A little bit about Robin

I was born in raised in Alabama and am proud of my Southern roots. I love to write and share life experiences, thoughts, and crafty ideas about interesting things past and present. Welcome to my neck of the woods. Sit down and swing a while.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Throwing Out My Thirty Something List.

Remember that show in the 90’s ThirtySomething? You might have to be at least 35, or something, to remember.  It was kind of like the show My So Called Life, but for yuppies.  I loved the show My So Called Life by the way.  Jared Leto was so hot.  Anyway, ThirtySomething portrayed the lives of a group of friends in their 30’s with all the burdens and joys of having a family, finding love, building a career, keeping it all together, all while coming out alive with no scars or kids on drugs. The show was a parody for what a close friend of mine calls the "Corporate Check List".  That abridged checklist looks something like this:  
  1. College 
  2. Travel 
  3. Career 
  4. Relationship
  5. Marriage 
  6. House
  7. Kids  
What happens in between or after is of no use to anyone.  The show never told us what happens when they are 40 something.  I had a version of that checklist once upon a time in my 20–year-old mind while watching ThirtySomething.  Life in your 30's seemed fun and exciting even to spite the bad "TV stuff" that happened to them, like divorce, not getting promotions, or people drinking too much and making out with their boss or god forbid their spouse when the kids were in the other room.  That stuff only happens on TV, that is what my mother told me.  

Over the years I have veered from my list, come back to it, added to it, made some amendments with bullet points and eventually checked some things off the list.  The more I try not to conform to my list; my mind keeps going back to it.  There are these expectations the world put out there for me and not all of them have been reached so I want someone to tell me it is ok. Nobody is telling me it is ok, they are just telling more things about themselves that make it ok to not have checked things off my particular list. This is my list, not their list.  Just because two people's lists look somewhat the same does not mean that my list does not get checked. You did something on your list that worked, and it did not work on my list.   Does that make my list flawed? And how do I know it REALLY worked on your list, you could be lying. You could be saying it worked and then be crying in your grits every night. I am trying to make a point here. 

So this week after going over my list in my head with myself, I decided to throw it out.  It is not literally written on piece of paper, but it is out there in the universe comparing and contrasting with other people’s lists.  Orbiting and landing on places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  The hard part is admitting that it is OK not to keep the list.   People who still follow their lists are not bad people; they just don’t understand my particular journey.  So if I am going to whine about my list, I am not going to whine to someone who still never veers far from their list.  List people will never understand straying from the list.  Structured list people are now boring to me and do not help the cause. 

There are lots of things I have wanted to get off my chest recently and reasons why I am finally throwing this list the way of the dodo birds.   Confession:  I started throwing out the list along time ago, I just didn’t tell anyone. Walking to the beat of your own drum scares people some times.  So while I was liberating myself before I knew how important just being myself was, I was still walking the line every now and then to keep things in order.

My first experience in liberation was just one conversation I had with a roommate in 2004.  I was upset because my career was not taking off like I planned and I was working two jobs. I had a day job in advertising sales, and a night job running food at a restaurant in Atlanta.  My day job was entry level; I was really bad at it and got paid nothing.  I had no plans to move up in my day job and was lost in my career. My night job was profitable, hard, and challenging I was really good at it.  But a Waitress Career was not on my list. I was complaining about this to my roommate and she made a great point.  I was making a living.  Who cares how I made that living.  I was paying my bills, I was not doing exactly what I wanted with my college degree (checked that off my list BTW) but I was surviving. This moment was the first time I veered from my list and was open to changing it a little.  Thank you Meredith Collins Palmer, wherever you are with your nice husband and two beautiful children. Please tell me you have amended your list too.  I love you. 

Let’s be honest about the list.  "Husband" is on 9/10 girl’s checklists.   The ladies that tell you it is not on their list secretly have it on there!  Who knew?   The people that want it the most will never tell you, they want you to always wonder. And the people that are somewhere in between will tell you the truth.  I was somewhere in between but husband was 95.5% on my list. Hey I’m being honest, I wanted a husband, but I was never going to settle. I just wanted to marry for love.  Love was the answer to everything in my twenties. It was all a ton of fun and dramatic tears and depression medication until it went nowhere, and right when I was just about to take Husband off my list FOREVER “the one” came along. CHECK PLEASE.

