Monday, November 1, 2010

October by the numbers.

Since its November, I am breaking out my Christmas playlist. Sorry I'm not sorry. Christmas is my favorite holiday and season, regardless of the subarctic temperatures. This mix is improving Monday one Frank Sinatra song at a time.
Some numeric information regarding October:

2 The number of weeks of the real world complete
15 The number of Laffy Taffys eaten over Halloween weekend
3.5 The number of cups of coffee I have consumed per day (average)
12 The number of times I heard the Alanis Morrissette song "Torn" on the radio last week
7 The number of newly acquired bruises this month (causes unknown)
4 The number of Ravens games watched (of which were won)
The number of weekends spent in Charlottesville
1.5 The number of times I have lost my car in the parking garage
6 The number of times I have listened to the new Taylor Swift CD in its entirety
2 The number of awesome bulldogs I have seen in Arlington
$40.85 The amount of money in my checking account
5 The number of times I have pressed the wrong floor in my apartment building's elevator
3 The number of times that has resulted in an awkward interaction
4 The number of bags of cough drops I have gone through
6 The number of times I have been to the Clarendon Whole Foods
6.5 The average number of miles run per day
3.5 The number of times I have paid a toll in pennies

Friday, October 29, 2010


I am feeling a bit more than under the weather today. It typically takes a l ot to sideline me; I am certainly one of those people whose approach to illness is to simply pretend like I am not sick and go from there. Anyone have any good remedies for a particularly nasty cough and cold? My head feels like an anvil is resting on top of it at all times. Training started an hour later today so I was able to sleep infinity hours last night, but so far it hasn't helped. Fingers crossed I'll be able to go to a friend's Halloween birthday party tonight. Do gin buckets help sinus problems? In other news, I found The Ballerina Project on tumblr yesterday and was completely fascinated by the photographs. I love the lines against the architecture of the city; I think urban planning and design is unbelievable (architecture nerd alert) and provides a such a distinct backdrop for each image. I was an unsuccessful ballet student as a little girl (I know you're all shocked), and found that I much preferred gymnastics. Anyway, I have always been impressed by ballerinas; I think they are beautiful. Here are some of my favorites:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Open letters.

One of my new favorite websites for hysterical laughter at any time is McSweeney's.

They have an "Open Letters" section of their website, which allows people to write letters to people or entities that would never actually respond. Seeing as I make mental open letters two to three times a day, I am taking this opportunity to write a formal complaint.

An Open Letter to Everyone Driving on I-66 Between the Hours of 5 and 7pm, More Specifically, the Guy Driving the Subaru "Baja" Directly in Front of Me,

I know its rush hour. I know you really, really want to get home. Me too. I left my office building about an hour ago. It took me 30 minutes, a diet coke, and 3 oreos just to get onto this God forsaken road from said office building. As much as I am usually a very positive person, this road brings out the worst in everyone. Why anyone in traffic engineering thought that a major commuter thoroughfare could spontaneously go from 2 lanes to 4 with no impact on the movement of traffic is completely beyond me. 4 - 2 = 2. 2 < 4. Simple math.

On the subject of lane loss, I blame construction. While I really appreciate the building of the metro out to Northern Virginia, which will someday, in the extremely distant future, allow me to avoid all of this mess, you have ALL NIGHT to construct. Yet, you choose to construct when everyone under the sun wants one thing: to reach their apartment building in Arlington, remove their tights in favor of an oversized nightgown, make hot cocoa and watch NCIS re-runs (Okay, so maybe that's just what I want). I propose to remove the speed limit signs on I-66 between the hours of 4 and 7pm. Let's be honest, no one will ever actually reach 55 miles per hour at this time, so this is really just cruel. If you do, somehow reach a pace above "glacial," don't hold your breath, because within minutes you'll have to slow down to pay someone 75 cents at a toll (which I paid in the form of pennies yesterday).

That being said, we are really all in this together (not to get all High School Musical on you). You, man in front of me, can make this easier on everyone. You know where you're going; you drive this road every day to and from work. You know your EZPass only works in the left lane at the approaching toll plaza. You know you have to exit onto 495 if you're still in the right lane after the toll plaza (which you don't want to do because your car will instantly implode at the sight of the backed up on-ramp).  You know the right lane actually closes in 1 mile. With that, I ask you sir, WHY ARE YOU IN THE RIGHT LANE? I would yell this to you, but I don't think you would hear it over your Metallica. Clearly, your Subaru isn't your only problem.

Thankful for my car's 6-disc CD player,

This guy.

