Sunday, September 20, 2009

Two more things checked off . . .

I realize it's been awhile since I last posted so I owe you all as my fellow readers (all three of you) some answers.

Let me begin by saying today was a lot more enjoyable than last Sunday. After heading to Durham on the 11th I had a lot of soul-searching to do. I was absolutely engulfed with emotion when I stepped back on Duke's campus, realizing how much I missed it. However, it also saddened me to think I would not have my wedding in Newton. Having seen both venues it became evident that, if I wanted to have something special for both Robbie and me, the wedding would have to be in Durham.

With these revelations came a Sunday of emotion followed by last week's whirlwind of phone calls, tears to my parents, reassurances by my parents, questions of whether the coveted space was lost, debates about guest lists (already?!), etc. Needless to say, I enter this week with our reception (and possibly our ceremony site) confirmed, the date set in stone, and all of the wedding party notified -- well, almost-- *ah hem*, Robbie, get on it.

So, where and when you ask? The locale will be steps from where Robbie and I met and fell in love. The ceremony will either be at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club or the Duke University Chapel and the reception confirmed for the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club on October 9, 2010 in the evening. It will be Robbie's Fall Break and I am just pleased that it will be even more of a special day for both of us. I look forward to exposing our closest family and friends to such an amazing place as Duke and am very pleased that it will be the setting for our mutual declaration of love to each other.

Dear old Duke. Thy name we will definitely sing on a crisp (hopefully) Fall weekend next October.

Next up, dress shopping!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Let's Get it Started

This is a big week for me for two reasons (don't question why I am only discussing this now, on a Wednesday, when there are only two more days left in the week). Both reasons are equally important to me and both reasons revolve around two very crucial fixtures in my life -- Robbie and TV.

I'll address the latter first. TV. Those of you who know me can attest to my obsession with all things reality TV (and a few sitcoms and dramas thrown in). My routine after 6:00 pm is to be in front of the television set anticipating that nights' shows. I read with one eye on the set, I eat dinner with both eyes on the set and I surf the Internet with neither eye on the set, only a quick glance up every now and again so that I do not miss a critical plot twist, immunity challenge or rose ceremony. In fact, part of the reason for starting this blog was to divert my interest in a more emotionally satisfying direction away from mindless starting at a talking box. Well, all I have to say is thank God for DVR.

Now, why is this week a big week for my love for TV? It's Fall Season Premiere week!!!!! This week kicks off two of my dozen or so shows I plan on watching this Season. Tonight? Glee and America's Next Top Model. Sorry President Obama, I'll watch your speech on YouTube. This is the night I have been waiting for since that night in June when I realized The Bachelorette was over and Big Brother wasn't doing it for me anymore.

So, the second reason this is a big week for me revolves around Robbie. In July, he signed up for an entire lifetime with me by asking me to marry him. Having said yes, the two of us enjoyed about two months of engagement bliss. And then we began to plan. After much debate -- or more like me explaining the pros and cons of various dates to Robbie while he responds with "whatever you want" -- we (I) have officially set the date. October 9, 2010. Never thought I would have a Fall wedding but I'll probably explain the logic behind this date in some other post. For now, we are deciding where to have the wedding and it is narrowed down between my hometown of Newton and the place that brought us together, Duke University. Tomorrow and Friday I have meetings lined up with the key wedding players for my dream wedding at both locales so that they can try to woo me to their venues, atmospheres, wedding packages, etc. Pressure is on to say the least.

I acknowledge that this is the third biggest wedding-planning decision behind choosing the right guy to meet you at the end of the aisle and choosing that specific day that you will remind said guy of each year, so I am feeling very eager to have the decision made yet hesitant to actually make it. They both have their pros and cons and you can be sure I am weighing each one heavily (just ask my roommate).

That being said, a lot is going on in the next few days and I promise to update you on the outcomes of these hours in front of the TV and hours in front of caterers, wedding directors, etc. Let's just hope that in one year I am as, if not more so, excited about the 2010 Fall TV Season and our upcoming wedding (come on Glee, don't blow all this hype). I imagine I will be, but if not, I can count on taking a break from tying mesh bags of birdseed closed to focus a little on Michael Scott and who is not the biggest loser for that week.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day

I imagine there is little in this world that is more pleasing than getting a day off without worrying about using one's Paid Time Off or being concerned about the number of messages in one's inbox and voicemail box or feeling guilty because even though one gets vacation days, doesn't one still feel a little selfish at times for taking time off knowing others are at work picking up the slack for your not being there?

