Friday, December 11, 2009

counting lyrics instead of sheep

I sleep very little. Partly due to the fact that I don't require much sleep. Mostly due to the fact that I'm not a fan of sleep. I don't like to ever feel idle, so it's very difficult for me to embrace it. When I'm trying to go to sleep at night, I often pick a topic to think about or make a to-do list in my head. Many nights, I will brainstorm my favorite song lyrics. I'm a music lover, so the list doesn't stop, I just eventually stop fighting the blinking eyes and cave in to my body wanting a little rest.

a few of my very favorite lyrics:

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev'ry fairy tale comes real
-Janis Joplin , "both sides now"

May the good lord shine a light on you
Make every song you sing your favorite tune
May the good lord shine a light on you
Warm like the evening sun
-The Rolling Stones, "shine a light"

I'm standing at the crossroads
Trying to read the signs
To tell me which way I should
Go to find the answer
And all the time I know
Let your love and let it grow.
Let it grow, let it grow,
Let it blossom, let it flow.
In the sun and in the snow
Love is lovely, let it grow.
-Eric Clapton, "let it grow"

You're my blue sky,
you're my sunny day.
Lord, you know it makes me high
when you turn your love my way
-Allman Brothers Band, "blue sky"

And hush-a-bye, don't ever think about it
Go to sleep don't ever say one word
Close your eyes,
you are an angel sent down from above
-Bob Dylan, "these dreams of you"

and i thank the Lord for the people I have found
-Elton John, "mona lisas and mad hatters"

If I leave here tomorrow,
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now,
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see.
-Lynyrd Skynyrd , "free bird"

Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be
-Pink Floyd, "breathe"

You used to be the best
To make life be life to me
And I hope that you're still out there
And you're like you used to be
We'll have ourselves a time
And we'll dance til the morning sun
And we'll let the good times come in
And we wont stop til we're done
-Steve Winwood, "high life"

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
-The Eagles, "hotel california"

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
-The Beatles, "blackbird"


If you like any of them at all, listen to the whole song. Let me assure you that I love the notes just as much as I love the lyrics. Enjoy and Happy Friday

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

i want to come back as alex mack


Dear blog followers, or the one I may have left. Sorry I've neglected the blog. It's one of those things that's a habit or it's not. And lately I just got out of the habit of posting. I'm going to try to make it a habit to post every day, because let's face it, every day I have something interesting to say. Kidding! I'm not fascinating, but I do enjoy writing.

Anyway, today I have been thinking a lot about Amanda Knox. She is the girl convicted of murdering her housemate in Italy. I usually have an opinion on everything, but I cannot decide if she was guilty. This is driving me bonkers. I want to know. Why does it matter? I'm not sure why it bugs me. I just want to decided one way or the other. I realized this afternoon that the only way to know for sure would be to be Amanda. Then I thought, well maybe she told her attorneys. Or maybe she told her family. That got me to thinking, as I often do, that I wish I was Alex Mack. Who is Alex Mack? Well, when I was a pre-teen there was this show on Nickelodeon called The Secret World of Alex Mack. It replaced another show that I couldn't live without Clarissa Explains It All.

Alex Mack is an ordinary teenage girl, living with her parents and older sister in the corporate town of Paradise Valley. One day, while coming home from school, Alex is doused in toxic chemicals from an overturned truck. As a result she gains a number of superhuman powers, including telekinesis, the ability to project electricity, and the ability to turn into a liquid. Only trusting her sister and her best friend Ray with her secret, Alex must confront ordinary teenage issues while keeping her powers secret from those who wish to find her.

Alex could turn into putty and eavesdrop on her friends and family conversations. So many times I want to know the truth about things. It's not about being nosy or intrusive. I just have an investigative personality and everything fascinates me. I am curious about everything. EVERYTHING.

Where is this going you may ask? I'm getting there. I wish I could be some places and hear people tell what really happened. Like in the case of Amanda Knox. I have a gut feeling that she told someone the whole truth.

I can't help but have empathy for a girl that sits in a cell in a small town in Italy. A girl in her mid-twenties like me. At the same time though, it irks me to think there's a chance I'm having empathy for someone who killed another young girl.

Of course, I'll never know the truth. But it won't stop me from reading news articles, watching news coverage, and wishing an impossible wish that I sometimes be a 90s tv character named Alex Mack

news article about Amanda Knox:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/12/04/italy.knox.trial/index.html

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

serendipity to the core

"for whatever we lose, like a you or a me, it's always ourselves we find in the sea." -e.e.cummings

I spent a lot of time at the beach in October. Oh how my soul longs to live by the sea. Destin, Florida is a home away from home. My family has retreated to the same place for over a decade. We know the staff, year-round residents, and even the couple that puts out the chairs and umbrellas. I love traveling to new places, but nothing beats going to where you know you belong.

My favorite thing to do in the world is to go for a long run and then sit with a book on the beach to watch the sunset. One afternoon in my last trip I was reading by the ocean and I started to wonder what made the sea so special to me. I paused to stare at the ocean and it hit me: simplicity. It is that it is constant. It's so comforting to know that no matter how many things change within a year, I sit in front of that massive body of water, and everything seems to be well with the world.

On this particular day, something unique happened after I'd been sitting there awhile. Scott, a surfer, called out to me and said "ashley, look!" I looked up where he was pointing and saw something extraordinary: a double rainbow. On both sides of the sun was a rainbow. It baffled me because it hadn't even rained at all. He said that it was a very rare sight. It was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. It was a perfect example of serendipity. I went to the sea expecting yet another lovely sunset, but I went away with something more.

When I go down by the sandy shore
I can think of nothing I want more
Than to live by the booming blue sea
As the seagulls flutter round about me
I can run about when the tide is out
With the wind and the sand and the sea all about
And the seagulls are swirling and diving for fish.
Oh – to live by the sea is my only wish.

-Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy

Thursday, October 15, 2009

should i pay

Is it worth the price to pay for a blog makeover?
I need your opinion.
Keep it simple or spruce it up?!

we've hit the glass ceiling, so now what?

[to Katie]
Hubbell Gardner: You hold on and I don't know how. And I wish I did. Maybe you were born committed... I can't get negative enough. I can't get angry enough. And I can't get positive enough.
-The Way We Were
ok so i have a love/loathe relationship with Maureen Dowd. Yes the firey red haired columnist for the New York Times. Yes the uber left liberal. I check the New York Times like it's my day job. Like constantly. And every time she has a new column I will hesitate before I click on the link which will inevitably lead me to reading a column that makes me question what I once thought was so true.

So this one was about happiness. Males v. Females.--who's happier?
It got me thinking. I think women are more overwhelmed than they used to be. This whole breaking the glass ceiling effort was supposed to rocket women into CEO land where they could rise to the same position as any man. But ay- here' s the rub. Women still wanna cook. Wait. Stop. Not me of course. I don't wanna cook. But a lot of women still wanna cook.

