Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Remembering those who continue to put their lives at risk every day in the name of our country... This post is in honor of those men and women who have sacrificed their lives.

Sgt. Denis Kisseloff, 45
Missouri Army National Guard
St. Charles County, MO
KIA May 14, 2010
Tribute video

Sgt. Donald J. Lamar, 23
US Marine Corps
Fredericksburg, VA
KIA May 12, 2010
Tribute video

Sgt. Josh Desforges, 23
US Marine Corps
Ludlow, MA
KIA May 12, 2010
Tribute video

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Summer blogging

I know I scored a good one because he likes to dance with me even (or especially?) in public. This may be the video that chaged our lives...

Even though our friends and I pretty much got kicked out of karaoke tonight (for no good reason, I might add), I had a blast! I love summer, life, love and dancing!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tired, dreams, tired

God I'm exhausted. I'm actually looking forward to cleaning... Um...what? I feel disgusting and sticky from the heat and the lack of lunch (unless a cupcake counts as lunch?) and I really need to move the clothes over to the drier. Inlaw visit on Saturday that lasts for three days. Then another day off, and then, finally, work.


I keep having dreams that I am pregnant and that it feels like I've been carrying the baby around forever, but it's still not at full term. Last night, the dream baby was still alive and kicking and everything was okay, but I had a biatch for an OB who was making inappropriate comments and sent me to buy her a cookie from the food court. I hated her. But every time I laid down, the baby weighed on my stomach and I couldn't sleep. The dream ended as I was in the middle of looking for an emergency room...I wasn't sure if I was going into labor or there was just something wrong with me.

I was thinking about that dream in the shower this morning afternoon. The message of the dream fell upon me like a ton of bricks. A ton of comforting bricks.


I like visiting friends. I like visiting family. I like having friends visit. I like having family visit. I'm not sure how I feel about all four of those things happening in the span of one week. I need to go lay down.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Soaking in it.

How do I soak up this life that I'm living?

A few days ago, I went home to Northern Virginia. It's where I'm from. I went home to see my best friend, who is 8 months pregnant with her first-born child. I went to hang out in her living room while she worked from home and watched reruns of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and then we drove over to Babies 'R' Us so I could spoil Baby D with clothes and rattles and various toys that I really can't afford right now. We went out to eat Mexican and spill the kind of kiss-and-tell secrets that only BFFs can spill. Then we returned home so I could cajole her into letting me take pictures of her belly. Eventually, she ran out to the grocery store to buy fruit, in order to entice the baby to kick for me; I settled in to watch the season finale of Grey's Anatomy.

On Saturday, T and I drove down to Southern VA for the wedding of a girl friend of mine's from college. She is the last of "the girls" to get married. She actually got engaged before I did, but she and her fiance put off the wedding because they paid for the whole thing themselves, and they wanted to Do It Right. This was an awesome wedding because it brought together a whole bunch of friends from school that haven't seen each other in a long time. And really, we don't know when the next time we'll all be together under the same roof again. Dancing. It was a blast. Even if I did get mad at T partway through the night for getting a little too loose-lipped with his jokes, and maybe because I was a little exhausted from T's sudden love of dancing. I couldn't keep up with him! All my girlfriends, on the other hand, continue to be amazed that this "quiet" "shy" guy is bending his knees, shaking his hips and getting low low low low on the floor, while most of the dudes are standing on the sidelines watching with detatched amusement. It was a fun time.

We're home now, with another old friend from college, A, one of T's groomsmen. He just got back from an incredible and incredibly fast two (or so) years in Guatemala with the Peace Corps. Now A is here visiting, and I am trying to make the most of my last days before my summer job starts. And trying to really, really soak it in. What, exactly? Just it. Life. Summer. Youth. (Or whatever you call the days just before you turn 29.) My time in Big City. My time with T as "newlyweds". Downtime. So yeah. Life.

