Not Just a Dance Teacher

Warning: An uncharacteristic “sappy” post follows. My dance teacher of 7 years, Shirlene Gills, passed away Saturday, August 20, 2011. Ever since I learned of her death it has been on my heart to write down just what she meant to me.

In 1995, I changed dance studios to a relatively new one in my hometown. Rather than have my mom traverse 45 miles – one way – at least once a week for classes, we joined Shirlene School of Dance and never looked back. At the time I would never know what a blessing it was that she would be my teacher, nor would I realize what a positive impact she would have on my life – not only as a dancer, but as a human being as well.

Her studio was across the street from the courthouse in an old office building. The door was painted hot pink and in the window she had placed a “life-size” ballerina sculpture she had created in college from scrap metal that sat atop a record player. If it wasn’t for that sculpture, you’d never even know it was a dance studio.

Her studio was nothing fancy – the waiting room held dark green plastic patio chairs, but once you passed the half wall that separated the waiting room to the studio and watched Shirlene teach you knew something amazing would go out that hot pink door. When she wasn’t she was sitting in her vintage wheeled office chair taking choreography notes or picking out costumes, she was on the plywood studio floor dancing full out with us. Whether it was for a fair talent show, a regional dance competition, a nursing home performance or her annual recital, every piece of her choreography was special.

Shirlene was a rare talent in a small southern Arkansas town. She had studied dance under some of the greats, like José Limón and Bill Cratty, and imparted so much of her training and knowledge to small town girls who otherwise would have never been exposed. Mrs. Shirlene is the reason I know who Martha Graham and Isadora Duncan are and I credit her for my appreciation of contemporary choreography today. In any genre of choreography, Shirlene was never afraid to stretch our abilities, never afraid to think outside of the box. From ballet, tap and jazz, to hip hop and modern to liturgical, we danced it all under her guidance.

She challenged us, especially the seniors by requiring us to choreograph our own solo. It was like our dancer’s rite of passage. She was there to offer suggestions and encourage us along the way but ultimately the piece was up to us. From the style, to the music, to the costume, we owned that piece of the recital and while stressful, I think every senior who had to go through that process came out more confident and creative.

I remember my senior solo rehearsals like it was yesterday. I wanted to do a tap piece, so I rented all of the great Gregory Hines videos I could get my hands on, ultimately falling in love with the movie “TAP!”. I came in to my first “rehearsal” with Mrs. Shirlene excited about all of the steps I had seen in that movie and impatient to begin working them into my solo. The whole time, she sat by her desk to the right of the studio floor – which was covered in mountains of CDs – while sipping on her Sonic Route 44 drink, smiling and offering gentle guidance here and there. We’d listen to the music together, I’d try to fit a step in and when it didn’t work we’d start the process over again. She had more patience than anyone should be given.

No matter what, Mrs. Shirlene supported us, not only in the studio but outside of it as well. She had a vested interest in each and every one of her students. She wanted us to succeed.

And at that final “senior solo” rehearsal? She’d present a graduation gift: “Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives” by Laura C. Schlessinger. She made me promise to read it before going off to college. It was her way of pushing us out of the studio nest and I still have that book to this day.

Mrs. Shirlene, Thank you for being such an amazing role model for all of your students. Thank you for challenging us, listening to us and molding us. I hope you know just how many lives you impacted through your dance and your character. You will always be an inspiration in my life and for that, I am forever grateful. May you rest in peace.

If you ever did a warm up with Mrs. Shirlene, chances are you danced to “Wasted Time” by The Eagles at least once. It was one of her favorite songs to use and has been in my head ever since I learned of her death. It’s only right that I end this post with that song.
(the song begins at the 1:26 mark)
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I’ve been tagged…

A friend who shall remain nameless tagged me in a Q&A Facebook note. On Monday.

Today, I’m just getting around to posting my answers. Yes, it’s been that kind of week. I should also state my “shall remain nameless friend” is leaving for vacation tomorrow and I am insanely jealous about this. Consider this your bon voyage present.

Name: Megan

Age: 27

Birth date: June 7, 1984

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 92 Truths about you. At the end, choose at least 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If you’re reading this and you have a blog, consider yourself tagged. You’re welcome.

