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I love coffee. Sometimes people try to switch my coffee to decaf when I’m not looking. I can always tell the difference. I also like Pringles, but only the reduced fat kind because they crunch better when you bite into them and they don’t leave grease on your fingers. I’m…

About Me
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As part of our quest to support women’s issues, Katana Photography is excited to announce our first ever Celebrating Survival contest!
Having any kind of cancer is frightening and confusing. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Katana Photography is welcoming all survivors from all forms of cancer to participate…

Weekly Photo
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When I was looking to buy my wedding invitations (back in April), I found a lot of designers on Etsy. After narrowing it down to a couple different designs/companies, I contacted both for their pricing list. One was pretty significantly more expensive–almost $2 per invitation more. Which I think all…

Weekly Style
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When talking to people about photography, I hear one phrase over and over again: Kids and dogs are the hardest subjects to photograph.
I, personally, don’t have this problem with my clients…kids and dogs are among my favorite things to photograph. Maybe it’s because I like to have any excuse…

Weekly Puppies
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Last week, Sean and I had our morning coffee on the balcony and watched as the Enterprise shuttle was pulled down the Hudson on a tug boat. It’s on its way to the Intrepid and I can’t wait to see it up close at the museum!

Weekly Coffee

Help Me

My boyfriend and I are supposed to make each other’s Christmas gift this year.

Every idea I had, he (unintentionally) shot down. Such as a travel coffee mug with our photos in it. Or coasters featuring the covers of his comic books (comic books that he has drawn…not just books he collects). Does ANYONE have any good ideas? He’s an artist so I have a feeling his gift to me is going to be freaking awesome, and I’ll end up giving him a picture frame made out of popsicle sticks. I’ve already knitted him a billion and one things, so that won’t work.

Ugh….please, please, help me!!!!!!! Thanks to all!

Masochist

Do you ever get a tiny cut on the inside of your lip that you just can’t help but nibble and suck on when you’re bored sitting at your computer desk? Then, you accidentally nibble a little too hard causing the tiny cut to split even wider. Now, it’s bleeding and swollen which only makes you want to chew on it more! So eventually, you end up with an enormous welt the size of your entire lip spanning across your gumline. It looks like you got into a fight. Only instead of punching with your fists, you used your mouth.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Well, today I am FORCING myself not to chew on this raw cut on my bottom lip. It hurts like a mother and every ounce of my being wants to knaw it off (as if that would really work) but I am refraining. I will FORCE it to heal!

Another Sad Day

Another Sad Day
Emily May, who graduated with me from Southwest Guilford High School in 2001, died in a fatal automobile accident earlier this year.

She and I obviously did not keep in touch, as I had no idea until today that my old high school friend was gone. While others have had a chance to mourn her death, this is fresh news to me and I still haven’t quite wrapped my head around it yet. She is the second friend of mine from high school to have died at the hands of a drunk driver.

When are people going to learn?

According to the articles I have read online, another girl was driving drunk and swerved into Emily’s lane. Emily swerved so not to hit the girl and ended up colliding with a pole that had a red light camera on it. The heavy device fell onto the roof of Emily’s ‘99 Mustang convertible. She was rushed to Cape Fear Valley Hospital, suffering from critical injuries and later died of these injuries.

As I sit here writing this, I am looking at photos of Emily. It’s obvious to me that she was very loved and my heart breaks to those who were close to her. She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, and a girlfriend. She was a young woman with the highest of hopes, the biggest of dreams, and the kindest of hearts. Maybe her hopes would have been fulfilled; maybe her dreams would have been achieved; and most definitely, more people in this world would have had the honor of knowing her.

To Emily’s family: I wish there was something I could say or do to help dull the sorrow and anguish that I know you are feeling.
Emily was always a joy to be around. Beautiful, happy, graceful, and funny. She was the light of any party and one of the few girls in high school who did not allow popularity to go to her head. She would be as friendly with the head cheerleader as she would with the drama geeks (ie - me). She was smart and there was never a doubt in my mind that she would be a successful young woman. Her life was stolen out from under her feet because of the carelessness of another.

Robert Fulghum states that: “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge–myth is more potent than history–dreams are more powerful than facts–hope always triumphs over experience–laughter is the cure for grief–and love is stronger than death.”

Emily was and is still loved. And it is because of the love we all exhibit that Emily Elizabeth May will live on.

