Category Archives: Current Events

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.

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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

 

The Potato Salad Challenge

Links you may be interested in after watching this video blog:
Mr. Brown’s Potato Salad KickStarter Page

***Friends and neighbors—-share share share!!! Who knows…maybe our response to this news story will FINALLY make our adoption newsworthy as well!!!****

Abby Is Not Impressed

For the last few days, my various social media sites have been filling up with posts about snow. So many of those posts are photos of families happily playing in giant piles of the fluffy white stuff: sledding, making snow cream, building giant snowmen, warming up with hot chocolate and homemade cookies.

You know the photos, they’re in your timelines too (unless you live in San Diego, and if that’s the case, you suck and I want to live in your guest room.)

I’m talking about photos like this one:

Source

Source

You guys, with your adorable mittens and your matching scarves, make winter look like SO MUCH FUN!

Well, winter has come to South Carolina. And can I just say? Winter is NOT fun.

Not. At. All.

Specifically, winter sucks when it only entails of freezing rain, sleet, and ice. And with those things comes no power, downed power lines, and falling trees.

When it comes to winter, I’m not impressed.

Snow me

(Look at me, being all relevant to current events while still making jokes. Go me.)

Here’s the truth of it: yesterday, we got almost an entire inch of ice here in the land of severe humidity and tropical weather. And it was over 60 degrees in Sochi. At the WINTER Olympics. Freezing temps, for the gold.

While we only lost power for four hours yesterday, my family was electricity-less for nearly 12 hours. I have friends who live out in the country who are STILL without power. And the tree limbs just keep on fallin’.

So, Mother Nature, I’d like you to take this whole winter thing and shove it. I’ll take my 85 degrees and the sand between my toes any day.

*For those of my Northern friends dealing with feet of snow as opposed to inches, I realize you’ll read this and think, “She doesn’t know the meaning of winter.” Truth is—this is as scary as cold weather gets for us near the SC coast. So while we may not be buried beneath Mother Nature’s snowy bosom, we are frantically trying to cope after being hit with a second severe ice storm in three weeks. When you don’t have salt trucks, or winter coats, or strong and manly trees, it gets sorta hectic. So sympathize with us, even if it’s just a little. And maybe send us a snow plow, just in case.*

Snowmageddon 2014

For Southerners like me, winter typically just means we can’t wear our flip flops again till March. But this year…this year, Mother Nature seems to have a different path for those of us residing south of the Mason Dixon line.

About a week ago, meteorologists far and wide started talking about the “perfect storm” of 2014. Lots of scientific facts involving lower temperatures, cold fronts, and precipitation were tossed in our direction, and those of us who have been living in the South for most (if not all) of our lives shook it off as typical winter weather banter.

But unlike years past, those meteorologists kept talking about that perfect storm. They got all excited and animated, and whipped up new graphics of a giant angry monster storm bearing down on us with a vengeance.

Weather map courtesy of Live 5 News, Charleston.

Weather map courtesy of Live 5 News, Charleston.
I added the angry monster face, for flair.

Now listen, after living in the mountains of North Carolina for 4 years, and experiencing the real meaning behind the word “blizzard,” I tend to balk at stories like this one. A little sleet doesn’t scare me. Snow seems like such a foreign concept that I often roll my eyes when people mention it. Temperatures dipping below 30 degrees doesn’t seem like such a huge deal to me.

That is not the case for lifelong Low Country folks. They hear the words “ice” and “snow,” and they do the “OMG BUY ALL THE BREAD AND BATTERIES WITHIN A TWENTY MILE RADIUS STAT” dance.

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There hasn’t been a single flurry, drop, or tinkle yet, and schools are already announcing closures. Businesses are sending out FB messages and tweets to let everyone know they won’t be open after 2 pm today, and probably won’t be open tomorrow, either, due to “inclement weather.” People flocked to grocery stores yesterday, stripping their shelves of bread, milk, and batteries. (Funnily enough, we didn’t have a problem finding everything on our grocery list. In fact, they had black beans on sale, buy one get one free. SCORE!)

Graphic provided by Live 5 News, Charleston.

Graphic provided by Live 5 News, Charleston.

