Friday, July 29, 2011

Knee board 3... Cassie 2...

It’s official.  I’m a knee boarder. 
One day last summer as we were heading back to the ramp after a long day on Skiatook Lake, I saw a knee board floating up ahead of us.  There was no one anywhere near us, so I decided that it was a gift God left on the water for me.  I leaned over the boat, pulled it in and for the rest of last summer, begged my friends to take me knee boarding.  But we never could make it work… until last night.  Andy and Brett took me out for my first knee boarding adventure last night. 
Yes, I said first.  Sad, I know… as many times as I’ve been to the lake, I’ve never in my life knee boarded.  I have tubed… that’s it.  Brett gave me the run down on how to get up on the board, Andy clued me in on the trick of using the thing at the top of the board to hold the rope while I strap myself in and then Brett did one short practice run to show me how to do it.  I made Brett promise to be easy on me and not drive too fast.  In the water I go… fingers crossed… I was able to get up on the board on my first try!  Yay!  I wasn’t very brave at first… just getting a feel for the board, how to use it… how not to use it.  Like when the boys on the boat are telling you waves ahead and you start bouncing… bad idea.  The waves bounce you enough, no need to bounce yourself too, or you will bite it.  That was the first time I crashed.  Luckily we weren’t going fast enough for it to hurt and when I realized that there was no pain in crashing, I got a little bit braver.  I started going across both sides of the wake and riding the wake while the boat was turning… then I crashed again.  Oops.  Oh well, with each crash I got a little bit braver. 
Thumbs up :)
Then my legs fell asleep.
I had no idea how to signal to the guys that I needed to stop for a while.  I held up my hand in a stop position which they did back and I thought, “Okay, good, they got it.”  But I was wrong… they interpreted that to mean five more minutes.  Geez.  I can’t feel my legs here people. 
I finally decided to just let go.  When the boat made its way back to me Brett said, “I’ve never seen anyone ride it that long.”  Yeah, there’s a reason for that.  They like their legs.  Next time, we go over hand signals BEFORE I get on the board. 
Andy took a turn on his slalom ski (which I may never be brave enough to try) and then on the knee board. 
Look mom!  No hands!
Then Brett knee boarded a little bit. 
He was being a show off, doing 360s, and I thought, “If he can do that, I can do that.”
On my last turn, Brett was more confident in me then I was in myself (as is usually how it goes).  He gave the boat a little more speed.  I got up on the board, immediately started crossing the wake, went to cross back over and bit it hard.  I blame it on the driver going too fast… it couldn’t be my lack of ability.  J  After I hit the water, I thought for a second I might have broken my neck.  No really… I was floating in the water waiting on the boat to circle around thinking, “I can’t look down.  Why can’t I look down?  Oh no, I’m broken!  I’m paralyzed!”  But then I snapped out of it and sideways swam back over to the board.  I was determined to do one of those 360s so I got back up, popped my neck, strapped myself in and got to work. 
The first attempt, I made it 180 degrees then stopped, held onto the rope for a few seconds backwards and turned right back around.  I just wasn’t sure about going all the way yet.  The second attempt I switched arms and tried to make it around.  I momentarily forgot that I am left-side retarded and holding the rope with my left hand while attempting to throw my body in a circle was clearly a mistake.  I didn’t have enough strength to pull myself around.  So I went back to forward position, switched hands back to my dominant side and around I went.  It was a slow 360, but it was still a 360.  Yay!  I’m a natural! J
Starting my spin...
I dominated the knee board… or so I thought at the time.  This morning I woke up to realize the knee board actually dominated me.  I’m having a little trouble bending at the waist and it hurt my wrist to open the refrigerator door.  Every time I move, I hear something else pop.  I’m such a wimp…
It was fun though.  I really had a good time.  Big thanks to Andy and Brett for taking me out on the water.  Until next time, knee board… be afraid… be very afraid.  I will master you… J 
We ended the night when the sun went down.  I love watching the sun go down on the water… so beautiful.  So today, I end the blog with the view I ended my first knee boarding adventure with…
Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Please do not throw poop at me...

