Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hap, Happiest Season of All

So, I don't typically blog twice in a week.  But, this morning I'm fighting the holiday grumps due to loads of stress and little sleep.  I'm in the business of making holiday magic and sometimes it all gets overwhelming.  In order to fight the Scrooge in me and put on a happy face I started thinking of some of my favorite holiday memories.  All of them from the first of December to New Years Eve.  And I found myself laughing so hard on the way in to work that I thought I'd just share.

I'll start with a family memory.  Christmas at my house .  My dad always worked on Christmas  however, on and around the holidays, no matter how tired he was, the Christmas tree came up and family photos were taken as we squished on to a sofa, smiled, and waiting for 5-7 days for the prints to be ready at Sak-N-Save grocery store. Recently my mom emailed some of the photos.  I laid in bed on a Saturday night and looked through each file, laughing the entire time.  Hindsight is 20/0, but still you'd think we'd have enough sense to realize we looked stupid.  But alas, we did not and now these photos offer hours of entertainment as we lament on Christmas Past.

Exhibit A:  I refer to this as "Hurry Up the Timer is About to Go Off"
Mom's gonna kill me for this!
While Dawn (my sister) and I were looking over this picture, she says "Geez, did you and I just get out of the shower of what???"  Apparently we were fans of Lionel Richie because we were sporting his Jerry Curl (as seen below.  This is NOT, however, Lionel Richie.  Just his hair)  

Hey, girl, hey!

My dad's face kills me every time I look at at this picture.  He was so concerned about capturing the right moment that he ended up looking stressed.  And my mom! The word smile wasn't in her vocabulary that day.  Perhaps it was the over-sized glasses that put her in a bad mood, but I'm guessing it was two unruly preteens making her feel like she was in the 9th circle of hell.  This photo is timeless and priceless to me.

Another favorite memory is one particular Christmas when Dawn and I were both teenagers.  We grew up in Baytown, TX on the bayou in  a proper Southern Baptist Church.  Of course each year there was the Christmas Eve candle light service that typically kicked off the night for most of the church families.  You'd go to the service, light your candles, trade cards and cookies, then go home to begin the family portion of the night.  It was the same for us - service then to Grandma's house, then to our own home, then to bed.  Well, this year Dawn and I were left on our own to get there on time as Mom and Dad were singing in the choir for the evening's events.  Dawn was driving at this point so we had wheels but, suddenly we became every distracted.  Already dressed in our nearly matching outfits and gazing at the clock to be sure we were keeping a responsible schedule, Dawn turns on the television to prepare the VCR to record the In Living Color: Christmas Special.  Oops.  It was already running and while she frantically tried to get the tape ready, we both managed to sit down right in front of the t.v. and start watching, not realizing it was already past 7:00 pm.  Shit.  We are late.  Oh well!  We sat, legs crossed Indian style, on the floor and watched the program missing the entire Christmas Even candle light service.  The phone started ringing off the hook.  We both knew it was Mom and Dad and we were in hell-a trouble.  But it didn't deter us from finishing the one hour comedy.  Nope!  We watched the whole program and then, when that was over, something else came on as we were supposed to be making our way to Grandma's!  We eventually made it to her house and the parents...well, they were upset.  To understand the weight of their frustration, refer back to the photo above. See Mom's face?  Ya.  That's pretty much what we got all night.  However, all night long Dawn and I kept reenacting the comedy from In Living Color with one another while dodging Mom's disapproving looks.   SNAP!

I also have a ton of favorite memories that include my friends - of course!  One in particular wasn't very fun at the time, but days and years later it makes me just die from laughing.  One Christmas Eve Tuller, Nathan, and myself decided to have a  tiny Martini party - just the three of us at her home (where I happen to live now.)  We bought too much vodka for three people, made dinner, and poured drinks down our throat as if we were competing in a Holiday drinking contest with Charlie Sheen.  Oh what fun it was....until it wasn't.  I'm not sure how many drinks we finished off, but a couple of hours into it, faces were turning green and the fun had just ceased.  One by one we made our way to soft places, i,e, beds, sofas, a pile of blankets on the floor, and passed out wearing all of our clothes.  The next morning was just awful.  I woke to the smell of meat.  What?  Why do I smell MEAT?  Nathan was nowhere to be found and as I made my way into the kitchen, I could hear what sounded to be that tell tale grunt of someone swallowing down the urge to vomit.   I walked into the kitchen to find Tuller's hands were covered in raw meat as she was pulling it off bones to prepare it for a roast.  Her face looked utterly victimized and she continued to fight through the dry heaving.  See, she had volunteered to make a roast for her family's Christmas dinner and in the heat of a vodka induced mayhem, she kinda forgot that a hangover and a pile of meat don't mix well the next day. I wish I had a photo of her because the way I remember it, she's standing in the kitchen, mascara smeared down her face, hair all over the place, and her hands in a big pile of raw meat,trying not to blow chunk  Ewww.   Mer....Merry....blugh.  Merry Christmuuuuuuus.

Another fond memory was made quite recently- only last year.  I took my dear friend Claudio home to Texas.  It wasn't on Christmas, but it was in the height of the Christmas season.  He decided one night he had HAD to see  Houston.  Well, at the time we both worked for Tulsa Ballet and couldn't take time off to go down for any reasonable amount of time.  So, instead we left immediately after work one night and drove 8 hours straight until we reached the pearly gates of Summerwood - the neighborhood just off Beltway 8 where my parents reside.  We got in around 3 a.m. and quickly took rest in, what we called" Lilac Haven", a guest bedroom in my parent's house so named due to the purple sheets, curtains, and bedspread. My parents were asleep when we arrived and left the code so we could get in and get to bed as we were exhausted from the drive.  The next morning I walked into the living room to find my mom smiling and welcoming me.  She showed me the pantry where my dad had stocked up on Nutella so the Italian would feel at home.  It was really too cute of Dad.  Since we only had a day and a half to spend in Houston, the weekend was pretty full and quick.  Kind of like watching an entire movie in fast forward mode.  Nevertheless we had a lot of fun, did loads of sight seeing, and ended up having a real bayou dinner under the bridge in Kemah.  Most of the time was spent in car with Dawn acting as our guide.  She drove us around showing Claudio landmarks and historical sights peppered with facts and statistics. On the second and final night we stayed with my sister and Diane at their apartment.  The four of us spent a few hours laughing and just being stupid but the kind that makes your abs hurt the next morning from too much joy.  Finally, it was Sunday afternoon and time for us to get back on the road.  Some may dread a long car ride, but with Claudio it's pretty much always a good time.  About an hour outside of Houston, I was on the passenger side as he drove my car, when I looked up and saw a sign for an exit to Italy, Texas.  What the...?  How the hell have I grown up in Texas, taken this highway back and forth from Houston to Tulsa this many years and never, ever have I noticed there was a place called Italy, Texas?! It all became a little too surreal as I looked over at my friend.  See, I've been half way around the world to his family's home, now we're just leaving my family's home in Houston and it is quite literally...a sign.  A sign that this friendship was absolutely meant to be.  Before we made it back to Tulsa we stopped at the famous Buc-ee's so he could try their famous roadside BBQ and baked beans....and try on a cowboy hat.  We laughed and drove back to Tulsa and somehow continued to laugh at my apartment that night.  And now this little trip is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Wait!  What?

Finally, one of my favorite-est holidays memories in New Years Eve, circa 1993.  Two girls - Elaine and Carrie - planning a killer NYE party at my house.  We made a cheese cake, ordered enough pizzas to feed a small army (paid for in coins no less), and a play list MIX TAPE for the night that was supposed to go down in infamy.  We even went to the mall and purchased special outfits.  Plaid.  All plaid - head to toe.  OK, neither of us were those high school party types.  We didn't drink, do drugs, or anything. The worst thing we did when we were teenagers was sass mouth just about everyone we knew.  Parents, Sunday school teachers, strangers, whoever.  We had attitude for days and didn't mind sharing it with the world.  Anyway this year was going to be epic.  The guest list was tight!  I mean, we had called, like, everyone you know?!  And what else was a pack of teenagers going to be doing on NYE 1993?  Ya!  That's right!  They're' coming over here, baby!  An hour later, music blaring, cheesecake sitting in the fridge, pizzas laid out across the table's only me and Elaine still.  Not a single soul came to our most awesomely, awesome party.  Even my parents left!  Regardless of the fact that our totally kick ass party had only two guests, who happened to be the hosts, Elaine and I danced, laughed, screamed HAPPY NEW YEAR, and had the time of our lives that night.  It didn't really even seem to phase us that nobody bothered to show up or even call to tell us why they weren't coming.  We simply didn't need them anyway. And this was just one moment and in many similar situations that found the two of us in a corner, not paying and mind to anyone else but each other.  We talked on the phone not long ago and this "party" was mentioned and met with roaring laughter on the other end of the line.  It is still one of the best NYE moments of my life and one that I will never forget.  Because I was safe, at home with one of my most favorite people and literally nothing else mattered.  I only wish I had a photo of this particular epic fail.

