River In The Rain

River In The Rain

I will be returning to Tulsa for the summer for work. This is fortunate for a number of reasons – I love the work I do and I get to spend time with family. It’s a win-win scenario. It also gives me time to prepare for the next chapter in my life, whatever or wherever that may be.

Crossing o'er the river in Bat Cave, North Carolina

April showers will bring May travels – Max and I go to the United Kingdom. We’re tentatively planning London for 3 days, then Stratford upon Avon for 2 days, then Scotland for the rest of our vacation. We will take a double-decker bus/walking tour of London, see some shows in the West End, and perhaps even eat some British food (Oh! The humanity!!!). In Stratford we will (what else?) pay our respects to the Bard and see some more theatre. And then Scotland is calling with good friends and good food. Haggis, anyone?

I’m very fortunate for all of my travels. I hope to never stop visiting new places. I suppose at some point in my life I will run out of places to go. Should that point come, I will revisit my favorites. All the world’s a stage.

Guess he kinda likes me, huh?

I must tell you all of the horribly romantic, no-good, silly man who came to visit me last week. You may have heard of him. They call him Max. He surprised me last Friday by showing up in North Carolina of all places.

We had talked in the past of doing a long distance date. I would go to a movie theater here in NC and he would go to a movie theater in OK. We would see the same movie, then skype while having dinner to talk about it.

After our shows on Friday, he asked me to pick a movie and he would go see it too. I looked up times for the town we were in and we decided on Woman in Black at 4:30.

We crossed on huge boulders and stopped to take this picture in the middle of the river.

When I arrived to the movie theater and went to the box office to purchase my ticket a handsome man in a grey sports coat approached me. I was having a bad day and didn’t pay much attention to him, until he said “hey there” in the most familiar voice.

I could not believe it! I didn’t suspect a thing the entire time and here was my best friend and confidant, showing up out of nowhere on a white stallion, looking like a million bucks, holding me up so my knees wouldn’t give out because I was so shocked. Okay, so there wasn’t a white stallion, sue me. Still – you cannot imagine how shocked I was.

“Well, forget the movie!”

The Basilica St. Lawrence

He insisted we go see it anyway. He bought my ticket and we walked into the theater and took our seats half way up and center. (I don’t know what I was thinking – there is no way I could have seen that movie on my own. I screamed at least twice.) After the movie he took me to a delicious restaurant where we shared delicious mussels and a meatball/mushroom Calzone. It was a beyond-romantic evening in Hendersonville, NC. I’m still shocked.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew XI, 26)

The next day had hiking in Chimney Rock State Park in Bat Cave, NC and a decent ghost tour of Asheville with Andy. Every step I took was a skip.

The next morning I got the news that my grandmother had passed. I’m sad to say that Facebook was the one to tell me. It was the worst way to receive the news, but hindsight is 20/20 and I have nothing else to say on that matter. Still, Max was a beacon of light in my sorrow. Without his support, I don’t know what I would have done. We had breakfast, then Dad called and we chatted and I started making plans to return home for the services. NTC was very good to me in my grief – I am so very fortunate to work for such a great company. The rest of the rainy day was spent in Asheville – with a visit to the Basilica St. Lawrence. She would have loved that I found my way to a church that morning to pray/meditate. 

I wanted to tell her all about the Seminary and tour. I wanted her to be at my wedding. But she was so sure of her place in Heaven – I can find my own comfort in that. It is selfish to wish her to suffer more for my sake. She even said that she was ready to go home. Not home to her house in Tulsa, but home to her Lord. She’s leading the choir by now, if I know her, and I think it’s safe to say I do. I sure to miss her though.

Anyway, it was good timing for Max to join me for a number of reasons. Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts during this time. Most of all – I love you, Dad (since, let’s face it – you’re probably the only one reading this. And it’s true anyway so I may as well say it.)

 

Flying Home

Flying Home

It has been a very strange turn of events that found me here, 30,000 feet above the ground. It was a long journey home to celebrate the life and grieve the loss of our very own Martha Blackmore. Her entire family was there to go through this difficult time together.

I return to North Carolina with a cross to bear, but I don’t bear it alone. I will tell her story early and often. If you’re the praying type – send some words upstairs for Roy, Phil, Tim, and Mark. Thoughts for the rest of the Blackmore Clan wouldn’t hurt either. We’re all doing the best we can, but we need some help.

My Funny Valentine

My Funny Valentine

Dearest of all Valentines – my own dear Max,

I have another month before I can see your smile again. I hope it doesn’t fade in my absence. Okay, selfishly I probably hope that it fades a tiny bit. I mean, how can you live without me, really? But I insist that our time apart is making us stronger. I look forward to the day when we don’t have to be apart from each other – neither on Valentine’s nor any other day.

