what goes up...

...must come down. and down. and down.

Who: me
When: last night
What: falling down a flight of stairs, stopping only when I hit the wall at the bottom
Where: in the middle of a "Tour of Homes," in a million-dollar-plus house in Grant Park
How: a combination of hardwood steps, slippery shoes, bad luck and perhaps a bit of bad balance
I'm relatively unharmed — a few contusions on my lower back, knee, shin and somehow a skinned thumb (?). And although I'm not enjoying the aftermath (chiropractor, epsom salt baths, ice pack, etc.) I have to say it was pretty damn funny. A few friends and coworkers can testify that it made a horrifyingly loud sound (insert noise of 20+ witnesses gasping) and I rolled down the stairs, side-to-side, bouncing around, Sonic the Hedgehog style. But all in all, I'd say I'm lucky I didn't snap anything (bones OR banisters).



For 11 years, I've written poetry and for 11 years, I've been scared to let people read it. There may come a day when I'm ready to. Today is not that day. So instead, I'll share one I love by Mary Oliver, called Singapore.

A beloved English professor told me once (everyday) that in order to appreciate a poem, you must first read it ten times. Seems excessive, but I believe if it is a good poem, you can read it ten times and find something new in it each time. Without further ado, here is Miss Oliver.

In Singapore, in the airport,
a darkness was ripped from my eyes.
In the women's restroom, one compartment stood open.
A woman knelt there, washing something
in the white bowl.

Disgust argued in my stomach
and I felt, in my pocket, for my ticket.

A poem should always have birds in it.
Kingfishers, say, with their bold eyes and gaudy wings.
Rivers are pleasant, and of course trees.
A waterfall, or if that's not possible, a fountain
rising and falling.
A person wants to stand in a happy place, in a poem.

When the woman turned I could not answer her face.
Her beauty and her embarassment struggled together, and
neither could win.
She smiled and I smiled. What kind of nonsense it this?
Everybody needs a job.

Yes, a person wants to stand in a happy place, in a poem.
But first we must watch her as she states down at her labor,
which is dull enough.
She is washing the tops of the airport ashtrays, as big as
hubcaps, with a blue rag.
Her small hands turn the metal, scrubbing and rinsing.
She does not work slowly, nor quickly, but like a river.
Her dark hair is like the wing of a bird.

I don't doubt for a moment that she loves her life.
And I want her to rise up from the crust and the slop
and fly down to the river.
This probably won't happen.
But maybe it will.
If the world were only pain and logic, who would want it?

Of course, it isn't.
Neither do I mean anything miraculous, but only
the light that can shine out of a life. I mean
the way she unfolded and refolded the blue cloth,
the way her smile was only for my sake; I mean
the way this poem is filled with trees, and birds.


philosopher's graffiti

[Found on the side of a boarded up Jiffy Lube, up in the 30075]


the greatest commercials

My all-time favorite. These kids are awesome.

If there was some way to make this happen... it would be the best day ever.

Because I love colorful things, bouncy balls and this song.

I'm pretty sure this will make you cry.

Because I love football...

...and football photography...

...and especially SEC football...


two more reasons to love my job

Reason One
While half of America toils under florescent bulbs, this is the view from my cubicle. Blue sky, natural light, a birch tree... which just happens to be my favorite kind of tree. Not bad, eh? (Random helpful tip: 'eh' is a scrabble-approved word.)

Reason Two
December 16th is the office's second annual "Cookie Swap." This consists of each employee baking four dozen cookies, bringing them into work and spending an afternoon gorging. Then we all go home with a behemoth box of 30 different kinds of cookies... which none of us can bring ourselves to look at because, by that point, we are pissing out liquid sugar. But a big part of what makes it fun is reading the cookie name tags while we eat. Here is a sampling of what my coworkers have dubbed their creations:

Sherry - Fudgie Pudgies
Dawn - Orange Lovies
Jenn - Make-your-mouth-water, gone-to-heaven, smack-yo-mama, no-you-dihn't, you-wanna-piece-of-this, thin-n-sassy, bestest chocolate chip cookies EVAH!
Shaun - Chocolate Pnut Butter Yummy Lovey Baby Sweeties
Steve - Raspberry + Lemon Cookies for Eating
Molly - Oatmeal White-Chocolate Cranberry Chunk Cookies (the non cow patty version)
Ashley - "Seriously, I Am Amazing" Sugar Cookies
Katy - MMMMMMMM Banana Chip Cookies
Amanda - Meat Cookies
Blake - Oreogasms
Kyle - Nana's (Pain in the Ass to Make) Christmas Cookies


giving thanks

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” -Thornton Wilder

Regretfully, I did not take a single photo of Thanksgiving. But it was spectacular. My dad borrowed a frialator and deep-fried the Turkey, whom my brother Trey nicknamed "Fred" or "George," I can't remember which... one of the Weasley brothers. My youngest brother Nick (a.k.a. "Biggie") got stuck cooking 3 of the 4 side dishes — but he is a chef in training, so I hardly think he minded the work. And my mom
served homemade stuffing. Yes, you read correctly — my mom, who doesn't particularly love the holidays and is a far cry from Betty Crocker — made stuffing. From scratch... God love her.

"A thankful heart hath a continual feast." -W.J. Cameron


it's about balance

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." -Kahlil Gibran



That's the number of pounds of food I ate yesterday between 12:00 and 4:00 at my company's Thanksgiving Feast. And, as of yesterday, it's also number of years Ryan and I have been dating. There are many reasons why I love him, but the #1 reason why I loved him yesterday was because of this conversation...

Him: How was the Feast?
Me: Amazing.

Him: Did you win the Weigh-In?
Me: No, but I came in second; I gained five pounds.

Him, in a voice filled with admiration: I'm so proud of you.
[Sherry laughing at me, while I try to keep it all down.][Our spectacular table, arranged by the lovely ladies Dawn and Courtney.]
[Massive amounts of food, followed by a game called "Pin the Tail on J.J." Good try Laura!]
Although Ryan & I couldn't be together on our anniversary, I felt so very thankful to spend the day eating food I love, with people I love.


joining the 14%

Despite my dad's best efforts to stop it [see photo above], I got a tattoo last Saturday. Apparently 14% of the U.S. population is tattooed, according to Wikipedia... I would have guessed higher.

My mom and I went to Inksomnia, where the owner, Mike did my "ink." I was so afraid I'd pass out or pee my pants [an irrational fear, because I don't think an uncontrollable bladder is a real bodily reaction to pain]. Regardless, I waited until the absolute last second to go to the bathroom before sitting down in the chair. Because I was prepared for the worst, it actually didn't hurt as badly as I anticipated. Plus, my brave mother went first; watching her endure it made me feel a little better. When he was finished, the first thing Mike said was, "welcome to the club of tattooed freaks," which made me laugh with relief, and think I have to write that down so I'll remember it...
It turned out exactly the way I pictured, so I'm thrilled. It's a Sanskrit word which means consciousness — as in, "the state of being awake and aware of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc." I got it to serve as a constant reminder to myself to be aware and present in each moment.

Reactions have been varied but, for the most part, positive. My favorite was my grandmother: "Oh sweet Lord... well I don't know why I'm surprised. Nothing you do should surprise me after you wore flip-flops to prom."


home dolce home

A ogni uccello il suo nido è bello: an Italian saying which means To every bird, his own nest is beautiful. No, I don't speak a word of Italian, I only wish I did. (I barely passed three semesters of it in college, which I'm sure made Great Nana roll her eyes from the afterlife.)

I'm moving out of my apartment in January. The thought of packing makes me want to break my own legs, but the alternative is grim: a rent increase that would total $935/month. My mom's advice — which is golden 99% of the time — was to focus on what I have instead of worrying about what I can't control. So I've been trying.

A few nights ago, as I sat watching Real Housewives of Atlanta (which has the same effect as soaking your brain in Novocaine) I looked around at my small space like I hadn't in a while. Reflecting on the details, on all the time and love I've poured into it, I began to realize how much I'll miss it. Oddly enough, for the first time it feels like home. I've been living here for almost two years. Isn't it strange how we often need the threat of losing something in order to fully appreciate having it in the first place?

