I’m a Halloweenie.

I don’t know if I ever loved Halloween. I remember a mix of excitement and nerves as I got ready to go trick-or-treating as a kid (ringing strangers’ doorbells in the dark!? Never felt quite right). This year, I think I’ve finally put my finger on why (aside from the fact that I absolutely despise getting spooked) I‘m not a fan. The entire Halloween concept–the chance for one day  to be someone or something other than yourself–messes with my sensabilities. I understand that for most people, this is the draw. But, I’d really rather just be me. And have you be you. Because while most costumes are easy to spot as costumes, some are more difficult to decipher. Is that person homeless or just dressed up as a homeless person? Or that kid in the bar over there, is he dressed up as the ultimate Georgetown prepster or is that his normal attire? (Don’t worry, a few vodka cranberries in, I asked him. It’s how he really dresses, though he doesn’t go to Georgetown. But he wishes he did. Or at least wants the name on his diploma. I escaped before he started using me as a sounding board for the rest of his collegiate insecurities). So call me a party-pooper, but Halloween just makes me uncomfortable–too much of a guessing game. I’m happy to have another one safely under my belt  and Thanksgiving on the horizon. A day dedicated to eating is something I can get my head around.

Though, despite my general distrust of all people and things on All Hallow’s Eve, I end with a few of my fondest Halloween memories from years gone by:

-My homemade Pippi Longstocking costume. Complete with pipe cleaners in my braids to make them stick up. Thanks, Mom!

-Trick-or-treating with my best friends, our siblings, and our respective dads. Henning Drive to Fox Meadow to Hobby Lane–same route every year. Had to avoid the egg-throwing, shaving cream-spraying hooligans on Stonehenge. Those kids were trouble.

-Sweet, lazy Jamie dog getting tortured over and over by the doorbell. Couch to front door: repeat! I think it did her in for the rest of the year.

-Dressing up as the crappy beers of Bucknell, complete with pop-top hats. I made a great MeisterBrau.


Why I Love Oprah.

Think how you will about my girl, Oprah, but I’m really going to miss her. I’ve been catching up (I ❤ DVR) on some of this week’s episodes. Last night, I watched the reunion of the Sound of Music cast. Had it not been after 11pm, I would’ve thrown in the DVD then and there and gotten lost in the hills of Austria. That movie is just that good. And gosh, who doesn’t melt a little bit for Georg von Trapp?! Any movie you have watched countless times, from ages 5 to 28, and still get excited about and completely enraptured by has really hit the mark. When I was younger, I used to watch until the Nazis came and then turn it off– sometimes I still do. (Those Nazis are really still a buzzkill). But I watched the cast last night with a giddy, goofy smile on my face, singing along where appropriate (“I have confidence in suuuunshine….”). The only von Trapp (aside from Julie Andrews) who still resembled his or her former self was Kurt (“God Bless, Kurt!”), but it was an interesting visual commentary on the aging process, for better or worse. The kids (err, grown adults) are creating a book of their photos, mementos, etc. from their time filming. I don’t buy many coffeetable books, but you can bet I’ll open my wallet for that one. And don’t even get me started on the Von Trapp Children Singers singing “Edelweiss.” It was late, I’d had a few glasses of wine, judge me if you want to…but  they made me cry.

Phewf. Bringing it down from the S.o.M. high… Moving backward through the week with Oprah, I just watched the episode with Jane Fonda (who, by the way, probably shares a plastic surgeon with Julie Andrews). I don’t know much about Jane, but I thoroughly enjoyed the interview. More than a few ‘ah-ha’ moments packed in there, but I’ll leave you with just this one:

“The challenge isn’t to be perfect; it is to be whole.”

Thank you, Jane. THAT, my friends, is why this girl loves Oprah.

What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up.

J.J. Audubon's Carolina Parakeets in Birds of America, 1829. (ps-the Academy has this book in its library and displays a new page each week. Stunning!)

An entomologist/ornithologist/art historian. Finally back from Philly and completely exhausted, but I’m glad I stayed the extra day to do site visits. In my job, site visit=sweet behind-the-scenes museum tours. Unfortunately, these opportunities are few and far between, which is a real shame because days like today make the boring parts of my job a bit easier to swallow.

My first stop was to the Academy of Natural Sciences–Department of Entomology (aka BUGS!). These guys were so into their bugs and who can blame them. They have quite a lovely collection that is both scientifically and historically important (some of their collection dates to the early 1800s). Among other specimens, I got to see some crazy rain forest grasshoppers that had disco-party-wings. Glorious shades of hot pink and lime green. Then I went to visit with Nate the ornithologist. Um, Nate, your pheasants are out of this world! Gor-geous. Also saw a nearly extinct Asian chicken that is far too pretty to consider for any cordon bleu. Oh, and then the extinct Carolina Parakeet–collected by Audubon himself!–that rivaled anything currently found in the Caribbean. I walked out of that place ready to start all over as an ornithologist…until I walked into the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and no, I didn’t head in Rocky style).

