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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Thursday, December 30, 2010

#Reverb10 December 30th (aka, we're almost done!)

The Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What's the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

There's no way that I CAN'T revert back to the one thing that's been huge in this entire project - Matt making the move from Atlanta to DC.  To me, that was an emotional gift of commitment.  Our relationship wasn't going very well a year ago - we were fighting a lot, we were both unemployed, we weren't sure what was going to be happening because it was looking like the job in DC was going to happen, and he wasn't ready to go yet. But when he finally did make the decision, it was amazing. 

Things settled out in the time we were long distance. The longest we went without seeing each other was 3 months, and it was ridiculously hard, but once we were back together, it just grew from there. Even though he's had a little bit of trouble with some of the more traditional commitment things (and he'll be the first to admit it), making that move, to a place where he pretty much had nothing except for me, was the best gift I could have received this year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

#Reverb10 December 29th

The Prompt: Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

I'm pretty sure that my defining series of events this year include moving back to DC, starting the new job, Matt moving up, and restarting my masters program. But except for the masters program, I've already talked about most of them at length in this project, so I'll just stick with that one.

When I was in DC on active duty a few years back, and I had my first evaluation with the big boss, he asked me if I had started my masters yet. I said no, and he asked why, and I didn't really have a good reason. I mean, I didn't really have a good reason TO start either, since I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with my life. But I knew I didn't want to deal with the GRE, or any of the other tests, or take out any loans, or use any tuition assistance that would mean I owed additional time in the Navy.  He told me I needed to work on my masters while I was on shore duty, so I did some research, found an accredited online program that I could afford, and got to work. I took 3 classes before I got out and ran out of money, and finally just got all of my GI bill paperwork done and can afford to pay for the rest of it. So I'm back to work, and as much of a pain in the neck it is, I'm glad to be doing it. It will absolutely help me with the job progression, and most of the other people in my office, even the young ones, have masters degrees. So go me!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

#Reverb10 December 28th

The Prompt: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

This seems very very similar to the prompt from the 18th.  But I committed to finishing this project so I will, dammit!!

There are a few things I want to achieve in 2011.  But lets stick with the one I already mentioned, that I want to take a significant chunk out of my credit card debt. I think it will give me a feeling of freedom, and lift a burden off of my shoulders, getting rid of some of the financial stress that I've felt over the past couple of years when my situation wasn't ideal.

As far as getting that feeling today, I mean, that's not really going to happen today.  It won't happen until I get it done. However, it helps me to really think about the plan that I have to make it happen, so here are the things I'm going to do to get there:

1.  My mortgage interest rate just reset, and so my payment has gone down nearly $260. That $260 is going straight onto credit cards, in addition to the payments I was already planning on making.  First, I will be paying off a store card that I am paying way too much interest on, but was good for buying work clothes when I first moved back. 
2.  My car will paid off very soon, July I think.  Once that is done, that $320 will be going onto credit cards every month. Most likely it will go first onto the regular card on which I have the higher balance, which also has the higher interest rate. It will take a while to put a good dent into it, but I will be patient.
3.  I will be cutting down on unnecessary expenditures and putting at least the minimum payment plus any charges incurred that month on my cards, so that every month the balance is going down.
4.  I will not be using my credit cards at all, except for purchases where I can immediately put the payment on to it. The only reason I will do this is for the rewards points on my Visa - those iTunes gift cards I accumulate are a nice thing to get! But there will be no purchases without immediate payments.

I know that's not 10 things, but its 4 solid things that will make my life easier, and bring me closer to my goal.

Oh, and the other thing I want to do - record at least a 4 song demo with Matt of music we write together. We're both too talented to not be working together, and we have the capability now to get it done.

Monday, December 27, 2010

#Reverb10 December 27th

The Prompt: Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Didn't we already do this one? Wasn't there a prompt about the best moment of the year? I would say the exact same thing, except for this one thing that happened yesterday...

Yesterday, for the first time in a really long time, I wrote again. A friend of Matt's came over last night to jam, and I ended up sitting with them just listening, and suddenly I was inspired in a way that I had not been in a really long time.  A front was passing by, and I looked up at the sky and saw the line where the clouds ended and the clear sky began, and it was late afternoon so the colors of the sunset were starting, and the contrast between the two just reminded me of life a year ago and life now, and where Matt and I were and are now. And I just started writing. And it felt amazing! This ordinary moment of sitting in this amazing house, on the day after Christmas, with a glass (well, a Christmas paper cup really - classy, right?) of wine, and listening to two amazingly talented men play their guitars... It was just the inspiration I needed.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

