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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Only in East Tennessee...

The results of sunning and waterskiing are painful, yet they are a lingering reminder of how much fun I had this past weekend, spent in Kingston, TN with five gals from the Menagerie (Amy, Ashley, Grace, Christa and Ginny) and three of their husbands (Nathan, Jonathan, and Cuyler). Amy's parents were gracious to open their home to us, overlooking beautiful Watts Bar Lake.

Ashley and I left Nashville on Friday afternoon, and caught up on the man drama in our lives as we made the trip to East Tennessee. We started to get hungry at Crossville, and settled on the Cracker Barrel just off the interstate. Unfortunately, one swing around the parking lot left us wondering if the CB was the only restaurant in the small town, thus the "place to be" on a Friday night. I mumbled, "only in East Tennessee...," not knowing the statement would be used many times this weekend.

Saturday morning, after stuffing our faces with Sheila Calloway's Famous Breakfast, we headed straight for the pool and swam until Christa and Cuyler, and Ginny and Jonathan arrived. The weather was beautiful and perfect for water sports. We spent the greater part of the afternoon out on the boat. Amy attempted to teach me to waterski, and my efforts were fruitless for the most part, ingesting and snorting more lake than actually gliding on top of it. I had a fun time trying though. Later that afternoon, Christa and I got tossed around the lake on an innertube.

After a long day in the water, we all hung around the house and played a wild game of Cranium. Ashley's depiction of a "fan" and Christa's personification of a skateboarder were definitely the highlights. We also had a bit of fun with the "humdingers."

Earlier in the day, I accidentally called Jonathan, "Chris," the name of Ginny's ex-boyfriend. This is not the first time I've stuck my foot in my mouth like this. In college, Amy was out on one of her very first dates with Nathan, and I saw them in the video rental place. I accidentally introduced Nathan as "Ryan" (Amy's ex-boyfriend), to the person I was with. Upon realization of my mistake, I was so embarrassed that I couldn't even get composure to correct myself. I was for sure that Amy would never speak to me again.

Anyway, I called Jonathan by the wrong name. And then, as we're all sitting around Saturday night playing a game, Cuyler looks at Jonathan and says, "Daniel, it's your turn." None of us catch this the first time around, but the second time, Christa and Ginny ask Cuyler if he just called Jonathan, "Daniel." He realizes that he unconsciously made the mistake, because he went to school with a "Daniel" by Jonathan's last name. Jonathan replies with, "just call me Bob," which we thought was hi-larious. We finally decided it was time for bed when Cuyler accidentally found Amy's old Jordan Knight doll (NKOTB era) in the game closet, partially nude and complete with a six-inch long rat-tail.

On our way to church Sunday morning, we found ourselves riding behind the largest pig that any of us had ever laid eyes on, and for some reason, we found it really funny. Of course, the jokes followed: "the pig is off to be slaughtered" and "the fatted swine is on its way to be sacrificed as a burnt offering at the temple." Only in East Tennessee...

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Redneck Af-Fair

There's no other place like Lebanon, Tennessee to host the annual Wilson County Fair, otherwise known as, "A Redneck Af-Fair." Last night, eight of us including, Mandy, Amanda, Lisa, Sarah, Emily, Natalie, Lana, and myself, entered through the gates to participate in some carney rides, livestock observation, and as Sarah says, become "Fair Fatties."

(I wish someone had told me to put my sunglasses on...
And I also wish the lady that took this picture had not framed the porta-potties in the background...)
Top row, L-to-R: Lisa, Sarah, Lana, MA
Bottom row, L-to-R: Mandy, Emily, Amanda, Natalie

A casual stroll through Fiddler's Grove yielded pens of exotic camilidae. We were greeted by a gangle of alpaca, happily munching on their hay. Further up, a proud llama and her even prouder, breeder, posed for photo ops. Choruses and shouts of "Tina, come get some ham!" and "Come here you stupid llama!" rang out when the eight of us laid eyes on the majestic creature. And I got tickled, because the llama's breeder held a surprising resemblance to an infamous character we all know and love...

