46

22 Apr

We lived that first year in a tiny yellow house, all brick, with a steep driveway.  The yard was overgrown, long neglected, and the front stairs were rickety.  We didn’t have heat, not because of a lack of opportunity but because of a lack of finances, and we spent those long winter nights huddled together under the quilt, watching movies, talking, or sleeping.

Spring came, and the whole world turned green.  The house was set back from the road, down a hill and in front of a creek.  The property was surrounded by trees and separated from the neighbors by bushes and brush.  I awoke one morning to tiny bursts of green, a relief after seeing so much brown for so long.  We slept with the screen door open, fresh air circulating through the house and providing us with solid nights of sleep and mornings filled with sunlight and birds.  We traveled to his family’s farm for Easter, two solid hours of driving, our new puppy sleeping in the backseat.  I met everyone that day, an overwhelming prospect even to the most outgoing of souls.  I forgot everyone’s name and relationship to each other the moment I stepped away, but the food was good and people were kind, and with that combination it doesn’t really matter if names are recalled.

The summer was hot and long, bringing lots of bugs along with it.  We killed roaches nightly, and it made me hate that little house.  And when we got that problem under control our air conditioner went out, leaving us breathless and sweating, moving slowly from room to room, taking cold showers and lying naked under fans.  We fought a lot, mostly because of the heat and the rapid way that our lives were speeding up to, leaving us fragile and confused, blinking in the new light of change.  He told me he loved me at the end of June.  Then his ex-girlfriend left that August for grad school, five states away.  We fought bitterly the night he went to say goodbye to her, leaving us both hurting deeply, in different ways.  But soon she was gone, and autumn came.

The trees lining the property turned fire-like when September rolled around.  Soon there were no leaves left on the trees; instead, they all lived on our deck and front steps and on top of the cars, flying about in a blaze of glory whenever the wind picked up.  He moved into my room in November, and spent Christmas at my house, braving my family, who prefers their holiday with a little drink on the side.

We left that little house in the last days of 2010, leaving behind a cold kitchen that we hadn’t used since the temperature dropped below freezing.  We spent the whole month of December in our bedroom, the space heater on high and planning where to go next.  We live in a generic condo now, where heat and air conditioning is included in our monthly rent.  I love it here (no bugs) and so does he (better floorplan); it’s a step up from the little yellow house.

I miss those cold nights, sometimes, when it was just the two of us and everything was new.  We spent the whole workday looking forward to going home, putting on pajamas, and climbing into bed with each other.  It was a good start; something I think I’ll always look back on with a warm, happy feeling.  It was the start of something good.

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45

15 Apr

It’s Friday!

So, we just had a tornado go through.  Much excitement ensued, I heard the wind suddenly blow up and the hail started to fall.  Now normally, we can’t hear a thing.  We live on the second floor, with people above us – if it’s storming, we don’t know.

We heard this wind.

I, of course, wanted to open the door and watch!  R wouldn’t let me, however, and I had to resign myself to take pictures through the glass.  (Don’t tell, but I actually opened the door)

It’s times like this I love living in the South.  So much excitement!

I used to be afraid of storms when I was little.  When the tornado went through Dunwoody in 1998, I remember looking in the mirror and being literally pale from fear – there was this horrible lump in my stomach that barely let me sleep, and after that horrible night was over, I never again wore the nightgown I had on that night.  Eventually, though, the fear faded, and left in its wake is a new feeling of excitement and fun.  After all, we live in the city.  What’s the worst that can happen?  I think, after watching footage of storms in Kansas and Arkansas, I get paranoid that the same thing will happen here in Atlanta.  But, their tornado warning is not our tornado warning.  The stuff that happens already when we have a storm is pretty much all that is going to happen.  And that is nothing to be scared of; I rarely am, unless awoken at night by a giant storm.  Then I’m just disoriented and confused, not really scared.

