Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Weddings, cameras, and emotional breakdowns! Oh my!

Usually, I keep my blog restricted to only discussing the great outdoors and cool places, but this time I am not filtering my mind and letting it all flow. Hope y'all will still be my friend after taking a peek into my busy, crazy little head!

I just got back Sunday night from a 5 day trip to Utah. It wasn't the typical fun Utah trip for me. I did indeed have some fun and happy times, but there were also a lot of emotional and stressful moments for me. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…

Take the ride along in my emotional roller coaster with me! Wheee! To make it more fun, I wrote the happy things in sunny orange and the bad in sad blue.

The main reason for the trip was for Best Friend's wedding! (Yay and Congrats to the newly weds!) The wedding was absolutely beautiful and she was a stunning bride. Everything went according to plan and even the threatening weather couldn't put a damper on the occasion.

Well, only one thing could have been better. Best Friend's grandma (and my adoptive grandma) has been very, very ill with cancer and is under hospice care. She was way too ill to make it to the wedding. I knew beforehand that it was going to be incredibly painful for me to see this woman who took me into her family and gave me my own room in her house--a woman whom I love very much in return and visit at least every six months-- in the last stage of her life. And it was the worst. I had to be brave like everyone else and smile, but I died a little inside and cried myself to sleep just knowing that I will never see her again.

Even getting to Utah was a worrisome thing. Flying standby is one thing when you are going on a leisurely vacation where time doesn't matter but it was completely another knowing that I had to be there. Then again, paying $1,300 for a ticket (Thanks Hurricane Ike!) wasn't a great option either. Plus, I have become reasonably calm even waiting at the airport to see whether I will be able to make a flight home or lose my job. I guess I was more on edge because I wasn't traveling alone and the friend traveling with me was traveling with one of Best Friend's buddy passes. I know that when I am flying with companion benefits, I am merely the gum on the bottom of your shoe. Well, buddy pass riders are the dirt on the gum on the bottom of your shoe. I knew the chance was great that my friend may not make a flight that I would and that disaster could strike. And struck it did. She didn't make the flight out of Atlanta when I did. I felt incredibly guilty that I got on the plane and she didn't.

But I had to swallow the guilt and get out there. I couldn't wait because there were many wedding-related events starting the very next day that I was to be a part of. Plus, it just wouldn't be cool to miss your best friend's wedding. Not only that was this Best Friend's wedding but I had an important role to play--I was her official wedding photographer! I was so nervous!

And I have to say, I feel like I did a good job (despite the minister's "help")! There are some really great shots that I am proud of. Here are a couple.

I have to admit that the photos were easy to take with my FABULOUS new camera! I bought it the first whole day I was in Utah. I couldn't be happier with it! It can do things that my old camera could only dream of.

I sold my old camera for cheap to a friend. That camera rocked and I loved it very, very much. There was not a thing wrong with it. It was a wonderful camera; it was just time for me to upgrade. So why is this a sad, blue typed paragraph? Because my emotional attachment to this camera caused me to shed tears while giving it to someone else. I mean, I don't even "allow" myself to become attached to people! And the few times I do really form an emotional attachment to someone and then things go astray, I block them out and don't allow myself to grieve or even think about them. Yet I literally shed tears over a nonliving object that did not have any feelings for me at all! Yeah, I think I have some issues.

Oh well, just like losing people, I am getting over this loss, too. It is so much easier now that I have this Nikon D90 as my new BFF.

Another great thing about the trip was seeing all my friends out there. I got to hang out with Mr. Grunty, which was a very nice surprise for me since I didn't think I would have time to see anyone not affiliated with the wedding. The best thing about seeing him (besides, of course, seeing a dear friend) was that I got to show off my camera! I didn't have all the features figured out by then. Therefore, there are no self-timer shots of us together this time. But I did get this one of him alone, which was good enough. By the way, I have since figured out self-timer mode, so I am back to doing my self portraits again.

