Monday, December 22, 2008

And you thought I was kidding...

It really is dog-ass cold here. Well, for Tennessee in mid-December it is anyway...

Our adorable local public radio news reporter/substitute host (I've met him, he actually is adorable. I'm not just making it up), this morning announced the time and temp: "It's 11 degrees in Nashville at 7:20."

Except the way he said it was all: "Dude, it's only e-lev-en degrees outside. No, man, I'm totally serious. Like Fahrenheit -not even Celsius."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Longest Night of the Year

I am physically and mentally exhausted and it is dog-ass cold out tonight. The plan had been to wrap presents, but in addition to being cold and tired, I'm also rather Grinchy at the moment. Unfortunately, vegging-out on the couch doesn't look like a viable option as even on Sunday of a non-holiday week, once you get past "The Simpsons," television is pretty bleak. But wait...

When, what do my wondering eyes should appear,

but Sense and Sensibility on Public Television...
(sorry, I don't have the will to rhyme either.)

I think my cold, Grinchy, dorky heart just grew three sizes... or at least warmed three degrees.

Hope your last Sunday of Advent, first night of Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice is happy and toasty.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I have a serious case of holiday-itis

But I also can't think of anything to post.

So as I seem apt to do these days, I swiped this from Green Girl (see here and here). Of course, I swiped it and then proceeded to nitpick - "Why are there only 99?" "Bounced a check?!? That's sort of rude to ask, isn't it?!?" Because it's not like beggars should really be choosers, right? It's either this or maybe today I can wax nostalgic about Shaun Cassidy or Rick Springfield or something. No? OK then, let's give this a go....

Things you've already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to: leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band - or musical. - Musical. And if a Go-Go's lip-sync band in the 5th grade with this chick counts, then yes on the other as well.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world - world.
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. - Not well, but yes.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning. - Who would italicize this!?
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. - I'd rather have food poisoning.
18. Grown your own vegetables. - But I plan to this summer.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. - Was in the Louvre just long enough to see it and the Venus Di Milo.
20. Slept on an overnight train. As a child between Nashville and Orlando. In my 20's from Milan to Paris. My cabin mate was a rude Japanese guy who SMOKED and talked on his cell phone the whole time. Somewhere in the Alps I considered smothering him and/or throwing him from the train car.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitchhiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. - In my defense, ill-tempered is still ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping. - No one needs to see that.
27. Run a Marathon. - I've pretty much walked one though.
28. Ridden a Gondola in Venice. - The simple answer is no (it's really expensive!). I was, however, offered a "free" ride after hours by a particularly cheeky gondolier, but was wise enough to decline.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run. - But I can punt a mean football.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language. - see #14.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. - Very briefly. And then I decided to buy a house...
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. - So. Not. Worth. It. But I did see a nun riding a bike while I was there, so I guess it was kind of worth it...
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David. - I cried.
41. Sung karaoke. - No one needs to hear that.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa. - Very high on the to-do list.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance. - Again, who would italicize this?
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. - See #17.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. - Snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies. - Never made it out of Brownies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason. - From someone I actually wanted to get flowers from? No.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. - Yes, but it was recently decapitated and gutted.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. - I think so. I was jet lagged. I'll have to check the scrapbook.
77. Broken a bone. - My toe and probably one in my foot the second week of my freshman year in college. Never go barefoot at a frat party.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. - A Harley. For my 30th birthday.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person. - It's right up there on the list with Africa.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican. - And I bought this chick's husband a plastic ink pen with a clear end filled with water and a little Pope inside that bounced up and down. (They were engaged at the time and he was in the process of converting to Catholicism. It seemed only appropriate...)
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible. - I'm an Episcopalian. We don't do that. (kidding...)
86. Visited the White House. And now I actually want to. But I have spent some time next door in the old executive building. NOT stalking Al Gore... Really... I promise...
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. - No, but I came close with that Japanese guy on the train.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.- would looooove to do that.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club. - one real one and one where I've never actually read a book.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby. - I'd rather do #17 AND #50.
95. Seen the Alamo in person. - All good Tennesseans should pay their respects to the original Volunteers.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee. - Do yellow jackets count?

Seriously? No #100? All of this and there's not one more question? How about.. "had plastic surgery"... "learned to meditate"... "ran with the bulls"... "tried moonshine"...

What would be your #100?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"When I Was Young and Full of Grace..."

This morning as I lay in bed thinking I had finally mustered the will to get up, I was oh-so kindly informed by "Morning Edition" that today is Mike Mills' birthday. His 50th birthday.

That's right fellow Gen-Xers - REM's bass player, backup vocalist, and all around good guy is 50.

Sorry. Can't. Face. Reality. Now. Must. Pull. Covers. Over. Head. Okay. Buhbye.

Then those wavy, flashback-indicating lines that appear on TV sitcoms started to form in my eyes...

It was my first year of high school and it was torturous. Well, as torturous as any teenage girl's - but it's not like I knew that then. All I knew is that I didn't fit in with any one group and was therefore left on a little island unto myself - not smart enough for the gifted crowd, not quite geeky enough for full-fledged band geekdom, not moody or pierced enough for the alternative outcasts of the school, not pretty or athletic or whatever enough for the popular crowd. The list was long.

I had friends in each clique, but never was a full card-carrying member of any. I was, however, stubborn and masochistic enough not to want to listen to the necessary music, wear the necessary clothes or hairstyle or partake in whichever activity was "in" with any crowd. There were certainly times when I dipped my toe in and briefly tried on a different persona, but I always felt like an imposter and it was always short-lived.

