My personal MJ moments

Michael Jackson was such a huge celebrity that it’s hard to have had him not touch our life in some way. I have had many MJ memories that personally affected me and I thought I would share.

the gloved one and more holographic stickers
– I remember fishing in Post cereal boxes for stickers of the sparkly glove (see the sparkly one in the photo above?). MJ stickers were a coveted item in my household that you had to get your hands on first!

– My cousins Bethany and Miranda had a giant Jackson 5 poster in their room. I remember they loved Michael the best and would kiss it before they went to bed.

– For me, I was born in 1978, so even though Thriller was released in 1982, I don’t have much recollection of it. I feel like the Bad era was something I connected with more.

– I LOVED the ending to the Black and White video. I remember thinking how cool that was that they morphed into different people. It is still pretty cool to watch; however, the technology is well beyond that point now. I totally appreciate that he was a design and visual trendsetter and that he was a storyteller.

– In 9th grade, I had some shoes with a square toe and I called them Michael Jackson shoes. I could stand on the toes and I would do the “hee hee” sound and sing “Jamone”. My friend Destiny always thought that was the funniest thing.

Me as MJ 5 years ago
– I dressed up as Michael and won first place for a costume contest at work 5 or 6 years ago. I wore a jacket my mom had made me in 8th grade and crafted fancy MJ-like shoulder accessories and the silver glove. I also wore a glitter hat with glued doll curls and face mask. I had a little “Blanket” baby that I through up in the air. I will admit, this was me portraying the “stereotyped” MJ. If you are as big or notorious as Michael Jackson, you face such ridicule. I also did the moonwalk and danced to Beat it. At one point I looked in the mirror and I saw Michael staring back at me. It was kinda creepy. Takes the song, “Man in the Mirror” to a new level. After my performance, one of the plant employees always called me “Michael”.

MJ unhung
–Lexington had a huge Michael Jackson “Thriller” reenactment each year that I attended several times. It was one of the more unique events that happened in Lex. I always wanted to participate to be a zombie in the performance, but never did. The photo above is from the reenactment. I purchased this at a local art fair in Lexington, thinking it was cool. For the reenactment, they made a giant paper maché MJ.

– I used to go dancing at a club in Lexington called “The Moon” with my Lexington friends and it was always Groundhog Day in there, meaning you knew they were going to play the same stuff over and over. Every Sat. night, you knew that the Michael Jackson remix of music would play. I always hopped out of my chair if I wasn’t on the dance floor already and boogied away. They played Thriller, Beat It, The Way you make me feel, and Black and White. Michael Jackson music is some of my favorite to dance to.

– Just last week, I posted a picture of me wearing my MJ silver glove earrings on Flickr. I had been wearing those earrings a lot as of late. It always seems weird that we make references to people or talk about them in some way before they pass.

What kind of MJ memories do you have?

Until next time Swellions!


Memory Monday: 3rd grade

3rd grade

This was me in 3rd Grade at Wayland Alexander Elementary in Hartford, KY.

They had a special promotion with school pictures that you got these cute Valentine’s with little stickers to stick in place. I loved these Valentine’s soooo much. I think it kinda shows that I had an interest in illustration and design and that it appealed to me even back then.

In 3rd grade, I was at the pinnacle of my popularity. I know this seems silly, but you know how it goes as a kid. You really, really want to fit in and feel like people and the other kids like you. I remember getting invited to several birthday parties and sleepovers this year. I also remember having a little bond with all the little girls in my class. After this grade, things changed in a weird way…I started noticing that I wasn’t one of the cool kids anymore. I guess I was about 10 here and I’m figuring this is the age when kids start really noticing things like clothes, personalities, what is considered “cool”, etc. I figure that they start trying to act “cool” instead of being themselves. I guess my personality just didn’t jive with them after this age. I don’t know.

Some funny things I remember about 3rd grade?