It makes me wish I could transfer this newfound fearlessness into other parts of my life.  I did yesterday, when I went on a giant slide with my five-year-old.  There is a carnival near our house, and we got a jump-start on the crowds by going yesterday evening.  And as I climbed the rickety stairs, I tried not to think about the stairs possible collapsing under us and sending us to our doom, with broken bones and lots of screaming.  I didn’t look down to the end of the slide, instead focused on sitting down, getting J onto my lap, and then before I could chicken out I gave us a mighty push and there we went.  And you know, I’m glad I went.  I love the feeling of going fast, my hair flying behind me and the breeze in my face.  I’ve always loved that feeling.  And I don’t know when I stopped loving the feeling and started letting the fear win.  But I’m working on it.

Fear will hold you back.  I’m firmly convinced you can do nothing great until you let it go, and learn to fly solo.  In essence, you can’t give a damn if you fall.  Sometimes I think I care too much, in different ways, and sometimes it’s hard to say fuck it, it doesn’t matter, it’s only bringing me down…I have a hard time letting things go.  I’m an eternal optimist – I will always hold on, convinced that something good will come of it.  I can’t decide what’s better; probably because one needs a healthy mix of both.

Ok, that’s enough of that talk.  Be fearless, dear readers, and see what happens.

44

6 Apr

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”

In this aforementioned movie, Love Actually, one of the characters is debating a Joni Mitchell recording with her husband.  He can’t fathom how she listens to such silliness; she replies that Miss Mitchell is the woman who taught his cold, English wife how to feel.  She’s loved Joni’s music for a long, long time.  And “true love lasts a lifetime.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love.  It’s crazy, to me, how many different ways you can love something or someone.  The way I love my coffee, for instance, is a good bit different from the way I love my family.  I hope.  But there’s friendship love, there’s family love, there’s the way you love your dog or cat; there’s the way you love your first love and the way you love your current person.  Sometimes I think that I’m not capable of the kind of romantic love that I read about in books; the head over heels, would follow you anywhere, I’ll die when you die kind of thing.  I’m more of a let’s be partners and spend our lives together, but not lose our heads and become one of those annoying couples you want to smack.  However, the “true love” that the movie character mentioned above…made me think.  What do I truly love?

Well, I love coffee.  I love music – listening to it, finding a new band, old songs that make me feel, new songs that make me cry, the triumphant feeling I get when I finish writing a song of my own, the way my fingers get sore and callused when I play too much guitar.  I love the South.  I love when the seasons start to change, and you get the fresh breeze in the air of something new.  I love the smell of freshly cut grass in the summer, and the feeling I get on Christmas Eve.  I love books, in a very intense and amazing way.  I love french fries, and sweet tea.  I love cleaning, and choosing cleaning products.  I love Little Women (with Susan Sarandon) and The Secret Garden (not the Hallmark TV version), because sometimes I think I am Jo, and the first view of the garden and the music that plays makes me feel something akin to falling or your stomach when you’re in an elevator going up.  I love getting together with my friends from high school – we’ve known each other since we were five, and they know me better than anyone.  The way I laugh when I’m with them is like nothing else in this world.  They are my sisters.

Maybe that’s not the breathless, head over heels, intense love that people talk about.  But it sure as hell works for me.  I think it’s better; it’s not just feelings – it’s a life.

Love.

43

1 Apr

3.  To Kill a Mockingbird – Every year on Fathers Day, the pastor at my grandmother’s church reads an excerpt from this book.  I suppose that’s where I first heard of it, way back when I was ten or eleven.  I wrote my college essay (Which book most profoundly impacted you?) about this book.  My only copy, dog-eared and worn, sits proudly on the bookshelf in the bedroom.  To me, Lee gave the best description of the American South that I have ever read, and readers have been hard-pressed, since then, to find anything else that comes close.  From Boo Radley to the rabid dog, to the infamous trial that sent an innocent black man to prison, To Kill a Mockingbird sets forth a lesson that can still be learned today – it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

4.  The Chronicles of Narnia – My third grade teacher read these to us, one by one, a chapter a day.  Since then, they’ve been on my list of favorite books.  I got an anthology for my 15th birthday, all of the books, in their proper order, in one.  Shortly after, it fell apart; it was the publisher’s fault for putting such wonderful literature into a giant, paperback binding.  There’s just something magical about an alternate world, a place where you perhaps may get to, one day, if you find the right way to do it.  Lewis crafted these books masterfully, writing them for his god-daughter; by the end of the seventh book, you’ve been transported to Narnia and back, and feel as though you’ve made 100 new friends in the process.  Don’t be fooled by the movies – the books are actually quite good, much better than their big screen counterparts.  I re-read them every few months, and every time I do so I feel as though I’m coming home.  And, don’t tell anyone, but when I see an old wardrobe, I always open the door, peer through the inhabitants, and see if maybe this will be the day I get to visit Narnia.

