Monday, November 3, 2014

What my 7 year old niece taught me

As I'm sure you know(being that I continuously write about it, sing about it, shout it through the roof tops, and spend most days in a deep mind trance drooling over the mere thought of it) I'm a fan of home. And no, I don't mean Charleston.  Charleston can eff off.  I'm a fan of the true South.  The it's so humid I look like I just bathed in the bayou or stumbled upon a mysterious shower located seconds outside (insert frequented jive spot here) south.  I gush over Louisiana so much so that some would think I actually have stock in Jindal and his efforts to ruin rule the world, but trust me… I'm too southern to understand stocks.  I've been visiting home a lot lately.  Mostly because it's the only way my family can get me to shut up, but also because everyone I love is there and I've been quite the love snob lately.

I was able to spend a large part of my time with my niece during this past trip home, and as if I didn't already know, she once again proved to be a pure genius with true Maya Angelou strength and enough girl power to make you question starting up a real life Power Puff gang.  She has grit I can only dream of, confidence I'm just down right envious of, and a heart so full of love and pain that she'll make you want to wrap up in a big blanket and devote the rest of your life to cuddling and baking cookies.  I'm telling you - the girl is my hero.  Sometimes, with all of the madness of being a part of a crazy, loud southern family, I forget that she's seven.  I forget that she still needs me.  But that's mainly because most of the time I'm the one who needs her.

We had a mini road trip to my grandmother's, and here are a few things she taught me that I think ever girl human should know…

1. When life hands you lemons, which it often does, cry about it.  For real.  Let that shit out.  Then, get some ice cream, put on some big girl panties and turn up Taylor Swift as loud as you can.

2. If your pants are too tight, get a bigger size pant - not a smaller cookie.

3. Swimming, diving, cannonballs, toothpicks, spank-the-babies, and sliding down the pool slide are all best done naked.

4. "I don't like boys.  Unless they're cute."

5. What ice cream can't fix - dancing can.

6. A big butt is a good thing.  "Cap, I can always find you because of your big butt!"

There ya go, friends!  Knowledge only a feisty little seven year old can provide. 

Now, SHAKE IT OFF!  Or whatever else your gorgeous heart desires. 


Monday, June 9, 2014

A Love Letter to Elton

Dearest Elton,

I realize you receive fan mail from star struck individuals boasting of your talent and complementing you on your lively use of velvet attire and that dangling cross earring you sometimes wear in your right ear, but this – this is different.  This is to confess a love that far surpasses that sappy, boy band keenness those other yanks think they feel.  Allow me to elaborate… When asked a cheesy life question pertaining to whom you’d choose to dine, chat or meet with if given the opportunity, I forgo the typically stockpile Gandhi, Jesus, or lost friend answers and choose you.  Because, quite honestly – aren’t you all of the above?

As a young child, I heard my mother play all of your albums in her gold Cutlass Ciera, or the “Cut Dog” as we coined it.  I watched as her mood gradually shifted from frustrated, single mother of three to a woman singing “Your Song” with uncharted ambition, desire and a full heart.  To be fair, we all felt the magic, but I suppose you are well aware of the powerful, strongholds your music has on one’s emotions.  Personally, as a young, twenties something with no notable music background, I think that’s what you do best.  You play for people who “keep it turned on”.  You play to inspire, to create connections, and I hope to reflect your own personality - because that’s what I’ve come to believe.  When Diana died, I thought I knew her.  Because I thought I knew you, and “Candle in the Wind” contributed more tears than the divorce of my parents, or the accidental burning of my Barney pillow.  Your music allowed me to feel a connection to a world I knew little about.  It continually challenged me to play piano sheet music that clearly surpassed my mediocre skills, forced me to belt out “Levon” – though I didn’t know the full meaning of longing and desperation present in the lyrics, and proved to be the root of a lifelong mockery as I once mistook the chorus to Tiny Dancer for “hold me close I’m trying to dance here”.  Be it intentional or an accidental correlation, you consistently proved to be there through the challenging moments of a young life in transition.  That’s love, friend.  A love I still have found no match to.