#Reverb10 December 26th

The Prompt: Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

A few months back, Matt and I made a trip to Eastern Market and picked up some steaks.  Those steaks were absolutely the best meal I ate this year - the meat just melted in my mouth, and when it was gone, I was sad because I wanted there to be more. It was amazing. I have nothing else to add to this - that steak was the best meal I've had in years, and the most memorable meal I ate in 2010.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

#Reverb10 Christmas Day

The Prompt: Photo - a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

 I just love this picture. It was taken July 3rd, in Chapel Hill, NC by Matt's best friend's wife on their back porch.  I was so happy, because Matt was finally making the move. It doesn't reveal anything, really, but it was a happy weekend, and it was the start of the new life together in DC :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve, and #Reverb10

The Prompt: Everything's OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

The day that Matt made the move, for real. When we actually pulled up to the building with his truck full of stuff. And he changed his address, and changed his car registration, and made it all official.

As far as incorporating that discovery.... well, it wasn't really a discovery as much as a HUGE sigh of relief.  I won't take it for granted, though. That's for sure.

In other news, we're enjoying a fantastically relaxing holiday here at the farm in Tallahassee.  The farm is super relaxing, and everything is amazing, except for the part where we still don't have our luggage. It should be showing up today though... cross your fingers! Pictures of the land will follow in a couple of days. This place is absolutely amazing.

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas Eve and Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

#Reverb10 December 23rd

The Prompt: New name. Let's meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

I used to do this all the time, when strange men asked me my name in a bar and I thought they were creepy, I told them my name was Amanda.

When I was a kid I wanted to change my name. I wanted it to be something fun, something different. Nothing strange - I wasn't looking to be named Apple or Coco or Ryder or Brooklyn or any of these other names celebrities seem to think are OK to give a helpless child.  People, have you ever heard of the 3rd grader test? Take the name you want to give your child out to a playground full of 3rd graders, and tell it to them. If they immediately find was to make fun of it, FORGET THE NAME.

I thought my name was boring. I wanted to be Emma, or Allison, or go by my middle name (which is Lynn. Still kinda boring, but not a very common first name.)  Brittany (after the Chipette, thank you very much) was another popular choice.  I wanted to be the only person someone knew with my name.  But as I've gotten older, I've grown to love my name, and appreciate it for what it is.  Its a solid, old name that people can pronounce and spell.  The classic spelling has been good to me. At one point on my first ship there were three of us - me, Rebekah (also classic, you see that fairly frequently), and Rabeka.  I'm not even kidding. It was spelled that way. Creativity fail.

So these days, I wouldn't want to introduce myself by a different name. At least not first name. Getting rid of the last name though, that's a whole other thing...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

#Reverb 10 December 22nd

The Prompt: Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

This year most of my travel was either the move or work related.  In January, we did the Rock Boat, which went to somewhere in Mexico, but it was cold and rainy so we didn't even get off the boat. We did, however, get to spend some time in Anna Maria Island, FL at Matt's Aunt and Uncle's house. That place was AWESOME, except freezing.  I'd love to go back when its warmer. For work I went to Northern MD (not that exciting), twice to Colorado Springs (not bad at all), and once to San Diego (where it rained the ENTIRE time).  I've taken trips to Atlanta and New Hampshire for weddings, but those were just long weekends.  And for the holidays we're headed to Florida.

In 2011, though, I want to take a TRIP. Not just a trip. A TRIP.  I wanted to go to Europe, but that might have to wait til 2012.  We've already got another Tallahassee trip scheduled for February for yet another wedding. Otherwise, though, I think its going to just be a see how it goes kind of year. I want to do more travel though. Maybe I can get a trip somewhere exciting through work...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#Reverb10 December 21st

The Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Wait, what? How am I supposed to imagine myself 5 years in the future and give me advice for this year?? This makes no sense. Therefore, I'm not doing it. I mean really. If I'm trying to figure out NEXT year, how the hell am I supposed to figure out 5 years from now too? Dumb.

However, I DO like the Bonus piece, so let's focus on that one.

Dear 20 year old Me,

The year 2001 is going to be something else.  You don't know it yet, but 2000 was the last year of life as you know it.

You know how things have been sucking with the boyfriend for a while? Just get over it and get rid of him now. You'll save yourself a lot of heartache in a few months. Take control, and do it your way. Don't let him, or any other guy for that matter, have that much control over your life and your feelings every again.

Take Ring Dance with a grain of salt. Have fun, but don't take it too seriously. And again, do NOT let a guy control your life or emotions or direction.

Beware for shady guys this summer - especially really tall, really skinny ones. They're just no good. STAY AWAY.

Your friends are the most important thing on the planet. DO NOT SCREW UP the friendships that mean the most to you.  Do everything in your power to fix the ones that are on the rocks.