Spend the day with amazing works of art and some of the prettiest pieces of silver I’ve ever seen? Don’t mind if I do. I was all over that museum both touring on my own and sneaking around behind-the-scenes from the American Decorative Arts storage to the distance-learning lab.

The folks I met both places were nothing if not passionate, and their passion was infectious. I have not yet found a passion that I want to make a career–and maybe I never will. But I’m so glad that these and so many other preservers of our natural and cultural history have. As the weeks move along, and I find myself frustrated with the administrative boredom my job often entails, I will think back to Jon and Greg and Nate and Barbara and David and Lynda and try to remember that without my work, some of theirs would not be possible and our country would be the worse for it. Maybe its not a bad way to spend 8 hours a day after all.

Song du jour: St. Peter’s Bones, Girlyman

Finally Figured Out How to Post. Here is the backstory.

It took me a while to have the time to sit down and figure out (kinda) how to create this thing. I’m still not very adept–there will be more changes to come as I learn slowly the ways of WordPress. I started my ramblings  in a GoogleDoc. Now they finally have a home in the blogosphere.
To Fun Where We Can Find It.
I am in Philadelphia. Wish I wasn’t, but it can’t be helped. I’m here for work and for some reason am feeling mopey and homesick. I just want to be in my own city in my own bed. Wah, wah wah. It all began with some Sunday beer blues (how is it that alcohol can make you so fun and happy on Saturday night and so introspective and mopey on Sunday?) and has extended to today. I feel homesick and unsocial yet also not in the mood to be in a hotel room by myself. But, the big perk of being trapped in the city of brotherly love is that I was able to meet up with a college friend for dinner who I rarely get to see. She and I studied abroad together in Sevilla, Spain, and I can’t help but think back to those days in Spain and smile.
She is a friend who, though I don’t see or keep in touch with often, always offers up sage advice. And many, many laughs. We spent many a night in Sevilla at “our restaurant,” which we called Chocolate Cake for the delectable (you guessed it) mammoth-sized piece of cake we’d order each time we went. And we’d just sit in that booth, rehash events of the day/week, and laugh. Out loud. For hours. Somewhere along the way during those four months, we came up with a saying: “To fun where we can find it.” I don’t remember how or why it came up, but it became our motto for the rest of our time abroad. Seeing her tonight reminded me of that motto on a day when I really needed to remember it.
Life isn’t perfect. Things get sticky. Situations are never black and white. And the best you can do sometimes is raise a glass to fun where you can find it and have faith the rest will fall into place.

Life Lessons Through Asana.
There are a number of reasons that I practice yoga. It has made me stronger than I have been since high school swimming. But sans the bulky shoulders. And helps keep me aligned both physically and more importantly, mentally. I regularly practice once a week and have found a teacher who perfectly speaks to both my physical and emotional needs. Nearly every Tuesday both her practice and whatever idea/passage/poem/thought she presents in class seem to be exactly what I need. Yesterday, she read a beautiful passage from The Velveteen Rabbit that I loved. But the comment that struck me most was a simple instruction suggested while leading us through a deep shoulder stretch: “If you find yourself getting uncomfortable, back out a little bit and then breathe your way back in.” Well then. If that isn’t a perfect little nugget to take straight from the yoga mat into life, I don’t know what is.

Song du jour: “I Will,” Brandi Carlile

Teeny, Little Umbrellas.
I can’t get my mind off of those teeny little umbrellas. You know, the ones that get placed into fruity delicious drinks full of rum. I crave a beach vacation: like whoa. It is a bratty, “not-appreciating-all-that-you-have” kind of craving. But I can’t help it. At least once a day my mind drifts to an island…a warm, swim-up bar, sandy, palm tree, lay-on-the-beach-all-day-thinking-“daquiri?”-or-“colada?” kind of island. I think the last time I had this experience was circa 2005: Puerto Rico. And our budget hotel lacked a swim-up bar.
When I started my new job in May the first thing I thought was….VACATION!!! FEBRUARY!!! Happy Birthday to me! Six months later a summer of wedding attendance and travel to celebrate others (I love you all…but you killed me) have left me with twice the salary and half the bank account I had when I started this new gig. Jerks.
I continue to dream, though. Of nose-diving flight costs and adventures in paradise.
Song du jour: “Angeles,” Peter Bradley Adams

Packin’ Heat.
A moment to say thank you to the check-out woman at Whole Foods for being a terrific grocery-bag-packer.  She fit my weekly stock together with puzzle-like precision into two perfectly balanced bags. And did so with speed and efficiency. Pretty much made my darn day.

