Halloween is arguably the best 'kid holiday' in the calendar year. Not only do you end the evening taking careful stock of a sackful of FREE candy, but this glorious bounty was obtained by running around in the dark with your friends, disguised in a clever costume. I ask you, what could be better? Add to that the inevitable pre-holiday preparations of donuts and cider, hay rides, pumpkin carving, and apple bobbing (do kids still bob for apples?) and the only other holiday that even comes close to this orgy of fun and imagination is Christmas (and I'm not sure you can legally use the word 'orgy' in conjunction with the celebration of the birth of Jesus). Happy Halloween...may your sacks be full!


Celebrity? Sighting

Friday night, as I'm sure you know by now, the St.Louis Cardinals won the World Series. My friends and I watched the momentous victory at Sam's in Hillsboro Village with much alcohol and celebratory shots of Red Snapper. Yeah, I know...me, at a sports bar, hooting and high-fiving complete strangers over a team I barely knew existed. What can I say - alcohol sometimes has a strange effect on me.

Anyway, Sam's was CROWDED. Everyone's eyes are glued to the seventeen thousand televisions in the place and Jack suddenly says very loudly, "Hey! Isn't that the Subway Guy?...Jared the Subway Guy!" And sure enough, as heads swivel around in all directions, there is the Subway Guy standing at the bar with a bunch of people (his entourage? Would the Subway Guy have an entourage?) Judging by the excitement that swept across our table, you might have thought Weaver (the pitcher for the Cards - see? I retained some information despite the copious amounts of alcohol) walked into the place.

I guess the Subway Guy is a celebrity - everyone recognized him at least. Although not quite the same as seeing, say, Jack Nicholson, standing at the bar, still....it was a moment. A moment that was quickly forgotten as the Cards sealed their Series victory and all hell broke loose!

I don't know if Jared was a Cardinals fan or not, but apparently he made it to the Heart Walk the next morning with all the rest of us - hungover or not.



Do you ever feel homesickness for somewhere that isn't technically your home? While in Cambridge one of my professors said to me, "the Fall seasons when I am not here, I feel an emptiness". I feel that emptiness too. It's not a pervasive or consuming emptiness...nothing to jump off a building over, just a gentle tug of homesickness, a little hollow pocket inside.

It's strange, and I can't explain it, but every Fall around this time - end of Octoberish - I feel pulled to that country 'across the pond'. Even though each of my significant visits over there have coincided with the Fall season, my longing could stem from any number of things I suppose. Could be a desire to re-live, so as not to forget, the montage of fond memories created on another continent. Could be a latent urge to get-the-hell-outta-Dodge and explore new places. Could simply be watery memories bubbling to the surface during the season of decay when the aches of nostalgia become almost tangible.

'Home is where the heart is' as the saying goes. And the heart is very adept at traveling through space and time. 'Home' doesn't necessarily have to be a physical, geographical place with a foundation of concrete, does it? Home can be much more ephemeral - variable, changing, never staying the same. Home can be a moment - a smile, a familiar smell, a hug, the taste of grape jelly, the sound of a train whistle, a laugh, the feel of scratchy wool. Home depends on when and where your heart is at any given moment of time. And at the moment my heart is across the Atlantic.


Deep Breaths

My friends' lives stress me out!

They are always so terribly busy...so abominably harried...so ready to pull their hair out at a moment's notice. Their lives revolve around mountains of housework and home repairs, incessant volunteering binges, endless committee meetings, late nights at the office, drawn-out lessons and classes... The lists are never-ending and each is always accompanied by an exasperated sigh of overwhelming obligation.

Lately, hearing about all this stress in other people's lives and the noticeable lack of stress in my own life makes me wonder if I'm doing something wrong. What's wrong with me that I am not frantically trying to cram as many activities and projects as I possibly can into my days? Why do I have the free time to read a book or go for a walk or sit at my computer and write a blog? Do I have poor time-management skills? A discernable lack of drive? A tenacious streak of laziness?

Our modern do-all, be-all culture views a hectic schedule as a badge of honor. I just can't seem to jump on the stress-as-a-trophy-of-a-life-well-lived bandwagon. Maybe my priorities are mixed up. Maybe I should be trying to do more, accomplish more, be more. I simply can't convince myself of the inherent goodness in being relentlessly bogged down with an overabundant schedule. I like being able to play tennis on a whim, or watch a tv show when it's actually on the tv, or bake cookies for no reason at all, or talk for hours on the phone with my sister, or spend an afternoon reading a book, or watching a movie, or walking, writing, painting, playing with my cats, window-shopping, or spending leisurely time with friends. I like having the option of doing absolutely nothing at all.

