Monday, December 22, 2008

I have a butter knife in my pocket...

That's what I uttered to the police 10 minutes ago as they stood on my
front porch.
Perhaps I should start over. About an hour ago I was sitting on my couch
minding my own business and uploading photos. I had finally gotten the
family all tucked into bed and could catch up on my internet guilt free.
Suddenly, the front door bellwhimpers out a few bars of its musical
tune. I freeze knowing that (1) no one visits us and (2) no one would
ever visit us this late. Of course, no one in my house stirred, so I
thought our door bell had a short in it and must do this every so often.
Then it rang again.
I tried to slip quietly through the house (not) and make my way to the
front door. Cursing the lack of a peep hole, I went to one of the big
picture windows and peered outside. Sitting in front of my house was a
big white pickup. As I watched, the truck backed up and still stared at
our house. The driver of the truck then angled the truck so it pointed
at the part of the house where my grandfather's bedroom is and started
flashing the lights and honking the horn. After a couple of minutes of
this the truck pulled into my neighbor's driveway, but I couldn't see
what they did because it was dark and I was hidden behind a curtain.
Finally, the truck peeled away.
Well, that pretty much did me in. We've never lived in the best
neighborhood, and my mom constantly telling me work stories has
confirmed the societal dregs that live in this town. I grabbed a butter
knife and slid it into my fleece pocket and began making periodic rounds
of the house. Every so often I would look out the window again. Well,
guess what. I saw the truck pass our house again.
Not one to be fucked with, I woke my mom, explained to her what had
happened, and told her I was calling the cops. 15 minutes later San
Angelo's finest were on our porch listening to me rant. You'd be
proud...I managed to not use any curse words. They did ask me to keep my
hands where I could see them once I explained I had a butter knife on
Honestly, my whole point in calling the cops was to have them come to
the house and send a message to fuck off to whoever kept driving by.
What we actually got were results. As I was typing this, the cops called
to tell me they had found the person, and that they had explained they
had had the wrong house. Props to the San Angelo police for actually
casing the neighborhood (and sending both a marked and unmarked car) and
finding the person. Very impressed.*

*I guess I should also be impressed that they didn't get trigger happy
and shoot me when I pulled a butter knife out of my pocket.
Sent from my T-Mobile Sidekick®

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Rearview mirror

November seemed to pass in a whirlwind. Albeit a very good whirlwind. I
was bad at blogging November, which I will blame on a combination of
keeping myself very busy and simply being tired. I did made a large dent
in my '33 for 33' birthday list and am indeed grateful for the things I
Here's a recap of the things I accomplished and was able to cross off
the list. Remember, this is what I DID. I've inserted editorial content
where necessary.
How I spent my November:
1. Make smores
4. Leap for joy
5. Kiss someone (shhh)
6. Submit an art proposal of some kind (I didn't technically submit one,
but I did identify one to submit on Dec 12 and picked my theme.)
7. Find a new photobooth (in Brambleton with Ravena...completely
8. Try absinthe (with Steven...such a good boo for trying it with me)
10. Vote
11. Have Sticky Rice (twice!)
14. Eat at Lotus again
15. Go thrift store shopping
16. Shoot a roll of film (Minolta Hi-Matic)
17. Get a head start on holiday shopping (I at least bookmarked some
18. Stay in a cabin (awesome birthday)
19. Build a fire (go Ali Rose!)
20. Take pictures of fall foliage
21. Sleep in (or go to bed super early)
22. Eat chicken fried steak
23. Make a list of things I'm thankful for (a nice way to end November)
29. Dance whenever the mood strikes (to Sing Star at 3am)
30. Retire flip flops for the season (very difficult to do but
done...after hiking up a hill in them)
32. Write a letter
33. Be grateful for even accomplishing some of these
Bring on Christmas!

Sent from my T-Mobile Sidekick®

Friday, November 14, 2008

Take me home. West Virginia. Mountain highways.

I should have known the weekend in Harper's Ferry would be memorable from its auspicious beginnings. When it was determined we would let a machine that had been dubbed Phyllis show us the way to KOA, I might have questioned the logic in not relying on our own skills to plot a path. When Phyllis had us passing signs clearly marked Harper's Ferry with a giant right arrow, I might have done more than shrug. I wasn't really made aware of the tenor the trip was going to take until we were hugging the curves on a teeny, tiny back road and Allie came mere inches from running her car (starting with the side carrying the precious birthday cargo that was me) into a tree boldly displaying its orange and red. The simultaneous intake of breath and exhalation of 'oh!' by Colva and me was followed nervous, yet freeing laughter at our brush with death. I didn't even have the capability to text Scarlet if we had crashed because large parts of West Virginia hates T-Mobile.

And so began our weekend.

The rest of the weekend followed in similar fashion. Lunch at The Anvil where our boisterous group scared the natives. Breaking into teams and racing through Wal-Mart gathering our supplies. My team (Ravena, Scarlet and Ali) were the clear winners. My convincing everyone to hike down the valley to the river while simultaneously warning them it would mean a return trip up. Colva sitting said hike out. Allie calling me grandma as I complained about my knee on the way down. Allie's fear of the setting sun and arrival night critters driving her to race back up the mountain. My solitary diet coke break on the trail.

Back at the cabin, there was drinking and board games and fire and grilling and drinking. Margarita shots where Allie tried to convince me her splash of margarita made the tequila less strong. Board games that required poetry and hand holding and hands on the ground. Scooter and Rooster and Scarlet's tears of laughter. Tice showing up after 9 in his mountain man hat. Scarlet later wearing said hat with her pajamas.

More drinking. Colva pulling a Serena. Tired campers getting ready for bed. Sitting on the dock of the pond with Tice. Being so cold on the air mattress I kept forcing Tice to cuddle with me. Sleeping like a baby once someone threw a sleeping bag over me. Being called mama and papa bear the next morning. Tice reminding me that I knocked his hat in the pond and not him. Accusing Scarlet of snoring when it was really Terra.

