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Archive for the 'Holidaze' Category

A review of Nashville: New Years in Nashville

Monday, January 5th, 2009

A dear friend moved to Nashville around a year and a half ago to attend Belmont University, where he is working on his masters degree in Music. After a trip home for the Christmas holiday, we – myself, my fiancé, and a friend – followed him back to Nashville to spend the week of New Year’s.

It was my first time ever visiting Nashville and I was absolutely charmed with the city, which my fiancé and I decided looked – downtown – like a bright, clean, nice-smelling New Orleans’s French Quarter.

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, my friend took us to a purple-bricked building that titled itself World Famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge on Broadway. Wall-to-wall, nearly floor to ceiling, was stacked with yellowing and cracked framed photographs of all the faces that had graced Tootsies’s little stage. From insanely famous to only known to a few, there had to be literally thousands of star-studded boots that had tapped to a tune on those wooden stage floorboards!

There was a live band playing, with (sexy) singer and guitarist Jake Maurer. Onstage as well was a pretty blonde fiddler; as good as she was cute – the devil likely would’ve met his match against this girl!. Jake’s MySpace page lists a fiddler bandmate as Kari Nelson – hopefully we’ll see more of her in the future. In all honesty, we were packed nearly like sardines in that little bar, but everyone was having a wonderful time and the music was just top-notch.

It eventually got too crowded, so we moved next door to a larger yet less-packed bar called The Second Fiddle. This place had the largest, most interesting collection of old radio receivers I have ever seen. The walls were lined with shelves holding these relics of the original always-available music. I honestly didn’t even know that many types of old and antique radios existed!

We had a great time there before heading home to enjoy a private party at home to ring in the new year.

On our last day in Nashville, our friend took us to The Red Door Saloon, where we stayed until dark and I got to experience “real life” shuffleboard (to date, I’d only ever played it on the Wii). The bar had a great atmosphere, friendly patrons, and a very hip look overall.

I’d recommend visiting all of the few places we dropped in on during our stay in Nashville. Though most of our time was spent at home, catching up with old friends, I hope to return to Nashville next year and see some more of its sites and attractions.

The city, overall, is simply lovely; there is just no other way to describe it. It is clean, well laid-out, and most of the buildings fit a similar architectural-style; giving it all a very attractive and pleasantly uniform appearance. Vanderbilt University is nestled neatly within the city, its charming, collegiate facade not at all contrasting with the more modern structures in its vicinity.

Everything is just so carefully done to flatter its neighbors and enhance the overall beauty of the city. Coming from the dirty, random claptrap that is most Louisiana cities, it was a pleasant surprise. In fact, when driving by a two-story home near Vanderbilt – obviously housing some college students – it seemed so shockingly out of place to see dozens of beer bottles strewn along the front porch and tossed carelessly about the yard that we all reflected on just how incongruous it seemed in the otherwise tidy city.

I will definitely be returning to Nashville someday, and with plans to see and do more. Our time there was very special – made even moreso by our dear friend and host, who took special pains to make sure we at least saw the important hotspots and experienced some of Nashville’s lesser-known treats (such as Gigi’s Cupcakes and Cinco de Mayo, our friend’s favorite Mexican eatery).

I would recommend a trip to Nashville to anyone. The hilly countryside, the charming city, and the chance of bumping into a celebrity in little, downtown honkytonks will make a memorable trip for anyone.

Dorothy Rabinowitz Blames Deepak

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Reporter and WSJ Editor, Dorothy Rabinowitz, took author and spiritualist Deepak Chopra to task in her piece, Deepak Blames America, in the Wall Street Journal this past week.  Her reasoning for the condemnation was that she simply disagreed with his views - and his offered solutions - on the terrorist problem gripping the Middle East and, in particular, the Mumbai terror assault.

In Rabinowitz's mind, Deepak wasn't contributing peaceful ideas on ending terrorism, but - rather - attacking America.  True though Mr. Chopra's statements may be, any negativity expressed concerning America is seen, by the conservative right, as an "attack" on the country itself.  Perhaps Dorothy Rabinowitz would do well to keep in mind that this great nation was built on the spirit of debate and opposing viewpoints; in fact, it is the heart and soul behind the creation of the First Amendment.  As is often said, "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism".

One of the most unfounded and discreditable parts of the article - in my opinion - was this:

How the ebullient Dr. Chopra had come to be chosen as an authority on terror remains something of a mystery...

I fail to see how Mrs. Rabinowitz can so easily question Deepak Chopra's "authority" on terrorism. It takes little fact-checking to learn that Mr. Chopra has had quite personal experience with terrorism and knows, firsthand, the regions in which these conflicts are going on.  Let us not forget that he was, also, born in Pakistan to parents escaping the area now known as Islamabad.