Upon entering the elevator yesterday after work, I stumbled upon someone closely resembling this in the elevator:

His name is Chauncey, and he lives on the fifth floor. Can I have it?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"You can't have that, you're a grown up."

Apologies for the posting hiatus! In the midst of signing an apartment lease, trying to find clothes that are work-friendly but not completely lacking in style, and taking some trips here and there, I have been a little more than neglectful. Either way, I'm hoping to post daily now - so thanks for those of you that are still with me! For those of you that know me (Casey I think you can sympathize with me on this one), you know I'm not exactly a kid person. Babies, and even toddlers, are totally my jam. Once you reach the age of 3, all bets are off. So when my neighbor called and asked if I'd Nanny for her 3 kids (Ages 3, 5 and 7) for a while until school got under way, I was more than hesitant. Most of you know I'm naturally clumsy, so throw three children in the mix and you have a serious recipe for disaster. Regardless, I've been hanging out with Danny, James and Callie for a while now, and I will say they're not as scary as I thought. Despite the fact that they throw punches (along with juice, toys, and sand), they're pretty cool kids. Though I still consider myself a kid (I'm writing this wearing red Keds), I've learned a lot about the under-10 crowd:
1. Peanut butter and marshmallow is the only acceptable sandwich.
2. Thomas the Tank Engine is still cool.
3. So are Eloise and Madeline (Thank God).
4. Older siblings are indisputably awesome, no matter how many times they steal your bike.
5. Nickelodeon is NOT cool. Disney Channel is the only television station worth watching because it features the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez.
6. Older siblings are masters of reverse psychology.
7. Despite the aforementioned throwing of virtually everything, it is commonplace for two-year-olds to have a set of golf clubs.
8. If you are a 7-year-old girl, you are a diva.
9. Even without blood loss, a bandage always necessary.
10. I am considered a grown up.

Number 10 really troubles me, but I guess I have to go with it. As of next Wednesday, they will all be back in school and I will be getting ready to head to Atlanta to see Sarah! In other news, I cannot wait to go to the beach this weekend. Here's to hoping whatever hurricane that is allegedly approaching does me a favor and hangs out as far away from the shore as possible.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

For tha ladies.

This is from Esquire's Women's issue, absolutely worth the read.

Women. You're hard to get to know.

You're not a mystery, exactly. Nor enigmatic. It's just that your hard drive is internal. You have no flashing lights. You look better in pants than you think. You like some of the songs that we like. You like some other songs that we pretend not to like. You don't even pretend to like Springsteen. (What's the matter with you?) If you follow a sport, its probably football. If you have a sin, its probably salt, not chocolate.

Daffodils, not roses. You remember which one of us you kissed first; we remember you, too. You think we kissed you, but you kissed us. You cheat as much as we do, which is too bad for us, because we're more trusting. Your peak, in all things, is forty-four years of age. That's not to say you weren't hot when you were younger: you were a knock-out at twenty-six. The funny thing about you is, you think you're hotter now, so you are. However, you give a worse massage than you think you give. (Don't get us wrong, we're not complaining.) You're more patient than we are, but your patience is far from infinite, and your rage, once triggered, runs deeper. You know how to hold a grudge. And yet you'll stick with us for longer than is sensible for you.

You call them your tits, just like the rest of us do. You're more attracted to Sean Penn than you care to admit.

Your hearts beat faster than ours yet you live longer. That doesn't make any sense. You have better balance, but you can't hold your breath as long. You were born and you will die with the same forehead.

You're not that funny. You'd like to go for a drive to Chicago this weekend, but you'll settle for Kansas City. You like to eat. Fuck it, then. Eat. You look better to us when you drink beer out of the bottle, when you play bass guitar in an otherwise all-male band, when you wear cotton briefs rather than a thong, and when you wear clear nail polish or none at all. You also look awesome in a flannel shirt. Apparently, you look best to us when you look like a man - specifically, a drunk lumberjack with rhythm. That doesn't make any sense, either.

That Catholic-schoolgirl thing is hard to explain, but absolutely, yes.

You first broke a boy's heart in the seventh grade. You probably don't even know you did it, but you definitely did. You sat in the front of the class, close to Mrs. Murney, and we sneaked sideways glances at you when we went to sharpen our pencils. Then one day we all went on a ski trip, and on the way home you sat beside us on the bus, and you put your head on our shoulder and we thought we had a chance, but you were just tired from skiing. You looked cute in a stocking cap.