For more stories of the weekend, check out my old twitter updates and flickr.

It was a grand birthday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Checking it twice...

So far this month I've been able to cross the following things off of my '33 for 33' list...

1. Make smores
5. Kiss someone
8. Try absinthe
10. Vote
11. Have Sticky Rice
18. Stay in a cabin
19. Build a fire
20. Take pictures of fall foliage

Plenty of days left in the month to accomplish more. I also promise a more complete post on cabin frolicking soon!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Baggage claim

I would like to think I've remained pretty quiet this election season. I've only needled my friends with opposing viewpoints a little bit and even forgot to try to swing my mother's vote. The truth of the matter is that I was sure the last eight years killed my belief in the system and that politicians could and would make a positive difference. Cynicism began to take root November 7, 2000 as I stood at campaign headquarters in Nashville, TN all night riding the rollercoaster of poll results. The night didn't really end. We didn't leave headquarters and never made it to the victory party. Instead, we all know how that 200o election ended.

And so began my lack of faith in the system. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't so burnt out as to not vote (I voted!) or to not encourage others. I just lacked the excitement...the ability to truly care...the desire to do things like volunteer or go to rallies. I thought it was gone. Until today. I found myself sneaking some Washington Post articles in on my lunch break, and I found myself tearing up at the election stories. Now, the later it gets the more my anxiety seems to build and the more I seem to be caring. The flashbacks from eight years ago have started but so has my inability to walk away from My plans of ignoring the news and finding out the results when wake up tomorrow seem to being slipping through my fingers. I'm now watching the states report out and can't stop. I want to stop. Not caring is more fun.


The streets of Northern Virginia were oddly quiet this morning. Every school I passed had lines wrapped around the block with people waiting to fulfill their civic duty and pick our next leader. The enterprising among us were out selling bagels and muffins and caffeine to those willing to brave early hours and long lines. Meanwhile, the highways were almost empty compared to what they normally are. The metro trains weren't as crowded, and fewer people hustled through the streets of DC. This is what happens when all the world decides to wait in line at once.

So thankful I voted early.

*Because it was a good title and worth stealing ;-)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I did it all for the nookie

This weekend's art show appears to have been a success. Getting up after only a little over 2 hours of sleep* to install the art just about killed me, but it was worth it. I loved seeing everyone's pictures up and looking pretty.

*Thanks to Ravena's rockin' Halloween party.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Something wicked this way comes

I'm bummed I missed an opportunity to purchase this beautiful print. The arts community really put out some breathtaking campaign propaganda this election. So, in honor of the upcoming election, a busy couple of weeks, and internet issues at home, I bring you a list.
- I had a fun time as always with Miss Ravena this weekend. She once again helped a girl out and served as subject for her photoshoot.
- The art show is this Saturday and Sunday, so I've been keeping busy making sure I have everything that's needed (people's art, bios, signs, display materials) and my own art together. Stop by the Barn this weekend and check it out.
- Halloween is almost here! Costumes and decorating and imbibing...oh my!
- Next week I clock another year on my personal odometer. I'm excited for Harper's Ferry cabins and fire rings!
- DC Big Flea is this weekend. Anyone want to go?
- Oh! I also voted on Saturday! Stood in line for over an hour, but it was worth it. Hopefully I'll manage the political post brewing in my head this weekend. My own candidate side-by-side.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rock-Scissors-Paper Food

I hate it when I get the idea in my head that I want to post about something less trivial than how I relate everything to Gilmore Girls. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that (1) I will not be able to do justice to what I want to talk about and (2) I will most certainly tire before I come close to finishing my thought. What I hate more than this, however, is deciding what to eat. I detest making grocery lists and honestly dread when lunch time rolls around. I can be found most frequently either skipping actual food and downing a Diet Coke at my desk or standing on the corner outside of my office building searching for some divine inspiration. I want to eat healthy. I do. I just have no idea how. I just want someone to pack up my meals each day and deliver me that health. I also have no idea how real people afford healthier stuff. It's hard to motivate oneself to spend extra money on healthy food when I can save money and spend that savings on things like roadtrips and etsy and art supplies. Seriously.

That said, there are a few things causing me to rethink my priorities. One of those is age. I'm not getting any younger, and every time my knees creak or I get winded going up a couple of flights of stairs my mind flashes to my grandmother. My health is important and will lead to my being much happier later in life. Yet another motivating factor is catching a flash of my ass as I pass my reflection. Finally, it's the belief that I can't continue to be part of the problem.

As I get older, I continue to narrow down my beliefs and values. Fine-tuning them to an inch of their life. I've come to believe that local is good. I've embraced the idea of the small. A recent clarion call by Michael Pollan to our presidential candidates, Farmer in Chief, in the New York Times Magazine pretty sums up my beliefs when it comes to food and the path I would like to follow. I want eat to consume less processed foods, preferably food that comes from my neck of the woods.

At the moment, I'm just at the 'want' stage, but I guess I'm hoping that by writing it out I'll hold myself more accountable.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not a McDreamy in sight

I've been to the emergency room three times in 2008 with today being the third. I swear I heard the admitting nurses talking about naming a room after me.

As I sat there waiting to see a doctor, I began to worry that I might be a hypochondriac. I then realized that it can't really be true though. I hate going to doctors and hospitals and am definitely the kind of person who likes to wait until it gets worse or until I can't stand it. I waited days before going in for my infected thumb (stupid effing manicure place), and my labored breathing because of the kitties was apparent to all. Even today, I've had this poison ivy for almost a month. I even tried getting an appointment with a dermatologist today and was told by them "just to go to the emergency room".

