Saturday, December 7, 2013

All I Want For Christmas...

Well, it's that time of year again. Many of you are kicked back, sipping egg nog, watching holiday movies, and marveling at the fact that you finished up all your Christmas shopping in August. I am not one of you. For those reading this thinking, "Me neither Courtney," have I got something for you! I've spent countless hours cruising the internet, while I should've been doing work for finals, to bring you a list of the best gifts out there. So grab your credit or debit card, and open a new browser window. You're going to wrap up all those holiday loose ends here and now.

For the animal lover in your life...

What could keep your loved ones' feet more warm and toasty than a set of repurposed rats? To add a bit of holiday festiveness, why not add a small bow to their heads? Bonus: How much fun would the owner(s) of these slippers have when they could creep their toes under occupied bathroom doors?

And what if that animal lover happens to be a young, single lady, you ask? Well, I've got that covered too!
Nothing looks nicer, especially on a first date or Sunday morning church service, than a French twist accented with the remains of your family pet hamster. "But Courtney, don't you have any ideas for a couple who happens to love animals?" Oh, yes I do. 
These wall climbing sconces will bring a whole new meaning to, "I love lamp." I would definitely pose these critters into the stances of a lovely, romantic dance. Maybe leave off the shades, so that the bare bulbs illuminate their glory a little more. 

When only something personal will do...

I know from experience that losing a grandparent can be hard. What better way to keep Grandma close to you at all times than transforming her dentures into a pocket mirror! True, they always haunted you as they floated in that clear glass in the bathroom, but now you find them endearing. In a sense, you'll always have their smile. Literally. 

But let's say you buried Gramps with his teeth or the recipient of your personal gift is a child. That's when you go with this: 
A snuggly teddy bear made of belly button lint! What child wouldn't love to cozy up with this lil guy at night and also be comforted by the smell of your tummy cave? 

This year, my best girl friends and I are doing an ornament exchange instead of a gift exchange. I found it is still possible to give ornaments that have that special personal touch. 
To me, the tampon ornament says quite a bit: I can depend on you. You are close to me. You get me through rough times. You've seem some stuff. 

For neighbors or those who have it all...
Courtesy: Urban Outfitters

Courtesy: Refinery
When you miss the smell of the city bus in the hot rain or when you can't eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken every day, you can now light a candle and let your nose take you back. It is the gift that keeps on giving. 
When better to remember one of the greatest leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement than when you're trying to exfoliate dead, dry skin off your body in the shower? I had a dream that no person of any color would have to deal with awful winter dry skin. Too soon?

What better way to teach your children about the infamous West Coast/ East Coast rap/hip hop rivalry?! Whether you back Biggie Smalls or Tupac, the whole family can enjoy this coloring book. So, grab your Crayolas and don't forget to make those bullet wounds look realistic!

We can't forget gifts for our pets...

Ever caught your pup chewing up your favorite pair of Crocs? Who hasn't?! Reward your little fur baby with his/her very own giant Croc to envelope him/her and keep them warm this winter!

Don't you just hate that you work too far from home to have time to chat with your pets while on your lunch break? Have big decisions you want to consult your cat with while you're at the office? Now, you can! No matter where you are, you can video conference with your pet. Personally, I'm going to wait until they invent the texting equivalent. Phone calls are so annoying. Amirite?!

This list wouldn't be complete without a little bonus! 
Having a holiday party?
Stumped on how to decorate?
Here are my top 2 tips:

Take your Christmas tree with you wherever you go! Not only does this 'do radiate festiveness, but it also sends the message that your face is the best present under the tree this year. So, get busy with that hair and sing, "Oh Christmas Weave, Oh Christmas Weave" as you do it!

Those felt reindeer antlers and big red nose for your car are played out. We've all seen it. It's tired. Don't bother with a wreath either. That screams, "I don't have much holiday cheer." But pull that buck you shot last year off the wall and put 'er on the grill of your pick up. Add a red clown nose and some battery operated LED lights, and now we're talking! You can wish everyone in traffic and terrified children on sidewalks everywhere a Merry Christmas! Conveniently, you can also let slow drivers know you mean business as it appears you also murdered Rudolph.

