Sunday, December 29, 2013

The weirdest/best Sunday ever

Unfortunately my Grandmother's brother passed away shortly after Christmas. Luckily she was with him the day before and got to spend some time with him before his passing. It was not unexpected and I understand it was peaceful.

Anyway, today was Great Uncle James funeral and although I hadn't seen him since I was 6, the family was out in full force to support Mema and the rest of the family. It turned out to be an interesting day. From the moment we arrived at the funeral home we were regaled with new family gossip. The biggest information was that my family is HICK. And it was awesome. I was regaled of stories of how my great grandfather ran a moonshine operation and people would come in the middle of the night and flash their lights once for a quart or twice for 2 quarts. My aunts and uncles were told that they were making sorghum syrup and of course people came late in the night to ensure that the "syrup" was fresh for their biscuits and grits the following morning.

How Uncle James and Uncle Sid took Mike to Hartwell Lake when he was in 3rd grade and told him they were near the mexican border. When people started rope swinging into the lake, they told them they were trying to cross into America. For hours he yelled swim harder! Meet me half way I will help! Needless to say upon going back to school and telling his teacher he tried to help people cross the rio grande, his mom got a call to extol her dedication to helping people. Uncle Sid cracked up and said "He shouldn't have been dumb enough to fall for it. It was an hours drive". But then again this is the kid who was promised a quarter if he would run to the cow fence put his tongue on it and run back. Too bad the fence was electric.

It has been well established that I have an excellent job with a stable paycheck but alas no marriage prospects (remember this is deep south). I have (apparently) re-met a couple of cousins, aunts, uncles and cousins three time removed with a cherry on top. I have heard awkward speeches, hilarious jokes, inappropriate announcements, and sadly, I was the one who heard the joke and cracked up at the back of the viewing (Thanks Whit for that one).

On the way home from the funeral (after a quick pit stop at the outlet malls with some cousins) I re-learned how each of the Kelly's and their progeny had come to an end. We debated on the impact of life decisions and how it affects our family.

Now I sit at Mema's table mentioned last year and I am watching Whit and her Boyfriend Robby take on the Kenzie and Jill in Spades. The loser has and will continue to demand rematches. I am listening to Jan and Mom and Kristen ask Mema and Deda for details from their childhood. Not to mention Mema pouring ice water on Deda's head when he won't tell her if he wrote the poem that broke up her and her old boyfiend (Roses are Red, Violets are true, but I don't know about you) and disagreed over who proposed to whom. I love hearing about stories new and told so often they are remembered and fit like an old pair of well worn jeans. My grandfather is showing love to each grandchild calling us each by our special nicknames given to us by him: Farmer Girl, Princess, Angel, and Babydoll.

This vacation is flying by as it did last year and I will be sad to leave the family that grows with each new year. The time that we spend here is treasured and the history that is behind such simple times such as cards and rotelli with frito chips moves us all forward with laughter, joy, tears, and love.

This year has truly been, in the words of Deda, a walk in high cotton.

Happy New Year.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How can I reconcile faith beliefs to social beliefs

Over the past few years, but particularly over the past few months, I have been struggling to reconcile my faith to what I believe should happen on a social level. This may sound weird to you but I believe a lot of people in my generation and younger have the same questions and are seeking answers. And to be honest I have not found anything satisfactory.

Take for example homosexuality. I do believe that homosexuality is a sin (as is lying, committing adultery, cursing). But do I believe that I have the right to force that belief on others? Not at all. But then how do I reconcile myself to both of these stances in the current culture. Especially when it comes to voting whether or not Gay Marriages should be legal? I can not vote for it because that is lending my vote to something I believe separates man from God. But my vote against is imposing my beliefs on other people. Our country is for religious freedom, and I am very much in support of that. I would be very upset if I was told that I could no longer eat the fantasticalness that is Bacon because Jewish Text says that this is unclean and sinful. I don't believe that it will hurt my relationship with God and even if we all got it wrong and that amazing delight is in fact a huge pork filled sin, then I know my God is merciful and will forgive me.

Additionally, my words have no merit to those I could impact. Why should my beliefs be thrust into their face? Who am I to them to have my words hold power over them?

Finally, saying they can't get married isn't going to change how they behave. But is allowing marriage condoning the behavior already committed?

I have a feeling that I will forever walk in circles in my head over this. In the end I don't know what I can say, other than "I believe that it is wrong but I can not in good conscience force this belief on anyone."