I rented a car for two days so I was able to take a couple of scenic drives. It was exciting for me to see the leaves changing colors in the mountains because it was a reminder of what is around the corner in my neck of the woods. Not to mention that it was a fabulous way to try out my new camera's tricks! My friend that I had to leave behind in Atlanta was able to make it to Salt Lake through Seattle the following day, so I got to show her all the awesomeness of the mountains in Utah. On our first day, we took a drive up through Monte Cristo to Bear Lake on the Idaho border and came back to our home away from home via Logan Canyon. On the second day we began our day in Evanston, Wyoming and looped our way back down into Utah on the beautiful Mirror Lake Highway. It was absolutely breath taking and we saw a moose! (Check out my pics at the end of the post.)

It was wonderful to get away from all the ragweed in Georgia and to finally get a break from my itchy eyes, coughing and sneezing, if even for a short time. I loved the humidity free air my lungs were able to swallow. However, I did realize something that I never paid that much attention in the past. The dry air makes my lungs feel great and I am headache free, but Utah climate makes me not so pretty. No humidity=flat hair, cracked lips, and dry skin that reveals every single flaw of my skin. At least here in sticky Georgia, I have wavy hair, full lips, and plump skin. Yeah, so I look better in Georgia.

So why do I always meet the hottest guys out there in Utah when I am looking my worst?! There was one at the wedding, which happened to be the day that I discovered that even if I wet my hair to make it wavy, the bounce falls right out as soon as it dries. Bad hair day just in time for the wedding!

But the hottest guy I met on this trip was not even a Utah boy, but a Georgian like me. The second my eyes met his as I entered that plane in Albuquerque, I melted. And he was sitting right beside me!

But allow me to back up…By day 5, my final day in the dryness, my lips were cracked so bad that they would split and bleed when I smiled. I knew it was going to be a long day as I had to try to get on the plane from Salt Lake to make a connection to Albuquerque to make my way back to Atlanta. I had anxiety the night before worrying that my friend, who had such a hard time getting out there, would not be able to make it back to Atlanta with me (if I could even be lucky enough to make it myself), that I had only 3 hours of sleep, leaving blue bruises under my red eyes, which I didn't even bother to cover up with make up. I figured I would just let my lifeless, flat hair fall across my face and cover it up. I wasn't looking my best and I didn't even care…

…until I walked on the plane. My friend wasn't able to catch the flight and was worried she would be stuck in New Mexico until spring and was very clearly upset and angry. I felt like she was mad with me. After some stressful moments and angry words, I entered the plane almost in tears. It hit me all at once--the disaster with my friend, the acceptance that I would never see Grandma again, and feeling like all my future visits to Utah will be less and certainly different. I felt tears building up and knew I was about to break down. I had already made plans to hide my face once I settled into my seat and cry the entire 3 hours back to the ATL. Instead, I stumble to the back of the plane to claim my seat by this gorgeous man who met my haggard face with a smile. He asked, "You're sitting here?" pointing to the empty seat next to him. Once I nodded yes, he replied, "Oh good!" And then we began the epic conversation that lasted for hours. The number of things we had in common was uncanny. We discussed our adventures, travels, family, work, and UGA football! About 45 minutes into discussing the awesomeness of kicking Florida's asses in last year's game and how we hope to kill Tennessee this year, he holds his hand out to me and formally introduces himself to me. When my hand took hold of his warm hand, I became lost in his gorgeous blue eyes. I was mesmerized by his smile and golden skin. It took me a minute to be able to tell him my name in return. I felt like an idiot. He didn't seem to notice as he continued to talk to me before taking an iPod nap break. I read my book, unable to concentrate enough to comprehend what I was reading. Then all too soon, we were circling Atlanta. We talked even more as we waited to deplane. He got my bag out of the overhead bend and helped me carry it out and we walked side by side to the train. Then just as I was about to walk toward baggage claim to meet my sweet roommate, I said, "It was great to meet you. I really enjoyed talking to you and hopefully, I will see you at one of the games!" He smiled and looked into my bloodshot eyes with his deep blue eyes and said, "I will be looking for you!" I should have said, "Well, let's exchange email and I'll tell you where my brother and his friends all tailgate before the game and you and your friends can join us." OR "You should go kayaking with me next time!" OR something. Anything. But instead, I walked away wordless. Idiot.