You liked Jason instead. You might be able to fool boys, but you cant fool men. Your boyfriend is a boy. You're not as desperate to get married as the movies make you out to be. If you have children and someone has wronged them, you're just as capable of violence as we are. You would look better either without your tattoo or with more of them. You've felt sicker to your stomach than we have. You're nicer to us than we are to you. But we're nicer people.

You'll still catch yourself wondering what your life would have been like with him long after we've forgotten about her. You hope it will be something quiet and minor and peaceful and slow, too. You'll miss us when we're gone, but not as much as we would miss you. Maybe that's why we die first. Your hearts beat faster, but they have less blood to push.

You know who you are.
Do you want to go to kansas city?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Apartments, etc.

As of October 18th, I will have to be a functioning member of the "real world." Since I am actually 7 years old, this could be a problem. Either way, seeing as my job is in Reston, I'm moving to Arlington with Emily in September! I have spent 22 years in Baltimore, but I absolutely love DC. I'm so excited to have some public transportation and museums. Aside from that, its only an hour and fifteen to Charlottesville. If I really want a Take it Away sandwich or some Gordonsville barbeque, I could make that happen. My Mom and I are going apartment hunting with Emily and Peg the first week in August, which should give us a few different places from which to choose. I am usually into homemade decor, but I recently stumbled on this small company, enormous champion, that I absolutely love. Their prints and notecards are so unique and quirky, they fit right in with things I already own. I just ordered this guy, most likely for my bathroom, and saw some of their wooden animals in a home decorating shop downtown. In the midst of my excitement, I must admit the downside to living in DC, which is the fact that it is outlandishly expensive. I also need to buy a car (see aforementioned family car issues). I'm pretty good with finances, budgets, directions and a lot of apartment-based living components, but I know absolutely nothing about cars. I know its all about gas efficiency, etc, but I really think that cars were meant to make noise. Therefore, I'm not sure I believe in hybrid cars. I don't need a Hummer or anything, but I have been driving an Explorer for the past 4 years and it pretty much goes anywhere. Also, due to my small size, I like to be able to actually see things, which works best in bigger cars. True to form, the SUV/Sedan debate will probably come down to a pros and cons list. If anyone has any suggestions whatsoever, feel free to throw them my way. Between the car and the apartment, I'll be living off PB&J's, but it should be worth it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Steel City.

As much as I try to limit my time above the Mason-Dixon line, I do make allowances for exceptionally fun things, such as weddings. My cousin Dave got married this Friday so we went up Thursday for their rehearsal dinner and spent the weekend in Pittsburgh with the Kennedy's. My Mom's entire family is from the Philadelphia or Pittsburgh area, so unfortunately that does mean a lot of Steeler fans in a very small space. It gets ugly from time to time, but there's always Cleveland to help us find common ground if things get particularly dire. Their rehearsal dinner and reception were both at the Pittsburgh Field Club, which is absolutely beautiful. Pittsburgh is at the center of three different rivers that run through the Allegheny mountains, so virtually the entire city (minus downtown) is built on inclines.That church spire off in the distance is actually where they got married on Friday. The extreme variation in height reminded me of Charlottesville; you don't realize how hilly the city is until you reach a point with a view! Saturday was the aforementioned amphibious tour of Pittsburgh, complete with a trip to the Hard Rock Cafe. I'm pretty sure the last time I went into a Hard Rock Cafe I was 9 years old on a church youth group trip to ESPN Zone in downtown Baltimore. Either way, it was cool to actually see the downtown area, including the alleged 460+ bridges of Pittsburgh (this is according to Josh, our guide, who was not wearing tour attire and made several bad jokes about Heinz ketchup, Lebron James and West Virginia).
My Mom and Aunt lived in Pittsburgh until my Mom was three, so we actually went and saw their old house in Chatham Village, a really neat part of the city that reminded me of Old Georgian terrace housing. Even though it was arguably pretty creepy, it was really neat for them to be able to sit on the steps of their old house.

In other news, the Tour de France ended today, along with Lance Armstrong's cycling career. Since my Dad and brother started cycling I have gotten really into it, going so far as to purchase a Tour de France flag when I was in Paris. I am extremely jealous of my good friend Jeffrey who got to see the last stage end today on the Champs Elysees. Jeffrey, next time, I expect a spot in your suitcase.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A few things.

