Sunday, February 27, 2011

Papa's Music

I found this short story that I wrote last year for my creative writing class. Although I added some details to make the story more descriptive, this story is TRUE. I still remember this experience very clearly in my mind, and my mom and I talk about this even today. This is the only "supernatural" experience I've ever had, but it makes me believe in angels without a doubt. Hope you enjoy it. : )

Papa’s Music
By Julie Carter

“Hurry up, mommy!” I called out impatiently, my white sandals pounding the concrete as I jumped back and forth from the front stoop to the sidewalk. I was 7 years old and had little patience for my mother, who was toting cleaning supplies up to the house that had belonged to my grandparents. My Papa had died when I was 2, and after my Grandma had passed away the previous autumn, my parents had spent several months slowly sifting through all the items they had hoarded over the years. After a huge estate sale and moving some items into our house, the place was finally vacant. All that was left before selling it was some heavy-duty cleaning.
It was surprising that I even had any memories of Papa. Most children forget things that happen to them when they were 2, but I could clearly recall sitting in the upstairs bedroom with him, watching old musicals. Papa loved old musicals, especially ones with tap dancing, and I watched one with him the day he died. Grandma, of course, was still fresh on my mind. At 7, death was still a difficult concept to grasp, and half the time I still expected her to be there when we went to check on the house.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” my mother replied, exasperated. Looking back, I knew it had to have been hard on her coming there, an only child, to the house she had grown up in with so many memories. But at that point, I was ready to go inside and take advantage of the space for cartwheels and running that the empty house offered me.
I looked back to the car where my Dad was dealing with my 3 year old sister, ready for her afternoon nap and obviously cranky.
“Slowpokes!” I called out to them as Mom juggled her bags and the keys, unlocking the front door. I rushed into the entryway, Mom right behind, part of me still thinking I would hear Grandma calling out “Hello?” like she had for years every time we came to visit.
The sound of music, loud and clear, stopped me in my tracks. It sounded it was from the big band era, but almost before I had time to process what I was hearing, it stopped. I looked at my mother, and she was staring back at me.
“Did you hear that, mommy?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.
She nodded slowly. “It sounded like the radio was playing, just like when Papa would turn it on when he was getting ready in the mornings.”
I had goose bumps. My friends and I always shared ghost stories at sleepovers, but those involved night time and scary things. This was in the middle of the afternoon, and it was my Papa I thought I heard, not some creepy ghost.
After a moment, my Mom lost the dreamy look in her eyes and ushered me back out into the sunlight. She was worried that there was actually someone in the supposedly vacant house and not just us hearing what we thought was Papa’s music. She told Dad what we had heard, and he walked all over that house, looking in every room, closet, and corner. Nothing. Not so much as a trace of anyone, let alone a radio or any object that could have turned itself on. But we both swore that we had heard the same thing for just the briefest seconds, coming from the back bedroom upstairs. It was as though he allowed us to catch him, making himself known just long enough for us to notice, and then vanished.
Years later, my mother and I would still talk about the day that we heard Papa’s music. Our friends and family tried to explain it rationally, blaming the neighbors, a car driving by, or the wind. But she and I would just smile at each other, knowing exactly what we heard. I like to think it was his way of letting us know that he was still here in some form, watching over us and listening to his music even as an angel in heaven.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend with Morgles in Houston

"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is made by the friends whom we choose."

This weekend I took a roadtrip to Houston (Manvel/Pearland, to be exact) to visit one of my best friends, Morgan. Morgan went to TCU with me and is one of my closest friends and a former roommate. She moved to Houston back in July to teach middle school band, and though I've seen her several times in DFW, I wanted to see what her life in Houston was like. This weekend was ideal because her 23rd birthday was last week, and we were able to celebrate and have a girls' weekend.

