Merry Christmas, Cato & Lee

img_5316Cato and Leanna like to give me hell every now and then for not ever keeping up with this blog. I get it—I made this promise to write about our hang outs for the year. I did it five times. We’ve hung out half a million times. This is typically how life goes for me.

Usually I like to tell them, “Well, we haven’t really done anything.” At least not anything special enough to the point where it needs to be immortalized in print. But that’s me not being entirely honest, I’ve realized, because nearly every moment we spend together is hilarious, or enjoyable, or just comfortable, and if I could read back on all of these moments, I would. If I could have a camera on us at all times, capturing all of the weird conversations and interactions we’ve found ourselves involved in throughout this year, I would (although, it would need be seriously edited before viewed by anyone other than ourselves). It’s all so easy when we’re all together, and while I know this isn’t some entirely unique way for a group of friends to view themselves, it’s special to us in a way that I hope other people are experiencing or will experience with their own circle of friends.

Leanna’s moving to Hawaii in February. A years worth of fun things we’ve done together, and this is what inspired me to want to write. But I don’t want to write about Leanna moving, because that’ll break my heart just a bit (on a side note though: I know she’s going to love going back to the island life that she’s constantly reminiscing about. I’m ridiculously happy for her, while at the same time quietly devastated about it). I want to write about how much love I have for these people and about the moments that made me pause and be thankful—the kind of moments that you sink effortlessly into and regard with a special type of sentiment, thinking, “Yeah, this right here, happening with these people—it was pretty much predestined to take place since the beginning of time.” Because being with these people can’t just be some stupid coincidence or dumb luck (but if it is, I’m just as grateful and content).

There are moments in time that would straight up suck to forget, to put it most accurately. I can’t remember the moment I met or learned about Leanna, but I remember meeting Cato—freshman year, first day, animal science with Coach Gamble. I remember the first time I thought Leanna and I might be friends—in a hot tub, the summer after she and Cato graduated; they were hanging out with Jared and I was sitting inside, but then she
invited me to join. These were moments that I thought nothing of at the time, but I now would hate to not be able to remember. In the grand scheme of our lives, maybe these moments aren’t that important, and maybe another moment would have led to the friendship in which we’re currently involved, but maybe not, so I’ll hold onto these snippets in time. There are a hundred particular moments from the past year that I would like to pinpoint, but would likely be able to describe with only vague accuracy, incapable of entirely capturing the spirit of the joke or experience I want to detail. And I only know so many words, you know, so let me just blurt out what comes to mind:

I don’t want to forget these memories that we’ve made—

  • Listening to Leanna laughing and screaming like a little kid beside me while tubing on the lake. Similarly, Cato pulling me onto the jet ski feet first (we’ll ignore the part where I thought I broke my nose).
  • Sitting on the porch in Charlotte sometime well into the night, contemplating a second trip to Waffle House.
  • Being in the pool while it rained.
  • Being on the boat, watching fireworks.
  • Going on our first family trip—Boone. On that note: nearly getting the car stuck in a stranger’s driveway and then asking them to follow our dogs on Instagram. Hiking. Sitting on that porch surrounded by the prettiest trees. The Blue Ridge Parkway. Our Food Lion feast at the dinner table. Leaving Makenzie and Lee at the gas station while Cato and I drove to take these pictures without them ever knowing we were gone:
  • The many days spent watching the dogs and staying outside (these are simple, but some of my favorites).
  • Being on the couch, listening to Cato play music with my dad, coloring with Leanna (again, so simple).
  • Everyone holding back laughter, listening to Cato make outrageous prank calls (“Is this Mike?” “…yeah.”)
  • The countless moments that have led to the sometimes incomprehensible and sometimes hilarious inside jokes written in my phone (I’ll make the scrapbook, Lee).
  • Laying outside, looking at stars (“Man, you know what I love about coming out here is how you can always see the stars!”).
  • Making a dog Instagram (Oh, Gordon).
  • Utilizing snapchat’s filters and features for our endless amusement.
  • Being on our own island (Jamlandia? Jamleedia?)

