We Are Charleston Strong

Charleston. My beautiful home. The place I’ve written love letters to a thousand times over, the beaches I seek for mental clarity, the city I adore.

Photo credit: Abby Chamberlain

Photo credit: Abby Chamberlain

When the news broke last week about the brutal murders at Mother Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston, my heart shattered. “Not here,” I thought to myself. “Not our people. There has been enough blood spilled here—please let it not be true.” But the news kept coming–nine lives lost, for no other reason than blatant hatred and racism. A grandmother, a recent college grad, a senator, a beloved librarian, more. Their faces graced my news feed and my television screen, and I mourned their loss with the rest of the country.

The Charleston Nine. Photo credit to Live 5 News

The Charleston Nine. Photo credit to Live 5 News

And then, in an outpouring of love and unity, in the wake of tragedy, my city came together. We walked together into the sunset, holding hands and waving signs, hugging each other and singing hymns. Black and white. Young and old. Man and woman and child. We, Charleston, took the hatred that had been poured through the barrel of a .45, turned it into LOVE, and multiplied it by thousands.

Photo Credit to Buzzfeed

Photo Credit to Buzzfeed

Photo Credit to Live 5 News, Charleston

Photo Credit to Live 5 News, Charleston

Through tears and with sad hearts, we spoke their names from our lips. We flew our South Carolina flags, and we donned our blue and white in honor of those we lost. And we made a vow to push for true social change.

Strides are already being made to remove the Confederate flag from the capital grounds in Columbia. That led to other states re-examining their own laws in regards to that symbol that reflects hatred as much as heritage. When rumors came about that notorious protesters from Westboro Baptist Church were on the way to Charleston to picket outside of the funerals of the dead, our local governments stepped up and banned their rallies, sending them packing. Charlestonians showed up to the events in droves anyway, standing shoulder to shoulder, refusing to let hate leech into the love we as a city have worked to hard to display over the last several days.

We cannot change our history; we can only learn from it. We cannot affect change by remaining silent; so we raise our voices to the sky. We cannot learn to love our fellow man from the pages of a history book; we must look at one another as humans, and embrace one another regardless of religious affiliations, belief systems, and the color of our skin.

And we continue to teach future generations that love will always win.

*****

Addendum: As I was working on this post–one I started days ago and have been tweaking and editing ever since–it seemed remarkable to me that EVEN MORE love came across my news feed. The Supreme Court ruled today that gay marriage is now to be legal across the nation. As I sat on my couch and watched the President deliver his eulogy at Senator Pinckney’s funeral, as I listened to him sing the first verse of ‘Amazing Grace,’ I felt that same love Charleston displayed being felt across the country. And so I came back to this post, so I could finally publish it. All in the name of love.

Graphic credited to the GLAAD Facebook page

Graphic credited to the GLAAD Facebook page

 

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website

A Celebration of the Stupid Crap We Did In The 80s

A dear friend of mine shared the funniest article about parenting with me the other day. If you’d like to read it, just click on the picture below:

stupid

This happy little dude is sitting in a 1970s car seat. Cute how that was considered safe, huh?

You’ll be shocked to learn that I wasn’t a parent in the 80s. But let me tell you what I was, readers. I was a KID. And some of the awesome stuff highlighted in this very article were projects my brother and I made up in order to keep ourselves occupied on those long, school-less summer days.

For instance…my little brother had a Little Tykes Cozy Coupe:

stupid 2

Every kid in the neighborhood did. Am I right?

It didn’t take us long to figure out that not-so-difficult math equation between his car, my bike, and my trusty old jump rope.

stupid coaster

We didn’t have to be a geniuses to figure out that if we tethered the car to the bicycle with a few solid knots, that we’d just created the world’s most basic roller coaster.

Thankfully (for my parents’ peace of mind, and their insurance bills) we only had one small hill in our front yard. It wasn’t like we lived in the mountains or anything. However, that small little hill gave us just enough momentum to make us feel like we were REALLY flying. I can still vividly remember the anticipation of that moment—the count down, the squeals of delight from my brother behind me, the feel of the wind in my mullet. Every single time my front tire sloped down the first few inches of grassy hill, my heart would skip a beat. It was, in a word, awesome.

