Thursday, July 28, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane

Where I am:

Where I am going:

I'm not being a drama queen, but I truly don't remember what 65 feels like. I started laying out clothes on Sunday because I'm so flummoxed as to what to bring.

But, for one of the few times in my life, I truly don't care. I so badly want to get away but, more importantly, so badly need to see this lady:

My friends are the best in the world and I'm tremendously blessed that two of my closest ones are either a room or a metro ride away. The other, however, makes her home on the left coast and we haven't seen each other since October. In her words, "we're basically the same person," and I'm ecstatic to spend four days exploring a new city with her.

NC Summer Vacation, Part 4: Kitty Hawk

The last time I was here:

Was here:
Around senior year of high school with my three favorite Joes. 

Before that trip, the only other time I'd been was here:
Around the ffth grade with Peanut, one of the greatest dogs ever.

Because it had been so long I was really excited to go back. I swear my heart beats faster when I think about what the Wright Brothers did and the role my state played in it. History nut+Carolina girl=dangerous dorkdom.


Replica of their plane.

For comparison's sake, Joey and I with the actual plane at the Smithsonian in 2008.

Hangar and landing field.

Markers showing where each flight landed.

Marker explaining historic importance.

Me and the marker/giant rock.

Joey didn't want to smile for the camera anymore.

Plaque in sidewalk marking the centennial celebration.

After exploring the museum, the landing field, and the new exhibits they added for the centennial, I started the long trek up to the monument. It was terribly hot and an uphill climb but the views are worth it.

And that was Kitty Hawk.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NC Summer Vacation, Part 3: Jockey's Ridge

There are many places I love in North Carolina. Home. Chapel Hill. The mountains. The red clay of the Piedmont. The beach. Even though I don't go in the ocean, I still appreciate our clean sandy beaches and our cool ocean breezes. 

When I travelled abroad, if people knew what North Carolina was, they knew it because of our beaches. Though I don't get there nearly enough, I love the Outer Banks the most. Probably because they are just so uniquely Carolina. 

My brother and I took a short, random road trip to OBX while I was home. We were able to stop at Jockey's Ridge and Kitty Hawk. I'd driven by Jockey's Ridge on family trips before but never stopped.

A description of how Jockey's Ridge likely was formed:
[Scientists have] concluded that Jockey's Ridge itself came into being about 7,000 years ago. The process of how this came about is unclear; however, scientists believe that minerals such as quartz were washed from the mountains of the state to the ocean, creating sand. This sand was pushed onto the beaches of the area by storms and hurricanes. Through a process known as saltation the sand was eventually blown onto the area now known as Jockey's Ridge where something caused it to begin building the dune system.
It was the largest expanse of sand I've ever seen. We felt like we were in the desert. (Thankfully we weren't actually in the desert as Joey commented that he "would never make it in a real desert.") It was definitely hot but there was also a nice breeze as we walked up. 

The closest I've ever been to an actual desert was when I went to Lanzarote. The beach consists of sand that blew over from the Sahara. It's without a doubt the most cohesive sand I've ever come across. I have some suntan lotion from this trip that still has sand particles attached four years, a trans-atlantic flight, and three moves later. (Sidebar: I should probably throw away that lotion.)

Sahara sand in Lanzarote.

The sand at Jockey's Ridge didn't blow over from the Sahara but it's NC sand and there is a lot of it. The sky wasn't the perfect shade of Carolina Blue due to smoke from the wildfires, but it was close enough.

Proof that the brother and I were actually there.

Not to get too deep, and I think I've written this before, but I feel closer to God in a setting like this than I ever have in any church. It's overwhelming to be in such a vast area with no end and sight and realize just how small you are. But it can provide some interesting perspective, too.

Again and again and again

There is something infinitely soothing to me in repetition. In the past year I've learned about the religious use and tradition of labyrinths. They seem to be a good physical manifestation of the notion of repetitive soothing. This description from St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Bethesda explains it well:

The labyrinth has a single path for walking into and returning from the center. Unlike a maze, the labyrinth has no false turns or blind alleys. You cannot get lost.
Start at the entrance and let go of your cares and concerns. Walk silently, at your own pace, pausing for reflection whenever you wish. Be open to any insight or guidance you receive.

The end of the first graph almost takes my breath away: "No false turns or blind alleys. You cannot get lost." It's this safe predictability that repetition offers that is so appealing. At least the way I practice it. No surprises, no wrong turns, just the same action over and over again.

My repetitive habits can cure almost anything. Counting words in sentences or letters in words over and over when nervous or stressed. Tapping the buttons on a remote control, counting 1 to 100, again and again. Tracing the stones set in the shape of a "B" in a plaster coaster my sister made until zoning out. Playing the same song for days on end until the words barely register.

There are a number of labyrinths at churches in the area and I will eventually walk one. In the meantime, my personal labyrinth continues to be letters, remote buttons, and songs. Especially songs. I've blogged before about my propensity to listen to a song on repeat for an entire day. (See: Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson - Valerie; Eric Hutchinson - Rock and RollNick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Oh Children) This week it's Samantha Ronson's cover of the Alicia Keys song "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart" firmly on repeat for the past two days.

