Friday, October 28, 2011

So. I quit my job.

Like, a month ago. And maybe one day I'll tell you that story. But for now, I'll just tell you what I've been up to with all this free time on my hands!

-I've been keeping up with the latest episodes of The Office. Though I'm just never satisfied with it these days, now that Michael is gone. My favorite one so far? The Incentive. If you haven't already, watch it. Even if you don't follow the show. It's hilarious and heart-warming all in one. All the others so far this season have been meh, so-so, but this one reminded me why I fell in love with this show to begin with.

-I've started a new episode-watching-trend with New Girl. Pretty cute, mostly. Though I probably shouldn't be proud that I've added another tv show to my list of things to do.

-This is my new thing. Window painting.

-And we went to a Halloween party. Though what we really wanted to wear was this:

We actually went dressed like this:
Can you guess what we are?? .....

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich!!! We were singing "It's peanut butta jelly time!" all night.

-My aunt visited us a few weekends ago and we picked out some pumpkins to carve from the local Papa John's farm. She decided to carve the least amount possible, making slits for eyes and a mouth - so I did the opposite. Wide eyes and a huge gaping mouth. Sadly, this technique meant that he didn't last too long, and our little friend is no longer with us, but his memory lives on.

-I've committed to NaNoWriMo. Though I don't think I've fully grasped yet what all that will entail. And I probably won't until I'm staring at a blank computer screen for 9 hours on November 1st, and I realize I only have 29 days left to write a novel (less if you remember the fact that my mother is visiting for 10 days over Thanksgiving break).

-We went to New York City (see post below)

-I finished a photography class with the local community college. It was sometimes boring, but there were a few new tricks I learned that will be helpful in the future. Plus, a kid gave me a macro coupler (which is like a magnifying lens cover) for free. Not exactly as nice as a macro lens, but still awesome.

-We moved apartments, and now have an extra den for only $10 more a month. This was 4 weeks ago, and my back has still not recovered. I am momentarily paralyzed every time I sneeze, and I've concluded I need a cane for my middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. I do believe I may have a serious problem that should probably be checked out.

-Reading! I've begun the Harry Potter quest all over again. I have never. never. never. read them all, one through seven, right in a row. In fact, I've only read #'s 5, 6, and 7 once. It's been fun going all the way back to the beginning, and forcing myself to pretend like it's my very first exposure to the wizarding world and the three amigos.

-I've been trying tons of new recipes out. When I was working, I barely had time to put a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner. But now, I can spend as much - or as little - time on making a freshly made, homecooked meal. It makes such a difference. When we are eating junky, quick, easy, cheap, crummy food, both Adam and I feel just like that: junky and crummy. And we say, "Ugh....nothing sounds good..." all the time. Now, we enjoy a variety of meats and veggies and dinners every night and Adam can take leftovers for lunch rather than eating out, and everyone is just happier all around. Here are some of the meals I've tried so far:
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Chicken Wraps w/ Malibu Dipping Sauce
Sweet Pork Burritos
Meatloaf (not a new recipe)
Butternut Squash Pasta (unfortunately I didn't write down the recipe to this, as it was kinda made up. But, neither of us really liked it too much, so not much of a loss there....)
Pork Chile Verde

-I've joined pinterest ( It started as a great way to organize all the fun recipes I wanted to try out, but since has grown into an everything organizer. Now when I check magazines out from the library, I mark every article that I think had something interesting or useful in it, I look up that article on the magazine's website, and then I pin it. I can then return my magazine to the library, while keeping a virtual copy of my favorite articles. It's great. I'm also determined not to become a poser pinner - if I'm gonna pin it, I've got to do it....

-With that being said, here is the beginnings of the apron I'm working on. I have never owned a cute apron before. And the only apron I once owned was so ugly my dog thought it appropriate to rip it to shreds. Sigh.
Those frills are ridiculous to deal with, by the way...

So! This makes me feel better, at least. Seeing a nice long list of the productive things I've been doing, because sometimes it feels like I just lounge around in my pajamas all day......oh yeah. I do that too.

Monday, October 17, 2011

New York City!

About a month after moving to Maryland, Adam and I sat down and planned/talked about some of the things we wanted to do on the East Coast while we were out here. They included adventures such as DC (of course), Williamsburg, beaches in the Carolinas, camping at Assateague Island, Boston, and many more. 

Adam said his one request was to see the Statue of Liberty, and so (in May) we purchased the next available tickets to Lady Liberty's crown -
this last weekend we finally made our trip up to NYC
 (yes, we had to reserve 5 months in advance!)