Anyway, I always love seeing pictures of others' houses, so I thought I'd share a few of my own nest... before I have to dissasemble it. But the very good part of all this reshuffling is that even though I'm losing my apartment, I'm gaining a roomate: my brother Trey! Now we just have to find a place...


bodega bay to brooklyn

Love this guy...


little laura lu

This is the girl who introduced me to Grease, tacos, Swedish Fish and badminton — the finer things in life. This is the girl who has made me laugh so hard I actually peed my pants; who occasionally tormented me with fireflies and salamanders; who taught me it was OK to be myself — to be the spastic, blabbering, know-it-all dork that I always have been — and she loved me anyway. My original "long-distance relationship" started when I left New Hampshire (and Laura) and moved to Georgia at age 13. Laura and I wrote each other letters, in the days before email, and spent our parents money on lengthy long-distance phone calls, in the days before cell phones. We even shared the same awful haircut for a short period of time (reference photo at top). Since 1994, I've had the unparalleled comfort of knowing that, no matter what, rain or shine, hell or high water, beyond any shadow of a doubt, Laura would always be there for me.

Three weeks ago, she went to the ER because she was experiencing severe back pain. A few days later, she was told there was a small tumor in her brain. She had a successful surgery last Friday, and they were able to remove most of the tumor. It will be another week until the results of the biopsy come in.

As with all my closest friends, I'm guilty of not telling her often enough how much I appreciate her friendship. I don't tell her enough how much I love her, how much she made adolescence bearable, how many of my happiest childhood memories involve her, how I'm grateful for her astonishing capacity to listen to me (even when I'm sick of hearing myself talk).

I'm heading to Boston in a few hours to see her. I'm always excited to visit, but this time I can't wait to give her a too-long, too-tight hug. And to tell her that I'm
grateful to know her, grateful for the shared memories that come with fourteen years of friendship and grateful for what I know will be her speedy return to perfect health.


e pluribus unum

A few days ago, I drove past a church sign which read, "Our imperfect choices; God's perfect will."

Just as there is no such thing as a perfect human, there is no such thing as a perfect human choice... and Lord knows I've made my share of shitty ones. But the beautiful thing is that, despite mistakes and misjudgments, we retain the right to
hold our own opinions, to speak our own truths and to make our own decisions. The power to choose should never be underestimated. At the same time, I keep in mind these lines from Desiderata; "whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should." Despite my imperfect human choices, I carry an unshakable belief that things will happen as they were truly, perfectly intended to happen.

Last night, obviously, was a milestone moment. Some people cried tears of happiness, while others, undoubtedly, shed tears of frustration. Thomas Jefferson once said that "democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." In my mind, this is a partial truth: although being among the forty-nine percent can indeed be disappointing, I hope with all my heart that this nation never again attempts to 'take away the rights of others' but instead strives to "perfect our union."

No matter the outcome though, I think we can all be grateful for the privilege to vote. I'm proud to live in a country where every individual has the right to chose, has a voice and has the freedom to use it.
[photo by my brother Trey, November 3, in Charlotte N.C.]

"America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment." -President-Elect Barack Obama


halloween [and pictures] galore!

I wish I could claim this excellent creation as my own, but I would be a big fat liar. My brother Nick made this huge (and delicious) pumpkin cake from scratch, using two bunt cakes stacked on top of one another. It was my sisterly duty to each three slices... not all at once, but one with breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This, however, is all mine! The very first pumpkin I've carved solo, and I'm overly proud of it. I wanted something that was more "Fall" than "Halloween" so I could keep it for a few weeks. It looks pretty cute all lit up on my dining room table, in my biased opinion.

But making a pair of ruby slippers was my big undertaking of the Halloween season. I started with a pair of plain red shoes from Walmart, and added spray-on glue, a few layers of chunky red glitter and finished them off with clear acrylic sealant. Voilà!


...and after.

The result: The Wicked Witch of the East
[Testing out my new ride]

[My fabulous, costumed co-workers... and my legs]


bioluminescent dinoflagellates

A big name for this microscopic miracle of nature.
October 20, 9:00 PM, Fajardo, Puerto Rico: Along with a dozen others, Ryan and I paddled a kayak out across a breezy saltwater bay, toward a dark, Mangrove-lined passage. With nothing but glow sticks on boats in front of us to mark the way, we followed single-file behind the tour guide through a narrow, winding canal. At first there was nothing remarkable about it — except that we did get a good laugh out of how remarkably bad some couples were at paddling a kayak.

