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  • Determination

    It's only appropriate to post about my big brother Travis today, on Friday the 13th, because he is the majority share-holder in my deep love of horror movies. If you've ever been around Travis and I you know that we make sport of disagreeing on virtually every topic, but scary movies has never, ever been one of them. I remember many summer nights spent up in the entertainment room watching movie after movie after movie, whether they were good or bad. I haven't stopped craving scary movie nights since, much to the chagrin of basically all of my friends.

    So, it's a great day to celebrate the other big lesson Travis has taught me over the last year: to have drive and determination. These are hard-fought qualities in my life. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a lay-on-the-couch and sleep-in-on-the-weekends kind of a girl. In fact, my family has a running joke about trying to get me to do anything at a single-digit time on the weekend. I'm really not ashamed - sleeping in and being lazy are what weekends are for! Because of this, I've always admired people who have that underlying determination to do whatever it takes to make their dreams a reality. I know I previously posted about passion, which is also key to this kind of endeavor. Unfortunately, sometimes passion isn't solely sufficient, like when you have a highly sought-after dream.

    You see, Travis wants to be a rocket scientist. (You know, the kind that don't impress Shania Twain much.) For as long as I can remember he has loved all things space. He even went to space camp when he was a kid, where he notoriously didn't shower for the duration. He graduated high-school and immediately went into the Navy, but quickly deduced that work sucks if your heart isn't in it. So, as soon as he got out of the military he got to work. I'll tell you, and he may, too, that he didn't necessarily have it all together initially. But who of us does?! 

    That fact made it even more incredible to watch him over the last year. I've watched him bust his ass ('scuse the language, but it's true) in classes and apply for his dream internship, with NASA. Despite its highly competitive nature, he snagged that puppy and found himself spending last summer at Marshall Space Flight Center, the very same place he attended space camp. (Don't worry - he showered this time.) His hard work was recognized, and he was even featured as an intern of the week. If you know Travis, you can imagine how hilarious it was to "follow" him around for a day via social media. 

    After summer ended he finished off his (second) undergrad degree and rolled right into graduate school at UTEP, which is not only revered, but also notable for the fact that nearly all (if not 100%) of graduates in the mechanical engineering program find placement at one of the big-name space companies. In addition, he's doing work for NASA in the labs while getting through school. 

    I think we could all have been content with his efforts at that point. (And by content, I mean secretly laying in bed rolling my eyes because of course he would wind up being wildly successful, just to hold it over my head for years to come.) But no, he didn't stop there. He's packing up the car and heading back to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center this summer as a co-op student. 

    Consider me floored. I mean, I knew he was smart, but COME ON. Way to make a girl look like a slacker! Being the non-competitive human that I am, I could just sit around and mutter to myself "I could've been an engineer had I wanted to" (it's okay to scoff at that) - but I'm actually trying to take notes from Travis this time around. I'm putting my nose to the grindstone on my own little side project that I've been dreaming up for quite some time. It probably won't get my name in the headlines or gain me fame in the space exploration circles anytime soon... but, hey: baby steps! 

    Stay tuned for more on that. And be subtle with your admiration of Travis, if you will... he doesn't need an ego boost. Trust me.

  • Grace

    I woke up this morning wishing that I had a twin-sized bed. I don’t think I’ve wished for a twin sized bed since… well, ever. But here’s the thing. About six months ago I got a puppy - Glen Coco. Admittedly, she is the cutest, sweetest little gal on the planet. However, she, like all dogs, has her moments where she is an absolute terror. Most of these moments involve her stealing some article of my clothing (she prefers smaller things like socks, bras, undies and shoes, as they are more proportional to her size) and immediately running under the bed with it. The queen-sized bed. That is pushed up against the wall. 7 times out of 10 I have to move the whole dang bed to retrieve my stolen socks or running shoes. Thus, the wishing for a twin bed. 