I hope this list helps some of you out. If you're wondering what to get me for Christmas, go with a gift card. I've already got most the things on my list here.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chance Encounters With Ed Helms & ACDC

So it seems that November was a pretty busy month for me since I didn't find time to post a single blog the whole month. Maybe I can make this one a two-fer.

November has always been my favorite month. As a kid, it was my fave mainly because it was the month of my birthday. I always did love a day where the whole world seemed to revolve around me. It wasn't until I got much older that I realized my birthday was 9 months to the day after Valentine's Day, and millions of other people I would soon meet shared the same birthday. This year, I even got a little cousin-in-law, Shepherd, that I'll forever share the day with. Also making this year's birthday tons better than last year is the fact I didn't have a stroke (celebrate the little things). Last year, that really rained on my parade. Most of all, turning 30 was made the best ever by a visit from Kenna. She flew out to spend a few days with me celebrating my birthday, shopping, and acting like Garfield (with cake instead of lasagna). We stayed at a super chic hotel that made me wish my own place was a little nicer. We had dinner with Micah at a very nice French spot where we thought we saw Ed Helms (We didn't. Kenna asked). After dinner, Micah dropped us off at a little spot under the overpass by the piers in Seattle. Yeah, I realize how that sounds like a set up to a horror movie. Actually, it was quite frightening. We thought we saw a member of ACDC smoking outside the door, but again, our celeb sighting was a bust. We went inside this place to find ourselves in the front row for a peep show put on by some elderly, biker clad patrons. Before we saw just how long his Viagra lasts, we ran outside and hailed a cab vowing never to listen to Yelp again. Luckily, Kenna has a world traveling Jewish friend (I can say that right?) who told us about a fun place more inland and less geriatric or Harley Davidson. We gave the address to the cab driver, Muhammad (so he told us it was his name, but his license said Alkhadijumanahrajih). I calculated on Google maps that the trip was just a short one, but Muhammad seemed to take the scenic route. While illegally overtaking a large truck and running a red light, Muhammad points and yells out of his open window for us to "look at that fat woman running to the bus! She fat! She miss the bus!" while laughing. About this time, my only thoughts were "don't throw up, don't throw up, don't throw up." His kind encounter turned into a conversation with Kenna about goats. Or goatees. We don't really know. It doesn't matter much because just minutes later, as we were nearly killing pedestrians, Muhammad points and yells at a large and muscular bald man in the street yelling "look at him! He thinks he's a ladies' man! He strikes out with many women!" all while laughing. Now, instead of just puke to worry about, I was trying to figure out what to do when the beefed up bald man sprayed Muhammad's blood all over my new outfit. Once we finally arrived at our destination, I left Kenna to settle the tip so I could try to expunge all the BO out of my hair and vomit in the gutter. Once inside, we headed straight to the bathroom to wash our hands and then to the bar to get a drink. By drink, I mean water (but I drank it without a straw so at least I have a little edge going for me). Looking for a spot to sit and chat, Kenna and I stumbled upon a photo booth left over from a mall in the 80s. Naturally, we posed for silly photos and laughed way too loud at the results. This place wasn't a typical hang out. About 1/4 of it was filled with old school arcade games. We found a seat close to the arcade part where we could people watch and chat about whatever came up. What happened to come up was a young guy from Uganda with a mission of wooing Kenna. We spent the rest of our time there playing games and chatting with this group in town for Microsoft something or other and having a genuinely good time. Although, I have to ask. Why is it when we meet someone new, we always ask, "So what do you do?" Really. Is it that important? I want to change this. I don't like being asked what I do since replying with the truth is so awkward (truth: "well I died a few times, faint anytime I'm uncomfortable, and I got this cool pacemaker and one stroke later, I'm disabled. I basically do nothing 24/7). So naturally, I made up an entire identity. For the night, I became an attorney for the state, drawing inspiration from tidbits of Micah's job and stuff I've seen on Dateline. I was almost believing myself after awhile but I do hope nobody takes the legal advice I offered.