WHAT WAS YOUR:

  1. Last beverage = Sweet Leaf Organic Tea
  2. Last phone call = Adam, giving me advice for a grad school paper
  3. Last text message = Twitter alerting me @kerrijack replied to an earlier tweet of mine regarding hammers
  4. Last song you listened to = Goody Goody by Marie Adams & The Three Tons of Joy

HAVE YOU EVER:

  1. Dated someone twice = Nope
  2. Kissed someone & regretted it = Not at all
  3. Lost someone special = Unfortunately, yes.
  4. Been depressed = Clinically? no, but I’ve definitely had a few “blah days”
  5. Been drunk and threw up = Honestly? Never.

LIST THREE FAVORITE COLORS: (In order)

  1. Razorback Red
  2. Turquoise
  3. Gray

LAST YEAR (2010)

Have you EVER:

  1. Made a new friend = Yep! She tagged me in this note.
  2. Fallen out of love = Nope!!
  3. Laughed until you cried = Of course! Best tears ever!
  4. Met someone who changed you? = I’m marrying him 🙂
  5. Found out who your true friends were = Oh yes.
  6. Found out someone was talking about you = Yep.
  7. Kissed anyone on your FB friend’s list = I’m marrying him 🙂

GENERAL:

  1. How many people on your FB friends list do you know in real life = I know all of them in real life, but only about a quarter do I regularly have the opportunity to get together with in my day to day life.
  2. Do you have any pets = That live with me – no. But I have 2 adorable dogs that live at my parents’ home.
  3. Do you want to change your name = Come October 15th I ‘ll have to…
  4. What did you do for your last birthday = It was very low-key. I had dinner with my parents and then dinner with Adam.
  5. What time did you wake up today = 7:00
  6. What were you doing at midnight last night = Watching episode 3 of Dallas while trying to fall asleep
  7. Name something you CANNOT wait for = My wedding day and subsequent Napa Valley honeymoon
  8. Last time you saw your Mother = Yesterday
  9. What is one thing you would change about your life = Not a thing!
  10. What are you listening to right now = Strawberry Swing by Frank Ocean
  11. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom? = yep, used to work with one.
  12. What’s getting on your nerves right now = Not knowing the whereabouts of my wedding dress…
  13. Nicknames = Meg Tay, Tay Tay, Moose, Meggie, Megs, Meg
  14. Relationship Status= happily engaged
  15. Zodiac sign = Gemini, the BEST one
  16. He or She = He, if it’s talking about who I’m attracted to.  She, if it’s what I am. <—What she said.
  17. Elementary = Prescott Elementary
  18. Middle school = PMS (Prescott Middle School)
  19. College = University of Arkansas. WOOOO PIG SOOIE!!!
  20. Hair color = dark brown
  21. Long or short = longish
  22. Height = 6’2″
  23. Do you have a crush on someone? = I’m marrying him 🙂
  24. What do you like about yourself? My eyes.
  25. Piercings = ears
  26. Tattoos = NO!!!
  27. Righty or lefty= righty

FIRSTS:

  1. First surgery= Jaw surgery #1
  2. First Piercing= [and only] ears.
  3. First real best friend = Lauren
  4. First sport you joined = T-ball.
  5. First vacation = Jekyll Island, GA
  6. First pair of trainers(shoes) = More than likely Nike, bu I can’t remember.

RIGHT NOW:

  1. Eating = Nothing.
  2. Drinking = Nothing
  3. I’m about to = Watch So You Think You Can Dance?
  4. Listening to = Imogen Heap
  5. Waiting for = The weekend and our first official wedding-related party!

YOUR FUTURE:

  1. Want kids? = yep
  2. Get Married? = October 15, 2011
  3. Career? = As long as I can write and work with graphics I’ll be happy.

WHICH IS BETTER :

  1. Lips or eyes = eyes
  2. Hugs or kisses = kisses, but sometimes a hug is exactly what you need
  3. Shorter or taller = As if there is any debate, TALLER!
  4. Older or Younger = Older
  5. Romantic or spontaneous = Spontaneous
  6. Nice stomach or nice arms = Arms
  7. Sensitive or loud = Sensitive
  8. Hook-up or relationship = Relationship
  9. Trouble maker or hesitant = Hesitant, I’m not a good enough liar to be a trouble maker.

HAVE YOU EVER:

  1. Kissed a stranger = Nope
  2. Drank hard liquor = Yep, love a good martini.
  3. Lost glasses/contacts = Who hasn’t?
  4. Sex on first date = Never.
  5. Broke someone’s heart = Probably.
  6. Had your own heart broken = Nope.
  7. Been arrested = That’s a negative.
  8. Turned someone down = Yep.
  9. Cried when someone died = Oh yes.
  10. Fallen for a friend = Sort of. If co-worker = friend, in which case I’m marrying him 🙂 (Are you sick of me saying that yet?)

