Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fashion Forward

So, Eric and I like to watch Project Runway together.

And by "together" I mean that we watch it on our respective computers separately, and then the one who has seen the episode tries to "spoil" it for the other, and then we compare notes on whether or not we agree on who went home and who had the high score, and who was dramatic, and who is awesome.

In a completely unrelated note, this year in around October or so, Eric told me that he had a plan for my main Christmas present, and that he really hoped that I would like it. Then he continued that line of talk all through November and December.

This is par for the course for Eric. Every Christmas he puts a lot of thought into my gifts, and completely surprises (and delights) me. But he second-guesses himself all along the way.

So, Christmas morning came, and to my surprise, I opened up a present that was a JayMcCarroll original!


quirky 2-14 photo jay.jpg
See? Even he is excited for me!
For those of you who aren't in the know--Jay McCarroll was the winner of Season 1 of Project Runway. Here's a sample of his work:

quirky 2-14 photo jay2.jpg

So, with an introduction like that, you are probably wondering a bit about my gift now, aren't you? Well, before I show you, I need to tell you a bit of a story. 

When I first opened the package, I saw the tag, and got kind of excited. I mean, how fun to have a designer original, you know? Then I got a little bit nervous, thinking about how much Eric might have paid for this little number. I needn't have worried, Eric got himself a bargain this time.

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When I opened up the actual package, I saw a mass of color. A long shirt shirt with multi-colored squares in the front, pink stars on a black field on the sleeves, and green and white stripes in the back met my eye. A little outside my comfort zone, stylistically, but well within my comfort zone of fun.  

My mom hated it. Really really hated it. I tried it on, and she gazed on me with her best Jean Willis* "I am not amused look", and asked me where on earth I thought I was going to wear that thing.  I reminded her that I work for an opera company, so I would hardly be the most flamboyant person there, should I choose to wear it to work (which I have--several times). She was not convinced, but resigned herself.

Funny thing, later on in that day my niece Kaylee came over to the house with her parents and siblings to do a little Christmas Day chilling. As she came up the stairs and saw me, the first thing she said was, "Wow! That's a really great shirt! I love all the colors!"  

Now, Kaylee is (in my opinion) the most fashion-savy person in all our family. Seriously, that girl has an awesome sense of style, and is able to put together smart, classy, interesting, and fashionable outfits out of pretty much anything. So, getting her approval was huge. HUGE.

So huge that I'm willing to share these pictures with the world:

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Go ahead, just try to tell me that my Eric doesn't just rock the house. You'll never convince me.

(Full disclosure though--I do wonder a bit about the age appropriateness of the shirt for me. I am closer in age to my mom than I am to my niece. 
Am I too old to be wearing this? Do I really care?)



*Jean Willis is my mother's mom. She had a generous spirit, a willingness to work and work and work, and an "I'm not amused" look that was impossible to miss.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

the best kind of crisis

I remember the first time my dad bought a 4-wheel drive vehicle. I was probably in the second grade, and he got a green and white truck. We had gotten ourselves stuck the previous summer (if I remember right) cutting wood for the winter, and neither my father's nor my uncle's 2WD trucks were able to get us free for several hours. I don't remember how we ended up getting off the mountain that day, but it seemed like it wasn't much longer until dad bought himself the first of a long line of four-wheel drive trucks.

I specifically remember riding around in this truck with my dad and brother. Dad would turn to Bobby and say, "What do you think? Should we drive up the side of that building?" My brother would agree enthusiastically, and I would giggle nervously, wondering if we really would go driving up the side of the building.

Like many Cedarians, we're lovers of the mountains, and it's a rare mountain road that is completely passable at all times and in all weather. In light of that, it's no surprise that over the years, our family vehicles have included 4-wheel drive trucks, 4-wheel drive Suburbans, 4-wheel drive Durangos, 4-wheel drive Yukons, and even an all-wheel drive van for awhile. However, the one 4-wheel drive vehicle that my dad always always wanted, but never bought, for practicality reasons (and because my mom would have killed him), was a Jeep.



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The thing is, when you've got a wife and six kids, a Jeep just isn't going to cut it. You can't fit the family in it, you can't haul anything around in it, and the gas mileage isn't nearly low enough to justify it as your "run around town all by yourself" car.

Until you are a 60+ empty nester, that is.


Bob Corry fans, I introduce you to the fulfillment of a forty-year dream:
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Look at that smile. This is a happy guy, make no mistake.


I think it's awesome. As long as I can remember, my dad has wanted a Jeep, and for some reason, it gives me a real sense of satisfaction to know that he finally has one. All the same, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to gently tease my frugal father about shelling out the money for something that's quite a bit less practical than is his usual.

When I did, he sheepishly smiled and said, 
"Maybe it's my mid-life crisis."


I can handle that. My retired papa only mid-way through his life? Works for me.






Sunday, February 09, 2014

two stories - a Valentine tale

God does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.
---Spencer W. Kimball

A few days ago, as I was arriving home after my morning run, I saw that someone had taped a bunch of hearts on the door of one of my neighbors and friends. I smiled inwardly, and remembered a story--two stories actually, that I feel inclined to share. They're kind of personal, and kind of long, but they are two of my favorites.