Excerpt from her column: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/opinion/20dowd.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1253885003-3X1x9abQGna8ny6wffaa7g

Women are getting unhappier, I told my friend Carl.

“How can you tell?” he deadpanned. “It’s always been whine-whine-whine.”

Why are we sadder? I persisted.

“Because you care,” he replied with a mock sneer. “You have feelings.”


Is that why women are unhappier overall? Because we care? That disturbs me and fascinates me at the same time. Does caring lead to overanalyzing which leads to feelings of helplessness and unhappiness?

Sometimes I feel sorry for my male friends. They say how was work? or how was yoga? or how was your weekend? A simply question in their mind. A question they probably want a "great" or even "fine" answer for. But no, usually they get something longwinded and by the end of the conversation I've told them what book I'm reading, what I had for lunch, and how I am freezing but no I still won't start wearing socks. Luckily they feign interest.

When I am frustrated with a person or situation or being overcommitted and am talking to one of my male friends, he will usually respond with this little line: "Then why are you around him/her?" or "Then stop." I usually respond "I can't. I care. So I can't stop." and they say "Then I don't know what to tell you. Wanna go get Wendys though?"

So what's the answer? Care less? I think though that caring is what is lacking in society. If people cared more, they'd give more. And giving more would lead to less poverty, and less suicides, and less unhappiness?

so hmmm. that's all i gotta say. hmmm.

Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally Albright: Which one am I?
Harry Burns: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.
-When Harry Met Sally

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

still seaside in my mind



"i get by with a little help from my friends." -the beatles

just got back from a long weekend in Watercolor, Florida with my fav pilot and his beautiful wife- ed & micha- and one of my favorite sorority sisters- K.Kirby! i'll post pics (the pictures on this post are from my birthday in march, just wanted to put faces with names) and stories soon. it was one of the most adventure filled and rejuvenating trips ever. here's one a fun one for now...

scene--- riding beachcruiser bikes at midnight in watercolor.
we're driving over a bridge.
me (gazing out over the water): guys, isn't it beautiful here at night?
ed: do you see those people ahead?

me: gosh, it's just gorgeous

kait: ashley, do you see those people right THERE?

(i suddenly fly past a couple on the bridge, missing them by an inch or two)

me (yelling back at them): oops! so sorry! so very sorry

(my friends fall off their bikes dying of laughter)

kait: you almost took out those people! they were plastered to the railing.
ed: i think the girl considered jumping o
ff the bridge...and they thought they were going for a romantic stroll...
moral of the story: watch where you are going.

and don't drink bourbon while behind the handlebars of a beach cruiser bicycle.
or you could end up behind bars- in jail!
eeeeekkkkkkkk


"The best thing you've ever done for me is to help me take my life less seriously." -the indigo girls

Monday, October 5, 2009

red rover red rover send october on over!



I scream summer.
Everything about me screams summer.
boo to wearing socks.
YAY TO GOING BAREFOOT.
boo coldness.
YAY HOTNESS.

But every cloud has a silver lining.
and Kentucky turning a wee bit colder has a silver one called KEENELAND. Keeneland is both a world renowned race track and the world's most prestigious Thoroughbred auction company.
This week I got oh so excited when I realized that I get to wear my Ralph Lauren Ginnie Silk Sash Riding Blouse (say that fives times fast!) that I purchased in Chicago many moons ago (this past August) in less than two weeks when I go to Keeneland. Wow, that last sentence was most definitely a run-on sentence. Jeepers Creepers. It doesn't matter though. Why? Because it's Keeneland season and all is well in the bluegrass!!

"I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Ke
ntucky." -Abraham Lincoln

Friday, October 2, 2009

i live on the edge...



Did I seriously just order a romper with scottie dogs from anthropologie.com for my trip to the beach next week? Yes my friends yes, I did. We'll have to wait to see if it'll be a hit or a miss. Watercolor, Florida here I come.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

be still...

"If I'm losing balance , I stretch higher and God reaches down to steady me. It works every time, and not just in yoga." - Terri Guillemets
I realized last night that I hadn't taken the time to reflect on a great recent experience.
Two weeks ago I went to a workshop at Sanctuary for Yoga in Nashville. The studio is located in the green hills area and let me just say that this place lives up to its name. It really is a sanctuary (see pictures)! The owners are the kindest human beings. I've been going to yoga workshops for two years. I go to learn. I go to practice with people that I don't usually practice with. I go to learn from an instructor that I've never taken a class with before.

So before it began, I ate at Whole Foods with my friend David. He and I attend the same workshops in Nashville and we practice at the same studio in Bowling Green. He is a great mentor to me. He's one of the kindest, most centered human beings on earth. We are quite opposite especially since I tend to be high strung and he's the picture of calmness. We really balance each other out. It's really cool for us to reflect back on all of our workshop experiences over the past 2 years. We have practiced with men and women from Boston, Miami, Australia...the list goes on and on. We learn something new and exciting each time that we take back and try to incorporate in our daily practice. The workshops are pricey, but the experiences are priceless.

I get very intimidated when I go to these workshops for many reasons. First of all, in Bowling Green I am a big fish in a small pond. Not a large number of people practice on a regular basis compared to bigger cities like Nashville. I have been practicing for 3 years, which is a small number compared to people I meet that have practiced for decades.

More than wondering what the poses we'll go into or what the music will be like, I wonder about the personality of the guest instructor. I wonder about their background, upbringing, views on faith. It is fascinating to me to meet someone for the first time because before they start speaking, I try to guess what they will be like and the possibilities are endless.

These two instructors were no less appealing than the others. They held my attention from the minute I walked into the studio. They were a young couple- Krista & Brock Cahill (shown in the pictures). They are from lala land (Los Angeles). Krista had a confidence that was contagious. She wasn't cocky or arrogant though. You just knew the moment she started speaking that she had a strong sense of self. Brock screamed adventure. He was very animated and had an unbelievable amount of energy. He was such an encourager throughout the workshop. It was my favorite workshop I've ever attended.

Yoga is a daily reminder to me to be still and know that he is God. The instructor of my very first yoga workshop I attended kept repeating "be still and know" during final savasana. At first it bothered me that he didn't add the last part "that he is God." But gradually I have discovered that the instructor simply guides us into stillness. It is up to us as individuals to apply our faith into our practice. As a Christian, it is an instinctive impulse to incorporate prayer into the meditation.

I'll leave you with a picture from when I initially started practicing yoga. I often look at this picture when I am feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with life. It is a reminder to me that it is quite easy to be still and find peace, even in a world of chaos. In yoga we say namaste at the end of class. It means "the light within me reaches out to the light within you." So namaste my loyal reader(s). Namaste and Godspeed.


