Monday, October 30, 2006


Well, my 'best friend' broke up with me this weekend. Maybe that's too dramatic. I mean, we've barely communicated in the last year or so, but... she's someone I considered as my best friend since seventh grade-- that's what, 12 years? It was harder and harder to get in touch with her, but I didn't really see it as 'over'; I mean, 12 years, it would take more than a little coolness on her side for me to think that we weren't friends anymore. But I never saw her during the whole month and half that Don was gone, when I'd be moving shortly as well. I kept thinking that she'd call at the last minute and we'd go out to dinner and everything would be as always. But that didn't happen. I woke up on a grey, rainy morning, my first Monday here in Virginia, terribly depressed because it hit me all at once: that for her not to contact me at all, meant that either something was very wrong or else our long friendship was over and she just wasn't interested in seeing me before I left. So I sent her a long, probably incoherent email asking about it.

To be honest, at first I expected a quick denial in return-- no no, everything's fine, of course I'm not mad at you, smiley faces. Then after some time passed, I didn't expect any response at all. But this weekend she finally wrote back to say that yes, she hasn't considered me her friend in some time. Truthfully... that letter was one of the most hurtful, painful things that's ever happened to me. I won't go into it, but . . . wow. Basically she's done with me, I guess. I've been clueless and blind about the direction our friendship has taken. I feel lost, confused, rejected... I spent most of yesterday crying.

This would probably be a great time to go on a rant about her, while I feel so raw and defensive. But I can't do that. She's a good person and regardless of how she feels now we have a long history of support and understanding. Last night when I was trying to fall asleep, random moments kept crossing my mind, just like a mediocre movie.

>When we were sixteen, we got our first 'real jobs' together. We had so much fun working together... we used to make our boss laugh by either finishing each other's sentences or else saying exactly the same thing at the same time.

> When we graduated from high school, she and I took a road trip to San Antonio, just the two of us. It was so much fun; we went to Sea World, the Riverwalk, the zoo. I still have this kitchy purple keychain from Sea World that features a photo of us-- my favorite fridge adornment.

>After my parents' house burned down in 2001, she was the first person I called after Don. Her empathy was so strong that she burst into tears on the phone, and later she and her mom took care of all the houseplants and some other stuff while my parents relocated.

> 3 months later, she called me on September 11, to make sure that I was ok. Even though I was nowhere near New York or anything. Hearing from her helped stabilize me at a time when it seemed that the whole world had gone crazy.

> She worked at a card store during all the time that I was in Vermont, and she sent me cards in the mail all the time. Getting those cards meant so much to me, especially during that first six months with the bad depression. I kept those cards... I found the box of them when I was getting ready to move and spent some time just reading through them.

> She made me the maid of honor in her wedding. I had fun going wedding-dress shopping, watching her try on dresses until she found the perfect one, and it really was perfect. We had a great bridal shower, too. She had her husband have been together since high school, and I was so moved by their exchange of vows that I started crying during the ceremony.

I guess that that part of my life is over now, perhaps its for the best. I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking not just about her, but about my other friends. For those that read this blog-- Ben, Becca-- do you know how much I appreciate your presence in my life? I hope so. Don spent a lot of time last night letting me know that he and I are truly best friends, as well as partners, but it still stings.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Back to school

Why is it so incredibly difficult sometimes to get Blogger to do what I want? I've spent the last hour and a half trying to create a post with a lot of pictures and its given me nothing but trouble. Blargh.

I spent this week trying to get used to the new job. 'My' branch is actually within the university, in a basement with a bunch of other student stuff-- cafeteria, convenience store, student services etc.-- and there are only three of us that work there. It's actually a satellite off of a bigger branch, so my days go like this: drive to bigger branch (across the street from the university), park, and check in with management there. Walk the 5-10 minute walk to get to this little tiny branch; work 4 hours; walk back to larger branch; and either work 3 hours or go home. A little weird, but it's working ok. There's so much that's different from Texas that just working takes a lot of concentration, something I'm not used to. Different procedures, different systems, different customers. That's the part that really amuses me here: the customer base is ALL STUDENTS.