We decided to drive up to New York, rather than taking the train (which was about $100 a person roundtrip). And rather than spending $300 a night staying at a hotel in the heart of NYC, we stayed at Homestead Studios in Rutherford, New Jersey, about a half hour away. It was about $100 a night and they had a full-sized fridge, a stove top, and a microwave, so we were able to cook our own breakfasts and heat up left-overs.  On Saturday morning we parked our car at Liberty Park, NJ for $7 and took the ferry to Ellis Island.

Taken on the ferry  -the only time I needed my scarf -
the rest of the weekend was perfect beautiful fall weather.
We watched a movie about the millions of immigrants that came to Ellis Island, and then we headed to Liberty Island.

There she is! In all her glory! 
Adam loooooooved her.
I was starting to get a bit jealous...

These are the CRAZZZY small spiral stairs we had to climb up to get to the crown. Going down was much worse than going up.

Here we are, cramped in her tiny head. It was so much smaller than I was expecting - everyone had to crouch and squeeze around each other to get pictures of anything. It was so cool!

So there was a man in the crown who would NOT. STOP. TAKING. PICTURES. 
He had the camera I want (the Nikon D700) and a nice wide angle lens, and he was sticking his camera out the windows and just randomly shooting from every angle he could, spinning his wrist in circles. When I did that, this is what I got:
 And it scared me to stick my camera out there for much longer than 3 pictures, so I gave up quickly. 
I hope (for his sake) his came out more exciting than mine.

I figured he'd be a good one to ask to take our picture, since he seemed to be pretty serious about his own.....

but, nope...Blurry, as always. But still cute.

Admiring his new-found love.

From Liberty Island we took the ferry over to Battery Park, NYC. We decided we would stay in the South end for that day, and explore the north end the next day. We hit up Wall Street:

We walked down to Ground Zero, but unfortunately didn't know you have to reserve tickets to see the Memorial -- so make sure you go here to reserve your tickets before you head to NYC. We did visit St. Paul's Cathedral, which became a sanctuary for rescuers during 9/11. They would come to the church for a break, for meals, or to nap on the pews. The church now has a touching exhibit, and is full of letters written to the rescuers, thanking them for their service. I would recommend everyone going here - such a beautiful tribute. 

 We also walked halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge, not because either of us had really planned on doing that, but just because we were walking and there it was. It was crowded and not too terribly exciting, but had good views of the city.

 We were hot and tired after the bridge, so we got expensive ice cream cones that tasted cheap. And Adam knows best - people eating food is always attractive.

 The next day we took the metro up to the North end of town, starting at Times Square. Adam was enthralled with the many moving, talking, shining screens and advertisements and people. We didn't do a show this time, though I really want to see Lion King - so maybe next time. 

Adam kept making fun of me because I was carrying around our Fodor travel book, which had really important information like maps and addresses in it; he said I looked too much like a tourist. 

 Next we began exploring Central Park. We loved it! It was so huge and such a distinct change from the busy bustling city. It was like a little slice of heaven and peace had dropped in the middle of chaos - it was so beautiful. 

 I don't get too excited over Beatles stuff, but Adam wanted a picture of this and I've always got his back. It was crowded, and surrounded by a group of people playing Beatles music and a bunch of people singing along with them. I learned in Europe how to sneak my way forward to get the picture I want (Thanks to Mona Lisa)

Shakespeare and I got to be quite the good friends my last semester in college, so I had to pay tribute to him

 What do you think the people behind me were looking at on her arm? That's what I really want to know...

 We ate at Shake Shack for lunch, which unfortunately I did not get pictures of, but it was SO SO SO good. We watched Something Borrowed (terrible movie, btw) a couple weeks ago and wanted to check out this burger joint. We were hoping for the original-where-it-all-started-outdoor Shake Shack, but stinkin' Fodor's travel book only gave us one location, and it wasn't the one we wanted. The burgers, fries, and Peanut Butter shake made up for our indoor disappointment, though.

We were supposed to be meeting an old roommate of mine at Serendipity, so we put our names on the HOUR AND A HALF waiting list, and then walked around the stores (the 9-story Bloomingdales, the mega-Candy shop, and Urban Outfitters). My friend was sadly unable to meet us, but I was still determined to try out the famous Frozen Hot Chocolates. 
Serendipity was the biggest disappointment of our entire trip.
The long wait was only the beginning. Then our hostess was rushing us, our waiter had zero personality (or manners), the prices were ridiculous, and the desserts not that great. I'm only glad I went so I now no longer have a desire to go again.

 After Serendipity, we got lost underground trying to find our way through the metro system and refusing to leave the station and have to pay for more tickets, I had to go to the bathroom something fierce, our GPS was tricking us into walking in circles, and no one had or would let me use their bathroom. When we finally did find a bathroom (hallelujah Starbucks), there was a long line, with 5 males in front of me. Not a single one of them offered to let me go ahead of them, even though I was visibly tapping and shaking and holding and dancing my entire lower half. Oh well. I survived.

