Wednesday, January 28, 2009

let's hit the highlights

i made it thirteen months in the district of colombia. tuesday i had dinner with a friend who asked me what i had learned during the last year. he asked me if i had been scared at the beginning of it all. really, i wasn't. partly because i didn't know for sure if it was going to be a full year. and partly because i was learning so much about trusting god i didn't have much time to be scared.
in high school a young life leader told me the two most important things about your relationship with christ is being teaching and trusting. i lack a lot of trust a lot of the time. and i'm not very teachable sometimes. but dc was filled with moments of being trusting and teachable, and it was definitely a challenging and fun year.

besides hitting the snooze button for over an hour every morning, during the four days that i've been home i've been unpacking and adjusting to A LOT of changes. i've got a pile of stuff that i want to put in a shadowbox or scrapbook so that i can bore the heck out of my grandchildren someday.

"now, see here. this is from our tour of the pentagon. this is a picture from when we met the supreme court chief justice john roberts. these are all my crazy fun friends. this is before your grandmother lost all of her teeth and had no wrinkles. oh! and this is a picture of jeremiah. you don't want to know what he does in his free time."
here's my online year in review, so that if my scrapbook burns in a fire or the grandkids only communicate through computer screens, i'll have proof that dc wasn't a dream. it actually did happen. first night out in d.c. mary alice in middle. lj on right. i had no idea how much fun i was about to have with them for the next few months.
stephanie came in march!
"we got chillins up in here. you gotta chill out or roll out. 911? i love 911!!"
Paige came the same weekend. we jumped on the beds like monkeys, delivered cookies to firemen, and i ate the cherry out of her drink before she went ballistic.

February brought Caitlin & Sara Dub. Beauties on the Potomac River.
We took almost 300 pictures in the metro.
Oh gosh, never would have dreamed she'd move to the district.
Renza Round 2! In St. Michaels Mom in February, Portrait Gallery
Hiking with BonBon & HodgePodge
Wine Tour in Virginia
New State Department Friends & Birdie
P Conn & Cait!
Rock Me Mama - Old Crow Medicine Show
"i like your shimmys."
NYC for the day... i recall, central park in fall!
Renza in February, we conquered Eastern Market
Picnics on Teddy Roosevelt Island with the Lauren Johnson
VP Residence with my favorite interns
South Lawn Spring Garden Tours
Roadtrip to Scranton and Gettysburg with Sweet Julie!
(we met dwight k schrute)
GAP in times square in october, it was as almost as good as seeing paige jarvis herself. ALMOST
a view from my office
NORM!! norm from cheers when we saw hairspray on broadway, jan 08
i was assigned to be pat the bunny's escort for the easter egg roll. and i met the jonas brothers. best day ever.
u street, duke ellington
marine one arrival. worst haircut of my life. pretend you didn't notice.
i could look at this for hours. mary alice's middle name is FUN.
4th of july!! at the white house!! fireworks with dad, mom, george dub, and bluebell.
hide the women and the silver, here comes joe caulkins.
i don't know how he puts up with me but i'll miss that kid.
friday night jazz. wine, good friends, no work, fountains, good music, people watching...
probably my very favorite part of living in the district.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

hollywood magic

the movie business is such a huge industry in america- movies become a part of a lot of people's daily thoughts. well, maybe just me. i wonder if i ever make it through a day without thinking of at least one movie quote, or comparing real life to such-and-such movie, or seeing an actress on the cover of a magazine at the grocery store, airport terminal, etc.

you get the picture: (pun intended) movies are everywhere.

who doesn't wish that for one day they were in a movie? that hollywood would call and whisk them away, just temporarily? well, that happened to me. sort of.

imagine me packing my things up to move from this district to texas last saturday morning. clothes everywhere. white house invitations, sweet notes from friends, phone chargers and ipod headphones scatter the floor. boxes and suitcases in the living room, hallway, my bedroom. i've been packing in stages for three days and my life is still a mess.

next scene: 9:30 a.m. slight panic washes over me as i realize i've been packing 2 hours and there is no way i have enough time to meet friends on the hill for brunch one last time. i'll be doing good to be ready to leave for the airport on time. i leave the house to search for more boxes and buy packing tape, both of which i am completely out of.

