The rest of away

It’s taken me a bit to somewhat process this past weekend.
(Side note, I’m watching Teen Mom 2 and this is the second one of these dumbass girls I’ve watched act like an invalid after her boob job. What the actual hell is the matter with me, watching this nonsense?)
Anyway, we spent the weekend at my first comic convention. I was prepared and not prepared – I mean, I’ve watched the documentaries and the sitcoms and read articles, nerds are weird. I know this.
But it was a good opportunity for the podcast, so I went. With Prozac. Prepared to network and schmooze.
While there’s lots to tell you about the weekend in general (like hello awesome food!, and being in the same room as Billy Dee Williams’ pee, and the time I thought I might see a man die and I acted anything but admirably), right now I want to focus on the actual event.
How it was stinky. Crowded. Germy. Confusing. And absolutely spectacular.

We had preordered our tickets (which was my first time ever to use Passbook on my phone, and I totally felt like the Jetsons with my virtual roboticket), so there wasn’t much of a wait to strap on some armbands and stand in line with pretty much every variety of person on the planet.

Seriously, this was as good as people watching gets. Costumes and pajama pants, stilettos and flip flops, and absolutely everything else imaginable. Spandex. Sequins. Feathers. Rubber. Metal. Cardboard. Want to wear some ears and a tail? Awesome. Top hat? Help yourself. Flippers with no other hint of a costume? Have some nachos.

And yeah, they stunk. Some of them did. Some of them smelled fantastic – particularly these two chicks who I’m fairly absolutely concretely certain were prostitutes. But they were all so… connected. It was such a community of all these people who mostly didn’t know each other. There was trust in so many iterations – from the toddler in his Iron Man outfit who won a sword fight with a Stormtrooper to the mom of two in her steampunk corset and bustle who didn’t give a shit what you thought about her cellulite. It was freeing just to be there, to be able to take in the attitude of acceptance.

And also…the talent. It was a grab bag of you-pick-it eeney meanie miney holy balls. I have never been in tossing distance of so much ability in my life. It was amazing and humbling and completely exciting. I still don’t really have the right words.

I am not and never have been what anyone would call a cool person. I’m not with it or hip or anything the kids like these days. And in theory, neither were these people, right?

I mean, according to the movies and high school and anything I ever learned from band camp, these are the punch lines, right? The nerds, the geeks, the people who don’t fit in.

Except these people were amazing. They were real and colorful and…themselves.

That’s it. That’s what it was.

There was no apology in any of this past weekend. No one was sorry for being whoever it was they wanted to be. It was open and obnoxious, and the most authentic experience I’ve ever had.

I met some amazing people. Made some connections I will treasure. Hopefully some of the people I met will take a turn to post here sometime soon, and I’m excited about that.

For now though, I’m still sorting through everything I learned this weekend. About myself, about my world. About comic books and zombies. About how lucky I am to realize that just because there’s no one like me doesn’t mean there’s anything to change about me.

***all photos used with permission, courtesy of Keith Reed, whom I found on the Twitters.

 

Embracing the kook within

Historically I have never been what you would call a joiner.

It's all too much, man. Too much work.

It's why I don't have friends. It's why I find my own things and bury myself in them. Hell, it's why this blog has not died a raging fiery inferno death – because I do it whenever I please and big middle finger when I don't.

But my husband, he's a joiner. He gets all up IN all kinds of shit. And he does it because he's good at it. I support that. How could I not? It makes him happy. Happy him, happy me.

So in a grand gesture of solidarity and total outside-my-comfort-zone-ness, I am donning my brand spanking new JustUsGeeks tshirt, hauling around my weight in purple bluish memefont flyers, and going to a comic & toy convention.

Yeah, that's right. You heard it here first.

 

But you know what's crazy? I'm excited. Like, stupid excited.

So by the time you read this, Josh and The Guv and I (Catch that? Did you? Yeah, I said my name and his name but not Lucy's name. More on that later.) will be tooling off toward Kentucky. Or, well, Friday morning. So whenever you read this in relation to Friday morning. Because I think I'm going ahead and publishing this tonight.

 

See it? It's already happening. DARING.

Wish me luck!

Random Ramble

Today is Friday the 13th. 

 

That’s bad luck, right? I’ve never really had much experience with good or bad luck on Friday the 13th, although I do remember that when I was young my dad signed his final hiring papers for a job on such a day –  a job that would end up being pretty much the worst thing ever.