DO YOU BELIEVE IN:

  1. Yourself = Yes!!
  2. Miracles = Yes!
  3. Love at first sight = Yes, [one last time] I’m marrying him 🙂
  4. Heaven = Yes.
  5. Santa Claus = Duh! I want presents!
  6. Kiss on the first date = Depends on how the date went.
  7. Angels = Of course.

Happy Love

Here’s the funny thing about getting older – you become yourself. You get comfortable in your own skin and care less about trying to “fit in”. You realize that when you are yourself people naturally accept you, they enjoy your company and they appreciate what you have to say.

Growing up, I often confused confidence with fitting in. I thought, “if only I could be accepted, X would happen” instead of embracing who I was. Granted, I wasn’t your typical teen. I didn’t enjoy “going out”, “defying my parents” or hanging out in the bank parking lot – it wasn’t me. In fact it’s safe to say I was quite the goodie goodie. [I was voted “Teacher’s Pet” in high school]

Most nights, when I wasn’t playing sports, at dance lessons or cheering at a game, I stayed home or drove around my small hometown by myself blasting whatever music was playing on my Chevy Cavalier’s radio and happily singing along at the top of my lungs. Even though now I look back with fondness on those days, at the time I was desperately seeking acceptance by my peers.

Through college, much of the same happened, though I found friends – lifelong friends – who shared common interests. I finally gained the acceptance that I wished for for so many years. Professors recognized my talents and I received summer internships in AWESOME cities which allowed me to grow into my own skin naturally. I slowly became more of my true self.

Then I entered the “real world” and something clicked. I realized everyone, in some way, is a misfit. Everyone wishes they were someone else. Everyone wants to change something about themselves.

This was a profound realization for me. I realized I could be myself without fear of rejection. I realized that people actually enjoyed my personality and wanted to be around me. I realized, the geeky wannabe from high school might actually be a “cool kid” to some people and if not, so what!

Over the past 5 years, I’ve grown so much as a person. I’m more confident in my opinions. I’m sarcastic. I laugh at myself. I relish the little things. The only person I want please is myself, everyone else is a bonus.

I’m me and it’s the best feeling in the world.

The coolest part? Someone actually likes the real me enough to marry me. I’m not sure how I tricked him, but golly gee I sure am glad I did! I’m the luckiest girl in the world. I’m lucky that he laughs at my corny jokes, smiles when I sing him my awful made-up songs, hugs me when I need comfort and supports me no matter what. I’m lucky that he loves me.

I guess it really is true what they say about love.

You must love yourself before you love another. By accepting yourself and fully being what you are, your simple presence can make others happy.

Let the Music Play 2.0

Happy Fourth of July!!!

This weekend was a time of road trips, cookouts, laughter, humidity, buying wedding bands and being us. There was also a little dinner meeting of our parents – wherein I learned a secret about Adam and his family.  It was low-key and perfect, even if Adam had to drive back to Texas today…

Oh well, his loss, as I’ve spent the afternoon watching DVRed episodes of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and cross stitching a sampler for our home. I know he’s jealous.

I also spent today reflecting a bit on my blog. It was during this reflection that I realized it was time for my traditional “30 songs” post. For this post, I put my iTunes library on shuffle and then [stupidly] tell you the songs that play. You may click here for last year’s post.

I’ve told you before that my taste in music is schizophrenic, so let’s see just how random it is this year!

