Monday, September 28, 2009

I Gotta Feeling...

That tonight's gonna be a good night,
That tonight's gonna be a good night,
That tonight's gonna be a good GOOD night!

I love this song. It's inexplicable. I know the Black Eyed Peas are totally cheesy. And pop-y. But I adore most of their stuff, and especially this little number.

Check 'em out on Oprah. J showed me this video last night and it completely made my evening. I, by the way, am 100 percent that one girl in the front - jamming out while everyone is looking at her like she's having a seizure. Hilarious.

There's a sharper version on YouTube (here), but I like this one because you can see the girl completely spazzing out before the others join her. Heh.

Erm, I hope this will counteract the intensity of my previous post a smidge. Considered removing it, but decided that that would be a cop out. A person can't be all sunshine and happiness all the time. It's all cyclical. And I'm on an upswing. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Patrick Swayze edition.

I have a great deal of faith in faith; if you believe something strongly enough, it becomes true for you. I would like to believe [...] that there's life after death -- because if there isn't, why are we here? I don't believe that just flesh and bones can contain from the point of view of physics this very real recorded energy inside of us. Whether it's true or not, we need to believe it.
...Said Swayze in his June 2009 interview with Barbara Walters - the first one he ever gave after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He was facing the cancer that kills four out of five people who are diagnosed with the disease within a year. He was skinnier than I have ever seen him on T.V. or in the movies - frail and jaundiced looking. Terrifying. And terrifyingly familiar.

Every time someone notable is diagnosed with the cancer that killed my dad, I can't help compulsively following the story.

Randy Pausch - the college professor who wrote The Last Lecture, becoming a YouTube and Oprah phenomenon before passing away this summer. Whose book my friend has loaned but which I have yet gotten the guts to read.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

There's also this guy on the radio, former journalist Leroy Sievers (had to look him up to remember his name) who I used to listen to talk about cancer in my car in DC and cry on my way to painting class in Alexandria.

And now, Swayze. Star of two of my absolute favorite movies as a kid - Dirty Dancing and Ghost. And of two of J's favorite movies - Point Break and Roadhouse (har har).

There's something cathartic about reliving stories like my dad's over and over again. Feeling the punch in the gut and the subsequent lost of wind to the lungs of hearing another person to have pancreatic cancer. Watching the news and RSS feeds for any news of the person's condition to hear how they're battling with the disease. Grieving all over again when the inevitable news of their death makes the papers.

And for me, casually asking the scientists and grant writers at the institute if they're ever going to do work on pancreatic cancer. There was a grant apparently, but it didn't go through.

I guess that's part of it - telling your story over and over again in the hopes that someday it will all make sense, then seeking out others like you who are going through the same scenario. And watching. And waiting. And wondering if this will be the person who triumphs over the disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, for all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20 percent, and the five-year rate is four percent. And if Patrick Swayze can't make it, things don't look so good for less visible patients.

What a downer.

Something happened today, though. A group of Clearview Cancer Institute volunteers toured the institute came to tour. During my time with them, I learned that all of the group members are either cancer survivors or caretakers of those with cancer. And they are touring the institute learning what work we're doing here in the laboratory is on it's way to their clinic. This made me feel good - and also interested in looking into volunteering at CCI. More on that as I find out.

In lieu of favors at our wedding, J and I will be making a donation to the American Cancer Society for our loved ones lost, my dad and his grandmother who died of brain cancer a few years ago. A friend
walked for my dad over the summer in a Relay for Life in Ohio and sent photos of his luminaries along the track. Things like these help; and talking, and following the stories of others.

If you ever want to hear about my dad sometime, ask me. I'll gladly tell you all about him. Or tell me about your story. Something about the telling and re-telling helps us process, I think.

I want to have a co-ed Patrick Swayze movie-viewing party to honor the life of another who should be celebrated for his living accomplishments more than the grace with with he faced death.

Yeaaaaah Swayze:

Friday, September 18, 2009


Hello there, blog.

I seem to be leaving you in the lurch all the time lately, don't I? I really do feel guilty on one level. But on another, a neglected blog means a busy and full real life. So yeah. That's a good thing. What have I been up to...

View from a deck at the event space.