Guess this is one of those things I am going to have when I sit at Gods feet

side note: I do not in any form believe that being a homosexual prevents anyone from going to heaven. We ALL fall short. We ALL go to hell except by the grace of God. Any and all sins were wiped away in his blood for those that believe. I sin and will continually do so because I am fallen. I am only redeemed in Christ.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Magical and Mysterious

For the past couple of Months I have been complaining about the travel that is required for my work. Traveling for work is vastly different than traveling for pleasure. There is not much time to explore and the time you are given you rush to hit the highlights so that you can say you "did" that location.

India, while amazing, wasn't something that I got to enjoy. I loved the culture and I loved the experience but in truth, I can only appreciate the experience in hindsight. I was working with a new team on a project with a tight schedule. I also wanted to maintain a budget but the people I was with wasn't concerned about the cost of our excursions. In all it became more stressful than I anticipated.

Shortly after returning home I had the stress of learning to live with a new roommate. Now there hasn't been any problems. In fact, I think that living with her is pretty easy as we seem similar in a lot of aspects, but there are always going to be bumps in the road as you get used to the way someone else lives. For example, I make a mess... often. I usually don't clean it up right away as I want to enjoy dinner or whatever activity I have completed. This usually means I need to let people know A) that I intend to clean it and B) apologize that it hasn't been clean yet. But this doesn't fly with Megan. No the impossible has happened. She couldn't care less. AND She just cleans it cause it needs to be cleaned, and I don't have to apologize (just so long as I don't take advantage)...... I could learn a lot from this girl.

Then as soon as I got use to the routine at home I was getting into a car, driving the 2 hours to Newark Airport, to take a 11 hour flight to Buenos Aires for another tightly scheduled Audit. I have been waiting on CPA scores, striving to get work done, waking up early to drive the hour to the location, and then studying late cause I still don't know if I have passed my last exam. All in all I feel like I have had all thrusters on full with no chance to recharge. Added to it was a weekend off to Iguazu Falls. One of the most majestic falls in South America and one of the 7 wonders of the world. In short, upon my arrival I was utterly exhausted and in no mood to be a tourist. If I could have been in my room at home with my copy of the hobbit I would have been much happier. O, I also forgot to mention that to save costs, I was sharing a room with my coworker and as an introvert this means no alone time to recharge.

Yesterday we scheduled to take a boat tour at the bottom of the falls and headed to the tram that would take us to the top of the Main falls named Garganta del Diablo or Devil's Throat. We walked about a half mile over rusted bridges above a fast moving river and entered I entered into Middle Earth.

We had been griping that the day wasn't clear but honestly at that point it didn't matter and I preferred it to be overcast. With the roar of the water you couldn't hear anyone else unless you yelled because you were literally looking over the edge. The mist rose up to shroud everyone and I was by myself. All alone in a crowded place, I was able to be by myself. I didn't have to listen to anyone and I could barely see anyone else. The falls masked the people and you could take in the majesty and mysteriousness that the view held. It was absolutely breath taking. Here I was able to reset. I took some pictures and then just marveled. I let everything else fade away and just be. I took in the wonder that was before me and I felt like I was somewhere else. Somewhere magical and mysterious. I expected to see Aslan looking at me from the opposite bank or to see Elves and Ents making plan.

As I headed back towards the tram and our boat ride at the bottom of the falls, I knew I wouldn't forget that experience.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Bucket list

A while ago I decided to have a bucket list. Today I took the time to finish the list to a complete 100. I have crossed off 32 items off my list. I thought it would be fun to share with you and let you make suggestions for if I wanted to add more or to share what is on your list.

