twenty-first new thing...

and here we are. finally. this will be short and sweet and to the point. for this installment of the 52 new things, i gave up my memorial day holiday and sat bleary-eyed in front of the cathode-rayed light emitting from the screen of my laptop for 7 and a half hours and did nothing but write. write until my fingers bled. write until i could write no more. researching blog posts. finding the most insightful link. racking my brain for something funny to say. cursing my own laziness for letting it get this out of hand. and praying every moment for it to be over. and here we are. so, enjoy.

for my twenty-first new thing, i caught up on all my blogging for this grand adventure. i wrote ten blog posts in one day. happy now, kevin?

and now i have to figure out what to do next. dammit!

twentieth new thing...

woo hoo! we are out of the teens and into the numeric new things that are easier to spell (be honest, how many of you knew that twelfth and fifteenth were spelled that way? don't lie!). for the twentieth thing of my 52 new things, i decided to widen my culinary experiences with another friend new to the adventure. so on a random sunday afternoon, chris and i went to a restaurant in the little vietnam part of buford highway and i ate vietnamese food for the first time.

i sure do enjoy my asian cuisine. chinese, japanese, thai. yumm-y. so i have no idea how i got this far in life without ever having eating vietnamese food. perhaps it is the fact that most of the places i have lived don't have a large vietnamese population. or maybe it is that whole wives tale involving dogs. i'm sure its the former, not the later. no matter, because the food was phenomenal. now, i don't enjoy spicy things (addressing that will probably be one of the new things further down the road) or fishy things (shut up, curt!) but other than that i am pretty open to trying new things. especially when you get to eat at the best vietnamese place in atlanta, co'm.

i ordered the beef tenderloin co'm (fragrant rice), expecting it to be similar to a chinese rice dish. it was totally different. the beef had been marinated in this wonderful sauce and then charcoal grilled. and the rice is probably my new favorite thing of the planet. while neither chris or i had anything way out of the ordinary, the experience was fabulous.

i feel it only fair that i let you all know that this new thing was absolutely a fall back. i was suppose to race go carts at the andretti speedway as part of austin's birthday on saturday night. but an injury to my pectoral muscles during my half-marathon three weeks before kept me on the sidelines and out of the cars. now that i am better, those pansy-ass boys better watch out. because-- and my parent's can attest to this-- i'm not afraid to drive fast, spin out and crash into other cars. trust me. i have tons of experience.

nineteenth new thing...

happy graduation week, all my peabody friends. i really wanted my new thing for this week to be associated with the commencement festivities at my alma mater, but, alas, most of the events going on i participated in last year when i graduated. but i found a way around that. so, for my nineteenth thing of the 52 new things, i did something that pushed me out of my control freak comfort zone: i walked into a hair salon without an appointment, one hour before graduation and said "do what ever you want."

now, i love my hair. and it was long. i hadn't cut it in almost a year. but it was time for a change. so i placed my fate in the hands of deana at eye candy on edgehill in nashville and waited to see what would happen. now, before you boys get all defensive and say something like: "it's just a haircut. it'll grow back. this isn't that big a deal." keep in mind, chicks are different. super different. most of us don't keep the same haircut we have had since we were 5! (*cough* dad! *cough*) we change our hair. frequently. we change the color. we change the style. we change the texture. and a bad haircut can ruin our self-esteem for a long, long time. and the last thing you want is a chick with screwy self-esteem.

when deana asked me what i wanted to do, i answered "what ever you want." she looked at me, slightly frightened and definitely perplexed and said: "but you don't even know me." once she got over the shock of having all the power, she asked if she could give me a mullet. now, my initial reaction was to yell: "NNNOOOOOOO!!!" but then this wouldn't be a new thing. so i simply responded: "whatever you want to do." this concerned her even more. luckily (for me and my street cred as a chapstick rather than butch saphocrat) deana decided against the mullet and began to give me a hip edgy short cut.

