Tag Archives: Logan Cole

Letter L #AtoZChallenge

Loving this challenge…Letter L memoir encyclopedia entries for your reading pleasure…

Linner

One my best friends in the whole world is Linner. Her full name is Linner, Linner, Chicken Dinner. Kidding…she hates when I call her that. Her real name is Linnea, but due to an unfortunate typo on her school email, where they typed Linner instead of Linnea, she was stuck with the nickname. I bet she wishes she hadn’t complained to me about that. At first, she used to get sooooo mad when I called her Linner. But I’m not a quitter! I kept calling her that until she finally relented and accepted her fate. The Linner, Linner, Chicken Dinner part came about because it rhymes and it’s hilarious…especially because she’s a vegetarian! hahaha

Anyway, I don’t know what I’d do without Linner in my life. She and I have been through a lot together and have supported one another through some of the toughest things in life. She accepts me for me, and I do the same for her. She can frequently be heard saying, “Oh, Jennifer…” in regards to one of my crazy stories or quirks that present themselves. Examples include when I get into yet another accident, when I make her take 27 selfies on the Bund with random strangers, or when I have to go to a specific restaurant for a specific food, even when it’s out of the way.

Linner and I met when I moved to China. We moved at the same time, and became fast friends. She and I have traveled together a fair bit, having been to KL and KK, Malaysia, Seoul, South Korea, and Bangkok and Ao Nang, Thailand. We’ve also spent an inordinate amount of time together when I lived in Shangers. Now that I’m moving back to Asia for a while, I’m sure more Linner time will happen…it better!

I love Linner and firmly believe she is one the best people on this earth. šŸ™‚

Lip Syncing

I absolutely love lip syncing! Maybe it’s because I hate watching people cringe during karaoke when my singing voice is subpar. Maybe it’s because I can act completely silly and over the top. Maybe it’s that I secretly wanted to be a performer. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough of it! If my favorite song comes on while I’m shopping with a friend, I’ll bust out a full-on performance right then and there, inevitably making them laugh while they look around to see who’s watching. Why other people get embarrassed when I’m the one lip syncing, I’ll never know.

When Jimmy Fallon came out with his lip sync battles, I couldn’t contain my excitement! I’ve watched them all at least once, but I’ve viewed most of them a number of times. My favorites are Joseph Gordon Levitt, John Krasinski, Stephen Merchant, Emma Stone, Ellen DeGeneres, and Melissa McCarthy. Of course, Jimmy kills it every time, too.

My love affair with lip sync seeped into my work at RBIS/HQIS in China. I got in the habit of showing short videos as an introduction to our staff meetings, and while most were educational or inspirational, I would occasionally throw in a funny one. One day I put on Jimmy’s lip sync battle with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Stephen Merchant. It brought down the house! The teachers had tears in their eyes from laughing so hard. From there, an idea was born. I issued a lip sync challenge for the staff Christmas party, where individuals or groups of people could volunteer to perform live or show a video of a pre-recorded lip sync. That staff party was the most fun we had had in a long while! People you wouldn’t imagine having the guts to get up there did. The songs ranged from uber popular pop ballads to obscure songs you’d rarely heard of before.

My song of choice was the then-current viral hit, What the Fox Say? I had to do it. Everyone knew I was obsessed with that song, plus it annoyed everyone, so it was a perfect song choice. Modesty aside, I killed it. Like, for real…it was a pretty epic performance. What made it so awesome was when two of the shyest teachers at the school ran up to the stage right after the song began and became my impromptu back-up dancers. The coolest thing is that neither one knew the other was going to do it (I didn’t either for that matter), and they hadn’t even practiced before, but accounts from the audience saidĀ that they were completely in sync with one another and their movements enhanced the song. Like I said, it was epic. I wish I had a video to show you…scratch that, I don’t know that I could handle watching it.

We continued the lip sync thing for a while at school, with teams of people making funny videos to show at staff meetings and live lip sync performances becoming a staple at staff parties. When we went through a particularly tough time at school with our campus moving to a new location, the leadership team made a hilarious video to lift our staff’s spirits. We enjoyed hamming it up, and the staff loved it as well.