I want to start off with a Happy Birthday shout out to my friend Kelly!  Welcome to the last year of your 20s.  J  That being said, I’m so glad it’s Thursday… that means tomorrow is Friday… which means I will be on the road to visit Kelly and her adorable kiddos for a fun-filled trip to Silver Dollar City.  J
This week has all really run together, but was overall a productive and fun week in the world of Cassie.  Okay… mostly fun, with one productive day… but that’s important sometimes, right?  I was making up for the 63 hours I worked last week.  PS… I’m sorry I missed the blog yesterday… I’m a loser and I have no excuse… I’m just sorry.
Monday it was back to work… just living the dream... blah, blah, blah.  No actually, I was able to clear some of that mess off my desk and get caught up on quite a bit of stuff.  I have even been able to get through some of the emails in my ever-growing inbox.  I can now see six days worth of emails in the double pane view of Microsoft Outlook.  That’s a big improvement over the six hours worth I could see on Monday.  I did whatever task was associated with all those emails and then deleted them.  It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.  J
Monday evening I drove over to Pryor to meet Brett at his office.  He had to go to Tahlequah and had asked me to ride.  I needed to pick up a textbook for the class I will be teaching at NSUBA in the fall anyway, so I agreed… unfortunately, I wasn’t able to pick up the book. L  But they did put one on hold for me in Broken Arrow… Anyways, the drive was nice.  Brett wants to take a canoe on the upper Illinois River and go fishing soon, so we took a detour on our way there to check out a spot one of his patients suggested.  It was nice, calm and quiet.  Seems like a good fishing spot… I really know nothing about fishing… I make that assessment based solely on the fact that I saw a fish jump out of the water when we were there.  J
After we got lost and then finally found our way out of the backwoods between Locust Grove and Peggs, we headed on to Tahlequah.  First stop, the College of Optometry and the reason for our visit.  Brett had a school screening Tuesday and was borrowing the acuity chart from the school… at least I think that’s what it was called… though it comes in a big box, so the word “chart” doesn’t seem to be an adequate description…. but what do I know.  Brett thinks he’s cool because he still has a key to the building so we roamed the halls for a bit, grabbed the “chart” and left.  On the way out, we passed a fountain… Brett told me a story about how when he was in undergrad and he worked for the maintenance guy at the College of Optometry, he somehow managed to turn the water on in the fountain and leave it running all night sending all the goldfish into the parking lot without even knowing it… and that was his first day on the job… it’s a good thing he’s pretty. J
We left there on a hunt for food.  It was well past time to feed the Cassie.  We decided on Mexican and I inaccurately convinced Brett that Chilango’s had the white sauce like the El Chico in Muskogee, so we went there.  No white sauce… so sad.  L  But the food was pretty good.  And we had laffy taffys for dessert from the plastic containers by the register.  J
We made one last drive through campus, stopped for gas at Dano’s and took one last trip down memory lane for Brett to drive by his old trailer.  He still gets a little teary-eyed when we drive through the trailerhood.  J  We had a nice talk on the drive home.  I always enjoy his company.  He dropped me back off at Kit in Pryor and I went home… all in all, Monday was a good day.
Tuesday was my productive day… I worked all day, hit the gym to teach a little cycling class and then finished cleaning out the insulation in my attic.  Brett was there when I got off work to volunteer his army crawling while shop vaccing skills.  He’s such a good helper.  I took him to eat a delicious chicken fried chicken at Buddy’s grill as payment for the torture I was about to put him through.  Finally at about 8:00pm, we decided it was cool enough to get to work.  Two hours, 12 bags of blown-in insulation and four itchy arms later, the attic is clean and ready for me to knock the living room ceiling out.  Yay! 
After work yesterday I went home to change and wash all the insulation-covered clothes from the night before and then I met my friend Caleb for a trip to Tulsa.  We went to PF Changs for dinner.  I love that place.  The first time I ever ate at PF Changs was my 21st birthday.  Prior to that, I was convinced that I hated all forms of Asian food.  But some friends talked me into going and, what do you know, I loved it.  And I still do.  So Caleb treated me to some crispy honey chicken and Mongolian beef.  Yummy! 
We left Utica Square with no plan… we tossed around the options of going to see a movie or going to play mini golf.  While the mini golf sounded fun, we ultimately decided on the movie.  Unfortunately, due to all the movies I have seen in the past couple weeks, there were only two showing that I hadn’t seen yet… and Caleb just wasn’t feeling Winnie the Pooh.  So we headed over to AMC to catch Zookeeper.  It was a good thing it was kind of funny… because really, it was just stupid.  I did laugh quite a few times though and was so glad that it did seem to have a moral to the story in the end… it was be yourself, no matter what anyone else wants you to be, you will never truly be happy unless you are comfortable with who you are.  My favorite line… Donald the monkey (voiced by Adam Sandler)'s advice on how to get the girl… “Throw poop at her.”  Trust me guys… this will NOT work…

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The double feature...