  1. Breakout – Swing Out Sisters. Am I the only person who thought this was Gloria Estefan? Shamefully, I admit I just realized it’s not.
  2. Speak Like a Child – The Style Council. This is 80s pop music at its finest. This song is like candy.
  3. So Lady – Mary J. Blige. I looooove Mary J. Her songs always have a great beat and you can always count on her vocals to be spot on.
  4. I’ll Never Be – Reel Big Fish. You can thank Adam for this one, he insisted I put Reel Big Fish in my library earlier this year. Truth be told, they aren’t that bad – in fact, I might kind of like them…
  5. Irresistible Delicious – Missy Elliott. I’ve loved Missy Elliot ever since high school. I remember wearing out her Miss E…So Addictive album while driving around town in my Jeep Liberty with the windows down during the summer of 2002.
  6. Rumors – Timex Social Club. When I rediscovered this song a little over a year ago I cannot stop jamming to it EVERY. TIME. IT. PLAYS. Have I mentioned I’m a hip hop fan?
  7. Straight Up – Paula Abdul. And then the cat gets let out of the bag. Yes, I have a Paula Abdul song in my iTunes library. In fact, I own every single one of her albums and I’m not at all ashamed.
  8. I’ll Be Doggone – Marvin Gaye. R&B music is the most versatile genre out there. You can dance to it, you can chill to it, you can cook to it and you can drive down scenic highways while it plays in your car. Marvin Gaye delivers every. single. time.
  9. Missing You – John Waite. 80s. Enough said.
  10. I Can’t Wait – Nu Shooz. Yet another hip hop/pop tune from the 80s. Are you sensing a theme yet?
  11. Better be Good to Me – Tina Turner. I would give anything for her legs. Seriously.
  12. Blame it on My Youth – Jamie Cullum. I will take Jamie Cullum over Michael Buble any day of the week. If you haven’t ever heard of him or his music, YouTube him immediately. You’ll thank me and I’ll say, “You’re welcome”. And thus will begin our mutual appreciation of Jamie Cullum.
  13. Graceland – Paul Simon. I was raised on Paul Simon. I will forever be grateful for this.
  14. I’m a Believer – The Monkees. I was also raised on oldies like this. Many a summer vacations were spent stuck in a van [or suburban] being forced to listen to these songs. Now, I’m glad I was – they just don’t make music like they used to. (For the record, I’m 27 not 72)
  15. 1, 2, 3 – Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine. Gloria is my go to karaoke artist. Speaking of which, it’s been over a year since I’ve sung karaoke. Who wants to go??
  16. A Fifth of Beethoven – Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band. Yes, I have 70s remixes of classical pieces in my iTunes library. You don’t?
  17. Heavy Traffic – Elton John. After seeing him live in concert with my sister, I appreciate Elton even more than ever before. He’s a legend, an entertainer and a chameleon. Plus, who can’t resist a guy behind the piano decked out in bedazzled jackets?
  18. Get Up! (Before the Night is Over) – Technotronic. Early 90s dance music = it’s how I clean my apartment.
  19. My Guy – Mary Wells. Every time I hear this song I think of “Sister Act” and sing “My God”. It’s a classic.
  20. Hole in My Life – The Police. Favorite! Band! Of! All! Time!!!
  21. Hate on Me – Jill Scott. After a rough day at work, I get in my car, roll down my windows, open the sunroof and BLAST this as a I drive home. I may or may not also sing along at the top of my lungs. Oh, who am I kidding? I SO sing along. Works. Like. A. Charm.
  22. It Takes Two – Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. Another 90s dance track – for use when cleaning my apartment.
  23. Joseph’s Dreams – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. After seeing this musical over 4 times, and being of the children’s choir in middle school, it’s safe to say it’s in my Top 5 favorite musicals. I know every word to every song, and I’m close to knowing the choreography too.
  24. Elenore – The Turtles. Another oldie from my childhood. Thanks Mom and Dad for showing Maddie and me what real music sounds like.
  25. It’s Not Right, But It’s Ok – Whitney Houston. In her heyday, she could not be touched. As far as I’m concerned she’s still on top of the pack when compared to most everyone who has followed her.
  26. Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) – Digable Planets. Old school hip hop delivers yet again.
  27. All Day – Lisa Loeb. Ever since the summers of my childhood, when I listened to her cassette tapes in my Walkman while reading The Boxcar Children, I have loved Lisa and the simplicity she has in her music. It’s like medicine to me.
  28. You Got Yr Cherry Bomb – SPOON. Another band I’m thankful Adam introduced me to – or rather informed me that they had good songs other than I Turn My Camera On.
  29. Overkill – Men At Work. Have I mentioned I looooove 80s music? 🙂
  30. I Need A Man – Eurythmics. Actually, I don’t, but this song rocks – as does the band.

Tuxedo or Tuxedon’t

As faithful followers of this blog I’m sure you’ve heard that I’m engaged and will be walking down the aisle to marry this man in October. I couldn’t be happier! So far the wedding planning has been fairly painless – the worst part was finding the bridesmaid dresses – and everything is coming together well! I think.

That is, until I started looking at tuxedos. Uh, I mean we – until we started looking at tuxedos.

First of all, I should tell you that within hours of becoming engaged I had Adam convinced that he and his groomsmen would be donning powder blue tuxedos with ruffled shirts for our nuptials. I described ad nauseum exactly what they would look like, down to the shoes and he bought it hook, line and sinker. Poor guy is so gullible.