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  • Breaking out into poor-sounding (or is it actually really impressive-sounding?) beat-boxing and song.
  • Carowinds, even though I could have died that day.
  • Celebrating birthdays, and all that goes along with them—“It’s a Jamie thing. You wouldn’t understand.” Tie-dying on Leanna’s birthday (there’s no way that shirt isn’t my most worn shirt of the year). Getting a personalized cow onesie (I love you guys for that one alone).

And there are smaller, not as simply stated things that I would also hate to forget (as well as things that just have no place being on the Internet for all to see). I’ve always appreciated the respect and kindness Cato and Leanna show towards my entire family, but also the way they fit and meld so nicely into conversations and interactions with them. People tend to get along with my family, but it seems like they do it the best and most seamlessly. They’re polite and relaxed and express no judgement when my dad says something entirely inappropriate or off the wall, or when my mom asks where the cat is for the fifth time in thirty minutes (common occurrences at the Biggs’ house).

To play off of that: it’s so cool having the same best friends as your brother. And while I don’t doubt that Jared and I would still be close without having the common link of Cato and Leanna being our friends, I realize that we might not have the strong friendship that goes along with our brother-sister relationship. For that, I’m always going to be really thankful.

I also just admire Cato and Leanna as individuals in ways that I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to express to them, but hopefully they know. They’re both so independent and driven and focused when they need to be, but have retained all of the hilarious
and youthful qualities that most people lose when going through this process of growing up. Everyone seems so jaded, but they’re not jaded, and sometimes you need to be around people who still have a positive outlook on the future, and they’re those people for me.

Anyhow. Reading what I’ve written here has got me all weirded out with the prospect  of anyone other than myself reading it, so that means it’s time to stop being so open and honest. The purpose of writing should be clear without the writer needing to state their intent, but if it’s not clear: my intention here was to express to Cato and Leanna how much I appreciate them and the times we’ve spent together this year. I love you guys.

 

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Jumping off of a bridge (spoiler: we didn’t jump off a bridge. I just can’t think of a title)

It’s funny how I feel the need to apologize for not blogging, as if the whole world has been sitting and refreshing this page for the past few months, breaking down when they realize that there’s no new words to read (actually, never mind. I’m sure that’s what you’ve all been doing. Why try and act humble, Jamie?). Anyway, school and life but mostly laziness got in the way, but I’m back and ready to try and enthrall you all with a list of things that we’ve done that will probably only be exciting to read about if your names are Jamie Cato or Leanna Griffin.

1) Leanna turned twenty-one back in April. To celebrate, Jared, Makenzie, and I went down to Charlotte for the weekend. She stayed classy and upright the whole weekend, and we all now have tie-dye shirts to commemorate the occasion. There were balloons and lots of food and a stretch of time where Makenzie and I were left on a boat because we’re twelve-years-old. All in all, it was a pretty successful commencement of Leanna’s twenty-first year of life.

2) The weekend after Leanna’s birthday we all attended the wedding of our friend Heather and her new husband Kyle. Heather and Kyle are the most attractive couple on the face of the planet, and if you disagree, it’s probably because you’ve never seen them before. Here you go:

Really good looking people, right? Anyway, their wedding was awesome and beautiful. We also got to talk to some people we hadn’t seen in a while, which was a real treat. Love Heather and Kyle, shoutout to them for the whole marriage and simply for throwing a fun wedding that got us all together.

3) Adult coloring books. We color now. Need I say more? No, but I will. Everyone seems to be doing it, and you know us. We’re all about jumping off bridges if our friends are doing it (side-note, lets go bungee jumping, guys?!?!?). If there’s a bandwagon, you’re darn right we’re going to jump on it. Screw originality. Anyway, none of that was true, but we definitely have started to color. Leanna brought an adult coloring book over a few months back, and now we own six different coloring books (one filled entirely with images of exotic chickens) and have a stack of completed pictures. My dad (I almost typed “Our dad” which may have been more fitting) built us three custom pencil boxes with built in sharpeners to go along with this new hobby of ours. Seriously. I wasn’t kidding when I said we color. We do not halfway a hobby.

And for a low price of just an unknown number, you too can own a custom pencil box made by our father. Not kidding. He made an Etsy. I didn’t just take artsy pictures of coloring boxes outside for the pure joy it brings.