In about 9 months, things are going to change forever.  The reasons you signed that 2 for 7 paper a few weeks ago will change drastically. The world will be a different place, and it will never go back to how it was. Enjoy the first 9 months of this year, and appreciate the small things.

Be yourself. Figure out who that is, because I know you're not sure yet. Make the decisions that you need to make, and make them for yourself. You are the only one who controls your life and your destiny, and don't let anyone else try.

30 year old me

Monday, December 20, 2010

#Reverb10 December 20th

The Prompt: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I should have started writing songs again this year. I've really let music go to the back burner over the past couple of years, and I've had a really hard time picking it back. Which is really quite silly, because it used to be such a constant. I keep talking about it, and saying I'm going to do it, and thinking about doing it, but I never actually do it.  I don't know what the block is, but I need to get rid of it.

And yes, I plan on doing it. First step: remembering to put my song notebook that I used to always have with me back in my purse. If I remember when I get home.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

#Reverb10 December 19th

The Prompt: Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Oh hey, there's that theme again :)

My healing this year has been in 2 parts. First of all, getting the job up here and being able to live my life again. I'm not stressing about paying my bills (although I've held onto my OCD money tracking ways, but that's not a bad thing), and I'm able to go out and enjoy myself, and I'm slowly but surely paying down the credit cards.  This part was pretty sudden - within 2 months of getting that first paycheck, things were back on track, and they've just gotten better and better ever since - I'm like a new person :)

Part 2 was when Matt finally moved up here with me. Our relationship went through some tough times at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, to the point where I wasn't sure we were going to make it. But he came up, and we've healed those wounds, and we're growing stronger all the time. This part went a little slower, but that's OK - I think that's how its supposed to be.

I'm feeling pretty good about going out of 2011 - I feel like my life is in a good place, and I'm happier than I've been in a long time. The things I'd like to be healed from are my laziness, and my fatness!  I lost a ton of weight a few years ago, and I gained all of it plus some back when I was unemployed and stressed and depressed. I've gotten rid of the plus some, and I now I'd like to be healed from the rest, please!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

#Reverb 10 December 18th

The Prompt: Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn't go for it?

I want to try to pay off my credit cards in 2011.  This year, my mortgage's rate reset so my payment is much lower, and my car will be paid off, and I will get a raise in February. I want to put most of that money towards my credit cards and get them at least to a more manageable level - get rid of the debt I accumulated between the time I had no tenant in my house, the not-so-smart long distance "relationship" I was in, and the time in Atlanta when I wasn't getting paid much / when I was unemployed.  I think its entirely feasible to get my cards WAY down in 2011, and I see no reason why a year from now I can't be almost credit-card-debt-free.

There wasn't a whole lot I wanted to try in 2010 - for me it was about that renewal that I mentioned on the 1st - getting my life back to normal and becoming me again. So perhaps that was trying something, and I succeeded. I'm back to a newer normal me :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

#Reverb10 December 17th

The Prompt: Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

This is taking me back to the same theme I mentioned on the 5th - the whole life change thing that happened this year, being unemployed and deciding to make the move back to DC and the anxiety of not being sure if Matt was really going to come with me. Because the best thing I learned about myself this past year was that I can make it through things WAY harder than I thought. I thought the hardest things I had ever been through were Plebe Summer, and the Naval Academy, and a couple of choice spots during my time in the Navy. Boy, was I wrong. Nothing is really all that bad when you have a paycheck, and can pay your bills, and can live your life. I learned a HUGE lesson in appreciation as well, and not sweating the small stuff. And I learned how to manage my money a little better and get back on track quicker. And I learned that I AM worth it!!

But yeah, the main point was that I learned, yet again, that I can deal with far harder things in my life than I thought I could. But its a lesson I'd like to stop learning please.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

#Reverb10 December 16th

The Prompt: Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

My best friend is my best friend because she changes my perspective on things every day. One of the reasons we get along so well is that we are able to debate anything, even if we ultimately think the same thing, because of the fact that we are able to make each other think about things in a different way.  Its been a consistent part of our friendship since the very beginning - I often refer to her as my conscience because I can run anything by her, and even when I know exactly what she's going to say, she gets my head straight. She has no problem telling me that I'm being stupid, or offering me an alternative thought process or action.  As I made the decision to move back up to DC late last year, and then as I did it, and dealt with the uncertainty of my relationship, and whether or not Matt would make the move, and everything involved with all of the above, she has been there for me through it all. 

