#35 co-cooking a thanksgiving turkey

arabella and i decided we should do a real thanksgiving dinner for all the poor suckers who were stuck in virginia beach for the holiday this year. we sent out a facebook invite, and soon we had a total of 13 people who would attend. we read online that you should buy about a pound of turkey per person in order to have enough to eat plus some leftovers, so we set out the tuesday before thanksgiving to purchase a 13 pounder.

a note: the day before we purchased our turkey, we were told it was too late. this dinner could not be done. we should give up now and buy a pre-cooked bird. but arabella and i wouldn't give up. we would persevere. we. would. be. marthas. (stewart, that is. although the Biblical reference kind of works too.)

so we ended up buying a fresh 16 pounder on tuesday night. we named him reginald. or gerald. i really can't remember which. i offered a brief "nice to meet you" before i stuck my hand up his butt to rip out his innards. his organs were gross and squishy. i didn't think it would bother me, but it really really did. i was also shocked that reginald gerald actually smelled like butt. i mean, i didn't expect him to smell like a flower, but the general putrescence still took me aback. it made me think that the episode of friends where joey and monica have turkeys on their heads was completely unrealistic. disappointing. anyway, i cleaned turkey out in record time simply to end the ickiness. 

the next morning, arabella stuck our hero in a huge bag filled with salt water. this is called brining for you who don't cook (hi, mama). i'm not sure how that went for her, but i imagine it was an amusing scene. 

on thanksgiving morning, jeff and i arrived at arabella and shep's in the wee hours of the morning (8:30 am) to get started. arabella and i hefted reginald gerald out of his bath and cleaned him off. next, we rubbed him down with spices from williams sonoma. reginald gerald started looking kind of smug with all that expensive stuff on him, so we wrapped him, mummy style, in white wine and butter infused cheesecloth. that cheesecloth kept gerald reginald cozy for most of the morning - we just added white wine and butter occasionally to keep him comfortable. 

at 1:30, we took him out and made sure he was hot enough, and discovered that arabella and i are excellent cooks. we'd like to thank all those who made it possible: willams, sonoma, martha, countless internet people who wrote about cooking turkeys, harris, teeter, and, of course, mr. reginald gerald turkey himself. it is for you that we are most thankful.

and now...MARVEL:


guest post #3: driving on the boardwalk at the beach

this guest post is from my favorite sister, jenna! and i stole the photo from another website - please don't sue me, people. also, check out jenna's blog, observations from a wallflower, at jennamissboyd.blogspot.com. 

This Saturday night, I went with Cara, Mikey, and Chase to look at the holiday lights on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. They actually close down the boardwalk at the beach in order for cars to drive on it, which, I'll admit, is a pretty cool concept. When we got there, we saw signs that read, "Holiday Lights <---," but those just led to empty parking lots and buildings. We used our problem-solving skills and decided to follow the cars in front of us instead. This worked well at first and even got us to the line of cars that was ready to go onto the boardwalk. However, there was a guy who was directing traffic with one of those light sticks and he waved the car in front of us forward, instead of having them turn right as everyone else was doing. He kept waving us in the same direction, so I continued following the car in front of us and this caused us to lose our place in line. We were all pretty saddened by his lack of ability to wave a glow stick, but decided to persevere and return to the line. We waited another 5-10 minutes, I told everyone that I was going to turn right, no matter what direction he waved, and we made it successfully to the ticket booth. Once there, Mikey and Cara pooled their money to give the girl $5 to get onto the boardwalk ($10 cheaper than usual because it's opening weekend). We were handed a coupon book and a CD to listen to during our holiday light experience.

The lights were divided into various themes and the first theme was dinosaurs. I think we came to the consensus that they must have gone to a bargain discount store for them. That was the only way to make sense of a half-mile of dinosaur lights during the holidays. The next theme was sea animals, which made a lot more sense because it's the oceanfront and they like to shamelessly plug the Virginia Beach Aquarium down the street. Then there were random things to represent various holidays such as, Santa stuck in the chimney, maybe a manger scene, and, my personal favorite, the Grim Reaper hanging out the window of a Monster Truck. My favorite quote of the night was Cara saying, "Look! A ladle!" None of us knew why she cared about seeing a large spoon until we saw the "dreidel" and laughed at her.

The last theme was the "12 Days of Christmas," so we turned down the "McDonald's Holiday Lights at the Beach, Presented by nTelos Wireless" CD and sang the song at the top of our lungs as we passed each one. My favorite for that one was "10 Lords-A-Leaping" because they really had 1 Lord-A-Leaping, but they had him hop to 10 different places. I guess they wanted to save on electricity.

Overall, I thought it was pretty cool to drive on the boardwalk and we saw Christmas lights, so there's not much more to ask for.