I <3 Knitting

I <3 Knitting
So, I had a few emails with the last knitting post asking to see something I had knitted on my own. So, here, featured on this post is a lovely angora black and white scarf I knitted in a ribbed pattern for The Boyfriend! (isn’t he a beautiful model?)

I have decided that once a week, I will post an I <3 Knitting picture which will feature a piece I have finished. Because I love to knit so much, I have a gazillion different random finished scarves, hats, etc lying around the apt. The Boyfriend! is insisting that I get rid of them. So, if you see a scarf or anything that strikes your fancy, let me know and I will send it your way. I am asking for some sort of small monetary supplement though for the cost of yarn (usually no more than 20 bucks) and shipping cost (because I'm a poor mofo and the evil postal service has taken enough of my money this holiday season!).

Have a great day, y’all!

Mauve Lipstick and an Alluring Pout

MAUVE LIPSTICK AND AN ALLURING POUT
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Occurred: End of my freshman year (high school, 1998)

I will never be the girl who can wear white and not spill on myself. You know the girl I’m talking about. She is your friend, your neighbor, your cousin, your best friend’s girlfriend—or in my case, my sister.

She always chews with her mouth closed, and never spits when she talks. She can wear no make up and still look like a Calvin Klein cover girl, and then when she does wear it, her eyeliner never bunches up in the corner of her eyes creating a big black eye booger. She makes a ponytail and a baseball cap look sophisticated. Her panty hose never run, lipstick never gets on her teeth, and not once in her life has she ever passed gas; the mere thought appalls her. She has a cute, high-pitched giggle that when activated causes her nose to crinkle like a bunny rabbits. Her eyes always sparkle, her teeth—always white, and her features are perfectly symmetrical with high cheekbones that are constantly a natural shade of “rosy.”

I have to thank my sister, though…I never would have made the amount of guy friends that I had in high school if it hadn’t been for her.

* * *

It was another boring high school day. The drab yellow walls added to the monotony of traveling from class to class day after day. Only today was slightly different.

I had an audition coming up where I needed to learn how to play the violin. Mario and I were both in drama class together and he was an accomplished violinist. I planned to ask for his help. If only I wasn’t so painfully shy. I would have preferred to slide down a banister of razor blades and land in a pool of alcohol than randomly approach the hottest guy in school.

We had just moved to High Point, North Carolina, so I was starting over. Again. It was only two years prior that we had moved also. I hardly ever spoke to anyone unless they spoke first, and even then I responded with one-word answers:

“How are you, Colleen?”

“Fine.”

“Are you adjusting?”

“Yes.”

I was also a liar.

So, anyway, you can imagine how hard it was for me, Colleen Katana, to go up to the dreamiest boy in school and invite him over to my house to teach me to play an instrument that, when I played it, sounded more like a dying cat.

Mario towered over my 5′1 frame. He had a lean build with dark hair and even darker eyes. His style was…unusual. He had an emo feel to him before it was cool to be such. And once a month he would come to school in a costume, just for the hell of it. One time, I remember, he was a sailor. Another time, he came in scuba gear. And the strangest part of all of this was that he pulled it off. He made coming to school in costumes look cool. And every girl wanted to date him, including me.

I quietly walked over to him before drama class started, twirling my hair between two chewed fingers. For being so good-looking, he was surprisingly approachable. I fidgeted with my notebook that rested between one clenched arm and he greeted me with a wide, toothy smile.

“What’s happenin’ Col-Leen.” He always broke my name into two very distinct syllables when he said it. A tradition he still does to this day. From anyone else, it would have been annoying. From him, it was charming.

“Uh, hi Mar—uh, Mario.” I had to stop and clear my throat after saying his name. In my shy, breathy voice, I continued. My voice was so soft, it’s a wonder he even heard the words I was speaking. “I was wondering if you would be able to help me with something. Maybe after school on Friday?” I managed to choke out some words about the audition and needing to learn how to play violin; or at least fake it for a day. He was more than happy to help.

Friday took forever to arrive. Each minute of each day for the entire week was like torture. What would he think if he met my brother, the black sheep of the family? Why was he so quick to accept and help me? He can’t really be that nice. No one this good looking is honestly friendly, right? Isn’t that what Dawson’s Creek had taught me?