While I understand the need to have milk and bread in the case of a storm, all I could see while looking at that photo was the one thing that patrons of the grocery stores were FAILING to buy.

Seriously, Charleston??? Wine is WAY more important during a crisis than water.

Seriously, Charleston??? Booze is WAY more important during a crisis than water.

At any rate, things are quiet around here today. The phone isn’t ringing, there aren’t many cars on the highway, and folks seem to be waiting at home, battening down the hatches, in preparation for Snowmageddon 2014.

And I have to admit–while I’m skeptical that we will actually get the 3 inches of snow predicted, I’m all set to sit back and watch the weather roll in. I’ve got everything I need…

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…a warm hat, a fuzzy scarf, and booze.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days, readers, one of three things has happened: we’ve succumbed to Snowmageddon and are currently buried in snow up to our ankles; we’ve lost power thanks to ice and are currently huddled around a kerosene heater wishing our iPhones were charged; nothing really important has happened, I’m just ensconced in another project right now. Happy Snow Day!

The Internet = Time Suck Central. Hooray!

As if there wasn’t already Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube, Reddit, Google Plus, IMDB, and AbbyGabs (of course), now there’s a newfangled website that could potentially take up all of what’s left of my free time. (Which, to be honest, I didn’t think there was much of…until I found this new Facebook app. Then I learned I had at least forty-five minutes of free time. Who knew?)

Bitstrips is my new favorite thing.

Capture

Actually, it combines three of my favorite things: cartoons, bad puns, and humiliating my friends.

Here’s how it works: you create your own avatar using the tools provided. Now I have to say, in apps past, these tools haven’t been so swell. But with Bitstrips, you can be very selective from everything to your hairstyle to your pupil size! I have to admit…I was pretty impressed with my avatar:

profile_pic

She even looks a little sarcastic. I like it.

Once you’ve created your very own cartooned self, you’re off to the races. A simple click of the “done” button, and the app puts you into several hilarious scenarios that you can share to your favorite social media sites.

abby

HA. Spoiler alert. Get it? *Snort* Not only does Bitstrips really understand just how large a plus-size girl’s forearms can be, it also really understands my sense of humor.

As if that isn’t enough fun already, now you can create comics starring you and your friends! Some of them may have already created their own avatars (this app is sweeping across Facebook like wildfire.) But if they don’t–never fear! You can create their cartoons for them! This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you depict them. (If you’re looking to stay in their good graces, I’d avoid the double chin and stripper costume.)

Once you’ve whipped up an avatar for your best pal, the time has come to allow Bitstrips to do their thang…one click and VOILA! Comic strip gold!

abby and jenna

Now, let me point out that I did not choose the background for this comic strip. Bitstrips did that for me. I did, however, have the option to go in and add dialogue or change the caption, which is how I came up with this Doctor Who-inspired cartoon of Jenna and me. Brilliant.

Sometimes, however, the editing process simply isn’t needed, because Bitstrips comes up with the perfect scenario for the perfect cartoon. For instance, take this one of Brian and me:

abby and brian

Is there anything funnier than fart humor? No, not really. Even classy people laugh at fart jokes.

The best part of this app, though, is that every single day it creates new comics for you to enjoy. I can’t wait to see what hilarity tomorrow brings!

Bitstrips didn’t hire me to write this blog, and I’m not being paid for it. I should be, because it’s awesome, but this is just an opinion piece about an app I found to be fun. You should try it out! And if you’re the president of Bitstrips and you’d like to offer me a coffer full of gold, I’d be happy to accept.

Let The Countdown Begin (Again)

Today is Thursday, June 27, 2013.

In exactly 20 days, something extraordinary happens to my husband and me. Join us as the countdown begins.

(Does this post look eerily familiar? It’s not. Seriously, watch the video. It’s different, I swear.)

 

 

Special thanks to guest star, Brian, who will always be my Superman.

Things I’m Loving Lately

After this weekend’s somber post, I decided to do something much happier to kick off the week. (I know you’re relieved. Truthfully, I used up half a box of tissues just writing Saturday’s post. I’m ready to move on to the happy stuff, too.) So, I’m turning to the blogging tool that has been so successful for me in the past. I’m sharing with you a list of the things that are making me smile lately. (If I use it as a tool to turn my frownies upside down, well, that’s just an added bonus. Right?)