1. Ironing is therapeutic. If anyone has anything they need pressed, please send it my way.
2. I love Gilmore Girls. I don't care how girly it is; the 5pm reruns on ABC family make my day.
3. 2 out of our 3 cars have died in the past 24 hours. The remaining working car resides in Delaware with my younger brother. My father has since rented a car (allegedly a Dodge Charger?) so that we will make it to my cousin's wedding in Pittsburgh tomorrow. The death of the green wagon is particularly tragic, as it is a part of many a high school memory (see below)

4. The aforementioned wedding includes an amphibious tour of the city of Pittsburgh. After watching a tragic news story about a "duck boat" that was leveled in the Philadelphia harbor by a large ship, my aunt remarked, "I've always wanted to do one of those," and promptly signed us up for one in Pittsburgh this Saturday.
5. I have finally convinced my parents that half-caffeinated coffee serves absolutely no purpose, leading to the necessary purchase of some Dunkin' Donuts original.
6. The John Adams Series: If you haven't, you should.

Monday, July 19, 2010

305. Don’t be so eager to leave the kids table.

Earlier this semester, I stumbled upon 1001 Rules for my Unborn Son in a bookstore in Charlottesville. The description of Walter Lamond's book reads, "Boys need rules. One man's instructions for raising a thoughtful, adventurous, honest, hardworking, self-reliant, well-dressed, well-read, well-mannered young gentleman." Lamond takes it upon himself to record these 1001 rules before he "becomes old and uncool." While the book itself is witty, quirky, and downright accurate, what made it even better was that Lamond created an online blog version. After spending hours perusing the pages, here are a few of my personal favorites of the first 500 or so:

22. Girls like boys who shower.
23. Learn to tie a bowtie.
35. Crabs are Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs, steamed with Old Bay. No exceptions.
47. Watch a lightening storm from a safe spot. But watch em.
49. Call your mom.
59. Socks are not necessary in the summer, no matter how formal the occasion.
85. Learn to sail.
99. Nothing good ever happens after 3am. I promise.
140. Never sit down on a ballfield. Take a knee.
154. Ask your mother to dance.
161. The keys to throwing a good party are a working stereo, Christmas lights, and plenty of ice.
181. If you ignore history, it will ignore you.
189. Learn to drive a stick shift.
212. Make yourself useful on a boat.
229. Write letters. On paper.
233. Go down fighting.
258. No vanity license plates.
272. If the teacher forgets to assign homework, keep quiet.
281. You aren't done raking until you've played in the leaf pile.
288. Believe.
304. If you choose to wear a tie, commit. Button your top button.
332. Suck it up.
345. Remember the Alamo!
352. Don't wear a club tie in England. They mean something there.
384. All drinking challenges must be accepted.
408. Don't let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.
410. Sometimes your best bet is to bet on her.
418. Go Navy. Beat Army.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"A nice girl with a lead foot."

I have become a regular in traffic court. After a near pristine driving record (aside from an unfortunate incident the first day of my Senior year of high school), I got two speeding tickets, in two weeks, in two different states. Needless to say, I had to make my way back to the middle of nowhere North Carolina to attempt to explain myself and see if they would reduce the $200 fine. To those of you ever contemplating a road trip though NC, I do not recommend a stop at the Kenansville courthouse. In an attempt at efficiency, they decided to run traffic court and criminal misdemeanor court simultaneously. Definitely an interesting experience. They took $20 off my ticket though, so that made the 8-hour trip completely and 150% worth it. My more recent ticket took me to Charlottesville, but honestly, any excuse to go to Charlottesville is fine by me. About an hour through, the guy about 4 rows back fell asleep, and started snoring really loudly. Anyone who knows me in the slightest can imagine about how long it took for me to start laughing. Even after I got it out of my system, I continued to crack up to myself for a solid 15 minutes. I'm pretty sure both the judge and the police officer held my juvenile tendencies against me, because this trip went about as well as the NC trip. I got a Bellair sandwich out of the deal and a wonderful overnight in DC with Heather so I'm not particularly upset. Now back in Baltimore, I'm currently reading I am Charlotte Simmons (by way of recommendation). Though very interesting, I am about ready to kill Charlotte Simmons. Major diva.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Eventually, when I am cooler, older, and tougher (and financially a little more stable, ha), I plan on not only learning to sail but I'd love to purchase a sailboat of sorts. Its always relaxing watching the sailboats from the top of Fort McHenry in Baltimore or from the public dock in Annapolis (Let's be real, I'll find any excuse to be on the water). In my recent foray to the Charlottesville market with Sarah, we stopped in a small boutique next to Feast (a delicious grocery store and lunch spot) that we had never seen before. When I was last in Annapolis, I had spotted some neat bags made out of recycled sails that were right up my alley. Lucky for me, this shop had several really cool Seabags, one of which I may have to purchase sometime soon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Preferred heroine.