As hungry as we were, it was our mission to find the Circle C Racing Pigs before the sun went down. We salivated past the endless stands of fried food, past the blinking lights at the Midway, and finally made it to the pig races, just in time to see the racing billy goats. The small pigs were up next, followed by the racing ducks, and then the main event, the racing potbellied pigs. Natalie was chosen to be the cheerleader for the first pig, "Rudder Martin," and she was awarded a blue ribbon and the title of "Pig Queen" when Rudder took home the victory.

At this point, we're starving, wanting to substitute the wafts of manure for wafts of trans-fat. Sarah, Lana and I sat out on a hunt for an extra-long corndog, and were rewarded when we found a vendor as greasy as the food he was selling. Three bucks and a squirt (or five) of mustard later, and I was one happy camper.

Acquisition of a full belly probably wasn't the wisest decision, as we skipped to the Midway for some gambling on the carney rides. On the way over, I spotted Ronald McDonald and pulled Lisa over for a photo. See, Lisa and I are alumnae of Alpha Delta Pi, myself of MTSU, Lisa of UTMartin. After we get our picture made, Lisa looks at me and a light bulb goes off above her head. She says, "Ohhhhhh, the Ronald McDonald House is ADPi's philanthropy---that's why you wanted me to take a picture with Ronald..." Ding-ding-ding!

We made the right decision by attending the Fair on a Thursday night, rather than a Saturday night, like we did last year. Lines for the rides were minimal. A few of the gals headed toward the Tilt-a-Whirl and I talked Lisa into riding the Spin-Out. The rusty ride spins you upside down and in all directions, feet dangling, while you are precariously hanging from these tentacle-like arms. It looked pretty harmless and I'm always up for some roller coaster-related fun, so what the heck, right? We lucked out and the carney guy didn't take our tickets, so we were pumped to ride for free. About twenty seconds into the ride, as Lisa and I began to scream our heads off, I thought to myself, "this is going to be the day that I die, and my last meal was a corndog." All of my weight was being shifted to the top of my body when upside down, and as I was a thrust six inches off the seat, all I could do was pray that the harness didn't unlock. The Spin-Out was incredibly scary, yet freakishly thrilling. The ride was fairly long, and after being tossed around in the spin cycle for three minutes, Lisa and I emerged, a bit disheveled and out-of-breath with laughter. We asked a nearby lady to take our photo, and it was obvious, by not only her toothless grin, but her inability to operate a digital camera, that she was a Lebanon local.

Lisa and I met up with the rest of the gals, greatly disappointed by their bum ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl. Next we headed for the Himalaya, an old favorite, and also managed to ride for free. Then, after a ride on the Flying Bob(sled), we took a break. My favorite Fair ride was still on the list of things to do, so I talked Emily into riding the Gravitron. We stood in line, waiting for the previous group to exit, and just as we thought we were about to board, the ride operator rotated the door to the backside. We stood there for a few minutes, and began to hear rumors of someone "exorcising their demons" aboard. At that point, Em and I look at each other in disgust. Picturing the likely path of vom in a centrifugal environment, I told Em that we should see what the carney operator has to say. Well, the carney operator was Hispanic and didn't speak any English, so I asked him in sign language, mimicking the motions of a barf and whether or not it was all over the Gravitron. A couple of confused nods later, Em and I walked away disappointed.

I sold my remaining ride tickets to three dumb teenagers, that were willing to pay face value for the tickets. If I had been in their shoes, I would have at least tried to bargain with me. We ended our evening with some post-ride fair (get it? fare), with Lisa's funnel cake, Amanda's cheesecake, and my frozen chocolate-covered banana with nuts. Yum.

Needless to say, I'm sufficiently faired out. We survived the rusty rides and the abundance of too-easy TAR moments, and I'm happy to say I won't be back until next August!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


It's become very obvious to me that Satan hates obedience. And it's also become apparent that the consequences of sin linger a lot longer than I had hoped.

It's all I can do right now not to spew hatred back at someone that will not forgive me and has chosen to treat me like I'm the worst human being on the planet. I am incredibly angry and very saddened by the situation.

Please pray for me right now if you are reading this. Pray that my words and actions will be sprinkled with patience and kindness. Pray that I will show Christ's love in spite of the representation I have previously presented. Pray that I can continue to forgive this person, and that I won't need their forgiveness to be at peace.