#34 getting a speeding ticket

today i had to come to new jersey on a recruiting trip for regent university, which is where i work. i wasn't thrilled about the trip in the first place because i don't like leaving my husband, i don't like leaving my buster, and i don't like going places all by myself. despite all that, i decided i would try to make the best of it. i brought fun cds, the rental car was nicer than my car (sorry, attila), and i've always thought of road trips as an excellent excuse to eat lots of snacks.

i was having an okay time for the first hour or so, pumping the never been kissed soundtrack, which is totally my jam and munching on a lovely chocolate chip muffin from wawa. i was being careful not to go too far over the speed limit - in not california, i firmly stay within 10 mph over the speed limit. i drove through a bunch of podunk towns: tomtom wasn't getting a signalsignal (hi, chad!), but i had printed out directions from google, and all was going fine.

i noticed that there was a traffic light coming up at one point, so i slowed a bit. then i noticed a police officer step into the road wearing a reflector jacket and holding a stop sign. he proceeded to stand in front of my lane. i honestly had no idea i was in any kind of trouble. i stopped in front of him and thought he was going to wave me on or something, but then he motioned for me to pull forward and roll down my window. he then informed me that i was going 64 (which i knew) in a 45 zone (which i did not know). i said a very demure "oh, my!" and he asked for my license and registration. he had me pull onto the next street, where he and his partner had cones set up so they could direct suckers like me to wait for their tickets.

things that made me mad:
1. i wasn't asleep at the wheel, people. i was alert. and i saw no 45 mph signs. i'm certain there was one. there must have been one. but i'm guessing there was just one, and i'm thinking about going back and stealing it because it's going to cost me about $175, and i should get something out of the deal.
2. i am on a work trip. i did not choose to drive through that speed trap. i will now basically be working for two and a half days straight without pay, once you deduct that ticket from my expenses.
3. i've never had a ticket before. i've never had a warning before. i would have thoroughly enjoyed some mercy. 
4. the officer took his sweet time writing up the ticket. i seriously thought he forgot about me for a few minutes. rude.
5. virginia. it happened in virginia. freaking virginia.

as the officer handed me my ticket, i was calm, cordial, totally sane. and then, after he walked away, i lost it. it wasn't a dmv-worthy temper tantrum - instead, it was like someone had died. there were many tears, lots of snot, some body-racking sobs - i yelled "why?" at one point and "emily, it's not even a big deal" at several points. i think i was mourning the loss of my perfect record. or i was just super tired. either way, it wasn't pretty. i could not stop weeping, so poor husband had to talk me down over the phone. he's good at that. 

in the end, i pulled myself together and drove the final five hours and made it to new jersey relatively unscathed. of course, i thought of a million things i wish i would have said to the officer as soon as i drove away, namely, "nice costume. are you a crossing guard on the side?" but i guess i'm glad i didn't. the guy was just doing his job.

in related news, the car rental place wrote down my name as "emily sazacherly," so if i had driven off and fled the scene, do you think they would have traced the rental back to me? also, if i had signed "minnie mouse" on the ticket, would i still be responsible for it? these are the things i'll be thinking about tonight, folks. 


guest post #2 falling down stairs and getting trapped in an elevator all within five minutes

this post was written and experienced by the lovely angelique gordon. she and i would both like you to imagine it as a modern day silent film. i suggest listening to olde-tyme piano to properly get yourself in the mood.

So I was going down the stairs because I had to pick up a key from the administration building. I was in a hurry, so I was running down the stairs in heels, which is a norm, but this time it was not so normal:

I went down 1/2 a flight of stairs with no problem.
I was about 1/2 way down another flight when all of a sudden I saw a coffee spill but thought it wouldn't bother me.
About that time, with only five stairs to go, I slipped on said coffee and fell down said five stairs.
To add insult to injury, someone saw me. My shoe was still on the last stair my foot touched, and this gentleman was running to my rescue, and when I tried to convince him that I only slipped on one stair he said, "But I saw you roll down." I grabbed my shoe, and continued down the final flight of stairs to get to my destination.

A couple of minutes later, I was back upstairs and realized that I had to pick something up from downstairs again. Rather than attempting the stairs again, I decided to take the elevator. Seemed safer.
I went into said elevator and went down one flight successfully, but as I was passing the second floor the power went out. No light. No functioning hey-I'm-stuck-in-an-elevator button. And no working phone -  not in the elevator and not in my pocket.
About the time my biggest fear of "I'm going to die in an elevator and nobody knows I'm here" started to kick in, the light turned on. I felt a temporary hope, but then the elevator was still not moving. Panic started to sink in, so I did what any rational person would do and went into the corner and started to freak out. Then I started to jump, thinking the elevator would start to move. Finally, I pulled myself together and simply pressed the first floor button again and finally reached my destination of the first floor. 

I ran out of the elevator like I had my hair on fire.

The end

a note: the photo above is a pre-enactment. as in, it's not actually from today (angelique said it's from a rough day at disney world, which didn't surprise me - you would never see this pose at disneyland), but it does accurately depict how ang felt after this debacle. 