    It’s a lesson in grace. A big, huge, constant lesson. Let me just say that I admire you, parents. I don’t know how you do it, but I can only hope that GC is preparing me for if I one day become a momma of human children. 

    I think the most surprising thing is not only how much grace I have to exercise with her (“why would you eat that toilet paper?” “seriously?! stop digging in your bed!” “oh my gosh, you have a million toys, leave my shoes alone!”) but also how much grace I’ve had to dump on myself. More often than not when she has an accident, it’s my fault. She’ll poop in the apartment and my immediate thought is “well, I had to drag her back inside against her will, but she had been out there for 15 minutes and hadn’t made a move yet!” I don’t always pay close enough attention to if she’s by the door, or I’ll get caught up in cooking dinner and not notice when she’s sniffing around. 

    The most difficult times are when she is outright defiant. I catch her chewing on the furniture or digging in my bed and I give her a firm “NO” or “YOU BETTER NOT!” while maintaining eye contact only to have her immediately continue on with the same behavior. But you know what? These are the moments that I most appreciate God. 

    How infuriating must it be for Him to sit on His throne and watch me, time and again, flat out ignore his instruction. I’m not proud of it, but I can’t tell you the number of times I feel God leading me in one direction, but blatantly walk the other way, thinking I might know best, or that it won’t end that badly. But you know what? I don’t know best. And it will end badly. 

    So, that’s how my dog is teaching me about grace, as silly as that may sound! The best part is, she’s constantly being disobedient and frustrating the snot out of me, but I love the mess out of her and would not trade her for the world! How lucky are we to serve a God who views us in that same manner?!

  • Hope

    I’ve noticed a pretty big trend in my life over the last year or so. It’s pretty easy to spot your friends who don’t know the Lord because they definitively lack hope. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re negative all of the time, or drag the room down… but there’s just something a little lackluster about their attitude towards life and the future and everything in between. I used to think it was a joy thing, but it’s becoming more and more clear that it’s a hope thing. 

    I have the requisite, God-given Jeremiah 29:11 hope. I know that there is more to this life. I get excited about things. I allow myself to feel hopeful about new opportunities, up-and-coming trips, flannel-clad boys… you get the idea. But I wouldn’t say that I am just bubbling over with hope. And my closest heart friends can tell you that there are certainly times when I all-out lack it. 

    That’s where Melanie comes in. I feel sorry for each and every one of you that doesn’t know Melanie, that hasn’t had a chance to spend a day with her curly-headed self. She brightens up every room she walks into and has the cutest little country accent when she talks about “momma and daddy.” (Hi, Martha & Randy!) But, just like any of us, Melanie has been dealt some bad cards, especially relationally. You’d never know it, though. 

    I realized in writing this that I don’t really know how Merriam-Webster would define hope. I know what it means, of course. And I certainly know how it feels. But how would I define it? I’m coming up empty… so I looked it up for us. 

    hope: to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true

    Now – I know what the bible says about faith, but as that definition settled in my stomach I started to realize that maybe hope is a bigger part of Christianity than I thought! God does specify that “He knows the plans he has for [us]… plans to prosper [us] and not to harm [us], plans to give [us] hope and a future.” Hope and a future. Of equal importance. 

    Melanie has shown me that. When she found herself in situations that would have sent me straight to my comfy bed for the day, she laced up her tennis shoes and put some pep in her step. Instead of wallowing she set her sights on the sunshine and took control of her life. She was so unequivocally full of hope that she never for a second took pity on herself. She never worried that she’d be an old maid, lonely in her rocking chair. She never gave fear or dread the time of day. 

    She and I “meet in the middle” for dinner every couple of weeks. No matter what topic I bring to the table – if I’m lonely in the midst of married and engaged friends, if I’m dreadfully miserable at work, if a friend seriously let me down… again – she has the perfect answer. Usually along the lines of “Oh honey!!! I’m so sorry! Go and get yourself a large Dr. Pepper… you deserve it! And you know what? Tomorrow will be a better day!!!!” She never makes me feel silly for my dramatic ways, but she also never lets me sit in them and get comfy. She pulls me right on up out of the mud, dusts off my shoulders, reminds me of God’s promises, and sends me on my way. 

