Sunday, February 8, 2015

Quarter Life Crisis

I used to think that was basically a load a garbage, this idea of a mid (quarter) life crisis. And yet, I think I may be experiencing one. Don't worry, I haven't spent an extravagant amount of money on a sports car, or decided to run away to Dubai. My quarter life crisis, like me, is pretty controlled all things considered.

Although, the more I think about it, the more I think I could be experiencing a quarter life awakening. That sounds pretty pretentious, but I'm not sure how to describe what's going on in my head and in my life.

Everything feels so much closer to the surface. I'm not sure how else to describe it. I've always enjoyed a good book, but recently the books I've invested in carry more weight. Maybe I've been reading some really wonderful novels. I think that's a part of it, but I don't think that's all. I'm not the teary type, but I was reading this novel called Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel and I started tearing up at some of the passages! Also, Swamplandia! (Karen Russell), completely captivated me in a way that hasn't happened since the first time I read American Gods (Neil Gaiman, my junior year of high school). I am simmering in feelings which is not a bad thing, but it is intimidating.

I blame Station Eleven for triggering what I have jokingly referred to as my existential crisis. At 3 AM. On a Wednesday. Hear me out. In the novel, a strain of avian flu sweeps through the world and kills just about everyone. That's kind of the precursor. The real meat of the story takes place 20 year after the pandemic, following a troupe of Shakespearean performers. This band of musicians and actors travels from hamlet to hamlet performing different plays. Because, when the whole world gets wiped out by an avian flu, Shakespeare still captivates. What really got me thinking was this passage where a man who lived in the world pre-flu, sees what will probably be the last plane take off from the airport. The last plane, ever, flying away.

There is a second part where this kid who was 7 when the flu happens basically ends up leading this crazy sect of people who go around enslaving others and making all the young women his wives etc. etc. when he grows up. Medieval, and evil, stuff.

Which brings me to the existential crisis part. Just follow me for a minute. When you take time to think about it, pretty much everything we as human beings find valuable actually does not have an inherent value. Money, religion, systems of government, art, love, even gender and so many more things only hold value because we have decided that they do. Here's a great example that I'm still thinking about days later. The color red. There is nothing that is the actual color red because at some point along the way a person noticed that this things was different then that thing visually and came up with the idea of color. Nothing is actually red, we just decided that this is what we want red to be. Fair warning, it's easy to fall down that rabbit hole, especially if you really examine so many structures that we take for granted (capitalism, consumerism, gender conformity, art, even religion).

I blame Plato's allegory of the cave and multiple english theory classes. If you don't know about Plato, look him up. Check out his ideas on perfect forms and Plato's Allegory of the Cave (look, I even supplied some of the text for you). Maybe I should have been a philosophy major, but I think that might have damaged my brain. So maybe all of these important facets of my life are actually completely meaningless. Talk about having the ground under your feet shake.

But maybe not. Maybe, in order to be more than cavemen, we have to watch the sun go down and think about how shocking and otherworldly that array of colors is. Maybe, words strung together can be so beautiful you could drown yourself in them (in Station Eleven Shakespeare has the ability to captivate and challenge audiences even when the world has pretty much come to an end). I have experienced love in all kinds of forms and I have to believe that the connection I have to other people is more than just a desire for protection, or the natural need to go forth and multiply. Even the crappy stuff is important. Heartbreak, that's real people. When someone let's you down so hard you feel the weight of it all grinding your joints together, there is something inexplicable to all of that.

Sometimes, when I'm feeling restless, I go for a late night drive by the bayou. I play some music, sometimes it's Fleet Foxes or the Head and Heart. Sometimes it's Childish Gambino. A lot of the time it's Explosions in the Sky. I roll down the windows and for a few minutes I feel like my soul is pushing at my skin, trying to get as close to the surface as possible.

The forecast is 75 and sunny for the rest of the week. That may just be how certain hot
and cold fronts collide, but I like to think it's a combination of luck, timing and grace.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hands in Clay

I've decided to spend a little bit of time talking about clay. Pottery to be exact. I've been posting a lot of pictures on instagram and Facebook and the positive feedback is great. I've actually been doing some form of pottery for about 10 years on and off, so it's become a pretty integral part of my life. It's been such an integral part of my life that I don't really talk about it that much. Or, I don't talk about how I got started and how I actually have quite a history with pottery, so I figure might as well start sharing now.