"Vogue and Self are putting out the message of yoginis as buff and perfect. If you start doing yoga for those reasons, fine. Most people get beyond that and see that it's much, much more." -Patricia Walden

Friday, September 25, 2009

posing as a local

Dr. Leo Marvin: I want some peace and quiet!
Bob Wiley: Well, I'll be quiet.
Siggy: I'll be peace!
[Bob and Siggy burst into giggles]

I have this thing about eating where the locals eat. Whether I'm in New York City or tiny Beaver Dam Kentucky, I want to eat where the locals eat. Why? Because I figure the locals know what's best. Heck, they live there year round! So when I go to NYC, I'm not big on eating at Tavern on the Green. No doubt, Tavern on the Green is good. I've discovered that the hole-in-the-walls though are the gems. My favorite restaurant in the world is literally a hole-in-the-wall in Nashville called Rotiers. It's in West End and it's phenomenal. The cheeseburgers on french bread get voted the best in Nashville every year. It's been there for over 50 years. It's a hangout for Vanderbilt students, the governor of Tennesse (yes, the governor), and country music peeps. When I've taken people there they enter apprehensive and even sometimes snobby about it's appearance. They leave impressed.


One of my alltime favorite movies "What About Bob" keeps me rolling on the floor because during a big chunk of the movie Bob (Bill Murray) is hanging out in this vacation town wearing a shirt that says "Don't Hassle Me, I'm Local". Sometimes when I'm on vacay I feel like Bob, trying to blend in with the people that live in the beach town yearround. Seaside for example. I pretend that I live right around the corner.

Monday night I went to a Boz Scaggs and John Hiatt concert at the ryman. The next morning as we were leaving our hotel, we decided to ask the bellmen where to eat breakfast. They suggested we go to Khan's Mongolian BBQ. Once again, remember that we were looking for a BREAKFAST eatery so a BBQ joint didn't sound appetizing to us at first. Then we were assured by the young chaps not to be fooled by the name.

So we walked into this joint and it was deeeserted. No typo there. I mean to add those extra e's for Emphasis. It was a vast wasteland. Likely because it was 9:30AM on a Tuesday and we were downtown so everybody who eats breakfast there probably eats before 8 or 9 before they WORK (i was off work that day). Then a man walks up to us and from the start, treated us like royalty. And it was deeeeelish. Added e's for Emphasis with the world delish as well. Authentic southern cooking. Like my memaw used to make before she went to the nursing home. Sausage gravy & biscuits. Omelets. Bacon. Grits. Wow.

As we left there I said "he treated us like we were the only customers he had!" Then I paused and said "oh yeah, it's because we really were the only customers he had!" So who knows if I'll ever find out if the Mongolian BBQ is good, but let me assure you that I'll be there at 9:30 AM for breakfast the night after my next concert (ps- it's Willie Nelson next! woot woot)
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign." -Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, September 24, 2009

eye on the (grand)prize

"You're never too old to become younger."
-Mae West

I have a question. Why do we grow up in regard to almost everything but prizes? My dad thinks it's really weird that I refuse to go to a local Chevron station that has better gasoline, all because I have to get my Speedway rewards points. He has said "so you're putting less quality gas in your car which will end up being bad for your car, costing you money eventually..all because you want to get a $100 gift card from Speedway that took you 3 years to obtain?" My answer "yes, you got it."

My friends and I went out for a drink last night and here was the conversation:
me: I have a confession. You know how the gas pumps at that one speedway have been broken down for awhile. well i've been going to another gas station every few days putting just $10 in because i don't want to fill up and then the speedway reopen!
c: I don't think there's anything weird about that.
b: I love points.
c: remember gattiland? all that money spent playing those games, getting those points, all to get a slinky?
me: i bet i still have points at gattiland from back in the day.
c: let's go there for supper club thursday next week.
b: cool. good idea.

(me is obviously me. c and b are a girl and guy that i meet on thursdays for supper club. using c and b instead of their names because , who knows, i could leak their names, and i could suddenly get so much blog traffic that they become famous. and maybe they don't want to become famous? baha)

So in the next week you can find me filling up my gas tank just a fourth of the way in hopes that when I'm low again, speedway will be open again so i can go back to getting my points. And when you see me next ask me how much I had to spend to get the grand prize of a slap bracelet or a ruler at gattiland.

yes my friends yes. i'm going places.

"It takes a long time to become young." -Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

her cup runneth over...

As in the case of wines that improve with age, the oldest friendships ought to be the most delightful. --Cicero
I don't remember a time when Laurel was not in my life. I am two and a half years older than her, but we might as well have been born the same day because my earliest memory contains Laurel. There's something to be said for that...for that person that has been there as long as your memory goes back.

Laurel's mom and my mom have been best friends since they were in 5th grade. Pam, Laurel's mom, served as maid of honor in my mom's wedding. My mom served as matron of honor in Pam's wedding. If I was Catholic then I'm sure at some point a ceremony would have taken place making Pam and her husband my godparents. They are family.

The Laurel I know now can be described sweet spirited, elegant, intelligent, and displined with both work and school. The Laurel of my youth? Hell on wheels. She sang country songs at the top of her lungs. Drank a gallon of milk a day. Drug a dog named scooter around like it was a cabbage patch doll. Insisted on opening my birthday presents along with me at my birthday parties. Picture all that behavior combined with her also being the most adorable little girl you have ever seen. Her mom dressed her in the cutest children's clothing. She was the definition of the expression "awwww." Behind that though was guts and glory. She knew right out of the womb that it was just a matter of minutes before she was going to hit the stage and so therefore spent her young years preparing for that debut. I just knew she'd eventually have a tattoo. And a boyfriend name Zeke. Think Gretchen Wilson and that's what I thought Laurel would become. I would have taken her as a country music star, probably would have begged to have been her personal assistant. I am pleasantly surprised though to have seen her grow to be one of the most eloquent, mild mannered, and graceful women I know. A person of faith who wants to be a teacher. Little Laurel? Rambunctious. Adult Laurel? Classy.