And totally worth the ten sweaty minutes it would take us to untie the car, push it and the bike back to the top of the hill, re-secure our roller coaster of awesomeness, and do it all over again.

But don’t worry, friends–I was a responsible 10-year old. My 4-year-old little brother was instructed to keep his feet up and over the dashboard. And on the days when we were REALLY feeling like dare devils, I always made him borrow the helmet from his My Pet Monster.

stupid 6

He never got a concussion. Not once.

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website

When Blogs Go Silent

As a blogger, at some point you realize it’s been a few days since your last post. Maybe you’re strapped for time, or your creativity is on vacation. Either way, that need to publish something worthwhile sits on your shoulder like a tiny little troll, reminding you on a daily basis that you’re not writing.

Klout score 2

(Extra points to anyone who recognizes the font in this graphic.)

Yes, blog troll. I’ve noticed. Thanks for rubbing salt into a gaping, open, “Trauma in the ER” type wound. Ow.

Eventually a week goes by. Two. Maybe even three. You’re out living your life, spending time with friends, paying bills, going to the gym, doing whatever it is that you do that keeps you away from your keyboard. But every time you have a free minute to yourself, that troll starts speaking up again.

“You’re losing readers!”

“You haven’t had any page views since May!”

“C’mon, there’s bound to be SOMETHING you can write about! Sit down and do it!”

And then, inevitably, at some point in your blogging career, you will look at your last “recent” post and realize it was published almost two months ago. You’ll realize it’s been a few weeks since that troll grumbled something in your ear about “practicing your craft.”

That’s when you realize that if writing is like exercising a muscle, then you must be this guy:

how-to-gain-muscle-for-skinny-guys-1060463-flash

(Awwww…he’s a-DORK-able!)

Now look here, readers. (Or should I say, crickets?) I don’t mean to make light of a bad situation. I’ve had creative droughts before—some of them disguising themselves as writer’s block, others just blatant distractions like beach time and ‘Friends’ marathons–but I’ve never had one like this before.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I have tons of them. I’m jotting them down on my phone every single day.

It’s not that I don’t have the spare time to write. I do, I’m just using it to watch reruns of Parks and Rec instead.

My drive has put itself in park. My gumption has dumped me. My ambitions went on vacation then forgot to come home. I used to be driven, and now I’m just stationary.

Somebody stop me.

Or, don’t stop me, but cheer for me to continue rambling in a disconnected fashion until I have a blog I can publish!

In all seriousness, I feel the call to get back to that part of myself that feels most complete when I’m writing. It’s time for me to carve out that time every day to dip my toes into the creative pool inside of my brain. (No, it’s a sparkling pool of creativity, not a gross pool of brain goo.)

I’ll find my way back to it, with posts like this one. It may not deserve the Pulitzer Prize of Bloggy Awesomeness, but it’s a start. And everybody has to start somewhere.

Even glasses-wearing weight lifter guy.

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website

A Letter To My Mopey Self

Dear Self,

Life has been tough lately. For whatever reason, you’re sitting around in your cookie pants, watching re-runs of Friends and wondering if things are ever going to get any easier. You’re not getting what you want in the time that you wanted it in, and you keep stumbling over road blocks or speed bumps, and that’s frustrating. I know it’s frustrating. I know that you sometimes sit in the shower, with the water cascading over your shoulders, your hair hanging in your face, and you cry your eyes out because no one can hear you over the sound of the spray. I know that sometimes, you sit in traffic and suddenly feel the overwhelming need to scream, and so you do, never sparing a thought for what the driver in the car next to you must be thinking. I know that sometimes, when the alarm clock sounds in the morning, that your first thought is “I don’t wanna.”