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It was May of 1995. I had been off my LDS mission for less than a year, and I had jumped straight into graduate-level courses right off my mission. I was struggling with my studies, struggling with friendships, struggling with dating (or not dating, as the case generally was), struggling with what seemed like pretty much everything. My journal entry around this time sums it up pretty well:

"I've felt ugly duckling-ish and unloved. I've looked at my life with a rather gloomy perspective. Of course I've had periods of happiness intermingled with the frustrations, but I think it would be fair to say that I've been sad more than I've been happy lately."

One night I got to the point where I'd had all that I could stand. I felt so alone and so worried and so afraid that I'd always feel alone and worried that I knelt down and cried and prayed and pleaded and cried and cried some more. I asked my Father in Heaven to help me. When I was finished with my prayer, I felt a little bit better, but not too much better, really.

Two days later, I went to the mail, and found that my Grandmother and Grandfather had sent me a book. There was no letter or card attached, it was not my birthday or any other gift-receiving holiday of any kind. The book was inscribed in my grandmother's handwriting: "To a very sweet granddaughter, Love Grandma & Grandpa Willis".  It was called The Simeon Solution: One Woman's Spiritual Odyssey by Anne Osbourne Poelman. Part memoir, part scriptural treatise, the book was just what I needed right then, as the overreaching message of it all was that God has an individual plan for each of us, that He hasn't forgotten us, that He is actively involved in our daily lives, even (and especially) when we can't see him there, and that if we will stay close to Him, all will work out for our good.

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Now, I had been around a bit by then, and I actually knew all of that already. But, I think I'd forgotten some of it as I swam (sometimes nearly drowned) in the difficulties that seemed to be crashing down on me at the time. So, the combination of the timing of the book, coming out of the blue like that just when I needed it coupled with the message of the book buoyed me up immensely, and helped me turn my gloomy perspective around.

* * *

Fast forward eight years. Both of my grandparents have passed away. I am out of school, working for the opera company, volunteering here and there, sharing an apartment with a dear friend, and overall doing well.  But, it's nearly Valentines Day, and (as is often the case), I have no Valentine. To make matters more difficult for me, that dear friend with whom I share the apartment with is out of town, which leaves me home alone, fighting the melancholy.

Again, my journal sums it up pretty well:

"Today was a hard day. Valentines Day is looming up this Friday, and while Valentine's Day is not historically a hard day for me, I've been thinking that if I end up spending it home alone, watching videos this year, that it might be kind of hard to deal with. So, I have been trying to see if I can find anyone who will play with me that night. So far I have had no luck. I don't think people are intentionally snubbing me, it's just that I have so few good friends, and I'm so shy and sensitive, that social situations are extremely hard for me to orchestrate, and people have their own lives to deal with after all."

(Incidentally--There are several adjectives that I would use to describe 2014 Charlotte before I would get to "shy and sensitive". Kind of nice to see where I've been and where I am, you know?)

As the day wore on, I got more and more discouraged, and during my lunch hour, I found myself on my knees, once again crying and pleading and praying for help and comfort. It took about thirty minutes to get myself back under control, at which point I put my make-up back on, put on a happy face, and went back to work. It was a long and busy day. After work I had a voice lesson to attend, and then it was back to the opera for our Valentines Party--which was really our Christmas Party that we hadn't been able to get scheduled until February. Once again I was a single in a room full of couples. Once again I felt different. Once again I felt like crying.

I made it through the evening and headed home. It was dark and I was exhausted. As I turned into the lane to get to my apartment, I thought back to that difficult time that I had endured during my first year in Logan. I thought of the book, how my grandmother had miraculously sent me just the book that I needed at just the time that I needed it. As I thought of that, I said to myself wearily, "Well, she can't be sending me a book today now, can she?"

A few seconds later I pulled into my parking space, and noticed that my door was covered with paper hearts--big ones, small ones, pink ones, purple ones, blue and yellow ones, all sizes, all colors. It was a rainbow of hearts all over my door. At the foot of the door was a small package. I opened it to find a small box of chocolate hearts, a note that said "You've been Heart-Attacked!", and . . . a book. A beautiful book full of good counsel and scriptural stories, and love. A beautiful book that was signed by fourteen of the most silly and most inspirational and most delightful teenage girls that I had ever had the pleasure to work with, girls that I knew and loved, girls that couldn't have possibly known what a difference their gift would make for me that day.

I'll never forget that miracle.

I would be completely surprised if any one of those girls or their youth leaders remembers that day eleven years ago, how they put hearts on my door, wrote notes in what was to be my book. Honestly, I'm pretty sure that many of them don't remember me at all. That's okay. Life is a sea of experiences, and it's impossible to hold all of them in our minds and hearts all the time.

They almost surely don't remember. But I will never ever ever forget.




"heart attack" image courtesy of ablogaboutlove.com

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

30 years later . . .

One Christmas Eve, when I was around twelve years old or so, my dad took all of us kids up to the brand-new cabin for a day of sledding, chili, and hot chocolate. He invited any cousins who wanted to come to join us as well. The idea was that he would get all the kids out of the house for the day so that my mom would have the opportunity to do all the last-minute Christmas things in a quiet, calm house.

It immediately became an annual tradition.

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Thirty years later--still going strong.

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It only took a few years for the moms to realize that this is just too much fun to miss. So, most of us do all we can to get our Christmas work done before Christmas Eve so that we can share in the party as well.

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