Student banking is all about small amounts of money. Checks for 20 dollars, withdrawals for 10. Rolls of quarters for laundry, emergency checks from mom and dad. I've had numerous customers deposit handfuls of spare change. Many have come in with 3 or 4 checks for exactly the same amount, the result of splitting a utility bill or rent 4 ways in a student apartment; two kids came in with an honest-to-god PIGGY BANK and handed it to a teller, expecting her to exchange it for 'real money'. She gave them coin rollers instead, and they proceeded to a corner of the lobby where they sat down, dumped the pig, and spent 45 minutes there on the floor, rolling the coin. I'm used to a branch where we did lots of commercial business; transactions for tens of thousands of dollars didn't faze us at all. This micro-banking is new to me!

Another thing about the students is that they're so darn jovial. Picture this scene: dude 1 enters the bank lobby and starts filling out a deposit slip or whatever. Dude 2 enters.

Dude 2: "Dude! I haven't seen you in like 2 days! Where've you been, man?"
Dude 1: "I know, dude! Blah blah blah!"

They proceed to discuss last weekend, the coming weekend, their classes, and all their mutual acquaintences... loudly. Imagine hearing this discussion maybe 3 times every hour between various customers-- they ALL seem to know one another. They enter the bank in little groups even though only one of them has business to take care of, making me constantly think that there are people needing to be helped but no, they're all with that other guy. And I'd forgotten that in this curious sub-culture it's considered perfectly acceptable to wear pajama bottoms out in public. I'm trying to remember if I ever did that. I hope not.

Dogs in Creek

A few days before the move, my sister and I took our dogs to this field and creek behind her apartment complex. The light was bad, but who can resist doggy action shots? There was an epic battle over the red ball, which Alice finally won by biting through and thereby sinking it. The following should be equivilent to about 9,000 words about that afternoon.

In the editing screen these pictures form a neat 3x3 composition block. In the post they look as though a spastic three-year-old threw them at the screen. Go figure, right?


Ok so all I had to do was change some html coding in the template so that now the body of text is bizarrely wide. But the photos fit. Please help.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Announcing my new cousin!

Born 10-18-2006 to my cousin Robin. I'm not putting in any other details as I don't know what her parents would want to be online, but isn't she adorable?!

Scary Stove Conquered

So far I have made on the scary stove/ oven:

Garlic bread
Roast chicken
Mashed potatoes
Chocolate chip cookies.

I think I have the scary-stove thing down, for now. Until the pilot light goes out or something. I'm starting to find my way around town a little better: I have all these landmarks in my head now, like the Bridge Lined with Lightposts, the Friendly Cemetery, the Freaky Five-way Intersection, etc. It helps. I don't remember getting lost at all yesterday. I turned in an application with the big bookstore here, hoping to get started with the second job ASAP.

I had the weirdest dreams this morning, that included (I swear!) all of the following: moving trucks, Bon Jovi, Woody Allen, and the giant chess set from the first Harry Potter book/movie. That will lend a strange flavor to your day. My goal today is to find a laundromat and do laundry, preferably in less than 4 hours total-- driving, getting lost, finding laundromat, doing laundry, getting lost, coming home. I achieved yesterday's goals (drop off app/cover letter w/ bookstore, cook chicken before it turns bad) and Don had the cheek to suggest that I set harder goals. Really, let's see what he gets done his first day off.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Adventures continued: the fun never stops!

First. After posting yesterday I ventured out of the house again, because I needed a new outfit for my job interview. Because I own one black jacket that desperately needs drycleaning and doesn't *quite* match either my black pants or my black skirt. I needed one whole suit-type thing. Well there doesn't seem to be a 'mall' in these here parts (something that makes my suburban-Dallas-bred heart just weep) so I ended up at this "shopping complex" that had Old Navy, Ann Taylor, and ... Banana Republic. Speaking of which Banana Republic is the stupidest name for a clothing store ever. Just saying. It's where I ended up buying my Grown Up Interview Suit for an amount that makes me feel guilty, shamed, and slightly panicky every time I think about it. The thing cost so much that I did that thing you're never supposed to do: I applied for the store's credit card to save 15%. Everyone knows that you should never open store credit cards! I am officially bad with finance. I have spent a week's salary on a suit and put it on a brand-new credit card to a store that I never shop in.