There was, in honesty, a brief moment when I took into great consideration your preferred gender.  However, that instant quickly faded as my deep, unrequited love rushed to barricade all rationality and typicality from entering into the dark corners of my small brain function.  I was, and remain, a young girl in love.  So, despite those other guys and gals in line, I like to think you’d choose me in the long run.  Or, at the very least, maybe pencil me into that little black book of lovers.  It’s going to happen - if only for one night.

Civic Center.  Charleston, West Virginia.  Wednesday night.  Be there with your red shoes on.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Creative Writing

There are many crazy things I do to fill my free time, but writing about home is my favorite.  Hope you all get a little taste of cajun love from this short story...  :)


Hot Air
Mamaw and Bijou set off to discover the bluff behind the fields.  The cotton was taller that Sunday, and the air was heavy.  The trapped moisture seemed to combat the gusts from a warm breeze - creating a harmonious hum through the uniformed rows.  Neither Mamaw nor Bijou knew the specifics to the farm’s depth, and they had little confidence in its stability.  That was Papaw’s thing.  He kept the farm intact while the rest of the world sat back and wondered where cotton balls came from. 
“You find that balloon?”
“Yes, I have it.”
“You packed dat string?”
“Yes, Mamaw.”
“You sure you packed dat string?  Dat’s the most important part.”
“Yes, Papaw cut the string.” 
“What a pauvre bĂȘte.”
“But I love him all the same.” 
“Why do you need a balloon?”
“We need it, Bijou.”  You gonna see when you’re meant to.”
Bijou carefully walked through the rows, while Mamaw barreled through with an obvious intent to escape the grid.
“Watch your step, Mamaw.  That’s the new row!”
“Oh sha!  If those seeds can’t handle a lil’ pressure now, dey sure gonna die when dey sprout.”
“Well, there’s no need to make it harder for them, or Papaw.  You know he gets pissy if the rows aren’t even.”
“Co faire?”
“He says it takes away from the natural beauty.”
“Natural?  Mais, jamiais d’la vie! Dis ain’t natural.  He planted it!”
“Papaw says he just plants what the good lord intended.”
“Go to bed!  He don’t know nothing!”
Bijou walked further into the fields.  She was not much for exploration, but the rows of cotton created an easy path for her limited hiking skills.  Mamaw continued forming her own row, bewildering Bijou to her core.  Bijou hollered through the sticky air, “Mamaw, do you ever wonder if the cotton would grow better in another pattern?”
“I wonder that all the time.”
“Why doesn’t Papaw ever try it?”
“He sticks to what he knows, sha.  Just like a pauvre bĂȘte.  His daddy thought him about farming cotton rows, and he don’t like the idea of backsliding from dat.  Ya know, Bijou, it’s fine letting your elders show you the ropes, but sometimes you gotta make your own knot.  I’ve never been one for cotton rows.”
“Maybe they need the close formation for survival, Mamaw. Do you think that helps them grow taller?”
“Nah, sha.  It’s nothing about dat.”
“But Papaw says they’re a congregation.”
“Well, now!  Just because a measly little sprig of cotton stands amongst a row of sprigs doesn’t mean that cotton is any stronger.  It just has a better hiding place.”
“But I think they need each other.  Don’t you?”
“No, Bijou.  Dey gotta make their own roots.  Dat’s the only way to really survive.  Dat’s why Papaw sticks with the rows.  He got his roots tangled up with his daddy’s, and now he’s too afraid that ole’ man was right.”
“What if he was?”
“Den I guess Papaw will be happy.”
“And what if he was wrong?”
“Den Papaw won’t know a difference.”
“But Papaw said the rows were sacred.  He said cotton was a Eunice family tradition.”
“Well, dat’s what Papaw believes.”
“What do you believe?”
Mamaw didn’t answer Bijou.  Instead she started chanting her favorite Doris Day tune, “Que Sera, Sera… whatever will be, will be…”
Bijou was lost in the cotton field motif – not listening to Mamaw’s casual reasoning.  Mamaw mumbled to herself, “She gonna hear it when she needs to.”  Then, she bellowed, “Bijou, we’re almost there!  Come over to da bluff!”  The vibrations from her voice shook the fragile cotton pods that sat flimsily on top of the tall stalks.  Bijou followed Mamaw’s robust path across the cotton rows.
“I know Papaw talks a lot about the cotton fields and these rows, but what Papaw doesn’t tell you is that you have control in that cotton’s growth too.”
Mamaw motioned for Bijou to pass the balloon and string.  She blew a strong, powerful breath into the nylon sack until it slowly grew to life.  Then, she tied it off tight and attached the polka dotted string Papaw cut for them.
“You have da power to make a difference.  You don’t have to wait for no saving grace.  I don’t want you holding on to Papaw’s small town glory.  He’s a good man, but he don’t want nothing more than these here rows.  I know you got more than that in you.”
Bijou beamed at her Mamaw as they walked closer to the edge of the bluff.  Once they grew nearer, Bijou saw a mass of bright colors floating through the sky.  The fire torched under the large, majestic balloons, and Bijou dreamed of floating in the comfort of the perfectly woven basket lead by the supremacy of the wind.  Mamaw handed Bijou their small balloon, and Bijou clasped to the polka dotted string.
“You don’t have to let it go.  Just know dat you can.”