Then, Adam began telling me how much he liked the look of traditional tails. But here’s the problem: our wedding? Is in my small hometown in Southwest Arkansas. It’s your typical laid back southern town and I love that, but I also love Adam and didn’t want to deprive him of his dream – even if it was a bit formal for our fête.

So I asked his mom what she thought. She laughed. A lot.

Then I asked my mom. She wasn’t buying the idea, either.

Finally, in an effort to gain a full consensus, I asked the big gun. She doubled over laughing. Literally.

Adam’s dream of tails was dashed – unanimously.

Tuxedon’t #2: [Not] Chasing tails

Then, the Royal Wedding happened and I become enamored with morning suits. They seemed to be an almost perfect compromise for us. Almost tails, but not uber formal. Relaxed yet traditional. Classic. English. It just might work. Then I realized that they are almost impossible to find for rent, not to mention renting one for my 6’8″ dad. So we nixed that idea, but I still love a good morning suit. How could you not?

Tuxedon’t #3: Morning dress: It makes every man look dapper…unless you’re a giant.

At this point, we’re 0 for 3 on the tuxedo front. Which should mean our options are significantly less than when we started almost 6 months ago, right? Wrong. Did you know there are are approximately 3,581 options remaining for picking out tuxedos? Now you do.

Allow me to explain.

While we have now realized that we want the standard tail-less tuxedo, we have to choose the color we want. Do we go with khaki or gray? Black or pin-stripe? Once that’s decided we have to choose the style of lapel. Do we like shawl lapels or notch lapels? Diamond shaped shawl or satin trimmed notch? Then there’s the issue of buttons. One button, two buttons or no buttons? It’s pure torture. And the combinations for all of these options are endless and look different every. single. time.

Once the jacket is decided upon we have to pick pleated or flat-front trousers. Easy enough, since I prefer flat front. Phew. That’s one decision made. I hope.

You’d think at this point the decisions would be easier. You’d be wrong. Again.

You see, at this point in the tuxedo shopping extravaganza the issue of shirt comes into play. Did you know there is more than one type of button-down shirt for tuxedos? I didn’t. There’s the laydown collar or the wing collar. Easy enough to choose between – if you knew what type of tie you wanted.

So once you [hypothetically] settle on the 2 button black tuxedo with satin-trimmed notch lapels, flat front trousers and white shirt with lay down collar you have to choose the windsor tie style. But I’m not just talking colors, I’m talking patterns: paisley, diamond, striped or solid. Then, and only then can you pick a color for the tie. Sounds easy enough right?

Unfortunately, at this point in the tuxedo selection process your brain is so tired from choosing lapels, buttons, and tie style that colors like ecru, mocha, champagne and white cannot be differentiated.

Thus causing you to abandon all efforts and forget you spent an hour and a half deciding between shawls and notches.

Lucky.

That’s the word continually running through my head right now.

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Just before midnight on May 24, 2010 Adam’s parents’ home was destroyed by an EF3 tornado. Their home for 30+ years. The home where he and his brothers were raised.

His parents were asleep when the storm was about to hit. They woke up with only enough time to ride the storm out in the floor between their closet and bed. They escaped with minor scrapes and bruising. It could have been much worse.

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They are lucky they are alive. God was certainly watching over them and I praise him for his mercy.

Lucky they have been able to salvage family photos and other sentimental items.

Lucky they have friends, family and neighbors sacrificing their time to help them however the need it: sorting through the rubble, doing laundry, cutting up trees to get into the 2 hardest hit areas of their house (the kitchen and living room) which are mere crawl spaces now, and showering them with food and supplies.

Lucky their vehicles and farm equipment, for the most part, sustained minor damage and are all still drivable.

Lucky almost all of their clothing has been salvaged. (Including almost all of Adam’s mom shoes)

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Lucky that most (if not all) of the antique turquoise FiestaWare Adam’s mom had hung above the kitchen table survived. Unbroken. (The fate of the table appears positive as well)

Lucky that her KitchenAid mixer is a-okay.

Lucky that their liquor escaped unscathed.

Despite the destruction and scary realization that they must rebuild and start anew, Adam’s parents are incredibly blessed right now. It could have been worse. Much worse. They are alive and that is something for which I thank God.

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Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Last night, along with some co-workers, I went to the Grace Potter concert at the Rev Room. I had recently become a fan of hers thanks to a rocking Jazzercise set, so when I found out that she would be in Little Rock last week I was stoked at the possibility of seeing her live. I introduced her videos to my co-workers and they were sold. We were going.