That same year, though, I got a part-time job. It was on the edge of my suburban bubble - just enough to interact with people from neighboring bubbles and at times even the thriving metropolis of Nashville itself. There I became friends with three different young women. Two girls who were already friends, both of them older, and the cousin of one who was about my age.

One night the four of us had plans after work to go to a movie. Throughout the evening though much whispering had been going on. I picked up enough by eavesdropping to figure out that there were potentially better plans on the horizon and that my level of "coolness" was being assessed. I assumed that meant I was soon to be excluded from whatever the new plans were and was destined to go home straight after work.

As we were closing up the store, the plot finally unfolded. There was a great band playing at a venue in town. It was a last-minute show and not many people knew about it yet. The boyfriends of the two oldest girls knew the guys who would be working the door and said they could get us all in. Even me. But they didn't know if I was up for it. Would I blow our cover? Would I try to get someone to buy me drinks and get us all arrested? They didn't know but finally decided to ask me and to my surprise said they didn't want to go unless I wanted to. I assured them that none of their worries were necessary and if they wanted to take me, I was game.

The night went off without a hitch. I stood in a corner toward the back of the group of people, assumed that I would probably not like whatever music I was about to hear and was fully prepared just to appreciate the whole experience for what it was. But I was wrong. The band was REM - as I'm sure you've figured out. They were just starting to get some commercial success when I got to see them that night, but in my world, I had never heard of them. And they were great. Too different to be the pop, country or head-banging music that saturated the hallways at my school - yet too fun and upbeat for much of what my combat boot and safety-pin wearing friends listened to. It was like nothing I'd ever seen or heard, and yet everything I had been looking for. My awkward little universe was somehow now more complete - or at least a little more OK with itself.

So thank you, Mike (and Bill and Michael and Peter too). I'm sure there are some hard-core music snobs out there ready to give me crap for loving you guys as much as I do, but that's fine. You provided the perfect inspiration and soundtrack for an angsty, misfit teenager. (And some great memories for this angsty, misfit adult too). Happy Birthday.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thank You

Thanks to you for enduring my wallowing this past week.

Thanks to Phil for everything.

I won't be rambling on and on today (you can stop cheering now). I will only leave you with a link to someone who is far more eloquent on the subject.

I've been lurking on his website for a long time now. I was first drawn to it by the football, of course, but keep reading because of how smart and funny and insightful it is. One of the many reasons being the weekly Hail Mary Haiku Contest.

That's right. College football fans, from Tennessee no less, ('cause in case you haven't heard from the rest of the country, we don't do much learnin' down here) spend time each week during football season crafting a poem in the traditional Japanese style. They are often quite hilarious and sometimes touching. This weeks winner is several stanzas and dedicated to Phil. The post also contains the complete letter of resignation Phil read at his press conference. You might not like sports - or am sick of hearing me talk about it - but it's nice to see someone so dedicated to his job, his players, his school and his state.


P.S. AuntieM: yes, I do belong to a local support group. There are several thousand of us in it. Our activity this week is to drive east on I40 and join the other 100,000 in Knoxville :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Guys

In case you haven't guess, 1998 was pretty much the epitome of Coach Fulmer's career. Everything about that year had something unique and memorable. I've gone on about it being John Ward's last year. The improbable wins against Florida and Arkansas. The national championship itself. But the main thing that stands out for me that year were the players. We didn't have any "superstars" on our team like a Peyton Manning. Our quarterback was Tee Martin. He was a great quarterback, but didn't get a lot of attention and didn't really like standing in the spotlight. Another was a linebacker named Al Wilson. In addition to being a huge, bone-crushing defenseman, he was the heart and soul of that team and probably one of the main reasons they felt inspired to accomplish things that people said they couldn't.

I love Peyton Manning - this is certainly not news - but truth be told, he will never occupy the place reserved in my heart for Tee Martin and Al Wilson. Every fall for the next few years after they graduated - and well, even now - we start getting excited about the start of the football season and then I stop and am a little bit sad and think "I miss Al Wilson." Or, especially this year, "I wish Tee Martin was here."

I don't have to miss Peyton - he's on a television commerical at least once a day and NBC reruns his "Saturday Night Live" show whenever they get a chance.

Both Al and Tee went onto the NFL. Tee Martin's career lasted a few years and he has gone on to be a successful quarterback coach. Al's lasted a decade and he retired at the begining of this season from the NFL and the Denver Broncos as a five-time player in the Pro Bowl.

The news media likes jump on stories of either the celebrity football players like our Manning boys or the notorious ones like Michael Vick. But for every player in the NFL that's in a commercial or on trial, there are many more out there just doing there job and going about their business everyday without any fanfare. Yes, I know they're getting paid millions of dollars to go about their business, but it's a side we never get to see and one that I think should get more attention.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pandemonium Reigns

Tennessee has certainly had its share of heart-pounding, nail-biting games in my lifetime. The 1982 Alabama game and the Miracle at South Bend are two of the more-notorious. But while those two games were incredibly exciting, they both occurred before Phil was head coach, so I'm going to stick with my rule and only mention a few from last 17 years.

First, it is important to remember that while Tennessee has its rightful place in the history of college football and has earned its spot as one of the top teams in SEC history, we haven't gotten there with a lot of flash, brawn or sophistication. No matter how good we may be on paper we find ourselves, more often than not, as underdogs and in the position of having to come from behind in the second half.