But even though I’m miles away, my heart is right there beside you.

We have been through amazing things together. I mean, really – just look at what we have accomplished!

Sharing a Chocolate Malt

I hated your guts in high school. You were a pompous ass. You made me so mad because you were so stubborn. I tried to knock your ego down a few pegs, but no use – so instead of fighting it I tried to just ignore you. Yeah right. And then we did Taming of the Shrew together. Our first kiss was on that stage. There’s no denying we had chemistry. I was embarrassed of my hormone-crazed infatuation of you. I blamed Shakespeare (my kryptonite!) and my ‘woman’s heart grossly grew captive to [your] honey words.’ Damn the Bard.

You graduated and I thought I would forget you. I very nearly did. Fast forward two years.

It was a very difficult day for me. I had been toying with the idea of going, but was actually more content to sit at home. However, Martin was being difficult and Mom gave me the keys so I drove the Honda Passport away. I wanted to just escape, but I didn’t know where else to go – so I went to Edison’s graduation. Jessie was the salutatorian and I wanted to hear her speech. I ran into Carly too, but she didn’t have any empty seats near her so I choose instead to cross the arena and sit by my lonesome. I was sitting there for a few minutes before you started ascending the stairs toward me. It looked like you were alone too, so I called your name and waved. You saw me then joined me. We small-talked about God-knows-what and then screamed for Jessie when she approached the podium. Afterwards we made plans to hang out. When I got back into the Honda Passport, I had the dumbest grin on my face and I said your name aloud and hit my head on the steering-wheel, making sure that it wasn’t a dream.

I came over to your apartment the next night. We played Rock Band and you offered me Franzia (come on, Max – really? Franzia?!) Gareth joined us (seriously Max, what were you thinking?) and we watched the entire first season of How I Met Your Mother on DVD (I have to hand it to you – smooth move on that choice). I was kinda smitten, but cautious. I had never… You suggested a dinner date, I agreed, and slept that night on your couch.  (Don’t look at me like that kids – it was innocent.)

A staged B&N shot

I was so nervous. I probably changed fifteen times. When I was doing my makeup in the front bathroom, Dad walked by and stared at me for a bit. I was dancing around to Christina Aguilera’s Candy Man and putting on tacky lip glass. “Uh Oh” he said, and I got embarrassed and yelled at him to leave me alone. Mom chased him into the next room. You picked me up. We went to P.F. Changs, which was my first time to the restaurant. You were suave and handsome. You made me feel beautiful. It helped that you worked there; everyone knew you and went out of their way to make things glamorous. I felt like Julia Robert’s in Pretty Woman. Only I wasn’t being paid. But in my mind you were Richard Gere. I know how ridiculous this all sounds on paper, but I thought it was the most romantic night ever.

xoxo

It’s been a crazy roller-coaster of a ride since then. Here are some highlights:

  • Sneaking you into the dorms and spending weekends together.
  • Listening to music together – more specifically the first time you played me “Sunday” by Maroon Five. It was on the drive from your apartment to my parent’s house.
  • “There Is”
  • Suiting up for a date at McDonalds.
  • An admittedly drunken phone call by the bonfire when I asked you to move in
  • Our first night in that apartment on 4th and Beech. The sink was full of black guck and I was so upset that everything was ruined, but somehow you turned it around and made everything okay.
  • Playing video games together (Rock Band, Army of Two, Assassins Creed, and Little Big Planet). Even though I would be so mad when you would win.
  • Picking up Penny. Thanks for humoring me on that. I know she’s not always the kindest cat, but I’m happy she came into our lives – she taught us a lot.
  • A lunch in the Union Hall at Pipeliners when we walked about our future. Later, at Shades of Brown. They were difficult talks – but one that defined us.
  • Defending our love in method class.
  • The break-up. In hindsight it was a good thing, don’t you agree? It allowed for us to reevaluate what was important to each of us independently.
  • Returning to Tulsa and realizing we were still best friends, even if we tried to deny it.
  • A dance at Sound Pony months later – it was the moment I realized I really wasn’t over you.
  • Disney World.
  • When you asked me to move in with you in August.
  • Every moment in between.

I’m still amazed how giddy I get when I think about you. Every day with you is a new and exciting journey. I don’t even know what else to say. I love you. I wish the English language had words enough to express it. It’s overwhelming. Thank you for everything you’ve given me – confidence, support, and most of all – love. Every day is Valentine’s Day.

Forever,
Rebecca

Don’t Give In

Don’t Give In

I don’t recommend getting sick on the road. It’s not fun.