– My teacher really liked me at this age. I remember I always had to stay longer after school, because my bus was the last school bus to arrive. I crawled around the floor picking up little scraps of paper and trash. I was her little helper. She was a strict/older teacher and a lot of the kids in my class ended up going to another school cause their parents didn’t want them in her class. I’m sure there was a lot more drama to it than that, but I was too little to really understand.

– Because my teacher liked me, she really wanted me to be in the ADK competition (an academic competition in my county for kids from the different schools) to represent my 3rd grade class. I remember that she wanted me to win for penmanship, so I had to write in cursive over and over a paragraph on that lined blue and red dashed penmanship paper (you know the kind). I kept having to do it over and over cause I kept making mistakes and creating big eraser marks. She showed it to the other teachers and they determined that I could go for penmanship. I had to go to the high school to participate in the ADK competition, and I ended up placing 2nd in my grade behind Josh Jones in the county. Do kids even practice cursive penmanship anymore?

– My parents purchased neon papers for their business and I thought it was the coolest thing! They let me have a few sheets and I would create name bookmarks (bubble letter style)for the other kids with it and sell them for 10¢ a piece. I remember that I really felt confident about doing them, but then I misspelled the name Nathan wrong on a book mark (I spelled it Nathen) and for some reason it mortified me and I stopped making them. I don’t know why I just didn’t redo it. I guess I was a bit socially weird at that age.

– The little girls in my class would go in the bathroom and socialize. Well, we would go in there and talk, primp, etc. and I remember I always sat on the edge of the ceramic sink basin. One day, another girl sat up on it and it totally fell off the wall and broke into a ton of little pieces. We were so freaked out and ran back into the class not saying a thing. I don’t remember anyone really questioning about it or getting in trouble for it. I’m really surprised we didn’t get recess taken away or something!

– Some girls in my class named Korey and Jessica had a joint b-day party at Korey’s house and I remember stressing over what I was going to get them (I used my own allowance for the gift). Anyway, I remember finally picked out 2 packages of pop beads like this at Bob’s IGA. That night, I remember staying up really late (for me that was midnight) watching Goonies. I seriously don’t know if I’ve seen that movie since.

– We would play “Heads up, Seven up” in class and I really took it seriously. I would put my head down, thumb up, and close my eyes so hard that I would see stars. It was almost a semi-blackout. I don’t remember ever picking the right person and getting to be the one that got to put down peoples thumbs (if you don’t know this game, here is the descriptor). I later realized that the only reason that kids got to go up and be the thumbs down people is because they cheated…didn’t close their eyes all the way and would notice the shoes of the kid that picked them. I guess I was all about the rules back then.

– I got several packs of Garbage Pail Kids and my mom didn’t think they were very appropriate, so she made me give them away. I gave them away to a red-headed boy named Erik (he actually had a crush on me). He had the biggest collection in class!

– I remember my parent’s went away for a business trip and that their assistant babysat my sisters and I. I thought this was sooooo cool. She stayed with us and let us stay up, watch movies at home (I saw the “questionable scene” in Purple Rain), and take us to movies in Owensboro at the Plaza Twin. I remember that we saw “Like Father, Like Son” with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains was huge at this time). I was so excited about this and bragged about it the next day to this girl named Kansas. I was always trying to impress her…I don’t really know why.

– My best friend was named Ashley and we both really loved Full House. I remember having long drawn-out conversations about the characters. We both had glasses and were pretty nerdy. I spent the night at her house a couple of times. I remember one time eating so many Milky Ways that I threw up on the bathroom rug. My mom had to come get me. I wasn’t used to eating that much junk food, so I got a major tummy ache. I also remember playing with Ashley and her neighborhood kids, which Kansas was the leader of. They wanted to walk across this huge field and go to Wal-mart. The field would have taken us over a mile to walk and was a lot further than Kansas said it would be. I remember feeling really uncomfortable and my stomach hurting because I was the only one saying that I didn’t want to go. Everyone in the end decided that we wouldn’t make the journey, but that was prob. my first major peer pressure experience.

