September 30, 2010

Get it, Scott.

Hello, jeans-weather! At least up here in PA.

“I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it's these things I'd believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything.”
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

I'm assuming Scott was talkin' about his love Zelda.
Who has been my idol since grade 10.
She had me on the whole ballerina-writer-artist-Montgomery-girl-spitfire thing.
And he met her at the good 'ole Montgomery Country Club.
And I may or may not drive by their circa 1930 house on Felder Avenue every time I go home just to visit.
And I maybe own 9 hardback biographies about the famed couple.

September 19, 2010

And grace will lead me home.

Photo courtesy of the Times and Democrat.

It's been almost a week, and my mind keeps flashing back to a set of dark eyes.

In Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Tuesday, I sat heeled legs crossed and bleary eyed waiting on the latte to kick in and thumbing through emails--standard Ashlyn-mode. Then a wheel chair pulls up next to me. I shot a glance up and then quickly back down to my Blackberry, wondering what in the world an attractive, seemingly healthy, young black guy would be in a wheel chair for...

Then it hit me like a pound of bricks.

I eyed his feet first. Big, nice Nike-shoed feet schackled in cuffs and linked to the sides of his metal wheeled chair. Rising up, I saw his strong wrists were similarly hand-cuffed and enslaved to the arm bars. Three broad-shouldered men in suits hovered over him in that tough-guy stance, you know the one with feet apart and hands clasped. He couldn't have been 20.


(So I promise I'd gotten to this point without any involved parties noticing my investigative skills. Curiosity may be the death of me, but I'm sneaky. Psshh--I'm a trained dancer and journalist: becoming concious of my surroundings is innate at this point.)

So there I sat. Next to a guy that had a blinking light over his head that said "Everyone, please stare at me. I did something so awful, your government doesn't even trust me to walk." I just had to look at him. Had to. So I glanced over and one moment later, the saddest, biggest pair of brown eyes looked into my own. My. Heart. Shattered.

There's no way I can ever put into words what his brown eyes said during the span we held each others eyes. I don't even know how long it was, or if I was breathing. I've just never seen hurt like that. His eyes bore into me: he was scared, alone, marred, shunned, stripped of dignity, and labeled a murderous monster by any travelers who dared to look at the spectacle. It was as if he was silently pleading my forgiveness. Anyone's forgiveness.

It's been 5 days and my mind won't let go.

Because we're all like that. We've all screwed up and somehow in our infantile, earthly minds his sin is "worse" than our sin. How DARE we call ourselves better than this man. How DARE we raise eyebrows and smugly go about life. I know I have an issue hating sin, it's something God is teaching me lately. I'm just more easily fascinated with Love and Grace and am an eternal optimist. I see and expect good in everyone. Trust me, it's an issue. I get hurt a lot this way. But I'm working on it.

But I saw myself in that man's--murder or whatever he was--eyes, like it was a mirror or something. We couldn't have looked more phsyically different. But at some point our differences stopped and we were one in the same. I'm just as filthy, shackled, and damaged. Maybe not in society's view, but in light of the Gospel, I am just like him. No better. Enslaved to that life, actually.

But then a Greater Love rescues me from those restraining chains.
And somehow, weirdly, becoming a servant to that Love morphs into freedom.
Which still bewilders me. I don't get it, God. At all. But I'm so, SO thankful.

"I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned /
in awe of the One who gave it all."
- Hillsong United

Welp, looks like I'm still optimistically fascinated with the word "grace" after all. Now if only I could adopt a bit more of a realist streak...or even just look at the road when I drive and not the clouds and trees. Oh well.

September 18, 2010

Football in the South. TFM.

I am so not the plan-my-future-wedding-all-I-need-is-a-groom type. But the groomsmen will take one of those cute touch football pictures. For sure.

Because I'm spending another freezing cold day up in Lewisburg while my friends/family picture text me tailgating/game images from the plains (cool guys, cool.), here's something I was emailed the other day. And as a Southerner immersed in this New England culture, I couldn't express to you how true this is.

Happy gameday, y'all!

