Friday, December 29, 2006

Hold Onto Your Panties Nashville...

It's finally happened. I got a banjo for Christmas...and am completely in love with it.
I'd mentioned to my dad that it was on my life list to eventually learn one day and he took it upon himself to speed up the process. (I'm pretty sure I squealed in giddy delight when he produced it from the bed of his truck.)

Last night, I tried out the instructional DVDs that came with it. Let's just say that this is going to be some serious hard work. Mainly because I was cussing within the first 15 minutes. And my fingers definitely cramped up.

Luckily, I'm all set to take lessons from a local banjo prodigy. Which means I'll (hopefully) be able to bang out "Rocky Top" in no time.

The one thing I lack is a suitable name for my new instrument. It needs to be both 1) feminine and 2) hickish. So far, I've thought of Tallulah, Annabelle and Faylene. But none of those seem quite right.

So I'm opening the floor for suggestions. If your entry is the one that I choose, I'll dedicate my first album to you. Swear.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Family Ties

To be completely honest, I'd been dreading being back home for five solid days over the holidays. I just knew I'd be climbing the walls within the first few hours. But much to my surprise, I found myself feeling wistful as I merged north onto I-24 today.

This Christmas, I discovered a new found appreciation for my family. They're definitely not perfect, but they're incredible in their own way and...they're mine.

My dad's family is goofy, yet amazing. Several years ago, we decided we needed to spice up our bland Christmas dinner and that's when the Dirtiest Santa tradition began. In a slight twist, the object of our game is to pick out the absolute worst gift you can find to exchange. This year was unparalleled...we belly laughed as my outdoorsy dad opened a glittery Precious Moments figurine and my cousin got a year's supply of cough drops.

But the funniest moment of the night was when my great uncle Alan grouped us together for a family photo and shouted, "On the count of three say...SEX!" (Needless to say, the resulting picture was priceless.)

On Saturday, as my mom's family gathered for the annual Evans clan Christmas dinner, a group of us arrived early to help cook, set tables, etc. In the boisterous spirit of my family, we cut up while we worked. At one point, I looked around at the three generations of women hooting in shared laughter and my heart swelled. In that moment, it hit me how fortunate I am to have been raised in their incredible shadows. And how amazing it feels to now be privy to their inside jokes and stories.

Maybe it has to do with getting older and gaining maturity, but in the last year, it's really hit home how important my family is to me. They've been there through my hard times and have made me laugh along the way. They are who I call when I'm sad and lost...or when I'm bursting with exciting news. Their open arms have provided more support and assurance than I'll ever be able to repay.

Plus they're downright hysterical and have taught me the meaning of a good time. For example, several of my aunts decided to go for Mexican before attending the Christmas Eve church service. Three pitchers of margaritas later, they were feeling great...and were primed to ham up some Christmas carols. I shook with silent laughter as they (loudly) spiced up the songs in the middle of the church service. Joy to the World (WOO!!), the Lord has Come (WOO WOO!!)

Later that night, we gathered back at my aunt's house and amused ourselves by taking hysterical, deformed pictures with a program on my cousin's new iMac. Here are some of the gems:

We're threatening to feature one of them as next year's Christmas card. We just have to figure out how to pull it off without causing my grandmother to have a minor seizure.

So...I hope you had as fabulous of a holiday as I did. And that your family is half as special (in more ways than one) as mine...

But somehow, looking at these pictures, I highly doubt it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Under Pressure

I'm too susceptible to peer pressure.

Last night, some coworkers and I decided we'd grab a "quick" drink at Acorn after work to celebrate an ex-coworker being home from New York City.

My original plan had been to grab a drink, do laundry, give my dog a bath, wrap presents and pack.


Five hours later, we'd progressed to a new bar and picked up an entire crew of people--one of whom regaled me with stories of Tokyo and taught me dirty phrases in Japanese. (Zakennayo baka yaro!)

After 5 hours spent swilling mojitos and eating tapas, I decided I had to go home. Where I proceeded to pass out on my bed in a blurry exhaustion.

This morning I woke up with a slight headache and a hint of guilt. I'm supposed to be leaving for home after work today, but I'm nowhere near being ready. Which means I might be forced to drag dirty laundry home like a destitute college student.

The problem is, my boss informed us this morning that we're shutting down the office at noon for a holiday lunch/drinking celebration. Which will make my packing/expedition home quite interesting...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You'd THINK I Was Making This Up

Just when I decide the landlord situation can't possibly get any weirder, it does.

Last night, I'd been home from work less than ten minutes when there was a knock on our back door. When I opened it, lo and behold, the landlord was standing there looking both smug and tan.

I managed, "'re back," in the most monotone, shoot-me-in-the-face voice I could possibly muster.

He grinned, told me he wanted to show my roommate and me something and presented us with a shopping bag of jewelry that he'd just bought for "his new babe in Naples".