Well, there you have it.  Some of my favorite holiday memories.  I'll be flying to Houston on the 24th and this year I am cooking my family's Christmas dinner.  I'm looking forward to making more memories.  And while Claudio is in Rome, Tuller will be here in Tulsa, Elaine is pregnant (so we can't laugh too hard otherwise she'll go in to labor), and other friends and family a sprinkled about around the globe, I will be with my family and I'm sure there will be plenty to laugh about!!!!

And here are some links to my favorite SNL Christmas moments.  Ahhhh!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Inquiring Minds...

I don't know if it is the holiday season or people's general curiosity of one another lives, but lately it seems that I've been asked about my thoughts on romance more than usual.  I know around this time of the year we start thinking about love a lot more than we may during, say...Independence Day.  It seems that inquiring minds want to know what I'm looking for in a relationship.  Typically I just answer back "I'm in several relationships.  I have amazing friends".  And I know that's private, mysterious Scorpio in me, and most of the time they are asking in a harmless manner.  But sometimes I just can't be bothered to open that box and discuss what I think a relationship should be.  It seems to fall on deaf ears, so why bother?  And I'm left to wonder why someone cares so much about whether or not I want to fall in love again?  Is it because they are concerned for me growing old and alone?  Ir is it just natural curiosity?  And with the innocent comes the intrusive.  It would seem that I've placed a big, red, flashing light on my forehead saying "Available".  Men from my past have been coming out of nowhere with that "So, you're single again...?"  Well, I wasn't interested then and I'm certainly not now.  But....thanks?  And really, please stop trying because you're getting nowhere.  I promise.

My sister and I talk on the phone almost every night.  And considering how drastically our lives have changed over the last three years, many of our conversations turn to the future and what lies ahead of us as we charge into the unknown with bright eyes and hopeful hearts.  And of course we talk about relationships - the fears and dreams surrounding the beast called "romance", and everything else you can possibly imagine. So, I've started thinking about what I truly want in a relationship if ( and it's a BIG if) I ever want to be in one again.

If I had to make a list of what I'm looking for, I guess it would go like this:

Please be honest with me.  Do not lie to my face because I can detect dishonesty like a drug sniffing dog.  And even when I don't let on that I know you're lying, I know you're lying.  And don't blame my trust issues or use them against me.  That's cruel.  I have trust issues because trust is like gold to me and I've been robbed one too many times.  If I give you my trust, please respect it and do not lie to me.

Make me laugh!  Enjoy the little things with me.  Laugh at me when I'm being stupid and find the humor in most situations.  Don't take yourself so seriously that you hold on to useless hurt feelings that really have nothing to do with me but become my problem.  Find joy and share it with me!  Laughing is my favorite part of anything and we could be happy....if you choose to laugh with me.

Don't be intimidated by my friends.  They are amazing people and the reason why I'm still able to trust and love even after a great heartbreak.  Yes I spend a lot of time with them, but c'mon! They are treasures   And if you really have a problem with my friends, I won't stick around long.  Because many times when my internal compass was broken, they were the ones to guide me back to reality.  They are my rock and my sanctuary and if I could create the perfect partner for myself to spend the rest of my years with, he'd be made from all of them.  I'm so lucky and you could be too if you'd only accept them.  And I know, I know I seem to love them A LOT. And I do.  But it doesn't mean I will love you any less.  I was built to love and it is one of the things I do best.  I have plenty of room for you and them.

Finally, please, above all else, please respect me.  I am not your mother.  I am the person you kiss, your lover.  I cannot and will not play the role of mother and lover - the combination is a sickness.  If you're looking for someone to tell you how to be a man, how to be kind, how to not say and do harmful and cruel things to the one you claim to love, look elsewhere. I do not have the time nor desire to be your mother.  Nor do I have the time or desire to be manipulated, controlled, demeaned, and further damaged by guilt and shame.  I've been a "mother", and now I'm looking for an equal.

Simply put -Be my friend. Be my best friend. Treat me as you would someone you admire and please be someone I can admire.

I guess that's it.  I don't think I require much.  But, when I look back I find that mosto f what I have always wanted are the things I still want in a partner.  And at this point of my life I have very high standards.  Some may even say they are too high.  Look, I'm not asking for a ridiculously handsome man with loads of money and no life experiences with Brad Pitt's face.  No.  I'm simply not willing to settle for anything less than what I will give to someone.  I am, even after everything I've said about relationships, still willing to accept love.  But, if I can't have what I feel I'm willing to offer, well, then I will live happily ever after with myself.  And perhaps some friends and cats.  And I don't fear that for a future.  It's not something that keeps me awake at night.  Because at the end of the day I do have great love in my life.  It's just not what some may expect.

I'm hesitant to post this because I don't want to be misunderstood.  I'm not looking for a relationship.  I'm simply listing the things I desire in a relationship.   I'm perfectly happy being single.  I don't live without love.  In fact I feel more love than I've felt in years.  Mainly, and most importantly, from and for myself.

I read a quote once and it felt so right to me that I copied it down on a piece of paper and pinned it to the wall in my office.  It says "The love you give is unforgettable and transforming, the kind meant only for the brave.  You are so worth it".  I believe it.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Fa La La La....Blah

I've been on this weight loss and work out routine since August and I've had success.  I'm happy that I've lost more than 20 lbs and I feel a lot better about so many things....until last week.  Wow.  I fell on my face and cracked open like a fresh egg.  So, this morning I put on my grown up pants and decided to pony up and get back on the horse.

I found myself feeling exhausted and lazy last week.  Unmotivated and dreading the coming weeks of fighting holiday food temptation.  So instead I just went with the feeling I suppose.  It wasn't a good idea because every single day I beat myself up for not going to the gym or not consuming enough water.  Last night as I was making my way to the bed, I had a meeting with myself and had to force positive thinking back into my breath.  I've come this far, time to charge through the holidays with a chin held high.  And then that thinking led to pondering everything that is supposed to happen vs. what really happens at this time of the year.

Americans have a lot of stress placed in their lives from November 1 until the end of the year.  A major consumerist society, pressure is placed on us to have the perfect spread, the most gifts, and the Norman Rockwell idea of a snowy Christmas with a golden turkey and home made apple pie.  Everything on television is gearing toward winning our hard earned dollars and this commercialization of the season feeds our frenzy for perfection.  When the reality is, we simply aren't capable of achieving the perfection being advertised and sold.

While I don't have the desire to participate in Black Friday sales and risking my life for an additional 50% off already discounted items, I do desire a cozy, warm, love filled season when I get a chance to see everyone I love. And, as reality would have it, it's simply not possible.  Instead of it being magical and joyful, I tend to feel lonely and disappointed.  And I really want to change that.  I want to start my own traditions and reclaim the season as my own.  I'm tired of feeling like I'm missing something if I can't make it home for Christmas.  Of course we want to be with loved ones, but I have loved ones here.  I have a family I've created. I just wish it were easier to balance it all instead of deal with how stressful as it has become.

All of these thoughts led me to believe that the holidays have exploded into a meaningless simulacra that is impossible to attain in reality.  So, we feed those feels, gain weight, and start a new year fatter and more depressed.  NOPE!  Not today!  I've got to get my focus back and not get my head wrapped up in disappointment.  I will survive another Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve with grace, dignity, and a few less pounds.  My new holiday tradition: modesty.


Oh and Happy Holidays!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

For a Reason

I feel very inspired tonight.

A few months ago my friend George asked me to come down to the Coffee House Saturday Night and perform for the kids at Tulsa Youth Services.  TYS is a program for teenagers to help in crisis situations such as abuse, homelessness, rehabilitation, and crime prevention. Among other things. Each Saturday night they have an event called Coffee House Saturday night. The kids show up, socialize, and play games.  It's a safe place for teenagers of various backgrounds to get together and have a good time.  And on occasion there's live music. Well, tonight Andy and I were the invited guest.