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that I saw Friends With Benefits twice on Sunday.  I started off my day with the early church service and then my friend JC and I caught the first showing of it at Cinemark.  We thought we might be late since it started at 10:35 and church went a little over… but JC bought my ticket, and we got there just in time.  I loved it… great movie.  I’ll go in to more detail in just a bit…

After seeing it with JC, I headed to Bixby for a pool party.  I ran into one of Brett’s friends from Optometry School at the wedding Saturday.  Chad lives in North Carolina now and was only in town for one day, so he invited us to come hang out for a bit before he had to get on his flight home.  So Brett met me at the movie theater and we headed that way.  The pool party lasted just until the rain started… I know, right… the first day it rains in forever.  It’s pretty much guaranteed to rain if I wash Kit or go to a pool party.  For the sake of all of you, I’ll try to do both more often.  J 

Anyway, after everyone at the pool party went our separate ways, Brett and I were hungry.  So we headed to Cheddar’s for a quick dinner.  Since we were right there by the theater and I could tell that my telling him how much I loved the movie made him wish he’d got to see it (even though he’d never admit it), I offered to take him to see it again.  Hence the second showing…

It was still good the second time.  This really turned out to be one of the best romantic comedies I’d seen in a while.  A few of the things in it struck home with me and a few of them opened my eyes to some things I hadn’t thought about.  Now for the review… don’t read the rest of this blog until after you’ve seen the movie… and trust me… you want to see this movie.

Disclaimer… this movie is not kid or grandparent friendly.  There’s enough simulated sex (and naked booty shots of both lead actors) that watching this in mixed company will leave you embarrassed.  I should also warn you that if you don’t already have the song Closing Time downloaded to your iPod… you will when the movie is over.

Friends With Benefits attempts to make fun of romantic comedies, while exploiting the same formula. Dylan (Justin Timberlake) and Jamie (Mila Kunis) don’t start out as BFFs.  She’s a NYC headhunter who recruits him from an Internet blog in LA for an executive position at GQ magazine. 

To borrow from The Holiday, their meet cute was a good one… she’s scrambling on top of an airport baggage carousel chasing after a sign with his name on it.  He’s witty and wide-eyed and makes fun of her a little just before she declares that she's the girl who's going to change his life.  Soon they’re walking and talking.  She needs him to take the job to earn her bonus.  He needs more than just a job to convince him to uproot.  So she sweetens the deal by showing him around what she calls “the real New York.”  This tour includes a flash mob in Times Square… which kind of made me want to organize one in Tulsa.  J

Their professional relationship, then growing friendship, enters the picture well before the idea of sex between the two of them.  Despite an attraction to each other, both realize they're everything they've been running from in a relationship (he’s emotionally unavailable and she’s emotionally damaged) and they share complicated family dynamics that leave them equally unsuited to long-term relationships.  Because of their issues, they decide to see what happens if they leave emotion out of it and keep it strictly physical.

The movie may strike some conservative people (like myself) as vulgar… but if you reject it on that alone, you might as well just reject the times we are living in.  Once you get past the first uncomfortable sex scene, you will find in their offhand rapport and mutual amusement the foundation of a real connection.

If you’re a sucker for a good love story (like I am) you’ll enjoy this one.  It’s cute and sweet.  The dialogue is witty and fun.  The actors were great.  Kunis really shines in her role and Timberlake has definitely come a long way from his boy band days.  They are nicely matched in their roles and the chemistry between the two of them is enchanting.  I found this to be a very impressive romantic comedy… but it’s not just romantic… it’s also dramatic.  The supporting roles were also well-cast.  Everyone from Jamie’s mom to Dylan’s sister to his gay coworker Tommy really added elements to the movie that were refreshing.  Don’t get me wrong… I love a good romantic comedy… but it has to be more than just a little mushy for me to want to buy the DVD.  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of drama in it.  In some scenes, it's almost more intriguing to watch the mother-daughter and father-son interactions, then that of Jamie and Dylan.  The drama aspect definitely gave the flick much more depth and character. Despite the sex and witty one-liners, it’s the sentiment that keeps you hooked. 

One of the most powerful scenes in the movie is when Dylan’s dad, who has Alzheimer’s… and something against wearing pants… finds an empty table at a crowded airport cafe while Dylan is unsuccessfully trying to get the hostess to move them up on the wait list.  His dad takes off his pants and sits down.  When Dylan comes over to get his dad (who clearly has no intention of getting up) he has a change of heart.  His dad asks him if he’s going to sit down.  Dylan doesn’t fight his dad and risk embarrassing him in front of the judging audience.  Instead he pauses for only a moment, then says yes, takes off his pants and sits down across from his dad.  They have a heart-to-heart where his dad reveals a missing link from his past and the role it played in his parents’ failed marriage.  This scene is powerful for two reasons… the first because he accepted his dad.  He met him where he was at.  He didn’t care what people thought or how they might respond.  He just did what his dad needed, which was simply to be accepted.  We could all do this a little more in our lives.  Instead of fighting what we think is socially unacceptable, we need to look at the needs of the individual.  Not just with people who are sick, but with those who are simply different.  The second reason this scene is powerful is because it was the first time in the movie the dad was taken seriously.  It allowed for that seriousness to be even that much more profound.  He explains to his son that what this illness has taught him is that life is too short to not enjoy it.  And that if you love someone you should never let them go.  Dylan had probably heard that a million times in his life, but it took hearing it in this situation, in this moment, to really discover his true feelings and what he really wanted… and more importantly… to go after it.  Enter second flash mob.  J

