Monday, October 29, 2012

the ranch, part one.

Without necessarily doing new things everyday, which is what I used to blog about before I turned 30 and how this blog got started in the first place, sometimes I wonder where it's going.  What's its purpose?

I mean, I think I'm quite clever sometimes, but my biggest fear is that someone will get to the end of one of these blogs and say, "Yeah?  So what?" 

Perhaps that's why I've tried to look for the larger meaning in just about everything - how can I make this road trip a metaphor for life kind of stuff, which even I recognize can get a little hokey and annoying.  I mean, sometimes a road trip is just a road trip, you know? 

I myself love to read blogs that really have nothing more to say than, "This is my life, these are my crafts, those are my kids."

I do not have crafts or kids, but I do have a pretty good life and I believe it's worth writing about.   I understand that doesn't mean anyone is going to want to read about it, but that's a chance all of us bloggers must take.
So full disclosure here (I don't want anyone getting to the end and saying, "Yeah, so what?"), the next leg of my summertime journey that started at my friend Kelly's has absolutely no deeper meaning than, "wild wedding weekend."  So if you came looking for inspiration or profound words about the meaning of life, you may want to move it along.

Please don't leave without at least perusing the pictures of my hot friends and the gorgeous scenery that we partied in for three days.  This was the kind of weekend that was so much fun, I felt sad when it ended because I knew the anticipation of it was over, and even if I did my best to recreate it, I'd never succeed.

Ranchin . . .in color.

But there is a good chance that these stories I'm about to tell, many of which have been watered down for the parents and children who may visit, are all of the "You had to be there," variety.  

I'm going to tell them anyway.  Besides, I know that there at least 20 people (the cast of characters I call my friends) who will think these stories are worth telling.  I dedicate all of Elizabeth's wedding blogs to them.

Elizabeth's California wedding was in her "backyard," since she lives in San Francisco.  To many of her east coast friends, it was a destination wedding that involved a great deal of planning beforehand, most about where we were going to stay.  

Leave it to the crew from Georgia to decide to take over the cheapest hotel on the list - the Los Laureles Lodge.  Elizabeth's tastes have refined significantly since she moved to California, so I had to believe this place met her standards.  Based on the pictures on the website, though, I couldn't help but think the Lodge reminded me quite a bit of the sublet apartment she and I lived in at Milledge Place in Athens, Georgia.  

I was the first to arrive and I texted Trish, since it was she who had been instrumental in convincing us all to stay there.  

"How is it?" she asked. 

"It's fine," I texted her.  "It's cute.  It kind of reminds me of summer camp."

From the gravel parking lot and the outdated, country decor to the wood paneling and screen doors, it really did remind me of camp.  But not in a negative way.  I mean, it certainly wasn't the Ritz Carlton, but it was affordable, it was clean, it was centrally located, and most importantly - it was a perfect place for my friends and I to completely take over.

And that's exactly what we did.

The innkeepers made a take over easy - putting several of our rooms in a row. 

Despite it having the most occupants in the least amount of space, my room - Room 23 - was a popular meeting place.  Sort of like the front stoop on the television show 227, people were always popping in for a visit. 

The instant camraderie and summer camp feeling often led to unsolicited singing of the theme song from the Nickelodeon show, Salute Your Shorts - "Camp Anawanna, we hold you in our hearts . . ." 

We also started calling the Los Laureles Lodge, the "Ranch."

We referred to the staff of the lodge as the "ranch hands," which in my room full of unmarried women, led to endless teasing about someone making a move on one of the ranch hands, and of course, even more singing.

"I wanna man with a ranch hand . . .," (to the tune of "I wanna man with a slow hand . . .") My friend and trip roommate Lisa made up her own version, "A ranch hand's handssssss . . . ," which I think was a take on the country song, "Daddy's Hands," but I'm honestly not sure.

We talked about "ranch hands" so much during that weekend, that when Rick Santorum delivered his speech at the Republican National Convention and made countless references to hands, my phone immediately started blowing up with friends saying, "Did you hear Santorum talking about hands?  Reminds me of the Ranch!"

