Aaaaand Scene.

All of Hollywood turned out in their best to celebrate the 84th annual Academy Awards yesterday.  Super Bowl Sunday is great and all (I typically don’t party unless my birthday happens to be the same day. This year, it was, but that’s beside the point.) but I really love to pull out all the stops for the Oscars.

I usually try to watch as many of the nominated films and performances as I can before the awards ceremony. I didn’t do such a great job this year, but that just means I have a solid list of movies that I need to see in the near future.

My point today is not to discuss Hollywood’s biggest night, the dresses (Octavia Spencer, Penelope Cruz, Natalie Portman, Gwenyth Paltrow, and Jessica Chastain wore my favorite gowns.), the winners (LOVED Meryl Streep and Jean Dujardin’s speeches), or the upsets (I feel bad for Martin Scorcese. The guy gets shafted ALL the time).

I wanted to just say that, as much as I love the silver screen, there are some moments in life that far surpass my favorite movie scenes.   These are moments where, for a brief moment, I am allowed to touch perfection.

Some are simple, each one surprises me, and all are treasured memories.

My walk to work when the rising sun makes the distant mountains seem to float on the horizon.

A soft, breezy, twilight stroll through my neighborhood that could almost transport me back 100 years.

The blinking lights, the buzz of hundreds of voices, and the smell of tons of fried food at the Texas State Fair, and how it all melts away to a low, glowing hum, as you ride the ferris wheel up into the night and look out over the Dallas skyline and wish you could just stay there for hours.

Laughing on the front porch with friends; playing music, singing songs, and trying to forget the humid, sticky heat that never quite leaves when the sun goes down.

Wind whipping through the open window of the car as we sing our anthems at the top of our lungs.

The smell before rain and the storms that wash the world clean.

Endless Texas Summers filled with more memories than you could ever hold on to.

The moment his back lit form turned the corner of the house across the street and walked toward me. Rose in-hand, he stepped into the yellow glow of our teeny little student-housing apartment porch light and asked ME to the prom.

Driving down the 101 listening to Phantom Planet.

Wagon Wheel and Apple Blossoms.

Running through the hotel, we were PRAYING that we’d make it back to our room before Rulon found us out and get us in SO much trouble for being in Trevor’s room after curfew.  Herbal Essences shampoo and the smell of diesel engines will always remind me of that band trip.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Stevie Nicks.”  I have never seen 5000 people get to their feet so fast.

3am Live and Odis.  The year that live music changed my life.

Walking into the dark basement, I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal that, “Tony just got shot.”  I’d soon find out just how big of a deal that was.  #badfeelings

Walking through my small town, the trees on fire as summer ignites and burns into fall.  Starry nights, bridges, parkways, bonfires, and good friends, all tucked into our little piece of Shenandoah.

My life is better than any movie.

Your Stories:

What are your movie moments?

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Washed Clean

I LOVE the way rain storms make everything so much better. Honestly, the bigger, rougher, wilder, and louder that they are, the better I feel after they’ve gone.

Just as I was sitting down to dinner with Heather, Cameron, and their 2 little girls today, the heavens opened, and the wind started blowing the rain vertically into the windows. Lightening shattered the growing twilight, and the little girls’ eyes got big as the cannonade rumbled across our little valley. Even in the house we could feel the cool front settle in, the hot, muggy afternoon completely washed away. Rain poured in WAVES against the house, and we marveled at the storm while we ate. (REALLY good home-made spaghetti sauce over brown rice, but that’s beside the point.) Just after the hail stopped, we began to see blue sky through the downpour. By the time dinner was over, we could see blue sky and tall, billowy clouds framing a BRILLIANT sunset. In another 10 minutes the rain stopped and the fiery sunset burned out as dusk settled in.

I am forever humbled by the beauty of the earth that we have the privilege to live in. I love that my Heavenly Father knows me and sends me tender mercies like this storm, and this sunset to remind me of the beauty, peace, security, and love to be found in the midst of my storms. I know when it’s all said and done I’ll be washed clean, and be able to stand, facing the horizon, and savor the glory of the sun.

The Smell of Rain

The solitary rainy nights like tonight always lead me down memory lane. There is a scientist somewhere that will want to start telling me all about my olfactory whatchamadigit that is linked to my brain’s limbywhoozit system, and that’s why certain memories are always recalled when I smell rain. They’d be right, of course, but all I know is that I probably have more memories associated with the sound and smell of rain/water than I do for any other scent. Here are a few.