We aren't the team heaving the ball down the field late in the fourth quarter in an attempt to run up the score on our opponent (coughFloridacough). No, we're the team heaving the ball down the field late in the fourth quarter in an attempt to come back from a 21 point deficit and tie the game with four seconds left on the clock. It makes for stressful spectating and fans prone to anxiety attacks. I'm actually surprised that Zoloft doesn't advertise in our stadium and/or come in a little orange and white checkerboard bottle. That said, if I had to choose between these two scenarios for the kind of team Tennessee would continue to be, I'd still take the later every time.

If you'd like an example of one of these games, I wrote a blow-by-blow account of last year's Tennessee / Kentucky game that went into maaaaany overtimes and almost resulted in a case of elder abuse.

Two other very notable examples come from the 1998 season. We went undefeated that year but not without trying REALLY hard to go at least 11-2. As I've mentioned, we also won a national championship that year. But when I think back about that year, that game in the Fiesta Bowl was not the highlight. Nice. Very nice. But not the highlight. The highlights for me were the Florida and Arkansas games.

In the Arkansas game we looked destined to lose. It was upsetting. I was in graduate school and invited friends over to watch the game. It was Arkansas, after all, usually a pretty sure thing. But in typical fashion we tried every which way possible to lose the game. It was close, but Arkansas was ahead and had the ball and time was running out. I was in deeply disgruntled and had gone into the kitchen to clear some dishes and make a cold compress for my forehead. Suddenly I heard my friends screaming from the other room.


I went running back into the room and learned that Arkansas had indeed fumbled the ball and we had recovered. All was not lost after all and in the end we won.

Ahhh, but I tell the stories out of order... even more amazingly, just a few short weeks prior to that, I was alone in that same apartment watching what looked like it was going to be the 12th consecutive ass-kicking of Tennessee by the Florida Gators. But somehow. SOMEHOW. We tied the game and went into overtime. My mother, step-father and aunt were at the game. I, as I mentioned, was in my apartment - alone - in a tiny corner of Ohio. I had called their cell phone a couple of times and when they answered all you could hear was screaming.

Tennessee had first possession, managed to score a field goal, and went up by three. The Webbed-Footed Minions of Hell had the next possession. I figured all hope was lost, a touchdown was imminent, and tried not to have a stroke.

But our defense held. Florida had to kick a field goal. A gimme that would send us into a second overtime. A second overtime that was likely to spell the end of our exhausted team that had already beaten all odds to make it this far. I tried to be positive. I watched the kick through my fingers that were covering my face.

No good. The kick was no good.

I paused, stunned for a second. Then my body began involuntarily screaming and running around my living room as I watched thousands of sweaty, long-suffering, orange-clad lunatics spill over the walls around the field like fire ants, swarm the goal posts and bring them down within just a few seconds.

Someone knocked on my door. It was my neighbor in the next apartment and when he realized I was NOT being attacked by an axe murderer he came inside to watch the spectacle unfold on the television himself.

I found out much later that it took my parents and aunt four hours to get back to my step-grandmother's house five miles from the stadium. That the two young guys sitting in the seats next to them took off running down the second the game was won and they watched them dive over the wall. That the goal posts I watched being brought down were then carried out of the stadium and up the main thoroughfare that runs through campus. That the radio play-by-play of John Ward had him nonchalantly calling the kick and assuming, like we all did, that it would go into a second overtime only to have him stop, speechless, take it all in and say:


This doesn't do it justice, of course, but go here to listen to the call and see photos from that night (just scroll to the bottom). You don't have to be a Tennessee fan to enjoy it. Hell, you don't even have to be a sports fan at all. Regardless, it's been a nice memory during this long, long season.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give Him Six

On with the trips down my orange-clad memory lane...

In 1998 Tennessee won a national championship. Good, yes, but not why I'm remembering it at this moment. It's because it was also John Ward's last year announcing the games. Since before I was born - and especially in the days before cable - your only option on most Saturdays was to listen to John Ward announce the game on the radio.

He was one of the all-time best. And you eventually learned, after listening to the radio and then later seeing a replay on TV during the news that night, that he was quite good at extending the drama and increasing the suspense. To hear it on the radio it would be "Tennessee has the ball and it's down to the 20... the 15... he's still on his feet at the 10... scrambling to the 5... 4.... 3... 2... 1... Give... Him.... Six.... Touchdown Tennessee!" Of course, in real time, had you been watching it live on TV, we scored back when John said we were on the 15. But we didn't care.

Early in 1998 John Ward announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Most of my family attended the last home game. We knew there would be some acknowledgement and ceremony to honor Ward's last home game, but we didn't know what it would be. It turned out that instead of the marching band, the halftime entertainment was Kenny Chesney performing a song he'd written for the occasion. And, while my lack of love for Mr. Chesney is no secret, it was a heartfelt tribute. At the end of the song he looked up toward the press box and pointed to John Ward. John stood and waved at the crowd and spontaneously the 100,000 or so fans sitting in the stadium waved back.

Super-cheesy? Perhaps. But in my big coffee table book about the history and traditions of Tennessee football (What? You mean you don't have one in your living room?) I usually can't get past the chapter about John Ward. I can never not read that section and yet when I get to the end and the description of his last game I am always too choked up to continue and just function under the assumption that the rest of the book is good as well.

I tried to find an audio or video clip of John Ward that would embed but no luck. I did of course find the Kenny Chesney song. Here it is. Never doubt the lengths I will go to or the suffering I will endure for the love of my Vols.

Gert's Helpful Hints

Don't Fandango and talk on the phone at the same time!

Because if you're in the process of, let's say, buying two tickets to see Angsty Teenage Vampire Love while talking to your brother on the phone about basketball, you might (almost) accidentally buy the wrong number of tickets. And while you might freely admit to paying $18 to watch Angsty Teenage Vampire Love, chances are good that you WOULD NOT want to admit to paying $36.