Northern vs. Southern Football

Women's Accessories
NORTH: Chap Stick in back pocket and a $20 bill in the front pocket.
SOUTH: Louis Vuitton duffel with two lipsticks, water proof mascara,and a fifth of bourbon. Money not necessary - that's why we have boyfriends.

Stadium Size:
NORTH: College football stadiums hold 20,000 people.
SOUTH: High school football stadiums hold 20,000 people.

NORTH: Expect their daughters to understand Sylvia Plath.
SOUTH: Expect their daughters to understand pass interference.

NORTH: Don't care if their daughters know what a football is.
SOUTH: Expect their daughters to buy a new outfit for Homecoming each year and marry a football player.

Campus Decor:
NORTH: Statues of founding fathers.
SOUTH: Statues of Heisman trophy winners.
Homecoming Queen:
NORTH: Also a physics major.
SOUTH: Also Miss America.

NORTH: Rudy Guliani
SOUTH: Paul "Bear" Bryant
Getting Tickets:
NORTH: 5 days before the game you walk into the ticket office on campus and purchase tickets.
SOUTH: 5 months before the game you walk into the ticket office on campus, put name on waiting list for tickets, then still have to camp out.

Friday Classes After a Thursday Night Game:
NORTH: Students and teachers not sure they're going to the game, because they have classes on Friday.
SOUTH: Teachers cancel Friday classes because they don't want to see the few hungover students that might actually make it to class.
NORTH: An hour before game time, the University opens the campus for game parking.
SOUTH: RVs sporting their school flags begin arriving on Wednesday for the weekend festivities. The really faithful arrive on Tuesday.

Week of Big Game:
NORTH: Don't even know who they are playing on Saturday.
SOUTH: Make sure clothes are color coordinated, make signs to support the home team, get shakers ready, pray for a victory, and bow down to football players when students see them.
Game Day:
NORTH: A few students party in the dorm and watch ESPN on TV. Wonder why Game Day Live is never broadcast from their campus.
SOUTH: Every student wakes up, has a beer for breakfast, and rushes over to where ESPN is broadcasting "Game Day Live" to get on camera, cheer tirelessly, and wave banners.
NORTH: Raw meat on a grill, beer with lime in it, listening to local radio station with truck tailgate down.
SOUTH: 30-foot custom pig-shaped smoker fires up at dawn. Cooking accompanied by live performance by "Hootie and the Blowfish," who come over during breaks and ask for a hit off bottle of bourbon. Televisions set up with satellite dishes so that we don’t miss any football games shown before and after ours.
Getting to the Stadium:
NORTH: You ask "Where's the stadium?" When you find it, you walk right in.
SOUTH: When you're near it, you'll hear it. On game day it becomes the state's third largest city.
NORTH: Drinks served in a paper cup filled to the top with soda.
SOUTH: Drinks served in a plastic cup, with the home team's mascot on it, filled less than half way with Coke, to ensure enough room for bourbon.

When National Anthem is Played:
NORTH: Stands are less than half full, and less than half of them stand up.
SOUTH: 100,000 fans, all standing, sing along in perfect four-part harmony.

The Smell in the Air After the First Score:
NORTH: Nothing changes.
SOUTH: Fireworks, with a touch of bourbon.

Commentary {Male Fan}:
NORTH: "Nice play."
SOUTH: "Dammit, you slow sumbitch -tackle him and break his legs."

Commentary {Female Fan}:
NORTH: "My, this certainly is a violent sport."
SOUTH: "Dammit, you slow sumbitch - tackle him and break his legs."

NORTH: Neutral and paid.
SOUTH: Announcer harmonizes with the crowd in the fight song, with a tear in his eye because he is so proud of his team.

After the Game:
NORTH: The stadium is empty way before the game ends.
SOUTH: Another rack of ribs goes on the smoker. While somebody goes to the nearest package store for more bourbon, planning begins for next week's game.

September 16, 2010

So take a chance and don't ever look back.

