Because I didn't get it all out this morning...

7. I'm at war with my basement neighbors. For those of you who don't remember, we live above a bar. I'm pretty sure they aren't affected by my iTunes radio. Nevertheless, we're battling. So far I've matched their "Purple Rain" and raised them Britney Spear's "Body Ache". Take that Ye Ol!

8. On that note, if anyone's looking for birthday gifts for your's truly, Britney's new album has some catchy tracks and I ain't afraid to say it! Thanks.

9. On a similar note, Katy Perry's new album would be another solid addition to my collection of lady-jams. #darkhorse #can'tgetenough!

10. And Lady Gaga: Artpop. Go! Okay I'll stop.

11. You should know that I love love checking the mail to find tiny little envelopes with people's RSVP messages. Few things satisfy me more than typing numbers into a spreadsheet.

12. I don't think my upstairs neighbor is happy with my music selection. Well I don't enjoy hearing his bodily functions. Touché. That's not an exaggeration folks. This apartment living is getting old. For another fun fact regarding our first place in Noho that we will remember fondly but will not be sad to move into a little-bit-bigger place NOT directly above a bar, our rent is just about the same as Markus' 1700 sq ft house two blocks from the beach in Ocean Springs, MS! oy vey!

13. It's not that I don't care what the table decorations look like at our reception, it's that I don't care what our table decorations look like at our reception. I do care! It's just not the most important part of the day in my mind [read: vowing my life to Markus f.o.r.e.v.e.r., coherently; speaking to everyone who attends to thank them for attending our nuptials over all the more important things they have going on in their lives that day]. It came to a point a few weeks ago that I just wanted to throw up my hands and scream SOMEONE DECIDE FOR ME! And then, my most-amazing-and-wonderfully-creative not saying that because I know she'll read this future mother-in-law showed me what she's using for the rehearsal dinner. SOLD. And so the theme carries over. Simple. Shabby-chic.

14. When you aren't asking me if I'm stressed about this wedding, you can also not ask me if I have any colors. Of course I have colors! Every color of the rainbow is invited to our wedding. And everyone gets to wear whatever they want. "Well, what's your sister (matron of honor) wearing?" you ask? Whatever she wants! Okay maybe I reserved the right to veto, but I do just want everyone to be comfortable!

15. Here's two things you can count on: I will be in a wedding dress of the white-ivory color range. Markus will be in a tux. Not sure if his tux will be black, grey or fuchsia. True story.

Monday morning.

1. First and foremost, it's my birthday week. So, there's that.

2. I long for the day I don't need earplugs to sleep. I wonder if they can do damage over time? Like, do my ear holes need to breathe at night or is it okay to keep them stuffed up? Maybe the earplugs keep germs out and I'll get sick less, because they only have access to my nostrils unless I'm sick and mouth-breathing and my nose-hairs help keep them out?

3. I'm getting married in thirty-three days. Don't ask me if I'm stressed out.

4. Yesterday I ran my personal best in the 10th Annual Hot Chocolate Run in downtown Northampton, a 5K, in twenty-five degree weather. I finished in 30 minutes and 20 seconds or something. I hadn't done anything physical at all besides gorge myself at Thanksgiving which is exhausting, hence all the naps in three weeks. I was pretty proud of myself! I do have to say part of my speed likely had to do with I could stop at 3.1 miles instead of having another 10 to go like during that awful half-marathon I ran that one time so the quicker I got there the quicker it would be over and I could drink hot chocolate go inside where people should be in 25 degree weather.

5. I had to scrape snow and ice off the car this morning to take Markus to the airport, another proud moment. We made it there and I made it back without any worries. I think we're going to dominate this winter business. I really don't know what all the fuss is about. 

6. I hope people will understand when all they get from us for Christmas is "love" as in we're coming home for the week, and we ain't got no money for gifts seeing as though there's a wedding comin' up and all.

Happy Monday!


Catching you up in 1, 2, 3...

Since my last post I would like to share with you the following:
  1. I am getting married in eighty seven days.
  2. Therefore I have commenced the lets-get-seriously-serious-about-looking-and-feeling-your-best-in-your-dress-on-the-big-day diet and exercise plan.
  3. As for my "diet plan", it's not a diet, diet, but more of an ingestion-of-healthier-foods plan. And mostly just less participating in the candy bowl at work. 
  4. As for my "exercise plan", I have started to go to gym classes regularly. Starting tonight.
  5. I experienced my first bootcamp class (read: hellfireanddamnation). Remember part II of this post? Tonight was a similar experience, only bootcamp at the NAC lasts more than two seven minute workouts, it's sixty minutes. In a row.
  6. There are four seasons in New England. Currently we are experiencing "fall" (that would be "winter" to my Mississippi folks) and the trees do this:

  7. I still love my job. Maybe even more than ever before.
  8. I went home to MS for the first time since the move to knock out some wedding planning details, it was a success! My list now looks like this: cake, caterer, rehearsal dinner location, dress undergarments, band, linens, sound equipment, music, favors, invitations, ceremony, officiant, everything else...
  9. Our basement "neighbors" have gotten louder. Or maybe it's just that our "fan" isn't producing an equal volume of white noise as our AC was...now that it's "fall" (a.k.a. my normal version of winter) we have no use for the window unit. But sometimes when Markus isn't here I still run it. Okay, most of the times he's not here.
  10. Kudzu is really happy in her one-bedroom-apartment (where her humans just pay rent) and has completely forgotten about the world outside for the moment. She spends her days sleeping on top of the refrigerator or in her humans' bed. She has really perfected her ping pong skills and the humans are contemplating enrolling her in the next kitty ping-pong olympics. 


adventures every weekend

When we were talking about making the move up here one of the things we discussed was having access to so many new nearby places. Little did we know, some of those places are right here in town and Boston is less than 2 hours away! 