4) We made an Instagram for our dogs. This is a fact I could choose to be embarrassed by, but what’s more embarrassing is how they get more likes than my pictures do. Anyway, this is just more shameless self-promotion. Follow them @rowdyandgibson because following humans is torture, but following cute dogs with hilarious captions is a gift.

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Anyway, this post was mostly to remind Cato and Leanna that I love ‘em and haven’t forgotten about this blog. We’re supposed to spend a few days with them this upcoming week at the lake, so maybe we’ll have some new adventures that are blog-worthy… Can people even read this many words anymore? If so WOWWW you shouldn’t be proud at all. It wasn’t even seven-hundred words. Go read something else because if this was all of the reading you’re going to do today I’m sad. Godspeed.

Calling out of work from jobs we don’t have

Makenzie and Jared visited Cato and Leanna in Charlotte without me and I figured that in that time they would come up with a great way to prank me, but when Cato and Leanna came into town a few days later, the only thing they seem to have come up with is calling me “lima bean” at odd times. They won’t tell me what it means, and I think their entire goal is simply to make me wonder why in the world they’re calling me lima bean.

Anyway, lots has happened (just kidding, we never actually do anything). On the day they were coming into town, I received a series of photos from Cato in our group message from our Christmas gift giving day of us trying to figure out how to work the selfie stick Leanna bought me for Christmas:

Yes, that’s a knife.

It’s gotten to the point that whenever we hang out now, there are certain things that will happen that will entice one of us to say, “That has to go in the blog.” So here are a compilation of things that happened that “have to go in the blog”:

  • I watched a video a few weeks ago on YouTube of Jenna Marbles calling in sick to places she didn’t work at. So, since I’m childish, I thought this would be a funny thing to do with my friends. Cato was the only one of us who called at first, probably because he’s the only one who can hold it together long enough. We called Walmart’s and IHOP’s and Waffle Houses and he told them he couldn’t come in to work his next shift. They answered the phone one time and Cato—without changing his voice—said, “Hey, this is Jennifer.” He gave all of the places reasons why he couldn’t come in, most of which are too stupid to repeat. One phone call ended with “Next time I see you, we’ll be using these same bathroom.” It made complete sense in the context of the conversation, believe it or not. When I eventually gave it a shot and called a Waffle House, I started going off on a tangent about if they had eggs or not because it for some reason mattered to my dog. The lady interrupted with “is this the same girl from last week?” Because apparently people prank call the Waffle House and ask about eggs and tell them about their dogs on a regular basis. I told her to have a nice day. Basically, the message here is you are NEVER too old to make prank calls (*cough* Jared *cough*).
  • We had another Rowdy/Gibson playdate that again resulted in a near death. We all walked down to the pond and were watching our dogs chase each other. Gibson was chasing Rowdy and apparently Cato was all up in Gibson’s way, because Gibson plowed over Cato. He flew off the ground, landed flat on the back, got the breath knocked out of him. My first reaction was to laugh because I’m a terrible person. Gibson didn’t even stop, just kept tearing through the grass to get Rowdy. Cato ended up not dying, but there was a text in our group message the next morning from him: FullSizeRender-3

 

  • We don’t talk about people, we realized. After a thirty minute conversation of talking exclusively about my dad’s chickens like they were our close friends, I pointed out that we are much more inclined to have conversations about how our dogs are doing, or how many eggs the chickens laid that day, or who my cat has recently tried to kill than to talk about people. If you ever wonder what the four of us talk about, it’s our pets, not you. Trust me. We decided that a great idea would be to film the chickens and do voiceovers of what we imagine they might be saying. Because that’s our idea of a fun time.
  • We also planned our future. We’re going to buy dairy cows and sell milk in bags because it keeps longer that way according to Jared. We don’t know why Jared knows about the conditions that best keep milk, but he does. I think this is even better than the idea Leanna and I had to start a female Men’s Warehouse. Don’t steal our million dollar ideas. We’ll sue.

I never know how to end these, but have I ever mentioned that the picture in the frame I’m holding here stays in the bathroom Jared and I share, but it scared my mother every time she saw it, so I decided to move it to new places to frighten her? I put it on the toilet and my brother said he felt like we were all smiling at him each time he peed. True story.

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You’re welcome.