Well, friend, I think what you need is a little perspective. Sure, things are hard right now. It’s probably not going to get any easier in the next week, or month. You probably won’t have that thing you want more than anything else in the world by then. But here is what you DO have:

You have a husband that would move heaven and earth to make you happy. And he has done, on multiple occasions. And now here you are–you and that beautiful man you married almost 11 years ago–sitting on this same island of despair together, holding each other up when you both want to fall over. There are a lot of people in this life that would wish for a love like the one you have. So embrace it. Revel in it. Remember it in the darkest of times when you feel like your dreams will never come true.

You have a family that loves you, and supports you, no matter what. They are unshakable, unwavering, and unquestioning. They will give you advice–some that you’ll use, some that you won’t. They will make you laugh when you thought laughter was impossible. They will hold you up, and give you strength. They will love you, even if you don’t reach your dream. Enjoy every moment that you have with them–they are priceless.

You have friends who are with you in the trenches, the same mud on their faces that’s smeared on yours. They will amaze you in a million little ways, and even more huge ways. They will sit by your side in the blazing heat, selling lamps and rugs and hand-me-down clothing, just so you can add a few bucks to your savings account. They will rally around you when you get news, be it good, bad, or somewhere in the middle. They will send you little cards and messages of support, just so you know that, even though it’s been awhile, they’re still thinking of you every single day. They will shed tears for you, ones that you’ll never know about, and they will feel every divot in the road that you feel, sometimes tenfold (since you tend to remove yourself from heavy feelings as much as you can.) These people are more than just friends–they are your family. And you are SO beyond lucky to have them.

Last, but never least, you have a DREAM. A dream of becoming a parent when biology wouldn’t let you before. A dream of holding a little one, so dear, in your arms and kissing their tiny baby cheeks, and knowing that they are yours. Of little giggles, and sleepless nights, and future Mother’s Days filled with flowers and handmade cards and slightly-chewy pancakes served in bed. Never let go of that dream, self. It is pure, and shiny, and filled with so much joy that no matter how many times you fall on your face in pursuit of that dream, it will, without doubt, be totally worth it.

So I’m just going to leave this letter here. That way, you can find it when you need it. Let it serve as a reminder as to why you should never even dare to give up hope. How dare you give up hope, when you have so many people on your side, fighting the same fight, wishing the same wish, and hoping the same hope that you do?

So get up. Knock the dirt off, sister. Put on some real clothes.  And get back to your life. You’ve got work to do.

Sincerely,

Abby

rainbows

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website

A Dream Within A Dream

Laughter and quiet conversation surrounds us. I straighten your blue-and-white gingham dress and pass you to my closest neighbor, all smiles, with my heart in my throat. Your tiny hands curl into fists, your yellow floral headband slightly askew, as kisses are planted on your adorably bald head.

Sunlight pours into the room from behind us, filling the room with more joy than we can handle. A box of tissues makes its way around the room, but these are happy tears we cry, little one. Tears we shed because you are finally here, and we waited so long, and we are so blessed.

My mother walks into the room, her eyes red, her cheeks pink, but with a big, beautiful smile on her face. My father’s bold chuckle rebounds from the kitchen, where I know he’s taken charge of refreshments for the rest of our guests. A small child, all blonde hair and blue eyes, puppy dog tails and muddy puddles, sits near my feet, running a matchbox car up and down my leg. The sounds of a camera shutter click from across the room, with only you in the frame, my little love. My heart.

My arms already itch to hold you again, though you’ve only been with someone else for less than a minute. I watch you like a hawk, studying your body language, your face, the shape of your delicious little thighs and pointed toes. A familiar thought, one I’ve had before: “She’ll be a dancer someday.”

I see your face turning red, your eyes squinting in preparation for one of your spine-tingling wails, before anyone else even realizes it’s coming. With that first cry, I start to reach for you. But your Daddy is there before I can even stand up. He cuddles you close, giving you his thumb to cling to, and he coos at you in a soft voice, calming your sobbing to only a slight whimper. The love on his face, in his eyes, for you leaves me feeling a little weak. I love him more fiercely in that moment than ever before.