Over the years that we've been friends, she's been one of the only people willing to tell me what I might not have wanted to hear. Well, besides my mother, of course, but its not the same hearing it from someone that's not your mother. We all know this. But I love her for it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#Reverb10 December 15th

The Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

The Saturday that I talked about on the 3rd. The day I knew for sure I'd gotten the job. The day Matt and I took off from Atlanta with a truckload of his stuff because he was FINALLY moving. Anna and Ryan's wedding. Seeing Melanie FINALLY as happy as she deserved to be. The first month I had enough money to pay all of my bills without stress and still go out when I wanted. Buying my new Coach wallet at Lenox Mall while thumbing my nose at the office building across the street. The amazing steaks from Eastern Market. Emily's graduation. Finally seeing Anna Maria Island. The bottle of Cacophony that we drank the other night. Rustico's Short Rib. Savory Grilled Cheese. Prima Donna. Thanksgiving chaos.

And I think that's just about it.  I started this off thinking there weren't five minutes worth of things that I'd want to remember from 2010. Looks like I was wrong. They may not be huge things, but they're things. There was a little good in the chaos of the year after all!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Need a meaningful Christmas gift? Think about a Give-It-Bag!

Recently, my Aunt has become the sole US distributor for a company called Give-It-Bag, based in Capetown, South Africa.  They live there at the moment - my uncle is stationed there with the State Department - and this company was brought to their attention a few months back. You can read the whole story here, but basically some ladies in Cape Town started making functional bags out of the bean, sugar, rice, and other food bags that come into the area from aid agencies around the world. Some folks that came in with one of those agencies came across these ladies, who at that point were selling the bags in little DIY shops in Cape Town. The company has grown, and expanded around Europe, and now to the US. The bags are entirely made in Cape Town, and 50% of the profits from each bag go back into the community.

A boutique in my neighborhood called Hysteria is having a Give-It-Bag Trunk Sale this weekend (Dec 17-19), and this might be the first time they're being sold in the US - pretty exciting! If you're in the DC area, check it out. If you're not, but interested, let me know and I can get you the right information for ordering.

Here are a couple of pictures of the bags:

#Reverb10 December 14th

The Prompt: Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

Having a job!!  Seriously, after having spent portions of each of the last 3 calendar years unemployed, I am appreciating more and more the fact that I have a solid, stable job that pays my bills. This was made totally clear for me earlier this year when my Agency was switching pay scales within DoD from the NSPS system back to GS.  There are several of us in my office on the same position description, which meant we'd be converted to the same grade. I knew it was going to be one of two, and while I was hoping for the higher, of course, I wasn't super concerned. One of the other guys was, though - he was seriously in a bad place thinking we'd end up in the lower grade and it wasn't making him happy. It really made me stop and think about thankful and appreciative I am to have a job at all.
Luckily, we came out in the higher grade, thanks to lots of work by my leadership. So I show my gratitude for all of it by doing by job to the best of my ability. That's all I can really do, right?

Monday, December 13, 2010

#Reverb10 December 13th

The Prompt: Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

This was a HUGE thing for me this year, bringing my life back on track and taking the necessary steps (moving back to DC, getting the government job, etc) to do so. So I guess the next thing I need to do is get back on track with the music.

For any new readers I may have acquired along the way here, I've been singing basically since I could talk and writing songs since I was about 12. But in the past few years, I've really let that slide. I think partly because of the stress of the huge life changes I've made, I just haven't been feeling that creative.

This year, I'm getting back on it. Matt has set up a pretty basic recording rig in our sunroom, and he wants to start recording, and he's been bugging me to write songs and sing vocals and for us to write together. And I think its time. I need to start writing again. I need to put that notebook I used to always keep on me back in my purse, and write things down as I think of them. I need to get them recorded.

And I need to sing more, in general!! Singing in my car is great and all, but it just doesn't cut it!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

#Reverb10 December 12th

The Prompt: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

I don't particularly understand the concept of the mind being integrated with the body. Every time I hear people talking about getting their mind more in concert with their bodies, I get a little confused, and I just don't get it. So I'm not sure - I either was or wasn't at all times, I guess, I'm just not sure which it is. Maybe I'm just not zen...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

#Reverb10 December 11th

The Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? 