Things I’m Loving Lately:
 
1. This house in Kansas:
 

As it turns out, it was purchased by activist Aaron Jackson, who bought this house just to send a message to their neighbors: the Westboro Baptist Church. A peaceful, and colorful, protest to all the hate speech—I’d say this is a must-visit location to any and all living and vacationing in Kansas. It makes me so happy, I’m not above declaring that if we buy a house with siding, it might just get the same treatment. (Somewhere in a hospital room far, far away, my husband the nurse just collapsed when he read that statement.) Visit CNN to read the entire story.
 
2. Smash.
I know, I know—I’ve gushed all about this show here on AbbyGabs before. But the new season started a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve got to tell you—-I’m just as addicted in season 2 as I was in season 1. I know I’m not supposed to like Ivy, but I absolutely adore Megan Hilty, and I’m excited for what’s coming up for her character in the episodes to come! For your viewing pleasure, here she is again. LOVE.
 
 

Sigh. My Broadway tendencies get tickled every time she performs. I really want to be her when I grow up.

3. Lego City: Undercover (for the Wii U)


This game has everything we love: Lego-themed puzzles, fun game play, and silly narration. We simply can’t stop playing. The only thing it doesn’t have is multi-player…but it’s only making us look forward to future Lego games on this new console that much more. My favorite mantra while playing Lego games? BREAK STUFF!!!!


4. Searching the internet for nerdy t-shirts to wear to Comic-Con in July.
Believe me when I say there are a treasure trove of them out there. I’ve got an entire Pinterest Board dedicated to the subject. Here are a few of my favorites, for your viewing pleasure.

Nyan Cat Meets Doctor Who
Star Trek Awesomeness

The Entire Buffy Gang–The Peanuts Version

 

 


5. Remix (I Like The)
Don’t throw stuff at me. I know I told you all about how much I love this new video by NKOTB in my last video blog. But someone happened to point out to me that I failed to leave a link to the video on that post, and so I’m sharing it with you here. (Remember–part of this blog is so I have something to look at to make me smile. And this video makes me smile. So there.)


It’s not just the hotness of the band in suits, or the fact that the lead in the video is a big girl like me, or the ADORABLENESS that is the dance sequence with Donnie Wahlberg near the end. It’s the WHOLE SONG, and the knowledge that I’ll get to see them perform it live in T-minus 2 1/2 months, that gets me all giddy and grinny. I can’t wait for the album release in April. Yay!!!

Ok that’s it. My list of happy things. I’ve got a few more, but I’m too busy rocking out to Remix and pretending I can sing like Megan Hilty to write any more. 

My Favorite App Has Been Linked To Porn-A Soap Box Rant

Are you guys on Vine yet?

If you’re reading that sentence with a blank stare, let me fill you in. Vine is an app owned by Twitter that allows you to send short, 6 second videos to your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Creativity is a must!! So you know Vine has my name all over it!!

Not really. Just figuratively. 

Anyhoo, best bloggy pal, Laverne, introduced me to it Saturday in a series of Tweets. And since I installed the app, I haven’t been able to stop playing with it.

So naturally, I was saddened when I turned on the news this morning and saw that people are using Vine to make 6 second pornography

To that I say, REALLY??

There are a million zillion other things you could be filming, and you choose to film THAT??

If you’ve never used the app before, one of the things that makes it unique is that the videos loop, similar to an animated gif. With that new knowledge, and the word “porn” in your head, I’m pretty sure you now have a good idea of why this is a problem for my shiny new favorite app.

I guess I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t shot at least one pornographic video using Vine. But, it was FOOD porn, so I think that comes in under the radar as “safe viewing for children.”


I also used it to show Donnie Wahlberg that I’m digging the new single by the New Kids, called “Remix.”

 

I marked the grand occasion of finishing my novel with a Vine video, just seconds after typing the last sentence.


You can even use Vine to wish your friends Happy Birthday, just like I did for pal Ray this morning!