Logan Cole

Logan Cole, my nephew, is a never-ending ball of energy! Where he gets the energy to run and play and wrestle without stopping, I’ll never know. I guess all kids are like that though…hard to keep up with. Logan, or Bubby as he’s called, is stunningly adorable. He makes the cutest faces and is extremely photogenic. He makes me laugh incessantly with his crazy antics (see picture below for an example). How could you not laugh at that?

As much of an energetic goofball he is, he also has a sweet, gentle side. He and his sister, Randi, have such a loving relationship. He adores and looks up to her. They can frequently be caught giving each other hugs and encouraging one another. This isn’t to say they never fight…they’re kids…but it’s a rare occasion when they do.

I hate being so far away from him. I miss out on the little things that happen every day. Seeing him only twice a year means he’s growing up way too quickly. But, I try to make the most of my time I do have with him. When he turned three, I started taking him out on dates, just like I do with his sister. Last time, he chose to go to Chucky Cheese (Tucky Teese as he says…soooo cute!), play with the train set at Barnes & Noble, and eat lunch. I wonder what he’ll want to do this summer. I love you Logan Cole! ā¤

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Love

Love is sharing your last bite of pie, when you really wanted to eat it yourself. Love is truly listening to one another without distractions. Love is laughing atĀ the stories he tells over and over even when they are no longer funny. Love is bringing dinner to a sick friend. Love is telling her she’s beautiful when she doesn’t see it herself. Love is a home-cooked meal. Love is giving that perfect gift that will make their face light up. Love is a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Love is being patient when he’s cranky. Love is butterflies in your stomach, a mix of excitement and nerves. Love is showing up when you say you will. Love is a goodnight text. Love is contentment in the silence. Love is a baby’s snuggles. Love is an ache in your chest. Love is sunshine on your face. Love is the feeling you get when you can’t imagine your life without this person in it. Love is color and light. Love is seeing goodness in someone else. Love is forgiving. Love is free.

Luxuries

I enjoy luxuries in life, as I’m sure most people do. Some of my favorite luxuries to indulge in include massages, mani/pedis, rich, chocolatey desserts, a maid who cleans my house, traveling to the far corners of the earth, English breakfast tea and a book on a lazy Saturday morning, facials, a day all to myself, and a gourmet meal. I’m very fortunate to lead a life where I can enjoy these luxuries and more on a regular basis.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Letter A #AtoZChallenge

As I explain here, my theme for this A to Z Challenge is memoir, with an encyclopedia-esque twist, a la AKR.

Aggies

The Aggies, Texas A&M University’s mascot, my alma mater, hold so much meaning to me. Growing up in Bryan/College Station, I was always an Aggie. You couldn’t help but get swept up in the excitement of the games and the bonfires and the yells. “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” This quote perfectly sums up the Aggie spirit. It’s something you feel from the moment you step onto the campus, particularly on a game day, as you walk through a sea of maroon and white, the energy palpable. “We are the Aggies. The Aggies are we.”

Airports and Airplanes

I spend a lot of time in airports and airplanes. As an expat and frequent traveler, it comes with the territory. I have my favorite airports- HKG, CDG, ORD and my least favorites- PVG, FCO, DMK. I know how late I can push it until I really have to arrive at the airport. I know how to sweet talk the clerks at check-in so they’ll overlook my slightly overweight bags. I love the buzz of airports, the busyness of people bustling around and the excitement and anticipation of new places yet to be seen.Ā I know how to pack a perfect carry-on bag that has everything I could need within my reach.

I’m a window seat person. I have to have the window because I hate having to get up fifteen times when someone has to pee. And I’m a plane sleeper, so the window means I can lean up against it with my pillow, put in my earbuds, pull on my eye mask, and get cozy under my blanket for a long uninterrupted snooze. Not getting the window makes me sooooo grumpy. It’s almost ruined flights before. The only thing better than the window is an empty row of seats on a non-full flight. Ahhhh…stretching out and sleeping is gold!