Maybe I'm missing out on life in my relatively stress-free sphere (say that 3 times fast!), at least, that's the panicked thought that runs through my head when I am on the listening end of yet another vaguely smug, but convincingly desperate tirade against the busy-ness that is the typical modern life. I'm mildly concerned that when I am 87, I will look around and say "well shit! I didn't do jack-squat! Now what?" Perhaps I'll take up a new hobby this week in an effort to combat my low levels of stressful busy-ness! Any suggestions?


Friday Night Out instead of In

There are tell-tale signs that I am now in my 30's (well, 30 - singular. But still). One sign is my recent membership donation to public radio. Another sign is my reluctance to stay out late on a Friday night after I've worked all day when all I really want to do is relax in a hot bath, slip into comfortable clothes and curl up on my couch.

In an effort to divert this all-too-often plan of action (or inaction, as the case may be), Jen and I decided we would go downtown last night and not retreat home until we had each met one new person. The mission was nearly aborted when Jen ran into an outfit crisis and I was in the middle of dealing with a hair crisis. Depsite the minor snags, we managed to arrive at Rumba only a half hour late to meet my friend Kelly, her boyfriend, Matt and Matt's sister, Liz for dinner.

On a side note: Rumba is a restaurant uptown on West End near the Vanderbilt campus. It's a rum bar and satay grill (satay, not sautee, Kelly) and it has really good Caribbean island-inspired food. Plus, they have s'mores on their dessert menu...I'm not sure that s'mores is technically an "island" derived delicacy, but so what? S'mores is a perfect food and deserves to be on any menu.

After dinner we went downtown only to turn back around once we saw the insane crowds. We tried to get into Robert's to no avail, popped into The Second Fiddle to um...use the facilities...and then gave up on downtown. Apparently this weekend is not only Vanderbilt's Homecoming weekend, but last night there was a Ludacris concert at the arena and Blue Man Group at the performing arts center. Add to that the usual weekend tourists and it was too much crowdedness.

So we ended up going to this neat little place near Hillsboro Village called The Trace. A low-key, upper-scale, adult bar (i.e. no college students). Tasteful interior and a casual, intelligent atmosphere.

On another side note: I do not possess the mechanical skills to parallel park. Just can't do it. It is a trait that has been lovingly passed down through the generations from my grandmother, to my mother and on to me. I do not pretend I can parallel park, and however embarrassing, I make no apologies. If I've lived this long and have yet to figure it out, it is clearly beyond my control. Last night I TRIED to parallel park...really made an effort. Finally, with tears of laughter streaming down her cheeks, Jen offered to trade seats and park the car. I'm glad my shortcomings can at least provide some degree of amusement.

At The Trace we met Nancy and her shiny, brand-new, straight-out-of-the-box boyfriend, Joey. A couple of Nancy's friends were also there and a couple of Joey's friends. Nancy was her usual effervescent self and lost no time in making introductions all around. Requisite vodka-tonic in hand, I met FOUR new people last night, thus exceeding our predetermined quota for the evening. . . . Does this mean I can stay home next Friday night? :)


Keeping the Blinders On...for now

Sometimes I contemplate things...analyze...evaluate...hypothesize. However, rarely do these dissections into the human psyche involve exploring my own murky depths.

While in the grip of a wallowing self-pity party a couple of weeks ago, a good friend of mine who was making concerted efforts to lift my spirits, pointed out my “relationship pattern”. Up until that point, I had successfully convinced myself that in my self-proclaimed, emotionally evolved state (right!), I was above such repeating cycles of heartbreak. After all, everyone knows I’m the one who stays cool and detached (right!, again), treating the men who come and go in my life as fun and entertaining diversions. Historically, this is true…well, mostly.

My friend gently reminded me of the few men who have breached my fabricated, emotionally detached exterior (both intentionally and unintentionally) and how each of those ‘attachments’ ended. This friend is quite perceptive and his insights have since prompted me to embark on introspective digs.