So that's pretty much how I turned 30. Like I said, Kenna and I spent the rest of the weekend shopping and being lazy while eating leftover birthday cake or the 12" diameter chocolate donut we got at Pike's Market. Kenna got to sight see all over Seattle which she deemed one of the friendliest places ever. I admit, people in Seattle and Olympia are so much more outgoing and friendly to me when I'm with another girl than they are when Micah is with me. We had a small dinner party where Micah made a cake and killer meatloaf, and he invited Heather, Ben, and Zoey over. It was the perfect celebration. Now I'm ready to keep the party going with Christmas!

Our photobooth strips

Turning lazy time into beauty time

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Child's Play

While living in Washington, I've been going to school full time to finish my degree. Before I had a stroke last November, I did a little babysitting for extra cash (in case you were wondering, as thankful as I am to have social security disability checks, it doesn't quite cover all my bills). I noticed that the kids I watched were into (obviously) all kinds of technologically advanced toys and games. I'm not about to say, "When I was a kid, we only had sticks and rocks to play with!". Growing up in the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s, we had some pretty nice gizmos to play with too. Who could forget the Tomagotchi which was the absolute perfect pet?! But lately I noticed a pretty young child of a friend who has their own Facebook account. I'm talking about a middle schooler. I have no stance on this in any way, but it got me thinking about what life would have been like for me if I grew up with the whole world just a click away. Frankly, it'd be total hell. I feel so bad for kids today who can't make one mistake without it being chronicled on the internet for all of history. That awkward phase you're going to go through with braces, no boobs, lanky limbs, and a face full of zits will be broadcast to LITERALLY the entire world. Luckily, my awkward phase(s) can be hidden if I bribe the right people. My cousin, Jordyn, who is an incredible teenage girl visited me this summer. During her visit, her mother (my Aunt Jennifer) called and texted Jordyn several times to see if she knew what twerking was and if she or anyone she knew posted twerking videos online. Honestly, my mother never had to have that conversation with me. Thank God.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Growing up, my parents gave me their huge, clunky "Danny Tanner- style" VHS recorder when they replaced it with a more slim-line one (yet still huge by today's standards). Most of my friends growing up were made at church. The core group consisted of me, my cousin Stacy, Andrea, Kelli, April, and Becca. We had sleepovers at each other's houses, went to school together, spent summer weeks at camp together, and saw each other at least twice a week at church. One of our favorite things to do at all of our sleepovers was make movies. I'd bring my ginormous camera, tripod, and tapes, and we'd make shows or music videos. I remember a few times we decided to act out our version of the Sally Jesse Raphael show. We called it "The Penny Panties Show." We weren't crude or anything like that. I think we just thought the word "panties" was humorous. We dressed up like trashy characters with idiotic problems. We teased our hair, caked on eyeshadow and lipstick, and stuffed our training bras with toilet paper. We made up silly stories and filmed them then laughed and giggled while watching them later. Our other favorite was making music videos. Once we made a cover of several Spice Girls songs. I dressed up as Scary Spice by flipping my frizzy curls upside down and dousing them with a can of Aqua Net. Naturally, all vocals were done by the original Spice Girls by playing the cassette close to the microphone on the camera. Once during a visit from Tennessee, my cousin Betty, Stacy and I had a sleepover at my house. This time we decided to make homemade peanut butter ice cream (which was a complete messy disaster, by the way). While it was supposed to be freezing, we decided to make cover of TLC's "Waterfalls". Stacy and I were T-Boz and Chili while Betty played the role of Left Eye. We used LOTS of black liquid eyeliner to make sure Betty looked the part. After dancing down the staircase for our music video, we decided to clean up and watch our work. My mom had recently bought decorative white guest towels with little monograms on them. At the time, we hadn't lived in our new house long. I had a mini stroke after seeing that Betty and Stacy washed off all their black makeup with mom's new towels. But, I digress...

Photo Credit Google Images

My point is, my friends and I did some really embarrassing stuff growing up. I can't imagine if those music videos or talk show clips were on YouTube, Vine, or Facebook. I'd definitely say we had it quite good back then. And by the way, if you girls who starred in those embarrassing videos are reading this, I still have them. And I'm taking bribes ;)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Living A Horror Film

It's October and tis the season for all things scary. Frankly, I hate scary movies and being scared in general. To kick this month off, I'm going to tell you about the time I lived a real life horror film.

