Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Anniversary

I love an anniversary, and today I just so happen to be celebrating one. It's my six month anniversary at SB. Although my official start date was Sept. 29, my boss and publisher Mike Whitehead wanted to treat me to something special today. We lunched at the Cambridge Club, and I even had dessert. 

I've learned a lot in the past six months, both work related and not. First, it didn't take me long to learn that when you take a risk and shake things up in your life, things get better. I will be honest, I absolutely loved my last job as entertainment editor for The Times. I made wonderful friends there, many of whom I stay in close contact with, so when I got in my car on my last day at The Times, I cried my eyes out. I don't like change and I was freaking out, saying to myself, "Stephanie, you idiot! What have you just done!"

But the risk rendered many rewards. I have a great job, as one person said, "How old are you? You're kind of young to be an editor, right?" I'm 27, and I'm helping guide and run a magazine. Day to day, when you're moving one task at a time, that doesn't feel like a big deal but it really is a privilege.

Second, if you know anything about the newspaper industry, things aren't going well. People often say, "You got out at the right time." Maybe that's how some people see it. I'm just happy to have never taken a furlough.

Another thing I think about quite often is the personal benefits this job has brought to my life. I've always been one of those people who worked to live, not lived to work. I work hard, but I enjoy having a life outside of the office. Before, my job and personal life were intermixed. I would go to concerts, but had to write a review at the end of the night. I could go to a friend's birthday party, but I'd need to write a column about it. It's nice to be able to reserve special times for my inner circle. I get off work around 5 p.m. most days. I go to concerts just to have fun. I enjoy time with friends and don't have to milk a column out of it. 

This job has brought a lot of good to my life. There's a sense of balance. I have time to exercise, cook, watch TV and do a multitude of things I love. There's more of me to share at the end of the day and more people to share it with. 

Just as with any job, sometimes there is stress and hardship. But even considering that, as I've gone through the day and thought over the past six months, I'm proud of the twists and turns life has taken. I feel like I'm a better person, and part of that is the decision I made six months ago. That's something to celebrate. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Surviving the Seasonal Allergies

I'm sorry for the lapse in blogging. I was out sick at the end of last week. I don't know what I've had — sore throat, sniffles, congestion, sick stomach, headaches, etc. It all added up to a pretty miserable couple of days. 

My headache arrived Tuesday and still hasn't left. The sick tummy has settled down a bit, but I'm not 100 percent either. I don't feel great, but I'm working. If I waited until I felt better then who knows when I would get any work done. 

I think my boss said it best as we were driving to Monday lunch. "Maybe I should start thinking about what I'm going to say at your funeral." I told him, after the last few days it didn't sound like bad idea.

Anyway, I'm back to work. My seasonal allergy is kicking my tail, and I hate pollen. How's that for a Monday? 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A love/hate relationship with spring

My friend LJ and I run/walk together a couple of times a week. She's got a little more experience — she trained and ran a marathon — and that goes a long way in keeping me motivated. 

So instead of running our usual route through South Highland, she said there were some really cool trails we should try out along the riverfront. A change of scenery sounded great, so after work we drove to the Stoner Boat Launch for a little jog through the woods. 

That afternoon was perfect. We spent an hour winding through the trails and taking in the nature around us. Unfortunately, that included three snakes, one of which LJ stepped right over without realizing. About the time my heeby-jeebies were full blown, we reached the end of the trail and re-entered civilization. The snakes would end up being less of a threat than the pollen in the air. 

I woke up the next morning kicking myself. My throat was sore and my head was pounding and the yellow dust had claimed another victim in me. I'm the queen of seasonal allergies, I should have known better than to go romping through the woods. Since then I've been taking Singulair, Nasonex, Airborne, Zicam, Delsym and Advil. That started Monday and now it's Thursday and I've yet to fully recover. 

This is my favorite time of year. I love the azaleas. I love the first feeling of warm air against my skin. I love the re-emergence of all things green. But all of these things are difficult to love when my head feels like it's about to crack open. I'm seriously considering investing in surgical masks — it worked for SARS, maybe it'll work for me.

They say beauty is pain, but I wish every time the seasons changed it didn't hurt so badly. 