Lots of tours and layout and web at work. Lots of plotting and scheming outside of work for this little event we have coming up in May. Got quite an impressive amount of work done this week on that front.
  • Ordered a wedding dress
  • Picked a venue (um, gorgeous?!)
  • Ordered bridesmaid dresses (Aqua on super sale at J.Crew. I am trying to be a good, recession-conscious, bargain savvy friend...) The J.Crew customer service rep informed me via email how nice "my girls" are to work with and how great my friends are. I couldn't agree more, Veronica. But hearing someone else appreciate them in the way I do makes me feel even better.
  • Made an appointment for deposits on the food, photographer and venue.
I am so looking forward to this low-key, understated (gorgeous, fun) observation of the start of our marriage and most of all recognizing this huge event in our lives with our nearest and dearest: Veronica's "best friends ever" and family from all over. And family friends.

We start "how-to-handle-your money-now-that-you're-attached-forever-and-ever classes" early next month and pastoral counseling sessions start in December. Is it strange that I'm looking forward to this? I guess these are so attractive to me because I really feel like we're entering into this with eyes open, and minds open. Ready to not just love each other unconditionally and eat lots o' good food, but aware and ready for the real world stuff. The paying off grad school loans and saving for retirement stuff.

Can't remember who - whether it was mom, dad or both, who always said something to the effect of, "money can't buy you happiness, but a lack of it can make you miserable." I want us to be real happy, like comfortable in our lives happy. And I have faith that this will come together for us. With lots of work at it.

Hrm. Aside from financial rants, other interesting things -

Headed to San Francisco in November! I booked airline tickets yesterday and will be spending some time out West. Half with the fam and the rest at a Dreamforce conference. Exciting.

Also, my friend Michelle started a blog! She's too cute and I loved her inaugural post about creative uses for leftovers. Totally keeping an eye out on her for posts like this... extremely useful. She's an entertaining writer, too. Check her out!

Still totally enjoying Glee. For those who haven't watched yet, please do. I am aware that I have a fixation with anything dance and/or musical-related and that not everyone dies over SYTYCD like I do. I can honestly say that this show will be a perfect Wednesday night pick-me-up for anyone. Musically inclined or no. Campy and hilarious. And current/relevant. Quality viewing.

Heading to the Monte Sano art fair this weekend. I love it up there (even more now... :) and the art show is always a blast. It's become one of the first signs of fall here, probably because it's a bit cooler up on the mountain... delightful.

So, blog, again - I apologize for the abandonment. But as you can see, I've been a busy lady. I think less frequent, more action-packed posts are acceptable. And they are going to have to work for a while. This is a fun hobby. Not another job duty. Thankfully.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Me and my zombie alter ego.

It's been a busy few weeks. Social South was amazing. I met a ton of people that I look forward to keeping up with in my circle of social network friends. I reunited with some great old friends, including Katie and my Style & Design teacher Robert, who taught me everything I started out with about Web design. All in all, a great weekend of new and old friends paired with novel and familiar concepts in the world of SM.

Immediately upon returning home, J and I took engagement photos. We're not usually huge on over-hyping life events (a few photos at the wedding itself would have been fine for us) but a good friend of mine, Meghan, is quite the hobbyist photographer. Anyway, Meghan took some fantastic engagement photos that she posted on her Web site and we got to keep. Win/win!

Here's Good Melanie:

The pictures were lots of fun, but quite honestly, neither J nor I are the most comfortable with these intentional, posed photo sessions. I was feeling a bit... hm, precious, after we got our really cute, newspaper announcement-worthy images.

Enter the Thriller dance. Huntsville's Dixie Derby Girls roller derby team hosted a Thrill-HER (uh, MJ, anyone?) themed final home derby bout for the 2009 season and put out a call for Thriller dancers. About 10 of us responded. We practiced hard though, had a blast and performed for the masses (seriously, about 700-plus people) on Saturday, August 29. It was incredibly fun. And now I have a new party trick. Everyone needs to know the Thriller dance, I've decided, to be a functioning part of society. Ironic, since MJ himself was a bit touch and go at the end. Let's remember him fondly in his pre-creepy days...

Here's Bad Melanie:

My makeup job was AWESOME
. A girlfriend happened upon a professional makeup artist out the night before the dance. My face was covered in liquid latex. I had craters and bruises and it looked like my nose had rotted off. My mother was horrified. Like I said, awesome.

Here's the video. Two full minutes of MJ-80s-hayday-fabulousity. Enjoy!

Unfortunately, the vid was originally posted on Facebook. Hope everyone can get there...