Sunday, October 31

Childhood Deprivation

**Update: This post was written on 10.29, but I just got around to publishing it...

I have been told on more than one occasion that I had a deprived childhood.  To be fair, the folks who have told me this, don't truly think I was a deprived child, but they think I missed out on essential childhood activities.  I grew up in Williamson county and know that I was by no means deprived of essential memories. 
The first time my friends informed me of this, was in high school around the Easter holidays.  My "posse," as my mother called it, were sitting around talking about Easter memories and upcoming holiday plans when someone mentioned dying Easter eggs.  I nonchalantly stated that I'd never dyed Easter eggs. 

You would have thought the world was coming to an end.  Everyone was up in arms about it.  They didn't understand how I had turned out to be a decent human being when I had never dyed Easter eggs.  I had a very legitimate excuse.  All of my relatives, besides my small immediate family, live in Alabama.  We used to spend the Saturday before Easter at my dad's mom's house, wake up, do baskets and church, and head to my mom's mom's house for Sunday afternoon.  Because of all the traveling/hectic Easter festivities, all we ever had time for at each house was an egg hunt with the cousins.  We would bring plastic eggs with candy inside, while many of my cousins, who were not traveling that weekend, had plenty of time to dye eggs.

**Essential side note: as soon as I started talking about dying eggs, my office started smelling like vinegar.  Coincidence?  I think not.

My friends sought to remedy my deprivation right away.  Our tradition of Easter trips to Alabama had petered out sometime while I was in middle school, and my family's new Easter tradition consisted of Sunday morning service (where Drew and I always got to sing our favorite Easter hymn, Up From the Grave He Arose, if you don't know it, I recommend checking it out) and Sunday lunch, usually ribs or pork tenderloin.  Because we were now in town, I was readily available to dye eggs.  So I did.  My dear high school friends taught me to dye Easter eggs.  Now that part of my life is complete.

For three weeks now, M and I have discussed going to a pumpkin patch to get our pumpkins.  Well, our plans fell through the weekend we went to see Curt in Atlanta, and last weekend we just never got around to it.  So last night, you know, 3 days before Halloween, we still didn't have pumpkins.  M calls me from the grocery store to check our charcoal/lighter fluid supply.  Toward the end of the conversation he slips in, "Oh, and I bought us some pumpkins before they run out."

After dinner last night, we proceeded to spread out towels and garbage bags on the living room floor, popped Clue into the dvd player (because M had never seen it, and I think it's kinda Halloween-y), and got to work.  While I'm meticulously, and with great difficulty, cutting a whole in the top of my pumpkin, I once again, nonchalantly mention that I've only carved one pumpkin before, and that was in college.

M had the same reaction my dear high school friends had about my lack of egg dying experience.

"You never carved pumpkins growing up?" -M

"Well, no, we did, but mom did all the work.  To my recollection, Drew and I helped pick the pattern and then my mom did all the work.  And hated every minute of it."

Maybe my brother and I did actually help her carve the pumpkin, but if we did, I honestly don't remember it.  My halloween memories growing up consist of: mom carving the pumpkin and decorating the little Halloween tree we have, me hanging my Halloween mobile, dressing up, and trick-or-treating.  I didn't think anything of the fact that Drew and I didn't help carve.  I just assumed that no kids helped carve a pumpkin because it was dangerous with sharp tools.  Clearly I was mistaken.

Now, I'm not particularly known for my artistic abilities.  My pumpkin two years ago simply said I <3 DG.  Creative, eh?  I wanted to try for spookier and more challenging than my past experience.  M whipped out his little carving book and used a pattern.  Instead, I free-handed, using this image of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, as my inspiration.  All I forgot was the nostrils, and by the time I remembered, I didn't really have room.
Jack-o-lantern Inspiration

Actual result.  M's skull, and my Jack Skellington
All in all, a great success and fun evening!  We even roasted the pumpkin seeds, which I can guarantee we didn't do in my childhood!

Thursday, October 28


Jim Cooper is running for Congress in Tennessee.  You're probably asking yourself, "so what? I have no idea who Jim Cooper is."  Well, neither do I.

Every time I see his campaign signs around town, my brain works overtime:

"Wait, Sheldon Cooper's running for congress?  No, no, Jim Parsons is running for congress....No, no, this has nothing to do with Big Bang Theory, quit combining the names." 

No, Jim Cooper is running for congress.  Now, I know nothing about Jim Cooper, nor his opponents for that matter.  Election day is a mere 5 days away, and I have no idea who I'm going to vote for. 

I'm not that concerned about the senate/house elections.  Sure, that stuff matters, but the governor election is more important to me and my livelihood.  See, Phil Bredesen has been governor for 8 years.  He's be a fantastic governor, and although Tennessee has suffered like every other state in the recession, I personally feel he has done a decent job.  That's gotta be a tough position in which to be.

