Suddenly it’s Spring

I love words, always have, and I adore happening on just the right word to describe a feeling.  Today, the word buoyant began to bounce around in my head like a pinball machine.  Faster and faster, until I decided that it was because I FELT buoyant.  Something about the warm weather, the blue skies, the light breeze, a walk downtown, lunch and an after work glass of wine with good friends. 

As I sat outside and enjoyed that magical time of day some people refer to as the witching hour, memories and images began to flood my mind and I soaked them up with a thankful heart.  Like brightly colored plastic balls in grocery store bins as a child, kite flying on the beach, parachute day in gym class, jumping impossibly high on the trampoline, floating in the ocean looking at the sky and those fluttery feelings when you’re first falling in love.

I was reminded of a wonderfully fitting song by Frank Sinatra, “Suddenly it’s Spring”.  Enjoy.

“Why is my heart dancing? Imagine dancing.

You look at me and suddenly it’s spring.

Why do I keep sighing? Not sad.  Just sighing.

I’m young and free and it’s suddenly spring.”

 See ya later, I gotta bounce…

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O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

Two of my favorite sources of entertainment happen to be free: people watching and eavesdropping.  Call me voyeuristic, but there’s something fascinating about being granted a window into someone elses’ world, even if it’s for a short amount of time.  The best part is that it doesn’t cost a dime, although both are more enjoyable with an ice cream cone or cocktail in hand.

Today, I went shopping with a friend.  One of those marathon shopping days where you know you’ve got the whole day to take your time and pick through the racks, visit the dressing rooms countless times and find exactly what you want. 

After spending hours in one particular store, we were ready to check out, so I jumped in an incredibly long line.   While I waited in line, my friend put back several items we had both decided not to purchase.

When we had checked out and were headed to the car, she said “that guy behind you was cute-did you notice him?”.  I HAD actually noticed him and he WAS good-looking in a I-wouldn’t-date-you-but-I-might-make-out-with-you-if-I-was-out-of-town kind of way. 

 “Yeah, he was cute, but he’s a Christmas tree stealer”, I responded.  “He’s a WHAT?”, she asked with a confused look on her face.  “He steals Christmas trees and sells them to make money”, I stated matter-of-factly.  “Nikki, people tell you the strangest things”, she laughed. “Oh, he didn’t TELL me, I was listening to him on the phone”, I explained. 

So, this is what I learned while eavesdropping.   Apparently this guy trolls around in his boat at Lake Lanier all year long, looking for trees that would make good Christmas trees.  When he locates the  trees (in my mind, he spots them because of the ethereal light shining on them), he enters the location into his GPS system and then when Christmas rolls around, he goes back at night and cuts them down and sells them to unsuspecting people.  He even talked about a friend who had the “perfect” boat for his craft – an older boat that had had all the seats taken out.  I guess this way those poor Christmas trees don’t have to be blown around by the wind.

It made me think that missing items = illegal activity.

  1. Bath tub missing?  You might be in a meth lab.
  2. License plate missing?  You might be in a get away car.
  3. Seats missing in the van?  You might have been kidnapped.
  4. Boat seats missing?  Yep, your buddy might be a Christmas tree stealer too.

After I told the story, my friend said “you should totally write about this in your blog”.  Don’t mind if I do…

Fat Tuesday Tribute

A couple of months ago, I was nominated as one of the 2012 Mardi Gras Athens Queen hopefuls.  This fundraising event benefits Family Counseling Services of Athens,  a local non-profit counseling agency.  They provide counseling to North Georgia residents and have counselors that specialize in several different treatment areas.  You can learn more about this valuable organization by visiting their website http://www.fcsathens.com/ .  There are plenty of ways that you can volunteer your services and I encourage you to do so.

The goal of the nominees is to earn the most “votes” and each vote costs one dollar.  You can raise money however you like and the King and Queen hopefuls that raise the most money are crowned during a really fun event that was held at The Melting Point this year and included dinner, a silent auction, attendees in bright, colorful costumes, a band and lots of dancing.  It was a great night, we raised a lot of money and it all went to a worthy cause.  Oh and I was crowned Queen, which really isn’t the point…oh, who I am kidding, it’s TOTALLY the point!

I had a blast.  Occasions where I am actually encouraged to where feather boas and masks are sadly becoming few and far between, so I took advantage of it!  I also wrote a little poem to commemorate the night, which I read on stage, right before making one final walk around the event asking people for last minute cash donations. 

For your reading pleasure, ladies and gentlemen.  Drumroll please…

                                     

2012 Mardi Gras Athens Queen

Once upon a time, there was a wanna be queen 


She was short and blonde with a mouth like a sailor…and she often drank wine and told of times long past when she lived in a pink trailer.

So door to door, she begged and she pleaded…to raise money for where it was needed.

Over and over she asked…who in the all the land will donate the most… And lets not forget that she sent out many a facebook post.

So in her quest to be Mardi Gras Queen, many a suitor asked the question…if I give you my gold will you show me your boobies?

To which she royally replied…to see those it will cost you nothing less than rubies

Tuft Love

Recently as I was perusing Pinterest, I was looking at my “Home” board and I was hit with the realization that…apparently, I love tufting on furniture.  Yes, it’s true.  If you build it and tuft it, I will love it.

Now, if right about now you’re wondering “what the hell is Pinterest?”, you should either A. immediatedly stop reading this blog post and go to Pinterest.com (your life is about to change and yes, I will send you an invite) OR B. keep reading and pretend you never heard of Pinterest (if you’re prone to addictive behaviors and are already having trouble with the amount of time you spend on Facebook).

