Gulf Shores, Alabama

Arrived at Clay and Cori’s on Tuesday, and on Friday we all headed off to the Gulf Coast of Alabama, where we’ve spent the weekend. Clay rented a beautiful condo by the sea, with four bedrooms, for all his family to come and spend a weekend together. I’m honored to be a part of it, and it has definitely been a crash course in the Menard Family. 🙂 And they are a wonderful family indeed.

The first day we got here, I branched off from the group and headed over to the beach. The Gulf of Mexico is so warm and delightful; I’ve never enjoyed swimming in the ocean so much. I usually don’t go into the water, but this time I found myself being drawn into its salty depths, laying on my back and floating over the waves. It was so peaceful. At the same time, I was dealing with a sudden onslaught of anxiety, which had been building and suddenly decided to overwhelm me. I was feeling frustrated, anxious, easily aggravated… all emotions that are uncommon to me, and most uncomfortable. I was able to talk through many of my concerns with Kara S, and then drifted some of them off into the ocean. Afterwards, I lay on the beach and listened to another chapter of Eckhart’s Power of Now, and found myself, once again, transported to another place. Since listening to that passage on Friday, I have been changed, and have been able to not only deal with my anxiety, but more fully enjoy the Present. I have a feeling that these concepts and feelings, if maintained and applied, could change my life forever… fill me up with the Present for the rest of my life.

Today I had a fantastic time with the four kids. We all went swimming, and then later on in the evening they all piled on my bed and looked at the pictures I’ve taken throughout the weekend. It was adorable. They’re all simply wonderful, and make me light up inside. I need to learn to have more patience, however, for children, since when I do take the time to simply BE with them, it’s always delightful.

Cori & Clay’s daughter, Jeanne, is really wonderful, and I’ve had some great conversations with her… I actually wish we could have gone more in-depth, for I think we could really tap into some great things. Her and her husband, Justin, are wonderful to watch… they were married last September, and they are so in love. It helps balance out the other couple (the one with the kids), for their relationship is quite strained, and when I watch them, all of my family and marriage counseling alarms go off. I feel terrible for Clay’s son, since he seems like a really great, and essentially happy, guy… and yet his light is constantly being dimmed.

Of course, marriage has always been a tender issue for me. I have never really seen a “happy, healthy” marriage, and that is a little scary and off-putting. Also, I have never really been in a relationship that improved or enrichened my life. Yesterday, Jeanne, being completely kind and not remotely condescending, said “You’ll find a good guy. They’re out there. And they’re wonderful,” and it’s apparent that Justin is proof of that.

TOMORROW MY MOMMY IS FLYING DOWN!! Cori, Clay and I are picking her up at the New Orleans Airport around 3 tomorrow afternoon. I was nervous for a while, not sure if I was ready to see any of my family members yet, but I think it will go well. It’s been hard for me to consider giving up any of my freedom, as I will have to do now that Mom is not flying home until July 16th. However, I’m learning to accept life as it happens, and stop applying anxiety to things. God always manages to take care of me, impossible ward that I am.

So much more to say, now that I’ve got myself going, but I’ll keep it to myself for now. Tonight, I posted some older photos onto Flickr. Call it homesickness, but I call it “fond remembrance,” since I truly have no desire to return home yet. It was sweet, however, to go through my old photos and give them a place on my Flickr account. I wanted to ensure that they were saved somewhere safe, and also to share them with you all.

Peace & Love

En Route to Eunice, LA

So I woke up around 7 AM, unable to attempt any more car-sleeping. WAY over-rated. I’ve done some car-sleeping during my Worcester State days when I was in Worcester from 8 AM to midnight, but that was in a cooler climate with the whole backseat available to me. The humid Mississippi evening and the front seat of my car offers little comfort. My legs are still sore from attempting to stretch out.

Needless to say, Panda found it hilarious.

And I apologized to her for all the times I’ve left her in the car during this trip.

My next stop was Waffle House, where I had a delicious, and gigantic breakfast, at 7 in the morning. I felt like a specimen, however, since I think all the locals were watching me. This conspiracy was verified when I went to leave, and a couple of the older men yelled out goodbye to me. Haha.

Magellan informed me that there was a petting zoo / safari extravaganza place nearby in Folsom, Louisiana, which thrilled me to no end, and by 9 o’clock I was waiting in line to get on the wagons and feed the animals, hahaha. I promise, my dorkiness has no limits.

Regardless, it was amazing and I had so much fun. I sort of attached myself to some older couple and their great-grandkids, hahahhah, cuz I’m cool like that, but they were good about it. The man even gave me a dollar so I could buy a water bottle, since it was ridiculously hot there, even so early in the morning. But the little 2-year-old boy, Jeremy, was amazingly adorable, and I enjoyed watching him squeal with delight every time a camel or deer or giraffe took some of his feed (not that I didn’t squeal or anything…) Okay, I might have squealed when the camel stuck his head right in the wagon and stole my feed cup! Hahaha (and yes, Joshua, I lied to you – I thought it was the giraffe but the proof is in the pictures). But then one of the french-speaking guys there jumped up and became my instant hero and retrieved my feed cup from the bugger’s mouth! 🙂

After that, I continued over to Eunice, LA, where I am now, with Cori and Clay. They have been extremely kind and welcoming, even though I’ve been totally lame and basically slept for the past day or so… in a vain attempt to recover my from my ridiculous driving and walmart-sleeping antics!