Regret is an imprisoning misery.

Who the hell needs him anyway? I have my camera.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I did it again! (Kayaking, that is.)

Again, I joined some friends for kayaking along the Chattahoochee. A fog was just beginning to lift.

Yay! I got two chicks!

This time Movie Chick and I were joined by CM!

We think she did a fabulous job--despite the fact she tipped her kayak. That just adds more experience to her skillz yo!

SV (pictured to the right of Movie Chick) was with us again. You can see how happy he was to be with us. He is always such a joy be around.

The gang relaxing on the river.

Probably complaining about the guys right now.

Of course, I had to include one of me to prove that I really am losing that fear of river water.

So yes, most of this stretch of the river is easy to kayak, but every time I see how narrow the kayak is, I can't help but feel proud in a super-speshul kind of way, that I have learned to keep my balance and enjoy it. I even laid completely on my back to bask in the sun one time!

Another great trip! I think the next kayaking trip (yes, their will be another) will be on the Chestatee River.

By the way, thanks to JM who was our wonderful photographer on this day. He was a punk and refused to have his picture taken, but we were glad to have him along the way.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Gotta love Atlanta travel!

So I did a lot of traveling via Atlanta's metro this past weekend. Now I usually like to drive to wherever I am going. It's just the way I roll. But considering the road construction on the I-75 and I-85 downtown connector plus several sports events and Dragon Con (a HUGE sci-fi convention) taking place simultaneously, it just made sense to ride MARTA (Metro-Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) or as the slogan for Marta states, "Marta is smarter" (of course pronounced "smarta" to ghetto-fabulously rhyme)!

Taking the train really did spare me some traffic nightmares. Plus the oh-so-friendly and helpful Marta staff were right there to "enrich" the experience! If you know of anyone who plans to visit Atlanta and travel on Marta, make sure you pre-warn them that they may be forced to feel retarded by a Marta employee (No matter how super-duper brilliant they may be for real)!

I entered the station just down the road from my home on Thursday evening. I was standing at the automated ticket machine weighing out my options to see if the 4 day pass was really a deal when a Marta lady with an attitude approached me and said, "All you gots to do is put in yo debit card!" I told her that I knew how to pay but was trying to decide which pass is the best value for me. "Well, do you ride da MARTA a lot?" I barely had gotten the words "I will be this weekend" out of my mouth when she was already pressing the buttons for me. She looked at me proudly and said, "That all you gotta do!" Thanks. You know I probably wouldn't have figured that out on my own.

Next, I went up the station platform with my friend Movie Chick to meet some of our other friends who were waiting on us. Let me point out that we were at the North Springs Station, which is the end of the northeast line. All trains there were--obviously, since we were at the end of northeast line--southbound. It was a typical hot, hot Georgia summer evening, so instead of climbing aboard the stuffy train right away, we remained outside for a few minutes chatting before boarding. But before we had a chance to hop on, another friendly Marta staff member informed us that we could get on because that train was southbound and all trains that leave the North Springs Station are southbound. Really? Thanks! And I thought we were going to fly north through the trees! After explaining, "Yes, we know that. Thank you," He shot us a look like we were all retarded and repeated again that the train was southbound and we could get on that train.

It was then and there, that my friends and I decided that Marta needs a new slogan:
Marta is smarta (than you!)

Anyhoo, the reason I rode the train back and forth all weekend was to attend the aforementioned Sci-Fi convention. No, I am not a trekkie and I find Stars Wars only mildly amusing. So what the hell was I going for? Well, I love the movie and TV show related panels and the Walk of Fame. I got to see many stars from Freddy Kruger to Chewbacca. I was really excited to see Sean Astin (whom I loved from The Goonies to Rudy to Lord of the Rings), Matthew Lewis (who played Neville in the Harry Potter movies), Nathan Fillion (who is one of my top 5 hotties), but the thing that excited me the most of all was meeting the Ghost Hunters! They are my heroes. And they don't get (nearly) arrested and led away in handcuffs on their ghost hunts like I do!