less than an hour later, i was out the door, with more product in my hair than it had seen in at least a year and headed to graduation. i have never gotten so many compliments about my hair in my life (well, almost never. i did have pretty rocking hair at my sister's wedding.) and i definitely gave all the praise to deana and her good judgement (yeah for no mullet!). i don't know if i will tempt fate again with a stunt like this, but right now, my self-esteem is pretty good. now pass the mousse.

eighteenth new thing...

so here we are, the beginning of may and still going strong. i have to admit, i am surprised i made it this far into the 52 new things. and i am thankful to my friends who have made suggestions of new things to add. keep them coming. we only have 44 more to go. so for my eighteenth new thing, i went back to my roots. during my time in cuthbert watching all my dad's little college kids graduate, i decided to do some farming. for the first time in my life, i actually used a piece of farming equipment and hoed a row!

i look nothing like a farmer, do i? i was woefully unprepared for this undertaking. forgetting about the mosquitoes who ate me alive in my cute cargo shorts, i'm lucky i didn't lose a toe tilling in a pair of sandals! that weren't even mine and were, thus, too big. by about 6 sizes. also, i kept having to avoid madison, who thought it was her job to bark and weave in front of the rototiller anytime we were in the "forward" position.

don't let that smile fool you, i was scared to death. and that fact certainly resulted in a crooked row. hey, you! in the peanut gallery! keep those straight jokes to yourself, willya? besides, my dad told me my grandfather (who was an actual farmer always said "you get more crop out of a crooked row than a straight one." hummm, i wonder if there is a bigger meaning in there somewhere?

anyway, i think this is a more accurate representation of my feelings on the day...

my dad has a decent sized garden going on in his backyard but he isn't one of those survivalist crazies that are popping up all over. just some corn, peppers, tomatoes, random marigolds and collards. and now, thanks to me and my wonderful hoeing skills, he will have an entire row of sunflowers. you know i love me some sunflowers-- and sunflower seeds for that matter. we did have one mishap, which i blame on an as-yet diagnosed pectoral muscle injury left over from the half-marathon the week before. but otherwise, i think it went pretty well. then again, i did end up in a hole at one point...

seventeenth new thing...

so this new thing might take the cake as the one the longest in the making. years have gone into accomplishing this installment of the 52 new things. five years to be precise. back before grad school. back before atlanta. and back before carly. for the seventeenth of the 52 new things, i bought the most expensive thing that i have ever owned: i paid off my car!

behold. laurel and i on the day i picked her up in nashville. (and, yes, i name my cars. always have. ever since sally.) finding this car was a monumental process. i don't even buy a $7 hot dog without listing the pros and cons of investing that much money. so you can only imagine how many times i went back and forth on how much i could afford to finance for my first new car.

i think it turned into a 5 month process of looking at different brands, then looking at different models, then looking at different colors. i still don't know how my dad managed enough self-control to not smother me in my sleep. the final insult was the fact that the color i had decided on (dark green. once an eagle, always an eagle.) was nowhere to be found. so i "settled" for gold. and then it promptly became known-- most appropriately-- as the vandymobile.

with laurel finally all picked out and ready to go, we sold sally and went to the credit union to apply for a car loan. strictly a formality i was assured by my father. and then they denied my loan application. suddenly i was a twenty-four year old living at home with my dad without a car. how the hell did that happen?

we called in some favors and i ended up getting financed (pesky student loans. why can't banks look at that as an investment in my future like i tell myself every month i write a $500 check?). though making the final payment lacked any climactic moments (one moment the money is in the bank, the next moment the auto debit clears and laurel is "mine"), i did freak out a little when the title arrived in the mail. i own a car. i never missed a payment, never had to forgo food or rent to make my payment. i believe in responsibility. too bad midflorida credit union didn't believe in me. they missed out on a lot of interest. to quote julia roberts from pretty woman: "big mistake. huge!"

sixteenth new thing...

