#BestFriendCruise2k16

I’m currently on hold with the Dallas County tax office and feel like I’ll be waiting for a while, so I figured now’s a good a time as any to reminisce our best friend cruise…

This idea started as a semi joke. A lot of us in the group are obsessed with The Office and some of us even have tattoos of The Office memorabilia. Remember the episode when they go on a booze cruise? And the whole thing with Pam and Jim? Course you do. Because it’s one of the best episodes besides the poker night one. ANYWAY. Chaney mused that, wouldn’t it be so cool if we all went on a cruise?! And the next thing we know we’re booking a cruise.

Yes. We made a shirt for the occasion. And also bought a bulk box of captain’s hats off Amazon. We were hence known as “the group wearing captain’s hats” on the ship. It’s our own fault, really.

“FRIENDSHIP IS THE MOST CRUCIAL INGREDIENT TO ANY SEA ADVENTURE SECOND ONLY TO BUOYANCY.” 
-Name That Quote

We boarded and explored that first day wearing our matching shirts. This was my first real vacation with no real “adults.” Just friends. Doing what we wanted. Because we could. It was very liberating.

Our first (and only) excursion was to Cozumel, Mexico. Our route usually also stops in Progreso, Mexico, but something about the ship being broken on one side? I don’t know. I only skimmed the email. Shel and I had been to Cozumel before during our cruise with our family last year and it was just as beautiful as I remember.


Our excursion was one part snorkeling one part beach. We rode on a catamaran out to a reef and snorkeled for half an hour. I saw the most beautiful fish down there. I also met my spirit fish. She was a loner, colored in neon stripes and dots. And I said to myself, “Dat me as a fish!” Bid her good day, and swam on. We got our picture taken by a guy with a really fancy underwater camera with fish food in his pockets to attract the fish and make it look like there were all these fish. There were, but come on. Not that many.

Most important to note is this moment:

It may look like an ordinary selfie to you, but to me it was a right turn. We’d just finished snorkeling and fully exhausted climbing back aboard the catamaran, wet with sea water and covered in salt, holding a margarita, dancing with my friends in the middle of the ocean…I was happy. Like, really happy. Like, deep to my core real happiness. Pure joy. That’s the first time I remember feeling like that for…well, a long time. Years. My life lately has been tangled up and sourced from unhealthy and ugly places. Wrapped up in people who mess me up and manipulate me. But not here. Not on that boat. On that boat I let it all go and stood alone. Independent. Happy. Done. And I’m happy to report nothing has changed! I am still just as happy as I am in this photo. Yay for oceans!

After D-Daying our way to shore, we claimed a cabana way in the back and had a stranger take our photo against the ocean. I’ll treasure the Instax photo he snapped of us, too. One of my favorites. Part of our excursion included these giant inflatable obstacle course things. You literally had to use all of your upper body strength to get on one and then jump on a trampoline covered in broken shells and sand and laugh when someone almost falls off or gets scraped by the sharp shells. We all thought we were going to drown. It was fun.

On our way back, we sipped margaritas and danced line dances with the boat crew. How in the WORLD they all keep their balance while doing the wobble I’ll never know. I almost broke a leg a dozen times.

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We chose to do the fancy dinners every night and wore our captain’s hats. Once, three of us showed up late and the waiters just said, “Your friends are seated in the back.” Like he already knew who we were with. HOW DID HE KNOW.

We did karaoke, we swam, went down the slide, watched our friends throw money in the trash can in the casino, saw a show, did more karaoke, napped. Man. We napped. A lot. But mostly we laid out and got sunburned.

If I haven’t said it enough before, I love these people. Here’s to adult vacations for the rest of our lives.