He was not perfect at first, but he had great hair. He had some flaws, like wearing 1999 Levi's  button fly jeans,  but he was really smart and whitty.  I thought to myself, would my Papa Henry, may he rest in peace, like this man? And my self answered, yes, because this man loves me.  He made me laugh and he was a damn good writer, still is by the way.  He was honest with me. He could not offer the white picket fence and the walk-in closet right away but he was a good man and I knew it.  We would grow old together, it was obvious we had what it takes.   So eventually after some courtship and a couple jack and cokes every now and then we ended up together. And after 6.5 years we are doing just fine.  I threw out the idea of the white picket fence, who needs one anyway. Picket fences are overrated and mostly owned by old frat dudes who wear clothes that look like easter eggs.  You have to repaint it every year, the mailman trips over it; the thing is hard to mow around etc…

Which brings me to the next point about THE LIST.   The husband box on every girls list is one of the most important boxes.  And it is not what you think.  The Husband box will never define you. It does not matter if that man is a doctor or a lawyer or a banker. You are you, you can't hide behind your husband.   It does not matter if he is a stay at home dad, a CEO or if he builds white picket fences for a living.  And the most important thing is it does not matter how much money is in his bank account.  You have to ask yourself if all the money went away, would you still love him? Could you help him survive the storm? Or, if he had five dollars and he won 20 million, would he be the same man?  If the answer is yes for both then get out your list and check your Husband box honey! What people see from the outside is not going to get you through a marriage. Every marriage has problems.  And if your friends tell you they have a perfect marriage then they are lying like dead roosters after a cockfight. Just because you got to mark that box off your list does not hold a can of pickles to how you live your life after the wedding. Everybody has a season, and when the storm comes no list, or expectation,  or perfect quote on Facebook about how your husband is the best thing since iced cookies for taking you on that Babymoon,  whatever the hell a Babymoon is, is gonna make your life better. Throw out the list, because nothing you write on facebook will save you. There are only three things that can save you in a marriage, LOVE, RESPECT, and good old fashion PATIENCE. If you DO go on a Babymoon or HAVE gone on one... I think it is pretty much and done deal.  Everybody I know right now is going and deleting their Babymoon pictures on FB, sorry.  It is just weird. It is a vacation when you are pregnant. Pregnant woman go to Sandals Resorts all the time. Why do we have to get all Pinterest about it? 

I believe that we as a society are not conditioned to wait anymore for the good things to come to us.  We want it now, and we want it to look like Pottery Barn with white crown molding and linen drapes.   But a good relationship waits out the storm.  So if you insist on still having a list and you subscribe to Pottery Barn, next to Husband on your list add "Install Tornado Shelter".  Because when the storm comes you better be in that shelter together. 

I have learned just from writing this that I know more about my expectations then what I thought from the beginning when I had a list.  I know they have changed over the years and I am confident in that.  But I have to remember that not everyone is on board with my changing expectations. What I am at peace with or not at peace with is something that ebbs and flows as my life changes daily.  My life generally like any other woman is in no way what other people think it is according what picture I posted in Facebook last week.  Something I have learned from my husband and my mother is to keep my Southern mouth shut. What I tell a friend one week could change 24 hours after I tell her.  Sometimes that is hard to explain to people who have not thrown out their list, or people who generally are not drama queens like myself.  Good Lord, doesn’t talking about my damn list just wear you out? It wears me out more than a Babymoon.

I have tons of examples of how people's expectations for me to have a list try and define me. One good example is kids, and our plans for having them. We don’t have kids yet.  I sometimes get sad that we don’t have kids yet.  I sometimes have moments where I am happy that we don’t have kids yet.  I sometimes wonder if not having kids and wanting them is part of the universes plan to make me stronger.  Slow down Universe, I won't go on a Babymoon, I just want a kid.   Sometimes when I get really stressed out about checking that box of my list I get what I call the Peter Pan itch, like I am 19 again.  It happens like twice a year.  I will find a cigarette to smoke from like 2010 in the back of a drawer in our kitchen and then I go to my front stoop and take a shot of whiskey and think…If I wasn't doing this would the Universe give me a kid?  Folks reading this are probably judging me right now.  How immature of me to take a shot of whiskey on my porch and to smoke a cigarette.  No wonder I don’t have kids yet. The shame. If worse come to worse they can always pray for me. Pray for me please.  Pray for the 38 year old taking a shot of whisky.  I actually like praying. It is the only time I can have a conversation with someone that does not talk back.  I can tell god everything and actually not hearing unsolicited advice back is peaceful.  I can just talk and hope he is listening.  I am pretty sure he is. Once a really nice person left a note on my desk at work.  It said, God's best for you is yet to come. That is truly the only advice that gave me 100% peace about anything. 