Enter Labor Day (and other federal holidays). For about nine to eleven days out of the year, depending upon your employer, you don't have to worry about such minutiae. Instead, the vast majority of 9-to-5ers are off as well and you can just enjoy sleeping till 10 am (thank you Newt, for not waking me up), catching up on your reading (I went through, like, ten People Magazines and Entertainment Weekly's in about fifteen minutes), and enjoying lunch out without having to fit it into a thirty-minute window (if you can find a place open -- some eating establishments also observe Federal Holidays -- specifically the Vietnamese Restaurant we like to frequent. Odd.).

As the evening approaches, and the sun begins to set, the feeling of work on Tuesday may seem a little less-than-thrilling. But, knowing that Monday is really Tuesday should lighten the gloomy Sunday-evening feeling a little, right? My usual Subway-lunch run that I take on Tuesdays will be even more awesome tomorrow because it will feel like a Monday and I'll pretend I'm being all maverick-ey. My Tuesday updates will be even more interesting because we can first discuss our Labor Day events which will distract the other participants from the four-page agenda I will have distributed showing what needs to be discussed. And my post-work TV time will be even more enjoyable because, instead of thinking I have two nights between me and some quality time with NeNe, Kim, Lisa, Kandi, and Sheree, I will actually have only one!

Yes, summer may be theoretically over, but at least we get a day off to deal with it. I am grateful to live in a country that bookends summer with two long weekends for our personal use. So whether you are anticipating Columbus Day, Veterans Day, or, like me, holding out for Thanksgiving, I say to you still, God bless America!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Nothing could be finer.

Yes, it is 8 am on the Saturday of a three-day-weekend and instead of being curled up with Newt, fast asleep, I am up and at 'em.  Why?  Because it's the first Saturday of College Football Season. And I am ex-sigh-ted.

Fall is my favorite season and football is my favorite sport (besides curling) but I'm not sure which came first -- my love for the season which means football is starting or my love for football which means fall is here.  It's a question I'll have to ask God one day right after I find out which came first, the chicken or the egg.

In any case, the two go hand in hand.  I love the crispness of the air when I walk out onto the balcony in the morning -- I love how I know I won't be sweating up a storm within ten minutes of stepping outside -- I love how the day starts out with minimum humidity so my hair has a chance at looking decent -- and I love how I look better in sweaters and jeans . . . and now, on this Saturday, I love how I will be with my family at Grove Stadium in Winson-Salem munching on seven-layer dip, spicy asian noodle salad, and some Bojangles chicken tenders before heading in to pull for the Demon Deacons against the Baylor Bears.  

The reality of the arrival of the two really hit me when I went to the Panthers/Steelers game Thursday night here in Charlottesburgh (newly named considering how many Steelers fans were in attendance).  It was the last exhibition game for the Panthers and I was excited to know that for the next dozen+ Sundays, I will be watching regular season football.  Yes, the Panthers lost and yes, we left at halftime but there was still that excitement in the air when Sir Purr's flag emitted a fountain of sparks as the team ran out and it was evident as we made our way into the stadium through the tailgaters who were taking up too many spaces in the parking lot (side note, there should be some way to regulate that -- I almost hit a ten-year-old punk in a Roethlisberger jersey because his cornhole contraption was in my way).

I should acknowledge that my love for the sport may seem inconsistent considering I went to a school where our football team was a joke.  That, however, did not keep me from going to every home football game, and some of the away ones as well, to cheer on these most-humble of athletes.  I was a Wade Wacko more than I was a Cameron Crazie and I find a certain pride in that.

In any case, I heart football.  And as the short-lived Panther fight song says, "Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina for a Panther/Wake/Duke football gaaaaaaaame!"

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Miss Cleanarella

So I recently learned that individuals of the German descent are excellent cleaners -- as in cleaning houses, maintaining organized living quarters, vacuuming without leaving any track lines, etc.  I currently live with a fifty percent Italian, fifty percent German and I can confirm that this is absolutely true.  

I have just spent the last three hours following my roommate around as she cleaned her bathroom with some very intense chemicals, used every one of the twenty-five attachments on her vacuum, and attacked the furniture on our outdoor deck with a Magic Eraser.  It was inspiring I must say -- so much so that I swept my bathroom floor (I am evidently not nearly "German" enough to have the clean gene).  