    And let me tell you – over the last year I’ve needed someone to be the hope that I lacked. She has stepped up to bat and hit that sucker out of the park and I really, truly don’t know what I would have done without her. So thanks, Mel, for loving me the best way you know how, and for always showering me with your contagious hope. 

  • Passion

    I like to think that I’m a passionate person. I’m a little bit passionate about a lot of things. I’m passionate about Jesus, about people, about design, about writing, about music, about marketing, about reading, about my puppy, about peanut butter, about outlet malls… okay, you get the idea. But I’ve never known any sort of overwhelming passion, the kind that pushes me, that I want to chase after with my whole heart. 

    It reminds me of a verse. I had this written out on a sticky note, attached to my computer at my last job – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23 I’ve never known that feeling, to work at something with all of my heart. I’m selfish with my heart. I like to keep it for myself, and only give partial bits to lots of things. It’s definitely a flaw.

    But it’s not a flaw you’ll find in my friend Hunter. You see, Hunter plays the drums. Plays might not even be a good enough word… he dominates a drum set. He once joked that I use more words than he makes hits on a drum, which, let’s be honest, is probably true. I’m prolific. But it would be a close race. He is really, really good at drumming, easily the best I know. (I’m not some sort of drumming aficionado, much to my dismay, but I’ve been told he is remarkable, past what my untrained eyes can surmise.)

    Raw talent doesn’t make a man, though. We’ve seen that adage play out plenty of times (coughJohnnyManzielcough) and known it to be true. Success takes someone who is willing to chase after something, to work at it with their whole heart. Hunter does that. His day job(s) are teaching percussion and drum lessons at a local music shop and the high school. But "after hours"? He played drum set for the high school show choir last season. He helped with the high school drumline last fall. He’s in a (really good) band called the Bama Gamblers who travel to play gigs around the southeast more weekends than not. And when he doesn’t have a gig with the Bama Gamblers, chances are he picked up a gig with some other local musician. 

    As you may have guessed a. he’s pretty hard to hang out with cause he’s #busy and b. he’s seriously dedicated to his craft. He’s taking every opportunity he can to play, because he loves it. Because he’s passionate about it. And because he's working at it with his whole heart. Really - the man loves few things other than drumming, his family and Dr. Pepper. 

    He simply lives out his passion with every ounce of drive, creativity and determination in his body, and I find that so inspiring. I crave to love something like that, to hone my skills in that way. And I truly believe, just by knowing Hunter and watching him hustle over the last year, I’ve developed a little more passion and begun to see my work in a little bit of a different light. It makes me want to come home and do that freelance job. Or write that blog. Or develop that crazy idea into something tangible. 

    So thanks, Hunter - for showing me what it looks like to really and truly work at something with your whole, entire heart.

  • Faith

    I think that faith is one of those buzzwords in Christianity. Everyone has faith. I mean, we believe in Jesus, don’t we? All it takes is a mustard seed, after all. And I don’t doubt that. I don’t think that any shred of faith is too small to save your life. But I’m learning, more and more as I get older, that there are certainly different amounts of faith to be had. And, to be frank, some people just excel at being faithful. My friend Danielle is one of those people. 

    Dani D. (as I like to call her) rolled into my life about two years ago. She was this energy-filled ball of laughter who was willing to be anything we needed her to be in the workplace, and we all know how rare that is. Joy is her default emotion, and she radiates it. (Can I get an amen from all members of her fan club?!)

