not exactly what i ordered

On a muggy June day, what's more refreshing than Planet Smoothie? That's what I was thinking when I stopped there with my Mom and brother Nick yesterday afternoon on our way to the mall. I was halfway through my giant "Mr. Mongo" smoothie, when I found an unexpected surprise.

Not at all like the kind of surprise you find inside a Cracker Jack box. This surprise was much less fun, and much more revolting. Up through the straw and into my mouth, and then I spit it out: a fingernail clipping. In my smoothie. Just take a minute and imagine what you would do in that situation... let it sink in. Are you dry heaving? Because I was. A fingernail. In my smoothie.

The upside, if there is one to be found, is that it was just a fingernail and not an entire finger. Plus I got my money back. But I'm definitely writing a letter to Planet Smoothie. They will probably send me some condolence coupons — let me know if you want them! ((gag))


a downside of urban living

In all my praise of this southern empire state, I failed to acknowledge its shortcomings. Atlanta has to be one of the worst places to drive. The fourth worst city for traffic, in fact. But what's worse than traffic? Shitty drivers.

One shitty driver in particular was bombing down Northside Drive at 9:25 yesterday morning. And this driver, in what resembled a 1960's Dodge Matado
r, decided that he was too cool for red lights. So when he came upon North Ave, where I happened to be plodding along, minding my own late-for-work business, Mr. Matador almost t-boned the Volvo.

Thankfully, it was not my time to go. I swerved. And I'm very grateful that there were no cars in the left lane that I swerved into.


north & south

My mom recently told me this bit of trivia about hydrangeas: the color of the flower depends completely on the pH of the soil. So the only difference between white hydrangeas and blue hydrangeas is the acidity of the soil they are planted in. And the more I thought about that, the more a strange parallel began to form in my mind: aren't the trials we endure, the ways we are tested and the adversity we face — aren't these what shape and color us, and make us what we are?

June 21st marked my family's 11th year anniversary of moving from New Hampshire to Georgia.
The town I grew up in, Campton, had one traffic light. I knew every single kid in the 7th grade. The town I moved to had a middle school head count that dwarfed the entire population of Campton. The move had split my 13-year-old world in two: the world as I knew it, left behind, and the unknown southern abyss that loomed before me.

I hated it. For at least 365 days, I hated it every day. Hated the school, hated my classmates, hated my parents for making me move — you name it, I loathed it. The people talked strangely, and said things like "mash the lights" and "put your books up," when there was nowhere "up" to put them. I remember feeling "wicked out of place." Then I quickly learned that the word 'wicked' was not in a Georgian's vocabulary.

And then slowly, ever so slowly, the b
oiling hate started to simmer. A year after that, I had a fairly neutral opinion of the place. At some point during high school, a funny thing happened: I'd just been visiting my friend Laura in New Hampshire (who readily pointed out each time I used the word "y'all") and when the plane landed at Hartsfield Jackson, I sighed with relief and comfort. I felt like I was home for the first time.

Today, I'm grateful for both of my home states, and what they've brought to my life...

New Hampshire has given me:
an appreciation for the sound of snow and the smell of rain; a love of solitude; the
ability to ski; a love of small towns and country fairs; & an enthusiasm for exploring the outdoors.

Georgia has given me:
a willingness to take risks; confidence; an open mind; an appreciation for SEC football; & the ability to make new friends.


2 memes

My brother Trey now has a blog (as of today) so I'm tagging him for this meme.

meme #1 (courtesy of laura)
1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was 14, and it was the summer in between middle school and high school. I had just finished the most miserable school year of my existence (the first one in Georgia) and probably had never been more excited for a summer in my life. I spent a lot of time at the pool, reading until I was so sweaty that my hands stuck to the pages, and then I would swim. I probably did my fair share of babysitting, and took a trip with my family to the reliably-tacky myrtle beach... where I read some more.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today?
Participate in a 2 hour brainstorm session. Wash dishes from last night's dinner. Fold and put away clothes. Run 5.5 miles. Paint my toenails.

3. Snacks I enjoy:

Cheddar cheese, pepperoncini,
olives, boiled peanuts, vanilla yogurt and grapenuts (must be together), and anything that contains a large amount of sugar.

4. Places I’ve lived:
Norwalk CT (4 years), Campton NH (9 years), Roswell GA (5 years), Athens GA (4 years), Oxford England (6 weeks — but I had an address, so it counts), Heidelberg Germany (3 months), Atlanta GA (1.5 years and counting)

5. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Put all of my crap in storage. Quit my job.
Buy a very expensive camera. Take a 2 month road trip to california with my brothers. Go to ireland with my mom, grandmother and aunts. Go on a ski trip with my dad to colorado or switzerland. Buy a villa in italy and invite all my best friends to my villa for a month-long vacation. Buy two big ol' fixer-upper houses, one in georgia, one in new england somewhere. Join the peace corps. Coerce ryan into joining the peace corps with me. Live in south america for two years, learn spanish and help people learn english. Return to the U.S. Get my masters in international affairs. Write a book. Have 2 children and adopt 2 children (call me Angelina, I don't care).

meme #2 (courtesy of dawn)
6 unimportant facts about me:

1) I have a moderate case of Omphalophobia (fear of bellybuttons). They disgust me.

2) I have a severe case of Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). Family trips to the zoo = me standing and waiting outside of the reptile house alone.