The demands of this romantic comedy are still to affirm love, make it fun and keep audiences believing.  Too many movies attempt this by denying the obvious, glossing over the truth or relying on the charm of two stars.  Fortunately, Friends With Benefits takes a different route.  At one point in the movie Dylan asks, “Why do women think the only way to get a man to do what they want is to manipulate him?"  Jamie’s response… "History.  Personal experience.  Romantic comedies."  So true.  J  The movie starts from the premise that you are sick of the romantic comedy clichés you secretly adore.  It gives the stars an honest story to work with that acknowledges that the challenge facing single adults is the same as the challenge facing romantic comedy… to arrive at love in a world without rules.

And now for my favorite line of the movie… there’s always one… J  This one comes from Dylan’s friend Tommy played by Woody Harrelson (who has some of the best lines in the movie)… “You know what I discovered?  It's not who you want to spend Friday night with, it's who you want to spend all day Saturday with.”

So for all you single people… here’s to figuring out who you want to spend all day Saturday with…

Monday, July 25, 2011

A weekend of reunions...

I'm frequently accused of burning the candle from both ends, being constantly on the go and rarely taking time for myself.  So the birthday dinner, late-night movie, family reunion, wedding, church, pool party and seeing "Friends With Benefits" twice in one day made this a pretty average weekend.  J Don't worry, I'm breaking it into three blogs for your sake.  I already did the Friday night blog, so today, I'll tell you about my Saturday...
The biannual Shrum family reunion was this weekend.  I showed up on time (as always) and then sat in my car waiting for someone I knew to get there.  Even though they are all somehow related, it can be intimidating to walk into a room filled with strangers.  As soon as Mom, Elyse (my little sister) and my Aunt Kathy showed up, we went inside.  My older sister Sarah, her husband Robbie and their two kids, Jaxon and Brooklynn, showed up shortly afterwards.  Mom’s oldest sister Janette and her husband Harold were also there and they, with my grandparents, sat with us.  It was a typical family reunion with people I don’t know walking up and asking the favorite question, “Now who do you belong to?”  Well, no one really, I belong to me.  But to humor them I would go through the spill, “I’m Karen’s daughter; Buck and Lorene’s granddaughter.”  To which they would reply either, “Oh I haven’t seen you since you were this (making hand signals showing me to be about a foot tall) big,” or “Oh yes, I know who your mom is.  Is she here?”  So… the fun begins.
Sarah, Robbie and I sat around catching up on normal non-family talk while mom and the aunts and grandparents made their rounds catching up with all these strangers.  At one point Sarah went to say hello to my second cousin Charlie (one of the few people at the reunion we actually knew).  As Charlie went to introduce his wife, Sarah said "Oh, I think we’ve met, but the last time I saw you, you were pregnant.”  Oops… Charlie said, “No, that was my first wife.”  To which Sarah replied, “Hello second wife, I’m Sarah.”  I love my sister. J
And I love her kids… I took this picture of them with my little sister (who I also love). 
the kiddos at the reunion
I asked Brooke why she didn’t smile and she said she prefers to pose… I told her to go for it… this is what I got…  
miss sassy pants... just like her Aunt Cassie  :)
Here are a couple other pics from the reunion…
Sarah and I with Grandma
Mom and Elyse
Soon my uncle Harold came over with a long string of raffle tickets.  There were two tables set up with lots of random “prizes” and each one had a bag in front of it.  They were selling raffle tickets at one for $1 or five for $3.  Basically you tear the ticket in half, put one end in the bag in front of the item you wanted and kept the other end for the drawing.  Harold asked why none of us were buying raffle tickets.  I told him I never win anything and then he declared that he knew the magic trick to winning.... "Fold your ticket like a teepee."  I thought he was a little crazy, but he does have more stuff then anyone I know, and I never win anything so I thought I’d give it a try.  I went over and bought 15 tickets.  Harold put tickets in every single bag, regardless of what the prize was.  He’s just in it for the sport.  I however strategically staked out the three items on the table I had even a remote interest in… the power sprayer, the Cherry Berry gift card and the basket of kitchen items like spices, hand towels, etc.  I carefully folded my tickets like teepees with a  plan to put five tickets in each of the three bags.  When Harold saw me folding my teepees, he decided he couldn’t resist the competition and went and dropped another $80 on tickets.  The drawing was scheduled to be at 3:00.  With five or ten tickets in every single bag, he could hardly stand the waiting game.  He was worse than a kid on Christmas Eve.  And it was hilarious.