In the recent flurry of young celebs, I feel the need to stand up for one in particular with which I grew up. As much as I can try and appreciate the pop music, glitter, and attitude that come with say, Miley Cyrus, I'm not sure 10-year-olds need to be carrying cell phones and sporting halter tops. Call me old fashioned on this one, but I didn't have my first cell phone until I was a freshman in high school. It was a Nokia, had a Hawaiian flower face plate and came fully equipped with snake and somewhere around 10 texts per month. Side note: It was also about the size of today's cordless household phones. Nevertheless, I recently stumbled across one of my favorite books, Little House on the Prairie, in the bookstore downtown. Laura Ingalls Wilder was my favorite. Having read every book in the series probably somewhere around 7 or 8 times, I couldn't get enough of Laura and her family's adventures. I believe my copy of Little House in the Big Woods was left outside on the porch one afternoon during a thunderstorm, but even the subsequently waterlogged pages couldn't stop me from rereading. It goes along with the aforementioned love of trains; I thought it would have been pretty cool to have been a pioneer. Aside from the life or death choices that came with deciding whether to "caulk the wagon and float" or "ford the river" (thank you, Oregon Trail for those many eventful mornings in homeroom), you could have given me a bonnet and signed me up. Laura Ingalls was a classic American heroine; very much a more modern take on Annie Oakley.

I am fortunate enough to have a house in Pennsylvania that has been in our family since the 1800s. About 30 minutes north of Lock Haven, Mohawk sits on a beautiful mountain along the Susquehanna River. Driving up through the winding roads leads you somewhere someone else could never find (unless of course they knew exactly where to look). Growing up spending Thanksgivings, Christmases, and fall weekends there afforded me many of my own Laura Ingalls Wilder moments, including the fort that my grandfather helped us construct. It was my very own log cabin, and I loved being able to pretend that I too was as adventurous as Laura. Some of my best memories include driving the car in from the gate at age 10 (Thanks, Dad), picking apples from the orchard, hiking and spending hours by the bonfire watching the black bears hang out at the feeder. The last time I was up at camp, I spent the vast majority of one afternoon looking through old scrapbooks from the 1930s-1950s that my great grandfather had put together. Already a sucker for black and white photography, these were absolutely unreal. It was all I could do not to hijack all of the albums and take them back home. So many of the pictures I found enlightened me that my Nana was, perhaps, a Laura Ingalls herself.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love.

As far as books go, I tend to gravitate toward those with intriguing characters. Non-fiction, fiction, either way, I've read both and that fact absolutely remains the same (Think Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, Pat Peoples in The Silver Linings Playbook, or Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in All the President's Men). A couple summers ago, Elizabeth Gilbert published her autobiographical Eat, Pray, Love, which became quite literally an overnight phenomenon. I was hesitant to get on the bandwagon because I shy away from philosophical, life and self-analysis style literature. You'll never find me reading Chicken Soup for any kind of soul and the vast majority of poetry still escapes me a little (Aside from some T.S. Eliot, Tennyson, and more recently Mary Oliver). There's a fine line for me between "depth" and less concrete, spiritual self-pondering. Either way, it took me a couple months to cave and pick up Gilbert's book while at the beach. I could not be more thankful that I did. When Gilbert refers to herself as "the planet's most affectionate life-form, something like the cross between a golden retriever and a barnacle," I knew I'd found a good one. Though perhaps not that affectionate, a friend once said that I "haven't stopped laughing since 1997." This is pretty valid. Gilbert's path from her lonely apartment in New York through Italy, India, and Indonesia leaves her with a greater understanding of not only herself, but what it actually means to be happy. While reading, I was actually reminded of the line in Where the Wild Things Are, where Judith states that "Happiness isn't always the best way to be happy." Gilbert echoes this sentiment, not by underrating happiness in any way, but acknowledging that its so much more complex than that. The spectrum of emotions within that overarching category is pretty expansive; oversimplifying that concept is only doing yourself a major disservice. I recently began re-reading Eat, Pray, Love upon hearing the movie will be out in June, with Julia Roberts starring as Elizabeth Gilbert. The trailer had me sold with the Florence and the Machine song (Dog Days are Over) used to accompany the amazing cinematography, and I really hope they can convey the sincerity of Gilbert's writing on the big screen.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Choo choo.