Our very first weekend up here, just the two of us, we got to hang out with these guys...

And when I say hang out I mean we got to see them at the Iron Horse music hall and then invited them to our onebedroomapartment afterwards. It was amazing we all fit! and Kudzu was in heaven with all the surprise attention during hours she's usually locked up in the kitchen on top of the fridge.

The same weekend we ventured down the road a few minutes to Chapel Falls...

Another weekend Markus had to fly out of Boston early Monday morning, and I really wanted use of the car that week so rather than have him take it to the Logan airport, I found a last minute Priceline deal in the heart of Boston at the Omni Hotel and we drove up Sunday afternoon after laundry, Sunday is laundry day, always. 

This is where we stayed...

When we got to our room there were three doors, our key didn't work in the first two we tried so we assumed we had the wrong key. We didn't try the key in the room with the plaque on the door because neither of us could believe we would have a suite...it was AMAZING!

We settled in and then explored the city...

Finally, last weekend was epic. We drove 3 miles down the road next time we'll ride our bikes and hiked up Mount Tom...

Don't get me wrong - the adventures are great, but most of the time we don't make it much farther than this...


Before and after shots of "1bdrmapt"...

So, very recently Markus and I moved from each living in our own homes in Mississippi (his, 4 bedrooms; mine, 3 bedrooms) to a one bedroom apartment in Massachusetts. Let me tell you it was touch and go there for a minute! I can't complain too badly, actually, I had no involvement whatsoever with the packing of the trailer. The trailer was packed thanks to family. Expert packers, if you will. 

Dad was convinced even with the pickup truck-bed and the U-Haul trailer, our stuff wasn't going to fit. He was right. A desk, side table and Kudzu's big khaki chair didn't make it (but the matching ottoman did, it's now our living room coffee table as you'll see shortly). Everything else fit though, once all knobs and feet were removed, and boxes were unpacked in to dresser drawers, and every piece of anything that could possible come apart was taken apart...it was miraculous.

That's mom and dad making room for me after I returned my rental car to the airport, they picked me up on the way in, it was glorious to see them. They had to carefully open only one side of the trailer to cram some things from the truck cab in so I could safely sit and ride the rest of the way to Noho with them.

If you've ever moved before you know the packing part is a pain in rah-rah. 

Then, you dread unloading the trailer - unless you have these handsome helpers to assist:

That's the last piece to come out of the trailer #photopp
Thanks to some of my new work-family, we unloaded that trailer in under an hour. But then the real work began: deciding where it's all going to go!

I feel like the next series of photos doesn't even begin to do justice to the state our apartment was in during the unpacking phase:









Mom, Dad and I got pretty much everything somewhat put away. But the pictures on the walls, the TV, the hall closet, the office and a few other things are all thanks to these good-lookin' fellas who drove up during the hurricane (the storm refers to our apartment, it's a metaphor folks) and spent a few days inside:

Sr., Jr.
Now it feels like home!

And so begins the adventure of living together...


Miss July

Hey, remember that time I told you I'm contributing to www.mississippiwomenbloggers.com? Say hello to

Tips to make the most out of any adventure

Let me paint you this picture

Wedding plan dreams


And stay tuned for photos of the new place!


Where to even begin??

I have started this post multiple times and just can't seem to get it written before something else happens that I want to tell you about, so I'll stick with the highlights:

1. I love my new job.

2. I love our new apartment but will love it even more when our stuff gets here (tomorrow night).

3. I will love #2 ten thousand times more when my sweet fiancée arrives!

4. I learned how to light our gas oven thank you Bebe and was able to cook a pizza which meant no more pretzels and hummus for dinner.

5. Our grocery store is to die for...
(Exhibit A) and the entire section wouldn't even fit in the frame!
6. Not only is there a fantastic cheese section, but there is also an international wine section the real stuff, not the under 4% alcohol content or whatever it is they sell back home and a full deli, cake-making-shop, florist, salad bar and SUSHI! I couldn't resist the salmon-mango-avocado-brown-rice-roll. Delicious!

7. People are FRIENDLY! No, this doesn't really *shock* me per se because I'm a likable person, duh but people are actually interested in how my day was and curious to know why I just moved here and where from and then they want to share all sorts of winter weather advice #winteriscoming

8. There's a random what-appears-to-be-a-homeless-maybe-hippies-of-some-kind folk-ish band that plays on the sidewalk every day during my walk home.