#33 watching my sister dance with a complete stranger at a bar

if you had told four years ago emily that on november 6, 2010 i would be at a crappy line dancing bar in virginia with my husband, my sister, a bunch of actors, and a guy named morris sheppard iii, i would have laughed at you. but it happened. it really did. 

for jenna's birthday this year, she requested a meal at my place followed by "somewhere random like karaoke, a pool place, or a dive bar." so i researched a whole lot, and came up with the banque in norfolk.

oh, but first we had a pot roast dinner, and that was also a first, but it doesn't quite seem notable since all i had to do was brown the meat and put it in my crock pot in the morning with some broth and a few other ingredients. it did end up delicious, but i didn't purchase nearly enough for the eight people we had over. oh well, we all lived.

after dinner, we headed over to the banque. wow. it was majestic. my top five people:
1. the rather large woman who was wearing a tiny camisole and short skirt. it wasn't flattering, but it was fun watching her dance because she was so freaking confident. 
2. the older lady in the bright pink cowboy shirt with the bedazzled jeans and tiny tiny tiny tiara hair clip.
3. the older man who was with that lady, wearing a matching bright pink cowboy shirt and a hawaiian lei (i think it was his birthday)!
4. the guy with the giant black cowboy hat and the motivational shirt (teamwork!) who helped our group when we attempted a line dance.
5. the guy with the green striped shirt who was tearing up the dance floor, adding extra pizazz and general hoppingness to the line dances.

since it was jenna's birthday, her amazing roommate, cara, wanted jenna to have a knowledgeable dance partner. she brazenly approached a guy in a flannel shirt (who received a rather rude nickname from us by the end of the night) and he said he'd ask jenna to dance in the next slow song. we soon saw him dancing with some other chick who wasn't even cute. (later in the evening, i saw him line dancing full force in the wrong direction, so karma did its job, if you believe in that hooey.) cara next approached person #5 listed above, and he danced with jenna not once, but TWICE. amazing. this was certainly my first time seeing her dance with a complete stranger at a bar, and i hope it's not my last. unless, of course, she gets married soon and bears me a blood-related niece or nephew.

the end.

p.s. sorry for the blurriness, but wanted you to know that we were oh so daring. 


#32 competing in a tricycle derby

when i learned that regent, the university where i work, was having a tricycle derby, i knew i was going to compete. i mean, tricycles are in my blood. i've been told that two of my great-grandmothers, one which i am named for, used to race trikes at the park. 

i assembled an amazing team - me and four guys from the office. we secured a lovely group of cheerleaders. we even had one guy on standby as pit crew. we decided to call ourselves "tri-ceratops." clever, right? regent even provided green shirts to go with the dinosaur theme. they didn't have scales on them, but they had our name and they were free. 

there were only two other teams competing - team awesome and rollin' in the money (or something like that). the course was short, and we were to go around twice. it looked easy.

gary had the first leg of the race, and he quickly gave us a solid lead. and then i got on. brace yourself for some excuses, people:
1. i am out of shape. i did not think this would matter in a freaking tricycle race.
2. the tricycle has tiny, tiny wheels, which means approximately 153 rotations per meter. 
3. if you pedal too fast, your feet fly off the pedals. this could be deadly.
4. gary had the red tricycle, but some guy from team NOT awesome took it from him right before the start.
5. i'm really, really out of shape. aerobically speaking.

so i hopped on and pedaled with all my might and flailed about each time my feet went faster than the pedals. and the guy from team NOT awesome passed me. i was only a couple meters behind him when i reached kal, who was at the next stop.
by the time gary reached me in the second lap, i was still out of breath from lap one and our team was slightly more behind. by the time i reached kal the second time, we were WAY behind. luckily this failure happened in a place where spectators couldn't see, so not many knew i was the main reason that we lost.

in related news, i'd like to thank kledia, from team rollin' in the money, who could not operate her tricycle. i dedicate our second place win to you!


#31 attending a (political?) rally

i am politically apathetic. i'm not proud of it, and sometimes i am pretty darn ignorant, but it just has never interested me. before you get all huffy and lecture me about how important all that is, let me tell you that i know it's important. i really do. i just choose to find other things more important. sorry.

anyway, since i'm politically apathetic, i've never attended any kind of political rally. so when the opportunity to attend a non-political political party arose, i knew i had to seize it. comedy central's jon stewart and stephen colbert put on the rally to restore sanity and the march to keep fear alive this saturday in d.c. and jeff and i went along with some friends. if i attempted to write out every thought from that day, your eyes would fall out of your face, so here are some highlights:

1. when we arrived at the metro, the line was approximately 1.5 hours long. don't worry, jeff and shep cut. luckily, arabella and i did not know they were cutting at the time, as we would have disapproved and thus been stuck there forever. 
2. the trains were all packed, so squeezing on was like giving birth to a baby. i only say that because the crowd was chanting "push! push! push!"
3. once on the train, i felt rather certain that i might die there. arabella's face was smashed against my chest, my left arm was pinned to my side, my right arm stuck in the air. it was terrifying, but i lived.
4. there were so many people at the rally that we could not get close enough to hear anything. one line i did hear sung, though, was "this is for gay men who watch football and straight men who watch glee," and that made me happy.
5. i wish we had just picked a spot on the sidelines and people watched all day. i saw bert and ernie, a devil, a super hero from kick-ass, a werewolf (who scared me and arab), a whole group of people in scream costumes, a clown, ben stiller's royal tennenbaums character, david bowie in the labyrinth, and at least five waldo's. and those are just off the top of my head.
6. people were perched everywhere: on light poles, atop port-a-potties, in trees. one group of trees had so many people danging from them that it looked like the von trapp family in sound of music. or maybe they looked like monkeys. either way - amusing.
7. the signs were amazing. some were definitely political, but the ones i really appreciated were just witty. top five: "MEH." "dumbledore's army for sanity." "bring back crystal pepsi." "God hates times new roman." and "if you keep shouting like that you'll get big muscles all over your face." amazing.