Why would she spend the better part of a Wednesday night doing these chores?  Well, besides the fact that all the good TV shows start at 10 pm (after our bedtime), her parents are coming into town tomorrow.  This 25-year-old still cares enough to put her best foot forward for her parents and not only is she insuring a quality three day trip to the QC, she is making our apartment the Ritz-Carlton of the University Area; complete with a bowl of fruit for snacking, a display of homemade chocolate brownies made from Jacques Torres' very own recipe, made-from-scratch crab cakes ready to be cooked, and a welcome gift wrapped and ready for their arrival.  It makes me wish I wasn't her roommate so I could be privy to this treatment.  The novelty of my residency in the apartment wore off in about ten seconds . . . and now I've added a giant orange cat to the mix (Dear Lord, please don't let Newt ruin the freshly steamed drapes.). 

But, in the meantime, I'll be sure to try to absorb some of her enthusiasm for a clean space.  And, to complete the picture, the 50% Italian side comes out often as well.  She makes an amazingly delicious tomato sauce (she would give me the recipe but then she would have to make me walk down the Plaza at 3 am by myself) and is the first to invite me out for a night on the town with her friends.  I'd say she's got the best of both Axis powers.  Luckily, I get to reap the benefits of a clean apartment and a constant buddy whose idea of "hanging out with friends" is always inclusive and never exclusive -- a good counterpart to us French who prefer to sit in the corner of a restaurant (or den) watching people (or TV) drinking coffee (or Diet Coke) by oneself (with Newt-the-cat).  

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

100 Years

I spent a few hours in Newton tonight.  My father had a City Council meeting and they were surprising him with a proclamation regarding the public service my grandfather, his father, committed to the city of Newton.  Some of you may know that my grandfather passed away in June and this acknowledgement by the city was much appreciated.  

Poppa was 92 when he died and as I was driving home I heard that song "100 Years" by Five for Fighting and, maybe it was because I had had a sentimental trip home or I was filling reminiscent of all my grandfather had accomplished, but, whatever the reason, I took a moment and reflected on his life.  If you will humor me, I would like to share some of it now.

He was born in 1917 on a farm in Newton to sharecroppers.  He was baptized at Beth Eden Lutheran Church when he was a little over a month-old.  This church was the same one in which his mother was baptized and the same one in which my father, my brother, myself, and my nephew were baptized.  

He grew up to be a successful businessman by starting Citizens Savings and Loan Company and at his receiving in June, many of those in attendance were former clients of his -- remarking on how he had helped them own their first home.  He was also a politician.  And I mean that in the simplest of terms.  He was Mayor of Newton from 1971-1977 after many other leadership positions in the community.   I am not sure he enjoyed the "game" of politics, but he certainly noted that it was important to be active in one's community.

These accomplishments are all impressive but I find the most inspiring one to be his marriage to my grandmother.  They were engaged on Valentine's Day of 1935 and married in August of that year, lasting a total of 71 years - a number Robbie and I would only match if we live to be 97, God willing.  She passed away almost a year to the day before Poppa and it is that marriage that created two children and a strong sense of family that has passed down through the generations.  

I have a lot to live up to when I look at the life of Poppa.  I think the main theme through all of his endeavors was an impeccable sense of humility from which we all, and especially myself, can learn.  I only wish I had an ounce of the modesty he showed throughout his life as well as his dedication to those other than himself.  I see it now when I think about how he made it a point to always walk up his street in the morning and throw his neighbors' newspapers on their stoop so they would not have to walk to the sidewalk; or in his boisterous laugh that he so generously gave to everyone's attempts at jokes; or in his weekly letters that came to me after I went to college, DC and Charlotte that only stopped a week before he went into hospice.  

As the song says, "Every day is a new day."  A new day to try to live up to these individuals in our lives that effect us in such a profound manner.  A new day to admire and appreciate those around us whom God has graced with more patience than ourselves.  A new day to try to serve others in a way in which we would want to be served.  A new day to remember people like Poppa while also looking ahead to the future with a renewed sense of humanity.  

I thank Poppa for reminding me of these realities even though he is no longer with us.  His ability to continue to play a role in my life shows proof that he had an even more successful existence on Earth -- far beyond those accomplishments mentioned above.