In 8th grade I took my first ceramics class. We made hand built pieces (so nothing involving the pottery wheel) that ranged from basic rattles to plates of food to slab form vessels. All pretty basic stuff. I like to consider that first class Mr.Huntoon's weed out class. If you can't take the time and have the patience to make a vase out of slabs (a process that would take at least 3 classes), then you definitely did not have the patience to work with the wheel (something that is still really challenging for me). 

Obviously something stuck because I worked in the studio in some form or fashion for my entire high school career. My teacher, Gary Huntoon (go google his stuff, he makes some pretty amazing pieces) and I had a great relationship. We have a very similar sense of humor, so when he called my first thrown pot a door post, I laughed, a lot. Because let's be real, that's about all that piece of junk was good for. 

The studio door was only locked after school hours, so I would head on in and work on the wheel whenever I could make time. Just to be clear, I made a lot of time. During the summer I would go up to Parish to work on projects and keep building up that muscle memory on the wheel. In retrospect I was pretty spoiled. I had free clay, free class time, free glazes and a free teacher. Mr.Huntoon is a talented, extremely creative potter who recognized my passion and decided to foster it. 

So, when I was at freshman orientation at Rhodes and was told that they did not have a ceramics program I called home and told my mom that I needed to transfer immediately. (Un)Fortunately my mom's logic won out, I could do things back in Dallas at Mr. Huntoon's studio and if I really wanted to take ceramics I should have checked on that BEFORE freshman orientation. The summer after my freshman and sophomore year of college I would spend some time with Mr. Huntoon at his studio, working on pieces, spending time with him, his wife and their two little Japanese Chin puppies. Then,  Mr. Huntoon decided to up and move to North Carolina. So for the next two summers I didn't touch any clay. Granted, during that time I did live abroad, pursue some great career building opportunities and fine tune my writing, BUT I didn't get my hands in any clay for two years.

During my YAV year we spent some time talking about 'self care' and what that looks like for each individual. As we were talking about what brings us joy, I kept circling back to pottery. It was a big risk, walking into a class full of strangers with a teacher that I didn't know, but at some point you have to take the plunge. I am so glad I did. I started my first class at Hands in Clay studio in November of 2013. I have not missed a single session since. It's more expensive this time around (what do you mean I have to actually pay for supplies?!), but I absolutely love the community that comes along with working in that studio. 

There are very few things that consistently fulfill me spiritually, emotionally and physically. Working on the wheel surrounded by kick-ass people does the trick every time. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but there is something so immensely satisfying about centering a piece of clay, or having sore shoulders because you've decided to throw with more clay than you're used to. Or finally getting a piece out of the kiln and having the studio owner leave a compliment on a post-it note on your shelf (that's happened approximately twice since I've started taking classes there, something I consider an accomplishment).  Wednesdays are my favorite days because I know that for two and half hours I get to hang out in the studio and (attempt) to make something beautiful and unique. I started working with this red clay at the end of the December, I can babble on for hours about it. If you want the nitty gritty details, let me know. For now, I've compiled most of the pieces I've made the past few months. I know they're floating around the internet, but they aren't all in a single place so I figured it was time to do that. Also, sorry about the formatting. Blogger is only so good with pictures.

Mug phase 1

Mug phase 2
I'm really into lidded vessels right now

Also learning how to carve things into things 

See what I mean? Trying all the carving things

Finished product from my first carving adventure

Glazing, the final step before the finished product

Finished bowl!

Another finished lidded vessel

Vessel with lid
And without lid!

Clock faces
The finished product 

Nothing more satisfying than eating breakfast out of a bowl I made

Yep, even made a couple of little hedgehogs.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Performing Under Stress

During my YAV year our house spent a lot time talking about, identifying, and addressing anxiety. We did this on a micro and macro scale, talking about our individual triggers, as well as recognizing societal anxieties. Anxiety is now comfortably seated in my vocabulary and I like to think that I at least have an idea of what triggers my own anxiousness.