You know that saying "everything happens for a reason"?  Tonight, that saying couldn't be  more true.  See, it's been a little up and down lately and my spirit was as rainy as this drenched fall day.  I've been feeling challenged to keep my new positively positive outlook and fighting a desire to hide away from the world.  But tonight, it was about putting on my happy face and giving these kids a show. And what a show it turned out to be!

Andy and I arrived about an hour before our set.  We just knew the kids wouldn't be interested in our brand of folksy/blues/soul, but we figured it would be a nice opportunity to do another live gig.  When we first walked in I saw the stage to my right and kids playing video games on a giant screen near the back.  Others were sitting around chatting and looking at us as if, perhaps, we were there to provide a lecture on safe sex or driving responsibly.  Eventually our "road crew"( i.e. the Julies) showed up and it was getting close to start the show.  Shelton, being the eternal teenager that she is, locked her gaze on to a boy, about 13, playing some video game as if he supper depended on it.  She made her way over and started asking questions about his technique and game stats.  Super cute that Shelton.  Finally, a rather polite young man asked "Scuse me, Ma'am.  When are you going to start singing"?  I began to think that this may turn out to be a lot of fun.  Just minutes before I got on stage, I found myself engaged in a deep conversation with a 16 year old boy named Jacob who proudly sported a quite impressive knowledge about music spanning several genres.   Finally, it was 8 p.m. - show time.  About ten or so teenagers gathered around the stage, positioned on a glob of bean bags flopped down in a mountain just at the edge of where I would be singing. As soon as we started, the kids began clapping and singing we did mostly all covers.

It didn't take long for me to set eyes on Nicholas.  He was seated almost center and after each song he would hold his hands up in a heart shape and mouth "I love you".  Holy crap!  These teenagers are!  Andy gave me a look.  That kind that indicates "wow, I'm having fun too".  We raced through the first part of our set covering The Beatles to Whitney Houston and lost track of time completely.  I even put Tuller on the spot and made her sing a few unplanned songs with me including the original song Andy and I wrote called "Hush".  I was just having so much fun, bantering back and forth with the kids, hearing their input and watching their faces, hearing them cheer and just being 100% present in the moment shared with these teenagers.  It was great!

My buddy Jacob wasn't lying about his rich knowledge of music.  That kid sang along to every single song.  No matter how obscure I thought it would be to a 16 year old boy, his lips were in sync with each lyric.  And he knew all of the artist we were covering and speaking about.  The whole time all of these kids were curled up on the bean bags still, listening intently and giving me what was perhaps, the very best audience participation.  Ever.

Once we finished with the whole set, the kids were on their feet waiting to greet us as we walked off of the stage.  Nicholas, my little heart shaped hand boy, approached me with the most earnest smile and asked "Carrie, can I play some songs for you on the piano and you can sing with me"?  My heart melted into a pile of goo right there.  Of course Nicholas!  So, he and I sat at the upright and he played a few songs (self taught on the piano and VERY good no less) as we sang and harmonized.  Simply put, it was beautiful.  When he finished his last song he told me he'd be performing on one of these Saturday nights in November and softly asked "will you come"?  Again, melted heart.  Yes.  Yes my dear, sweet, pure hearted boy.  I will be there.

Lucky for me Shelton was there, camera in hand, snapping shots the entire time.  And before we left Andy, me, and the TYS kids took a group picture snuggled on the bean bags all together.  I can't wait to have that photo.

I left smiling ear to ear.  What a beautiful experience.  Thank you TYS kids for reminding me  what sharing really is all about. I shared my heart with you through song, and you shared your hearts and ears with me.  I'm truly blessed to have had that time with you and I look forward to it again.

Everything really does happen for a reason.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Father

It's not Father's Day.  It's not his birthday.  It's nothing but a Wednesday.  However, I felt inspired to write about my father today.

My dad is someone most of my friends consider their second dad.  To a lot of people his presence is comforting as he provides a warm feeling that comes with a welcoming smile and open mind.  He's gifted that way and I'm grateful because let's face it, I have some wack-a-doodle friends.  I say that with love!  But throughout he years and everyone I've brought to his doorstep, he has shown them kindness and hospitality and considered them as much of a part of his family as own of his own children.  And he isn't kidding.  If they were to need something, Charlie is there to ask how he can help.

For some reason today I can't get Dad off my mind.  And I want to tell him how much I love him and how much it means the he accepts me for who I am and will love me for who I will become.  For his entire life, he's been one to sacrifice. Many times he worked 12, 16, even 24 hours straight but if there was something important Dawn and I were doing such as an Orchestra concert or singing at some event, Dad would show up without sleep just to be there.  And recently my parents came to Tulsa to see a gig I did and my poor father was exposed to a lot more than he probably cared for, but he did it with a smile.

See, he's always around sometimes in the background, never in the spot light.  And with all the things he's come out to support for my sister and I, (including helping us both with our European travel expenses) and now for my mom's poetry book, I felt he deserved some attention.

I love you, Dad.  Thank you for your sacrifice.  Thank your for loving us and our "extended" family.  Thank you for driving half way across the country to fulfill two little girls' wildest dreams.  I'm sorry you don't always  get the attention you deserve, but speaking on Dawn's behalf here - thank you.  We love you dearly, Dad!

Friday, August 17, 2012

And This I Will Share

I have something to share.  No, it isn't the all site seeing details of my recent trip to Italy.  Yes, of course I had an amazing vacation.  I spent time with dear people, I saw things that blew my mind, and I ate food that cannot be reproduced.  All of that is true.  I don't intend to post every photo I took to various social medias.  Mainly because a lot of the photos I took this time were very personal.  Reminders of a moment shared with  a dear friend or sister.  And moments that will not translate when speaking on a vacation.  For me, this was a time to escape and to relax in the beauty of something entirely outside my American life.  It wasn't a time to live behind a camera, but in a moment.

Getting to my original point, the thing I'd like to share.  Before I left I had some serious working through to do.  I wanted to land in Italy with little weight on my shoulders.  So, the weeks leading up to my departure I began heavy meditation, trying to clear my mind of things that may be taking up space while I should be enjoying myself.  And when I finally arrived, I felt ready to relax and be away.  I didn't realize I'd come back with a completely renewed sense of life quality.  A renewal that I would bring back to the states, and live each and every day since I've been reintroduced in to reality like a baby gorilla being released back into the wild.

This flash of awareness, if you will, happened on a drive.  My friend and I were having a very deep, philosophical conversation when silence fell, I heard my heart tell my mind to be quiet and be still. It was at that moment I looked out of the passenger side window to see the Mount Vesuvius.  Yes, one of Italy's active volcanoes.  In a matter of seconds I felt a strange sweeping peace and sudden enlightenment.  As if what I had been searching for was finally found.  Looking at the volcano made me feel detached from pointless ramblings in my head, and 100% connected to the bigger picture.  I felt the moment of release.  I buried something there, something that I can't find because I left it in the moment when I decided "live, and then live some more" was the only truth I could reside within from here on out.

The next few days I was quiet in one part due to my limited Italian vocabulary.  But, I was also quiet because I had nothing to say.  Instead, I had plenty to listen to and plenty to gaze upon.  And this, I believe, was the purpose for me even being there.  And for whatever reason , I knew it was meant to be that I was far away from home and my reality.  The location was necessary as I am naturally tactical.  For a complete change of focus, I had to feel it in my hands.  And I did.  I felt it when sand slipped through my fingers on the beach.  When salt water stuck to my skin, and when I soaked in warm volcano water days later.  Renewal.

They day I left, saying goodbye to my friend, whom I don't really even know when I will see again for sure, and to my sister as she left to return to Houston, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself content.  I wasn't sad and I didn't even cry when I said my final farewell.  Instead, I smiled ear to ear.  Knowing I was equipped to bring back this peace I had found and work to share it with those I love. And that's exactly what I did.  Each day I have found myself feeling joy and calm and letting go of useless hurt feelings and negative thinking that keeps me bound to an unfulfilled existence.  It's just not worth living in a wounded state on thinking.  My life is precious and my time is limited.  What is the point wasting my own time with things that are either out of my control or issues that do not generate the outcomes I seek?

Everywhere I go I'm told I seem lighter, friendlier, happier, even that I look more attractive.  Someone even told me I was glowing.  Well, joy is impossible to hide and it is also contagious.  And I desire to be a light in someone's life.  I choose to be a positive spot in someone's day.  And I choose to keep dreaming for myself even when I haven't the faintest clue how I'm going to accomplish some of the goals I've set for myself.  The important part is that I'm trying to accomplish them.

I did manage to take time to write a few things that I wanted to remember and reflect on later.

