Tuesday, December 21

The first time back

Did you know that at 37 degrees 45' 01" North Latitude and 77 degrees 50' 09" West Longitude is Virginia's Center of Population according to the 2000 census? (Disclaimer: only if everyone weighs the same.) It says so here, at this nice little monument sign, in Goochland.

So when I went to New York for the weekend I threw off the invisible balance. And that's not even true because I did not live in Virginia in the year 2000. I was just looking for a lame transition from VA to NY. Now that that's taken care of, I made my first trip back to New York the second weekend of December.

I walked to the bus at midnight, boarded, fell asleep, and woke up surprisingly refreshed at 6:30 a.m. in New Jersey. The city was near and I could see the familiar skyline. I was nervous about my visit, worried I would feel an ache.

I stepped onto the pavement like I had never left and went straight for the subway to meet Kristin for breakfast. As much as I love the video chat, in person can't really be beat. We saw a dog walking on its hind legs. For blocks. On a leash.

Already New York reminded me of how unique it was.

Morning time with Kristin concluded and I went up to the office "to drop my stuff off." Yes, Simon & Schuster still feels like "the office" to me and I guess that's fair because it's the last office I went to on a regular basis. I was greeted by the familiar (and friendly) security guards. They asked me how I was in my new place, wished me well, and let me up without calling anyone. Little things like that make me smile.

I ended up being at the office all day. I even crashed the holiday party.


I started this post about two weeks ago and am just now getting back to it. I'm going to have to speed things up since I'm writing so retroactively.

The rest of the weekend was spent amongst old friends, another S&S holiday party, and in the old borough.

I felt cool knowing where I was going without looking for directions, but I also walked really slow (which I think blew my cover). It was interesting being the visitor and I still love all the city has to offer. But I'm happy to be a visitor there and a resident here.

My nerves were soothed and when I boarded my 11 p.m. bus back to Richmond, I was glad to be going south.

But it is a trip I will fondly make again and again. Because there are things like free famous art that might (or might not) blow your mind, grocery store quarter machines that some people just can't resist, the grocery store man who greeted you every morning on your way to work.

P.S. I didn't even take that many photos.

P.P.S. Happy New Year. Possible resolution: be better about blogging. Not for you, but for me.

Sunday, December 5

What I call being productive, others might call being a loner

Right now I'm devouring my dinner of stuffing, creamy corn, and greens because I didn't quite get enough of the traditional Thanksgiving fare on Thanksgiving. (Greens aren't normally part of my tradition, but I had to cook them before they went bad and they have nice nutritional value.) I'm also listening to Christmas music.
All in all, a nice way to spend an evening alone.

So these evenings alone, and who am I kidding, occasional days alone, are proving to be pretty productive. At least in the knitting, cooking, and home maintenance front.

Here are some projects:

bandit raccoon and green kitty

vegetables for my friend's daughter for Christmas because she "loves to play garden"

buttermilk cheddar biscuits and pumpkin pie

a fourth bookshelf, because three just wasn't enough

little Christmas tree with only nine ornaments on it so far

In other news, we went to the Eastern Shore for a weekend and walked on the beach barefoot because it was just that nice out. I drove across a 17-mile-long bridge*, met Andy's dad and other siblings, beat Andy in Ping-Pong, beat Andy in Ping-Pong again, and saw the wild horses.


1. the pier in the middle of the bridge
2. you can't see our bare feet in the shadows, but they were bare
3. the moon rising over the stillness

It was a really nice weekend and I saw a part of Virginia that I literally did not know existed.
Oh, these states, so big and secretive.

I also got a job. Nothing too glamorous, too time consuming, or too boring.
I'm picking up some hours at the Scuba Center. I do love scuba so I consider it a pretty good fit and I kind of enjoy the part about getting paid to get out of the house.

To bring this full circle, I guess that means my productive days alone will be more limited.

I don't have too many more productivity photos, but there are more from the Eastern Shore here.

*Some of you might not know that driving over bridges is kind of one of my fears. I can do it and have driven some pretty major ones (Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, bridge to Dauphin Island, bridge to North Little Rock), but I usually do it in silence and with white knuckles.

Monday, November 22

"What I'm Thankful For"

I feel like I need to do a reflective essay entitled "What I'm Thankful For" and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I just might. I mean, I will.