(Apparently, when not serving time, he met a "German veterinarian with platinum hair down to her ass" and has decided that she's "the one". And just in case you were curious, he doesn't yet "know her in the Biblical sense, but judging by her dance moves, she'll be extremely athletic in the bedroom".) BLECH.

He then insisted on showing us her picture in his email. Not knowing how to avoid it, we begrudgingly followed him into his side and stood silently while he booted up his computer.

All of the sudden, the desktop wallpaper appeared.

And it was definitely a picture of the ex-fiance, topless, in some crazy, dominatrix-style stirrup getup, bent over their kitchen counter.

Honestly, everything gets a little blurry at this point--which is apparently what happens when you go into shock. I do remember him muttering, "Oh shit! I'm sorry! You weren't supposed to see that!" and me shielding my eyes in horror.

After regaining my wits and saying, "On that note, we have to get to the grocery store," we fled to the safety of our side.

We'd barely closed our door before dive bombing onto my roommate's bed and dissolving into hysterics. We lay there and shook with laughter until tears streamed down our faces. Once we finally regained our ability to breathe, we decided that a) that was singlehandedly the most awkward moment of our lives and b) our friends might not believe us.

I keep thinking it can't get worse, but it inevitably does. So what could possibly be next? Discovering him in the backyard with a prostitute? Him getting hammered and knocking on our door naked? Oh, to think what the future might hold...

On a positive note, the creepo is (thank God) planning to move to Naples in January. He asked us if we would help find a renter, so if anyone is interested in renting out his side (after a good bleach dousing), please inquire within. If I have my say, the screening process will be quite extensive.

Monday, December 18, 2006


This weekend was...interesting (but fabulous). I don't think "random" even begins to describe it...

Friday evening, Stacy and I found ourselves trolling the city for tacky Christmas sweaters. Goodwill had unfortunately been picked over, but we struck gold at Burlington Coat Factory. (Can you say 3-D padded Christmas bears with sequined scarves?)

For some reason, the checkouts were swamped and we were forced to wait 15 minutes in line by a display of men's thongs...and shook with silent laughter as we saw selections being made by 1) a 300 pound man and 2) a Mennonite-looking grandmother.

Several hours later, we showed up at the party fully bedecked in our holiday tackiness, gorged on Jello shots and howled at the horrible outfits. Sometime before midnight, we decided it'd be a great idea to progress (still tackily bedecked) to the bar to meet friends. After a brief stop at Code Blue (never again), we found ourselves at Tin Roof.

Let me tell you, there's nothing like wearing a chintzy mom sweater to meet people...we were high-fived and bought shots all night. Which caused the dance floor action to be incredible, but blurry.

Saturday, my dad came in town for a family friend's Bluegrass Pickin' Christmas Shindig. There was a bonfire, the wine flowed freely, and I met some truly interesting people. In the span of several hours, I made friends with a traveling Spanish teacher, a land conservationist, a Medieval reenactor and a lasso expert. And despite our obvious differences, we got along famously.

But the best part of the evening was--hands down--the music. The host of the party was apparently pretty well connected in "the industry" because I hung out with several members of Old Crow Medicine Show, who just showed up to "pick". It was incredible. I honestly could've sat happily by the fire and listened to them for hours...

Despite the long night, Sunday morning found me rounding up cattle on my aunt's farm in White Bluff. Where everything went smoothly until a steer ran me up a fence.

The important things I've taken away from this weekend:
  1. Just because I love animals, it doesn't always mean they'll love me back.
  2. I must learn to play the banjo (maybe one of my new OCMS buddies can help...)
  3. Unattractive people buy skanky lingerie too. Which they'll hopefully keep to themselves.

Friday, December 15, 2006

For Heaven's Seiko

There is a new commercial on TV that makes me livid. I have to change the channel whenever it comes on. The ad is for Seiko and the tagline is, "It's your watch that tells the most about who you are".

Could they be more blatantly materialistic if they tried? All a fancy watch says about you is that you dropped some cash for it. Which anyone can do. There are no personality traits involved in that kind of retail exchange. And I have a great story to prove it.

Yesterday evening, I was a tad upset and therefore found myself wandering the Davis Kidd bookstore. There's something about being among crisp, unopened books with their colorful covers and distinct smells that tends to soothe my soul. I meander aimlessly through aisles, imagining that my book will someday be among the decorative displays...and the mere thought uplifts me.

Last night, after meandering and thumbing through books for a good hour, I spotted a Christmas tree in the corner covered in paper ornaments. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that each ornament had a kid's name and reading level. There was a small sign indicating that if you bought a book for the intended child, they would not only deliver it for you, but give you 20% off your total purchase as well. Thinking it was a great idea, I chose a 1st grade girl and headed to the kid's section.

After much perusal on my part, I settled on a book about a cow named Minnie and headed to the register.