But, today I got the job, so at least I don't have the "unemployed-and-still-shopping" guilt to stack onto it. I start Monday morning 9:00. It's only part-time but they're increasing my hourly rate a bit. Enough to cover Virginia's frickin' state income tax (!) and have extra. I still need to find a second job but that'll come later.

I'm wondering: at what point in life will I stop feeling as though I'm playing dress-up when wearing "grown-up clothes"? Today I felt like photographing myself in said suit (and heels!) and sending it to my mom: Happy Halloween, I'm going as an adult this year! Oh, and the heels? They killed me. I thought: interview, sitting down. No big deal, right? No. The branch that I interviewed at, and the one at which I'll be working, are a "short walk" apart. It's not that short when you're in slingbacks which keep getting caught in the University's picturesque brick walkways. My feet were dying by the time we walked over there and back.

What was really neat though, at least to an un-jaded Texan, is this fierce wind that is blowing all the leaves *off* of the trees, so that the air is filled with leaves; leaves swirling everywhere. Like some kind of giant, bright-gold precipitation, getting stuck in everyone's hair and backpacks and things.

Last night I made our first in-home dinner. Have I mentioned that we have a gas stove here? And that I've never cooked on a gas stove at home before? This is not one of the new, electric-start stoves either. It's an ancient stove with pilot lights, and a broiler that is *underneath* the oven, right off the floor. To broil the garlic bread I had to get down on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor. The stove scares me to death, but the spaghetti sauce made the place smell like home, a little.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Daily Adventures

So yesterday I was looking for the Petsmart, because I needed a new litter-box. Actually Cathy needed a new box, but, you know. The Google directions showed the Petsmart as being "1 mile, approx 2:00 minutes" away from my new home, but they were VERY WRONG. According to Mapquest that intersection is actually 1o miles from here--I found that out later. So I drove in little concentric circles all over my new neighborhood looking for this street/intersection/big store for about an hour. I was trying to make the best of it, telling myself things like, "Don't see it as being lost or looking for something. You're just enjoying a drive around your new habitat, getting to know the area. If we happen to discover a Petsmart, why, that would be lovely and perhaps we'll stop there" (The cat was in the car with me. I don't refer to myself as "we" usually.) But after an hour I couldn't fake it anymore and I had to pee. So I found the grocery store instead, where they do stock litter-boxes, thankfully. BUT. I discovered a really cute little coffee-place that's a pretty short walk from the house. I never would have found it otherwise. So Alice and I walked down there this morning. I wanted to take pictures of all the pretty things here but I couldn't find the camera, so imagine that there are nice pictures here of amazing views, colorful trees, the coffeeshop, etc. Perhaps after tomorrow I'll have them-- the camera was under the driver's seat in the car. (Don.) The only bad bit was that we ran across a *really* aggressive, very big dog, tied up in front of a convenience store. Usually I love dogs, but this was scary. If the owner hadn't come out of the store just in time and literally pressed the dog to the fence with his own body, I don't know what we would have done, other than *run* and hope that his chain held. This was a BAD DOG. Alice was totally freaked, and we walked home on the far side of the street just in case.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm Back!

Well. We're here in Charlottesville, finally. So much has happened in the last, what, week and a half? that I don't know where to begin or what to tell. Especially because most of it is really mundane stuff but still. So, Random Bullet Point Time!

Before the Move

> The moving company. Damn, everyone needs one of these. I'm never moving without the help of professionals ever again. They show up at the apartment at 9:00 sharp, they pack EVERYTHING WE OWN, they carry it out to the truck. In four hours FLAT. By 1:10 in the afternoon I'm alone, with nothing in the apartment but a roll of papertowel, a roll of t.p., and random aerosol cans. Because they don't pack aerosol stuff. I'm a little in love with them, really.