I was a little annoyed with the doctor I saw today because she spent all of 45 seconds looking at and diagnosing me. I felt like I could have diagnosed and treated myself. Oh wait...I did. The visit was useful in that I finally found out why my record is flagged and why they now put a "contact precaution" sticker on my wrist band. Turns out that I had the MRSA (known as super staph?) strain of staph when my thumb got infected. The nurse said a bunch of people had died from it there for a while, and it was highly contagious. Gee...thanks for telling me months later. Guess the good news is that I don't have it any longer and that I lived. Haha.

Friday, October 17, 2008

We're not gonna take it

Twitter is a wonderful thing. Because of it, I was introduced to the interesting blog post by Seth Godin called 'Maybe You Can't Make Money Doing What You Love'. At first blush, I could feel my feathers starting to ruffle and the rebuttals forming in my meager brain. I have spent the better part of my adult life preaching the gospel of doing something that makes you happy when earning a living versus taking what the highest bidder if offering. Before I could get too far down this path, I decided I should actually read the post.

Godin puts forth an interesting premise. To seriously oversimplify his post, he contends that by focusing all of our energy on trying to make money doing what you love (he's speaking largely to those interested in creative fields) you lose the joy in doing said love by being forced to focus so heavily on making your product marketable. I was raising the roof at Godin's discussion of the ease in which people can put their art out there through venues like blogs, Flickr, deviantART, etc. and how people often mistake web traffic and popularity as something that can be metabolized into cashflow. The timing in my reading this was uncanny seeing as how I've been pondering the great lengths it seems a lot of bloggers are going to in order to make money. I'm not going to one point in time I had visions of landing a book deal with the girls from my other blog. We even entered into a marketing venture with a company that seemed a natural fit with us and our audience. It didn't work though. I found the more I concentrated on these things, the less I wanted to blog. I decided a while ago that wherever I was writing I wanted it to be for me. Something I was motivated to do. I like having the ability to forego blogging for extended periods of time.

Anyway, I've digressed. Godin's post is obviously one that will resonate with many in creative fields and has implications far broader than my little diatribe above. I suggest you stop reading this and go check out his post. He leaves you with hope, so don't stop until you've finished this quick read.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

33 for 33

I like lists, especially birthday lists. I'll be 33 next month, so I've developed a list of ways to celebrate 33 years of life during the month of November!

33 for 33

1. Make smores
2. Take pictures of graffiti
3. Go to a "pick your own..." place
4. Leap for joy
5. Kiss someone
6. Submit an art proposal of some kind
7. Find a new photobooth
8. Try absinthe
9. Buy a new piece of art
10. Vote
11. Have Sticky Rice
12. Get up early enough to do my hair and makeup for a week
13. Day trip to NYC
14. Eat at Lotus again
15. Go thrift store shopping
16. Shoot a roll of film
17. Get a head start on the holiday gift season
18. Stay in a cabin.
19. Build a fire.
20. Take pictures of fall foliage.
21. Sleep in.
22. Eat chicken fried steak.
23. Make a list of things I'm thankful for.
24. Get the new Rock Band.
25. Make my grandmother a kickass birthday gift.
26. Finish knitting a scarf.
27. Practice patience.
28. Drink a glass of water every day.
29. Dance whenever the mood strikes.
30. Retire my flip flops for the season.
31. Try laughing yoga.
32. Write a letter.
33. Be grateful for even completing some of these.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesty-type crap

As we were driving through the Oregon landscape this week, I was reminded how most states aren't made up on one kind of topography. For example, I had preconceived notions of Oregon being all mountains and green vistas. Don't get me wrong, Oregon has plenty of green mountains; however, it hadn't occurred to me how much drier the eastern part of the state was. I also hadn't thought much about there being much ag in Oregon. As we drove further east, we passed farm after farm, which brings me to my next thought.

Have you ever noticed that farmers don't seem to put much stock in the aesthetics of their property? Don't get me wrong...fields of cotton do indeed resemble snow, and the mathematical layout of green and amber crops can be beautiful and striking. But so many yards and fields are also littered with old, rusted farm equipment. Barns are usually a nice red, but farm houses never really seem to push the envelope. Think of all of the fantabulous colors that occur in nature. You didn't think artists and scientists just pulled these colors out of their asses, did you? This past week I saw a turquoise bug and blazing pink salmon. Can you imagine driving through the American midwest and seeing a cerulean blue farm house? The windmill could be fushia, and the barn would have sunflowers painted on the side. Farmers probably even have more freedom to be wild. They don't have to contend with annoying homeowner's associations.

In other news, I want to thank the state of Oregon for having the decency to be cold while I visited. Virginia, consider yourself on notice in regard to your weather.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I hate coming up with titles

It's 8am, and I'm sitting in a place called Kenny & Zukes across the
street from my hotel. Their schtick seems to be letting people have a $1
off their sandwich if you decide to buy a jar of one of the many jars of
mustard they offer. I'm waiting on my Challah french toast and side of
bacon. Definitely not my typical Thursday morning breakfast, but I'll be
in the field all day and am pretty sure lunch isn't in the mix.
Not much to report today. Yesterday was intense with traveling and
changing time zones. Once I found dinner in Portland, I pretty much
slept off and on from about 8:30pm to 7am this morning. Today I'm
outside of Portland checking out project sites and hunting up salmon.
Wish me luck!
Sent from my T-Mobile Sidekick®

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I have always been one of those people who carries or wears a beloved
object until either it falls apart or those around me beg for it to be
put out of its misery. For example, back in 1999-2000, I had this
favorite skirt. It was a black, floor length nylon mixture. I wore it so
often that I'm pretty sure it was paper thin. I'm killing my Mary
Poppins of a purse in much the same manner. Holes have been worn in its
bottom, and the straps are almost threadbare. I just can't give it up
though. It fits perfectly over my shoulder and always seems to expand to
carry just what I need.
I'm reminded of these things as I sit here at Reagan National staring
down at my suitcase. It occurred to me that I have an emotional
attachment to this suitcase. Even though the pop-up handle is bent and
requires a herculean effort to get up and the top strap has been pulled
off, it remains my suitcase of choice for most trips. This bag has
weathered many an adventure with me, whether it be a marathon train ride
to Nova Scotia or a simple flight throwing me into the political
trenches of a party convention. It still bears the scars of Thailand and
Taiwan where they tape your suitcase closed once you get through
I guess you could say that once I form an attachment I have problems
letting go. Haha.
Sent from my T-Mobile Sidekick®

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Our weekend starts on Wednesday

I should not be online right now. I should be in bed. Super Shuttle comes at 3:24am. Seriously, the only good thing about this is that it is going to deliver me to Portland, Oregon, a place that's been on my must-see list for eons. This means you're going to have to put up with posts full* of Portland love for the remainder of the week.

