You’re Awfully Pretty, South Carolina

Last night I flew into Greenville, South Carolina. I am here for Allume, and the extroverted side of my personality is already in overdrive. This morning I got to have breakfast with a friend who lives in Oregon, and then later we met another friend for coffee, and then I was walking back to my room and ran into Annie, who is only two doors down from me. I am already on happy relational overload, which means that I will continue to talk my head off for the next several hours before my inner introvert insists on returning to my hotel room and watching two or nine episodes of The Good Wife while sitting in utter silence.

I will continue this pattern for the next three days.

I realized sometime yesterday afternoon that I’ve never been to South Carolina. I mean, maybe we drove through it at some point when I was a little girl, but I know that I’ve never stayed here, never visited any of the sights, never taken in any of the scenery as an adult. I’m not sure why, exactly, because good grief it’s pretty here. I got to walk through just a tiny part of downtown Greenville this morning, and have mercy at the charming. It’s so pretty that it almost feels like a movie set – like you’re walking down a street that someone designed to be Main Street, USA – but it is delightfully real. I’m hoping to see a little bit more of it this weekend.

Other than that, there’s not a whole lot going on with us. I tried to lay low Tuesday and take my medicine and pack my suitcase and run through my talk (I’m speaking Saturday afternoon and surely would appreciate your prayers), and then yesterday was CUCKOO INSANE-O-RAMA. I’ve decided that it’s impossible to get out of town late in the afternoon without needing to run sixteen errands and subsequently peel out of at least nine parking lots. But I finally finished packing and made it to the airport and now I am here. As I may have mentioned earlier.

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So now it is after 10 and I am back in the room and it was such a good day. Lots of sweet people and good friends and fun conversation. I loved getting to hear the worship and teaching tonight, and I’m happy that my people seem to be having a delightful time at home. David sent me a picture of the spaghetti he cooked for him and Alex (Hazel does not get to eat Italian food), and I am mighty grateful for the way he doesn’t miss a step when I’m out of town. He even put pepperoni on their garlic toast, and I have never thought to do that even once in my life. So I guess what I’m saying is that my culinary skills may be a bit of a let-down when I finally get back home.

Anyway. I’m gonna get some sleep and wake up early tomorrow because Shauna Niequist is speaking and I am really looking forward to listening. It looks like tomorrow will be a full, busy day, but it is so fun to be in a place with so many other writer-y/blogger-y people.

The fact that I’m also making some progress on The Good Wife is just gravy, really.

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

(Sorry that this is so boring.)

(I just felt compelled to check in since I haven’t been around since Monday.)

(And since I’ve never really felt obligated to make a point before, WHY START NOW?)

It Has Been A Monday

For some reason I woke up this morning with the misguided notion that today was going to be kind of a breezy day. I knew I had a meeting at 9, but other than that I felt like I was going to have all sorts of flexibility and maybe even some time to think about / edit my talk for Allume.

So now that it’s 9:15 at night and I have the benefit of some hindsight, let me just say that Monday, October 20th was a lot of things, but “breezy” was most definitely not one of them. I won’t bore you with the details, but there have been a lot of feelings. There has also been a quick trip to the doctor’s office (apparently I have a sinus infection) that was followed by an afternoon of heartfelt talks, a lost puppy (not ours), prescriptions for an antibiotic and a steroid (I LOATHE AN ANTIBIOTIC), and a story that I thought would encourage someone that actually made them cry.

Let me tell you. I’ve never felt better about my communication skills.

So. I am about to fix me a class of Crystal Light over crushed ice, crawl under the covers, and watch TV for upwards of fourteen minutes before I fall fast asleep.

But first, I feel like we all need to watch this. Because awesome.

The only thing that would’ve made it better is if those batons were on fire.

And guess what?

Tomorrow’s not Monday, y’all.

Hallelujah.

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 39

Well, I can pretty much sum up this episode in two words: SEC football.

Well, I can probably add three more words: Melanie’s football angst.

Oh, we talk about a few other things – dresses, booties (THE SHOES), corduroys, our new books – but mostly we talk about SEC football. And the SEC coaches’ wives show on SEC Network. And the most miniscule details contained within the coaches’ wives show because apparently I have been a little obsessed.