I'm in a pickle, because the governor election affects my job.  When you work for the state you are either Civil Service or Executive Service.  Civil service employees are hired off a register, and after their probation period, their job is practically guaranteed (much like tenure), whereas Executive service employees are not hired off a register and their jobs can be cut at the drop of a hat.  This means my vote for governor needs to be taken seriously, and I need be sure I'm not going to vote for someone who's going to eliminate my job. 

But I hate election campaigns.  I have a really hard time justifying casting my vote for a candidate that only uses the tactic of smearing their opponent.  It makes me think less of someone if their only approach is making the voting population think the opposition is a skeezeball scumbag. 

That brings us to my dilemma.  I'm a democrat, there is no denying.  I am not embarrassed to admit it, and I'm not wary of telling people who I vote for.  I'm proud.  I'm not, however, opposed to voting for a republican if I truly believe in what they stand for (for example, I actually like John McCain, but I shiver at the thought of what would have happened if he'd been elected, fallen ill and died and we, the people of the United States of American, would've been stuck with the worst and most incompetent human being, Sarah Palin, as our help us God.) 

This brings us to the dilemma.  I don't like Mike McWherter, the democratic candidate, because he has used smear tactics to turn voters away from Bill Haslam, his republican opponent.  Plus, I think he's kinda creepy, and I'm not thrilled by his propositions.

On the other hand, Bill Haslam hasn't been quite as determined with smear tactics, but he hasn't totally avoided them.  PLUS, he's hardcore into 2nd Amendment rights.  I am not.  At all. In fact, I believe in stricter gun control.  I know that shouldn't be such a determining factor in my voting stance, but it is.  I think personal gun possession is useless.  Guns kill.

And I'm off my soap box.  So unfortunately, neither candidate's website says, "I will, no matter what circumstances arise, maintain every single state job that exists."  So therefore, I don't care for Bill or Mike's campaign strategy, and I don't know if my job will be secured.  Therefore, the only option I see that I have is to vote (because it's my duty as a Tennessee resident) but to write in a candidate.

Now, the options for this are obviously endless.  I could write in who is the most awesome candidate ever.  He is missing teeth, his grammar is abysmal, and one of his major platforms is to repeal gun licenses and fine people $10 for NOT carrying a gun.  Win.  Or, I could write in someone funny who doesn't even live in the state of Tennessee, like Sheldon Cooper or Big Bird.  But that seems like a waste and probably won't be well received.  So the option is obvious.  I must write in Phil Bredesen, even though he absolutely cannot be elected, nor does he want to be, I'm sure.  I think he has been a fantastic governor and just to prove a point that my current gubernatorial options suck hardcore, I'm going to write him in.  It will be awesome.
I did change my voter registration to be more effective.  I grew up in Williamson County, one of the reddest counties in Tennessee (hellooooooo Republican money.)  I registered to vote there when I turned 18 (this would've been the presidential election of 2004) so therefore both my vote for John Kerry and Barack Obama were useless.  Not that it really matters because Tennessee was red all around, but it would've been nice to be in one of those few counties in Tn that were actually blue. 

So, when I moved in with M, I realized my voter registration would need to be in Davidson county.  When you change your registration, you have to vote in person the first time.  So I will be queuing on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at Granbury Elementary School to cast my useless vote for Phil Bredesen.

Or maybe Sheldon Cooper :)

Wednesday, October 27

Bucket List

I have spent the last two days working on a Bucket List.  There are so many things that I want to see and do in my lifetime, that I think this bucket list will constantly be a work in progress.  I am glad, however, to have some ideas/goals written down.  I have posted my bucket list as a page on my blog.  I'm sure it's overwhelming to read, so it's likely no one will, but I felt inspired.

It would've been a lot easier to make a list if I didn't want to go to so many places!  My list could go on for days.  I want to travel to every continent.  Simple enough, right?  Some continental desires are lesser than others.  I want to visit Antarctica to see the penguins.  This will be simple enough.  One trip, boom, I'm done.  In Africa, I really only have a desire to see Egypt for the Great Pyramids and Morocco for the awesome culture.  In Asia, I only want to see India, Japan and the Great Wall of China.  Autralia and South America have only a spattering of places, too, but North America and Europe will require a lot of time, a lot of trips, and worst of all, a lot of money.  I pretty much want to visit every European country, with the exception of maybe 10-15/47.  Yikes!  I'm ambitious and want to experience and see the wonderful monuments and places I've spent years studying in my history classes. 

In addition to all these places I want to see, I want to travel and stay by many different means: train, hot air balloon, motorcycle, camping, 5 star hotel, etc.

There's many experiences I want to have in my life as well.  Some adventurous like sky diving, bungee jumping, and cliff diving.  Some dull and uneventful like reading The Lord of the Rings, being on Jeopardy, and quilting. 