In the meantime, let me bore you with one of the things I'm excited about this October. I managed to finagle the opportunity to curate my first art show November 1-2. Don't be too shocked. It's at a really lame place. Of course, everyone has to start someplace, so I've decided I'm allowed to be excited about it. Gotta make sure the other artist submissions make it in and that the place looks good. If anything, this will also test my ability to focus and put together a few pieces of my own.

Ok, I'm boring myself, so I need to stop.

*Full might be overstating it a bit. You've bound to have figured out by now that I lose my steam for posting shortly after I begin.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

In a family way

While I was watching Gilmore Girls today, I was reminded of family traditions and routines and left to ponder what stuck. What will I pass on?

Weekends always began in much the same way at my house growing up. As we got ready for bed on Friday nights, I remember my mom and my grandmother would always sit around the kitchen table in their floral and velour dressing gowns clipping coupons and compiling the week's grocery list. Sometimes I would join them at the table, listening to them gently argue over whether we needed eggs.

Saturday mornings were usually all about sleeping in for me. While I slept, they would get up at the ungodly hour of 6 or 7am and head to the grocery store. I always got woken up as they were leaving the house with the command to be up and ready to go when they returned. Once all of the new groceries were unloaded and packed away in our cabinets, shopping day could commence! First stop was always the Sunset Mall where we would methodically walk down one side and back up the either. J.C. Penney and Dillards were always stops during our strolling. We also made sure to go in Claires (I come from a family of serious earring whores). Our mall escapades usually ended around noon and was followed by lunch at a fine San Angelo establishment like Chick-fil-a. Post-lunch usually entailed errand type shopping where we would hit up both Wal-Mart and Target.

Have I continued these weekend traditions now that I live on my own? Not really. I'm a horrible grocery shopper and have rejected most of that kind of domesticity. And the mall? I think I must have wore myself out on malls during my younger years because my current mall philosophy is akin to a man looking to get his rocks off with a $2 hooker. Get in-get out-move on. Fall reminds me of one family tradition that has finally caught on in my world. Getting all holiday-centric and crafting it up. Halloween was always popular at my house. My mom would plan out our costumes and ensure there were seasonal goodies to deliver to my class. Now that I'm older it's me who's planning my own costumes and tooling around online for ideas to spook up the holiday.

Any traditions you're carrying on?

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Have you ever stopped to think how amazing our own bodies are? It can perform its own repairs, withstand incredible amounts of pain, completely remold itself, and create life. We expect our friends Marvel and DC Comics to introduce us to our heroes, but we can do some pretty freaky stuff ourselves.

This past weekend I sliced my thumb. Two pieces of skin, gaping, with blood running down my finger. I slapped a band-aid over it for about a day. Earlier today I was sitting at my desk and looked down at my healing thumb. Like magic, my skin has stitched itself back together.

And the ability to create another human?! Think about it. How awesomely alien is that? Get two of us together with the right combination of sperm and egg, and we can grow things!

Anyway...just a bit of rambling. Some days it's just the small things that amaze me.

Memes past midnight...

One of the few memes you'll find on this here blog...mostly done because it was Terra that tagged me. :-)

1. I love reading and have a few favorite authors, but I don't really have a desire to actually meet the authors or go to their readings. I would make an exception for hott, male authors.

2. As I get older, I go through reading dry spells where I can't really get into anything. A lot of things interest me but few seem to stick.

3. I have this insane belief that I need to rescue books from fates unknown. For example, even if I don't read all of the books I accumulate right away, it's still my job to save those that look decent from potential obscurity. Future generations might need to rely on my collection.

4. My favorite bookstore used to be right around the corner from my office. It was reminiscent of a great movie bookstore. Small, cozy and lit with minimal lighting, this bookstore specialized in what it called literature. They carried things that other stores didn't have and managed to avoid many of the typical bestsellers. I was introduced to several new authors through this store. Did I mention the store had a cat?

5. For about a year, I seriously considered applying to the Johns Hopkins University writing program (MA).

6. Even though it doesn't exist any longer, this is still my favorite reading spot.

I tag the world...and Scarlet and Randi.

And the rules are...

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.
3. Write six random bookish things about yourself.
4. Tag sixish people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Funny face

Fear can be such a debilitating feeling. It can affect what we do no matter its intensity. Even just a tiny bit of nervousness can keep us from venturing into the unknown. When Ravena and I settled on dinner this evening, she suggested we try out this new vegetarian restaurant in Chantilly. She called it "an adventure." I accepted the challenge, all the while wondering what I had gotten myself into. I've dabbled in vegetarianism a couple of different times during my life and have managed to even cook with tofu once. However, I had never really been to a strictly vegetarian restaurant. I'm what I consider tofu picky, and generally prefer my vegetarian fare of the Mexican variety.

I countered my skepticism by hitting up 7-11 for a pre-dinner hot dog. I had had a fairly healthy, non-meat lunch and wasn't taking any risks. After I met up with Ravena, we headed to Lotus, the newest (and maybe only) vegetarian restaurant in Chantilly, Virginia. Turns out Lotus focuses on Asian cuisine. Hmm. The warning lights were still flashing. There are so many bad or mediocre Asian restaurants to happen upon, what were the chances a vegetarian one would be any good?