But I think that was just the result of general universal shittiness, not really bad luck or anything.

I used to hear stories about people who stayed in their houses or beds all day on Friday the 13th. My opinion is that it would be a good excuse. Maybe I’ll use it someday.

The Steens are embarking on a journey this weekend. We’re heading over to Tuscaloosa, since I’ve never been there and as a student at the University of Alabama I feel I should at least know what it looks like. Then we’ll either geocache our hearts out or head down to Jackson, to laugh at everyone we escaped.

I hope everyone’s year is starting out well. Mine is – I think this could qualify as the best beginning of a year I’ve had in recent memory.

Oh and guess what, my therapist reads my blog (hi, Angela!). While initially I thought that might squick me out a bit, I’ve found it really doesn’t make a difference.

I suppose it’s true that misery breeds creativity – because honestly, I haven’t had much to write about lately. I’ve just been too damned happy. That sounds contrived – but I swear it’s true.

I vow to take lots of pictures this weekend. I have a kickass camera on my phone and I need to use it more often.

So, I leave you with this:

We MAY have convinced Max that butter was a delicious treat. It didn’t last long. 

 

We entertain ourselves the best we know how.

Happy weekend. I’ll be back in full rambley force next week. 

Worth more than 1,000 words

I made a great many friends when I was in college the first time. Friends I’ve kept throughout the years – one who I married and unmarried, and many others who I will never ever be without. 
Not many of them live nearby, though. It makes for long gobetweens in visits, calls, talks. I end up keeping tabs on people through Facebook and email.
 
It’s a type of friendship that I don’t really think has been pioneered exactly. It’s a far cry from the world of Beaches, all Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey waiting weeks for responses…I can have indepth conversations, exchange pictures, and gossip just like we were in the dorms again, all with a little bit of wireless internet. 
 
One of those friends is named Addie.
 
You guys, Addie is straight up one of the most wonderful people in the world. From the time I spent with her in 1999, to exchanging emails and watching from afar as each of her children has been born or found, she has always been a constant. Someone who I know won’t judge or sugarcoat. She is a treasure.

 
Addie has a photography business. Like many photographers starting out, she works a full time job and she only really has time for her work on the weekends. We’ve talked for years about getting together and making some pictures, but it’s just never happened. Conflicts and time and whatnot.
 
Until last weekend. We all packed up and squashed into Dan’s truck, drove 45 minutes to an abandoned motel, and prepared to grin and pose.
 
I hate having my picture taken. I hate it because I always feel self-conscious and fat, my chin is too pointy and my teeth are too big.
 
But we did it. Addie was sweet and gracious and put up with our weirdness. She had fantastic ideas and she made us feel so…normal. Which is difficult with a family like ours.
 
When my pictures are tweaked and awesome, I’ll show you. A whole post of pictures.
 
But until then, I just wanted you to know about my friend Addie, because I seriously love her and I don’t feel like I convey it enough. Also, go and like her on Facebook. It’s worth it just to see all the pictures she posts.

This is why I think church kind of sucks

This past Sunday, we the Steens decided to go on a small road trip. We needed to go to Five Guys, Target, etc.

 

So we went, after convincing my Mom to loan us her car (we take her car on trips like that because it gets good gas mileage and is always clean).

 

In my mom’s car, I found a copy of a recent bulletin from her church. While I was somewhat afraid that my blaspheming fingers might cause it to burst into flame, I looked over it. 

 

Josh noticed the blurb pictured below, and he observed that the Brittany Settle mentioned would have been in school with our friend Marty.

 

So I did some research. Because I’m a trouble stirrer.

 

In 1991, Brittany Settle was indeed given an assignment for a term paper. The teacher was clear in her terms: pick whatever you want to write about, get it approved, and then write about it.

 

So Brittany chose her topic. She chose the topic of “drama,” which I can only assume meant things like traveling troupes and Globe Theatre and the like.

 

Then, for whatever reason, she changed her mind. She decided to write about Jesus instead. I can only imagine the reasoning. Maybe she thought it would be easier, maybe she knew she had a good paper in her brain, bred from years of Bible verses and Sunday School.

 

She decided to change topics and she wrote what I’m sure was an excellent paper. 