Last week I heard her brother's version for the first time, which I also love, but this week I'm just obsessed with hers. Despite the title and lyrics, I find it far more beautiful and soothing than sad and depressing. Maybe because I have the more upbeat Keys or other Ronson versions to switch too if needed.

Because of course I have multiple versions. My Covers playlist on iTunes is currently more than 200 strong, with the leaders being "Hallelujah" with 12 and "Carolina in my Mind" with eight. On the off chance I grow weary of one version, I can switch to another and repeat the process.

Some might consider all of this just OCD. Which, I'm sure to some degree it is. But I think the existence and spiritual properties of the labyrinth show that I'm not the only one to find peace in doing again, and again, and again. Repetition: It's good for the soul. Or at least it's good for mine.

Labyrinth photo from here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NC Summer Vacation, Part 2: Baby, you're a firework

Yes, I just channeled Katy Perry. It's ok if you hate me a little. 

We tend to do things big in the south, particularly when it comes to explosives. Now, I know this isn't a strictly southern thing, but I swear our accents get thicker when lighting a fuse or throwing a firecracker in the pool and I just don't think it would be the same anywhere else.

This year the sister and brother-in-law got a nice haul from the Other Carolina and combined with ours we had a nice selection. I don't have a ton of photos as I was too busy watching the display, but here are a few.

Mike and Joey working on one of the "works on land and water" fire boats.
Testing it in the water and leaving its mark, too.
Joey inspecting the tank after he and Mike decided to "ramp it."
Brief pause in the picture parade to throw to the video footage. So you can hear just how passionate my family is about our explosives.

Me and Joey conducting our annual tank battle.
Both of which I lost.
Daddy and his "launch tubes."
Ground display.
Aiming for the sky.
Melissa as Lady Liberty.
Sparklers! My favorite part.
Me, a bit blurry, but I like it.
With the nieces. Shortly before Jordan burned her foot.
And thus the reason I probably won't be a chaperone next year.

After all the oohs and ahhs were said, and all the fingers counted, it was just a good night.

Bruises heal. Glory lasts forever. Supposedly.

This is a pretty picture taken last year at the beach. It has nothing to do with this post. It's just something pretty so the first things you see aren't my escalator-bruised legs.

I am a triple threat of a lady that easily bruises, effortlessly falls/runs into things, and frequently forgets. Thus on any given day there could be any number of bumps and bruises of unknown origin on my person. Most of the time I barely notice them. Then this happened:

But I know exactly where these came from: A tumble on the metro escalator last week. Or should I say metro stairs because of course the escalator was broken. Because the escalators are always broken. As is the air conditioning in many metro cars. As are the rails or tracks or switches that cause delay after delay every other day. (Can you tell that after nearly four years as a metro rider, in a system that is rapidly declining, I'm a little frustrated? That's a rant for another day.)

While walking down the stairs, my feet slipped and one leg went out, one went up under me while sliding down, and my arm practically came out of its socket grasping the railing. I scraped my right leg from knee to ankle and it throbbed for nearly two days, requiring pain reliever. As a chronic klutz who never has to medicate for bumps and bruises, I was insulted!

There's also a bruise on my hip and a few on my arms. And of course the six-inch scar from the iron burn on my left leg. (I'm trying not to take this as the universe's way of telling me not to be so vain about my legs, which I quite like.) Bottom line: I'm looking a little rough.

A friend told me recently that this flair for bruising (and burning) meant I wasn't the ideal girlfriend as everyone would assume I was being abused. That was nice to hear. Except:
  1. Domestic violence shouldn't be treated so casually.
  2. I don't really think in terms of what would or wouldn't make me an ideal girlfriend. Ever.
  3. I responded that he or she also wouldn't make the ideal boyfriend or girlfriend. No specific reason given; I am just that petty.
  4. I really don't care. 

This still got me thinking, of course. Thus my new remedy to this situation, and by extension the situation of my singleness, is to wear a t-shirt that reads:
"Hi! I'm a klutz that bruises easily; I'm not being abused. Also, I look youngish, but am 27. Please feel free to appropriately hit on me. But no actual hitting because I'll sue. Thanks!"

Hopefully I'll have an update in a couple of weeks.

Photos: mine, mine, here, and here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

NC Summer Vacation, Part 1: Fourth (or Second) of July

As I mention every year, the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. I'll steal from my post last year to summarize why that is so:
Though our independence was hardly easy or bloodless, there is something in our celebration of it that is pure and wholesome. Just a day to be thankful for what we have and why we have it, to gather and eat and enjoy the sun, and later in the dark, the fireworks!

This year I headed south because there just really is no other place I'd rather be. Since both the parents had to work on the actual day -- which should be a felony -- we celebrated on the Saturday before. But it didn't matter as we still had the same good time consisting of great food, pleasant company, a cool pool, and plenty of less-than-legal fireworks. 

Mom's picture-perfect dining room table decor.

Snack table.

Some of the decor.
Red, white, and blue lanterns.

One of the pinwheels that I staple gunned (!) along the pool railing.



My red, white, and blue for the day.

Joey wedged his way into my float.

Sun was in his eyes. (I'm probably a bad sister for posting this.)

Michelle and Joey

Nieces and friend.

We snacked, we lounged, we swam, we talked, we ate. And then we tried to keep all our limbs attached. But that's a post for another day.