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Ordered the Chicken

Saturday night, Ty and I went to a crawfish boil. The party was at a friend's camp, better known as Cowpatty. I'd been there a few times before,  but the location was new to Ty. "Oh yeah, I could definitely live here," he said as we pulled up. It's a gorgeous spot on a private pond with plenty of land and a big, cozy camp house. 

Even though it was a crawfish boil, neither of us ate. I'm sure Ty didn't want to mess with them because he would be playing the guitar once it got dark — crawfish fingers don't really go with guitar playing. I didn't eat any because I was too busy chit-chatting with some girls I never see. Before I knew it, the batches coming out of the boiling water were firey hot with spice and too hot to my liking. 

So, needless to say at around 11:45 when we left Cowpatty, we were exhausted and starving. We didn't know which fast food places would be open, but it didn't really matter as long as it was hot and quick. Whataburger is always a sure bet, so we headed in that direction, ordered and high-tailed it to the house. 

We got home and sat down to eat. I ordered a chicken sandwich and Ty ordered the chicken strips, but neither were found in our bags. Instead of a chicken sandwich, I had a plain burger and instead of Ty's chicken strips he had a plain burger with bacon. Talk about aggravated. You almost want to kick yourself for not checking the bag. 

Sure, I've had my order messed up before. I've been shorted a chicken nugget, denied a requested packet of sauce and been forced to eat the onions I'd previously said no to. But, I've never had every bit of my order wrong — down to the drinks. 

"Is that Dr. Pepper?" I asked Ty. 

He took a sip. "Ugh ... I don't know what that is." 

"I think it's a suicide."

Our order had clearly been switched completely with another car's order. You honestly could not consciously mess up an order to this extreme. We ate, longingly thinking of our chicken that someone else was eating while probably thinking of their hamburgers. 

I think this irks me more than I realize. Here it is a day and a half later, and I'm sharing the incident with you. But doesn't it just tick you off too? You're expecting one thing and (dang it) you get another. In retrospect, I should have just eaten the crawfish. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Don't Knock It Until You Try It

I saw a girl last night with vampire fangs, and I thought, "This is what's wrong with books like 'Twilight.'"

I don't always accept what popular culture tells me I should like. For instance, I would rather clean my bathtub than watch "American Idol" or "Dancing With the Stars." I've watched both shows, but when the contestants cheesily beg for my vote, it makes me cringe. Does anyone really watch and say, "Oh, look at how those two dance partners horse around and tickle and giggle with each other. They must be best friends. I'm voting for them." No, in reality, the fakeness makes me like them less. 

The same goes for books like "Twilight." I find it obnoxious that the books written to get kids reading are the only books that can get adults to read, too. We're adults, and the only thing we expand our minds with is the same thing our pre-teen kids are reading. 

But, I'm also learning to be a true critic you have to give something a chance. It's a lesson I'm reluctantly learning. Since I've taken a rather passionate stand against some things, it takes a few swallows of my pride to admit I actually like some of the things I've stood so strongly against. 

For instance, Kidd Kraddick in the Morning. My boyfriend and some of my girlfriends love this morning radio show so much that at times it's all they can talk about. My response to this has been, "I'd rather listen to static than that show. Every time I tune in they're all screaming at each other. It stresses me out. Why can't they talk one at a time?" 

But then I listened. And I actually liked it. The segments are hilarious, and one day this week, my eyes even welled up with tears of laughter. There are still some parts I find annoying, like when Kidd plays a new release and constantly interrupts it with his thoughts and other tidbits. But, all in all, I like the show. 

I'm about to give the same chance to "Twilight." My friend LJ and I were hanging out the other night when she brought up how much she loved the books. I told her the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" books were the only teen books I deemed acceptable for adult reading (I love a good girlfriend story). But she was so passionate about the books, she actually left my house to go get them and bring them back to me. 

Right now, the first two books are sitting on my dresser. Besides being short on time, I haven't been able to suck up my pride and flip to page one. But as I've learned before, you can't really knock something until you try it. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Losing a family pet

I always considered Netherton family animals to be lucky dogs. My grandparents' shih tzu eats better than I do. Not saying I think it's model behavior, but if they eat a steak so does Cookie. 