 

However, she never got the change approved. She didn’t give her teacher any heads up at all, and so when she turned in what was supposed to be a paper about actors and dramatics and it was instead about Jesus, she failed.

 

It’s a lesson I learned in about the fifth grade – you don’t follow directions, you fail your shit.

 

The fact that the situation then escalated to court dates and appearances on church bulletins two decades later is just a little ridiculous.

Thanks be

(here’s the giveaway I know you’re looking for)

So there have been lots of thankful countdowns and such on Facebook.

Generally I don’t shy away from things like that.

AND WHO AM I KIDDING, NOW IS NO DIFFERENT.

I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for:

My health, however I may sometimes hate the way I look and think.
My heart, and the ability I have to love and care. Really. Some people can’t do that.
My desire to be more of a person.
School.
Wine.
The way Josh loves to cook.
Pumpkin muffins.
Friendship – over the past year I’ve done some regrettable things. I’ve lost people who meant a great deal to me. But I still have some people who love me, flaws and all. And that is a blessing beyond words.

And now for the hardcore love:

I’m thankful for Dan. He is exactly the father Max and Ava need, and we are all lucky to have him.
I’m thankful for my Mom. She is everything I have ever wanted to be.
I’m thankful for my Dad. He is, now and always, the measure of the type of man I need.
I’m thankful for my sister. She has been my partner in crime for my entire life, and one of the best friends I could have. Even if she left me out of her Facebook thankful countdown.
I’m thankful for my grandmothers. For how loving and sweet they both have always been, and the memories they’ve given me.
I’m thankful for Josh’s family. They have loved me and accepted me, they are my family.
I’m thankful for my son. Max has, in the past decade, taught me more about myself than I ever expected. His heart and sweet soul are something we should all strive to match.
I’m thankful for my Ava Thomas. For the fire and joy she carries with her. For the independence I envy, and for the beauty she carries, inside and out.
I’m thankful for Lucy Grace. She has given me new life, laughter, and a joy I didn’t know I had room in my heart for.
I’m thankful for Josh. I could gush and spew about every reason, but I can sum it in this: he has taught me what love truly is. I would have gone through my life an incomplete person if I did not have him.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Halloween and I don’t give a rip

See this baby? This is William. He’s not mine, but I did consider stealing him.

Seriously, that’s not a joke.

I love my kids – all of them. But I’d forgotten what real babies are like until I had Lucy, and she has delighted from day one in being a straight up asshole whenever she takes the notion. It’s okay, I love her madly.

I would not trade her for anything in the world.

BUT THIS ONE….

this one smiled, and giggled. He let Josh carry him around like they were old friends. He was SO DAMN HAPPY. I think it even rubbed off on Lucy, because after she’d been around William for a while she was grinning and SHARING and waving hello two inches from his nose.

It was crack in the form of an infant.

Obviously this weekend we went visiting. We intended to go on Friday, but we got an hour out of town and Lucy yakked up all over herself and I figured it was best not to go visiting smelling like Parmesan and slobber.

So yesterday we succeeded in our quest. I saw a good friend. I met her baby boy. I petted the kitty.

It was a good visit, and I came away with the same child I arrived with.

Also, this. This was mine.

Recap

I know I use pictures of this tree too much, but it’s so pretty.

So I took a tiny vacation from technology for a few days. There wasn’t a particular reason, other than I got a little overwhelmed about people and things and priorities. It was a good little break. I feel better about where I am and where I’m going.

For Labor Day we ate drunk chicken and drank tea (because good Baptists only use beer for cooking? I don’t know, something like that. It’s been so long since I’ve been a good Baptist that I forget the rules). It rained a whole bunch and now they’re talking floodwaters again.

But the rain? What it did for the weather? This is my favorite, favorite time of year.

In fact I’m going to knit a scarf just because I can.

Birthday manifesto

Tomorrow is Josh’s birthday.

Sometimes I’m great with special days like that. Like the year we had everyone over to the apartment and drank girl beer and talked into the wee hours. Or even the year I conned him into a surprise dinner out (at Ruby Tuesday, cause we’re classy round here, folks).

But this year I’m at a loss.

We’re pretty strapped for finances right now (turns out disposable diapers CAN’T be reused, who knew?) so spoiler alert: I haven’t been able to buy a gift at all.

A couple of times I’ve made him a gift.