  • 1.     Backpack in Europe
  • 2.     Visit all 50 states
  • 3.     Go into the Atlantic and the pacific
  • 4.     Go skydiving
  • 5.     Go Bungee Jumping
  • 6.     Get  a tattoo
  • 7.     Visit all 7 continents
  • 8.     Learn how to hotwire a car
  • 9.     Learn how to pick a lock
  • 10. Fall in Love
  • 11. Get married and have a family
  • 12. Get my CPA license
  • 13. Kiss under the Mistletoe
  • 14. Learn how to drive a stick shift
  • 15. ROAD TRIP!!
  • 16. Learn to shoot a gun
  • 17. Give blood
  • 18. Go to four corners
  • 19. Go to a drive in movie theater
  • 20. Swim with the dolphins
  • 21. Run a 5k
  • 22. Run a 10k
  • 23. Run a half marathon
  • 24. Be an extra in a doctor who episode
  • 25. Visit the wizarding world of harry potter
  • 26. Go on a hot air balloon ride
  • 27. Ski a real black diamond
  • 28. Go to the Eiffel tower
  • 29. Go to comic con
  • 30. Passionately kiss in the rain
  • 31. Go skinny dipping
  • 32. See the Sistine chapel
  • 33. See Stonehenge
  • 34. See the northern lights
  • 35. Go on a cruise
  • 36. Hike the Appalachian trail
  • 37. Earn a black belt in a martial art
  • 38. Take a self defense class
  • 39. Become proficient in spanish
  • 40. Take singing lessons
  • 41.  Go to a jazz club in New Orleans
  • 42. Go snorkeling
  • 43. Go scuba diving
  • 44. Polar bear swim
  • 45. Swim in the largest swimming pool in the world
  • 46. Ride the orient express
  • 47. Sleep in an overnight train
  • 48.  Go to the top of the Jung Frau
  • 49. Go whale watching
  • 50. Adopt a dog
  • 51. Go white water rafting
  • 52. See Niagara Falls
  • 53.  See the Mona Lisa
  • 54. Stay at the Ice Hotel in Sweden
  • 55. Couch Surf
  • 56.  Go to Carnival
  • 57. Be involved in La Tomatina (huge city wide food fight)
  • 58.  Learn Photography
  • 59. Read the top 100 American Classics
  • 60. Read the top 100 books of all time
  • 61. Learn to be more outgoing in unfamiliar settings
  • 62. Take a random community college course for fun – like basket weaving
  • 63. Pay off student loans
  • 64.  Stick to a budget for one year
  • 65. Donate $25 to Kiva each month for one year
  • 66. Shop at Harrods
  • 67. Get a massage
  • 68.  Drink a bottle of expensive champagne
  • 69. Fly first class
  • 70. Study other religions
  • 71. Read the entire bible
  • 72. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  • 73. Invent something
  • 74. Read 4 biographies about US presidents
  • 75. Read 4 biographies about non American influential people
  • 76. Be pictured in a magazine
  • 77. See a Broadway play
  • 78.  Try Escargot
  • 79. Try Liver
  • 80. Try Kimchi
  • 81. Ice skate at Rockefeller center
  • 82. Have a winning lottery ticket
  • 83. Go to a murder mystery dinner
  • 84. Go to a masquerade
  • 85. Say “I have been kicked out of better places than this” to someone
  • 86.  Go to Vegas
  • 87.  Have 100 things on my bucket list
  • 88.  Throw a party and invite everyone
  • 89.  Ride and Elephant
  • 90.  Ride a Camel
  • 91.  Experience weightlessness
  • 92.  Drive a convertible
  • 93.  Donate blood
  • 94.  Go into all 5 oceans (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and Southern)
  • 95.  Cross the equator
  • 96.  Find Waldo in Where’s Waldo
  • 97.  Watch the 10 most classic American Films
  • 98.  Drive the Pacific Coast Highway
  • 99.  Leave a huge tip for a deserving waiter(ess)
  • 100.                Get my MBA

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Celebrating not two but three births in London

I am notoriously a planner. I obsessively plan things. It is not a want or a desire but a burning need that if left unfulfilled puts me into a mild panic attack. OK it might not be that bad but my family can attest to my need for order. I have a budget each month that I update every time I make a purchase, I planned out my month long trip to Europe down to the last plane, train, and hotel. Oh, except for the last one... where we got robbed… so I can say that experience is on my side.

Now my need to plan often clashes with my sisters need to be unencumbered and live in the moment. As I mentioned in this post it one time coalesced into a huge argument on the streets of Dublin. Luckily in the years since that post she has learned to cope with my need to be “a mom” and I have learned to sometimes let Katie (and now John) do their own thing and follow along. This is how I recently ended up in my skivvies on the banks of the Yadkin River in NC at 3 am one morning trying to swing off of a rope swing into swiftly moving swollen flood water. I had memories of Bridge to Terebithia running through my head during that “adventure”. But that is a story for another time.