But gradually, as we maneuvered along and it got darker and darker, you noticed the water. At first, the glow was barely visible, like your eyes were playing tricks on you. But twenty minutes later, as we approached "Laguna Grande," every time the paddle hit the water, it was as if a giant, silent, blue firework exploded under the surface. When the water is disturbed — whether by a fish or a human hand — a few thousand of these bioluminescent plankton light up like the Fourth of July.
It was incredible... something Walt Disney could have dreamed up... except it was so much better, because it was real.
[I couldn't bring my camera because by the end the trip we were soaked. I've patched together a few visuals, courtesy of Google and YouTube, but unfortunately they don't do it justice.]


hola puerto rico!

A giant GRACIAS to my Aunt Pam and Uncle Kurt, who gave us their timeshare week at a clearance-rack price. They'd tell you that I owe them tons of hours of babysitting, but I never signed any official agreement ;)

Ryan and I will rendezvous at Hartsfield-Jackson tomorrow morning and head for San Juan. Be back next week! Until then — peace, love & go dawgs.


big laugh for a little baby

Even on the crappiest of days, this will put a smile on your face.


my history with history

I watched the movie "The Great Debaters" last night. Liking it, I went online to do some research on the actual Wiley College debate team from 1935. And I'm glad that I did. While the movie is based on a true story, I found this article, written by a daughter of one of the real debaters. She reveals some key truths about History vs. Hollywood (i.e. Wiley's triumph was over the University of Southern California, not Harvard).

I'm embarrassed to admit that, until recently, I haven't had much of an interest in history. In fact, I've been satisfied for the better part of my life to live in complete ignorance on the subject. (I didn't help myself out much by sleeping through my college history class... but seriously, when you have 200+ kids in a lecture hall, it is an invitation to nap.) The past few weeks though, as I've been watching HBO's WWII miniseries Band of Brothers, I've become keenly aware of two truths: 1) I'm even more ignorant about U.S. history that I thought, and 2) any piece of history can be interesting if it is told in a compelling manner. (Because what little historical knowledge I do have was obtained through novels, lit classes, documentaries, movies, etc.)

Sometimes I feel I live my life on a soapbox, but I guess it's better than the alternative (not having an opinion). But the simple fact that as little as 53 years ago an African American woman could be imprisoned for keeping her seat and today we have an African American presidential candidate, makes me both grateful and ashamed in the same breath. Ashamed because, any way you twist it, America has an ugly past... and 1955 wasn't that long ago. But grateful that for every individual in our history who has acted out of hate and violence, there has been an individual brave enough and strong enough to stand up for liberty, justice and equality. The fact that a nation such as ours can undergo tremendous change in just 53 years gives me hope for mankind. In the words of W.E.B Du Bois, "As you live, believe in life. Always human beings will live and progress to greater, broader, and fuller life.”
[Du Bois's house in Accra, Ghana, which I visited in 2005. Among other things, he was the first African American to receive a Ph.D from Harvard in 1895. Du Bois lived in Ghana from 1961 until his death in 1963. He died the day before Martin Luther King Jr.'s march on Washington, where participants held a moment of silence to honor his memory.]

I'm setting a new goal to learn a thing or two about U.S. history. So if you have any recommendations (books, documentaries, etc.) I'll gladly take them.


under the sea

On Saturday afternoon I ventured to the Georgia Aquarium with my brothers and Grandmother, who is visiting from North Carolina. Although I live in Atlanta, I had no idea that this aquarium is the world's largest (clearly, I live under a rock). It's definitely worth checking out, but I would recommend going on a weekday. That is, unless you like large crowds, close quarters, rubbing elbows with tourists, strangers breathing on you, etc.

My favorites were the Weedy Sea Dragons (above) and the Beluga whales. I was actually so transfixed by the Belugas that I forgot to snap a picture. The Moon Jellies were also fascinating — I was one of the numbskulled visitors who walked up to their tank and exclaimed, "they're changing colors!" only to be corrected by my seventeen-year-old brother, "Dev, the color of the light is
changing, not the jellies" (after that they didn't seem quite as cool). But I think the best part about a trip to the aquarium is how, at least for one moment, everyone lets their inner 8-year-olds out and gawks, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, amazed by the beauty of nature, in all its strange forms.


typology test

I'm veering off topic for a moment, and completely stealing this from my friend Marissa, because I'm strangely fascinated with it: The Jung Typology Test or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, "personality test." It's comprised of 72 yes/no questions, and evaluates your answers based on four dichotomies [pictured].