When Laurel was little, she thought I hung the moon. No exaggeration. She acted as if I was literally the coolest person on planet earth. I remember going out to eat and if the waiter asked her what she wanted before they asked me, she'd say "Ashley, what are YOU getting?" This ran all over me! One time I think I even ordered something I knew she wouldn't like, to test her allegiance. Didn't phase her. She ordered the exact same meal. I should have been flattered because Lord knows I was NOT the coolest person on earth. I should have been delighted that she put me up on a pedestol. But it irritated me to no end. Then I remember the day that we went to dinner and she didn't ask what I was ordering. It broke my heart. That day I wished for was here and now I didn't want it anymore. I never envisioned a day that she would assert her independence and not strive to be just like me. If you are not convinced yet how much she loved me, let me tell you this: I nicknamed her Wart when she was younger. I don't remember why I started calling her wart but I did. I think I said it was because she never went away. She didn't even mind that nickname. Pretty sure she liked it. She would even write Wart underneath her signature when she sent me a card. Anybody else would have said, by the age of 16 at least, "pick another nickname, that's cruel!" But Laurel embraced it and kept the tradition alive up until a few years ago. And actually, while I'm thinking of it, I'd like to remind her that she's slacking on using that term of endearment when she sends me a card. Bring that tradition back.

Make no mistake though: deepdown I have always seen myself as Laurel's security guard. I will defend her to the death. Even though I don't fight, I will admit that when I've heard a story about anyone being mean to Laurel or hurting her feelings, I've actually considered hauling my hiney to the culprit's house and showing them who's boss. Laurel is so nice that I have never been able to understand how anyone could be anything but kind back to her. Very few people are completely free of mean bones. Laurel is one of those people. She is incapable of being rude or mean.

When people talk about having a sister, I've never felt like I missed out on having one. I never felt envious or jealous. I always felt like Laurel and I were sisters. We are both only children, so we kind of have the best of both worlds. We are sisters in every definition of the word, except we are not blood related. We each have a wonderful set of parents though too that have showered each of us with as much love and affection as any children in the world have received. We have been through countless experiences together: each of us has moved more than once to a different city, we've lost family members, experienced the joy of successes and the disappointment of failures. We've even watched a cow give birth. Nothing has been off limits in this friendship. What connects and roots us most deeply though is not supporting each other through experiences. It's not even that our moms are best friends. It's our bond in Christ. We pray, serve, and worship the same God. I can't imagine a better thing to share with a friend than a common love for the Lord.

Last night I get a text from Laurel that represents another experience in her life that I'll be there for: her upcoming marriage to her fiance Wes!
Last night I got this text from Laurel:
"Shut up! Wes just proposed! I am speechless."
I started to type back: "What?! But you're just a baby?!"
But instead I wrote back: "Did you say yes? ;) "
and she replied: "I don't let a good opportunity pass me by."
The funny thing is that while we were at The Frist on Saturday, I said to Laurel's boyfriend Wes "hey Wes, I hope you're ok with Laurel hyphenating her last name when you all get married, which I'm assuming you all will because we decided in Chicago she may need to hyphenate her last name. " I can't imagine what he was feeling inside knowing that he was about to propose.

So, I'm writing this to the loveliest girl I know. I hope she realizes I'm filled to the brim with excitement over this news. Her living out her dreams brings me as much joy, maybe more, as when my very own dreams are fulfilled. I am writing this also as my plea to her to not decide to elope. I know she is humble and doesn't like receiving a ton of attention, but I hope she'll let me be there. Whether it's a huge event with a gazillion people or a small affair with a few guests, I hope she'll let me be there. Because, with a few exceptions where I've failed to be there, I've been present for all the other big events of her life. This should be no exception. So please let me be first on the invite list. And when you send it, in the return address section, leave off the return address label. Just simply write Wart... and know that I'm thrilled you've never gone away.

Said Mrs. Browning, the poet, to Charles Kingsley, the novelist, "What is the secret of your life? Tell me, that I may make mine beautiful also." Thinking a moment, the beloved author replied, "I had a friend."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

in cali you don't dilly dally

This one's for my city where I learned my flow
S-A-N D-I-E-G-O, San Diego
-Lil Rob

This past weekend I went to SAN DIEGO! Love that town. Love it. Love it like I love Riley's cheesecake squares, the sound of LaylaDog sighing, and the smell of new Sam Edelman ballet flats(don't ask).


Part of why I love that place is that everyone I've ever met there (been there twice, which is not a lot but enough to make this assumption) is uber nice. Like southern nice. Not just kinda polite nice, but genuinely NICE. Love that when I got homesick for Kentucky, BAM, I was at a horse track (Del Mar) hearing those beautiful words "and they're off!!" Instant cure. Love that the weather is always perfect. Ok, record breaking high temps when I happened to be there. But still, perfect. Love that it's aesthetically appealing, but not pretentious. Like if I were a city (let's use Bowling Green) and I wanted to ask another city to hang out, I'd ask San Diego. I think Bowling Green and San Diego are pretty compatible. Bowling Green and NYC- nah. But San Diego and Bowling Green, yeah they are potential BFFs. San Diego wouldn't judge Bowling Green for not being as popular of a vacation spot.

What I'm not fond of is feeling anxious. For example, I'll be in cab and watching the scenery go by and then all of a sudden we've pulled up to the stop. And what do you know, I don't have my money out and ready to hand to the cab driver. So one of two things happens. I usually short change him, not meaning to, but because I'm in such a rush that I forget to tip. Or I'll get out a $20 and hand it to him, then get out, and think "whoa chica, you just gave that dude a 100 percent tip...cab ride was 10 bucks, you gave him 10 bucks...not smart." But hey, better than the time I accidentally gave a cab driver a 100 dollar bill instead of a one dollar bill. Yeah, that was a bummer.

My favorite part of the trip, well actually any trip, is the time spent on the plane ride there. Interesting things always happen to me on planes, big or small, commercial or private, long flight or short flight. This time the guy next to me says, 10 minutes into the flight, "so, you're from Kentucky?" Of course I was caught off guard that this stranger knew where I was from. So I said, "the accent?" and he said "nah, I've heard worse. the other three were the dead giveaways." and i said "what other three?" and he said "the bible sticking out of your purse, the thoroughbred horse racing book that you're reading, and last but certainly not least- the makers and coke that you ordered."
Born and bred Kentucky girl, that's me.

Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls
Ain't you glad there's still a few of us left, who know how to rock your world
Ain't afraid to eat fried chicken and dirty dance to Merle
Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls
-Gretchen Wilson

Friday, August 28, 2009

taking a moment to write about a Senator that took a moment to talk to me


"The Constitution does not just protect those whose views we share; it also protects those with whose views we disagree." -Edward Kennedy

When I was 9, I took my first trip to Washington, DC. I'm not one of those people who remembers everything about her childhood. In fact, the big overarching memory I have is just constantly being happy. And to me, that's memory enough. Certain memories though I remember so many details that I could write a book on that certain experience. One of those is me
eting Senator Edward Kennedy.

One afternoon we were in the capitol building. My mom somehow ended up in the seat of the capitol subway next to Senator Kennedy. Not wanting to crowd him, she moved as far as she could to her side of the seat they were sharing . He looked over and said to her "you can scoot over mam." The way he said it and the small talk he made with us until his stop made us feel so comfortable. He told us he was running late to vote on a bill. When we arrived at our destination, my mom whispered to me, "ask him for his autograph."

