Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Enjoying Diet Pepsi & Overcoming Shyness

If you are the least bit familiar with this blog, I have no doubt that you read that title, scratched your pretty little head, and thought, "What in the world?" That's because neither of those things is even remotely me. All I can really say about Diet Pepsi and being shy are that I don't fully comprehend either of them. Pour me a Diet Coke and dare me to meet a stranger, I beg of you.

I'm a creature of habit and most of the time, a woman of particular tastes and opinions. As much as I like to think myself wild and unpredictable, I don't usually stray too far from my tried and true--if it ain't broke, after all. A few years ago, there was a show on Animal Planet that we loved called I Shouldn't Be Alive. Each episode, someone would find themselves in a precarious situation and ultimately defy the odds and cheat death to survive the near impossible. Clint and I were relieved to realize we will probably never find ourselves on that show because we don't: mountain climb, snow mobile, deep sea dive, boat, run, hike, bike, ski, hunt, sled...well, you get the picture.

The same way that I will never star in I Shouldn't Be Alive, there are also certain things I will probably never hear during the course of my lifetime. These things are just anti-Susie, and so the odds of them happening are about as good as my winning an Alaskan dog sled race. It's possible, but I wouldn't make any bets. And so, friends, here is a brief list of words least likely to be uttered in my direction:

Aren't you going to finish all of your food? I don't think anyone has ever asked me this, and I'm fairly certain they never will. For better or worse, I'm a lifelong member of the clean plate club. Even if I don't particularly like something, the odds are good that I'll still eat it. After all, I'm a glutton there are starving children in the world. My mom said that growing up, she knew I was really sick when I refused to eat. On mornings when I tried to play hooky and get out of school, all she had to do was offer me breakfast and I would break. I've never been one to miss a meal (or snack for that matter), even if it meant I didn't miss out on an algebra test, either.

Why are you being so quiet? When I was in college, I took voice lessons in an attempt to learn to sing (for a beauty pageant, naturally). My teacher very generously pointed out that I have excellent volume and my voice carries well, aka a microphone is basically optional for this girl. I'm a human megaphone. I struggle to whisper, and I've never, ever been accused of not carrying my end of a conversation. And while I've been shushed in by more librarians than I can count on one hand, I don't think I've ever been asked to speak up.

Do you want a refill on your Pepsi? This one is so integral that it bears mentioning again. Remember those Pepsi Challenge commercials in the '80s? Blindfolded taste testers would sample both Coke and Pepsi, and devout Coca Cola lovers would wind up choosing the taste of Pepsi every single time? I'm going to go ahead and call that false advertising, because there's no way it could ever happen. I accept no substitution or impostors for the cold, delicious refreshment that is Diet Coke. Anything else is an inferior product, and life is too short for that.

Where did you find that polo shirt? I don't believe I have ever willingly owned a unisex item of clothing (summer internships that forced me into collared knit shirts and khaki pants be damned). I can't be me in an outfit that could also belong to a sixteen year old boy, and that includes boat shoes, bomber jackets, sweater vests, and the like. My husband swears I don't like any article of clothing that doesn't either have a ruffle or a sparkle, and I'm okay with that reputation.

Did you forget to use hairspray? I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that extra hold hairspray is the cornerstone of my existence. After all, how can one be a functioning, complete human being with unkempt hair? Answer: you can't, and I won't. I am a woman who is not afraid to curl, tease, mousse, spray...and repeat. Aerosol hairspray got me through my scrunched, banana-clipped days of elementary school and has been a good and faithful friend ever since. When in doubt, spray on an extra layer and know you are ready to take on the world.

Those shoes look so comfortable. I've taken a thorough inventory, and I own exactly three pairs of comfortable shoes (one of those pairs may or may not be my trusty bedroom slippers). I'm not going to tell you how many other pairs of shoes I own, because it's embarrassingly high, but the ones that don't make me want to die/cry/limp/crawl are few and far between. I was raised on the notion that beauty is pain and I'm not afraid to let my feet suffer for the sake of fashion. If a shoe is comfortable, the odds are high that it is also unattractive. When in doubt, put on some Dr. Scholls inserts and a smile, and work that cute and killer shoe.

I'll probably also never get word that I've won a Nobel Prize, and I'm certain no one will ever ask me for advice on carpentry or cross country anything, as wood working and endurance sports are also not my forte. We all have our roles to play, so I will finish this Diet Coke, curl and spray my hair to withstand gale force winds, and keep on not being shy or quiet or hungry, for that matter. And as for these four-inch, platform, ankle strap wedges? Hey, if the shoe fits.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Celebrating Birthday Month

They say there are five love languages: something like gifts, acts of service, quality time, affirmation, and physical touch. These are supposed to be the things that make your heart go pitter patter and the way to make you swoon. And as much as I appreciate a date night or a hug, I have to tell you that there is a sixth, very powerful love language no one's talking about and it's absolutely the one I speak fluently: birthdays are my love language.