Roadtripping by myself was actually really fun. Getting to Houston is easy, and the weather was beautiful, so I enjoyed the open road, good music, and time for reflecting. I left work a little early on Friday afternoon and arrived at Morgan's apartment a little after 8:00. She showed me her super cute apartment and we went to Los Crucos for some yummy tex-mex. After dinner, we hung out with her co-workers and their boyfriends and played Rock Band. I had never played Rock Band before, but it was so fun! I was on the drums, which was just funny given my brief experience with percussion during college, and we had a great time. Once we got home we just chatted and played with Peaches, Morgan's cat. Peaches is my new BFF! I'm normally not a cat person, but I love cuddly cats who will just lay in your lap and let you pet them!

Saturday we woke up bright and early to get Morg's AC checked out at the dealership, then came back home and got ready for some shopping! After a delicious lunch at the Black Walnut Cafe, we browsed Rice Village for awhile and then headed to the outlet mall. Morgan made some great purchases, including a cute new dress and heels, and I bought a bright pink cardigan...right up my alley, of course. We literally shopped for hours (so fun!) and headed back to Pearland for some yummy sushi! Morgan was always my sushi buddy in Fort Worth while we were at TCU. Edohana was our fave, and I'm thankful that I can now take Ashley there too! : ) After dinner, we continued the fun girls day with Sex and the City 2, wine, and dessert. Doesn't get much better than that! We then stayed up ridiculously late talking about everything and catching up.

Sunday we slept in a bit, watched Teen Mom (so addicting), ate our leftovers, and talked some more. Seriously, I could talk to Morgan for hours! I left a little after 2:00 and got home about 6:30. Great weekend-- just what I needed, and so nice to spend time with a dear friend!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine Weekend in Los Angeles

"The best love is the kind that awakens the soul, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds, and that's what you've given me." -The Notebook

This past weekend I was able to get a great deal on airfare (thanks to my friend Renee for giving me a heads-up!) and fly out to Los Angeles to spend pre-Valentine's Day weekend with Alex. This was our 7th Valentine's Day to celebrate together, and it was wonderful! The weekend went by too fast, as they always do, but we were blessed with beautiful weather, lots of things to do, and, of course, each other.

I arrived in LA Thursday evening at about 10 p.m. (midnight in Dallas.) The flight there was nice because there was no one in the middle seat, and I talked to a really interesting guy at the end of my row who was from Bombay and knows six languages! So cool. Alex picked me up at the airport, and we always laugh about my arrivals because the LAX airport is crazy! It has made me appreciate DFW so much! Instead of a cliche, romantic greeting after not seeing each other for a month, Alex has to pull up to the curb, and then we throw my suitcase in and jump in the car, with people honking, buses everywhere, and parking guys yelling. Very romantic, haha! This time was no keeps things interesting! : )

Once we got back to Alex's apartment, we spent the rest of the evening catching up, cuddling, and relaxing. We also opened our presents! Alex got me pink sparkly TOMS! I love them!! I have always wanted TOMS but never knew which pair to get. I didn't even know they made pink sparkly ones, so he did an amazing job! We stayed up late (2 a.m., also known as 4 a.m. Dallas time!) and then slept in a little bit on Friday morning.

Friday afternoon we went to The Grove, a huge shopping and restaurant area in LA that celebrities frequent. We didn't see any celebrities, but it was really fun to walk around and browse the stores. Alex was a good sport and went in the American Girl store and let me reflect on all the dolls I wanted as a child. We also went through the farmers' market there, which was really cool and reminded me of this huge marketplace we visited when my family was in Hawaii last summer.

That evening, Alex cooked us a delicious stir fry dinner, and then we went out with his neighbors, Alana and Erik. We decided to go to James Beach Bar & Grill, as it is a major place in our favorite movie, "I Love You, Man." If you haven't seen it, you should, but the main characters Peter and Sidney go there and eat what are supposedly the best fish tacos in the world. Because of the fame the movie has brought the restaurant, the fish tacos are pretty pricey now, so we just went for drinks and to enjoy the atmosphere. It was definitely a happening place, and we had a great time with Alana and Erik! While there, we also ran into a girl from Coppell that I went to middle school crazy is that?! Fun night, and we watch that movie all the time, so it was really cool to visit!