Let’s be honest.  For someone my age that has been married for 6 years this “thing” about not having kids gets really hard to address to the “list” people.  Don't get me wrong I love the movie “She’s Having a Baby”.  Kevin Bacon is a writer in that film, just like my husband. So hypothetically if we were having a baby I would watch that move like every night. I love the part when he puts his coffee cup on her pregnant stomach.  I always dreamed of marrying someone like his character in that movie, and I did, so I got a win already.
It is one of my personal favorites, especially at the end when she almost dies and he runs in and meets the baby then she wakes up and all their dreams come true becasue they are the cool parents that weathered the storm, while everybody else was going to PTO, making fruit salad and mowing their grass in the suburbs.   

I know for a fact people that are not close to us wonder why we still don’t have kids, and frankly it is none of their business.  There are people out there that love to ask questions and give really great advice.  They mean well but sometimes I feel like that pillow that was on my college roommate’s bed.  It was a picture of a cow that had tipped over on its back and above the cow and it said,“I mean really?" Makes me laugh every time.   

Words come at me from practical strangers like they are flying out of an industrial sized fan...

“You know my neighbor’s mother’s second cousin twice removed who decided to adopt got pregnant the moment they signed the papers, she literally felt the sperm implant into the egg at the moment she let go of her dream of having her own child.  You should adopt so you can get pregnant.”  

“You remind me of that girl on TV, oh yeah, Giuliana Rancic. She hired a surrogate and the surrogate and had one baby for them and just last week the same surrogate miscarried. Why they put themselves through that again, I will never understand. Have you considered a surrogate?   I, as a mother, just wish everybody could be a mother."

"I just rolled over and got pregnant, It was almost like immaculate conception.  We are so blessed, I will pray for you."

"You should go on a mission trip to Africa and get one of those babies.  So many people are doing it now, think about it"

(the above are not exactly true comments, but a conglomerate of  statements I have pulled together from my personal life and from good friends and funny strangers who openly have shared their stories with me on the subject.  I admire people who have gone all over the world to adopt children and find their spirits to be true and open and wonderful.  These statements do not reflect my opinion of adoption or any other method of childbearing)

Everyone has an opinion on this even when they have no idea where I stand in the matter. I love people and I am not bitter nor do I take offense to their comments.   I just think it is healthy to be able to joke about it and write about my experiences.  And how I choose to handle that particular subject in my life is my choice and my husband’s choice. I have had to train myself that my life is not always better when it is an open book. A good part of my life with my husband is a privilege and better when it is private to most and will remain private till the day I die.  Although going to Africa on a mission trip is never out of the question, but I am Jewish, so it would have to be a Jewish mission trip.  Do they even have Jewish mission trips?  If not, they should. Converting the world using one good chosen person at a time makes a lot of sense when you really think about it.

But until I jump on a boat to Africa to find a baby with Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie and her mohawk babies, all while converting everyone to Judaism, and like all OTHER unknown and amazing things that I hope lay before me, I am keeping my ruby slippers handy trying to survive the storm on my own terms.  Don’t worry I will be ok without my list, I have a storm shelter in the form of my husband. I am not even half way there and Mother Nature makes no promises. I threw my list away today, remember, so everything is up to chance.  Now if I could just find my Pottery Barn Catalog....



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Years Night Brought Out My Best of Birmingham 2013

This year my New Years night was not planned.  I am not sure what I expected tonight. Michael and I both agreed to cook and stay home, maybe have a glass of wine and relax.  Sounded great last week when I was feeling the pressure to make plans.  We made Italian meal and had a glass of wine. It was really good and Michael worked really hard, then we started getting tired and the TV was not worth watching. Michael was watching football and browsing his on his tablet, me on FB browsing other people's family christmas shots and New Years Eve selfies. My cute sequin tops in my closet started whispering at me, "wear us before we rot, you are not getting any younger...." 

