Monday, July 20, 2015

Shoes, Glorious Shoes! 33 & 34

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, Betsey Johnson. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Honestly, no. Nevermind. Because if I count, I might shame myself, and then not allow myself to continue indulging in your glorious work. Let's move forward.

I remember when I first started getting into fashion as a preteen/teen. I wrote the most sadly pathetic e-mail to CoverGirl, asking them if I could be one of their models. In their defense, they actually responded (heaven knows they get thousands to millions of e-mails a day - between consumer affairs, models, spam, etc) - telling me to sign with a modeling agency first - then get back in touch with them. Maybe they saw potential in the pics I sent, maybe they were randomly taking pity on a sad, sad girl. Whatever it was, it was enough to light a fire under me. I started buying every fashion magazine I could get my hands on, and burying my face in them night after night. Often tearing pages out when I would find something I was so obsessed with (both fashion and modeling poses/looks), I couldn't bear to throw it away with the rest of that magazine. To this day, if you were to go through my storage boxes (and for that matter, folders on my computers), I PROMISE you: you will find stray magazine pages.

Now I had years of the "modeling" world. What this boils down to is being screwed over by a "modeling agency", but also many wonderfully fun years of posing for a photography class for U of M, and eventually, the photogs I made friends with from said class (and a couple from a modeling site I had joined). For the most part, those days were glorious fun, and I remain friends with several people I met during those times.

But my heart was always more on the fashion side. As time went on, and I learned more about who was who in the designer world, Betsey Johnson always stood out to me. When I first encountered her, it was - "She's kinda weird. And I like it." As the years went on, and ESPECIALLY now that I've grown into my personality as a woman, I admired her for her focused determination to live life youthfully. Who cares what number your birth year puts you at? Age is what you feel. Who you are. Your spirit. And by golly, Betsey Johnson lives and breathes this every single day.

An added bonus for me: I ADORE her work. While that bonus did not work out for me in my younger years, and budget being what it was - over the years I've learned to save. watch for deals, etc. So today's blog is a tribute to two pairs of heels, but really - as you can tell - Betsey herself.

Brand: Betsey Johnson Name: Barbe
Store: Honestly forget - maybe Amazon
Review: 6" heel. True to form for Betsey, fits 1/2 size small. So me being a 9, I always order a 9.5 for Betsey heels. I love, Love, LOVE these shoes. Besides the fact they're houndstooth (ROLL TIDE ROLL, AMIRITE?!), they are sexy as hell. I can't help but strut when I'm in them. 

Brand: Betsey Johnson Name: Leanah
Review: 6" heel. Probably closer to 7 (as is Barbe, above). Fits true-to-Betsey. I wanted this shoe for 2 years, but couldn't afford, given financial times. Life happened, and suddenly she appeared before me again. Haiiiiii. Guarantee you, this will be one of my most-worn heels. Comfy and SEXXXY.

Betsey, I love and adore you. Please don't ever stop realizing your brilliance! I could post pics of everything Betsey here, but just know there's a lot. Plus this:

And be aware there are more Betsey shoes to come. Long live Betsey Johnson.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

God's Country

So, I'm finally going there. I've hinted at it for a while on my blog, but wasn't ready to openly discuss. I kept referring to it as life changes, major stress, etc etc etc. I wasn't ready to really talk about the fact that my Daddy was gone.

September '14. He hadn't been feeling well for a couple weeks. I asked him to go to the doctor. He was a man. He postponed. I made a "deadline" in my brain. He just barely beat that deadline. I wish now I'd pushed harder, but at the same time - it wouldn't have made a difference in the diagnosis. To be told your Dad has leukemia one Saturday, and him to be gone the next - there are no words. I liken it to him being in a car wreck, or some other accident. There was no time to process the information before we lost him. I've typed and retyped a few sentences/paragraphs regarding his last days, but the words keep turning to anger regarding his first team of doctors. This is a subject I have to somehow eventually let go of, but haven't made it there yet. So instead, I'll just say God Bless Dr. Martin (and team) with the West Clinic those final days for the work they did. The genuine care and attention they showed him and us meant more than they'll ever know.

The days and weeks after his death are kind of a blur, there was so much going on. The one thing that sticks with me though, is how many people reached out to us. Being a Daddy's girl, I always knew how awesome *I* thought he was, but the outpouring of love and support during those days just showed how many lives he truly touched. My Mom & I went to his church the day after he passed, and even typing this I'm getting choked up. To walk in and see your Dad's choir robe sitting in the chair he always occupied... extremely emotional moment. And beautiful tribute.