Tagged - One Word Challenge

Green Girl tagged me and I am nothing if not obedient. Ha. I know, I can't even type that with a straight face... OK, I am nothing if not totally willing to procrastinate for 15 minutes.... better?

Where is your cell phone? pocket
Where is your significant other? imagination
Your hair color? brown
Your mother? home
Step-mother? home
Your father? golf
Step-father? reading
Your favorite thing? vacation
Your dream last night? work
Your dream/goal? debt-free
The room you’re in? office
Your hobby? photography
Your fear? math
Where do you want to be in 6 years? self-employed
Where were you last night? babysitting
What you’re not? unopinionated
One of your wish-list items? TiVo
Where you grew up? Tennessee
Last thing you did? email
What are you wearing? khakis
Your TV? dusty
Your pet? crazy
Your computer? Gateway
Your mood? caffeinated
Missing someone? no
Your car? irritating
Something you’re not wearing? makeup
Favorite store? Target
Your summer? humid
Love someone? Eeeeeddddwwwwaaaaarrrddd (sorry, couldn't resist)
Your favorite color? orange :)
When is the last time you laughed? morning
Last time you cried? yesterday

I think my 15 minutes are up and my caffienated mood is starting to wind down so I'm not going to tag anyone else, but if you want to take a crack at the list, please be my guest.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Strike up the Band

So my boys in orange kept up their end of the deal and got themselves a win. It's been a long time coming. That it happened against Vanderbilt in their stadium is... well... admittedly even better.

Like I said, after everything they've been through I was so happy with the fact they were playing well that in the second quarter when Eric Berry intercepted the ball and ran it back 45 yards for a touchdown - I almost cried.

At the end of the game when the TV reporter asked Coach Fulmer about this being his next-to-last game and he got all choked up - I did cry.

I can't help it. This is going to be a hard week. Saturday is Coach Fulmer's last game at Tennessee and I'm going to be there in person. The only game I'm able to attend this year and if there was only going to be one, then I'm glad this is going to be the one.

I plan to honor the week leading up to it by listing some of my favorite memories from the last 17 years that Philly's been the coach.

Today, it is from the 1997 season. I was at the last home game of the year. If we won we made it to the SEC Championship game. We did. And in celebration Peyton Manning and Leonard Little ran a lap around the stadium carrying the orange Tennessee flag and the red, white and blue flag state flag while the crowd chanted S-E-C.

Then Peyton put down the flag, walked over to the drum major for the Pride of the Southland and hugged him. A few seconds later, he climbed the drum major's ladder and proceeded to conduct the band in a round of "Rocky Top" while everyone sang along.

For the Record

I just wanted it in writing now - at 1:15pm during halftime of the Tennessee / Vanderbilt game - that even if Tennessee loses, as long as they keep playing like they've played this first half I will be happy with the outcome.

Play smart, try hard, don't suck. That's all I ask. So, win or lose, you've done me proud so far.

And Pride of the Southland broke out the circle drill - at an away game - so if nothing else we did win halftime.

Keep up the good work fellas! Do it for Philly!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Your Opinion Requested

If you haven't seen it, the president-elect has an online survey for anyone to complete. Yes, some of it asks if you volunteered for the campaign, and how much, and if you liked it, yadda, yadda, yadda. Which, I know, might not be of interest to some. Especially if you didn't vote for him.

But it also asks for your opinion on what issues you think are most important and how you think this administration could best reach out to and involve the public. At the end you're asked to just write a response to various questions. Nothing useless like "On a scale of 1 to 5, how important is it that we improve the economy?" or "Clean air is important to me: True / False."

The cynical part of me wonders just how much our answers will be read, collected and put to use, but I have to say - it was damn nice to be asked.

So, regardless of your opinion on our president or our nation in general, take a minute or two and give it:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Clinton Kelly is in our fair city this evening. Well... in a wretched sprawling suburb south of the city, but close enough to tempt me to stalk him...

I would refer to Clinton as my SGB (Green Girl has already staked her claim on Neil Patrick Harris, so I had to move on to someone else :)) but he's never made that a public issue and I don't want to be speculative since, you know, it's really none of my business to begin with...

So instead... I will only say that Stacey London - in addition to having the best hair and taste in clothes on television - has the most awesome job, in part, because she gets to work with Mr. Kelly. They are hilarious together, and now that I can finally watch "The Daily Show" on-line, "What Not to Wear" remains the last, lingering reason I miss cable television. Sniff.

I keep their "rules" in my mind whenever I'm shopping - or hell, even getting dressed most days. I don't think I'm bad enough to warrant being put on their show, but fall brings with it items that I really, really want to buy but know I shouldn't. This week has been particularly hard as I've been extra tempted to stray in hopes that it would trigger some sort of signal and dispatch him to my rescue. (Been readin' too much Twilight maybe? Uh yeah, I think so...)

Yooooou hooooo.... Clinnnnntoooon... look what I'm about to buy:

Chunky sweaters that will create a bulkier sillouette....

Low, square-heeled boots with a non-pointy toe that will make me look even shorter...

Turtlenecks instead of V-necks that will make me look too boxy...

And Clogs! And Flannel! And Cordorouy! Oh My!

Hurry, quick, before it's too late!

(I'm headed to Macy's at lunch. I'll let you know if it actually works...)

Today in History...

I have a little widget thing on my Google page that tells me if today is any random holiday or religious observance as well as what happened on this day in history.

