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 รจ 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