Friday finally rolled around. Mario and I got into his ‘85 Honda Accord and drove back to my house, listening to Jimmy Eat World all the way. Walking into my two-story suburban house with Mario at my heels, I yelled, my voice bellowing through the hallway. “Mom, I’m home!” It was probably the loudest thing Mario had ever heard me say.

As soon as I was in my house, I morphed into a different person. I bounced into the kitchen and tossed my backpack onto the hardwood floor. Mario followed, dumbfounded at the change in my persona. As we walked from the foyer into the kitchen, my mother was pulling a cake she had baked out of the oven. Wearing a skirt and blouse with an apron over top, Mario later told me she reminded him of Donna Reed. The introductions were made as my mom and my new friend met for the first time.

We sat down at the kitchen island and my mom served us each an enormous slice of chocolate cake. Eyes wide he looked from my mother, to me, then back to my mother. “Wow, um, thank you Mrs. Katana.”

“You’re very welcome, Mario. You can call me either Mrs. K or Mama K. Most of Colleen’s friends do.

I had no idea where my mom came up with this lie, because none of my friends ever called her Mama K. I suppose it was her own fantasy. She sent me a wink and just like that the lightbulb illuminated my stupid brain. She was attempting to make me sound more popular in front a guy who she knew was one of the most popular kids at school! And guess what–it worked.

“Cool, Mama K.” My mom smiled and nodded and bounced away, back towards the oven. The cheerleader in her was escaping again, as it had a tendency to do when she was around younger people. I expecter her to break out in a “rah, rah” routine any second now.

As I was about to say something, my brother—who was living in our basement saving money at the time—came upstairs. It was 4pm and he had just woken up. Long, scraggly brown hair hung matted past his shoulders and he was wearing mesh shorts and an oversized Cinderella t-shirt—the 80s band, not the Disney movie.

For a reason that I still do not understand, Mario’s eyes became wide and a huge smile was plastered over his face as he stared at Bo. By the look on his face, you would have thought Salma Hayek had just emerged from the shower in nothing but a steamed towel. “Nice shirt, man. Gotta love 80’s monster rock, right?”

“Yep,” my brother, Bo, adjusted his crotch just prior to shaking Mario’s hand, ” S’cuse me. I gotta piss.” Yes, that is my brother. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my mom’s head fall into her hands.

Mario looked at me laughing. Not a condescending laugh, or a judgmental laugh, but a laugh that led me to believe he was just overall amused and intrigued by Bo. He pointed at him with his thumb, like a hitchhiker. “That guy is awesome!”

We walked down the stairs to my basement for privacy, in an attempt to begin practicing the violin. When we reached the bottom, Mario jolted to a stop. “Whoa. Are…those….real?” Instinctually, I glanced down at my breasts. In movies when you heard lines like this, isn’t that what men were always referring to? But Mario was looking not at me, but straight ahead, his eyes were even wider in disbelief than when he met Bo.

“Oh, yeah,” I shrugged, finally realizing what he was referring to. “There’s one over there, too.” My dad collected old arcade games. As in, the huge machines that you would go to a game room, stick a quarter in and spend your afternoons trying to win crappy plastic prizes that were held in a glass case, as if they held some value. At that time we had Double Dragon, Spy Hunter, and a Star Wars pinball machine.

Mario’s head shook in disbelief. “Your house is awesome.”

The afternoon passed quickly and before I had a chance to realize how late it was, my mom called down and invited Mario to stay for dinner. He, of course, accepted. Who wouldn’t want a meal cooked by a contemporary Donna Reed?

We came upstairs for dinner, and there she was, sitting at our waxed, mahogany dining room table. A vision of loveliness, home for the weekend from college: My sister. She had perfectly tanned skin, softer and silkier than any rose petal and was wearing subtly beautiful makeup with mauve lipstick that accentuated her already pouty lips. His jaw dropped to the floor, saliva trickling out onto our stone tiles. My dad, standing beside Mario, looked from the ogling boy to his older daughter and back again to the boy. With a playful smack upside Mario’s head, he went and sat at the head of the table. “Roll your tongue back in your mouth boy, and let’s eat.” Mario did as told.

As the night ended, I walked Mario to the front door. He looked at me, his expression unreadable. My eyes narrowed, curiosity oozing from my tear ducts. He opened his mouth to say something, but stopped himself.