She strutted on stage wearing a gold lamé mini-dress which showed off killer Tina Turner-esque legs that I long for. Accompanied by an incredible band, she put on a great show. Rocking out in all the right places, slowing it down for only two songs and picking it right back up flawlessly. She is a true talent and a joy to watch on stage. I know her popularity will explode very soon and I highly recommend seeing her and her band live if the opportunity presents itself!

Since there’s not not enough words to accurately describe just how incredibly talented she is, take a look at these videos – not recorded from last night, but almost exactly the same as what I saw live.

Medicine

cover of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit

Dallas: Final Reflections

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit nervous about going on a weekend trip with someone I met on Twitter over a year ago, later friended on Facebook, and spent a collective three, maybe four, IRL (In Real Life) hours with. I mean, I knew we shared a similar sense of sarcastic humor and neither one of us take ourselves too seriously; we both just go with the flow. At least, that’s what I gathered from our Twitter and Facebook statuses. So I hoped for the best, and had a slight fear of the worst.

Why was I worried? Because we are so.much.alike.

We have blogged simultaneously, have unknowingly (well, until one of us posts it on Facebook) listened to the same song at the same time and share an affinity for Anthropologie. Maybe our strong similarities would be too much. Maybe halfway to Dallas I’d want to jump ship…because someone’s driving on the shoulder.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

Except for the shoulder part.

We had a blast! We laughed and gabbed the whole trip. We found even more similarities between us, such as our love for vintage signage, vintage furniture, the houses of Highland Park, Italian food and perfectly tailored designer clothing works of art we can’t afford.

It almost felt like we were old friends. Jen Lancaster even asked if we were sisters. We just meshed. As far as I know, I didn’t get on her nerves – I mean, she’s still texting me – and she sure as heck didn’t get on mine.

So I guess the moral of this trip is that you really CAN become IRL friends through Twitter. Who’d a thunk it?

And Noelle? Thanks to your super cute Jen Lancaster approved skirt and shorts, you’ve now made me OBSESSED with bold print skirts and shorts.

(yeah, we’ve got that in common, too)

I MET JEN LANCASTER!!!!

This weekend, I went to Dallas with someone I met on the Internet. Twitter to be specific. I came back alive.

Let’s start at the very beginning – a very good place to start…

Noelle and I met on Twitter. I thought the tweet that sparked this friendship referenced my father’s grocery store and how I always choose self-checkout in stores for the nostalgia, but I’d be lying. In fact, the first tweet conversation I could find was about a kid who loves bacon. Which would prove prophetic for this trip…

Several months ago, when our favorite author, Jen Lancaster, posted the book tour for her newest book, “If You Were Here”, and I saw that she was going to come to Dallas, I innocently recommended that we road trip it for the weekend. I never thought it would actually happen, but it did and I’m ecstatic! We decided to make it a long weekend full of shopping and eating with no regard to calories.

Day 1

We found an awesome boutique hotel called Hotel Indigo, that was pretty much a beach cottage in the heart of downtown Dallas. Upon arrival, and after a brief stint wherein Noelle drove on the shoulder of the interstate, the bellman asked if he could help us with our luggage. “Yes,” we replied. Quickly followed by Noelle saying, “Don’t forget the tripod!” Because who DOESN’T need a tripod when staying in a hotel room with someone you met on Twitter? [She actually wanted a good night shot of our room’s view]

We loved our blueberry room with pineapple bedding and polka dot couch and didn’t even mind the lack of hot water early Saturday morning. Wait, I should rephrase that…Noelle didn’t mind the lack of hot water Saturday morning. I had hot water, as it came back on right after she finished getting ready.

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Cutest. Hotel. Ever!

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Friday night, after we had checked into the hotel, we headed to…

Meet.Jen.Lancaster!!!

Noelle had called earlier in the week to reserve books and signing tickets for us. Group “A” tickets! Let me just say, the Lincoln Park Barnes & Noble rocked! They were very accommodating to us since we drove from out-of-state for the signing.

We arrived at the signing about 45 minutes before it was scheduled to begin and people-watched/eavesdropped on the conversations around us. An employee came around to get personalization information for the signing, the majority of folks, including us, just wanted their name.

Everyone except the woman two seats down from us. She had approximately four tattoos about Jesus and religion on her arms and one on her calf. When the employee asked her how she wanted Jen to personalize her book she responded, “Promise we’ll best friends for infinity and beyond.”