His memorial service was another example of all of the people who loved him. The sanctuary was full, and the service was beautiful. I wish we'd thought to video it, as it was filled with music and laughter - just as Daddy would've wanted. 

All of this feels like it was just yesterday. But somehow, here we are, creeping up on a year. That just blows my mind. I can still hear his voice, picture him laughing, feel his hugs, and especially hear him sing. I hope I never lose that. I was blessed to have him as a father, and a friend. 

So the final leg of my road trip was to Rockwood, where Daddy grew up, to spread his ashes. Daddy expressed for years that he wanted to have his final resting place on the lake, where he (and we all) had so many fond memories. His favorite place in the world. Disclaimer: *technically* he expressed that he wanted a Viking funeral on the lake, but I think there are probably safety regulations or permits involved with that... 

We rented a boat, and all thought happy no-rain thoughts (it called for t-storms all day long, and the clouds were looking to deliver on that forecast). I even wore my sunglasses and sun hat to bring all of the sunshine vibes I could our way. We got to the marina, and lo and behold: BLUE SKIES WERE PEEKING THROUGH!

While we did hit a little rain here and there, for the most part it held off and we spent a lovely day on the water. We went by the cabin our family used to own, told stories of our memories there... the awesome swing, the family summers, the time I almost drowned... good times. Haha 

We drove all around the lake, stopped at one of the marinas for lunch, and just generally did what Daddy loved to do - enjoy the water and the beauty of the lake and hills. God's Country, he called it. And it's pretty hard to argue. 

In Loving Memory of 
David John Roberts

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Buggy's Road Trip, Day 2 & 3!

And onward we go! Thankfully not over any major bridges after this one leaving Evansville.

Day 2! And the longest drive of the trip. Anyone close to me knows I am not really phased by road trip driving, so anything up to about 10 hours seems easy to tackle. After 10 hours, I'll still do it - but I'll put a LOT more planning into it. Maybe scoping out a hotel or two just in case I get too tired to do the full drive in one sitting. This drive, however, was pretty standard at 6 hours.

The plan was to head to the hotel first, so I could get checked in, drop my stuff off, etc. and then go hit the town for the rest of the day. Alas, I did not plan on being stuck trying to get through Pigeon Forge for over an hour. It's a 4-mile stretch. So frustrating. I just wanted to pick up the cars and go. I understand there's a traffic light every .25 mile but here's the thing. If you actually pay attention to the lights changing, and don't block the intersections so crossing cars can't get through, and don't slow down to look at everything you pass... magical things will happen, and we'll all make it through in a matter of minutes, not hours!

Sorry... I may have been slipping into a bit of PTRR (post-traumatic road rage) there...

So, by the time I got to the hotel and got settled it was almost 6:00. I knew I was going to have to drop a bunch of my planned stops from the list. However, the two things that could NOT be missed were the aquarium, and Hillbilly Golf. It had been YEARS since I'd visited Gatlinburg, but I feel like I grew up there we went so much as kids, so planning my route of attack was easy. The aquarium was next door to my hotel, so it was stop #1. 

Speaking of my hotel, the view from my balcony was not too shabby!

Maybe I'm a bit biased, being that the Georgia Aquarium is my favorite (doesn't hurt that it's in ATL), but when I saw a billboard that this aquarium had been voted #1 in the country by visitors on TripAdvisor, or some site like that, I was like WAIT, WHAT?! It's a nice aquarium, but given what I know about Georgia Aquarium, this kind of shocked me. So I thought, "Maybe they've added on to it since the last time I was here." Paid for my ticket, and in I went!

After spending a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng time, and a loooooooooooooot of pictures in the Shark Lagoon (sharks are pretty special to me & my family), I made my way through the rest of the aquarium, and found myself at the gift shop. I was like "Wait... did I miss something?" I swear it seemed bigger years ago. I circled back to make sure I didn't miss a hallway somewhere and sure enough, that was it. Not saying it wasn't fun, it just shocked me I got through it so fast. I'm still convinced I missed a turn somewhere. But anyway - I wandered around the gift shop for a while, picked out my obligatory souvenirs, and proceeded to stop #2: SHOPPING.