One of the prizes on the table was a sleigh full of Ghirardelli chocolate.  It was like a gift set that you would buy as a last-minute Christmas gift, complete with Christmas bow and gold leaf and holly berry embellishment.  While we all know that I am a chocoholic, there was something about the thought of that chocolate being from last Christmas that did not entice me.  However, Harold bid on it and promised me that when he won it, I could have it.  Gee thanks…  He folded one of his teepee tickets and handed me the other end, ticket number 660.  He said, “You just wait, that’s the winning ticket.”

We ate lunch, which was catered in and then played a few games of Bingo.  The prizes for Bingo were even better then the drawing prizes.  It was tough to help Jaxon decide between a painting of apples and the jump rope.  He actually preferred the painting… what a strange kid.  Brooke settled on a birdhouse Christmas ornament for her Bingo prize.  The entire time we played Bingo, Harold just kept talking about the drawing.  He couldn’t wait to prove that his teepee method works.  Finally 3:00… let the drawings begin.  First item… a ceramic angel… and the winner is… Harold.  He gave it to my mom.  Second item… one of those things you put fragrance oil in the top and a candle in the bottom… Christmas style… the winner is Harold again… he gave that one to me.  This continued all the way across the first table.  He would win it and then give it away.  In addition to my new Christmas decoration, I ended up with a tin of flavored pecans and a ceramic blowfish. 
just in case you thought I was lying...
The only thing Harold didn’t win was the one thing he actually wanted… an embroidered blanket that he wanted to win for my grandma.  People were starting to get mad as we advanced to the second table.  This is where all three items I put my tickets in for were.  And I won all three!  Like really won them all by myself, not with Harold giving them to me!  The teepee method does work!  Everything else on the table, with the exception of maybe two things, Harold won.  He gave my mom the slip-n-slide for Elyse and a red pot for her kitchen.  He gave a little girl I don’t know a dart board.  He gave Aunt Kathy two sets of coffee mugs and a toddler toy.  He gave a desserts cookbook to the lady doing the drawing so she wouldn’t think he was cheating.    The only thing he walked out of there with was a framed print with a poem or something on it.    
When it came time for the chocolate sleigh, Harold said, “What was that winning ticket again?”  I told him 660.  He yelled out “660” and the girl doing the drawing slumped her shoulders and said, “How did you know?”  So I also got to take home old chocolate… woo hoo...  When my little sister walked up to me and said, “Cassie, can I have some of that chocolate?” I enthusiastically said yes and ripped it open pulling out a few of the items and giving them to her.  I really only kept the hot chocolate… surely that can’t go bad as fast… 
One of the ladies there was celebrating her 90th birthday.  My great aunt Sha-Sha had a cake for her.  As I was packing up all my winnings, I decided I didn’t really want the fragrance oil/candle Christmas decoration.  I walked over to her, sat it on the table next to her and said, “Happy birthday!”  She loved it.  It was perfect.  J
Harold helped me load all my winnings into Kit and I headed home.  But I made a slight detour to City Hall to drop of the ceramic blowfish.  He is now a part of the office décor.  J
Here are all the items I won on my own…
... the ones Harold gave me (minus the one I gave to the birthday girl)…
... making this what I had to haul home all together...
I didn’t get that much stuff for my birthday… not bad for $9 in tickets.  J
I also somehow ended up with a bowl full of chicken that was left over from lunch… It will take me days to finish all of it… All in all, the family reunion turned out to be a pretty good time.  I’m glad I went. 
I went home, touched up hair and makeup, put on a dress and heels and headed to RSU for Courtney and Justin’s wedding.  Courtney is the sorority sister from last weekend’s bachelorette party.  Justin is also a friend from NSU.  The wedding was like an NSU reunion with two generations of college friends… the older ones from Justin’s time and the younger ones from Courtney’s.  Since I fell right in between the two of them in school, I knew pretty much everyone and it was so good to see everyone and catch up.  Most of my girlfriends were in the wedding… no really… she had like eight bridesmaids and eight house party girls… whatever that means… but I did see one of my best friends from graduate school, Tara, and I sat with her. 
with Tara
We sat on the groom’s side since her husband Taylor decided the length of time he’d known Justin overrode the fact that Courtney and Tara lived together in college.  It was a nice wedding, pretty short, which was good since it was outside, and then a pretty fun reception.  We ate, then we danced... right up my alley.  J  They had an open bar and I actually discovered a wine I liked… it’s called Moscoto.  Normally wine makes me want to throw up… and no, not because I’ve had too much… because it tastes icky.  I never can get past the first drink.  But the Moscoto was pretty good.  I would recommend it to anyone who likes sweet white wines. 
Anyway… back to the party.  I worked the room a little bit catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while and visiting with people I see all the time.  I took a couple pictures along the way… 
with Amanda
with Leanne
The Alpha Sigs were clearly dominating this party.  I haven’t seen so many of us in one place since rush week.  We did our creepy circle around the bride and sing to her thing and then the party really started.  We danced until it was time to see the bride and groom off.  They only played two slow songs all night and those were the only two songs I didn’t dance to… that’s when I went to get a glass of punch to replenish the fluids I was sweating out. 
When it was time, they gathered us outside and gave us sparklers.  When Courtney and Justin got close, they went down the line and lit the sparklers.  Mine never really sparkled, it mostly just burned and, for a second, I was afraid I was going to catch the happy couple on fire.  But they made it past me, thank goodness.  It was a beautiful wedding and a great time with friends.  I’m so glad I went.  Congrats and best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Barkley!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Birthdays and Superheroes...