9. Did I already mention I can WALK to work? I didn't even mind it in the rain the other day.

10. I live above a coffee shop and my barista is so welcoming every morning when I enjoy a cup at 7am before walking to work. However, said cup of coffee is a whopping $2.50 so I doubt I'll be making a habit out of that once my coffee maker arrives this weekend

11. There's so much to DO! There's an awesome music scene...we could see a new band practically every night if we really wanted to. Don't forget Rosco Bandana is coming at the end of this month! And we could eat at a new restaurant every week on date night for years or so it seems. PS, Markus Jones, that's starting once we're "settled".

Side note: Our zip code is 01060. Does that mean we were the one-thousand-and-sixtieth zip code to be formed in the United States? That would make Hattiesburg thirty-nine-thousand-four-hundred-and-one-th!

I have to stop for the night, I'm tired and have another day of work tomorrow #TGIF, y'all! yet I can't help but feel like I've let you down! There's just so many things still to say, stories to tell...and more things will happen it'salljustsoexcitingIdon'tknowwhatodoaboutit! But it can wait. Stay tuned...

PS: Kudzu wanted to share her own thoughts and progression of feelings about this relocation to Noho, too:

Kudzu on the plane <I curse you>
Kudzu loves looking out the kitchen door! <I shun you>
Kudzu loves to climb! <Hey look, something high>
This is Kudzu's world, I just pay rent. <I guess it ain't so bad>


We got the apartment!

We got the apartment! Our new address is solidified! Now, on to the move.

Wait, I'm in London.


That's right, London. As in the United Kingdom. As in, where our forefathers were birthed and fled. Dont' worry, they've basically forgiven us for all that mess at this point.

For the past 10 days I have been the "launch specialist" for a study abroad program I've been managing for the last five years over here. Since I accepted a new position in Massachusetts, I can spell it now! I agreed to come over for a few days to help get things rolling. As soon as I arrived, I started questioning my sanity in this decision.

I fly home tomorrow, so I might as well say, "on with the move", but it technically won't start until I get hom. Let me give you the short-hand run down of what that entails:

Wednesday, July 3 in the evening:
  • Arrive home to Jackson Evers "International" Airport
  • On way home swing by County Line Road to pick up wedding dress which has arrived
  • Dinner with family in Brandon
Thursday, July 4:
  • Leave car in Brandon, drive to Philadelphia, MS with sister and bro-in-law and Kudzu for family gathering
  • Drive to Hattiesburg 
  • Finally get to see Markus after two weeks apart
Friday, July 5:
  • Finish packing up house in Hattiesburg
  • Pack up Kudzu
  • Drive to O.S.
Saturday, July 6:
  • Finish packing up Markus' house
Sunday, July 7:
  • Pack up Kudzu for airplane
  • Drive to Gulfport
  • Fly to Springfield/Hartford airport, CT
  • Rent car
  • Drive to Noho
  • Move in apartment (only if key situation works out), otherwise stay with coworker/boss/friends? Clearly that step isn't set in stone quite yet.
Monday, July 8:
  • Start new job


This is when *it* gets real...

So we found a place to live and grow more and more excited about it as the moments pass. Of course we didn't measure anything and the square footage is missing from the details listed online, so we attempted to draw a floor plan from memory. This was our best one, drawn in the Atlanta airport on our way home yesterday I added some words in pink to help you navigate:

Drawing not to scale

Now *it* gest real, if you know what I mean. Condensing from two houses to a ONE bedroom apartment might be the most challenging part of this whole ordeal actually, taking Kudzu to Mass via plane might top this challenge, stay tuned.

Markus asked me before I accepted the position if I was "prepared to live under one roof" with him "without a Stopher or a Ben to call" to come get him when I'm tired of him and need him to get out of the house. My response was, "Markus, whether we live in Hattiesburg, MS or Timbuktu, living together is going to be a challenge for both of us".

Deciding which furniture to take, where to put things in the apt, merging styles...yikes!

Nevertheless we're just happy and excited to have a new place, and to begin our life together awwww.


Our "Ye Ol'" resting place

We found a place to live in Northampton! Assuming our application goes through, we'll hopefully hear at the end of this week. Being home-owners ourselves the rental agency ladies were quite positive about assuring our probability, so I'm going to go ahead and write this blog about our new apartment. 

Want to see a picture?

That's us, to the right of the Ye Ol' Watering Hole sign with the AC unit hanging out the window (not that we'll need it where we're going!).

The white door to the right of the awnings is the door that leads to our staircase, to our apt door! There's also a back entrance that brings you up a wooden staircase and deck-landing, that door brings you right in to our kitchen. We'll have a parking spot and perhaps most importantly, the snow will be removed for us!

It's small. The leasing information lists 6 rooms but even as we tried to stretch it we only counted 5. We'll have to condense a lot, and get creative with the space, but nevertheless we are falling more and more in love with our new home and can't wait to settle in.

What's there to love about it, you ask?