How wrong can a girl be? Very! What followed was seriously the best Chinese food that I've ever had. I had the Sweet and Sour Palate, which amounts to sweet and sour chicken minus the chicken but with fried soy protein. I know it sounds scary, but it tasted fantastic. I'm not a foodie blogger in the least and suck at describing tastes, but the sauce was perfect. I also had a spring roll (thumbs up) and sampled Ravena's dumplings and General Tso's (just as tasty). I wish they delivered because this would definitely be my go-to place for Chinese.

Maybe next time I'll be a little less fearful of my next adventure.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Alone in the dark

I went by myself to the movies today, watching Burn After Reading. While I love sharing a movie with others, going to the movies alone is one of my secret joys. The concession stands serves up a giant Diet Coke and the seats cushion my ass, reclining just right. I like the dark, cool atmosphere and being able to sit up front. When I'm by myself, I can escape more fully, shoving the reality of lift into those dusty crevices and living in the movie with the characters. Not that I'd want to live in the Coen brothers' world. I'd probably end up getting whacked or would have to inadvertently kill someone. Still, I enjoyed my cool, cushy isolation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate it out

I watched the debates tonight, but honestly, I just don't have a politically-driven post in me. In fact, these days I have barely been able to muster a couple of paragraphs of drivel here. That said, I call the debates a draw. Both candidates scored points, and I doubt that anyone who already has their mind made up was swayed by the opposing Presidential candidate. Personally, I love the sparring part of the debates...the nonverbal cues and the way each candidate handles stress and getting pissed off.

Things I will remember about tonight involve laughing*. Bee costumes in Target and on airplanes and chasing girls in dresses. Terra's discussion of Conor's long strokes. Pre-gaming with The Cho Show. Baracklava and McCaingel Cake.

* And, no, we didn't end up turning the debate into a drinking game.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Light it up

A few weeks ago I was struck by the urge to rewatch Firestarter. For those of you unaware of this classic, click on over to Netflix and add it to your queue. Having watched it when it first came out (*cough* yeah, I'm that old), I had a bit of trepidation that I would be disappointed. Would Drew Barrymore be as impressive when not viewed through the eyes of fellow 9-year old who thought being able to start fires with your mind might be a fine skill to develop?

Turns out Firestarter is one of those movies that is just as good 23 years later. Was it slightly cheesy? Of course. That said, it was just the right amount of 80s kitsch combined with Drew Barrymore's flaring hair and ability to throw fireballs. Toss in Martin Sheen as a bellowing military official, and it's worth the 2 hours.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I want to make my own pickles

I want a garden. It's an odd thing for me to want given that I don't like dirt under my fingernails and usually do what I can to avoid bugs. Despite my hangups, the desire to grow my own grub and can things has slowly been growing. It began with my falling for the design of You Grow Girl and as a pragmatic addition to my apocalypse list. Now I find myself looking for stray plots of land around my apartment complex that I can hijack for a guerrilla garden (there aren't any) and thinking maybe I need a cute little house. Of course, maybe I need to find a cheaper area of the country to live in order to afford this dream. Ha.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rescue me

For the past few months I've been on the quest for a pet. Something furry that would run and play and also be cool hanging on its own. I developed a bit of an obsession with French Bulldogs and found a breeder down in Florida. I quickly came to the conclusion, however, that (1) Florida was too far to travel to get a puppy and (2) getting a puppy would be like adopting a small child. I work too much to ensure it gets outside to do its puppy business in a timely manner.

Suddenly I found myself in a Petsmart (I'd like to say tricked, but I did go willingly). After two kittens waiting for adoption melted in my arms, I was suddenly filling out an adoption application and purchasing litter boxes. The monsters came home with me and took over my apartment.

I've had a cat before (in a 6 bedroom house with two living rooms), so I felt with a little daily Benedryl I could manage my allergies. Two cats in a studio apartment brought different results. lungs slowly betraying my body. At first, leaving my apartment in the mornings for work brought relief. Soon even escaping the vicinity of the monsters didn't help. It became bad enough that I made an appointment with my doctor*. He prescribed an emergency inhaler and rethinking the kittens. Four days later and I was getting no better. My asthma was progressively worsening. By Labor day walking from my 4th floor apartment to the first floor left me feeling like I ran a marathon. I wasn't getting enough oxygen, and I couldn't take it anymore.

Allie took me to the emergency room, where they gave me a breathing treatment and lots of steroids. As I was lying in the hospital bed with a breathing mask over my face, I came face to face with what my grandmother goes through every day. Someone slips that mask on her face twice a day so that she can breathe easier. Every day she fights for breath that I take for granted.

The monsters had to go back. I had bonded to them, but I just couldn't take it anymore. I spent 3 days away from home (sending others to feed them), and on the fourth day, Steven came and helped me return the monsters to their foster person. I guess I'm just not meant for furry, cuddly pets.

*I don't do doctors, so you know I feel bad when I go to them.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Parking lot cinema

This weekend proved relaxing...maybe a bit too relaxing. It's Sunday evening, and I'm having a hard time forcing myself to go to bed because I know Monday morning and work are just around the corner.

On Saturday night we went to the oddest "drive-in" cinema. Centreville (out in the 'burbs of Virginia) is hosting a Starlight Cinema series this August in honor of the drive-in movie theaters of yore (that's a shout out to you, Rachel and Phoebe). We grabbed a couple of blankets, packed a picnic lunch and headed out this Saturday to watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. What we weren't expecting was for these screens to be erected in a parking lot. Only in NoVA would a suburban community choose to concrete over grass. Despite the fact that we spent 3 hours sprawled out on the concrete (my ass is still pissed at me), we had a good time and are planning to go back next weekend to see Transformers. This time we're bringing chairs!