Leslie, Me, Brandi in my and Bran's apartment

In 2009, I was living in Little Rock with my friend Brandi. We had a cute three bedroom place on the third floor of a gated complex in a decent neighborhood. Both Brandi and I worked jobs with no set hours, so our schedules were always varying. Our best friend, Leslie, (who introduced us to each other) lived not too far away with her husband. Brandi and I shared a passion for late night murder mystery shows like "Dateline", "48 Hours", and other 'who-dunnit' real life shows. We liked to think of ourselves as couch detectives. I mean that pretty literally because we put two couches in the living room so we could both stretch out and watch the shows when we had insomnia. If we weren't solving crimes, we'd be watching ridiculous reality tv or medical marvel shows. (We had lots of insomnia during our time together... ).

One night, I had actually been tired and decided to go to bed at a decent hour. I left Brandi on her couch while I turned in. Our bedrooms were on opposite sides of the apartment from each other. I assumed I'd been asleep for a few hours when I heard loud knocking (actually, more like banging) on our front door. It was so loud that I jolted awake and rushed to the door. I peered out the peephole half asleep and saw a shadowy figure of a woman about our age with long dark hair. She wasn't knocking though. The knocks were coming from another person who was straddling the banister hidden from sight. Instead of opening the door or vocally responding, I went to Brandi's room. She was asleep in bed apparently not hearing the commotion. I shook her awake and asked, "Hey are you expecting company?". Groggily, she replied, "I told them we don't have eggs." Confused, I was sure Brandi was having a weird dream about eggs. (Just an extra piece of info: I'm proud to say I taught Bran how to boil eggs during our time as roomies. Now that she's a great cook, I like to take a little smidge of credit!). About that time, the knocking got a bit louder. So, Brandi got up and peeked through the hole for herself. We decided it best not to answer the door and not to reply to the knockers. Instead, I got my security weapon (read: butcher knife I kept under my pillow) and we hunkered down away from windows on the floor between the two couches. With my knife clutched in my hand, Brandi tells me that when she was still in the living room after I'd gone to bed, someone had knocked on our door. She looked through the hole and saw the lady that was out there now. Since she was shadowy, the lady kind of looked like Leslie. So Brandi opened the door assuming it was Leslie. Instead, the lady asked if she could borrow eggs. Brandi told her we didn't have any and shut the door. Then she decided to go to bed. Now the lady was back, but she wasn't alone. The vibe was very eery since there was clearly a man hiding over the railing knocking on the door and the woman was standing too far back to intend to talk to us or come inside if we opened the door. At the corner where she stood, we thought we saw her turning to talk to someone else around the corner, out of our sight. Brandi decided the whole situation reminded her of a movie she had seen called "The Strangers". In the movie, a couple staying in an isolated vacation house receive a knock on the door in the mid-hours of the night. What ensues is a violent invasion by three strangers, their faces hidden behind masks. The couple find themselves in a violent struggle, in which they go beyond what either of them thought capable in order to survive, (credit: IMDB because you know I didn't watch it). For reasons I could not even begin to tell you, we didn't call the police. We didn't call anyone or do anything. We just stayed on the floor of the living room, me clutching a butcher knife practicing in my head the best maneuver for stabbing the heart of an intruder. We stayed there long after the knockers left. In the wee hours of morning, we felt safe enough to return to our beds. As if common sense had been sleeping through it all only to wake up in the morning and greet us, we discussed calling the apartment security manager. We informed them of what happened and spoke with a police officer who lived in an apartment in our complex. He told us it was smart of us not to have answered the door (duh). It seemed like the initial knock when Brandi answered was a way for them to find out who lived in our apartment. If a male lived there, he'd most likely be the one to answer a door late at night. Since Brandi answered, they were sure only females lived there. Later, when I heard the knocking, the girl had returned with at least one male, possibly two. Had we opened the door, the man knocking and hiding to the side could've easily pushed his way in and overpowered us. Kind of scary to think about.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Now, when Micah is out of town and I'm home alone, I keep that same butcher knife close by. Although I live in one of the safest towns in America, I'm not taking any chances. I keep 911 on speed dial. And if you're thinking about trying something tricky on me in the middle of the night, beware. My heart stabbing maneuvers have only improved since then I'm sure!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Tribute To My Granny