Though I have tended to avoid it like an angry hornets’ nest, introspection can be a good thing (or so I’ve been told). The problem is, even though aforementioned friend pointed out my dysfunctional cycle, the more I try to figure out how to circumvent said cycle, the more I end up digging, and the more I dig, the bigger the hole gets. Pretty soon I won’t be able to see the sky from my deep, deep hole of attempted introspective self-awareness. Truly, ignorance is bliss – or at least not abysmally overwhelming. So, I think I may just re-attach my oblivious naivety armor and stumble along as usual, throwing a pity party every once in a while to soften my dysfunctional tottering, and keeping my hopelessly optimistic blinders firmly in place!

I guess we all have our own versions of 'blinders' and 'armor' as survival tactics - it's the human condition. And is it such a bad thing?

Searching for...

...a fuckin' tennis court!

Jen and I had plans to play tennis today at 6 at our usual place. I'm there at 6 and at 6:15 I get a call from Jen saying she's on her way and has been stuck in traffic on 40. As I'm waiting for Jen, I notice there are a WHOLE lot of people playing at Centennial tonight and am vaguely concerned we may not get a court. Well, sure enough, Jen arrives and we try to nab a court and are thwarted around every corner (i.e. "ooo ooo...I think that one is open down over there....dammit!")

No worries...we'll just head over to the Hillwood courts where we played a few times this summer. We get on 440 and almost immediately traffic comes to a dead stop. Rush-hour accident. So, Jen calls and says she's getting off at the next exit and will just take West End to Harding. I follow suit, pull onto West End, drive about a half of a mile and again am stopped dead in my tracks behind lines of crawling traffic. I switch on the radio and discover that there has been an accident on THIS road as well. Apparently there were accidents on nearly every major thoroughfare in the city. Why? I have NO IDEA. It was sunny and 83.

FINALLY, we get to the Hillwood courts, pull into the parking lot and lo and behold, the courts are not lit! Oh, there are lights - they're just not ON! and the place is completely deserted. It is now after 7. Jen says, "well there are courts on Charlotte near the Richland Library - but I HAVE TO PEE - so we'll have to stop at Doug's so I can use the bathroom". So, we get back in our respective vehicles and I follow Jen to Doug's (ex-boyfriend-recently-broke-up-but-going -out-of-town-together-next-weekend Doug...yes, THAT Doug).

FINALLY, we get to the Richland Park courts. There are open courts. There are lights. We play tennis. All is right with the world.


Sweet Taste of Victory

Tonight was my last tennis league match for the Fall season...so sad. But, at least I went out with a win! A hard-fought win, but a win nonetheless. Fortunately, now that I'm in Nashville, the outdoor playing season is much longer than up north...so I'll keep playing with my friends until the coldness turns my fingers numb and icicles form on my racquet!



My grandparents (aka, Nana and Papa), visited me last night on their annual migration to Florida. It's always nice to see dear and familiar faces, although I am hard-pressed to find entertaining things to do for 80-year old people - fortunately it really wasn't much of a problem as they were both sacked out by 8:30pm. In their defense, they had been up since 4am and were also dealing with the hour time change.

They also brought me a whole bunch of crap. It is MY crap. Crap that I had been keeping (or had completely forgotten about) at their house for the past 12 years or so. Crap like old elementary school track ribbons, poetry awards, school pictures and report cards, carefully drawn pictures from age 7, little league photos, programs and high school newspapers, and other related family memorabilia. A whole box full of this crap...now sitting in the middle of my living room floor.

I started going through some of it and some of it is hysterical and had me grinning from ear to ear and some of it is kinda heart-tugging. For now I may just stick it in a closet until I feel the urge to walk down memory lane.


Say Cheese!

Today feels like school picture day. At work we're getting photos taken of us - one "casual" and one "fancy" (whatever THAT means!). I am somewhat dreading this due to the fact that unlike my sister, I am not equipped with the photogenic gene and really dislike having my picture taken. I can pull off a reasonably cute candid snapshot every once in a while...but having to sit still while a professional photographer arranges me and arranges lighting and arranges god knows what else, is just more than I can bear! Inevitably there will be something wrong with the photo *sigh* Feels like high school.



Typically I have a keen aversion to teenagers. Their presence tends to elicit feelings of irrational intolerance and impatience. However, the teenagers I've been working with in the ACE program are surprisingly fun and enjoyable. We had a meeting tonight and had a great time! For those of you out of the loop...the field of architecture loop, that is :) ... ACE is sort of an after-school honors program for high school students interested in the fields of architecture, construction, and engineering (hence the acronym). Our office is a sponsor and I am one of the mentors (a mentor! me! ha!) So, I'm thinking maybe I like these particular teenagers because I relate to the smart, dorky kids...creative, imaginative and funny kids...but dorky nonetheless. I fully intend to encourage them to embrace their inner dork!