So needless to say when it came to planning to celebrate Katie’s birthday (and to some extent mine) when we met up in London after my audit in India, I had the who’s, whats, and whys nailed down. Well almost. I had decided to see a play, that we would spend some time at the very touristy Ice Bar, and the next day maybe have high tea at some posh restaurant. That is until about 3 PM on an Indian afternoon when I realized that while my gift to Katie would have been fun and she would enjoy it, it wasn't the best I could do. So for her birthday I got her nothing.

That is right, nothing.

A big ol’ bag of zip.

Or really you could say I gave her a basket of opportunity. Or rather a purse of opportunity. I managed to find a small clutch in India for Katie’s birthday (funnily enough I got a great clutch from her as a bday present as well). I filled it with different activities we could do and she could pass or do any of them. There were things like “ride any of the tubes for 15 minutes, get off that stop and wonder around” or “Go into the first Irish bar you see, talk to the third person to say hi, make friends” or “sing God Bless America in front of the Buckingham Palace guards followed by God save the Queen” (we don’t want to mean). Of course being the non free spirit that I am I had to get ideas from some people but I think that is OK. And of course there were blank slips in there where Katie could come up with anything she wanted to do.

The only thing I had planned was the hotel because as I said experience in that area had indicated that no planning meant getting robbed. But other than that it was up to her what we would do, where we would go, how we would get there, and how long we would do it. Heck I didn't even ask her what time we would be going to Oxford. Didn't look at one train schedule. (OK that is a very blatant lie. I checked the train and bus schedule. I couldn't let go of all my habits) I just go along for the Katie ride and she could have free reign of London (although don’t tell the queen that).

The funny thing was that Katie HAD planned out some of the things. And I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that. Sometimes my planning anxiety reared its head, but not much with a plan in place by Katie.

We started off hopping on a bus headed towards we hoped was the south bank. After picking a random stop we hoped to find ourselves at the Old Vic. And we did. We saw a play called "The sweet bird of Youth" and to be honest it was a Gatsby-esque play so not a very happy one. With the exception of Kim Cattrall, the acting was very good and the story interesting if a bit slow. 


20130724-164737.jpgBefore hand we managed to find what was purported to be the only "real" mexican food in London but we were a bit disappointed. But with drinks and Nachos you can never go wrong.


The next day we braved oxford street shopping in the middle of high tourist season followed by a walk through Hyde park which took longer and was hotter than expecting. It was great but we had to stop at TK (yes K) Maxx and buy some fashionable London dresses. We made our way to the Victoria and Albert Museum where we had the best lunch. I dk if it was because it actually is the best spot or if we loved it because we got to cool down and enjoy people watching but we LOVED our impromptu mid afternoon locale.

Then we headed of to Harrods. Surprisingly Katie had not yet been there yet. For the next half hour I heard more than once "NO ONE TOLD ME IT IS LIKE A SHOPPING DISNEY LAND". We found the fake snow, the harry potter display, and Katie ran into some of her students from Oxford.

That night, Katie was gracious enough to let me go to the ice bar or as she puts it "Paying £12 to lock yourself in a freezer for 45 minutes". It was a rediculous waste of money but now I can say that I did it. And to be honest, I had fun making fun of ourselves. Giggling with Katie in sub 0 temperatures was worth it.

 We ended off the night with Katie's "one true birthday wish" - Sheesha.

We ended our stay in London with the announcement that Kate Middleton was in Labor in the hospital a 5 minute walk from our hotel. I didn't really want to go but at my sisters enthusiasm and insistence we trekked the 7 block walk to St Mary's Hospital. There we were interviewed by the NYT, a french newspaper, and had a radio interview with the BBC on why Americans were interested in the Royal Family and the birth of a Royal Baby.  After that, I couldn't deny that going to the hospital was a bad idea.

BBC requesting an Interview

After we visited the Hospital we were off to Oxford. I had a great time in London and I can't wait to go back when Katie is there again in the spring!

I think that it had been the best joint birthday party we have ever had, if you don’t count the Pocahontas party. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The dating woman in 21st century America

Well I fully intended my next post to be an update about India and visiting my sister in London/Oxford and I promise that is coming. And in all honesty I was going to go to bed but I think that some truth needs to be shed on something that maybe we overlook in the day to day.

Let me first say that I am truly truly blessed to live in this day and age. I live in a country that with religious freedom (although sometimes the denigration of Christian is becoming more and more apparent), I live in a world where I can say what I feel, be what I want, and do what I want. Which is more than many women have around the world but I don't want those around me to forget that sometimes our culture is so "forward thinking" that we go backwards.