(My brain likes to gather random bits of trivia so that I can use them to impress bewilder and annoy normal people at dinner parties. Please forgive me.)

Turns out today marks the date of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Sadly, when I think "Gettysburg Address" I always think about the scene in Kindergarten Cop where the little class - each in a beard and stove pipe hat made from construction paper - does a dramatic reciting. It is adorable, but I don't know that one of the great presidential speeches of our nation's history needs to be associated in anyone's mind with a B movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and a gratuitous number of poop jokes.

Anyway... I did try to find that clip on the internets, but no luck. What I did find was a reading of the Gettysburg Address by Johnny Cash. And as we all know - especially those of us from the Nashvegas area - Cash is suitable for all occasions. Enjoy :)

P.S. - In case you were wondering... it's also the feast day of St. Elisabeth of Hungary - patron saint of the homeless AND lacemakers (who knew?). And the birthday of the teddy bear.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things I Currently Think...

...Are Delightful

My new moleskin notebook. Complete with bookmark, elastic bandy thing so it won't open up inside my giant bag and get all gross, and groovy-feeling cover that also doubles as a mouse pad when using the computer whilst sitting on the couch.

Sweet potato pie. I mean, really, even just saying "sweet potato pie" is delightful. Am I right? Know what's even more delightful than sweet potato pie? FREE sweet potato pie...

... Would Make NFL Football Much Better

A new rule that says if you are such an egotistical asshat that you behave like a 6-year old in the end zone after scoring a touchdown, knowing FULL WELL that your team will receive a penalty for excessive celebration that results in having to back up 10 yards for the kickoff, then YOU should have to be the one to kick the ball while the kicker gets to mock your little asshat dance from the sidelines.

If the Jacksonville Jaguars weren't teal. Not that I'm a big fan of much of anything sports related that comes from the state of Florida, but fellas, do yourselves a favor and get a team color that we can all take seriously.

... Will Send Me To an Early Grave

Having my boss (who lives and works in Maryland) call on a Monday morning, when I've just walked in the door after having been away from my desk for four days, to say that she's on her way over to the office from the airport when I thought she was in South Carolina. Luckily I had decided to put on real clothes and brush my hair. There was a brief window when black yoga pants, public radio t-shirt, green OU hoodie, rubber Adidas sandals with orange striped wool socks, and early-stage dread locks were a serious possibility.

... Will Save Me From An Early Grave

Spending a week here

I may not have any need for a sports team from the state of Florida, but I'll take one tiny house on one small barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico for the week of New Years, please.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Or should I say "bitten"...

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge Katie, as she receives my newly created "Bad Influence Blogger" award for mentioning that she was reading the Twilight series in a post a few weeks ago.

"Oh, I've heard people talk about these books. Are they really any good?" I asked over the phone after reading the post.

"Ggggaaaaahhhhh Eeeeeedddddwwwaaaaaaaardddd." Was all I heard on the other end.

For those of you who haven't read the book - or those of you who are SANE but don't happen to have a 14 year-old girl in your home - the Twilight books are about Bella, a teenage human girl and Edward, a very old vampire trapped in the body of a hot 17 year old boy. Duhn, duhn, duuhhh...

After a very lengthy work week that didn't end until 5:30 on Saturday evening, I found myself in the magazine and paperback aisle of Target.

"Oh, hey look - there's that book Katie loves," I mumbled out loud to myself in the middle of Target and then followed it with a little imitation of "Eeeeddddwwwwaaaarrrddd."

I picked up the book - the actors cast to play Bella and Eeeeddddwwwaaarrrddd in the upcoming motion picture are already on the cover. It was all of $6 and a fairly sizable read at 500-ish pages in a moderately-sized type face. I considered the likelihood of it totally sucking and the desire I had to do next to nothing on Sunday and tossed it in the cart along with my trouser socks, power strip and dog treats.

Sunday came and as I started a load of laundry and then prepared to get back in bed and listen to a marathon of NPR, I glanced over at the book.

"It's probably easy enough to read for a bit while I listen to the news," I reasoned.

"It's probably got a light and soap-opera-y plot that won't be hard to put down when the next load of laundry needs to be started or I feel guilty enough to go empty the dishwasher," I justified in my mind.

And then I started reading.

"Wow, 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!' is on already?!?" I thought when I heard my favorite NPR show start and figured out the morning news was long over.

"Eh. I'll listen to it on-line sometime later this week," I quickly decided.

"Crap. I have to pee," I realized, totally annoyed, and then raced around the house, letting the dogs out, changing the laundry, pouring more coffee, and oh yeah, peeing, all in a span of 30 seconds, before going back to reading.

"Holymarymotherofgod are you kidding me!?! The repeat of 'A Prairie Home Companion' is on! That means it's after 2:00!" I shouted to myself totally appalled at my laziness and the fact that I've been reading about teenage vampire love for SIX HOURS.

"Oh. I only have 40 pages left," I quickly assessed and then realized that it didn't matter if the sun started setting and I had to subject myself to the public radio hell that is "Thistle and Shamrock," I wasn't getting up until it was finished.

"DAMN YOU AND YOUR VAMPIRE BOOK!" I said as Katie picked up the phone when I called after finishing the last delicious page.

I can't remember the last time I read an entire book in one sitting. But really, if I think about it, it's not THAT HARD to believe as what quickly drew me in is that the main character is a clumsy, pasty, awkward, introverted, dark-haired, teenage girl with sarcasm and angst to spare.

Helllooo??? Sound familiar??? (That's me waving at you through the computer...)