Update (Thursday morning): Prayer really does work! I'm feeling a little bit better about the situation this morning. I am continuing to pray for my relationship with this person, especially in regards to how I react. I have chosen to ignore the behavior and play the "kill 'em with kindness" card, but it's definitely not easy. The love of Christ holds the power to change hearts! Please keep this person in your prayers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

We all want to be big stars...

My ears are ringing. Still. From last night. I'm a little concerned.

Although I was in a heinous mood yesterday, Amanda, Mason and I piled in the car, destination Starwood in Shantioch (Antioch), for the Counting Crows concert, the fourth stop of the Queen MAB summer concert series. The weather people were forecasting rain, and I had resigned myself to sitting in the mud because the grass seats were so cheap. We arrived, soon followed by Amanda's friend Maury, and pitched camp about mid-way up the hill. My spirits were slowly lifting, as the heat had broken and it was shaping up to be a nice night of music under the stars.

I've been a Counting Crows fan for a very long time. In fact, their August and Everything After album was the very first CD I ever purchased. I remember buying it. I used to say that they were my second favorite band, with Ben Folds Five leading the pack, but that was before I really got into Ben Harper and Death Cab and Cake. I'm not really sure how I would rank those five now, but you get the point. I was very excited about seeing Counting Crows live. Especially since I'd never seen them live before.

So, I'm sitting on my beach towel, enjoying the sounds of the pre-show music waft through the air, and Rhonda and Joe bound up the hill toward us. Those braggarts begin to tell us about how a friend of Joe's, that works at a local radio station, had given them second row seats for the concert. And then before I know it, Joe is on the phone and he has managed to acquire two more seats, on the fifth row, for me and Amanda. Who's a happy gal?

I felt a little bad about ditching Mason and Maury, but I got over it really fast when I got to my new seat. The opening act, a guy by the name of Eliot Morris, was entertaining with his acoustic, southern blues. Next up were the Goo Goo Dolls, of which I'm not really a fan. They didn't put on a bad show, but it was hard to make out Johnny Rzeznik's vocals through all of the heavy guitars. And I was a little frightened by the freaky bassist, whose voice sounded as if he'd sucked helium before he sang. Halfway through the Goo Goo Dolls set, Rhonda and Joe waved Amanda and I up to the front of the stage with them, and for the rest of the show, we stood up on the front row.

Eliot Morris

Johnny Rzeznik of Goo Goo Dolls

Before the show began, I recognized an acquaintance-friend of mine from college, David, who is a videographer and freelances concerts at Starwood. He happened to be stationed right in front of us, so all night, Rhonda, Joe, Amanda and I were pictured singing and dancing on the two large side screens. "Smiling in the bright lights, coming through in stereo..."

Counting Crows hit the stage soon after, and I was very excited to stand mere feet away from Adam Duritz. Overall, I was pleased with the set list. My favorites of the evening were Omaha, Perfect Blue Buildings, Time and Time Again, and Have You Seen Me Lately? It's no surprise that my favorite songs of the evening were from their first two albums. I didn't hear many, or really any, of my all-time favorite Counting Crows songs, but they are so consistently good in their songwriting that it was still an enjoyable experience.

I'm snapping photos like a mad woman, and at one point, Amanda asks me, "are you afraid you'll forget what he looks like?" I retorted that I feel as though it is my responsibility to the Queen MAB Faithful to document the occasion. Plus, I may take 150 photos and end up with 20 I'm pleased with. Don't question the photographer while she creates magic on film.

The fifth and sixth stops on the Queen MAB summer concert series have been canceled. I was planning to go see Rhett Miller and the Believers at the Mercy Lounge on Thursday and then Andy Davis and Dave Barnes at City Hall on Saturday, but I'll be at the Wilson County Fair and in Knoxville, respectively. But stay tuned, because the Queen MAB summer concert series will pick up again in September!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I can't help it if I'm an all-day person!

It's becoming something of a trend that I spend my weekends outside the state of Tennessee. I really can't complain---afterall, I'm so incredibly popular and people are vying for my attention. It's my bound duty to comply. But seriously, I didn't see the inside walls of my apartment at all this weekend. I did, however, share one teeny-tiny bathroom with seven other women. A brothel, you ask? Why no!