In other weekend news, I found two kitties I must have! Cross your fingers I get approved to adopt them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The life and death brigade

I love that a good near death experience can make you feel so alive. Adrenaline junkies the world over know the allure of this natural narcotic.
This past Saturday I ventured back to Ohiopyle, PA and the Yough River and its tribs. The Yough is dear to me. It is by far the most fun river I've rafted. Having just finished up several days of project work in the area, some friends and I decided that (1) I needed to check out the project site after a couple of days and (2) a little river recreation was in order. Think cold, clear water flowing over cobble and bedrock.
After a three hour drive through the rolling hills of Maryland and Pennsylvania, we were disappointed to learn that they were booked up for the day...the entire town...all the outfitters. Hahahaha. The website had said reservations weren't taken for those with parties less than 6, but evidently, I read incorrectly. Not one to miss out on playing in the water, we decided to take advantage of the area's natural attractions you didn't have to have a reservation for.
We decided to shake off the lethargy from the drive and hike to the dam removal sites we worked on earlier in the week. I needed to shots of how the stream was doing, and my friends needed to experience what we did. After the hike, we grabbed some lunch at a tavern and set out to play in the river and lay on its banks. That's where the real fun began. We decided to walk across the river to these massive rocks and lay out on those. It seemed doable. It looked like others had done it. Well, the current was pretty swift and the rocks were algae covered. Scarlet and Terra were closer to the shore, and turned around to put our bags back on the banks. Ali and I, however, wanted to keep going. We're smart (*cough* adventurous) like that. Next thing I knew, I slipped on a rock and lost my balance. Given how swift the current was moving, that was all it took. I went down. Despite my efforts to swim and to also gain some traction, I started getting carried toward some minor rapids. These weren't my main concern. I could ride out the rapids. I was worried that if I was carried that far I would lose any chance at stopping. Beyond the smaller drops were two bouy lines aimed at stopping people before they got to the waterfall.

I was not looking forward to testing my dexterity in grabbing this rope. Honestly, I thought I might actually bite it. Somehow, I managed to get some traction before the rapids. As Ali and Terra were making their way to me, Ali loses it and starts heading for the rapids. I grab her but can only hold her in place. With Terra's help we grabbed her and all started heading toward the slower moving water. In what would be comedic if not so heart-pounding, Terra loses her footing next and starts for the rapids. I grab Terra (I'm still bringing up the rear and am evidently playing catcher). Ali makes her way there, and then helps save Terra. Haha (yes, we are all kind of laughing throughout this entire ordeal). We finally make it to slower water and eventually sun ourselves on the rocks. Magazines, books, and ice cream dulled any potential fear. Needing to test our limits once more, we headed for the natural water slides. After consulting with some locals sporting confederate flag do-rags and muttering "you're only 32 once" to myself, I climbed over the rocks and lept into a little gorge that shot water down to a pool. That didn't kill me either. I did, however, get a couple of banged up elbows as I somehow managed to flip over mid-slide and couldn't figure out what to do with my arms.
All in all, I considered it a successful, fun day. ;-)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Plodding along in my slippers

I'm on the train headed for Manchester, NH and a work meeting. I always wonder why I choose the train right before I have to board at some ridiculous hour (because 3:15 am is indeed ridiculous). Nevertheless, once I claimed my seat this morning I was reminded of how pleasant the train can be.

Unlike an airplane, my seats (because, let's face it, you can usually score a pair) are like my own private oasis. I have a plug for all of my electronic gadgetry, a seat that can recline and also not be bothered when the person in front of me reclines, and there are observation and dining cars when you need a break from your seat. Yes, my trip today is something like 10 hours one-way, but I'm old hand at this. A few years ago I bought a North American Rail Pass and took the train to Halifax, Nova Scotia and Dallas, TX all in the same month. If you have the time, train travel can be relaxing and a way to meet interesting people. It also allows plenty of time for introspection, writing, music listening, you name it.

I was moved to write this post because I remembered I spent so much time on the train last time that it began to feel like home. I remember changing into my some comfy pajamas at night and sliding into my slippers. The next morning you'd want to wake early enough to plod to the bathroom to brush your teeth and put on new clothes. I don't think I'l be getting that comfortable this time, but I do cherish those memories.

**note: My mom is doing ok and was released from the hospital a few days later after they did more tests. More on that later. I just didn't want to leave that hanging.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The open window

As the people mover bounced across the tarmac on the way to the main terminal at Dulles, I ended the call on my Sidekick and blankly watched the toddlers near me hurtling themselves from bench to bench trying to expel the energy they were forced to contain on the flight from Dallas. I gazed at them and tried to remember a time when I was that innocent and carefree, a time when my primary concerns were access to room to run and whether or not I could have that new doll.

Embracing adulthood requires embracing many of life's harsh realities, one of those being the mortality of those we love. Granted, many people are forced to confront death at young age, but I am not one of those people. I consider myself blessed that those I love the most are still among the living. Unfortunately, the older I get the closer I get to being screwed out of time with my family.

After my flight landed at Dulles, I called my mom to let her know I had arrived home safely and find out how everybody was (with my grandmother in the nursing home and hell bent on giving us scares I always check on how everyone is). As her voice broke and she told me not to worry, I knew I was about to hear something that would upset me. When she told me she had been admitted to the hospital for trouble with her heart, I was suddenly hit with the desire to shit and throw up all at the same time (anxiety, baby). I'm pretty sure I called her a pain in the ass and lectured her about waiting until I was clear across the country before telling me she had gone to the hospital.

*to be continued*

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Something old...

Ever since my last trip home to Texas, I have become obsessed with retro technology. Maybe I was infatuated before, but a couple of trips to the thrift store in San Angelo brought out the beast. It started with a Minolta Hi-Matic camera and was quickly followed by an old projection screen. Right before I left, I spotted an old Kodak Brownie 8mm movie camera. I obsessed about it until I was forced to call my grandfather in San Angelo and ask him to buy it for me. Haha.