Who knows, maybe it's a crock. But some of it seemed to ring true. And, lets be honest, reading about one's self is always an interesting topic. With that said, you don't have to read the rest of this, as it is all about me. But if you want to read all about you, go here: Typology Test

My results: INFJ
Me, in a [verbose] nutshell:

INFJs are scarce, little more than one percent of the population, and can be hard to get to know, since they tend not to share their innermost thoughts or their powerful emotional reactions except with their loved ones. They are highly private people, with an unusually rich, complicated inner life. Friends or colleagues who have known them for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that INFJs are flighty or scattered; they value their integrity a great deal, but they have mysterious, intricately woven personalities which sometimes puzzle even them.

INFJs are sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people — a product of the "Feeling" function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood.

Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists — INFJs gravitate toward such a role — are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power. INFJs are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden. INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their "Judging" preference for closure and completion, they are generally "doers" as well as dreamers.
INFJs have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential.

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching, religious leadership, psychology and counseling. INFJs do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. INFJs are both kind and positive in their handling of others; they are great listeners and seem naturally interested in helping people with their personal problems. Not usually visible leaders, INFJs prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.

More explicit inner conflicts are also not uncommon in INFJs; it is possible to speculate that the causes for some of these may lie in the specific combinations of preferences which define this complex type. For instance, there can sometimes be a "tug-of-war" between NF vision and idealism and the J practicality that urges compromise for the sake of achieving the highest priority goals. And the I and J combination, while perhaps enhancing self-awareness, may make it difficult for INFJs to articulate their deepest and most convoluted feelings.

Blessed with vivid imaginations, INFJs are often seen as the most poetical of all the types, and in fact they use a lot of poetic imagery in their everyday language. Their great talent for language — both written and spoken — is usually directed toward communicating with people in a personalized way. INFJs are highly intuitive and can recognize another's emotions or intentions — good or evil — even before that person is aware of them. Accurately suspicious about others' motives, INFJs are not easily led. These are the people that you can rarely fool any of the time. Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends. Such a friendship is a symbiotic bond that transcends mere words.


finally fall?

This morning weighed in at a damp 64 degrees. Cloudy and drizzling, but finally, a day where it doesn't hit 80. (Not to complain — the weather has been beautiful lately — but it is hard to get into the Autumn spirit when it's as hot as July.)

But the heat hasn't stopped m
e from dressing like it is actually Fall (consequently, I've been sweating my face off for the past 2 weeks wearing jeans, scarves and closed-toed shoes.) And the heat definitely hasn't kept me from Fall festivities...

[Farmer Nick and the pumpkins he grew in the backyard. Impressive, don't you think?][The fam at R&A Orchards in Ellijay, picking apples. This has become an annual outing that I coerce them into... but they like it.]


i am the rain king

What do you call a birthday gift with five months of anticipation attached?Tickets (in May) to the Counting Crows concert (in October). It was worth the wait. Highlights:

>The concert starts at 8:00. Adam Duritz is onstage at 8:00. No frills, no bullshit, no introductions. Except he did take a moment to explain that two band members, Dave and Charlie, weren't present because their wives/girlfriends had babies over the weekend (a bizarre coincidence). In lieu of the two Crows, the Augustana band (also on tour) stepped in. The resulting band = what they dubbed "Augustana and Everything After Dave and Charlie leave" (their first album was titled "August and Everything After"). Love it.

>Soul that leaves me speechless and lyrics that never cease to amaze. Anyone who knows me has probably heard me say before that Counting Crows songs are poetry put to music.

>At the end, Adam states that he doesn't understand encores and thinks it is a waste of time to walk offstage, wait
for a minute and come back on. So he says they will just play a few more instead. And they proceed to do a folksy (yet spectacular) rendition of "Cecilia" that would have made Simon & Garfunkel proud.

A big shout out is in order: Thanks Trey and Nick (and Mom) for the tickets. Thanks Nick for coming with me (but too bad you didn't win those backstage passes, aha).


my favorite first lady

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” -Eleanor Roosevelt


like the rolling stones said...