    I’ve learned a lot of things from Danielle, which is sort of funny because she’s 6 years my junior and I was kind-of, sort-of her manager at work… but, hey: wisdom knows no age limits or hierarchy. Far-and-away the biggest thing I’ve learned from her is that MAN I have little faith. You know, like in Matthew 8:26 when Jesus straight up calls out the disciples by saying, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” I mean, I feel you, Jesus. I hate to be woken up from my slumber, too, especially for something totally insignificant like a storm potentially drowning my boat. I get it. Danielle is that for me. She would never actually come out and say “you of little faith” — possibly because I would have some comeback about how 50% of the sentences she types don’t even qualify as English, but also because she’s not that kind of friend. 

    But this whole thing is about people who teach through their actions anyway, amiright? 

    Let me digress and say this: I consider myself to have a healthy dose of faith. I’m not easily stressed by the things of this world because I fully understand that God has a plan, and I trust in that. But, as strange as this might sound, I think I only have faith for the big things. I believe our God is a big God, and I know He can move mountains and raise people from the dead. And it’s not that I don’t have the everyday life kind of faith, but… well, maybe I don’t. 

    Allow me to explain. I get headaches, bad ones, pretty often. If you know me, you know this. I carry around Excedrine Migraine in my purse, always. Or… almost always. One day I was at work and had a killer headache. (I guess I didn’t have the pills in my pocketbook that day.) So I’m sitting there, fingers digging into temples, all out irritated and torn between gouging my eyes out and running away to vomit (no one ever said I’m not dramatic) when Danielle rolls over to my desk. (Literally - she rolled her desk chair right over.) She looked at me, as if I were the most dense being on planet Earth, and said “why don’t you just ask Jesus to take that mess away?” 

    … CAN HE DO THAT?! If I pray and trust, will God just *bam* dissolve this headache of mine into thin air? It was a concept I had never even considered. Again - not that I don’t have faith, but doesn’t He have more pressing matters to deal with? 

    He doesn’t. Danielle taught me that. The cool thing about God, about this colossal powerhouse, is that YOU are His most important relationship. Your needs are above all else. Your problems are His biggest concern. And yet, somehow, miraculously - so are mine. And so are Danielle’s. He doesn’t have to prioritize because EVERYONE is number one in His book. 

    I think I’ll just drop the mic right there. I’m not going to overshare on that point, but I hope you all know it’s the truth. You’re number one, baby. Better believe it. Have FAITH.

    [Editor's note: Danielle is using that big faith of hers to take a leap and move to Peru this fall to persue life as a missionary with an organization that has captured her heart. If you've been looking for a way to give back, consider supporting my girl! Find out more by clicking here.]

  • Lessons Learned from 26.

    26 was a big year in the life of Aimee. I don't know, honestly, if it'll be one of the years that pop out in my mind when I'm sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of the home I hope to someday own. I'm not sure if it'll be one that gets highlighted in my memoirs. But I do know that, undoubtedly, it's the year that has taught me the most valuable lessons so far. 

    I can't even begin to quantify the things 26 taught me. There are no amount of blog posts, instruction manuals, or letters to friends that could put into words all of the ways it grew and stretched me as a person. I waded through the muddy waters of a toxic work environment. I dealt with rejection and doled some out myself. I discovered my boundaries by running into them head-long. I flew across the world and had neck-deep conversations with total strangers. I found a fresh start and discovered just how life-giving value, encouragement and appreciation can be. I was surprised by people, and I surprised people. I was disappointed by friends, and I'm sure I disappointed some. I learned that you never wear new shoes as a tourist, and you always say yes to foreign garments, even if you're busting the budget. 

    I've been reflecting on the lessons. On the heartbreaks, the clean slates, and the never-agains. I'm more than a month into 27, but 26 is still screaming for a podium. So I guess it's time I do my due diligence, time to share the stories and the lessons. You know why? Because the biggest thing 26 taught me is that you're never alone in a struggle. Someone, somewhere has been through it and someone else is going through it. And while I'll throw blame at the internet for plenty of issues in our society, I think community and solace are two things it's really, really good at. 

