this is a test...

my husband says he reads my blog. i think he's just saying that to make me feel better. soooo, i'm posting this to see if he actually reads my blog. hey babe, are ya out there?????

i apologize for any inconvenience (or boredom) this causes those of you who ACTUALLY read this blog. thank you for taking time to read and for your comments. i'll admit, i'm pretty self focused most of the time, and the attention makes me smile.

anyway, i promise to return in no time with something much more entertaining, a little more insightful and much less whiny and ball-and-chain like.


As Time Goes By...

Recently I had the pleasure of watching Casablanca for the very first time. It was amazing!!! I know, I know I’m not the first to mention it to you. And if you haven't already seen it, I’m not the first to suggest that you do... Like, now. But I gotta say, there's a reason that everyone's been talking about it for the last 60+ years. There's a reason it won the big 3 (picture, directing & writing) at the 1944 academy awards. There's a reason the American Film Institute named it the 3rd best movie ever made. This movie is incredible.

But, I have to be honest, I was worried about watching it. High expectations can be a real problem. And I can't help but watch old movies through a contemporary lens. Typically, set decoration or dialogue pulls me out of the experience. I end up focusing more on how antiquated everything appears than the film itself. But this one was WAY different. Bogey and Bergman deliver magnetic performances. And the story has chops. According to the documentary included on the special edition DVD, it took several different writers, in several different stages to handle several different aspects of the plot. And it worked. It's unexpected, about-face ending made cinematic history. When "Rick" makes the ultimate sacrifice and sends "Ilsa" to safety with her husband, it is a touchingly poignant example of genuine love. I sure do wish I was capable of loving that way. I wish i was capable of giving love selflessly and sacrificially. Bogey's strong, silent, man's man turns out to be the ultimate romantic. "Rick" forfeits what he wants for the good of "Ilsa". Rather than demonstrating the "me first/mine, mine, mine" version of luv that we're force fed culturally, "Rick" is a picture of true love.

That's why the film stands the test of time. Casablanca is timeless because Truth is timeless. It’s a magnificent depiction of the selfless love that we long for and are created to experience.


A New Career Path

On Wednesday night, we screened a movie on UTC's campus in an attempt to get the clinic's name on the tips of the student's tongues. My co-worker worked her butt off to put the event together and did a phenomenal job. She gathered a panel from across the country to discuss the film afterward and on the whole the evening was a real success. I tell you all this because one of the panelists has a doctorate in the rhetoric of film. His job is to watch film, discern what message the piece is trying to communicate and then comment on said message. He calls himself a cultural critic and others agree! He explained to me that his niche is a bit different than a typical film critic's niche. His objective isn't to solely critique a film's artistic merit, but also its rhetorical merit. It goes like this. Dr. Newman watches a film and then writes (or speaks) about the film in this manner: "X film is attempting to communicate this truth, and here are the implications on our culture".

I have to admit that just sounds too good to be true to a movie obsessed, overly opinionated person who loves to write and hear herself speak. So I asked him, "How do I get YOUR job?" after the obligatory, "My job isn't as wonderful as everyone thinks... Try watching a Hillary Duff movie back to back with an Olsen twins piece." He explained that I need to spend several years on higher education because the "letters" after my name will get my foot in the door of those who will be willing to pay me. Then he said I just need to start telling people that I’m a cultural critic. He explained that if I say it loud enough and long enough (and my writing and speaking back it up) then, voilĂ ... I'm a cultural critic.

So, I’m going on the record. I'm making my big announcement. I AM a cultural critic. I'll get those pesky letters in time. And while it seems like dr. Newman focuses only on film, I’m broadening the field (for now) to include television and print media. After all, it's all influencing culture, right? The education will come in time, but the work starts now. I'm going to continue watching film; television and reading up a storm and just keep on sharing my insights. If you find yourself in need of my speaking/writing/critical services please let me know (hehehe). And if I’m not called upon to share my insights with a broader audience, at least I’ll have fun doing the work.


Very Diverse iPod

My husband and I have a little joke. Our iPods are constantly in a battle to be the most diverse. (Really, I’m the only one battling, but I’ve made him my defacto opponent). The battle intensifies anytime we take a trip that requires a little drive. And since I am the standing judge of the competition, guess whose iPod typically wins? Once last week's journey brought my routinely victorious iPod to the winner's circle, I got to thinking. Not about my victory... but about how a person's musical taste can really paint an interesting picture. My iPod is full of stories. It explains who I’ve been and how I’ve become who I am.