# 1

For anyone who has grown up or spent any decent amount of time in Texas it is hard to not remember the swelteringly humid late spring/early summer days. They say that everything in Texas is bigger (chuckles to self) and it’s true, especially when it comes to the thunderstorms. When I was still looking forward to having a double digit age, our yard was my whole world. Due to an exceptionally imaginative younger sister, it was transformed on a daily basis into fantastic worlds of wonder and mystery that we would explore until dinner time. On the days when the air was so heavy with moisture that you could cut it with a knife, we’d look up, with ringlets clinging to the nape of our necks, and scan the seemingly endless horizon for any hint of the rolling towers of grey and black that would bring blessed, if only momentary, relief. When the clouds were there we could sit on the porch or the trampoline or up in a tree and wait eagerly for the storm to break. We’d count the seconds between each lightening strike and distant crash of thunder as we swatted at mosquitoes and gnats that were the product of the previous storm. As the storm got closer everything would get quiet and the earth would hold it’s breath in preparation. Sometimes the whole world would turn a peachy color that made it all look like a dusty, washed out old photo. The temperature would drop 1 or 2 degrees, and then we could smell it. We could actually see the gray wall moving toward us beneath the thunderheads that seemed to threaten our very existence. Every once in a while we would watch our road turn back to black and see the color rush into the world on the other side of the distinct line of advancing rain. The rich smell of the life giving water rushed in and consumed us only minutes before the waves of rain arrived. Then, all at once, we were in OZ. The heat and the dust had vanished and all the colors were saturated and bright. The warm water would fill the ditches and there were puddles EVERYWHERE. We’d run around with umbrellas, or without, and ‘pretend’ to our hearts’ content. Sometimes, when it was a colder rain, we’d both sit under a huge umbrella and become runaway orphans (a particularly favorite theme) hiding from an EVIL headmistress. Storms usually blew through in an hour or less, and when they were gone we’d splash around for a little longer then run inside before the returning heat would make our wet clothes unbearable.

# 2

I LOVE the ocean. My family lived in Hawaii when I was a toddler, and I only have vague snippets of memory from that time. I wasn’t able to get back to see the Pacific until high school. I was a member of the school band, and we took trips every other year to compete in out of state invitationals. My freshman year we went to San Diego. The climate right after rain always reminds me of California’s cool night air, and the smell of the ocean a few miles away. I remember sneaking into other people’s rooms and staying up way too late, laughing and being young. I remember palm trees, and thinking that everything was so much greener than it was back home (It was.) I remember the dinner cruise in the bay and heartaching over some dumb boy. I remember the night we went to the beach. The sand was white and the boardwalk looked like it did in all the movies. We had an hour or two to kill before dinner, and we spent the time shopping for souvenirs that were overpriced and tacky. The sunset was golden and perfect, and my best friend and I sat on the beach and dared each other to get into the water. (Being late April, it was still pretty frigid.) I remember walking in the sand, listening to the surf, and thinking that the night would be perfect if I had a boy to share it with. Mostly I remember what it felt like to know that my potential was limitless, that I could do any and everything that I wanted to, all I had to do was reach out and take it.

#3

During the span of my life, I have had the opportunity to enjoy the company of good people on some pretty awesome porches during some fun storms. In most cases, I don’t even remember the porch. The best feeling in the world is the one that you get when you’re sitting with friends and/or family, watching the storm rage. The doors to the house may be thrown open, daring the wind and the rain to do their worst. All you see is the beauty of God’s creations, as a cool breeze filters through the house and lifts everyone’s spirits. All you know in that moment is friendship, love, laughter, and good times.

On nights like tonight I find myself most like the ‘Anne-girl’ than I am at any other time in my life. I’ll walk out onto the porch or balcony, step up to the railing, and fling my arms open wide and breathe in all the memories that make up my core. I let all the hope and energy of my present youth fill up my soul and give me the courage to create new memories for the now that is my future youth.

It’s cheesy… this I know. I am surprisingly unapologetic about it. These romantic moments of silliness are my little oasis… what’s the plural of oasis?

Yep, I looked it up online. It’s oases.

o·a·sis
noun
plural: o·a·ses
1. A fertile or green spot in a desert or wasteland, made so by the presence of water.
2. A situation or place preserved from surrounding unpleasantness; a refuge:

lol. Nice.

My refuge, made possible by the presence of water.

I like it.