You can't always get what you want,
But if you try sometimes you might find

You get what you need.

Want: Trip to Clemson
Need: Quality downtime

Due to a seriously annoying lack of gas, I canceled my trip to SC at the last minute. I woke up at 7:30 on Saturday morning, spent an hour waiting in line at the Shell on the corner, only to find out they had a $25 cap. And then I found out from Danna that the fuel situation in Clemson is equally grim. It was a disappointing turn of events, but it ended up being a much-needed quiet weekend. Plus, now I have a squeaky clean apartment, an empty laundry basket, a half-full gas tank, a stocked pantry, a few chapters completed and a 10-hour-night of sleep to show for it.

Want: A UGA win
Need: An SEC reality check

The only unsettling, un-peaceful event of the weekend was the nauseating UGA loss. I could rant and rave for a paragraph at least. But I won't. Maybe we needed to be knocked off the pedestal. Maybe now we'll show up ready to play. Maybe now we'll want it more. Because as the legendary Vince Lombardi taught us, success is not as much about strength or knowledge as it is about will.

Want: North Georgia State Fair
Need: North Georgia State Fair

Pig races, petting zoo, candy apples, funnel cake, scrambler. Friday night I was fortunate enough to share these things with four of the people I love the most, my parents and brothers.

one out of three ain't bad. But damn, a Georgia win really would have been gratifying.


'twas the night before friday

Progress: this morning I only hit the snooze button two times before getting out of bed. This is huge. Lately I've been snoozing for a luxurious 40-50. I hate that I do it, but it is like a physical addition. (Do they have snooze rehab?)

But this morning was different. I awoke with a jolt, bright-eyed and ready to take on the day [insert corny theme music here]. OK, the real reason for my unusually alert start is that I slept with my windows open, and at 7 a.m. it was barely 74 degrees in my bedroom. Away to the window I flew in a flash, tore open the shutters and threw down the sash. This is cold when you're used to 78 — Ryan and/or Laura, I can hear you scoffing all the way from Brookline.

Once I was shocked awake, excitement set in, not unlike Christmas morning. There are three things happening over the next two days that I am, to put it mildly, singularly and absurdly excited about.

1) The North Georgia State Fair, Marietta GA
You know the adage — you can take the girl out of rur
al New Hampshire, but you can't take rural New Hampshire out of the girl. Can't decide if I'm looking forward more to eating Funnel Cake AND a Candy Apple, riding the Scrambler or watching Robinson's Pig Paddling Porkers (a swimming/racing porcine event, if you didn't know).
[Found this gem in the iphoto archives: my brothers at the fair in October '06.]

2) D-Dawg Reunion, Clemson SC
Assuming I can find a gas station that actually has gas, I'm taking a mini road trip to visit my best friend from
high school, Danna, aka D. Lo, aka Horseface. She moved to Clemson almost two months ago and I've been dying to visit her, see her new house and her pup Charlie. (Check it: Looks like if I can make it to the border on half a tank, I'll save a buck).
[Another shot I dug up: Danna circa 2001. Still makes me laugh every time.]

3) UGA vs. Alabama, 9/27 ESPN 7:45
One word to describe it: historic. The 9th game between top-10-ranked teams played in Athens in UGA history,
the 2nd blackout ever and the first time in 10 years that ESPN's GameDay will set up camp in the Classic City. It will be a glorious display of the world's finest game.
[Paint it black, boys. Paint it black.]


what it's all about

It goes without saying — but I'll say it anyway — between the election and the economy, it seems a wave of change is building. Stability, in any form, is increasingly hard to come by. When faced with change, whether big or small, I find it is easy to panic. It can be hard for me to remember that the only way we ever grow, is to first change. An age-old truth, maybe best stated by Marcus Aurelius: "Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be." We are built for change. We never stop growing.

I'm grateful that I have had, and continue to have, people in my life that challenge me. People with different, sometimes starkly contrasting, views and opinions. People who make me look twice and think harder. People who can be as logical as I can be irrational, as reticent as I am demonstrative, as flexible as I am obstinate, as serene as I am excitable, as extroverted as I am introverted and as patient as I am, well, not always. These people — some loved, some unloved, but all deeply appreciated — have helped me grow.