It goes all the way back to my early childhood. there's the Beethoven that echoed through the house from my mother's piano; the Doobie Brothers that were the soundtrack of every party that my father threw; Huey Lewis and the News that we sang along to as a family on every car trip; the Willie Nelson that still makes me feel like I’m sitting on my Grandpa's lap driving the truck; and a little sampling from my first album (I actually had the vinyl) Thriller.

My adolescence is represented too. My walls were covered in Duran Duran posters and now I’ve got them in my iPod. I’ve got Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake to represent the many, many hours spent in the dance studio. Sgt. Pepper was my first introduction to the Beatles, but it isn't the only Beatles record in there; and then there's James Taylor who may be one of the best gifts my Mom ever gave me. I’ve also got some Showboat to represent the beginning of my lifelong love affair with musical theatre.

My teen years were pretty turbulent (well, who's weren't??), and it's pretty obvious from the music that represents that time. I worked out the angst with Nirvana, Fiona Apple, the Indigo Girls, Snoop Dogg and Rage Against the Machine.

College and the years that followed were a bit of a blur. Music was integral to the parties, the heartbreak and the entire roller coaster ride. Phish cds don't compare to their live shows but they serve as a reminder of times I can barely remember. Michelle Branch nursed my broken heart over and over again. Dirty Vegas represents every after hours club that I danced my butt off in. 'NSYNC and Britney Spears illustrate my desperate hold on the youth that was slipping away.

Sobriety has changed some of my tastes and broadened my horizons. Who could have imagined I’d ever be a fan of bluegrass? Alison Krauss sure changed my mind about that. Miles Davis opened my eyes to the wide world of jazz. Maroon 5 lets me listen to pop while still feeling like a grown up. But no matter how much things change, I’ll always be Led Zepplin's biggest fan.

Allowing my very diverse iPod to shuffle through these and so many other tunes I felt like I was in a time machine. It was a crazy trip through the good, the bad and the memorable. And isn't that how music is? It brings us back. Ready or not, the memories are front and center once the song begins. And that's what I realized during our most recent competition. After all, my story is a bit chaotic, but sure makes for an entertaining iPod.


Culinary Expedition

Sure I miss friends and family in St. Louis. I miss our church and the hustle and bustle of a bigger city. But what I miss most about St. Louis is the food (okay that is a total exaggeration... But I’m taking artistic license for the sake of the blog).

During our most recent trip back we decided to only eat food particular to St. Louis. Since it was a short trip, we barely made a dent in the list. But, it sure was fun.

Saturday we had Imo's pizza for lunch. It is this crunchy, yummy, thin crust, provel cheese topped, "St. Louis style" pizza. This mouth watering creation was Friday night dinner for many of my childhood years. I looked forward to it then, and I crave it now. Totally delicious.

Sunday, after church, we had burgers at O'connell's Pub. And they were as greasy and delicious as I remember them. No frills, just a burger and a bun. And it goes without saying that the onion rings and fried mushrooms deserve an honorable mention in the bar food hall of fame. While the meal should probably be served with a defibrillator, it is worth the every yummy calorie.

Of course we had to get some Ted Drewes, the very best frozen custard in the world. I had the cardinal sin which is a concrete of custard, sour cherries and hot fudge. My mouth waters just thinking about it... And even though we went late Sunday night, the lines reached the street. But I’d wait through that line twice for some more right now.

On our way out of town, we stopped by The Cup. And though I may be biased, since their sister store did our wedding cake, I think a good case could be made for these being the best cupcakes on earth. And talk about fortunate ~ it was red velvet week!!! It's my newest favorite flavor.