my phone rings, but i can't answer because i'm walking down the street with a few boxes i stole from the neighbors trash. i check the voicemail later: its bonnie. she and caitlin are on their way to my house to say goodbye, whether i want them to or not, she says, since i can't make it to see them on the hill.

this is when my life becomes a movie. imagine caitlin and bonnie (dressed exactly alike in matching vests) packing me up, making me laugh, freaking out for me that i'm not going to make my flight. imagine themlugging my junk out the door and loading bonnies car, labeling my boxes, getting me ship-shape.

we finally get to the post office, hilarious - us struggling to carry the boxes up the steps and through the old, heavy doors to the counter. bonnie waiting in the car (illegally parked of course) and signing loudly through the window. caitlin taping my boxes with a crazed look in her eye, after the postal worker asked me: "you have tape? because you need to tape these boxes. i can see your clothes coming out."

if those boxes are dropped in the ocean, the contents will be fine. caitlin sealed them so they're water tight, air tight, protected from any terror threat, etc.

i didn't shed real tears until my cab pulled away. sean-katherine's signifcant other-took pictures of us out front. i told katherine how much i loved her. told bonnie it was see-you-later, not goodbye. told caitlin...nothing. i can't really even process not seeing her face whenever i feel like it, so it was better to just not make eye contact. :)

i didn't load a single bag into the cab. my friends did it for me. i would have completely missed my flight without the help of kathy, bonbon, and hodgepodge.

cab rides always feel like a movie scene to me, maybe because we just don't cab around in htown. but, for me, the entire morning had that "hollywood magic" to it. where else do friends show up without asking, shove your possesions into a box, and make a sad day perfectly happy? movie screens.

god blessed me beyond belief during my time in the capitol, down to the very last minute. i'm so blessed to have the wonderful friends that i do, and not just the ones mentioned in this short post. i'm glad that through chaotic moments and nearly a dozen cardboard boxes, He can remind me of those blessings, and their importance.

thanks to all of you for always being there.

*ps, someday, when one of the boxes arrive that holds all my camera equipment, i'll upload some photos from the packing extravaganza.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

reading list 2008: final edition

i don't want this blog to come to an end before i finish the reading list of 2008 - not that anyone cares but i need to keep a list for my own piece of mind. "taught by america" - sarah sentilles

a friend recommended i read this book after i found out i'll be teaching for the next two years. it is such a great book and mind-boggling at the same time. sentilles was raised in houston/dallas, went to yale, then did TFA in compton (LA) in the mid-90s. the program was still developing so the training and staff assitance are not what it it today, but the book did freak me out a little. it also fully charged my batteries and i CANNOT wait to be in the classroom. i think even if teaching wasn't on my radar, i would have enjoyed reading it because it is eyeopening to reform america's public education system needs. maggots in the classroom? no printer paper or books? no grass at the playground? no way to teach a child simple math? children in 3rd grade that don't know the alphabet?

something has to be done. reading this book is a start.

"the shack"
william p. young

this book ties with "here if you need me" for the best book i read in 2008. i heard alot about this book this summer, people that absolutely loved it and people that criticized it for being in no way biblical.

i'm no bible expert, by any stretch, but it seemed pretty right on to me. this book is AWESOME. it helped me redefine by expectations and desire for heaven. it opened my eyes to the power of the trinity. i think it will be a book that i read annually and walk away with a completely new lesson learned or insight observed.

"love walked in"
marisa de los santos
i bought this on a whim in a used bookstore in dupont circle. i knew nothing of the author, but it looked great, and really, who never judges a book by its cover??

anyways, its overly cheesy at first but the characters and the writing are brilliant and will leave you warm and fuzzy. its written with more charm and actual literary techniques than most beach reads, so i highly recommend for girls who are looking for a good book to read on the airplane.

"putting the amazing back into grace"
michael horton

read this as part of a bible study at church on grace and predestination. really really good, and not over-your-head intellectually. definitely borrow mine or read it on your own.