Also, Melanie’s t-shirt kept making microphone noise because it was rubbing aganist the chair where she was sitting, and I may have mentioned it once or four times. But mostly this one is a lot of football, a lot of laughing, and a little bit of comforting Melanie because OH, AGGIES. Her hopes were so high.

You can click here to listen. Or here. You can even listen right here.

Or, as always, you can subscribe on iTunes if you’re feeling particularly fancy.

Enjoy, y’all!

38 Things I’ll Always Remember

1. Sister and I left the house about 6:45 Saturday morning, but we pulled over at a gas station right at 8 so we could see the opening for ESPN College Game Day from Starkville. We grinned like crazy and watched for about 90 seconds before we got back on the road.

2. We figured out how to stream Game Day from Sister’s phone to my car stereo and listened the rest of the way to Starkville. Sometimes technology is handy.

3. Sister looked at the sky approximately 14 times and said, “Nahhhh – I don’t think it’s gonna rain today.”

4. About six hours later I recalled Sister’s weather forecast and marveled at the sweet, sweet irony.

5. Everything was already so crowded when we got to State around 9:30 that we just barely got a parking space in our favorite parking lot.

6. However, once we were safe and sound in a parking space, we took several minutes to touch up and also spray our hair.

7. Say it with me one more time: sweet, sweet irony.

8. About 5 minutes into our trek to the stadium / bookstore / Junction, I realized that I’d made a grave miscalculation with my choice of shoes.

9. By the time we pushed our way through the humidity and walked in the bookstore, I was in dire need of two things: a different pair of shoes and about 3 bottles of ice-cold water.

10. I couldn’t do a thing about the shoes, but I drank my first bottle of water in record time.

11. Then I drank the 2nd bottle of water because HOT.

12. Then we walked over to The Junction to secure our spot for Dawg Walk.

13. Now this is only an estimation, of course, but it is my firm belief that there were roughly FOUR TRILLION PEOPLE in the general vicinity of The Junction.

14. However, there was also a Cheez-It tent near the place where we always stand for Dawg Walk, and I immediately decided it was a sign of good things to come.

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15. The sun was like a laser Saturday morning, and after about 10 minutes of trying to shield our faces from imminent skin damage, Sister remembered that she had an umbrella with her. We spent the next 90 minutes crouching under that umbrella and dodging the sun as best we could. Honestly, that umbrella may have been the only thing standing between us and a severe case of sun poisoning.

16. Dawg Walk, as it turned out, was a little crowded. via

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17. It was also loud.

18. But it was glorious.

19. After Dawg Walk we went back to Daph’s tailgate, where I promptly apologized for being low energy and sat down in a chair and stared off into space and maybe also ate some ribs.

20. Approximately 15 minutes after I sat down, I had a talk with myself. I said, “SISTER,” (I don’t normally call myself “sister,” but apparently I was trying to empower myself), “this is a BIG DAY. The biggest in MSU football history, in fact. So stand up and PEP UP, and FIND SOME ENERGY, MISSY.” (I don’t normally call myself “missy.”)

21. Then we walked over to the stadium.

22. I may have prayed for a breeze.

23. I don’t know if I mentioned this after the A&M game, but the new addition to Davis-Wade Stadium is FANTASTIC. It’s beautiful, it’s the new home of the student section, and it’s pretty much non-stop noise from warm-ups until well after the game.

24. I tried to seize some pre-game optimism from the students, but I honestly felt a little sick right up until kick-off (NERVES, MIND YOU). Needless to say, I was relieved and surprised when we scored 21 points in the 1st quarter. Totally surreal.

25. The rain started in the 2nd quarter, and when the bottom fell out (thankfully I was sitting under an overhang), I got a text from Melanie. Clearly I was in a place of deep dependence on the Lord when I answered her.

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26. Sister sat with some friends from our hometown during the first half, and when she walked up to our seats at the end of halftime so that she could borrow my rain jacket, she was soaked to the bone. However, our mama would have been tickled to note that Sister’s lipstick was still perfectly applied, and her eye make-up had never looked better.

27. Sister sat next to me during the 2nd half. Every time she rang her cowbell, a little rain flew out. It made me happy.