    I learned a lot of things situationally, and I'll get to those. They'll have their day. But one thing that couldn't be ignored were just how many lessons I learned from the people who surround me, the people who didn't set out to teach me anything. Isn't it funny how, often times, the people who impact you the most are the ones who aren't trying in the least? The ones who are simply living out their lives to the fullest and, in doing so, showing you a road map for all that you could be? 

    That's the kind of legacy I hope to leave. Sure, I hope when I do try to bestow wisdom I'm able to speak words of life that leave an impression. But more than that, I hope that just by living out my days I'm showing people a glimpse of something bigger. I hope I'm making my mark without even trying. I think that's what Jesus did, and I think that's what we all should strive for. You know what they say about walking the walk vs talking the talk. 

    I've decided to call them out, though. These people who are creating a framework for my world-view deserve not only to know, but to be praised. Because if there's one thing I know, it's that everyone is important, but not every hero needs to remain unsung. (Don't worry, I won't actually sing - nobody wants that!) 

    So check back everyday (!!!) over the next week and join me in calling out these pals of mine. (And no, they don't have any idea it's coming.)

  • A Thrill of Hope

    I have a few favorite Christmas songs. By that I mean that there are very few songs that come on that don't merit a gasp paired with an "I love this song!" from me. One of my college best friends, Mandy, and I have always unashamedly listened to Christmas music all year round. Sometimes you just need a little N'SYNC Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays in your life, you know? But, generally speaking, I think it's easy to pigeon-hole Christmas music; the songs are about the birth of Jesus or a whole other host of seasonally-appropriate themes, all of which immediately call to mind December, red and green, and a whole lot of sweets.

    However, last Sunday at church I had a new experience with an age-old song. The band played O Holy Night, and as I sang along, one of the lyrics struck me in a different, more poignant way than ever before. A way that is relevant to the situation of our world not only today, but constantly.

    A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.

    Now, before I go into my whole spiel, I did some fact checking and looked up the actual dictionary definition of weary, because I think it's one of those words we all use, but maybe we aren't familiar with the exact Merriam-Webster meaning. 

    1. lacking strength, energy, or freshness because of a need for rest or sleep
    2. bored or annoyed by something because you have seen it, heard it, done it, etc., many times or for a long time

    If I know one thing to be true, it is this: we are a weary world. I'm not standing here and saying that the world has gone to hell in a hand-basket only recently, as I know history has shown us time and again that terrible things can and will happen, both naturally and man-caused. But I don't think any of you would disagree with me when I say this: we are tired. I'm tired of turning on the news or checking into social media to find another attack on innocents, another citizen turning a gun on their peers, another senseless act of terror. I'm tired of needing hashtags and viral images to show we stand in solidarity with our fallen brethren. I'm tired of living in fear for what will come next, what horrible thing will top the last. 

    We cannot dwell on our fatigue with the ways of the world. Ever since Eve bit into that apple we have seen history repeat itself. The fact is that we live in a fallen world, and we are not meant to see peace and prosperity... not yet. 

    But today is Christmas day, a day when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior: a thrill of hope. We, as a weary world, have been seeking hope in the wrong places. In different gun control laws. In tighter immigration screenings. In new leadership. In eliminating terrorist cells. I cannot and will not say that any number of changes to our world will not help our situation in some way or another. But I can promise you that is not where we will find our hope. 

    I asked for a crock pot and running shoes for Christmas this year. I remember thinking, "damn, this must be adulthood." However, I'm feeling extra adult on this evening as I grasp firmer than ever before to a lyric: this is my grown up Christmas wish. I'll leave hoping for World Peace to the pageant contestants, but I do have something heavy on my heart:

    My prayer this Christmas is that you'll all feel the love and hope that only comes from Jesus Christ. I pray that we will close out 2015, wipe away the tears of hurt, and walk into 2016 with our eyes turned heavenward. I pray that we will not be focused on or bothered by the little things of this world, and that we will be quick to take our hurts and requests to God. And, most of all, I pray that we will continue to anticipate those pearly gates and the deliverance of this weary world from all of this strife and sadness. Because one day we will dance in Heaven, break bread with our Savior and celebrate the love and happiness, without a thought to all of this darkness. 