When you begin to nuzzle at his chest, he looks up at me with a knowing smile. “I don’t think I have what she wants, Mama,” he says and proudly hands you over to me. I kiss your cheeks and breathe you in, and we wave bye bye to our loved ones as we make our way back to the privacy of the bedroom.

It’s darker in here, the shades pulled tight, but a lone sunbeam sneaks through, leaving a small pool of light on the patchwork quilt. I close the door behind me–but not so tight that a certain orange cat can’t push his way in. He settles at the foot of the bed, eyes on us, as I settle back against the pillows and lift my shirt. This is still brand new for us, little one, and Mama’s still learning.

You nuzzle and search, then latch on, and the pulling sensation still startles me. You close your eyes, shuttering the bright green from me, your long eyelashes brushing your rounded cheeks. The hand I’d been holding curls up in a fist, and you lay it against my skin, your body relaxing as you feed. I run my hand over your back in lazy circles, and we both drift for a moment. The muffled sounds of laughter come from the other room, and I am washed over with a love so deep, I could drown.

The brash sound of my alarm clock steals me away from you. My arms still ache from the weight of you as I turn it off and climb from my bed. You aren’t here, yet. But you will be. I believe that to the very center of my soul. My cheeks are dry today, little one, though I yearn for you so.

I only wish I’d dreamt your name.

 

pooh

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website

Drunken Pinterest, Part 3: The One With The Urinal

What better way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon than by perusing the oddities available on our favorite time-suck website, Pinterest? It didn’t take me long (approximately 19 minutes) to come up with six more strange things that the world wide web has to offer. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of my labor. (Don’t judge me. Almost twenty minutes is a long time to peruse!)

Public Urinal Is VERY Public

Urinal

Sure, sure….I’m a woman. I couldn’t possibly understand the etiquette involved in peeing standing up in plain view of a room full of strangers. We ladies are sophisticated and have doors on our stalls.

Usually.

But the thing that stands out most to me about this strange public toilet (other than how weird it is that someone took a picture of this gentleman relieving his bladder) is that there isn’t a whole lot of room to see what you’re doing there. Too much room for splatter. Am I right?

But what do I know about public urinal-ation?

Not Much, Until Now

Urinal AssistantMove over, John Q. Public. Women now possess the power to urinate standing up.

Even so, I still wouldn’t use one of those outdoor public toilets.

Somebody Needs a Hug

Hug Jacket

Two things. One: I just want to actually hug this model, because he got to tell his friends and family that he was finally getting his big break, and then THIS happened to him. And Two: I want mine in blue so I can tell people I’m being hugged by the Blue Man Group, all at the same time.

Feet Shoes…What?

Feet Shoes

I can’t look away. It’s like the strangest optical illusion I’ve ever seen. Seriously. Forget about the fact that you would always be stuck with the same nail polish color, or that your skin tone would have to be an exact match. Just close your eyes, then open them again real quick and stare at this picture. Try NOT to say the following words: “What the #*$$ am I looking at????”

Did you succeed? Me either.

In Honor Of National Name Yourself Day

Name

Maaaaaaaan. He TOTES stole my name idea. Kudos, Beezow. Kudos.

And finally….WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??????????????

Ice Cream Wasters

Look. I support art in all of its many varied forms. I’m a writer; I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t support people’s right to create.

But dude. DUDE. There are so many other mediums out there to paint with, so I have to ask that very long, punctuated question again, on behalf of every PMSing woman on the planet. WHY would you waste Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to paint a portrait of Steve Buscemi?

Ya dirty ice cream wasters.

If you’re curious to see what other crazy pins I’ve found during my search for the world’s strangest stuff, feel free to peruse my “I’m Sorry…What?” board on Pinterest! And if you find one you’d like featured in next month’s rendition of “Go Home, Pinterest, You’re Drunk,” send it on over to me at ThatGabbyAbby. Together, we can force Pinterest into rehab—but why would we? The drunk pins are SO FUNNY!

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website

Conversations With My Husband: Romance

I was sitting at my computer yesterday, diligently doing research on new and exciting fundraising ideas, when my husband came in from mowing the lawn. The scent of freshly cut grass and sunshine and spring came in with him, and I smiled as he took off his headphones and kicked off his shoes.

