Thursday, August 30, 2007

speaking of high school

Maybe it's because I'm slightly nutty with all these boxes around, me forgetting what day it is and what I'm supposed to be doing that made me want to get in touch with people from high school. I must be losing it to even consider this because my No. 1 goal when finally walking across that stage, getting my diploma, surviving an ill-advised trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. and packing up all my junk and moving to my college (crying as my folks pulled away in their blue station wagon) was to forget all about high school and that little shit who gave me a bloody nose in third grade. (Later, my mom ran over his dog by accident. Karma is a bitch.)

In my list of things to accomplish in life, "forget high school" is checked off, for better or worse. I haven't managed to check off "become fluent in another language" or "win a Pulitzer." But at least one thing is checked off! And I couldn't be prouder!

That said, I can admit that I do get a twinge of nostalgia when my current friends talk and/or do fun things with their high school friends like GO SEE THE POLICE IN CHICAGO FROM BOX SEATS AT WRIGLEY STADIUM. (Dammit, SG!)

So did you think this was going to be all about my high school? That I had some great realization that my past is worth dredging up, worth reconnecting to, worth reconciling with? Ah, you have such high hopes for me. Thanks! (Though I did, in all honesty, send an e-mail out to try to find Peter who used to direct the aforementioned Teens Camping Tour of the West. No luck yet. Will update if that changes...)

Nope, here's a little something from my road trip with The Only Boy Who Didn't Scare The Shit Out of Me To Whom I Am Now Married. AKA: Pat. This summer we visited his high school boarding school in Ohio, Olney Friends School in Barnesville, where he spent three semesters instead of going to military school. It is surrounded by rolling green fields and bucolic views of cows munching on grass and intense blue skies and super sweet afternoons where you just want to nap in the grass. It's that beautiful, people, and makes any story I have to tell about going to Davie County High School terribly sad. Here's photographic proof!

(NOTE: If this moves too quickly, hit pause and manually click forward using the arrows.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

packrat cadet kisser who sleeps through humanity

We are in full-throttle moving mode, with tons of boxes and piles of papers and bags of peanuts lying around like we just don't care. So in the last two days, I've been trying to come to terms with my pack-ratedness. I get it honestly. When my sister and I cleaned out my parents' house a few years ago, we filled a dumpster full of junk my parents had squirreled away -- jars and jars of canned tomatoes and peaches that had turned the color of dirt, napkins from parties they threw back in the 60s, clothes full of holes, but saved just in case every store on the face of the planet closed and we had to revert to our pioneer genes to make it through the long, cold winters in Davie County.

But, by the looks of our basement, I didn't get rid of enough. What I couldn't throw away, I inherited, including partial packages of tissue paper and random drapery hooks. But in this packing process, I'm bound and determined to make my "change is good" mantra mean something. I mean, how much are you really changing when you have a broken plate from your first apartment wrapped and stored like it was your first Oscar?

So far, Pat's found a folder of train stubs and receipts from his trip to Japan in 1994. Among other things, I've found my fourth grade yearbook, a 1968 Winston-Salem Journal clipping about Max Woosley, the wife of Oscar "Pop" Woosley who ran the Children's Home in Winston-Salem and was the only father my dad ever knew, and a box full of stuff from my camping trip across the country when I was 16/17.

In that box was a journal from my trip with Teens Camping Tour of the West, which pretty much killed my idea that I've changed much in the last 20 years. Then: shy, confused, excited, and scared shitless by boys. Today: shy, confused, excited, and scared shitless by boys.

July 6, 1989:

We got up today (actually yesterday) from sleeping underneath the stars and heading on out to Colorado and the great Rockies. Today was an awesome (there's that word again!) day! After we traveled for a while, we went into the van and there was a blanket across the front seat so that we couldn't see out the windows. Then we all had to put our pillows over the windows so we couldn't see out. We had to listen to a John Denver tape about "being human." (I fell asleep.) Then we finally got there and we had to close our eyes and get out of the van and stand in a semi-circle. Finally, after listening to another John Denver song about the Rocky Mountains (big hint, huh?) we opened our eyes. It was astoundingly beautiful, that's the only was to explain it. ... After that we practiced "kissing a cadet" for the Air Force Base. All the girls kissed Steve and Peter, and the guys kissed Beth and Nikki. How embarrassing! It was even worse at the Academy. Peter said we wouldn't be able to get back onto the van unless we kissed a cadet. So we did it. It wasn't that thrilling, but I guess it was OK. We had to chase them all down. I bet they went back to their dorms and said to each other, "Did you see those girls from North Carolina?" At least it would be a topic of conversation.

Because conversation is what every Air Force Academy cadet wants with a group of underage teenage girls.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


The day is sweltering hot, which is atypical despite the fact the town I'm in is called Hot Springs. It's 2 p.m., my car themometer reads 99 degrees and the street is empty except for a few motorcyclists chugging through town. Almost all of the stores are closed.

