10:41 PM | Author: Misty
I've had a good week.

I mentiod in my last post that I had a few areas that I wanted to work on, specifically budgeting, getting more organized in general and doing Weight Watchers.

All three have been going ... pretty well. I won't say I am doing perfectly well, but I am absolutely making progress.

Well, like I said, I worked out a budget based on what I normally get paid. I had some extra money in my paycheck this time, so the budgeting may change up a little once I don't have that excess, but things are looking good for now. I was really careful to split up my money into cash, savings and checking the way my budget said. I put $400 in savings; that will help cover upcoming bills (half), adds $25 that I intended to add to my savings and then also adds an extra $100 to savings that I intend to either put toward a Canon Digital Rebel (camera) or a MacBook Pro. I'm trying to decide which of these goals I want to work toward first. I could definitely get the camera sooner, but I also know that it will take so long to save up for the laptop that I should probably start now. So for now, I'm just saving. I will try to decide soon where the money will go! I'm also a little anxious to see if I will stick to my limited amount of cash. I already feel like I may have budgeted a little low for eating out, but I'm going to do my best to stick with what I've got. For anyone else who is struggling with budget/financial stuff, seriously, check out the book Generation Debt. It's very good, and I've learned stuff from reading it that I feel like will benefit me for a long, long time. Oh, and I also talked through all this with a financial advisor person (who actually was not exactly the right person to talk to, but who made me feel good nonetheless) at Wachovia, and she seemed to think my budget looks pretty good - as long as I stick to it, of course.

Well, first off, I bought myself (with money I had budgeted) a new, cool calendar that has color-coded sticky tabs so I can be a lot more organized about where my time is going. I'm pretty excited about that. I guess I will have to see over the next few weeks how my time is getting split up. This week I have focused on getting some errands done and setting aside a little bit of time for myself and for time with Kettle. This has been tough, but I did go shopping by myself (killing two birds with one stone since I was able to pick up some birthday presents), and Kettle and I were able to have lunch and dinner together once this week. I also took some time tonight to get my room straightened up and a bit more organized. I am hoping that I'll be able to clean my car up a bit tomorrow, because it REALLY needs it. I think, for the timebeing, if I can focus on getting all my ducks in a row, then I can turn my attention to dividing up my time even better in the following weeks. I also have to buckle down at work and get some stuff done for Profile, which is our annual progress publication. I can earn some bonuses by having stuff done by certain deadlines, and that would definitely be a good thing.

Weight Watchers
Well, of course, this is a struggle, but I am definitely trying. I did OK with what I ate this week, especially with eating lots of fruits and veggies. I struggled with what I ate for dinner (I had Sonic one night, and I had Chinese food tonight), and I also had a hard time making it to the gym (I only went on Wednesday). So those are some things for me to work on this week. My weigh-in day is going to be Wednesday, so I'll try to remember to update about whether I lose/gain/stay the same. I'm looking forward to being in better shape, but I just have to convince myself that all the hard work is going to be totally worth the end result.

So, yeah, as for this weekend, I am dog-sitting, which is a lot of fun. I picked up Ranger from Kettle's house tonight. He's asked several times if I could take the dog for a weekend, and I told him before I didn't think my parents would let me. But I finally asked and they (grudgingly) agreed to let me keep the dog here for a couple of days. He's having fun exploring around my parents house, and I'm sure he'll have a blast running around in the yard tomorrow when it's daylight.

Kettle and I are invited to a Halloween party tomorrow night, but he has to work sort of late, and I have been feeling kind of icky, so I'm not sure if we're going to make it. I'm going to try to spend some time working on some Christmas presents tomorrow, too.

My nephew's birthday party is Sunday, so we'll be going to that, then we are planning to have some us time, which we haven't had nearly enough of lately. I'd say it's definitely tough on both of us to have such crazy work hours. We see each other all the time, but seeing each other at work is much different from cooking dinner together or watching TV or playing tennis or whatever. So, yeah, I'm excited about that!

Ooooh, and I finally asked at the local coffee shop about whether they would be interested in displaying some of my photography. The owner wasn't there, but the barista said she would try to remember to ask him about it. That would be a cool project for me. Another cool project that I'm going to be working on is a story that I'm planning to pitch to Relevant or Radiant Magazine. My friend Alaina, who is the coolest ever, has a really awesome life story, and I think it's something other folks should get to hear about, because she's had a chance to make an impact on an international level. So, yeah, I need to e-mail her to get info for the pitch. I'll hopefully get around to that this weekend, too, but the first thing I have to work on (before I do any of this other stuff) is writing two stories for work (one on a development project in Troy and the other on Barack Obama's rural agenda).

So, anyway, hope everyone has a great weekend, and I will try to keep this thing updated with what's going on and how I'm doing with everything!
I guess blogging can be a bit of a chore for me since I write (mostly) for a living. But seeing as how I don't get to write in first person there (or tell what I really think, which is probably a good thing in some cases), I feel a need to continue writing here, even if it is only occasionally.

Kettle and I went to Tuscaloosa over the weekend, and it was really good. He didn't punch anyone. Nobody punched him. I feel like some things were smoothed over somewhat. It was so good to lead worship again after such a long break. I guess I didn't realize quite how much I missed it. And it was good worship, too. I love it when I get up on stage and then God moves, mostly in spite of me and my thinking I'm all that. Jon talked on creating margins, specifically with the way time is spent. That's a tough one for me because of the craziness of the hours at my job, but I am really making an effort to create some boundaries even in my work schedule (like taking off the time I'm supposed to be taking off, doing an excellent job while I am there but not feeling obligated to stay and help other people do their jobs, etc.). Anyway, it was great (as always) to get to see everybody. We spent the night with Ashley and Benji, and a whole bunch of us had lunch at Swen on Sunday. Spending the night was definitely a good idea, and I think we will be doing that from now on.

So, speaking of my job, I am still loving the actual work that I do. Some interesting situations come up sometimes in the work place and with coworkers, but I'll leave it at that, since this is a public blog. I will say that sometimes I don't have enough time to do as much as I want with some of my articles, but I'm starting to figure out that this is just the way it goes sometimes. I'm just going to keep doing my best work, turning it in at the end of the day and not worrying too much about it.

I'm also in the process of trying to be a bit more disciplined in a couple of areas. I am definitely starting Weight Watchers again after a weekend of eating whatever I wanted in Tuscaloosa. It's a challenge, but I did it before, so I know I can do it. I've been really good with my lunches, and I'm working on eating better meals at night. I also went to the gym today and plan to go again tomorrow. Another area where I'm getting disciplined is with my budget. I'm reading a book called Debt Generation, and it's really good so far. One of the chapters I have read detailed how to put together a good budget, so I did that this morning, and I think it looks pretty good. I'm going to test it out with my paycheck tomorrow so I can find out how it works.

Anyway, this has turned into a decent update. I think I'll leave it here. Good night, world! :)
So YOU think you can dance?
9:25 PM | Author: Misty
Wow, so I'm chillin' at home ... on a Friday night ... watching re-runs of So You Think You Can Dance ... and enjoying it.

I'm OK with that. :)

I have to work tomorrow for the second Saturday in a row. I get to watch a parade in the morning. Hopefully that'll be it! No traipsing for marijuana. No Haggard. There probably will be some page layout, but not the whole paper like last week! And after work, Kettle and I are headed to Tuscaloosa. I'm excited.

This week's been pretty good. Lots of work. I went to the gym once. I had yesterday off, and it was a thing of beauty!

Anyway, that's about all. Just figured I would update, since I don't really have anything better to do!
My day yesterday - in a nutshell
12:02 PM | Author: Misty
Traipsed through the woods looking for marijuana, check
Attended a really rowdy pep rally for Jesus, check
Got hit on by a fake Davy Crockett, check
Met Merle Haggard's son, check
Worked 15 hours so the Troy Messenger would look awesome today, check
Wrote every single story in the A-section of the paper today, check

Yeah, it was a crazy Saturday. :)
10:22 PM | Author: Misty
Let me start by saying I am feeling better about life.

I still miss Tuscaloosa (and all the people there) like crazy, but things are getting better here.

For starters, last Friday night I went out with a friend from work (Stephanie), and we had fun. That made two weekends in a row where I got girl time, which is much-needed for me. We went to Montgomery and had dinner, and she successfully convinced me that I don't really want a tattoo. :)

I pretty much wasted the day Saturday by sitting at work and stealing the Internet.

This week has been just about as crazily busy at work as any other week has been since I started my job, but it is actually getting more manageable. On Wednesday I didn't have to come into work until 1:30 because it was my first night laying out the paper, so I was actually able to get a workout in before work.

I worked out again tonight after work with Stephanie, who has been going with me to the gym about once a week the past few weeks, and her roommate (Ashley, I think?). I'm really working on losing some weight and getting in (MUCH) better shape, because I've been wanting to do that for a while.

Kettle and I are planning to do something fun on Saturday, which I think will be good, because we haven't been getting to spend a lot of time together during the week. I think we're going to take Ranger out to the park in Eprise, maybe take a picnic lunch, some books and magazines. I'll definitely take my camera, too. I think we might also dedicate part of the afternoon to a picture-taking excursion, something else I've been wanting to do. I haven't gotten to take a whole lot of pictures recently (aside from pictures I take for work, which is fun, too), so I'm sort of excited about that.