We grabbed a quick slice of NY pizza and watched the sunset over the Jersey shoreline before taking the water ferry back to our car at Liberty Park.
(again with the attractive eating pictures)

We looooved our trip to New York City. It was so much fun exploring together.
Not that we didn't bicker over listening to the dumb GPS, which restaurant to get pizza at, or me peeing my pants in the middle of the street, but that only added to the memories. It was such a blast.

And while we were in NYC, Kaleo was staying at a local boarding kennel. I was a little nervous about it at first, and he came back to us hyper-sensitive, hyper-active, and hyper-barking......oh wait, that's normal.
So all went well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Love, words, and other beautiful things

*I started this post a long time ago, and never published it. It's a little bit beautiful to me, albeit quite rambling-ish, so I thought I would finish 'er up and get out in the world.
Especially because I know I've been so ridiculously boring on this blog lately.
I mean, really, two posts in the past month? And one of them a book review?

I have always been one of the most emotional people I have ever met
(followed closely by (or perhaps a little behind) my mother).
I am sensitive.
I take things personally.

I cry and my whole day is ruined over
a dying rabbit on the side of the road, his back legs run over by a car -
and I spend fifteen minutes with that rabbit, my dog tied to the distant fire hydrant, and I pet him - he relaxes at my touch and I cry because that's all I can do.

I cry when we don't have enough money
I cry when my Dad says something he would normally say in a joking voice, but this time it just didn't quite sound like a joke.
I cry when my brother is unhappy.
I cry when others are in pain.
I cry when a boy I hardly knew kills himself - I cry and I ache for his family and it isn't until I distinctly hear a voice from God telling me, 
"This is not your battle."
that I am able to stop crying.

I cry when I become an aunt again -
and I cry when I lose that nephew so soon afterwards.

I cry at commercials, too,
and little kid's movies,
and songs on the radio.

I cry when I'm PMS-ing.
But I also cry when I'm not.

I cannot give a talk in church without crying
(Adam once told me, 
"Ya know, it used to scare me when you would cry in public like that.
But now it doesn't bother me so much because I know you're always going to do it.")

I am emotional - 
but I have decided I will not call myself 
"A wreck"

I have learned to be grateful for these emotions of mine. 
It means I know how to empathize and sympathize
I know how to bear another's burden
When I say,
"I know how you feel."
I really feel I do. 

I am not only more susceptible to crying than the average joe,
I also love the deepest love I can possibly muster - 
holding nothing back.
When I love,
I love with all I own and possess and touch and taste and feel.
I give everything to love ---
and it's hurt like hell on occasion, 
(and I'm not just talking about guys, here, either - 
I sure love my besties from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the moon)
but I've never, ever regretted it.

And I think all of this sensitivity and hyper-exposure to emotions and love and depth and intensity, somehow stems from my love of words.

Pathetic or not, all of this big long post about my emotions was sparked by this book. 

Since my book review post wasn't quite enough for getting all this out, 
I had to keep going.

The day after finishing the book, I was watching Ridiculousness, a silly homemade "Jackass" type show where people are dumb and get hurt, and though I normally would have found it funny,
 it felt irreverent, what with that book still on my mind.

I listened to If I Die Young, and it literally hurt me.
It was too soon, too close, too applicable.

Both Delirium and the song allude to many different love poems/poets, including Cummings and Tennyson, and I've since started reading the first poetry I have read since graduating. It's invigorating.

These emotions of mine were overpowering me, and until I got them out,
I wasn't able to think about anything else. 
I tried vocalizing this....all this, Adam,
but it all came out sounding lost and pathetic and vague and childish.
And yes, I'll say it again:
A b.o.o.k. did this to me.

Why is that important?

That's how I had my revelation ---
I am not meant to speak.

Not like this, anyway.

this girl was born 
to write.

I have a burning at the center of me that has been there for as long as I can ever remember -- that is only ever quenched when I write.
Words, language, sentences, poetry --
all of it,
it's all become a system of symbols that somehow get cramped up inside of me and I need, I absolutely need, to release it.

I need to create something beautiful - and words are the only tools I know how to use.

And that is why I am participating in
A friend of mine from my church invited me to participate in it with her, and, at the time, I nervously agreed.

But now,
I am geared up.
I'm ready to try the one thing that has been imprinted on my brain since I learned of the existence of words ----
I'm going to write a novel.
I can't guarantee its length, its complexity, its beauty, its comprehend-ability, or its enjoyment-factor (or that I will stop using words the wrong way)
but I can guarantee I will put my whole efforts in writing it.
I have 20 more days to plan it out, but I can't start writing until November 1st.
And then, the month of November will be dedicated to creating something that was once only in existence in my mind. It's exciting.

If you're interested and want to join us, let me know!