So the good thing about anxiety is that it can drive you. Or at least, it drives me. Which is great because I am starting one the busiest weeks of my year. Let me tell ya'll, I perform awesome under stress. I go into machine mode and get high quality work done in record time. I take after my father in that way. Unfortunately I'm not the most pleasant person when I'm in work mode, but dammit I get things done!

This week I have two very important things happening. The first is for my presbytery job. We are having our first youth committee meeting since I started the job in August. I've done a lot of prep work for this, a lot of this meeting will set up parameters for how I do my job while I am employed by the presbytery. So no pressure or anything.

The second is for Project Homecoming. We are having our Second Annual Gala: A Decade of Difference (I came up with the theme!) this Saturday, January 24th. This event is a culmination of the work I've been doing since August. At Project Homecoming I've been spending about half of my time recruiting for our Summer Youth Mission Program and half of my time getting parts together for this fundraiser. I am technically overseeing the silent auction, but I have been helping with everything from creating signage to recruiting volunteers to acquiring an a/v system for the evening. We are officially in crunch time. I spent today getting my life together for the rest of the week because I'm expecting long hours through Saturday. Sometimes being an adult is... stressful sometimes.

That being said, the event is going to be amazing. We have a chef from Mr.B's Bistro coming in and catering the event, the Brass-A-Holics are playing a two hour set, I even managed to get some awesome packages put together for the silent auction. Oh! And an open bar. It's well worth the $50 to come.

Also, did I mention my parents are coming into town to attend the gala? Yeah. The other good thing about stress is that I clean lots of things. Don't worry mom, the house is pristine. I am so happy they will be in town to support me and also to buy me dinner and brunch, amiright?

I will have lots of fun things and pictures after this week! Promise!

Wish us luck!


Monday, December 15, 2014

On Being Lonely

Ya'll, I don't know if it's the weather (although, let's be real, it's a high of 72 and sunny today in New Orleans) or the way it gets dark at 4:30 or maybe just something about my chemistry that gets out of whack come late November, but I have been feeling very lonely. Let me be clear, I am not alone. I have about a million people who support me, friends near and far, family, co-workers even a therapist who is a phone call away.

So I am not alone, but I am lonely.

A lot of times, these are hard for me to reconcile. How in the world can you be lonely when you have so many resources at your finger tips? Well, I'm not really sure. All I know is that, right now, I wake up some morning and feel like I can move mountains. You could throw anything at me and I would happily catch it and run with it. But there are mornings, like this morning, when there are 3 things I want to do.

1. Sit in my bed and cry for a bit. Not too long, but crying is starting to become therapeutic for me.

2. Call my mom so she can listen to me, but also so she can tell me how awesome I am. Because some days you just need that from your mom.

3. Text a friend, set up a brunch date and and spend an hour or so talking about the things that are weighing you down. Even if they are trivial, a good friend will listen and not minimize your frustrations and sorrows.

Today I did all three. I woke up felt kind of sorry for myself, cried on the phone with my mom (who did in fact tell me how awesome I am and sent me videos of our cat that is in a cone right now as an extra pick-me-up), then went to brunch with Valentina. And by brunch I mean I stuffed my face full of croissants, drank a lot of coffee and talked about pretty much everything that is pressing down on my shoulder and causing cricks in my neck.

While we were talking I made the comment along the lines of, "I just feel like everyone else is getting their lives together and mine is a mess." Isn't that silly? Like, what?
Valentina's response was gentle and reaffirming. "I don't think that's true. You have a great job situation, you go to the gym almost every day. You eat really healthy food, and you're a good friend." See, what a reaffirming thing to hear. And ya know what, she's right.

This post isn't necessarily the place I want to delve into all the possibilities for why I feel lonely, because there are a plethora and some things are meant to be private, but I did want to share how I deal with it.

How Alex Shakes Off the Lonelies 101*

*it should be noted that these are different then the ones listed above. These are more of a day to day routine kind of things, as opposed to having an exceptionally lonely day kind of thing.

1. Gym. In the past month I have really taken to exercising. There is nothing like a nice kick of adrenaline to keep you going.