 

xx

The One Where We Party at Mel’s House

 

Six out of seven of these people went to high school together and four out of seven of these people have known each other since elementary school or before. The fact that we hang out on a semi-regular basis while living all across Texas is a miracle. A miracle first because we all saw each other in middle school and are still friends and a miracle second because we live a minimum of an hour and a half away. And at one point living more than six hours away from each other. Madness. You know why we’re still friends? Because we make the time to be together. We make the time to spend weekends together sustaining our relationships. Real, genuine relationships. And for that I can never be more grateful.

Since moving to Dallas last summer, I’ve only hosted my family and the occasional sister. Until recently, I hadn’t met or known many Dallas natives to even host a party for. That’s a little different now, but I wanted my friends to come and celebrate with me. I wanted to show off what little I know about this city and get a little crazy with them. And we did.

The Austin crew rolled in around 6:30 or so while the Fort Worth and Addison locals showed up on either side of that. We made tacos, ate chips and salsa and guacamole, ate cookies that Christina was convinced had peanut butter in them (they did not), talked life and God and school, what we’re doing now, how much we’ve changed in the last seven or eight years, played with the dogs, and just spent time together smoking cigars on the patio. And yes, seven people can all fit on my patio “comfortably.” That’s good for me to know.

Around 11:30 we decided to hit the town and discover that most places in Lower Greenville close at midnight. What kind of madness is this, LG?! I’m v disappointed. We bar hopped for a second, discovered a very interesting DJ duo in full sequined body suits at Crown & Harp, and took an Uber uptown. There we watched one of our own get two phone numbers from guys that literally walked right up to her out of nowhere, lit candles with matches, flung coasters at each other, and cringed when the last call lights dimmed on.

We capped off the night piled on my living room floor crashing to Bob’s Burgers. Seeing seven people literally sleeping like sardines on my floor made me weirdly happy. To know that my home can make other people comfortable and happy and safe. It made me feel responsible and warm and good and proud and adult.

The next morning we drove to the cafe down my block because we were too tired and it was too hot to walk three blocks. We ordered food to go and ate it on my floor while Pepper tried to snag a bite.

My sister, Shelby, couldn’t make it this weekend so we FaceTimed her and filled her in on what all she missed. It was a lot.

 

I could not be prouder to call this group of diverse weirdos my friends. Even though we’re spread across DFW, Waco, Austin, College Station, Houston… we make the time to be together. That’s friendship. Sacrifice, love, and humility. Thank you guys for letting me be apart of this insane group of people. I LOVE YOU ALL.

 

 

xx

 

This post marks one off my Summer Bucket List! Check out the rest of my list here.

Oh, Suzanna

 

We grew up with cats. We were a cat family. I can’t honestly remember a single time in my life as a kid where we didn’t have at least one cat. Allie, Spot, Pippin, Penny, Shakespeare, Ashes…we had a lot of cats. Cats begat kittens and those kittens went to some of my friends’ homes. So I guess you could say we were a cat community. (Quick! Someone write a script for a horrible sitcom called Cat Community.)

I loved cats growing up, but I always wanted a dog. A friend of mine growing up had a neighbor with the sweetest Golden Retriever you’ve ever seen. Abigail. Her ears were like velvet and I’d beg to go over and play with her every time I visited my friend. My obsession with dogs runs deep. It wasn’t until I got married, though, that I finally had the freedom to get one. And oh! Did I get one. Pepper quickly became my child and my best friend. She’s the greatest dog I’ve ever had.

Volunteering with animals in some way was always in the back of my mind. I just couldn’t bear the thought of seeing one hurting or being put down, so I never acted on it. But somehow, before I even moved to Dallas, I started following Paws in the City on Instagram and falling in love with every dog that was available for adoption. Earlier this year I applied to volunteer with them, got a call back, then forgot to call back. My b. But three weeks ago I got an email about two dogs looking for fosters. One was Suzanna. A cute little golden puppy wearing a blue tutu. I thought, why not?, and applied. I got a call back immediately, had a home check that Friday, and picked Suzanna up the next Tuesday. It was a whirlwind.