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I have a closet love for various forms of transportation, particularly planes and trains. I often think I was born in the wrong time period for a number of reasons, one of them being the fact that trains were a complete novelty in the 1800s, making them the definition of adventure. I would have had a field day. Either way, I'm lucky enough to have an apartment situated directly next to the train tracks that run through the city of Charlottesville, which allows me full access to the comforting noise of the train rolling by every so often, as it is right now...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An ode to never growing up.

"Its important to be a fairy scientist because you're learning something that no one even thinks they exist. Except for some people. And not that many people that are even grown ups. Well when they were little girls they might have believed in fairies; when they grow up not many of them believe in fairies any more."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A small diatribe...

Okay, so this might be the pot calling the kettle black seeing as I have a blog, Facebook, and am an active user/abuser of gchat. Not only that, but I do have a BlackBerry, which affords me constant connection to my email, text messages, and phone calls. In the recent flurry of job-related endeavors, school work, and fun spring events, I have become acutely aware of the number of available social networking devices and am frankly slightly overwhelmed. I recently re-watched "He's Just Not That Into You" for the first time since I saw it in theaters. I loved when Mary at one point laments, "I had this guy leave me a voicemail at work, so I called him at home, and then he emailed me to my BlackBerry, and so I texted to his cell, and now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies." Mary, I feel you - its too much. This realization came about this morning in my 9:30 class, which was a negotiations exercise on job-related maneuvers (read: teach engineers how to communicate effectively). Not everyone knows how to discuss things in a professional manner, which I realized when the boy next to me asked if children could be used as "leverage" in a business deal. Anyway, the root of the hypothetical negotiation was an employee whose boss wanted him to relocate to the San Diego office despite his desire to remain at the Richmond office with his family. After discussion, my professor wondered why more people didn't discuss "telecommuting" from the Richmond office, or a part time residence in San Diego with home base in Richmond. When she got 50 blank stares, her response was, "well, you ARE the Facebook generation." While her point is definitely valid, by no means do any of these internet/technologically-based networking devices substitute effectively for face to face communication. Its definitely nice to be able to keep in touch with friends and family so actively; I know my high school friends and I have remained close in part to our weekly email threads. Not only that, but the ability to communicate with people over the course of the day makes accomplishing pretty much everything easier. However, I think those of us labeled the "Facebook" generation need to be pretty careful to make sure we can separate ourselves from the technology. As someone who is making a conscious effort to remove the cell phone from its position as an extension of her right hand, I think taking a step back is just plain necessary sometimes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"I told you so..."

As mentioned previously, my spring break was spent on a house boat (I prefer "ship") docked in Fort Myers' Snook Bight Marina. The weather was absolutely phenomenal (aside from one day of torrential rain and some solid flash flooding) and it was really very unfortunate to leave. A friend described me as a "child of the summer," which is frankly dead on. My biggest problem with Charlottesville is the fact that it is completely landlocked. Its pretty hard to grow up in Baltimore and not develop a love of sun, water, and great seafood. Unfortunately, the real world calls, and I arrived back in Charlottesville this morning after what was supposed to be a 2-day trip back took a little layover in Roanoke. Though I don't claim to be particularly poorly traveled, I will say that the south has (unfortunately) escaped my radar. Most of the architecture classes I've taken here have made me want to take a road trip down the coast to see historic towns like St. Augustine, Savannah, and of course, Charleston. So, when the opportunity arose to stop at the College of Charleston on our way back and spend the night, I can't say I was mad about it. My best friend Katie has been telling me how she can't see me living anywhere else but Charleston since she and her family visited last Easter. At the time I brushed it off, content with my mid-atlantic latitude; but now having visited (even for just over 24 hours), I had no idea what I was thinking. A slightly undercover architecture nerd, I was in absolute heaven. After dropping my friends off at C of C to get ready with our high school friend, I went over to the battery on an adventure to see as much as I could. The lights of Fort Sumter were just visible in the distance, and even in the darkness I was in complete awe. The houses are just absolutely unbelievable - authentic, early 19th century, uniquely southern homes lining an expansive harbor with so much character. Historically, most of the residences have remained in their original families, having been passed down over the years. The photo to the left is 21 East Battery, which is right behind the 1825 Edmondston-Alston House, one of the first homes constructed facing Charleston Harbor. In 1838, the second owner Charles Alston completely remodeled the house, adding Greek Revival details. This is just one example; East Battery street is lined with some of the most interesting, and historic homes I've ever seen. The fact that the majority of the residences are original (or as close as you can get) is what makes so much of a time capsule - and I love it. The architecture is really just the beginning - life moves slower in Charleston; the urgency that can sometimes overwhelm up north is nonexistent. Not only that, but Charleston is the mecca of fraternity fashion. There was no shortage of croakies, colorful khakis, and button downs. Truth be told, I have a soft spot for a good bow tie and blazer. Hopefully someday I'll have the opportunity to live there; I'd take even a cardboard shack on the Battery any day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I'm on a boat...