All I have to say is that if you’re female and a few months from now your husband wants a divorce and DFCS has been to your house, I sincerely apologize.  And if you’re male and this post gave your wife/girlfriend one more reason not to have sex with you, well…sorry.  No really, I TRULY AM sorry and I’m sure that she really DID have a headache.  One that was probably caused by staring at her computer screen for hours…on Pinterest.

Anyhow, back to tufting.  As I was admiring the many pieces of tufted furniture on my board, I started thinking about the word tuft, as in “their heads are gray to black with white tufts of fur” or as my best guy friend once unforgettably said to me in high school “you should really tell (friend who shall go nameless) that she has a tuft of hair coming out of her bikini bottom”.  I also thought about elephant tufts for a few seconds before I realized that I was confusing “tufts” with “tusks”.  I’m just going to go ahead and blame that one on the wine.  Happy Pinning!!

 

Frogs and Snails and Puppydog Tails

Most people wouldn’t guess this about me, but I was a huge tomboy as a kid.  Until I hit puberty, most of my time was spent running around like an idiot, climbing on things, riding things, jumping on things, kicking things, digging in the dirt, fighting boys, getting dirty and picking scabs.  Basically, just raising a whole lotta hell all over my neighborhood and doing my best to get home for meals, get out of taking baths and brushing my hair and trying not to get caught doing anything that I might earn me a spanking.

My mother was mortified since she is a prissy little thing and did her best to force acceptable girl-child behavior on me, like wearing dresses, fixing my hair and playing with babydolls, but I was having none of it.  She finally gave up and I started recieving Transformers and GI Joes for birthdays and Christmases.  Cabbage Patch and Barbie dolls began to be stored in the top of the closet or were left to languish at the bottom of the toy box.  Oh and after hundreds of tearful, sulking episodes of hair brushing, ponytailing and braiding, my long hair was cut into a pixie.  I can only imagine my mom cried herself to sleep that night.

I loved playing with boys.  The more rough and tumble the better.  Boys were always up for some type of adventure.  They liked to build things and break things and we handled our disputes by beating each other up instead of tattling and there was hardly ever any crying.  I knew that boys and girls were supposed to “like” each other, but I can distinctly remember the first time a boy kissed me and I was furious.  His name was Brett and we were hide-and-go-seek partners.  We scrambled behind a hedgerow and as we sat side by side in the shade of that dense bush, he leaned over and kissed me on my shoulder.  I remember that his lips felt moist on my sweaty shoulder and I felt confusion, followed by disgust, and quickly by anger.  I punched him and things progressed from there.  We wound up being “it” in the next round of hide-and-go-seek.  It’s hard to go unnoticed when you’re rolling around in the dirt beating the crap out of each other.

It’s amazing what a little estrogen and progesterone will do.  I hit puberty at 10-years-old and it was like a neon light bulb came on inside my head and it started flashing BOYS BOYS BOYS.  All of a sudden dresses, earrings and makeup became VERY interesting.  I demanded a perm.  Insisted that I be allowed to wear a bra.  I snuck makeup to school in my backpack and applied it (poorly) in the bathroom.  I was like a young Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver wearing horrible combinations of green+orange eyeshadow with bright red lipstick.  I raced full speed into being a girl and I did so clumsily, looking and acting ridiculous.  It took me a while, but I figured it all out eventually.

Amazing what happens when you stop wearing underwear on your head while playing war

Everything that I knew about boys went out the window.  They became an enigma.  In the past, I might have introduced myself to a new boy playmate by showing him how awesome my trampoline back flip was or that I could ride my bike without holding onto the handlebars.  Now I felt shy and unsure of myself when boys were around and a longing that I didn’t really understand.  Like most kids during that coming of age time, I look back and have many cringe-worthy albeit hysterical memories.

Well, I’m proud to say that my trampoline back flip is still pretty awesome and I’m really good at riding my bike without holding onto the handlebars.  However, you boys are still a mystery.  I guess that’s half the fun…kind of like riding with no hands.

Why no, I haven’t seen that show…

So, one night this summer,  my friend Sheila and I were out at this bar in Amelia Island and The Voice happened to be on television.  It’s really interesting how many of my conversations with people revolve around television since I haven’t had cable since 2000, but folks really seem to like to explain the plots of their favorite shows to me once they find out or remember that I don’t watch TV.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, apparently there are these 4 celebrity music judges who develop and mentor amateur musicians and then someone wins at the end.

Pretty entertaining stuff…

Reason #1

Cee lo has tiny T Rex arms.  I had never noticed this until Sheila pointed it out, but this man has really small arms and I think he wears loud clothing to disguise it, but I’ve got news for you, Cee Lo.  I still notice that your arms are disproportionately small in relation to your body even if you’re wearing a sequined blazer.  You’re just sparklier now…with short arms.

 

Reason #2

I’m in love with Adam Levine.  My heart hurts a little when I look at him and I’m pretty sure my feelings for him are stronger and more real than what I’ve felt for some of my boyfriends.  Sheila told me that night that he has a high pitched voice and he sounds kind of wimpy when he talks, so I was thankful that I couldn’t actually hear anything.  I mean, I would hate for anything to ruin my fantasy love affair with him.  We’re pretty close to moving in together as far as I’m concerned.  I will NEVER watch that show again.  Not with the volume on anyway.

Reason #3

I like to be reminded of Christina Aguilera’s career trajectory.  Like how many times I watched the “Genie in a bottle” video on MTV in 1999.  And how she went through that stage where she talked like she might have grown up with Lil’ Kim.