I think it's essential to have hopes, dreams, and attainable goals.  It makes life worth the living and gives you something to look forward to.  I hope that the majority of these goals are doable.  I don't want to look back at my list and think, "what was I thinking listing that as something I want to accomplish?" 

So here's to my future adventures, may they be as glorious as I expect.

Tuesday, October 26

Unexpected Storms

I remember when I became fully aware of tornadoes.  In 1998, when I was in 5ht grade, a series of tornadoes swept through middle Tennessee.  School started at 7:30 and as soon as I walked through the doors off the school bus, we were herded into the hallway to take cover.  After about 30 minutes we had the all clear to go to our classrooms.  My childhood best friend who had moved to North Carolina in 4th grade was in town visiting, I suppose it was her spring break.  Around lunch time we were again required to take cover in the hallways.  This time the drill was much more intense.  My elementary school was designed with the offices in the center, and each grade or two sharing a hallway which shot out of the center like rays.  At the end of each hallway was a double door to the outside.  I recall teachers pushing heavy storage cabinets in front of those doors.  We were in the hallway for such an extended period of time, that the lunch ladies brought lunch around on trays while we sat with our backs against the walls.
My brother was at school, and I can't recall where my mom was, but I remember being scared for my dad.  In December of 1997, my dad broke both of his arms playing basketball.  He was still unable to use both arms regularly and didn't go into work that morning.  I was worried that he was at home alone, wouldn't know about the tornadoes (this was before tornado sirens were commonplace in Franklin), and wouldn't take cover.  Turns out everything was fine with my family and our house, but others weren't quite as lucky.  I remember hearing about the damage done to downtown Nashville.

This was the first major tornado outbreak in middle Tennessee that I can remember.  Since then, there have been other terrible occurrences including horrible tornadoes in Hendersonville, Gallatin, and Murfreesboro.  I remember my freshman year of college, this event called "Carnuicus" was canceled because of impending tornadoes.  Instead, Carolyn, Ashleigh, and I foolishly went to the movies.

I'm not terribly afraid of tornadoes.  I would probably feel a lot differently if I had ever been face-to-face with one, or had my belongings torn apart because of one.  Sunday night through today, various parts of the United States, including Tennessee, has been under a tornado watch and warning.  This morning the sky was particularly gloomy and expectant of tornadoes, but I wasn't worried.  Turns out, all that I witnessed today was heavy rain, but others weren't so lucky.

The tornadoes weren't the only thing to fear today.  Most of my family lives in Alabama, which was also greatly affected by the severe weather over the past few days.  My mom's family is from Hartselle.  I logged onto facebook when I got home from work and saw that they church my cousins' all grew up going to was struck by lightning today and was destroyed.  Luckily, it seems no one was hurt, but I know my cousins, aunts, and uncles are devastated.  Several of them were married in the church, and they were all very active members.  Keep their congregation, and those who were affected by the storms, in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, October 25

Weekend in Review

This was one of the best weekends I've had in a while. 

My brother works for Suntrust.  Suntrust is a sponsor for the Nashville Symphony.  For the concert series that are sponsored by Suntrust, employees may enter to win free tickets to the show.  M and I were talking a couple weeks-a month ago about how we'd like to go to the symphony.  Unfortunately, Shermerhorn Symphony Center was damaged in the May flood.  They won't start performing back at home until after the first of the year.  So we looked at the calendar and saw there were some good selections before 2011, but M had never been in Shermerhorn, so we decided to wait unless we could get tickets from my brother.  

Shermerhorn Concert Hall facade

Shermerhorn Concert Hall.  Breathtakingly gorgeous with phenomenal acoustics.

He entered for us, and won.  We got to go see the show Friday night at War Memorial Auditorium.  I absolutely love the conductor, Giancarlo Guerroro.  He is talented, enthusiastic, and humble.  He acknowledges approval, but prefers to dote the attention on the performers.  The pieces for the evening were Prelude to 'Die Meistersinger von N├╝rnberg'  by Wagner, Symphony No. 36 in C major, KV 425 "Linz" by Mozart, and Brahm's Concerto for Piano No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 83.  It was absolutely amazing.  The acoustics in War Memorial are not quite as awesome as Schermerhorn, but the symphony played beautifully.  I highly recommend catching a performance if you can afford it.  It's a wonderful experience.