3) I was editor-in-chief of my high school literary magazine. And I don't think anyone but me ever read the thing.

4) I've made it my goal to visit 3 beaches, go rock climbing, white water rafting and hang gliding this summer.

5) Weddings simultaneously horrify and fascinate me. Like car crashes. I've got a kind of a morbid curiosity about them.

6) I still have a few stuffed animals on my bed, and I think I always will.


ralph jr.

In light of Father's day, it is only fitting that I dedicate this post to my dad. And though I started writing this on Father's day, I'm a few days behind in posting it because... the tough part is, I can't begin to capture him in words.

The card I gave my dad said "When I was little, hanging out with my dad was one of the best things," and on the inside, "Still is." And of course, I immediately got choked-up in the Publix card aisle.
I'm giving up on finding the perfect sentence to describe him, and instead will just offer up this rambling, poorly-punctuated paragraph:

My dad is is the greatest storyteller I've ever met. One of my favorite things to do is eat dinner with my family, and sit around even after the food is gone listening to stories that make you choke from laughing so hard. He is the smartest person I've ever met. I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for him I'd still be reading my 3rd grade math book, trying to understand the chapter on multiplication. And Dad, I have to admit that I've long forgotten my 12's. He's the reason I ever got an A on a science fair project. He is by far the handiest person I've ever met. My best Christmas present was a handmade troll house (way cooler than a barbie house), and I will take it with me to the grave. He has always given me the greatest school- and work- related advice. He taught me how to fish, and is still my favorite fishing partner (maybe my only fishing partner — I catch the fish and he takes them off the hook because I can't stand to touch them. Or even let them get close to me). He is my favorite person to watch sports with (his enthusiasm is contagious. Seriously, you can watch golf and be on the edge of your seat). He taught me everything I know about hard work, dedication, football, writing and how to treat people. A guarantee to make me cry is hearing my dad saying "I'm proud of you." He doesn't speak to hear himself talk, he speaks when he has something worthwhile to say... so when he says that, I know he means it. And probably the nicest thing anyone has ever written to me was this, from a poem that was my 18th birthday present: "I've always wanted to give something back to God, and along came You." No matter how old I get, my dad will always be my hero, the man who has all the answers and can fix all my problems. For myself, I can hope for nothing more than to grow up to be like him.

And I really can't think of a better way to spend Father's day than I did; eating a big Italian dinner with my family (which included my dad's homemade gravy), watching Tiger Woods on the 18th hole via the little TV on the screened-in porch and breathing in the summer air, thick with humidity and cigar smoke.


easy silence, and a little sanity

After returning from a three day vacation I am most thankful for two things, both of which I find in one person.

1) Silence
If I can steal from a Dixie Chicks song without crossing a line into unfettered sappiness, this is my plagiarized tribute to my boyfriend, Ryan:

"I come to find a refuge in the easy silence that you make for me//It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me//And the peaceful quiet you create for me//And the way you keep the world at bay for me"

(I couldn't help it, they just say it better than I could have). At times there is nothing more comforting than to be able to be with someone, to be perfectly content in their company, and not feel the need to say anything at all.

2) Sanity
Sure, a trip to Cape Cod may have helped decrease my stress level. But geography aside, Ryan has the most effortless way of making my 'big issues' seem not so big. He can always put things into perspective when I start down a conspiracy-theory road, or a woe-is-me road, or any of the other side streets that I often stumble upon. He is a little island of sanity and stability in my life, and for that, I am grateful by the hour.


but what to say?

After some internal debate over what the 'theme' of my blog should be, I've settled on this: gratitude. Ideally, I'll find one thing to be grateful for every day (or every week as it may turn out) and blog about it. I can't claim that the idea is remotely original — in fact, my mom keeps a gratitude journal and I'm totally stealing the idea from her. That said, here is gratitude #1:

On my run tonight I passed this cute little house that has had a 'for rent' sign up for months. From th
e first time I saw this house, I wanted to live there. In fact, I made up a tune in my head with the digits of the phone number and sang it to myself all the way home. (When I called though, the rent was way too high — the man started negotiating pricing, but I panicked for some reason, made up an excuse about an imaginary roommate and hung up). But tonight, the sign was gone.

At first I was sad. I've had 'house lust' for the past year or so. I daydream about how nice it would be to live someplace with a big yard for my unborn dog, and a grill for barbecues, just generally someplace with over 600 square feet. But about a mile later, I ran past a house with about 16 b
ags of yard trimmings stacked in front, an abandoned rake and scattered pile of debris in the middle of the sidewalk. And I had to laugh. Occasional gardening would be nice — but bags and bags of twigs... not my thing. So today, I'm grateful for my teeny, tiny patio that only requires biannual sweeping. It was a gentle reminder that the grass is greener on the other side, sometimes quite literally.
[caption: some tulips in front of my apartment that I did not plant]


here goes...

I thought I was anti-blogging. Not that I ever had issues with other
people blogging. I just never thought I would jump on that particular
bandwagon. Even after I created this account, I sat around for a few
hours wondering why I did it, and if I would ever write anything.
Not sure if my hesitation stemmed from a fear that someone will
actually read this, or a fear that no one will ever read it.
Regardless, this is my first blog post, in all its dull glory. And
who knows, it could very well be my last. I'm not committing to
regular posts, because that would just be a blogging death sentence,
sure to inspire writer's block.