I figured I would have to be the first to say something, which is a rare, rare thing. “Well, thanks for coming over. Even if I didn’t get any better at playing violin, it was still a good time.”

“Yeah. Yeah, it was.” He turned and opened the door. Pausing, he turned to face me again.

Eyebrows arched, I kept my eyes on his and turned my head to the left. “Yes?”

“Everything I thought about you was wrong.” A short, sharp breath escaped from his nose, “I thought I had you figured out Col-Leen. Your family—your life—is awesome.”

I nodded. “Yes, it is.” I had to suppress the urge to throw my arms around his neck and hug him in that moment.

His hand fell from where it was resting on the doorknob and slapped the outside of his thigh. “And your sister…wow, she is hot!” I had to suppress the urge to clench my fist and hit him in that moment.

I could not understand everyone’s fascination with her. Sure, she is beautiful. But how could it be that people always confused us for twins, yet she was considered hot one? I was confused. I was frustrated. Throwing my hand at the door, I stopped him as he was about to walk out. “Hey…what is it that makes Bridget so hot?”

He sucked on his teeth, taking a moment to think. “Well, a lot of things. Her lips, for one.”

I looked down at the floor. Not really the answer I was hoping for.

“So…would you like to hang out with a few friends and me tomorrow?”

My head snapped up from the floor. I answered quickly…too quickly perhaps. “Yes!”

“I’ll even pick you up, if it’s easier.”

Since I couldn’t drive yet, that was much easier. He stepped closer to me and wrapped his long arms around my body, pulling me in close to his chest. This wasn’t the courtesy hug that a lot of “friends” give you. This was an embrace. The type of hug where you held the other person, listening to their heartbeat while feeling your own pound against your chest. Before pulling away, he whispered to me, “Don’t worry, Col-Leen; you’re hot too.”

As he walked out the door, he spoke over his left shoulder, “Feel free to invite your sister tomorrow night.” He winked, got into his car, and drove off.

The next night, I “borrowed” my sister’s mauve lipstick. My lips never looked so pouty. I never returned it to her, either.

Linking

So, I finally understand the amazingness that is LINKING! Which means, the Ode to Merry will be revised so that her link shows up there, because believe me when I say, her blog, Mom and More Rocks!!!!!!
(See that?….See how it’s linked within the text??)

I <3 Knitting

I <3 Knitting
This past year or so I have discovered just how much I love to knit. Actually, I’m not so sure it’s the act of knitting I enjoy, but the feeling when I have finished a project. The sense of completion and pride I feel when wearing something I did all by myself.
I’ve learned a few techniques and I have since advanced from just making scarves. (although they are my favorite thing to create because they’re so easy!) Here is a picture of my colleague, Holly, wearing a scarf I helped her finish.

Ode To Merry of Mom and More

Merry was winner number two of my blog xmas style challenge, so here is her poem.
Read it/sing it to the tune of “Hey Mickey”

An Ode to Merry
Mom and More

(Chorus)
Oh Merry, your blog’s so fine, your blog’s so fine, it blows my mind
Hey Merry (clap-clap clap-clap!)
Hey Merry (clap-clap clap-clap!)

Oh Merry, your blog’s so fine, your blog’s so fine, it blows my mind
Hey Merry (clap-clap clap-clap!)
Hey Merry (clap-clap clap-clap!)

(Verse 1)
Hey Merry—
You seem to write all night and that’s a little long
Every time I check you’ve posted yet another song
Why can’t I do that too, oh you put me to such shame, Merry!

Cause when you say you will, you always follow through
Your writing gives me chills, Merry, yes indeed it do
In comparison to you, my writing feels so lame, Merry!

(Refrain)
Oh Merry, Mom and More, I check your blog each day
Your writing grabs my eye and I can never click away
Oh Merry, stories of your life, your thoughts, your kids…
It’s blogs like yours, Merry…
Oh what you write, Merry,
Write, Merry
Never disappoints, Merry!

(Verse 2)
Hey Merry—
Now when you take me to your world, I always seem to know
That every time you write you show a little more soul
Your query on BookEnds proves how well your words flow, Merry!

So c’mon and keep posting, anyway you can
Anything you want to write, I’ll take it like a man
Just don’t disappear and leave me all alone, Merry!

(Refrain)
Oh Merry, Mom and More, I check your blog each day
Your writing grabs my eye and I can never click away
Oh Merry, stories of your life, your thoughts, your kids…
It’s blogs like yours, Merry…
Oh what you write, Merry,
Write, Merry
Never disappoints, Merry!