    Merry Christmas, and big love and hugs to you all! Keep clinging to that thrill of hope.

  • Mission: Get Harry-ed

    You may (or may not) know that in 5 (five!!!) short days I'll be hopping the pond with my girls Alex and Courtney for our first (of presumably many) trip as a traveling trio. We are going to act royal in and around London, eat bread and macaroons all over Paris, and sling back beers with the best of them in Munich. The word "excited" doesn't seem to convey the proper emotions, nor do "amped," "psyched," or "stoked." "Jazzed" comes close, though.

    As if taking in the sights, sounds and smells (hello, fresh baguettes!) won't be enough, I'm heading out on this trip with a whole other agenda. It's time to get Harry-ed. 

    The fates and stars and everything else that can align have, and it seems that Prince Harry, Harry Styles, and (presumably) plenty of other accent-laden Harrys have all returned to the motherland, most likely in wake of the news that we are coming. (Duh.) So, I've decided that at the ripe age of 26 I am going to snag myself a well-dressed, well-bred lad to bring home to Butch and Ellen. And, if all goes according to plan, so will Courtney and Alex. 

    TARGET ONE: PRINCE HARRY

    I really think this one goes without saying. It's high time that every woman in my life has the opportunity to be fitted for a fancy hat (lookin' at you, Sisk) and swept away in an exotic (read: expensive) car or horse-drawn chariot to meet me at the chapel. I've always imagined myself in a wedding gown with sleeves, so basically I'm a shoe in.  Plus, I doubt I'm alone in saying that Pippa needs some competition when it comes to the Best Aunt award. All good things ought to be earned, not given, and I'm willing to sacrifice myself to a life wed to a royal to teach that lesson to Prince George and Princess Charlotte. 

    TARGET TWO: HARRY STYLES

    What? I'm willing to be a cougar. While no lady is blind to those luscious locks (this wouldn't be the first time I've mentioned that a full head of thick hair is a mega #husbandgoal), I see more than just a pretty face and catalog of Taylor Swift songs. Musical (check!), beautiful (check!), British (check!), and stylish (check!). As if all of that weren't enough, I recently saw this article about how he lovingly corrected a fan's poster when she incorrectly used "your" rather than "you're," and if that doesn't scream "Aimee's soulmate" then I don't know what will! We could bring the world proper grammar, one 1D concert at a time. (If they're even a band anymore... I can't keep up!)

    TARGET THREE: HARRY DOE

    Let's all be honest with ourselves: the phrase "every Tom, Dick and Harry" doesn't exist without cause! I fully anticipate meeting many a men named Harry beginning the very moment I step into that fresh London air, and they'll all be considered a candidate for Aimee's heart. (You can't always be picky, ya know?) My only request is that he be either a. British or b. well traveled. (AKA everyone, because if they're not local then they're on a trip.) [Sidebar: I'm not ruling out Toms, but Dicks may be a stretch for me. Though I love to be surprised, so show me what you're made of, Richards!]

    So there you have it. I think I stand with the Blues Brothers when I say that I'm on a mission from God. It's no coincidence that Harry rhymes so well with marry, amiright?! Plus, I already checked and #AimeeGetsHarryed is totally free for my future use. First stop Heathrow, next stop wedded bliss! 

    ***We will also be doing the Harry Potter tour while in town, and I would like to make it know that for all intents and purposes Daniel Radcliffe can and will be considered a Harry if push comes to shove.

  • Kick-starting a Commitment

    I'm a pretty firm believer in the fact that some of the best things in life are birthed out of midnight giggle sessions on the couch. This story is no different. 