To be encouraged, be encouraging.
To be peaceful, let go of that which binds you to fruitless sorrows.
To be wise, learn something new every day.
To find mercy, be graceful.
To be beautiful, find the beauty in each day.
To be heard, take time to listen.
To be seen, take time to gaze.
To receive kindness, give without expectations.
To be loved, love someone deeply.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Women of Extreme Features

Until recently I had spent many days beating myself up for not losing 30 pounds.  I shed some weight but not the amount I wanted before summer ended.  I was going to the gym faithfully until I got busy with the end of a season at work, helping people pack, moving my own stuff to a new home, and saying goodbye to loads of friends. In the middle of it all I stopped working out regularly and then realized I wasn't going to make my goal.


Last Sunday I was having dinner with a very attractive male friend of mine when we started discussing the working out.  In the middle of my sentence I said "I'm a chubby girl...I may always be..." and then thought OMG did I just say that out loud to him??  As if he couldn't tell by looking at me that I'm not a tiny twig of a woman.  My friend chuckled at my comment and the conversation moved on.  He didn't stop to insert comments such as "But you're pretty" or "You have nice eyes and a beautiful smile".  And I was grateful for this.  I don't need validation and it's obvious I could drop a few.  But this is where I am.  I'm not by any means headed for a scooter (by that I mean a Hoveround not a Vespa) and I'm also not stroking out in extreme heat. I'm just chubby for the love of god!

When I got home I pulled myself together and said, out loud in the mirror, "Carrie. You are what you are. Get over it"  Deep and out.  Okay..okay, okay, okay!  This is me right here and right now.  I'm headed to Italy in just over a week and I'm not going to beat myself up any longer for not looking they way I want.  Life is too short and time can't be wasted trapped in the "what if" zone.  Finally I've started accounting for the things I like about myself in personality and in my appearance.  I really hate when people say they don't care what they look like.  It's just not true.  But to fixate on what you don't like about your physical appearance is damaging to the soul and can steal your joy faster than almost anything else.  So, I'm simply not allowing that to happen.

My sister and I have extreme features.  She has large hips and I have large boobs. We also have large eyes and noses.  Finally, we both have big mouths and loud opinions.  But that's just us. Big butts, boobs, eyes, and hearts.  Ya, I said hearts. And I accept it.  We're not the Kardashian's - no, no we're too smart for that. But we aren't eating Gilbert Grape either.  I'm just fucking chubby!  And one hell of a good time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No Such Thing as a Spotless Mind.....Right?

I've been watching too many programs about the universe.  I'm elbow deep in a series on the Science Channel called Through the Wormhole.  It's hosted by Morgan Freeman and with his silky voice and comforting demeanor, he proceeds to scare the shit out of me on a weekly basis.  Topics covered range from the complexities of a single strand of DNA to likelihood of alien life on other planets, in other galaxies.  And I can't help myself.  When I see there's another episode saved on the DVR, I rush to learn about all the things I need to know at night when I'm trying to sleep but my brain in swimming with thoughts of immortality and super robots with a collective brain.  Yesterday I sat down on my roommate's uber sofa to catch up on last week's shows.  This episode was about memories.  How they are formed, what they can tell us about the subconscious mind, and how they can be manipulated into becoming a false memory.  One created by another person who wants you, for whatever reason, to remember something as they did, or as they desire you to remember.  And it's not hard to do!  See, humans by nature are eager to please.  And if someone we trust is telling us "No!  It didn't happen like that, it happened like this!"  we tend to think that, perhaps, we've forgotten details and they are right.

I found myself laughing out loud as I recalled an argument I had with two dear friends about the timing of a silly incident that happened in Rome last summer.  I'm certain it happened the way I recalled it but my two friends insist it was just the opposite.  It's nothing important, life changing, or deal breaking and the timing really isn't necessary to the actual funny part of the story.  But two people insisting I'm wrong made me question my memory.  See, I pride myself on having a great memory and when I'm challenged I often ask for proof.  Fine!  They both think it happened then when I said it was some other time.  Fine.  But I started thinking of other memories.  Those buried deep in my subconscious.  The kind, good and bad, that have helped to create my personality.  The traumatic moments that caused me to be more cautious, and the happy kinds that helped develop my sense of humor.  And then I started thinking about people in my life who have actively sought to manipulate those memories.  Now, I'm not talking about the two friends.  They weren't aiming to disagree with me as a form of manipulation.  I'm talking about specific things remembered that altered my life and, for whatever reason, I was encouraged, coerced to remember them in a completely different way.  Wow.  This is a powerful tool of control.  If someone can convince you something happened differently than you remembered or not at all they could, in a sense, change segments of your personality.

And then I started thinking of all the times it actually happened.  And have I ever been party to memory coercion? Oh god!!  I'm an asshole!!!  Okay....deep breath.

Of course when stupid mistakes are made, we'd all like people to forget about them.  For instances, not long ago I made a huge mistake.  I lost control of myself and made a complete asshole of Carrie. For days I walked around with my head lowered and hid in my apartment until I felt like it could blow over.  Finally, I spoke with some of the friends who were present for this falling apart, and after my apologies to them, I apologized to myself, learned from the situation and moved on to laugh about it all.  I wish they could just forget it ever happened.  I wish it never happened.  But I can't change their perception of my actions, and why bother?  But they remember it in a certain way and should I try to alter their memory, I'd just cause more strife for myself.  But back to this idea of someone manipulating your memories, let's dive into that for a second.  Here's how it works - according to Morgan Freeman and the Science Channel anyway.  You recall an incident, be it happy or traumatic, and someone you trust tells you it didn't happen that way.  That you are wrong.  And if you fight it or stand up for yourself, you are then called "crazy".  So, inevitably you start doubting yourself and wonder: "Am I completely insane or did that really happen?"  This is one tool used in a psychological manipulation approach called Gaslighting. I first heard about it in a blog I follow called The Current Conscious - I highly recommend you take a look at it.  Anyway, what happens is someone convinces you that what you've experienced and remember didn't happen and you're told it's insane, crazy, or ridiculous.  So, self-doubt settles in making it seem as though you can no longer trust your own memories.  Now, the science of memory is complex and nobody has flawless memory.  However, when something is clearly recalled (as much as possible) and someone else tells you it's insane, you start to believe it.  Dismissing your recollection and ultimately changing your perception to a person or situation that should have acted as a learning experience.  AHHHHHH.  It's exhausting.

What it all boils down to is the power of suggestion is mighty.  It can change your thoughts, memories, and future reality.  It's how cults work to begin manipulating their masses.  Convincing them their family and friends don't care or don't understand how important they are and the cult is the only refuge. It's all part of the the complex puzzle of manipulation.  And it's just one piece.  And even knowing it's possible without a blink can be so scary that you begin to wonder "who can I trust?"

It's all about that dirty word: manipulation.  And face it!  We all participate in some form or another to get our way.  As children we learn to cry a certain way or act out for attention.  That behavior doesn't go away simply because we became adults.  Instead it changes as we mature and those of us who are trying to be responsible adults recognize when we're being manipulative and childlike.  But some people are just stuck. I'm not going to lay blame on the world and say I've never been a part of these tactics.  We all have. But there are just some repeat offenders out there.  And, for lack of a better term, they want to bend our thoughts and memories to suit their will and desire.  I've been examining my own behavior lately.  Knowing when to stand up and back off.  The more we make ourselves aware of selfish tactics, the better our relationships can become and thrive in a healthy, life-giving way.  At least I choose to believe that.

Science tells us that humans are the smartest animals on the planet because we have cognitive thought.  Well, with that comes emotions.  And with emotions comes choices in dealing with something so delicate; the human spirit.  Wouldn't it be easier to lay in the grass, soaking the sunshine, scratching our asses?  But alas, I am a human.  We are just mere humans.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Has Arrived

The last month has been so busy that I've completely neglected my blog.  But it was worth it.  We wrapped up a season at the ballet which meant saying goodbye to a lot of special people.

But now it's time to turn our eyes to summer plans!  I've got a load of projects I'm currently working on and while I thought I had more than enough time to completely everything, I'm finding summer has arrived and is slipping right past me.  SLOW DOWN!!!  Actually, I'm ok with the speed of things right now.  I'm in a better place emotionally than I was last summer, so things just seems to generally feel better and not as lonely and desperate as last year. 