One year ago today, my family lost a wonderful mother and grandmother. Even though 365 days have passed since Granny passed away, it still feels like it was yesterday. She is greatly missed by all of us. There will always be a place in our hearts where she touched and molded our lives. There's nothing I can say here that would do her life or legacy justice. So, I'm going to post photos and different things honoring her here.

I had the honor of writing and giving the eulogy at Granny's funeral last year. It appears below. 

Shelby Fay Hollingsworth Dawkins passed away September 26th in her home at the age of 76. She was born February 9th, 1936 to Stillman and Eva Hollingsworth in Reform, Alabama. She was married to the late Clyde Dawkins for 52 years and both were members of the Higginson First Baptist Church. She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, a son named Jerry Dawkins, and a brother named Jerry Hollingsworth. She is survived by a son, Terry Dawkins, his wife Jennifer Dawkins, their children Jordyn and Evans Dawkins of Searcy; a daughter, Eva Dawkins Boyles, her husband Roger Boyles, their children Courtney and Nathan Boyles of Higginson; another son, David Dawkins and a grand dog she adored named Max of Searcy. She also leaves behind three brothers and three sisters, Douglas Hollingsworth of Gordo, Alabama, Don Hollingsworth of Auburn, Alabama, Bill Hollingsworth of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Pat Hollingsworth of Higginson, Betty Owens of Foley, Alabama, and Jeanette Nowell of Kosciusko, Mississippi. 

My Pawpaw and Granny instilled many great qualities in their children and grandchildren. Among those were to be hardworking which we learned by getting paid a nickel for every stick or tree limb we collected from the yard before Pawpaw would mow. We learned to be disciplined which Nathan may have had a harder time learning. He had more meetings with the fly swatter, bar of soap to the mouth, and even a chase around the kitchen with a house shoe. We learned to be compassionate & selfless. When I became very ill with my heart condition and couldn't afford my medications and treatments, Granny sacrificed what little she had to make sure I had the proper care. We learned to be grateful for everything we're blessed with. As she often reminded Evans, she didn't have a tv to watch growing up, let alone an iPod or video games and most the time didn't have running water in the house (which he was shocked to hear). We learned not to value possessions, but to cherish family. Our family is the definition of a loving and caring family. We always loved to gather at Granny & Pawpaw's house for holidays, dinners, or even just snapping peas until our fingers turned purple. Growing up, her children never wanted for anything. My mom once said that all their clothes were homemade and never store bought. She said that their family was considered "dirt poor", but she and her three brothers never knew it. My Papaw and Granny created very rich lives for everyone they loved. They were both wonderful examples of love and devotion. 

Not too long ago, Granny asked me if I remembered something she and I had done or places we visited when I was a kid. I couldn't remember what she was talking about. She said, "I did all those things with you when you were little to create memories for after I'm gone and you've already forgotten them all!" As frustrating as that was for her, I do remember the most important things which I learned from her example. I remember all the lessons she taught me, even up to the very end when she fought her toughest battle with dignity and grace. As a child, I'd tell her that I was going to move to California and be a writer. We made plans to move there together so she could be my typist. She was always great with shorthand and typing. She told me several times that if she couldn't have been a housewife, she'd loved to have been a secretary. She encouraged all of us to live our happiest lives wherever that meant to lead us: Nathan as an artist, Jordyn as a recreational therapist, and Evans as a "cooker" one week or maybe a "magician" the next. 

While she may not be here to bake us her legendary peanut butter icing cake for our birthdays, cheer us on at our ballgames, recount the love story which was hers and Pawpaw's, or even attend our own weddings or graduations-- I know that she is in Heaven with the loved ones that have gone on before and the angels who are rejoicing at her homecoming. We'll miss you greatly Granny and look forward to the time when we're all reunited.