Category Archives: Life at the Frat House

New Mercy.

Kellan and I celebrated my job offer by going to buy new running shoes.

I’m cheap about the strangest things, and even though I run every day, I hadn’t splurged on a new pair of running shoes since the day after I moved back from Africa.

Circa, oh, I don’t know, two and a half years ago.

Afterwards, we called his parents to fill them in. Unbeknownst to us, they were out of town and so our call went straight to their voice mail machine, at which point Kellan decided that an appropriate voice mail to leave sounded something like this:

Hey Mom and Dad! Call us back, Ash and I have some BIG NEWS to tell you!

Cue Ashley flying across the living room in a cold sweat, screeching I’M NOT PREGNANT!!!!! into the phone.

If there’s one thing that my in-laws are thankful for, I’m betting it’s their demure, emotionally stable daughter-in-law.

I had been perfectly astonished to receive an offer, partly because I cried in my interview [I know. I KNOW.], and mostly because almost everyone evaluating me had read this blog. That little nugget of information made me desperately wish I hadn’t written about wanting a Tea Cup Pig named Paula Deen.

Or, you know, 98% of the other gems that I’ve slapped up on the internets.

Back to the tears. Would it surprise you at all if I told you that this wasn’t the first time I’ve cried in an interview? When I interviewed for my last job, I had been back in the US for approximately NO TIME AT ALL. I was mind-numbingly jet-lagged, and thought gas station bathrooms were paragons of cleanliness. My prospective boss had the gall to ask me what God had taught me in Africa, and tears started rolling down my face as I thought about all of the precious Muslim women I’d just left an ocean away.

Now, I was interviewing at a Southern Baptist church, and so crying about things like that, while not exactly encouraged in an interview, was also perfectly acceptable. Almost holy, even. However, several hours later my new smart phone and I accidentally butt-dialed my prospective Southern Baptist pastor boss. Which might have been fine, had I been singing Amazing Grace or praying for the nations. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, I hadn’t the foggiest idea what was going on given that I was much too busy passionately belting out “Save a horse, ride a cowboy” as I sped down the interstate.

Awe. Some. Do you want proof that God exists? I got the job.

As I sat in my final interview with HOPE, a question arose that mandated that I talk about what I’ve been up to since my wedding. It’s impossible for me to talk about that without mentioning Ian, and as I briefly talked about my little brother tears, crocodile tears welled up in my eyes and I had to stop. Everyone graciously allowed me to rally, and we carried on. It was hours later on my five hour drive back to Albany, that I began to think about the past six months of quiet that the Lord has given me in New York. These months since Ian died have not been what I would have chosen, but God’s good gift to me was time. Time to read about grief and Kim Kardashian’s hiney. [Depending on the day.] Time to cook my way through my Pinterest board, and go on long runs. Time to run home to North Carolina [over. and over. and over.], and time to ache and process the heart wrenching reality that my curly-haired little brother isn’t coming back. And more than anything, time to learn that there really is new mercy for each new morning.

Today, I am thankful for new mercy.

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Filed under First World Problems, Grief, Hope, Ian, Life at the Frat House, Senegal

Ladies Who [Are Out To] Lunch.

My 25th birthday was hallmarked by the rather terrifying realization that it’s finally happening. In a sort of “I still vaguely recall what to do with this tooth brush” kind of way, I am officially losing my mind.

It became impossible to deny the blatantly obvious when at approximately 8:20 AM on Monday morning, I discovered that I had walked out of my house, driven to work and sat down at my desk wearing two entirely different shoes. Justin Timberlake and I are in the business of bringing sexy back, and we’d appreciate it if you would simply leave us to it.

I felt very “ladies who lunch” sitting in my skirt and mismatched footwear. They added a certain “Je ne sais quoi” to my outfit-and technically, I AM a lady, and I DID eat lunch on Monday. Even if lunch consisted of a rather suspect stalk of celery, four limp grapes and a cube of Munster cheese. It might have been alone under fluorescent lighting, and it might not have been white wine and a strawberry salad, but there is no shame in lunches comprised out of the dregs of my refrigerator! Or in eating Nutella straight out of the jar with a spoon. Or taking purple Flintstone vitamins for adults.

