Two years.

Two years ago today, I married the love of my life. In some ways, it seems like just yesterday, in others, it seems like he's been by my side forever.

He makes me laugh, he dazzles me with his smarts, he holds me close, he handles my rough days with ease, and he always knows the perfect thing to say to make it better.

He is my best friend, and I send up grateful prayers every day that he came into my life more than seven and a half years ago.


Mixed Bag Weekend

The Good:

Bryan's Birthday
Friday was my dear hubby's birthday. He was off that day (he has every other Friday off), and I was shocked to come home to find he had not only cleaned up the house, but he had also done laundry, and gotten his hair cut, AND fixed my car! Um, honey, can we pretend it's your birthday every day? :) To celebrate, we met up with some of our friends for Mexican in Chester. Normally I avoid embarassing server-led birthday songs, but since I hadn't made Bryan a cake, I figured he needed some kind of birthday dessert, so I told the servers. Well, they got into it. After serenading him while moving his chair in time to their beat, the one dude even fed him a bite, getting whipped cream all over him. Bryan pretended to be amused.

Kim's Farewell Party
My friend Kim and her boyfriend Guillermo are heading back to Guillermo's home country of Mexico to live for a while, so their going away party was Saturday. Kim was, believe it or not, my French teacher in 9th and 10th grades. She had just finished college at JMU and got a job at Bath County High School, and we bonded over being Richmond girls in a very, very small town. Kim became a big sister/mentor to me in the early years, but as we have gotten older, we have become great friends. Kim introduced the whole wide world to me at a time when my world seemed very small, and I credit her with my love of travel and my open-armed perspective of all things foreign. We usually manage to get together at least once every few months, but I guess now Bryan and I will have to work her into our travel plans. :)

Heather's Birthday
My cousin Heather turns 26 today, and she invited us over to celebrate with her and her pals on Saturday, too. We were only able to make a short appearance because we got there late and all the spring chickens were getting ready to go out downtown. We are so far removed from the bar scene that we bowed out and headed home. It was fun to see Heather in her own setting, since usually when we see each other the gatherings are family oriented. Not that she was any different than she is around family, it was just cute to see her being a grown up. Because I still think of her as my "little cousin" Heather most times. :)

Finishing Invitations
Yesterday morning, after what I calculated to be about 12 hours of writing, I finished Sara's invitations! Woohoo!! I handed them off to her mom yesterday evening, and won't mess with that calligraphy pen again until... well, until I do her place cards. Ha! It was funny, though, last night my hand didn't know what to do with itself... I picked up my journal to write and found myself having little internal freak outs when my letters weren't formed perfectly. Took me about five minutes to settle into "normal" handwriting!

Cleaning House
After the invitations were done, it was cleaning time. Luckily Bryan had done the pre-cleaning on Friday, so I was able to zip around and get quite a bit done. I'm so much more at peace when my house is clean!

The Bad:

Philadelphia Eagles
My Eagles just could not pull out a win against the Bears last night. This made me sad, so I went to sleep all grumpy. I mean, seriously, I need at least ONE of my teams to win, because...

The Ugly:

UVA Football
Oh, dear Lord. Being beat 31-3 is horribly embarassing. But when you are beat 31-3 by DUKE?! Who hadn't won an ACC game since 2004?! I can not tell you enough how glad I am that I did not see this game. My husband thought he was being cute yesterday when he handed me a late summer issue of Maxim magazine that listed the worst teams in college football. "Look, honey, see, your team isn't one of the worst ones!" Yes, this sounds cute when I tell you that UVA did not appear on this list. But when I turned the page and saw that the #1 worst team was Duke? Yeah, not so cute. In fact, worthy of a kick in the shin. I am officially joining the "Fire Al Groh" bandwagon. Who's with me?


Calligraphy Central

My living room has become Calligraphy Central this week. About eight years ago, I was recruited to address my friend Sara's wedding invitations, even though she was single. :) I guess my handwriting has a bit of a reputation amongst some of my friends (although some have handwriting that is just as beautiful if not moreso than mine).

So, Sara's Prince Charming finally came along and I'm now knee-deep in ink and invitations. