November 2007


Outside, the leaves were flaming and air held the first chill of the season. Meanwhile, I sat — surrounded by boxes — in my Chapel Hill townhouse, frantically working on a paper for my Environmental Ethics class and an article about open adoption for my Feature Writing class. I had two days of classes left before Thanksgiving break, and it seemed all my professors were trying to cram in one more paper or exam before wrapping things up. It was my final semester of college, and senioritis had hit hard. Those classes were two of the best I’d taken in my college career, but still, I couldn’t focus. Even though I still had two weeks of classes and a week of finals standing between me and my big move, I felt like my life already existed in Atlanta, with me on the outside looking in. I had a home and a roommate lined up, and most of my belongings were already moved in. My employers were emailing me weekly with updates from the surrogate, and I’d been to Atlanta a few weeks earlier for Baby H’s baby shower. Most importantly, I was rapidly falling in love with someone I had never even met in person. Three weeks earlier, a random message via MySpace had started an avalanche of emotions.

I wasn’t looking for a relationship. In fact, the timing couldn’t have been worse. I was overwhelmed with schoolwork and the minutia of moving. I wanted to get settled in Atlanta, before meeting someone. I didn’t have the time or energy for a relationship. But life surprises us sometimes. And I’m so glad that I let go of control (for once in my life) and let life take me where it pleased. Because it was pleased to take me somewhere I had never been.

The main reason I couldn’t focus on my school work was because I was spending about 16 hours a day talking to JP via phone, text messages or instant messaging. I was spending another two hours obsessing over when I would be able to talk to her next and the remaining six hours dreaming about her. I arranged to travel to Atlanta for Thanksgiving and we were planning to meet for our first real date. One date turned into an entire weekend: one of the best weekends of my life.

I can list for you (some of) the things JP and I did that weekend: we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, we saw the traveling Titanic exhibit, we had coffee and talked for hours, we met Baby H. (who apparently heard I was going to be in town for the weekend, and decided to make an early arrival so that he could meet me before I returned to school). What I can’t tell you is how I felt. Because I have no words for that. It was like finding a piece of myself that I hadn’t known was missing.

I know that JP and I rushed into things. Less than three months after we met, we were living together. It’s not something I would ever recommend. But it worked for us. It more than worked. It was the right decision. This year has not been all wine and roses. It’s mostly been a lot of work. It’s HARD to live with someone. It’s even harder when the other person is basically a stranger. As hard as it has been, it’s been the best year of my life, and there is no part of it that I would trade. I’ve grown and changed this year. I’ve learned about life, relationships and myself. I’ve learned how to put someone else’s needs ahead of my own and how to accept unconditional love. I still have a lot to learn, but I have plenty of time. Another fifty or sixty years, at least.

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First of all, I have a confession: I have failed at NaBloPoMo. As you can see, I have not posted since Thursday. But that’s not the confession. My confession is: I don’t care. Let me clarify. I love NaBloPoMo. I’ve met some awesome people and got some great inspiration. But I already post nearly every day, and I think an occasional day off here and there to live my life not tethered to a computer is probably a GOOD thing. JP definitely thinks so — there are days she threatens to chuck my laptop out the window.

Anyway, the reason I didn’t blog this weekend was because I was out in the middle of nowhere hunting ghosts. Yes, you read that correctly. JP and I both had the day off on Friday, so we took off for my cousin’s house, an hour or so south of the city. Missy and her fiance, Tyler, had told us all about a local legend involving a young girl named Ruth who committed suicide by jumping over a bridge. Supposedly, Ruth still haunts this bridge, which is right next to a church on an old dirt road in the middle of nowhere. According to local legend, the lights in the church flicker on and off in the middle of the night, as if someone was walking through the rooms turning lights on and off as they go. And if you put a Baby Ruth candy bar on the bridge at exactly midnight, then return to your car (out of sight) for five minutes, the candy bar will be gone when you return.

JP and I are both great lovers of ghost stories, so we couldn’t wait to get out there and see if we could create one of our own. Missy and Tyler knew vaguely where the bridge was located, but they were fuzzy on the specifics. So a couple friends of Tyler’s volunteered to lead us there. Unfortunately they turned out to be total flakes who had no better idea how to get there than we did. We left at around 9pm, and after three false starts (because these friends had to make random stops) we were finally on our way at around 11pm. By this time, the four of us were fuming, and we were anxious about getting there in time to put the candy bar on the bridge. Finally, we approached the dirt road. It was more than just a dirt road; it was was a private dirt road, winding through a timber yard. The trees were thick and without lights of any kind, the stars above were stunning. It was gorgeous, but creepy. Unfortunately, the creepy factor wore off by the time we found the bridge…three hours later. By that point, the only thing we were afraid of was running out of gas. The ghost hunt was a bust — the bridge was anything but creepy and we saw no evidence of supernatural activity.

But we had a great time, so it wasn’t a total bust. And the hunt continues — we’re looking for a new legend to test.

In other news, JP is sick as a dog. She woke up yesterday complaining of a stomach ache and it was all downhill from there. I’ll spare y’all the nasty details, but I’m crossing all my fingers that I don’t get it too. She’s home in bed now sleeping it off (and infecting the house with her germs).

I’ve been tagged! (I’m actually pretty excited about that, this is the first time I’ve been tagged for anything.)

The Wannabe Urban Housewife has tagged me with the Seven Random or Weird Facts meme.

So here are my seven random facts:

1. I have lost count of how many times I’ve moved. I think it’s somewhere around 30 times. When I was growing up, my parents were somewhat … less than stable. They were the type that thought they could leave their problems behind by moving somewhere and “starting fresh”. This meant moving two or three times per year until I was in high school.

2. I had to fight tooth and nail to go to college. Not because I was a poor student — I was a great student with honor roll grades and good test scores. But my mother believed colleges were “dens of iniquity” and didn’t want me attending one, even a private, Christian college. She also believed that Jesus would be returning any day, and therefore attending college was a waste of time/money when I could be out proselytizing. Since I was under 18, I needed her signature to apply to schools. It took all sorts of begging, pleading, and bribing to get her to sign the papers. And she got to choose the school — a tiny, conservative Christian school twenty minutes from out house. I only lasted there for two years before fleeing the school, the state and my family. I finished my education at the University of North Carolina. Transferring colleges is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my entire life.

3. I found my family online. Well, to be accurate, they found me. My parents had a very tumultuous relationship, and my father was only in my life sporadically until he passed away when I was in high school. Because his family lived out of state, I never met my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I didn’t even know their names. But they knew mine, and little did I know that they were looking for me. Imagine my surprise when I got a message via MySpace of all places, from someone claiming to be my cousin. And imagine my surprise when I discovered that she and her family lived only an hour from me. Now I have a plethora of aunts, uncles and cousins who are wonderful and who have welcomed me into their family with open arms.

4. Tonight JP and I went out to dinner. When we were leaving, I had to pull out quickly onto a busy street, and I accidentally squealed my tires and felt like a total dork. Everyone on the sidewalk turned to look, and I’m sure they thought I was some stupid teenager trying to show off in my parents Volvo.

5. I took a year off college (in between transferring) and worked in DC during the 2000 election year. When people ask me where I worked, I always give a sketchy answer because I don’t want to admit that I was working for the nation’s oldest and largest conservative organization. That’s right, I said conservative. My super conservative, Christian university got me the job. At the time, I was just starting to question a lifetime of brainwashing and religious indoctrination. Politically, I was a moderate and pretty conflicted about where I was working. Looking back, I’m horrified. I feel like an entirely different person than the young girl who worked there.

6. I have no idea what I want to do with my life. Sometimes I’m really sure I want to go to law school and practice family law, with an emphasis on lgbt families (domestic partnerships, adoption, surrogacy, etc). Sometimes I want to focus on my writing and actually make a career of writing freelance and submitting novels. Other times I want to turn one of my hobbies — knitting or photography, generally — into some sort of career.

7. I have terrible road rage. I hate, hate, hate driving. And of course that means I spend half my life in the car. If I were driving alone on empty roads, I’d be fine. But I can’t STAND other drivers: they cut over without warning, they don’t use their turn signals, they wait until the very last minute to merge even when there is a mile worth of signs warning of the lane ending. It’s always something, and it makes me insane.

I’m tagging: Steph, Mary Jo, arduous, Wide Lawns, (I know that’s not seven, but I think I’m at the end of this chain and almost everyone has already been tagged. If you haven’t been tagged, you’re it! Leave me a comment or email me to let me know that you want to be tagged and I’ll edit my post to link to you.)

Rules:
1- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

A fight is raging in Charleston, WV. It is an old fight, one that we’ve heard a million times. In one corner, angry parents who don’t want their high school students exposed to such unthinkable topics as suicide, violence, or profanity. (Just out of curiosity, I wonder how many of those same parents allow their children to watch Prime Time television?) In the other corner, an English teacher with two of the greatest American novels of our time.

It is not merely hyperbole when I tell you that Beach Music and Prince of Tides (both by beloved Southern novelist Pat Conroy) are etched not just in my memory, but on my soul. I have loved many books, but these books — especially Beach Music, which remains my favorite book of all time — stand out in my mind. I read them in the dark of the night, unable to put them down even though I was weak with exhaustion and my vision was blurred from hours of sobbing. These are the books I more than enjoyed. These are books that spoke to me. Books that changed me; that continue to change me. Books that I reread again and again — in bits and pieces usually because it is too overwhelming to read them all at once. They are not pretty stories, all tied up with a bow. (Though I would argue that they contain some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read.) They are dirty, gritty, hard, real stories. Stories about how life really is, not what we wish it was. They are books that every one should read. If I could create a required reading list for the world, these would be on it.

I despise censorship. And I hate the Charleston, WV school board for bowing to the pressure of these parents by temporarily banning these books while they “look into” the situation. I will hate them more if they make the ban permanent. But maybe I should thank them. Because what is the best way to get a teenager to read a book? Ban it.

In the meantime, I am reminded yet again why my love for Pat Conroy runs so deep. If you have not yet read his take on this situation, you must. In this letter to the editor of the Charleston Gazette his love and respect for literature and those who teach it, shines through. His passion for his own work makes me long to brush the dust off my copy of Beach Music and read it yet again.

Yesterday, JP and I went back to the park at twilight. It was so peaceful and quiet, and I couldn’t resist taking a few more photos. Here’s one that is basically the same shot I took the other day. I love the way the building and lights reflects in the lake.

Am I lucky, or what?

Well, we finally broke down and turned on our heat yesterday. We’ve been trying to avoid it as long as possible. In an attempt to reduce both our carbon footprint and out energy bills, we’ve decided that our first reaction to cold or heat should be to adjust our clothing, not our thermostat. We’ve done really well: JPhas her new quilt, and I have a new fleece blanket that I made for myself (pictures to follow at some point). And we have plenty of sweatpants and hoodies, etc. But it’s dipped down into the low 40s the past couple of nights and we finally decided to run the heat for a little bit at night. Of course, the best laid plans… Something is wrong with our heat. I don’t know what, all I know is that it blows only cold air. I thought maybe it just needed a little time to warm up. No such luck. Ironically, running the heat actually made it COLDER in our house. So back off it went. We’re going to need to call the landlord and get it fixed. In the meantime, more bundling. For us and for poor Beastie, who shivers when the temperature drops below 70. Luckily he has plenty of hoodies too.

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