1. That 20+ pounds I gained back. I'm going to go about getting rid of it by continuing to monitor what I eat, and keep working towards at least 3 days a week in the gym. When I get rid of it, I'll be able to wear all of my clothes again, and I won't feel so fat.
2. Financial stress. I've already been working on eliminating it, and I'm just gonna keep going. Keeping the job will be the primary on this - I haven't had a full calendar year of employment since 2007, so 2011 is it! I think its pretty obvious how getting rid of it will change my life.
3. "Friend" drama. I'm going to keep on with the concept of just deleting people from my life if all they do is cause me drama. I've been doing that lately, and its done good things for me.
4. Fast food. I've been working on it. But I don't need it. Ever. No matter how good it sounds at the time. Even if it's McDonald's breakfast. Not gonna happen if it comes from a place with a drive-thru, heat lamps, or any other place that doesn't make it for you immediately upon ordering. And it will help with the whole change thing in number 1. 2011 needs to be my very first fast-food free year. Let's do it. Who's in? (of course, this does mean that I'll be hitting Whataburger before New Years....)
5. The Rock Boat. As much as my life wants it in 2011, I'm not going, and it's OK. I don't need it. I will survive. I may have some withdrawals, but so does every addiction. And my credit card bills will be all the better for it.
6. Foods that I don't really like, but will eat anyway just because they're there. Why do I do this? Why do I munch on things that I don't even like? There is zero logical explanation for this. So I'm going to try to stop. My stomach will thank me, both in size and in stability (many of those things wreak havoc on my poor tummy), and it will help, again, with number 1.
7. Cheap wine. I can afford to pay $10 or more for a bottle of wine. No more $5.99 Barefoot or $3.99 Lost Vineyards. (Hey, at least it wasn't Boone's Farm.) Who needs it? I drink wine for the enjoyment. There's no point in the cheap stuff.
8.  Sarah Palin. Need I say more? Probably not, but I will anyways. All she does is make the Republican party look bad, and she absolutely does NOT speak for the entire Republican party. I wish she would just go away - she's too polarizing.
9. One-sided friendships. This is, in fact, different than number 3. These people may not cause much drama at all. They're usually the people that I go out of my way to call, talk to, hang out, whatever, but they never reciprocate. It feels like I'm the one doing all the work. No more, please. I'd rather have fewer people in my life who care, thank you very much.
10. Stupid people. This is a wish list thing, though. Likely not gonna happen. But I'd be so much happier if I didn't have to deal with stupid people.
11. Debt.  This is different than financial stress. I don't want to accrue any more debt this year. I will pay my car off this year and not buy a new one. I will take a large chunk out of my credit cards. And, hopefully, I will sell my house to the guy that's been living in it for the past 3 years and get rid of my mortgage. The goal this year is for net amounts of debt to go down. That will give me more discretionary funds, able to save a bit more, and enjoy my income!

Phew! That was great. Now I just need to keep reminding myself of this list... after I watch some football!


Friday, December 10, 2010

#Reverb10 December 10th

The Prompt: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

The wisest decision I made this year (even thought I kinda sorta technically made it last year but I executed it this year so it counts dammit) was to take the job with the government.  Not only was going with a government job an overall better idea than going with a contractor position, for a variety of reasons, but this job is going REALLY well for me. They value my opinions, they put me in positions of trust, and they appreciate my abilities. This has been the craziest, busiest week I've had since I started back working, but its in a totally good way. Except that I'm exhausted and behind on my school work. But that's OK! It also means this entry is going to be way shorter than it probably should be... oh well :)

#Reverb10 December 9th

Well, I started this yesterday, and the day just got away with me! So here it is...

The Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.
I wish I could say that the answer is Rock Boat X, but unfortunately I just can't do it. Any of the past 3 years it would have been the winner hands down, so I have to give it a good should out, but this year... not so much.

This year, however, I think the winner is our friends Anna and Ryan's wedding weekend extravaganza in Atlanta.  It started on Friday with a rehearsal dinner at this great little Cuban place near their house - its actually where he proposed to her. We had the entire inside of the place, which was probably a good thing if only because we weren't exactly a quiet, subdued crowd. I'm pretty sure our table of 10, which included just about everyone we were close to in Atlanta, and were seeing for the first time since the move, managed to consume approximately 8 pitchers of mojitos. And at least 2 people at our table were not drinking mojitos. We all piled back on to the bus back to the hotel, with several of the guys carrying those final glasses of mojito with them, where the bridal suite was stocked up with drinks and snacks and the party continued, for some, until almost morning.  Which worked out really well for the groomsmen, especially my boyfriend, who had not yet picked up his tux and had picture call at 2 :)

The actual wedding day started with some quality time with Matt's mom and sister - a little shopping, some lunch, and hanging out.  Once Matt had to report for his groomsmenly duties, I headed down and hung out with some of his (now our, I guess) other friends who were not in the wedding and watched the Florida State football game until time for the wedding. I finally met one of the girls that I'd been hearing about forever but hadn't met yet, and got to hang out with a few others that I just hadn't seen in a while. The wedding itself was really nice, and as soon as it was over, the party picked right back up where it had left off the night before. Ryan's 6 year old cousin had taken a liking to several of the girls, and she had us dancing (yes, even me!) and taking pictures in the photo booth and having a grand old time. Add on to that that there was an open bar, and we were all taking full advantage of it, and the DJ was among the better wedding DJs I've experienced recently, and it was a fantastic time. Oh, and the food was great too, except for the asparaguts. Eew. But yay for filet! As it had the night before, when the official party was over, the bridal suite saved the night and carried it on. Once again, most of us having switched from fancy wedding clothes to PJs or other comfy clothes, we partied to our little hearts' content.