He may not be an "authority", but he certainly has more personal experience with what he is talking about than she does. Mr. Chopra's family grew up surrounded by this very terrorism, and he has lost family members and loved ones to its horrors. He knows the areas in question, the groups responsible, and the people it is affecting. Obviously, we owe some respect to Mr. Chopra's ideology with his being privy to such.

Personally, I would be more inclined to listen to Mr. Chopra's ideas on creating peace out of the hell and havoc that is there now than from someone like Mrs. Rabinowitz, whose only answer to ending the reign of terror is to attack someone who offers an intimately composed solution. Whether she agrees with Mr. Chopra's ideals or not, it is no reason to personally attack him in a public forum with a libelous and ostentatious headline.

For more reading on this, I urge you to read Deepak Chopra's response over at Huffington Post, and the beautifully astute and decorous rebuttal Deepak's son, Gotham Chopra, offered on Intent.com.  A more detailed rejoinder is A Fuller and More Detailed Response to Dorothy Rabinowit'z Attack on Me in the Wall Street Journal; a must-read where Mr. Chopra shares his painful and very personal lifetime experiences with terrorism and being born in Pakistan to refugee parents.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Remember all that you are thankful for on this day, especially your loved ones - don't forget to tell them how much they mean to you.

At 3am this morning my Great Uncle Roland passed away after a lengthy illness. I hope he knows how thankful I was to have him in my life; he is a staple in all of my childhood memories. We loved him so much and there will certainly be no other quite like him.

Don't forget to tell everyone you love how thankful you are for them on this day. There is plenty to be thankful for, but none of it as important as the people in your life.

Post-Christmas Survey

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Nabbed this from the always lovely Darling Niki over at MySpace.

I always, for memory's sake, like to keep a list of what I received for Christmas...this little meme allows me to do that and record a few of 2007 Christmas's memorable events. Cheers.

1. Who did you spend your Christmas with?
Christmas Eve with Baret's family & Christmas day with mine. Ava was there, and that must *made* the holiday.

2. What did you get?
Actually I like to make a list of this every year for posterity, so here we go:
From Mom I got - as always - many great things...a slew of books from my Amazon Wish List, including When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka, Wonder When You'll Miss Me and Circling the Drain by Amanda Davis, Pregnant Darkness by Monika Wikman, Erotic Astrology by Olivia, More Messages from Michael by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and a new coffee table book (I collect these), Mythology. Also from my list, one of the Future Sounds of Jazz series (I want to own them all), Future Sounds of Jazz, Vol. 8. There was also a lovely, little sleep pant-set and four new shirts (which I needed). The only time I dress with any sense of style is when I wear clothes Mom and Amber buy for me or hand down to me. She also thew in the game Prison Tycoon 2: Maximum Security - while the game engine itself needs some work, I actually enjoy playing it (I'm a gamer - I can enjoy playing just about anything). Of course, she - as always - included my old stand-by, Witches' Calendar 2008. There was one year she forgot to get it for me and, I tell you, it was a miserable year! I was all off not knowing where the planets or when the Moon would be full. I must have this calendar every year, you see - it's a prerequisite in my life.

My sister got me The Golden Girls: The Complete First Season on DVD; I'm already more than halfway through it. I love this show! My brother got me a $25 gift certificate to Amazon. My "step-father" got me this awesome book, The Dead Guy Interviews by Michael A. Stusser (I'm already finished reading it!). From my grandfather, I received Dexter - The First Season on DVD and the book, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, from which the show is based. Dad got us a new set of bath towels to add to the set he got us last year (we needed them). I received a beautiful glass candlestick from Baret's Dad (and a $100!) and a box of assorted teas (Tazo - yum!) from Baret's sister & her family. Baret's Mom sent us some money - more than she should have, the dear.

If there is anymore, I honestly can't remember it right now.

3. Where did you go for dinner?
We had Christmas dinner (supper) with my family at my grandfather's, as we do every year.

4. What time did you get up?
About 6am - my sis was the only other person in the house stirring. Slowly everyone joined us - but nothing began until Ava woke up.

5. Any traditions you carried on?
Just everyone joining up at Pa's for the second wave of Christmas Day.

6. What was the best gift you got?
That's a tough one - everything was really great. I really did love the clothes I got from Mom - they were all very much needed and all soo cute and flattering.