> The apartment was trashed. It's partly because Don and I are messy people. It's just the way we are. It's partly because we really like to make a place out own: hang things on the wall, paint stuff, make a garden on the patio, whatever. We can't just leave a place alone. Mostly, though it was because of my sister's puppy who spent part of every day with us for her first year. Dog stains EVERYWHERE. It took 22 hours of cleaning to get the place looking like "reasonable wear and tear." Three days: 10 hours, 10 hours, 2 hours. Unbelievable.

> I rented one of those rug-doctor things from the grocery store. They actually work pretty well. Kills the lower back though.

> My sister came over and helped clean, for hours and hours. I never even asked her... she just called; "What are you up to?" "Cleaning." "Want some help?" In return for nothing but a grilled cheese, she helped shampoo the carpets all day. Turns out the carpet cleaner works really well if you FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS which apparently she can do but I can't.

> Cathy stayed at my parents' house with me during that last week. My mom and dad are both "cat people" but they haven't owned a cat in over 20 years due to his asthma and allergies, so they aren't *used* to cats. Every time she did anything, it was like this: "Look! The cat just walked into the room!" "She's eating her kibble!" "She's grooming herself!" They were so charmed with everything that she did, because they had forgotten all the the things that make cats unique. It was fun.

The Drive

> Both Cathy and Alice travel well. Amazingly well really. We didn't have to do anything special to accomodate them on the drive. Cathy just curled up on top of my dad's duffel bag and slept the whole time. Alice slept a lot, and spent the rest of the time with her front paws perched on the center console as though it were the prow of a ship, looking out over the road. The only drawback was that after sleeping all day the cat went nuts in the motel room and wouldn't stop playing with her litter box.

> I love some things about roadtrips. Seeing the terrain change. Watching the mile-markers on the interstate drop back to "1" after crossing the state line, and seeing them climb for hundreds of miles... until you reach the next state line. Seeing my little car go 434 miles on only 12 gallons of gas. Passing the signs for towns with funny names. The funniest-named town between Dallas and Charlottesville is Bucksnort, Tennessee. How does a town come to be named Bucksnort?

Here at Last

> I can't put into words how good it is to be reunited with Don, so I won't even try. For our whole little 'family' to be back together...

> Virginia is beautiful. It's so pretty, with mountains, huge trees, winding roads. The city is nice, too. It's not Burlington, but it ain't bad either. Unfortunately, I get lost EVERY SINGLE TIME that I venture out in the car. I've been here for 4 days. Every day I get lost. This is one of those towns laid out in a manner that only the locals understand, I think.

> This whole town is a shrine to Thomas Jefferson. Charlottesville is sandwiched between Monticello and the University of Virginia, which he founded. Every visible quote, whether etched in the stone over a doorway or graffiti'd on a bridge, seems to originate from Jefferson. Of the four statues I've found so far, three were of Jefferson: the fourth was Lee. I feel like having a bumper sticker made that says, "John Adams is my favorite president" just to be different, although around here that might get my tires slashed or something.

> I have a job interview for Friday morning, so I shouldn't be out of work for too long here, even if it is just for a part-time job.

There's so much more going on, but I can't organize my thoughts any better, and Don and I are going out to dinner now, because the kitchen is a sea of boxes and tissue paper and it's a beautiful evening.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Last day of work.

So I basically have the nicest co-workers anywhere. They have overwhelmed me on my last day of work with donuts, cake, cards, roses, and gift cards to Starbucks (!) and Barnes & Noble (!!)-- none of which I was expecting as we already *had* a party a little while ago. Did I cry? I'd rather not say.

I ate rather too much of the donuts and cake, and spent the day buzzing around the bank on a caffeine-and-sugar high that must have been supremely annoying to everyone else but was great fun for me.

It felt bizzare to leave-- every time I dealt with a familiar customer (which is all of them) I'd think "for the last time..." Turning in my keys at the end of the day was especially weird. I'm a forgetful, absentminded person usually and keeping track of the bank keys has always been an issue. It's been a matter of great pride to me that in two years I've never lost them-- something that would involve the bank's having to re-key all the locks. But the only way I managed to not lose them was by CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Always knowing where they were. So after turning them in, I kept going like this: "Ack! where are my keys? Oh yeah. They're not mine anymore." Rinse and repeat. And repeat. We took lots of pictures today.