Friday I left work with a plan to eat… but after a long week, I decided a quick nap was in order.  I slept for about one glorious hour before I got up and got ready to go meet my friends.  It was Amber’s 30th birthday dinner at Toby Keith’s.  Amber and I have been friends since high school… well maybe not SINCE high school… we were friends IN high school and then we had several years of ups and downs, many years of which we did not speak, but somehow kept connecting again.  As we have settled into our adult lives, we have come to love and respect each other for who we are.  Amber is fun to be around, has a great sense of humor and is a very loving person with a big heart.  I really enjoy her company so when she asked me to join her and her husband Russ, along with a bunch of people I don’t know for her birthday dinner, I enthusiastically said yes. 
I arrived at the Hard Rock at 7:00, as I was told to… but the birthday girl was nowhere to be found.  I thought for a second I’d been stood up, but then I noticed another guy wandering around aimlessly through the restaurant.  He introduced himself as Doug, though I soon discovered Dougie was a better name for him.  J  Dougie and I quickly deduced that we were there for the same birthday party and so we sat at the bar and had a drink while we waited for the rest of the group to arrive.  Everyone else finally found each other when Amber arrived around 7:30 and we were quickly seated since Dougie and I had already put us on the list.
I enjoyed the non-work-related conversation with these new faces and had a good time catching up with Amber.  Here is a picture Russ snapped of us during dinner. 
with the birthday girl
After dinner, it appeared the fun was about to really get started at the Center Bar and I decided that was my cue to head out.  Not because I don’t love fun, but because I had already made plans with my friends Matt and Caleb to see the late showing of Captain America: The First Avenger back in Claremore. 
Caleb was nice enough to have already bought my ticket before I got there, so I jumped in line with them.  Apparently a lot of people decided to see the 9:55 showing of Captain America in Claremore… including our Fire Chief and his wife, so they sat with us too. 
Insert spoiler alert on Captain America…
A friend who had seen it earlier in the day told me to be sure and stay after the credits for more scenes.  It turns out in the end, this movie was really just a two-hour preview for another movie.  I can’t wait to see The Avengers, mostly because I love Robert Downy, Jr., but also because what girl doesn’t love watching a bunch of superheroes save the world. 
But back to this movie… it stars Chris Evans, who as it turns out, is pretty fun to watch too.  I love his character... such a good guy with an unbelievable heart… makes you wish there were more people like him in the world.  Steve Rogers is a little guy who just wants to go fight for what he believes in, but no one will give him a chance.  Then one day his whole life, and his whole body, changes when he becomes Captain America.  But his heart never changes.  He stayed that same sweet-natured, determined, socially awkward and self-sacrificing guy no matter how big his muscles got.  The movie is based in the early 1940s, during the war and is nostalgic without making a big fuss about it.  There is a good mix of old ideals and real-life history.  It has just the right amount of outlandish scenes to make it a classic superhero movie but just enough touching scenes to invoke a little emotion and just enough comedy to make the movie likable.  Even though I thought the ending was crummy, overall, I enjoyed the movie.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this superhero is that even when he was granted super-human strength and metabolism, he still had to pay his dues.  He had to dance around on stage in tights like an idiot and while there is nothing glamorous or super about that hero, it put him on a path of self-discovery.  It gave him a chance to get to where he needed to be and wait for the right opportunity to pursue his admirable dream of protecting the country he loved… a bit more realistic than your average superhero who becomes a household name overnight simply because he gets bit by a spider or is really an alien.
And of course, there’s the girl… Agent Carter, who is Steve’s supervisor.  One of my favorite parts in the movie is when she tells him, “You can’t give me orders” and he responds, “Sure I can, I’m a Captain.”  J  The chemistry between the two is very innocent and reminiscent of a school-girl crush, but it works for the time period, the jobs they are doing and also the dorky personality of Steve himself.  She does a good job taking on the role of a 1940s beautiful dame while still fulfilling the modern expectation that a woman should be able to throw a punch and handle a gun.
But she is also part of the reason I was disappointed in the end.  The girl in me longed for the happy ending where he showed up to take her dancing.  Unfortunately he didn’t show up for 70 years and she was nowhere to be found.  L  I was sad to see it all evaporate at the end.  But I guess it’s for the greater good… so here come The Avengers.  I’m really looking forward to it.
Tune in to Monday's blog where I update you on my fantastic family reunion.  Here's a hint... it involves a blowfish... :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