colbert estimates that approximately 6 billion people attended the rally, and i believe it. so all in all, i'm really just grateful to still be alive. next time we'll just stay home and watch it on tv. 


#30 seeing an EMS car

i saw two EMS cars on saturday. not your normal EMS vehicle that could transport victims of muggings, old ladies who have fallen and can't get up, and people who trip on stage during musicals, but an actual four door sedan. odd.

after i saw the second one, this happened:
"i'd never seen an EMS car before. now i've seen two!" - me
"maybe you should blog about it." - mark



#29 getting my bleeping virginia driver's license

a little background: i grew up in southern california. i lived there for almost 27 years and was spoiled by the near perfect weather, my family living close by, a job working with people i loved (hi anita, drake, and lindsey!), my pastor who was one of the most gifted Biblical interpreters i'd ever met (holler, dave!), the beach which was a bike ride away (what up, bike gang!), in-n-out and rubio's at my fingertips (hola, fernando, manager at rubio's!), and disneyland just a 20 minute drive away (hey, mickey!).

and then we moved to virginia.

most of the time i am perfectly fine being here. i got an amazing dog out of the deal, and i've made some really good friends. my husband is here and so are my sister and my tiffany. i have a job. i love my church, and the beach isn't horribly far away. i still have chick fil-a. and busch gardens is only 40 minutes away. (that last sentence was a joke. making any comparison between disneyland and busch gardens is absolutely ridiculous. there is no comparison. and while we're on the subject of west vs. east coasts, there is also no comparison between disneyland and disney world. disney world is stupid and came second, thus making it a mere copy of the original.)

sometimes, though, i battle homesickness. and it tends to creep up when virginians are being particularly dumb. there is no better example of this than my experience attempting to get my virginia driver's license.

i tried to get my new license last year. it's all a bit fuzzy now, but i made two trips to get my car registration transferred to virginia, and then i made another two trips to attempt to get my license, but each time they turned me away because i didn't have the right documents. because they kept telling me different documents. after my fourth trip to the dmv last year, i threw a complete tantrum in my car. i screamed and pounded on the steering wheel and cried and shouted "i HATE virginia!" and meant it. i decided not to go back.

look, i didn't want a virginia driver's license in the first place. i wanted to keep my california license. i wanted the security of knowing that at least retailers would know where i'm from. i wanted the joy of seeing surprise on their little virginian faces when they gazed on such a foreign form of identification. i wanted them to keep asking "why on earth would you move here from there?!" while they searched for my birthdate. but alas, my license expired way back in march. it was time.

hence, nearly a year after the original debacle, i had to give it another go. i gathered all my documents and courage and brought extras just in case (documents, not courage). for proof of residence, i brought a utility bill, just like the dmv website suggested. when i arrived at the dmv, i opened the bill, and it turned out to be an unexpected past due notice. that was strange, but it had my name, address, amount that needed to be paid, and it was from the utility company, so i figured it would still work. i was so naive back then.

another tantrum passed (my hand hurt an entire hour afterward from pounding on the radio), and i decided to bring jeff back with me for my sixth time to the dmv. he brought a utility bill with his name on it, and we brought our marriage certificate to prove that we are together. we were both so naive back then. apparently the state of virginia thinks that jeff and i might be married but not live together. apparently we might have constructed this elaborate ruse so i could get a stupid virginia driver's license. this time, i openly wept in the dmv. i actually said, "sir, i am a very sane person and you are taking that from me!" to the manager. embarrassing. 

a week later, i finally figured out the magic formula: 1 prior driver's license + 1 current passport + 1 marriage certificate showing change of name + 1 copy of my lease + 1 letter written on letterhead from the apartment leasing manager stating that jeff and i do, in fact live in virginia. ridiculous.

i entered the dmv, shaking from the fear of what i might do to myself or the minions there if i failed again. i nervously submitted my documents to the lady at the first desk. and she accepted them! it was quite anticlimactic. i had hoped for streamers or something.

as i waited for them to call my number, i texted jeff: "i passed level one of the dmv game! now waiting for level two. fingers crossed." in my head, i was mario. my number was called, and when i reached the window - no joke - the woman's name tag read "b. bowser." i almost laughed at her, but i didn't want to make any sudden movements lest she decide to revoke my driving privileges. i solemnly completed some more paperwork, took my picture, paid her, and left feeling great.

i was also left with this stunning visual of my happy and colorful life in california:
versus my serious and gray life in virginia:
please note that there seems to be some kind of schmutz on my face too. wow.

in conclusion, seventh time's a charm?