I have so much to look forward to that I can hardly contain myself.  First, I'm moving.  Ugh.  Now that can come and go!  I will be ready to move to my new home.  See, I'm moving in to a friend's house.  Not just any friend...she's a dear friend.  Julie and I have know one another for nearly 16 years.  I never really thought we'd live together but after a lengthy conversation, we both came to the conclusion that we could do this.  It will help both of us save money and provide me with some distance from the office which I desperately need.  And really her house is freaking HUGE!.  I don't know how she lived in such a large home alone.  But she's a strong woman so, really, It's no surprise.  So, by June 1st I will all moved and can begin to focus on another project which is arts and crafts.  No really!  I have some painting and crafty projects I want to do while I have some time and being in the new home with more room will help me get focused and finished.  Also, I need to finish some songs I've started and get that shit uploaded! 

Finally, I have my vacation to look forward to.  I'm all booked and I don't really have to plan anything other than picking out a few items such as comfy strappy sandals (ya right), and random other pieces of clothing I want.  See, I'm going back to Italy.  Ahhh.  And my sister is coming with!  God I could just burst into a million pieces with joy when I think about sharing such a beautiful place and people with mia bella sorella!  We're both over the moon about it and somehow talking too much about only makes time slow down so...I don't spend too much time on it.  I need vacation time desperately and to have one like this with Dawn is a huge blessing.  I'm sure the closer July 14 gets I will start to write more.  But until now I'm focusing on tiny projects and having a good time with friends.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

1, 2, 3, 4, 5...6 Senses?

Recently my friend Julie and I had a conversation that may seem odd to others, but felt perfectly normal for us considering we talk about things that make most people feel uncomfortable.  I don't remember how the subject came up, but we found ourselves in a lengthy conversation about people's scents and how distinctly different they are from one another.  Of course we can't smell our own scent, that is unless we're in dire need of a shower, but the scents of those people we love are so strong and linger in our sense memory.  We are, after all, the human animal.  Now, I'm not talking about perfumes, lotions, colognes.  I'm talking about the way the person smells.   I tried describing Julie's scent to her - earthy, musky, comforting.  And when I go for long periods of time without seeing her, I recall her first through my sense of smell, even if she's left nothing behind.  I asked her what I smelled like and she said "Just sniff your pillow".  Oh!  Okay, ya that makes sense. So, I did just that.  What I discovered is....Mom and Dad.  I felt immediately close to them - one part Dad, another Mom. I kept my nose buried in my pillow sniffing and found myself feeling safe.  Feeling perfectly okay with the way I may smell to others.  It smelled like what I was looking for after waking up in the middle of a nightmare.  I was pleased with the discovery of Carrie's scent. And, if I have to admit, a little disappointed that I didn't smell of exotic spices and oils.  No, my scent was that of home.  And does it smell the same to others?  Of course not!  They don't have the same base memories as I do.  So, I simply smell like me.

I think because it's spring time I've become more aware of my senses.  I've taken longer to listen to layers in music, I've kept my eyes open a little wider should I miss something, and I've touched things with a linger.  I have to admit, I'm a toucher.  I'm very tactile and will reach my hand out and touch just about anything to feel it.  That's the kid in me and why I got into so much trouble when I was young.  I was always touching.  And I find that throughout the day I seem to constantly to be holding something between my fingers, subconsciously feeling it.  But all this to say I've been very aware lately.  It feels necessary.  As if I need to experience things through my senses to make stronger memories of them.  And all of this seems to be speaking to me through my "six sense".  There's a nagging gut feeling saying "remember this, don't ever forget it". And it's all coursing through my human nature in touch, taste, smell, sound and sight. 

I would venture to say that we're all pretty comfortable with taste and sight.  However, scent and touch seem to be a bit taboo on some levels.  They seem to be the more personal or private senses.  However, I've been letting down those guards, taking in the texture and scent of everything, everyone I love.  I need those memories to linger.  I need keep things with me on another level.  One that speaks to my nature, to my core.

My sister told me once that when she thinks of me, she can recall what I smelled like when I was a baby.  And when I think of her, I can almost feel the texture of her hair in my fingers.  The soft, almost like a spider web silkiness of her fine hair is a strong memory and I love it.  I just love it.  And those moments when you're taken back to a certain time and place through the senses is like reliving a moment and you're emotions can swell, overwhelming the urge to fight back the tears.  Last summer I decided to make a huge pot of beans.  I soaked them for 24 hours, then put them in a slow cooker over night.  In the morning I woke up and started my coffee and popped in the shower.  As I was toweling off, I was hit by loads of precious memories.  The mixture of cooking beans and brewing coffee smelled exactly like my Grandparent's house.  They've both passed away within the last few years, but as soon as I caught the aroma in the air, I felt as if I would walk into their kitchen and see Grandma sitting at the table and Grandpa washing dishes or making Sticky Icing Cake.  I felt in that very moment they were both with me.  I felt them and knew they had to be there.  My soul felt gooey and warm I wanted so badly to touch my grandmother's hands.  But, somehow I felt like I did. 

Right now I am relying heavily on my senses...all six of them.  Because it's absolutely necessary.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Oh! What a Night

It's funny how things can move and change, shifting from a thought into a dream.  A goal.

Recently I started a little project that turned into a live gig. In late January I became better acquainted with someone who how now become a musical partner.  I had this thought.  I wanted to perform again and didn't know anyone who'd be interested in accompanying and brainstorming with me.  Well, Andrew was suggested to be by a few friends.  We work in the same building together and I had no idea he was a talented guitarist.  One day by the coffee pot I said "Hey, Andrew.  I hear you play.  Want to get together and fiddle around".  Without a breath he answered back "Yes. I'm in."  From that conversation, a partnership was born and we played our first gig together last Saturday night.

Our set was 22 songs, all covers expect one song we wrote.  And of course the plan is to work on more original piece as soon as possible.  However, we took our nervous selves to a small venue called 209 Arts Bar and did what we both love doing.

Before I go any further, I have to take a moment to brag about my partner.  Andrew is at least 10 years younger than me, but he carries more patience than men twice his age.  I chose some pretty big songs and during rehearsals, he'd see me become frustrated with myself and start to crawl back inside that shell.  One night, he just looked at me and said "You've got this girl.  Don't be scared".  And from then on the fear of butchering a song was over.  Andrew did a lot more than just play the guitar for me.  He helped unleash something I had hidden away since 2007.  Something that I loved doing.  Something that I am ready to pursue with more vigor, more gravity, and with way more guts.

The closer it got to our big date, the louder my nerves became.  My parents and sister drove in from Houston and my best friend since I was 4 years old also flew in from Houston.  The morning of the performance, I found myself in my apartment with Andrew, my family, and some really wonderful friends.  We worked on some trouble songs and even Skyped in the Italian family so they could catch a piece of what we were going to be performing.  It just felt really damn good.  Everyone enjoyed each other and my nerves started to wither.  I mean - why would I feel so nervous?  These people want to see us succeed.  That's called love.

Finally, it was time to perform.  It was about 6 bars into the first song, a mellowed down version of I'm Every Woman, that I started to feel like I was having fun.  That this was going to be an amazing night.  And I was right.  So many of my friends and co-workers came out in support and I was truly amazed.  At one point I looked out at everyone singing along, laughing, enjoying one another and realized that this is what I love the most.  Bringing people together and having a great time.And it especially felt great to be seen as an artist to so many people I care for.  Finally, they saw my heart.

What a fun night.  I will keep it with me. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dear, Sweet Sister of Mine

I'm well aware that I use my blog to talk about the people in my life more than myself.  Perhaps I'm trying to avoid negative spewing or maybe I'm just deflecting.  I like to tihnk of it as speaking on the things and people who help me realize the best side of myself.  I'm proud of the people I love.  And if the saying "Those you surround yourself with are a reflection of you" is right, well, I'm not so bad.

Today my mind is wrapped tightly around thoughts concerning my sister, Dawn.  I can't seem to shake her out and there is no reason why I should.  Thinking about her makes me happy and calms me.  In many ways we act like twins.  Twins born 4 years apart.  I always know when something is going on in her life be it good or bad.  I feel it in my bones, in my soul.  Sometimes we spend hours on the phone laughing, crying, bitching, complaining, and laughing again.  I wish I could describe the bond we share because I find myself at a loss for words right now.  It's something that can't be put into words.  It can't be explained.  It just is what it is.

Being the younger sister, Dawn was always the one I looked up to for any and everything.  She taught me how to put on makeup, shave my legs, style my hair, all things girly.  She also taught me how to pick my battles with Mom and Dad when I wasn't getting my way.  I was known for being a sass mouth and Dawn was always there to remind me exactly why I was in trouble.  Eventually I moved away from her.  From Galveston Bay all the way to Tulsa.  However, the distance never made a dent in our closeness.  In fact it helped create an even tighter bond.  Now, we're closer than ever and never away from each others hearts.

