Wednesday, November 16, 2016

for shane.

This past week has been crazy (and not fun crazy but the kind of crazy that liquifies you). Not only have I felt spread thin but as if I was passed through a pasta machine and came out in tiny strips. Here I am on the other end fervently trying to press those strips back together...only the now everything seems haphazard and out of order. But slowly but surely I am getting my shit reassembled.

Last Wednesday I was just starting to let it soak in that I would soon be living in a world with a president Trump (Still that phrase seems strange to type) and prepping for my boyfriend to have surgery the next day, when my best friend called me to tell me that our friend Shane had passed away that morning. Immediately I dissolved and felt like I had been punched hard in the chest. All I could do was go lay down.

 In the last 5 years, I have seen a lot of death and lost a lot of major people in my life that were among my greatest champions. It doesn't get easier. In fact one by one as they fall I feel way more vulnerable [Tangent: as I try to remain slightly more hopeful that they have rubbed off on me.] When deciding what to blog about today, it seemed right that I wrote a little bit about the legacy my friend Shane leaves behind.  Damned if he didn't encourage me regularly about my writing and the fact that I wasn't living up to my potential. He was a real ass hole in that regard, even though he was right.

I met Shane probably 9 or so years ago when his best friend and my best friend started dating [Tangent: They are now married so that all worked out. Here's proof we didn't eff up our friends relationship].

 In situations like that it is always a crap shoot if friend groups are gonna mix and you know by default that you will have to spend a lot of time together in group settings so you might as well learn to be cordial and tolerate each other. Only unexpectedly, two people that could not be more different (Shane and I) became very good friends. He was brash and outdoorsy and unafraid of public opinion and didn't mince words...at all. At the time in my personal narrative, I was a puss. I was scared of most everything (mostly of my own potential and life possibilities),  and decidedly indoorsy by design.

It a bizarre juxtoposition, but it all worked out...we both were SUPER hard to offend and liked to talk for eons about seemingly everything from music to politics to religion, so our friendship worked strangely well and organically. Authenticity was important for both of us...and I don't think you could meet a more authentic dude or one with less of a filter. I thought hard about a story that would best describe our friendship and the good time and good human that was Shane and I settled on this one.

Shane was in the National Guard and had spent a huge chunk of time in Africa doing work and building wells, so in his absense from Nashville- we were pen pals. At that time I was learning to drive, so I weekly would send him updates and I would hear all about his travels. When he returned he had all these new interests and stories and had discovered a love for taking pictures. Of course like most things he attempted, he was really good at it and I wanted to push him to do more [Tangent: One of his pictures hangs by my sink so it bares witness daily to my spitting out toothpaste.] One day probably about 7 years ago, we planned to walk around Radnor Lake together and shoot the shit. [Tangent: This was pretty regular- we would just find some activity and then just a lot of aimless wandering.] Yes, I was being outdoorsy.

It was such a good day. Perfect weather. I don't even remember if Shane took many pictures, but I do remember we talked a lot about where you could hide a body (which is pretty par for the course of our convos.) I also remember that after getting about a mile into the trails, I realized my battery on my chair was near dead.  My power chair was new. I had  no inkling of a notion on how to put it into neutral so he pushed my 350 pound chair up hills and over some not-so-smooth terrain back to my car..for roughly 3/4 of a mile. I felt awful (and physically he probably did too) but didn't show it.

As we reached my car, I apologized profusely for not paying attention or for not charging my chair the night before [Tangent: If you know me at all...you know how my semi-Catholic upbringing has made the words "I'm sorry" a knee jerk reflexive reaction to most things.] , but he made no issue of it and immediately laughed and said, "So are we going to eat...which Cracker Barrel is closest? You're gonna buy me dinner. I'm hungry."

And we did...he could push me a little further when there was hasbrown casserole on the line. That day is just indicative of him as a person and his effect on me...pushing me when I felt stuck and putting me and everyone else in his life at ease. That was his role (and often times became my role when he felt stuck in any capacity). He was always down to go on an adventure and I was happy to be his copilot. Even when he went on his biggest adventure of packing up his car and driving to the Maine wilderness, we stayed in touch and helped each other stay accountable for being the humans that we were capable of being. I'll miss that. Being at his funeral and talking to his girlfriend and his friends and family, I've seen how far reaching he was and the many sides he showed to so many people. Everyone needs a circle of humanity they can rely on for complete honesty, and I was lucky to have him as part of mine.