I hate airplane food. Unless I’m in business or first class, which almost never happens. I always bring snacks and meals for long-haul flights.

Apartments

I’ve lived in 8 apartments over the course of my adult life. My first apartment, a dark, small one-bedroom chosen because it offered no deposit and first month’s rent free, which worked well with my no money situation, was a bit seedy. I lived next-door to a stripper who moonlighted as a prostitute, which I realized one night when I was awoken at 3AM by a naked man banging on my neighbor’s bedroom window, screaming at her to “Let me in! Give me back my clothes!” That apartment was also broken into, the last straw which prompted me to move.

My next apartment cost considerably more, but was in a much better part of town and in a gated complex. I loved the natural light that streamed into the living room from the floor to ceiling windows. I made it my home, and lived there two years, after which time I bought my first, and only, home.

I moved into my third apartment after moving to Shanghai in 2010. That first apartment was not my favorite. It was too small for one, and part of the bathroom was in the kitchen. Nothing says Come over and hang out at my place than your guests seeing all your bathroom stuff out in the open. That was also the apartment where I locked myself out twice- once when the stove was on (yikes!) and another time after I hadn’t yet learned about the strange Chinese lock system.

My second year in Shangers, I moved into a swanky apartment in the French Concession, a bachelorette pad clad in modern furnishings and on the 18th floor of a high rise. I loved that apartment, despite the fact that it was way over my housing allowance. But I didn’t care. It suited me well, and I lived there for two years, until the landlords sold it and I had to move.

Still in Shanghai, I moved yet again, but this time back to my roots, choosing to live on Hong Mei Lu, near the Laowi Jie. This apartment was by far the biggest, a 2-bedroom, with a huge kitchen and living room. I loved the wallpaper (I can’t believe I’m actually saying that), the bay window in my room where I could sit and read, and the huge bathroom with the luxurious tub, where I’d spend many nights reading and soaking the day away. Shady landlord shit made me move out of that place.

My last year in Shanghai, I found a place in Xujiahui, near Lines 1 and 11 and Grand Gateway mall, where my go-to restaurants, Pizza Express and Din Tai Fung, lived. Another 2-bedroom, this one was Ā smaller, but definitely gave off a cozy, home-y vibe. I made it my own, and I loved it. I still miss that apartment.

When I moved to Albania, I rented a sprawling, 3-bedroom apartment in the city centre. It was great for hosting parties, and I have so many memories of fun times with friends wrapped up in that place. It was also my first and only apartment abroad to have a dryer, a luxury those in America take for granted.

My current apartment in Bangkok is by far the tiniest place I’ve ever lived, but for some reason, I love it, too. It’s a studio apartment in the Pak Soi, a short 8 minute ride to school. I love its simplicity and cuteness. It’s all I need for this short season in my life.

Aunts

Aunts are special people. They’re like your mom, but the cooler, you-can-talk-to-them-about-anything version. Aunts are cheerleaders, shoulders to cry on, advice givers, secret keepers, and date goers. One of my favorite things about aunts is that they don’t have to be blood-related to earn the title. Honorary aunts are just as significant in our lives. I have a special relationship with my aunts, and I treasure them all in their own way.

Aunt Kathy, my dad’s younger sister, and I are very close. She just gets me. I can be authentically me around her, and she loves me unconditionally. I like that about her. We don’t talk all the time, but I know if I’m in trouble or need anything, I can count on her. Every time I go back home, I make a special trip to Austin to see her. We have a standing date night at The Melting Pot, where we always have the same thing– Yin and Yang chocolate martinis, cheese fondue, salad, and chocolate fondue. Each time, we consider ordering something different, but we never do. Aunt Kathy squeals when she sees me for the first time after I’ve been gone too long, and she gives the best hugs. She’s also a thoughtful gift giver, giving me what I never knew I always wanted.