But now I realize that homemade gifts are something that are usually not loved, they’re tolerated like bad smells in WalMart. And I love him too much for that, so I guess he’s not getting a crocheted market bag. You’re welcome, asshole. I mean what, you’re too much of a man for a pretty bag?

I thought about lots of things I could do. Back rubs. Video game time alone. Things I can’t tell you about (sorry mom!).

And maybe I’ll do all that.

But yesterday we found out that due to a few glitches in our qualifications, we may not be getting the federal money we’d expected to allow us to go to school. I cried for a while. He was agitated. We filed our appeals and now we wait.

We wait. All weekend and into next week.

It’s going to suck.

And it’ll suck even more if it doesn’t work out and we don’t get to go, especially since we’d both gotten incredibly excited about going back to school.

So I’ve decided to say this for all the globe to see: Joshua Steen, if I have to dig ditches and scrub toilets for the rest of my life to pay for it, you’re going to finish school.

We’ve settled for a lot of things over the past years.
We’ve overspent.
We’ve laughed.
We’ve undersaved.
We’ve cried.
We’ve won.
We’ve admitted defeat.
We’ve fallen short.
We’ve gone further than we thought we could.

And only with you can I have the ultimate faith that this will all turn out better than we’ve ever dreamed, so you deserve to know that I will not let you give up, and I will never give up on you.

I love you. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and just know that one day you’ll get spectacular presents.

Also, you’re getting old.

First Guest Post Ever

Sometimes a different perspective is important. With that in mind, I asked my friend Marty if he’d guest post for me. After you read what he has to say, drop by his blog at http://www.martyestes.com to read my guest post for him today.

Ok, um……hi. I’m Marty, the goofy one on the left up there. I’m a 31 year old youth pastor who blogs over at http://www.martyestes.com, and I’m going to admit I’m pretty nervous about this whole “guest post” thing. I mean, it’s pretty easy to see just from a casual glance over mine and Emily’s blogs that we write for two pretty different circles of people. And that’s ok.

Really, it is. Ok. Take a deep breath and….

They probably don’t know this, but Josh and Emily came into our lives at a time when we really needed them. It all happened almost 3 years ago when I got asked to be a pinch hit groomsman in a mutual friend’s wedding. I packed up my bags and took off to Athens, AL, leaving my wife home with our barely 3 month old baby girl and her 1 and a half year old brother for a one night whirlwind trip. It was there that I met Josh and Emily in the flesh for the first time. Can I be honest? I was afraid to approach them. Here’s why.

My wife and I had kinda been blogstalking them for about a year.

That’s right, judge if you want. We’d been reading about their lives for a year or more, all the while thinking they were very interesting people and that we’d like to meet them and hang out someday. And then, there they were. The guys ended up hanging out late that night at an IHOP (a WILD bachelor party, I know!) and pretty soon Josh and Emily were coming to our house and we were firing up the grill like old friends.

We needed them. Yeah, they were different, but different was good. Both of us were away from our friends in a town where people just didn’t seem to “get” us. Either that, or they just don’t like us very much. We needed friends. So slowly, cautiously, the four of us entered into this friendship we now share. Honestly, I wanted to just swoop in and smother them immediately, desperately asking if they liked us, but better sense prevailed and pretty soon we realized they DID like us, and we didn’t even have to ask!

And all the while, we’ve developed something that is pretty hard to come by in today’s world: trust. I trust these people. I know that if something happened and our world fell apart, they would be there. They would do their best to help us, just like we would and have done for them. When they moved to Jackson, I drove the moving truck and waited with them while their stuff was unloaded. When they had to come back, I helped unload that same truck again. Through ups and downs, ins and outs, we’ve been there for them, just like I trust they would be there for us.

And there, right there, is the glue that holds true friendships together. That’s the stuff that transcends status…

and religion…

and background…

and upbringing…

and how you dress…

and how you look…

and how you talk…

and what you like (or don’t)…

and all the other stuff that pushes people apart. It’s that glue, forged from trust, that keeps people in your lives.

I’ve just realized that this has gotten all sappy very quickly, but I don’t apologize. I’m blatant and unashamed in my thankfulness for friends who will love us just like we are, not judge us, and will stick by us through thick and thin. For THAT kind of friendship, and for some amazing burgers and conversation, I am thankful.

Now, see, that wasn’t bad at all, was it?