#28 participating in a 5K race

i'd like to call this post "running in a 5K race," but who am i kidding? this post should technically be "slowly jogging in a 5K race," but i decided to be diplomatic for myself. 

regent university, where i work and jeff attends, sponsored the neptune 8K run, and this year they added a 5K option. since i have not run consistently since approximately high school ago, i decided i should be practical and go with the 5K option. my hope was that the excitement of the race and the pleasing sense of accomplishment would lure me into a desire to run often in the future. 

spoiler alert: nope.  

friday night, i went to bed feeling nervous and excited and a general sense of dread. i tossed and turned for much of the night, and eventually fell asleep. i dreamt that jeff and i had a tiny baby, but we were utterly unprepared for it. no one had thrown us a shower or anything and we had to borrow an old car seat from a friend to lug the kid home after we'd left it at the hospital for a few days. we put it in a room and left it in there for a couple hours, and when we reopened the door, that tiny pink baby was running around the room like a maniacal, naked pygmy. i peeked in the borrowed car seat and saw a diaper that was somehow full, like a wee coffee cup of nasty. and then i woke up. horrified. i mean, you readers are currently horrified, so you can only imagine what i felt. and memories of that stupid baby kept me awake for much of the remainder of the night.

of course, the night was short because they require you to wake up before dawn for these races. i woke up and felt a little crick in my back, which is never a good sign for me. i considered not showing up to the race, but i knew my sister was planning on cheering me on and for some reason that made me want to go. 

jeff and i parked about a mile away from the race start by accident, but i arrived with three minutes to spare. i strapped the chip on my ankle and headed to the start. i honestly was unsure for a whole minute as to which way we were running since the herd was just milling about near the start, but then the announcer said to get ready and a horn blasted and away we went in a clear direction. i started jogging, dodging people left and right. 

there's not much to say about the actual race, except that i think it's a very odd practice to attempt to drink while jogging and then throw the paper cup violently to the ground. i opted instead to toss most of the water in my face, choke on any that happened to make it into my mouth, and daintily drop the cup to the side of the road. also, i repeated "slow and steady wins the race" to myself the entire 5K, but it turns out aesop is a liar. somewhere out there is a smug little hare with a shiny new medal. 

in conclusion, i ended up finishing in just over 31 minutes (that's two minutes worse than the trial i had done four days earlier) and i came in 16th place. in my age bracket. for the women. impressive, right? no? well. join me in blaming the nightmare baby.

here's a picture of me with some of the girls in my office (and one girl who is the roommate of a girl in my office), all of whom participated in a race that day too:


#27 dog scootering

i was recently in a small group at my church where we read through the book s.h.a.p.e. by eric rees, which is an excellent tool for starting to figure out what the heck God wants to do with you. i'd love to write something profoundly spiritual about what i learned in that group, but to be honest, i'm still processing. i think i started to figure out some of my gifts, but i still haven't heard a specific calling from the Lord. i continue to hope that He'll bust out a neon sign with the answer, but i'm also trying to listen for a still, small voice just in case He's not as theatrical as i'd prefer. i'll let you all know if He sends anything concrete my way, but for now, i'm trying to consciously love those around me. in an appropriate way. how do you people out there hear from God best?

on a less ambiguous note, i made several new friends in that small group, including michele. thus far, i've learned that michele works at sentara, lives in the country, and is a loving mother with lots of fun interests, including all things nature, kayaking, birdwatching (specifically waterfowl), photography, writing, and...bum bum BUM...dog scootering. michele was kind enough to read my blog, and even kinder still to invite me to do something very few people have done - get pulled at high speeds on a manual scooter by her two dogs. 

michele and i met up in the evening and set out for dismal swamp. i'll take a moment while you californians google that to ensure i didn't make it up. great dismal swamp. who thought of that name? they are fired by now, i'm certain. also, jeff, arabella, shep and i went there once, but we somehow made it to the not so great side of it and were super confused by the name. i thought they should change it to something like "underwhelming dismal swamp" or "wee dismal swamp." this time i had a better glimpse of why it's called great, though now i kind of think it should be called "great big road with no cars."

anyway, i had the pleasure of meeting jack and riley, who would be my horsepower for the evening. jack is a golden retriever and riley is a german shorthaired pointer. jack is sweet and calm and riley is a spazzoid. jack had terrible breath and riley really wanted to sit in the front seat of the car with me even though she was the size of a preteen. i love them.

we got to the trail, and michele hooked the dogs up. oh! a note: we were not slave driving. riley especially has a lot of extra energy no matter how much michele walks her, so michele discovered dog scootering as one way to really give her the exercise she loves. don't be hating, peta people.

i was much too chicken to hop on the scooter first and i encouraged michele to give it a go and wear the dogs out a bit before i got on. she did and it looked like fun and i thought i could handle it, so i went on.