The first event of the Elizabeth and Kristof's wedding weekend was on Thursday night - a beach bonfire for all out of town guests. 

Is this the right beach?IMG_4016IMG_4026IMG_4015

I'd noticed on my ride north on the PCH that the temperature is quite different in the Northern California along the coast.  Elizabeth's instructions for us to "wear a light jacket," were appropriate, however for us thin-skinned humidity loving southerners, we might've been better off had she instead advised, "Pack mittens and a warm coat.  And a hat. And cuddle duds. And brown liquor."

It was freezing.

Certainly nothing a glass (or several glasses) of red wine couldn't fix, so my friends and I enjoyed the festivities, toasting the happy couple and getting to know Kristof's family, many of whom had flown in from Belgium.

I got caught up in caught up in the excitement (and the red wine) of meeting everyone, I brilliantly opted to wait until the sun went down to find myself something to eat which meant I was blindly grabbing at Mexican food in aluminum containers.

Thankfully, the summer camp similiarities were endless.  There were S'mores.  And a sing-along.

Trish embraced the sing-a-long - and brought a little bit of the ranch to the beach, spiritedly leading the group in favorites such as Green Day's "Good Riddance" and Don McClean's "American Pie."


When the party ended and it was time to go home, we called our cab driver that we'd appropriately named "Captain" earlier in the evening when he picked us up for the party.  

He arrived to take us home wearing the same tie-dyed shirt, leather vest and Captain's hat he was wearing when he picked us up.  We forced him to take pictures with us before piling into his cab. He offered us some of his moonshine (which he may or may not have been sipping on himself), let Lisa borrow his leather driving gloves, and then took us to the grocery store so we could pick up some rations that every summer camp full of immature 30-somethings' needs -- breakfast muffins . . . a variety pack of Sun Chips . . .and beer.

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Then, in what is now my favorite cab ride story of all time that Lisa shared with us later, the Captain turned around to make sure all his human passengers were accounted for and then looked down at his center console and counted off his collection of stuffed animals, one by one.

"Squirrel, check!"

"Bear, check!"

"Dog, check!"

"Ok," he said to Lisa, who was riding shotgun, still wearing the gloves, "Everyone's here, we can go."

And we went.  Back to the ranch.

Monday, October 22, 2012

new look, same old nonsense.

Things around here have certainly changed. 

Well not really, but hopefully you've noticed that I finally got around to changing the name of the blog and I've given it a logo.  Apparently I'd been unintentionally misleading people for the last couple of years, so I figured it was about time. 

I thought changing the name from Project 29 to 30 - to Project Formerly Known as Project 29 to 30, along with the subtitle, "I did 365 new things before I turned 30 and I'm not done yet," would signify to newcomers that I had already turned 30 and lacked creativity when it comes to blog names.

But I'd constantly get asked, "Are you 30 yet?" and "Are you STILL not 30?," so maybe I wasn't as clear as I thought.  Or maybe people are stupid.   Maybe a little bit of both.

When I turned 32 last month and someone sincerely wished me a happy 30th, I took it as a sign that I could no longer procrastinate making a change.  I enlisted the help of my friend David, a talented graphic designer who helped me figure out what I wanted the new look to be.

There was a lot of discussion over what to call the blog - for sentimental reasons, saying goodbye to Project 29 to 30 was difficult, as it's under that name that I became a blogger. 


I started coming up with names on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. I thought my ideas - Spinning my Wheels, Biding my Time, Work in Progress - were pure genius, but when I shared them with others for feedback, I got a lot of disgusted faces and head shakes.  Most of those names conjured up images of laziness or flakiness, my mom pointed out.

"You sound like you don't care," one person said, "Or that you're an idiot." 

I certainly do act like an idiot sometimes, but I'd prefer someone reading the blog not gather that from the title.  Let them get to know me before they draw that conclusion. 

