FINALLY – our bricks!

Last weekend was a blast.  One of my closest friends from college, Jody, came to visit for the weekend.  The only problem about when Jody & I get together is that we suddenly think we’re still in our early twenties and forget we have full time jobs during the week.  So we stay up talking until the wee hours of the morning.  I don’t know about Jody, but I’ve spent all week trying to recover from last weekend’s sleep deprivation.  Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday.  I need it.

I took off work a few hours early last Friday so I could spend every possible minute with Jody.  She lives in south Louisiana and works all the way down in New Orleans, so I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like.  She got to my house about five minutes after I did and we quickly delivered Sayid to my parents’ house and headed to Ruston.  We picked up our friend, Brooke, when she got off work and then we all went to Tech’s campus to find our bricks.

Louisiana Tech has a tradition of placing bricks on campus with the names of graduates.  I graduated in 2004.  Brooke, overachiever that she is, graduated in 2003 at the ripe old age of 20.  Jody graduated in 2006.  Finally, after only being up to around year 1997 or 1998, they added all the alumni bricks through 2010 within the last few months.  We found Jody’s brick first.  She has some prime real estate!  She is front & center and proud of it!  I told Jody to get by her brick so I could take her photo.  Brooke then suggested that she lie down next to it.  So, of course, we were just laughing at the whole idea of it.  Jody was adjusting her outfit and preparing to lay by her brick as soon as a small crowd passed.  By the time she was on the ground, I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to take the picture.  Jody kept saying, “Take the picture!  Lep, take the picture!  Hurry!  Take it!  Take the stinking picture!”  FINALLY, I got a couple of shots.  This one is my favorite.

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Her actual name – Jody Marie Blankenship – is partially cut off.  But it’s tough to contend with the glare of the sun on your phone, the laughter, and the demanding friend who won’t quit fussing at you.  Trust me!

Then we found my brick.  I’m not a huge fan of my location, because I’m really close to the edge and dirt could very easily cover my brick entirely.  I guess I’ll have to visit it often with a little brush & some cleaning supplies!  I’ve gotta keep my brick looking nice!  I didn’t give Tech 2 2/3 senior years to get a crappy piece of real estate!  should have been front & center, dang it!

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Then we moseyed on over to Brooke’s brick.  Poor Brooke.  First of all, she has always said she is “nursing home ready” because her first name is Audra.  Also, when she graduated from Tech with her bachelor’s degree, her last name was Bennett.  She married Jon and then came back for her teaching certification making Ownby the most recent last name for her in Tech’s system, so she ended up being AudraBrooke (yes, all together) Bennett Ownby on her brick.  Apparently they plan on prying Brooke’s brick out & replacing it once they make a replacement brick.  She told Jody & me that she is willing to accept her brick as-is if Tech will agree to fund the college education of one of her children in full.  I think that sounds fair!  Here’s AudraBrooke and someone with bright orange shoes trying to steal her thunder.

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I also have to throw this photo in of my brick, because I just love it.  Beautiful!

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After our field trip to find our bricks, we spent some time at another college friend, Jennifer’s, house.  Then we went to the restaurant formerly known as Monjuni’s – Jody’s pick – for supper and met up with two other friends, Johnathan & Anna.

Jody, Jennifer, and I ran by the ABS, where most of us became friends in college, because we saw they were having an event.  We wanted to visit Mrs. Karan and Brother Danny, but first Jody and I wanted to pretend to be freshmen.  Mrs. Karan ruined that plan when she saw us walking by the building and screamed through the window, “JODY & LINDSAY!  JODY & LINDSAY!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”  We went in and visited for a while.  Then we picked up our friend, Joe, and went to Johnathan & Anna’s house to hang out.  We visited until after midnight.  It was so much fun.  It was like old times, except several of my friends have spouses, children, and nice houses now.  It was the most fun Friday evening I’ve had in a long time.

This Friday evening will be spent differently.  Like I said – still recovering from pretending I was still in college last weekend.  I’m guessing I’ll be in bed by 9:30 tonight.  I’ve gotta get back into responsible adult mode with a normal sleep/wake cycle ASAP.  But man, it was fun catching up with old friends and pretending to be a college student while it lasted.

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A Prayer for Joy

After hearing Dave Ramsey mention this book for years, I finally bought myself a used copy on half.com.  The book is 48 Days to the Work You Love.  It’s no secret that I want to figure out the best way to spend 40 hours (or more) of my week.  I’m desperately seeking a positive change.  I am thoroughly enjoying this book and wish I had bought it years ago.  It wasn’t long after I started reading it that I tossed a couple of highlighters in my purse to mark the passages that stand out to me.  One of my highlighters seems to be starting to dry out.  This book is outstanding.  I’ve read some books – good books – on the subject, but none as good as this.  The beginning of Chapter 5 starts this way.  It’s exactly how I feel, but worded way more eloquently than I could have ever come up with.

“A Prayer for Joy”

Help me, O God,
To listen to what it is that makes my heart glad
And to follow where it leads.
May joy, not guilt,
Your voice, not the voices of others,
Your will, not my willfulness,
Be the guides that lead me to my vocation.
Help me to unearth the passions of my heart
That lay buried in my youth.
And help me to go over that ground again and again
Until I can hold in my hands,
Hold and treasure,
Your calling on my life.