In looking for pictures and digging through old messages and emails, I found one from around the time my dad died. When I said I hated feeling like a pussy all the time, he told me that "it was Ok to be a pussy because the rebound to self would make all that weakness feel worth while." [Tangent: SERIOUSLY! WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?!? Shane...that's who.] Now I synthesize all those sentiments as I deal with his passing and damned if he isn't making sense of things even when he is not of this earth. I say this all the time, but it is a spoils of riches the people that I have in my corner, and he was definitely one of the greats. Cheers, friend.


Monday, November 7, 2016

A day at the Newseum

I wasn't gonna write tonight, but being the night before an election for me is like Christmas to a child. Only instead of clenching my eyelids worrying about if I am going to get the Aladdin VHS or Barbie dream house, I'm worried that I might get an orange in my stocking instead...like literally an orange. [Tangent: That is the least nonpartisan (but still kinda partisan) analogy that I can muster ...but ya'll know what side my bread is buttered on...so I need not go any further with that.]  Thinking about politics and how insane and frustrating they can be, it reminded me that The time was nigh to pull an "Aunt Linda" and tell you more about my trip to DC, the land that has spawned that frustrating insane child! 
During our time in DC, we saw a bunch of things that made a quality merlot out of every last one of my mind grapes, but the suggestion that I am happiest I took was to go to the Newseum. [Tangent: Growing up in a house that's white noise was CNN (there was no reason a second grader should know all about the Gulf War or the intricacies of the Anita Hill confirmation hearings...), I vowed I would only watch it once a day as an adult, when I could choose my programming for myself. Even then, I hypothesized that it would be like a daily vitamin and I wouldn't enjoy it. Then I went on to study Journalism...and twas my gateway drug because now I watch the news all the damn time. It's still the white noise in my home- 2-3 episodes of local news...Nightline...20/20...even Inside Edition (diversify!). Let's not go into reading articles online. ] It was amazing, and each exhibit made me say "I can't believe I am seeing this!" The only bummer was that this was the first museum that we visited, so it gave all the others humongous loafers to fill. 

The newseum is located not far from DC's China town and seriously has every relic from modern televised history that you could imagine. [Tangent: Smithsonian better step up its game! I mean I know the American History museum has Dortothy's ruby slippers...but the Newseum has the Unibomber's cabin, where of course Jamie had to Kacsynski alongside the famous sketch...trying not to get dirty looks from fellow tourists.]
 In fact while we were there, they had an exhaustive exhibit on terrorism, which included wreckage from Ground Zero and things taken from the site of the Boston Marathon. [Tangent: Since I was thousands of miles away in college on 9/11, I guess the enormity of it never fully penetrated. You can imagine that it is something distant until you are just feet away twisted metal from the twin towers. Seeing that backed by a wall of 9/12 front page headlines from all over the country was disturbing and heartbreaking and beautiful in one brush stroke.]
There was also a section of the Berlin wall on display with one of the watchtowers. [Tangent: I was young when the wall in Germany was torn down, so a lot of the images that I associate with it were added to memory bank in my adulthood. Ex: that video footage of David Hasselhoff dancing atop it with a piano scarf and that snippet from the documentary I reviewed last month, Animism, where a woman was in a romantic relationship with the wall and oddly fondled it. Once I stifled the release of those images, I really took in how awesome it was to see in person.]

There really wasn't any part of the self-guided tour that didn't make me wish I could take my brother, Chris, and my dad to this place. They would have lost their minds. This soulless robot actually teared up a little when Jamie and I were looking through the print archives of famous publications (including famous headlines like "Dewey Beats Truman" and the first issue of Rolling Stone) because I couldn't call and tell them about it.
There were little nook displays devoted to stories which I remembered ruling the airwaves during my lifetime like the 2000 election drama and the OJ trial. I mean, not to brag, but I got to see Juice's suit. That was worth the $22 price of admission alone.
 
