Sunday, May 26, 2013

Remembering 1994

This picture is of me and Carmen Dell Murphy on May 26, 1995, a day after Carmen's 14th birthday.  We both had May birthdays and loved that fact.  "May birthdays are the best!" Carmen was my best friend for 2 years of my life in junior high. She wasn't my only best friend. There were four of us.  Nicole, Kathryn, Carmen, and me. Together we helped each other through those awkward early teenage years. Then I moved away. 

I moved the summer before our freshman year of high school not long after this picture was taken.  I only moved an hour and a half north, but this was before cell phones, email, and facebook.  Basically the stone age. We wrote each other letters. I went to visit, and they came to visit. They became my "best friends from junior high" which is still how I refer to all of them. It's like because of the move they couldn't ever move on from that label. 

We had some very good times. Carmen had a juke box and a bottled coke machine at her house so of course that was our favorite hang out spot.  The sleep overs we would have.  Carmen and I cheered together, and we used to call each other and tell each other to make sure to wear our favorite "tradition" cheerleading shirts with neon green shorts the next day.  Being twins was super cool at 13. Carmen is the reason I like country music. I always felt good enough with Carmen as my best friend.  She was smart, pretty, and so kind. We had crushes on best friends. We made up nicknames for our crushes on those best friends. We traveled to Myrtle Beach for cheerleading competitions. We spent hours listening to Joe Diffie's album, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and cracking up over the two ridiculously silly songs at the end.  The somewhat ridiculous Jason Aldean song, 1994, takes me back so clearly to that time. We watched the movie 8 Seconds and cried our eyes out late at night.  We passed a ridiculous amount of notes (that I still have).  We helped each other through insecurities and made each other love life. 

After I moved, we did stay in touch.  We actually ended up both attending Purdue.  We didn't see each other a lot, but whenever her roomates and she would have a party, she would invite me and I would go and catch up.  Sometimes Nicole would come up from IU, and we would all hang out.  They were still best friends, no junior high adjective needed. We grew apart. She had a serious boyfriend, and I was busy with my various college involvements (there were a lot). We were both good students. We lost touch.

After college she went on to get her Physician's Assistant degree.  We reconnected via Myspace.  She lived in Pittsburgh for awhile and then back to our small town outside of Louisville. I moved to South Carolina. And then one early Sunday morning, I received a call from Kathryn, which was unusual. I was actually getting ready for church and almost didn't answer, but it took me by such surprise that I did. She told me that Carmen was dying of cancer.  I think colon cancer.  Not that she had cancer; that she was dying of cancer.  She said it had been going on for the last few months (nothing was on myspace), and she and some of our other friends realized that I probably didn't know. She wanted to let me know to see if I could make it up to our small town hospital to say my goodbyes. I would need to come within the next week or two. I didn't make it. She died during that week. That Sunday in October will live forever in my mind. The guilt I felt for not knowing and getting to try to comfort her and say goodbye, the complete and utterly overwhelming sadness, the sermon at church that seemed to be aimed directly at me and this situation even though it wasn't. The phone call to my mom where I could barely speak for crying. Ben was understanding, but he didn't know Carmen. My mom did. She knew she was special.  She went to the hospital and saw Carmen and her mom and some of my old friends. She shared that sorrow with me.

I made it to the funeral in Indiana the following Saturday, not even a full week after I heard the news. It was such an odd time. I was excited and happy to see my friends who I hadn't seen in years. Some of them I literally had not seen since I moved. But how can you be happy at a funeral for a friend who made us all friends?  We laughed, and we cried. I felt like an intruder to their sorrow. I felt so sad, but I kind of felt like I didn't deserve to be that sad because Carmen and I had lost touch. They were the ones there for her for the past few years, not me. It's a weird weird feeling. I sometimes still feel that guilt or intrusion, like I shouldn't miss her like they do. I don't deserve it. But the truth is that I do miss her. I don't know how to describe it, but even when we lost touch, it comforted me to know she was out there in the world living her life. When you love someone, I think you don't ever want to truly let them go from your life. She made my life better, and I still grieve for her. I can still hear her laugh.  She had a great laugh.

Carmen was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a fiance, a dog mom, a PA, and the very best kind of friend.  She lost her battle with cancer at the age of 27, and she would have turned 32 yesterday.  It was 18 years ago today that we took that picture. I always think of her on May 25th and will always be grateful for the memories I have and for May birthdays. She made this world a better place.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Office

So with all the retrospectives about The Office going around, I felt like I should contribute.  The Office has been one of my all time favorite shows.  I love TV so that's saying a lot.  Ben doesn't love TV the same way I do, but this show was special to both of us and our relationship.  I mentioned it before, but there was one night in particular that stands out for me.  Ben and I were in a long distance relationship for a long time (which is another post in and of itself).  I was visiting him in Clemson from Indianapolis where I lived.  Ben lived in an apartment with a brick wall so he set up a dart board.  I get pretty competitive, but Ben will never let me win (thanks for that).  We stayed up the entire night playing darts and watching episodes of The Office, maybe seasons 2 & 3??, and just having a great time.  It's such a good memory for me.
There are just so many ridiculously hilarious moments in this show over the years.  Yes, I think it changed a bit when Steve Carell left, but there still so many fabulous moments.  Watching these retrospectives I was reminded of so many absolutely gut wrenching funny moments that I had forgotten about over the years.  I think we have the first 5 or 6 seasons, and I'm really looking forward to going back and watching them. It was just truly the best.  Let's remember:
  • Agent Michael Scarn
  • Michael and his jeans
  • Andy and his anger control issues
  • Big Tuna
  • All the hilarious pranks Jim pulled on Dwight
  • The Injury (my personal favorite)
  • The fight
  • The assistant to the regional manager
  • That's what she said (obviously)
  • Prison Mike
  • Michael's lady suit
  • Oscar and Andy getting drunk and bonding in Canada
  • I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.
  • Yankee SWAP
  • Andy's southern accent...It's like molasses spilling out of my mouth
  • and soo soo many more
(And Jim and Pam....THE BEST.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Seriously beautiful up there huh?  So in 3 days, I will have been in Montalcino exactly one year ago.  I'm not really sure what happens to the time, but I'm ready to blog our day adventure.  As you can see, I'm totally on top of things over here.