“I’m gonna hit the showers,” he said, and made a beeline for the bathroom. Just as the door closed behind him, I heard him say, “I always feel so manly after the first mow of the season. Man. Arrrr.”

Brian on another "manly" day.

Brian on another “manly” day.

A few minutes later, he emerged, clean and fresh as a daisy. I hear him rummaging around in the bedroom, drawers opening and closing, and a momentary conversation with one of the cats. As I’m typing away at my keyboard, I suddenly felt his hands on my shoulders, his fingers kneading away some of the ever-present tension residing there.

“Whatcha doin’?” he asked, brushing a hand over my hair.

“Just some quick research,” I mumbled, focused on navigating my mouse.

“I have plans for us tonight,” he said quietly. His hand brushed over my hair. Playfully. Seductively.

“Oh?” I say, becoming distracted by my husband’s roving hands.

“Yeah.” He walked around to the side of my chair and pushed my hair away from my neck. “As soon as you’re done with work, and you’re home from the gym, we’re gonna have some fun.” He bends down and kisses my neck, just below my ear, in that spot I like best. Lingering.

And even after all this time, my heart skips a beat.

“Fun, huh?” I say, leaning into him. “So…whatcha got planned, hot shot?”

“I’m gonna kick your ass at Mario Party,” he whispers. And then he retreats to his favorite video gaming spot on the couch.

Romance sm

Romance. We’ve got it in spades.

(We did play Mario Party last night. And he won. Twice.)

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website

Nothin’ To See Here (Except a Dance Party)

So I was messing around on my blog’s Facebook page yesterday, and I decided that, if I was ever going to maintain my internet celebrity status, I needed to get everybody on my friends’ list on board. So I sent out a huge wave of invites, hoping to pick up a few stragglers along the way.

I got twenty new page likes in a little less than two hours.

SHOCKING!

So I posted the following on my feed, hoping to inspire more folks to like and share the page:

FB page 1

And it worked. I’m in awe of social media. I was up to 155 likes this morning–bringing my total of new likes to a whopping 34!!

I always keep my word, and so, as promised—for fans new and old alike, I give to you, an AbbyGabs jig.

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website

How Abby Became Internet Famous (Thanks To That Drunk Guy On ‘Jail’ Who Turned Out To Be Pseudo-Famous)

I’ve written about a lot of things here on Abby Gabs over the years. I’ve told you funny stories about my husband, Photoshopped silly pictures of myself doing silly things, and illustrated moments in my life that have been deemed blog-worthy. I’ve discussed current events, shared with you my hopes and dreams, and written about everything from Donnie Wahlberg to depression. I’ve even tackled emotional subjects like cancer, adoption, weight loss, and infertility.

So naturally, you would HAVE to expect that out of all the many blogs I’ve posted, there must be at least one that has garnered enough attention to warrant calling myself “internet famous.”

050

Well, you’d be right, readers. But never in a million years would I have guessed that the Gabs most likely to be clicked on would be one I wrote in the first year of publication about an unknown actor named Evan, and his televised night in the drunk tank on a reality show.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the most read post in Abby Gabs history, “What Happens When You Cross Cough Medicine with Bad TV?”

It’s all about our discovery of a dude named Evan Lockwood, who apparently appeared in famous movies like “Ramblin’ Rose” and “Fried Green Tomatoes.” But he’s more famous for his drunken speeches on the Spike reality show, “Jail.” This post includes a half-assed “video blog” of me (in my jammies and wearing no makeup) doing my best impersonation of Evan’s ramblin’ “Ramblin’ Rose” speech.

For your amusement:


I only hate myself a little bit for sharing this terrible video again. And all in the name of internet fame.

Anyway, I always know when Spike has aired a rerun of this particular episode, because my little blog get a flurry of activity, and I get a slew of new comments on this post. Why?