2. Food. Well, cooking food. For a long time I associated eating out and eating rich food with happiness and now I have to lose 20 lbs. So, instead of eating out, I am making the time to cook something yummy that lasts me a couple of day. Today (after the croissants of course) the menu was baked chicken, sauteed squash and zucchini and a yam with brown sugar. Ok, so the brown sugar is probably not the healthiest of choices, but woman cannot live on yam alone.

3. Reading. It's like I'm 12 again (that's about the age I was when I got in trouble for reading too much at school). I am devouring books like it's nobodies business (when I have to do something on the treadmill I try to have some kind of reading available).

  • Swamplandia! by Karen Russell is amazing. And sometimes kind of sad, but also inspiring. It's so creative and well done. I haven't done much fiction writing since graduation and this book has inspired me to sit my ass down and spend some time on a new short story. Currently only on page 3, but that is single spaced people!

  • Sometimes I indulge in a graphic novel, or in this case a series of graphic novels. This story was written by one of my favorite horror authors, Joe Hill (check out NOS4A2 for some scary writing). Valentina lent me her copy of the first one. I proceeded to devour the next five over the weekend. The graphic novel is called Locke & Key, the story is by Joe Hill and the graphics part is by Gabriel Rodriguez.

  • The one I'm currently deep into is called, "When Mystical Creatures Attack", by Kathleen Founds. This story deals with mental illness and coming of age themes through a series of fictional essays and letter high schoolers write to (and for) their English teacher after she has a bi-polar episode and is admitted to a mental institution where she has to earn "Happiness Points" in order to be released. It is hilarious and awesome and I am continually astounded by how creative it is. Who comes up with these things (well besides Kathleen Founds of course)? I am envious. 

4.  Writing. Once upon a time I woke up every morning and wrote a little bit. Granted I did this because Professor Behr threatened to fail me in Intermediate fiction, there by kicking my ass into gear, but still! I would get up and fiddle away at my short story. I have come to learn that my second drafts are always substantially better than my first drafts and my first drafts are only worth while if I make the decision to spend some time on it. I started a short story last week and I've fiddled with it some. I will continue to fiddle with it. Wish me luck.

5. Friends. Last Monday I made the decision to drive out to Auburn to visit Megan. Best decisions ever. For a few reasons. First of all, Megan is a wonderful unicorn of a woman (yeah, you read that right). She is great. I wasn't sure when I was going to be able to visit her and it turns out this past weekend was the last time before mid-March because of my work commitments. So off to Auburn I went. There were quite a few great things about this trip. The first being that I love driving in my car. 5 hours is just long enough to give me thinking time. I listened to Serial, I also played this awesome song on repeat (see below). Nothing like blasting music with the windows down to clear your head. I spent the weekend with Megan, decompressing and talking and generally enjoying myself. I got to meet her adorable dog. While Heidi's farts may be all the way from the seventh circle of hell, Heidi is kind of awesome. I love her so much.

So, in summary, my life is actually kind of not so bad. I made some comment to friend the other day about how, "Maybe I'm just not meant to be alone," and that's a load of horse shit (pardon my language), talk about being self indulgent. Being alone is a discipline in and of itself. Being lonely happens to everyone. And if you can't handle yourself then no one else can. So here's to me figuring out how to handle myself on my best and my worst days.


P.S. to get the full effects of that song, listen to it while you're going 80 down some random highway in Mississippi. Windows down preferably. Try to race one of those oversized trucks if you can.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Reading List

So, here's the thing. I grew up reading. In fact, I was once scolded in elementary school for reading instead of doing other work. My dad read me the hobbit when I was about the size of a hobbit (which for me was about age 7). Books are an integral part of my life. I have a kindle, and I read a lot of books on that, however I still believe in the magic of hard copy books. Here is a run down of the books that currently live with me in New Orleans:

American Gods & Anasazi Boys- Neil Gaiman (it's a double feature fancy hard back)
Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn
Help, Thanks, Wow - Anne Lamotte
Traveling Mercies- Anne Lamotte
Bossy Pants- Tina Fey
Dallas Noir- Assorted Authors (short stories)
Year of Plenty- Craig Goodwin
A Dance with Dragons- George R.R. Martin
Orange is the New Black- Piper Kerman
Dreamcare: A Theology of Youth, Spirit and Vocation- David F. White
The Best American Essays 2013- Assorted Authors
Assholes: A Theory- Aaron James
Joyland- Stephen King
Tiny Beautiful Things- Cheryl Strayed
New Stories from the South (2010 edition) - Amy Hempel and assorted authors
The Roald Dahl Omnibus
Cities of the Plain- Cormac McCarthy
Dorwn- Junot Diaz
This is How You Lose Her- Junot Diaz
Voices from the Peace Corps- Jack and Angene Wilson
The Discipleship Study Bible
Eat to Live- Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Sustainable Youth Ministry- Mark Devries (actually this one is on the way right now)

I have to be honest, I haven't read all of these all the way through. I took This is How You Lose Her on a youth trip I was chaperoning and realized very quickly that I would be in big trouble if any nosey 6th grader decided to read over my shoulder. Some of these I have read more times than I can count (American Gods, I'm lookin' at you). And others of these I've read pieces of (The Roald Dahl Omnibus is about as big as you would imagine, amazing short stories, amazing large compilation).

Got any questions? Want to recommend something? Better yet, know of a good audiobook I can listen to on my 8 hour drive to Dallas for Thanksgiving, let me know please! Comment here. Email me. Text me. Send smoke signals. They are all totally viable options.

Happy reading!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Love Note to YAV 2013-2014 (and some other things)

Hi friends! So, life has been crazier than normal. Here's a quick run down on my life in the month of September.

Just a few dates on the calendar...

September 12-14th, PSL Fall Youth Retreat

September 17, I am now 24 years old. Also known as mid-twenties. Weird.

September 18-21, ATX for Becca's Engagement

September 24, I have my first real (bad) adult experience. My house is broke into. Sometimes people suck.

September 25-28, YAV re-entry retreat at Ghost Ranch.

September 29- October 1st, REFOCUS conference at Austin Seminary with fellow youth workers

October 4-5, I sleep for ~ 48 hours straight.

October 14-17, Alexander comes to visit

October 16, Alexander officially gets a job. Celebrations ensue.

My last blog entry was right after Becca's engagement. So I will get started with September 24. Yes, my house was broken into.  And yes, it was pretty terrible. Not only did we (me and my housemates) get cleaned out, it was a serious violation of my space. I was also the one who came home to the burglary. Thankfully I have an amazing host mom through the YAV program who dropped everything and came to the house to be with me while I did the walk through with the cops, called the land lord etc. While I was a firm believer in the mentor program pre-burgulary, I am now a fierce believer. Amy was very helpful throughout the whole process, in the immediate aftermath and continuing through the weeks after. Also, the Kates hedgehog sat for me, which was not in the original plan, but I was not about to leave Penelope in the house while I was gone.

Ghost Ranch (aka YAV Re-entry Retreat)

Now, onto more pleasant things. After you serve a year as a YAV you are invited to attend a re-entry retreat at Ghost Ranch. It is a really great opportunity to process your year through small groups, group therapy (if you want to), individual therapy (again, if you want to), trail hikes, worship and free time with fellow volunteers.  I think about 2/3 of my YAV class came back for re-entry. It's not mandatory, but it is strongly encouraged and you get to go to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico for free. I don't have many pictures from the trip, but here are the few I took!

But really, re-entry was awesome. About a million times better than orientation. Seriously. Activities included (but not limited to), using toys to show an intense 'something' that happened during our year (which turned out to be a shockingly insightful activity and yes, Patrick, you can quote me on that). Worshipping together. Dancing together. Late night visits in Casita #9. Late night visits in that random cabin with a weird beam support system. Long conversations fire-side. A half hike to Chimney Rock (what?! I did half of it! That's more than none of it...). Coyotes. Seeing a billion stars every night. Making friends with some of the local transportation (the horses were very kind, but not very photogenic with their fly masks on). Hearing stories from the Philippines, Peru, Miami, North Ireland (to name a few) and sharing my own stories from New Orleans. 