this new thing represents a goal that i wanted to accomplish more than anything. now, while meeting a goal i set for myself is nothing new (otherwise, i would be a twenty-nine year-old woman who crawls on the floor, never learned how to chew solid food and still needs someone to change my diaper. oh, i guess that is something i have to look forward to as an eighty-nine year-old.) the actual goal was new. for the sixteenth accomplishment of the 52 new things, i ran a 10K in under 60 minutes.

beginning in february, i started training for my second half-marathon in april. as part of the training, i decided to set not only a distance goal (just finishing....which was the goal of the first half last year) but also a time goal (finish it in under 2 hours and 10 minutes, which would require me to average less than 10 minute miles for the 13.1 mile course). this required that i incorporate time trials into my training. as chronicled earlier, my attempt to participate in a warm-up race didn't go so well. so i took it upon myself, the week before the race to pick a day to run a 10K (6.2 miles for all you non-metric peeps). it would be a pretty good indication of how likely it would be that i would meet my half-marathon goal. so i started that treadmill, blasted that carly smithson and waited to see. and i did it. even if it was just barely.

update: so since accomplishing this new thing, i ran my half-marathon in nashville. and you will be happy to know that i not only met my finishing goal, but i bested it. finished in 2 hours and 7 minutes. i might do a full the next time. then again, i don't know if my poor feet and pecs can take it.

fifteenth new thing...

hollar! welcome back! for this foray into the 52 new things, i did something else that appeals to my love of (almost) all things entertainment. and this bloggity, blog, blog is totally owed to my dad. while we were suppose to share this experience together, he still made it possible for my friend laura and i to go even after he had to cancel last minute. so, thanks a bushel and a peck, dad. you're the best. for the fifteenth of my 52 new things, i was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of a movie.

the lena baker story explores the true story of lena baker, the first woman to ever be executed by electrocution in the state of georgia. based on a book written by the head of the english department and librarian at the college my father works for, the movie introduced me to a tale i had never heard before. and the environment in which it was presented caused the film to resonate even more with me.

set in the rolling cotton fields of southwest georgia (near where i was born, incidentally), the film stars tichinia arnold, of little shop of horrors (in which her characters name was...crystal!) and martin fame. the lead role was like nothing i had ever seen her portray before and because of that it took me more than 30 minutes for me to turn to laura with this faint glimmer of realization on my face and whisper: "holy shit. that's pam!" it was a moving story and i was invested to the very end, even though we all new how it would end (and, also in spite of the incessant praying i was doing between 8PM and 9PM, waiting to hear carly's fate from my sister. thanks for taking one for the team micahel johns!)

what was especially touching about this film was the family sitting in front of us. as it was opening night, the majority of the cast was in attendance (that's tichinia in those rocking boots! that's totally denzel washington's boss from the bone collector!) with their families. in front of laura and i was an entire fourth of a row of kids, no older than 13 (and most younger than that).

as the electrocution scene began to play, the little girl (who was probably 10) just to the left of me in the next row began to cry. an upsetting, ugly cry. her mother came over and started to comfort her as the rest of the theatre erupted in sobs (laura and i included). first, i was upset that her parents thought it was a good idea to bring her. as the lights came up, the director and cast received a standing ovation. the director called members of the cast down to the front of the theatre to participate in the Q&A.

when he asked for the ingenue who played lena as a little girl, the very same ten year-old who had been so upset only 20 minutes before, stood and walked down to stand next to her older self. apparently that was the first time she had seen the scene where lena is put to death. and she was lena. no wonder she was so upset. but she pulled it together, better than i could and answered a couple questions. and a star was born.

ps: the lena baker story was picked up for distribution the night of the premiere and was suppose to be shown at cannes. hopefully it will garner a wider release. the story of the injustice this woman faced deserves to be told.

special bonus new thing...

it's like getting two, two for the price of one. this week i actually experienced two new things that absolutely had to be blogged about. on monday, i attended opening night for the atlanta braves at turned field. while out to lunch on thursday, however, i received a phone call from one of my entertainment idols, michael slezak-- american idol savant and writer for entertainment weekly (the best entertainment magazine out there. seriously.)-- asking for an interview about carly smithson. really? an interview with little ole me? uhmm, i think the answer is HELL YEAH!