Here are 10 reasons to begin with:

  1. The apartment is above Northampton Coffee, Beehive Sewing, The Oxbow Gallery and Ye Ol' Watering Hole. Huzzah!
  2. It has hardwood floors throughout, except in the kitchen.
  3. We are a 7 minute walk from my office - either through town or via the rails-to-trails path that spans several states. 
  4. We are two minutes from I-95 which Markus will take to Bradley airport in CT another state I can't quite spell out perfectly yet.
  5. There's a rails-to-trails path opening literally next to our building. 
  6. We are minutes from the Iron Horse Music Hall where we just discovered our favorite MS band, Rosco Bandana will be playing July 26! and Calvin Theatre.
  7. Go Berry is down the street. It's ah-mazing. And we already have our favorite brunch spot selected: Sylvester's
  8. In addition to that local treat which we had twice during this 24 hour visit there are over 92 restaurants in Noho and a diverse cuisine - burger places, Thai, Indian, Moroccan, sushi, tapas, a raw bar, Italian, Mexican, and from what we've seen, pretty much everything is locally grown! 
  9. Not only is Ye Ol' Watering Hole an awesome dive bar, it's also a beer can museum over 4,000 beer cans on display and the owner seems like a great guy, he was very friendly and told us all about the establishment, the area, the crowd that visits the bar (read: it sounds like we'll fit right in). 
  10. We won't be "house poor". It costs half as much as any other place we looked at.
Here are some more photos:


Is moving to Massachusetts stressful?

I spent my life moving around as a child. Every 4 years or so. When we moved back then it wasn't just up the street, it was to another country. 

As a kid, mom and dad took care of all the details. My sister and I were given decision-making power when it came to our toys and things - what to keep, what to sell or give-away.

As a responsible adult, "familiar with" moving, and only planning to move UP this country, the move to Noho, MA should be pretty simple...right?

Only this time I'm not just moving myself. Remember to factor in that I'm moving a cat who despises being in her crate and a fiancée. A fiancée with a fully furnished four bedroom house. And remember, I have a house, too.

Just stopping here to breath, thinking about the logistics and what needs to happen, you might think it's a good place to "stress out". Just the fact that there are two households is one thing. But fiancée equals even more life changes approaching. It also means wedding planning from a distance. Girl, are you crazy? No. I'm not.

And furthermore, NO! No, there is no reason to "stress out". Ever. Yes I know I stress from time to time but hear me out. I've decided the only thing that stresses people out is themselves and their decision to react that way. There's no reason for it at all. What good will it do? Choose to work it out. Stop. Think. And I mean that, you can't run away from it, you can't turn it off, you must think (and often times talk) things through.

So, the fact that there is a very large move coming up, the fact that there are two households to move, the fact that animals are involved, the fact that it will take 3 days on the road, the fact that Markus travels every week for work and has no time to call his own between work and volunteer positions and my talking his ear off about "planning" and all I want to do is take care of everything for everyone so no one has to stress about anything...

Take a breath. I'm talking to you, this isn't me telling myself to breathe, it's for you. You're welcome.

All of those facts/things/thoughts COULD cause reason for a mental breakdown. But what would that accomplish? All of those things COULD case reason for short tempers and snarky conversations. But that's a choice you make.

Additionally, I've decided that when people expect this sort of behavior because after all, how can one NOT be stressed by all of those seemingly stressful things? they look for you to be short, snarky and irritable. They ask leading questions assuming that can only be the case and you reaction can only be that of a stressed-out-person. This is irritating. Stop it. Instead of assuming one can only be having an awful time with an exciting and positive life adventure such as this, how about asking your question with a positive spin?

People move. Life happens. Things change. And your point is?

  • We don't have a place to live. 
  • We don't have enough time to say goodbye properly, with parties.
  • Markus has to sell a house and yes you should inquire about it, it's beautiful and perfectly located in Ocean Springs, MS.
  • My cat HATES to travel.
  • Markus has no time to pack.
  • There's a chance we won't get to move all our "stuff" until the end of July and I may have to live with people without my "stuff" for several weeks. 
  • It's going to be cold where we are going.
  • We don't know anyone. That's not entirely true.
  • Blah blah blah-dy-flippity-da!

Again, your point is?

No, I don't know how all of it is going to work yet, but that's OKay and somewhat thrilling. I know, I know, heaven forbid Jessica Lamb doesn't have a plan!? Part of what makes me great at what I do PS: my job basically deals with planning international moves, albeit weeks at a time is my ability to remain calm, to talk things out, to think foreword before "the stress" has a chance to wrap it's wretchedness around my productivity and need for efficiency. Do I make things harder for myself sometimes? Yes - that stresses me out but it's my own fault, no one else's... read: I have a huge problem asking for, and accepting, help. It makes me feel weak.

  • We have flights booked to BDL to spend just over 24 hours in Noho looking for a place to live this Sunday-Monday. We have a rental car and a hotel room booked, too, ALL for under $500 thanks to Markus' frequent flyer miles and the transfer of my remaining few thousand to his account.
  • I have sold my couch, love seat, dining room table and chairs, a chiminea, and several other odds and ends to help cover these exploration expenses. 
  • We're not saying "goodbye", it's "see you later" and we'll be back!
  • Kudzu can and will be drugged.
  • I lived out of a suitcase for 5 months in a row as an ADPi consultant, what's four weeks out of the rest of my life?
Is moving to Massachusetts stressful? PS: I spelled it right the first time, this time. Well, that depends on how you choose to look at it.