Some people (hopefully most) know what it's like to have a good friend, maybe even a best friend, and maybe even more than one of either of those. I'm not bragging, but I am one of those people.

You see, many years ago, a group of high-school juniors decided to escape the self-inflicted table assignments and stupid gossip of the lunchroom. They went outside for fresh air and good company. Ten years later they still get together for fresh air and good company.

Two weekends ago the Rollers (yes we are awesome enough to have a name), had a reunion of sorts to celebrate our years of friendship as a group. I specify "as a group" because the friendships go back way longer.

Bonnie happens to hold the lucky title of "relative and friend." Her dad and my mom are first cousins and we go to the same family reunions. And I have gone to school with Beth since kindergarten, Brittany since fourth grade, and Jeta, Mimi, and Tucker since freshman year of high school.

Bonnie, Beth, Brittany,

Jeta, Tucker, Mimi,

and Me (for good measure)

So technically I'm celebrating a lifetime of friendships. I wouldn't be who I am, where I am, or anything in between without them.

We all met at Tucker's house in Raleigh, NC and it was the first time in a year and a half that all seven of us had been together at the same time. I apparently was so excited for the weekend that I was acting unusually giddy for the days leading up to it. Rightfully so. These are ladies that know how to have a good time. And not in the usual ways.

I'm going to go ahead and say that the number one goal of the weekend might have been to go to a bar with a mechanical bull. (Not my idea, but I'm a team player.) And I played. Twice. It was one of the funniest nights I've had in a long time.

It turns out it's really embarrassing, but also really fun.

We also played a great game that I feel inclined to share because maybe someday you will find the need for a cheap, time consuming, and super fun activity. Here's how it goes: Everyone has a ten dollar budget. Start at a thrift store and choose one item on which to build a wearable work of art. Go to a craft store with your remaining dollars and buy whatever else you need to create your masterpiece. Spend the afternoon crafting together and then wear your outfits at dinner. (Preferably in the comfort of a private dwelling, like your house.)

Example: Tucker during and after

It just goes to show that a) we still like to dress up and b) any kind of entertainment will do when we are together.

So I'm thankful for my friends.

For the laughs


the listening


the cooking


the fire hooping


the bull riding

and bar dancing


the creativity

the sincerity


the surprises


and the love


I know I'm getting cheesey, but if you knew these girls the way I do, then you would be too.

View, if you dare, more photos from the weekend of celebrating ten years as Rollers. Before you click, I will warn that there are a lot. I put them all up for the Rollers' sake.

Monday, November 8

when life makes you feel like you're in a movie

A couple good things about this working from home thing:
1. I wear my pajamas most of the day because they are warm and comfortable and no one else sees me.
2. My weekend is whatever day I want it to be, and right now there's a little bit of weekend everyday.
(See below for details.)

A couple of bad things about this working from home thing:
1. I get distracted by things like the internets and crafting.
2. I talk to myself and my cat. I need more people interaction.
(I am applying for part-time jobs)

Since we last spoke, October ended, which means Halloween happened.

For us, it was an authentic German halloween.
Andy found lederhosen in his closet and I borrowed this dirndl from his mom.

We were essentially his Oma and Opa since they wore these very articles.

The next day we went to a ropin'. Where cowboys and cowgirls rope calves. Andy's lieutenant invited us out to come watch the little competition and we had a great time! That is tough stuff and the cowboys have to pick up the calf after they lasso it to tie three of its legs together. The cowgirls just have to lasso. A little sexist but I'm okay with that because the calves weigh in the ballpark of 200+ pounds.

1. Getting Ready. 2. Racing out of the pin.

3. Pick 'er up and slam 'er down. 4. Tie them legs up real good.

The next day, Monday (see, I made my own weekend), we hiked Old Rag Mountain, which is part of Shenandoah National Park.

The road to the mountain.

Man was it beautiful. And the perfect time of year to go. A nip in the air and not a boring leaf in the house. Once we passed the tree line, the mountain becomes boulders. Big ones. They call it "the scramble" and you have to sit, slide, crawl, jump, climb, get a butt-boost (if you're short) to make it to the top.

Doing the ground scramble!

Not only are you going through this boulder obstacle course, but you remember to look up and out, and all you see are plumes of goldenrod, red, and green against the bright blue sky.

I really did feel like I was one of the tiny animals on the set of Fantastic Mr. Fox.