A Sad, Sad Day in Katanaland

My mother called me on Saturday, a choked sound brushing over her vocal chords. The second she said “Hello,” I could tell something was wrong. Is it dad? Bridget? Bo?…

“Bo is fine,” she said.

Anytime something is wrong and the bearor of bad news says, ’so and so is fine,” you always know they’re the person who’s not. You immediately know that the person who is “fine” is the one who is suffering the most. My mind started racing. Was it a car crash? Cancer? Did he get arrested…he is, afterall, the Katana with the shortest fuse.

“Weejes passed away.” Weejes is our dog. Well, was our dog, I suppose. He was a birthday present from my sister, Bridget to my brother, Bo when I was 15ish. He was a white boxer/bulldog mix, the runt of the litter, and retarded. Literally. The veterinarian said that he was the equivalent to a child who had Downs.

My family always had a tendency to adopt the stupidest or the ugliest dog. They tug at our heartstrings a little more than the adorable puppies peeking with large, wet eyes out from behind the kennel bars. We know the cute puppies will be adopted within an hour. But that ugly, mangey albino puppy with patches of fur missing, an eye that focused constantly on the wall beside you, and a case of worms so severe that his little belly was swollen to the floor, would never get adopted. Unless of course, a Katana laid eyes upon him. Luckily for Weejes, my sister did just that. My sister was his savior.

“You sure you want this one?” The kennel worker asked her. “He may not live to see the morning.”

“More than sure,” Bridget nodded.

“It’s your money, lady. We don’t give refunds, though.”

Bo had been wanting a dog to keep his other Boxer, Mojo, company. He was living with us and my parents cringed at the thought of having yet another dog running around on their newly tiled kitchen and pristine hard-wood floors. But they saw the joy Mojo brought not only to Bo, but to all of us. And so, though reluctant, they agreed.

The first few weeks we had him, he could fit into the palms of my hands. I would cradle him in my arms at night and sneak him to my bedroom to fall asleep with him, only to wake up terrified at the thought that I may have accidentally crush his tiny body in my sleep. While I was supposed to be doing my algebra homework, he would curl up on my chest and fall asleep to the beating of my heart. Bo named him Weejes after my sister, since she was the one who brought him into our lives. (The name Weejes is derived from Bridgets nickname which started as Beejes, but then transformed into Weejes. My brother is an interesting character. Who knows where he comes up with this shit)

Weejes was a good dog. A loyal dog. As I said, he was mentally retarded, so we would have to teach him the basic commands, like sit, only to discover that 5 minutes later, he had no recollection of ever learning the command. We called him our “Little Man” because he was the miniature version of Mojo, his bigger brother. And when he was happy, his body would curve into a U shape and his butt would wiggle while walking sideways towards you. It was “The Little Man Dance,” and it was reserved for very special occasions, such as when you had been gone all day and returned home with a treat you had picked up from the store.

For some reason, he was terrified of stairs. It took years, literally, for us to teach him that the stairs going from the porch down to the yard were in fact NOT going to turn into a giant puppy-eating monster and swallow him whole. We had to carry him up and down whenever he needed to go out, which was fine, until his 5 lb puppy frame turned into 10 lbs. Then 20. Then 50. Then 60.

He was around 5 years old when he died. He had a brain tumor that we never even knew about and on Saturday, he had a seizure. It was sudden, which makes it all the harder to accept that Weejes is gone. To anyone who understands this feeling, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you have felt the pain that I currently feel. And to those who don’t understand, perhaps it’s better that way. But then again, that also means that you’ve never experienced a 60lb dog knocking you down at the knees just so he can better lick your face. You’ve never had an animal constantly anticipating your arrival and whimper and cry each time you left. And while I know that this lump will take a while to disappear, and that the ache will eventually fade, I know the pain is good. In some ways, my dog deserves a few tears shed over his death for the many years of happiness and the numerous laughs he provided.

Weejes—Christmas this year will not be the same without you trying to steal the candy canes off of the tree. It will not be the same without you nosing through the wrapped cordial cherries Dad gives us every year. And it will not be the same when the whole family settles down to watch a movie with you not there to cuddle with us by the fire.

You were a good dog, Little Man. And you will be missed.