I mustered up the courage and asked "Senator Kennedy, I know you're in a hurry, but do you mind to give me your autograph?" He put his briefcase down, smiled, and said "of course I don't mind. What's your name?" I handed him the paper and pen I wanted him to autograph and said "Ashley." He looked up and said "how do you spell it?" That stunned me. At 9 years old, the spelling of your name is important. A-S-H-L-E-Y is the most common spelling of Ashley. Sometimes though the end is spelled L-E-I-G-H or L-E-E. I was so impressed that he cared enough to get the spelling of my name right. That spoke volumes to me. This man, in a hurry to vote on what was I'm sure a very important bill, in my country's capitol, cared how I spelled my name. I sat down being aware that I was in the presence of a powerful man but after the dialogue with him, I knew I'd also been in the presence of a great man.


From that point on, I've been enthralled with politics. Even when I hear bad things about a politician, I repeat over and over again to myself, "they are good at heart, they are good at heart." One of my favorite quotes, is one by Anne Frank that says "despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart." Her words have always amazed me. I think of what she went through during the Holocaust and think "how in the world was she still so positive?" But I guess the same could be said for my outlook on politicians. Despite the media running stories about corruption and affairs, I still believe the majority of politicians run for their offices with the intent of being public servants. I think many times they get sidetracked and become enamored with the money and power. That is sad. I pray though that most of them will stay focused on doing what is right. Naive, maybe. The alternative though, being bitter and negative, doesn't sound appealing to me. So I continue to hold a high level of respect for politicians.

I really liked and respected Senator Kennedy for the same reason I really like and respect John McCain. He reached across the aisle. He was known for that. A maverick like McCain on certain issues, like health care, but still able to speak to those who were on the other end of the idealogical spectrum. John McCain and Edward Kennedy were friends. Completely different views on multiple topics, but friends nonetheless, because they both deemed it important to embrace and not just tolerate those with different views. Sometimes when I'm in a heated debate with a friend about something, hellbent on being right, I remind myself that preserving the friendship trumps winning the argument. Because at the end of the day, nothing is worth more than relationships with others. I like to think that Kennedy had this view also.
The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die. -Edward Kennedy

Thursday, July 30, 2009

love at first quack



A couple of weeks ago I found out that my ducks passed away. It has taken me this long to be able to sit down (without getting overly emotional- pathetic i know) to write a memorial to my little foster duckies. These ducks were very special to me. Not just pets. But two little guardian angels who dropped into my life during a time when I really needed to be reminded of the simpler things in life. Finding out they were gone was not on my to-do list, not really what I wanted to hear. But for everything there is a season, a purpose under heaven. The bible assures us of that. And for my furry friends, their season on earth had ended. I was at a Junior Woman's Club meeting when I found out. We were talking about the "duck race" for the annual Duncan Hines Festival. The club members sell ducks forms aka raffle tickets. Then during the festival the ducks (note: they are pretend plastic ducks) race. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners get cash prizes. One of the members joked that we could bring real ducks to the festival. A few people who knew I had the ducks said "ashley should bring her ducks!" I informed everyone that I had taken the ducks to a farm. The lady whose parents had "adopted" my ducks was there and ironically , she was in charge of selling the ducks forms. I could tell by the look on her face that she has some news for me and it wasn't good. Long story short, she informed me that Mick and Jagger had been killed, probably by coyotes. She said her parents, especially her dad "the duck whisperer", were very sad. Don't worry, my boss already pointed out the irony that I was at a meeting about duck races, getting my duck forms from the friend who'd adopt them, and then found out my live ducks had died. It's not funny, my friends. Ironic, yes but not funny.

The story of the ducks is one that I will always look back on and smile because it happened very unexpectedly. I didn't plan to ever own a duck. My journey with MickDuck and JaggerDuck really is serendipity. I woke up one day expecting a quiet day and went to bed thinking the day had been anything but quiet. My friend Laura called me up the Saturday before Easter and said "do you want to go with me to buy ducks?" Most people would have replied with a question, thinking it was strange that their friend wanted to buy ducks. But since I love being spontaneous I enthusiastically said "yes! of course! where and when?" Off we went to Tractor Supply Company. I didn't plan to purchase any ducks for myself. But seeing all of those people getting the ducks without purchasing any supplies made me convince myself that I had to "rescue" at least two. I know it was probably ridiculous of me to think I was honestly rescuing baby ducks, but I really did think I was saving them from people who wouldn't take care of them. So three hours and $56.29 later I had two ducks, one metal "habitat", an extra bag of wood chips, a medium size bag of duck food, a watering contraption, and a heat lamp. I spent an entire Saturday afternoon setting up the duck habitat in my guest bedroom in my house. Why the guest bedroom? Well because they were essentially guests and didn't they deserve a bedroom to themselves? I had been listening to The Rolling Stones all day so naturally I pointed at one duck and said "you shall be called Mick" and then turned to the other and said "you shall be called Jagger." They quacked, which to me was affirmation that they liked their names.

The next day Easter came and I took the itty bitty babies to my family get-together. It was a surprise for my cousins. Everyone agreed that Mick and Jagger really were the hit of the day. It was so wonderful to watch the children go from giddy excitement and fear of the creatures to calming down to a time of pleasant contentment--embracing them, cradling them in their arms. Easter, as in most holidays, came and left all too soon. That Monday I quickly realized that while I bought them to bring joy on Easter, I now had to fulfill my commitment to raising them until they could go to a farm.

It was not an easy road with Mick and Jagger. They took up a lot of my time, and turned this jet setting, always on the go girl into quite a homebody. I loved every minute of it though. One of my friends asked me quite bluntly, "why do you like those things living with you? Aren't they annoying" Quite simply, it was a taste of motherhood, a glimpse into a future that I hope includes a child (make no mistake- like in 10 years though). Feeding them multiple times a day, changing their diapers (ok, just the wood chips but this is where they relieved themselves), and rocking them to sleep in my hammock outside. My favorite part of raising them was the time at night they'd spend with me. The two of them would follow me everywhere, in single file. They would try to run as fast as their little webbed feet could take them, to catch up with me. I don't care for the word precious, because I think it's overused. But let me assure you that if their ever was a time to use the word precious, it is now. It was precious.

Alas, the day came sooner than I expected to put Mick & Jagger up for "adoption." They grew, and grew, and grew. What I had been informed would take 10 weeks actually took 3. My little overachievers were flying the coop, trying to leave home sooner than I'd expected. I'd get home from work and much to my surprise (and admittedly, delight), my furry little roommates would meet me at the door. It was time for the ducks to move from their foster home to their forever farm. I lucked out when my friend Tammy suggested that Mick and Jagger move to her parents place. It was paradise. I knew they'd be happy with a big pond, horse friends, and wide open spaces to roam. I hoped deep down they'd miss me and wouldn't forget me, but I knew I couldn't be selfish (or silly) and try to keep them in my city casa. I still know it was the right decision. I know they lived a good life, although shorter than I hoped, still a good life.