    A couple of months ago Abby, Rachel and I were sitting on the couch looking at Kickstarter video after Kickstarter video. This may seem a little strange to you, but have you ever done it? Those videos speak to my soul! It's so inspiring to hear people talk about their ideas and dreams and see them putting them into action and going out on a limb, hoping that someone will share their passion and excitement for their product. It's exhilirating! I just want to give and give and give my money to these people to fund their dreams! (If you don't know what Kickstarter is, you're probably giving me [by way of this blog post] a really strange look, so feel free to aquaint yourself.) Anyway, back to the point. So during our Kickstarter binge we stumbled upon a Kickstarter for Committed's second album (insert fangirl scream here). If you don't recall, or aren't much of a TV watcher, Committed won season two of The Sing-Off — and you are so welcome for that link to their YouTube page. I'm sure that'll keep you occupied for a while! So we went to their Kickstarter and clicked on the video and...... well, that was about it. There wasn't much to it. Where were the heart-melting smiles? The soul-stirring harmonies? The squeal-inciting choreographed dance moves? We were left wanting more of the six boys who we fell in love with a few Christmas breaks ago. 

    So we had this hair-brained idea. The three of us often lean to the bold and ridiculous side of the scale, so you may not be surprised by what we did next. We messaged them, duh. I mean, what were we supposed to do? Here we were, four girls (Sam was snoozing) who loved their music and had a knack for photography and videography (okay, so maybe only one of us has a knack for videography, but every girl needs her team, amiright?) and there they were, six boys who needed us four girls (or so we had decided). We told them (in the most loving of ways) that we thought their video could use a little work and, since we didn't have the financial means to contribute to their Kickstarter, we wanted to make them a new video and to hit us up if they were interested. (We also fully hoped to become best friends with them.) And wouldn't you know that at work the next day I got a message in my email from Lance at Tin Box Management saying that they had looked at Abby's work and were impressed and wanted to talk about what we had in mind for their video. 

    One phone call, a couple of emails and a few weeks later and we were in Rachel's trusty 4Runner on our way to Florence, AL for our first ever gig as Rockaway (awe-inspiring video, photo and design work to come). We got to the venue and had the privelidge of meeting the guys (in waves, as there were some transportation issues... you know you've made it when you have transportation issues! Or when you win an NBC televised contest... whichever.), watching their soundcheck, eating the catered food for the VIP and watching an absolutely breath-taking show. Can you say talent? I can: it sounds a lot like "Committed." I think my favorite part of the day was during our interview with Therry (the precious one that you may remember Nicole Scherzinger loving during their rendition of the Backstreet Boys' "I Want it That Way"). He was talking about their vision for the new album and about one song they've written, in particular, about having a bad day but how it's okay because at the end of the day it's over and tomorrow is totally new and untainted with all of the potential in the world to be good. It was my favorite part of the day because he was speaking my language: you may remember me getting a tattoo last year on my 23rd birthday that says Fresh Manna and means, essentially, just what he was talking about. Like... Therry gets me. 

    Basically this blog post is written with two purposes in mind: to make you insanely jealous that my roommates and I are on the path to becoming BFF with potentially the best a capella group out there and to encourage you to act on a whim: sending a midnight e-mail to a group of recording artists might seem like the most bizarre action, but you just never know where it might take you! 

  • Silent Night

    There are a few things that are horrific to wake up to while pet-sitting:

    1. Your face being licked. When you're used to living in a pet-free environment, this is a very disconcerting thing to be awoken by.
    2. The smell of a dog fart. It smells almost exactly the same as the food you mixed earlier (and gagged whilst doing so) only it burns your nose more and you're utterly unprepared for it.
    3. Silence.

    I guess I should give you a little back story. A couple of months ago I was asked by some family friends to pet sit. Being the young, single, broke girl that I am, I jumped at their offer of cash, a home away from home and free reign over the liquor cabinet. (What? You'd have done the same thing.) I was conscious of the "s" at the end of "will you watch our pets" but really had no idea what I had signed myself up for.