Pumpkiny Goodness

No pretenses here, we're all well aware I am NOT a talented cook. ie. popsicles and fun-size snicker bar dinners. But every once in a while I get the urge to bake...and baking is usually (usually) a task I can handle as long as the recipe is explicit.

I made pumpkin bread last night with a recipe my friend Alison recently lauded. It has carrots and raisins in it and kind of sounded like an 'old lady' recipe, but it actually turned out surprisingly good. I brought it in to work this morning. It's only 10:30 and it's already been mostly devoured. Of course, that's not really a good indication of it's gastrnomic qualities as the guys in my office pretty much inhale any and all snacks left in the kitchen!

Here's the recipe in case anyone is interested. Alison was right, it really is a rich and spicy dense cake...perfect Fall food!

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 2 9x5 inch loaf pans.

Combine in the biggest bowl you own: 3 c flour, 1 T + 2 t pumpkin pie spice, 2 t baking soda, 1 1/2 t salt, and 3 c sugar

Combine in slightly smaller bowl: 1 can pumpkin (15 oz), 4 eggs, 1 c vegetable oil, 1/2 c water Add contents of small bowl to contents of large bowl and stir until just blended.

In a food processor or chopper gadget of some kind, chop up 2 handfuls of baby carrots and 2 handfuls of raisins. You're going for a cup of each in chopped form. Adding a little flour to the raisins before chopping helps keep them from gumming up the chopper blade.

Fold carrots and raisins into batter. Spoon batter into loaf pans and bake 60 - 65 minutes at 350 degrees.


Weekend Recap

So last night, Jen and I went out and were supposedly meeting Nancy and some of her friends to celebrate Katy's birthday at a Vandy bar called The Corner Pub. When Jen had talked to Nancy earlier in the day she had assured us they would all be there at 9pm. So Jen and I pull up into the crowded parking lot at approximately 9:40. Keep in mind this bar is on the edge of the Vandy campus.

We walk in and it is over-run with frat-boy looking guys and sorostitutes. We walk all through the damn place looking for Nancy & Co. and see them no where. Jen calls Nancy's cell...no answer. She calls Katy's cell...no answer. So we decide to split and go meet Jen's roommate and roommate's boyfriend downtown.

Jen texts Kimberly (the roommate) and Kimberly texts back saying they are at Bluebird Bar across from Roberts on Broadway. So we get downtown, park and start walking down Broadway looking for the Bluebird Bar. We're directly across the street from Roberts, walking up and down looking for this stupid bar. I'm like, "there's a Bluebird Cafe, but I think it's in Green Hills - are you sure she said it was across from Roberts"?

Thinking we had been stood up yet again, Jen texts Kimberly and Kimberly responds with, "I'm in the doorway of the bar looking right at you, turn around". Yeah, well, the fucking bar is called Full Moon NOT Bluebird. Kimberly is blonde.

The Full Moon is a Rockabilly bar - which is okay, kinda redneck, but okay. Kimberly and Ted (the boyfriend) are there with Ted's cousin and his wife. This information is not notable EXCEPT that Ted's cousin is an albino. I had never met an albino person. Now I have and he was very nice. From Alabama. The Albino from Alabama.

After a few beers, when the albino cousin and albino cousin's wife decide to turn in for the night, the rest of us opt for The Tin Roof on Demonbreun Street. It's kind of a Sherlock's place...always crowded...and a somewhat younger crowd...but great live music and they have a cool outdoor stage area. So, it was fun. This guy (kinda cute, but kinda dumb I think) bought me a drink and we were chit-chatting...the band starts playing Blister in the Sun and this guy gets his freak on and suddenly starts dancing...if you could call it dancing. It was kind of like a variation on the Carlton (from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). It was hysterical. When he finally stopped his spasmodic contortions, he grinned and sheepishly drawled, "I'm not gay, really". Yeah, good times.


In The Beginning...

Here we go...
I really can't imagine anyone (except Donna) actually reading this thing, but just in case some bored soul out there is scavenging for cheap entertainment, I'll try to make these entries as amusing as possible - which, may not be all that possible sometimes. For instance, today, I really can't think of any amusing anecdotes to share. Do not despair, loyal reader, maybe tomorrow I'll have fodder to work with as we are having an office cook-out in the afternoon and I'm going out with friends in the evening. Until then...