I may not have the desire to go to a turkey farm this Thanksgiving to purchase a mascot for the holiday (something tells me that turkeys will be a wee bit more high maintenance than the ducks were). Let me assure you though that when Easter rolls around again next year, you may find me leaning over a box in the middle of Tractor Supply Company, straining to hear which ducks seem to have a rock and roll inspired quack.
video video

Thursday, July 9, 2009

the ones that have mattered, so far.

I am borderline obsessed with love. Ok, that's a lie. I crossed the border years ago. I am in love with love. I love talking about it, feeling it, and reading about it. But deepdown, who isn't?

Recently I was talking to a 16 year old and it dawned on me that she was a decade younger than me! A decade! Suddenly I knew why I felt so removed from her high school mentality , it was because I hadn't been there in 10 years! Ten. Wow. As she talked about her infatuation with a boy, I sat back and listened. It was like taking a walk down memory lane, listening to her describe the highs and lows of her summer of love. It hit me how many times I've been in her shoes. Truly caring about someone, without weighing the consequences or cost of putting my heart on the line.

Three names came to mind as I listened. Three names of boys that reminded me that I too had once fallen head over heels when I was young (i know, i know, i'm still young. But i'm talking YOUNG, as in a kid). I say boys because when I knew them, none of them were men yet. It was so intriguing to revisit the years, the decade she was just entering, between the ages of 15 and 25, and look at my younger self. Because in the past year, I have really grown. I still live to the hilt, but I don't serve my heart on a silver platter to someone that hasn't shown that he will attempt not to crush it. I also try not to crush hearts either. Because it's not fun being broken hearted and it's not fun hurting another. So here I go. The ones during the decade of learning for the sake of learning...

First...the one that I wanted to surf with, even though I can't surf--this was my naïve love. the person that could have dyed his hair green, gained 6359 pounds, and could have asked me to move to Tokyo and I would in turn dyed my hair a color that complimented his hair color, eaten all those meals with him if he wanted to stay fat, and fled the country for the land of Tokyo. Looking back I know now why he once said "we don't have much in common", but at the time I just kept thinking "but we both have the same kind of car that are so old they must have come over on noahs ark, together, and isn't that ENOUGH?!" No it wasn't enough. In fact, opposites attract, and then they aggravate. And boy, do they ever aggravate. But now, years later, when I think back and look at that young girl, a girl who was so innocent and thought she could change the world, taming one wild boy at a time, I can't help but smile and shake my head. I want to go back to that girl and say to her "you'll be ok. I know this feels like the end of the world. But I promise you, you'll be ok."

the one who took a lot of pictures, no really A LOT of pictures -- this one ignited a part of me that still remains. He sparked my intense love affair with photography and even though he's not a part of my life, the photography remains. I took one look at a picture this boy took and knew I had to meet him. Conveniently enough, we had a class together. We would sit in the hallway outside the photography lab and talk for hours. I almost considered changing my major to photography for this boy. I almost considered spending an entire summer in a far off place to impress him. But I didn't change my major and I didn't go to that camp. Why? Because that would have been crazy. No really, its because I knew I wasn't the girl who lived in the shadow of someone else's dream. I wasn't one to follow, on the heels, and coming in 2nd to his first love- the camera and the subjects. I'll never forget the moment this one told me he was engaged. I started crying but never let my voice change, only gushed about how happy I was. I knew he'd found the girl who loved the camera like he did. Who didn't ever want to put it down. And I now breathe a sigh of relief because even though I love my camera too, sometimes I want to put it down and live in the moment completely. But every now and then, his name will pop into my mind, and I'll google (yes google) his name. And every time, more results come up than before. Of the events he's documented, places he's been, and awards he's won. And instead of regret or sadness, I feel so proud of him. And hope one day he'll remember me and come back to the little town where he spent a few years, to document something for me.

The one who wrote letters, real letters--it was the words. Seeing the words on the screen and on paper. Nevermind the fact that his words were usually empty promises. I never lost hope that one day all the pieces would fit and it would work. Until about a year ago, I stopped ignoring all the signs from the Lord that this was not in His grand plan for my life. I loved this boy more than any other and this was hard to accept. This one is the kind that I've decided its all but impossible to make into a friend. The magic is just gone. And at the end of the day, all I can say is he's the what could have been guy. What could have been and thankfully didn't. But still, we had dreams and nothing creates silence between two people quite like broken dreams. He didn't follow through, but neither did I. I still see him a lot and what do you know, he's engaged too. I hope one day we'll have an interesting, fascinating, awe-inspiring conversation again, but that is a long-shot hope. Its the definition of awkward when we come face to face. Perhaps because he knows so much about me, which makes me nervous, and I know his secrets, which makes him uneasy. Maybe in a perfect world I could look at him and he could look at me and we'd say in unison "your secrets will always be safe with me." But its not a perfect world. And it is doubtful this scene will play out. It is what it is. I accept that wholeheartedly, heavy hearted, but wholeheartedly nonetheless. My only wish regarding him is that he'll grow up one day to be a fully realized man. I used to want that for my own benefit but now I want it just for him. Expecting nothing in return. I want him to find happiness, preferably in Jesus Christ.

I'm reflecting on this because it seems that now, I don't have the patience, desire, or tolerance for "projects". I want an already assembled man. That may sound funny, but it's the truth. I don't want to go into something expecting change and I don't want them to want to change me. I realized recently that in the past year I have had friends that I was on the brink of seeing as more. Somehow now, I can stop myself and say "are you compatible? Does this person love the Lord? Wouldn't you rather love them as a friend forever than eventually despise them at the end of a failed relationship doomed to fail from the start? Do you really want them to have the bitterness toward you or you toward them?" I think this is wisdom and being able to see inevitable future hurt. Still, I kind of miss that girl hell bent on proving everyone wrong. Not enough to become the girl again, let me assure you, but I'm so glad I was once this person. You see, a lot of people don't take the risk. And a lot of people settle. But me, I've done neither. I'm taken the risk and given people a chance. But I've also tried to exit as gracefully as possible when it's time to go. And I'm truly thankful that I've taken the leap but then known when it was time to call out to the Lord for self control. May seem like I'm looking for closure. Nah. You never get closure fully. You never say goodbye to what you once really loved. You just learn to live side by side with the pain and you keep dancing through life. Its simply enjoyable to discover I'm not there yet, at the peak of maturity and knowledge, but I'm getting there. And that's feels so wonderful. Knowing that I'm closer than I was before. And I hope a certain friend of mine knows I'm writing this to her. That she finds solace and comfort in knowing that she's closer than she was before.