28. About mid-way through the 4th quarter, I started to entertain the notion that we just might win. In the way that is unique to Mississippi State fans, I thought of every possible worst-case scenario – a dramatic comeback by Auburn, a series of turnovers by us, a plague of locusts descending upon the stadium – but from a purely mathematical perspective, I felt the slightest bit hopeful.

29. And then we intercepted on our goal line.

My bottom lip got all quiver-y.

30. Because when you’ve cheered for a team your whole life – when you’ve watched them struggle way more than you’ve watched them succeed – you can get used to holding the short end of the stick. That’s not to say that we haven’t had some good years at State (heaven knows the last few have been all sorts of fun), but we’ve never had a team like this one. Not in my lifetime.

31. And as the clock was winding down, I tried to wrap my brain around what was happening on that field. Our beloved Bulldogs were more than likely going to be the #1 team in the nation. To people as practical as State fans, that sort of thing can feel like pie-in-the-sky (we tend to err on the side of cautiously optimistic). But it was for real.

32. Because that team on the field? They are for real.

33. Right before the alma mater and the fight song, I picked up my purse and my cowbell, and as I turned around, Sister said, “I’m gonna need to stay here for just a few more minutes. I just want to take it all in. I want to soak it all up. Is that okay?”

34. It most certainly was.

38-23 from boomama on Vimeo.

35. About an hour later, we finally made it back to the car. We were exhausted from the sun and the crowds and the nerves and, in Sister’s case, the downpour. But we were just beside ourselves. Tickled to pieces.

36. On the way home Sister and I talked about how Mississippi State has always been a working class school. We’re farmers. Teachers. Veterinarians. Engineers. Architects. We like to grow things, and we like to build things. We’re not flashy, we’re not pretentious, and heaven knows there’s nothing fancy about us. We like to get our hands dirty, we like to work hard, and we like to look out for each other. We value loyalty more than just about anything.

37. This year’s football team – well, they personify everything I just mentioned. Granted, they’re also talented – but more than anything else, they work hard, and they fight for each other. They seem to value “we” more than “I,” and they are such a blast to watch. So no matter what happens from here on out, they have made us all so proud.

38. And they really are #1. Our Mississippi State Bulldogs. The #1 football team in the country. Now doesn’t that just beat all?

Hail State, y’all.

Well, I’m As Nervous As I’ve Ever Been

When I was a little girl – not much older than Alex is now – I had a Mississippi State scrapbook. I faithfully cut out any article that was in either my hometown paper or the Jackson paper, and I’d carefully place it in the scrapbook, along with my ticket stubs and pictures from the game day programs. I’ve always loved words, and I’ve always loved college football, and that little scrapbook – which I believe I bought at Eckerd’s – was the first time I’d kept a record of either. I can still picture the way I wrote the score of each game next to my ticket stub – in a blue Biro pen, no less.

This week has made me think a lot about that old scrapbook. The internet has been CHOCK FULL of coverage about the Bulldogs and Auburn and their upcoming game, and it’s been a little bit like drinking from a fire hydrant. Today alone I’ve seen three or four articles about Dak Prescott, three about our coaches, a couple about recruiting, and from my perspective it’s almost been a little surreal. At State we’re pretty used to folks looking past us, so being on the cover of Sports Illustrated is, you know, SORT OF DIFFERENT.

Anyway. I think our game against Auburn will be a good one. And I can’t even imagine how nauseated I’ll be by kickoff because I’m pretty much on adrenaline overload right now. PUT ME IN, COACH LANCE.

(I may have to send a prize to the first person who gets that reference without the aid of the Google.)

Also.

The Bulldogs have gotten so much of my mental space this week that I haven’t even told y’all about something exciting and also terrifying that happened last Friday: I got home from work and found a box of Advance Reader Copies of my new book on the front porch.

First thought: WHOA NELLIE.

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Second thought: This is way bigger than the first book. (It’ll be a couple of months before I see the final typeset version, but there are more chapters in this one than there were in the last one, and apparently that makes a difference.)

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(I had trouble capturing the size differential in a picture. But I promise that the 2nd book is bigger. And also, please enjoy Hazel’s manic movements in the background.)

Third thought: WHOA NELLIE.

Fourth thought: I WOULD LIKE TO HIDE NOW.

Alex actually read the new book this week, and he told me today that he gives it two thumbs up. I was thrilled for about six seconds, and then I remembered that I am in fact the person who buys his groceries and cooks his meals. So I feel that the literal home cookin’ most definitely affected his analysis and evaluation.