 

So to all the weirdos who are trying to tarnish my new favorite social media toy with their sexy escapades, I say STOPPIT! Don’t ruin the fun for the rest of us! Try shooting videos of dandelions blowing in the breeze, or your kids playing in the snow, or kittens sleeping in a puddle of sunshine! Because the rest of the world does not want to see your kibble-n-bits on a six second loop every time we log into Vine.

And I hope the rest of you won’t be scared off from downloading this app, because it really is terrific fun!! Come join me on Vine today! I promise I won’t record anything that will make you go blind.

The End (For Real This Time) — An Abby Gabs Video Blog


If you’re still able to use a computer, and you want to see this video blog, but are having a hard time viewing it here, point your browser to: http://youtu.be/pYAgkhTAols

Thanks for watching!

Sacrificing My Soap Box

Welcome to Abby Gabs…home of the silly Photoshopped picture. I’m sure this is one of those blogs on your list that you visit looking for a laugh. I’m rarely serious. I never take on political issues or rant about rant-worthy things here on this space. I like to keep things light. Fun. I like to think that this little corner of the internet is somewhere people can come to kick back, relax, and giggle about things that have nothing to do with the front page of your newspaper.

Sure, I have my not-so-funny days. I’ve shared with you my struggles with infertility, weight loss, and depression. But for the most part, I just tell funny stories about day-to-day life, illustrate them in a way that I think will make you laugh, and hit publish hoping that I’ve been a bright spot in an otherwise regular day. 

There’s a part of me that envies the bloggers who tackle the hard stuff–those that share their beliefs and their convictions with such heart that their words strike a chord with whoever reads them. I’ve always wanted to be one of those bloggers. But I know that it’s not my strength. And so, I write what I know. And I like to think that I know humor. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions. Passions. Things that I believe in so strongly that I want the world to know where I stand. I do. And I share them on other forums. But this place…this sacred place…I choose to keep it neutral. A safe space for everyone. A safe space for me.

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I can’t help but wonder if, by choosing to leave my political and religious beliefs out of my daily writings, that I’m somehow muddying the causes I support. That somehow my silence speaks more loudly than the causes I carry closest to my heart. Is it my duty to shout from the rooftops, to argue until I’m blue in the face, to post pictures and videos and diatribes to the point of exhaustion, just to make my point? Or is believing in something, with every fiber of my being, and living my life in support of that belief enough?


All I know is that the internet is beginning to feel like shark-infested waters to me. I never know, whether Monday or Friday, what sort of political debate is going to be shoved down my throat on Facebook. I can never judge if a bold statement made on Twitter is meant to be open for argument, or if it’s purely rhetorical in nature. Do I jump in? Do I agree? If I disagree, do I get involved in a discussion that, at its end, should be referred to as an “altercation” instead? Do I have to head into my News Feed everyday, dressed for battle?

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It feels like individuals can no longer put their opinions out into the world without opening themselves up to bigotry, hatefulness, or spite. And with everything going on in the world outside, paired with the growing pains of my own little world, some days jumping into the conversation feels absolutely daunting and exhausting to me. I choose to use my “social media filter” instead, panning for the conversations that feel safe, discarding those that feel hostile to save my own sanity.

I’m saving my soul by sacrificing my soap box.

I can’t help but wonder…does it make me close-minded that I’m unwilling to debate the concept of basic human rights? That negating free speech is a major deal breaker? That I would rather avoid conversations about religion rather than bicker with someone about my very personal, very private beliefs? That there are some things that are so resolute, so much a part of me, that no argument will ever change my mind?

I’m choosing to believe that the axiom “Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you” is still the right one to live by. And that, just as it is my right to speak out against those seeking to prevent our nation from growing into what I know it can be, it is also my right to speak softly and carry a big stick. It is the sacrifice I make to maintain my voice, and to maintain my well being.

And so, Abby Gabs will continue to be what it is, what it was created to be. I’ll still read those other blogs, and I’ll still envy those other bloggers. And I will read their words and want to comment. But I will refrain, because confrontation is not my strong suit. I will return home, to my little blog, and settle into the comfort of laughter and the safety of silence, carrying those burning torches where they are safest–nestled next to my heart.

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