WHY NICKELBACK IS THE GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME

Nickelback is the greatest band of all time.

Has anyone ever said those words before with an ounce of sincerity in their voice? I’m assuming no. Everyone hates Nickelback. Just to put it all out there, I think I do own a Nickelback CD. I definitely keep it hidden out of plain sight, and the only way I would listen to it now would be ironically or nostalgically. Still, there was a time when seventh-grade me didn’t know that “everyone hates Nickelback” and listened to their music shamelessly.

But there’s this thing we do when we all hang out. The goal is basically to convince someone that they’re going insane. We especially like to mess with Makenzie because she’s the least accustomed to our strangeness. Once we all stood up and started rushing around the room, saying, “Where is it? Where is it? Where did you put it? Come on, tell me where it is! WHERE IS IT?” She had no idea where it was or what it was, but there comes a point when everyone else is in on something like this that you start to think hmm, perhaps I am going crazy. I knew this day would come.

So what could make a person go more crazy than realizing their friends all think that Nickelback is the greatest band of all time?

Jared left the room the last time we were hanging out. Tip: Never leave the room and leave the rest of us behind if you’re hanging out with us. It’s very likely that we’ll be planning something to do to you in your absence. I don’t even like to leave long enough to pee. We could plot a murder in that time. But anyway, yes, Jared left to walk Makenzie out and that left a decent amount of time to plan something a little different than our traditional WHERE IS IT?

For some reason my mind went to Nickelback, and in Jared’s absence, Cato, Leanna, and I decided to talk obsessively about Nickelback when he returned. I was playing Nickelback on my phone by the time he showed back up, and both Cato and I had Nickelback wikipedia pages open.

We were spouting off facts about Nickelback and declarations of our love for them like crazy:

Jared, do you know how Nickelback got their name? One of the members was at Starbucks and heard, “Here, let me give you your nickel back.”

You know, they’re actually a Canadian band. From Alberta.

This is Chad Kroeger on the vocals.

Did you know Nickelback was originally named Village Idiots?

It’s crazy, man. They’ve sold over 50 million records.

If I could see anyone in concert, it would be Nickelback. For sure.

Jared eventually caught on when we all started going on about how Nickelback was so much better than the Beatles and that we would rather see Nickelback in concert over the Beatles any day. Case in point, do not leave the room when we’re all together. There’s a 97% chance you’ll be questioning your sanity before the night ends.

We also tried to convince Makenzie that I had stabbed my toe with a knife. That one didn’t quite go as planned. We’ll get her next time.

In the mean time, look at this photograph:

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EVERY TIME I DO IT MAKES ME LAUGH.

Near Death Experience

There’s this somewhat stupid app I downloaded called FlashGap. And yes, as the title suggests, it is a ripoff of Snapchat. Basically, you start an album for the night and invite friends to join. You take pictures and videos and they disappear until noon the next day, at which point they reappear for everyone in the group to view. It’s an app designed for people with far more eventful nights than sitting at home eating snacks (my nights). I made Leanna, Cato, and Makenzie download it when they came over a few nights ago and we started one.

We’re not very good at FlashGapping as far as I’m concerned. There were four consecutive videos of me staring at the screen, having a staring contest with myself on the last night we used it (I lost). Lots of videos came from Leanna, zoomed in to the max on my face as they all laughed and kept me guessing as to what was so funny until noon the next day. A solid four percent of the pictures/videos were entertaining to see. I’m not trying to trash talk FlashGap. I realize it’s intended audience is drunk people looking to laugh at and remember their night out. Basically, I’m saying it’s almost worth the download if you have friends as fun and weird as mine:

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On the off chance that someone besides Leanna or Cato is reading, it might be helpful to understand that the time we all spend together is really random. Leanna and Cato haven’t lived near Jared and me in years, but they visit home often. Sometimes it’s for a night, sometimes it’s for a few. We never really know when they’re going to show up.

During our last chunk of time together, they stayed in town for a few days. This was the second New Year’s Eve that we ever spent together. The last time, two years ago, was the exact opposite of this one. This year we played board games with Cato’s family and his parents friends. We took food over to Leanna’s parents, and watched the ball drop at midnight with mine (well, everyone but Jared watched the ball drop, thanks to Cato and me). So essentially, we acted like old people, which I was more than okay with. We ended up where we always end up: on the couch in the studio. It was pretty much a normal night for all of us, but it’s kind of cool that we’ve gotten close enough to the point where we like to spend time with each other on holidays.