Reason #4

Did I mention that I’m in love with Adam Levine…?

Note:  At the request of an esteemed reader, the picture below has been added.

Four months.  Two moves.  Over 700 miles in a U Haul towing my car.  What did I learn?

1.  Backing up a 17 ft truck with a 14 ft trailer attached is tricky and I do not possess the skills required to successfully manuever this task

2.  Apparently I’m not the only one around me sometimes silently thinking that I need a boyfriend

3.  Taking pictures of the wiring for my television and audio equipment before packing it may qualify as the smartest thing I’ve ever done, right up there with going to college

4.  It takes approximately 1 hour and 21 minutes into the drive for me to stop white-knuckling the steering wheel of a U Haul truck

5.  Packing and unpacking boxes isn’t fun and drinking wine during either doesn’t make it any more fun, it just means your tape work doesn’t keep the boxes closed

6.  I have a lot of shoes

7.  I have a lot of bubble bath

8.  Letting the U Haul people unhook your car from the trailer is probably a good idea, especially in the dark (see #2)

9.  A nail file, a flashlight, a screwdriver, tape, a marker and beer can be a woman’s best friends

10.  I have awesome friends

Full Circle

So, my 4 month vacation in Raleigh has come to an end and I’m moving back to Athens.  I accepted a great job with the Athens Banner Herald as a Digital Media Sales Consultant.  I start next week!  Even more than that (don’t tell the ABH), I’m tickled pink to be closer to my sister who is due in the next few weeks with my very first nephew and to all of my wonderful friends, who I have dearly missed.

In many ways the last several months have been a time for reflection and prioritization and I’ll share some of my thoughts.  I’ll try to avoid sounding too cliché or like a Hallmark card.  Please don’t throw up and yes, I really wrote this.

1. Cherish your loved ones.  Life has a way of letting us slip into the habit of taking the people we love the most for granted.  Make time for them.  Show them with words AND actions how much they mean to you.  I was surprised by how deeply I felt the void of not being able to see my loved ones frequently and how sad it made me to think I wouldn’t be close enough to be a big part of my nephew’s life.

2. Make the time to do the things that are important to you.  Reading and running are 2 of my passions because I find them both to be revitalizing and calming.  They help center me and I feel improved as a person during and after both activities.  We all have self-destructive behaviors that we tend to turn to when we’re tired or stressed, but I find that mine are held at bay when I consistently perform activities that I am passionate about.

3. Be BOLD.  Seize your destiny.  Live in a way that makes YOU happy.  Decide what you want and go after it.  Regret and doubt are slow killers and will poison your life.

4. Live passionately.  Recapture your zest for life.  Enjoy all that the world has to offer-people, food, wine, music, dancing, kisses, lovemaking, laughter, friends, sunshine, rain, flowers, children and love.

I’m ready and eager for my next chapter and while mine will involve a move and a new job, yours doesn’t have to…

Baby’s Got Her Blue Jean Dress On

Do you remember the last time you just HAD to have something?  That something you were convinced would change the way the world viewed you?  Would, in fact, change you in some fundamental way? That new pair of shoes that you’re certain will transform you into a sex goddess, that perfect sofa that expresses exactly who you are as an individual (or who you want to be), those sunglasses that let others know that you’re a hipster, jock, diva, sophisticate-however it is you wanted to be percieved?  Well, when I was 16, almost 17, my “something” was a short, tight, sleeveless denim dress made by Guess.  That’s right, I said it-a blue jean dress is all I thought I needed to transform me from a poor kid living in a pink trailer into a sophisticated, desirable woman.                                                           

You see, for most of my childhood and early teen years, I was what people refer to as stocky.  Not overweight but definitely SOLID. Solid AND short. My permed, stacked bob wasn’t doing me any favors either (think Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, but shorter and not cute).

Well, when I was 16 going on 17 (for you musical lovers out there), I had slimmed down, had grown that perm out and had begun to notice that boys were looking at me differently.  So, essentially that jean dress was going to represent the NEW me.

Like most things that people think they just HAVE to have, this dress was way too expensive. I mean, it was like $80 whole dollars!  So, I did what any resourceful young woman would do. I told every single family member that the ONLY thing I wanted for my birthday was that dress and if they were planning on getting me something, all I wanted was cash so I could buy it.  I had to endure a lecture from my Mom about how gifts were supposed to come from the heart and it was thought that counted.  My reply was that MY heart really wanted that dress and if the family really THOUGHT about my happiness then they would give me money, so I could buy it!                                                                                                                                                         

After my birthday, I counted up the money and marched into that store like no one in the world had ever spent $80 on a dress before.  It was a pretty heady experience.

Now, you might think that afterward I had buyer’s remorse or regretted only getting one thing for my birthday…but you would be wrong.  Nope, I took every opportunity to wear that outfit.  Going to school?  I’ve got the perfect thing to wear.  Church?  Nothing says I love the Lord quite like a blue jean dress.  Trip to the convenience store?  Yep, I’ve got just the thing.

Basically, I thought I was hot shit.

What is the point of this story, you ask?  Well, my new car makes me feel the same way.  I don’t mean that I think that this car redefines me or anything.  Hell, I didn’t even really WANT to buy a new car.  However, I’ll admit driving it feels GOOD.  I love it and just like 17 years ago (WOW); I kind of feel like I’m hot shit all over again.