– I really liked this boy named Blake and I thought he looked like a young “MacGyver”(which was also an addiction for me at the time). I remember that I was mortified at the thought of telling a boy I liked them, but my friend ended up asking him if he would “go with me”. He said he would if I didn’t tell anyone. I remember thinking that that was really lame and it hurt my feelings.

– I did end up getting asked to go with a boy named Jimmy in library during a movie (we watched a lot of movies like Apple Dumplin’ Gang, Bears at Yellowstone, etc.). I remember being really nervous about this and said I would. Later that night, my family went to a Just Say No Rally at the high school, where I saw him there and was totally mortified. I remember that at this Just Say No Rally, that this high schooler played The “Sesame Street Theme Song” on drums, which everyone thought was so awesome. In hindsight, I’m sure it was just ok. Anyway, we broke up the next day. It wouldn’t have worked anyway, we were both in different classes. Ha ha.

Here’s some other cute little Valentine’s I still have from my classmates.

3rd grade classmates

Hope you had fun reading all about my 3rd grade memories! What do you remember about 3rd grade? Please share!

Until next time Swellions!


Some of my random holiday memories

Tree through the spiral staircase

Everyone has them. Those indelible memories that stay forever stuck in your mind from holidays of past. I have some ups and downs and I thought I would share a few with you, my loyal Swellions! By the way, the pic above is of the tree and spiral staircase at my childhood home. Many of my Christmas memories have happened in this spot!

1) My biological mom’s side of the family (she passed away when I was 6) always used to have these gigantic shindigs each year at various Catholic recreation centers. Well, they would usually involve all the cousins getting into some kind of crazy mayhem…see my grandparents had 13 children, so there were a LOT of kids around. I remember one year us having a big pinata that we broke open. Since I was like 3 or 4, I wasn’t the first one to get to the candy and when I finally did, all I remember was that there were just red disc candies left. I really am not a big cinnamon candy fan, and apparently I wasn’t back then either. I cried and cried. I think one of my cousin’s ended up giving me some of theirs.

We also ended up playing Red Rover in one of these rec centers as well one year and I remember how much it hurt when I held on so tight as my cousin broke through my arms. My arm stung so bad. To this day, I still HATE that game.

2) Two of my cousins that I loved being with during Christmastime were Miranda and Bethany (they’re sisters). They were a hoot…I always laughed so hard when I was around them that my stomach ended up hurting! We are all around a year apart so we always had the best time on holidays. I remember for several years, they had this special McNugget promotion at McDonald’s where you got like 20 nuggets with fancy dipping sauces in a holiday box. For some reason, we thought this was so cool! It’s funny how such little things like that make your day when you are a kid.

3) When I was 14, I had a yellow cat named Kitty (I know, very original) that was a stray that had just showed up one day. Well, he was an outdoor cat and honestly, he didn’t like me all that much. I remember he always scratched me alot. I always wanted to love on him and wanted for him to like me, but I think he was more annoyed by me than anything. Well, in toward the winter month he had been acting really strange. He would jump on cars and fall off. We took him to the vet and she said it was something to do with his inner ear. Well, he never got much better and continued to act strange and make moaning noises. Well, since he was an outdoor cat, he liked to climb up in the attic of my dad’s workshop where insulation was and sleep where it was warmer. Well, a couple of days before Christmas, I pulled down the attic stairs and went up to check on him. He was laying there sleeping. I thought, “Aww, Kitty’s sleeping!” Well, when Christmas day rolled around, I still hadn’t seen him, so I checked on him again. He was in the same exact position!!! I ran inside and told my dad and brother and they checked on him. My brother found some kind of stick and poked him and said, “Yep, he’s frozen solid!” I was mortified. I cried and cried! I’m really not trying to be morbid (he was an outside country cat, and subjected to the elements…I’m afraid he probably got some form of cancer we weren’t aware of).