*and note, i left out names, because well, it would have been stupid for me to include them. I'm not sure that my past people see the past like I did. It's all about perspective and I'm sure their perspective/memory of the past is different from mine. And just a word of caution, if you ever create a blog and reflect on your past, leave out the names. Because if one happens to call you up and say "is this about me?" you can laugh and say "no! of course not! that was totally somebody else."...even if it was really about them:)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

bridesmaidzilla has her day...

so lets be serious. I'm good at two things- being addicted to hot yoga and being a bridesmaid. The latter I've been good at for a number of years. This month duty calls 3 times. My weekends feel like Groundhog day. Wake up, pray I don't have a zit and pray I don't catch the bouquet. Do the same thing the following weekend. Don't get me wrong, I am honored that friends think enough of me to stand up beside them on the "happiest day of their life." (no wonder weddings are so stressful, whoever coined that phrase is probably sitting up in heaven laughing that they have been the cause of so much strife). Lately though, I've heard this "they ask you because you're such a great friend." If I was a great friend would I wear an Angelcourt Jewelry necklace that has a gun charm beside a charm that says "bridesmaid? I think not. (and the answer is yes to all you recently asked bridesmaids who want me to loan this lil jewel out to you for a day or two). Although I hope I am a decent friend, I think in actuality it boils down to those three little words "Only Child Syndrome". Only children cultivate friendships because we missed the comraderie with a blood brother or sister. Sound confusing? ask me to elaborate later. Don't want to get sidetracked from the point of this entry: to highlight some of my favorite moments in weddings. No, not the sweet ones. The laughable ones. So here we go. Sit back. Relax. And don't ponder what wedding each happened in. I'll never tell...

In no particular order with regard to date of wedding or level of ridiculousness:

*the one where on the way back down the aisle at end of ceremony my groomsman said "do you want me to pick you up and throw you in the baptism pool? That might be funny." No, it would not. It will be stupid and I'd have to kill you. (that's what I wanted to say)

* the one where a bride didn't want to kiss the groom on her wedding day. grossed her out. i bet their marriage is/was mucho romantico (no sarcasm intended, ok, yes it was intended)

* the one where I put my blackberry in my bra right before the ceremony started. hey, i had to check my messages right up until the last minuto. and hey, i bet the audience was fooled into thinking that A cup was a C cup. Jokes on them. You would think beast of burden playing out of my chest during the reception would've been a dead give away that something just wasn't right in my rack.

* the one where the photographer didn't constantly take pictures. I wanted to hit this person. It's the flip floppin digital age sista. Don't stop til you get enough. And you know you will never get enough to make bridezilla happy. So don't stop.

* the one where the grooms family and the brides family were fighting- at every possible moment. This was so pleasant. I wanted to get up and scream "Chicken before the egg people! Chicken before the egg! You are supposed to have the wedding FIRST and THEN the daughter/mother in law hate can officially set in.

*the one where the bridesmaids made fun of the father-in-law. I wanted to hit the bridesmaids. I have never understood the rationality behind poking fun. Good for them I was nice then. The way I am now, some black eyes would be matchin' those [insert fav color] dresses


And for any of the brides that may be reading this, yes of course I was lying when I said that YOU were in fact the prettiest bride I'd ever seen and will ever be. I want to be the prettiest one I've ever seen, duh. Stop. Someone thinks they will blog about faux paus during my big day that might never happen. Stop. You won't. To keep from the possibilty of being the real life version of the Runaway Bride, I will just plan to runaway with my lova run up to my fave mountain. You can't make fun of me if you can't find me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

friday laugh...

I love blackjack.
But I'm not addicted to gambling.
I'm addicted to sitting in a semi circle.
-Mitch Hedberg

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

a contender for my favorite


"I cannot live without books." - Thomas Jefferson

On my birthday this year (which I share with my daddio), I got a simple gift. I went out to my car the morning of my birthday and my dad had laid a card on the rearview mirror. I opened it and a piece of paper fell out. It was a little receipt that had "donation" written in the memo section and a lady's signature. That was it.


I immmediately called my dad.
"Thanks dad! Happy Birthday to you too!
You definitely beat me in the birthday exchange.
Where did you donate?"
Dad's response:
"You're welcome. You'll have to figure it out."
Me:
"You're kidding me, right?"
Dad:
"Nope. I will say it's something tangible you walk on. That's all I'll say. Good luck. You're a smart girl."

Vague and weirdo were the words I muttered back at him.
Every dad dreams to have a daughter like me,
always kind, never a name caller. bahaha.
So I sighed, grabbed my crackberry and googled the name that signed the receipt.
Nothing.

Then I called my friend Sarah and we brainstormed.
This is what we came up with.
"It's for a brick, it's gotta be for a brick."

So I called dad back:
"I figured out the riddle, it's for a brick, isn't it? Now tell me where."
Dad:
"nope."
So after me guessing WKU, Capitol Arts, Mountain Lake, ADPi, I gave up. And admittedly I forgot about the brick riddle. For over a month.
But dad did not.

On Mothers Day he called me and said "can I stop by your house? Do you have time to go for a drive?" So we drove til we got downtown and pulled into the public library parking lot. We walked over to the courtyard, which honestly I didn't know existed. It was a courtyard with bricks along the pathway, about 1/3 of the bricks having inscriptions. Some only names, some in memory of, some names of organizations.

And in the center was a metal chair, a piece of art I assume, with this inscription along the back of the chair:
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray!
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

I immediately exclaimed: "Dad, that's from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory dad! One of my favorite quotes in the world! Isn't that the coolest quote ever? Why do people watch so much tv?!"
Dad smiled and said "I'm glad you knew what book that was from. That was the final test to get the prize. I made a donation to the public library in your name. Now all you have to do is figure out where you want the brick."

When I asked "why? what made you decide to buy this for me?"
His reply: "Because I've always been so proud of your love of reading,
of your fascination with all books. And I wanted a lasting testament to that pride."

I don't know what about this act that was so moving. It was a 26 year old girl with her 66 year old dad standing in a simple library courtyard on a Sunday afternoon. It was the simplicity of the moment I guess.

I am quite sure that was one of the happiest days of my life.