I was home and that was ok with me, but the adventurous dreamer side of me, always worked up moments like  the  New Years Eve scene in When Harry met Sally. She is wearing a pretty red velvet dress and they are dancing to Ole Lang Syne at a New York event.  That is the moment they figure out they are in love, and they are dancing in their own world.  People then were smiling and looking amazing during a time before our faces were in our cell phones, facebook, and twitter. The world was quiet and classy then, and the only distraction was the ball dropping in four different time zones.  I am happy with my year, but feel like I personally let New Years Eve down this year. I want to bring News Year Eve back, but do it the right way.  Classy Downton Abby Style, with gorgeous champaign bottles, sparklers, fur coats, velvet dresses, diamond earrings and tuxedos.  People running through the streets in love, shouting HAPPY NEW YEAR and kissing!!  

I should have been a little more proactive so I would not be pouting on my couch this year, which is nobodies fault but my own. But I am not sure if those parties exist anymore.  Or maybe we are getting to old for such childish gastby dreams.   So I decided to be find a positive and get something accomplished tonight that solidified my dancing resolutions.  I may be in my PJs drinking mimosas at 1am while my cat sleeps next to me, but dancing in my head....I am dressed in Channel black, smoking a clove cigarette, wavy hair, red nails, and  dangling earrings toasting all my friends family.  Have a happy and healthy New Year.  Here is my view of the Best of Birmingham 2013, raise your glass my friends....

Food and Drink
Best Neighborhood Restaurant
Saws Juke Joint
Affordable, good ole fashioned BBQ with a modern day Southern twist on the menu, bring the kids or go to the bar.  My favorite thing to order is the Fried Green Tomato BLT and the sweet potatoes fries.  Check it out.

Best Birmingham Staple
Chez Lulu
We did not make it to Bottega Café this year, which is usually number one on my list.  Chez Lulu never disappoints, and their Red Pepper Farsi is to die for. The Peasant Garlic Soup is perfect for a rainy day. If you are a Buffalo Rock fan, Chez Lulu serves it up.  I love when restaurants serve local products; they were one of the first to do this.

Best Bar to sit and gossip with a girlfriend
Chez Fon Fon
Want to hash out the weeks events with a signature drink in a  European atmosphere?  This is your place, but only on  a random night and at the very end of the bar where people can’t hear you.  You do not want everyone knowing your secrets!

Best Beer and Wine Selection
Neighborhood Hops and Vine.  Chandler Busby runs a smooth operation there in Crestline Park.  His recommendations are always dead on.  He has tastings on Wednesday and greets all customers with a smile.

Best Bar

41st Street Pub & Aircraft Sales

What a find in Avondale.  This is a great atmosphere to hang with friends, and order up a Dark and Stormy, one of their signature drinks served in a cute little copper cup.  To die for!  But don't lose the cup!  Their cups are 25 dollars a pop, and if you lose it... well... you are paying! There is a number on the bottom of the cup that they connect to your tab.  They are welcoming and warm, but take their copper ware seriously. 

Health and Recreation

Railroad Park 
Need I say more?  This park in unique, environmentally friendly and promotes a community atmosphere. Rail Road Park was there before the ball park and now even more convenient to all Birmingham has to offer as the Downtown area grows. 

Sporting Event
Birmingham Barons 
Thank you Birmingham, we all have a place to go in Birmingham proper where there is something for everyone.  The Barons stadium can be anything you want it to be and more.  First and foremost is beautiful place to watch baseball.  What a fabulous addition to the Magic City. 

Best Rec Center
Levite Jewish Community Center 
It is affordable, offers great classes and the salt water pool is clean for swimming laps.  That is all we need right now.  And, the Kosher Café makes the best grill cheese in town!  I can die now.