I like food...

So... I never got my desk cleaned off… bummer.  And I almost thought I might have to skip another day on the blog since I worked until 10:00 last night and didn’t have time to write anything up before bed.  Once I get sucked back into City Hall, there is usually no time to write.  But I finally had a few minutes, so I decided not to let you down. J  Well, don’t get too excited… after you have read this you may be more let down then if I had just skipped a day...   
Today I’m writing a short essay on why I work…
I like food.
That is all.
This morning I ate two eggs over medium with wheat toast and strawberry jelly… yummy.  Brett’s mom was in town visiting so we went to breakfast at Boomarang before she headed home.  Today for lunch I had Reese’s puffs cereal and Reese’s crème pie… okay, I lied… I had the pie first… don’t judge me.  Tonight I’m headed to Toby Keith’s for my friend Amber’s 30th birthday dinner where I will eat even more delicious food.  Then I will finish off the night at a movie with my friends Matt and Caleb where I will no doubt get more Reese’s... this time in pieces form… and an Icee.  My typical movie treats.  J
The only other thing I have done in the last 24 hours besides eat, sleep and shower… is work.  I worked a 12-hour day yesterday and today I’m wrapping up hour eight as I type… two very long, busy days.  So I have determined that all I do is work and eat… so in effect, I work to eat. 
Tomorrow morning I have to go to Tulsa for a quick work-related thing (see… more work) and then to Foyil for our family reunion (where there will no doubt be more food), and finally back to Claremore for Courtney and Justin’s wedding (um… wedding cake?  Yes please!).
I’m sure between the birthday festivities and Captain America I will have something to blog about tomorrow.  I promise it will be better then today.  I mean it can only go up from here, right?  J
Have a safe and happy Friday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jesus and Dumbledore...