It was a beautiful day! And then we ate Thai food for dinner!

And then you clicked here if you wanted to look at more photos. Only if you wanted though.

Friday, October 29

a warm welcome

A few funny things worth noting have happened.

The first was last week and I kind of forgot about it.
I was doing work at Andy's house (I was there alone) in the living room. There are two desks, one that faces the front of the house and one that faces the back. I was minding my own business when I heard some shuffling noises. I turned around to see a little bird sitting on the desk behind me! A real, live, little bird had somehow gotten into the house and was flying around. He looked like he could have a panic attack at any moment, so as quickly and unobtrusively as I could, I opened the door in the back room. He took the invitation to go back to nature immediately. Afterward, I kind of wish I had thought to keep him or train him to stop back in whenever he felt like it. The incident initially startled me, but in the end it was fun.

The second was yesterday morning.
I finally got everything in order to go to the DMV and get all the car and license stuff taken care of. I went first thing in the morning to make it as painless as possible. It was 8 am and my windows were dewed over. I couldn't get them to stay clear so I rolled the windows down. At a stoplight, a woman next to me rolled down her window and complimented Leeny's pet, the cactus antenna! Then she asked if I lived here or was just visiting. I said I just moved here. She said Arkansas is nice and I'll just have to go back and forth now. Before the light changed, she gave me a warm "Welcome to Richmond" and my day was made.

Other things, less funny, are that I carved a pumpkin at my sister's house.


a. It's like digging into a treasure box except you know what you're going to get.
b. The pumpkins carved by (from left to right) Sister, me, Steven.
c. My pumpkin, Mr. Monocle.

And that I went on an exploratory bike ride around my neighborhood today, specifically to find this house and this tree. I had seen them the other day, but did not have the proper recording tools on me. I didn't want to miss the leaves. And I nearly did!

Blue and orange. So pretty!

You better believe there are more photos here!

Sunday, October 17

Richmond, I am here

So maybe life hasn't continued to be quite as exciting since I stopped driving hundreds of miles every couple days, passing through the changing landscape of our fine country. That's not to say it's been boring though! And since I've waited a couple weeks to share anything, it will seem even more exciting! (Ha, good trick Frost.)

Two weekends ago at the Gaylord National, MLG was there. Don't know what MLG is? Well, I might not have either until I was face to face with thousands. They are gamers. Major League Gamers.

All these boys wearing headsets, small backpacks, pajama pants, and black hoodies playing video games against each other.

And, no, I did not go to the Gaylord just for the MLGers. I went because my dad was there for a conference. He brought along my mom, and Sister, Steven, Andy, and I went up to meet them. We had some enjoyable family and friend time and played on this giant sculpture. I sat on a big toe!

It's called "The Awakening".

Since then, Richmond has been stocking my fridge and pantry, copyediting and proofreading (not to jinx it, but the jobs are coming in pretty regularly), and figuring out how to handle my unstructured days. Um, it's hard. And I'm not going to lie, I miss New York and I didn't have time to think about it while I was on the road, but now I do. That's hard too.

The first meal I "cooked" at my apartment. The second meal I COOKED at my apartment.

But time is helping the little hole I feel. Richmond has cool things to offer. Like Toy Story 3 at The Byrd for two dollars! And riding my bike (thanks again, Nancy!) around the neighborhood through the fallen, colorful leaves without being fearful of crazy drivers!

And receiving unexpected, special mail!

Beautiful cloth napkins from Aunt Terri!

And the Celtic Festival! Funny thing about the Celtic Festival: I brought my big camera (that's what I call my Nikon) and was all prepared to capture the moments, etc. I turned it on and there was a big E flashing back at me, laughing in my face. I had taken the memory card out and forgot to put it back! Idiot!
So these are courtesy of my phone.

That is a sheep herding demonstration, and a man humoring kids by sword fighting with them.

Those are hardly a taste of the costumes, I mean cultural dress, that we saw. That's a Mini Cooper for Del.

In closing, I think it will all come together and I think I'll eventually get used to suburbia again. And if any of you out-of-towners need a break, Z and I make great hostesses.

And one last side note, because I feel the need to confess this: I downloaded the entire James Taylor discography today. I might have been influenced by mail from Aunt Terri, but I just couldn't help myself.

If you can't help yourself, here are more photos.