Category Archives: Illustrated Post

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.)

The Downside of Dreaming

It’s fun to dream. Planning a future you can’t quite see yet, that’s still fuzzy around the edges; filling in the shadowy bits that aren’t quite in focus–everybody does it. Maybe you’re imagining what your next job might look like, or what a move to the city might feel like, or even where your next vacation might take you. Either way, we all spend time dreaming about, planning for, and being excited by that upcoming phase in life.

For us, the dreams have been pretty specific for several years. Baby, house, new careers. That’s been my mantra since probably somewhere around 2005.

Dreams 1

My husband and I have shared these dreams for years, though my version is colored in a little differently than his. (He sees wood cabinets and tile floors; I see white cabinets and hard wood floors.) But we still pull out that imaginary blue print from time to time, talk about our likes and dislikes, our wishlists and our deal breakers, and we continue to color in the dreams for our future together.

As time passes, and those dreams have yet to become a reality, dreaming takes on a different hue. There’s more blue there than before, and not because we’re selecting paint colors for Brian’s man cave. I find that, after an afternoon of house-shopping or adoption talk, my mood swings from delighted to deflated. It feels like we’ve been waiting on these things to happen forever–and in many ways, we have.

Being patient, especially when it comes to things you ache for, is really hard.

Sometimes, the “we don’t have a baby” or “we can’t afford a house just yet” blues can stick around for awhile for me. Despite knowing that I already have a pretty amazing life–husband, family, friends, cats, fun–it can still be hard to sit in ‘today’ when what I really want is to be sitting in a shiny, new ‘tomorrow.’

But sometimes, all it takes to jar me back to my awesome reality is a bit of wisdom from my husband.

Brian

(Ok, so he might not have been so poetic about it, but that was the gist.)

I may not have a big house in the woods, with a little nook set aside for me to write the next great American novel. I might not have an agent, or a publisher, or a novel on the shelf at the bookstore bearing my name. I might not have an adorable, precocious toddler demanding every bit of my free time and attention and adoration.

But the word that’s missing?

Yet.

Those things will come, in time. And for now, I will revel in the things I do have, and try to keep the blue out of my blueprint of dreams.

Do You Have A Zombie Apocalypse Team?

You guys watch “The Walking Dead,” right? I mean, everyone does. (And if you don’t, you should start now.)

I have a group of friends who are more than enthusiastic about this show. Dinner parties with them often involve strategic meetings on how we will handle the apocalypse when it happens, and don’t be surprised when I tell you that we do, in fact, have a very specific plan for when the dead start walking. Each of us has a job to do, and each of us bring a different dynamic to the group. Brian, as a nurse, is our health care expert. Frank is undoubtedly the “moral compass” of the group, and has also taken on the mantle of team historian. His wife, Linda, is in charge of sniffing out decent bottles of wine to go with our food, prepared by yours truly. Our other pal, Lynda, who originally started our Zombie Apocalypse Team, is cunning and smart–a natural born leader. Her husband, Jimmy, is our “Beth.”

Except our campfire songs will be decidedly more rock-n-roll, since Jimmy is a drummer. Probably lots of Foo Fighters, with some Led Zeppelin thrown in for good measure.

Anywho, you get the drift. Amongst our friends, our game plan is as follows: when the infrastructure fails, and zombies start chasing after us for our very tasty brains, the entire crew will be coming to our house first.

Not because it’s safest or centrally located. Not because it’s zombie proof. But because it’s closest to Google.

Now, I don’t know if other Google facilities are as apocalypse-aware as ours. I don’t know if it’s part of their game plan, or if it’s just a lucky break in design. But this place is impenetrable–high fence with barbed wire, security locked gate, surrounded by hills and trees for cover. In fact, I haven’t the foggiest what the actual facility looks like because they have successfully blocked it from public view. But the one thing that solidified our plan most recently was Google’s addition of its very own water tower.

I’ve had dreams about one of our own climbing carefully to the top, a bag of spray paint on their back, to notify other survivors that we have found a safe haven.