Friday evening, chaffeured by Rhonda's new (and I must say, quite fun) boyfriend Joe, Rhonda, Mandy, Amanda and I made the trek up to Hardin, Kentucky, to spend the weekend at Jonathan Creek Camp on Lake Barkley, for the 2006 BBC Singles Retreat. We were all a bit wired on the drive up. Blame it on the processed-brownie-bites-Sonic-Blast we shared, but I attribute it to old-fashioned excitement.

A few notable moments and highlights from the weekend:

  • Adding another witty idiom to the arsenal: "Oh ya, well Christ died for you, so top that!"
  • Attempting (unsuccessfully) to pick the locks of the extra bathrooms in our lodge, upon the realization that we only had one per seven girls.
  • Beating the boys team in a highly competitive and physical game of Guesstures.
  • "I'm not a morning person, I'm an all-day person. I can't help it if I'm an all-day person. Not all of us can be all-day people."
  • Middle-school, cafeteria-style pizza, tater-tots, chocolate pudding, and the ever-famous, soybean burger.
  • Balancing precariously on shaky wires during the "Mohawk Walk" ropes course, and feeling a genuine sense of accomplishment when our last team member tagged the final checkpoint.
  • Pool volleyball and basketball.
  • Casting away the "stones" in my life.
  • Amanda and I paying homage to Nelly in an inspiring rendition of "Number One."
  • My successful description of an "enema," passing the CatchPhrase disc to Aaron Bryant just before the buzzer went off.
  • Turning the hot water off in the guys lodge (the culprits shall remain nameless) so that they'd wake up in the morning to cold showers. Chris Choate being falsely accused of the prank, and awakened by the pain and the sound of a series of wet towels being popped on his rear.
  • Joe spotting a leopard, Amanda's unfortunate accident, and many other stories for the ride home.
Rainbow-Brite Gals
Amanda, Mandy, Rhonda, MA, Lisa, Jennifer

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hail to thee, our Alma Mater

My brother, Ben, graduated from MTSU this weekend (finally). Attending his graduation ceremony really motivated me to get my rear in gear in the pursuit of my MBA. Hopefully, more to come soon about that.

Ben & Brittany (his girlfriend)

After the graduation festivities on Saturday, my family visited my great-aunt Grace, who is currently in hospice. Although the mood was somber because of her condition, we reminisced of funny times and leafed through albums of old family photos. I will be very sad to see Grace pass away. She is my late Granny Brown's sister and they look just alike, and their personalities are so similar.

My mamaw had surgery yesterday to repair her shattered hip. The surgery went well, and she is progressing nicely, but has a long road of physical therapy ahead of her. Please keep her in your prayers.

That's it for me right now. I'm rather boring (bored) today.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

'Tis Wrong

I'm proud to say that we're celebrating one year all this month, at the premier blog for social snafus and fashion faux pas, That Ain't Right. Please follow this link on over and reminisce with us, your favorite TAR moment from the past year. Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Hurts So Good

It rains everyday in Tampa. Tina informed me that the Native American meaning of Tampa closely associates itself with "lightning." It makes perfect sense, because Tampa is well-known for it's monstrous thunderstorms. This suits me well, because I heart thunderstorms. I saw some rather spectacular displays of lightning while in Tampa this past weekend, but the rain managed to hold off for some serious beach and pool time while visiting Tina and Patrick.

My flight, although delayed, arrived in Tampa early Thursday evening. Tina and I made our way to Ybor City to have dinner with a few of her friends at the Green Iguana. Ybor City is a chic historic district in Tampa with a ton of unique restaurants and nightlife. Tina was hoping we'd run into "The Senator," a local Ybor City celebrity, known for showing up at nightclubs dressed provacatively in women's lingerie. Unfortunately, I was not graced with his presence that evening.

Tina and I decided we needed a little pampering Friday afternoon, so we headed to a local nail place to get spa pedicures. A short little Asian man approached me and led me to the massage chair and he began to beautify my toes. About halfway into the pedicure, he begins to rub this salt scrub into my ankles and lower calves. This is normal for a spa pedicure, so I didn't think anything of it, until it began to hurt---as in, highly abrasive sandpaper scouring my legs. But I toughed it out and told myself that it "hurts so good." After washing off the salt scrub, he then begins to massage my calves, applying unnecessary amounts of pressure with his thumbs---and seemingly paying extra attention to the large bruise I have on the inside of my calf. I'm wincing in pain at this point, just praying for him to be done soon. All of a sudden, he stops and straightens out my other leg. He balls up both of his fists and proceeds to beat on my legs, up and down, side-to-side. I'm so shocked and my mouth falls open, and then I hear Tina snort loudly from the chair next to me. I look over at her and she's practically shaking with silent laughter. This, of course, causes me to start laughing and neither of us are able to get a grip. Thankfully, my beating finally ended, but by Sunday afternoon, I began to notice several conspicuous bruises on the insides of my calves.

