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Ten Years Gone

11 Sep

Ten years ago, I was fourteen and in the ninth grade in Tennessee. I was in the hallways walking from first period to second when I heard people talking about theTwinTowerscoming down. I heard a rumor about a boy – one I’d gone to elementary school with who had a knack for getting into trouble – walking around the halls pointing at random people saying, “You’re going to die, you’re going to die, you’re going to die. . . “ Even then it didn’t mean much to me; I thought it was just a rude and insensitive thing for him to say to kids who didn’t understand what was going on. I knew he was saying those things as a result of what had just happened, but I didn’t make the connection in my mind. I didn’t understand the significance of the attack, and what it could possibly mean for my family, my friends, or my town. I didn’t understand why he said any of us would die because of it.

To be completely honest, I’d never heard of theTwinTowers. The thing I remember more than anything is that school pictures were the next day, and I had an appointment to have my hair cut that afternoon. I know that’s selfish, but I was fourteen. Hardly anyone isn’t self-centered at that age. But when you’ve never lived through anything like that, and you’re not right there to see it happening in front of your eyes, it somehow doesn’t seem real. Things that happened on TV or the news didn’t happen to me, to the people I knew. They were far away, outside my bubble.

Everything just seemed like it was happening on an alternate plane. Like the world outside didn’t have anything to do with me.New YorkandWashingtonseemed so far away, so far removed from me. I was just in high school, young and naïve, and it didn’t mean anything significant to me. I only started to comprehend it when I got home and my mom was watching coverage on TV. She was furious that we’d spent our entire day at school watching the events unfold on the news. I think more than anything she had wanted to be the one to tell my and my brother what had happened. I don’t even know how James found out about it – he was only 11, and I highly doubt they watched anything about the attack at school. I don’t know that having her tell me about it would have made much of a difference in how I felt about it. I vaguely remember our teachers talking about it while we were watching the news, and I somewhat remember us talking about it as a family that night. I sensed that my parents were upset and worried about what had happened. They had lived through things like the Kennedy assassination andVietnam, so they had a better sense of disaster and tragedy.

Of course I was sorry to hear about all the innocent people that died that day – any decent human being would, except maybe that dumbass kid in the hallway. But my perception of it was that it was miles away, that I was safe, that it didn’t involve me. I’d never been toNew Yorkat that point, but I’d been toWashingtononly the year before with my mom and my brother. We saw the Pentagon every day on our train rides into the city. At that point, I didn’t have much sense about the world around me. My world consisted of what I knew at home – the life that I lived every day. Now that I live in DC, my feelings have changed somewhat. I can never relive that day – not that I’d want to. But I know now that it was bigger than myself, than the people around me. It meant more than I even knew. I had no reason for healing after September 11.

Others did, though. So many were – and still are – affected by what happened that day. There are thousands of people who aren’t with us anymore because of the terrible actions of a few. I lost nothing, but so many lost everything. Since then, I think we’ve lived in a world of fear. Fear that it will happen again, fear that we cannot control the world around us, fear that we cannot safely go anywhere. The thing that makes me the saddest, though, is the misplaced anger we as a country have put onto people who are different. We forget that it wasn’t a huge army of people that brought the towers down. It’s just like that saying how a few can ruin it for everyone. We built up prejudices and direct hatred toward people not very different from ourselves. We forget that everyone is just people.

Traveling in a post-9/11 world has probably affected me the most. Unprecedented security measures and rising costs have taken some of the enjoyment out of it. Sometimes I think we’re overreacting, but I know what can happen if we aren’t careful. It’s a delicate balance between being cautious and being fearful. There’s a quote that says: “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.” Where is the line, the balance that makes us cautious and safe, but not too afraid to live? Although I have it easy compared to those specifically targeted at security checkpoints, I cannot help but think it is a huge inconvenience for everyone. The vast majority of us just want to get where we’re going without hassle. We do want to get there safely, though. I understand the cautiousness, though; no one wants to be blamed for being lax on the one person who managed to slip through the system and cause chaos.

So, ten years later, have things returned to normal? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think there will ever be a semblance of “normal” anymore. Everything changed in that one morning. Some things for the better, some things for worse. We will never know what the world would have been like without September 11. At the Arts on Foot event yesterday, I volunteered at an event sponsored by The 9/11 Arts Project. We made dream scrolls envisioning a future after 9/11. Our hopes for the world and what it could be like. Most of the drawings and messages had messages of happiness, of hope, of unity, of peace, and of love. Those are the things most people want, I think, no matter where you go in the world. We all just want to live our lives.

We all just want to be people.

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Roommate Roulette

27 Aug

Even though this is a hilarious ad, and I’d almost be tempted to answer it, I’m so glad my roommates didn’t turn out to be even half this crazy. The writers named this well when they categorized it under “Absolutely Crazy Shit We Found on Craigslist.”

See the entire post here.

On Island Time

6 Jul

Despite a couple of random updates the past couple of days, I’ve spent the long holiday weekend in Hilton Head, visiting Amanda. I finished work on Tuesday, went to Abingdon with Alli on Wednesday, spent Thursday framing a painting and doing other such errands in town, and then left early on Friday to drive to the beach. It’s been a lovely vacation, and I even came back with a tan! That’s unusual for me, if you’re familiar with my long tradition of lobster-like sunburns, despite my genetic history.

Anyway, for a beach recap, which included great shopping and even better food.

Like I said before, I drove down on Friday to see Amanda. I stopped in Spartanburg on the way to have lunch with Melody. I haven’t had a good, long conversation with her in a long time, so it was nice to catch up. She’s still in the process of looking for a house in Charlotte, a project that doesn’t seem to be making much progress. I told her about my recent potential roommate drama and my upcoming DC trip. We ate at Groucho’s a fun little deli I haven’t been to in ages. At the end, we even signed the wall, representing FM ’08 and ’09. Melody added the famous Lost number sequence, because no autograph wall is complete without it.

The drive between Spartanburg and Hilton Head was pretty uneventful. There was some traffic outside of Columbia, headed toward the beach, of course, but other than that, nothing much going on. Just long stretches of highway, flanked by trees. That’s the thing about driving to the beach – it’s flat and kind of boring. I made it down to the island, though, to meet Amanda for dinner. She’d heard about this great restaurant called Skull Creek Boathouse from one of her OT clients and wanted to check it out. She loves seafood almost as much as I do, and you can’t go to the beach without getting prime seafood. We had such incredible food. We got coconut shrimp and tuna tartare nachos for appetizers. We had a pretty hard time deciding which ones we wanted; honestly, we probably could have made a huge meal on just appetizers alone. Those nachos were amazing – think sushi meats nachos. Sounds weird, I know, but it was just incredible. I would have been happy to stop there, but I got a Calibogue casserole for dinner. It was basically a seafood pot pie – flaky pastry filled with shrimp, crab, scallops, whitefish and mushrooms in a lobster cream sauce. Add in a Rum Runner to drink – what more do you want?

After dinner we drove back to her apartment to let her dog out and unpack my stuff. Her dog, Bear, is so cute, and he’s gotten so big since I last saw him! He’s some kind of shepherd mix, and he’s so bouncy and adorable. I guess he’s kind of my adopted nephew. Anyway, after some down time to digest our food, we ventured back out to go see a movie. We saw Bad Teacher, which was pretty funny. I hadn’t been that interested in seeing it, but it was decent, and I wanted to be a good houseguest. It was a laid-back night because we were both tired, Amanda from working, and me from driving.

The next morning, we woke up and had a leisurely breakfast of eggs and biscuits. We also made a picnic lunch to take with us to the pool at the apartments. We got out swimsuits on and hauled everything out to the pool, where we basically camped for the rest of the day. It was hot as balls outside, obviously, but the pool made it so nice. I applied sunscreen religiously, which is thankfully how I ended up more tan than red. We had our outside lunch sitting in pool chairs and basically just vegged out the whole day.

After going back to the apartment to get cleaned up, we headed out for some late outlet shopping. They have two big Tanger outlets there with some of my favorite stores. Amanda and I both found some pretty cute stuff. We even ended up with matching bracelets – totally unplanned, of course. We had dinner that night at Kobe, one of those Japanese places where they cook right in front of you. I’ve been to those places before, but this was maybe the best one I’ve ever eaten at. I don’t know if it was the shrimp sauce or the fresh seafood, but it was just amazing. The leftovers that I had the next day for breakfast were possibly even better than the first meal. Anyway, our shrimp and scallop stir fry was amazing, and I even caught a shrimp in my mouth when the chef tossed it to me! Granted, it took me three tries to get it right, but I still did it. And no one else wanted to attempt it, so I was pretty proud of myself.