The amazing weekend and gorgeous weather continued on Saturday, so we went to the Getty Center, a museum that you have to ride a tram uphill to visit. In addition to a ton of paintings, sculptures, and other art inside, the outside overlooks LA and offers beautiful views and gardens. We could see everything! We picked an ideal day, because we overheard so many people say that it was normally not that clear. We walked around for quite a while, and ended the afternoon laying on the grass and relaxing. After we left there, it was time for our Valentine's date : ) Alex cooked another delicious dinner, and we had wine and watched The idea, of course, but luckily he is a wonderful boyfriend and watched it with me. We also had Samoa ice crea for dessert...try it if you haven't, trust us on this one!

Sunday came all too soon, but we made the most of our last day. To continue the movie-themed weekend, we went to Angels Knoll, this pretty park in the middle of downtown. It's up on a hill, and there's a trolley that takes people up the steep incline. In the old days, people paid a penny to ride it, while the poor people took the staircase. Alex and I decided to be poor people and get a little exercise! The park was so pretty in the middle of all those buildings, and what we know it as is the park from the movie (500) Days of Summer, another one that we really enjoy. In the movie, the couple comes to that park often and sits on this bench. The bench is now famous and has a plaque on it, so we of course had to sit on it and take pictures! It was really cool and another absolutely gorgeous day!

After Angels Knoll, we walked around downtown a little more, saw where the Staples Center was already set for the Grammy's that night, and then went back to Alex's apartment to get ready for his concert and my departure. : (

Saying good-bye is so hard, and it definitely was this weekend. The best news is that Alex will be home in just a few weeks for spring break! We had such a great time that I wasn't ready to leave, and I miss him already. It's hard to be away from people you love, but it really is true that being apart makes you appreciate your time together so much more. Thank you, Alex, for an amazing Valentine's weekend. I love you so much!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snowpacolypse 2011

Out of the past 8 weekdays (including today), I have only been at work for 3 of them because of the epic amount of snow/ice that we have had here in DFW! That blows my mind..I had no idea I would still get snow days in the real world, but there you have it! It helps that I work for such an awesome place! : ) It's been a little stressful to be out for so long-- the work doesn't stop even when snow slows us down-- but it has also been a chance for me to relax some. I've also been able to do some of my work from home, which is what I'm doing today! Snow days now are very different from college though-- I miss hanging with my roomies and procrastinating on homework, haha!

Due to the snow/ice last Tuesday, we had to cancel a huge event. Every February, the Center puts on a big Lecture Series and brings in a different speaker each Tuesday evening to lecture, in lay terms, on some aspect of brain health. It's always a sell-out hit! Our first lecture was supposed to be last Tuesday, but we had to cancel. It was so sad because our speaker flew in from Canada and didn't get to present to us- he would have been great! I'm sure he was surprised at how "little" snow/ice it took to shut down a city! Last night we were our able to have our 2nd lecture of the series, narrowly missing this wave of bad weather, and it went really well. I absolutely love what I do, and the evening flew by as I worked registration, coordinated volunteers, and passed out giveaway items as guests departed. I volunteered at a lecture while I was still at TCU, but it was great to see the whole evening from an employee perspective and see our hard work executed. I'm excited for the next two! : )

I'm hoping this weather clears out by tomorrow for several reasons: 1) I need to be in my office and get caught up on everything/work on all the exciting things we have coming up. 2) I'm supposed to fly out to LA tomorrow night to visit Alex! It has been just over a month now since I have seen him...not such a long time, but long enough when it's someone that I love very much and wish I could be with every day. I have been so busy that the weeks have flown by and now it's time to go visit! We have lots of fun things planned and will also celebrate Valetine's Day a little early, so I'm sure I'll have lots to post when I return! I can't wait to see him.

Upcoming blog (at the request of one of my followers, Frances Key): Toddlers and Tiaras, where I will share my personal experience with pageants and also my opinion of shows like Toddlers and Tiaras. As soon as I find my pageant portfolio, I'll share. : )