I had to hoist her up into my backseat and after adjusting for a second, she curled up in the floor for the short ride home. She didn’t exactly agree with Pepper right away, snapping at her if Pepper gets too friendly with her face, but they’ve come a long way in the six days they’ve been together.

Suz came to me with a double ear infection, skin infection, a highly contagious respiratory infection and had just had a litter of puppies. (I don’t know where they are. 🙁 ) She’s finishing up all of her medicine this week and is doing so much better. She greets me when I let her out of the kennel, tolerates Pepper now, and eats like a grown man. She licks and licks and comes to me for pets. She’s the sweetest puppy someone could ever ask for.

Paws in the City doesn’t think she’ll be in foster care too long because of how adorably young and cute she is, which simultaneously makes me so happy and so sad. But this is why we foster animals, right? To find them the right home! If everyone that fostered an animal adopted it, we’d have no fosters. Because believe me. If this gal isn’t adopted by someone soon, she’s going to be mine. But even if someone adopts her, I’m glad I got to care for her for this little while. And I’m glad she’s the one that lured me into this whole deal. It’s made me happier and more whole and I just feel great about everything.

 

To apply to adopt Suzanna, or any other Paws in the City animals, visit this link. They’ll thank you! And to see more of Suzanna and Pepper, follow me on Snapchat! @melodyrich

 

 

xx

I Won Tickets to a Beer + Donut Pairing

 

Donuts and beer. Who is the genius that thought this one up? Oh, it’s the folks over at Luck in Trinity Groves. (Dallas is so cool. I love it here.) The donut and beer pairing is a monthly event that features DIFFERENT DONUTS EVERY TIME. Where do the donuts come from? Only my favorite donut shop in Dallas, Glazed Donut Works. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve tagged them on social media. I mean, come on. Their main color is pink and their logo is a donut with crossbones. I cnt evn.

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From one of the times I stood in line for 45 minutes at midnight to get a donut.

National Donut Day was June 3 and wouldn’t you know it? I worked from home that day. The night before some friends and I hit up Krispy Kreme just for fun so I already had some donuts, but a free cinnamon sugar (plus three others) from GDW wouldn’t hurt. Deep Ellum is real quiet in the mornings so I knew I could get my donut fix then without fighting the crowds. They have late night hours on the weekends and stay open until 2 AM. I love them.

Obviously, when I picked up a few of their donuts that day I tagged them on Instagram and Twitter. The next morning they sent me a direct message on Twitter telling me I’d won two tickets to their donut and beer pairing. I’m like, WAT. YES. OKAY.

Here’s a tip: don’t eat before you go to this. This is a literal meal. Why I didn’t think of it as a meal I do not know. Also, eat some protein. This is a lot of sugar in the very best way. And hey! Drink the beers with the donuts they’ve paired to it! These are, like, chefs and junk. They know what they’re doing. It’ll be delicious, I swear.

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My friend that came with me thought it’d be cute to make notes on our favorites and rate them best to “worst.” (All of them were v good.)

I actually got to talk to one of the guys that founded this insane concept and the one that gave me the tickets, Jeff! His daughter was adorable and helped me shoo the flies off my donuts. She had been helping plate in the kitchen and I found myself jealous of her. HOW FUN would it be to help your dad PLATE FOOD in a kitchen for people!? High fives all around, Ella! You’ve got a cool thing going!

Thank you SO MUCH again to Luck and Glazed Donut Works! You guys are the real MVPs. Love you.

 

 

xx

My Summer 2016 Bucket List

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A couple weeks ago my sister mentioned she was working on her summer bucket list. And by that I mean she was literally knitting, you guys. KNITTING. But it made my ears perk up because 1., I love lists, and 2., I specifically love bucket lists. Not in the before-I-die kinda way, but in the I-want-to-actually-do-stuff way. And since the summer is nigh and I am tired of starting things and not finishing them, I made a summer bucket list! Behold.