All in all, the weekend was a blast. Hanging out with friends that I hadn't seen since the move, in a posh hotel just a couple blocks from my old office where they didn't pay me enough to even afford thinking about it, and truly enjoying myself. What more could you ask for??

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

#Reverb10 December 8th

The Prompt: Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.

OK, I REALLY don't like this prompt. There, I said it.

What makes me different is that I don't try to be the same as anyone else. I am me, take it or leave it, love it or hate it. My life is not about conformity. I have my own opinions, my own style (or lack thereof), my own way of doing things, and I'm not trying to be like anyone else, or be liked, or fit in. I mean, if that all happens anyways, great, but its not the goal.

But at the same time, I'm not trying to NOT be like anyone else, or NOT be liked, or NOT fit in either. Its not a rebellion thing or anything like that - I just don't have time in my life to be concerned with things like that, if that makes any sense at all, and I'm not sure that it does.

I think part of the reason this prompt is eliciting such a negative response from me is because of this whole diversity push lately. My generation, kids raised in the 80s and 90s, was brought up to focus on the things that make us the same, not the things that make us different. I like to think that's how I look at people - focusing on the things that I have in common with others and that I can share with them. And I think that many in my generation are the same way. So much of society wants to focus on the differences between people - gender, skin color, sexual orientation, religion, blah, blah, blah. I don't know about you, but I'm over it. I'm much more interested in whether or not someone enjoys music the way I do, loves their family, and is a generally good person than I am if they're Muslim, female, gay, or Hispanic.

Perhaps I read this the wrong way, or perhaps this attitude is what makes me different. I don't know, and I'm not sure that I'm particularly worried about figuring it out.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

#Reverb10 December 7th

The Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
The first part of this question is easy - this year, I found a great community in Yelp!'s DC members.  Both online and in person, this group allowed me to make some new friends, get out and about, and get re-settled in the DC area, especially before Matt got here.  I was introduced to Yelp! back in Atlanta by my friend Eric, who got me in by telling Matt and I about the great parties he and his girlfriend were always attending courtesy of the site.  It turned out to be a pretty cool website - its a place where people can review businesses, primarily restaurants, but anything goes. It includes events pages, talk forums, and some of the other standard social-media things.  As with all websites, it has its detractors, but I've found it to be quite fantastic. I've used the site to find places to go when I'm traveling, I've gone to events to try out new places, and I've got a great new group of friends and a book club that I wouldn't have otherwise. I'll take it!

As far as what community I'd like to join in 2011, it's really more of a question of what community I'd like to REjoin.  When I lived here before, I had a GREAT time in the local music community. Several friends made, lots of music/show buddies, and many good times had by all. Since I've been back, I haven't had much of that. Perhaps because the scene changed a bit in the year and a half I was gone, perhaps because I just don't want to be going out on weeknights as much, perhaps because I'm trying not to spend as much money on things other than my debt, I don't know. But I kinda miss it! I'd love to try to reconnect with some of that group in 2011.

Monday, December 06, 2010

#Reverb10, December 6th

The Prompt: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The last thing I "made" was our new TV stand! I used all of the materials that came with it, plus I finally got to use one of the Allen wrenches in the toolbox I bought myself years ago. Of course, I also seem to have managed to lose both of my screwdrivers. Need to find those.... anyways, it's all put together, the TV is on top, and it looks GREAT. We really like it.

What do I want to make that I need to clear time for... I think the answer to this is music. Its always the answer. What do I not do enough of? Writing. Now that we almost have a full recording rig set up in the sunroom, so we can even record scratch tracks of whatever we come up with. Must get on that. Once the holidays are over, anyways - there just isn't time right now!

Oh, and I'm starting to go through and find some other blogs that are participating in Reverb10, and following some of them. So if any of you reading are folks who found me through the Reverb10 site, welcome!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

#Reverb 10, December 5th

The Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of a lot of anxiety this year. If you haven't yet noticed, the theme of my posts so far as been heavily leaning towards the change and transition I went through this year. And this is no different. At the beginning of this year my financial situation was shaky at best. My relationship was even less stable. I was about to move, and start a new job, and embark on a long distance relationship, at least for a little while. I was, as I've previously mentioned, a hot mess.