7. Who do you wish you spent Christmas with?
Those who know, know.

8. Did you do anything Christmas night?
On Christmas Eve, we met up at The Worm's uncle's for their traditional firework blow-out. His uncle spends a few hundred bucks on fireworks, there are huge pots of gumbo, and everyone just hangs out, watches the show, and has a lovely time.

9. Did you get engaged on Christmas Day?
No...but I honestly thought it might happen.

10. Did you get a pet for Christmas?
No, I did not.

11. What did you really want for Christmas but didn't get?
Tabla drums - but I wasn't expecting any.

12. Who bought you presents?
The usual suspects.

13. Overall how was your Christmas?
Getting to have it with Ava made it absolutely wonderful and magical.

14. Did you go shopping the day after christmas?
Oh hell no - never have, never will.

15. What did you buy?
Gifts for, again, the usual suspects.

16. Did you have to return anything?
Nope.

17. What was the worst gift you got?
They all rocked.

18. Was the mall crowded the day after Christmas?
I wasn't shopping, but was stuck at work. Though, had I been home, I still would not have known because I refuse to face the stores on that day.

19. Did you have to work on the day after Christmas?
Yes. Normally we have off and work Christmas Eve, but because the eve fell on Monday this year, they switcheroo'ed it.

Not Such A Happy Halloween

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

As all of you know, my "gimp" status is well-earned. I have suffered from bad knees since birth, a condition that caused dozens of right-knee dislocations from the age of eleven on, and finally resulted in major surgery at the age of twenty-three; surgery that was supposed to "fix" me and aid me in living a more normal (and much less painful) life.

The dream was never to be - the 2001 surgery left me worse off than before. I've had arthritis in my knee since my earliest twenties due to the wear and tear my condition caused every time I took a step - I also scar terribly, resulting in a severe case of arthrofibrosis. Three months and two manipulations later, I was no better and have lived with a painful, "frozen" leg since.

In 2003, I underwent surgery to "clean out" the scar tissue. I woke up to my three-day hospital stay with 20 staples in my leg and a morphine drip, my leg being worked in a CPM machine. The machine came home with me and I stayed in bed most of the day hooked to it; at night my leg was bolted down into a Dynasplint, which put increasing pounds of pressure on my leg as I attempted to sleep to aid in regaining my extension. Things went well until winter fell, and the arthritis and pain left me unable to continue with my rigorous physical therapy - soon I was right back where I'd began.

Today I get by as best as I can with my condition. The doctors say there is nothing left that they can do for me except for a total knee replacement - something they'd like to hold off on for as long as possible as they only last approximately ten years and I am only in my twenties.

Recently, I began getting cortisone injections into my right knee; painful but somewhat effective. The first shot, on September 12, relieved some of my pain for a couple or three weeks. However, as the seasons began to truly change and the pressure and temperatures dropped, I began having extreme pain and difficulty with mobility again. My doctor agreed to give me another cortisone shot, even though it was soon because "your knee is so messed up, and there's nothing else we can do for you". I will, after this one, have to wait the normal three month period before I'm eligible for another.

The first injection in September - though painful - went well. I was sore and swollen for a few hours afterwards, something that putting ice and keeping my leg elevated healed quickly. This time, however, I was not so lucky.

The first time, The Worm came with - and drove me home. This time I went by myself (he was at work) and drove myself home, I also hobbled quickly around the house getting myself settled (leg propped up, ice placed atop). I have read that the cortisone shot, while not a pain killer itself, does give an anesthetic effect for the first few hours. It was during this time that I believe I over-extended my leg.

I had myself propped up on two pillows - instead of my medical-issued foam lift - and, in the less-feeling state straightened my leg out more than it is used to (or capable of) being extended. I remember pressing down on my leg with the ice pack, and a few hours into it feeling "odd"...that my leg was "straighter" than it normally goes.

This was quickly followed by extreme and agonizing muscle pain. I cannot move my leg without mind-numbing pain on the underneath of my leg - it feels, the best I can describe it, exactly as it did after waking up from manipulation procedures - where the doctors bent and straightened my leg past its normal limits, breaking up scar tissue in the process. I was always in utter agony waking up from those, as you can imagine.

So here I am on my favorite holiday, laid up in bed, unable to even make it to the bathroom without my long-since put up crutches - any weight placed on my leg at all sends me into spasms of muscle and joint pain. I am missing work (again) due to my leg problems, and now am going to miss out on my most beloved holiday.

I try not to let my leg slow me down or keep me from living my life to the fullest point possible - but times like this it is extremely frustrating and depressing. I am handicapped, disabled, and I will suffer with this condition (which will only grow worse) for the rest of my life. It's a daunting reality that I cannot help but face at times like these.