Friday, May 21, 2010


So sleepy. I really don't feel like writing much, and I don't have much to say. What I will say is that going home to the place where I grew up, where by the grace of God my parents still live, and sleeping in the bedroom where I laid my head as a child, is one of the most reassuring simple pleasures there is. I am lucky to still be able to do this. Signing off from my snuggly childhood bed, where I am not entirely sure why Tears for Fears' "Mad World" is playing through the wall I share with the computer room where my mom is sitting at 1:30 in the morning, but I'm happy to fall asleep to the noise.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Too many hands to count.

I did my run yesterday! I'm soooo proud of myself. It was actually a walk/run switching off every 100 meters (or about 1 city block).

On the other hand, I did not get my lazy behind out the door and over to the social security office so I could get a replacement card, so I could get a new drivers license, so I can drive down to Virginia tomorrow without having to worry about the legality of my being behind the wheel of a car. Looks like my trip home will involve $10 and a wait in the "replacement card" line at the DMV.

On the other hand, I did make arrangements for T's birthday evening, which (if all goes according to plan) will involve delicious food, a bottle of wine, good friends and an evening at the cinema (or "big tape" as T calls it).

On the other hand, I'm broke, so I couldn't buy T the present I wanted to get him. I would write more about that, but on the (very) off-chance he reads here before the end of the night, I wouldn't want to spoil anything ;)

On the other hand, I will be starting work soon and getting the paycheck I so desperately need.

On the other hand, it's work study funds. So, in other words, not much.

On the other hand, I have been kicking butt at this cash-flow report which tracks all of our income and expenses. I love love love to do it. Maybe because it gives me a badly needed sense of control over an area of my life (ahem, $$) that appears to be bleeding out while I stand helplessly watching.

On the other hand, yeah. Money.

On the other hand... love. Love is playing cards for hours around the kitchen/dining room/living room table, listening to weird Swedish country-western music and laughing at one another. Watching a documentary on art in advertising on the Wii. Sharing a fake ham and avocado sandwich. Making the bed. Messing up the bed. Waking up early to make breakfast. All those little things that make me forget about money. It makes up for the other hand.

Ahem. On the other hand, speaking of love, I need to go clean the kitchen before T gets home.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lightening bug days

Saw the first lightening bug of the summer today! First lightening bug of the summer is always a quietly joyous occasion for me. I smile inside whenever I first catch sight of the glowing green dots, and for a moment I'm transported back to the cul-de-sac of my childhood neighborhood... bikes on kickstands...fireworks, sparklers, a ride around the block in my neighbor's shiny convertible...high school buddies crowded together to celebrate my July birthday... summertime.

Tomorrow, among the various chores I have assigned myself, I am also going to start a running regime. I want to train to run a race, so I can cross another off my list of 30 Before 30. It doesn't hurt, too, that I forced an admission out of T that he would like me to lose some weight. I forced this admission from him because I know I've put on weight, about 15 pounds that have stuck with me since fall of the year I turned 25, to a total of about 20 pounds since college (give or take 5 pounds depending on the day). I want me to lose some of that weight. I want to stay attractive to my husband. And what's more attractive than self-esteem. Of which I've been severly lacking as the months turn into years and my hips and belly continue to expand more rapidly than the rest of me. And it's just hard to snap out of denial and face reality when you've got a husband telling you he loves you no matter what, he doesn't notice, he thinks you look great, etc. All of which may be true. But I still need certain cold, hard truths. Do you wish my stomach wasn't quite so protruding? You do? Ok, good. Now I know. And by the way, so do I. I'll work on that. It's part of the radical honesty that we promised one another when we took our wedding vows. I appreciate that I can count on it when I ask for it.

This weekend was a semi-success in moderation. An old friend visited for the night on Saturday, which also happened to be the night a new friend had rented a local church bowling alley for his annual Beers & Bowling party. Come on, that's awesome, right? Bowling in a church with a keg of Lionshead and tables upon tables of air hockey and foosball for the conquering. So, Saturday night, I went a little big. But considering I spent the entire day just watching the scenery at Big City's Biggest Block Party, where street vendors were serving vodka-spiked popsicles and every man, woman and child grandparent in the city was toting around a plastic cup of PBR, I'd say that a few beers after the sun goes down made for a pretty quiet Saturday. Aside from that, I mostly played Bananagrams on Facebook (my new obsession), enjoyed the weather and ate lots and lots of pizza while trying to understand the rules to a game that involves a bunch of grown men knocking a strange ball into the neighbors' windows with sticks. Oh, and T and I started Big Love. So psyched!