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Two Polar Vortexes in Pictures

2014 has been cold. Like really cold. Like we've created a new weather term to describe the cold. Introducing you to Polar Vortex 1 & 2.

This was the night that the first Polar Vortex reared its chilly head.

We were keeping Mosley while Cap and J were home for the holidays. Poor pup shivered his way through our snowy walks like a trooper. I think it was 5 degrees on this particular morning.

The beauty of it all almost makes up for the debilitating cold. Almost.

When Polar Vortex Numero Dos showed up last week, it was kind of like old news... 

....until it dropped about six inches of snow in a 24 hour span.

These pictures are not an accurate representation of all of the snow. Due to the bitterest of winds, a good bit of snow was displaced. The white cat begs like a banshee to be let out on the balcony. She doesn't really know what snow is, but thankfully, she doesn't like it. This outing lasted about two minutes.

 I had to work late on Friday and nearly missed one of the most gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen. If there is one thing that I will miss about the bitter winter months, it is the jaw-dropping beauty of the sunsets. I think it must be the sun's way of showing us a little lovin' through a colorful display. I wish that I had been close to my big girl camera and in a better location to catch the perfect pinkness of the sun's rays glowing over the mountains. The intensity of the pink in the reflection on the river was nothing to the depth of color burning in the sky. IPhones just can't capture it all.

W and I basked in the 30 degree weather Saturday night and walked to the river to get some pictures of what I hoped would be another epic sunset. Alas, it was not the gloriously pink performance of the previous evening.

 There were dark and ominous clouds rushing towards us from the West.

W indulged in a few more snowballs accidentally thrown at ducks floating down the river and rolling chunks of snow down the bank before we retreated inside to the warmth and some homemade risotto.
About 30 minutes after getting inside, we had a whiteout and mini blizzard move through. It lasted for about 30 minutes and also included a phenomenon known as "snowthunder." In the middle of the blizzard, there were two lightning strikes and a loud clap of thunder. The wind was insane and we could barely see across the street.

I thought the world was surely ending.

This morning, W left for his FINAL residency interview EVER. He has an 8 hour drive to Birmingham ahead of him. Unfortunately, I have to stay behind in cold and snowy WV. We have less than a month before his rank list is due, and less than 60 days until we find out where we will spend the next 5-9 years of our life.