Even though it was very sad, a few hours later, while we were opening gifts, I looked out the window and saw a striped Tabby kitten running down the hill in the snow. I fed it some food and that cat stayed with our family for over a year. So, even though it was sad, it was still bittersweet to get a new kitten that same day as a special gift!

4) I remember being really sick one time on Christmas day. In KY, it snows on Christmas day like 1 year out of 5 and this was a year with snow! My whole family got bundled up and went out in the snow and my dad pulled the sled up the hill for everyone with his tractor. I swear, all I could do was look out the window and wish I was outside! I was really, really bummed!

5) We had a little lady neighbor who lived in the trailer across the street who would bring us the best baked goods each year on Christmas Eve. I remember her name was Mrs. Renfrow. Well, she would always make two of my favorites: peanut butter pie or Pumpkin cream cheese roll! My mouth is watering as I write this! She was such a sweet lady. I think that she had been in a car wreck, so she had trouble speaking and walking and it made her appear older (along with her hair in a bun). Up close, she had the most beautiful face and clearest skin. It was so weird, because you wouldn’t know that if you saw her from afar.

6) I was always in church plays as a child and they were always kinda cheesy. One year, it was about a group of hoodlums who got locked up in jail, cause they had vandalized a nativity scene. Well, as payback, they learnt about the true meaning of the holiday and had to participate in a live version of the nativity scene. There were a couple of funny things that I remember about this performance: A) I had on high waters and I mean high water pants! and B) My crush (his grandmother went to my church) was in the audience. At the end of the play, I had to be Mary and wear a towel on my head. After the play is over, everyone comes and congratulate you on a job well done. Well, I took that towel off of my head as fast as I could and stood mortified when he came walking through the line. I’m sure I mumbled something to him (if I said anything at all, believe it or not, I was shy back in the day)…I was the most awkward teenage girl EVER! It was pretty painful!

And on another random note, here’s some of my favorite gifts I got over the years!

– pogo stick (I never mastered it! One of the many world records I did not achieve).
– keyboard that had the default song of “Wake me up before you go go” by Wham!
– Mickey Mouse watch that played “It’s a Small World” (my grandmother still asks me if I wear it)
– A Christmas tree for my first apartment.
– Contacts when I was 15. Geez, I wanted them so bad back then and wore them religiously. Now, I HATE wearing them.

Do you have any funny Christmas stories to share?

Hope everyone has a joyous season. Next week, I may be away from the blog for the holidays. My friend Zach is also going to be updating my computer, something it desperately needs, so it will be out of service. Thank goodness for my trusty Iphone!

Until then Swellions!


The Urge to Purge

So I have seriously attempted to clean and organize over the past two nights. Honestly, it’s not my favorite thing to do, but once I get into it. I find so much enjoyment in it. I have decided that I’m going to take a very decisive look at my stuff and throw a lot of it away. For example, clothes that I like, but know I’m not going to wear, stuff I’ve been hanging onto that I have no true personal connection with…things like this…

A John Malkovich nesting egg set (I’m actually giving this to my friend Lorilyn who seems excited to take it off my hands).

being john malkovich nesting eggs

And these candles and candleholders have to go. I’ve been harboring a scented stash for a couple years now that have been sitting in a box untouched. I also threw some away. Yay. Good for me 🙂

purge pile part 1

I’ve finally decided to let these baseball cards go. I have no interest in them and I realize that I only bought them to be cool in 6th grade. I have a picture now and that’s ok.
baseball cards

But on the flip side of purging, I have those items that I feel conflicted about throwing away…this old award, for example, doesn’t make me long for high school…actually the reason I got nominated for it was a joke (I was the only impassioned one on yearbook and our yearbook was a serious joke). But it has my name on it and if I throw away, it’s like part of me is out in the universe that will ultimately become broken or questioned. Kinda like when you go to a yard sale and see old photos. The thought of this makes me sad.
academic allstar