Friday, May 14, 2010

All play and no work...

Well I can now cross accordion lessons off my list.

Take accordion lessons.

That felt good! Of course, yesterday's lesson was only the first lesson in what I hope will blossom into a long and glorious tutelage under the fine instructor at my local accordion shop. I can now proudly declare (and plan to do so on a regular basis for at least the next seven days) that I am capable of playing "Row, row, row your boat" on the accordion in the key of C Major. Sweet!

Seriously, this is awesome. One day, I hope to be able to play this. But for now, it's still this...

In other news, my life is not all roses and sunshine, despite all the roses honeysuckles and sunshine spilling forth from the streets of the Big City. I'm concerned about and working to improve the balance in my life between career productivity, relaxation and personal/emotional development. I think I spend farrrrr too much time in the middle category of relaxation, to the point where perhaps I'm not doing enough reflecting and wasting a lot of time that I could be growing and maturing.

At my last day of my internship on Wednesday, my boss sat me down and told me she wanted to have a "frank" talk with me about some things before I moved on. She'd got word that an application I'd submitted for a scholarship a while back was missing several items and generally sloppily put-together. (I'm sure this is true, since I threw it together at the last possible minute.) We talked for a bit about how my work is really good in the office, but that I can sometimes send out hasty communications and procrastinate in other areas to the point where it reflects poorly on my capabilities. This was only slightly embarassing to hear; mostly I was happy that she took the time to be straight with me and not just give me fluffy feedback. There's no greater skill in a mentor than the ability to give useful and valid criticism in a gentle and caring manner.

Sometimes I feel like I've drifted too far off course. Before we came to Big City, before I enrolled in law school, there were things that I sensed were missing from my life. A sense of direction. A meaningful career. Certain experiences that are just missing from small southern towns. Our decision to move to Big City and to have me pursue this education has paid off in spades, and not just in the ways I anticipated. T found that he can thrive in a career working for an employer (i.e. not self-employed), that there are some benefits to an office full of colleagues. He loves being able to provide for his family (i.e. me and Elvis and our future). I'm reaping the benefits of attending a diverse school, living in an old immigrant neighborhood, walking everywhere, reacquainting myself with people my age after a relatively solitary period in my life. We've developed closer relationships with T's brother, perhaps the most rewarding surprise to come from the whole experience. In so many ways, it's been awesome.

And then there are the things we gave up. Some of them we knew we'd be leaving behind. It was two hours south to see T's parents, two hours north to see mine. Any time we wanted to get away, we could hop in the car and be back in old familiar territory in time for a homecooked meal (or, you know, pizza from Ledo's). Rent was cheaper. Almost all of our friends were closer and a visit was never hard to arrange. T had a truly fulfilling business that, if not always thriving, was always challenging and rewarding. We knew we were giving some of that up. It was a hard decision to make, our decision to forego my attending law school in the same place we'd been living and maintain the status quo. We didn't know anything for certain, but we were pretty sure that we'd be glad we'd taken the risk.

I am glad. T is glad. But there are so many things I couldn't have anticipated. Things that are just a part of change, I guess. Like how many more days we spend hanging out at bars, rather than sitting on porches. It was boring to feel confined to a porch sometimes; but it's also boring to feel confined to a bar stool. Life is busier... there are fewer days where we sit around looking at each other and wondering what to do with our afternoons. We are tired from working so much, so we nap a lot. We have friends and acquaintances to catch up with, lots of invitations to meet up (at bars), so we stay up too late, spending money and drinking. We can get almost anywhere we need to be on foot, so we rarely find ourselves on car rides singing along to the radio. When school is in session, I have studying to do pretty much round the clock, so I spent lots of time shutting out distractions so I can read, or procrastinating on the internet. T has to entertain himself so he works late, or works in his home office, or goes out with friends. Life sometimes feels like a flurry of activity and then I start to miss the slow pace of Virginia. We used to love to grocery shop. (Okay...I did. But I also loved dragging T with me to do it.) Now it's a chore I can barely squeeze in, and we walk the two blocks to pick up little things here and there instead of making it a whole excursion.