For me? Personally? No.

The things I "stress" about usually revolve around those around me:

  • Will my fiancée divorce me before we're even married because of this monkey-wrench that's now thrown into our life-plan right after he started a new job and in the middle of his busy travel season?
  • Will I accidentally give Kudzu too many drugs?
  • Are my future parents-in-law still excited I said "yes"?
  • Will my friends be able to handle my absence? I realize how cocky, self-important and big-headed that sounds, but I have some REALLY good friends and they mean THE WORLD to me, and we are equally good to each other! Don't think for one minute I won't miss them, but this is what I do, I come and go, I always have. That doesn't mean it's easy. I hate missing out on life events. Hate it. But Markus and I will go and make our own life events. And I will blog about everything. 
  • Are my parents really excited to drive all that way? Or do they just feel obligated to help?
Lard-haf-mercy someone could really find moving stressful! But right now and thank God I'm so stubborn I refuse to. 

And think about this: the biggest contributor to my confidence in being able to handle this is YOU. My support system. Friends. Family. Randoms-who-stumble-upon-my-blog-and-cheer-me-on. Duh! Get excited. There are only rediculously-awesome stories to come and I can. not. wait. to share them!



Taste teaser...

For those of you who haven't noticed the mississippi women bloggers button over to the bottom right of this page, I recently contributed to a Foodie Friday post.

You can take the girl out of the third world, but you can't take the third world out of the girl!

Have a taste.


New beginnings...

You may think this post has to do with a wedding. Weddings are all about new beginnings, and there is one approaching, after all.

But that's not why I am writing today. This post has nothing to do with a wedding.

I'm moving. To Massachusettes. Massacheusetts. Massachusetts. I'll learn to spell it soon enough.


That's right. Northampton, MA to be exact. Or NoHo. And contrary to the email I sent friends and family, it is NOT South of Boston and NYC. It is west of Boston and North of NYC. I will also learn my geography of the area soon enough. Geeze, give me major cities in any other country and I'm fine. 

I accepted a position with a study abroad provider and I will be working within their customized programs division. Read: planning, logistics, communicating, and international travel. All things I love to do!

Before you overwhelm me with questions, allow me to share the conversation I just had with my Bebe (grandmother):

Hey Bebe, what'cha doin?


Hey Beeb, can you hear me?

Oh, yes, I can hear you. 

You been napping?

No, I'm not doing much of anything, just sittin'.

Did you work in the garden today?

No, I was at bible school all day

Oh, okay, well...Bebe, I'm callin' because I have some news to share with you.


I have a new a job.


It's close to Elliot [Elliot, cousin, lives in NYC]

Close to Elliot? Where close to Elliot? 


Who is this?

It's Jessica!

Jessica? You have a new job?


In Massachusetts?

Yes...[silence]...I'm really excited.

Lard lard, what part? 


At a college?

No. With a company.

When do you go?


July?! This July!?

Yes. But I probably won't move up until August with all my stuff. Daddy will drive me up.

Well why didn't you go a little far off?
I wondered why I didn't hear from you recently.
Now I know.
My my.

There have been several other conversations somewhat similar. People are shocked, surprised, excited, confused, sad, so many emotions! And these emotions are not unbeknownst to me.

For now I will just say this - YES, it has come together quite quickly. But this is not something I just started thinking about - come on folks, I think through things before most even realize it's something to think about. And it is not a decision I made alone. To put it plainly, I have been talking to this company since October about possibilities, not ever thinking something would actually work out. Not really thinking I would ever actually leave Hattiesburg. And then, that thought terrified me, never leave? Get out now!

The job I accepted isn't even the one I interviewed for, it's even better suited for me! I wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't certain it was the right thing to do; if I didn't have the love and support of my handsome and amazing fiancée whom I cannot wait to have this adventure with; if I didn't know hands down it is the perfect time to make a move even if it's the worst time in some ways too - there's NEVER a GOOD time!; if I didn't know the encouragement, congratulations, support would overwhelmingly flow our direction and that's what gets people through life events like these.

There are already so many stories to share and they will come in due time.

And don't worry, there will be posts related to a wedding, too, eventually...as the planning continues from a distance.


THE story. Yes, THAT one.

Yes, this is the part when I tell you how Markus proposed. We were folding laundry. No joke.

I've decided I can't be bothered to film myself telling the story, so I will write it down. I'm quite certain my written word will be even better than the oral history version at this point, like all good books, you know, it's always better on paper? 

I really should let Markus tell this story, because it was his plan, after all, or lack thereof that made it perfect but y'all know I'm going to tell it better, right!? Unfortunately he's not here right now so I will save him the time and type it all out. You're welcome.

April 13th we ran a half marathon I can't believe it either in Nashville, TN and it rained the. whole. time. Not to mention, it was about 45 degrees. It was an experience but we survived. I didn't know this at the time obviously but Markus had the ring in his suitcase the entire time we were in Nashville with our friends, he just never found the right moment to pop the question. 

Considering the weather and near death experience from the weekend, I was ill Monday and worked from home. Later that evening, after a day of fussing and griping and bossing orders, I asked Markus to help me fold some laundry.