now, my love for all things carly is closely rivaled by that of mr. slezak. he has never hid his love for the irish barmaid. and i have never hid my love for him because of his love of the irish barmaid. so when the opportunity presented itself to speak to him and about her on the best american idol video blog on the interweb, i about peed my pants. we talked about why carly was having issues getting votes, why america seemed to dislike her (she's not american! she has tattoos! she had a record deal! and other cardinal sins...), and why her desperation wasn't playing well with the audience. though i was freaking out before hand, the interview itself was totally fun. i hope i get to do that again. thanks michael! looking forward to next season!

ps: a little knowledge i dropped on slezak and missy that they didn't know...the song carly did that week (here you come again) had been done on canadian idol in season 4. and it was horrible. so good on carly for doing it well. and why was carly's better? her arrangement, which no one gave her credit for, even though it was completely different from dolly parton's original and clay aiken's "re imagining". come on simon. be consistent with the love.

pps: for more carly smithson love on idolatry, see this, this, this, this, and my personal favorite this....i less than 3 you, slezak. i. heart. you.

fourteenth new thing...

let's get those rally caps on people! time for another installment of the 52 new things. i sense a wave of excitement presenting itself as hands flung over the heads in an undulating successive fashion all across the circular blogosphere at this moment. keep your cleats on, my pretties. for the fourteenth new thing i participated in a true american pass time. i attended opening day of the 2008 major league baseball season.

without getting all hometown on you, i have been a braves fan for as long as i can remember. not like die hard, "i still can't believe what happened on august 19th, 1985", braves fan. but a "how are the braves doing this year?" questioning every now and then, braves fan. as much as i love baseball (which is a moderate amount), that's how much i love the braves. i don't think my grandmother ever purposely missed a braves game in her life and i often recall slight expletives emanating from her room when chipper would fly out or avery would walk a batter. so it was with an understated amount of excitement that i boarded the doraville marta and headed to ole turner field to meet kevin, ryan and christine for a 7PM game against the pirates.

while participating in a rousing conversation of the circular reasoning at the heart of the movie gremlins (ryan: "i never understood the rules of that movie. if you can't feed the mogwai after midnight then when can you feed them? it is always after midnight." very insightful, ryan.), the four of us enjoyed some of the most overly priced bar food i have ever eaten. $7 for a hot dog? really? normally i am too much of a miser to even consider "investing" in $20 worth of beef product and soda, but you only live once, so after much prodding by the ericksen's i sunk my teeth into a georgia dog, braves style.

yummm. processed cheese. (aka: gross!). but the chili was decent. actually, all that thing needed was a couple of strips of bacon and some coleslaw to make it one of the best hot dogs ever. but, alas, no one has yet rivaled my favorite deli for the crown of the most awesomest kosher dog in town. otherwise, so far so good on the opening day experience.

what's that? where did i get that awesome hat, you ask? that was a spur of the moment purchase as i walked through underground atlanta, trying to get from the marta to the bus. i guess u:a is good for something other than shootings and useless kiosks of crap crowding the walkways. this particular iteration of the atlanta logo has a special place in my family. we had a cousin who pitched for the braves back in the day when the lowercase a was the official merch. plus, i have a slight fascination with the little letters.

after our tasty meal, we split up. ryan and christine headed out to their "we are established, married professionals and can afford better" seats, while kev and i headed up. not to the cheap seats, but the cheaper seats. in the outfield. but we were blessed with a special treat. our seats were literally right next to the braves bullpen. we were able to watch the starting pitcher for that night run through his warm-ups. and that pitcher was none other than tom glavine. welcome back to atlanta, glavi!