If I ever go back to DC, and if it doesn't spontaneously crumble to the earth after tomorrow's election results, I will 100% go back because I am positive that we didn't see everything. THERE WERE 6 FLOORS! It almost made me wish I had followed my senior year in high school dreams and gone into broadcast journalism...but oh well, I'll always have this approximation brought to you by the Newseum. 


Sunday, November 6, 2016

An Honest Lipsense Review (with a discount!)- Ugh...I drank the Kool-Aid


 A few months back, my fellow blogger/internet friend Ash participated on a 30 Day Lipstick Challenge on instagram...this meant she wore lipstick for 30 consecutive days. To some this is the norm and a "challenge" that they could sleepwalk through, but to me (at the time) it seemed like an insane impossibility. [Tangent: Let me backtrack. I love makeup. LOVE IT! I don't live in it. I sometimes even go to work without a stitch on because sleep > makeup, but I sold it for YEARS back when I was in college and shortly thereafter and amassed drawers and drawers full. Even still, lipstick has ALWAYS been my Achilles heel.] Since childhood, when I played with my mom's cosmetic stash, I have been unable to look like a normal human while wearing lip product. To keep it from getting on my teeth (which is inevitably does), my knee jerk reaction is to pucker and part my lips [Tangent:... in that really unfortunate looking way that can only call to mind Jamie Fox's Wanda character from In Living Color. It's not what I would call a "sexy" look. ] for this reason I have been a big proponent of a nice tinted chap stick or just go with a very literal nude lip. In other words my Bonne Bell gets more mileage than my MAC. [Tangent: What can I say, MAC has yet to make a $2 lip gloss that tastes like a sparkly cousin of vanilla frosting. GET ON IT, ALREADY!]

 However, I am now mere days away from 34 and have decided I need to try to behave like an human woman [Tangent: I mean the kind that wanted all of the Disney Lego mini-figures, who loves the Little Debbie product line more than is healthy and who thinks farts are hilarious...but a woman nonetheless.] For that reason, even though I am not so much a beauty blogger, I feel compelled to tell you about a product that has transformed me into a lipstick person...in an honest way.[Tangent: No, I'm not steering my blog towards that...but I love a good no BS review. Also, while I'm in brackets- I don't mean that now I am a literal anthropromorpic tube of lipstick...that would be startling.] This also entauls having my big meatball head all over the net. Here goes. 

A few months ago, my friend Alex started selling something called Lipsense [Tangent: Virtually all my friends with kids have a home business, so I have an inordinate amount of Lularoe leggings and fiber lash mascara, and essential oils and anything else that is sold online or at parties.  I'm a sucker for an impulse buy...shhh...don't tell. Because of this, I have an equal number of purchases I rave about and purchases dripping with buyer's remorse. Actually probably more of the latter.] Prior to Alex, I had never heard of the stuff and you know my position on lip product, so even though it seemed legit and she was ultra crazy enthusiastic about it, I was incredibly cynical and gave a HARD pass initially. [Tangent: I am about to say something that will prove my design snobbery, but I have told Alex this time and time again in person, so I have no issue stating it on the internet for all to hear. Senegence, the parent company of Lipsense, spends very little on marketing and design because they instead spend that money toward new colors, products etc. The logo, branding and marketing materials need a complete update because the font is DISTRESSING, and I don't think reflect the quality of the product! I thought it gave off a dated or matronly vibe and didn't match the price point. If they are looking for someone to design them some new marketing materials, I'm on board. Call me, Mr. Senegence...if that is your real name.]

All my snobbish tendencies pushed aside, I soon found I was dead wrong in my bitchy assumptions- the product is begrudgingly DAMN GOOD! Apparently you shouldn't judge a makeup item by its cover because I have now 100% drank the Kool-Aid and I love it. In fact-  it's pretty much all I wear on the day to day since about April because I don't have to reapply and it doesn't budge for up to 18 hours once swiped on. [Tangent: This is essential for me because on any given day I do breathing treatments and am picked up by others, so my lip product really needs to stay put and not get all over everything and everyone in my periphery. I'm also inherently lazy so I love the fact that I just have to do my makeup in the morning and I'm golden till nighttime when I take it off with a makeup wipe...at least my lips are.]  And I don't mean that in a "says it doesn't budge" kind of way...like you can literally eat and drink and hardcore make-out with multiple partners [Tangent: Ya know...a given Tuesday.] and you will be still looking like you just put it on. Alex even went to the dentist with hers on. [Tangent: And yes, I am sure she is super excited this picture is on the internet now.]