Of course there are tons of St. Louis eats we missed... Like toasted ravioli and pork steaks... But we crammed in quite a taste of the city in just a few short days. We crossed the Mississippi with our arteries clogged, our bellies full and giant smiles on our faces.


emotional equation

too many hours at work
+ a lack of sleep and exercise
+ an absent husband = bitter blog posts

you know what cures bitterness??? a trip home



i've got this problem. and up until this morning i thought this problem was someone else's. but i've just realized that this problem actually belongs to me.

you see for years i've had someone in my life involved in something that is wrong. W-R-O-N-G, wrong. and believe me, it isn't only me that doesn't approve. across the board, the behavior is pretty much unapprovable (is that even a word?). heck, this behavior is so wrong, its worthy of new words for wrong. yep, it's unapprovable. so for a couple of years now i've rested on the fact that they have a problem with "unrepentant sin" (excuse the christianese). and i felt like, unrepentant sin is MUCH worse than your everyday, run of the mill, sinny sin. it's one thing to do something wrong, realize you've done wrong, apologize and change your behavior. it is another thing to do something wrong, know what you did is wrong and keep on doing it over and over again. am i right? i am right... the problem is, i have no room to talk.

see, all the years that i've been busy pointing out the sin in their life i've all but ignored a sin in my own life. i won't let it go. i spend hours thinking about speeches i'd like to give to "set them straight." i've said i've forgiven, but i haven't. every chance i get i think of zingers that i can hurl in the future. i replay conversations and rehash "victories" that i won in the past. in my heart there is still hatred. and that hatred is pretty unrepentant! sure, i'll realize that i shouldn't hate. it may even stop me for a while. but it always comes roaring back. i'm so bold, i even try to justify it. look, i did it at the beginning of this post!!! i worry more about their behavior and how wrong it is than how wrong my reaction is. why am i so incapable of extending grace for this particular sin??

i'll tell you why, it is all about my pride and selfishness. it isn't that i want their W-R-O-N-G behavior to change for their own sake. i want it to change for mine. i don't want to have to face, deal with and witness the sin and brokenness anymore. if they stop, i can sweep the whole incident under a rug and forget about it. i don't want to have to fully forgive. if they stop, i'll be off the hook. i won't have to face my inability to forgive. i won't have to do the hard stuff. and better yet i would have won. isn't that sick????

therefore, i'm coming clean. i'm admitting to my own W-R-O-N-G behavior. i'm recognizing that i am just as capable of unapprovable behavior. i'm being thankful that there are people willing to forgive my faults even when i couldn't extend the same grace to others. i'm hoping that their behavior will change, for their sake - not mine. but even when it doesn't, i'm flushing the hatred. hate makes me a hypocrite. hate doesn't feel good. hate is going to age me prematurely. and hate doesn't make me a very fun person to be around. and i'm taking my own advise and choosing to forgive.

so will you PLEASE hold me to this?????


too strong??

as i sit here this afternoon, i'm second guessing my latest friend recruiting maneuver. i boldly approached someone today and said, " i think we are supposed to be friends" and invited him out for coffee. now, just 4 hours later i'm a bit nervous that i came on too strong.

let me bring you up to speed...
when we first moved to chattanooga, i was in a "i want to be a wedding/party/event planner" stage. i took a job for a small company and had the pleasure of meeting this great guy who was the "event designer". we didn't spend all that much time together in the 5 minutes that we worked there. but i remember thinking at the time that i wanted to be his friend. since the job wasn't very long lived (for him or for me) it just never came to be.

in the last few months i've gotten to reconnect with him because he's a server at our favorite restaurant. now, it isn't a huge restaurant... but seriously, EVERY time we eat there he waits on us. it is too weird. i think the fact that he's recommended some of the best food that i've eaten in chattanooga has really brought him close to my heart. it's not like we spend quality time together when he serves us, but he always makes me laugh. and i always leave thinking i want to be his friend.

now, lest i continue to sound like a stalker... let me explain further. i keep running into this guy all over town. it is kind of eery. even though the population of chattanooga is less than 200k, it just seems like i see him too often. i see him when i go to my favorite coffee place. i see him jogging when i'm shopping downtown. i randomly run into him a lot. so, today when we sat down in church (we went to a different service than we usually do) and i heard his voice 2 rows behind us, i felt a real pull to just talk to him.

and so, i went for it. he seemed a bit thrown off when i hit him with my line about how i think we are "supposed to be friends". and he wouldn't commit to a specific time that we could get together - he said he's super busy this week. but we exchanged phone numbers and he promised to call (just in case there are any questions, this was all done RIGHT in front of my husband - and there is absolutely no physical attraction whatsoever). it isn't going to hurt my feelings if he doesn't want to be my friend - though i can't imagine why he wouldn't want to be. i just know that i'm going to run into him again, because we always do. and i don't want to look like some sort of pushy, friendship demander. even though that is the part that i played today. i just don't believe in coincidence and i want to be his friend. so today i asked, maybe more like "told", him to be mine.