I just feel run down and I miss the little world we had in the smaller city. It all felt more mangeable, more healthy. We're just changing, evolving, I know. I know that's normal. But in some ways I think I want to redirect the course of that change a little. Get back a little of the cozier lifestyle where we had to work for our fun, instead of buying it for $2 a can on just about any corner in the city. KWIM?

Monday, May 10, 2010

JE: 1, Stairs: 0

Summer is off to a much better start this year. I know I'm probably repeating myself, but the difference is just so striking. And I don't want to let myself take it for granted. (The coffee stains are still on the ceiling of the staircase from where I fell last year on my first outing post-finals, I noticed, as I walked the dog downstairs last Thursday.)

So yes, it was awesome to have a craving for cookie dough last Thursday, and go for a walk with T to the grocery store to purchase a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough. It was even better to eat chunks of it while baking the first batch, and then watch episodes of The Office on our awesome Wii Netflix program while the cookies cooled.

It was even more exciting when we got home from our trip last night to the uncooked half of my dough tube, which I promptly began baking while T set up the instant queue to watch Food Inc. (A must-see documentary for everyone who eats! And yes, I felt bad about eating all those cookies after we watched the film.)

Reading the lastest issue of Big Hands (#8) in bed until I was too tired to keep my eyes open was the best way to fall asleep. Even better was waking up, leashing up the dog and taking the zine over to my favorite coffee shop to finish reading over a chocolate croissant and a cup of coffee.

Of course, it's not just the relaxing that's a nice change of pace. It's also the productivity. The tangible productivity. Like finally figuring out what I need to do to get a driver's license in Big State when I lost my Virginia license at a bar way back at the 1/2 Way to JD party. And then actually following the steps to get the ball in motion. (Thank you, DMV for the $13 driving record fee.)

At the end of the day, it's nice to have other recently liberated classmates with whom to revel in this newfound freedom. So it was that I ended up sitting at a table outside Whole Foods with V playing Bananagrams as the sidewalks throbbed with late-afternoon foot traffic and the sun worked its way behind the cityscape. And now, I must go return text messages promising celebratory drinks and other summer revelry so rarely befitting of a Monday night.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"I'll admit, I'm a bad law student."

T & I spent the weekend on a getaway with my parents, at their invitation. We had a lovely fluffy bed with pillows like clouds, our modern room painted in hip colors like green and orange (ahem - our wedding colors). The trip was a four-hour drive to a mountain town crisscrossed by railroad tracks and bodies of water. There was a pool and a hot tub, state of the art exercise equipment and an enormous flat-screen t.v. In short, it was a recipe for relaxation.

This morning, say around four a.m., I woke myself up talking in my sleep. Apparently I also woke up T, who groggily asked me why I was talking about being a bad law student.

Without missing a beat, I explained: "Oh, I was just begging two of my professors not to fail me for forgetting to come to their classes all semester and bombing their finals."

Dream? Prophecy? Does it matter? For the first time, I understand why some of my classmates have no interest in seeing their grades when they're posted. I could go the rest of my life without knowing how I did this past semester. Just please, let's move past these post-finals nightmares and on with our lives, shall we?

Friday, May 7, 2010

The tree-hugger

Before I forget, I want to describe the most bizarre crazy person I've ever encountered in this city. There are plenty of people who wander around the streets talking to themselves, but this one takes the cake:

On the advice of Carolyn Hax, I decided to round up the dog, steal one of T's books and walk over to a nearby park to read in the sunshine. First day post-finals merits this kind of indulgence! So I'm sitting in the park - it's a giant square with sidewalks criss-crossing through it, and benches all along the way. E is lounging in the sun, making eyes at a golden retriever twice his age who is lolling around on the pavement. I'm alternating between reading and giggling with a little boy who keeps coming over to watch E but is too shy to actually get close enough to pet him. All around, the quiet, pleasant chatter of lunchtime conversation buzzes in the air. Then...

*CATCALL WHISTLE* woot-woot!