I'm also considering asking if I can sell some of my photos at the local coffee shop. It might be a nice way to make a little extra money, although I would have to invest to begin with to get them printed and framed. I don't know. I'm not necessarily sure that my stuff is good enough for people to actually want to buy, but I think it would be worth a shot. I'm sure if they don't sell, I could give them to people as gifts.

The coffee shop also has a sort of open-mic night where musicians can sign up to perform on Fridays and Saturdays. I'm considering it. I haven't played anywhere in a while, so it would probably be fun, but I don't know. I would be more comfortable if I had someone else to sing or play with me, I think. I might try to talk Brittany (the girl friend I went shopping with the other weekend) into performing with me sometime soon.

Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot. Kettle and I visited the Dothan Vineyard Sunday. It wasn't spectacular, but it was OK, and I think we will go back for a second visit. The people were really friendly, and they have a lot of stuff going on with outreach, ministry and missions, so those were both pluses. The negatives were that the worship wasn't very good and the message was only OK. Still, worth checking out again. I don't think we will go back this Sunday, because Meemaw's birthday party is Sunday afternoon, but we will probably go back there soon.

I'm also starting to look at apartments in Troy. Living with my parents saves me money, it's true, but I think living in Troy would benefit me in a lot of other ways - I would be less tired at the end of the day if I didn't have to commute so far, I would save gas money (tons of it), I could go home for lunch during the day, I could actually cook dinner for myself, and it would be easier to have an actual social life. So I'm seriously considering renting if something decent pops up. I don't know. Kettle wants to move to Troy, too, so I'm not really sure how it's going to work for us. I guess if it comes down to it, I will give him first preference since I do have a free place to stay and it's not doing me any serious harm to stay here.

The other thing that I think I would like about living in Troy is that I feel like it might give me the chance to actually get involved in something. I am really wanting to serve in some way. I feel like these past few months have been a lot about me, and I think I am ready to move away from that. So, yeah ... hopefully something will come up!

Well, anyway, that's the random update of all the random things that popped into my head while I was typing this. Hope everyone (all three of you that read this) is doing fantastic. If you have read this far, let me know how you are doing and what's happening in your life!
10:27 PM | Author: Misty

Just a few shots from recent funness ... me and Kettle in Tuscaloosa, the flowers he got me, the cool frame from Target...
5:49 PM | Author: Misty
Don Chaffer says it better than I can:

There are seasons of life in which we wake up each morning with the fulfilled dreams of victory, love, satisfaction, and resolution ringing in our ears. The morning air rushes in with the promise that anything can happen, God is nearby, and we are really loved.Worship is, at these times, a gift - a way of saying thank you. Thank you, God, because whether I was aware of it or not, whether I sought you through the experience or not, I see you in it now, and I am so grateful for your kindness toward me.

There are other seasons of life, however, whether we're comfortable with admitting it or not, in which it feels like we're at the bottom of a well - deep, dark, and muddy. In our worst moments, we can no longer see the mouth of the well, and we sometimes wonder if there even is one. Worship, at these moments in particular, becomes a rope. Even if we have no strength to climb it, our cold and lonely fingers wrapped around its braid become a symbol that we are still connected to something, someone, in the world above - the world with skies, trees, rivers, and kind people whom we miss terribly.

And then there are seasons in which we feel that perhaps nothing is terribly wrong, and nothing is terribly right. We are somewhere on the plains, in the middle of the country, looking for miles with no trees to break our view, no valleys, no mountains. We are well air-conditioned, well fed, well attended by people who neither agree with us too passionately, nor disagree with us too strongly. We are happy, we guess, but we don't think we remember how happiness feels, or whether it is what we thought it was. Worship is, at these times, a bell. It rings to remind us that life, while it may seem vapid and featureless, is truly a tremendous affair. It is birth and death, suffering and resurrection. The clear sound of that bell on the wind tells us that the lull of comfort does not mean that God is far off or irrelevant. He is always near and always in love, always holy, and always coming... He is coming. He will finish things here, and begin a new kind of kingdom - a world without end. He will reign over his subjects who have been changed to be like Him, full of love, peace, and joy forever and ever. May this King be praised. Amen.

If I'm honest, I've been somewhere in between the second and third category for a while now. I miss Tuscaloosa. I miss my friends. But somewhere in it all, I feel like I must be here, now, for a reason. I've talked it over with Kettle, and he's pretty insistent that we stay where we are for at least a year, even if we get married before that year is up. And deep down, I know he's probably right. Staying is the right thing to do - for now. There have definitely been happy moments to this point, but sometimes those get drowned out by the fact that I am lonely and feel like I've been shoved out into the real world half-dressed, hair still wet and no makeup on. Kettle has been great, but I've missed having the support of a group of friends like what I had in Tuscaloosa.

On the other side of that, I haven't done all that much to start building up that support system here. I'm not sure where to start, and, even though this might be just an excuse, work keeps me pretty busy. Really, though, I think I've let myself get sucked into a humdrum, everyday pattern, and it's not good for me. I'm trying to break out of it. I've decided that I'm going to try harder where I am rather than spending so much time pining for where I was. Yes, I still miss it, but I am here for now, and I need to make the best of where I am. I feel like I have been doing that as far as work goes, but other areas of my life - no.

I'm going to make more of an effort to spend time with people other than Kettle outside of work (although I'm sure Kettle will tag along, which would be great :)). When he and I do spend time together, we are going to do something besides sit around his house and watch TV. I hope we can find a church home HERE rather than trying to go back to Tuscaloosa all the time, because even if we both want to move to Tuscaloosa, we both need the support of a church community here until the time comes to move. I am also going to start going to the gym regularly and eating better. I am going to take time for myself to do things I love to do, like read or take photos or play my guitar (and, again, Kettle is welcome to come along ;)).

Basically, I have decided that I want to be the person described in the first paragraph. I want to wake up every morning looking forward to my day and what it will bring. I want to feel like life is an adventure, not a bad fair ride I want to get off of. And I think this is a good first step for me, deciding that I am going to work toward that.

In other news, Heroes comes back tomorrow night, and I am excited for that! Even though I may have to watch it from work ... BOO!!! Other fun things to be excited about: I have a vase full of flowers on my dresser (courtesy of Kettle), I bought a sweet picture frame at Target yesterday for $1.25, I got to talk to two U.S. Congressmen for a story on Friday (and they were really nice!), I get to go to lunch at City Hall tomorrow (via the mayor's personal invitation), I designed my first front page this past week (with lots of help from Matt), I am officially reclaiming my bedroom (meaning I made my mom get all her stuff out so I can hopefully unload some stuff from storage), and Kettle is coming over in a little while. So, yeah. Things have been tough some lately, but they are getting better.
So much to do, so little time
9:14 PM | Author: Misty
My life has been reduced to work, time with Bobby and sleep lately.

I really love my job, but it definitely has taken up a lot of my time for the past month. I've hardly had time to breathe lately (aside from my time in California). I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on things, which is definitely a good thing. I actually got to go to bed early last night, and tonight I've had some time to myself to just play on the Internet, watch TV and chill out. It's lovely.

It's really been interesting to not be in classes at all for a change. I'm sort of liking being a part of the real world so far. I think once I get a little more acclimated to the hours and the work, I will really love it.

So, yeah, this is a rather vague, boring update, but I don't feel like thinking any more! :)
Yeah, I typed this on the plane ride to California, and I'm working on an actual California update for sometime soon.

So, I’ve been busy lately.

Obviously I haven’t managed to sufficiently update my blog for quite some time for reasons I mentioned in my last (brief) entry.

I’m actually en route to California right now and have finally found time to write a little about what’s been going on with me over the past weeks. It’s been hectic, but it’s been incredibly great.

The week of July 23-27, I frantically packed and cleaned in preparation for my move from Tuscaloosa. At that point, I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing, just that I would be living with my parents for the time being and that I would get to see Kettle a heck of a lot more.

At some point during this week, the fact that I would soon be leaving behind nearly every friend I had really hit me. I realized how much I would miss Monday night dinners with Ashley, goofing off with the praise band at practice and hanging out with Keke, writing hit songs with nothing but a guitar and our brilliance.

Ashley brought the puppy over to the house that Thursday night. I think I’ve mentioned Ranger in one of my recent blogs. The poor dog infested the house with fleas, which came into play the next week.

All my stuff was packed up, I would be taking a carload home on Friday, and the rest would be loaded into a U-Haul the following day and trucked off to a storage unit in Level Plains.

My dad and I drove up to T-town that Saturday, somehow managing not to strangle each other in the process. Aside from the actual moving, the trip was actually pretty fun. You could almost say we bonded. We even stopped for ice cream. Gas station ice cream, but ice cream, nonetheless.

Once all my stuff was gone, I still had two more days of working at the Productivity Center, so I basically was living out of a suitcase. I stayed at the 1717 the first night and quickly realized that the fleas were there and they were multiplying, apparently. It was ridiculous!

The second night I stayed with Anneliese and had a much easier time sleeping with no little bugs biting me. That Wednesday (the day after I stayed with Anneliese) was incredibly hectic, with me running around and trying to make preparations to really leave Tuscaloosa. Eddie came and inspected the house, and once that was done, I was officially moved out. I officially no longer lived in Tuscaloosa. It was a weird feeling.

My car was packed up with all the random things that I didn’t manage to cram into the U-Haul the previous weekend. Rob, Ashley, Chase and I actually went to Atlanta for a regional worship leaders conference for the rest of that week, which proved interesting for me because I spent half of the trip trying to convince my body to relax, that the moving part was really over and I didn’t have to be stressed any more.

Seriously, the leadership conference was good, and it was great to get to spend a few days with some friends from T-town before finalizing the move. I even got to have lunch with Lauren that Saturday before proceeding from Atlanta to Clio, where my parents live. We ate at a restaurant near the Georgia Tech campus called the Tin Drum. I guess you would probably call the food Asian-Fusion. I had a curried rice dish that was fantastic.

Once I left Atlanta, I hit the highways and made it to Enterprise to see Kettle that evening. And I was officially, really and truly moved.

So, at some point during all this, the publisher of the Troy Messenger e-mailed me and mentioned that Michelle Gerlach from Andalusia had passed my info along to her. I know that I’ve mentioned this already. I was pretty surprised. Stacy finally called me on Monday, Aug. 10, and asked me to come in for an interview the next day. Oddly enough, when she called, I had actually just left an interview with Books-A-Million, where the general manager had basically offer me a position as a manager. I was definitely more interested in a reporter position, so I told Stacy I would be glad to come in.

Oh, another surprise from that day I forgot to mention was getting to have lunch with Kettle in Dothan after my interview. It was unexpected for both of us. It was already becoming clear that living that much closer together was going to be a very good thing.

Tuesday morning, I got up and headed over to the Messenger office in Troy. I had a great interview with Stacy, and she offered me the job then and there. I let her know I was definitely interested, and she told me she would send me a proposal later that day. I was excited (and still am).

I actually ended up starting with the paper that Friday, and I have absolutely loved it so far. There have definitely been challenging parts, mostly just getting used to the somewhat odd hours and getting to know my way around and know the people in the community that I’ll be working with a lot. I’ve been on the job for almost two weeks, and it’s definitely been a learning process.

I feel like I have actually written some pretty good stuff so far, and it has been fun. My favorite things that I’ve written so far are probably three pieces that I’ve done about the heat wave that South Alabama has experienced. One was an overview, one was about how the heat and drought are affecting farmers, and the other was about the effects on senior citizens. I’ve gotten pretty good feedback about the work I’ve done, too.

Interestingly, I actually hadn’t planned to work in August at all, but I don’t mind because my job is so great. I hope I continue to like it this much. I’ve decided to continue to live with my parents for now because there are very few apartments available in Troy, and this will give me a chance to pay down some student loans with no bills or rent to pay.

Being closer to Kettle has been really great, as I mentioned. We’ve been spending a lot of time together, and, thankfully, we haven’t gotten tired of each other yet. Ranger is doing great. And Kettle just got hired (today, actually!) at the Messenger, too, as the sports editor. It’s going to be really interesting working together again (we worked together five years ago at the Ledger, but that was a long time ago, and we were both in much different positions then). I think (and hope) it will be a very good thing. At least, I think it will be nice to see him more frequently. We actually didn’t get to spend any time together at the beginning of last week, and it was hard being that close to each other and still not getting to see each other.

OK, my computer is about to die, so I’m going to end here for now. I’m landing in San Francisco in a little more than an hour. I’m excited about this trip! I’m sure I’ll have lots of pictures to share soon.
Well, I've been a busy girl...
7:56 AM | Author: Misty
I just realized that it's been two weeks since my last update.


I don't have much time right now, but I will give a brief run-down of the past few weeks' activities.

The main things are that I have officially moved, and I definitely started my new job (about three weeks earlier than anticipated). I'm living with my parents for now and loving being able to see Kettle numerous times each week. My job is with the Troy Messenger as a news reporter, with a little bit of sports and design eventually, hopefully.

Living with the parents is OK. The great thing is that it's free. The bad thing is that I have a 30-minute commute to work. I really like the job so far. It's been super busy, and I suppose I can see why they wanted to hire me quickly. I actually might work overtime in my first week. I just think that's sort of crazy!

I'm really excited about going to California next week! I really need to get in touch with the folks I will be staying with to sort of finalize plans. And I still haven't figured out exactly what I'm going to do about getting to the airport in Bham. I guess I will just park my car there for the week. Not ideal, but it works, I suppose.

Anyway, I need to go get ready for my work day. Hope everyone is having a lovely week!
Almost more excitement than I can stand
3:38 PM | Author: Misty
Who got an e-mail from the publisher of the Troy Messenger today?

That would be me.

Who is feeling really impatient waiting for said publisher to call?

That would also be me.

Who is going to go to TCBY when she gets off work?

I think you get the picture.

:) Happy.
Puppy love?
10:48 PM | Author: Misty

:) I think we're gonna keep him.
New Orleans update - the real one
8:20 AM | Author: Misty
A lot of people think that New Orleans is back to normal and that life goes on as usual in the Big Easy.

Not true.

Our crew of 11 from Tuscaloosa Vineyard drove into NO on Wednesday, and I was shocked to see a vast number of abandoned buildings, a defunct Wal-Mart and roller coasters sitting lonely and shut down at a Six Flags that doesn't have a sign any more. This was my first time to NO since Hurricane Katrina.

The group made it to Kenner Vineyard about an hour later than we said we would, got settled into camp, then helped make preparations for a weekly dinner that Mercy Response serves in Gentilly. We loaded up the delivery truck and hopped in our cars to go serve the meal at a FEMA trailer park.

As soon as we arrived on-site, people started lining up. Pam, our contact with Mercy, told us they have been serving 800 people per week on average. The Tuscaloosa crew got busy: I was putting ice in cups and pouring lemon-aid and tea; Miranda was handing out drinks and bottled water; Benji was separating cookies and rolls; Brittany was in charge of salad; Ashley handled the pasta; Blake took care of the meatballs; Wesley and Ryan placed a cookie and a roll onto the to-go plates; and Megan closed the plate up and handing it off to be bagged for the folks waiting in line. Jon and Ben took plates and drinks to the security guards for the trailer park.

The crowd that lined up was certainly diverse. There were black people, white people, Hispanic people, young and old and in between. Some were eating their first meal of the day. Many requested multiple plates so that they could have an additional couple of meals to sustain them in following days.

We didn't see much of the neighborhood itself, but what we did see was a contrast between gleaming white rows of FEMA trailers and run-down buildings that still carry the marks of the storm - broken windows, missing shingles, boarded-over doors and red or white X's accompanied by numbers and letters that at one time meant more than they do now.

Once the crowds had dispersed for the most part, the crew was able to sit down and enjoy a meal together. While we were eating, a Hispanic man approached us and attempted to tell us ... something. We tried to tell him that we couldn't understand him, but he wouldn't slow down long enough for us to grab a translator. What we did understand is that his "daughter", who is blond and blue-eyed, apparently, is going to be on TV one day because she is going to be a queen, and that we would remember talking with him because he is the Spirit of New Orleans and he would be riding on a bicycle. He also apparently said something about Republicans, Democrats, Europe and the Antichrist. Yeah, it was odd, but extremely funny.

The next morning we got up early for breakfast, and Pam filled us in on what we would be doing for the following two days. We would be going to an area called Lakeview, which was flooded when one of the levies broke, to do yard work at homes that had been abandoned since the storm. No problem, we thought.

We arrived in Lakeview around 9 and unloaded. Sharon, who was our contact in the neighborhood, showed us where all the tools were and showed us the lots we would be working on.

I have seen some big weeds in my day, but I don't think I've ever seen weeds that huge. Some of them were TREES!

The crew hit the ground running and soon the air was filled with the sounds of weed eaters and high hedge trimmers mowing along, loppers clicking and clanking as workers cut down the more hefty weeds, and wheelbarrows rolling along to be filled with debris and dumped at the curb for pickup. The humidity was so high that we were all sweating almost immediately, and we had to take frequent water breaks to prevent ourselves from getting dehydrated. Sharon told us at the beginning of the day that we would probably want to quit working around 2, and we initially told her that we would try to press through until later in the afternoon. After a couple of hours of work, though, we agreed with her.

It was pretty awesome to see our group start to work together and click. The guys took charge of most of the machinery - Ben, Jon and Benji weed-ate while Blake and Ryan pushed hedge trimmers. Wesley, Brittany, Ashley, Megan and Miranda cut down weeds and small trees with loppers, helped clear out debris and raked as needed. Sharon and I hauled wheelbarrows full of debris, limbs and larger weeds to the side of the street, where trash collectors would pick them up.

By the time lunch had rolled around, we had pretty much finished the first lot, which was impressive, considering that Sharon figured we would only be able to finish two lots at the most by the end of the week. We sat for a while, chatted and cooled off while we enjoyed our brown bag lunches of turkey sandwiches, potato chips, Oreos and chocolate chip granola bars. Then it was back to work for us!

In the afternoon, we began work on a second lot that was neighboring the first lot we worked on. This one was a bit smaller, so we knocked it out pretty quickly. Sharon brought us Popsicles, so we took a short break to enjoy those before finishing up lot #2.

Once we were done with that, rain seemed fairly imminent, so we gathered up the tools, hosed off all the grass remnants on our arms and faces and said goodbye to Sharon for the day. We flew back to camp and took wonderfully cold showers to remove the day's grime. We spent the rest of the afternoon napping and playing cards. Thursday evening's meal was particularly good because Pam fixed sausage jambalaya for us. It was delicious!

We also went to the movies Thursday night. As we were waiting in line at the movie theater, we saw this:


I didn't manage to capture the whole thing, but it was a full rainbow, and one of the brightest I've ever seen.

We ended up seeing Transformers, with the exception of Benji, Ashley and Brittany, who went to see Harry Potter again. I was pleasantly surprised, because I really didn't want to see that movie. It was actually extremely good.

After the movie, we headed back to camp and went to bed, knowing we would have to arise early the next morning. I made the mistake of drinking a large cup of Sprite before bed, so I had to get up twice during the night for a bathroom visit. This was a bit creepy, because to get to the bathroom trailer, I had to leave our tent and walk back to the trailer. I very nearly ran to the bathroom and back. The first time I returned, Brittany was sitting up and staring at my bed. I wondered if I should say anything to her. I didn't. I laid back down, and when I did, she laid back down, too. I was slightly amused. I asked her about it the next day, and she didn't even remember it!

Friday was our second day of yard work and, if this is possible, was even hotter than the first day. While the crew was waiting for Stuart, Sharon's husband, to drop off some tools, Sharon gave us a tour of their house, which they are in the process of completely remodeling thanks to the hurricane.

Seeing the inside of her house definitely gave me a new perspective on how much devastation the storm caused to individual families and homes. The inside of their beautiful, two-story home had to be entirely gutted, and very little was salvageable. It's been almost two years, and they are still a long way from having a livable home; the house is barren, with electrical wires and plumbing pipes sticking out in random spots and bare white walls begging for paint. They decided to raise their entire house by about 10 feet by building in a basement, which will help prevent future flooding. The inside of their house, unfinished as it is, is gorgeous. I can only imagine what it was before the hurricane. They are living in a FEMA trailer in their own front yard until they finish renovations, or until the government takes the trailer away.

Through the course of visiting the house and working in the yards with Sharon, we also learned a bit about her and Stuart. Stuart is a contractor and does architecture-type work. He mostly works on older, nicer houses in the old parts of New Orleans. Sharon used to be a vet, but this has been put on hold so that she can focus on getting the house finished and helping her neighbors out with rebuilding, as well. She said she had always been passionate about her job and frequently worked extra-long hours even before the storm, just because she liked it so much. After the storm hit, there were countless animals hurt, left homeless and even abandoned in the city, and she was frequently working 14-hour days - many of those without even the aid of electricity - to try to help meet the needs of these critters. She finally realized that in order to get her life and home back together, she would have to give up her practice, so she did.

Friday's work included lots more yard work, of course. We cut a yard for a woman in Sharon's neighborhood who's had a rough time taking care of her property since she returned after Katrina. Then we (rather illegally) did the yard of a house that's been abandoned since the storm. Apparently this yard has been a real eyesore in the neighborhood, so Sharon asked us if we would take care of it. We cut down the mini jungle in the backyard and mowed over the front lawn, which wasn't quite as bad. The backyard appeared to have been a really nice one at some point. There were chunks of pavement that were possibly a back parking pad or a basketball court, several different types of plants, a nice storage shed, and some broken pottery. We also took care of Sharon's neighbors' yards, which didn't take nearly as long and really only required mowing.

Again, it was really cool to see the Tuscaloosa group bond and work together through this. I was amazed at how much effort everyone put into getting these yards clean. Yard work is not exactly a glamorous job, and for some it might take a stretch to see how it's really helping with hurricane relief/clean-up. But our Tuscaloosa crew jumped right in and got more work done than was expected of us. The guys were all troopers with the mowers, trimmers and weed eaters, and the girls stepped up to fill in the blanks and wield trimmers and clippers and loppers and leaf blowers.

Once again, after we finished up in Lakeview for the day, we jetted back to the camp site for showers. After we had de-grungified, we played Phase 10 and Uno for a bit. Our plans for the evening were to visit the 9th Ward, the area of the city that had been hardest hit by Katrina and its aftermath, have dinner at a local seafood place, then hit the French Quarter for a few hours of touristy activities.

This was all great in theory, but my car had different ideas.

So we all load up, and for some reason my car decides it does not want to start. The engine would turn over, but the car just would not crank! After several minutes of Jon, Ben and Blake examining everything under my hood, calling over a guy that happened to be at the church at the time, attempting to charge my battery and finally banging on the starter with a wrench, we got the car to start.

Ben warned me not to turn my car back off for any reason whatsoever, and we finally set off toward the 9th Ward.

Driving into the 9th Ward was sobering, to say the least. We began to see numbers besides 0 on houses - enough people died in this area that we didn't have to search for the numbered houses. Barely standing houses marred the landscape. Lots of overgrown weeds and bushes marked where someone's home once stood. Overturned cars sat long forgotten atop downed trees. A school bus lay on its side in front of an abandoned white church building. A boat rested in the middle of the road.

We only saw a handful of people roaming this area. Long-forgotten toys and certain spurts of graffiti reminded us of the people that once lived here. On the side of one house, someone had written in blue spray paint: "Home. This was home."

It began to rain as we were leaving the 9th Ward, and it seemed somehow fitting.

Due to my car troubles, we were unable to go to the French Quarter. We drove back to Kenner and took my car by Advance Auto Parts, where a worker was able to verify that I did, in fact, need a new starter. My friend Lorna, who lives in Baton Rouge and had planned to meet me for dinner, helped me find an auto repair shop in the area that would be open on Saturday and led me to Green Acres Auto Repair while the rest of the Tuscaloosa Crew enjoyed dinner at a mom-and-pop seafood place on Loyola.

Lorna and I dropped my car off and then enjoyed some Cajun-style burgers and fries at a restaurant called Ground Pati. It was actually surprisingly good (almost as good as Mugshots in Tuscaloosa!). We had some hilarious conversation, which included me learning from Lorna that (apparently) monkeys are expensive, but you can buy used ones.

After dinner, Lorna and I headed to the Starbucks on Esplanade, which is where our mutual friend Barbara used to work. I enjoyed a Dulce de Leche Latte while Lorna sipped on her to-go tea from Ground Pati, and we discussed New Orleans politics, Louisiana's crazy alcohol laws and how we each deal with too-cold air conditioning at work. Post-coffee, Lorna dropped me back at Kenner Vineyard, and we parted ways. Car woes aside, it was a good evening.

On Saturday morning, Ben took me to Green Acres Auto Repair bright and early in hopes of getting my car fixed quickly so we could all get back to Tuscaloosa. We were first in line and very excited about this until the woman at the front desk informed us that it would cost about $380 for them to fix my car! Ben informed me that this was a total rip-off and offered to fix it himself. I readily agreed to this, and we were able to buy a new starter at Advance Auto for $140. And it only took Ben about an hour to fix it. He was my favorite person on Saturday.

The ride home was uneventful for the most part. It rained a lot. It was good to get back to Tuscaloosa. I hope I'll be able to go to New Orleans again before the summer's over.
Brief update - New Orleans
5:33 PM | Author: Misty
I will most likely write more about my trip to New Orleans later this week, but I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from the trip.

This is one of the houses we did yard work at. It's been abandoned since the storm, so the yard was horrendous. It's actually in a pretty nice neighborhood, or what was a pretty nice neighborhood before Katrina hit.

nola flag and house - bw

nola x - bw

Here's me in the middle of the weeds in one of the lots we worked on. Notice that the weeds are more than a foot taller than me!

me in weeds

The rest of these are from the 9th Ward, which was the area hardest hit when the levy broke.

9th ward home - bw2

9th ward house - bw2

9th ward door - bw

9th ward car - bw
12:50 PM | Author: Misty
Man flies 193 miles in lawn chair

Sheer awesomeness.
Crazy of the day
3:51 PM | Author: Misty
Apparently some folks think we should all be having a little more sex.
So, another good weekend, and it still gets harder to leave every single time.

I hit the road Friday afternoon around 12:30. After braving the drive-thru line at Chick-Fil-A, I hightailed it down Highway 82 toward Montgomery, then on to Enterprise, where I met Kettle at his place. He left to pick Lily (his puppy) up, and I lounged around his place for a while. We spent a good chunk of the evening playing with Lil, which was a ton of fun. She's such a cutie! We had dinner at a Mexican buffet in Daleville, and it was actually pretty decent.

I slept in on Saturday and spent most of the afternoon with my mom. I braved the incredible rain storm/tornado warnings (which I didn't know about until I was safely in Kettle's apartment) to drive over to Enterprise late Saturday afternoon, and once the rain stopped, we unloaded the six boxes I had crammed into my car into his storage unit. The moving process has officially started!

The fact that I'm moving in a few weeks really finally hit me for the first time yesterday, I think. I had a bit of a sad moment in the line at Taco Casa. I am so excited about moving, but at the same time, I'm a little nervous, and I know I'm going to miss all my friends here so much. I know it'll take work to build up a strong circle down in Enterprise, especially one as strong as the group of friends I have now. The good thing is that I'll still be able to be friends with the people here, even if I'm not here. I just hope God'll provide me some awesome folks to hang around down in the Wiregrass!

In other news, we are leaving for New Orleans in two days! It's gonna be a lot of fun. We are going to do yard work with Beacon of Hope, a ministry affiliated with the Kenner Vineyard outside of NOLA. I'm excited about the trip.

And finally, it is raining. Perfect nap weather.
10:14 AM | Author: Misty
There is literally a "man bites dog" headline on right now. Amazing.

Hope everyone has a happy 4th!
Some pictures
10:19 PM | Author: Misty
Just some pictures of my lovely wrist/thumb splint:




And a couple of pictures from my packing adventures this evening:

Packing my bedroom:

Bare walls but lots of stuff left to pack:

And a shot of the bathroom, pre-packing:

Ah, packing. So unfun, but so necessary.
4:16 PM | Author: Misty
First off, I have to give major props to Utah Jazz player Derek Fisher. Read about him here.

I had a really nice weekend. Kettle and I went to Six Flags. Here are a few lovely pictures from the event:

This is us and Red, the stuffed dog Kettle won for me:


Here's us being silly and trying on cool Six Flags hats:


And here's Kettle being even more silly:


We had a really great time, in case you can't tell! Kettle's favorite ride ended up being the Georgia Cyclone. I figured it would be the Batman, which came in a close second.

I guess the only other interesting thing is that I went back to the doctor today for my tendinitis, and I have to wear a splint for the next four to eight weeks. Not particularly exciting. It makes typing difficult, among other things.

Anyway, that's about all the haps. Hope everyone has a happy 4th!
Other random thoughts of a Friday
2:17 PM | Author: Misty
I'm so glad it's Friday. The weekends don't come often enough... :)

Kettle and I are going to Six Flags tomorrow, and I'm really excited! It's going to be super-crowded, I'm sure, but it'll still be lots of fun. He hasn't been in a long time, so I'm going to make sure that he at least rides the Superman, the Batman and Goliath. Those are required. He keeps threatening to make me ride the Ninja and the Georgia Scorcher, both of which I hate. I will not be riding either of those!

So today someone asked me a question about summer classes, to which I responded, "I don't know. I'm not taking classes." But as I walked away, I realized that, for the first time, I actually could have responded, "I don't know. I'm not a student."

Holy crap, I'm not a student any more.

I guess this really hasn't sunk in yet because I'm still working as a graduate assistant. But for the first time in 20 years, I am actually not a student. No classes. No professors. No homework. This makes me ponder how much of my identity was tied into the fact that I was a student. I would like to say that it wasn't a lot of my identity, but I know that in some ways it was. I'll no longer be introduced as "Misty, who goes to Alabama." Instead, I'm "Misty, who graduated from Alabama," or "Misty, who works for (fill-in-the-blank)," or "Misty, who lives in Enterprise."

I feel like a lot of things are up in the air right now, but I'm OK with that, I think. I'm excited, even.

On another note, freelance work is awesome. I love it. I will love it even more when I get paid for the projects I'm working on now! :) But seriously, I'm having a lot of fun with the work I'm doing on the side right now. I would love to pick up some more freelance projects eventually.

Anyway, that's about it for today. Peace out.
So apparently someone's trying to blow up prominent places in London.

CNN reports that police and anti-terror officers found a car full of explosives somewhere near Piccadilly Circus in London. They also report that another car that was towed for parking illegally near Trafalgar Square was also thought to contain bomb components.

This takes me back to the few days I spent in London. It makes me think about how virtually carefree I was traveling then. I was a teenager, and this was pre-9/11 (and pre-a-lot-of-other-things, too). The biggest concern then for me and the other high schoolers I was traveling with was not falling asleep during our tour guide's long narratives and staying away from strange men on the Underground.

London's been hit hard in the past few years. Today's occurrences also remind me of being in India in 2005 and receiving word that someone had attacked London's public transportation system. We worried then about how this would affect our travel back to the U.S. and whether we might end up being targeted by terrorist groups while in Asia simply because we were white.

And of course, it's hard to think about any of this without remembering 9/11. But this time I can look at the situation and be glad that someone stopped it and that innocent people's lives were saved.

Matt and Beth Redman wrote this song following the 2005 attacks in London:

Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
Even when I'm caught in the middle
Of the storms of this life
I won't turn back, I know you are near

I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh, no, you never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh, no, you never let go
Every high and every low
Oh, no, you never let go
Lord, you never let go of me

I can see a light that is coming
For the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
There will be an end to this struggles,
But until that day comes
We'll live to know you here on the earth

I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh, no, you never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh, no, you never let go
Every high and every low
Oh, no, you never let go
Lord, you never let go of me

Yes, I can see a light that is coming
For the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

Oh, no, you never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh, no, you never let go
Every high and every low
Oh, no, you never let go
Lord, you never let go of me

"You Never Let Go," Matt and Beth Redman

I like this song because it acknowledges that crap happens. But it also emphasizes that God is there in the good and the bad, even if he is hard to see sometimes.

Kettle and I talked a bit recently about how to deal with tragedy and move on with life. It would be really easy to place walls around our lives, whether in a physical or emotional sense, and wither up in our own little protective shells, never experiencing all the good things life has to offer. But I think that would be missing the point. Sure, bad stuff happens, but I would rather experience a little bit of bad and a lot of good than not experience anything.

My spirit could never be content closed off from the world or from people. I've always wanted to go back to London, and someday I'm sure I will.
So a slight change of pace in my last entry or two: Brevity.

I had almost forgotten what it means.

Paris Hilton got out of jail today, and it was the top story on CNN. Clearly this is the most newsworthy thing that has happened in the world in the past 24 hours.

Ashley and I cooked dinner last night. We made some long grain and wild rice, squash and onions and yummy chicken with mushrooms and onions. It was all delicious. We also indulged in some cheap wine (Arbor Mist, whoo) that tasted like Cherry 7up. And then I went to bed around 10. This made for a good night.

Oh! And I found someone that wants to buy the dresser that's been sitting in my storage shed for two years! That's an easy $100. I think I might put it into my Mac fund, if I don't have to use it for moving purposes. I'm trying to declutter/simplify a bit before I move, and that was definitely a good first step.

That's about it! I'm also working on some of my freelance stuff today. Hooray for making moneys!
In other news...
11:53 PM | Author: Misty
I hate my sinuses. That is all.
What a week.

I spent the beginning of the week stressing out over my interview. I frantically threw together materials for a portfolio, researched salary ranges and practiced interview questions I was able to find on the Internet. I think I probably drove a few people a little crazy with my stressed-out-ness, so apologies to those of you who experienced spastic Misty this past week.

On Wednesday, I left work early to drive down to south Alabama, where I went straight to Kettle's place to enjoy a quiet evening that mostly involved Subway sandwiches (mmm, pizza sub) and doing a little reading. I didn't stay too late since I was spending the night with my parents (who don't like me being on the roads super late) and because Kettle had to get up early for work the next morning. Plus, my mom and I had already planned to go Thursday for her to buy me a new shirt for my interview.

That leads to another stress brought on by the interview: I had to decide how to deal with finding something appropriate to wear. Because I've lost a pretty significant amount of weight in the past year or so, I have very few dress clothes that fit me any more. I talked to my mom about this last weekend, and she agreed to buy me something, but I felt so bad asking her to do that. And I also debated whether I would actually need to buy a business suit or if I could get by with wearing a nice shirt with a skirt I already owned. I didn't want to ask Mom to spend that much money on a business suit, and I debated whether I wanted to make an exception to my Year commitment to "invest" in a nice suit. This was really a struggle for me, because part of me thought that I really should wear a suit, another part of me really didn't want to break my fast for it, and yet another part of me really wanted to buy some new clothes. It's only been a little over a month!

So, anyway, I decided that I would just find a shirt to wear with the skirt I already had, which was, I think, the right decision. I had to deal with the fact that it was awkward asking my mom to pay for this shirt when I have tried so hard to be independent and not ask them for money. Thankfully, I had already told her about the Year, and she was really great and understanding about the whole thing.

The actual shopping was also a bit stressful, because I haven't been clothes shopping since early May. It was tough seeing all these cute summer clothes, wanting them and knowing that I couldn't have them. I almost wanted to just grab the first dress shirt I found that fit properly and run out of the mall. I had a hard time finding something, but I finally found a couple of shirts I really liked. The one I ended up with is from Target. I meant to take a picture of me all dressed up for my interview, but I didn't get a chance to.

So the shopping trip was successful, if slightly trying. My aunt Linda came with us, too, and I was a little disappointed because I had been looking forward to just spending the day with my mom. They started in on politics and religion and the War, and I pretty much buried my head in the Nick Hornby book I was reading (About a Boy, which I mostly liked) and tried to ignore them because I disagree with them on a lot of those topics, and I didn't feel like getting lectured or tsked at. I have a great dislike for unfounded opinions, particularly when the person with the opinion is exceptionally outspoken and not knowledgeable.

I went back to Kettle's on Thursday night, and he cooked what might have been the most amazing pork chops I've ever had. They were phenomenal! They were thick and juicy, and he made an apricot-mustard glaze to go with them. The stir-fried veggies were fantastic, too. After dinner, we watched Ultimate Fighter, which I had never seen before. It was a pretty interesting show.

So ... Friday finally arrived, and I bounded out of bed bright and early to get ready for my interview. Kettle managed to take my mind off of it for most of the middle part of the week, but Friday morning I was once again verging on freaking out. I managed to get ready on time and make it to Picerne 10 minutes early.

The actual interview lasted about 45 minutes. I interviewed with two people: Amanda, who is the Communications Director; and Heath, who is the Program Director. I think the interview went pretty well. I was glad I had prepared a portfolio, because they seemed fairly impressed by it and by the fact that I had taken the time to put it together. Even though being overly stressed in the beginning of the week was not fun, the preparations I made paid off, because I was able to answer most of their questions really well, I knew a pretty fair amount about the company, and I asked intelligent questions when offered the opportunity. I think (hope, anyway) that I came across as well prepared, well spoken and a good fit for the job. The bad part about it is that I won't know whether I got it or not for about a month, and I may have to go for another interview before it's over with. I'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed, because I would really like to get this job! But I know it'll all work out, one way or the other.

Friday afternoon and evening were interesting, to say the least. Kettle found out that a friend of his had died in a motorcycle accident earlier in the week (Thursday night, I think) and that the visitation was Friday night and the funeral Saturday. We had planned to meet right after he got off work, go by his parents' house and then go to Tuscaloosa on Friday, so obviously our plans changed. He went to the visitation, and I kept myself occupied until he was ready to meet up.

I have to sidetrack for a second here to talk about the Year a little bit more, because I actually went to Old Navy while I was waiting for him. I definitely tried on some clothes and seriously considered buying them, but I managed to talk myself out of it. Lesson learned: Don't go try on clothes at Old Navy when you know that you can't buy anything.

Anyway, after putzing around in Dothan for a while, I went to Dakota Coffee in Enterprise to wait for Kettle. He met me there, and we had coffee before heading over to his parents' place. This would be the first time I met his parents, and he was definitely a little nervous. I might have been nervous, too. Just a little.

I think his parents liked me, though. I definitely liked them, which was what I really think Kettle was worried about. I thought they were pretty funny, and they were nice. Eli and Pearl, their bulldogs, were awesome! We spent a bit of time there before finally heading to dinner.

We ate at Myori (or Mayori? I can't remember the exact name), a Japanese place in Enterprise. I was pleasantly surprised that they had yakisoba on the menu - I've never seen it on the menu at an American Japanese place. I ordered the beef yakisoba, and it was delicious!

The rest of the weekend was mostly good, too, but I'll spare the details because this is already a super-long blog entry! I'll just say there were some high points and some low points, and if you want to hear all about it, just ask me!

Hope everyone has had a lovely weekend! Thanks for the prayers for the job interview, those of you that prayed.
'Allo? Thees ees Carrrrrlos....
12:21 PM | Author: Misty
OK, so some highlights from the weekend and some for this week:

Friday afternoon while I was driving home, I got a call from the place where I had the phone interview last week! We set up an on-site interview for this Friday!

Friday night I hung out with my mom.

Sarah-Grace got second runner-up in the pageant she was in, but Kettle didn't get to come because an emergency came up at work. :(

I went to my dad's fishing tournament Saturday afternoon. And redneckery abounded. My aunt and uncle played and sang, and my mom scolded me for laughing at them. I didn't stay for too long, but my dad was really glad I came, so it was worth suffering through the heat and all the questions from relatives I hadn't seen in a while.

Saturday evening, Kettle met me in Dothan, where I had gone after the fishing tournament to buy a Father's Day present. We went to Mikata, the Japanese steakhouse, and he impressed me with his chopstick skills. We ordered sushi, and it was OK; I got sukiyaki steak, and it was good. It had been a while since I had it. We talked religion and politics ... that's another thing I like about Kettle. We can talk about that kind of stuff like sane adults, even when we disagree. And it's even an intelligent conversation (I know, surprising when I'm involved...).

After Mikata, we went to the mall, where I put in to ride the carousel ... so we did! I'm certain we looked like complete idiots, but it was so much fun! The attendant asked if we were married or just dating. Then Kettle bought me coffee, and I told him he was batting three-for-three for the evening. He found a Father's Day gift for his dad, then we headed to Enterprise, where I encountered his ginormous television for the first time. It's HUGE! We had fun the rest of the evening, although he had to drive me back to Dothan to my car.

I spent Sunday with my dad, and it was good. I drove back to Tuscaloosa Sunday night.

Yesterday I came back to work, which was blah, and I worked on my portfolio after work. I think it's pretty much ready to go. I'm trying really hard not to freak out about my interview Friday. As several friends have pointed out, once I have done my preparations, it's out of my hands. No use panicking.

The rest of this week will be spent working, cleaning my house for Kettle's visit this weekend and doing what I can to prepare for my interview.

I'm heading down to south Alabama either Wednesday night or Thursday morning, and my mom is going to buy me a new shirt for my interview. Kettle is cooking dinner for me Thursday night. I'm going to look at apartments Friday after my interview, and then I get to meet his parents! He's nervous. I told him he shouldn't be. After that we'll be heading back to T-town.

So that's the update! Hopefully I'll have good reports to share at the end of the week!
Weekend update
10:04 AM | Author: Misty
We are the winners!

My church-league softball team played in the league tournament championship last night. We played Cornerstone, a very good team that we'd played several times already this year. We ended up having to play two games because we lost the first one (5-4). Then we beat them 10-0 in the second game! It was fantastic! I am incredibly sore today, though.

Highlight of this morning: I stopped by Bad Ass on my way into work because I had a free coffee. 20 oz. Creme Brulee Latte. Mmmmm. And a bacon, egg and cheese English muffin. Yum!

I'm headed home to the parents' house this evening. I'm planning to leave work at 12:30ish so I can get some stuff done around my house before I hit the road. I still have to pack, but that shouldn't be too hard since I have some stuff that I never unpacked from last weekend. I need to clean out my car. I need to do some dishes. I really should sweep the floors of the house. There are several other things I really need to get done soon around the house, cleaning-wise, but I will continue to put them off for now. I think my house is beginning to feel neglected.

Tomorrow is the day Kettle will meet some of my family members for the first time. We are going to watch Sarah-Grace in the Little Miss Alabama Forestry pageant in Troy. I told him he didn't have to come, but he's definitely scoring points with my mom and sister by making the effort.

I'll spend Sunday with the fam before heading back to Tuscaloosa, where I'll continue with the same-old, same-old.

My other exciting news is that the same-old, same-old isn't going to be happening for too much longer. I managed to get my bosses to agree to let me leave my current job two weeks earlier, which means that I will actually be able to move at the beginning of August. I'm planning to stay with my parents for the month of August and just put my stuff in storage for that month. Hopefully I will have a job starting at the beginning of September and will be able to move into an apartment around that time, too.

Anyway, that's about it! Great weekends for all of you!
Phone interview!!!
12:17 PM | Author: Misty
OK, so this may turn out to be nothing, but I'm pretty excited!

I got a phone call this morning from Sue, a corporate representative of Picerne, where I submitted my resume on Monday. This turned out to be my first official interview for a REAL JOB!!!

The job is on Fort Rucker and is a communication specialist position. It's close to my family and Kettle, and it's the closest to what I want to do of the jobs I have applied for so far. Sue said she was going to pass along my info to the folks on Fort Rucker and that they would most likely call me to set up an in-person interview. She sounded fairly pleased with my resume and with the way I answered most of her questions.

I really hope this works out! It would be pretty amazing to already have something lined up.
Pictures - as promised
11:16 PM | Author: Misty
My poor, sad flat tire:


Cars driving past my disabled car on the interstate:


Me being very sad about my flat tire:


I set up camp under the shade trees while I waited because it was about 95 degrees:

Glorious. OK, it's not really that bad.
6:23 PM | Author: Misty
What an odd few days I’ve had.


Thursday was a fairly normal day for the most part. I went to work. When I was getting out of my car, I noticed that I had stuck my license in the handle of the driver’s side door. I figured I had better not leave it there, lest I lose it, so I quickly stuck it in my back pocket. After work, I piddled around for a while, ate a Lean Pocket, shaved my legs, then went to play softball. Anneliese and I had planned to meet at 9:30 at Bad Ass Coffee, so once we had walloped Cornerstone in sball (12-7, and I was 2-for-4!), I sped back to my house for a much-needed shower.

After my shower, I was still really hot, so I threw on a skirt and T-shirt, hopped back in the car and hightailed it over to B.A., where I ended up ordering a sandwich because softball made me really hungry. We chilled at B.A. for a while, chatted about all the goings-on in our lives, then parted ways because we both needed to get to bed.

I was on the phone with Kettle and almost home when flashing reds-and-blues suddenly appeared behind me. I was incredibly confused – did I run a stop sign? I quickly hung up the phone and pulled over, waiting for what seemed like an eternity (and really probably was about five minutes), the police officer made his way to my window.

“Ma’am, did you realize you have a busted taillight?”


“Can I see your driver’s license and proof of insurance?”

Shuffling. Grabbing of insurance card from wallet. Realization that I do not have my license with me.

“Um, here’s my insurance, sir, but I just remembered I left my license in the back pocket of the pants I had on earlier.”

Thankfully, Officer Kimbrough, whom I have encountered before thanks to our wild, partying neighbors, allowed me to recite all my information to him. Once he had all my info, he moseyed back to his car and took his dear, sweet time – writing me a ticket.

He explained that the ticket was for the busted taillight, but that I could get the taillight repaired and inspected and then visit the municipal court to have the ticket “taken care of.”

“Does that mean the ticket will be taken off my record?”

Significant look. “I’m required to tell you that it might get taken off your record if you do that. Understand?”

I nodded, relieved. I was not looking forward to a higher insurance rate just because of a busted taillight.

Thankfully, I had already requested to have part of the day Friday off work in order to get my oil changed and go to my doctor’s appointment, so I figured I would just get my taillight fixed and inspected, too, while I was at it.

I left my house at 7 a.m. Friday morning and headed to Wal-Mart for an oil change. I also requested that they check my tires and inform me if I needed new ones. Miraculously, I was done at Wal-Mart by 8.

From Wal-Mart, I proceeded to Advance Auto, where I purchased red tape to put over my broken rear light. I hustled back to my house, wiped down the area where I needed to place the tape and smacked a sufficient amount of red strips over the hole.

By the time this proceeding was completed, it was about 8:45, so I knew I would need to hurry and get to the courthouse before my 9:45 doctor’s appointment. I arrived at the municipal court, parked and went in, as directed by Officer Kimbrough the previous evening. I related to the clerk what I needed to do, and she explained to me that since I had only gotten the ticket the previous evening that they wouldn’t be able to process it yet because they didn’t have a copy of it. Further, they didn’t have an officer available to inspect my car, so I would need to drive to the police station off of 35th Street.


I speed-walked back to my car and drove over to the police station, mindful of the time. Thankfully, an officer was immediately available to inspect my car, and he signed off on my ticket, no problem. So I have to call the municipal court on Monday to get it completely taken care of.

After all that, I went to the doctor’s office. I ended up having to get four shots for my tendonitis. This was miserable and left my hand numb (yet surprisingly painful) for the rest of the day. Once the numbness went away, the painfulness increased. Yuck.

Once all these errands were taken care of, I ran by Qdoba to grab some (delicious) three-cheese chicken nachos for lunch before heading in to work. I took ‘em with me.

Once at work, I spent a little bit of time in my office before being summoned to the front desk to answer the phone. At some point during all this, I got the wonderfully brilliant idea to drive down to Enterprise and surprise Kettle and just leave from my parents’ house for South Carolina. Since the drive from my parents’ house to S.C. is about the same distance (give or take), I figured it would definitely be worth it.

It was.

Kettle ended up having to work late, and I talked with him a few times on my way. I managed to keep my visit mostly a secret, although he suspected I might be up to something because I was really giggly. I debated with myself about the best way to surprise him and concluded that I definitely wanted to do it in person and not over the phone. Should I try to find his apartment and wait for him there, or should I try to track him down at work and give him something to look forward to when he gets off?

I went with Option B.

Somehow, I actually remembered how to get to the Level Plains store, which is (I think) the only one I have visited. As I pulled up to the intersection, I saw his car sitting in front of the store. I did a little happy dance. It was lucky that he was at this store, because he supervises about eight of ‘em.

So then, as I’m parking my car outside of the store, Kettle calls.

“Wow, I didn’t even hear your phone ring!”

I was flabbergasted. Did he see me drive up?

“Um, yeah, I answered it really quickly.”

“How’s the drive?”


“Everything OK?”

“Yeah, I just um… pulled off to get something to drink.”

“Are you mad? You’re being really short with me.”

“No, not mad. I’m just about to get out and get something to drink.”

“OK. Well, I have to get back to work. Talk to you later.”

I will admit, I was rather pleased with myself at this point. I had actually been making my way toward the front of the store as I was talking to him and even walked in while I was still on the phone. He was back in the office area, so I asked the cashier to go get him and tell him there was an angry customer waiting to talk to him.

The look on his face when he saw me was pretty much priceless – a cross between tired, confused and happy.

We hugged and made plans for the evening. He hoped to be getting off within an hour, so I went and amused myself until he got off (it was more like two hours, but that’s OK!). I ended up calling my friend Brittany, who lives in Enterprise, and hanging out with her. She joined us for dinner at Ruby Tuesday and became the first of my friends to meet Kettle.

Kettle and I both ordered a bacon cheddar bison burger for our meal (he got me hooked on that one). I ordered mine with no onions. When our order came up, we were presented with identical burgers, complete with onions and no bacon or cheese. We settled for being amused, figuring that getting upset wouldn’t do us much good.

We dropped Brittany off after dinner, and Kettle took me over to his new townhouse. I got the full tour. I liked it.

A bit past midnight, we finally realized that he still had to take me back to my car, and I had to get up super early to drive to S.C. Of course, once we got to my car, we stood and talked for longer.

Saying goodbye is hard.

I finally made it to my parents’ house, where I had arranged to spend the night, around 1:45. I quickly looked up the directions on the Internet (as quickly as I could on dial-up) and surmised that I could actually sleep until 8 and still be able to make the wedding at 4. I had communicated to Sarah that I would come to her house after the wedding.

So around 7:20, my phone rings. Kettle.

“Hey, you on the road yet?”

Unintelligible mumbling. Something about still being in bed.

“Oh. What time are you leaving?”

More mumbling.

“OK, well, call me when you are on the road.”

Mumble, mumble.


I lay in bed for a few more minutes before finally deciding that it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra few minutes in case I got lost or needed to stop for an extra bathroom break or two. I got up and spent some time chatting with my mom before hopping in the shower. I printed off some directions, threw the handful of things I had brought into the house the previous evening into my car, and said my good-byes. I ended up leaving around 8:45.

As I approached Eufaula, my cell phone beeped, indicating I had a voicemail. Another call from Kettle.

“Guess what I bought?!?”

I called him back and correctly answered that he must have bought a giant television. He told me about it as Eufaula came and went … 72-inch, widescreen, good for X-Box play. I hung up with a guarantee that I would call him if I got too sleepy or thought of anything funny I wanted to tell him.

Around 10, I realized I was starving and decided Phenix City would be a great place to stop for a breakfast sandwich. I pulled into McDonald’s and parked, figuring I would kill two birds with one stone by getting breakfast and using the restroom.

The only problem was, Phenix City is in the Eastern time zone. Which means they were serving lunch, not breakfast. I sighed and ordered a quarter pounder with cheese and no onions. I got back to my car and eagerly opened up my burger box. The burger had onions on it. And no cheese.

Am I seeing some sort of theme here?

I figured this was humorous enough to give Kettle a call. I caught him in the middle of doing something, so we only spoke briefly before he had to go, but he assured me he would call back. I navigated through a series of turns before settling in on I-185 toward Atlanta and setting my cruise control around 78 mph.

Kettle called me back, I guess somewhere around mile marker 25. He apologized for being short in our earlier conversation, and I told him it was not a big deal, that I knew he wouldn’t blow me off for no good reason.

Suddenly I felt a difference in the way my car was handling. And I heard a thump.

“Hey, I think I’m getting a flat tire.”

Whomp. Whomp. Whomp whomp whomp whompwhompwhompwhomp.

“Oh, my gosh, I can hear that!”


I somehow managed to juggle the phone with turning on my signal to change into the right-hand lane, getting my emergency flashers on and finally pulling off onto the shoulder. I pulled as far as I could manage without leaving the pavement, but I could still feel the car shake violently as cars passed to my left.

I hung up with Kettle. I looked at the clock. I looked at my cell phone. I looked at the clock again. I sighed and pulled out my roadside assistance card.

My roadside assistance provider (the guy I talked to was so obviously reading from a script that it was almost funny … personal favorite line: “I understand that you must feel frustrated right now…”) assured me that help would be on the way as soon as possible. I attempted to contact Georgia Highway Patrol to let them know that there was a little silver Honda disabled on the shoulder just outside of Pine Mountain, about 75 miles south of Atlanta. For some reason, I couldn’t get a call through to them, so I gave that up. No police intercession for me!

After sitting in the car for a couple of minutes, I realized that I was beginning to sweat and that I might as well make the best of a bad situation. No point in getting upset, because that would just make the situation that much worse. I had a blanket and some pillows in the backseat of my car, and a book that I’ve been reading in my purse. I grabbed these items, along with my camera, and trotted down the slope to the tree line, about 25-30 feet from my car and the freeway. After taking a few pictures of my poor, lopsided car, I plopped down in the shade on my quilt. Took a few more pictures, mostly of me looking pitiful. Called Laci and told her I would be unable to make it to her wedding because of the flat. Called Sarah and told her that I was just going to turn around and head back to my parents’ house when I finally got the tire fixed. At some point during all this, I also called Bobby back and called my parents.

The roadside service provider arrived in pretty good time. He inspected my old tire and informed me that I would definitely have to get a new one.

Good ol’ boy accent: “This tire’s wore out.”

This increased my frustration level since I had just had my tires checked (supposedly) at Wal-Mart the previous day.

I asked the repair guy if he knew of anywhere nearby I could get my tire replaced. He cocked his head, thought for a second, then replied, “Naw, you’d prolly have to go to LaGrange or Columbus to get that fixed today.”

I nodded, although I felt slightly hesitant about driving that far on my do-nut tire. Columbus was closest, and it was about 30 miles in the opposite direction from where I was headed.

I drove to the nearest exit and waited patiently while the cashier jabbered with a customer about how she liked “them mo-jee-tos.” The customer politely corrected her (“I think it’s mo-hee-tos. The ‘j’ is sort of silent.”) and evacuated the store. I smiled at the attendant.

“Do you know of anywhere I can get a tire fixed?”

“On a Saturday? Naw. You’d have to take it back up to Columbus. Or maybe LaGrange”

Gee, thanks.

Another worker butted in and told me he knew of an exit in Columbus where there was a tire repair place. I thanked both of them and headed on my merry way – slowly driving back to Columbus. Fifty mph makes a 30-mile trip seem a lot longer.

When I arrived back in Columbus, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what exit the gas station worker had been referring to, so I just took the exit for downtown Columbus. I stopped at another gas station and had better luck this time. Another customer was able to give me directions to a tire repair shop about a half mile from there.

I pulled into the lot of the Chevron/auto shop and was pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t a wait. Two mechanics approached me simultaneously.

“Can I help you ma’am?”

“What can we do for you?”

I requested a new tire, and they were more than happy to oblige. Mere minutes later, I was the proud owner of a lovely, pumped up, spanking new front passenger’s side tire. Highlights of my brief visit to the Chevron auto repair club: Being asked if I play the “git-tar” while one of the men was putting my spare back in my trunk and being hit on by the tire delivery guy, who told me to “stay cool.”

By this point, the only option was for me to head back to my parents’ house. I had figured this would be the case, hence the earlier phone calls to let people know that I would, in fact, not be going to S.C. If I had tried to make it, I likely would not have arrived in Greenwood until about 7, which would have been pretty pointless. I got back on the phone to let Kettle and my parents know that I had been re-tired and that I was on the road again.

After stopping in Eufaula for some much-needed coffee, I finally made my weary way back to my parents’ house around 2:15. Since then, I have napped, spent a little bit of time with Mom and made some evening plans with Kettle.

So, yeah, it has been an interesting few days. I’m sad that I did not get to attend either wedding to which I was invited today. My Target dress that I bought for the summer wedding season has yet to have its tags removed – still.

But the weekend’s not a total wash. I get to see Kettle. I get to see my parents. I got to take a nap.

I’ll be heading back to T-town tomorrow. I’m a little afraid to see what adventure will come next!

P.S.: Pictures of the car sadness to come (once I get back to Tuscaloosa).
How now, brown... couch?
11:50 AM | Author: Misty
Well, the first week back at work hasn't been so bad. The new guy is actually pretty good at this stuff, but he still has lots of questions, so I've been able to keep reasonably busy so far.

Have I mentioned that long distance stinks?

Kettle and I have been talking a lot by phone, which is good, but I definitely miss the hugs and kisses and just being able to see each other. I guess that's definitely better than being apart and not missing him! And as Barbara pointed out, it's better than not having anyone to miss, too.

So, for Kettle, here's a (corny) list:

10 things I like about you:
1. You make me laugh so hard that I snort.
2. You are letting me see the real you.
3. Dimples. Seriously.
4. You're very gentle.
5. We can go from laughing hysterically to really serious in a heartbeat.
6. You persist in tickling me, even though I say that I don't like it.
7. Nose ... not nose.
8. When I read the stuff you write, you expect me to actually critique it and not just tell you I love it because I'm your girlfriend.
9. You have what might be the cutest dog ever.
10. You make me feel good. And you feel like home.

This cheesy moment was brought to you by the number 1. :)

OK, so moving on... a few other random tidbits from my life that might be of interest.

I had a dream last night that I went to a clothing store and got really tempted to buy new clothes. I don't remember all the details, just that I went shopping with someone else and ended up finding something that I really, really loved. So I took it up to the register, regretfully and feeling awful with every step. As soon as I handed it to the cashier, I said, "I can't buy this. I'm so sorry." She wanted to know why, so I told her that I gave up buying clothes for a year, so I was not going to break that just because I found something I liked. Yeah, it was an interesting dream.

I've been doing some debating with myself about how far the Year should go. I pretty much have decided that buying make-up and stuff like hair ties is OK. I don't generally splurge on either of those anyway, but I definitely can't live without hair ties, and I lose them really frequently.

Softball was a lot of fun Tuesday night. I went 3-for-4, and Kettle couldn't make fun of me for that. We won by a lot and play again at 7:15 tonight.

The only downside of softball lately has been that my tendinitis is flaring up again, which makes batting and some fielding a little more difficult. I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow, so hopefully that'll take care of it. I just hope I don't have to get another two shots in my hand! :(

I definitely overslept this morning. Oops. I completely forgot to set my alarm before I fell asleep last night.

I have the house to myself now (with the exception of the cats). I had considered living with a roommate next year, but I think I'm going to be pretty spoiled after this summer. I need to get more on the ball with the job hunting, because I need to find an apartment, wherever I end up. I've looked at a lot of listings, but I have only applied for a handful. I really need to get clips together so I can send stuff in to some newspapers.

Oh, and I almost forgot! A big group of us from Vineyard went to Mugshots last night after they all finished up with rehearsal. Oh, how I missed those wonderful, wonderful burgers! I hadn't been to Mugshots in months. I was disappointed to find that they have changed their fries, though. They are similar, but not quite as good. Still, it was delicious! And we all ordered milkshakes (finally! the Junie MooMoo Mug Shake has been conquered!). It was awesome hangout time, especially after being away for a while.

That's about all I can think of for now! Bon jour!
Girl with a Pearl Earring
11:21 PM | Author: Misty
"They were not van Ruijven's instruments, but from one of his relations who was fond of music."

Here's how it works:
01. Grab the nearest book
02. Open it to page 161
03. Find the fifth full sentence
04. Post the text along with these instructions
I one you.
10:32 PM | Author: Misty
This week was so good that I didn't even want to come back to Tuscaloosa.

I spent time with the fam. I spent time with the boyfriend.

I miss the fam. And I really miss the boyfriend. :(

Chrysalis ended up being great. Bobby and I had dinner in Enterprise last night after I got done and ended up hanging out until almost 1 a.m. I was exhausted and more than a little delirious, which made for a pretty fun evening. We had some great conversation, too, though.

I can already say that long distance is going to be hard.

I have to go back to work tomorrow for the first time in over a week. Not looking forward to that. But I only have two more months before I am free of APC forever! And I am definitely looking forward to that. Now to find a new job...

Anyway, that's the short update.

(That's us. :))
Because I know he won't quit bugging me if I don't ... I liiiiiike him. :) But he liiiiiikes me, too.

Yes, I am once again dating someone. His name's Bobby, but I will refer to him as Kettle from this point on (because that is HIS nickname). I'm sure the two people (besides Kettle) that read this would love to hear about how this happened. I've made mention of him a couple of times previously. We've known each other for about five years (he thinks it's six, because he can't count); we met when we both worked at the Ledger during the summer of '02. He's been after me for a while, and I've been valiantly resisting - until recently.

Things definitely change, and I think both of us are proof of that. And we have both been a little surprised - with ourselves and with each other. We're still in the sort of casual stage, and we are trying to take things slowly. He lives in Enterprise/Daleville, and I live in Tuscaloosa, so we've been seeing each other as much as possible while I have been visiting my parents. It's actually been really nice - for various reasons. ;) That's for your benefit, Kettle.

I'm trying to remember what other areas of my life I should update.

My visit with my family has been really fantastic. My mom showed me how to do some things on the sewing machine; I'm still reasonably clueless, but I at least know how to get started now. We'll see where that goes. Today my sister Amy came over and brought Sarah-Grace, Jerred and Drew with her. I had a lot of fun with the kids. They are the cutest kids in the world, and I, of course, am not biased at all when I say that. I've also gotten to spend a fair amount of time with Meemaw and Aunt Janice, who's visiting from Texas. We played Skipbo Sunday afternoon, a tradition that has carried over from visits even during my childhood. I remember sweltering summer nights in Fort Worth with Aunt Janice, Meemaw, Mama, Jacque and any other random assortment of friends and family members, huddled around a wooden table playing Uno or some other card game.

I finished reading another book, and this was another great read. Prisoners of Hope is a true account of Heather Mercer's and Dayna Currie's imprisonment by the Taliban just before 9/11. They were Christian aid workers and were accused of attempting to convert Afghans to Christianity. While the sentence for this was supposed to be 3-10 days in prison, they got shuffled around the Afghani legal system for several months before finally escaping once the Taliban regime in Kabul fell to the Northern Alliance. I also started Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church, but I'm not terribly impressed with it so far. I told Kettle that I am apparently on a non-fiction kick, though, because this will be the third non-fiction book in a row that I've read.

The clothes fast is going great so far. It has led me so far to begin to have a different perspective on settling for the status quo. Why on earth would I want to look exactly the same as everyone else? Why would I take so much pride in having a pair of shoes or a shirt or a skirt that hundreds/thousands of other girls also have? These thoughts carry over to other parts of my life as well, certainly.

Well, I guess that's about it for now. I am looking forward to Chrysalis this weekend. I am not looking forward to going back to Tuscaloosa on Monday.