Sanctuary

Once we’ve set up camp at Google Headquarters–I’m imagining there will be some walkers we’ll have to dispatch, probably some fence we’ll have to repair and some cleaning up to do–we can settle in to a life of survival, but in the utmost comfort that an apocalypse survivor can expect. I mean, we’ve all heard how great of a place Google is to work for, so I’m expecting cushy offices from which we can appropriate furniture, access to a state-of-the-art gym, a huge cafeteria we can make use of for food storage and prep, and maybe even a pool, if we’re lucky. We’ll be far enough out of the city center to avoid most giant herds of walkers, but close enough to facilities like Walmart, grocery stores, and pharmacies for supplies.

We would be gracious hosts, but reign with an iron fist. There would be Google Jail for those who acted inappropriately (or for any who stole from our wine stores.) We would set up a kind little community with gardens (for flowers AND vegetables), activities (like mini-marathons and creativity contests, in honor of our host site), and a workable government (Lynda for President!).

It would be a sustainable colony, at least for awhile. All in all, I think it’s a pretty solid plan. And if you’re interested in joining, you’ll have to let us know. We have some questions for you.

For the original meme, which only makes this one funnier, click HERE.

For the original meme, which only makes this one funnier, click HERE.

 

This post is dedicated to my Dinner Club friends–those we affectionately know as The Apocalypse Team.

dinner club

 

Path To A Happy 2015

Guys, my holidays pretty much sucked. There was no Christmas spirit. There was lots of crying and “woe as me.” There was a WHOLE LOTTA forced merriment. I took my decorations down the day after Christmas, and as each bauble found its way back into storage, I felt a little bit happier, like I was packing away the source of sadness that had plagued me since just after the turkey went cold.

Considering the fact that, in years past, I have been accused of being as jolly as Buddy the Christmas Elf, this is some pretty serious news in and around these parts.

The reason why doesn’t really matter as much as finding my way back to happiness. What’s done is done, the past is in the past, and I’m ready to move forward into a happier, healthier, shinier new year.

Since my day-to-day life has been pretty colorless lately, I pointed my browser over to my favorite blog, Heck Awesome, written by the lovely and talented Carrie Baughcum. She is a daily source of inspiration for me, and though she doesn’t know it, I think of her as the Creativity Queen. And just as she has in the past, with one adorable and heartwarming post, she inspired me to try something new.

Art Journaling.

Finally, a way to combine my “artwork” with my words. (Note the quotations. Perhaps “cartoons” would be a more accurate description?) I’ve found a way to fully express the ideas in my brain. And use my awesome multi-hued felt-tipped pens. It’s brilliant.

And colorful. Did I mention art journaling is colorful? <—-COLOR IS GOOD.

So I decided to start my journal with that nasty holiday depression in mind. What can I do to ensure that my path in 2015 is filled with light, and humor, and happiness? I can accomplish the goals I’ve set forth for myself. I can exercise and let the sunshine in. I can write more and whine less. I can start every day with a positive thought. I can hang onto hope, even when hope seems fruitless. I can smile. I can laugh. I can draw and write and paint and doodle. I can create my own sunshine. I can be ME.

Path to a Happy 2015

It’s not as impressive as other art journal pages I’ve seen as I’ve perused Pinterest, looking for ideas. In fact, it’s downright amateur-ish. But it’s a start. And it made me happy, which was the whole point of the exercise anyway. So I’ll move forward. I’ll draw a doodle every now and then, and add the page to my journal. I’ll draw out my feelings when I can’t find the words to express them. I may or may not share them here, depending on how proud I am of said doodles.

Either way, my toes are off the starting line, and I’m moving up that path to happiness. I know it’s there, waiting at the top of the hill for me. It may be an uphill climb, but I’ll make it. And I’m taking my art supplies with me, because…

crayons

(Or, in this case, felt-tipped pens.) (But use whatever works.) (Heck, fingerpaint with pudding if you want to. I won’t judge you if you won’t judge me while I’m licking the paper clean.) (Great, now I want chocolate pudding.) (Mmmm. Pudding.)