A birthday is your own personal holiday. One whole day that is solely yours, all about you, a celebration of the fact that you, wonderful you, were born. It deserves hoopla. In fact, I don't feel that a day is really enough time to adequately appreciate a birthday, which is why I am an enthusiastic proponent of a birthday month. That way, everyone isn't pressured to squeeze all the fun and festivity into twenty four hours. There is an entire month to linger and savor. As it just so happens, April is my birthday month. And this Saturday was the actual day of my birth. Time to celebrate!

It's not very often I feel the need to praise the North Carolina Department of Transportation, but I have to say they were the first to come through for me in the birthday department. Just this year, the DMV announced that driver's licenses were renewable online, which may not seem like a big deal to those of you strutting around with 20/20 vision, but I do believe it may have saved me from having to have LASIK surgery just so I could prove myself vision-worthy of obtaining a new license. Whew. My new license came in the mail last week, and it is the gift that will keep on giving for the next eight years. Take that, eye test!

Eye test? We don't need no stinking eye test!

In addition to that little laminated blessing in my mailbox, all kinds of fun cards started arriving. For a girl who already has a love of mail, the feeling of opening the mailbox and seeing colored envelopes full of well wishes just waiting for me definitely puts a spring in my step. My friend Sylvia upped the ante by mailing me the cutest reversible tote bag, my very first present of birthday month. And then, on Thursday night, this most wonderful gift bag appeared:

When your gift is life-sized, you know you've done something right.

The saying goes that good things come in small packages, but I kind of liked seeing that behemoth one. Isn't it practically full of wonder and birthday magic? As literal icing on the cake, two of our friends stopped by with a white chocolate bundt cake, and Clint picked up a half dozen Gigi's cupcakes for the occasion. One birthday, two desserts, zero problem finishing it all, I can promise you that.

Decisions, decisions.

And just like that, it was birthday eve, or to the rest of you, Friday night. Clint took me out to a local steakhouse called Beef and Bottle, which has been serving delicious food since 1958. The white linen table cloths, candles on the tables, and pictures of celebrity diners as far back as Audrey Hepburn give the place a cozy, intimate atmosphere that was a great spot for a couple's dinner. To cap it off, our waiter surprised me with this fantastic dessert to complete our wonderful meal!

I can't resist an opportunity to sparkle. 

Birthday eve was a success, and before I knew it, Saturday morning was upon us. April 9th, the finest of days, the reason confetti was invented. We ate our breakfast and then Clint let me open my gifts--and it is safe to say they did not disappoint. I have been lusting after a Louis Vuitton handbag since we were in Italy last year, so I can't tell you how ecstatic I was when I opened that giant gift bag and found the purse inside! And in the pocket of that gorgeous bag, I found Dave Matthews concert tickets for May, as well as a t-shirt from my very favorite restaurant here, Paco's Tacos & Tequila. It's only fitting since we are there about once a week. Believe me when I say, these are a few of my favorite things:

Please meet the new man in my life: his name is Louis. He's European, dark skinned, and so, so supple.

Clearly, it's going to be a very good year. We spent our afternoon enjoying time with some friends, who showed up not just for cocktails and conversation, but they also spoiled me with gifts. These people really know what makes me tick, as evidenced by the glitter, sparkles, and fun they gifted me.

Sweet gifts from sweet friends, who clearly know me well.

I hope you can see the small pack of "I Kissed a Democrat" gum in the center of the picture (you know, to get that bad taste out of your mouth and hopefully restore your senses). Plus, my beloved Peeps, a Jo Malone candle that smells like pure heaven, cocktail napkins, very cutesy cups, a wine glass that holds an entire bottle of wine (so you can say you've only had one glass, in case anyone asks), various forms of antioxidants made from grapes...also known as wine and champagne, and those adorable gold sequin bedroom shoes. Basically, the recipe for happy.

We ended my birthday weekend with a Sunday dinner full of queso and tacos at the aforementioned Paco's Tacos, and with a big smile on my now-year-older face. Thank you to everyone who celebrated with me and made me feel so special. There is talk of a celebratory brunch this upcoming Sunday, and by the looks of the calendar, there is still plenty more birthday month left to enjoy. You can bet I'm going to do just that.

Some days you've just got to put on your birthday tiara and celebrate!