Hilton Head, 3:30 AM

“We’re running around in circles; I’m chasing you.”

– Chris Bruno

The highlight of my day today was going for a walk (no, the walk itself was not the highlight, keep reading), in an attempt to take pictures, and instead getting my foot sucked into a boggy-ish swampy thing and losing my shoe. I was on the phone at the time, so freaked a little, hung up, and wondered what to do next.

I really like that shoe. It’s a sandal but a sneaker and it’s a skecher but more than that, it’s a…

Well, regardless, the next thing I knew I was on the ground, in my pretty blue dress, reaching my arm all the way down into a puddle of suction cup-like swampland. Perhaps not my most graceful moment, but it eventually got the job done.

I was glad to have my shoe back, but correspondingly covered in mud.

I decided to walk towards the beach, where I had been heading anyhow, figuring I could use one of the beach showers to clean up. Little did I realize it was happy hour, and the entire island population could apparently be found at The Tiki Hut, which was located directly in front of the showers.

Again, not my proudest moment.

It was all made worth it, however, by the two adorable children who looked at me and stepped aside from the showers, saying “oh, you need this more than us!” and continued to hold down the button so I could clean myself off. Then while I was washing my foot, the little boy said “I like your necklace,” which was a bit surprising coming from a young boy, but a compliment nonetheless. Then he started talking to me about this hermit crab he found, and I assured him that I could manage the button-pressing while he ran off to retrieve the little guy. At that moment, I knew a bunch of people from the beach bar were looking at the mess I had made of myself, but I didn’t care, since two beautiful children were sharing a moment with me.

Afterwards, I finally took a few beach pictures, then walked out towards the water a bit and received a phone call. It was from my mother’s cousin, Lisa, who lives in Georgia and wanted to talk about the possibility of me visiting her. I’ve only met her a couple times in my life, but we talked for over 30 minutes, and now I’m all giddy about spending time with her in the Georgia mountains, where they have property.

I decided to confront The Tiki Bar head on, and returned to purchase a drink. Yes, a drink. I figured I was on the beach, at Hilton Head, on an island, with sand and music and seagulls – I should order a drink. Of course, I knew no one, until the waitress recognized me from Sarah’s introduction the other day, and she made me feel more comfortable and put in a drink order. As she walked away, I noticed… okay, I noticed a delicious guy. At first I figured he was just the typical beach bod asshole, but then I noticed the group of friends he was sitting with – a silly, slightly awkward group, who definitely had plenty of signs hinting towards dorkiness and perhaps even intelligence. I tried being surreptitious, probably failing miserably, and eventually decided to simply sit somewhere near his table and look at my pictures.

As I turned on my camera, however, the only girl at the table made a comment about what a nice camera I had, then hit her boyfriend as he proceeded to stare, which is apparently rude if you’re from Indiana – which they were! Haha, that last line sounds even more ridiculous if you could hear the way I said it in my head. Thank goodness this isn’t a video blog.

Anyhow… before I know it, I’m invited to join their table. I was especially convinced when yummy boy smiled and patted the chair beside him.

Overall, I was proud of myself for putting myself out there, and encouraged by the actions of others to start believing in humanity once more.

And really sad that somehow in the shuffle of saying goodbye, I lost yummy boy. Alas, life goes on.

Ob-la-di. Ob-la-da.

I recovered from the loss of yumminess and quirky smiles and adorable sunglasses and rumply hair, and made it over to Wild Wings, where Sarah was working all day and night. It ended up being an enjoyable evening. The band that was playing, the Lloyd Dobler Effect (lloyddoblereffect.com), was a*m*a*z*i*n*g, and I was fine with admiring them from afar, but in the end we all ended up laughing and hugging, and I’m going down to Savannah tomorrow with Sarah to watch them play again.

I don’t know… I’ve listened to a lot of mediocre bands in my time (haha, i’m such a grandma), but very few of them actually connect strongly with me. This band – their lyrics, from the very start, were just beautiful (they worked ‘innocence’ and ‘decadence’ – I mean really now). The lyrics were poignant, and they were poetry, and I couldn’t help but admire their ability, through both words and vocal effect, to take the soul someplace else, even if only for a moment.

I’m a dork. And I’m thinking there isn’t a single person in that bar tonight who would be like “dude, exactly man” to what I just said, but I’m still standing behind it. 😛

Plus, on top of their delicious music, they were GOOD people. As in – GENUINE, and authentic, and humorous, and cuddly. Okay, I don’t know if they were actually cuddly, but it’s a good supposition to make.

It’s 3:30 in the A.M.

Enough of this madness.


“She walked into my life last night
Then she walked out just about half past three.
Though it was innocent and decadent, I must confess
Sometimes these things are never meant to be.

There ain’t nothing like a stranger looking out for you
To make you feel like you’re at home.
And ain’t it something when she’s someone sweet and beautiful
And you don’t spend the night alone.”

– Phil Kominski