Friday, May 31, 2013

Memories....light the corners of my mind

Day 31 - I did it! I may have bailed on the squat challenge (sinus infection tripped me up there) but I completed the Blog Every Day in May Challenge. And just in time, since a week from today we leave for a 10-day European trip. There will be blog posts to read - I have a couple guest posters lined up and I'll blog ahead, but while we're gone I'll also be on vacation from writing. I'm sure I'll have plenty of material from the trip to keep me busy when we get back.

So, the prompt for today is a vivid memory.

From age 3 to age 9 my parents and my brother and I lived in Erie, PA. Our house and yard were kind of a carved out corner of farm land. My dad was a minister and this was the church's parsonage. I actually have quite a few memories of that time, though how "vivid" they are may be debatable. I'm sure my mom will chime in to fill in the blanks.

My dad was also an avid hunter. Once during deer season, he had a funeral later in the day but went hunting in the morning and lo and behold, he got a deer. He didn't have time to take it to the butcher so he hung it up in this giant weeping willow tree and went off to the funeral (presumably after showering and changing clothes). Then a couple hungry dogs showed up. My mom, by herself, went out and got the deer down and dragged it into the cellar. Even as I type this it sounds pretty far-fetched so if I find out other facts I'll let you know.

Our house was struck by lightning. Fortunately none of us were home when it happened, especially my baby brother because we could see how the lightning bounced around his bedroom. Scaaaaaary.

And then there was the time I puked in the mall. I think I was in 2nd grade and my mom had taken my friend Missy and me (and I assume my brother) to the Millcreek Mall. While there I got sick to my stomach and threw up all over myself and who knows what else. I had to get new clothes (I remember the pants were bright green - it WAS the 70's) and at some point during the cleaning up process my mom threw the keys in the trash. And my dad was at some all-day meeting. This was way before cell phones and we only had one car. I think someone may have come to pick us up and get us home, but again, I'm sure my mom will refresh that memory.

UPDATE: Mom says my memory isn't "that far off." Success!

And now, to celebrate the end of the blogging challenge and to link up with Whitty for #backthatazzup Friday, let's do some dancing!

Can't Hold Us Ft. Ray Dalton by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on Grooveshark

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Letting Go

Day 30's challenge is React to this term: Letting Go.

I think that first of all, knowing when to let go is difficult enough and then when you've realized it's time to let go, you actually have to do it, which is even harder. And I think that's true whether you're letting go of a relationship or a grudge or just a pair shoes (but let's be honest, there's no such thing as "just" a pair of shoes). Then of course, there's the big "letting go."

When my dad was near the end of his life we kept telling him it was OK to go. He had seen his kids and grandchildren and everyone important to him who was able to come. And he really was ready but he kept hanging on. The last day the hospice nurse came and he asked her "am I going to die today?" She said "I can't answer that but your family is enjoying having you here." My mom and I, in another room, just looked at each other like "um, I'm not enjoying this, are you?" Later it was just us and my dad said "I think it's happening" and Mom took one hand and I took the other and he closed his eyes.

Then he opened them again and said "I feel like I'm still here." We laughed so hard! It was the middle of that night, while we were sleeping, that he finally let go.

I know that I'm guilty of hanging on too long to objects or hard feelings or comfort zones. I hope that I gain clarity in knowing when I need to let go, and courage to make it happen.

PS - Just to end on a lighter note, it seems that my dad had a hard time letting go of other things as well. Like socks. After he died, my mom found three good-sized drawers FULL of socks - many of them never worn. My brother and Aaron went shopping in the sock drawers!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Five Favorite Pieces of Music

Day 29: Five songs or pieces of music that speak to you or bring back memories.

Oy, only five?

"Fragile" by Sting

Fragile by Sting on Grooveshark

First, Sting is my absolute favorite. I will not hear a bad word about him. Nothing Like the Sun is one of my "desert island" albums. At one time we owned it on vinyl, cassette and CD (the cassette is gone now). I'm including the original version here, but I also recommend watching this video from 9/11/01. Sting performed an intimate concert in Italy that evening; the rehearsals and preparation were filmed to be part of a concert film. When he learned of the tragic events, he offered to cancel the performance but all of the musicians still wanted to do it. This song became a kind of hymn after 9/11, and Sting performed it at the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves

Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves on Grooveshark

A decidedly more uptempo piece than the first one (and the next one), this has stood firm as one of my all time favorite songs. It's just so damn happy!

Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings"

Adagio For Strings by Adagio For Strings on Grooveshark

If you think you don't know this, you're probably wrong, as it's been used on soundtracks of movies and television shows. There is a choral version, which I also enjoy, but it's become a bit of a Good Friday tradition at church that the orchestra plays this and the choir just gets to close our eyes and listen.