Exciting times! Stay warm!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

B's Woe Curing Weekend

On Friday, sleep-deprived and cold, I decided that four of the residents of 1408 could use a big, piping hot pot of soup for dinner. I felt that I owed Cap and J something major for J rescuing me at 3am from my boiler motor nightmare. W was also driving home from his interview in a snowstorm. Nothing fixes life's little woes like a pot of soup!

I love minestrone soup, so I sucked up my hate of chopping butternut squash and made Ina's winter minestrone. Make it. It won't disappoint.

I decided that we needed some serious veggies--all organic--to combat the chemical spill of the previous week. I kind of went all out. It was delicious!

On Saturday morning we did my most favorite thing ever: antiquing. I scored these awesome vintage cocktail forks for $2 at my favorite local haunt, South Charleston Antique Mall.  


I fell in love with this pink rug. I am pretty sure it belongs to the same vendor I got my Swedish MCM dining chairs from. If so, I know him personally and might be calling him this week to find out the "friend" special for this beauty. ;) I mean, even W liked it and was excited by the prospect of expanding our vintage/antique rug collection!

I mean, isn't it just perfection?!

Then, we did W's favorite thing: ethnic food, specifically Vietnamese, specifically coconut chicken curry. I love the banh mi bo.

YUM. To everything pictured above. Except maybe the dude over W's shoulder.

This is South Charleston, WV's downtown, where the antique shop and Yen's are located. Interesting fact, South Charleston is actually west of Charleston--its just on the south side of the river. Directly behind me is a prehistoric Indian burial mound.

It was about 20 degrees and sneeting (snowing/sleeting). But, W and I (sans my super warm $130 coat.....) braved it and the ankle-breaking stone steps.

On Sunday, we indulged in a little thing (and new weekly tradition--for better or worse) I like to call cheese o'clock. The boys also got together and had a rather stress-inducing chat about residency. I just stuffed my face with cheese, plugged my ears and hummed.

So far, this weekend has proven to be the antithesis to the first two weeks of 2014. Let's keep this up, universe!


*Editor's note: This post should have gone up mid-week but yet another string of bad luck pushed it from my mind. Just call me Scrooge. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I went home, and found a little Cap.

Water line from Hurricane Katrina.  My Pops used to call me "Katrina, Katrina"... I couldn't resist.

Hi friends,

It's been quite a while since I've blogged, and for that... I am truly sorry!  I've been enjoying life outside of the internet lately, and as grandma as it sounds... I have become a fan of silence.  I drink my coffee in silence, sit on the couch in silence, run in silence, drive in silence... you get the picture.  I worked in a coffee shop inside a very crowded mall over the holidays, and I became a lover for all things silent and non-christmasy.  Yes, I was a down right scrooge, and I'm only just now becoming a better, kinder individual!  J and I spent Christmas in Charleston without our families this year.  I cried, ate cajun inspired meals and drank mimosas the whole way through.  We were able to go home a few days after Christmas, and Cap, as you once knew her, was officially restored.

I can love again!

It's funny how much I talk about home these days.  I'm sure my local friends are sick of my constant gush over New Orleans, Gumbo, Eggs Benedict, my family, boudin, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, King Cake, and did I mention food?  I talk about food a lot.  I'm always so happy to go home, and I always turn into a little 2 year old (who just found out her mother will not let her eat ice cream for breakfast) whenever I have to leave.  It's a really sad, hilarious, sobbing, red nosed, puffy face sight... and honestly, I should film it one day so I can make millions for looking like a total spastic case.  Home is one of those places that I know I love, but it's only when I'm there that I realize...

I really effing love this place and all of the crazy, glorious people who live here.

Apparently, 2014 is the year Cap turns into a hormonal woman.  At least, that's the only explanation I can conjure up for the flooding of my tear ducts.  2014 has transformed me into a crier.  I wish it weren't so, but these days... I can only express happiness, sadness, love, passion, excitement and fear through crying.  What is wrong with me?