To Carrie: You are my sister in creativity. Thank you for continuing to inspire me. XO

Like A Bowl Full of Jelly

I’ve gained three pounds since December 1.

This may not seem like a big deal to you. I mean, three pounds isn’t a whole heapin’ lot. And could easily be shed with a couple of diligent weeks worth of work.

Here’s the thing, though. I made a pact with myself that I wasn’t going to gain the typical five (twelve) pounds that often comes with the holidays. I was going to keep indulgences to a minimum, continue my three-times-a-week trips to the gym, and avoid the merriment of gorging on cookies until the actual holiday.

I wasn’t looking to continue losing during the holidays. That’s too much pressure to put on anyone, especially a fat girl who really loves Christmas cookies.

weight loss 1

But I was going to maintain. That was my key word. MAINTENANCE.

See, I’ve managed to lose (and up until two weeks ago, maintain) a 35-pound weight loss this year. That’s three dress sizes, people. I started Werq in late February, and have been dancing my way to a slimmer, sexier me. I know what you’re thinking–thirty-five pounds isn’t a whole lot. Especially when you think of how long it took me to lose that weight. (9 1/2 months. But who’s counting?) But for me? It’s the most successful I’ve been with weight loss since I figured out I needed to lose weight about ten years ago. I’ve never lost this much, never kept up an exercise routine for this long, never been this successful before. And so, as the holidays approached, I promised myself that I would stay on the wagon. Or at least, hitched to it, so that when January 1 rolls around, I’ll already be ahead of the curve.

But. Cookies.

I have to be honest with myself. It’s not just the holiday cookies. It’s the “it’ll be easier to pickup a pizza” phenomenon. The “it’s just one bottle of wine” scenario. The cheerful Christmas cheeseburger (with extra bacon.) That’s been happening, too.

So I’m reigning it in. Move over Santa. You can have the big jiggly bowl full of jelly. And you can have my share of Christmas cookies, too.

Weight loss 2

After I eat this oatmeal cookie sandwich with a side of chocolate peanut butter globs.

The Day My Brother Stabbed Me

On this, the day of my baby brother’s birth, I would like to share with you a story that we tell around the dinner table on a regular basis. After all, it isn’t every day when you kid brother stabs you. Enjoy.

It was a chilly Saturday afternoon sometime before 1990. Trapped inside with no access to our swingset, my little brother, Adam, and I, had to get creative when it came to keeping ourselves entertained. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reruns only work for so long. And so, I whisked off to my room to dress up in one of my favorite playtime outfits. Adam, not to be outdone, grabbed his favorite plastic sword, and his newly acquired plastic snake.

This snake was ENORMOUS. It wasn’t particularly realistic, but to a 9-year-old with an over-active imagination, it was real enough. And so, when Adam started chasing me through the living room with the snake, I did what any little girl would do.

I screamed bloody murder.

snake 1

“Abby, honey, take it down a notch,” my mother scolded gently.

Not wanting to anger my mom, but unwilling to let the moment of intense pretend-land go to waste, I immediately climbed to the back of the couch and wailed (a little more quietly), “Oh help me, Adam! The big nasty snake is after me! SAVE MEEEE!!!!!”

Always the helpful toddler, my brother said, “OK, seesy…I save you.” He grabbed the nearest weapon he could find and charged after the nasty snake.

“I gonna wescue my SESSSSY!” was his battle cry, just before he buried the pencil deep into the flesh of my palm.

snake 2

Needless to say, Mom didn’t get the peace and quiet she was hoping for that afternoon. My wailing went up a notch, only to be joined by Adam’s hysterics at having stabbed me with a pencil. Super-Mom swooped in, carefully extracted the pencil from my hand. She rushed me to the bathroom, dumped half a bottle of peroxide on it, all while telling me that I was being silly—I wasn’t going to die of lead poisoning since pencils had been made with graphite since before I was born. Adam snuffled in the corner–whether he was worried for my health, or for his own, was never truly discovered.