But as the year has progressed and things have settled in, I've been able to let go of a lot of that anxiety. As my job got going, and the paychecks kept coming, and my relationship re-strengthened, its just been better and better. I don't have breakdowns. I don't worry as much. (I still worry some. Its just in my nature. Nothing I can do about it. Oh well.) I'm just in a better place. And it feels great.

#Reverb 10, December 4th

The Prompt: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Hmmm.... you know, my whole year was kind of about cultivating wonder. Wondering if I would ever be OK again, back to normal. Wondering if our relationship would make it through the rough times. Wondering if I would run out of money before I had bills to pay. Wondering if the job would be as good as it had been. Wondering if Matt would make the move.  But somehow, I just don't think that this is the kind of wonder the prompt writer was talking about.

Speaking to that kind of wonder... I finally started reading again this year. I used to be a VERY avid reader. When I was in kindergarten and first grade in England, my teachers didn't even try to keep me within the bounds of the reading curriculum. They sent me up to the library, showed me a section of books that was appropriate for my age, and let me run. All the way up until I went to the Naval Academy, I read anything I could get my hands on. Other than while I was on deployment, though, I really didn't read much for the last 12 years. There wasn't time, and when there was, I was too tired. I'd fall asleep immediately, and it would take me ages to finish a book.

Of course, there are some exceptions - I read all of the Harry Potter books, the last few within a week of publishing. I read all of the Twilight novels, just out of curiosity, and I read all of the Sookie Stackhouse books (except the newest one), just because I was in love with True Blood. And I've listened to several books in the car, which is good, but not quite the same.

However, this fall I bought myself a Kindle. And it's the best purchase I've ever made. And I joined a book club. And I'm ACTUALLY READING again. I'm getting lost in characters, and wanting to know what happens next, and feeling their emotion, and delving into things that are totally new and exciting and refreshing and scary and emotional. I'm thinking about stories, and I'm talking about plotlines and whether or not I like a character. And its absolutely amazing. I didn't realize how much I missed it. I feel like a kid again, and I really hope to keep it up.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Christmas Cards are finally ordered!

So, I finally got my Christmas cards ordered, after much operator error! I went with one that we could put several photos on, and we decided to use the fun picture of us and Michael Jackson's wax figure because we decided it was just too fun not to :)

Shutterfly is still running some great sales and free shipping deals - check it out! Its not too late :)

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Friday, December 03, 2010

#Reverb10, December 3rd

The Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

Beings that my word for the year was renewal, there are several moments that immediately come to mind for this. The first time I got a paycheck at the new job. The day Matt and I arrived up this way with a truckload of his stuff because he had finally made the move.

However, I think I'm going to go with this past Saturday, when, while watching football, Matt and I decorated the apartment for Christmas, rearranged the living room, ordered a new TV stand, made and ate a fantastic cheesy snack, and just overall had a really fantastic day. And a day is just a moment in time, right? Right. Let's go with that.

The day started with an early run to my parent's house while Matt slept in a little longer. I had made hummus for Thanksgiving dinner, and my college-freshman sister had forgotten to get her share of the leftovers. I told her I'd be more than happy to bring her some. My dad was making breakfast taquitos in honor of my cousin's British exchange student (it's his breakfast specialty, and she had never had one before, and the two of them had spent the night) so the whole house smelled of microwavable sausage links and hash browns. It made me hungry, I'm not going to lie - my grits with mixed berry jelly were feeling pretty inadequate!!

On the way home, I stopped by Wal-Mart and picked up a Christmas tree for us. Artificial, of course - I don't have the patience for a real tree, and this way we don't have to worry about taking it down before our holiday travels. When I got home, we set up the tree and began hanging my collection of ornaments - I've collected many over the years, primarily as a result of family members giving them as gifts. We realized we needed a tree topper, as well as some ornaments just for Matt, so we decided to hit the Christmas store in Old Town, and maybe grab a beer. We stopped into the Union Street Public House, because once I said they had good oysters that was the end of that discussion.  We each ordered a beer - seasonal wintry ales, because it was cold outside, and we ordered a dozen oysters. There is little better in this world than a nice, big oyster on a saltine cracker smeared with a little cocktail sauce mixed with just the right amount of horseradish. YUM. We downed that dozen in record time, and the only thing keeping us from another was the cost!

Upon finishing our beers, we headed to the Christmas shop. I found a tree topper right away - a light up star, perfect. We then went looking for ornaments for Matt, with focus on a guitar. We found one pretty quickly, as well as a box of small glass ornaments, a variety of colors and bell-like shapes to fill in some of the blanks on the tree. I was pretty excited about our finds, but that excitement was totally overshadowed by what I found when we got to the checkout line - 4 or 5 different pickle ornaments!!