I thought about using my name, and went ahead an bought my domain to make it extra legit.  But using Stephanie just felt cheesy - Stephanie SaysStephanie Speaks?  Stephanie Sucks?

I kept coming back to the word, "project."  For the sake of consistency I thought keeping that word would make it easier for people to recognize that this is, in fact, the Project formerly known as Project 29 to 30

But also because this is my little project, that despite hitting several milestones along the way, remains unfinished.

I hope the words Unfinished Project convey to an audience that as a woman and as a writer, I am forever a work in progress.  Learning and experiencing new things didn't stop when I turned 30 - I'm not done yet.

So, lucky (or unlucky) for you, I'm not really changing the tone of the blog.  I don't think I could if I wanted to.  I'll still share the stories and pictures of me doing fun and ridiculous things.

Like the other day, I was singing that song, "Rumor Has It," by Adele, which basically meant I just kept repeating the words, "Rumor has it," over and over again, when someone said to me, "Is that Bon Jovi?"

"Uh, no.  That was Adele."

Welcome to my Unfinished Project.


Funny enough, the very week I took this blogging thing to the next level, my friend Shelley came to me asking for blogging advice and guidance on how to start her own.  She is a riot and has a super cute family, all perfect for blogging. 

So I guess we could say Day 1114 's thing I've never done before - show someone else how's it done. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Last week my friend Chuck invited me to the Atlanta Pride Parade in midtown.  Chuck and I are co-conspirators of fun, so I happily accepted his invitation as I shamefully told him I'd never been despite having lived in Atlanta since 2005.

The Atlanta Pride festival has been going on for 42 years and is the largest one of its kind in the southeast. 

I expected a festive environment full of colorful people, elaborate costumes, and fun music and I was not disappointed.  The crowd was lively and so excited to be there and even though I had gone as a spectator, it was difficult not to feel a part of it. 




I didn't expect, however, to feel any kind of deeper emotion.  Yet, when church and other spiritual groups walked by holding signs that said, "I love my gay son," "Love is a family value," and "Jesus loves you just the way you are," the crowed erupted in cheers and applause and I was moved to tears.

Thank God I had sunglasses on - who tears up at Pride?!

Their signs of support reminded me of how much has changed in 42 years, but also how far we still have to go.

Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of festival freaks and strange people dressed in period costumes - but their weirdness and poor fashion choices had absolutely nothing to do with their sexual orientation.  I've seen way more weirdos at Phish concerts and Dragon Con.


I told Chuck - "I've never worn pants this tight and been surrounded by so many men not checking me out."

But what a good time I had anyway.


Happy Pride!

Friday, October 5, 2012

house divided

When I left South Carolina to attend college at the University of Georgia, I did so not to abandon my Gamecock roots.  I know it sounds crazy for a southern gal, but I wasn't really thinking about football at all.

I never could've imagined what tremendous anxiety growing up the fan of one school and graduating from another would cause me.  But on the eve of the Georgia - South Carolina game, with so much at stake, I am freaking.

The game has literally kept me up at night this week, and when I do finally fall asleep, I dream about the game.

Monday night, South Carolina got beat by UNC Chapel-Hill while my parents and I were at a Neil Diamond concert.  Then after the concert, they went on to completely destroy Georgia and I got pelted with a baseball.

In Wednesday night's dream, Georgia was leading the whole game; I looked away and the game was tied 49-49.  South Carolina beat us in overtime; and then I got into a fight with a Tennessee fan.

Rarely do my dreams make sense, but I don't remember ever dreaming about football games.

This weekend has become both my favorite and least favorite weekends of the year.  I usually spend it with my family and friends - and nothing's better than a fall college football tailgate.  But if the game ends in my favor and I'm happy, it means my family is disappointed.  If I'm disappointed, it's because my family is excited.  

I'm hoping for a good game and solid performances from both teams.  May the best team (Georgia) win.  And if they don't win, may I handle it like the classy, mature adult my Gamecock parents raised me to be.