Sunday was our beach day. We ate our Japanese leftovers for breakfast and headed onto the Island for some shopping and lunch at Coligny Plaza. There were some beachy shops that we wandered through. I bought a pretty Peruvian ring and got some UV-sensitive nail polish, meaning it changes color in the sun. We ate lunch at The Frosty Frog, known for its pizza and daquiris. As in, put it in a styrofoam cup and take it with you. Which is exactly what we did. We took our huge daquiris right down to the beach, which took a while, considering all the annoying drivers and obnoxious parking. We finally made it, though, and spent the rest of the day out on the beach. We were pretty far down from the main public beach entrance, so there wasn’t a huge crowd around us. The water was warm but not uncomfortable. It was a relaxing day of reading, drinking, and tanning.

On our way back from the beach, we stopped at Sweet Carolina Cupcakes for some sweet treats. I got a couple of different kinds to eat leisurely over the next couple of days. Back to the apartment to shower and rest, and then it was out again for dinner. I have to devote an entire paragraph to it, because it’s likely my last supper meal. Seriously, if I could have one last meal before I died, it would be from Red Fish, just off the island. I’ll just list everything for you. Albarino wine. Hot, crusty bread with a cilantro-lime pesto sauce and butter. Blue crab dip with tortilla chips and Cuban bread. Shrimp and grits with chorizo gravy, fried okra and sauteed kale. Seared jumbo scallops with lobster macaroni, asparagus and proscuitto. Seriously, the only thing that could have made that better would be creme brulee. And believe me, they have it. We just didn’t have room for it. Without a doubt, one of the best meals of my life. I wish I could eat there all the time.

After such a fabulous meal, there was nothing left to do but go home and sleep it off, dreaming of the next gastronomic adventure. The next morning, we got up early and took Bear to the beach. It was his first time seeing the ocean, and I don’t know that he quite knew what to think of it. He liked the water so long as it wasn’t coming right up at him. He liked chasing his ball across the sand, too. But what he really loved was the attention he got from everyone around him. In Amanda’s words, he thinks that everyone loves him. And everyone should, because he’s so cute and friendly and silly. It was a fun morning. After that, we looked for a dog-friendly restaurant to have brunch. We ended up at Skillets, which allowed dogs on their very nice open patio and even had a dog menu!  My skillet was called the kitchen sink, and included two fluffy, buttery pancakes with real syrup, bacon, sausages, skillet potatoes, and poached eggs. Two perfecty poached eggs, that when cut open the runny yolk slides down over everything, creating that sweet and salty goodness that comes with mixing pancakes, eggs, and bacon.

After our lunch and a quick trip to Petco, we headed out for more afternoon pool time. Thank goodness I brought along my music and a long book – I definitely got in some great reading time! We didn’t spend as much time out there that day, because, being the 4th of July, we had some fireworks to watch that night. We left the pool. showered, and headed out to meet Amanda’s roommate, Rachel, and her boyfriend, Eric, and one of the local resorts. We picked them up and headed out to Sea Pines to have dinner and watch the fireworks. There were tons of people out there, of course. We ate at a seafood restaurant, where I got a plate full of fried shrimp, scallops, catfish, hush puppies, the works. I figured that was the one kind of seafood I hadn’t had since I’d been at the beach, so why not? A couple of cold beers and I was good to go. The fireworks were set off right over the yacht club harbor, which was really nice to see out over the water. Lots of people were watching from their boats, and all honked their horns and made noise after the fireworks show was over. Getting back to the car took forever, because everyone at the resort had all been bussed up from the parking lots. We must have waited in line for over an hour. It was a good bonding experience, and I was determined to keep a good attitude, instead of complaining like I normally would have. We eventually made it back home, not too terribly late, and all headed off to bed.

I got up early the next morning and left town. Amanda had to be back at work early that morning, and she took Bear to dog camp that day, so I didn’t see either one of them that morning. Before I left town, I made one last stop at the outlets to hit up some stores we didn’t have time for on our first trip. I’d found a Polo shirt for my brother, and wanted to go back and make sure I really couldn’t find the one he’d described that he really wanted. I stopped in Columbia on my way home to drop off his present to him. It was his first day at his month-long pharmacy rotation, so I didn’t stay but a minute to drop it off. The trip home was good, and uneventful. I was home less than 24 hours before I headed out on the road again, this time to DC. I didn’t even bother to unpack, besides taking out my dirty clothes. This current trip is a story for another day, though. Until then, happy belated 4th, and happy summer travels to all!

Tale as Old as Time

3 Jul

So, just a little belated update on my recent social activities. Last Tuesday was my last day of work, so to celebrate this new freedom, Alli and I drove up to Abingdon to see Beauty and the Beast at the Barter Theatre. She’s also moving soon – to Spartanburg, in fact – for med school. We decided to see the show as one of our last get-togethers before we both move away. Alli is probably the biggest Disney fanatic I know, and Beauty and the Beast just happens to be her favorite show, so of course she was up for seeing it as soon as I mentioned it.

We left pretty early in the morning, to have time to eat lunch and walk around downtown a little before the show started. We ate lunch at this little Italian restaurant in town, which was just okay. I’m not really familiar with the Abingdon area, so I didn’t really know much about restaurants and such when we got there. We had a leisurely lunch and caught up on our respective family dramas and sagas. Afterwards we walked to some of the shops downtown, which wasn’t many. You’d think somewhere with a cute little downtown and a well-known theater company would have better shopping, but I guess we just weren’t in the right area. Whatever.

The main reason we were there, of course, was to see the show. It definitely did not disappoint. There were tons and tons of kids there, which shouldn’t have been surprising, considering that it’s a family show. There were quite a few little girls dressed up in costumes, which was really cute. The show itself was fabulous; I’ve never seen the Broadway version of B&tB before, but this was pretty far up there as far as quality. If you’re in the area and can make it to a show, I’d highly recommend it. It was faithful to the Disney version of the story, while adding its own live-performance flair. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to any kind of play or show, and this was definitely a great way to make up for the deficit.

After the show we found a little bakery for dessert; we’d been on the search for cupcakes, but that proved fruitless. I had a mini key lime pie, which was delicious, probably the best I’ve ever had. My mouth is still drooling just thinking about it.

All in all, quite a successful and fun day. I always enjoy my time with Alli, and this extended day together made up for all the time we haven’t been able to spend together lately. It’s weird knowing that she’s moving, as well, but I’ve consoled myself by making her a handy little map of things she should see and do while living in Spartanburg.

Two Weeks Notice

2 Jul

I gave a little more than two weeks notice, as my AmeriCorps time with the Museum was always on a timetable, but Tuesday was my last official day at work. It’s weird to be moving on, like it hasn’t really set in yet. I think it would be different if I were staying here, to move on to school or a different job, but the fact is that everything in my life is about to change. This was just the first concrete sign that the times, they are a changin’.

I spent most of the morning packing up my office. There wasn’t much to pack up, of course, since most everything belongs to the Museum. There was the odd pencil holder, folder, mousepad, etc. to pack up, but all in all not too much. I also spent the day organizing the calendar and making copies for everyone so they know what’s going on, Outreach-wise, for the rest of the summer. I definitely wanted to make sure that things didn’t slack off just because I was leaving. Someone will step in to take my place, and things will keep going, just as they have for the past 18 months.

After spending the morning packing and organizing, the staff had organized a potluck party for me and the executive director, who’s also leaving, coincidentally. I guess you could say it was an emotional day around the Museum. Everyone had brought in various salads and casserole dishes, and they’d even ordered barbeque from a great local restaurant. It was an excellent lunch, for sure. There were even some former employees that came for the party to say goodbye, ones that I hadn’t ever worked with but have gotten to know through various Museum events and such. We basically spend the entire day eating and chatting. I don’t think anyone got much work done that day. It was such a lovely day, and a nice sendoff. It’s still hard to believe I won’t see them on a daily basis anymore.

Conspiracy Theory

30 Jun

It’s geeky to think about conspiracy theories, right? Well, today’s Plinky prompt inspires me to think so: What conspiracy theory do you believe in?

If you’ve read Angels and Demons or The Da Vinci Code, you know about the wild theories and codes solved by Robert Langdon, put down by some of the greatest religious, philosophical, scientific, and artistic minds in history. While I wouldn’t necessarily say I believe that Jesus was married and has a legitimate bloodline, I do subscribe to the theory that history is full of twists and turns that are stranger than fiction. We’ll never know the answers to these crazy quesitons, but I do think it’s possible that ancient relics and facts have been buried throughout history, making it impossible for us to discover them. So I guess I’m taking a cop-out here. I’m not saying I believe these kinds of conspiracy theories. I’m saying that I’m open to the idea that history is complicated, that the world is full of questions without an answer, and that there are secrets that were never meant to be uncovered.

We aren’t meant to know or understand everything. There are mysteries in the world that will never be solved. And we shouldn’t limit our imaginations to thinking that we’re capable of figuring it all out. It’s possible that there are buried treasures out there, both tangible and theoretical, and it’s fascinating to think about what history has done to them. But we won’t ever know the truth.

Monday Meme

27 Jun

What’s geekier than an Internet meme quiz? Not much. Here’s one:

ARE YOU…

 1. A cuddler? Absolutely not. I like my personal space. Maybe I just haven’t found the right person to cuddle with yet.

2. A morning person? Much more than I used to be, although I still really enjoy being more of a night owl.

3. A perfectionist? Yes, most of the time.

4. An only child? No. I have a brother.

5. Catholic? No.

6. In your pajamas? Not currently.

7. Currently suffering from a broken heart? Not at the moment.

8. OK with styling other people’s hair? If by that you mean I have the desire to do it, not usually, unless it’s someone I know. If you mean do I have the skills, sadly, no.

9. Left handed? Yes, and very proud to be!

10. Addicted to Facebook? I’m ashamed to admit it, but probably so. I need to break that habit.

11. Shy around the opposite gender? Yes. I’m usually shy around anyone I don’t know, although I’m getting better about it as I get older.

 DO YOU…

 12. Bite your nails? No.

13. Get paranoid at times? Yes, I think everyone does at some time or another.

14. Currently regret something you have said? I do regret things I’ve said in the past, although nothing very recent.

15. Curse frequently when you get mad? It usually just comes out as one good, dirty word, then it’s over.

16. Enjoy country music? Hate it.

17. Enjoy jazz music? Usually when I’m studying or want to listen to something mellow without words.

18. Enjoy talking on the phone? If it’s with friends or family, I like it. If I have to call someone for work-related reasons, I don’t like that much. I feel like a bumbling idiot on the phone with people I don’t know.

19. Enjoy smoothies? Yes, who doesn’t enjoy smoothies? Especially now, in the hot summer.

20. Have a lot to learn? Everyone has a lot to learn.

21. Have a pet? Yes, I have a turtle.

22. Have a tendency to fall for the “wrong” person? If by wrong you mean “completely oblivious to my existence,” then yes. I haven’t been in abusive or bad relationships, though.

23. Have all your grandparents? No, just one.

24. Have at least one sibling? Yes, just one.

25. Have been told that you are smart? Yes, but I definitely don’t always feel that way!

26. Have a broken bone? No. I’ve only ever broken my toe once, a long time ago.

27. Have caller ID on your phone? Yes, I think almost everyone does now. That’s pretty standard, isn’t it?

 HAVE YOU…

 28. Changed a diaper? Yes, but not in a really, really long time. I was probably babysitting.

29. Changed a lot over the past year? I think I’ve gotten more confident about public speaking and starting conversations with strangers. I used to be very shy and get nervous about making presentations, but now I can do it like it’s nothing.

30. Had friends who have never seen your natural hair color? No, I used to just highlight my hair, but I haven’t done that in a long time. I like my natural color. I can’t imagine coloring it so often that you forget what color it used to be.

31. Had surgery? Yes, I’ve had my wisdom teeth removed.

32. Killed another person? No. And even if I had, I don’t think the internet is a wise place to go blabbing about it.

33. Had your hair cut within the last week? No.

34. Had the cops called on you? Well, sort of. It involves campus safety (so hardly “cops”) and some harmless pranking, but that’s a story for another time.

 THE LAST PERSON WHO…

35. Slept in your bed beside you? I cannot remember the last time anyone else slept in my bed. Maybe back in college when I had friends home for a weekend.

36. Saw you cry? My mom, I think. That’s been a while. I don’t usually cry, and then especially not in front of other people.

37. Went to the movies with you? Amanda.

38. You went to the mall with? Amanda, again.

39. You went out to a restaurant dinner with? My mom.

40. You talked on the phone with? Someone who called our house asking for my mom.

41. Made you laugh? A video I watched recently online.

 WOULD YOU RATHER…

 42. Pierce your nose or tongue? Nose, definitely. Although I don’t think my parents would like that at all.

43. Be serious or be funny? Funny. I’ve spent too much of my life being too serious.

44. Drink whole or skim milk? Maybe skim, although it tastes like water. Whole milk tastes like butter. Can I mix them together to make 2%?

45. McDonald’s or Wendy’s? Wendy’s, because they have frostys.

46. Punk or goth? Punk, I guess, but only if Anthony Bourdain was there, too.

 ARE YOU…

 47. Simple or complicated? Complicated, definitely.

48. Gay? Nope.

49. Hardcore? I don’t think this is a complete question.

 DO YOU PREFER… 

 50. Flowers or candy? Flowers.

51. Gray or black? Gray.

52. Color or black and white photos? It depends on the subject of the photos. Mostly I like black and white, but color is also nice.

53. Lust or love? Love, although lust is fun sometimes.

54.Sunriseor sunset? Sunset.

55. M&Ms or Skittles? Skittles.

56. Staying up late or waking up early? Staying up late, unless I have a lot of things to do the next day. Then I like to get up early and get everything finished.

57. Sun or moon? Moon. Full Moon.

58. Winter or fall? Fall, definitely. Winter is too cold, and besides, fall is just too pretty, with the gorgeous leaves and that slight crispness to the air.

59. Left or right? Left. We leftys have to stick together.

60. Having 10 acquaintances or having 2 best friends? 2 best friends.

61. Sun or rain? Sun.

62. Vanilla ice cream or chocolate ice cream? Chocolate. Ice cream isn’t worth eating without it.

63. Vodka or Jack? I’m sorry, I don’t understand this question. What is this “prefer” you speak of?

 ABOUT YOU…

 64. What time is it now? 4:50

65. Name? Laura the Lazy Llama

66. Nicknames: See above.

67. Where are you? At home, in our downstairs office.

68. What is your birthdate? October 27. The best day ever. There’s a Facebook group.

69. What do you want? Enough money to pay for grad school!

70. Where do you want to live?Paris.

71. How many kids do you want? 3 or 4.

72. What would you want to name a girl? Anna Sophia, Alice, Amelia. I promise I like names that don’t start with A.

73. What would you want to name a boy? Paul, Bennett, Henry.

74. Do you want to get married? Yes, someday.

75. Nervous habits: Biting the inside of my lip.

76. Are you double jointed? No.

77. Can you roll your tongue? Yes.

78. Can you raise one eyebrow? Yes, but only on one side.

79. Can you cross your eyes? Yes.

80. Do you make your bed daily? No.

81. Which shoe goes on first? Whichever one I grab. I don’t usually notice that.

82. How much money do you usually carry with you? None, it’s all about plastic.

83. What jewelry do you wear? Usually a ring and earrings. Not even that, lately.

84. Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it? Twirl, the real way, with a spoon, which real Italians taught me to do.

85. Favorite ice cream? Half Baked. Or Late Night Snack. It’s a tough call.

 IN THE LAST MONTH, HAVE YOU…

 86. Had a boyfriend/girlfriend? No.

87. Bought something you didn’t need? Yes.

88. Sang in front of people? No.

89. Been kissed? No.

90. Been hugged? No.

91. Felt stupid? Yes.

92. Missed someone? Yes.

93. Gotten drunk? No.

94. Gotten high? No, not ever.

95. Danced crazy? No. Probably something to do with my answer to 93.

96. Cried? No.