(A little background here - Matt LOVES dill pickles. The big, whole ones we used to get at sporting events in high school in Texas, but that here come, in slightly smaller form, in a jar. Its become a running joke - he goes through one of those jars just about every week, and I always know when he's finished off a jar the night before because I can smell the pickle juice he's dumped into the sink, because its inevitably filled a glass or plate.)

I told him this was a done deal, but he could pick which pickle. He decided on this one: 

We headed home with our purchases to finish decorating our tree and hang some lights in our sunroom. The icicle lights we had bought for our balcony last year in Atlanta work perfectly along the top of our floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Then we settled into the Florida State - Florida football game, during which Matt baked the aforementioned cheesy snack. The cheese, called Fromager des Clarines, is similar to a Brie - a small wheel, enclosed in a white rind. Matt used this recipe that he found online to bake it, and man was it good. The cheese basically came out almost liquefied, and perfect for dipping bagel chips and apple slices.

The best part was coming across the garlic cloves - talk about a bite of goodness! Florida State won the football game, and, to top it all off, Maryland also won theirs, which means that Florida State is playing tomorrow in the ACC championship. In Matt-land, this is very very good news. Which means that, by default, its good news in Rebecca-land as well :)

In between some of this, we rearranged our living room a bit, put out our other Christmas decorations, ordered the new TV stand - all things that make it feel more and more like OUR home.  There's something refreshing about that, especially considering that a year ago we were really on some shaky ground.  When the day was over, we both felt as if we had just had the best day we had had in a long time.  There's something about that feeling that is reassuring.  I can't put my finger on it, but days like that really do make me feel the most alive - when I feel as though my life is moving forward and I can go to bed with a peaceful, happy, warm-fuzzy feeling inside. Last Saturday was that day, and I hope I won't soon forget it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

#Reverb10, December 2nd

The Prompt: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it?

This is focused on people who are a little bit more serious about their writing than I am, I think. However, if I relate it back to my songwriting, which has been severely lacking in the last year or two, I think I can answer the question.

The primary thing I do each day that doesn't contribute to my writing is work, if we're being honest. And no, I can not eliminate it, because then I wouldn't get paid, and we've all seen what a hot mess I am when I'm not getting paid. But, at the same time, some of my best songs were written while or because of my work - namely, while I was standing a watch on the bridge of my first ship while we were off the coast of Virginia, I wrote my song "Especially You," which was featured two years ago on a compilation CD. So maybe that's not entirely something I do that doesn't contribute to my writing after all.

However, I'm sure that the time I spend undwinding after work playing Spider Solitaire or watching last week's episode of Parenthood doesn't do a whole lot for me. I really should cut down a little on that and dedicate a certain amount of time every day to writing, even if its just jotting down some ideas or some one-line lyrics. It would be better than nothing...

While I doubt I'll eliminate everything that I do that keeps me from wanting to write on a daily basis like I should, I do need to make a conscious effort to at least cut down on it all. This prompt made me really think about how much I'm NOT writing, and how much I kinda miss it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

And we're off... #Reverb10 for December 1st

The Prompt: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you're choosing that word. Now, imagine it's one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

I saw this email pretty early this morning, and spent a large portion of the day thinking about it as I was finishing up a class I was in. And I've decided on my word for 2010:


2010 didn't start out that great for me. It looked like I had found a job, which was a good thing, but I was rushing to get things finished for it before the Rock Boat. I was going to be moving back to DC, and Matt wasn't going to be coming with me, at least not right away. As a result of all of this, our relationship was really suffering. My finances were a mess after having been on unemployment since September. All of the stress had caused me to put on a bunch of weight. In general, I was a big old mess.

However, as this year has progressed, I really feel as though things have refreshed and renewed. I made the move, and started the job, and have done well so far. Matt came up a few months later, and our relationship is stronger than ever. My finances are back in a manageable place (not perfect - it takes A LOT longer to get rid of debt than it does to rack it up!!). I feel more like a contributing member of society, instead of like the useless failure that I truly felt like for a large part of 2009. And I've started losing the weight I gained, but just like debt, its much harder to get rid of than it is to pack on. Things are definitely looking up.

As far as imagining that its now December 2011 and I'm looking for my 2011 word, I'm having a bit of a struggle between two words, but I think the intent is the same for both: Progression and Growth

By this time next year I hope to be in or be looking for a position one rank higher than the one I'm currently in. I hope to be continuing to erase my debt. I'm restarting the masters degree program that I began while I was in the Navy. I hope to get rid of the rest of the weight I gained. I hope that my relationship with Matt will continue to grow. I want to look back on 2011 a year from now and have made some forward and/or upward motion in my life since 2010. I don't want to be in the exact same place 12 months from now that I am today. Physically, maybe, yes. But in life, absolutely not.