From the moment I landed in Baton Rouge, the tears flowed down like waterfalls, and they only semi slowed pace two days ago.  My friends and family could only laugh at my lame attempt to fight back the tears.  Here's why:

I cried when I thought I couldn't spend my sister's birthday with her in New Orleans.
I cried when I found out I could.
I cried when I saw my BFF, Corbin, in the airport.
I cried when I realized how tall he was.
I cried when I noticed Jackson was a tall, smart, freakishly handsome, crazy-cool teenager.
I cried when my Father-in-Law bragged on me.
I cried when my niece cried over not getting to spend the night with me.
I cried when she spent the night with me.
I cried when she read to me.
I cried when I was road tripping with my mom and realized I only had two more days with her.
I cried when I saw my nephew for the first time.
I cried when I left the Graham's and Brown's house.
I cried when Nicole bought me a King Cake.
I cried during a massage.
I cried during an evening run.
And I nearly had a flat out heart attack when I left my grandmother.

....And I'm crying now as I type about crying.  BLAH!

I can't describe what leaving home  4 years ago was like, but I'm going to try like hell in these next few sentences...

Leaving was an adventure.  It was fun, challenging, exciting, motivating, and scary.  I wasn't nervous about leaving, I was only nervous that I may find something outside of Louisiana that would make me not want to go back.  And, if I'm being honest, that has already happened (which is why I think I cry so much these days).  I love home, and all of the people in it... but if you ask me to make a definite answer to continue living my dreams, or go home - I would probably disappoint you.  J and I always talk about going home, but that reality is still 6-7 years away.  We both have plans to discover uncharted land, and I love that more.  The scary thing is that I can make all of these brave, selfish decisions when I'm stuck in Charleston, WV for a while, but when you bring me home.... I just want to pitch a tent on Highland road, and throw all of those crazy scholarly aspirations to the curbside.

Anyway... this is not my journal, so I will stop boring you with my rambling, mind labyrinth.


While I was home, I got to spend some quality time with my sister.  She constantly reminds me that one can never be too late, overdressed, too smart, or have too much fun.

She makes this whole life thing grand.

She dressed me in her designer wear.
I felt so fetch.

After my New Orleans trip with Leah, I went back to Baton Rouge to smother myself in family, friends, nonacademic reading, and (once again) good food.  These pictures should be able to tell a better story...

I hope you all were able to discover a little bit of yourself over the holidays...
Welcome to 2014!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Grimacing a Smile

It should be no surprise to you that last week was a rough one for me and pretty much all of Charleston, West Virginia and the adjacent eight counties. Oh, you live under a rock? Inform yourself!

You might remember from this post that I was already commiserating the pretty miserable start to a week that I had no idea was only going to get worse, i.e. the chemical spill that tainted the tap water of nearly 300,000 people. The week started off as any first week of a new year should with a BANG. But there are good BANGS and bad BANGS and this was most definitely a bad BANG.

It started off with two days of below zero temperatures that my furnace could only keep up with to the tune of 62 degrees in our apartment. Luckily, I had my new and incredibly warm winter coat to help me fight back.

Until that is the realization that this $130 winter coat that had quickly become the love of my life had a gigantic tear sprouting from the top of the zipper. This tear was not an easy fix and was only getting bigger. Said coat had to be shipped back to COLUMBIA at my expense so that they could analyze it for 4-6 weeks to determine whether or not the tear was a result of my error or manufacturer's error and thus covered by a warranty to be repaired or replaced. I will keep you updated on this one. But just know that my cold little heart will be shivering for the next 4 to 6 weeks sans my dear, beloved coat.

Typical J and W.

Then, my Hunter boots, graciously gifted to me by Victoria, both sprung a leak. On the same day. BOTH OF THEM. I wanted to cry. I wear those things ever day, everywhere. I feel a little lost without them. I have contacted Hunter but have yet to hear back from them concerning possible repairs, which I would gladly pay for myself. So, in the meantime, :( sad face.