I then met Ebay, and my obsession took on such accessibility. This past week two more purchases arrived in the mail...a Kodak Zeuss Ikon camera that I cannot wait to test out and a Buhl overhead projector in a shade of green that makes my heart flutter.

The downside of all of this is that I really need to figure how these things will work in my studio. Looks like I need to do a little rearranging this weekend.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My life in list

Because I'm in Texas this week, lists are much easier to manage.
1 - Despite the issue of race being largely ignored by the media, it is
going to play a huge part in Obama's electability. This shouldn't affect
the fact that he should get the nomination. I want him
official endorsement. However, these few days in TX have already once
again reminded me of how much we still have left to work on in terms of
race relations.
2 - I like being commanded to shop.
3 - It costs $175 to ship a chair from San Angelo to Fairfax.
4 - I am once again addicted to ebay. This week I have "won" a zeuss
ikon camera, a slide projector, and an overhead projector. I'm still
waiting for the auction to end on an 8mm projector.
5 - Pray for us tomorrow.
Sent from my T-Mobile Sidekick®

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Things I packed at 2am

- 2 laptops
- 3 cameras
- 1 Blythe w/outfits
- Clothes that are probably inappropriately warm for Texas
Sent from my T-Mobile Sidekick®

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rosy and Roby

I needed a creativity break on Sunday. I think passersby thought I was crazy, sitting in the grass and playing with robots.

Rosy and Roby
Originally uploaded by Serena McClain

Friday, May 23, 2008

Every breath you take

Do you know that moment when you first get what one of those common sayings actually means? I experienced such a moment earlier this year with "is your brain getting enough oxygen?" I knew the phrase denoted crazy or something to that effect. I guess I just never considered the science behind the phrase. Over the past year, however, I have gotten to experience it through a loved one. It seems like every couple of months my grandmother gets hit with something that keeps her brain from getting enough oxygen. They only way we sometimes know she's sick is that she starts talking crazy. I have so much more to say about this and my grandmother and what this last year has been like, but I just can't find the words to express everything that has happened and that I feel. Maybe some day soon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stranger than fiction

I saw a man on the metro today who's picture I wanted to take. He was wearing a homemade Obama shirt and a handpainted cap that said 'Vote 2008'. Neither the shirt or the cap were particularly beautiful (nor was the dude). Seeing him just evoked emotion in me. I could sense his hope and excitement in this election, and I was moved by this. I wanted to somehow capture it...capture him. Unfortunately, the most I did was have this conversation in my mind. I worried that other people on the metro would hear me ask and think me weird. I worried it was too early in the morning to be so forward. I worried my little camera made me look like a poser.

I'm envious of the project Hula Seventy is undertaking and how she is forcing herself outside of her comfort zone. I often pass people I would like to photograph but usually only resort to trying to sneak a photo in. How will I ever move any closer to visual anthropology if I can't even do this simple thing? This summer I'm challenging myself to photographing at least one stranger who catches my eye.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Curiously strong

This weekend I purchased a raspberry mint body wash by C.O. Bigelow. It came with the following warning:

"For more "sensitive" body parts we recommend a quick wash and rinse because of the invigorating sensation peppermint has on skin."

Like any good consumer, I studiously avoided my sensitive parts. However, body wash has a tendency to migrate in the shower, and before long I realized my sensitive parts were feeling a bit different...kind of like they had partaken of an altoid.

Note: Follow directions. Haha.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


While I was at work on Friday, I realized I was a whore. Not just your standard issue whore, mind you. I'm a specialized whore.

You see, our resident internet guru at work sent around a survey on Friday that got at how "out there" we are on the internet. As I answered the questions and thought about my internet presence, it was then I realized I am an internet whore. Basically, if people from my past were to ever wonder where I am now or what kinds of things I am up to, all they have to do is Google my name.

Where, pray tell, am I?

Facebook (through no fault of my own...I resist this site constantly and only have one because a friend created the page for me.)
MySpace (ditto...never there.)
American Rivers' blog
secret blog ( I'm linking to that.)

I'm sure there are people more out there than me, but I definitely feel like I do my part to contribute to the great interweb. Should I be worried? I know people worry about overexposure, being so public with their lives, etc. I guess that just isn't me. I like having an outlet for my thoughts and creativity. Some of these sites give me this. They have also given me the opportunity to meet some truly intriguing people. So, yeah, sue me. I'm an internet whore.

Are you a whore?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Around the way

I ran errands via foot this morning and found myself getting really annoyed at the suburban landscape. Don't get me wrong, this isn't the first time. I usually get annoyed at the beigeness of it all, but today I was annoyed at all of the crap in my way. I figure the walk from the bank to my house is about 2-3 miles, but with all of the buildings and construction in my way and searching out a sidewalk, it probably came to 4 miles. So...I got annoyed and forged my own path.

There is new construction everywhere. In the past few years, all the forested areas have become apartment buildings and townhouses and stores.

I decided to screw the "trail" and cut through the urban landscape. Did you know urban hiking includes cutting through parking garages and over grassy mounds. I got some weird looks, but screw them. This is my urban landscape, but I'll be damned if anyone is going to keep me from forging my own path ;-)

These are some of the urban landscapes I forged. Haha. If you feel bad for me, just think of the poor geese.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Cinema queen

It's over! We officially premiered tonight at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring. It was awesome. I don't know about my fellow compatriots, but it felt so good to see the film on screen and know that, not only were we not the worst, we were one of the best in our group. So.Much.Fun.

Will we doing Richmond? Hells yes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My fortune cookie

Last night I had dream in which my grandfather and I were ballroom dancing. He was really good, and I apologized for not being able to dance as we moved around the floor. He said all I needed was to find a man who knew how to lead. I remember feeling very warm and comforted.