I should probably mention that earlier in the day Markus also took out my garbage, washed my dishes and straightened the living room. And no, I did not ask him to do any of those things, he just does things like that for me and I know his mother is gasping as she reads this right now (you did great, Urs!)

As Markus gathered up dryer sheets from the remaining pile of laundry and headed to the kitchen to throw them away, I tossed some dish towels at him and said, "Here, while you're in there, you can fold these up and put them away."

I know what you're thinking. Just remember I WASN'T FEELING WELL.

He retorted, "I can, can I?"

Suddenly I realized what a you-know-what I was being and felt awful. 

"Markus," I said as I reached up to hug his neck, "I am sorry. Thank you so much for being so wonderful. You are so good to me, I love you and I do appreciate you, I really do, I'm sorry."

Markus held me tight and in all his modesty said, "you just can't get enough of me, can you!?"

"No, I really can't" I agreed as we parted. 


It was right there, as we broke away from our embrace, Markus reached in to his pocket whilst saying three little words: "On that note..."


Woah. Hold your horses everyone, he was just putting the dryer sheets he had picked up in to his pocket. 

But what did he mean, "On that note..."? Why did he say that? 

It was clear I thought one thing that wasn't, and turned around to put the finishing touches on my laundry, a little disgruntled and confused. 

I turned back towards him and asked, "but what did you mean on that note?!?" And he stood there grinning, shaking, and holding something in his hand. 

A box. A purple box. 

"What IS that?" what is that? "What is that? What. Is. That?" It's earrings, he's just poking fun at me making me think it's something else, it has to be earrings "Markus, what IS that?"

Laughing, he opened the box. It wasn't earrings folks. It was a ring. A RING!

"REALLY? really? wait, really?" Over and over, that's all I could say, "really?" I asked repeatedly. "You. Want to marry. Me?" really? "Like. Forever." really?

Markus, grinning from ear to ear and still shaking, "would it make it more real if I got down on one knee?"


I finally stopped asking if he really meant it, and said YES!


Here comes the bride...?

So Markus proposed marriage, and I said yes.

Actually what I said was, "REALLY? really? Like, really? Re-ally? rrrreally? REALLY? really? wait, really? ...and I wish it stopped there. That story will have to wait for another time, it's much better shared as an oral history in fact, I keep threatening to have someone film me telling the story yet again, so I can just post the video online and be done with it.

So now I'm a bride. Or is it bride-to-be? Can you only be a bride on your wedding day? What are you while you're engaged? Just a fiancé, I suppose? I'm a fiancé - nope. 


Just one month in to being engaged...

I realize couldn't have picked out a ring even if Markus had asked for my opinion.
I didn't even look around online, that's how little of an idea I had when people would ask what I thought I might like. I never wear rings. How'm I supposed to know what I'll like f-o-r-e-v-e-r? 

"Yellow Gold". That's all I could say. I knew I wanted yellow gold. Apparently the jeweler even questioned it, "you know, the girls these days tend to wear platinum or white gold..." Markus: I know what "they" are wearing. I'm telling you what she wants. 

I do remember an argument a discussion Markus and I shared over whether I should have a "say" in what type of ring I am expected to wear the rest of my life, or not. Clearly we went with "not", thank God. 

I know what I don't want in a wedding dress.
At least I don't have to wear the dress forever, right? Just one day. Phwef! And apparently Markus can't pick this one out for me, I have to do it, right? OKay.

My mother won't be home until June, and I leave about two weeks after my parents land in MS for work in London, so our time frame for doing the mother-daughter-trying-on-wedding-dresses is super short but I am determined to partake in this tradition. I decided it would be best for me to get a better idea of what I do/don't like prior to mom's arrival and our day, half day, couple of hours of trying on dresses. So I made an appointment at David's Bridal just one week after Markus proposed. I hate having a decision looming.

My attendant (I think that's what it's called?) was very knowledgable about the store's inventory and listened to my comments, both verbal and non-verbal. We got along swimmingly. This was a surprise to me because at first I thought we weren't compatible. Not because she wore her blush on her temples, but because she questioned my sanity when I shared my bra size. Side note: for anyone who has not had to go through this before, you have to wear their bras when you're trying on dresses, the corset kind that hook all the way up the back

"What bra size do you wear?"

"I wear a 30G, but I realize you won't have my size here in America, so I guess the closest would be a 34DD?"

Attendant looks down at my bosom, then looks up at me with a puzzled look that screams: this chick is delusional! "Ain't no way," she exclaimed.

"I know," I replied calmly clearly I get this often, "I don't look like it, but I assure you it's true. Would you like to see the tag on the bra I am wearing?"

Attendant still perplexed, looks to my sister and friends for some assistance, they are unwilling.

"Look," I say, "just because I don't wear them on the front of my chest, pushed up under my chin, doesn't mean they're not there."

I realize now this was how she wore hers that same day, but I'm not judging her for it, women wear their breasts in different positions, we don't always have a choice! "Mine start under my armpits, see?" Yes, I motioned. 

"Why don't you bring me what you think I wear, and we'll go from there?"