"gift of the magi"
o. henry
its about 12 pages long so this doesn't really count as a book, but i read it every christmas. if you've never read it you should march to your nearest barnes&noble and read it in the store. it'll take you five minutes and it must be done!! :)
i wrote a thesis paper on this book in high school, and can tell you from research - its brilliant.

well, that wraps it up. happy reading in 2009. and, as you can tell, i'm a bit of a bookworm. (if you need to know what a bookworm is please visit kimbo ginning's blog.) so feel free to send me a list of books you think i should read this year. currently working on "paris to the moon." just finished "letter to my daughter" by maya angelou. two thumbs way up.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

intruder?? nope, just a roommate

on my" list of things to do before i die" (bucket list, if you will) you will find some random things - including 'get arrested'. Now, don't think i want to smoke pot or participate in grand theft auto or anything, i just think life is too short not to break a few rules every now and then.

in the movie "feverpitch" with drew barrymore and that cute funny guy - can't remember his name at the moment - drew's character gets arrested for jumping onto the field at fenway park and running across during the baseball game. she and the cute funny dude kiss, she gets on national television, she runs across a REAL mlb field. at the end of all that, the cops say, come on m'am, we have to take you in. she gets cuffed. totally worth it.

anyways, in the past year, i've had 911 called on me TWICE. first time was last april or may when i was in college station. i came home late to the condo - where my three lovely roommates were still living after returning from their internships in houston. they weren't used to me being around, but a lot of my furniture was still in my room and i was still paying rent, and i was in town for the night, so...

so i use my key to come through the front door of the CARE house, run upstairs and immediately jump in the shower. well, sweet rachel has forgotten that i was back in town and heard someone trying to get in. she was dogsitting for a friend and the dog was apparently growling through her door at me but i never heard it. she called the police and could hear the shower running. (apparently the intruder was going to have a quick shampoo and conditioner moment before stealing all of her money and threatening to take her life)

anyways, i get out of the shower to hear rachel talking to a guy and can see that the hall and stairwell lights are all on. i'm wrapped in a towel and the cops are at the door. they think we're all idiots. i feel TERRIBLE for scaring the daylights out of rachel and eliza. they feel terrible for thinking i was a mass murderer. oh well, funny story, hahaha.

funny if it happens once. twice, you start to feel like a creepster.

so sunday night after church, caitlin, bonnie and i went to dinner with the dc visitors - a fella named james, a dude named william, and a sister named lisa. somewhere in there i lose my key. trying to get into my house, i can't find the key. i don't have two of my three roommates cell phone numbers. (dont ask why, i don't really have a reason, and i already feel like a moron) i rang the doorbell several times before i called dr.katherine, feeling terrible to wake her up but it was 28 degrees outside and after 2 in the morning. she didn't answer though.

checked the front and back mat for a spare key. checked my purse again. tried to rip off screens off the front windows. finally tried the back basement door that no one uses just in case it was left open. i was worried i would scare my roommate that lives in the basement to death so i said "helloooo???" at what i thought was a loud enough pitch to be heard. this entire time i'm thinking no one is home because no lights are on, etc.

then a policeman walks through our back gate with his flashlight in the air. "hi..." i say. in my head i'm excited he's there because surely he'll let us in with his magic key.

"hello?" he asks, flashlight still in air.

"um, i lost my key. i live here, i'm so sorry, we just can't get in. i lost my key."

in my head i was thinking someone saw us trying to rip off the screens out front and called the police just be to safe. there's a bright streetlight in front of our house so anyone could have seen the attempted "break-in."

"you live here?"

"ya, can't find my key. i'm soooo sorry." two more policeman/women show up. "did you get a call from someone?" i'm beginning to think this could get awkward.

"you live here? [he picks up his walkie talkie.] dispatch, can you call them and tell them its a roommate? she's locked out. yes, its a roommate."

"oh my gosh, is someone home?" i ask, starting to realize i've just scared the crap out of a roommate.

"yes, they called about an intruder." the officer tells me.

"oh my gosh i'm so sorry. i'm so sorry. i'm so sorry."

"[walkie talkie again] dispatch can you ask them to open the door and let in the roommate?"

door opens. theres my roomie, in the basement, scared to death. my stomach immediately does flip flops as i imagine what fear i must have put her through.

"oh my gosh i'm so sorry. i'm so sorry." she laughs, says its fine.

i continue to apologize for a few minutes as i make my way upstairs. "goodnight, thanks for letting me in."

its a few minutes later that i remember the college station incident with the roommates calling the cops on me. maybe i'll have a disclaimer on the next lease i sign:

"WARNING: sometimes i attempt to break-in to my own home and a 911 call may be the end result. normally it ends just fine, with some embarassment, laughter, scared-to-deathness, and cops thinking you're all idiots thrown in the mix."

intruder? no. its just a roommate.

dancing one step behind

Have you ever danced with a guy who seems to be going just a little too fast? No matter how many times you look down at your feet, you just can't seem to match your steps to his? If only you could slow his steps down just a half-count, you'd be in perfect rhythm and everything would just fall into place...

