Category Archives: General

I’m holding on to you like a diamond in the rough

The older I get, the more I enjoy “Friends.”

I’m dangerously close to the age the girls were when the series began, and I so get where these characters were in life. (It actually makes me kind of happy that I didn’t watch the show when it first debuted. I was 13. I totally would not have appreciated it.)

But now I’m in the middle of my 20-something years. I have no money and I’m about to begin the third job of my career. My girl friends and I love to gossip about the guys we’re dating (which I know is completely normal, but we’re doing it now more than ever!).

Until recently, though, most of my closest friends were in other states. When the girls and I got together for a Florida trip in May, we represented five different states. (Paula’s in Georgia, Apryl lives in Virginia, I’m a ‘Bama girl, Heather represented Mississippi and Alison is the only one still in Florida.) Alisa was in California until last week, Megan is in New York, Lara has lived in three states in 2006.

Thank God for IN calling and free long distance.

But I feel like the tide is changing. Susan moved to town and Heather arrives Monday. Katie’s in Montevallo, but we’re considering becoming roommates this winter.

My “Friends” group is starting to take shape.

Seriously though, there have been times in the past several years where I realized I was jealous of characters on a TV show. That’s silly, maybe, but it’s true — and I don’t think I was alone in that. The greatest thing about college was living with my best friends, and I don’t think I could overemphasize the value of having those people nearby. I have tons of friends in this state already, but there’s something great about showing up at a friend’s house and waiting for her in her backyard hammock.

I’m Monica, and now I have my Phoebe and my … other Phoebe. (And maybe a third on the way?) Send Joey, Ross and Chandler on over and I may never move from this city again.

Monica to Rachel at the end of the pilot, after Rachel cuts up her credit cards: Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re going to love it.

PS: I originally started writing this post, with a completely different intent, on July 9, 2005. How about that. And I even remember WHY I started writing it — because Heather and I were in a loud bar and couldn’t hear ourselves and we got to talking about the episode where Joey, Ross and Chandler try to go out and have fun but they’re exhausted and want to go home. So she said, “We’re in an episode of friends… but they’re THIRTY!” So … tonight I’m boring. But I’m trying to clean out my ancient drafts. 😉

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Filed under Autobiography, General

I knew that triple latte meant that Taylor loved me too

Copy editing has sucked the life out of me.

I suppose I’ve adjusted a bit — I’m more cheerful around the newsroom than I was when I first began (10 weeks ago!). But the schedule continues to kill me, and I don’t make it any easier on myself by committing myself to these insane obligations.

I left work just before midnight Sunday. That’s an almost nightly occurence. But on that particular night, an hour-long drive to Birmingham awaited. (I needed to be in Atlanta the next day, and I figured I might as well make use of those too-wound-up post-work minutes by driving 60 miles closer to my destination.) I crashed at my aunt’s house around 1 a.m.

Morning came too quickly. After mashing snooze several times, I crawled out of bed at 6:12 a.m. and trusted a hot shower to bring me to a state suitable for driving.

That didn’t exactly work.

I fixed my hair and make up, then put my sweats and Virginia Tech t-shirt back on for the drive to the ATL. (Why get all sweaty and wrinkled in my cute interview clothes, right?) I stopped by O’Henry’s for coffee (in my O’Ho’s travel mug!) and a muffin, then set the cruise control for as fast as I could safely travel.

I didn’t feel awake until I crossed the Georgia state line. That’s probably not the safest way to drive.

I spent the day in Atlanta interviewing (one job, one informational) and hanging out with one of my college roommates. After dinner, she and I, and her husband, crashed on their cozy leather couches in front of several episodes of Friends. I fell asleep on the couch with a cat on my stomach before 9 p.m. Eastern.

Yeah. I was tired.

I moved to my bedroom and read a while before turning in for 10 luxurious hours of sleep. Then at 8:55 a.m. my alarm jerked me awake. For the second day in a row, I was confused as to where I was and why exactly I had to wake up. (That’s never a good way to start the day.)

This morning seems like days ago.

I tried the hot shower thing again, to no avail. I was clean but still exhausted (and battling a serious headache). After lunch with another friend, I grabbed a grande latte from Starbucks and headed out of town.

I finished the latte at about mile marker 198 in Alabama, and pulled off at exit 185 for another. (With that information, you’ll certainly understand the upcoming redesign and renaming of this blog.)

And at 2:30 central, I returned to Tuscaloosa and to work, where I quickly grabbed some painkillers and hot tea to keep me from dying at my desk.

I’m scattered and basically wandering through life in a daze right now. I’m not in a good place, but I’m not in a bad bad place, either.

I’m just burned out, and I don’t have energy for much more than watching Friends and drinking lots and lots of coffee.


Filed under Autobiography, Bits & Pieces, General, Travel

HELP! I need someone to HELP!

If I go without my glasses for long enough I start to get a headache. So just a few minutes ago I went to grab my glasses and alleviate the hint of a headache that’s playing around the edges of my mind.

When my thumb went right through the frame, I freaked out. “WHERE IS MY LENS?!?!?” (Yes, I know a lens is a weird thing to lose. But it’s GONE!) Apparently the screw that held that half of the frame fell out… somewhere… and now I’m missing both a screw and a lens. (Haha… I’ve got a screw loose… ha!)

I have no idea where my stinkin’ lens is. I looked all of the places I remember setting my glasses in the past day… but I can’t find it.

I’m gonna have to buy new glasses, aren’t I? I can’t AFFORD new glasses. Dang it… anyone wanna give me $200 or so?


Filed under Bits & Pieces, General

I believe the printed word should be forgiven

Let’s celebrate with the Woods–
Their twosome is now three!
Come help us honor them
And see the newest member of their family.

We will shower Baby Heath
With books to read and enjoy.
Anna and Jeff can share these gifts
For years to come with their little boy!

I received an invitation to a baby shower this week. Now, this is the first shower I’ll attend that is not intended for a bride, so I’m not sure what to expect. But upon notice of the shower’s theme, I developed a quick enthusiasm for baby showers.

The invitation requested that each guest bring a favorite children’s book for the guest of honor, baby Heath. I’ve already spent what I consider a fair amount of time with my favorite newborn, so I would do basically anything he requested. But to bring a book to share with this precious child? That’s not exactly pulling teeth. 😉

Never mind that the shower isn’t for three weeks yet. This afternoon I made my way to Barnes & Noble and paid homage to a section I haven’t visited in years—the children’s books. It didn’t take long to find exactly the book I had in mind.

One of my earliest memories is learning how to read. I was 4 at the time, and reading was like opening up a whole new world. (Heck. I still think of it that way.) After investing a number of hours on tract-sized “books,” composed largely of sophisticated sentences such as “See Spot run,” I was eager to sit down with a real book and get to reading on my own.

It was with great pride that I began reading myself to sleep at night. I remember sitting in my partial-canopy bed (only appropriate for a princess!) in my purple bedroom. My heart filled with pride at my accomplishment—I could read the Little Bear series all by myself, without Mommy or Daddy at my side.

That childhood accomplishment established a pattern: I have read myself to sleep probably 99 nights out of every 100 evenings since. My heart again swelled as I flipped through the pages of Little Bear this afternoon. Books have kept me company and educated me in the 19 year since, and it’s only appropriate to bestow upon baby Heath the same books that set me on my journey as a reader.

Speaking of reading… I’m a list maker. (It’s a common first born quality.) I decided a while ago to keep track of all the books I read this year. I’m always hearing people say things like “My goal is to read five books this year,” and that blows me away. Five? Is that ALL? Sometimes I read five books in a WEEK. So I’ve created a little sub-blog to keep track of my reading for the year. Laugh all you want, ignore me if you will… if nothing else, I think it’ll be interesting to look back at the end of the year and see how many books I’ve read and how many I returned to the library unopened.


Filed under Autobiography, General

Nothing unusual, nothing’s changed, just a little older that’s all

I’m an oldest child–I’m the eldest of four. I’m the typical first born in so many ways. I’m organized, goal oriented and something of a go-getter. When I know what I want, I’m willing to work for it. (That may explain my master’s degree and the $25,000 debt that accompanied it.)

My siblings also fit their expected psychological birth order. Cristin, as the second child, is an attention grabber. Never content to stand in someone’s shadow, she’s willing to leave college and move thousands of miles to chase her dreams. (And I admire her for it.)

Cheryl’s got middle child syndrome. Heaven forbid anyone compare her to us–she’s going to carve her own Cheryl-sized niche in the world. Forget cheerleading. She’ll play flag football. The worst trouble I ever got into was detention for tardiness. She compensated by scroing a few arrests. (Okay, there’s more to it than that–but I’m confident that it was a factor in her rebellion.) She’s creative, funky and truly one of a kind. (And as with Cristin, I admire these qualities in her. Well, besides the arrest thing.)

Chad’s not just another case–he’s another world. Chad land is populated with legos, anime and Hatchemon (his own Pokemon-esque creation). He can tell you every minute detail of whatever TV series is his current obsession, and he knows all the cheat codes for the best video games. He produces his own cartoon movies on his desktop and no doubt will soon be composing their scores on his keyboard.

Sometimes I feel like the boring sibling in comparison. I’m not sure I have a place to call my own. I’m into the journalism thing, but all of my siblings can write. But I can’t act like Cristin, draw like Cheryl, and I’m not Chad. I used to be the “religious” one, till most of the family went and got God. (It’s a distinction I’m glad to share, mind you.) Still I wonder, where is my place? What’s special about me?

I like to think I’m the quietly interesting one (and yes, in my family I am the quiet one), but I’m not sure what that means. I’m sensitive, and I’ve been told that makes me a good friend. I’ve become pretty good at recommending music to others (thouch Cheryl’s still the one whose taste would be considered “cool”). I have the best shoes, but I’m not sure that’s how I want to be described.

Maybe I’m the most vanilla–the boring one. I’ve got the standard college education, I go to church on Sundays, I drive a sedan. I’m “most likely to have a picket fence.” But I don’t think that’s it. I don’t think I’m dull. I’m passionate, I’m a reader, I’m a feeler, I’m thoughtful.

Maybe I’m just the most nuanced. You can pick out these qualities about my siblings almost immediately upon meeting them, but it might take a little longer to find what makes me CJ. (That’s not to say that my siblings are simple personalities. They’re not. But it’s pretty obvious that Cristin is the resident drama queen!)

But I’m still the oldest, so what I say goes. So most nuanced it is, whether you believe it or not.

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Filed under Autobiography, General, Insecurity

Still a little bit of your words I long to hear

When you don’t have a lot of friends, places instead of people become the company you keep. When I need intellectual stimulation, I go to the library. (Of course, this is also where I go for brain candy.) If I want a little culture I’ll wander through an art museum. And if I crave the easy camraderie of conversation with an old friend, O’Henry’s is my destination.

No, it’s not a perfect substitute. I would take Heather or Alisa or Megan (or Lara or Alison or Sarah or Philip or Rob or Natalie or Apryl or…) any day. But a lonely Friday night at O’Henry’s is better than the same at home.

Okay, so here I have to pay for my company. A $2 cup of coffee is much easier than a $2000 sorority. Still, my mood lifts just a bit when I’m sitting with the fireplace surround and soothing folk music.

And y’know, I’ve also adopted accessories for entertainment. (Yeah, I’m crazy. But you already knew that.) You’re more likely to catch me in my glasses if I’m feeling a bit shy. Though they’re just metal and plastic, the thin layer separating me from the world offers some comfort.

My pink trenchcoat is my secret weapon: it’s the ‘pretty maker’. I don’t care what I’m wearing or my mood; when I’m in my pink coat, I feel a little special. And I’ve got a hat that I’m just saving for a day when I feel a little funky and unique.

Hey. When your cat is your closest companion, you’ve got to find entertainment somewhere.


Filed under Bits & Pieces, General, Insecurity

What I give to you is just what I’m going through

I decided early this week that I’d like to go to a movie by myself. There was a chick flick to come out at the end of the week, and I didn’t have anyone to accompany me. No bother–I thought going alone would be an experience. (Indeed, the sense of adventure from flying solo was more enjoyable than the movie itself. Glad I saved by going to a matinee.)

But I’ve been looking for ways to get to know people in town, so I thought about going to a church singles event tonight. It’s not my church (we don’t have a singles group, which I must admit is part of the appeal). There was to be a band and it sounded better than watching What Not to Wear with my grandma and my cat.

One problem: I was too afraid to go alone (especially with the label of a singles group event!), and I realized I truly had no one to call up and invite. The enormity of my loneliness hit me: I’m not just alone, I’m pathetic.

When did making friends become so hard? I used to be surrounded by them. I literally would have too many people to keep up with on weekends. Overlooking someone as we made our calls was quite likely. What happened?

I’ll be honest: I tend to blame it on the state of Alabama. How lame is that?! But since I’ve arrived here, I’ve only made a couple true blue friends, the kind you can cry in front of and still safe. (And the ways I’ve met those friends were rather unconventional!)

While it’s unreasonable to fault the entire state, I know it can’t be all me, either. There was a three month window when I left Alabama this summer. During that time, I met several people I’ll consider friends for life. Our circumstances were admittedly completely different, but it was enough to know that I am capable of opening up to people.

So what’s the difference? Here there’s not a built in group of people within a few years of my age. It should take a little more effort, but I wouldn’t think it’d be this hard.

I guess I didn’t realize the depth of my need until recently. All fall, I worked two full days a week. I was out of the house, interacting with people. Though it wasn’t in a social setting, there was enough contact with the world beyond my house to keep me from drowning.

Unemployment changed that. I went to Bible study on Wednesday night and realized it was the first I had left my house in two days. My ventures in the days since have been solitary, but at least they got me out of my fuzzy slippers.


Filed under Autobiography, General, Insecurity

I wanna hear what you have to say about me

All is not right in my little world. There haven’t been any major disasters or glaring indiscretions, but there’s an emptiness inside. I’m out of fellowship–there’s not a body of believers surrounding me–and I feel like I’m drowning in loneliness.

I have a church home locally and I take part in a community group on a weekly basis. (Well, in theory. We didn’t meet for a month.) But I’m not at home there, and I know it’s at least as much me as it is them.

It’s easy to go to church once a week–to slip in the back and leave again without interaction. When I do engage in conversation, it’s so roughtine I ought to make a tape recording. “My name is CJ, I just received my master’s in journalism from Alabama and I’m looking for a job.” This is the sum of my interactions with virtually everyone in Birmingham.

I feel I have nothing to offer–like it’s my fault for being unemployed. I feel like an unproductive member of society. But I know that’s not entirely true. I’m still able to maintain engaging conversations with people who really know me. I can talk for hours about next to nothing.

I know it’s not all me. I even met a couple guys from church at Starbucks the other day. One struck up conversation when he saw what I was reading. We had an enjoyable, though brief, conversation that broke the aforementioned mold.

So I know it’s possible to have deeper conversations and healthy friendships. I just don’t have a lot of that in Birmingham, and it weighs on me. I’m tempted to think finding a job and moving away would solve this problem. But I know it’s not that easy. I have to take risks, resolve conflict, invest in others–because I know the potential payoff is greater than the risks.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that; it’s quite another to do something about it.

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Filed under Autobiography, General, Insecurity

All week long I’ve been lookin’ forward to a hardwood floor and a country band

This article has come up in discussion with others once or twice this week. I’ve saved it for years ’cause I thought it was so fun… I like the picture it paints of this slightly eccentric, talkin’-to-her-cat line dancin’ woman. So with a hat tip to its author, Philip, here’s my favorite story that anyone has ever written about me.

(Granted there’s only been like two. But Philip is a way better writer than that girl in my School Publications class.)

The “Redneck Girl”

A stroll into CJ’s home in Blairstone Forest reveals a setting that one would not typically associate with the house of a student at Florida State University. It would appear to someone like myself that Martha Stewart herself (the patron saint of home-decorating) had been present when the plans were laid out to design the interior where CJ and her four roommates reside. The house epitomizes comfort and is everything one could expect from a home whose primary resident portrays the essence of southern hospitality. Not more than two minutes passed by after sitting at the dinner table before I was politely asked by CJ if I’d like anything to drink. When I accepted she efficiently rose, poured a glass of the requested water, and returned again to sit with me at the table. It was then that I had the pleasure of conversing with CJ about another atypical aspect of her student life, her weekend nightlife.

On most days of the week, CJ stands a short but respectable 62 inches tall. On Friday nights, however, she gains an extra two inches with the cowboy boots that she generally wears to Stetsons on the Moon, a popular Tallahassee club that she attends regularly. Stetsons, in some aspects, is very similar to most of the night clubs found across Tallahassee. It draws in the student crowd with drink specials, flashing lights, and offers of an all-around good time. However, for CJ and many others, Stetsons is simply the place to go when line dancing is the activity of choice for the evening. Unlike any other establishment in the Tallahassee area, Stetsons on the Moon supplies the opportunity for students to enjoy a country and western style of dancing, a style of dancing that has spawned from what we now think of as old west throw downs and barn dances.

CJ traced her line dancing history back as far as nine years, to the days when she was in 7th grade. It was around that time when CJ was first introduced to arguably the most recognized line dance, The Electric Slide. She quickly realized that line dancing was a likeable upbeat way for her to participate in many of the school dances and also to interact with others. “It’s a bonding experience,” she says. The Electric Slide cleared the way for slightly more complicated dances and CJ soon learned to “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” and to do the “Achey Breaky Heart,” a dance set to the music of Billy Ray Cyrus’s popular (only heaven knows why) country song of the same name. It was also during her middle school years that CJ would receive gifts from her grandmother that were thematic to line dancing. For many years, she received pairs of cowboy boots as both birthday and Christmas gifts (she estimates a total number of six pair). An instructional videotape explaining the steps of many line dances followed the boots, and CJ was well on her way to the line dancing prowess she now exhibits.

CJ explained that her knowledge of line dancing carried on even to high school where she performed dances with not only the Mandarin High Mustang Cheerleaders, but also with Pop Warner at a halftime show for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. She even enjoyed line dancing at Walt Disney World’s Pleasure Island. It was not until her senior year of high school in Jacksonville, however, that CJ danced at a nightclub devoted to country line dancing. It was then that she began to frequent the Crazy Horse Saloon. The more she participated at the Crazy Horse, the more she enjoyed the now more complicated dances. It was this enjoyment for club line dancing that would transition CJ’s club attendance from the Crazy Horse Saloon to Tallahassee’s own Stetsons.

Between brief pauses during she would converse with her cat, Emma, CJ also discussed with me what one would generally expect regulars at Stetsons to wear and more specifically what she often wears. She took a moment to retrieve her preferred boots from the back of the house and then excitedly displayed them on the table. The design on the boots was simple enough and they were colored a traditional black, but the true story behind the footwear was the wear on the bottoms. It was obvious that the size 7.5 cowboy boots had seen quite a bit of action. Jeans were described as a must and should have boot-cut legs and a low-rise waist. Her belt always matches her boots and large belt buckles are “never out of place.” A simple tank-top suffices as wear for the upper half of the body. “Ideally,” as described by CJ, she would wear a cowboy hat to complete the outfit. She doesn’t own a hat of her own, but, with what I detected as a hint of jealousy, she described my own hat, a black Bailey ‘rider’ style, as being well-suited for the event and something she would certainly wear.

With as much time and effort that CJ has invested in line dancing, it is certainly reasonable that she would want to share her pastime with others. It should be no surprise, then, that she will hold line dancing lesson sessions at her home from time to time in preparation for those who are to visit Stetson’s for the first time. Being a personal friend of CJ’s, I have been privy to witness and even participate in these sessions on more than one occasion. As many as fifteen people will form lines in her living room (a living room that reasonably fits ten) and watch intently as CJ instructs them step by step in dances such as the “Funky Cowboy.” Because most of those who attend her lessons are beginning line dancers the atmosphere is extremely relaxed despite distractions such as the lovable household dog, Contessa Topaz, jumping and yapping in hysterics at CJ animated feet. With the aid of a few of the more experienced dancers, of which I have the privilege of being counted among, CJ succeeds in sending the first-timers onto the Stetsons dance floor feeling much more comfortable than they otherwise would have felt.

When asked what makes a good line dancer, CJ promptly replied that “it’s more than just knowing the dance.” She described that a talented line dancer will display confidence and style. The dancer should “make the dance their own” and simply have fun while doing it. A mutual friend, Kevin Shoemaker, was given as an example for someone who exudes such qualities and other important attributes such as endurance, determination, and rhythm. According to CJ “he is the guy who all the other boys want to be.” Such lofty compliments are promising to the up and coming line dancer as he was also described by CJ as having improved from being “pretty clueless.”

Friday evenings are rarely boring for CJ. Although her escape from the school week is not what one might presume from a student at Florida State, it provides her with a much needed release. To CJ there is something that is just plain fun about line dancing at Stetsons and, as very few would disagree with, “there’s something therapeutic about listening to good music.” The Bellamy Brothers perform a popular country song entitled “Redneck Girl.” To mention this song in reference to CJ is perhaps one of the kindest compliments you can pay her. As she’ll be sure and tell you, beneath the exterior of this 21 year-old Florida State graduate student lies the heart of a true redneck girl.


Filed under Autobiography, General, Lyrics

Cheer up sleepy Jean, oh what can it mean

I tend to write more when my emotions are raging. I’m not sure the nature of the emotions really matter—happy-go-lucky, bitter, angry, depressed, romantic, playful—they all find me with a pen in hand.

I strive to find music appropriate to whatever mood reigns, and the perfect song just filled my bedroom. I don’t have a love I’m hiding from friends and family (I’m not very good at keeping that sort of thing a secret), but “Love Soon” (John Mayer) fits the tone of this moment. Upbeat and romantic, the lyrics and cheerful guitar support the dance my feet have been taking.

I don’t know why this daydreamy feeling has seized my days, but it’s fun. Or well, I guess I do know… but it’s nothing exciting. Cold, wintry days, guitar-driven acoustic pop, a westerny quilt, a cup of delicious coffee and a pinch of girlish optimism are the language of my romance. If Mr. Right were to come a-knockin’ this week, it wouldn’t take much persuasion to win my heart.

Or maybe it’s just the pink “amore” coffee mug. Who knows!


Filed under Bits & Pieces, General, Love letters