Then there were the stalker/brown-nosers of the group who brought Jen plaid gift-wrapped boxes and luxury lotions. Yeah, you guys suck, even if you were carrying a gorgeous Michael Kors handbag and wore a fantabulous green and turquoise dress.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t convince [incredibly gorgeous, super-sweet, and hilarious] Jen to grab dinner and drinks with us that night [had she obliged, I’m certain WE would have become her best friends for infinity and beyond], but we still enjoyed a great meal at Maggiano’s Little Italy in NorthPark – where we were seated in a cozy and slightly romantic semi-circular booth.

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Martini nightcap…

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Days 2 and 3 to come…

A Like Totally Awesome Surprise!

I love parties and I love the 80s.

So it should come as no shock that I loved helping my co-workers put together a huge surprise bash to celebrate another co-worker’s 30-year service anniversary with an 80s themed prom (She started working for my company in 1981). For several months we held secret meetings, schemed behind her back, tossed around ideas, put together a guest list, designed the invites and divided and conquered. Every sneaky step of the way I smiled. It’s such a good feeling knowing that I’m doing something nice for someone else; something that, hopefully, made her day and showed just how much we appreciate her and enjoy working with her!!

Let’s get into the details of this shindig, shall we? First up, the invites – designed by yours truly:

Then came other graphic posters put up around the room to set the tone – also designed by yours truly:

I couldnt resist a good "9 to 5" reference 🙂

Lucky for us, our co-worker was on vacation for the 2 weeks leading up to the party. This allowed 2 of us to rummage through her unlocked desk drawers -she’ll never trust us again – and find pictures over her 30 years of service. We then took the pictures and cut basic geometric shapes out of fluorescent poster board to act as mats and placed them on tables around the room.

Every party needs a guest book, so here’s what we came up with for ours:

Oh yes, thats Rick Springfield

4 of us also took a trip to the local Salvation Army in hopes of finding a prom dress fit for a queen – and did we ever! Here’s the honored guest in her gown and sash.

And here’s a close-up of the sash, because nothing says “the 80s” like polka dots!

Here’s a shot of the dance floor decor, in all it’s 80s glory. Heck yes we boogied down to classic 80s “Pop Musik”!

I loved the metallic accents - they just screamed tacky 80s Prom!

What’s a party without cake? The co-worker in charge of getting the cake did a phenomenal job! [from Patticakes]

Yummy!!!

Finally, I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the 80s fashion that appeared.

I just love a good power suit, with shoulder pads. But I skipped the nude hose :).

Songs to Hear Before You Die

What makes a good playlist? Is it the cohesive group of songs, eclectic mix full of the unexpected or, maybe, one that gets you in the mood to boogie down? For me, it’s a combination of all of these qualities. I love a random playlist full of good beats, memories and similar styles.

2 weeks ago, I stumbled upon a new [to me] station on Songza called 1000 Songs to Hear Before You Die. Ever since, it’s been my source of musical motivation and inspiration at work, in the kitchen and while I blog. For me it’s perfect, because it combines all of my favorite playlist qualities: the unexpected, the nostalgia, and the good beats. Obviously, I’m addicted.

Last week I decided to keep up a list of songs from it that I must add to my iTunes library – some I’ve never heard before, others about which I had forgotten. You know, because music is my soul, my pulse, and my comfort. It’s even been recently said to lower your blood pressure. Who doesn’t want in on that free piece of medical advice, right?

Ooh, I wonder if this means my insurance will cover music downloads? Oh Happy Day!

Ahem.

The point of this whole post is to share my list from the Songs to Hear Before You Die station that will be downloaded during my next iTunes shopping spree.

Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads

Buffalo Gals – Malcom McLaren

The Night – Frankie Valli

Give it Away – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Hoppipolla – Sigur Ros

Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye – Ella Fitzgerald

Ain’t No Love – Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland

The Model – Kraftwerk

Stay With Me – Ruby Turner

Laid – James

Ode to Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry

Out of Space – The Prodigy

Mambo No. 5 – Perez Prado

Mykonos – Fleet Foxes

Vienna – Ultravox

Cornflake Girl – Tori Amos

Can you think of any others?

Year in Review

Last year around this time, I wrote a year in review post full of random observations and comparisons about my life. What better time than a rainy, dreary Saturday to write the 2011 version? Plus, after 2 Jazzercise classes this morning – umm, Ballet Body is no joke! – and trying to make a substantial dent in my DVR, which is happily sitting at 92% full right now, I figure I could use a little mental and creative stimulation!