In 2008 I received one of the scariest calls of my entire life.  A very shaky voice, in almost a whisper said to me "Carrie, I have cancer".  It was the first time I felt the planet I've lived in for my entire life shift.  I felt the seas swell into a tsunami, destroying all bits of life in is destructive path. Nothing seemed okay and nothing seemed possible.  How in the hell does Dawn have cancer?  How?  Somebody fucking tell me why this woman has to deal with this bullshit!  I demand to know why! And what the fuck kind of reasoning does the world have to do this to one of the most pure souls the world will ever know?  It was the strongest, most painful blow to the gut I've ever felt.  And I couldn't even hug her.

She immediately went into surgery within days.  Her doctors wanted to remove the sick kidney as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the evil disease residing within her precious body.  This so happened to be election year and her operation was scheduled on November 2.  And that's the other shitty part.  Dawn campaigned hard for Obama.  She was a leader in her community out on the streets educating people and seeking change.  And there she was in surgery all day long, not experiencing the fruits of her labor.  Sometime in the afternoon my parents called and said she had made it out and they were confident recovery would be quick.  A sigh of relief, yes, but I still couldn't hug her.   I watched the election results all day long and into the morning hours until finally we had our president, Barack Obama. I still hadn't spoken to Dawn yet though and that was killing me.  The next morning phone rang - it was Mom's phone.  I quickly answered and I heard a tiny voice on the other end.  "Yes we can".  I don't know if I ever believed in those words until that very moment.  Seconds after my sister called to utter words to put me at ease, I promptly asked my parents for help purchasing a plane ticket to Houston.  I couldn't sit at home and wait for news anymore.  I had to be there.

I made it to Texas and to the hospital where I walked in to find my sister, my hero, my Dawn in a bed hooked up to what seemed like a hundred different machines.  She had several incisions all over her body and for lack of better words, she looked like a scarecrow.  Cut and sewn back together.  Her voice was weak, her head hung low, but her eyes shined as we were finally together.  I couldn't bare to leave her side and I slept on a tiny window seat until she was released to go home.  Although I was cold and felt somewhat like a hobo, using newspapers to cover myself where the paper thin hospitality blankets failed me, I was with Dawn.  The only place in the world I cared to be.

That was 2008 and I'm happy to report she's been cancer free for 3.5 years.  She recovered from the surgeries and became an even stronger woman than she was before.  Even through another rough year, 2011, she came out on top and ready to fight again.  Last year wrecked her with the loss of two grandparents, a divorce, a few really big heart breaks, and finally a plan to move from the place she'd suffered years of pain.  Today she's living, kicking, and thriving even though life is still trying to hand her loads of bullshit.

Just two days ago I woke up feeling awful.  I felt weak with a headache and was experiencing severe nausea.  All day long I was asked if I was okay, sick, etc.  I couldn't put my finger on it until around 6 p.m. when Dawn called.  The started with "Don't freak out, but I have to have a small procedure tomorrow".  What the hell is going on now?  And in her talented way of making everyone else feel better about the shit she is going through, she joked me out of me fear.  But it made sense why I had felt so awful.  Again, we were connected, feeling one another as twins may experience.  On Wednesday she had to have minor procedure done on her good kidney to ensure it's functionality.  Yesterday morning she went in and recovered like a rock star.  I spent most of the day wringing my hands and calling my parents. "Is she out yet?  Is she ok?  What's going on" until that tiny voice was on the phone again. "Hi. I'm fine just really tired".  Well, as history would prove I just can't stay away.  I booked a ticket and I'm heading to Houston...again.  Not for the same reasons as that scary November, but I just need to see her.  I need to hug her.  I need to be in the same room, breathing the same air as my beloved Dawn.  And that's exactly what I'm going to be doing very soon.

We have this joke between us.  We call each other Miss Dashwood after Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.  If you've never read the book you may not get it, but it's about two very close sisters who face and overcome heart breaks, illness, and life's handings of ridiculous bullshit.  We've called each other this for a long time.  It's kind of our thing.  There is a scene when the younger sister Marianne is very ill and Elinor pleads with her to fight for her life. 

"Marianne, please try... I cannot... I cannot do without you. Oh, please, I have tried to bear everything else... I will try... but please, dearest, beloved Marianne, do not leave me alone."
Those beautiful words pierce my heart every time I read them.  How beautiful.  The love between these two sisters is, perhaps, the greatest love they will ever know.   
I love you my sweet dearest sister.  You are my beloved.  You are my sunshine and my moon.  I would have never survived this life without you.  Thank you for your love and kindness.  Thank you for choosing me to be your little sister. And soon, I will hug you and kiss your sweet face. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

15 Questions

I'm having a hard time dealing with trust and instinct.  For some reason lately I've found myself more suspicious of people than my typical paranoid knee jerk reaction. I can't help but question their intentions and what they want from me.  Now this is coming mainly from acquaintances and friends of friends.  People on the fringe. I'm a giver.  It's kind of my thing.  If someone is in need I usually find a way to help and see what I can do to make tensions ease in whatever they may be dealing with be it a ride to a destination or, hell I don't know, work on a wall the needs painting.  I don't require repayment or some grandiose gesture of thankfulness.  However, I despise being used and taken advantage of and when someone only speaks to me when they need something, that's when the claws come out.  

I hate feeling like everyone is out to get me.  It's exhausting. But more times than not, I've found my suspicions justified because I'm the one that's standing there looking like an idiot because I did something nice for someone I thought respected me. Nope!  They just needed to use me.  Neato.

I'm typically very skilled at sensing a person who is a user.  You can see i in their eyes and the way they carry their body.  They also use language to "butter you up" and make you feel special.  Well, you can't bullshit and bullshitter.  And friend, I know bullshit.  I have two degrees in Theatre so you can say I am very skilled in bullshit. But still I feel like a jerk and allow someone to walk all over me because they bat the eyes, act as though they are the victim, and tell me nobody else could do what I do for them.  God damn it I fell for that shit again!  So, how am I going to remedy the situation?  I'm considering a questionnaire.  It will look a little something like this:

1. Name?
2. Birthday?
3. Reason for seeking me out today?
4. Are you prone to asking others to do something for you when you are 100% capable of doing it yourself?
5. What exactly are your intentions in asking for anything from me since I've never spoken to you before today other than to say hello?
6. Are you broke?
7. Are you dying from an incurable disease?
8. Did your mother tell you she loved you more than once a year?
9. What is your birth order?
10. Have you ever been in a serious realtionship?
11. If the answer to 10. was yes, what happened?
12. Do you know how to correctly spell my first name? (at least)
13. Do you have any questions for me other than your stated request?
14. I didn't think so.
15.Fuck you.

What's the deal? Well, the moon is in Gemini.  I guess we could blame that.  Two faced mother fuckers are crawling everywhere.  Be warned.

I gotta bounce....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Beautiful People

"Less git creasy" spoken in broken English/European Spanish accent.

Talent is something that can be cultivated, but only if you are born with a natural ability to recognize and produce it.  I don't believe everyone in the world is creatively gifted.  It's impossible.  If everyone sat around making art, well, I guess that wouldn't be so bad really.  But my point is there are some people who just can't be creative.  They can't color outside the lines and think outside the box.  They are trapped in their logical thinking and pursue a life better suited to mixing chemicals in a lab or....selling insurance.  And that's all fine and happy.  Whatever.  But not for me.  La vie boheme, man!  And I'm so very lucky to have talented people to share my life, my time with. I meet talented, life loving people from all over the world every single day. I'm so very fortunate.  And in the spirit of sharing, I thought I would introduce, direct, and encourage you to get to know some of my people.  They are, in a word, awesome. (And listed in no particular order)

Shelton or "J Shelly" one of my dearest friends and fellow lover of life.  She's an amazing photographer and her eye for beauty is perfect.  I enjoy going on shoots with her a playing assistant.  She comes up with ideas that are as lovely as they are scary.  She's not afraid to get down and dirty with what catches her eye. She also has a wicked sense of humor that can make you bend over laughing until you must walk away so that you don't choke from a lack of oxygen. I don't remember a time before Shelton - why bother? She's a tough as nails exterior with a heart as big as the moon. I love your face, shit head!

