Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Contact

Three years ago, I went on a site called OKCupid after having bad experiences with both and eharmony.  On match, I found a guy who, after three months, revealed to me that he was in love with me, wanted to get married, and was abducted by aliens.  On eharmony, I talked with a guy who seemed to have one purpose for messaging me in the first place - to tell me I was fat.  Yep.  Great experiences, right?  So thoroughly disgusted with the online dating scene and ready to give up altogether, I deleted my profiles at these other places and went on my way.  A singles group on had a thread about OKCupid, so I decided to give it a try.  I had carefully constructed my profile to be really honest, because I was tired of games.  I wanted any potential date to understand my hobbies and personality.  I talked a bit about theatre and knitting, and my obsession with movies - both good and bad.  I talked about how much I loved my job, and I talked about how I didn't want any games.  That was really important to me.  I talked with several guys on there in the first couple of weeks and nothing really stuck, but I wasn't ready to give up yet.  I loved the site - the quizzes and other ways of matching people were clever and snarky.  So I decided to stick with it for awhile. 

And then one day - three years ago today, in fact, I got this message:

What kind of plays do you normally take part in? I've always been a huge Shakespeare fan and have managed to see 9 or 10 of his plays acted out in various types of venues (when I lived in Nashville, there was a Shakespeare in the Park thing every year that was awesome!) How did you get into theatre? 

And this was my reply:

Hi back!

I'm primarily involved with Theatre 98 in Fairhope, where I've been in two plays: a dark comedy called Fuddy Meers and a musical called Quilters about the lives of pioneer women. I've done technical work for other shows, including our production of Hamlet last year. I adore Shakespeare, but have never been in one of his plays. I'll bet going to Shakespeare in the park was amazing - I try to get up to Montgomery for ASF as much as possible. They just started a Shakespeare company in Mobile too. They did Richard II a few weeks ago and it was awesome.

I got into theatre back in high school but left it for awhile because I got busy with college and then life. Last year, I tried out for the comedy I mentioned above and got a part. It's been a big part of my life since then and I love it!

What's your favorite Shakespeare play? I'm going to have to go with Hamlet for mine (original, I know!) but it's just such a powerful story! I love his comedies too and would really like to be in one someday.

Thanks for the message - I'd love to chat some more!

This is the first time I've shared this first conversation with anyone.  The first conversation Jon and I ever had.  Three years ago today.  Who knew at that point that three years later we would be a month away from getting married?  All I knew at that point was there was something we could talk about, which led to a lot of other things we could talk about, and eventually led to meeting in person for the first time (at Theatre 98) and having our first kiss (after a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at Theatre 98) and then declaring to each other and the world that we were, in fact, in a relationship (after a performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show on October 30 two years ago at Pensacola Little Theatre.)  Funny how theatre has been a huge part of our lives, huh?  Mainly because it was a huge part of my life at the time, I guess.  But he was always such a great sport about coming along and enjoying the theatre experience with me.

How great is it that we have a record of our first conversation?  I think it's pretty awesome!  How many people can say that?  It's all thanks to Jon, who saved everything we ever wrote to each other.  One day, that will be really fun to go back and look at, won't it?

So today I would like to say happy "first contact" anniversary to my darling Jon - and also to say thank you for sending that first message.  Thank you for looking at my profile and not being afraid of my hobbies and my directness about dating and life.  Thank you for the best three years I've ever had - and I look forward to the next three, the next 30, and beyond.

I love you and absolutely can't wait to marry you in 31 days.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Journal Topic: Who I Am Today...

What has it taken to allow you to be who you are today?

I have to say, I love this topic already!  A person truly is a combination of all their experiences, and I am no exception.  What has it taken to allow me to be the person I am today?  Well... everything!  

My parents are good, moral, strong people with amazing faith in God and love for family and country.  They taught me to love everyone, even if they don't deserve it.  Or perhaps especially when they don't deserve it, because that's when people need to be loved the most!  From this foundation, I took away some important lessons and inner strength that I know are the reasons I have been able to rise from so many ashes in my adult life.  

My teenage years, while filled with the normal angst of adolescence were very good nonetheless.  I have my share of emo poetry and songs - yes songs - written with tears dripping onto the page about unrequited love and loss.  But in the midst of what is normally a very dark time for a lot of kids, I discovered a new source of confidence and inner strength.  Artistic expression.  Writing, singing, acting... these things were always there for me to use when I needed to release some angst, anger, or anything else I may have been feeling at the time.  While I was never one of the most popular kids in school, I always knew everyone and they knew who I was because of high school show ensemble and drama club.  They got to see something in me that they did not have, and knowing that made me feel better about the things about them that I didn't have (beauty and wealth being the two most important to me at the time) but I had talent and that was important too.  I did not win "most talented" in my high school, but I was on the ballot.  That made me feel accepted and happy that people recognized that I had something to offer.  

My first experience with college was not successful.  A music major takes more dedication and love for the mechanics of music than I had at the time and I wasn't willing to study it to the point that it made me hate even listening to it anymore.  It was during this time that I got serious with my ex husband and we got married.  This experience really shaped who I am now.  And while our union was brief, I learned so much from it, about myself and about relationships, that I feel completely and totally prepared for my upcoming marriage and I know that this time, I have it right.  

I became an aunt before getting married.  That was life changing.  I've never loved another human the way I love my sister's kids.  They are so special to me.

After my divorce, I withdrew.  I didn't want to be with anyone, didn't want to have relationships, didn't want to connect with anyone in any meaningful way.  I had a friend who told me about 3 weeks after my divorce that she was amazed at how strong I was and how well I was handling everything.  I wasn't handling it very well.  I was heartbroken, devastated, and extremely depressed.  I even took antidepressants for awhile because I couldn't eat or sleep.  

But what can a person do in these situations but go on?  After a mourning period of a few months, I enrolled back in school and focused on that.  It was the best thing I could have done for myself at that time.  I worked my butt off in school, working full time while going to class full time, until I finally graduated in 2004, the first in my immediate family to earn a college degree.  I have never been more proud of myself than I was on that day.  And the ex husband played pomp and circumstance at my graduation, having re-enrolled in school himself after our divorce and still working on his degree.  

I was the only person who graduated from my program with a job lined up, ready to start as soon as graduation was over.  I worked for a nonprofit food bank for 3 years and it was a great first job. Disaster relief, dealing with hunger and poverty, and even going through a little poverty myself as the job did not pay very well, I learned a lot about the world outside my small tunnel.  

While working for this job, I became involved in local community theatre again and it was like fireworks on a dark night for me!  I felt alive again, and loved every moment I spent at that small, beautiful building.

When it was time to move on to something a little more responsible and with a little better compensation, I started working for a local Habitat affiliate.  That was also a great job, although the leadership of the affiliate was not exactly up to par and made kind of bad decisions.  These decisions led them to layoffs during the recession, and that's when I lost my job.  Another dark moment that led to growth as a person.

But also while working for Habitat, I got a message from a young man on an online dating site.  Through email first, then IM, then phone conversations, we started to get to know each other better.  When we finally met in person, it was comfortable and easy.  And in one month, we are getting married.  He has been a constant source of support and love for me since we started our relationship, and I am grateful for it every day.  People asked me how I managed to deal with six months of unemployment without going crazy, because they know me and they know how much I like to be contributing to society in a meaningful way.  I smile and tell them it wasn't so bad, because I got to practice being a housewife.  And I know if we are in the position financially, I will have no problems whatsoever being a stay at home mom.

Now in my current job I am able to contribute to society once again, this time in city government.  It is interesting and fun, and I'm learning how different it is from nonprofit.

I can't wait to be a wife.  And a mother.  Five years ago, I never would have believed I would be here.

Every single step I've taken in my life, every mistake I've made, and every right decision - every hardship and every joy - every sorrow and every happy moment, has shaped me in some way and made me the person I am today.  

And you know what?  I'm really, really happy with the person I have become.  Maybe we need to go through the fire to be refined into something beautiful.  Maybe I needed these difficulties to realize just what I needed to be and to help me become that person.  Maybe everything happens for a reason after all.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Post wedding haircut?  To cut or not to cut... that is the question.  Or perhaps the question really is how much to cut, since I'm absolutely getting some of it chopped off!

I have always worn my hair short, usually in a bob, like this:

I have been growing it out for about 2 years.  So it's a little longer than this now:

I'm very tempted to chop it all off right after the wedding, just because I've been putting it back in a ponytail or whatever so having it long isn't really doing any good.  But.... Jon really likes long hair.  Should I compromise and do something in the middle?  I really hate dealing with the tangles it gets when it's as long as it is right now, so I know I don't want to keep it this long.  But it would be nice to have a little length so I can still pull it back when needed.  Maybe something a little like this:

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Objections?

Would it help to know that I plan to donate it if there's enough hair to donate?  I just really want to cut it all off, but will I regret doing that after spending two years growing it out?  It's never been this long before - maybe once in high school, but probably still not this long.  Hmm... decisions, decisions.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I've always been very moved by music.  It has always motivated me.  When I'm feeling low, I can either listen to music that echoes that mood or I can listen to something that makes me feel happier.  Music is an important part of my life.

That said, I have given myself an extremely difficult task that I can't seem to accomplish related to music.  I'm trying desperately to create playlists for our pre-ceremony music and reception music.  And I have no idea what I'm doing.  It should be interesting...

At least the ceremony music is taken care of, which was a big job by itself.  And I think I have the pre-ceremony pieces pretty much nailed down.  But the reception?  I have no idea what to do.  Dance music, I guess.  And some fun love songs.  And stuff that we both like.  And stuff our guests would like.  And... and... and...

So many projects, so little time.  Time is running out.  Yikes!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banned Books Week

Fahrenheit 451, my favorite book of all time, talks about the danger of censorship.  This week, take a moment and realize that just because you don't like something or find it objectionable, that doesn't mean it needs to be banned.  Things you find valuable and precious may be banned by someone else, after all.  Like the Bible.

I found this list of banned books on the American Library Association's website.  It's astonishing what books were challenged/banned in the decade of 1990 to 1999.  I'm proud to say I've read 34 of them (counting any series as one book) and will continue to read "banned" books for as long as I have the right to do so! 

100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999

  1. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate, by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  7. Forever, by Judy Blume
  8. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  9. Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman
  10. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  11. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
  14. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  15. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
  16. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
  17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  18. Sex, by Madonna
  19. Earth’s Children (series), by Jean M. Auel
  20. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
  21. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
  22. The Witches, by Roald Dahl
  23. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
  24. The New Joy of Gay Sex, by Charles Silverstein
  25. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
  26. The Goats, by Brock Cole
  27. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard
  28. Anastasia Krupnik (series), by Lois Lowry
  29. Final Exit, by Derek Humphry
  30. Blubber, by Judy Blume
  31. Halloween ABC, by Eve Merriam
  32. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
  33. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
  34. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  35. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters, by Lynda Madaras
  36. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
  37. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  38. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
  39. The Pigman, by Paul Zindel
  40. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  41. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
  42. Deenie, by Judy Blume
  43. Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
  44. Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden
  45. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  46. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
  47. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat, by Alvin Schwartz
  48. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
  49. Cujo, by Stephen King
  50. James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
  51. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
  52. Ordinary People, by Judith Guest
  53. American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
  54. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  55. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  56. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
  57. Asking About Sex and Growing Up, by Joanna Cole
  58. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons, by Lynda Madaras
  59. The Anarchist Cookbook, by William Powell
  60. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
  61. Boys and Sex, by Wardell Pomeroy
  62. Crazy Lady, by Jane Conly
  63. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
  64. Killing Mr. Griffin, by Lois Duncan
  65. Fade, by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What?, by Mem Fox
  67. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  68. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  69. Native Son, by Richard Wright
  70. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies, by Nancy Friday
  71. Curses, Hexes and Spells, by Daniel Cohen
  72. On My Honor, by Marion Dane Bauer
  73. The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende
  74. Jack, by A.M. Homes
  75. Arizona Kid, by Ron Koertge
  76. Family Secrets, by Norma Klein
  77. Mommy Laid an Egg, by Babette Cole
  78. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  79. Where Did I Come From?, by Peter Mayle
  80. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline Cooney
  81. Carrie, by Stephen King
  82. The Dead Zone, by Stephen King
  83. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  84. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  85. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
  86. Private Parts, by Howard Stern
  87. Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Hanford
  88. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene
  89. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
  90. Little Black Sambo, by Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose, by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education, by Jenny Davis
  94. Jumper, by Steven Gould
  95. Christine, by Stephen King
  96. The Drowning of Stephen Jones, by Bette Greene
  97. That Was Then, This is Now, by S.E. Hinton
  98. Girls and Sex, by Wardell Pomeroy
  99. The Wish Giver, by Bill Brittain
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

And I've read 25 of these books that were challenged/banned in the 2000-2009 decade.

Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling 
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor 
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier 
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell 
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck 
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou 

7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz 
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman 
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren 
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky 
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers 
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris 
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey 
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain 
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison 
16. Forever, by Judy Blume 
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker 
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous 
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger 

20. King and King, by Linda de Haan 
21. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee 
22. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar 
23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry 
24. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak 
25. Killing Mr. Griffen, by Lois Duncan 
26. Beloved, by Toni Morrison 
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier 
28. Bridge To Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson 
29. The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney 
30. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier 
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones 
32. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya 
33. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson 
34. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler 
35. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison 
36. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley 
37. It’s So Amazing, by Robie Harris 
38. Arming America, by Michael Bellasiles 
39. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane 
40. Life is Funny, by E.R. Frank 
41. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher 
42. The Fighting Ground, by Avi 
43. Blubber, by Judy Blume 
44. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher 
45. Crazy Lady, by Jane Leslie Conly 
46. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut 
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard 
48. Rainbow Boys, by Alex Sanchez 
49. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey 
50. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini 
51. Daughters of Eve, by Lois Duncan 
52. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson 
53. You Hear Me?, by Betsy Franco 
54. The Facts Speak for Themselves, by Brock Cole 
55. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green 
56. When Dad Killed Mom, by Julius Lester 
57. Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause 
58. Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going 
59. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes 
60. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson 
61. Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle 
62. The Stupids (series), by Harry Allard 
63. The Terrorist, by Caroline B. Cooney 
64. Mick Harte Was Here, by Barbara Park 
65. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien 
66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor 
67. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham 

68. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez 
69. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury 
70. Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen 
71. Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park 
72. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison 
73. What’s Happening to My Body Book, by Lynda Madaras 
74. The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold 
75. Anastasia (series), by Lois Lowry 
76. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving 
77. Crazy: A Novel, by Benjamin Lebert 
78. The Joy of Gay Sex, by Dr. Charles Silverstein 
79. The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss 
80. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck 
81. Black Boy, by Richard Wright 
82. Deal With It!, by Esther Drill 
83. Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds 
84. So Far From the Bamboo Grove, by Yoko Watkins 
85. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher 
86. Cut, by Patricia McCormick 
87. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume 
88. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood 
89. Friday Night Lights, by H.G. Bissenger 
90. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle 
91. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George 
92. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar 
93. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard 
94. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine 
95. Shade’s Children, by Garth Nix 
96. Grendel, by John Gardner 
97. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende 
98. I Saw Esau, by Iona Opte 
99. Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume 
100. America: A Novel, by E.R. Frank