I now present 2010 vs. 2011 (thus far)…

  • 2010: Cars with random sayings written on their back window should be taken off the road. Today’s quote? “Porno Country” written in white shoe polish.
    2011: I’m sooo over drivers who drive slower than the posted speed. 10 in a 30 is not ok, but thanks for finally getting out of my way.
  • 2010: I dabbled in designing my own stationery this year. I had 5 clients.
    2011: I’m obsessed with the gorgeous clipart from pugly pixel! You’ll find that a lot of them are used throughout my blog 🙂
  • 2010:  Watching Food Network in bed is the best way to unwind and head to dreamland.
    2011:   I received an iPad for Christmas (Thanks, Adam!). I now drift off into dreamland playing Mahjong.
  • 2010: Season 9 of American Idol was horribly over-hyped. Can we just go ahead and give Crystal Bowersox the title?
    2011:  What season is it this year?
  • 2010: Ellen DeGeneres is the newest American Idol judge. Watch out, she’s about to take over the World.
    2011: Ellen never fails to make me laugh, then cry, then laugh again as I watch her talk show.
  • 2010: Using “tweet” as a verb is acceptable, so is using “tweep” as a noun.
    2011:  Umm, “OMG” was just added to the Oxford Dictionary. I feel like everything I learned in English class was a lie.
  • 2010: Watching crazy housewives act like high school mean girls [or mafia members] all season and then meet up for a reunion long after the filming has wrapped is good television.
    2011: Does anyone else see something wrong with Jim and Alexis’ relationship or is it just me? So. Wrong. Give her a voice and get your own dang orange juice, puh-lease.
  • 2010: Long, late night phone calls/video chats with your boyfriend, who moved 8 hours away last May, are my favorite way to end a long day.
    2011:  Ditto, but in a little over 6.5 months we will be married! And living in the same zipcode – yet to be determined.
  • 2010: My iPhone is my single greatest investment ever. How did I survive without it? [see also: Words with Friends]
    2011:  The iPad is the single greatest invention ever. It’s practically attached to my hip when I’m at home. Is there anything it can’t do?
  • 2010: Despite hearing how cheesy it is or remembering the unfortunate neon leotards from the 80′s that many still [wrongly] associate with it, Jazzercise is the single best workout I’ve ever done, not to mention the only one I’ve stuck with for over 4 months without complaint. I? LOVE. IT!
    2011:  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m obsessed with Jazzercise so much that it’s been mentioned on my blog at least 7 times. I will stop you in the street and tell you about it, if you’ll let me. LOVE. IT!
  • 2010: Twitter is how I make it through my work day.
    2011:  Try as I might to not get sucked into the addiction that is Twitter, I’ve failed. And I sometimes clog my followers feeds with senseless live tweets for pageants, award shows and documentaries about ferrets. Truly sorry, y’all!
  • 2010: Since when did Facebook become the place for High School “spirit weeks”. I don’t care about the color of your underwear, your birthplace, or the celebrity you most resemble. What happened to original status updates??
    2011:  The Social Network was the best movie of the last year hands down. I wonder how many of the applications and games Zuckerberg uses on his profile and if he’s one of those every 5 minute updaters?
  • 2010: Cupcakes from Cupcakes on Kavanaugh are a delectable treat.
    2011:  Gelato for ZAZA makes me happy, especially Honey Yogurt.
  • 2010: Why have I not seen “This Is It”? <—- Still true, one year later.
    2011: Why have I not seen “Gone with the Wind”?
  • 2010: Jazzercise is my new [and hopefully permanent] stress relief.
    2011:  A day without Jazzercise most often leads to a less perky version of myself. Need. It.
  • 2010: Girls’ nights, with friends you can be truly yourself around, are few and far between.
    2011:  Still true, but I’m basking in my solo life since it will soon be coming to an end. Then I get to annoy Adam every. single. day. with my perkiness, random thoughts, and Bravo reality shows!! I know he’s excited.
  • 2010:  Despite how much of a mistake they were in the 90′s, Hammer Pants are back. Did we not learn anything?
    2011:  Did you hear? Fanny packs are coming back. Which reminds me of the neon green one I wore on family vacations in the early 90s. I think it had “Marlboro” or some other brand of cigarette written across the front. My dad was a grocer and I was the walking underage billboard for cigarettes. [No one in my family smokes]
  • 2010: Did I mention I’m going to my favorite beach this summer?!?!?!
    2011:  Did I mention I’m getting MARRIED in October?!?! CAN. NOT. WAIT!