Two bras later we were trying on dresses, and I realized quickly that less of everything is more where my tastes are concerned.

Let's pretend this never happened...

You know those evenings when you just can't stand to be alone with yourself? With your own thoughts? This is one of those evenings.

So. Here we are.

[    ...]

I'm reading an excellent book at the moment why didn't  I think to just go put my nose in it instead of starting this blog post? When I say, "excellent book" what I do not mean is what you are probably thinking. Not The Great Gatsby or Madame Bovary or Shopaholic takes Manhattan. This book is raunchy, it is rude, it is honest, open, it is hilarious, shocking, blunt, it is how I would write a book if I put my life on paper one day. It is called "Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)" by Jenny Lawson.

Perhaps I purchased it at just the right time, in a moment when my psyche needed the author's sense of humor. Or maybe it's just THAT funny. I think it's just that funny. It had me laughing so hard on a recent airplane ride, I couldn't read the words on account of the tears forming. I sat there, crammed three people in, next to the window, and silently shook so violently that I thought the captain was going to turn on the seatbelt sign and announce "we hit a rough patch of turbulence, folks" over the intercom.

I've read excerpts to Markus and he laughs hard, people, even when the author uses words he usually grimaces at the sound of and he continues to ask, "are you sure Jenny Lawson isn't your pen name?"

Yes. But I envy her.

I've recently decided to start my own book club on account of this book as in just now, you just witnessed me in the act. I'm not accepting any new members, just yet, but I look forward to letting you how it all turns out.


Proud to be one of the first and finest.

Sometimes it surprises people to know I pledged a sorority in college. It sure surprised my high school friends when I went "home" to Abu Dhabi that first Christmas break after graduation.

Last weekend I found myself in Atlanta, GA for Alpha Delta Pi's District Leadership Conference. I haven't been to one in three years due to spending my spring semesters in France for work prior to this year. I attended the DLC in 2009, right after I finished traveling as a Senior Leadership Consultant for ADPi, and remember how much fun it was attending the conference as an advisor, but it was also bittersweet to realize my LC group would soon become a distant  memory.

Returning three years later, it was strange, strange, to be back.

Where am I?
What is this?
What am I doing here?
Did I bring the right outfits?
What does it all mean?
Who are these women, and why do they do these things?
I should have brought that other dress.
What is the purpose of all this?
Why are some chapter officers in matching outfits, really?
Where am I supposed to be and what should I be doing?
Maybe I'm too far removed from all this now...
Am I really making a difference in people's lives?
I wonder if anyone will remember me?
Why did I pack so light?
Why aren't my LC sisters here?
I wish me LC sisters were here. 
I hope I know what I'm expected to know...

Kimmy, a fellow advisor, asked if I was okay a few hours after we arrived.

"Yeah. Just a little out of sorts. This all feels very strange. I'm taking it in. Memories are flooding back. Good, bad, awkward, sad, happy, just memories..."

So many thoughts and questions. So much to reflect on.

Fast forward to the end of Saturday, the long day that started at 6:30am with my fourkickshalf-attempt-at-a-five-mile-run, and ended after 11:00pm.

Chapter Presidents are given ribbons
for various awards their chapters are
recognized for during the year.
I am so good at this!
Why would anyone choose not to be involved in this?
I wish I had money to spend at Sorority Spirit
Alpha Delta Pi is amazing
I wish I had brought that other dress...
I wonder when I'll be ready (and a position available) on a district team?
Wow, we provide so many opportunities for our members
Hey, I totally forgot there are resources for alumnae too!
I wonder if the Foundation has development officers? 
I want to be a stay-at-home wife and do ADPi all day.
I can't wait to be on Grand Council, I wonder who the youngest member-ever was?
Maybe Markus could work for the Foundation
Man, this chapter has no idea how good they have it.
I'm going to buy that badge ornament from Sorority Spirit
Man, this chapter still has a lot of work to do.
Holy smokes these officers are rocking this year
First. Finest. Forever. Since 1851

I bought the ornament...
When I moved to America for college, I decided to go through sorority recruitment for one reason: My parents would be able to move me in to the dorm. Because, at the time, Southern Miss held formal recruitment two weeks prior to school starting, freshmen got to move in to their permanent rooms on campus early.

I first learned about "rush" at the summer preview session I attended to register for classes and learn about student involvement, etc. Someone with a clipboard approached me and asked Have you signed up for formal recruitment yet? "What's that?" Oh, it's how you join a sorority. "Oh. Okay. What's that?"

Had I not gone through formal recruitment, I would have said bye to my parents at the Jackson airport and moved myself to Hattiesburg a few days prior to classes. Sure, aunts, uncles or grandparents would have surely helped, but I wasn't going to let my parents miss out on the opportunity to move their first-born-who-brought-joy-and-love-into-their-lives in to the residence hall. Read: I was incredibly terrified of being left in America, it's not like mom and dad were going to be a phone call away, they were 7-8 hours ahead of me always.

Had I not moved in the residence hall permanently, I wouldn't have had anything appropriate to wear for each day of this "formal recruitment" mumbo-jumbo. I was fully prepared to roll up to my "parties" in athletic shorts and a t-shirt. Don't American teenagers wear those things, too? Thankfully my room mate was up-to-speed on the appropriate dress for each day, and taught me to powder my hair when it looked greasy and to put on more makeup as the week progressed.