So Montalcino.  I explained in my Siena post that our one truly spontaneous moment took place when we decided to take a day trip to Montalcino.  With some help of Carlotta, we figured out how to buy bus tickets and where to catch the bus (not the main bus station).  It's important to know that neither Ben nor I speak any Italian.  We learned some basic words, like hello, please, thank you, glass of red wine, but that's pretty much it.  I was pretty proud that I learned to order two bus tickets though.  Anyway, we waited at a bus stop on the side of the road outside the town gates constantly repeating the bus number because we only had one chance to catch the bus that day for the hour long ride to Montalcino.  When it came, it was FULL.  And I mean full.  We didn't really know what to do, and we couldn't really ask.  Two or so people pushed their way on in front of us so we did too.  I mean it was our one chance!  We were standing in the aisle, past the little line, basically crowding the bus driver who didn't seem to care at all.  Remember this was an HOUR long drive along country roads.  I was sweating up a storm sure I was going to fall right onto someone, the bus driver, or the windshield.  Every stop I kept hoping someone would get off, but no one did.  Then at one stop, this little old lady got on and pushed her way on just like we did.  At that point, I had one hand able to grasp the back of a seat, and Ben, behind me, squeezed my knee between his legs to help steady me on curves.  Finally at some stops, a few people would get off, but that meant we all had to get off the bus in order to let them out.  The little old lady at one stop just started chuckling, saying something to me in Italian, and rested her head on my shoulder.  So apparently the fullnes of the bus was not normal, and it was nice to commiserate together without even being able to understand each other.  About half hour or so into the drive, about half the bus, all teenagers, got off in a small town, and we were able to get seats and breathe the rest of the way.  It was an experience.

When we arrived in Montalcino, we were blown away by how pretty it was.  We walked around the walls of the city and went to a wine tasting room in the fortress.  We tried another glass sitting outside of Caffe Fiaschetteria Italiana, a cafe founded by the creater of Brunello,  until the cold got to us.  We walked some more and ended up at a wine store where you could swipe your card, taste a bottle, repeat as many times as you wanted, and then pay at the end.  If you bought the bottle you tried, the tasting was free.  Unfortunately we didn't have any room to fit wine bottles into our backpacks especially at the beginning of the trip.  We finally ended up eating dinner at a random restaurant where the entire back windows were the view of the hills.  Amazing.  But really the Brunello was the star of the day.  That wine is good, let me tell you.  A bit pricey over here, but oh so delicious.

The wine tasting was in here


We sat outside in the seating you see there on the right.

This wall had the stone painted on it.  It cracked me up.

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Now do yourself a favor and go try some Brunello!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


So here's the thing--I'm not really a blogger. Yes, I have this blog, but I'm not a writer, and as you can see, I rarely update it.  I've never really been a writer.  Yes, I did win my grade's Young Author awards in maybe the 4th grade with my inspiring story about my family and my neighbors living in Biosphere 2, also the title.  I did not win the county, but the school is decent enough right?  I also tend to ramble so coherent writing isn't really my thing.  However, I am a reader.  A voracious reader.  I would pretty much be choosing to read a good book at any time rather than anything else I could be doing.  Especially if it included a glass of wine and maybe some brie.  Blog reading has basically become my modern form of reading.  It doesn't replace a book, but I feel like I get to know and follow along with a life and an adventure every time I discover a new blog that I love.  And I really love it.  I love discovering a new one and reading a few posts then bookmarking it.  (So apparently there are technologies I should be using other than GFC??  I just bookmark the blog in my favorites really.)  I then start at the begining of the archives and slowly make my way through AFTER I've caught up on all the new posts from the blogs for which I've previously done this.  Then I get sad because it's like a good book series---except it's not over!  I get to keep reading. 

So basically I love the blog world.  I feel like I need to have a blog to participate, but I really think that even if I do get going on posting consistently, my love is really going to come from continuing to read and become internet friends with the authors of all my favorite blogs.  Also, I have a LOT to learn regarding HTML and how to make a pretty looking blog. 

FYI--the picture has nothing to do with this AND I was watching one of the last episodes of The Office while I was finishing this and got all teary.  That show was the best.  My husband and I actually spent an entire night (I'm talking until like 3-4am) once when I was visiting him back when we were still dating (long distance stinks) playing darts and watching episodes of The Office. I feel like it means a lot to our relationship, and even though it hasn't been quite the same the last few years since Michael left, I'm still so sad it's ending.  Jim and Pam forever. :)