There were 5 women, including myself in my small group. Our small group leader, Patrick, is attending Columbia seminary right now. Abby served in the Philippines, Sarah was in Northern Ireland, Michelle served in Miami and Mary Kate (a fellow Grace Presbytery volunteer) lived in Peru. Patrick was a YAV a few years back in Northern Ireland. Once a YAV always a YAV, I suppose.  Here are their blogs if you want to see what they were up to all year...

Update! Just got these amazing pictures from Michelle. She gets full credit for having her GoPro and using it and taking these adorable pictures of the small group we were in at Ghost Ranch...

This is what I know to be true, we all had extremely different experiences. We all grew, granted we all grew in very different ways, but I don't think any of us finished out the year saying "Hm, well I'm pretty much the same as I was when I started". Some of the growing was painful, some of it was challenging, some of it was freeing. I can also tell you this, despite our vastly different experiences with the culture, our work placement, our faith, even our personalities we could all relate to one another. I think that's why re-entry was so meaningful to me. You're surrounded by people who just get it. I know, I know, that sounds kind of crazy. Or pretentious. Or both. But it's true! It like we all have matching tattoos... on our hearts (ok, that was too much, I just had to try it out and see, but let's just pretend I didn't write that sentence...). I am actually very serious when I say that we are all connected. There was a lot of commiserating and "Oh yeah, I know what you mean" happening in our conversations. And what better place to commiserate than in one of the most beautiful places ever in infinity (on a completely separate note, I could definitely live in New Mexico and do ceramics for the rest of my life)? I almost didn't go to re-entry. As you can see from the beginning of this post, my September was packed full. I'm really glad I did. I walked away filled and energized and, despite some grumpy mumbling the last day of our retreat, excited about what is happening in the world and in the church (but let me be clear, if I ever hear the "oh she's just a YAV" as a reason not to take me seriously, I will not so gently comment about your character to your face).

Also, I got to know the wonderfully awesome Emily Warren. We may be soul mates in a past life, or maybe just soul mates in this life. Here is her vlog about the retreat... 

One final note about Ghost Ranch. We spent a lot of the retreat exploring ways to express ourselves and share our experiences. Big surprise, writing was one for me. I've been journaling since I was in 6th grade. Legit. Also, ceramics. Best life sustaining practice I've (re)picked up since I moved to New Orleans. That being said, I have slacked miserably on the whole creative writing thing. I just invested in microsoft word ($$$-- ughhhh) solely because I am serious about getting back into the writing game. Encourage me? Ask me to write you something? It takes a village, people! 


I got home from Ghost Ranch at midnight and flew out to Houston at 7 AM to get a ride to the REFOCUS conference at Austin Seminary the next day. Because when the going gets tough the tough keep going, which is not really the saying, but I like to think of myself as tough on occasion. The conference was great. I got to visit with a group of about 16 youth workers. All of them were from Texas, and most of them have years of experience. There was a lot of comparing notes, talking about our own experiences, sharing what works and what doesn't. We also spent some time exploring the idea of helping youth find a vocation. It was a great experience, I am so glad I had the opportunity to attend. I felt like I was in a youth workers think tank for a few days. I could say more but I feel like I used up most of verbosity for the Ghost Ranch bit. If you want to learn more about REFOCUS, let me know! Oh, and I got to see my cousin Matt for dinner. I had pho, it was amazing. I don't have any pictures from the trip, but here are a couple gems of Matt because, why not:

Matt as an adult.

And this adorable #tbt, Matt is on the left.

Alexander comes to New Orleans (and gets a job)

Coincidence? I think not. Alexander, Valentina and I all went to the Fly and had some celebratory champagne. Also, we got to play with this random puppy that came over to visit.

Valentina loves puppehs...

... and puppehs love her.

I spent 10 whole dollars on the champagne,
because this needed to be properly celebrated.

Even the dog got in on the celebration!

We continued the celebration at 12 Mile Limit, where Alexander
read aloud passage from the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records.
And that gets us well into October. Thanks for bearing with me, this was a bit longer than I had initially planned. Until then, give the Alabama Shakes a listen. Blast "On Your Way" while you're speeding down a highway. Feel good.