Of course, the truth is a lot less glamorous. I mean, it’s not like it’s a Bentley or anything.  There’s also the fact that I can’t park it straight. The key fob is a foreign concept to me and I’ve spent the last 3 days feeling like an 80-year-old woman with her first computer or cell phone. In the last 72 hours, I’ve accidently triggered the alarm 6 times, been startled by the Bluetooth woman’s voice 3 times after hitting the button on the steering wheel and I haven’t exactly mastered unlocking my back doors yet.  All in good time, I suppose.

Got someplace you need to go? I’ll drive, but you’ll have to get out and help me park when we get there.

The Sweet with the Sour

This time last week I was lying flat on my back on the wet asphalt while it rained, with a roll of duct tape beside me, under my car trying to figure out what exactly was causing the scraping noise every time I drove.  I mean, I knew that had something to do with the car accident I had been involved in the night before, but what WAS it??  At first I was convinced that it was the interior plastic wheel well covers scraping the tire.  This is where the duct tape came in…just a word to the wise-duct tape will NOT stick on dirty, wet metal.  It really doesn’t matter how much you use, it’s just not happening.  Once I really got under the car to look, I could see that the hard plastic cover that shields the underside of all that important car stuff,  like you know…the engine, was actually bent back underneath the car.  Ah ha, THAT’S what was causing that scraping noise!

The Culprit

I thought that I might just be able pull it off, but of course every bolt had come out except one, so my only choice was to try and bend that piece back to its original position.  Now, you may not realize it, but it’s REALLY hard to do much of anything under a car unless it’s jacked up or on one of those hydraulic lifts, so I almost couldn’t believe it when it actually worked!  I got up off the ground, wet, dirty and more than a little pissed at myself and the situation.   Obviously with just one bolt holding it up it was kind of just flopping around down there, but no more scraping when I drove it!

Since moving to Raleigh, I’ve been using Express Inspection and Service on the corner of Walnut and S.E. Maynard in Cary for oil changes and to check a few minor things on the car.  The owner is this older gentleman named Turk (it says so on his shirt) and I’ll admit I have a little crush on him because he just comes across as so genuine and is always extremely helpful.  Using his fancy hydraulic system, Turk was able to get that pesky plastic shield off and we put it in my trunk until I had an opportunity to talk to my insurance agent, the always helpful Mike Dekle, at State Farm Insurance-thanks Mike and Dana! http://www.mikedekle.net/

Sayonara, old friend

After finding out that my accident had bent the frame of the car, I made the decision that the time had come to retire my 2000 Honda Accord-sad, but time.  That car served me well over the last 10 years and never needed more than your normal engine, tire and brake maintenance.

So, I started the process of looking for a new car.  Honda was an obvious choice for me, since I’ve had such a positive experience, but Hyundai’s kept making their way into my conversations with people.  I went online and found a Hyundai Dealership-Johnson Hyundai of Cary.  As a career salesperson, first in real estate and then in hospitality, I recognize good customer service when I see it.  The team here didn’t just provide good service, they provided SUPERIOR customer service and I’m happy to say that dealing with them was one of the best buying experiences I’ve ever had.  Buying a car is a big undertaking for anyone, but can be especially so when you’re a single woman.  Between being taken advantage of or just being treated like you’ve got jelly for brains, working with a shady car salesman or mechanic can be dangerous and frustrating when you’re female.  I highly recommend them to anyone that is in the market for a new or used car-tell them I sent you!  www.johnsonhyundai.com

Brad Street and Barry. Just because his intials are BS doesn't mean he's slingin' it

I worked with two of Johnson Hyundai’s salesmen, Barry, who is brand new to car sales and Brad Street, a seasoned pro.  I couldn’t have asked for a better sales team.  They were honest, courteous and most important, they made

sure I had plenty of snack food anytime I had to wait!

There were some cookies that didn't last long enough to make it into the picture...

Once I had chosen a car it was time to talk numbers, so I sat down with the Financial Services Manager, Randy Weber.  Randy was hired away from another car dealership by Johnson Hyundai and I can definitely see why.  He has the unique ability to put you at ease and as he walked me through the financial process, I had the feeling that I was sitting across from a trusted friend.  Randy had a lot of tiny candy bars on his desk and when he told me to help myself, I decided that we really WERE friends.

Randy Weber a.k.a. The Magic Man

A Winning Team!

Once the process was complete, it was time to say goodbye to my old car and unfortunately that meant that I had to clean it out.  Oh boy…not fun.  My trunk, much like my purse, is like a black hole and I found all sorts of things in there.

Apparently these are the necessities for today's modern woman

A rusty machete and a rubber mallet for those Mad Max kind of days

For those last minute, surprise costume parties and when I want to use those great maternity parking spots

After cleaning out the car, it was time to drive my new Certified Used 2011 Hyundai Sonata home-YAY!!

If anyone needs me, I’ll be out and about taking care of completely unnecessary errands.

Believe me, as a woman, I do realize that when you’re single, in your 30’s and live alone-blogging about your cats is probably not the sexiest topic.  Kind of like, I probably shouldn’t mention the cartoon bubble I can see above people’s heads in the grocery store that says “single”, when they see me pushing my mini-cart around loaded down with Lean Cuisines, Diet Coke, salad-in-a-bag and cat litter, but here goes!

Recently as I was piddling around the house, I rounded the corner and caught my female cat lying on her bed looking especially cute and cuddly, so I sat down beside her to get a little love and stroke her soft tummy.  For those of you who have cats or have spent any time around cats, a familiar scenario played out.  She let me stroke her a few times and then she got up and began to stand an armslength away, rubbing herself against the nearest piece of furniture, then coming close enough to let me pet her a few times before once again standing right outside my reach. 