Actually realistically I'll probably try and work that phrase into each day I'm here just because I can. I'm currently in Fort Myers, Florida, on a 14-person houseboat docked in Snook Bight Marina. Though I find it a little disturbing that one of the "most common fish" (as per the marina's brightly colored and annotated poster) is black fin shark, I am thoroughly happy to have successfully made the 15-hour trek from Charlottesville. Don't ask me how precisely this plan came to fruition, but I'm not mad about it, that's for sure. My skin is thanking me epically for this foray to the 75-degree sunny, water-logged coast. After my rapid fire trip to Atlanta on Tuesday and my 2-day drive here, I'm a little travel weary, and this is certainly the place to solve that issue. In light of this, a few observations:
1. Everyone in Florida drives trucks. The bigger, less fuel efficient, and more intense in appearance, the better. I can't imagine living here sans truck- I would be completely uncool.
2. Florida is a long state. Completely underestimated that one when I looked at the map.
3. One can drive 85-90 mph on the interstate and be fairly assured that no traffic violation will be incurred. The speed limit is usually 70, and I ventured a casual 80 to find myself being passed rapidly left and right.
4. It is completely okay here in Fort Myers to wear a neon bikini with a fur vest and hot pink platform flip flops.
5. There are lakes more or less everywhere. It is particularly awesome that houses are just interspersed around lakes with docks and boats and general fun. I am in full support.
6. Publix is the best grocery ever; they have the best selection of food and most delicious (recent discovery) sweet tea.
7. After entry into North Carolina, every single rest stop contains a Waffle House. How all of these Waffle Houses remain in business is a mystery, but having never eaten there, for all I know it could be awesome and worth placing at every exit of 95 south.

On that note, I cannot express how happy I am to be immersed in beaching and sunshine. The marina here is absolutely beautiful and has pretty much everything you'd need for a relaxing week (including coffee a mere 100 feet from our dock). Tomorrow night will be our first venture into the local Fort Myers bar scene and I, for one, cannot wait.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"That's what she said" (and other immature things I find funny)

For many people in the collegiate world, Thursday is really just an extension of the weekend. I can name countless friends whose freedom begins when their last class gets out somewhere around 12:15. One of the infinite perks of being a Biomedical Engineering major happens to be the fact that our department has spared us the agony of Friday class (believe me, they use the rest of the week to their full advantage), but unfortunately, Thursday has become the bane of my existence. Leaving my house around 7:30 every morning and usually returning around 6:30 or 7pm leads to some major fatigue and a little delirium. My 11am materials science class always gets the ball rolling as far as immaturity goes. My professor is a pretty stoic, but really interesting guy who spent a good part of his life doing Naval Ship R&D. As someone who finds most forms of transportation very cool, I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of his flying and sailing adventures. Additionally as the only girl in the class, I get a serious kick out of all of the bros discussing the merits of certain materials and arguing whether or not a particular item will implode. Nevertheless, corrosion (yes, this is a class about how to prevent things from falling apart), has a vast number of really good "that's what she said" opportunities. The problem is that no one else really picks up on them (the lack of sociability of engineers does, in fact, hold some water). I'll spare you the specifics, but when you're discussing various holes in materials, there are some verbal mistakes that are just too good. As my friend Kiki says, the word "motorboating" is just always funny. After spending the class unsuccessfully trying to stifle my laughter, I resigned the rest of my afternoon to a two and a half hour Architecture seminar. Typically, I sit on the far side of the room, but last Thursday I decided to switch it up and put my stuff down next to a particularly fratty kid wearing (shocker) a Patagonia fleece, camouflage hat, and boat shoes. As you may have been able to garner from my earlier discussion, I have a history of laughing uncontrollably. I used to be embarrassed by it, largely because there are a lot of times (class, church, operation of motor vehicles, etc) when completely out of control laughter is not appropriate. Usually, something mildly funny sparks some kind of subtle laughter, which slowly progresses as I continue to laugh at whatever is going on in my head (I'm not a freak, I know you've all experienced this). There are certain people whose texts I'll never read in class solely to avoid cracking up. Anyway, one glance at this kid's laptop screen and I knew it was a lost cause. After watching him peruse his Twitter page briefly, he switched over to Youtube. His first video of choice? "30-year-old trainer attacked by Orca whale." Then using the"related videos" link to the right, he explored additional animal encounters (squirrel, flamingo, and bear) before heading on to Facebook to his virtual farm and aquarium. I think he realized that I was cracking up at his interweb activity about 2 hours into class, and began actually taking some notes. The sideways glares I got from my professor as I tried to contain my hysterics via my coat sleeve were probably well-deserved but hey, it wasn't totally my fault. Moral of the story? Sometimes acting your shoe size, not your age, isn't such a bad idea.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I've got long division covered, thanks.