I still have the tiniest scar on palm of my right hand from that puncture wound. The fake snake is long gone, and my brother hasn’t stabbed me since. But I think, after almost 25 long years, there’s something that went unsaid that day that deserves to be said now.

Thank you, Adam, for saving me from the big bad snake. I’ll always remember your bravery…and your particularly bad aim.

Snake 3

Happy Birthday, Adam Wadam! XO

I’m a Bonafide Werqaholic

So I’ve not been blogging as much lately as I normally would–I’m sure that, after last week’s post, you’ll probably understand why. While I’ve been filling out paperwork, making appointments with our doctor, and fundraising my little tush off, I’ve also been quietly trying to lose weight.

I’m sure you remember the obligatory first of the year post? The one that is inevitably filled with all the wonderful things I planned to accomplish in 2014? As is always the case in posts like that one, weight loss was one of those goals. I snuck it in there, just between getting published and having a baby. (Yes, I’m an over-achiever.) When I published that post, I wasn’t really sure I’d be able to accomplish any of those things. But so far, 2014 has been good to me. And, well, I’ve been good to me too.

I’m proud to announce that, since January 7 (my official start date), I’ve dropped TWENTY POUNDS!

Hi-YAH!

Hi-YAH!

Go Me!!! Woo!!!

Here’s the thing: this time has been different. This time, there’s no pressure on me to lose weight so I can successfully procreate. I’ve found a weight loss buddy that keeps me honest and supports me 100%, all while being compassionate and wonderful (rather than like the drill sergeants in my past.) And miraculously, I’ve found a form of exercise that doesn’t just work for me, it’s SO MUCH FUN. I actually look forward to going to the gym 3 times a week to shake my bootie with the girls. Werq is like a sweat-inducing, ab-shaping, bootie-bumping dance party, disguised as a high-impact cardio workout. And. I. Freakin’. LOVE IT.

I feel stronger, sexier, healthier, and best of all, smaller, than ever before. I’m not gonna lie, I’m feeling a bit like She-Ra. (Any excuse to bust out my favorite photoshop job, EVER🙂

She-ra

When it comes to weight loss, I won’t make any bold statements or predictions about my future. Why? Because my past journeys have been so bumpy and have all ended, ultimately, with failure. But with the support of Brian and my weight loss buddy, my new found addiction to a hip hop fitness class, and the fact that I’m doing this now because I WANT to, not because I HAVE to, I’m feeling pretty confidant this go ’round.

Who knows? Maybe this time next year I’ll be applying to become a Werq instructor. Because it’s THAT MUCH FUN, y’all. See?

 

Now, who wants to come visit so I can take them to my gym for a Werq-out with my favorite instructor? C’mon. You KNOW you wanna…

Dialogue: Real Life Vs. Internal

New Friend: “So, Abby, what do you do for a living?”

Ooh. This social situation just got a little hairier than you’d expected. Do you respond with a long-winded, detail-stuffed explanation of your overly simple job? Do you simply call yourself a business manager and move on with life? Maybe you could get her to buy the story that you’re a writer by day and a Storm Trooper by night.

Me: “Actually, I’m a writer.”

Did you really just say that out loud?? Who the hell are you kidding? It’s not a profession unless you’re getting paid, ya dork. Maybe she didn’t hear you. Hurry up and tell the truth before…

New Friend: “Oh, really? Anything I might’ve read?”

Great. She reads. Didn’t expect that, didja? Congrats on hanging out in social circles with well-educated people who actually read books. Now you get to explain what you mean by ‘writer.’ She’s probably expecting you to mention The New Yorker, or a popular publishing house. Maybe she thinks you lunch with Stephen King. How are you going to even begin to describe…

Me: “Probably not. I’ve been writing blogs since 2007–one in particular since 2011. I am also seeking publication on my first novel, and working on a second.”