"When you're finished changing, you're finished." -Ben Franklin

[Photo props to coworkers: Laura, illustrator/designer & David, photographer. Featured hands: yours truly, two-time hand model for various projects]


just keep swimming

I'm not sure of the original source for this anecdote but I love it. My Dad gave me a copy on a little scrap of paper, which I've carried around in my wallet for years.

It's a rare person who doesn't get discouraged. Whether it happens to us or to an associate we're trying to cheer up, the answer centers around one word: perseverance. The value of courage, persistence, and perseverance has rarely been illustrated more convincingly than in the life story of this man (his age appears on the right):

Failed in business: age 22
Ran for legislature—defeated: 23
Again failed in business: 24
Elected to legislature: 25
Sweetheart died: 26
Had a nervous breakdown: 27
Defeated for Speaker: 29
Defeated for Elector: 31
Defeated for Congress: 34
Elected to Congress: 37
Defeated for Congress: 39
Defeated for Senate: 46
Defeated for Vice President: 47
Defeated for Senate: 49
Elected President of the United States: 51

That's the record of Abraham Lincoln.

So now you know why I named my fish after him. After a quick weekend in Boston (a staggering total of 40 hours), it can be
lonely to come home again. Thankfully, this little guy is there to greet me: Abraham the Betta, aka Abe the Great, aka Honest Abe, aka Mr. Lincoln. Sure, he doesn't exactly wag his tail, but he is a good listener. And he is a survivor, for sure: I've had him for 2 years this month. If he could talk, he would tell he's lived through some murky times. See the resemblance?


loves me, loves me not

Hundreds of rose petals. These were leftovers from a work project. I figured I'd take them home and find something to do with them. Wasn't sure what. Then I had a wonderfully halfwitted idea...
Because, well, why not? My neighbors probably already think I'm a bit touched anyway. (Not that I've officially met any of them, but they've seen me many a Sunday out on the patio, beating throw rugs, dressed in a getup that could hardly be considered respectable, sporting the white-girl fro, singing to myself, etc., you get the picture). Anyway, it will be a nice sight coming and going for the next few days until they wither. And before too long, they'll be covered by leaves.


a common cobweb

"Nothing will sustain you more potently than the power to recognize in your humdrum routine, as perhaps it may be thought, the true poetry of life — the poetry of the commonplace." -Sir William Osler


what the living do

Ever since I read this poem in a college course, I've loved it. Marie Howe's inspiration for this particular poem was her brother John, who died of AIDS. On a day when so many people are mourning loved ones, I thought it was fitting to share. Sometimes I think the best way to honor those who have passed away is to become more conscious of our own living — to practice being present, to be grateful for each breath and to realize the enormous gift we've been given.

What the Living Do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living room windows because the heat's on too high in here, and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living, I remember you.

from scratch

Ever since my brother's encounter with Sonic, I've become a bit of an ingredient-phob. So I was happy to find this recipe for a homemade sports drink in Women's Health:

1) In a pitcher, dissolve 1/4 c sugar and 1/4 tsp salt in 1/4 cup hot water
2) Add 1/4 c OJ, 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 3 1/2 c cold water
3) Stir, chill, done
I tested it out the other day, and it is actually pretty good. The recipe makes about 4 servings, which will last me a week or so. It's not quite as sweet as your average sports drink but that could be a plus, depending on your taste. The definite advantage is that it's a cheap alternative, and you know exactly what's inside.

Added bonus: I don't like to support Gatorade anyway because it is named after the football-team-of-which-we-do-not-speak. So it's a win-win.



This is Dawn. We work together. This photo almost perfectly captures her fantastic sense of humor [credit: Blake Tannery]. Today is her birthday, and I'm grateful that a) she was born, b) she inspired me to start blogging — had to throw that in there and c) she keeps me laughing every Monday through Friday.

Of all the people I've met and quotes I've read (though that stack might not amount to much), no two are better paired than this lady and this phrase, courtesy of
Fellini: "Put yourself into life and never lose your openness, your childish enthusiasm throughout the journey..." Perhaps the cheeky ol' Italian had Dawn in mind when he said it. Either way, she adds a little dolce to la vita.


fading summer

"Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?"
-Robert Frost

Resisting change, I believe, is one of the most basic human instincts. And I'm completely guilty of it. Though I love the start of a new season, I can never wholeheartedly embrace the change. There remains a part of me that clings to the familiar. In this case, a part of me that is not ready to pack away the flip-flops, sunscreen and flowing skirts. A part of me that pouts when the sun sets before 8:00 pm.