Funny how a dream like that can sometimes seem like a visual fortune cookie.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Resting position

There is always so much I want to blog about when I come back to Texas. Texas is the state that makes me want to pen that first novel. My memories and thoughts never fail to flood me, sometimes overwhelm me.

Of course, as always I usually have an excuse. This week it's that I am tired. I am cheerleader extraordinaire at a nursing home in Texas, beginning my days at 7am and not leaving until after 8pm. I am rescuer of the stranded elderly in need of the extra push, physical therapy aide who says you can indeed do it, and comedic relief when there seems to be nothing to laugh at. I'm taking 32 years of being parented and thrusting it back at those who raised me. If I could "do anything you want as long as you believe," then so can you (and I'm going to tell you about it.

So maybe I'll post about Texas men and being on a puddle jumper with on men as the other passengers at a later date. For now, it's all nursing home all the time.

Check out the nursing home pics here (

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What I want will last a lifetime

I'm a happy single girl. That said, I eventually want someone in my life...the right someone. I watch the relationships around me spin and jerk like the Tilt-A-Whirl at the carnival and think about what I want in someone to share my life with...wonder why I'm generally single and rarely together.*

When I went home for Christmas it was in observing my grandparents that I got some answers. They are about to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this April, and while their relationship has had its share of ups and downs, their love just seems to grow. My grandmother's health has been deteriorating pretty steadily this past year, and I see how that pains him and how his devotion to her is unwavering. He still held her hand when they walked for the longest time, and now that she can't really walk very far he's one of the ones that helps her into her wheelchair. When she stopped being able to wipe herself, guess who was there. When he gets off work he spends is days at the nursing home sitting with her, and when hope seems to wane, he's man enough to cry. Throughout the years they've also shown me that love is something that requires work and that isn't perfect. He cheated once when I was really young. My grandmother loved him though and chose to through their problems. Love hurts, but when it's meant to be, working on it is worth it.

I want that love...the love that will be here for the long haul. I can't just love someone because I need someone in my life. I want that someone who still wants to hold my hand when I'm 70.

*In reality, I know the suitcase of issues I have contributes to my singleness ;-)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The apocalypse list

You may or may not know that I am obsessed with stories (literature/movies) with post-apocalyptic themes. I just finished a new anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction called Wastelands, and it once again got me thinking about my list. Basically my emergency preparedness list for things I need to do and have in order to be ready for the end of the world (any standard rapture scenario aside).

So, without further adieu, part* of my apocalypse list**...

1. Start a running regimen - All good survival stories involve running in one form or another. I need to be able to outrun the giant tidal wave or run faster than the other fleeing mass of people. Running seems like a basic skill that would improve chances of survival. I hate running.
2. Learn kickboxing - Along the same lines as running, this just seems like a good skill to have in terms of survival. You just never know when you're going to need to kick a little ass and defend your loved one.
3. Learn to garden - If the end of the world comes, the modern food chain (3 ears of corn for $1 at Wegmans) will likely no longer exist. Assuming there are still parts of the world whose environment will grow crops, a girl needs to learn how to reap and sow.
4. Learn to build a fire - It seems easy and basic enough, and I plan to stockpile matches. However, knowing what the average boy scout and caveman know should be essential.
5. Build basic supplies - While I realize that looting would probably be what would happen after a while, it would be nice to at least begin my end of the world scenario with a few basics. Gauze, duct tape, rope, flashlights and batteries, candles, water purifier (like you'd use camping), knife, etc.

*This is only the beginning of my list :-)
**Yes, I fully realize you may now think I'm a freak.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Over the shoulder

I am willing to admit that I read over people's shoulders on the metro. Rarely do I actually get into an article. It's really more glancing at the headlines. Given my schedule, there are many days where this is the only news that I get.

Anyway, earlier this week on my ride home, I found myself presented with more unique reading material. This woman sitting down in front of me (I was standing) was studying flash cards. Plumbing and water delivery flash cards. This was a middle aged woman wearing professional attire. Full suit, pantyhose, jewelry, etc. She did not look like someone looking to learn the intricacies of pressure valves.

What did I do? Continue to read over her shoulder and guess the correct answers with her. I won't lie. I would do a little hop in my mind every time I got an answer correct.

Monday, January 07, 2008

public art

At a nearby apartment complex, there exists a horrible sculpture of a horse. It is ginormous. It serves no purpose and looks like it was accidentally left by the Trojans. Its very existence bothered me. Basically, I thought the horse needed to lighten up.

So, in order to celebrate winter, brighten the life of said concrete horse, and give people in the neighborhood a reason to smile, I set about knitting a giant red scarf to outfit the giant concrete horse. After what seemed like months and a crapton of yarn, I declared the scarf done, and Allie (aka partner in crime) and I set out to scarf the horse.

At 22:00 hours on Saturday, January 5, the horse was bestowed its new scarf.

On a sadder note, the scarf didn't even make it 24 hours before it was removed. Some people just have no taste for art.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The white pants doctrine

When I got on the metro this afternoon to make my way home, I noticed a
sunflower seed (shelled) stuck to the seat. As I brushed it away, I
began to wonder how anyone could survive wearing white pants.

Every summer (well, winter, because we all know the fashion mags are
seasons ahead), the fashion mags flaunt chic, crisp white pants and
flirty white dresses. Given how messy life is I've always wondered how
certain woman (wide ass doctrine aside) pull them off. Are there lives
so together that dirt and grime are repelled?

It came to me once I saw today's sunflower seed that these people must
live a more peaceful life than I. People who wear white pants aren't
the people who use public transportation and navigate the dark grease of
a metro elevator or the darkened metrorail seat. These people don't get
up at 5:30 am dressing for two jobs and the 17 hours of treachery their
outfit will have to make it through. They don't have to worry about
potentially having to venture to the river during the day or getting
tossed in front of an espresso machine that night.

If they did, those white pants would be dingy and would bear the mark of
wrinkles rather than a hot iron.