Ok. Not bad. That sounded almost convincing. Good on ya! You may have just convinced a stranger that you’re a writer by trade! Surely, nothing could go wrong at this point.

New Friend: “That’s fantastic! Does your blog bring in enough revenue for you to write full time?”

Damn. You totally thought you were gonna get away with this line of answers without having to explain that you do, in fact, “work” full time, even though your job consists of answering the phone and eating Cheetohs in your pajamas between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm five days a week.

Me: “I don’t actually make any money with the blog. I work from home, which allows me a lot of free time to be able to focus on my writing. It’s been a blessing.”

Ok. Ok. I take it all back. That made you sound savvy AND grateful. You go, girl.

New Friend: “So what’s your blog about?”

Your intangible relationships with famous people? Silly illustrated posts about a dream you had once? Your irrational fear of spiders? Conversations you thought were funny?

Me: “It’s a humor blog about our lives. I write about everything from my marriage to my hobbies and everything in between. It’s always been about finding the funny in day-to-day life, although I’ve been known to write a serious post every now and then.”

Right. We’ll go with that instead. Kudos.

New Friend: “How fun! And your book? What genre?”

This one might be dicey. You did, after all, write a book about a fan girl who enters a contest to win an internship with her favorite boy band. Since this new person hasn’t even scratched the surface with your New Kids on the Block obsession, nor seen your Pinterest board dedicated solely to Donnie Wahlberg, you’re skating on thin ice here. Don’t go overboard. She might only read biographies about important dead people.

Me: “I’m pitching it as contemporary romance. It’s about a 30-something woman who’s stuck in a dead end job that she hates. She finds out that her favorite band is hosting an online contest, looking for a new PR consultant, and she enters on a whim. She wins, and is whisked away on a month-long internship that results in adventure, personal growth, and love.”

Wow. You should write book jackets. For realsies. And look–your new friend is smiling, and nodding, and isn’t throwing canapes or empty wine bottles at your face. That didn’t just sound plausible, it sounded downright professional! Look at you, Ms. I’m A Full Time Writer Lady!

New Friend: “That’s really great. I’d love to read your work sometime.”

This is it! This is it!! Set yourself up right here for success….

Abby: *reaches into wallet* “Here’s my business card–the address to my blog is on the back. Stop by and visit sometime.”

Aaaaannnnd it’s a perfect dismount. Scores of 10 across the board, even from the stingy French judge.

Because every super hero deserves a pink tutu.

Because every super hero deserves a pink tutu.

Congratulations, Abby. You just called yourself a writer AND gained a new reader, all within one quick conversation at a party. Treat yourself to another glass of wine, you sexy beast, you.

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.

1

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…

image (1)

…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!

Super-Fun Holiday Puzzle Game of Awesomeness!!

Happy Christmas Eve Eve, readers! I’ve been SO busy shopping and wrapping and decorating and baking and being merry that I’ve been neglecting you for some time now. To make up for it, I’ve devised a Super-Fun Holiday Puzzle Game of Awesomeness, just for you!

Below are 10 illustrations that are depicting a few of my favorite Christmas songs. See if you can guess all ten! (And let’s not forget that I have odd taste in…well, most things, especially music.) Good luck! Ready, set, GO!

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99

**Hint: If you get stuck, or if you’d like a few tunes to groove to while you’re decorating your Christmas cookies, feel free to click on each photo to find out which song it depicts!**

How fun was that?? If you get all ten without having to click, let me know in the comments section. I’m anxious to see if my illustrating skills are still up to par.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. And your families. (Even your smelly Aunt Edna who always insists on kissing you on the lips despite the fact that she smells like sweat socks and stale beer.) (Maybe try spiking her coffee this year before she gets the chance to plant one on you.) (Or do one better and eat a cheesesteak sandwich filled with onions and garlic just before you go to her house. Then lay a smelly one on HER instead.) (Or you could just come to my house. We smell nice. Usually.)