As I said before, I love books.  I can’t pick out just four that made an impact on me, but that’s what I’ve had to do.  Books are like songs, in a way – they may not be the best quality, or the most well written, but if it makes you feel a certain way then the writer has accomplished something.  If it makes you remember, or cry, or laugh, or feel good, or think, take it.  Reading is the best way to inform yourself, to educated yourself, and to entertain yourself.

“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read” – Mark Twain

42

25 Mar

I love books.

The evidence is everywhere, from the piles of them left behind at mom’s house, living on the closet shelf and the armoire drawers…to the homemade bookshelf R and I made a few weeks ago…to this:

That’s right, WordPress…I color coordinated my books.  I’m not afraid to admit to it.  I took it very seriously.  I am a nerd.  Yes, I am okay with that.

I could live happily in Barnes and Noble, amongst the classics and new fiction and magazines and blank journals and coffee…my idea of a perfect day is a giant cup of coffee and scouring each shelf, aisle by aisle.  There are so many words in the world, how will I ever have time to read them all?  It’s a hobby I gladly embrace all the time, and am firmly convinced that a girl can never have too many books.  My collection started in highschool, when every time I visited a bookstore I’d head straight for the classics section, just to stock up.  College made it worse, with a stack of books required of me every semester, a fee I gladly paid and happily carried out of the bookstore, bags bulging, making tiny red marks on the palms of my hands.  I’d carry them home, excited to spread them out on the bed and maybe get a head start on the reading.  Each new city that I visit is secondary to whatever independent bookstore I happen to find; one day, I’m going own my own book shop with a coffee shop tucked away in the back – Kramer Books, in DC, inspired me there.  From Faulkner to Tolstoy, Chaucer to Twain, my shelves are filled with others words.  I only hope I can add to them one day.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, for reasons of which I’m not sure, but it seems my book consumption has increased ten-fold since we moved.  My favorite thing is picking out a new book for a bath, seeing as how:

  1. The tub in the little yellow house was nasty…
  2. …and even if it wasn’t, the bathroom was, and I was not about to sit down in a nice tub full of water and bubbles and have a roach fall in there with me.  Defeats the purpose of relaxation.

Additionally, I’ve been reading not only books but also blogs and articles.  I came across an interesting one the other day stating that the British Secretary of Education thinks that children should be reading around 50 books a year.

A book a week?  I can do that.  However realistic this proposition may or may not be, I think it’s a fine idea to at least try.  It couldn’t hurt.

It got me thinking, though…what books would I recommend to someone, adult or child?  What are some titles that every single person should have on their shelves at home?

  1. The Bible (or Qur’an, or The Five Classics, or The Torah, or the Bagvadhgita) – If you are religious, and you haven’t read the holy book with whichever religion you accept…then that’s your first assignment.  If you’re going to believe something, believe it all the way.  Read it, immerse yourself, do some research and sleep a little better knowing that you know what you believe.  Without reading those texts…you’re like a doctor who hasn’t opened a medical book.  Do it.
  2. Where the Wild Things Are – I recently bought this book for the five-year-old I nanny.  When I was very small, my mom and I went to the library once a week and checked out a giant stack of books.  We read them all.  Where the Wild Things Are was always one of them.  Maurice Sendak turns a simple children’s story into a masterpiece, creating images that are instantly recognizable.  What I just found out, though, is how fun it is to read this book aloud.  The sentences go on for pages, and you can read them slowly because that’s how he’s placed them on the page – he’s written them, quite literally, the way it’s supposed to be read.  I adore this book.  It’s childhood.  Every child has been Max, at one time or another, and who hasn’t wished to sail through night and day, and in and out of weeks, and almost over a year to where the wild things are?  I know I have.  I know I still do.