"Some Nights" by fun.

Some Nights by Fun. on Grooveshark

OK, how about something from this century? I think I listened to this song 27 times in a row when I first heard it. I can't get enough of the tribal beat.

"Stars and the Moon" by Audra McDonald

Stars and the Moon by Audra McDonald on Grooveshark

I don't know how many years ago my friend David texted me and said "I have this song that you have to sing." It's become my signature song, with David at the piano. Sorry I don't have a recording of us - might have to work on that!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The long weekend in pictures

Very appropriate that the Day 28 challenge is: only pictures.

Here are scenes from the Memorial Day Weekend, including scenes from the Crawl for Cancer:

Sami's Shenanigans

Monday, May 27, 2013

A letter to my readers

I hope those of you in the USA are enjoying the three day weekend. I certainly have so far, which is why the first thing I did this morning was this:

After the healing power of the Coke Classic, breakfast and coffee, I'm ready for the day and for today's challenge topic: a letter to your readers.

Dear Readers,

Even though my "numbers" may appear small, I know that there are more than 34 of you reading the blog. In the past few weeks I've had many of you tell me that you read and enjoy it. Thank you so much for letting me know. I started it because I missed writing and wanted to do something creative and if I reached others, that would be a bonus. To know that I've touched people, made them laugh or think or shake their heads at my lunacy means the world, and I hope you keep reading.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Online reading and a birthday wish

Day 26 - Something you read online.

Well, recently most of what I've been reading online consists of blog posts related to Blog Every Day In May, but beyond that...

Locally, I read Columbus Underground, which is "all things Columbus" and my current favorite post has to do with the proposed renovation of a corner market which is about a half block from my house. It used to be a kind of convenience store where we'd pick up beer, smokes, potato chips, what-have-you ... until they got busted for selling illegal shit and serving underage customers. The new plan is for a cafĂ©/carryout/pizza place/patio and we're afraid to get too excited but it sounds fabulous.

But for those of you who aren't local to me, my most favorite website is I'm obsessed with reading trivia about TV shows or movies that I've recently watched. I can't get enough.

Tacked on to this post, I must give a shout out to our nephew James, who turns 14 today. We love you, King James!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Challenge Day 25 - Something someone told you about yourself that you'll never forget.

“You’re the prettiest girl in the room.”

I know this is super cheesy, but this is something that Aaron says to me, and I never take it for granted. We've been a couple for 26 years and he just said those very words last night. I often brush it off, but it means the world to me

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hard Habits to Break

Day 24: Your top 3 worst traits. Greeeeaaaat, more soul searching, honest posts.

1. Procrastination

Number one with a bullet. I've been a procrastinator forever, although I'll have you know that I'm writing this post the day before it will be published. It's really best for me to give myself a deadline before the real deadline, but that rarely works. I do tend to work well under pressure, which is a good thing because I'm often scrambling at the last minute to get something accomplished.

2. Disorganization

It's true. I'm kinda messy. I've mentioned before that my desk at work is a disaster. Oh, it's the whole office. And my desk at home is the same. And before the cleaning lady comes once a week I'm frantically shoving piles of stuff in my closet. I've talked about this here (and you should really go to that post to see an old birthday card my parents gave me - it's classic and relevant to the topic). Also, side note: I used to find another word for "messiness" and immediately this link comes up with "Are you a hoarder?" Um, no but thanks for askin'.

3. Tardiness

Don't hate me, but you know that friend who's always running late? That would be me. I'm not proud of it and I know people who are worse than me, but yes, I'm often tardy to the party. Or the office. Or the lunch date. And come to think of it, that probably goes hand in hand with #1.

And now, to link up with Whitney for #backthatazzup Friday (and sort of keeping on topic):

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dear college student Gwen,

Day 23 (oh, we're sooooo close!) - Things you've learned that school won't teach you.

I've seen other bloggers write "letters to my former self" posts and I've never really been into that, but as it turns out, that's the approach I'm going with here. These are things I wish I could go back and tell my college self.

1. Don't be fooled by how "easy" high school was; college is different and you WILL need to study.

2. When your freshman adviser counsels you to not pursue a double major in accounting and music, don't listen to her. Recognize that it will be a lot of work, but go for it! And if/when you realize that accounting isn't the right fit, don't continue.

3. Even though you're good with numbers, you know nothing about managing your own money. Fix that.

4. You will be tempted to drop out of choir after freshman year. Don't do it. You'll meet some of your very best friends, including your husband. (Obviously I didn't drop out - just felt the need to reiterate it to my dumb 18 year old self.)