SO FUN. those dogs could run! and michele said they weren't as fast as usual because it was hot that evening, so i can imagine it would be exhilarating at top speed. we went about a mile and a half before they lost steam and needed a break, but it was a fun trip. when we got back to the car, michele placed a water bowl in front of the dogs and riley made it clear that she was overheated when she took a few gulps, then tried to get into the bowl. 

also, i'm used to getting looks from strangers because my dog buster has such a unique coat, but i got way more looks with this contraption:

of course, they really might have been looking at my shirt, which combines super Christianity with twilight. epic, right? my grandma sent it to me. 

in conclusion, a huge thank you to michele, riley, and jack for this awesome new thing. i hope to hang out with you three again sometime soon!


#26 going to a callback

last night was the callback for 25th annual putnam county spelling bee. now, i know i should just be happy that i was called back after i botched one of my songs in the original audition, but i'm still finding myself disappointed that this happened:

thank you for coming back! i want you to know that all of you would be great at any of the parts in the show, and i wish i could cast you all! unfortunately there is a very limited number of roles, so tonight will mostly be about matching people up. i'm looking for most of the cast to be similar heights, with the adult roles a little taller than the kids. ladies, can you all line up on stage please? 

ladies all line up on stage. our protagonist, emily, is approximately seven inches taller than the rest of the ladies, and she looks much too young to have an adult role. 


i'm fairly certain that the director mentally drew a big red X over me right then and there. 

next, she had several groups go on stage and read scenes together. everyone at the callback was in at least one of those groups. i was in less than one of those groups. 
next, she had several of the guys read one part. then, she had several of the girls read another part. i did get a chance to do this, but it had been about 40 minutes since i'd last spoken so my voice sounded like i had just woken up even though i was supposed to be peppy, peppy, peppy. 
then she had the guys sing some scales. finally, she had us learn a short dance. i flubbed the ending, but i'm 97% sure she wasn't even glancing in my direction anymore at that point.

a note: every time one of the kids loses in the spelling bee, the rest of the cast sings a goodbye song. i'm hoping the director will sing that when she calls to tell me i'm not in. it would add a happy little surprise to that wildly predictable conversation. 

in conclusion, i blame my parents and my gene pool for this flop. 


#25 auditioning by my own free will

i took a performing arts class in the eighth grade. we were required to audition for the school play by singing rather moving renditions of "where is love?" from oliver! i wanted to play the artful dodger - he was funny and charming and, well, artful! instead i was cast as oliver, who is nervous and wussy and monosyllabic except when he's singing. always singing. freaking oliver.

fast forward to today. first of all, looking back, i'm really glad i was cast as oliver. it's much more fun to tell people i was oliver in oliver! than it would be to say i was dodger in oliver! people instantly think i was the lead. i wasn't really. second of all, i still love musicals. i'm no actress, but there are a few roles i know i could do well and love if given the chance and a little help: little sally in urinetown, lucy in you're a good man, charlie brown, and logainne schwartzandgrubenierre in 25th annual putnam county spelling bee. (basically, i'd like to act like a child.) therefore, when the opportunity to audition for spelling bee at a small community theater in virginia beach arose, i knew i needed to carpe diem my way over there. i figured i would either a) totally bomb and be humiliated and have excellent blog fodder or 2) i'd get to be in a fun show!

the audition notice said for girls to prepare two one minute songs - a belting song and a ballad. for the belting song, i wanted to do something funny and a bit childish, so i picked "shy" from once upon a mattress. i listened to it for the first time on monday and learned the words and rehearsed it over and over and over in the car and a bit at home. for the ballad, i wanted to simply find a not love song, since the kids in spelling bee don't really fall in love. finding a not love ballad is tricky, but i settled on "home" from beauty and the beast. i have been rehearsing that song since 1997, when it came out on classic disney volume 4, so i didn't spend much time on that.

when i arrived at the audition, it seemed like everyone knew each other. that made me super nervous, and i briefly considered making a run for it. i stayed though. then i found out that we would all be watching each other audition. that made me yet more nervous, and i again entertained the thought of bolting. i stayed though. we went in and the first few people went. i won't go into detail about other people's auditions for various reasons, but there was one guy who forgot his words, and i thought "well, my acting might not be great, and my voice isn't amazing, but at least i'll remember the words."

oh, me.

the director called my name (well, kind of."emily...faaah. uhhh. how do you say your name?) i got up there and sang two lines of "shy" and promptly forgot the rest of the words. i laughed it off, threw out a "15 years since being on stage!" and continued from behind the piano. i wasn't quite as humiliated as i thought i would be, but it was fairly embarrassing. it helped that the other forgetter went before me though - kind of lessened the blow. then i sang "home" and that went fine. i thought of california. my eyes brimmed. i'm sure everyone was just so moved and went home and cried themselves to sleep.

next was the cold reading. this was just fun. also, there was another emily auditioning, and the director started referring to me as "red dress emily" (the dress is really more of a pink, but i wasn't going to argue), and for some reason, "red dress emily" made me feel a little more pizazzy than just plain emily. don't worry - just plain emily who was standing beside me did not need extra pizazz. she was super talented.

in conclusion, i had an thoroughly entertaining evening for just the cost of some sheet music. 

stay tuned for my next first, which is "going to a callback." because i got one of those. get excited. the director didn't indicate which role i was being called back for, but they're all pretty great, so i'm happy. even if i don't get in, at least i didn't completely suck. holler.


fall 2010 syllabus

**i wrote this a couple weeks ago, but didn't have the chance to post until now.**

I started grad school last week. I also quit grad school last week. I had a variety of reasons and I feel good about the decision, but it was still a rather difficult choice. For the past year I’ve been “just Jeff’s wife,” and I thought grad school was going to be a way to stand out and be my own person. Well, what a terrible reason to pay hundreds of dollars when I’m not 100% sure that writing scripts and screenplays is what I want to do in life!

