Friday, March 28, 2014

#374 Here's To You, Partner

We received shocking news at work – a co-worker passed away.  I didn’t know Steve that well (he worked in another group), but I did know him casually, and he was part of our “lunch tennis” group a few years back.  When the indoor tennis center was still around, we’d play tennis at lunch in the warmer months.  This went on for a few summers.  Steve played tennis in college and was very good.  At that time, I was not very good.  Ok, I was average, but nowhere near where I am now.  Not that I’m super awesome now, but I have, learned a lot about where I should be on the court when playing doubles.  And I’m way better at the net.  Back then?  I was somewhat clueless and tried to stay out of my partner’s way. 

Luckily for me, Steve was usually my partner.  He was a great one.  Even though he was way better than me, he always made me feel like we were equals and was very encouraging.  During matches he would tell me, in his slight Canadian accent, “Hang in there partner.  We’ll get ‘em next time, partner.  Nice job, partner.”  I liked being his partner. 

A few years ago the tennis center was torn down and the outside courts were gone.  Lunch tennis was over.  Then I started taking lessons and was actually pretty decent.  Too late!  When I saw Steve around the office we’d talk tennis.  Did you see that match?  Have you been playing lately?  I told him about my progress and that I wished he could’ve benefited from it.  I saw him maybe once a month, but we always had a friendly chat. 

I spotted him the other day while walking up the stairs.  He was walking the other way down the hall and didn’t see me, and I didn’t call out to him.  I wish I had.  I don’t know what happened to him.  I don’t know if he was ill or had an accident.  I do know that he will be missed.   

I know a lot of nice people.  Occasionally someone sticks out as being really nice and Steve is one of those people.  The first thing I tell people is that he is one of the nicest guys I have ever met.  Incredibly, genuinely nice.  The world needs more people like Steve.  I will miss you, partner. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#373 Freakin' Fabulous Friday

Last week I had a freakin’ fabulous Friday.  Work was great - I wore jeans and watched some of the tournament basketball games.  To top off the day, I met Clinton Kelly that evening! 

For those who have never heard of Clinton, he was a co-host with Stacy London on TLC’s “What Not To Wear” (WNTW) for 10 years and is currently on “The Chew.”  On WNTW they “ambushed” women who dressed badly and basically “threw out” their clothes, but then gave them $5,000 to go on a shopping spree in New York.  The women also got a new haircut and makeup.  I watched faithfully for all 10 years and learned a lot.  (I basically did the opposite of what they told the shorter women.  Let’s see, that elongates the leg?  I will not do that.  J) 

Clinton was in town to host a fashion show at Macy’s and also to promote his new book, “Freakin’ Fabulous on a Budget.”  (Yes, I stole his descriptor.  Just this once.  Ok, maybe I will keep using it, but will always credit him.) 
We took our seats near the front left of the stage and enjoyed music (a bit loud), fruity drinks and some yummy hors d‘oeuvres.  Clinton was a tad bit late; when he finally came out he explained that on his way to the airport in New York he got stuck in traffic behind a garbage truck that had caught fire on the highway.  He missed his first flight and thankfully was able to catch another. 

The fashion show was a preview of some spring/summer trends – moto jackets, lace, color-blocking, mixing patterns and dresses.  Each trend was represented by three types of models – the millennial, the curvy woman and the mature woman.  Is it bad that I really liked the millennial outfits?  Even though the skirts were waaay to short for me, I loved them! 

After the show, Clinton did some Q&A.  I wracked my brain to come up with a good question.  I thought of a few but promptly “threw them out” of my head.  Finally I came up with one.  I kept raising my hand. 
Now, all the other women stayed seated to ask their questions.  He had a microphone and would walk over to them.  Did I mention he’s 6’4”?  And very good looking?  (Ok, and very gay.)  I was in denial for a while but finally accepted that yet another tall man was unattainable. 

So he was finally coming toward me and I stood up to ask my question.  I knew I had to wear some kind of heel to the show and that he would love it.  I wore my camel-colored wedge suede booties (2” heel) with skinny jeans, a beige top that was lower in the back, and a statement necklace that was one necklace but had several chains.  Kind of like Mr. T. 

When I stood up his eyes got big and said, ‘Wow!” and he asked how tall I was.  I told him and added, “But I’m wearing heels.”  To which he said, “I love a tall woman in heels!”  Let me also mention that Clinton is very animated and high-energy.  My question was about jackets and that I can’t wear them because my arms are too long.  I noticed that a couple of the models wore jackets and pushed up the sleeves.  I asked if it would look ok if I did that, or if I would look like I grew out of my jacket.  He told me to be careful to balance out the rest of the outfit.  So no cropped pant with a shorter-sleeved jacket.  I then kind-of kept talking to him from my seat and asked if he knew of any place that sold jackets with really long sleeves.  He didn’t.  Oh well.  I’m glad I got my question in!  Afterward I thought of other, funnier questions like, “Tell us how you really feel about leggings.”  On the show he always said, “Leggings are not pants.”  I also could have asked him about wearing skinny jeans – does it look ok for a thin (I don’t like using the word skinny to describe me or any other woman) women to wear them? 