Aunt Alva, my dad’s brother’s wife, is the sweetest, most gentle person ever. Everything she does is done effortlessly, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how she does it. How is her house always perfect? How is she always so put together? How is she always happy? I don’t know, but I love her for it. I love that Aunt Alva listens to my stories. Like really listens. She is so interested in my life and my stories and makes time to hear them. Not everyone is like that, and I love her all the more for it. I love Aunt Alva’s cooking, especially her pancakes, panny-cakes as she calls them. They are my favorite breakfast– fluffy, buttery, Texas-sized pancakes that take up the entire plate. The best part is she doesn’t wait til they’re all done for us to sit down to eat together. She calls us over, one by one, to get our pancake fresh off the griddle, so we can enjoy it nice and hot. My stomach is growling as I write this, and I know that three months is too long to wait to taste her pancakes.

My other Aunt Kathy, Uncle Mike’s wife, is my honorary aunt. Uncle Mike is my dad’s best friend from high school, a man I’ve known all my life. I’m pretty sure he changed my diapers. Anyway, he married Aunt Kathy when I was in high school, and I got to dance at their wedding. She’s his perfect match, and one of my close friends. As a teacher, too, we have a lot in common, and can gab all day about school stuff. When I chose to do my student teaching in Houston, away from home, she offered up their spare room and I lived with them for a semester. I’ll always remember that time, as it was my first time living away from home. She’ll always remember that time, too, as I never could keep my room cleaned. Aunt Kathy has the best laugh, one that starts deep in her belly, and is contagious to all who hear it.

Nearly five years ago, I joined the club and became an aunt. My niece, Randi Ann, an adorable, spunky, clever, silly, sweet soon-to-be-five-year-old, rocked my world and introduced me to a love I hadn’t yet known. All I wanted to do when I was around her, was cuddle her and make her laugh. As she’s grown up, she has developed a personality all her own, and I love it! When she turned three, I began a new tradition. Every time I go home, she and I spend a day together, doing whatever she wants to do. On our dates, the attention is all on her, and we laugh, tell stories, and wonder. Our usual day includes a trip to Shipley’s donuts, a mani/pedi, catching the latest movie (I took her to her first movie in the theater!), playing at the park, lunch, and a trip to the bookstore to pick out a new favorite book. I love that she looks like me, too. When I show her an old picture of me and my younger brother, her daddy, she thinks it’s her and her brother, Logan.

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Speaking of Logan, he’s the little bundle of energy that made me an aunt twice over, and I simply adore him! He is equal parts rough and tumble, loud, tazmanian devil and sweet, gentle, loving, caring, climb-up-in-your-lap-and-give-you-a-hug boy. The juxtaposition of him is why I love him. We can wrestle on the floor, me tickling him and sending him into fits of laughter (and he has the best laugh!) or we can crawl up in bed and read a book, snuggling up close together. Logan Cole is also hilarious, his crazy antics making it nearly impossible to scold him because, while he shouldn’t have done what he did, damned if it wasn’t the funniest thing ever.

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Australia

From the age of 7, I have been obsessed with Australia. When I say obsessed, I mean obsessed. I’m pretty sure that obsession was born from a school project where my childhood crush researched and presented a report on Australia. From then on, I can recall telling anyone who would listen that “When I grow up, I’m going to be a teacher. And I’m going to live in Australia.” You know what? I have accomplished both those goals. After graduating from A&M with my teaching degree, I packed up and moved to Sydney in early 2004, where I was a nanny for a family of three children. I then solo-traveled along the east coast of Oz, from Cairns back down to Sydney. My return trip in 2011 allowed me to visit my love, Sydney, but a few new places, too. Australia is life, color, vibrancy, deliciousness, culture, accents, nature, city and beach, sun, and joy. I still want to live in Australia someday. Maybe when I’m done gallivanting around the world, I’ll settle into Oz. Maybe.

Ā A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Year in Photos 2016

Sometimes pictures are better than words. They can tell more of a story, inviting the reader to infer their meaning, ask questions about their significance to the writer, and wonder what happened before and after the snapshot was taken. I’ve been telling a story of my year in photos for the past couple of years (click here for my year in photos for 2014 and 2015), and it is an exercise I enjoy, looking back through my year’s photos, deciding which ones to include and which ones are better left out. Without further adieu, here is my 2016 year in photos, in chronological order.

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