– Ken Gire, Windows of the Soul

Amen.  Help me, indeed.

Remembering 9/11/01

I was in college the fall of 2001 and didn’t have classes on Tuesdays or Thursdays, so I was sleeping late.  Or I was trying to sleep late.  The phone kept ringing off the hook.  I’d ignore it and before I knew it, it would be ringing again.  I don’t know how long this went on, but I’d guess at least a half hour or more.  Finally I was sick of it, so I answered the phone.

Me – “Hello?”

Daddy – “Hey.  What are you doing?”

Me – “Trying to sleep.”

Daddy – “Turn the TV on.  You’re sleeping through history.”

That was enough to wake me up.  I asked what was happening and he told me that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.  A plane had also hit the Pentagon and another had crashed in Pennsylvania, which they believed had been targeting the White House.  It’s hard to believe now, but at the time, I had no idea what the World Trade Center looked like.  Daddy told me it was the two tall towers side by side in New York City.  I had to turn on the tv and watch the news coverage before I knew which buildings had been hit.

I was riveted by the coverage on TV.  By the time I turned it on, both towers had already collapsed and there was a giant pile of rubble.  It just seemed unreal.  I was glued to the coverage for most of the day.  There was fear of gas prices skyrocketing, so I went to put gas in my car and the lines were probably at least five cars deep.  I was fearful from the events of the day and that night, as a 21 year old, I slept on my parents’ bedroom floor.  I didn’t think a terrorist was going to break into my bedroom window and harm me in the middle of the night, but for some reason, I felt safer sleeping on my parents’ bedroom floor.  I think I ended up sleeping there two nights in a row before sleeping in my own room again.

That week, I attended an assembly in memory of the victims on campus.  I went to the ABS for the first time, where I ended up being very involved the rest of my college years and met some of my closest friends.  I remember the resolve President Bush displayed when he addressed the nation.  I remember the feeling of patriotism that filled our country.  It is strange to think that it has now been twelve years since that day.  That means the kids who are seniors in high school right now were kindergarteners when the 9/11 attacks happened.  I wonder how many of them remember it.  I very vaguely remember the space shuttle Challenger exploding when I was in kindergarten.  

In the time since the terrorist attacks on 9/11, I have been to New York four times and my fifth trip is already booked.  My first visit to New York was in March of 2006.  Jody and I visited Ground Zero on that trip.  It felt surreal to be in that place where thousands lost their lives.  I remember a man was playing an instrument – a flute, maybe – right outside the fence surrounding Ground Zero.  He was playing Amazing Grace.  In January 2007, I went again with my friends, Jennifer & Jordin.  We walked the perimeter of Ground Zero and one thing I remember is a huge American flag that was hanging in a building nearby.  In February 2011, I went back again, and this time visited the Tribute 9/11 Memorial Museum.  My friends/coworkers, Jennifer, Mrs. Paula, Mrs. Mary, and I did a walking audio tour.  It had survivors and family members of victims telling their stories.  We are a loud group and it was the quietest we had been all week, walking around the area, viewing the site, listening to the stories.  It was incredibly moving.  Then we went into the actual museum and saw some artifacts and photographs.  I’m glad we had all kind of gone off to ourselves during the time we visited this museum, because I think it was important for us to privately take it all in.  When I came to this, I could barely keep it together:

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There were three solid walls, floor to ceiling, of photographs of the victims.  It was one thing to see a list of names, but to see their faces made it all the more real.  There were also some drawings, letters, and other miscellaneous items here and there.  I remember seeing a baseball and a small wall or door hanging that said “Love Lives Here”.  It was a beautiful memorial.  I had to walk away and get myself together, but am so grateful I got to see this … that I got to see them.

The last area of the museum had an area where you could sit down and write your thoughts or memories down on a card.  The room had lots of cards posted on the walls where visitors could go around and read them.  Jennifer and I wrote our thoughts down & left cards for them.  

On my fourth trip, in January 2012, my friends and I visited the 9/11 Memorial.  It’s the official site with the reflecting pools where the towers once stood.  It is beautiful.  

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They are currently getting ready to open a bigger museum in the spring of 2014.  I will miss the opening by a few months, since my next trip is still in the winter.  But on trip number six, I want to visit with a large package of Kleenex.  At the new museum, they’ll actually have a touch screen where you can touch a name, see photos, and actually hear loved ones tell stories and memories of that particular person.  I love the effort that’s being made to remember the people whose lives were lost.  

They say in every generation there will come an event that everyone will forever remember where they were when they heard about it.  I pray that we will always remember to pray for the survivors and the families and friends of the victims on this day.  I didn’t know a single person who died on that day, but every September 11th, as I watch replayed footage of the events, I find myself fighting hard to keep from crying.  If I struggle, I know those who lost someone must be having a far harder day than I can even begin to comprehend.  I pray we will always remember – even if we didn’t know them personally – that real lives were lost.  Lives of people who were doing nothing more scandalous or offensive than going to work – something most of us do every day.  They were moms & dads, aunts & uncles, grandparents, sisters & brothers, neighbors & friends.  They were just like the rest of us.  May we never forget.  God bless their families who miss them so much.  And, please God, may it never happen again.