After the Q&A he wrapped things up and hung around to sign copies of his book, but you had to make a $100 purchase to get a “free” book and have him sign it.  That was the only way you could meet him.  What’s a girl to do?  I bought a Ralph Lauren dress, got my book and got in line.  The things I do…

Julie stayed in line with me so she could take a picture of Clinton and me together.  Initially we were told no photos were allowed, but then we saw him taking photos with everyone.  It was finally my turn and I asked if I could have a picture of us together standing up.  One to add to the Feeling Normal scrapbook!  It happened so fast but we talked a bit more about fashion/style and he asked where I got my jeans.  (Old Navy extra long Diva).  He said that fitting tall women was very difficult but I told him it wasn’t really that hard.  Maybe we should go on tour together!?  I could help him give other tall women tips!  He did say my outfit was very sleek.  Ooooh, I like that!  Sleek!  Meow! 

 He seems really nice and is really funny.  And adorable.  So usually the tall, attractive men I meet are married.  He’s married AND gay.  Double whammy! 

When he first came out and chatted before the fashion show he said he wanted to make one thing clear – he doesn’t care what we wear.  He is not here to judge anyone.  I’m sure he said that since on WNTW they did somewhat judge people and threw out their old, unfashionable clothes.  But in real life, he just wants to help women look their best if they want his help.  Nicely said. 
During the Q&A a woman asked him which celebrities he looked up to style-wise.  He said he didn’t really look up to any celebrities, then went on to say they have their own trainers, stylists, cooks, etc.  That it’s not that hard for them to look good when they have all that help.  Some of them do have good taste (he mentioned Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman always look good), but that money and celebrity don’t always translate to good taste.  Amen!

After the evening I must admit I was a bit jazzed up.  I felt like Clinton’s energy had transferred to me and I wanted to tell everyone about my experience.  After I got home I finally read what he wrote in my book.  “Linda, Stay tall and fabulous!  XO  Clinton”  I LOVE it!  Tall and fabulous!  My new descriptor! 

Do you ever have thoughts about how you are wasting your time (watching too much TV, etc.) and not making time to do the things you really want to do?  Like write that book, take on that project, be more productive?  I have been telling myself that for months.  Then I sleep in on Saturdays until 9 a.m. and waste and hour here and there.  The Saturday after my freakin’ fabulous Friday I woke up at 8:15 a.m. (no alarm).  I got up, took a shower and cleaned the house.  I then drove to my brother’s house by a little after 10 a.m. and finished my taxes.  Back home to eat lunch before Julie came over around 2 p.m. and we then planned a future trip to Italy.  I felt great about what I had accomplished!  My reward?  Chilling out and watching some hoops that evening. 

I usually feel pretty energetic, but I do feel as if I have a renewed energy about me.  I am newly motivated to start some projects I’ve been procrastinating about.  I am also renewing my attitude about being tall.  I’ve always enjoyed it overall but admit that sometimes I dwell on the negative aspects of it (see my previous post).  I am hereby “tall and fabulous” and that is where I will live from now on.  Thank you freakin’ fabulous (and tall) Clinton for sharing your talent, ideas, humor and positive energy with us! 

If you want to learn more about Clinton, check out his website.  You will freakin' love it! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

#372 The Long Way Around

My life has sometimes taken an unconventional path.  I went to college in Auburn, Alabama while most of my friends stayed in-state.  I then spent the next five years living part of the year overseas in various countries playing basketball.  I worked for a year in sporting goods sales, but got bit by the basketball bug again and ended up playing two more years in Seattle in a fledgling league that ended up going bankrupt.  At the ripe old age of 29 I got my first full-time job.  In June I will have had that job for 15 years, so have been living a more conventional lifestyle lately. 

While at said work I was listening to The Essential Dixie Chicks on Spotify and I heard “The Long Way Around” for the first time.  It begins with the singer describing how all the other girls graduated from high school, got married and settled down.  She says of herself, “I couldn’t follow” and that she “hit the highway”.  She ended up following her dreams and taking the long way around.   

It made me reflect on my life a bit and where my path has taken me.  As a girl I always thought I would get married after college, have children and be happy taking care of my family.  I am now 45 and am coming to terms with the fact that, barring a miracle, that will not happen for me.  Oh, I still hold out hope to get married but I’m sure my eggs are a little past their expiration date.  Even though I could be the next Gwen Stefani or Halle Berry and have a child in my mid to late 40s, I think the odds are stacked against me. 

The other day I was feeling a little melancholy about it.  Facing reality is not easy.  I try to have a good attitude about things and do believe that God’s plan is the best for me even when I sometimes don’t agree with Him.  I usually go with the flow but I got a tiny bit panicky.  Crap!  I always thought there would be time!  Time is running out, my dear. 

So today, listening to this song made me feel better and brought a smile to my face.  I am unconventional in every way.  Not only am I a never-married 45-year-old woman, I am a giant woman in a land of mostly small men.  I headed down south to the Loveliest Village on the Plains and developed a southern accent.  And if I thought living in the South was different, I was then plopped down into foreign towns and cities where I knew no one and experienced an even more different way of life. 

I am able to embrace that my life has taken the long way around.  Yes, I would have chosen a different path, but God wanted me to take another.  I trust Him and He has never let me down.  At the end of the song there is a line that goes, “Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else.”  (Ain’t that the truth?)  And that maybe someday “I’m gonna settle down.”  I hope that I do, but until then, I will continue on the path less traveled by.  Heck, even Robert Frost liked that idea.