My life feels like that lately. Time is moving just a bit too fast and, and try as I may to smile and enjoy myself, the dancefloor is still spinning as the song is coming to an end.

A year ago I was making plans with roommates that I was just getting to know (Mary Alice and Lauren J) to go to the Texas State Society's inaugural ball together. Feels like last week! The much-anticipated party was last night and it was so fun, but the fact that it has come and gone is weird to me. Weird I tell you!Emory Quinn, Jack Ingram, Charlie Robison were there. All my favorite texans that live in this district were there (bonnie you don't count.) Well, and Katherine, but she's more All Star American than Texan, really.

My parents came up for the ball, we made plans for that last February because a) my parents are cool and i thought it'd be so fun to have them there and b) they love to dance and they love texas. My dad took pictures with his favorite congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee. Hahaha. I got a photo with Senator Kay Bailey, future governor of Texas. (thanks to the wonderful caitlin)

The dancin' was good, we all wore boots, the parentals had fun, all my faves were there. But something just felt kind of "off". It was a weird weekend, processing alot - the loss/end of a job. the goodbyes to great friends. the goodbye to a lovely, wonderful, enchanting city. the excitement of things to come, and trusting that this is God's plan. It's all just hitting me so fast!!

My internship didn't last long enough, I loved it too much. I was just beginning to feel at ease after nine months at the last job and they've kicked us out the door. I haven't lived in the Harry Potter room long enough. I'm not ready to leave the monuments, the political excitement, the metro system, the east coast.

So listen up, dance partner. You're moving a little fast for me. Maybe I can take lessons and learn to keep up with you. Maybe you could slow down a little? Pause for a whirl or two?

I'm not sure learning to keep up with you is something that can be taught. But I'm trying my best to follow. And dancing with you one step behind definitely beats than not dancing at all. I've never been one that liked to sit in the corner. So for now, I'll count myself blessed to be out on the floor, and even if I'm a few counts behind, I won't be sitting this one out.

Friday, January 16, 2009

i'm terrible at goodbyes

Well, the job is over. I've been kicked out. I'm technically on payroll until the clock strikes noon on inauguration day, then all of george dubya's peeps are out and obama's are in. so consider me out.

instead of talking about all the people i've said goodbye to or the things i've learned in this job and in dc, i'm going to...

direct you to some other blogs!! next week, i hope to sit in a fun dc coffee shop and reflect on the madness and the changes about to take place. (in my life. not politics. enough about barack - lets talk just kidding. well sort of.)

a few of the regulars i read:

oh first let me say that i link to the right on this page the people i personally know & love and you should already have clicked on their blogs and be following them. so this list is a list of the "famous" bloggies out there, interior designers, randoms, and i don't really know any of them.

habitually chic (interior designer, love to look at the pictures)

absolutely beautiful things (an aussie designer - trying to find a way for her to give me a job. i'm a great babysitter, we can trade free room & board for my services??)

you are my fave (definitely MY fave. this chick is BRILLIANT. if i was on a desert island with internet access and could only follow one blog this would be it.)

black eiffel (so visual, so inspirational, so great)

pioneer woman (true story, lady living in oklahoma. caitlin e. hodges found this and directed it to me. read the love story. right NOW)

stuff christians like. (laugh out loud funny. surprisingly deep insights on the christian faith. if the author wasn't married i'd be sending him emails, cookies, love notes...)

i love you more than blank (in time for valentines day. i love all my dear friends/readers even more than these blogs.)

well i'm sure that's enough for now. i hope you like these blogs (if you're a dude you might not, ie dad) but be sure to wander back to this district soon.

wishing you health, happiness, and warmth from this district. for a few more days!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

how do you spell MUSKOX??

i generally don't blog about work, because its

a) silly and who really cares and b) its not really professional.

but today, i got a phone call that was too good to not share with whoever wants to know. an excerpt from the convo:

hi, this is courtney."

"hi, i'm calling from the martha stewart show. we need a silhoutte of a muskox before the end of today please, our deadline is very tight."
i'm speechless. rare for me, i know.