Last topic.

I had a speaking thing today for the Samford Legacy League, and before the luncheon someone brought me a gift bag and said she’d been given instructions to deliver it. I put the bag with my purse, and because I had a bunch of stuff to carry to my car when I left, I didn’t open the bag until I got home.

Here’s what I found.

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Well. Well. Well.

It’s a brand new cowbell – and can y’all see that it says “BooMama” over there on the side? Only the “M” is actually the Mississippi State logo?

YOU CAN IMAGINE MY JOY.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my unexpected cowbell gift is a sign that the Bulldogs will win this Saturday.

But I will say that receiving a customized cowbell two days before the biggest game in my school’s history – well, it sure did put a smile on my face. Maybe even a little sparkle in my eyes. So thanks, mysterious gift giver! My nerves and I surely do appreciate it.

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Hail State and Go Dawgs!

#3 In The AP Poll, #1 In The Football-Shaped Part Of My Heart

We had the best Friday night and Saturday in Starkville.

And I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around this development all afternoon.

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ISN’T THAT JUST SOMETHING ELSE?

We play Auburn this week, and the fact that we’re #3 and they’re #2 delights me a little bit. Back in 2008 the final score of the State / Auburn game, which just might have been the worst game in SEC history, was 3-2. So I think it’s clear that the Lord really does give beauty for ashes, even in college football.

The Bulldogs are in a tough stretch of their schedule, but on some level it tickles me to have back-to-back games with A&M and Auburn. Both are land grant schools like State, and we all seem to speak the same down-home, land-loving language. In fact, before Saturday’s game I had a lengthy conversation in The Junction with some Aggies from Houston, and we had the best time talking about the turf on our respective football fields and the importance of high-quality sod. I couldn’t wait to tell Melanie all about it.

And speaking of Melanie.

I feel like I need to let some of you know that even though State and A&M had a big game, Melanie and I are just fine. Couldn’t be better. We talked last Thursday and agreed that we probably wouldn’t talk on game day – just in case emotions were running high (we both tend to err on the side of CUCKOO CRAZY where our teams are concerned). But then Saturday morning we texted just a little bit, and somewhere around the end of the 3rd quarter, Mel texted to tell me that the Bulldogs are the real deal. I didn’t answer her right away, though. Too much football left. And State fans know all too well that a win isn’t a win until the clock stops ticking.

Anyway, I thought about Mel and her best friend, Gulley, about a hundred times during the game, and as proud as I am of the Bulldogs (and what about Dak Prescott, y’all?), I have all the respect in the world for the Aggies. Schools that love maroon shirts, good sod, AND Jackie Sherrill have to stick together, right?

The weekend was also extra special because I got to celebrate my birthday with Sister and four of my very best friends from college – Daphne, Elise, Emma Kate, and Marion. We laughed until our stomachs just flat-out cramped, and by the time we got back to Daphne’s mama’s house late Friday night, I had a laughter headache – my cheeks hurt all the way up to my temples and across my forehead. It was so stinkin’ fun, and the older I get, the more I realize what a gift the Lord gave all of us when we were 18 and too busy teasing our bangs to even know to ask Him for forever friends. I didn’t have any way of knowing that those friendships would mean the absolute world to me through every bit of my adult life.

But oh my word. Have they ever. Do they ever.

Elise and Marion already had plans for Saturday morning, but Sister, Daph, EK and I woke up super early so that we could get to SEC Nation and Dawg Walk before everything got super-crowded. I decided to save some spots at Dawg Walk while they went to see Tim Tebow the SEC Nation set-up, and I so enjoyed being able to stand and watch and listen while most everybody else was screaming and ringing cowbells and finishing tailgate set-up. It was the most perfect fall morning on what I consider the most perfect college campus, and while football is what has Starkville and State all abuzz at the moment, I thought over and over again that the people there really are the very best part.

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Sister & EK – just two of the people that make State so special

So. It’s exciting times for the ‘Dogs. And it was an exciting weekend. And it’s going to be an exciting week. But before I can soak in all the many levels of excitement, I need to sleep. Soundly. For as many hours as Hazel will allow.

Hope your weekend was a great one!

Hail State and Go ‘Dogs.