  1. Finish my apartment and have a photo shoot. My friend Cait has been roped in to do this and I can’t wait!
  2. Host my first apartment party! (In the works!)
  3. Cross FIVE things off of my Dallas Bucket List(One!)
  4. Buy a bike and ride it! (If $$$.) The sentiment of never forgetting how to ride a bike is true…right? ##12yearssinceirodeoneithink
  5. Visit my sister, Shelby, in Waco and go to Cable Park! (It’s one of the places on my Go To There list!)
  6. Learn to put on false eyelashes. Surprisingly I do not know how to do this. The glue? The eyes? I…I don’t know.
  7. Buy good tennis shoes and start running again! I had to stop a couple months ago because the shoes I have are over six years old and were murdering my knees. I did enjoy it, though!
  8. Spend as much time by a pool as you can! So far, so good! I’ll probably just end up as one big freckle. And I am okay with that. They are adorable.
  9. Paddle board or kayak on White Rock Lake! I think this is a crossover from my Dallas Bucket List. And if it is, that doubles my motivation to do it! Hopefully I’ll gain some killer balance by then..?

 

What do you think? Have you done/been to any of this things? How was Cable Park? I can’t wait to start doing this stuff!

Summer 2016 is going to rule.

 

xx

#DallasToOrlando

 

I’ve thought a lot about this post. What should I say? How should I say it? Should I say anything at all? Am I just adding to the noise? Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe you need to hear this from someone you know in real life. Maybe you need to hear this from someone who is questioning everything just like you. Maybe you need to hear this from someone who is broken-hearted and hurting, too. Maybe you need to hear this because we come from similar backgrounds. Maybe you just need to hear this.

The 49 people that died Sunday morning were targeted because they are gay.

Forty-nine. I honestly still can’t wrap my mind around that. I was 11 in 2001, and though I remember where I was on 9/11, I couldn’t feel what was really happening. I feel it this time. Big time.

I read the news at brunch on Sunday. I was sitting at a table with ten other people, some of which I didn’t know. I thought it was a joke. Am I that desensitized to mass shootings that I don’t immediately feel something now? I turned to my friend Cait and told her. I don’t think either of us knew what to say or do. “Forty-nine?” she asked. “Forty-nine,” I said. I ate my brunch in the sweltering humidity, went home, took a cold shower, and literally collapsed on my couch. I was scrolling mindlessly through Facebook, as you do, and saw an event a friend of mine shared. Someone organized a vigil and a march in Oak Lawn, commonly known here as the gayborhood and the site of nearly 20 attacks on LGBTQ people in the last seven months.

Something in me told me I should go. It was storming hard outside but everyone on the event page said it’d lighten up by 8 when the vigil started. I didn’t ask anyone to go with me and I struggled all afternoon with my reasons for going. How would this look? No one can go with me, though. Can’t I mourn at home? What will people think of me? Selfish thoughts. Ones I’m ashamed to admit. I couldn’t shake the big reason: That this was not okay. And sitting idly by because of a selfish reason is stupid, Melody. Stupid.

My decision to be bolder and more outspoken this year has manifested itself in unique ways. This time, it made me march with my Dallas community in remembrance, sadness and anger. I left my house in the rain and decided quickly that I should buy flowers. I’ve learned to never show up empty handed anywhere. I stopped by my Trader Joe’s and walked in the rain through the front door passing a couple of other people with only flowers, no doubt heading to the same vigil, and stood in front of the shelves. I suddenly realized I was standing in a store, in front of bouquets of flowers, trying to decide which ones to buy to lay on a monument in honor of 49 lives ripped from this earth. My stomach turned. Did it matter if I bought the $3.99, $4.99 or $5.99? Should I spring for the orchid plant? What the hell do I do here? What the hell am I doing here?

I grabbed a bouquet that was colorful. I couldn’t tell you what flowers were in it now. I checked out, fake smiled at the sweet lady who asked me if I needed another bag for my flowers, and walked back out in the rain and headed to the vigil.