I do, however, think having structured goals would have been nice. Grades have always motivated me, so class would have been instant motivation. Again, not a good reason to pay hundreds of dollars. Therefore, I’m going to put out some goals for the semester and post them on my blog and attempt to accomplish them. My readers (all three or four of you!) will have to keep me accountable.

Ready? Go!

Fall 2010 Syllabus

1. Write an entire play. It does not have to be good, it simply must be complete. If this means I write the world’s crappiest show, so be it. This goal is quantity, not quality. We can work on the quality in another semester.
2. Read Story by Robert McKee. Jeff keeps talking about how great it is, and I think I could learn a lot from it.
3. Learn three ukulele songs by heart. No music or lyrics necessary.
4. Read one novel for fun. At least. Check! I read The Help this weekend. Such a good book.
5. Try at least five new things and blog about them. Check one: Blogged about video chatting.
6. Continue to exercise regularly – at least four times per week.
7. Pray at least ten minutes a day. (I considered deleting this because I'm rather ashamed that I don't do it already. But I decided to be honest instead. I have not been talking to God as much as I - or He - would like. My hope is that I'll devote much more time to this and eventually have a constant dialogue with Him because God is important to me, but let's start with an achievable goal.)
8. Find an entire day to be silent. This can be one of the anything once blog posts.
9. Attempt to remain positive at work. Continue doing my best there and try to take criticism better. Find a balance between accepting change and not compromising my personality and empathy.
10. Discover ways to give glory to God. This could be in finding a place to serve in an organized ministry, but maybe it will be something else. He's much more creative than me.
11. Choose to hang out with people we don’t usually seek out at least three times. 


#24 video chatting

okay, i have skyped before. i sound like an 83 year-old woman, writing that i've never "video chatted" before. i may as well have written that it was my first time using one of these fancy typewriter contraptions to making moving picture advanced telegraph communications. or something. anyway, like said 83 year-old woman, i have only skyped a couple of times and only in group situations, like last new year's eve when our east coast westmont crew skyped with our west coast westmont crew.

this time was new for three reasons:
1. it was through google chat, which is why i'm calling it video chatting instead of skyping. or is calling it video chatting similar to calling kleenex facial tissues? discuss.
2. it was just me and mikkele.
3. and most importantly, it was on my brand new mac. i suppose i could write an entire post about being a new mac owner - how i feel like a cooler person now because i've been brainwashed by their shiny marketing, how the simplicity of this computer's functions truly confuse me, how i have heard two whooshing sounds while i wrote this sentence and i have no idea what they mean - but i'll refrain.

i loved video chatting with mikkele. we talked for two hours and the time flew by. i loved being able to listen like i used to when we were in person - listen fully without feeling the need to interject so she knows i'm there.

i absolutely loathe the phone (except when i'm talking to my grandma - for some reason i do well with her) for many reasons, but one reason is that you have no genuine way to indicate that you're listening. you can say "uh huh, uh huh" but that can be interpreted as "i'm painting my nails and reading a magazine while you rattle on about your life" even if your uh huhs actually mean "i care about you and what's going on in your life and i like listening to you." and i get so nervous that whoever i'm talking to will interpret my uh huhs in that nail-painting, magazine-reading way, so i end up dispensing advice or talking about similar experiences that i've had. that is NOT good listening, folks. that is selfish listening.

all this to say, video chat is neat. kind of makes me wish i had consistent internet at my apartment so i could partake more often.

in conclusion, it turns out i make this face when i am figuring new things out on the computer:


#23 finding out your best friend is pregnant

i should preface this by mentioning that i have plucked up several "best" friends over the years. they are all from very different places in my life though, so i think they can still be called my best despite the fact that best really implies a singular entity. i feel like i should give a shout out to them all (and include really flattering pictures for visual aids):

tiffany is my best childhood/lifelong friend. we met at church when i was two weeks old and she was five weeks old and we had a common love for napping, eating, and pooping. now our interests have changed and we enjoy watching bad movies and playing scrabble and...well, we still love eating. tiffany is an incredible nurse, currently working in a nicu here in virginia.

zoe is my best college/roommate for life friend. we were roommates our sophomore year of college. she saw me through some of my most dramatic moments and has been a constant source of wisdom. we have a common love of randomness and writing. she's one of the most profound thinkers i know, which is good for me because i tend toward the shallow, and she's an incredible photographer. i secretly think her mind powers come from her gorgeous curly hair. here she is with manny, her husband!