Yesterday, after another long day at work, I decided to spend a little time with Jesus.  I usually don’t make it to church on Wednesdays because of the drive, but I needed it this week, so I made it happen.  I attend Destiny Church in Broken Arrow… not to be confused with Destiny Life here in Claremore… they are not affiliated with one another and I know nothing about Destiny Life.  But I do know about Destiny.  I started going to church there about five years ago.  At the time I was living in Tulsa and it was much more convenient.  But what can I say, I love it, so it’s worth the drive.  Plus, going to church outside of Claremore allows me to really take Sundays off without being asked 20 questions about what’s going on in the city, having to listen to people complain about their electric bill or being asked for favors in getting people out of speeding tickets.  That alone is worth the 40-minute drive.  J
My pastor, Mike Goolsbay is a different breed.  He’s young, he’s funny and he’s got lots of stories… but he loves Jesus and he loves people and he continually reminds us that that is the mission of our church.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard him say the words, “Destiny Church is about loving people, helping them find their next step and teaching others to do the same.”  I think a lot of times we get wrapped up in the religion side of church or even the status quo as to what church we go to, who we attend with, how big the building is, etc., and not to say that doesn’t happen at Destiny, but since I have been attending there, I have done it because I love it and for no other reason.  I feel like it’s a great teaching church instead of a being preached at kind of church, if you know what I mean.  Plus, I love people, so Destiny’s mission nails that one for me.  I like to help people solve problems, so Destiny’s mission fits my life there too.  And finally, I value the importance of changing lives, educating people, helping them grow to the point that they can go and help someone else grow.  So again… Destiny’s mission is perfect for where my heart is.  If you are looking for a church home in the Broken Arrow area, I highly recommend Destiny Church.
Last night’s message was on incentive… specifically how when we invite Christ into our lives it brings hope, and that hope brings incentive… to walk in grace, change our motives and find power in scripture… the end result being that it gives us the incentive to live differently and grow in God’s love.
As you may have been able to tell from a few of my recent blogs, I’ve been a little grouchy and throwing myself a pity party.  I’m so sorry for that.  I have been lacking the hope that gives me incentive to live a life worthy of the calling I have received.  I’ve been making it about Cassie instead of about loving people.  My bad.  Sometimes it’s funny the things God uses to put us in our place. 
One of the verses that went up on the screen during the message last night was Hebrews 10:24, which says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”  A friend sitting next to me leaned over and said, “That’s what you do for me.”  It broke my heart… in a good way of course.  After the week I’ve had, that was exactly what I needed to hear to quit feeling sorry for myself.  I had just finished giving that friend an ear full on how I was feeling sorry for myself and how I felt taken advantage of and neglected by people in my life and how I was tired of always being expected to cater to everyone instead of do what I want or need.  I said I was going to start being more selfish and see how everyone liked that.  And yet, despite my selfish motive, my friend could still see where my heart is.  His words reminded me why I do the things I do.  I do them because I love people and I want to help them find their next step.  Those words, “That’s what you do for me,” may be the biggest compliment I have ever received.  That’s what I want to do for people.  That’s what I need to do for people.  Thank goodness that even when my perception of my surroundings changes, God’s perception of me doesn’t.  He made that clear to me through that scripture and the words of my friend. 
Another verse from last night that really stuck out to me was Romans 3:5, "Hope does not disappoint us."  So true… hope never disappoints… expectations always do.  I need to keep that in mind in my dealings with others.  I should always hope people make uplifting choices, but I should never expect them to do anything.  When I hope for them, I have the ability to celebrate with them when they accomplish great things.  When I expect from them, I only build resentment when they don't meet the expectation and hurt them when I remind them they failed.  That is not what loving someone is about. 
And finally, 1 Peter 1:16, "... for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy."  I have read and heard this verse many times with the emphasis on the "be holy" part.  Last night Mike put a different spin on it... he focused on the "it is written" part.  God has already written the plan for our life.  That's not to say we don't have choices... that's the great thing about our God... He always lets us choose... He just hopes we make the right choice, forgives us when we don't and always gives us a new opportunity to do what is right and what lines up for what is written for us.  I'm so thankful for second chances. 
I’m still struggling with a few things in my life, but at least now I have the incentive to live differently.  It's time for my second (or 932nd) chance.  Thanks to my Jesus for giving me the extra chances and thanks to my friend for reminding me of what is written for me.  You both have very special places in my heart.  J 
To show my appreciation to Jesus for all the grace He has given me, I'm going to quit with my pity party and start loving people (and myself) the way He hopes I will. 
To show my appreciation to my friend for helping me start the uphill climb out of my rut, I took him to see the new Harry Potter (said in my best English accent).  We should have had a Harry Potter marathon beforehand to brush up on the storyline, but it was a last-minute rash decision and all the other movies showing either I’d already seen or they didn’t look worth it. 
While I am in no way a huge Harry Potter fan and have never read the books or anything like that, I do enjoy the movies… they are entertaining.  I have a knack for picking out one line in just about every movie I see and remembering it forever… not just because it’s clever or funny… it has to be something that invoked an emotion in me.  There were a couple lines like that in this movie, and all of them came from Dumbledore. 
The first stuck out the most… “I always surprise myself on my ability to turn a phrase. Words are, in my not so humble opinion, the most inexhaustible source of magic; capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it."  Anyone who really knows me knows why this line stuck with me.  Let’s just say I have a way with words.  J  This quote is so true to me… words truly are like powerful magic.  They can be good magic or dark magic, but they do things to people that actions never could.  It is important to me that I learn to use my words only for good. 
The second is an obvious one, but still enough to inspire some thought… “Don't pity the dead. Pity the living.  And, above all, those who live without love."  I don’t think I need to add any commentary other then, we need to work to love those who have no other source of love in their lives more than anyone else… no matter how difficult it may be… they need it the most… especially the ones who don’t love themselves. 
And finally, my favorite… “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”  Never be afraid of what you feel.  Never question what you can dream up. If you feel something or believe in something, don’t rationalize it away unless you have truly given it the opportunity to be something great in your life.  People may not always agree with you, but they will get over it.  Would you rather live a life upsetting a few people who will forget about it a year from now when they see how happy you truly are or would you rather live an unhappy life always suppressing yourself and never really knowing what could have been.  I vote for the happy life. 
Those are my words of wisdom for the day… courtesy of Jesus and Dumbledore… J