So the world may have taken a toll on my blogging, but now that I have things under control (or so I'd like to think), I'd say its about time I returned to the internet. After spending the afternoon in a job interview where the interviewers more or less assessed my ability to solve SAT-style math problems (think logic puzzles and long multiplication) on a white board in front of an audience, I could actually probably use a gin and tonic. Nevertheless, the inspiration for this endeavor (credit where credit is due) largely comes from my best friend Sarah, who finally started a blog (More Olives Please). After starting so many sentences with "Well one of my bloggers says", I for one am so excited that Sarah has decided to make the foray into online journalism. That being said, this return to blogging is one of my New Year's resolutions that has been a bit neglected up until this point. Though typically I don't make New Year's resolutions, this year I felt compelled to write down a few of the things I deemed worthy causes for 2010:
  1. Learn to like Diet Coke (and other more readily available diet sodas - no one serves diet root beer, its just a harsh reality)
  2. Get a salaried job (To pay for an apartment, ideally somewhere warmer than this icebox)
  3. Read books (that I like) while I am at school and revive the blog
  4. Pay off all parking tickets to the University of Virginia and not incur any others (already failed, but earnestly attempted)
  5. Look nicer for class (use a bag for gym clothes, it never hurt anyone)

So, in the spirit of resolution #3, I present A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers (also responsible for the screenplay of Where the Wild Things Are). Published in 2000, I was slow on the uptake with this one, which irks me a little considering I fancy myself a bookstore connoisseur. In a quest for new material over winter break, a good friend of mine told me this was a personal favorite of his. After investigating, purchasing, and reading (probably in less than 3 days), I can completely understand why. Eggers' humor is presented in the novel's very first page, which states very simply, "This was uncalled for." After a preface and introduction that, among many things, defend Pluto's planethood ("Why did we do that to Pluto? We had it good with Pluto."), it is apparent that Eggers' writing style is truly unlike any other. As someone who tends to write in a stream of consciousness (friends can attest to my paragraph-less emails), it took me no time to adjust to the quirky phrasing and syntax of Eggers' prose. Whether or not you've lost a parent, as Eggers does twice in the novel's beginning, the feelings expressed are ubiquitous for those of us teetering on the edge of adulthood. Eggers describes his parents' death without the soft glow so often found in the movies (think The Notebook). His father's passing in a haze of cigarette smoke and alcohol consumption in conjunction with his mother's prolonged battle with stomach cancer leaves Eggers without a sense of purpose and direction. It is in his younger brother, Toph, that he finds the project that will sustain him through his early twenties. After relocating from their suburban Chicago neighborhood to California, Eggers begins to understand the complexities of Toph, for whom he feels completely responsible. Though often framed as a burden, the reader quickly realizes that the relationship is as much a necessity for Eggers as it is for Toph. The other aspects of Eggers' life (namely women, alcohol, and work) are presented superficially and tangentially, which only further emphasizes the anchoring relationship of the two brothers. As Toph becomes increasingly self-reliant, Eggers realizes he not only depends on Toph's companionship, but validation that he serves a purpose for another individual. You find yourself rooting for each to find a place in their own life as Eggers' novel resonates with honesty, sadness, and the humor derived from life's subtleties.

"For example, we soon discover that, because the floors of the house are wood, and the house sparsely furnished, there are at least two ideal runways for sock sliding. The best is the back-deck-to-stairway run (fig. 1), which allows, with only a modest running start, one to glide easily thirty feet, all the way to the stairs leading to the lower floor, the first half of which can be jumped, provided one is prepared to drop and shoulder-roll upon hitting the landing, which, if stuck, should be punctuated with a Mary Lou Retton arm-raise and back-arch. Yes! America!"
- Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius