Friday, May 20, 2016

It's my party and I'll freak out if I want to.

Well, hello.  It's me.

Six months.

That's how long I've been gone - the longest hiatus from writing I've taken since I started this blog back in 2009.

One on hand, it's not surprising that I never made time to write - this has been one of the busiest and most exciting years of my life.

Not much longer after blogging about Dan and his sudden death, Jacob and I got engaged.  What?!  I know, someone signed on to my insanity for life . . .can you believe it?

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Then I started a new job - covering Special Events for CNN - crisscrossing the country, living out of a suitcase, putting on presidential debates and town halls. All of the endless election coverage?  You have my department to thank.  You're welcome.

Or, based on how things have turned out, I'm sorry, America.  

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While I suppose work craziness and fatigue from traveling has played a part in my under sharing, I knew I couldn't share anything with you without first sharing the news that I was getting married and since becoming engaged, I've realized I am quite possibly the most awkward engaged person ever.

Example #1: Instead of picking up the phone and calling my closest friends whom I talk to on the phone daily, I instead snapped a picture of the ring and sent it to a large group text with the caption, "Anyone want to come to a dance party in November?"  That did not go over well.

Example #2: My coworker Will and I got engaged within days of one another.  He sent a picture of himself and his fiance out to our small email group, letting everyone know that he was getting married.  I said nothing to anyone.  When we arrived back in the office after being gone for several days, people all day stopped by his desk to congratulate him and asked to hear the story.  I stood up every time to hear him tell it.  But instead of inserting my own good news, I instead took my ring off and put it in my wallet, afraid to steal Will's thunder.

Example #3: My own wedding shower terrifies me.  This weekend my friends are throwing a couples wedding shower for Jacob and me.  They have been working so hard putting things together, sparing no details.  I know it's going to be over the top and awesome because that's what kind of friends we have.  But along with my feelings of sincere gratitude for all of their hard work and excitement are feelings of anxiety of everyone's eyes on us.

I'd hardly call myself a shrinking violet, and if you've ever been around to hear me interject a conversation to tell stories, admitting that I'm worried about being the center of attention at my own party might seem unbelievable, if not completely disingenuous.

I also love a good party - just last weekend, I helped my friend Natalie celebrate her upcoming nuptials with a daytime shower that carried into an afternoon-evening bachelorette extravaganza at the Shaky Knees music festival.  The whole day was perfect - beautiful weather, great music, so. many. laughs.  I was one of the few still standing at the end of the night when My Morning Jacket played their last song, thank you very much.

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So, what's the deal?

I've talked to some of my friends and many of them revealed they also struggled with the attention that comes with being the bride.  It's completely normal to be overwhelmed, they say.  All of the people who love you in the same room at the same time - isn't that supposed to be the greatest thing about a wedding celebration?

Jacob and I waited a long time to get married - I mean, hello?! Didn't I turn 30, like a decade ago?! I've spent years celebrating big moments for other people and now that it's my turn, I just want my nerves to be calm enough for me to enjoy it.

Deep. Breaths.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

thankful, week three.

First of all, an enormous THANK YOU for all of your generous and kind feedback about last week's post.  I am truly grateful for your nice words about Dan.  

Since Thanksgiving this week (?!), I'm going to likely taking my lists into December, but here is my latest installment of the 30 things I'm thankful for.   

15. Technology

I know, I know . . .first Facebook makes the list, now "technology?" From me, the same girl who until a few years ago, still owned a flip phone?  Though I reluctantly joined the smart phone world, now that I'm a crazy aunt, I am so thankful for iPhone features like Facetime and Photo Share.  I sadly had to miss Gray's birthday party last weekend, but thanks to my parents who took an obnoxious amount of video and pictures, I kinda felt like I was there.


I would have much rather preferred to hear her say, "meatballs" in person, but watching this on repeat is pretty great too.

16. Bitmoji 

Speaking of other things my iPhone can do that my flip phone never could, I love Bitmoji, my personalized emoji that is sometimes my only way of communicating.  It's free, it's fun, what's not to love?


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17. My Squad

Whenever anyone asks me how I like living in Atlanta, my response is usually some variation of, "Well, I like my job, and I love that many of my college friends are close by."  Maybe it's sad that these are the two best things about the city to me, but I feel grateful that some of my favorite people are a part of my life on a semi-regular basis.  It's not exactly like being in college - now there are kids and adult responsibilities, so no more entire days on the couch binge watching reality TV (at least not together).  But there are impromptu Mexican Friendsgiving Celebrations with cheap tequila, cheese dip and knock knock jokes, so my cup overflows.

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18. Christmas Lists

The Gallmans are list people.  Scratch that - the Gallmans are Christmas List people.  If someone asks us what we want, we tell them, often in explicit detail - color, size, link to buy included.  We leave nothing to chance.  These lists have evoked some hilarious memories over the years (remember when my dad asked for my brother and me to write our wills?), so much so, that my mom laminated our lists from years past and put them in a coffee table book.

So far my dad is the only person to have submitted his list, which consists of a lot of boring items like socks and sweater vests.  He did get a thankful chuckle out of me with #2, however.
After Shave Balm: I have used Pierre Cardin After Shave Balm for years but I believe it has been discontinued as I have not been able to find it anywhere. I would like something that doesn’t smell the room up but when I get a hug from women they can get a whiff of something pleasant to smell
This is classic Chuck and I'm so grateful for him.  Anyone got any ideas?

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19. Ebates

Speaking of Christmas and lists and shopping, I am super thankful to have found Ebates, "Where it pays to shop online."  That is the site's tagline, and it sounds too good to be true, but it's not - it really works.  When you sign up for Ebates, you get access to all of the online coupon codes for your favorite online shopping sites and when you access those sites through Ebates, you earn cash back on your purchases.  We're not talking life-changing money here (10% is the most I've earned on one transaction), but since I've joined two years ago, I've earned a total of $221 on purchases I would've made anyway.  So why not?  Click the link below and get on board.  You will not regret it.

 Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

20.  A "Normal" Work Schedule

I suppose it's weird that I refer to working on Thanksgiving Day as "normal," but after spending eight days on the dreaded overnight shift last week, I am thrilled to be back in the land of the living.  My sincerest apologies to anyone who had any contact with me during that time - I was not a very pleasant person.  I've never been so grateful to be waking up at 5:30am.

21.  Resilient Toddlers

My niece fractured her elbow at nursery school last week, but she seems to be taking it well.

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We've been joking in my family that this was her response when her mom told her that the Gamecocks could pull the upset this weekend against Clemson.  Hey - it could happen! 


22. Yoga

Like therapy, without it, I would be a much sadder, more anxious person than I already am - something I don't want to even think about.

23. Adele 


No explanation needed.

I am so thankful for this community that allows me to call myself a writer.  Thank you for making that happen.  Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

thankful, week two.

I was so excited heading into the weekend after posting my first week full of things I was thankful for.  I received text messages from friends saying they planned on listening to Leon Bridges and were already downloading EveryDollar.  I was ready for week two, brainstorming what would be on the next list. 

And then, on that following Saturday, I got one of those phone calls.  The kind of call that I'll always remember where I was standing when I answered the phone and what I was doing when I heard the words, "Dan died."  I knew I hadn't misheard what my friend was telling me, but I couldn't - and in many ways still can't - wrap my mind around the fact that Dan, my vibrant, 35-year old childhood friend, avid runner, devoted husband, and world traveler was gone.  

I've been "gratitude challenged" before.  But feeling thankful when horrible things happen - like Dan's passing and the atrocities in Paris - is just so damn hard.  I know that I can do hard things (thanks to my spirit animal Glennon); I know I must be thankful in the midst of tragedy. The alternative - a cynical, hardened existence - isn't an option I'm ready to consider.  

So while I continue to struggle, as I did earlier this year, with God's reasoning and timing in all of this, I have managed to find another week's full of reasons to feel thankful: 
   
7. Dan's life 

Dan lived more in his 35 years on earth than most people do with twice as many years.  I know it's such a cliche to say that after someone passes away, but Dan really did live large.  His obituary was just a snapshot of his very adventurous and successful life.  He was enthusiastic about everything - traveling, beer festivals, kickball - and whatever he was doing, he always wanted as many people as possible to come along.  I am so thankful that Dan was one of my oldest friends, that he teasingly used to call me "Step On My Gallbladder." I'm thankful for the ridiculous yearbook entries he wrote about the time we spent working in the school store at Harbison West Elementary and for the six weekends in a row we went to see Wayne's World.  He will be so missed by everyone who loved him.

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8. my hometown guys (and gals)

Dan's death and funeral brought together old friends from near and far.  There were lots of tears, but thankfully also a lot of hugs from guys, who like Dan, I've known since I was little.  Through unfortunate haircuts and questionable fashion choices, they, along with my dad and brother, have set the standard for the kind of men I've allowed to come into my life.  They're all married now (to really cool women, thankfully) and have families of their own, so it makes getting together and staying in touch more difficult.  But I'm so grateful that regardless of how much time has passed, they'll always be in my corner, and I in theirs.

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9. Veep

On Sunday when I woke up and realized the phone call about Dan wasn't a terrible dream, I spent most of the morning lying in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, in and out of tears.  When I wasn't sleeping or crying, I'd find myself laughing - out loud - at this hilarious show.  Each episode is only 30 minutes, so it's easy to binge watch.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a comedic genius and we should all be thankful for her.


10. Facebook

Yep, you read that right.  I'm actually thankful for "Facebook."  Or, at least, I was thankful for it in the days following Dan's death.  Besides being an effective way to let people know plans for his memorial service, I felt such a sense of camaraderie among friends and classmates of Dan's and mine, who reached out to offer prayers and condolences and left lovely notes of remembrance.  For all its eye-roll inducing posts, humble brags, and seemingly endless cries for attention, Facebook was a place I looked forward to going to see old pictures and read memories from Irmo.  Until, of course, the Paris terrorist attacks happened, and now everyone is back to being experts (aka disgusting assholes) on foreign policy, refugees, President Obama and college football. It was fun while it lasted, FB. 

11. Therapy

When things are going well in my life, therapy becomes less and less of a priority, which almost inevitably sets the table for things going south.  I should treat therapy like exercise - something I do on a regular basis, but I've definitely been known to neglect my mental health.  I'm so very thankful that my quarterly meeting with my psychiatrist fell in the middle of last week.  I always feel lighter and more at peace after spending an hour on her couch, telling her what I've been up to and how I'm feeling. 

12. Jacob

He's just really great.  And I feel really lucky that he's mine.  I also have a hard time articulating it, and feel so weird even trying, which is something I am not thankful for. 

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13. early birthday celebrations . . .

 . . .with this cutie.  Gray is TWO.  I can't believe it.

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I am so thankful that I was able to drive to Charleston last week to spend the day with her - just the two of us.  She grows cuter and smarter each day.  I'm so grateful that she calls me "Fi Fi," that she loves Peppa Pig, that she repeats everything I say, even when I told her to call her dad a "creep."  I'm even grateful for her fake laugh that she was doing to impress the older toddler next to her on the swings.
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14. Stevie Wonder & Dead & Company

They performed together and I was there!  Haha kidding.  Now that would've been something to be thankful for.  I'm still grateful, though, because I was able to see Stevie Wonder on Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina and then Dead & Company (a collaboration between members of the Grateful Dead and John Mayer) in Atlanta on Tuesday.  Both shows were musically masterful and lively, not to mention a much needed escape from all the sadness lately.  Stevie Wonder paid tribute to the victims in Paris with a moving rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" and I couldn't hold back the tears.

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How do you stay thankful when you aren't feeling up to it?