While they were still in town, we did something we had only done once before. We got our dogs together for a playdate. Obviously, my dog (Gibson) is the greatest dog to have ever existed. But if I had to choose a second favorite dog, it would be Rowdy. He’s polite, and adorable, and weirdly human. He’s used to being around other dogs, unlike Gibson.

So I left my phone inside and we spent the afternoon watching our dogs chase each other all over the field. Rowdy is really the only other dog that Gibson’s been around, and it’s funny to watch him figure out how to play. We decided to try and introduce Rowdy to the chickens after a little while. Gibson is pretty good around them. Other than trying to herd them, he doesn’t mess with them too much. We figured Rowdy would be fine interacting with them.

We figured wrong. Jared picked up Lahendra—one of our roosters who was supposed to be a hen and was obviously named prematurely—and brought him over to Rowdy. Jared held Lahendra beside Rowdy and all seemed to be going well. Cato held Rowdy’s collar while he sniffed Lahendra. And then Rowdy was all of a sudden biting the chicken. Feathers were lost, but thankfully there weren’t any causalities. IMG_3574

There were only a couple of other near death experiences that day—Cato nearly falling off the roof trying to get a frisbee down. Jared grabbing him, saying, “I got you, man!” when he was half a foot from the ground. Days when we see each other before dark are rare, and the ones we can spend outside like that are always my favorites.

And my days might be getting mixed up (their multiple-day visits tend to blur together in my mind), but that night Cato played music with my dad and other brother while Leanna, Jared, and I listened. It’s kind of cool—we’re hearing music no one else has ever heard before. And we ate some really, really good cookies.

And if no one believed me when I said “bright pink donut onesie,” in my last post, you should:

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Possible Instagram captions:

“New year, new me”

“A dozen reasons why 2016 is going to be great”

“Glazed and confused”

 

Peace out.

 

The Night We Won the Lottery

Cato was wearing his green shirt the other night. Jared was wearing his blue shirt. Leanna was wearing her black shirt. And I was wearing my bright pink donut onesie. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Cato brought scratch-off lottery tickets to the house with Leanna and him. He passed one out to each of us once we were in the studio, including one for Jared’s girlfriend (I see you, Makenzie), and we scratched them off. Nobody had a winner.

Jared walked Makenzie out to her car and the three of us left behind started talking. “What if we looked at the tickets later and realized one of them was actually a winner?” Cato randomly mentioned. Two minutes later, Leanna was freaking out: “Someone didn’t scratch off the entire ticket!” And what do you know, we had a winning scratch off.

We had won a dollar.

The ticket is now sandwiched between Leanna’s phone and her phone case, and it’s likely none of us will ever put the effort in to go claim that one dollar, but it was so unexpected and surprising that it’s definitely going to be one of those things we look back on and say, “Remember that time…”

If you’re not Cato, Jared, or Leanna, then wow. You’re probably so confused. You’re also likely the only other person besides them to have ever read this. Here’s what you, other person, might want to understand before reading on:

We’re all high school friends who didn’t ever expect to become close (we’re also other things. Jared’s my brother and Leanna and Cato have been together for more than two years). Cato frequently looks at Jared and says, “Man, I never would have imagined we would be friends after graduating.” And it’s true; I doubt anyone would have anticipated the four of us would be close friends. I never imagined us all hanging out, kind of like how you never imagine you’ll actually win any money when you buy scratch-offs at the gas station. You hope you do, but in the back of your mind, you know how unlikely it is. But sometimes you get lucky.

Mostly, we all just sit on couches, surrounded by music, and eat snacks in excess until sometime after 2:00 AM whenever we hang out.  If that doesn’t sound like a fun time to you, then we’re probably not friends.

On the day after Christmas, when we all exchanged presents, we came up with the idea that I would write a little bit after every time we hang out, saying what happened or what was funny that night. Then at the end of 2016, I’d give it all to them as a gift. That idea has slowly morphed into this: a blog that no one but us will really understand or care about.

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@jamiebcrazy