Sidenote: Georgia Aquarium, still the best. Not up for debate.

katydid38134's Aquarium album on Photobucket

Here are some of my pictures from the aquarium (seriously, if I had uploaded all of the shark pictures I took, you'd spend the rest of your day clicking through... or maybe just delete me from your life). 

So, to the shops I went! 
Found some good laughs along the way (click to make larger)

How I ever rode this, even with Daddy holding my hand, I have no idea...

And of COURSE, had to get an airbrushed shirt!

After nabbing a few finds here and there, I passed one of those aqua massage places, and decided to stop and try it. After a night of dancing, my legs were definitely making me aware that I am not as young as I used to be. Plus, I've been having a lot of migraines/tension headaches from stress, so I thought this might help. Overall opinion: good for minor aches/pains/soreness, not very effective for major tension (like I have in my neck/shoulders). But my legs felt great when I got done. I hit a few more shops, then decided I was ready for dinner. My review of the restaurant I ended up at (Loco Burro on the Parkway): I asked for a to-go box and my check when my meal FINALLY came out. I could rant and rave, but that sums it up pretty accurately. A couple next to me ended up leaving, having never even been asked what they wanted to drink after sitting there for about 15-20 minutes. So I'd highly recommend you go elsewhere to eat if you're ever in town. The only good part was my jackass stool, which you'll see in the Gatlinburg gallery below. I decided to head back to my room (it was after 10:00 at this point), and try and salvage my evening by relaxing, and then getting a decent night's sleep.

Day 3! The main mission of the day was Hillbilly Golf. Easily my favorite memory of Gatlinburg, going there as kids, and even as an adult years later. SO much fun. Mini golf in general is usually very enjoyable, but Hillbilly Golf is a whole 'nother level. You ride a tram up the hill, then play your way back down. Through farm equipment obstacles, nonetheless. I was notoriously the worst at this (not just Hillbilly Golf, any course we played) growing up, so I prepared myself for a horrible scorecard. Made it through the first 6 or so holes with a decent score (I think I was 1 over par), and caught up to a family of 6 that was nice enough to let me play through. They said "Ok, show us how it's done!" I joked with them that I was not their source for play techniques, lined my ball up, hit it... and HOLE IN ONE!!! Hahaha, apparently I perform well under pressure. Got cocky, bragged about it on social media, and two holes later... got a 4 on a par 2. It's a long way to fall from the top, people. Final score: 1 under par. I'm framing my scorecard.

Up next was the Hollywood Wax Museum. Most of the story is in the pictures in the gallery below, but I will tell you this - if you've got the time, go! Many of the figures don't look like the celebrity, but there a lot of good ones in there. And even though I was by myself, I felt like I was there with a big group, because everyone was laughing at people's silly poses for pictures and taking pictures for other people, etc. A lot of fun. Now for the funny-to-everyone-but- me part. I paid the extra $9 for the All-Access pass. This gave you access to the other attractions associated with the museum, plus access to the third floor with observatory deck. That's exactly how it was described to me. The outside of the building is the Empire State Building, with King Kong on the side of it. So on the deck, you're right up next to his face. 

Now, maybe I should preface the next part of this story by telling (or reminding) you that I am absolutely terrified of heights. I get weak in the knees & dizzy. So I'm thinking "the third floor with observatory deck" might have a few more statues, plus the deck. I get on the elevator, punch my access code in, the doors open, and: BOOM, YOU ARE OUTSIDE IN OPEN AIR WITH AN OPEN RAILING TO THE FALL TO YOUR DEATH DOWN BELOW. There was a crowd of people waiting to go back downstairs, so I stepped out and let them on to the elevator, the doors shut behind me, and I glued myself to the wall, punching the crap out of the elevator button to call it back. To try and distract myself while I waited, I snapped a couple pictures out at the mountain (sometimes it helps me to look out, instead of down). That didn't help. I started sweating. WHAT WAS TAKING SO LONG?! I was desperately trying to grip the walls with my fingers. Alas, they would not sink in. Just as I thought I might have a panic attack, or faint, the doors finally opened and I ran in to safety. In actuality, this probably all only took maybe a minute or two, but it felt like half an hour. I paid $9 to scare the living crap out of myself. 

Needless to say, that was enough excitement for me, and after a brief stint in the gift shop (WIZARD OF OZ!!!!), I headed to lunch, and then on to my next stop. 

katydid38134's Gatlinburg album on Photobucket
Here are the pictures from all of those adventures!

Leg two, done!