There is no shame in that.

My fading mind is frazzled. Which is unfortunate, because I used to be able to remember an impressive variety of things and have now reached a point where the only thing I can recall with total clarity are the words to approximately every. single. Rascal Flatts song. Which is a handy life skill.

Sadly, I’m not even sure that Sudoku can help me now. …especially because I’m not entirely positive that I correctly understand how to do Sudoku.

Give it to me straight: is everything just downhill after twenty five? At this rate by the time I’m thirty, you’ll find me wandering your local Walmart parking lot and rummaging through their recyclables.

…while eating a strawberry salad.

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Filed under First World Problems, Life at the Frat House, My ghetto-fab life

Bagged Lunch Baggage.

It’s nice to see all of you again. You haven’t changed one bit.

I trust that the past several weeks have worked out beautifully for you and humbly apologize for my propensity to get sidetracked and forget that just because I’m not thinking about my blog does not mean it doesn’t exist. It’s very reminiscent of my sophomore year of high school, during which I temporarily forgot I was taking Algebra II because it was Spring and the sun was shining and I needed to be tan by Spring Break.

Speaking of Spring Break, why is it that adults don’t get one? The florescent lights atop my cubicle at the frat house are slowly frying my retinas and driving me to drink.

Which is unfortunate, given that keeping a bottle of Jack under your desk at a Baptist church is generally frowned upon.

And while we’re talking about food, if I weren’t too cheap to quit I’d be just about ready to give up on the whole “bagged lunches” idea. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook-…just not at six thirty AM. I know, I know. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, ASHLEY. IT’S A BAGGED LUNCH-NOT VIETNAM. But you’ve got to understand that at six thirty AM, you’re more likely to find me rummaging through the neighborhood recyclables than you are to engage me in any form of intelligent conversation, much less find me being creative with healthy foods.

Though actually, I suppose that hinges on what your definition of “healthy” is. My definition includes Nutella.

Every morning in a dazed stupor, I stumble into the kitchen to make my lunch-which given the fact that I routinely forget to go to the grocery store looks something akin to one of those bizarre Quick Fire Challenges on Top Chef. Except this doesn’t so much involve making a canapé in forty seconds using Brie and chilled lobster tail so much as it involves what kind of sandwich I can make using no bread or lunch meat or cheese. If not for a few rather questionable lettuce leaves and single triangle of Laughing Cow cheese I discovered on happenstance at the eleventh hour, all would have been lost last Wednesday morning.

Though caffeinated, pencil-skirted, hungry Ashley didn’t find anything humorous about the aforementioned cheese triangle six hours later at lunchtime that day. “Maniacally Taunting Cow” might have been more appropriate.

A wise woman might wander downstairs right now to pre-pack a healthy, creative lunch before drifting off to sleep. But like Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll think about that tomorrow.

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Filed under First World Problems, Life at the Frat House

John Henson is my Homeboy. Also, I am Cold.

While the harsh reality that I work at a church might suggest that I am, in fact, immune to the typical distractions that vie for the attention of the general masses, it’s far from true. Take this morning, for instance. I sprang forward at dark thirty to get to work, and in my dazed stupor decided to dress for spring. [In my defense, I’d only had two cups of coffee. Maybe three.] My winter-white legs and I ran outside only to be greeted by an iced over windshield and positively arctic weather-something my cute little blue skirt and t-shirt were ill-equipped to handle. Given the fact the very idea of being even five minutes late to anything in life sends me straight into an ugly cry, I de-iced the windshield with a name tag I found in my back seat [I lead a very glamorous life.], hopped in my little blue Bug, and violently shivered all the way to work. I spent the duration of the sermon hallucinating that I was Kate Winslet floating on a piece of the Titanic amidst frozen chunks of ice burg. I desperately wanted to get up and run back to my warm office, but that would have meant stepping outside which would have meant MORE COLD. And so I sat there humming “My Heart Will Go On” through blue lips and chattering teeth while the rest of the congregation learned something about the Holy Spirit.