Andy and I have caught some sort of cold – probably from (and I say this as lovingly as possible) a snotty-nosed kid that offered us an innocent high-five. Thursday evening we both admitted to having a sore throat. I immediately hit the Emergen-C, but as the night went on my throat became worse. No amount of water or steamy shower was helping. We woke up and muddled through on Friday, trying as best as we could to keep our energy up and getting pep-talks from Halls cough drops. My throat started to feel better, but my sinuses were stopped up. Today I gave in an started hitting the hard stuff: Dayquil. Hopefully I’ll be 100% soon.

Not a great way to spend a weekend, but I’m happy that I have the weekend to deal with it. If this sickness had hit me at the beginning of the week it would have been miserable.

I’m gonna go get some rest. I have one more day to get over it – send me some good vibes, would you?

The Beauty Is

The Beauty Is

Sometimes, I’m a lucky girl.

North Carolina is always kind to me. On our last tour, we had shows in  Raleigh and then had a weekend on the beach in Wilmington. This tour, we’re surrounded by the mountains in the western part of the state. Beautiful isn’t the word that describes it, really. Awesome would be closer. Sometimes I just look at the mountains and say ‘woah’ – You would have to be a fool not to think it’s magnificent.

The view from our hotel in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Armed with my Ukulele and a Nature Valley Oats n’ Honey granola bar, I took to hiking the Smoky Mountains near Cherokee, NC the other day. The 3 mile trail along the river was breathtaking. I took some inspiration from the mountains to write some children’s songs, but I left plenty inspiration for those who come after me. After some productive writing I headed back and came across some wild elk that had ventured into the clearing to graze. It was magical. It was epic. It was good for the soul.

The elk

The park was wonderful, but it left us wanting more. We ventured deeper into the forest and found a more secluded trail that climbed the mountains. These purple mountain majesties help to remind me how amazing this country really is, which is vital because I have felt so disenchanted with America for quite some time. It’s only February, but it feels like spring. I feel healthy, happy, and lucky, albeit a little homesick. I think Shakespeare took the words out of my mouth best in Sonnet 98:

Only one hand rail. Don't lean on it though - it's wood attached to the log by rusted nuts and bolts.

 

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress’d in all his trim
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing
That heavy Saturn laugh’d and leap’d with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue
Could make me any summer’s story tell.
Or from their proud lap pluck them while they grew;
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
These were but sweet, but figures of delight;
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
    Yet seem’d it winter still, and, you away,
    As with your shadow I with these did play.

I Won’t Send Roses

I Won’t Send Roses

Today I did my part to support the United States Postal Service. I went into Asheville and rented out a PO Box. I also purchased a roll of stamps. These two things were not cheap, but I feel good about my descision. I can use all the money I’m saving by not smoking cigarettes to treat myself to a PO box.

What? Did I just say I’m not smoking cigarettes!? Did I quit smoking?

As a matter of fact, I did. It’s been a week since my last cigarette, so I feel confidant that I can say I am not a smoker. In fact, It doesn’t even take very long for your body to get rid of the addiction – Nicotine leaves your body after a very short 48 hours.

Instead of replacing my addiction to nicotine with another oral fixation (gum or lollipops is the usual) I have replaced my smoking addiction with sending postcards.

It’s an pretty sweet trade-off when you think of the cost. US postage stamps are at 45¢ domestically, $1.05 to ship to Scotland for my good friends Tony and Allison. I send 7-10 postcards a week . So I’m spending about 4.00/week on postage. A pack of cigs is at least that much (sometimes much more) and I would estimate that I smoked 3 packs a week on average. On particularly stressful weeks I would smoke a pack a day. I’m saving at least $10 a week.

I always told myself when I decided to have children I would quit. I’m a long way from that decision (didn’t mean to scare you!) but the satisfaction of a cigarette has started to wane. I would build up anticipation to the next time I could smoke, but then be let down after a few drags. The justification of waiting until I was expecting became an excuse – besides, pregnancy looks scary enough without the added stress of nicotine withdrawl.

Plus, Minneapolis was freaking cold. Standing outside and smoking a cigarette lost all of its appeal.

BlissTree.com has put together this inforgraphic using information from the American Cancer Society. Makes it seem almost easy, doesn't it? It's not easy - but if I can do it so can you.

So many people don’t understand the appeal of it at all. I was one when I was younger. I thought that there was no way that I would ever smoke a cigarette. I saw my mother smoke cigarette after cigarette and I thought it was disgusting. But when I went to college, all the cool kids were doing it. I started smoking at parties. Then I started smoking at night. Then I started smoking between classes. Suddenly it became my stress relief. The day I bought my own pack (for a week I only bummed smokes here and there) I was so ashamed. It didn’t stop me though. And then I bought a pack after that. And another. And another still.

Smoking a cigarette feels good. But the cost (both financial and physical) is just too great.

So thank you Camel for all the good times we had. I’ll probably miss you for the rest of my life – but it’s time for me to move on. I’ll send you a postcard.