Mama Mia!  my very own giver of life, my mom Susie Clevenger  She writes every single day and is currently working on her first book.  It will go to print sometime this year and, of course you'll hear all about it from me. Yep!  I'm very proud of her. Proud of her willingness to commit and her ability to dream.  She puts it all out there for the world unashamed, unapologetic, and completely raw. Finally she is making her dreams become realities.  It's inspiring and humbling to see her exposing another side of herself, heart and soul, in her writing. Rock it, Mamala!

Saied  seriously. What can be said about Dustin Saied that can't be read in his eyes. He's charming, talented, beautiful and a hell-of-a good time. He's out in L.A. working, acting, living.  He's also a damn good artist exploring other sides of his creativity through paint.  This guy is freakin' great and I should also mention he's also a damn good friend. Always quick with a come back to put me in my place and make me laugh. I love the shit out of you, Saied!

Cynthia Dawn, my hero and big sister. This girl is made form 1 part sugar and 3 parts fire.  I don't know that I've never met another soul more willing to fight for life, love without reward, and live for truth and honor.  She's been through hell and fought her way back.  And through years of illness and life's helping of bullshit, she maintains and sense of humor that can only be described as brilliantly timed.  I'm so very proud of my sister.  Without her my life would have lacked beauty and laughter - two qualities I live for every single day.  I wish everyone had a Cynthia Dawn.  She's truly my best friend, confidant, number one fan, and all time hero. Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours. Forever.

La Vita Bello indeed. Claudio is truly one of the most beautiful souls I have ever known. Ever. He has a childlike wonder of the world mixed with wisdom beyond his years.  There's no way this soul hasn't lived before now.  I'm so inspired by his optimism each and every day.  He is a gift and his pure heart is present on the stage every single time he dances. Sometimes I question how I've been so lucky to spend time with one so beautiful and so golden.  I do love you, amore. You are one of the brightest spots of my day! And, "byduhway" one of the most hilarious people I've ever met. Folks would never believe some of the things/people we've experienced together. Those memories are priceless.  Ti voglio bene tanto tano tanto!

The Original Taco Kickin' MacTuller Julie Marie Tuller. Born August 7, 1975 in Tulsa, OK. This woman makes my face hurt.  There is never a day spent with Tuller that doesn't end in roaring laughter.  And what's better - she doesn't even try.  Her humor is so natural, you'll find yourself on the floor in the fetal position while she's standing over you saying "What?  What happened?  What?"  She quilts, she writes, she sings, she runs, she turns shitty things people say into hand made craft projects, she cooks, she makes grown men cry,  she makes people laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and laugh.  She is a gift to the world and one of my best friends. I'm so lucky she's one of mine. And should you ever find yourself in an awkward situation, Tuller will arrive just in time to make things more awkward. I love you Julie Marie Tuller.  Thank god for you!!!!!

Lanie Mac since year 4!  Elaine's talent lies in healing. However, she's also one of the funniest women in the world. Growing up, I always knew she'd go into some kind of occupation that required her to be a know-it-all and caretaker.  Now she's an oncology nurse giving her patients attention and care with a smile, a genuine Texan accent, and pain relieving humor.  As kids we spent every single weekend together annoying the hell out of our families and getting into trouble everywhere we went.  I can't begin to imagine childhood without this girl and I truly believe that my humor was developed in part by Elaine.  God I love you.

So, there you go.  Some of my most favorite people in the world.  Just so happens they are incredibly talented too.  And I figured....they needed to be exposed for their creativity and raw awesomeness.  I love you mother fuckers.  To the moon and back.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I hit the wall and it smashed my face into 437 pieces.  And it was absolutely necessary.

I don't spend a lot of time looking at myself and say "Yuck.  Eww.  Nasty.  What's wrong with you?"  I have to say I have a decent sense of humor when it comes to my unattractive qualities and I know I'll never going to be a super model but I could be a little...less chubby.  Recently I've decided I'd like to shape up, lose a few lbs and just head for the summer feeling more in control of things.  I'm grateful that I'm not Hoveround ready and I'm not a cow, but I do want to get things tighter and see myself looking sexier.  Yes I said it.  I want to lose weight and look better.  GASP.

I hear people all the time talk about living a healthy lifestyle.  Many times I hear overweight or chubby people say "I want to lose weight not for looks.  I really just want to be healthy".  Bullshit.  C'mon!  Who are you kidding?!?!  Of course you want to look better!  Who doesn't?!  And when did it become a crime to admit that?  Why is is so bad to say "I want to look fierce".  And don't get me wrong, even now I can look at myself sometimes and say "Go on girl.  You got this".  But now, at 34 years of life, I want to challenge myself to transform.  I want to reinvent myself for the 147th time.  I want to welcome summer with a "Wassup you hot bitch!"  Ya.  I said that.

Last night I was in bed thinking of the gym I used to go to.  It was an all women's facility - not the reason I went there.  Being perfectly frank, I went there because it was hella close to work and home.  Well, it's still hella close.  So I thought about all the reasons I liked that gym and if I could truly afford the monthly bill.  Finally around midnight I said "Fuck it!  You spend money on other pointless things.  Why not spend it on yourself this time".  So, on my way to work I called Megan, the nice lady at the reception desk, and said "Megan, look...I need you to resubscribe me over the phone.  I will drop off the check later today.  I need this done now so I can start tomorrow.  Capisca?".  She gave a giggle, updated my account and boom - I'm in.  And tomorrow morning I will roll my ass out of bed, suit up, and kick my own ass. 

I'm really looking forward to working out again.  I have loads of aggression to deal with and what better opportunity than the at the gym coaching myself into smaller pants?  I work for a ballet company and I'm surrounded by in shape people.  In fact one of my dearest friends was already in great shape, but lately....damn.  He's looks down right delicious and cut.  I look at his progress, and while I'm older, not a dancer, and I will never be in the that kind of shape, his dedication encourages me.  Likewise with my girlfriend Julie.  She's been going to classes getting her ass kicked.  And she freely admits that it isn't always pretty.  But breaking down the body, sweating like a maniac, and reshaping your self isn't supposed to be pretty.  That comes later when you slide into some new jeans and dance in front of the mirror like a stereotypical chick flick. Yes those things do in fact happen.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  I'm ready to start this again and push harder, work longer, and get my ass in the shape I want. I like myself.  I don't mind my face and I don't feel like a beast.  But I'm ready to see how much better I can look and that's a pretty healthy attitude. And in July this American girl is going back to Italy and this time I'm going to try to wear a real bathing suit.

I gotta bounce....peace!

###Day 6 and I'm still doing it!  I got this, baby###

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quintessential 90's Girl

I woke up feeling a little plaid today.  Perhaps it's due in part to the fact that two of my best girls and I are always reminiscing about the days of our youth.  Or maybe it's because none of us have grown up past 1997.  Whatever it is, I came to my desk and promptly created an essential 1990's playlist.  Poe, The Cranberries, Lisa Loeb, Concrete Blond, Garbage.  Ya - I could go on and on.  Something about today's chill reminds me of those 1990's movies when the sky is dark and the moods brooding.  I guess in 2012 we'd call that Emo or Hipster mentality.  But I like to call it 1992 Security Sweater Day.  When I was growing up, I adopted a sweater from my older sister.  It was over sized in every way and hung from my body like a drooping flag on a still day.  I loved that sweater and felt that it protected me from the scary world.  My mother wanted to trash it because I literally wore it every single day.  Oddly enough I have a brown one ridiculously similar which hangs on the back of my desk chair year round. Some things never change and now that I'm all grows up, Mama can't hide it. 

I started thinking about why the 1990's seemed so great and why it seems necessary to relive with girlfriends.  Well, I came to one conclusion.  Youth.  It was a time when we started discovering things like our own tastes in music, our own sense of humor, and of course what we found most attractive about other people as a response to our changing bodies.  And now as we age, we see those iconic images as a staple of what made us who we are today.  We became Gen X, once thought to be a hopeless generation of losers and bleak thinkers.  Now we one of our own is the President of the United States.  And if you are a Gen X-er reading this, you may be thinking "When did I get so old?"  I ask myself that same question every day.  However, there is a sense of pride that comes with being a 1990's girl.  We experienced a lot of shit, man!

