Wednesday, August 12, 2009

adventures in charlottesville

i had the best weekend visiting charlottesville, va, and my cousins. apparently i have a whole slew of first cousins once removed, second cousins, and everything in between. they are fun people; i'm rather sad i never knew about them most of my life--or rather, i knew very little about them.

the main purport of my visit was to see UVA, which turns out to be an 18th century hedonist's dream. my second cousin, jessie, who's 15, was my tour guide. we wandered all over the campus, musing on the idea that when english settlers first came to virginia, they wrote back to their relatives across the pond to tell them how 'tropical' the weather was. this led to a discussion on the hell it must have been to live in the original jamestown, and on our inability to conceive of why anyone in their right mind would agree to cross the atlantic in a cramped, stinky boat filled with disease and people you can't get away from, only to settle in an area where you would live in a one room hut with fifteen other people and eventually die of dysentery, if it hadn't happened already on the boat. at any rate, UVA was deeply beautiful, but i have to admit that i was most impressed by the clinique makeup counter in the university bookstore.

then jessie took me on an adventure all over the city, where we crossed our tracks so many times that i feel i must have memorized every street by now. of course, this is impossible, since my sense of direction is about as sharp as wet tissue paper. but i did begin to have a vague recollection of the places we were seeing. we went downtown, met up with some friends of hers who took us on a random trip to this creepy observatory that looked like the scene from a horror film. then we made a random trip to the SPCA, since jessie wanted (and has since acquired) a fluffy white bunny named lester, which i somehow feel is appropriate. then we decided to make another random trip to ash lawn, the home of james monroe. it turned out it was closed, but we were able to walk around the grounds and i pretended i lived there. in my head.

i also got to see my great aunt (or second cousin going in the other direction? not sure). at any rate, it was a great weekend of relaxing conversation and catching up on years of stories. i feel very lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life.

Monday, August 3, 2009

no more touch!

i am not clever. do you ever have moments where you feel like you should just crawl into a hole and not come out for awhile, until whatever curse is causing you to mess up everything you touch decides to leave you alone?

ok, that's rather dramatic. but really. last week, i made a physical mess of everything in the kitchen. it was as if, every time i tried to get something off a shelf or from a cabinet, i'd mess up three more things next to it. i knocked all of the tupperware out of the cabinets--out of two separate cabinets, mind you. in the pantry i reached for a plastic ziplock baggie and knocked all of the storage bag/tin foil/plastic wrap boxes off of the shelf, lodging them securely behind the pantry shelves in such a manner that they will never be seen again. that action caused a ripple effect, effectively knocking over a large box of tea, which of course was open, so all of the individual tea bags scattered all over the pantry, into more impossible crevices. that in turn fell into the bag of cat kibble, scattering kibble in the process, which i then stepped on and ground into the kitchen floor, and then the cats came running because they had to see what was going on, and started batting kibble and tea bags around the floor. throughout all of this i tried in vain to catch anything i could, while holding my ziplock bag, but by the end i just threw it back into the pantry, slid the doors shut against the trauma within, and ran away.

at work the chaos continued. one of my guidance counselors called to say that a family weekend had accidentally been rescheduled for the weekend i wanted to visit, and so i found that i had to change my flight time in order to be able to actually meet any students. so i went on and changed the flight, but i didn't realize until i hit the submit button that i'd be charged an extra $150.00 to make the change.

and now, i've registered for the gre subject test only to find out today that the date i chose i may have to work in the admissions office... and it will be an extra $50.00 to change the date of the test. sigh. i need to stop trying to do things until the planetary alignments shift in my favor, or something. arg!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


for some reason, i was worrying lately about the future, and about finding the right person to marry and settle down with. what if it just doesn't happen? it's a bit frightening sometimes, to think of the possibility of never marrying, or of being alone. i mean, for all of the empowering messages out there for women to break away from this obsession, in reality i think most people, men and women, fear not finding their soulmate. or they fear being without love in general.

and yet, i was reminded of a conversation that i had earlier today with a friend who i was driving to the airport. in the car we fell to talking about the respective moments of our lives that were particularly painful–we talked about losing people we love. i was remembering that i'd had several dreams in which i'd encountered and been comforted by the people i'd lost, and my friend had had the same happen to her. it is a reminder to me that there are so many kinds of love that are important, and romantic is only one of them. the love for family is sometimes even stronger.

it made me realize that, no matter how frightening it may feel to be alone, it's better to do so rather than to compromise yourself with someone who isn't right for you. because you never are alone. i really believe that. they are always with you–the friends and family you've lost. they come in dreams and in waking moments, where feelings or physical signs remind you of their constant presence.

dreams… i believe that dreams are truth, and our loved ones protect us through them, and through their presence in our waking world, wherever we go.

i used to be afraid of the dark because i thought i was alone, but i see now so clearly that that isn't true. in eat, pray, love, elizabeth gilbert learns about the balinese belief in the Four Brothers. each person is born with four invisible brothers who follow you throughout your life to protect you. the four brothers represent the four virtues of indonesian life: intelligence, friendship, strength and poetry; and yet they are very real. in fact, at night, they stand around your bed and fight off evil demons that may try and attack you.

so maybe i have four brothers who watch over my life. or maybe i have my grandparents, my favorite sixth grade teacher, the wonderful woman from my church who died of cancer so long ago now. or maybe it's a combination of all of them.

it's not just for the classroom!