And what would this real live angsty teenager have thought if her high school biology lab partner turned out to be a brooding, sullen, complicated, outsider with piercing eyes, impossibly high cheekbones, and told me he was a vampire??? I think we all can guess the answer.

I mean, who are we kidding? My elementary school boyfriend thought he was a dog for all of fourth grade.

So I think it's safe to say that I give Twilight a hearty two thumbs up. I expected the written equivalent of "Beverly Hills 90210." Something I admit to having enjoyed but with full understanding of how ridiculous it was. But this wasn't. This was more equatable to my summer obsession with "Felicity" I admitted to earlier. Unexpectedly enjoyable writing. Compelling stories. Addictive characters.

Felicity with Fangs, if you will.

And Edward is my new Ben.

I'm sorry. I totally misspoke.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday

Well, actually she can't. But she would if she could. She would be sure to let us all know.

This week-ish was my dog Elsie's birthday. She's a rescue dog so we don't quite know what day she was born, but it was sometime the during the first two weeks of November 2002.

I adopted Elsie and my other dog, Oliver, through For me to go to a dog adoption fair or the humane society would result in me in a giant pile of weeping and/or the Jetta Who-Will-Not-Be-Named full of dogs to take home. Petfinder is a godsend.
Elsie and her two siblings were listed as St. Bernard mix puppies named Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod (blecccch). I was looking for a large, laid-back, easy-going dog. And they were so cute you just wanted to die. Am I right?

So even though she looked more like she was part werewolf or badger than St. Bernard it was still a nobrainer. She came home with me right before Christmas, was named Elsinore (for the castle in Hamlet) and immediate made herself at home:

She was pictured there next to the last stuffed animal ever to be seen in tact in her presence - including a Winnie-the-Pooh ca. Sears 1971 that I'd had since birth. Yeah. It's a really good thing she's cute.

Sleeping is also something Elsie doesn't do a lot of so I often feel the need to document it when it happens. She's also not particularly "laid back" or "easy going" as I had hoped when I found her. Whatever trace of St. Bernard blood can be seen in her coloring, coat and her stocky proportions, but it turns out that her brain is aaaaallllll Border Collie.

Most of her time is now spent - since, as you might imagine, there's a bit of a shortage of sheep in East Nashville - trying to herd her toys, my socks, or my dishtowels out through the dog door in the laundry room and into the back yard.

She's completely insane and barks like you're trying to decapitate her at the slightest imbalance in her universe. If you're hanging out at my house and decide to get up to get something from the kitchen and don't wait to go all together as a group - you should be prepared to be herded promptly back to your seat.

She's hilarious and has the most expressive face of any animal - or most people, for that matter - that I've ever seen. I joke that she is a perpetual teenager as I swear she rolls her eyes at me.

She's very chatty and spends the first few minutes when I get home rambling on in Chewbacca-y noises about, I'm assuming, all that has gone on during the day. If in English, I assume it would be something like "Oliver sucks! People walked through the alley at 10:27am without my permission! I found a new sock! I put it in my favorite hole in the yard at 11:43am! I tackled Oliver and wrestled for 2.3 mintues! I hate squirrels! I took a nap for 4.7 minutes! I rolled around in dead leaves! The mailman came back! Again! I really hate the mailman! I'm hungry! I want peanut butter and string cheese for dinner!"

She's smart as a whip. Most recently she recently she figured out how to open a shut - and locked - dog door. She used to have to ride in the car in one of those dog car harness things. Until she figured out how to unlatch the seat belts. She also once reasoned how to get a toy ball of the top shelf of a 7ft tall bookcase. I could go on and on...

She's a good example for me with her good and not-so-good qualities. When I am in too much of a hurry to get something done. Too sure that I'm right. Too eager to tell someone else what to do. Or too absent-minded and not watching for wolves.

She's extremely dedicated. Her job starts promptly at 6:00 am. I have yet to figure out what that job is, but I know it starts at 6:00 am. It also does not observe daylight savings time.

She's also very dedicated to me. As I am to her. In dog years this birthday makes her older than me. Something I'm sure she has already figured out and takes great joy in because she thinks it makes her even more in charge.

So Elsie, for your sixth year I promise to do a better job of taking you for walks and keeping your busy mind occupied. I promise to pay closer attention when you're airing your grievances and telling me all that Oliver has done to offend you. I promise to take more time and be more patient. And I promise to do a better job watching for wolves.

Happy Birthday

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

After the flood all the colors came out

I meant what I said. I pledged election-related bitterness and snarkiness for only one day. Part of me felt guilty for my post yesterday because, as dooce said, she voted for Obama in part because he makes her want to be a better person. And that post really wasn't a very good example of me trying to be a better person. But like I said people, it's been eight years. Eight years.

Eight years ago I stood with my now sister-in-law here:

Right where that little blue star is. The area to the left with the fountains is Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville (the state capital is just on the other side of the street that's running across the top of the photo). It was the location of Al Gore's election night party. It was no Grant Park, but we were a festive bunch. Large TV screens were set up around the area and as states turned blue we cheered and high-fived strangers (ahh, who knew that night would begin our national obsession with color-coded states...). At some point the state of Florida turned blue. The crowd erupted. There was hugging and dancing in the streets. But then, a little later, Florida turned red. We couldn't hear what was going on. So we waited. And waited. And waited. Somewhere in cyberspace is a picture by a Reuters photographer of my sister-in-law and me, tired and sad-faced, resting head-in-hands on one of those metal barricade fence things adorned with a giant Gore/Lieberman sign, as we stared up at a big TV screen waiting and wondering. Then it started raining. And we finally went home without any answers.

