Archive for the ‘Mundane’ Category

Back in the Saddle

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

It’s so hard to start blogging again after a prolonged period of not doing so. It’s like after so much time passes, how do you determine what qualifies as worthy of the return to form? You can’t just come back with some inane ramblings. Of course, I plan to do just that, so maybe you can.

The past couple of days have been interesting, especially compared to my otherwise pretty simple and uncomplicated existence. I hesitate to describe my life as “boring” because that sounds so drab and I don’t feel like my life is boring at all, even though it probably isn’t terribly exciting to the casual observer. Still, though, I go to bed with a feeling of fullness and satisfaction for the events that transpired the previous 16 hours more often that not.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to perform in a video shoot for work. I had a non-speaking role of a “stylish soccer mom” who demonstrated some features inside of a minivan and of a cellphone. Calling this acting might be a bit of a stretch, however, I believe I was bitten by the bug. I am now (with extreme encouragement from my sponsor and other key people in my life) looking to pursue this further. At this point, I’d be happy to just do commercials or videos similar to yesterdays – I am just not sure how to get started. If I’m honest with you (and myself), I’ve wanted to do something like this my entire life. I’ve just always dismissed the thought immediately after thinking, “I’d love to be an actress or model or something like that.” What followed was usually something like this: “Yeah, right. You’re not good enough to do that. Who would want you? You’re too tall. You’re uncoordinated. Your nose is too big. You’re too fat. You don’t have the talent. You don’t have the ‘it’ factor. You don’t have the sheer chutzpah and stage presence required. Everyone will laugh at you. Wanting to do this is conceited and ego-centric.” The voice goes on and on. I never really stopped to reflect on any of it, always choosing instead to listen to the negative self-talk and pushing these “crazy” thoughts out of my head. Being in front of that camera and working with a director yesterday, however, made me stop in my tracks because of how natural it felt and how much I enjoyed it. So stay tuned. I’m sure the path will be filled with sputtering starts and screeching stops, but I’m going to walk on it anyway. Who knows, maybe I’ll even run.

In other news, I discovered a painful lump in my left breast yesterday. In hindsight, there’s been something wrong for a couple of months. I remember I mentioned to Rob that my breasts looked fuller – at least one did. DUH! More recently, that boob has been spilling out of my bra cup. I just thought it was my new bras and almost bought new ones yesterday! Also, for a while now, whenever Rob has “copped a feel”, I’ve hollered in pain. I didn’t realize it was just the one boob, YK? And I didn’t think much about it, choosing to think he was being too rough on my gentle self. Poor Rob. Anyway, I went to my GYN today and she confirmed the lump, but also confirmed what my friend Google told me: most painful lumps are just benign cysts. She ordered a bilateral diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound on the left breast and I’m waiting for a call back now to confirm that appointment. I’ll keep you all updated. I was hoping to get in tomorrow since we leave for vacation on Saturday, but I’m not sure that will happen.

Speaking of vacation – we’re headed back to Virginia Beach! I’m thrilled and can’t wait to spend a week at one of my favorite places in the entire world. Sun, fun, and relaxation here we come.

RIP George Carlin

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

George CarlinI was so saddened to wake up to the news of George Carlin’s death this morning. He was a true comedic genius and will be greatly missed by those both in and out of the industry. I’m also bummed that the only time we saw him perform in person, he really sucked. It was so bad that we walked out, even. I was hoping he would redeem himself for us at another show, but I guess that won’t be happening. I’ll have to satisfy myself with old shows now.

Although he was enlightened in ways a lot of people aren’t, I think George was a tortured soul while he walked this earth. I hope he’s resting in peace now. And I hope Jesus brought him some pork chops.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Yesterday I attended a friend’s babies’ (triplets!) dedication ceremony at her church where the service and sermon afterwards really knocked me off my feet. When I first walked into the church, there was fairly loud, rockin’ music playing, lots of people hustling around and being extremely friendly – recognizing me as a newcomer right away – and just a general sense of happiness and light through out the place. Expecting a traditional, more staid-like church atmosphere hadn’t prepared me for this experience. I was pleasantly surprised. Not that there’s anything wrong with the more traditional church approach; I’m a fan of that style, too, but this really awakened my senses and whetted my appetite for more.

As I walked into the nave, the music grew louder and a full band on stage greeted me with sounds of contemporary Christian music. I loved seeing 2 guitar players, a bassist, a keyboardist, a drummer, and 4 singers up there really getting into their stuff. I couldn’t help smiling as I found my way to a seat among the dancing and swaying parishioners as I looked for my friend and her babies. The dedication ceremony itself was relatively brief, but very precious. How could it not be with three smiling babies facing the congregation? At the end, a soloist sang, “Yes, Jesus loves me” in the sweetest voice ever. Loved it.

But the thing I loved the most was the message the pastor preached to us that day. He started out with a mention of all the veterans who have served us and we applauded them all. This led into two very moving stories of servicemen in the past. One was an 18 year old in either World War 2 or Vietnam (I forget the specifics) who picked up a live grenade the enemy had just tossed into their camp and tucked it into his stomach so that he would die instead of his four buddies serving next to him. The other story was similar but more recent. An equally young man was driving a tanker when a grenade landed on it. He could have jumped out and the tank with the four soldiers inside would have exploded. Instead, he chose to take the grenade to his mid-section – killing himself, but saving the others.

As the pastor told these stories, I wondered if I would have made the same choice those two men did. I honestly don’t know that I would. Maybe it’s different in war time and you’re right there in the moment. Maybe I would in those circumstances. I hope my character is stronger than I think it is, anyway.

The pastor then went on to tie the message of the sacrifice the men and women who have served and lost their lives for our country to the small, every day sacrifices we can make in our relationships. He joked that most people would take a grenade to the stomach, but not give up doing their favorite activity for their loved ones. That got a laugh, but it really hit a nerve. He asked how much do we truly sacrifice our wants and needs in a loving, filled with humility way – in order to deepen and strengthen our relationships. I know I have a lot of work to do in that regard. So much work. The promise of self-sacrifice is deeply rewarding relationships beyond imagination, though, and I want that.

Of course, he ended the sermon with the parallel of the sacrifice Christ made for us – and I just loved how he tied it all together. It was a great way to start my day and a great reminder of the sacrifices the men and women of our great United States of America have made for our country. I’m grateful for every one of them and will take time today to reflect on those who have lost their lives so that we may live a better one.

New Mexico – The Rest of the Trip

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

The remaining five days in New Mexico were mostly spent attending the conference that made the whole trip possible, but there were some events in there I want to share with you.

First, on Thursday night, Courtney came down to my hotel to pick me up and take me out to dinner. It was easy to spot her car because she has the bike racks on top, which is no surprise if you know her even a little tiny bit. We went to the Elephant Bar Restaurant and had some of the best service I’ve encountered while dining out in a long time. The waiter was very accommodating and even put two and two together that since I asked for no sugar in my main course, that the dessert menu wouldn’t interest me. I’m often surprised at how many servers don’t even come close to picking up on that. Anyway, Courtney and I had a lovely dinner where we chatted about a little bit of everything, starting with PayPerPost/Izea and ending with a decision to take a stroll though the cool shopping plaza (Winrock) the restaurant was located in.

I found the best tool in Williams Sonoma – a stainless steel pineapple corer! This thing rocks. I eat a lot of pineapple and it’s always such a pain to cut the whole thing up. This corer turns all that work into child’s play. Of course the store was out of fresh pineapples on my last visit, so I’ve only used it once. I’m looking forward to getting much more use out of this thing. And now I’m wondering what kind of cool crafts I can make out of the pineapple shells.

Here’s Courtney and I in the Elephant Bar. Our lovely waiter took our picture. Aren’t we cute? I just adored her. She was very easy to talk to and cute as a damn button.

CourtneyAmy

The following night, I had a very interesting experience. I got to meet an aunt and a cousin that, until 3 years ago, no one in my family knew existed. You see, my paternal grandmother left her husband when my dad was just four years old. He was not a nice man – being a violent, active alcoholic and a raging gambler, so my Nanny (as we called her) was smart to get out when she did. My dad grew up without a father and without a desire to know his father or what happened to him once he was out of his life. Turns out, my grandfather kept up his sick ways, but still ended up marrying someone else and fathering two more children. Three years ago, my dad got a phone call from a woman claiming to be his half-sister who also informed him he had another half-sister besides herself. My dad knew he had an older half-sister from another of his father’s marriages prior to the one with his mom. He thought the woman on the phone was the half-sister he knew about (but lost track of), but she informed him otherwise. So my father has 3 half-sisters all told.

When I was making plans for my trip to Albuquerque, my mom reminded me about my dad’s sister. I told my dad to give her a call and I’d go meet her. And that’s exactly what we did. It was a great meeting. My aunt Pam is a very nice woman – so down to earth and sweet – and she brought along her daughter, Thea, who is just one of thirteen of my newfound cousins. Thea treated us both to dinner at the Texas Land & Cattle and we had some great conversations about the family history. Pam is really into genealogy and she’s done research on our family that goes all the way back to the Jamestown settlement! Very interesting stuff.

After dinner, they both came back with me to my hotel room so I could show them pictures of my family on my laptop. They loved seeing the rest of the family and it sounds like we’re all anxious to meet each other and have a family union, rather than a reunion, since the latter would really be a misnomer. The three of us spent about 4 hours that night just chatting and looking at pictures. Pam had a photo album with her filled with pictures of my grandfather. That was neat to see. My brother resembles him a bit. Pam definitely resembles my dad; I knew she was my aunt the second she walked into the hotel. Here’s the three of us inside my hotel:

PamAmyThea

Two days after we met, I was on a plane headed back to Philadelphia and life as I knew it. Spending 10 days in New Mexico, getting closer to my uncle, meeting new family, and experiencing many joys of recovery during my conference have slightly altered life as I knew it, though – in great, meaningful, and profound ways. I’m definitely the better for this trip and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to take it.

Although I was sad to be leaving New Mexico and the wonderful experiences I had there, I was ready to come home, too. I missed my husband and kids… and my own bed, my own refrigerator and my own cooking tools! It’s always funny how much I enjoy a home-cooked meal after traveling for some time and eating out so many meals in a row. My body begins begging for some truly clean and familiar food.

So now I’m home – I’ve been back a week today which is hard to believe – and I get to process all of the events that happened there. I think it will definitely take some time, and hopefully I’ll have plenty of it!

New Mexico – Day Four: Sandia Peak

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

SandiaTramOn our last full day together, my uncle and I decided to head to the world’s longest tram ride at the Sandia Peak Tramway! I was excited and nervous for this trip – I’m a big lover of the mountains and a slight daredevil, but I wasn’t sure what to expect going up the side of the mountain in a tram car. Turns out, it was pretty scary. I held onto the handrails inside the car the whole way up, my hands completely sweaty the entire way, especially when we went through the wire change spots and we did a little dip and sway mid-way up the mountain. My hands are getting clammy just thinking about it now. I still managed to move to the left side of the car, though, when I asked where the wreckage of the flight that crashed in 1955 was. I justhad to see it. Very wild that the pieces of shrapnel are still visible in the canyon more than 50 years later.

AmySandia2All was well, obviously, as I lived to tell the tale and I have the pictures to prove it. Standing on that ledge getting my picture taken was just as nerve wrecking as going up in the car, by the way. We were high up there, man! And it was windy! Well, just a little windy. But, still.

SandiaOverlookI was surprised at how cold it was on top of the mountain, too – there was about a 20 degree temperature difference. Once we started walking around a bit, it warmed up. We had a really nice walk – it was absolutely gorgeous. The air was crisp but headed to the warm side and the earth was just coming alive for Spring. My uncle and I had some pretty deep, meaningful conversations up there, too. We got to talk about all sorts of stuff from the past that we’ve never touched on before. I felt such a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to get closer to my uncle during this trip as we hiked along the mountain trails. I really am a blessed woman, ya know? And being in New Mexico at 10,000 feet, looking out onto the Albuquerque valley while spending time getting close to my only uncle made that fact very clear to me.

SandiaTram5The time came when we decided we’d had enough of the mountain top and were ready to take the tram back down. I started getting nervous again thinking about the ride. I mean, enlarge that picture and see if your stomach doesn’t feel a little funny when you look at it. As it happened, the ride down was easier than the ride up for some reason. The entire ride takes less than 15 minutes – it’s just the right amount of time – not too short and not too long.

We bought some items in the gift shop at the foot of the mountain and were on our way to find a place for lunch. I was talking on the phone with Rob when a roadrunner ran right in front of our car! I was so excited! That sucker was indeed fast, though, and I didn’t get a picture of him. Still, a very cool experience.

Once we finished lunch, we headed into Old Town to visit some of the galleries there. My uncle wanted to buy a pot before he left New Mexico – and he found the perfect one for him. We also went into a gallery of a friend of his and talked for a little while. She invited us to dinner at her house and we gladly accepted. She told us she lived near Sandia Peak and we saw some glorious homes in that area, so we were super excited thinking we’d get to see one of the million dollar homes. Alas, she lived in a nice house, but not one of the mansions we we had seen earlier in the day. Still, though, we had an interesting evening. Her husband is a geologist and her best friend is a hydrologist and all three are extremely educated and well-versed in modern events. The conversation at dinner was quite stimulating. And I felt completely out of my league, but that’s okay – it was great to be exposed to more culture than I’m used to in my sheltered life.

I was sad to go to bed that night because I was moving to a new hotel the next morning and my uncle was headed back to Virginia. The vacation part of my trip was coming to an abrupt end. I still had a great time the rest of my days there, though, and I’ll tell you all about that in my forthcoming posts.

Here’s the rest of my Sanda Peak pictures.