Tina and I were in need of some serious retail therapy, so we made our way to the International Plaza mall. My quest for the perfect black purse for fall finally came to an end with my purchase of this Kate Landry creation. Tina talked me into some Haagen-Daz, and I discovered a fabulous new flavor combination, Mayan Chocolate. It's a swirl of South American-style cocoa and cinnamon, two of my favorite flavors. I will be seeking this out at my local grocer.

Friday night, Tina, Patrick and I
drove to the trendy SOHO (South Howard) area of Tampa, where we dined at an Italian-Asian fusion restaurant, 717 South. While we waited an hour and a half on a table, we entertained ourselves with the middle-age divorcees flaunting their implants and their fake-n-bake tans to the local sugar daddies. We didn't actually sit down to eat until almost ten p.m. that evening, but the melt-in-your-mouth, freshly grilled grouper and wasabi mashed potatoes were worth the wait.

Saturday morning, the three of us drove to Clearwater Beach to spend a relaxing day soaking up some Florida sun. We passed the construction of the new Scientology headquarters in downtown Clearwater. The building is massive and has several winding, octogonal glass towers, which led to some hilarious jokes about how Tom has locked Katie in one of the towers while he is voodooing Baby Suri in the opposite tower.

Clearwater Beach is on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida, but for some reason, it doesn't quite look as beautiful as the Emerald Coast. The water is considerably less seaweedy, but it's not quite as turquoise. It did afford me some fine photo ops though. We enjoyed some time in the sand and surf, and headed to a nearby pool to spend the rest of the day.

A relaxing afternoon was spent on the deck of Frenchy's Rockaway Grill. On the way home that afternoon, we debated this and this. Tina and Patrick know what I'm talking about.

All in all, the weekend was very relaxing and quite a bit of fun. Tina and Patrick are always such good hosts and I can't wait until my next visit!

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

RA at the RA

The urban legend says that back in 2002, Ryan Adams threw some guy out of the Ryman Auditorium for shouting out a request to hear a cover of Bryan Adam's "Summer of '69." I had a deja vu last night---because it happened again.

The concert was the third stop on the Queen MAB summer concert series, and unfortunately, I wish it had never of happened. The greasy rocker waltzed onstage in his skinny jeans and 4-inch white, patent leather platforms, drunk as a skunk and/or high as a kite. I knew from the moment he played his first song, that it was going to be a long, long evening.

I don't have a lot good to say, because I was incredibly disappointed in Ryan's choice of set list. Ryan is known for three characteristic styles of music: americana-country-rock, acoustic-alt-rock, and electric-metal-rock. I prefer the first two, being able to truly appreciate his scraggly voice and songwriting ability. Unfortunately, last night we were served the latter. I think he played his worst music on purpose, especially the second half of the show.

Ryan has a reputation as a pretentious jerk, but you allow his talent to override. I don't think his fans, including myself, were as ready to let him off the hook last night. Someone from the audience threw a beer can onstage at Ryan's guitarist. Then a few minutes later, in the middle of a song, some guy stands up and shouts out a request for "Summer of '69." After slamming the microphone down, verbalizing a string of four-letter words, and giving the guy the finger (including the "Super Finger"), security escorts the guy out of the building. Ryan comments, "It's always got to be someone at the [insert expletive] Ryman..."

I was pleased with one set of comments Ryan made about how it was great to be back in the "Rock-n-Roll House of Worship," because afterall, the Ryman is literally that. It's always nice to be in the Ryman. But I don't know that it's always nice to be in the Ryman with Ryan...

Doing a bit of research, I learned the irony of the sore-spot with Ryan Adams when it comes to all things Bryan Adams: they actually share the same birthday! Too funny!

EDIT: For the Tennesseean review, click here.

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