There are some things which are different about it...not necessarily bad... just things that you have to get used to, so I'd rather tell you about them so you aren't surprised. The scent/texture/feel took a minute to adjust to because it is so drastically different than anything else [Tangent: It has a sort of alcohol-y smell, but I got used to it pretty quick...and by second application, it didn't phase me a bit.] because unlike other products- it bonds to your lip instead of sitting atop them. You apply in three one swipe layers (letting each dry in between) and then top with a gloss coat, specially formulated to seal in the color.  [Tangent: I realize that regiment sounds hella tedious...but it's really not. You're only gonna have to do it once daily, and it really only takes a minute and a half.]

Then there are the things which are awesome- its vegan and cruelty-free and anti-aging and devoid of wax, lead or anything which might cause cancer or make your future babies grow tails. [Tangent: I mean babies with tails sound real cute theoretically...but probably better kept in your imagination.]

Because I am edgy as a butter knife, I started with a color simply called nude [SO RISKY!], but I loved it so much soon I had welcomed a rainbow of shades into the fold..from a deep plum to a pale pinky nude called First Love (the ultimate everyday color!).  [Tangent: Also, Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Anniston live and die by the stuff...and those are two very different ends of the makeup spectrum...so there are lots of options available.] Also I kind of like the idea that I can get all mad scientist with it and do a layer of one color then a layer of different color etc to really make the colors work for me. Even the different glosses can change the look a little depending on their tint or opacity. It makes me feel like I am using my art minor. [Tangent: Color mixing, yo!]
top row: Bella w/ opal gloss (L) Plum w/ glossy gloss (R); Bottom row: Nude w/ glossy gloss (L) First Love with opal gloss (R)
In case you need more shots of my giant noggin...and evidence that I can't make a normal face in photos and own too many glasses, check out the pic below. Even though the background is the clutter- filled guest room, it illustrates that I finally found a perfect red lip that doesn't rub all over making me look like a sad clown on a bender by the end of the day; I'm generally not going for that aesthetic. This is miracle of miracles [Tangent: About 3 years ago, I finally became able to wear red lipstick in public and not feel like a craigslist prostitute or someone wearing a costume. I finally got used to seeing it on my face and not being completely freaked out by it. I even (dare I say) liked it. Progress.] I was extremely doubtful that it would stay and that my lips wouldn't appear to be molting after a few hours, but no BS, they looked great...even hours later. I loved it. So hard. And I HATE being wrong...so this admission is very hard on my ego. 
I literally just went to Walgreens wearing crimson red,  but I felt like a sex pot picking up RX's and discount Halloween candy.
I would not bullshit you, the system is a teench pricey (for a goodwill gal like moi) at $50, the color ($25) and then a necessary topping gloss ($25) to seal it in [Tangent: I repeat! YOU HAVE TO HAVE BOTH COMPONENTS. The color won't work without the sealing layer...I tried.],  but honestly that is but a drop in the bucket next to the drawerful of untouched lipcolor I have. [Tangent: I don't know about other distributors, but I know Alex offers a money back guarantee or the ability to swap out your color so you won't feel like you're gambling your monies or just straight up throwing it out a speeding car window. She understands it's an odd experience to buy makeup online, and to be honest, some of the colors look a little different online (hence why I included the below picture). She wants you to love it like she does. And if want to see what a color looks like on an actual human, she can send you examples or see them posted in her open and very helpful FB group.]  It's a great way to try it out. Here's a good look at some of their best sellers.
If you have about a million questions, feel free to leave them in my comments section or hit up Alex's FB group for a color recommendation (or to see some other colors that might not be available on the site), she loves the opportunity to recommend things and forced me to step outside the beige. 

I'm a big girl now! Thanks Lipsense. 