5. Look into studying abroad.

6. If you didn't pay attention to #2 above, when you have the choice between a vocal competition and working on April 15th at your job in a CPA office, opt for the singing. Seriously. You're still a college student. Enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ranting on Gwensday

Day 22's prompt is Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel.

I've been pondering this one. I have plenty of pet peeves, lots of things that annoy me, and I've been on my soapbox about serious issues as well. But I don't feel like being super serious today so before I start the rant, I have a confession:

I am a grammar snob.

I'm not saying that every sentence I write is perfect and I know typos happen (even to me), but it amazes me how little is thought of spelling and grammar. It's one thing to make errors on your personal blog or a silly Facebook post, but when I read published articles with misspelled words or poor grammar I want to scream. And don't get me started on menus at restaurants (I recently saw a menu for a supposed Italian restaurant that misspelled "prosciutto" and "scallopini.") Really?

Today's rant specifically targets e-cards. I love a good e-card. I saved this one recently:

However, I clearly can't share it because the period is outside the quotation marks. I can live with the partial sentence "You in?" but that damn punctuation will drive me nuts.

This is how I often feel:

My absolute favorites though, are the e-cards that rant about poor grammar but are also guilty of it. Observe:

There are at least three things wrong with that card. Please, just put on the dunce cap yourself. Thanks.

And now you can look back through my post and find any mistakes I've made. ;)

Confessions of a Gila Monster

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 21 - Favorite Posts

Today's challenge is a list of links to your favorite posts in your archives.

I started blogging in September of 2011, very sporadically. I needed a creative outlet. My dad was dying, although I never really posted about that. The only people who read my blog were close friends and family, and eventually I shared my blog with Facebook friends.

Now I've made connections with lots of other bloggers and I try to post every weekday. And like it says up top, sometimes I'm silly, sometimes I'm serious, but I'm always real. So, for those of you new to the Gila party, here are some oldies but goodies.

Really? - In which I give a (very) partial list of pet peeves.

The Trifecta of Fabulousness - Talking about my birthday and Thanksgiving, which are sometimes on the same day.

Tattoo You, Tattoo Me - My first tattoo and a bonding experience with my niece.

A Slipper By Any Other Name ... Is A Biscuit - Nicknames that Aaron and I have made up.

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them - Reiterating that kids are far smarter than adults when it comes to "-isms."

And for something completely frivolous, My Week In Outfits, Inspired By Nail Polish.


Confessions of a Gila Monster

Monday, May 20, 2013

I wish I had written this earlier...

It's Day 20 of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge and the topic is: Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now.

Earlier today I still had to finish yesterday's post and I had actual work to do, then I went to the doctor because I'm certain I have a sinus infection and Sweet Brown ain't got no time for that, especially when I'm leaving for Europe in 18 days. I was putting off writing this post because I feel like during this challenge I've already talked about a few things I'm struggling with. So I was probably going to write something dumb like how my head feels like it's going to explode due to sinus pressure and I have this nasty shoulder thing going on so every time I sneeze or cough the pain is horrible. And really, that would be lame of me.

Oh, how I wish I could have written that lame post.

The devastation in Oklahoma is heartbreaking and mind-blowing. I can't even wrap my head around it. This isn't something we can blame on a mentally ill individual or guns or terrorists. This is nature at its worst. I'm hearing that people had, at most, 12 minutes to get to safety. But where would that be?

I've been watching some of the coverage but as a distraction I turned to The Voice. They're broadcasting live and of course have sent their thoughts and prayers to all those affected. The first singer tonight was Holly Tucker. She's on Blake Shelton's team (and Blake is from Oklahoma). Her song, which was chosen well before today's tragedy, was "How Great Thou Art" and frankly, it was inspirational and powerful and so appropriate. With any luck you'll be able to see it on You Tube soon but it will definitely be available on iTunes. I recommend checking it out.

And if you're inclined to pray, please pray for those in the paths of the storms and that the death toll might stop rising.

Confessions of a Gila Monster

Five of my favorite blogs (only 5?!)

Day 19 - Five of your favorite blogs and what you love about them.

I've learned a lot over the past 5 months, and I've also gotten some great tips both about blogging and about products/fashion/makeup. Here are some of them, and for the purpose of this post, I'm not including my real life friends like Steph, Candy and Shelby, nor am I including Marla because I already wrote about her here.

In no particular order:

Love, Fun and Football - Erin had me at football, even though her favorite team is a big rival of my favorite team (we just won't talk about that right now). She did my fabulous blog design and when I decided to jump into sponsoring blogs, Erin was my first choice and she's been fantastic! She only lives a couple hours from me so I hope to meet her in person someday.