That’s all for this week, readers…it’s almost 2am, and I have to get up early tomorrow.  But leave me with some suggestions!  What are your favorite books?  What do you think everyone should read?  Comment below!

41

20 Mar

If you knew that you would die today,
Saw the face of God and love,
Would you change?
Would you change?

So this was an interesting week.  For some time now, I have had my heart set on going back to school for a second BA, in creative writing and/or journalism.  I had made my choice, I was ready, I was going to go to Emory and be an Eagle and have the college experience and life that I’ve realized I’ve wanted since graduating Oglethorpe.  I was ready.

If you knew that love can break your heart
When you’re down so low you cannot fall
Would you change?
Would you change?

Oh, the irony.  I email the Admissions office, to schedule an appointment to talk with a counselor.  The response?  “You will not be able to apply for admission to Emory College of Arts and Sciences.  We do not allow those with a Bachelor’s degree to apply.  You can apply to the Graduate School.”

If you knew that you would be alone,
Knowing right, being wrong,
Would you change?
Would you change?

All I want is a do-over.  A chance to make things right, to do things right, to get an education in the field that I want.  That’s all.  I’m sorry I didn’t come out of high school knowing exactly what I wanted to do.  I’m sorry I only chose Oglethorpe because it was down the road and had a beautiful campus.  I’m sorry I didn’t do any college research because all I wanted out of life was to play music and write.  Sometimes I feel like I’m going to be paying for my collegiate ignorance forever.  I’m always going to fall short.  I’m always going to regret.

Are you so upright you can’t be bent?
If it comes to blows are you so sure you won’t be crawling?
If not for the good, why risk falling?
Why risk falling?

New game plan.  No more looking back.  If you knew that you would die today, would you change?  I would.  I will.  Grad school, here I come.  And I’m going to do it right.  If the point of making mistakes is learning from them, then I’m going to be the smartest little grad student in the world.  And if I end up in Iowa or California or New York or just down the damn street, I will know that I am supposed to be there because it is right, because it happened that way.  I’m going to work hard, spend those two or three years like they’re my last on earth, and I will make something of myself.  Just you wait.  I’m not going to be a step behind forever.  I’m gonna be somebody.

If you’d broken every rule and vow,
And hard times come to bring you down,
Would you change?
Would you change?

Would YOU change?

40

10 Mar

Things I did today:

  1. Had my first ever interview for a real, grown up journalism job.  I interviewed for a staff writing position at Neighbor Newspapers, an experience which simultaneously made me want to throw up, but also jump really high and squeal with excitement, like a little girl.  It would be a great experience and opportunity – spend 40 hours a week writing?  Yes, please.  Getting paid (a very small amount) to do what I love?  Super yes, please.  We will see…I’ve learned not to get my hopes up on things like this, as things like this have a way of falling through the cracks.  Still, I’m excited.
  2. Consumed a delicious meal at Mary Mac’s with my mom and step-dad.  There’s nothing like good old fashioned parent/child bonding time.  We talked a lot about my aforementioned job interview…we pretty much dissected it to bits.  We also had fried chicken, and meatloaf, and mac and cheese, cornbread, fried okra and collard greens.  However, and I will accept no arguments, the banana pudding is the best thing on the menu.
  3. R is at the movies with his momma.  Therefore, I got to take a nice quiet bath, and am now sitting in my nice quiet bedroom with a book, a magazine, and a laptop.  The dog and cat are wandering around, and I’m listening to the far off sounds of my fellow condo dwellers cleaning their apartments and getting ready for sleep.  I love it when he’s here; I love spending quiet evenings just the two of us.  But I also like the rare alone time.  It’s nice to like whatever life throws at you.

Now, I must leave you, as I’m getting up early tomorrow.  A busy life waits for no man.  Or something like that.

p.s. I really, really want this job.  ❤