Perk #5 of living independently: There's no one to judge me during my morning ritual of singing to Pandora/iTunes and dancing around while I get ready for the day. Which I do, without exception every. single. morning. I did in college, too. And high school. In that a.m. moment, I'm in my own music video and there is nothing you can do to stop me. I mean, you're welcome to join though. Whatever floats your boat.
I recently have excellently been rocking Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream".
Besides the Valentine's Day part (eye roll) the lyrics make me grin.

So when someone on Facebook posted this, of course I fell in love. Because I've been jammin' covers by Boyce Avenue since freshman year. And covers are in my Top 20 Things Ever list between strawberry LipSmackers and margarita salt. As in, I have an entire playlist devoted soley to covers.

I could watch this all day. And dance around. And be young for-ev-er...

September 10, 2010

The District

WWII Memorial. When you go tourist-ing with one other person,
all your pictures are "honeymoon" style: ridin' solo.

I'm crumbling under peer pressure: I'm updating my blog.

This is the priority order of my dazzling Leadership Consultant lifestyle:

1. Jesus time. i.e. staying human in the midst of all this.
2. Communicating to family/friends. This wards off lonliness even though I'm surrounded by 2-160 human beings at all. times. of. the. day.
3. Work. i.e. The Best Job Ever
4. Sleeping. Cat naps. Zoning out. You get it.
5. Playing outside. Adults call this "running."
6. Football. Pulling the orange section of USA Today first, scheduling meetings around kickoff, inhaling ESPN, purchasing an Auburn Network streaming membership (Don't worry, Mama. I put it on my card.), and scoffing at Yankees/Midwesterners "Oh yah, the Big 12, ya know? We love our football up hyere." Chyeah you do. Just come to my neck of the woods. I'm single-handedly fulfilling every Yankee sorority girl's expectations of a stereotypical Southern belle as I sit on the couch and yell. They're amazed. "Yous guys actually do like football, eh?" Shh. I'm trying to hear the call on that last play..

Playing in some cornfield in Lewisburg, PA with Megan the fellow LC

This is why I loved Bucknell University.

Then, somewhere between 7 and 100 are various and sundry priorities, are these. Priorities included but not limited to:
- Boarding the correct plane
- Maintaining my life, which fits neatly in 3 pieces of Heyes luggage
- Taking day trips to New York City. Or Hershey. Or D.C.
- Crumping with Alpha Dee's in the chapter room (coughBucknellcough)
- Maintaining the coffee IV flow into my body (grandeskinnyvanillalatte, please Starbucks lady.)
- Putting my pro-deer-hunter's-daughter sense of direction to the test (Subway? The woods? Same difference.)
- And sure--blogging.
So, sorority snaps to everyone who texted/Twittered/Facebooked/emailed my Gmail account/emailed my ADPi account/Skyped/BBM'd/or called me saying "Ashlyn Stallings. Update that dang blog." You know who you are.

Because TA-DA:  it worked! I decided to use the precious spare time
 to let you know what's up here in crazy LC land.

Let's go.

First of all, I'm now among the fightin', bitin' tarrapinns (newsflash: the mascot's a turtle) of the University of Maryland, which--who knew--lies 9 miles from where the sweet little Obama children rest their heads.  Monday, the darling ADPi chapter president spent her Labor Day to drive me into our Nation's capitol where we joined up with my Samford friend Ashley--I was in hog-heaven.

Ashley and I. Now everyone go eat the guac at D.C.'s Oyamel.
You see, I've never been to Washington D.C. (This is what happens when 9/11 occurs during the same junior high year your class is supposed to go on the traditional D.C. field trip.) Anyway, the second my little green eyes spied the Capitol, my heart stopped. From the Lincoln Memorial to Washington Monument to Korean War Memorial to the museums and everything in between, I was in heaven. Side effects of arguing politics with your Daddy at the dinner table since age 12 and claiming the Fourth (of July, not the ammendment) as your 2nd favorite holiday? You end up bred an all-American girl.

Dear Mr. Elephant, War Eagle.

As I'm weirdly obstinate about creating Facebook albums, here's a photo montage of the day:

Alright. Now I'll be a good little girl and blog like I said I would from now on.

*Blog post title: Name of a sweet band I discovered whilst Pandora-ing Matt Hires.
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