I have a little bit of time to kill before meeting a friend, so I drive down the main street, looking around. Ahead of me, I spot a lot of white hair and T-shirts. I keep driving, getting closer. What's going on? A parade? An accident? One by one, about six faces turn toward me, our eyes catching. I drive by, looking at the group of about six men sitting on a stone wall. They're in the shade of some large trees and overgrown hedges. What's going on? I'm what's going on. Me, in my car, driving down the street. They smile. I smile. We all wave.

Oh, to live in a town where the excitement at 2 p.m. is watching traffic.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Picking apples

On Saturday, Pat and I stood under my grandmother's apple tree on the edge of the tobacco field. There used to be about six apple trees in her backyard. But wind and lightening and drought and age took most of them. There were pippins, horse apples and early girls. When I was a little girl, I remember running around the backyard as my grandfather grafted limbs onto the trees, trying to get other varieties to sprout and bloom and produce sweet fruit. But now this is the only apple tree left, and it lives nearly alone now. Only the deer visit regularly, and we stood where they congregate, too, adding our sneaker imprints to the hoof prints scattered like confetti on the clay. The bottom branches were empty. They'd gotten there first. So we reached up into the tree, pulling the apples off above our head, dropping them onto the grass and into the tobacco field for the deer to find later.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry

It's a funny kind of irony when traveling keeps you from writing about said travels on your blog, which is supposed to be about traveling. I now, right? Hysterical!

So since the end of summer is here (I don't care what the calendar says. School starting equals end of summer. Even though I haven't been to school in years, it's hard to miss the packs of kids buying busloads of folders, pencils and cigs at your local superstore.) Pat and I decided to take a quasi-spur-of-the-moment trip back to Oak Island last week. Our last hurrah! for summer. Or some such thing.

We took off late last Wednesday, pulling onto the island with our stinky-breathed dog who, no matter how cold we made the car, insisted on shooting gut-rotting air out of his constant panting mouth. Plus, it was about 115 degrees on the drive down. And we got stopped at a road block heading to the island, only prolonging our 8-hour drive to 8.25 hours and I was about to lose it! When we got there, it was about 2 a.m. and it was about 130 degrees in the house where we begged/bullied/cajoled our way into borrowing from my sister-in-laws parents, who were so accommodating (Thanks, y'all!!!) and we didn't care anyway because we were At The Beach! Again! And their house rocks, so there's that.

Anyway, reverse the sequence of events and there you have us driving back home on Sunday. It was awesome. It was the beach. There was sand and surf. And lots of fried shrimp. What more can I say? And though he nearly found himself running alongside the car on the way to the beach, Sammy redeemed his household standing by training himself to conveniently poop while he was there. As soon as we crossed the dunes via the boardwalk, his paws would hit the sand and he'd walk to the trashcan perched next to the dunes and take a poop. Right there. So close! Blessed be! I meant to take a picture and post it here, but that's pushing the bounds of even this drivel.

All this is a very long intro into introducing you (again, if you're paying attention) to Lindsay and Whit's blog, which is chronicling their trip to Korea via Thailand. I'm not too proud to say I'm jealous. I mean, I got the Lonely Planet guide to Thailand months and months ago, even before they were thinking of going, all in preparation for our three months of travel this summer! That. Didn't. Happen. No Japan. No Thailand. No confusing airports. No backpacks. No nothin'. (Except, see above.) I'm not complaining, really. What can we do? The housing market in Asheville has grown oh-so-slow, and though we've sold our house, we don't close until the end of September if all goes as planned. And there's the other one still sitting there, all stainless-steel appliances and solid-surface countertops and immaculate wood floors and thoughtful layout and awesome backyard all for under market value that makes me want to yell, "WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT, PEOPLE?" And, well, school's back in session and you know that means.

So I'm very much enjoying their blog, even their pictures of themselves brushing their teeth while sitting on the toilet in a Bangkok bathroom. That looks so great! Have fun, y'all!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Where medicine and blogging meet

You know when you have those moments/weeks/months where a sudden sneeze wakes you out of a daze and you realize you're still in your pajamas at 5 p.m. or that you left a pot boiling on the stove two hours ago or that, magically, it's a whole different month and you haven't updated your blog?

That's what it's been like for me lately. A whirlwind. That New Start thing wasn't kidding (though lots of things are still around that I wish would just disappear or fix themselves or find some peace, but, still...). There have been a ton of new things going on: job interviews, road trips spanning seven states, selling of the house, planning move to new house, story assignments, shopping for a new suit. These things on top of regularly scheduled activities -- fun things like brushing my teeth and nearly passing out at the gym because I forgot to eat lunch.

But one particularly interesting development is the fact that my lovely acupuncturist has me taking this god-awful Chinese herb formula that's supposed to boost my "open, free spirit" (do I have one of those? Did I leave it at the dentist's office?). It's called -- if I'm remembering this correctly -- Roaming Powder. Get it? Huh? Get it? It's also been called Free and Easy Wanderer's Powder. And I'm so in love with the name, that I don't even mind that people who need it are like this:

"The mind that has not learned how to face problems effectively, that struggles, strives, and competes, will cause the body's qi to stagnate, which, over time, yields various symptoms and diseases."

I love that my prescription from her is to take this powder and lots of bubble baths and, essentially, to roam and rove.