For the record, it is not in fact spring.

I loathe, despise and abominate springing forward. Nothing good can come from this madness! Anyone who claims otherwise is a liar and a socialist.

Speaking of madness, I’m also not wild about my Heels losing to FSU-but then, we’ve got bigger fish to fry now haven’t we?

John Henson, any time you want to get over that wrist thing is good with me. You know. So I don’t stroke out.

Go Heels, go America!

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Filed under First World Problems, Life at the Frat House, The daily grind

Man vs. Food. [The Death Wish.]

It made no sense to me.

Mind you, this is probably only thanks to the fact that I was absolutely religious about eating my vegetables as a child, and have never had a head injury.

But when Herb* [who works in the cubicle neighboring mine at the Frat House,] and I ran to a nearby deli for lunch, I sat innocently at a table with the tupperware of tarragon chicken salad I’d brought from home whilst he ordered. I expected a sandwich. We were, after all, at a deli. A demure turkey and swiss on rye, or possibly your run-of-the-mill ham and American on white. Something star-spangled and apple pie’d-the kind of sandwich that one might imagine would be preceded by that much beloved phrase “good ol’”.

The monstrosity that accompanied him back to our table, however, was anything but. The thing could have fed a small third world country for a month.

What is it with men their Neanderthal-like compulsion to conquer food? Only a man would eat a ten pound burrito for a free XXXL t-shirt and the dubious honor of having his picture affixed to the oily wall of his local Mexican dive bar.

I stared in horrified awe at what was aptly titled “The Death Wish”. Two pounds of roast beef, half a pound of bacon, cheddar cheese, copious amounts of slippery onions, and enough garlic butter to fill a small kiddie pool that oozed menacingly from the sides. It was bigger than my head, and seemed to take on a sort of life of it’s own the longer I stared at it. As Herb regaled me with stories of his highly illogical but very real fear of leftovers [he doesn’t even own a fridge], I watched in morbid fascination as he tackled Mt. Death Wish with a fervent gusto that left me strangely proud, and not a little nauseated. He chewed with the practiced ease of one who’d eaten a small cow for lunch many times before. Garlic butter dripped down his greasy chin and beads of sweat sprang to his forehead as he determinedly trucked through the alleged “sandwich”-resolved not to take any leftovers home. I sat in flabbergasted silence, not sure whether to stage an intervention or offer a standing ovation.

He slowed down about ¾ of the way through, and carefully wrapped the sopping remains in wax paper. I walked into cubicle land at the frat house fifteen minutes later only to be hit by a wall of garlic butter and shame. I kid you not-my eyes started burning as Herb sat impishly at his desk with the tell-tale, soggy remains of the offending Death Wish oozing beside his computer. Again, Herb doesn’t believe in refrigeration. It was unbearable. Through peals of uninhibited laughter I attempted to convince him that the rules of the Geneva Convention applied to him as well while tears pouring from my burning eyes made rivers of mascara down my face. Doubled over, I couldn’t decide whether to punch him in the kidney, or look up “aneurysm” in my medical dictionary to see if I’d just had one!

Mind you, this was all relatively unconcerning to Herb given that he’d just eaten a Heifer, and was quickly sinking into a food coma that no amount of Mexican narcotics could have revived. He groaned with his head in a pool of garlic butter on his desk, begging me to put him out of his misery. Which I very nearly took him up on.

Alas, wisdom prevailed and I decided instead, to run to the other side of the building, beg for a pack of matches [which in my panicked, red-eyed state were quickly given to me], and light my vanilla cupcake candle in a frenzied attempt to exorcise the stench from my office. Determinedly, I waved that cute little candle all around Herb’s head-combatting the criminal stench the only way I knew how.

It took about an hour, but eventually my eyes stopped burning and my vision slowly returned. For those of you that are concerned, Herb woke up after several hours, and we made a gentleman’s agreement about the garlic butter. Welcome to life at the frat house.

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

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Filed under Life at the Frat House