    You see, Ms. Joyce had conveniently left off the part where they have NINE ANIMALS. Yes, you heard me: I, Aimee Belcher, not only agreed to pet-sit, but managed to keep 6 cats and 3 dogs alive and happy for 5 days. If you ever doubted me, I hope you're eating your words! There were Gizmo and Spatz, the outside cats. (Except Gizmo slept inside at night... and he ate special food.) Then there was Shug (the fat, deaf one), Celie (the shy one), Emma (the friendly one) and Samson (the old, regal one). I'm basically an animal whisperer because Celie (who they warned me I might never see) totally wanted to be my best friend. And as far as the dogs go, there was Barkley, Bailey and Griffin. As I type this I'm totally doubting that his name is Griffin... but I know it was a G and nothing else sounds right so... we'll go with Griffin. All 3 of the dogs were a. big b. medicated and c. ate different food. I lived by the instructions that were left for me, although by the last day I pretty much had it on lock.

    You had to section off each of the dogs in their own area before giving them food, then give them the food, then give them the drugs, then they could all hang out together again. But be sure not to let them anywhere near the cats! They were only allowed in the "cat-free zone", which is also where I found myself spending most of my time. Four of the cats ate the same thing, then there was Gizmo with the "special food" and Spatz the outside cat who got more food than all the rest... you gotta have energy to chase down opossums, you know?

    Which reminds me, I came FACE TO FACE with an opossum. It. Was. Terrifying. Well, probably the opossum was more scared than me, but when you open the front door of a house nothing can really prepare you for making eye contact with a rabid animal. Not to mention how creepy and disgusting oposums look and are. Ew. Luckily he scurried away immediately... who knows how I would have reacted in the event of a stand-off.

    SO ANYWAY, back to the dogs. As I took the job and was being debriefed, they hit me with the one-two punch. Ms. Phyllis buttered me up with a melt-in-you-mouth steak and wine combo just in time for Ms. Joyce to blurt out the sentence "I mean, worst case scenario is that Barkley dies. She could go any day, we're not really sure how she's still alive." Doesn't that just make you feel warm and fuzzy and confident? Here I was, signing off on taking care of NINE ANIMALS, when they tell me sweet Barkley has congestive heart failure and may very well die on my watch. Which brings me back to the third most frightening thing you can wake up to: silence.

    You see, Barkley and I were room-mates in the cat-free zone during my stay. She'd usually walk on over to her bed and do her own sleeping thing for the night (save for the snoring and occasional fart) and I would watch some Criminal Minds as I drifted off into a something-less-than-peaceful sleep. However one night I woke up and, in my half-asleep state, heard nothing. NOTHING. I sat up in a dead panic and held my breath and listened. I kicked my feet a little, rustled the pillows, tried to do anything that might cause a potentially dead dog to stir. Nothing. I couldn't hear breathing, I couldn't hear snoring, I couldn't hear anything. I sat there for probably 45 seconds as sweat collected on my brown trying to determine my next move. Do I shake her? That's what I'd do if I thought a person was dead... does the same go for dogs? Should I hold a mirror under her nose? I've seen that on Law & Order... or Cold Case... or one of those shows. What's the protocol here? But just as I was firming up my game plan of shaking then googling, my girl Barkley let out a big ole sigh. Let me tell you... the relief I felt could probably be compared to how it must feel to get a negative on a pregnancy test during your wild college years... or so I imagine.

    All in all it was a very successful trip. I decided that I don't hate (all) cats, that I could never be a Vet and that I should probably never own more than 2 animals at a time... nor should I feed them wet food. That stuff is pungent!!

    I am sad to say, however, that sweet Barkley passed away a few weeks after my assignment was over. So this post is dedicated to her memory... and the fact that she made it through my stint as pet-sitter.