Because if you see the episode, the first thing you do (or at least the first thing I did) was turn to Google to see if this guy’s story has any validity. And here’s what pops up:

Lockwood 1

First and foremost, I’d like to drag your attention to the fact that Mr. Lockwood does, in fact, has his very own IMDB page…which lists him as an actor in “Ramblin’ Rose,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” and, hilariously, “Jail.”

Secondly, let the record reflect that Mr. Lockwood is also active on social media powerhouses, Twitter AND Facebook.

But the most important lesson here, friends, is that when the American public get their first taste of Evan Lockwood on Jail, the SECOND thing that pops up in their curiosity-ridden Google search is my little blog.

BOOM.

 

This phenomenon explains the awesomesauce of comments I’ve received on this post, including my all-time favorite:

Capture 1

Thanks, Seifer! Not only do you have a seriously awesome name, but your suggestion that I become a famous movie actor will be subsequently stewed over, and potentially acted upon.

Ha. Acted upon.

See what I did there?

And so, in the event that one day you see little ol’ me traipsing down a red carpet, I have Evan Lockwood, the producer of “Jail,: and Seifer from Cleveland to thank.

(Thanks, guys, in case I forget to thank you in my Oscar acceptance speech.)

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website

Slainte!

Today is St. Patrick’s Day (in case you were wondering why people are walking around in green from head to toe and shouting Gaelic phrases at you while drinking Guinness from their coffee mug.)

There are lots of reasons I love St. Patrick’s Day (the coffee mug of Guinness is only one of them.) While I know my family is of Irish decent, I’m probably only 1/67th% Irish. But that doesn’t keep me from celebrating our heritage, and with gusto. Here are a few of my favorite things about St. Patrick’s Day.

The Food
Look, guys, I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. I’m Irish, and I love potatoes. I think it might be written in the law somewhere that Irish people have to love spuds. Even though I’ve been eating healthy for the past year, we still have potatoes around here on the regular. (There are some things you just make room for in your healthy eating plan. Like potatoes. And chocolate ice cream.) We also visit our favorite local pub on an alarmingly frequent basis. (They know us by name. And order, because we always get the same thing.)

There’s something about Irish food…the kind you make on St. Patrick’s Day…that just takes “comfort food” to the next level. Shepherd’s Pie, Corned Beef and CabbageIt just doesn’t get any better than that.

But…it sort of does. Our family’s most favorite Irish recipe is Whiskey-Braised Pork Shoulder with Colcannon.

Whiskey braised pork
<Paused for drool clean-up.>

It’s just…I mean…look at that…I can’t even.

Just trust me. Read the recipe. Buy the ingredients. Cook this meal. And thank me later.

The Sentiment
I always wondered where my penchant for sage advice came from–both the giving and the receiving. I’m guessing it must be my Irish blood, because the blessings and phrases and quotes that come out of Ireland are some of my favorites.

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you’ll be looking for it all day.”

“You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.”

“You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your father was.”

(It’s imperative that, when reading these quotes, you drop all the g’s, and put on your thickest Irish brogue. Trust me, it just works.)

These phrases don’t necessarily have to do with the celebration of St. Paddy’s, but they tend to come out of the woodwork around this time of year. There’s nothing better than a good turn of phrase to get my juices flowing. And I also happen to love some of the Irish blessings that show up on Facebook on March 17. My favorite?

Irish wish

Tis the wish I wish for you, my friend.

The Parties
There are lots of other holidays that have parties that try to rival St. Patrick’s Day—Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day, Christmas, my birthday. They just don’t hold a candle to the parades, the dancing, and the merriment that we Irish partake of…well, pretty much year round, but especially on St. Patrick’s Day. Savannah, Charleston, Boston, NYC…you don’t have to look very hard to find a rowdy group of Irishmen (and women!) ready to don their favorite green gear and spend the day searching for the luck of their people.

Plus, you know…there’s the Guinness.

 

st patty's day

What else do you need to officially claim St. Patrick’s Day to be the most fun holiday, ever?

A half-assed Photoshopped picture of me as a dancing leprechaun?

Fine.

Abby leprechaun

There. I win. St. Patrick’s Day RULES.

Written by Abby Chamberlain - Visit Website