That night started a long road for me of anger and disgust - not just because of who ended up as president, but because of what that election exposed about our voting system, the kind of country we had become, and that I apparently hadn't been paying attention to any of it up to now. I was angry at our government and our country, but also at myself for having been so oblivious. Somehow we had become a country that slapped an American flag sticker on one car window while we tossed a McDonald's cup out of the other. We had become a country where patriotism was a sense of entitlement and a justification for condemning others who didn't think or look like we did. We were a country so arrogantly self-righteous about our democracy and yet willing to let our leaders obliterate the separation of church and state on a pretty regular basis. We were a country who felt it had the right to tell the rest of the world how to live and how to govern, while much of the rest of the world quietly and humbly went about providing its citizens a better education, more affordable health care, and a cleaner environment.

So yesterday when I said that I had lived with a sickening feeling for eight years, it really wasn't that much of an overstatement.

But now I feel like there's a nation wide dedication and enthusiasm for voting. That there's a new definition of patriotism. That once again we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Here are some of the people I saw on Tuesday:

Volunteers of every color at the Obama offices in Nashville, who sat all day and made get-out-the-vote calls to people in other states like Iowa and New Mexico.

The 13-year old from my neighborhood (whose name escapes me at the moment) that I have seen almost daily for the past howevermany months with a tent and folding table out in front of the gas station registering people to vote, volunteering at the Obama office, standing on a street corner before school waving an Obama sign, and on election day, in charge of organizing people to stand on street corners and wave signs.

The guy getting out the vote by deejay-ing on the street corner in front of a public housing complex halfway between my office and the Obama office.

And Delores

and Phillip

and Keshia

They were three people who could have very easily stayed home and not voted rather than go to the effort to call and ask for a ride to the polls. More than 300 people volunteered to drive people to the polls on Tuesday so I met them all riding shotgun as the navigator for my stepfather and friend Mark who got on the driver list earlier than I did.

For that opportunity, and for the lack of sickness that I woke up with the past two mornings, I have Barack Obama to thank.

But you know what? George W. and all of those other people I told to "suck it" yesterday... I have them to thank too. There is no yin without yang. I don't think I could have envisioned my new sense of pride and optimism, the new possibilities for our country, the hope I have for our relationship with the rest of the world, if I hadn't endured the last eight years.

So, to everyone pictured in the post from yesterday I would also like to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Thank you for Tuesday. It was a beautiful day.

My Spirit of Bipartisanship...

... will start tomorrow.

Tomorrow I pledge to try my very best to live up to the good example our next president has set for us.

But for right now, to mark the glorious end of the sickening feeling of gloom and despair I have felt every day for the past eight years, I would - just for today - like to say that


and you,

and you,

and you,

and you,

and yes, even you guys too,

and you,

and you

and, oh yeah, definitely you,

and you,

and you,

and last, but certainly not least, you,

can suck it.

God Bless America.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Bittersweet Day

I think it's safe to say I've been waiting for this day for eight years. At the same time, for a different reason, it's a day I had hoped wouldn't happen for several more years. The two aren't really connected as far as most people can see, I guess. But, in my heart they are.

1. "Democracy is not a spectator sport"

I love to vote. I live for tradition and ritual. It's fairly safe to say that I'm a sap. A proud sap, indeed. My love of voting comes from a love of country as well as a love of state, city and community. When voting in my first presidential election, while in college in Ohio, I made the extra effort to vote absentee in Tennessee. I wasn't going to let my first presidential vote count for any other state. I also made one of my roommates, a Republican, sign as my witness that I voted for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. My love of voting, country, state and city also includes love of irritating the beejeezus out of any Republicans still willing to claim me as a friend or relative.

To mark the occasion I re-watched the Northern Exposure episode "Democracy in America." The quote from this title comes from this episode as does this (from my beloved Cicely radio personality, Chris "in the Morning" Stevens, of course):

"Today every runny nose I see says 'America' to me. We were outcasts, scum, the wretched debris of a hostile, aging world. But we came here, we built roads, we built industry, powerful institutions. Of course along the way... we basically stained our star spangled banner with a host of sins that can never be washed clean. But today we're here to celebrate the glorious aspect of our past. A tribute to a nation of free people. The country that Whitman exalted:
'The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislators, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors or even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.'
I must go out now and fill my lungs with the deep clean air of Democracy."

2. "He Will Always Be My Coach"

I haven't been writing about football much this year, but there hasn't been much to write about that was good. And I spend enough time on here griping and complaining already and goodness knows that there are plenty of other people out there on the interwebs running their mouths with their opinions about what's gone wrong and what should be done. My love and devotion to my state and my team isn't any less, I just didn't want to add my negativity to the mix.

Yesterday, however, Tennessee Head Football Coach, Phillip Fulmer, announced that he would not be returning next season. I don't know what to say. On the one hand I'm not surprised. On the other I am heartbroken. Much like my post a few weeks ago comparing the destruction of Yankee Stadium to a greater dysfunction in our culture, I think this speaks to much the same. I don't know for a fact, but I have a pretty good feeling that on election day, Coach Fulmer and I would not be in agreement, but this I do know:

Coach Fulmer is from Winchester, Tennessee. He was a student and football player at the University of Tennessee and played his first game in 1969. As an adult he was an assistant coach for Tennessee and then has spent the last 17 years as the head coach. His record today is 150-51. During the height of his career in the 90s, his record is 75-5. Student athlete after student athlete has praised Coach Fulmer over the years for mentoring them, for helping them through difficult times, and for being the father that some of them never had.