"dear me, i love a library! Because we are in Rome, this library is a beautiful old thing, and within it there is a courtyard garden which you'd never have guessed existed if you'd only looked at the place from the street. The garden is a perfect square, dotted with orange tress, and in the center, a fountain. This fountain was going to be a contender for my favorite in Rome, I could tell immediately, though it was unlike any I'd seen so far. It was not carved of imperial marble, for starters. This was a small green, mossy, organic fountain. It was like a shaggy leaking bush of ferns. (It looked, actually, exactly like the wild foliage growing out of the heard of that praying figure which the old medicine man in Indonesia had drawn for me.) The water shot up out of the center of this flowering shrub, then rained back down on the leaves, making a melancholy, lovely sound throughout the whole courtyard.
I found a seat under an orange tree and opened one of the poetry books I'd purchased yesterday. Louise Gluck. I read the first poem in Italian, then in English, and stopped short at this line:
"Dal centro della mia vita venne una grande fontana..."
"From the center of my life, there came a great fountain..."
I set the book down in my lap, shaking with relief.
-Elizabeth Elliot, "Eat Pray Love"




Monday, May 11, 2009

the journey to the view.



Yesterday I went with two of my favorite guys to Climb Nashville. It's a gym where you can climb walls. I kept saying to one of them leading up to going "I don't think I'm going to like this. I don't understand the point? Why do you climb if you're not climbing outside for a beautiful view at the top?" He just kept saying "you'll like it, I promise you you'll like it." Being combative me, I went on to say "I just don't get it. I mean I get climbing to see a sunset, but climbing to see concrete on the floor of a building? Whatever floats your boat though. I mean I'll go, but don't expect me to like it."

So I climbed. And I didn't just like it. I loveloveLOVEDit! And this is what I discovered. You don't climb solely for the view. You climb for the journey to the top. It's the journey that counts.

How many of us have received some recognition, award, diploma and were flooded with memories the moment we received it? That's because everything that led up to that moment was just as important, if not more important than that moment. When I ran a marathon a year and a half ago, I didn't go on and on about what the finish line looked like. Of course to finish was the goal. But I talked about the journey. I talked about the people I ran with along the way, the pain I felt, the monuments I saw in DC, the pain I experienced, what ran through my mind, the pain that lingered, what people said to me as I ran by, have I mentioned the pain yet? :)

Now don't get me wrong, of course I was thrilled to finish. Finishing anything in life is a beautiful thing. Following through on commitments is so underrated. I'm learning that slowly but surely. You start anything with the anticipation of finishing. But what I'm saying is, it was the pictures I took along the way I treasured, not the medal I got at the end.

My mom read me a poem a long long long time ago about how people view life. The poem was about this person on a train ride, with a lot of stops before the final one. It was basically about how we are always anticipating the next stop, thinking that the next stop will surely bring us bliss, happiness, contentment. Examples of these stops are getting to college, starting a career, starting a family, becoming a grandparent. Instead of enjoying the scenery, we strain to get to the next phase in life, attain the next materialistic thing, or achieve level a higher level of social or professional status. Then we get to that, and we are disappointed. Yes, it's good for awhile, but then we start straining for the next stop. So the cycle starts all over again. The final stop is of course the point when life ends. Her point wasn't that I shouldn't look forward to things or want things, but not to be so consumed with those desires that I miss the ride entirely. As a child listening to her, I kind of furrowed my brow, nodded, and smiled when she read the poem to me. Now I get it. I get the poem. I want to enjoy the ride.

And can I add that I actually did have a view yesterday? My friends smiling up at me. Honestly that's the best view I can think of. Seeing your friends proud of you trumps all other views. Even a sunset.

"When you set out on your journey to Ithaca, pray that the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge." -Constantine Peter Cavafy

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

lesson on love


So I was in a house recently that was not my own. I didn't know the people. I was there with someone because they were looking to possibly buy the house.

When I was looking around the house, something caught my attention. A big framed family picture. It was a beautiful picture of the family, complete with a mom dad son daughter and dog. Not to be cliche, but they really did look like the all-American family. As I looked at the picture, something else caught my eye. It was a framed letter sitting next to the black and white family print. I hadn't even noticed it at first because it was downplayed by its size sitting next to the 8x10photo. A lot of people would have respected their privacy and not read it. But I rationalized that it was out in the open and they knew that people would be touring the house, so obviously they wouldn't mind.

It was a letter that a girl had written to her friend. It was dated 1997(the month and year i don't remember) , written at Notre Dame (maybe they were in college together). The woman had written down her thoughts when she suddenly realized one night that her friends (I'm assuming the people that lived in the house I was touring) were right for one another. She wrote her observations down about this couple, how she thought they completed one another, balanced each other out. It was so endearing because she was so honest about both of their personalities and stressed how thrilled she was that her best friend had found a guy that was meant for her. She didn't even know at that point that these two people would get married, so she said that she'd put the letter away for safe keeping and hope that maybe her senses were right about them. The couple must have received this letter around the time they got married (1999, I saw another picture with the date in the living room. Again, I know I'm nosy). I can imagine it really touched them to read someone's prediction that they would tie the knot. I don't blame them for framing it.

I'm getting to my point, slowly but surely. I'm writing this because one particular passage of the letter stuck out to me. It was just the most beautiful thing, besides some excerpts from the Bible of course, that I've ever read about love. I went so far as to type this much into my Blackberry. I hope you'll look past the fact that I kind of stole this. I usually don't take intellectual property without asking. Let this be the one exception.
"But it is more than temperament or personality that seems to forge this bond, it is one might venture: God, letting us know that love is alive and well in the world and God's circuitous ways and timing, while not our own, are more sure and and more steady than the moon's brilliance or the sun's path. When we stand in front of and near such love, such mystery, we do well to see Her there, acknowledge and most importantly rejoice that She has given both of you this gift of your commitment to one another. For what was framed before time began, needs only to be blessed by us and received in compete joy and hope."
So if this doesn't make you melt a little, I don't know what will. The world, reminding us constantly of the divorce and adultery rate, wants to lead us to believe that there's no hope for lasting commitment. But that's just not true. I know that things get bad sometimes. Marriages end. Relationships are lost. I know that the chance of failing is high. But after reading that letter I was convinced, more than ever before, that it's better to be an eternal optimist than to be the alternative. I don't think I'll stop being a hopeless romantic anytime soon. And I hope one day I'll have the nerve to send that couple that I don't know a letter thanking them for helping me believe in love. I'd like to thank them for the reminder that it's better to throw caution to the wind and take the risk. A character in the movie Meet Joe Black says it better than I ever could: "Run the risk, if you get hurt, you'll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love - well, you haven't lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven't tried, you haven't lived."

I guess what's I'm saying is this: at the end of the day, all I can do is keep hoping, keep praying, and keep holding on to the belief that if someone is accountable to God, and not the world, they can't really lose. The world says "why even try?" God says "stick with me kid, you might not be able to find a way. But I assure you, I know the way. Follow me. The view up here from heaven is much clearer than your tainted one there on earth." And hope that I end up loving someone who always prefers being under God's wings as well, letting Him and not the world, be our guide.