As I turned the corner onto Cedar Springs I saw blue and red flashing lights, hundreds of people and rainbow flags. I’m uncomfortable alone and I get anxiety pretty easily in situations like that if I don’t have someone there with me, but I walked up to the edge of the crowd. I wondered if anyone could sense my anxiety. The speeches were just beginning. In the middle of the first speech I noticed my half of the crowd was turned away from the front, towards the sky. Cheers erupted and at first I thought someone got engaged. I looked up and lost my breath.

 

Hope.

 

Standing among the hundreds, and eventually 1,000+, of people in the rain, a beautiful rainbow overhead, honoring forty-nine lives…that will get you in the heart. Quick. At one point, one of the speakers asked all of us to hug someone we were standing next to. I hugged a very thin, tall older man tight. I needed someone to hug in that moment. And I needed someone to hug me. I needed to be reminded for a second that everything was going to be okay. That even though I didn’t fully understand what happened or why I was there or what would happen, everything would be okay. Just for a second.

People lit candles when the speeches ended and we turned around to line up in the street behind a row of cops on bicycles. The news had a helicopter hovering the entire time showing it live for everyone at home. Dozens of photographers. Dozens of cops on bikes, motorcycles, on foot, in cars. Most of our city council was there. The police chief marched with us. I somehow snagged a spot at the front of the herd behind one of the flags. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I should let someone else that was hurting more than me in my spot. Let me in the back. Because I’m straight this shouldn’t affect me as much as it does you. I don’t deserve to be here. What’s that? Guilt? Why?

I walked silently in my Converse holding my flowers and umbrella. The cops blocked off the streets. People came out of their homes to watch us walk. At one point, a couple came out on their third story patio, embracing, with candles lifted up and I nearly lost it. As we got to the more commercial part of Cedar Springs road where all the bars and restaurants are, every business shut off their music and people lined the sidewalks and cheered or stood silently. Two men bought a couple cases of water and were running bottles to those of us on the fringe of the crowd. I cried then. The sheer humanity. People helping people helping people? Maybe everything will be okay.

I didn’t know how long we’d be marching. I got blisters on my heels. 1.8 miles later we arrived at the Legacy of Love monument. I tried to silently prepare myself for the new sites I was about to see. I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t visit gravesites, I don’t attend vigils, I don’t do marches. I don’t particularly like emotions nor am I good at comforting. I eventually made my way through the crowd of people already at the monument paying respects and the act of what I was doing overwhelmed me. I found a blank spot to lay down my $3.99 Trader Joe’s flowers, broke down, and found a spot to stand alone in the crowd.

Forty-nine people.

Exponentially more are hurting. It could’ve been any one of us. We sang quietly, paid our respects and dispersed after an hour or so. I stood in line for the bus back to the center and quietly sat next to the guy who took a seat next to me. My anxiety of not acknowledging him was covered up in my thoughts and confusion. I got in my car and cried the whole way home.

Because the 49 were gay does that mean we stay silent and not admit to the world that this was horrific? Because they were gay does that mean we don’t grieve with those families? I don’t care what you believe about the “right” and “wrong” of being gay. THIS was wrong. Forty-nine. The youngest was 18. My youngest sister is 17 and when I have a nightmare about her dying I wake up weeping. Someone is living that right now.

The church should not be silent about this. Plain and simple. If we stay silent we’re telling those families their children’s lives were not worth anything. Jesus loved them just as much as He loves me. And I believe He can love it all away. Jesus did not send that shooter. Jesus did not ordain that massacre. It could’ve been any one of us.

Pray. Pray for change and peace and comfort and healing in your own heart and in this world and thank God for His sovereignty. Have hope that things will be okay. But don’t rest in that. Take action. Make change. Do something. Speak out. Love someone. Because love wins. It always will.

 

 

xxx