There was an elderly woman behind the counter who looked quizzically at me when I handed her my book. She asked if it was all I was getting. A little confused, I hesitantly told her it was.

Her face lit up and she said, "You know, it's amazing how many people walk right past that tree because they're only concerned about what they're buying for themselves. And yet you didn't get a single other thing."

Slightly embarrassed, I stammered that it wasn't a big deal, just $5. But she stopped me and said, "Just in case you haven't been told lately, you're a wonderful human being."

Tears flooded my eyes and I thanked her. And told her how much her kind words meant to me in that moment.

I left that store with a new perspective. Most people know that in this so-called "Season of Giving", it's important to give what you can to those less fortunate than you. But in the busyness of the season, we often forget to express our appreciation as well.

That checkout lady could have rung me up without saying a word, but instead, she chose to make me feel valued. And in that moment of feeling down, those simple words meant the absolute world to me. Those simple words told me so much about who she is.

And I guarantee she wasn't wearing a Seiko watch.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


As I was leaving the house this morning, I ran into the landlord's ex-fiance in the hallway. I attempted to slip back into my side for "something I forgot", but she'd already cornered me.

She held up a pair of women's pajama pants she'd found in his side and demanded to know if they were mine or my roommate's. They weren't.

With that awkwardness out of the way, I inquired as to whether she'd heard from her ex and whether or not he posted bail.

He apparently has, but can't leave the county until his court date. So, according to her, he's currently in Naples "living like a playboy" until then.

Being an obvious glutton for punishment, I asked her what she meant.

She informed me that he sent her a picture message several days ago of him at a Swinger's Club. And there were "many bare breasts" in the picture. (Which he'd sweetly captioned with "You're sure missing a good time!")

I'm assuming the shock/horror on my face was evident because the very next sentence out of her mouth was, "Oh, this shouldn't surprise you! When I still lived here, there'd be nights I'd hear his desk chair squeaking and find him jacking off to live internet was a major problem in our relationship."

I. Was. Completely. Agog.

Granted, I've known he was a dirty pervert...but that's just not something you expect to hear spoken out loud at 8:30 in the morning.

I numbly mumbled some excuse about being late for work and scooted out the door. And tried to choke down my rising bile the entire way to the office.

If he ever returns from his lock down/swinger's vacation, there's no way I'll ever be able to look him in the eye.

Or hear the phrase "squeaking chair" without wanting to hurl.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


I'm an eternal optimist. I always have been. I can find the positive in any situation and will forever think that the best is yet to come.

Most of the time, this serves me well. I'm the girl who can smile her way through any heartache, life disaster, gloomy day, you name it. I tend to view hardships simply as life lessons meant to bring us closer to complete self knowledge and unconditional self love.

Likewise, I try to see the best in people. While it can admittedly be hard to do, I believe we're the most beautiful when we're finding beauty in others. Call it naivete or gullibility if you must, but I automatically assume that a homeless man just wants some spare change. That the man collecting money for charity will really use it for such.

This goes twofold for those who are close to me. I expect a lot from the people I love. It's not harsh, I simply want them to live up to the good I see in them. I expect others to treat me as I treat them. It's not a conditional thing, merely a symbiotic relationship involving both affection and respect.

Unfortunately, this quality doesn't always serve me well. We're all human and therefore likely to both hurt and disappoint. The fact that I expect so much means my personal disappointment is oftentimes greater than it realistically should be.

But I'm stuck. Would it be better to expect a lot from people and occasionally be disappointed? Or to not expect much and occasionally be pleasantly surprised?

The latter seems so cynical. But the other invests you in something completely out of your control. Simply because I tend to hold myself to a high standard, is it fair to expect the same from others?

I have no clear cut answers. Hence the "quandary".

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Time Marches On...

Several minutes ago I'm sitting here, happily uploading pictures from my digital camera when something catches my eye. So I blow up one of the pictures to full-screen.

Lo and behold, I have tiny wrinkles radiating from the corners of my eyes.

When did that happen?

I mean, really! I'm only 23 and haven't set foot in a tanning bed in eons.

I wouldn't say these um, wrinkles (okay, that word is a skosh hard to say) bother me...I'm just slightly baffled. I figured I'd be at least 30 before these buggers showed up.

The thought of buying products for "fine lines" right now makes me want to laugh out loud.

My current feeling is very similar to the time the Student Health Center gave a free digital demonstration on what you'd look like as a smoker aged 20 years: shock mixed with awe. (But at least this time, my real wrinkles don't resemble those of a Waffle House waitress named Flo.)

Today, it's hit me. We spend our youth knowing we'll eventually age, but the truth of the matter isn't fully grasped until we see it firsthand. You're infallible until proven otherwise.

Looking on the bright side, I'd rather the wrinkles be around my eyes as opposed to my mouth or forehead. At least they prove that I smile a lot and have a good outlook on life.

OR...I could just blame it on a year's worth of stress caused by the landlord...