All the nice things they wrote inside the card.

Gift cards!

I actually got two cards because Diana T and Diana G both bought cards. The funny thing is that, working independently, they managed to boy almost the same card. Both cards came in bright yellow envelopes and featured brightly colored animals. Both had the same joke. But they weren't exactly the same. I sense a copywright infringement. But it's interesting that I inspired the exact same choice-of-card in two different people. I guess I'm a funny-animals type of woman!

There were donuts, too. They love me.

Me with Katherine, Ana, Jennifer, and Diana T.

The cake! It was Snickers flavored.

Red roses. They smell pretty, too.

The short girls get their own picture. Angie and Evelyn.

We all vibrate on the same frequency! It's amazing!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sometimes it's nice to be alone.... there's nobody to laugh at me.

The best thing is getting to laugh at someone else being stupid. Isn't that true? It's why those stupid "Funniest Videos" shows on TV and books like the Darwin Awards exist. Therefore I will put into print something I did last night that I'd be more than justified in keeping to myself FOREVER.

I'm sitting at my desk, which is surrounded by random surfaces covered in paper, the ironing board w/ piles of folded laundry, etc. The usual mess. My cell phone starts ringing, and I reach for it, but I can't seem to find it. I get up from my chair-- is it on the ironing board? the kitchen counter?-- and start looking for it, but no matter what direction I turn, the sound of its ring seems to be coming from *behind* me, so I'm turning back and forth, shuffling through stuff, darting around trying to locate the phone before it goes to voicemail-- I hate that. I end up spinning helplessly in a circle a couple of times just like the dog does when I finally realize-- duh!-- the cell was in my back pocket the whole time. I get to it just in time to miss the call.

It's things like that that make me wish I had a security camera in my apartment the way we do at work, so that I could see that whole scene from above-- look! I'm spinning!-- and also glad that I had no witnesses. Which I effectively just undid by fessing up, anyways. It's like at work, when I lose my bank keys and then find them dangling from my wrist, conveniently hidden by a sheaf of papers or something in my arm.

I'm blogging because I'm avoiding work. My closet? Still a mess. The bathroom? Ditto. The movers are coming on MONDAY to pack-n-move everything I own. All I have to do is... clean up everything and get it ready, get rid of everything that's not making the move, organize the stuff a bit. It's really nothing considering that I don't have to, say, PACK, or haul everything I own onto the back of a pickup truck... you know, the usual. I'm totally digging this corporate-style move thing. Yay Don, for making corporate! Way to bring home the bacon. Or, the professional movers, whatever.

P.S. After much soul-searching I've come to the conclusion that I can really only take 1 or 2 of our houseplants with us, if even that much. The moving company won't handle anything "living" (although that word hardly describes most of our plants.) My car is already going to be carrying

1. Me, my dad, Alice, and Cathy
2. My Big Suitcase. My little suitcase (which for some reason I've always thought of as the "travel-size" suitcase, which makes no sense-- what would the other one be for if not for travel?). My dad's travel bag. The carrying-case for the cat.
3. The little cooler, for the drinks and grapes and things-- it's an 18-hour drive. You can't drive 18 hours without a cooler.
4. At least 2 days' worth of disposable litter pans. For the cat.
5. Cat and dog food.

My car is small and just doesn't have the room for all of our plants... so if you're in the market for a new houseplant, let me know. Sad plants free to good homes.

Playing with the camera

I think I look a bit crazed in this one.

Bored person with digital camera equals BAD.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

New things

One of the best things about being friends with variety of people is the exposure to random stuff that you wouldn't ordinarily try, like war documentaries or Japanese food. It's so much better than constantly eating the same food, listening to the same music, watching the same genres, thinking the same thoughts... I feel sorry for domineering people that insist on having their own way, whether in choosing the restaurant or picking the radio station; they'll never get to break out of their own routine, and what other way is there to grow but to try new things?