I always loved this belt (wore it for like 4 years). It was my favorite and it just broke last month. What’s a girl to do? Toss it like it meant nothing? I thought about revamping it and turning it into a headband, but is that really going to happen? It would prob. just go on that long list of ideas in my head that never come to fruition. What’s a girl to do?

my favorite belt is broken

Then you have this, an old game board box that is torn up except for this image… I think I liked it cause it was so absurd. The cards inside the game told you to act like a rock and do stupid things like jump in the air for 27 seconds and if you could, you could lose all your money (losing your money was the goal of the game) I really don’t think I can throw this away. Maybe I should frame it. I like the idea of framing quirky stuff and putting it in your kitchen or living room old like old Applebee’s décor.

mad magazine box cover

Then you have things like my eyeglasses. They have so much sentimental value to me, cause they represented me and my identity in different phases of my life. It pains me to think about giving them away…

my glasses

And I love seeing artwork I did from way back when. I did this one in 6th grade. I think this also tells you alot about me as an artist during that period of my life and gives you a little insight into what I do now (I can see the linear/pattern/graphic style, can you? It’s so organized in it’s space, which is how I design now, too. Notice, too the lower right corner of the right butterfly. There’s a W and an S in there and that was the initials of the boy I liked at the time. I was always sneaky about incorporating stuff like that into my artwork back then.

6th grade butterfly art

This change purse was given to me by my grandmother after she went on a tour bus trip out West when I was 8 or 9. I think she also got me one in white. I have very few childhood things and I don’t like parting with them. Man, I wish I had some of my old t-shirts and sweatshirts from back in the day…or atleast a photo of them.
pink change purse

The problem with purging is just that so many things have so much sentimental value. I think I can use my camera as a way to stay reconnected to my things and still purge, but there will always be those things I won’t be able to part with. The sad thing is that they only have value to me and once I’m gone, they won’t be appreciated the way only I can. They are just things. Why do I have to get so attached??? The good news is that while I have a lot of stuff, I don’t consider myself a packrat. I sometimes see those organizing shows and wonder why people can’t let go. I’m getting better (giving up my magazines, for example). I just have to keep it all in perspective and be rational.

O.K. That was a really long post, but I guess I had a lot to say. Until tomorrow Swellions!

Wednesday is Lensday: Changes

I discovered yesterday that my grandmother is moving out of her house that’s she’s lived in forever (ever since I’ve been on earth). She seems ok with the move actually. She realizes she is getting older and needs more assistance than she used to. Also, the upkeep on her place is getting hard for her to do. She recently had to pour a lot of money into a new furnace and air conditioner. And the move will be easier on her and my folks. She’s going to live just below them on their property.

I guess the whole thing about it is that with her changing locations, I realize a lot of things about myself…that I must face the inevitable…death of her, death of my family, death of myself. And that things are changing around me whether I like them or not. Life just evolves like that. I just always liked the feeling I had when I went to her house and enjoyed my memories there. I think it makes me sad to know that a lot of those days are behind me. It’s not to say that good, new memories aren’t ahead of me and that my life, too, will evolve…it’s just hard saying goodbye to phases/things/loved ones and the reality that goes with it.

The last few times I visited her, I took a few pictures here and there of her place. I knew that it was only a matter of time before things would change and I wanted to have those memories documented…here’s just a few of my favorite things from her house that I cherished and loved about it.

faded portraits
Faded portraits on the wall…that’s me on the right and my big brother Charles on the left.

to scale
Here’s the scale in her bathroom. I always liked it even as a kid…prob. cause of the retro graphic.

Here’s her percolater and her stainless steel backsplash.

stained glass panel
Here’s a detail of her Stained Glass window on her front door.

Juicy fruit in junk drawer
Her junk drawer…always with Juicy Fruit waiting just for me and my brother!!

Dog on fence
I always loved that dog on that chain link fence gate.