My parents love dogs, too. Growing up, our house was filled with at least one animal my entire childhood. There are pictures of Chris and I running around in diapers and playing with our two lab puppies, Buddy and Skeeter. I've never been scared of dogs because I've been surrounded by them since I was a child. 

My parents have four dogs — Bella, Eva, Sophie and Chester (pictured above). They're a loving, well-behaved group, just don't leave Sophie in the kitchen alone. She's tall enough to eat the food right off the kitchen counter. 

The love of an animal cannot be described. It's unconditional, which is oftentimes so comforting. I have a miniature schnauzer who sleeps each night in the nook behind my knees. As much as it drives me crazy during the night, I can't imagine sleeping without him there. 

Saying that, I'll admit that I've been fortunate to enjoy a lot of doggie love and never experience much loss. And today, when my stepmom called to say Chester had passed away in his sleep, it felt like we'd lost a member of our family. 

For several years, the yellow hairs around his eyes had been turning white, but even with all the signs, it was easy to overlook the fact that he was getting older. He was always spirited, even last night when my parents were playing with him, he had all the energy of a puppy. 

I don't know what you are supposed to think about on days like today. The only thing that makes the news easier to swallow is the thought of how happily he spent his 12 years as a member of our family. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Second Time Around the Block

After last night's New Kids on the Block concert, one thing is certain. We have all grown up. We're now old enough to flash the guys, toss our undies on the stage and fall down drunk out of our floor seats. 

I witnessed all of these things at the concert last night. It was shocking to say the least. One minute you're scanning the room and the next minute you're blinded by a woman's bare breasts on the row behind you. I was tempted to check my ticket to make sure I was at the right show. I remember the New Kids with sugary sweet affection. The kind of puppy love where you lay in bed and fall asleep looking at the poster on your ceiling and wondering what Joey's hair smells like. That's innocent enough, right? 

Well, 15 years of pent up puppy love looks more like an unchained pit bull. Donnie even had to tell one woman to "pull her shirt down." I've seen bigger crowds at a Mudbugs game, but size doesn't matter. This group was small, but eager. A perfect example, the girl in front of us was dancing in her chair and decided to do a trust fall into my arms. Seriously, her heel must have gotten stuck because she fell like timber. 

I never expected a Tuesday night concert with New Kids on the Block to be so wild. I enjoyed every minute of watching the guys sing and dance — even the part where Jordan ripped open his shirt and danced with a fan blowing on him (I laughed a lot at this). 

It brought back so many great memories, and considering the circumstances, I bet my dad would have enjoyed this concert with me more than the one we attended in 1990 at Independence Stadium. He would be so proud. I didn't pass out this time — or flash the band. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy to Call Shreveport Home

I had an interview this morning with Shreveport movie maker Jeffrey Goodman. After our interview, while I was packing up my things, we began to talk about growing up in Shreveport and how great it is to still call Shreveport home. Although I'm a C.E. Byrd Yellow Jacket and Jeffrey is a Captain Shreve Gator, we let the longstanding rivalry rest to revel in what we love about our hometown. 

Post-college Jeffrey lived in Los Angeles and because of his work schedule, he didn't visit his hometown for about five years. I suppose in some instances absence really does make the heart grow fonder. When Jeffrey did come home, he stayed. 

I shared with Jeffrey about how many of the friends I grew up with seem to get a major chip on their shoulder once they moved away. Shreveport was the last place they wanted to live, and instead they've sought the big city life. However, I'm perfectly happy here. I'm surrounded by friends and family, which is much more appealing than living in a city filled with strangers. 

Sure, I may see someone I know every time I go to the grocery store. I chalk it up to simply being part of our city's charm. 

If you need some convincing, I have another story to share. Even people nationally consider this to be a special community, filled with wonderful people. Out of more than 2,300 entries in a national competition by True North, Shreveport's Mack McCarter was chosen as one of five finalists for his work with Community Renewal. The winner of the contest was featured in a commercial during the Academy Awards, but McCarter's story can be read at www.truenorthsnacks.com

Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm no Natalie Gulbis

I went to the golf course Saturday morning with very low expectations. When you haven't played in more than a year, you can't expect to come out even par. So, I put no pressure on myself and no pressure on the game. I was there just to have fun. 