Domestic Bliss.
I visited my family this weekend and spent the majority of the day Sunday babysitting my nephew and two nieces while our respective parents enjoyed (debatable) a round of golf. I expected the day to be fun but exhausting. And it was. But it was also a perfect escape and a glimpse into the possibilities of life to come. I had a moment standing barefoot at the sink doing dishes watching my nephew work on his “notebook” where I thought, “I could do this and be very happy.” Happy doing dishes. Barefoot. Surrounded by a warm and homey house and three lovely children. [Full disclosure: the ladies of the house were napping at the time…] Spending the day having to care for three little people who, while not totally helpless, need some instruction and structure throughout the day took me away from my internal monkey mind for a few hours.
I’m sure my brother and sister-in-law could read me a list a mile long of all of the unblissful moments of parenthood and domesticity. I’ve seen first-hand what those three can be at full tilt and have enjoyed a pat on the head g’night as they head home and a serene silence decends over Nonni and Papa’s house. The single life has its perks; I have no doubts about that. And I try to appreciate these times that one day I’ll reflect back on as the “good old days” when all hell breaks loose in my future household. But the single life also is a whole lotta me me me. And let’s be honest, I love things to be all about me, but sometimes I just want my thoughts to stop their yapping already. Something about not just being responsible for children, but observing them, starts to put the monkey to rest, even if just for a moment.
I am not naive enough to think that once you have kids the internal craziness stops. I know that responsibility and stress work on a parallel path. But for now, for me, these occasional stints of maternal domesticity serve as a much needed reststop for a whirlwind mind. The monkey doesn’t rest often, so for this he, and I, are grateful.
Song du jour: The Rock and the Tide (whole album), Joshua Radin
Fear Itself.
When contemplating blogdom, I thought I really struck internet gold with the idea to create a blog based on the adage to “do something every day that scares you.” I would blog about my daily escapades to do just that. Great idea, right? Especially for someone who is held back in so many aspects of life by silly fears ranging from the unknown to chatting up a cute stranger in the elevator. Sounds dramatic, but many months of self reflection have brought to light the cold hard fact of it: I am letting fears large and small have way too much power in my life.
Here’s the catch, though. The fear of actually having to force myself to do stuff that makes me shiver kept me from actually picking a date to start this experiment. Classic, right? But, just thinking about the idea has inspired me. And while I may not make it the focus of my blog, the seed has been planted in my head. Perhaps jumping head first into freezing water would only have sent me running back to the warm comfort of the status quo. Just starting to put my toes in the water might be a better approach in hopes that tackling little “fears” here and there will build my confidence to go after the bigger stuff.
My first stop then will be headstand. Every week I watch with envy as fellow yogis and yoginis rise up into the pose with seeming ease and grace. Oh, and the peaceful looks on their faces once there. I long for it. I know I have the physical strength to do it. It is a just a matter of working on it and knowing that I will likely fall, at least once. And when I do, likely won’t break my neck. So here I henceforth swearith that I will take some time to practice and work on conquering headstand. And when I do, I’ll be seeing the world from a whole new perspective. Maybe from there things won’t look so scary.
Song du jour: “Bird of the Summer,” A Fine Frenzy
The Cheese Stands Alone.
I have an online presence. An online dating presence. I have on and off now since I left college (more years ago than I like to think about). I was online before being online was socially acceptable, some might say even socially expected for single people today. Seeing as I still have this presence, it is clear that my luck has been less than stellar. I’ve gone on many a first date, a number of seconds, fewer thirds, and three men I let stick around a bit longer than that. After a few months and a few so-so dates I usually become jaded and frustrated and decide to “let things happen naturally.” Flash forward to me thinking about the last date I was on, realizing it was at least six months prior, panicking, and starting the cycle anew.

This most recent go-round has been particularly dreary. The slimmest pickins’ I think I’ve seen so far—except for perhaps that stint in New Jersey. The great irony, of course, is that this time around I feel—no, I KNOW—that my pictures are cuter, my profile more accurate/interesting, and most importantly, my heart and mind more open. I’ve taken off the padlock and just left the deadbolt. I have been selective, but also aggressive with my selected few—sending emails instead of the wussy “wink.” After a few months of going, oh, I don’t know, about 0 for 20, I have to conclude that the men of today, as progressive as any of them may claim to be, have no interest in women who make the first move. Or maybe they just think I’m lame. Either way, my current approach is not working but paying a monthly fee to wait for some guy(s) to contact me seems a waste of my hard earned cash. This is what I call a conundrum. And bullsh*t. But, carry on I will. As I was reminded just last night by a dear friend and running pal, it only takes ONE. And as I was reminded by another dear friend via email just a few moments ago, when said “one” does find me, it’ll be the luckiest day of his life. Her words, not mine, but I’ll go ahead and agree.

Song du jour: “Colder Weather,” Zac Brown Band