Hey, Hollywood - Holly lives in Columbus, so I'd really better meet her sometime; maybe at the Crawl for Cancer this weekend (on second thought, maybe that's not such a good idea for a first meeting!). A little while ago, Holly wrote about Key Socks. I immediately ordered some and they are the bomb for wearing with flats or pumps and pants. Check it out:

Maskcara - Cara's a makeup artist (and she's up for Allure's Beauty Blogger Award) and I've implemented so many tips from her blog I can't even count them. She does a lot of video tutorials, which are super helpful. She's gotten me to try pink lipstick (a huge feat) and to buy this, which is THE best eye shadow primer I've ever used, but she also has a recipe for a homemade one as well:

Helene in Between - Helene is a must read every day. She's funny, genuine and she'll dance anyone under the table. She gives great advice on things like What to Wear to a Festival and How to Prepare for a First Blate (blate = blogger date or meetup). She also has a ferocious-looking but super sweet dog named Hugo.

Because Shanna Said So - Shanna is a fashion blogger and a total sweetheart, and she was recently selected as the US Blogger Ambassador for Wallis Fashion, which took her on a trip to London. While voting for her, I checked out their clothing and after she won, I ordered this (bonus: I ordered a size smaller than I normally would and amazingly it fits!):

This was hard only because I had to narrow it down to five!

Confessions of a Gila Monster

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A story from childhood

Day 18 of the challenge: Tell a story from your childhood. Dig deep and try to be descriptive about what you remember and how you felt.

This is hard, mainly because while my mind is like a steel trap when it comes to facts or things like what our home phone number was from age 3 to age 9 (814-864-7637), I don't always remember events very clearly. But here's one that I think explains some of my insecurities that I wrote about it earlier this month.

There were a couple summers that my family went camping at Cook Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania. This particular year I was maybe 10 and while we were in the parking lot my parents spotted some friends who just happened to be there the same week. My dad told me to go over and let them know that we were there. So I did, and it certainly never occurred to me that I should tell them who I was. I said "my dad wanted me to come over and say hi" and they didn't recognize me. I was embarrassed and felt silly, and to this day I just assume that people won't recognize me. Of course now I realize that my going over there was completely out of context so of course they wouldn't know me right away, and I also realize that just because I'm good at remembering names and faces doesn't mean everyone is.

I'm not saying this one incident scarred me for life, but obviously it has stuck with me.

Confessions of a Gila Monster

Friday, May 17, 2013

Favorite picture (of me)

Day 17 - we're over halfway there - and this is an easy one: A favorite photo of yourself and why.

In 2001 Aaron and his sisters and their husbands and our niece Lauren had pictures taken to give to Aaron's parents for Christmas. Our photo shoot was at Goodale Park in Columbus; who knew that six years later we would be living in walking distance to the park. I was so pleased with how well all these pictures turned out (and there were a LOT). I'm going to sort of cheat here and show you two. I think the "why" is obvious. Besides the fact that my hair looks amazing, they're just such happy pictures!

You can tell this is older because Aaron has hair! I wanted to use that one because you can see my face, but this next one is my true favorite and it's on my desk at work.

And now, for your listening pleasure, and in honor of Put on Purple Day for Lupus Awareness and my bloggy friend Marla, I'm linking up with Whitney for #backthatazzupfriday.

Purple Rain by Prince & The Revolution on Grooveshark

Confessions of a Gila Monster

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My "lot in life"

Day 16: Something difficult about your "lot in life" and how you're working to overcome it.

Really? I don't think I have much to bitch about. Of course I still DO, but that's just whining.

There was a time when I would have talked about infertility. (And looky, I'm still going to - woohoo!) Aaron and I were very young when we got married (21 and 23) and we intended to have kids, but that didn't quite work out. We opted against treatments and figured "if it happens it happens; if not, we'll deal." We were open to the idea of adoption but eventually we decided that our life together was just fine and we're very happy where we are today. I'm not going to pretend that was an easy journey. There were tears and anger, but I don't feel any kind of loss now. It's all good, and we love to bribe spoil our nieces and nephews, fully expecting that they will take care of us in our old age. (Kidding, kind of.)

The thing that weighs heaviest on me right now is something I've been talking about a lot throughout this challenge, and that's my job/career/livelihood. And frankly, I just need to kick myself in the ass and make a change.

In the meantime, I'm just cruising along, enjoying life!

Confessions of a Gila Monster

PS - Tomorrow is Put on Purple Day for Lupus Awareness. I'll be wearing purple to support my friend Marla and all those who suffer from this nasty disease. Join me!