other than the creepy guy in front of us (who only made it to the fifth inning before he peaced-out with his one crutch and nappy hair-netted hair), it was a fun time. we were surrounded by families (yeah for no drunk college kids being stupid in our immediate vicinity) and we made our way over to the ryan and christine and their seats on the first base line. actually, come to think of it, i think they had to deal with way more obnoxious people than kev and i did in the outfield. the braves had trouble with their middle relief and scoring through pretty much the whole night. and then when everyone thought the fat lady had sung, the cardiac kids took the bucs into extra innings. lots of extra innings. and still lost. but at least it was close. and there is a whole season of tomahawk chops to look forward to. charge!

ps: interestingly, snellville, georgia's own diana degarmo sang the national anthem. another weird american idol connection. they just keep coming.

thirteenth new thing...

here i come again, just when you're about to make it work without me. did you miss me? yeah. i suspected that. please forgive me and my lack of blogging. though i haven't been writing, i have still been plodding along through this year long adventure of 52 new things. but it just doesn't seem to be as much fun without sharing it with you all. hopefully you will come back and continue the adventure with me. so hang on, 'cause here you come again, and here i go.

so for the thirteenth new thing of the 52 new things, i decided to do something i probably should have done as chubby twelve year-old but never got around to. i guess it was not meant to be. sorry debbie (oops, i mean deborah...). this week, i wrote and mailed a fan letter.

now, you might be wondering, who in the world would make me so starstruck that i would put pen to paper and gush about my feelings like a hormonal pre-teen. after years of obsessing over this actress or that musician. who would succeed where others had failed? you're messin' up my mind and fillin' up my senses, ms. carly smithson. something about an irish girl with raven hair and blue eyes just sends me scrambling for the expensive italian paper (thanks curt!) and rilke prose. but my love of all things dark haired and blue-eyed is nothing new. so what was so different this time around? a very interesting question. and not one i am sure i know the answer to just yet. but first, the muse.

she's beautiful. sure. but also talented. not to go all paula abdul on everyone, but that voice, that voice. oh my god. when she opened her mouth in hollywood week and sang alone all associations i had in my head attached to that song and an unfortunate boyfriend from middle school melted away. thank you carly smithson. thank you for making it ok for me to love heart again.

but it hadn't been all puppies and rainbows for carly on season 7 of american idol. in the second week of beatles songs (pet peeve #1: don't do a second week of the same theme. no one who had a transcendent moment in the first week of lennon/mccartney did anything remotely close to awesome the second week.) carly wore this unfortunate shirt, which totally distracted everyone from her performance of blackbird.

after this week, america placed her in the bottom three. and she was distraught and looked like she had totally lost her confidence. so i decided to send her a letter of encouragement. none of this "omigod. you are like the prettiest, most awesomest singer ever. lol." no. i quoted rilke and the bible and got all metaphysical. i talked about destiny and life's journey and joy. an excerpt:

whatever is meant to happen is already within you. that which we call destiny enters during times of solitude and quiet when we are the furthest from it and the least able to recognize it. it can be days or months or years before it blooms. but when it happens, when our destiny finally reveals itself, we know it the way a blind man knows the feel of the walls of his home. we recognize the truth of the moment because it was in us all along. Rilke says: "that which we call destiny goes forth from within people, not from without into them." so your "moment" is already inside you; its-- and your-- journey cannot be changed. have faith in what is to come and what has already come that you simply do not have the eyes to see just yet.

now, while i am certain it was my two hours of voting on two phones every week and not my letter writing that helped keep her in the competition a few more weeks-- that is until the ridiculous american public decided that this gem was simply not good enough (or too anti-christian. you decide. stupid reactionary, mouth-breathing hillbillies.)-- i would like to think that my words did not fall on deaf, erm, eyes? i can't wait for the tour (already have seats for two shows! woot!) and look forward to her album. who knows, maybe one of my new things later in the year will be meeting the person i sent my first fan letter to. hey, a girl can dream.


52 new things update...

hello there. long time, no blog. after finally coming to terms with the stupidity of the american voting public (and no, i am not talking about this. i am talking about this!), i am back to put fingers to keypad and update the last *gasp* ten weeks of new things. check back tomorrow night when my new thing for this week will be completed...

i need a hug, too...