That was a good idea. Between the howling wind and my uncorrectable slice off the tee, it wasn't going to be the prettiest round I've ever played. There were some nice shots throughout the day, but more than anything, I enjoyed the beautiful warm weather and time with friends. 

Our foursome included, my usual golf partner, LJ, and our boyfriends Ty and Marcus. Even LJ, the most competitive girl I know, said she was only there to have fun. She couldn't expect much of the game since she traded in her golf time for marathon training. 

In addition to the already long list of differences between men and women, our round of golf proved one more. No matter how long it had been since the guys had played, they were there to compete. With each bad shot, the frustration seemed instinctual. 

The score I posted would be an embarrassment to my family. I come from a long line of tournament winners, and in my case, it's too bad those skills aren't inherited. There may not be any golf trophies in my future, but I'll continue to casually play the game. For no other reason than simply loving it. The way I see it, who cares if you're good as long as you're having fun. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Little Hooker

A while back, I ran into some of my girlfriends at Cantina Laredo. I was there for a Street Team party, and by chance, the girls were there having a few drinks. I stood around talking for a minute before I noticed a small fleur-de-lis near the edge of the table. 

"Well that's cute, what is it for?," I asked. 

"It's a Little Hooker. You haven't seen it before?"

I hadn't seen it or heard of it, but it didn't take long for me to want one of my own. The Little Hooker hangs over the edge of the tabletop and holds your purse. It's small, but strong. Heck, if it can hold my gigantic purse (pictured to the right), I bet it can hold anything.  

I hate putting my purse on the ground — it's germy and nasty and your purse gets all dirty — but sometimes you're left with no choice. If the chair can't hold it and the bar doesn't have hooks, dirty floor it is. 

So, after much searching, I found my Hooker this week. I gladly paid $3.75 (what a steal!) and my purse will never sit on the ground again. How fantastic is that? 

I think every woman needs a Little Hooker of  her own. If you don't like that, there's always the fanny pack.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Carded for Cough Syrup

Monday afternoon, my sister-in-law, Ashley, called not feeling well. 

"I'm going to the drug store to spend about $50 on medicine before I finally cave and go to the doctor later this week, so what should I get?" 

As the sickly one in our family, I'm very familiar with over-the-counter cold/allergy/sinus meds. Ashley and I briefly discussed her symptoms, and I offered some suggestions, including Delsym cough syrup. The last time I was sick, my granddad told me about the stuff and said it would work wonders, which it did. It comes in grape or orange flavors and tastes yummy, but that's not even the best part. When I would wake up in the middle of the night, coughing my head off, I'd take two tablespoons of Delsym and my cough would quiet. 

So, of course Delsym was on my list of suggestions. A few hours later, while driving home from work, Ashley called again. 

"You won't believe what happened at the store. I got carded for buying the cough syrup you recommended," she said. "I'm 30 years old, and I got carded for cough syrup. It's not like I'm going home to huff it. What is this stuff?"

Despite the fact that Ashley's basket was filled with an artillery of cold medication, she was carded for the Delsym. I'm not sure how old you have to be to buy cough syrup. 18? 21? Who knows? But I've never heard of someone being carded for such a thing. 

We enjoyed laughing about it. And, what can I say? I told her it was good stuff. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Most Dramatic Rose Ceremony ... Ever

After 13 seasons — and probably 13 breakups — why are people still watching "The Bachelor"? The show doesn't have the greatest track record. Only two of the 13 couples are still together — one after a short breakup and the other with a domestic abuse record. Apparently, this isn't the way to really meet your soulmate. But people still watch with their hearts, pick and choose favorites and somehow are surprised when the breakup is announced three months later on the cover of US Weekly.  

From what I hear, last night the bachelor didn't even wait until the show's end to ditch the girl he'd chosen in the final ceremony — all because he couldn't get the other girl off his mind. In the real world, we call this cheating. That's miserable enough on its own. Why would anyone enjoy watching a so-called "good guy" do this to other women? 

But, I'd like to put you "Bachelor" fans to the test with a game of Name that Bachelor. We're going to skip the bachlorettes. Since everyone seems to be such a big fan, I want to know if you guys can actually remember all their names — no cheating (for the first time in "Bachelor" history) and here goes!

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

Season 6

Season 7

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

Season 12
Season 13
If you think this is easy breezy, name the woman awarded final roses.