Alabama Ballet
Roger Van Fleteren never disappoints.  Alabama Ballet is one of the only Ballet Companys in the Nation to own the rights to George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.  Also, Alabama Ballet’s spring show, Ovation, never disappoints.  Here is a snippet about it from their website: Ovation, a mixed repertory performance, features one of the most celebrated excerpts in classical ballet, "The Kingdom of the Shades" from La Bayadere. Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, set to the iconic score from Aaron Copland, rounds out the program. Considered an early example of an American ballet, Rodeo combines the exuberance of a Broadway musical with the discipline of 
classical ballet technique. The company is excited to return to the Dorothy Jemison Day Theatre for Ovation.

Best Theater
Alabama Theater  
My husband and I went to a roaring 20's party party there this past year.  I felt like we went back in time for the night, it was enchanting. It is always fun to go there and watch old movies like Gone with the Wind or The Sound of Music

My Top Five Local Bands of 2013 (not of all time)
5. The Clay States
4. Acts of Congress
3. Lauren Michael Sellers
2. Dead Fingers, Check out this sweet video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7JpS0KKTQE
1.  St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Radio Station

Birmingham Mountain Radio 107.3
Driving and Cryin’, The Smiths and R.E.M, mixed in with mainstream like Florence and the Machine and Adele and Lorde, BOOM! Birmingham Mountain Radio is a little bit of everything but not too much of nothing.  I can't leave out Southbound Radio in this mix.  It is on live from 7-9 on Sunday nights. I sure do love the Djs too! 

Most Noteworthy Cause
Desert Island Supply Company aka D.I.S.C.O
A dear friend of ours and started this amazing organization that gives Birmingham students the chance to write and create in a way that they have never experienced before.   If you have a chance to stop by D.I.S.C.O and see the amazing things going on there, you will not be disappointed.

Not for Profit
Junior League Birmingham 
 I have wanted to write about the Junior League for some time now, so I will use this opportunity to share my thoughts in full. Sometimes I think the Junior League gets a bad wrap because of the stereotype that we have placed on the typical Junior Leaguer in Southern Soiciety.  I am here to tell you that has changed.

I remember in my youth woman, mostly white stay at home mothers, coming to my door when my mom had cancer-bringing casseroles with a wink and a smile. My dad once said half way joking, “If one more (insert-the-lords-name-in-vain-here) damn Junior Leaguer driving a Volvo Station Wagon walks up that driveway with a chicken casserole I might as well grow wings, fly, cluck or whatever right on out of here!"   My mom and I just looked at each other and laughed.  Then my dad laughed, then he started doing the cooking.  But we helped save the world eating those casseroles, one bite at a time.

I never thought I would join the Junior League.  I could see myself contributing my time to something at some point after I got married, but my life as taken different directions that I covet up until this point when time opened up for me to explore my volunteer options.  So here I am in my fifth year as an active for Birmingham’s Junior League, and it is not what I expected based on my childhood memory. I have said it before and I will say it again, I never leave that building without gaining something. Smart and willing woman of all ages, religions, and ethnicity's can find a place there to make a difference.  

The present day Junior League is not what you read about it books like The Help, or see in movies like Something to Talk About, with Julia Roberts (oldie but goodie by the way).   The volunteering skills women learn there are valuable to  our community in so many different facets it is hard to name them all.  Junior League has not turned into something I do just so I can say I did it.  It is something that has helped me grow in my community.  In the JLB you can be up front directing and planning the process, or you can be behind the scenes making the process work.  I love this organization that affords me the time and opportunity to find where my hands can help others and myself.

Best Thrift Store
Jimmy Hale Mission on Montclair Road 
If you compliment me on my outfit, chances are it came from here.  I have found some gems, like cashimere sweaters, nice linen swing dresses, and great art work. 

Best Boutique
Lulie’s on Cahaba  
Party Dress are here and gorgeous.  If I had a  fancy party to attend, this might be my first stop for ideas or a purchase.  Good prices on jewelry and staple items.

Best Consignment
Zoes in Forest Park
Vintage, Vintage , Vintage.  Enough said. 

Best Shoes
Pant Store in Crestline
They have all the fashion forward shoe brands, and if you catch them at their tent sale once a year, one can get some great staples for their wardrobe at great sale prices.  Also their side walk sales are the best in town.  So many cute tops and sweaters for great prices!

Best Hair Place
Tracadero in Mountain Brook Village, ask for Katie.

Best Department Store
Anything that is not Belk.  I miss Parisian.