So here I am, laid up in bed, with my books, laptop, and the TV to keep me sane, thinking about how my usual luck caused my doctor yesterday to prescribe me a lesser dose (5mg) of my pain pills than I usually get (10mg) - something I'd just deal with had I not ended up this painful, unfortunate situation.

I hope this won't last but a couple of days - though I don't know for sure how long it will take to heal. The key is to stay off of it as much as possible. So send me your white light, good thoughts, and/or prayers - I certainly need them! Thanks for listening.

A Hole in the Holiday, A Hole in Our Hearts

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Christmas was nice this year, but there was a glaring omission from our regular holiday get-togethers. Never would I have imagined, as we sat last year opening gifts, drinking and laughing, that one of us would be missing come next Christmas.

We talked about him, here and there, in small conversation - but, honestly, the absence of Guitar Rockstar was like the gigantic blue elephant in the living room. Everyone was aware of it, but we had to just keep going on as if it wasn't really there.

I wonder if it'll ever feel "normal" again, or is this just a turning point in our lives - things are certainly changing. Now there is Sweetpea, my cousin - after proposing to his girlfriend this Xmas - is engaged, and Guitar Rockstar is gone.

Naturally I'm excited to see where this new chapter of our lives will lead us; watching Sweetpea grow and having her in our family now is a treasure and a blessing I don't even have words for. There is still a bittersweet edge to life now, though. I suppose there is with any major change. I miss him - we all miss him - there is a hole in our family now that can never be replaced. Time will soften and close up, some, that hollow feeling; as it did with when we lost my grandmother and my great grandparents - but it will always be there. Things will just never be quite the same.

I wonder, often, what he'd say to finding out just how much of a huge impact he'd had on so many peoples' lives. I think, deep in his heart, though he knew we - and with no doubts, Tweeze - loved him, he felt he was never truly loved or wanted; that even those who loved him didn't really like him completely. I'm not going to lie and say he couldn't be an aggravating fucker - or that there weren't times you just wanted to ring his neck or kick his ass. But regardless of that, we really did love him and, yes, liked the person he was immensely.

Saying we "miss" him almost doesn't do it justice. There truly is a hole in each of our hearts; something I don't think he ever could've grasped or believed - from years of being beat down, he never could fully grasp the concept of being treasured and loved. If not for Tweeze, he never would've known it. I just hope he now knows she wasn't the only one - even if sometimes we didn't know it our damn selves - that loved him to pieces just as he was.

It was an honor to know him, and to be able to call him "friend" in this lifetime. As we move into the new year, and get over the hurdle of the "big holiday" without him, my only hope is that he knows and feels all of this love we have for him, and that he knows just how very painfully he is missed.

All of you reading this, if there is anyone you didn't see for Xmas that you love - call them up, tell them Merry Xmas and tell them how much they mean to you. You never know when they might not be here next year.

It’s the Most Harried Time of the Year

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Well, the Xmas insanity is finally over; I can't say I'm not relieved. We had a nice one, though. I'd wished to spend more time with my family, but as always, by time we get there - having been, since the day before, with The Worm's family - we are exhausted and weary of socializing. We're naturally hermits, so three days straight of being surrounded by people and visiting really does us in.

It was Sweetpea's first Xmas, and I think she enjoyed it. Using a little lawnmower-like toy she received, the little shit was walking - though holding onto to the toy, she got the idea down and made quite a few steps. She'll be walking in a week or two, I bet. She is something else.

I got amazing gifts from my Mom and sister, Tweeze, as always. Clothes and accessories - things I rarely buy for myself but am always in desperate need of. As always, too, Mom gets me the prerequiste Witches' Calendar; I cannot make it through the year without it. I didn't get it one year, and I bemoaned its absence for the next 12 months. At a glance, I can know where major planets (especially the Moon) are at; for that alone, it's a gem. I got a pair of awesome pilsner glasses and a set of balloon wine glasses from my brother and RoseRed. Pa-Pa got us a huge and gorgeous chiminea - something we've been wanting for the patio for years now.

The Worm, my love, bought me an absolutely beautiful Journey Diamond Pendant (similar to this one). I wore it for the holidays; it's so very beautiful and I love it. No one has ever bought me jewelry before, and it's truly only the second piece of real jewelry that I own.

After gift-giving, we ate a delicious supper - and left. Everyone wanted us to stay longer, and I wish I'd had it in me to do so - but we were so tired, I had been attacked by a massive migraine, and we needed to let in and feed our neighbor's dogs that we're pet sitting.

Naturally, there was the huge absence of Guitar Rockstar...but I'll leave that for my next post.  Other than that, it was a very nice Christmas.