Here comes this man, an older fellow, dressed in business casual, with an out of control beard and one lazy eye, sauntering up the sidewalk toward me and the dog.

"Wow!" he proclaims loudly. "Take a look at that! What a beaut." I see that his head is pointed in the direction of the golden retriever's owner, a matronly woman, not unattractive but not dressed to impress by any stretch of the imagination. This is starting to get uncomfortable, he's getting closer to me.

"Have you ever seen a tree that looks so good!? Now that's a tree!"

Wait. What?

Crazy man keeps strolling his cartoon stroll down the walk, approaching me and E. E catches his attention.

"Hey, pretty dog!" he exclaims. "That's a good looking dog!"

"Thank you," I reply demurely, not wanting to engage in conversation.

He continues walking but keeps his eyes fixed on my dog. Until something else catches his attention... the giant oak tree providing our shade. The man looks the enormous trunk up and down.

"Wow!" His smile gets wider. "How about that tree! Whatta tree!"

If only these words could do his voice justice. This ranks up there with the guy in the park in DC who shouted at me that I must be a cowgirl on account of my bow legs.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

30 before 30, redux

Okay, so I've got about three weeks until my job starts. I want to make the most of this time! What better way to kick off the summer than to review the 30 Before 30 list I created last year for my 28th birthday and try to knock out a few things. I should go ahead and add some as well, since I really only listed like 22, I think?

Here it is:

1) Read the New Testament [I'm halfway there...]
2) Plant a (herb?) garden
3) Perfect grandma's chicken and rice [Well... I cooked it again, but I'm not sure I quite perfected it!]
4) Learn to cook Ajiaco
5) Attend Catholic mass in Italian Latin and Spanish (neighborhood churches around here do that sort of thing) [Latin mass attended; next up, Spanish!]
6) Get a Brazilian wax [This was supposed to be the 'gimme' for my wedding, but I kinda sorta chickened out...]
7) Be able to do a new hairstyle (no ponytails) [I learned how to properly blow-dry my hair and straighten it... I'm counting that as a win.]
8) Introduce T to my Colombian relatives [This New Years....]
9) Learn to hem / basic sewing
10) Record my dad's life story
11) Visit my bro in CO or wherever he is [Did it last December!!]
12) Run in a race [Gonna train to run the big city 10k next May!]
13) Play on an intramural/community sports team
14) Get a bike
15) Go back country camping
16) Go fishing
17) Spend a night dancing at a Latin music club [I've danced my behind off at a couple places this year :)]
18) Shoot a roll of film & frame a new picture for my walls
19) Take a Tae Kwon Do class
20) Take a yoga class
21) Publish a zine
22) Ride a wave on a surf board
23) Take accordion lessons
24) Be a regular volunteer
25) Visit at least two local museums
26) Do an agility course with E
27) Play blackjack in a casino
28) Get a spray tan
29) Visit a farm with my mom
30) Take a road trip with T

Ok.... this is gonna be fun! I haven't gotten far yet, but I can definitely tackle these items within the next year and some change. This time last year, I had fallen down the stairs and hurt my leg, gotten sick with bronchitis and was about to lose two family members, one completely unexpectedly; and I was planning a wedding to boot. This summer, I pray, will be more relaxing, slower-paced and inspiring. Woo hoo!

End of 2L year

Wow. Watched my husband dance shirtless with Best Man. Ate wayyyyyy too many green beans to count. Apparently forgot how the can of green beans got opened. And then started surfing the internet while T walked the dog.

Summer, here I am!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Skip the meat.

If you find yourself walking along a busy, but unfamiliar, stretch of highway, looking for something to eat in a hurry, I have a tip for you. It's always prefereable to eat at a roadside restaurant of the Tastee Freez variety, with no indoor seating and a giant homemade sign advertising its world-famous [insert food/drink here]. That much should go without saying. However, if the roadside americana decor includes a proud proclamation that "We use government inspected meats ONLY!" then for the love of God...skip the burger! (Stock up on the root beer though. That s#$t is good!)

This PSA brought to you by JE, the hungriest person stuck in Jersey waiting for the train to Atlantic City on a Saturday afternoon.