These days his record is not as good and it has been extremely disappointing. Yes, you could maybe argue that he's off his game. He's past his prime. He's too stubborn and unwilling to change with the times. But you can't argue that he's not a good coach. And more importantly, that he's not a good man, because his love of our state and our university and the boys that come to play for him is undeniable. Many of the people that have been calling for Coach Fulmer to resign are the same people that I spoke of in my earlier post. Those who don't value tradition or history. You're not going to find a new coach with the same knowledge and respect for being a Tennessee Volunteer that Coach Fulmer has. And maybe we'll win more games, but we also may lose a top five recruiting class who is already committed to Tennessee in the face of dismal season because of the kind of person they see in Coach Fulmer. I guess we'll have to see.

There are all kinds of things being written about this right now that have touched my sappy heart and that I'm sure I'll be bombarding you with at a later date. But I think Peyton Manning has said all that needs to be said for now.

"This is a sad day for the Tennessee family. Nobody loves the University of Tennessee more than Coach Fulmer... I will always be indebted to him for the impact he has made on my life and my football career. I know I speak for hundreds of players when I say it was an honor to have played for him at UT. I am fortunate to have played four years for one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football. His legacy at Tennessee will be that he built men and won championships. He will always be my coach."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Return

I have returned from the Atlanta 3 Day / 60-mile breast cancer walk. Alive. And with all of my lower appendages in tact.

My calves and feet did try to secede from the rest of my body several times, but they're hanging around for now. My very wide feet were part of the problem. Seriously, if they were webbed I could give Michael Phelps a run for his money. But on land all it means is that my shoes tend to not fit as well in the heel and that caused very nasty blisters. Also, I apparently have tendinitis. At the time I just thought it was normal for your feet to feel like they were on fire after you walked 18 miles or so. Turns out they're not really supposed to do that AND there's a name for it. Who knew?

Things are pretty much all better now though and it was totally worth it. Not hey-lets-do-this-again-next-year worth it, but I'm definitely glad I did it this once.

I walked all but six or so of the 60 miles, which at times really bummed me out, but I eventually came to my senses and decided that it's not too shabby.

There will be more details to come and of course lots o' photos, but I just wanted to take a minute to say thanks again to everyone for their nice words - and cash :) Our team raised more than $7,000 and the entire event raised more than $8 million. Also not too shabby.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Shopping That's Good For You

No, really. I promise...

An acquaintance of mine has a business called ASK Apparel. She and her sisters make hand-printed and hand-painted t-shirts, scarves, totes and such. All organic fibers, natural dyes, and a sustainable business ethic to boot. Plus, they're super nice.

I recently bought a t-shirt from them at our neighborhood farmers' market and I loooove it. It's a screen print of a rooster crowing at the sun. A nice reminder to be happy in the morning especially now that it's dark when I get up. It was a hard choice though - they had lots of cute designs.

In the process of my purchase I also signed up for their e-newsletter and today received an online $5 coupon on my next order. So... I thought a good way to spread the love of my shirt and of my few lovely readers would be to offer up the coupon to anyone who might want to purchase something.

So if you've been hankerin' for a new t-shirt or need a unique baby/kid gift, post a comment to me and I'll find a way to forward you my coupon.
Happy shopping!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Just Wondering...

...why it is that when I have a day off from work or am at home sick, Oprah never has a really good guest.

It's never "today on our show we're going to spend an hour with George Clooney in his swimming pool." Never.

Today it was Suze Orman. I do enjoy Suze's financial advice. Even have one of her books. But come on Oprah, it's a holiday. Yes, it's only Columbus Day, but STILL what is the more appropriate way to celebrate the Imaginary Discovery of Our Country:


Or this?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Rest of the Story

Here are some more photos from the debate festivities on Tuesday.

The bell tower at Belmont. I'm so proud of our local college. They did a great job. You might not know this, [WARNING: useless trivia alert] but Nashville has the most number of colleges and universities per capita of any city in the country. Fisk, TSU, Belmont, Lipscomb and Vanderbilt just to name a few. Over the past few years I think Belmont has risen to be my favorite - or at least very close to the top. It's hard to compete with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the TSU Marching Band, but almost beating Duke in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament helped a lot :)

The rally before the march. Lots of people lined up along 21st ave at Magnolia Blvd getting cars to honk their horns.

The march up the median of Magnolia to Belmont's campus. This isn't my photo. It came from here. I really wanted to get a good picture like this, but it wasn't easy and I finally got tired of trying. One of the many contributing factors as to why my original career plan of photo journalism didn't quite pan out...

Our seats for the debate. The real live debate was going on only a few yards directly behind us. We stood in the mud behind the MSNBC stage. They were very nice and set up a TV for us to watch. Unfortunately we could only watch and not hear most of it because a gaggle of extremely immature and inconsiderate Vanderbilt students set up camp behind us and decided we should instead listen to their loud and insipid conversations. Yet another reason why Belmont has become my favorite local college.

Another shot of the lovely Chris Matthews.
He was actually very friendly and funny.

We bumped into several friends.
Mostly from church and/or the neighborhood.

The different signs people made were really interesting. It never would have occurred to me to make a sign, but you could really tell some people put a lot of thought and their feelings onto a little piece of poster board - or the shirt they wore.




And the trifecta - funny and international AND a kid:

Like I said before, a good time was had by all. I think I may be volunteering at the Obama offices on Wednesday and watching the last debate - so you may have to endure another round of photos next week too :) Happy Friday!

P.S. - say a little prayer tonight for my boys in orange. They're having a tough season this year and they have to play Georgia tomorrow. Yikes.