After the show, we went home and went straight to bed.  We were both exhausted from a busy week and quite relaxed thanks to the peaceful melodies of the symphony.  Puppy-dog actually let us sleep in Saturday morning until 8:15.  I know this doesn't seem like sleeping in, but it's a whole hour+ more than normally get on Saturdays.  We woke up and fiddle-farted around.  We ate breakfast, showered and got dressed.  I ordered a coat on Amazon earlier in the week, so while we were eating breakfast, our racist Sally started barking at the door.  Fed-ex runs early on Saturdays.  I opened the package to discover that a) a medium coat wasn't gonna fit once I put on layers and b) they had sent me a black coat instead of the gray that I ordered.  So after we got ready, we set out to run some errands.  We took the coat to the post office to return it, picked up M's car at Firestone, ate lunch at Kalamata's (a Greek place in Brentwood,) and picked up M's prescription at Kroger.  Then we drove back home, dropped off my car, drove to the Melrose Kroger and picked up my prescription.  From there we drove to Mt. Juliet to hit the lake.

Adam and Heather were already out on the water, so they picked us up and we just boated around.  The weather was perfect for wearing light clothes and company.  Heather gets practically every magazine subscription you could ever want, so I spent the majority of the time catching up on my favorite celebs in People.  We discovered a weird rope swing hanging on this little island, so we eased the boat up, and Adam hoisted himself up to swing a bit.  We laughed, took, photos, and a video.  We were kinda nervous it wouldn't be sturdy and he'd fall in the water, which would've been equally amusing since none of us were wearing suits.

We found a nice little area to park the boat a bit, and dance/admire the fall foliage.  After a while, we headed back in.  M and I headed home, fed puppy-dog, and I headed to my parents house for festivities for the Third Saturday in October, an annual event in the Elmore family.  I am the only one out of four in my immediate family that did not attend the University of Alabama.  My brother's ridiculously smart, so he got plenty of out-of-state money to go, whereas my parents grew up in Alabama.  I, however, decided to defy all family tradition and attend Bama's rival, UT.  (I don't regret my decision in the least.)  So every year we watch the game together.  M went to dinner with his dad, and then they come over around half-time.  We proceeded to watch Vandy and UT lose.  Sad day.  It's also that Auburn is now ranked #1.  Yuck.  We had a good time with the fam, they're a hoot.  My childhood best friend, Amy, was home for fall break, so she came over for a little while, too.  M and I came home and again went straight to bed. 

Sunday we slept in again, piddled around, ate breakfast, showered, etc.  We were planning on going to the Gentry Farm because we still don't have pumpkins.  We attempted to make plans with Brittany, Jimmy, and Louis to go get pumpkins and do the corn maze.  Brittany was going to be busy all afternoon, so M and I decided to go shopping.  It was a great success.  Here's why...We went to TJ Maxx home goods in Brentwood.  I got a cute black and red dress and decided I could definitely utilize this cute bargain as my Halloween costume, too.  M got 4 button up shirts, a pair of dress pants, two ties, and six pairs of socks for under $120.  Talk about big-time winsauce.

After TJ Maxx, we hit up Boscos for some lunch.  Turns out, on Sundays Boscos has brunch until 3pm.  M got a spicy Bloody Mary (blech!) and smoked salmon omelet (double blech.)  I got a double Mimosa and a Belgian waffle with a fruit cup.  We tried a sampler size each of the Stock Ale.  It was light and refreshing.  Nothing like boozin' it up on a Sunday afternoon while shopping.  I love our impromptu Sunday afternoons.  So then we jump started a lady in the parking lot and headed to Party City where I hurriedly picked out some mouse ears because I'm going to be Minnie Mouse!  From Party City we headed to the mall.  M found some great jeans and a new belt at Banana Republic.  They had a 25% off sale and he had a $10 off coupon.  Then we headed to Gap where I found a dress that I liked, and M convinced me to buy it.  It's not my typical purchase, but I managed to save 30% on it by finally being approved for a credit card.  I have been trying to get a credit card for the past year and a half.  Success.  Then I found a cute scarf at a kiosk outside of Gap.  I am a sucker for scarves.

We headed home to feed puppy-dog and relax a bit.  We left to meet Jimmy, Brittany and Louis at Cabana in Hillsboro Village for 2 for 1 drafts and 2 for 1 pizzas.  We had a great time on the outdoor patio.  M and I each took Louis for separate walks, and by the time Jimmy took his turn, the bottom dropped out.  M, Britt and I headed inside to finish our beers while Louis and Jimmy waited in the car.  It was a shame our evening was cut short.  We headed home quickly to avoid potential tornadoes.  
Once we got home, M and I finished disc 1 of season 1 of Mad Men and went to bed.  The weekend was great, and when my alarm went off this morning, I was so confused.  I just wanted to stay curled up and warm since it was still kinda dark and drizzly outside. 
M was sweet enough to get my car in the rain last night, and for some reason he switched keys with me to do this.  This morning, I thought nothing of it, had been at work for about 15 minutes when M called and asked if I had his keys.  I had to drive all the way back home to give him his keys.  No bueno.

All in all, great weekend!  Can't wait to carve pumpkins this week and for our Halloween party next weekend!

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