mikkele is my best post college friend. we were roommates for the year before i married jeff. in fact, we became roommates a few weeks before jeff and i were engaged. i knew when i met her that we were going to be very good friends and i even briefly considered asking her to be a bridesmaid, but decided that would be weird and put too much pressure on the future of our friendship. i was right in the end though, which leads me to believe that snap judgment isn't always a bad thing. mikkele and i bring out the best in each other. i don't know who is reading this, but i know you would have fun hanging out with mikkele and me. we are amusing. i'd give examples, but they wouldn't do us justice. also, she is probably the coolest person i know due to various things including her taste in music, craftiness, willingness to do anything, and ability to pull off these sunglasses:

arabella is my best virginia friend. we share a love of bad television, good literature, judice and the merrell sisters, and singing original songs together that one of us makes up on the spot. she is a talented actress but doesn't let acting consume conversations, and she's a really terrible origami-ist. some day we'll make movies and our production company will be called "texifornia." 

but this is really all about the zoe. zoe called me on june 2 at 1:44 pm, while i was at work, to tell me the good news that she was knocked up. since i was at work, i was not able to fully emote, and the joy i was feeling nearly burst out of me via tears. i just welled up in the end, but i can't explain the excitement. here, i'll try: it was the feeling i'd get if i went to disneyland on christmas day to see an ingrid michaelson concert while eating in-n-out. that's a lot of excitement, folks. 

this is a first that i will be happy to repeat. good thing i have three more best friends and a sister. get busy, girls. (well, start dating a boy, get married, and then get busy, girls. except you, arabella. you get busy now.)


guest post #1: walking on stilts

so, i recently had a first. and i am not, in fact, emily—by the way. i am chad. emily and jeff’s neighbor, and a part of the acting program with jeff. 

so, let me give you a bit of background. i decide to use my mfa in acting training by puppetering (my favorite term for it) a pre-recorded, 15 minute long puppet show on the beachfront. that’s enough background.

well, i was scheduled to work on monday, so off i went. i pull into the parking lot and find out we’re on hold due to weather. so, what do entertainers do when they’re told to hold? entertain themselves. in between the monsoons, we would hang out and talk, then as it would start raining again, we’d all scurry to our cars. 

well, during one such hang-out session, i noticed that the entrance to the parking lot had flooded. and i cracked a dad joke—emily will tell you that this is a normal occurrence. i don’t remember exactly what i said, but it was something about how only the stilt-walkers would be able to ford the river to get out—yeah, i know. and the conversation kept going and next thing i know, there are stilts and—well, let me show you:

so yeah! i walked on stilts! ...and yes, those are TOMS, thank you for asking. i don’t know how they do it. the funniest thing that happened was when the stilts were being put on my feet, i saw a group of street entertainers watching and they started running over. i hear the german juggler shout, “oh, this is going to be good.” it was very inspiring... anyway, i get up on the stilts and, well, it is a miracle from God that i didn’t fall. i nervously explained to the surrounding entertainers that i had never done this before to which they reply: “we can see.” again, inspiring. even further, they debated for a while whether they were on correctly...so much more inspiring. well, i stayed up there for about five minutes just, you know, hanging out...on stilts...during a lightning storm...like you do. then i got a little over-zealous and took a step, where i lost my balance and luckily was caught by one of the professionals. another guy (who was not a stilt-walker—actually, i have no idea what he does...) shouted, “you have to lift your leg and walk heel-to-toe.” his advice was manna from heaven. ...i could only get so far as the end of the tailgate...and then i freaked out about turning around...but i did and continued walking a bit. i then wanted to get down. but i had a lot of fun!

in conclusion, i hope for more rainy days to learn stilt-walking. it was...awesome. but not fazawesome. back to you, emily.


#22 going to a greek festival

this happened over a month ago, but i somehow didn't write about it. maybe because, due to my mild claustrophobia, it wasn't that eventful for jeff and me. 

we went to a greek festival - in fact, we went to "tidewater area's oldest and largest ethnic festival." impressive, right? riiight. i wanted to see some dancing and try a new kind of food. this greek festival was at a greek orthodox church, and when we arrived, i was mildly shocked to see the entire place filled to busting with people smoking and drinking. i'm not morally opposed to either (though i do think smoking is icky), but i was still surprised to see it all happening on church grounds. jeff and i wove through the crowd in a daze, distracted by the amount of people, the noise, and the group of dancers on stage, which was comprised of a couple of portly greek men and a slew of drunk, middle aged white women. eventually we snaked back to a dessert stand. we waited in a long line and bought two small orders of loukoumades, which are basically big, airy donut holes covered in honey and sesame seeds. 

that is a small order. they were delicious, but i could feel my arteries clogging with each little bite. 

after we ate, we watched the drunken dancers for a bit longer. they were not drunk enough to be interesting though, so we ventured into the hellenic center's marketplace. we glanced at some jewelry, paintings, and the greek flag emblazoned on shirts, aprons, onesies, etc. again - bored. 

so then we left.