Before I left for India I heard the song Blurred Lines. I loved it. It had a great beat and a catchy tune. Two days ago I heard the lyrics. Today I saw the official music video and I am ashamed that this is something that I danced to.

In case you don't know, Blurred Lines is a song sung by Robin Thicke featuring well known rappers T.I. and producer Pharrell Williams. Now I have to admit that in listening to the lyrics they don't seem all that bad. Only one line really stuck out to me as grossly inappropriate but that didn't put me off. But after watching the music video, which was intended to be a "tongue in cheek" video mocking the current rap industry I have to say that they stepped out of line. In this topless women in thongs are dancing around fully clothed men. Sad to say that this is not unusual when it comes to music videos but what really got me was a teeny tiny stop sign on a woman's rear end. At this point when in conjunction with some of the lyrics from the song I got the strong impression that they were completely ignoring something that has been bothering me lately about our country. The idea that no does not always mean no. But hey it's ok cause Robin Thicke has a wife and kids. That makes it ok to hold women to such a low standard socially and a high standard physically (seriously all those girls were a size 0 with huge [fake] breasts).

We have been making ridiculous strides in our country over the past 50-60 years. Women no longer have to work from home, they can be the breadwinners, we have women lawyers, judges, congressmen, and senators. These are amazing feats and we should celebrate them but we still have a long way to go. We are honored for our brains not just our beauty. Or sometimes we are. In some areas we are. But sometimes in very big ways, we are not.

Take for example the popular website imgur. Imgur hosts photo sharing in which photos are shared for laughs, to reflect political ideals, religious ideals, to bring awareness, to show off drawings, or just to feel connected. I have an account on this website but many a times I have been told "to get back to the Kitchen" or "Go make me a sandwich" mainly because of my sex. This is regardless of the fact that I have a degree from a top university, make just as much as the men in my department, and that I probably have a firmer grasp of who I am and what I can do for the world that some of the people on that website. Purely by a choice of an X or a Y I am relegated to serving food. Let me say clearly - SCREW THAT.

I have chosen for myself what I am going to be in life. Right now I am a late 20s world traveler. If you took the number of cities and countries and states that I have been to and added them together that number might be higher than the number of miles some people have been from their house. Maybe later I might be a mom, even more I might be a stay at home mom but that is a choice I will make WITH my husband when the time is right. It will not be defined by the gender that I was born.

Sadly not all my choices get to be my own. When going on a date, I take extra precautions. If I am lucky I might have known the guy for a while. More likely than not, a friend has vouched for him. But as this limits the number of dates I would go on and possibly the number of amazing people I would meet sometimes the inevitable date with someone you might not know all that well is... well... inevitable.  In this scenario, as a woman I might take precautions that men don't have to. I tell my roommates the guy's name, where we are going, how I met him, a time they can expect me home, and maybe his cell number. In case, you know the Morgan from the BAU needs to rescue me. The truly sad thing is that I do not find this weird. It is something I have done since I started dating. This is the norm.

On dates, I have to be clear and upfront from the beginning what the expectations are. Most times guys understand and if all they are looking for is sex, we part amicably. Sometimes, they don't get that my saying "it is late, I am going home" IS my final response. I had one guy ask me three times in the space of 5 minutes to go back to his place with him. The first round of denial was not accepted as the final answer. When it became clear that my intention really was to end the night by taking a taxi home I was called a bitch and a tease. Oh not to my face. No, it was under his breath. Asshat. The truth is that these guys are not common in my life but even once is too many times.

Now not all guys are dangerous, heck 90% of them are really genuinely amazing and nice guys. I am proud to say that I know a lot of these guys. But the chance that one isn't a great guy is too great of a chance to take with my safety. The numbers are staggering. Even when a rape is reported, which is an astonishingly low percentage (estimated at around 45%), only 12% result in arrest, 9 % are taken to trial and only about 3% of rapists will see a day in jail. (all stats from RAINN).

This need to protect myself won't ever really go away. I will always be physically weaker than most men but when songs have lyrics in it like "I know You want it" and "I know you're an animal, it's in your nature. Just let me liberate 'cha" (but hey it's ok cause normally he respects woman and can prove it because he is married) it makes me feel like this ideal is being perpetuated instead of halted in it's tracks. That we are making the world more dangerous instead of trying to make it safer.