A recap! (seriously abridged)

1990 - Nelson Mandela was freed after serving  27 years in prison and the first Gulf War was started. Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands" revives Johnny Depp's acting career.
1991 - Jeffrey Dahmer is arrested and the Jerry Springer Show is launched.
1992 - Nirvana becomes wildly popular with "Come as You Are" and Whitney Houston drives us all crazy with "I-eeee-I-eeee-I will always love yooooou"
1993 - World. Wide. Web., North American Free Trade Agreement, and Walker Texas Ranger premieres.
1994 -Former president Ronald Regan tells the world he is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Rwandan genocide begins taking the lives of millions, Pulp Fiction welcomes John Travolta back to popular culture. 
1995 - The Oklahoma City Bombing as a result of domestic terrorism causes the U.S. to pause in fear while the movie Se7en freaked us all out.
1996 - France ceases its production of nuclear weapons.  Fiona Apple comes on to the music scene and movies Scream, Fargo, and Trainspotting  give us all the chills.
1997 - Titanic.  Wasn't that the only thing that happened?
1998 - The Monica and Bill scandal brings a whole new meaning to "I have this stain on my dress" while Britney Spears, Back Street Boys, and Dawnson's Creek make us want to vomit.
1999 - IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD.....not.  Sadly....Columbine happened.

That's just the tip of the iceberg.  Thanks to the interwebs you can find loads of interesting historical facts ranging from politics to pop culture.

"I can't believe it was that long and I have memories of watching as opposed to something happening so early in your life that you hardly remember it" says Julie Shelton.

All this to say the 1990's were prime years in my life.  A time when I witnessed things that I had no idea would change and influence my adult thinking.  If I could take a hot tub time machine back to 1992, I would love to tell 15 year old Carrie so much.  But probably it would end up sounding a little something like this:

"Hey, Carrie. It's's you. I mean, I'm you...I'm Carrie. Never mind just listen. A lot of stuff is going to happen in the next 20 years so don't freak much. No they haven't found a cure for cancer or AIDS but there are a shit ton of newly discovered diseases that will blow your mind.  By the time your reach 34 you will be separated from your husband, living in a one bedroom apartment with your cats, your next door neighbor is a unicorn and you have a mountain of student loan debts.  But you go to Italy and you have some awesome friends. Don't be afraid to cry, always remember your address, and never date guys with blue eyes. I tihnk that's all for now. Oh and don't worry about Robert Downey Jr. He's going to make it out of this".


Monday, January 9, 2012

'Scuse me? Is That a Smile?

OK people. It's a week into 2012 and already I am experiencing the level 10 come-aparts of others.  Already?  Seriously?  And the message following the come-apart is usually "This is starting off to be a bad year".  Give it a chance!  For the love of god we haven't even had a month.  Just take a deep breath and relax.  Everything is going to be okay!

I know the promise of a new year seems daunting to some, exciting to others, and the rest of the world is like "who gives a shit...happy new...fuck it".  I tend to fall in the excited category.  And I've made some strides to give myself a one-up.  As of J1 mornings  have started with a little self help, self motivation, self love.  As I'm drying my hair, I've been listening to great music and speaking out loud to Carrie.  The message?  It goes a little something like this:

"You are the most interesting woman in the world.  You are talented, smart, beautiful, and you have a knack for finding the good in each day.  What you give is transforming and unforgettable.  The kind meant only for the brave.  And you are so worth it." 

The wind from the blow dryer or a fan helps with dramatic effect.  It's best said wearing a touch of glittery lip gloss. I feel a little ONJ Xanadu circa 1980.  Magic.

I tell myself this until I believe it.  Until I breath it, eat it, taste it.  And it works. Because let's face it, if you aren't telling yourself, who will?  Just get your shit together and start it off right!  I'm only saying this because I have to remind myself on a daily basis that things aren't so bad and I have people surrounding my life who remind me just how beautiful anything can be if you have a sense of humor.

And while we're on the topic of humor, take a moment to observe people who can't seem to laugh at themselves.  It's remarkable, but typically those individuals don't laugh at anything.  They are rarely seen smiling and can't take anything lightly.  They are the sad and the lonely and find if difficult to make friends because there's nothing to share, nothing to give, nothing to gain. Yuck.  If I got my feelings hurt every time my friends made fun of me I'd be the nervous hospital.  They are assholes - and I love every second of their humor.  And my dearest?  My hero? My role model?  Yes, I'm talking about my sister.  She's the worst!  Most of the time we are together, talking, Facebooking, Twittering, Skyping, etc., is spent making fun of one another.  And it's a blast.  We laugh until we cry; until we can't bare to speak and we literally just have to disconnect for a moment.  No hurt feelings - why bother with that?  We're simply pointing out the comedy in our own and each others  human error. 

I'm feeling a little preachy.  Look, I'm not trying to say I have the market cornered on getting over it.  In fact I spend a lot of time in my head dealing with emotions and fears, but more than that I strive to find the better.  It's out there and it's available if you choose it.  And making that choice is scary and vulnerable.  It's easier to hole up and hide form the world.  It's not easy walking in with your head held high and proclaiming "I'm here.  I'm fucking sad as hell but I'm here by god.  I'm here".  

I'm not changing the world, I'm just changing my mind.  Are you sick?  Are you dying?  Are you living in 3rd world squalor?  Then relax and take a step back.  Learn to laugh at yourself because I guarantee someone else is.  And it's probably me and my friends.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Bring Me Life. Bring Me Love. Bring me Truth.

2012 is here.  It's a new day, a new beginning.  The start of a new year is the internationally observed recognition that finally, we get to start over.

I celebrated the new year with an old friend, Julie, and another friend, Alex.  None of us were sure what we wanted to do but somehow made our way to a rather uninhabited bar and sat outside, toasted, hugged and collectively sighed in relief that finally we can start making things better for ourselves.  The scene was a bit like a chick flick as we were bundled up drinking whiskey and talking about the changes we'd like to see in our lives for this year.  The night was long and the three of us shared deep feelings, hundreds of laughs, and of course some tears.  But we never really discussed our resolutions for the new year.  So, as I was heading to sleep I began pondering some things I'd like to tackle in this year and, as part of the promise I made to myself when I started this blog, I want to be honest.  I want to be open and own my thoughts and my feelings.  I've listed some things I want to really, with all my heart and soul, work on as I move forward.

1. I will learn to not take on the guilt of others.  If I have done something to hurt someone, I will take responsibility for that, apologize, and move on.  But, for the first time in my life I will aim to recognize and shake off the unnecessary guilt laid on me by someone else whose will I am not fulfilling.  I am allowed to say no.  I am free to disagree and let someone else deal with that on their own terms and not feel guilty.  I'm done with carrying the hurt feelings of someone especially when I'm being asked to do something I strongly disagree with.  And I will learn to live with the consequences of standing up for myself.  I'm worth it.

2. I will trust love that is freely offered.  I've been gifted to share my life with some of the most amazing people in the world.  They are constant.  Always there.  Never failing.  Even if they can't always be with me in the exact moment I want them around the most, they are always in my heart.  I'm so glad that I have allowed them pass the gate, through the guarded part that is most vulnerable and scary.  But they are there and I will continue to trust them and not always question their why.  They are because....they are.  Trust them, Carrie.  They've never given you any reason to not trust them. This is truth.  Live in it.

3. I will trust my own instincts.  They are usually right.  Call it a gut feeling, a sixth sense, or female intuition, but I know when I know something.  I don't have to justify it or ignore it any longer.  And I don't have to be sickened by it and over analyze it.  Acknowledge it and accept it.  This is the part when I get to tell myself "Listen to your heart and walk through it with your head".

4. To thine own self be true.  I will learn to be okay with the emotions I feel.  I will not apologize every time I cry and I will never stop saying "I love you" to the wonderful people in my life.  I will love myself and the life I've lived and the life yet to come. And I will strive to remind myself every day: You are not a joke.  You are not alone.  You are not losing.  You are not lost.  You are not stupid.  You are not unworthy.  You are not invisible.  You are not unlovable. You are you.  You are smart.  You are talented.  You are love.  You are loved. You are here.

And those are my resolutions.  I do not aim to become the most attractive, most talented, most famous person I can be.  Rather I aim to be the most self realized person I can be at this very moment.  The one I dream of becoming.  The one who understands how beautiful and real each moment is - the happiness and the sadness.  It's happening to you right now.  Just live it.

I recently spent time with my sister who happens to be a mentor and friend.  We talked about the hardships of the passing year and our ambitions for 2012.  I was looking at an image that has always been rather unsettling to me.  It's an image of three swords piercing a heart.  This card has haunted me and caused a physical reaction any time I have ever seen it.  She said "Carrie, let the pain in.  Feel it.  And then let it go. Let the holes left from the swords be filled with cleansing water.  Without knowing how badly it hurt, we can't know how good it feels on the other side".

So there.  I've faced one of my deeply personal demons.  And now I move forward.

My motto for 2012: Bring me life. Bring me Love. Bring me truth.

And the winner is.....

Blessed Be.