Even though I know this is just what cats do, it’s strange because neither of my cats normally behave like your typical, independant felines.  Generally, they act more like lap dogs.  Anywhere I am is where they want to be.  If I’m on the sofa, they want to be right there beside me.  If I go into my bedroom, they follow me in there.  For the most part, I think this is sweet, although it’s the times that I least want to pay them attention that they seem to demand the MOST attention.  As I was telling Cassie in my sweetest kitty voice, what an ungrateful bitch she was for shunning my advances after I saved her from the cat shelter and from going through life with the name Dundee 11 years ago, I started thinking about how she and I aren’t really that different.

Cassie: photo courtesy of the power of catnip

My neuroticism about men and dating really began after my divorce.  It wasn’t the actual date that I dreaded so much as it was the contact leading up to and after the date.  I found that I just had no interest in the getting to know you, let me call you and ask you about your day, small talk phase before the date.  Even worse was the no, I don’t want to see you again, please stop calling me, now I’m not going to call you back and hope I don’t run into you phase.  I, in fact, HATED the stress that it caused me.  As I told my friend Marti Brick one day, “just thinking about having to deal with someone actually liking me and wanting me to like them makes me feel like a flock of birds just started beating around in my chest”.  The result was that I just stopped dating altogether-cheaper than anti-anxiety meds, right?

Love the tattoo, but better in the chest than on the chest, I guess

Now, over the years, my anxiety about dating has begun to lessen, but I have definitely noticed some trends in my behavior toward men.  Everyone familiar with the rules of logic?  Well, me either…

Rule #1.  If you flat out pursue me, I will run.  FAST.

Rule #2.  If you happen to live in a different town than me, I consider this to be a plus

Rule #3.  If I am attracted to you, you live out of town and seem uninterested in me, the likelihood that I have written my first name beside your last name is high

Rule #4.  I enjoy being the pursuer, not the pursuee, but only for a  limited, decided-by-me amount of time.  If you capitulate too soon, I will lose interest; if you wait too long, I will move on

Rule #5.  If I really like you, all these rules are bullshit

So, much like Cassie, I have found myself in the situation where I have been intensely interested in being pet by someone who would prefer that I leave them alone and when someone is sitting on the floor calling my name ready to give me all the love I want, I have a tendency to shy away. 

Goodbye for now, I gotta go take this cat book off my shelf and hide it in a box in my closet, before anyone sees it…

A Groovy Weekend: Part Two

Hello again and on to Part Two of A Groovy Weekend!  As I was saying, Project Safe is a fantastic non-profit organization in Athens, Georgia.  Their mission is to work to end domestic violence through crisis intervention, ongoing supportive services, systems change advocacy and prevention and education in the community.  The organization has been extremely successful in planning fundraisers that engage Athens community members who have disposable income with events that embrace Athens’ spirit of creativity and sense of fun.  You can learn more about Project Safe (including Groovy Nights) and how to contribute by checking out their website http://www.projectsafe.org/ .    

Ethan I grabbed an early morning breakfast and then said our goodbyes back at the hotel.  Then the marathon (eating) socializing spree began!

Breakfast

Company: A man not named Ethan

Location: The Grill

On the menu: steak and cheese sandwich, fries with feta dressing, orange juice, coffee

Lunch

Company: Sheila Coffeen and Lindsey Halper

Location: George’s Low Country Table

On the menu: garlic cheese biscuits, crab bisque, bloody mary, mimosa

Afternoon

Company: Stephanie Sharp, Emily Karst, Amelia Longenecker, Amy Clark

Location: Penthouse 501, Hotel Indigo

On the menu: margaritas and mango strips

Dinner

Company: Stephanie Sharp, Andrea Griffith, Kelly Girtz

Location: The National

On the Menu: hummus, hanger steak, wine

After dinner we headed to Groovy Nights in our Groovy outfits.  It was SO great seeing so many old Athens’ friends all in the same place and all in costume!

Groovy Man, Just Groovy

The place was packed full of people in full 70’s costumes.  I have to say that while I thought my outfit was very disco dancing queen while I was putting it together, it didn’t really turn out looking that 70’s.  I tried to make up for that by posing in very 70’s-ish positions throughout the night, like this…

Saturday Night Fever

and this…

Peace and Love

Even though I had practiced these moves in front of the mirror at home in full costume several times, it must not have worked because I didn’t win the costume contest.  Apparently a wig is the key to making a 70’s costume truly funky.

Baby Afro-Puffs meet Momma Fro!

Or a hat.  Maybe I’ll wear a hat AND a wig next year!

Two Cool Cats

 After a few cocktails and a LOT of dancing, we headed down to Little Kings, glittery cinderella shoes in hand with my walking flip flops on for the trek.  Hey, I wear heels with the best of them, but even I know that you’d better come prepared if you’re wearing $29 shoes bought as Charlotte Russe!  I was expecting a really chill, laid back atmosphere when we got to Little Kings, so you can imagine my surprise when they had a DJ spinning old school hits like “Me So Horny”, “Sally, That Girl” and “When Doves Cry”.  Uh oh, dancing time again! 

The next morning, I surprisingly woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed and decided to go ahead and get on the road.  By 8:30am that’s exactly where I was-headed back to live the life of Raleigh!

A Groovy Weekend: Part One

A week before moving day, as I was enjoying a breakfast of donuts, chocolate milk and coffee in Buck and Stephanie Sharp’s living room, Buck asked me what I would miss most about Athens.  More than anything, it’s my friends-some of the best people in the world in my opinion and you know who you are.