OH YES... Alex is offering my readers a chance to get 10% off and free shipping if they buy product through this link and write in the notes section "Sent by That Girl in the Wheelchair"! She'll then invoice you with the discounted rate.
Any Questions?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My unfounded fears of travelling to DC

I've been putting off writing about my vacation for weeks, because I find it hard to tackle and wonder really does anyone give a shit? Although I LOVE reading about people's getaways, I find writing them really awkward...but I know they are good references for other people...so here goes...I'm awkward 99% of the time so truly, this is just on brand for me. This will likely be part 1 in a series so if this is your thing, "yay!" and if it's not...."oh well." [Tangent: I am writing mostly to tell people what I wish I knew before I went to DC, so suck it.]

Last month, Jamie got some vacation time he had to use that wouldn't roll over, so of course I got excited because it meant an excuse to go somewhere during that narrow window when the weather and landscape is at it's pinnacle of coppery gorgeousness and before the havoc of holiday reigns down upon us, and we become too over-scheduled to even wipe our butts. I'd been tossing around the idea about going to DC for a while and we thought election time would be optimal time to experience this city.  [Tangent: My dad was invited to go to Obama's inauguration by his democrats group, and he didn't go...I'm still bummed he missed out and wanted to carpe the ever-living f#*k out of the diem...especially given election season always makes my inner patriot emerge from its caccoon. I needed to go STAT. Remember where I revealed that slowly, and much to my chagrin I am shape-shifting into my dad, the fact that I was super jazzed to go to a bunch of museums on my "relaxing vacation" only further supports this hypothesis.]  

For some reason, unlike every one of my fellow peers from Tennessee, I never visited DC on my 8th grade field trip, so clearly I was deprived. Although, to be honest, everyone I know that went said the only things they remember are staying in a hotel with their friends or watching an Adam Sandler movie on the bus. [Ex: Jamie went in 8th grade and said his fondest memory was that the ads in the subway were for Hot Shots Part Deux, that Snow's Informer was really big and that he bought juggling scarves. Middle Schoolers are unappreciative assholes. Lesson learned.]

My former roommate and forever sister, Andraea [Tangent: She's my personal Oprah. Seriously, she and I are opposite in so many staggering ways but are basically the same person. Go read her blog.] lives there and works there and is a big deal there, so more than anything I really wanted to go see her...and have her escort me around her city. 
 Within hours of texting her, I had concocted this plan in my head, fueled 90% by enthusiasm and misplaced senses of security, to drive to DC...which is an 11 hour drive overall [Tangent: Unfortunately, outside of backing it out of a tight parking space, Jamie cannot drive my car, which is the only vehicle between us capable of lugging around the monstrosity that is my power chair. I also know if I want to travel in a city, I would go apeshit and Hulk out in frustration if I had to pushed around in my manual chair. Additionally, Jamie might not be too jazzed to push my chair all over those cobblestone streets.] In lieu of flying (which is also a gamble with a power chair), we decided to make the trip a couple days longer and stay with his parents on the way there and back. They live near the Virginia line, so its the perfect halfway point. Once again, this was on a grossly confident day that I concocted this plan. [Tangent: The furthest I had driven prior was in April when I went to Atlanta. Interstate driving for more than 5 hours in a day when you use hand controls is a beast. Cruise control doesn't exist in my universe.]

Aside from the drive itself, I acquired a couple other new worries after fully committing to this trip. It mattered not that everyone had reiterated to me numerous times how handi-friendly the area was, my mind raced with new unfounded fears like...