"um, sure, i'm on my way to a meeting but let me get your name and number and i'll call you back within the next hour."

one hour later:
"muskox, yes, do you mind spelling that? i'm unfamiliar with the term."

"sure, no problem. [she spells it.] we need a silhoutte for an upcoming show we're doing."

we go through the process of who this lady had spoken with earlier that day, etc. Turns out my employeer occasionally provides file photos for media members when photos are unavailable via internet for free.

five minutes later i call back..."yes, martha? turns out we do not have any muskoxen silhoutte photos at this time. i'm sorry. have a lovely day."

so later i googled this muskox thing. its a descendant of the wooly mammoth, closer to the goat and sheep family than an ox, typically docille unless its mating season, when the male gets extremely aggressive and charges everything in sight. (its named for the odor that emits from the male, a stinky "musk") my dad is right when he says you learn something new everyday!

turns out their wool is EXTREMELY valuable. $40-$80 per ounce! so, my friend bonnie and i are going to raise these muskoxen and harvest their wool. i figure with a herd of just two or three we could make at least $10,000 our first spring. split three ways between us and our "chief of public relations, photography, and other random things" justus anderson, we'll be millionaires in no time.
plus we'll reside on the frozen tundra of alaska or canada and live the good life. you can't put a price on happiness, can you?

my top three name choices for my muskox?

vladimir. katelynn. and carrietta.

Monday, January 5, 2009

~the two-thousand and ninth year after christ's death~

"Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans." - Robert Francis Kennedy

Is anyone proud to be an American anymore? I'm not really sure. Well, I am sure. There are the John McCains and the Nolan Ryans and the Sally Rides who are sure proud to be American. Heaven knows Sarah Palin is proud to be an American. (insert fake accent here.)

I selfishly cannot wait to share with the cyberworld and the five readers of this silly "blog" the adventures I encountered over Christmas break. The conversations about death and Heaven, my near arrest while wearing footsie pajamas, my mom's kidney infection, Colorado, and good times with grand and great-grandparents.

But first I feel it is necessary to say Happy New Year. 2009 is sure to be better than 2008, because every year we live is the best year ever, right? I hope so. I don't want to find myself looking back at a year, gripping the handles of my wheelchair, saying in a croaky voice "Well, gee, I sure do wish I could re-live 2017. That was the year..."

No. We are on this earth for a purpose, and a short time at that, and we are called to move forward.

Paul told the Philippians: "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13b-14, NIV)

In America, the economy has taken a stab in the neck. Jobs are eluding qualified people, young and old. Murders run loose in the street and numerous governors/politicians are corrupt. People are going hungry in America and abroad every single day.

On the home front, we face a year without the life and smile of Jay Chenoweth. My grandfather's Alzheimer's is advancing. My brother and I cannot seem to be in the same room as each other for more than 30 minutes without someone yelling hurtful things.

But, a new year is here rather we are ready to tackle it or not, rather it has an obvious sunny shine to it or not.

However-I cannot count my blessings on my two hands. I cannot count my blessings on 100 hands! I met the President, interned at the White House, moved to a new city without any huge hiccup. I graduated from college. (WEIRD) I'm moving back to Texas and some one's going to give me a certificate to teach young minds. My parents are, for the large part, in excellent health. My mom's parents AND grandparents are still alive and doing GREAT. My grandfather survived a massive stroke this fall. I have grown closer to old and new friends and clearly see God through their presence in my life. I found an amazing church in DC and will miss its message and beautiful music immensely. God became more real to me as almost everyday of 2008 passed. Another year went by and I still consider my parents at the top of my list of closest friends and confidantes on the planet. I know that Tom & Cathy are two of the biggest things I take for granted in this world. And, our dog, Sam, finished his 13 great years on earth.

I think 2009 will have a lot to smile about. The last night of 2008 was the strangest News Years Eve of my life. But that doesn't mean that I'm not blessed for the next breath I take, the next year I will live, and - I'm blessed to know that there is a mighty God who is in charge of the joy and sadness in life. Every now and then, a hard rain falls. A good man dies too young. A family hurts. But, we hold tight as the flood waters recede and the dawn breaks.

Thank goodness the dawn of a new year has already broken. Here's to running forward during the next 365 days and living life to the fullest. And here's to being proud of the red, white & blue.