When I decided to move, I promised myself that I wouldn’t neglect those relationships and would make the trip to Athens from time to time.  With Groovy Nights, a fun 70’s costume themed fundraising event coming up, I decided I would plan my first trip back around that.  The event is hosted by one of my favorite Athens’ non-profit organizations, Project Safe.  More about that in Part Two of this blog post. 

Now, as I was making plans for my trip to Athens, a funny thing happened-I reconnected with an old romantic interest from college.  For the sake of his privacy, I won’t use his real name, I’ll just call him Ethan.  Ethan and I had a Biology class together way back in 1997 and for the first several weeks of class, I actually thought that his name really WAS Ethan.  One of my girlfriends was in the class too and we had several conversations during which we dished on which guys we thought were hot.  Using the slang of the 90’s (and I’m certain while wearing bootcut Calvin Klein’s and chunky-heeled shoes), I talked about how “fine” Ethan was, while my friend (who was ahead of the times in the cool department) talked about how “smokin’ hot”  Aaron was (also not his real name).  Neither of us could figure how this other “fine” “smokin’ hot” hunk o’ man had eluded the other in a class of 40 people.  Well, it turns out that Ethan and Aaron were one and the same.  I’m still not sure how I screwed that one up.

I tutored during college and as luck would have it, Ethan needed a little tutoring in Biology.  Being the altruistic education advocate that I am, I offered Ethan my services free of charge.  We began meeting once a week to help him prepare for tests.  Those tutoring sessions were filled with innuendos and tons of flirting, but I had a boyfriend and nothing ever happened.  Then at the end of the quarter, I transferred to UGA and moved to Athens.  He and I stayed in touch and I even visited him once not long after my move, during a time that I happened to be single and we finally moved things out of the friend zone.  We’ve had sporadic contact since, through email, then MySpace and then Facebook, but we hadn’t seen one another in 13 years until Friday night. 

He lives 4 hours from Athens, but we planned a date and we wound up both booking rooms at the same hotel.  I can’t move forward with the story without giving a shout out to Hotel Indigo-Athens for their extraordinary hospitality this weekend-thanks guys!  You can book a room online or just check out this award winning hotel at http://www.indigoathens.com/ . 

So, getting back to the date.  We met for a drink in the hotel bar and then walked downtown to one of my favorite restaurants, Last Resort.  The conversation and wine flowed and it was fun catching up on everything that had transpired in our lives since last seeing each other.  Next, we walked down to the newly renovated Georgia Theatre.  This was my first visit since it reopened this summer after burning in 2009 and I was really impressed with how great the renovation turned out.  We wandered around from floor to floor and wound up at the rooftop bar where we continued to catch up.  When we decided to leave, Ethan (a man after my own heart), suggested that we go for “second dinner” at Taco Stand.  Uh, you had me at Taco Stand…

I’m Moving to New Jersey!

OK, so not really…but I did just find out that it is illegal for people to pump their own gas there!  I can be a bit of an extremist and there are some things that I love intensely-like ice cream, turkey dressing with cranberry sauce (that’s dressing NOT stuffing) and summer storms.  Then there are those things that I absolutely detest-like pumping gas, going to Walmart and people who are rude to people in the service industry.

Back to the gas pumping.  This is literally something I think about when I consider marriage somewhere down the line and the pros that come along with it.  A warning to all you eligible bachelors out there-if you like it and you put a ring on it, you WILL be pumping my gas (and no, that is not a euphemism).  I dread stopping to get gas like some people dread going to the dentist.  I will put it off until I cannot go one more mile.  Thankfully, I have only run out of gas a couple of times, but the most recent was just a few days ago.  Fortunately, my car cut off just as I was pulling into the gas station.  Unfortunately, the pumps were on an incline, so I couldn’t just coast into a bay.

As I was pulling off my heels and changing into flats a good samaritan and a police officer came to my rescue.  The policeman was chuckling as he walked up and said he  thought I must run out of gas a lot from the way I whipped off my shoes ready to push that car.  I told him I was from South Georgia-nuff said!

I think it’s time to introduce some new legislation here in North Carolina!

Exploring Expedition

Yesterday was the first day that I’ve completely devoted to exploring the Raleigh area.  I had some regular errands to run and then there were a few places that had been recommended or that I had seen online and wanted to visit.

Best Buy

I needed to buy a new battery and charger for my camera.  I lost mine over a year ago and never replaced it and my Blackerry takes horrible pictures.  With the blog up and running, I’ve been feeling the need to take more pictures to incorporate into the posts, so I headed there.  Now, I know a lot of women who say they feel intimidated going to Best Buy, but I love that place, especially here.  I’m not sure if it’s just hard-wired into men to try and help a woman on her own or what, but there always seem to be good-looking, good samaritans at Best Buy.  Hell, maybe I just look confused?  I always do my research online before going to buy electronics, so generally I know exactly what I’m going to buy before I ever walk in the doors.  However, when a man asks me if I need some help, my level of neediness is in direct correlation to the askers level of attractiveness.  Sadly, my trip to Best Buy was a short one yesterday…

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Trader Joe’s

I knew there were a couple of locations in the Raleigh area, but I hadn’t made the time to figure out which one was closest to me.  After mapping out both locations on GPS, it turned out that the Cary location was closer.  First of all, I love buying flowers at Trader Joe’s and I picked up a fun bouquet of flowers in some of my favorite hues-fuschia, pink and green.  Next, I pointed my cart in the direction of the wine aisle.  I’m a big fan of Vinho Verde’s  during the summer because they’re so light and have a touch of effervescence, but aren’t quite a sparkling wine.  True to Trader Joe form, when I asked the wine guy if they had one in stock, he began to tell me about this great summer drink he makes using Vinho Verde, a splash of vodka and pink lemonade.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day outside and all of a sudden that concoction sounded like the most perfect thing ever! Vinho Verde in cart-check.  Pink lemonade located-check.  Vodka at home-check.  