When you're an ADPi you find every
reason to identify a diamond.
I wasn't ever "released" from a chapter (back before the days of the release figure method), and I felt the most comfortable at one chapter all week, despite the negative stereotypes buzzing through Jones Hall. Every day I went back to Alpha Delta Pi and on Bid Day I wasn't at all surprised to find myself signing a bid card from the Eta Zeta Chapter. I didn't really know what it meant, and was certainly not in an emotional state about it like some of the women I'd met on my floor. Peers were crushed when they didn't receive a bid from the chapter they preferred. I would have been happy either way, I imagine, but sure am happy it turned out the way it did.

I went home for one last night with my parents before they left the country, and Dad found an Alpha Delta Pi window sticker as he was rummaging through my Bid Day bag loot. He proceeded to stick it on the back window of my car much to my protest, "I'm just not sure I'll stick with this sorority thing..."

"I have a feeling you will." he said. He was right. Who would have thought I'd end up working for Alpha Delta Pi sorority as an international Leadership Consultant, and then again as a Senior Leadership Consultant? And I'm thankful every day for it.


My five year plan...

A friend was telling me about her five year plan today (or lack thereof) and it made me wonder what mine would look like. So I've decided to write one:
  • I'd like to successfully run the Rock'n'roll half marathon in Nashville in April (this year). 
  • I'd like to be in a new role professionally in the next two years - whether that's a new position at Southern Miss or elsewhere is undeclared. And "elsewhere" can also be defined as back in school fulltime working towards another degree.
  • I'd like to cook my way through Julia Child's cookbooks...

Okay so it turns out writing a 5-year plan isn't super easy to put out there. I keep thinking of things I need want to do around the house this year:
  • I'd like to clean out my garage or hold Markus to his promise to do it for me 
  • I'd like to finally donate those bags of clothes in the spare bedroom
  • I'd like to finish whatever-it-is I'm going to do with my new piece of furniture starting with a piece of glass for the top
  • I need to call the chimney-man to look at this mold-like stuff growing from the bricks in my living room
  • I'd like to clean out my storage shed in the backyard
  • I'd like to re-do the kitchen cabinets (but that's for sure a longer-term goal)
  • I'd like to remove the carpet in the living room/foyer
  • I'd like to build a pantry closet in the laundry room or continue to beg Dad to come do it one summer.
  • I'd like to finally do something with the hundreds of letters my mom wrote my grandmother every day she was abroad during their first few years.

Maybe I should stick to a bucket list rather than a timeline of goals?
  • I want to take another Asian vacation while my folks are still in Indonesia
  • I want to live abroad full time and if this happened to be via the Peace corps I would be okay with that
  • I'd like to be married and have kids notice that was plural
  • I'd like to learn another language
  • I'd like to take piano lessons again
  • I'd like to take ballroom dance lessons and yes I realize this shouldn't be difficult considering Markus' folks own a dance studio in Madison
  • I'd like to drive cross-country and visit all the kitschy tourist traps and the glorious ones like the Grand Canyon
  •  I'd like to watch The Godfather (all of them), Rocky (all of them), and all the best picture winners since the beginning of time.

I'll come back to this...


Just 4 Kicks...

Those four ladies I mentioned recently - the ones I've committed to running a half marathon with - we decided to chronicle our training for those interested. I'll link back and forth where possible - or maybe there's a way to do that within this blogger software stuff #idon'thavetimetofigureitout.

Meet Jessica (me), Samatha, Staci and Toni, and follow our survival rate training at Just 4 Kicks.

I've started training for a half...

I've started training for a half marathon. I use the word training lightly as my three friends really started hard a week earlier than I, and I had to opt out the first week due to a swollen lymph-node situation that actually hasn't been resolved yet but we'll leave that for a different post. There are three of us, two of whom are experienced half-marathoners. The fact that two of our four would opt to run a half again made me think, ‘maybe this won’t be as awful as every inkling in my body is trying to tell me it will be’…

It all started when Staci joined Jack and I for a run on the trace a few weeks ago. When we don’t listen to our iPods we take turns talking about what's going on in our lives at the start of our runs. 

Me: hey, remember that time you ran a half marathon?

Staci: yeah, I do. Remember that time I tried to convince you to run one with me?

Me: racking my brain for conversations of the sort from over a year ago…No, you never tried to convince me to run anything like that with you…

Staci: yeah, that's because it's happening now

Me: I thought this was just a quick there-and-back 1.5 mile jog? Wait, what?

Staci: You, me, Sam, Toni, Nashville, in sixteen weeks. We'll take the Friday before off to drive up there and come home Sunday. And I have a coupon.

It must have been the thought of "saving money" you know I'm practicing living on a budget. Or maybe it was the endorphins my body released from that first mile before it started screaming 'what the freak are you doing? This is not fun! Stop running!’ Or maybe it was my intense focus on keeping up with Jack and acting like his pace was my normal pace while Staci didn't struggle at all

I said "okay, sure, I'll train with you.

Stay tuned…