Monday, September 22, 2014

I and Love and You

So, even though this blog was supposed to last the duration of my YAV year, I got a stern lecture form my father about how I haven't been writing enough. I know that he doesn't really consider blogging writing (at least not the kind he wants me to do), but I like it. So I'm gonna keep doing it.

Yes, the title is also the title of an Avett Brothers song. And yes, it was on purpose. I had the privilege of going down to ATX to help surprise my dear friend Becca for her engagement this past weekend. Because, apparently, we are now getting old enough to be engaged.

For those of you who don't know, and even for those of you that do, Katie, Caroline, Becca and I have been running around together since 7th grade. Katie was my guide when I came to visit Parish, she kicked Connor in the shins and almost got a detention from Ms. Jenkins. Caroline and Katie have been very good friends, where ever Katie went, Caroline was sure to be there as well. 

Becca was my buddy for my first year at Parish. I'm pretty sure her job was not only to be my friend, but also to try and help me stay out of trouble. While the first worked out pretty well, I don't know if she really held up her end of the second part of that. There has always been plenty of trouble to go around between the four of us. 

When my family was in a very serious car accident, all four of them in the hospital in some capacity, Katie and her family took me. For a little over a week Katie, her brothers and her parents gave me the stability and comfort I needed to get through one of the scariest times of my life. Don't get me wrong, there were a million people who came in and helped, but the McBees kept me for a bit helping at least some part of my life stay normal.

During volleyball season, when we would get back from games at 11 or 12 at night, Miss Stockdale had the guest bed ready for me. They lived about 10 minutes from school, as opposed to my 30 minutes, so I would crash there for the night and get a little more sleep than if I had to drive all the way home and back to school early the next morning. There's a reason Miss Stockdale is still in my phone as Momma Stockdale. 

As for Caroline, she notices everything. Seriously, nothing gets past her. I love to people watch and I've never met someone who loves it even more then me. I like to think that Caroline has been the glue for the four of us. Freshman year of high school Caroline transferred to Ursuline Academy, but she somehow managed to get invited to every major dance, went to all of the footballs, and basically might as well have been at Parish for high school. In the beginning, in middle school, I knew her as Katie's friend, but when you spend 12 years with someone, they are bound to become a lot more than that. She has definitely been the most patient with all of us, I would consider her the steadying force.

As Becca put it, we all balance each other out. We all bring something to the table that helps keep things level. 

I could go on and on, telling the best stories  with the four of us, however I think these pictures will tell you plenty. Here's what I will say, I hope that everyone gets to have a least a couple friends as great as these women. Also, if you ever have the chance, go sit on the Stockdales' roof and wait for the sun to rise. It's pretty amazing, especially with good company.

First, here are the pictures from the actual engagement. The four of us haven't all been in the same place since new years eve my junior year of college. 

What a beautiful rainbow maker. Amiright?

Thank to Katie, I was made official photographer. Which
basically meant that I sat in the bushes, which got in front of the lens so
I didn't really get any good pictures of the actual proposal.

From left to right: Maggie, one of Becca's sorority sisters, Abbey, one of Becca's other sorority sisters. Both equally awesome. Caroline, Ashley, Becca's cousin, Katie and myself.

Reunited, and with a view no less!

This panoramic, featuring Caroline. Katie shoved her at just the right time…

And now, for a nice trip down memory lane. I have known Katie, Caroline and Becca for half of my life.
Senior Prom

Senior Prom
Senior year Becca and I made t-shirts for every home game. Every single one. 

Here's another one

So this picture has me, katie, Emily Weaver and Caroline in it. Becca was on the trip, but she had to leave before we all decided it would be a great idea to climb in a  fountain for a group picture. 

Becca and Katie, homecoming our senior year.

Senior year graduation

Graduation w/ Katie

Graduation w/ Becca
Finally, the most photogenic we have ever been in.

Becca, thank you for getting married and giving us all excuses to miss work and be together again. Er… I mean, congratulations on your engagement! But seriously, Ross has always been a good guy, but I knew he was an especially amazing guy when he thought to include us 3 in his plans. I am so excited for you and I can't wait for all of the fun this year has in store.


P.S. Becca's not the only person who left the weekend with some new jewelry…Thank you for enabling me, Katie and Caroline...