But I'm learning that one way to welcome a new season is to bid a proper farewell to the passing one. Given this, I'm trying to appreciate the last days of summer — noting the nuances of the season, and all that it carries. Because just when I start to think, I'm ready for fall (like when my legs, arms and even knuckles are swollen with mosquito bites), I find some new little piece of summer to fall in love with.

Take, for instance, your typical chlorine-soaked suburban swimming pool. Have you ever looked at the bottom? Like really seen it? It is dizzying, but amazing. The sun cuts through like tiny laser beams, dancing and scattering along the bottom, in a strangely chaotic-but-fluid rhythm, breaking patterns as soon as they are formed. Or, the way the water feels when you swim? It envelops and transforms your body into a foreign, nearly weightless being. Swallowing you whole, the water feels like a strong wind blowing against your skin, but from every direction at the same moment. [model: my cousin Emma, age 4 1/2]

I'm grateful for these last days of the season. But I know that, as with all things, this too shall pass. My obsession with summer will end September 21. My obsession with fall will promptly take its place, on September 22, with a vengeance.


i don't love baseball, but...

I do love spontaneity. 5:45 yesterday, my Dad calls; "Hey, I have 5 extra tickets to the Braves game. It starts at 7:15. Want to go?"

It was $1 hot dog night. I did not partake, but my dad did. We sat behind first base. When I say 'we,' I mean me, my dad and about 15 of his colleagues.

I also love: the first signs of Fall, my father who throws peanuts at girls standing in the way of the game (ok, fine, I gave him the idea), admiring the ATL skyline on the drive home.

[my dad demonstrating the
oh-so-politically-incorrect Braves tomahawk chop]


one dazzling moment

"When we are mindful of every nuance of our natural world, we finally get the picture: that we are only given one dazzling moment of life here on Earth, and we must stand before that reality both humbled and elevated, subject to every law of our universe and grateful for our brief but intrinsic participation with it." -Elizabeth Gilbert


50 years from now

My grandmother, Mimi, just turned 75 in early August. She was visiting us from North Carolina over Labor Day weekend and Nick, my 17-year-old brother, was determined to fit 75 candles on her birthday cake. A seemingly impossible task — oh, but not when Dad has a blow torch handy. This was the result:75 and it only took her two breaths to blow them all out. And she was so excited to see that many candles. I hope I make it to 75 candles.

Only about 50 more years until I'm that age. Thinking about that reminded me of this list I started keeping 2 years ago, "25 things to do before I die." I try to update it every once in a while.
The last time I wrote it was about eight months ago:Publish book of poems
Backpack in Italy
Road trip to the west coast with Trey and Nick
Have a boxer/lab mix
Work in another country
Work for the Peace corps or a nonprofit
Work for refugee services
Live in Boston
Redo an old house

Have organic vegetable and herb garden
Live on a farm

Learn to play an instrument
Learn how to speak the basics of another language
Get married to someone I'm madly in love with
Learn how to ski again
Learn to surf
Hike a volcano
Have 4 kids
Adopt a baby from another country
Volunteer at a nursing home
Buy Dad a motorcycle
Travel to Ireland with Mom
Go hang gliding
Run a 10K
Travel to one new place every year

I'm realizing that in the past eight months time, I've actually crossed four things off this list: I've learned to ski again, run a 10K, traveled to two new places and have started working with a refugee service (volunteering).

Maybe the reason I keep this list, and the reason why I love lists in general, is the added sense of accomplishment they bring.
When life starts to feel stagnant — when the weeks form familiar patterns, and long hours of working gunk up like plaque in my memory — lists like this one serve as a reminder that things do change, milestones come and go and each day is a chance to do something you haven't done before. (And yes, I am "that girl" who will occasionally write down an item on my daily to-do list after I've already completed it, just for the satisfaction of crossing it off.)

So it looks like I have a few open slots on my list of 25. Any suggestions on what to add?