My favorite thing at Trader Joe’s??  They have these great frozen indian meals that I absolutely LOVE.  I especially like the Tikka Paneer and the Lamb Vindaloo and I buy them every time I’m there.  

GC5 Vintage & Gifts

This is one place I’ve had my eye on since before I actually made the decision to move to Raleigh.  I saw it online and religiously check their Facebook page for pictures of their new items.  I’m in the market for a new sofa and a couple of chairs and have been leaning toward going with a vintage look, regardless of whether I purchase new or used.  I’ve seen some 50’s Danish pieces I really like and I dig the bohemian look of upholstered Chesterfield sofas as well.  GC5 is in Wake Forest, which is a 30 minute drive from me, but it was totally worth it.  They had some great furniture,  glassware and clothes, but I spent most of my time looking through their book selection.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

The book I SHOULD have bought

It’s a family business and I enjoyed meeting the owners, John and Amanda Giustiniani.  Their 2 sons (both pre-teen by the looks of them) were there as well and I was impressed that both of them actually asked separately if they could help me find anything-so sweet and gentlemanly.  I walked out with a silver and glass end table and a stack of books-everything from a hard cover copy of Beowulf to David Sedaris’ book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim feeling like I had scored a bargain.   I’ll definitely be going back.  You can go online and check out their wares here http://www.gc5vintage.com/ .

 

Cameron Village

As I was coming back into Raleigh I noticed a sign for Cameron Village and since I had heard it was a great shopping area, I decided to check it out.  Cameron Village is a shopping center filled with a mixture of name brand stores like Ann Taylor and Pier One along with boutique shops and restaurants.  Once I parked, I decided that this was exactly the type of place that would have an ice cream shop and I made finding one my top priority.  I had to decide between Baskin Robbin’s and a place called Goodberry’s, which actually sells frozen custard.  I went with Goodberry’s and it was delicious!  Shopping and ice cream are 2 of my favorite things, so window shopping WHILE eating ice cream definitely made my day.

Crabtree Mall

I’ve been on the hunt for some glittery silver shoes to finish off my outfit for a Project Safe charity event called Groovy Night’s (you can check out their website here http://www.project-safe.org ), so I asked one of the shop sales girls where I might find something like that.  I made sure to emphasize that A.  they were for a costume party and B.  I was not a stripper.  She suggested that I go to Crabtree Mall to some place like Charlotte Russe, so I could get them cheap and off I went.  I actually had been here before, but since I wasn’t driving and it was early in my time here, I had totally forgotten.

Two more of my favorite things

I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and went in search of  Charlotte Russe.  This was my least favorite part of the day.  For one, I hate looking for parking and two, I just don’t enjoy being crowded into places with the general public.    Slow-walkers are a pet peeve of mine as are groups of individuals who think they all have to walk beside each other, effectively blocking the thoroughfare.  Put the 2 together and it really pisses me off.  My time there wasn’t as bad as say…a trip to Walmart, but it wasn’t the highlight of my day either.  Still-I DID find my shoes and boy are they FUN.  Kind of like wearing high-heeled disco balls on my feet! 

Ahhhh, home sweet home.

 

A Long Day

By this time, I was hungry, ready to make myself a fun cocktail and couldn’t wait to get home to try on my glittery shoes with my outfit and see how my new end table looked in the living room.  So, I headed home and did just that.

So, for the first month after moving to Raleigh, my life consisted of working long hours, fighting insomnia, saying a tearful goodbye to McDonald’s (I was on the road a lot during June), and unpacking.  Ok, I also hung out at the pool sometimes, but not as much as I would have liked!

Since I moved here without knowing a soul, you can imagine how happy I was when Andrea Griffith and Stephanie Sharp wanted to come for a visit!  There was a lot of big talk about a documentary being filmed that weekend, but somehow that didn’t materialize.  Based on the topics discussed that’s probably for the best!

I was in dire need of some girltime because y’all know I LOVE to TALK!  I also love going out to dinner and had been jonesing to get out and try some of the great restraurants in Downtown Raleigh.  Stephanie and Andrea started their trip to Raleigh around 12:30 on a Thursday, but not before taking glamour shots in front of someone’s tree apparently.  I think this was supposed to be included in the “Raleimentary”, but alas… 

After a pitstop at Cracker Barrel and a GPS detour they finally arrived.  It took some double-teaming peer pressure, but Stephanie and I convinced Andrea to skip the shower and move straight to cocktail hour at my place. 

Day 1

We chose a mexican restaurant downtown called Dos TaQuitoes and enjoyed margaritas at an outside sidewalk table.  The food was good, but it had been a long day for everyone and we agreed that we would take it easy that first night, so we could really blow it out over the weekend.  It was nice to just sit outside, enjoy the great weather and be

Downtown Raleigh

 

The Three Amigas?

completely entertained by the commentary coming from these two.  While the personalities of my closest friends really runs the gammit, one common denominator is that they all have great senses of humor.  Pretty interesting because in my opinion, very few women are truly funny, so I feel lucky that my friends keep me in stitches and Andrea and Stephanie are no different.