Then, a tree fell on my office and my car. You will remember that from my earlier post. The car is okay just sporting some new scratches and dents. No biggie, right?

Yeah, no biggie, until said car breaks down on W while he is interviewing 6 hours away. You won't believe what it took to fix it. $500!!!!!!!!!!

But that happened after the chemical leak--news of which broke to the public at about 6pm. TEN HOURS AFTER THE CHEMICAL HAD SEEPED INTO THE ELK RIVER AND SUBSEQUENTLY OUR WATER SYSTEMS. I was aware of a very funky smell in my apartment bathroom at about 5:15 on Thursday afternoon. I didn't think much of it and decided to go for a run, which thankfully didn't progress past a brisk walk. Nearing the end of my walk, I received a text message from a friend warning of the chemical spill. Sure enough, by the time I got home around 5:50, we and about 299,998 people were under a water ban. Water was only to be used for flushing toilets and putting out fires. Comforting, right? W left for his interview the next morning, lucky guy. He got a nice hot, hotel shower! I, well, I washed my hair in a bucket with two inches of water and a bottle of water. Invigorating.

That Saturday, Cap, J and I ventured about 30 minutes west of town to a non-tainted water area to shower at the YMCA. When we got there, the women's line was about 30 people long and I nearly had a meltdown right there next to the kiddie pool. I had left my phone in the car and went to retrieve it, and ran into our savior. No, not that savior. This savior was Meagan, a fellow Junior League girl who I barely knew. That sweet lady invited us to her friend's house where she was staying because of the spill and we were able to shower. Then, we ate restaurant food, which = food you don't have to clean up after since there is no usable water to wash dishes and/or make said food. What a way to lift your spirits!

Until, W calls and tells of his car trouble in the middle of your delicious mushroom-smothered patty melt and margarita.

Happy Freaking 2014, B. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

We were without water from Thursday afternoon until Monday at noon. I showered that afternoon and have had no adverse effects. The smell in the water was the worst in our apartment on Saturday and Sunday. It was so bad that I had to open windows because it was burning my eyes. By Monday and after the "flush," the smell was still noticeable but was not hurting my eyes like before.

(By the way, we continue to drink, cook and brush our teeth with bottled water.)

So, things were looking up, right? Wrong.

Wednesday afternoon, the heat in the office breaks. No biggie. Its fixed Thursday afternoon.

:) Happy face.

Skip to the wee hours of this (Friday) morning--3am to be exact--and I am awakened by the loudest roaring and rattling I have ever heard coming from our radiators. (Did I mention that W left Thursday for an interview 6 hours away??!) It literally sounded like the house was about to take off and shoot into outer space. My heart was pounding and I had no clue what to do, so I sat on the floor and called W, sobbing into my hands and praying for a break. I thought that surely the whole house must have been roaring and was waiting for Cap and J to call, but nothing. I ran outside and their lights were still off. Of course, it was a B problem. Just little ole lonesome me and an exploding boiler. Duh. Silly me for thinking I had company in my troubles. I called and texted Cap and J until I finally woke them up (sorry, guys!). By that time, I had turned my thermostat down and the noise was getting fainter. J came to the rescue and we shut the gas off from the boiler. I got back in the bed at 4am and lay there wide awake until about 5:15. The fear of a boiler/gas explosion was pretty minimal at that point, but I couldn't ignore the rhythmic "whom-whom-whom" of the boiler motor that continued to spin for the rest of the morning. I catnapped off and on until 9.

Thanks to a 3:30am phone call to my landlord and subsequent text messages, a repairman was at the house by 11. Luckily, the motor just needed a little bit of oil and all is fixed. Such a simple solution for something I thought would surely end in death.

But, man! I tell you, the universe is seriously trying to make herself heard.

Universe, you have my full attention.