Roman Candles

The last couple of weeks have been exceptionally difficult for me. I have been trying to move forward and I find myself fighting an uphill battle against all my bad habits and routines.  These habits and routines have, in the past, fostered depression and emotional eating, and were a cycle that I almost didn’t come out of.  To find myself struggling with these same patterns again, after so much forward movement, has been extremely discouraging. I told myself that the first big difference this time, is that I recognize these behaviors for what they are, and I’m actually fighting against them, but, to be honest, it doesn’t make me feel any better.

I have been trying to write more, so that I have material to post, but I have been so distracted that it’s been hard to focus on any one thing for more than half an hour.  I have felt disconnected, cold, empty, and distant from everything, and it was killing me.  I couldn’t think of anything to write, so I just started listing things that I love, things that make me smile, and things that make up who I am.  I started with general things, then I got more specific, and the list is still growing.

I hate feeling cold and empty. I want to burn. I want to feel every moment of life, and I want so much passion and vivacity that it almost burns me up.  These are my Roman Candles, in no particular order.

Books. Movies. Music. People. Family. Dancing. Laughing.Live Music. Singing. Playing Music. Autumn in Virginia. Freshly Fallen Snow. Hot Cocoa and Fleece Blankets. Cuddles. Bear Hugs. Music. A Full Moon on a Clear Night. Inside Jokes. Road Trips. Good Music on Road Trips. Spring in Texas. Classic Rock. The First and Last Days of Summer. Oldies. That Smile on a Friend’s Face That Says ‘I’m Glad I Know You’. A Great Showtune. Christmas… the Movies, the Music, and Especially Christmas Morning. Spontaneous Bursts of Song. Bonfires. The Beatles. Lazy Saturday Mornings. The Perfect Spot in Bed When You Wake Up in the Morning.  Stargazing. Texas Thunderstorms. The Smell of Rain. Cheesy 80’s Ballads. 80’s Music in General. Singing At The Top Of Your Lungs. A Hot Bubble Bath. Candles. Daisies. The Blue Ridge Mountains. The Rocky Mountains. The Texas Sky.  A Pacific Sunset. An Atlantic Sunrise. Led Zeppelin. Museums. Big Cities at Night, the Smells, the Sounds, the People. Crowds at Almost Any Big Event. Old Movies. 90’s Music.  Spring Picnics.  Playing In The Rain.  Ya-Ya Moments at Whataburger. Airports. Flying. The ‘What’s Next?’ Game. A Mixed CD. The ‘Do You Remember That One Time?’ Moments. Brand New.  The Feeling You Get When A Child Says Your Name For The First Time… And Every Time After That.  Live Performances of Any Kind (as long as they’re quality).  Live Performances Of Good Friends (bad or good, they’re usually, at the very least, an interesting story.)  A Really Amazing Tenor Voice. A Really Great Bass Note.  Any Good Times Spent With Friends. Drive-In Movies. Voicemail Messages That Make Me Smile.  Conversations That Unintentionally Last LONG Into The Night. A Baby’s Laugh. A Toddler’s Laugh. A 3 Year Old Girl Singing Songs From Sleeping Beauty and Dancing Around the Living Room.  Puppies. A Good Book, a Warm Blanket, and a Well Lit Fireplace.  Jimmy Eat World. Holidays Spent With Family and/or Friends.  The Footbridge.  Oh, Shenandoah.  Memories of High School.  My Imagination. Kindred Spirits.

Perfect

Living in my small corner of the Shennandoah reminds me how wonderful change really is.  In the 4 years that I have been absent from this part of the world, I have forgotten how perfect the first two weeks of September are.

With the full moon only 2 days away, the magic of the east coast is near it’s full potency.   Last night I stood in the street and just soaked in the beauty of everything.  The soft, very cool breeze played lazily through the clear, dry night, and the moon made everything glow with a soft blue light.  The last three nights have been like this, and I expect for the next week and a half to be about the same.

As I settle into and develop my new routine, and try to adjust to the inconvenience and unpleasantness of change, my little valley reminds me that there is beauty to be found in the death of a time, place, or era.  I am curious how many people are able to be so preoccupied with  life that the miss the perfection of this time of year completely.

Autumn is near, and I anticipate the beautiful, fiery death of the blue ridge mountains as eagerly as I look forward to my own small change of season.

So Much Color

This is a test post… My Cousin, Koji, works closely with Invisible Children to promote awareness of horrible situations that African children are forced into. I attended a show tonight for Invisible Children hosted by What Uganda Do. It was a great show! I am so grateful for all that Koji and his friends are doing to help! This is a video of Koji from a Rock Uganda event last July, singing Spring Song.