Day 2

I had to work, but Andrea and Steph were leading a life of luxury without me-shopping, lunching-you know, very diva-like behavior.  One place that I was determined to try was this 3 story restraurant, dance club, roof top bar spot called Solas.  I had heard mixed reviews, but literally everyone I asked for recommendations said I needed to check it out at least once.  My meal was excellent even if I did think Andrea might gag watching me enjoy the rarest lamb chops I’ve ever eaten. 

After dinner we ventured to the second story, which is the dance club.  We didn’t realize it during dinner, but the ceiling of the restaurant is the glass dance floor, so even though it’s completely sound proof, diners can

That's the number of times I did the running man...

actually look up and watch the people above dancing!  Even though I love to dance, let’s face it, dance clubs are cheesy and mostly filled with bad dancers, me included.  My dancing style has been described as very literal and I would agree with that, if by literal, you mean a cross between Daffy Duck and Shooter McGavin.  Oh and regardless of the setting, I’m extremely proud of how well I can do the running man.  Thankfully, I have (mostly) matured to the point where I don’t feel the need to drop it like it’s hot anymore, but I will never outgrow the running man.

There was no stopping us that night and I fell off the wagon and let McDonald’s seduce me with a 3 o’clock Ranch BLT Chicken Sandwich and fries combo, which I enjoyed while watching the dart scene from Old School.  Twice.  What can I say, I have very sophisticated tastes, folks.

Day 3

Saturday morning it was raining and even though we couldn’t drag Andrea out of the hotel (sooomebody had a headache…), Stephanie and I headed over to the North Carolina State Fair Grounds to check out the flea market they host there every weekend.  I only walked away with a few DVD’s, but I am still kicking myself for not buying this cool 1950’s black Danish chest of drawers that I really loved for my bedroom.  After sloshing around in puddles and eating chili cheese dogs at the flea market, we headed back to the hotel. 

I’m almost embarassed to write this next part, but it was too much fun not to share.  We crawled into the bed, ordered pizza and had a marathon “Millionaire Matchmaker” veg-out session.  Even though I turned off my cable 11 years ago and am a self-professed reality show hater, I was completely sucked in.  I will never admit to how many episodes I watched that afternoon, but I think it was actually good for all of us to just lay in bed and do nothing but talk trash about the crazies on that show-a welcome break from the stress we all normally deal with on a daily basis in “real life”.

After finally dragging ourselves out of bed, we made it to a late dinner at The Raleigh Times, where Stephanie had chocolate cake for dinner.  Like I said…diva.  We headed back down to trendy Glenwood Avenue in search of another dance club, but wound up back at Solas for some more dancing.  One great thing about dance clubs is the people watching and Solas has a great set up for doing just that.  There’s a great outdoor seating area off of the dance club with lots of comfortable seating that just happens to face the glass walls looking onto the dance floor.  That was some GOOD people watching!

Day 4

All good things must come to an end and while I was sad that Andrea and Stephanie were leaving, I was also completely exhausted and ready for a nap by the pool!  I loved seeing you ladies-come back anytime!

So, I believe that anyone who lives in Athens for any length of time and then moves on carries a piece of the town in their heart from that point on.  I know I’ll forever have a tender spot in my chest for what is truly a unique and special place.  Not only is it full of character; it is filled with characters!  Remember when Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel) in Pulp Fiction, says “just because you are a character doesn’t mean you have character”?  Athens is full of so many interesting people, some full of character and some just characters.  Not only do I miss some very good friends; I also miss those “characters” that make Athens such an interesting place to live. 

Enough nostalgia for now!  One thing that Raleigh has that Athens was sorely lacking in is SINGLE MEN in their 30’s and 40’s.  Now, I certainly didn’t move to Raleigh to find a man, but good lord, it is nice to go out or make a trip to the grocery store and see attractive, single men who are my age. 

No offense to my female friends who are married and/or have kids because you know I love you dearly, but I’ve made nice with several women who are my age and single as well and it’s refreshing to meet people who are like-minded with a similar perspective on life, career, kids and men. 

I live on the Raleigh/Cary line, so that puts me 10 minutes from both Downtown Raleigh and Downtown Cary.  There are SO many restaurants, art galleries, music venues and shops that I want to check out.  Plus, Chapel Hill, Durham and Wake Forest are all within 20-30 minutes.  I’m still trying to get a feel for the geography, but from what I’ve learned so far, it’s a 2 hour drive to Wilmington Beach or the Outerbanks, 3 hours to Ashville or Boone if I want to go to the mountains, a 4 hour drive if I want to visit D.C. and I could drive 9 hours to Manhattan for a long weekend.  I’m pretty excited about taking some weekend trips, although it will have to wait until after what I have dubbed as Baby/Wedding season 2011-love you Kristy and Katy!  So much to do, so little time!!!

Behind the wheel of a 17 foot U Haul truck, listening to bad radio, towing my car, with 2 very unhappy cats beside me totally OVER being stuck in a crate together for the 6 hour trip to Raleigh.  That was me 6 weeks ago.  I have to say, it’s been a helluva ride, and I don’t just mean that long-ass drive with all of my worldly possessions in tow!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the expression “living the life of Riley”, it was popularized in a 40’s radio program that later spawned a television show starring Jackie Gleason and means to live a carefree, charmed life with very little work.  For anyone that knows me, you know that “carefree” and “very little work” aren’t really apt descriptions of my life.  However, I do feel like I’ve lived a charmed life, filled with some really wonderful people and amazing opportunities.  So the title of the blog is a play on this expression. 

I LOVE Raleigh and I am ready for new adventures and opportunities in a new city!   Check in for updates on the ride!

 
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