1. How do Subways work? 
As I slept in a bed at Jamie's parents house, halfway to DC, I started to have a mild panic when everything started to come into focus. Parking in the district is crazy expensive and frustrating, so I would have to shed my country mouse ways and learn how to use mass transit. [Tangent: All native Tennessseans probably share this ignorance about mass transit. It's so off my radar that I kind of forget that in some mythical places some people use it everyday. Riding the tram at the Atlanta airport hardly counts and Jamie said he was terrified the one time he rode the subway alone in NY. I swear, we are not complete slack-jawed yokels. Maybe.] All of these factors I had been too busy (or naive maybe) to plan out. I just imagined I would jump off a cable car and land on Andraea's stoop...easy breezy and ready to see the sites...as if there are even cable cars in DC. [Tangent: Perhaps I fell asleep watching the Full House intro. Who knows?]
Yes, the metro system seems super daunting. Luckily Andraea showed me the ropes, and even showed me that if you act like you know what you are doing, and are in a wheelchair, you don't even need a metro card. [Tangent: I mean you probably do...but I am down for the cheaper albeit possibly unethical option if it makes things easier. I just didn't make eye contact and tried not to look as confused/overwhelmed as I felt.]  We only rode it a couple times, but I was pretty excited that we didn't get off on the wrong stop or get on the wrong route. I am most thankful I had a local to show us what to do, because I didn't want "Tourist: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ME" to be written on my forehead. This website is a good primer.  

2. How much of a pain in the ass will it be to get an accessible cab? 
I have only taken a cab a handful of times and usually my overserved friends made the call on that and I was using a manual that can be tossed in the trunk. [Tangent: Including the time I rode home in a party cab with strobe lights and blaring music and mardi gras beads for a ride that was less than 3 miles.]  This whole business of not driving everywhere is so outside my wheelhouse that I am not even in the driveway of said wheelhouse. [Tangent: Am I using the term wheelhouse properly? I don't even know anymore.]  In Nashville, accessible cabs exist, but not in mass and I have never summoned one before, so to be honest I just kind of assumed it would be a huge ordeal...much like most things that are specific to people with disabilities.

Luckily I googled (fully Ask Jeeves style as is my MO): "How do wheelchair users hail taxis in DC?" and I came upon the most helpful website ever. On this site I was patched through to the Taxi transit app, which gave me the ability to schedule my taxi via app and even request an accessible cab.
do you like my obnovious Jason Manzoukas wallpaper?
I worried that I would have to know hours in advance when I needed a pickup, but it worked like a dream and generally, if we were near downtown, which we always were, we only needed about 10-15 minute notice. Only once did they send us a sedan, but he immediately called in for a minivan to pick us up. [Tangent: It was surprisingly convenient, and most of our drivers were so nice that Jamie didn't even feel provoked to ask them, "Have you ever seen the movie DC Cab?" even though he really wanted to.]
 
3. Did I really just blindly book a hotel that no one has ever heard of? 
When we first picked our destination, we assumed we would just stay at an airbnb [Tangent: We had such mind-blowing experiences with our stays in Atlanta and Gaitlinburg, that surfing the app has just become a pasttime of mine, even if I am not going anywhere. Oh and while we are on the topic, this seems ripe for a shameless plug. Use this link and get $35 toward your first trip.], but as we searched the "accessible" options that offered free any kind of parking, we realized all the decent ones were already booked.  Therefore I went for plan B, I asked around what was a good neighborhood to stay in and sight unseen booked a room via Expedia at a small boutique hotel called The Normandy. [Tangent: I ran it by my friends and a colleague that went to school in DC. Everyone had been so shocked that I found a hotel in a hip part of DC for under $200 a night. Their surprise meant I was starting to become certain it was a front for a crackhouse or haunted...or both. A money-laundering hot spot swarming with ghosts. Perfect.] 

I was dead wrong. The Normandy was freakin' adorable and the staff was SO NICE. Here's proof!

It was small and private and tucked in between a bunch of embassies and most crucial- it was totally safe [Tangent: Unless some sort of reverse-Argo situation transpired.] When we arrived there had been a mix-up and they assigned us an accessible room, but not one with a roll-in shower, so within an hour they had sent someone on foot to the rire-aid down the road to buy me a shower chair. [Tangent: I sincerely would have settled for sitting on a bucket, but I was impressed with their commitment to service.] They even were so baffled by my robot car that they let me park illegally on the street all week in lieu of worrying about valet...and my bill was never charged. These people were the bees knees. And the inside was super cute toille wallpaper and a super nice bathroom and dammit if now I don't want a bedside espresso machine. 

Also, it wasn't haunted, but this sucker was right next door...and probably was. It had a very Great Expectations vibe. Every morning when we waited for our cab, we looked for faces in the window.

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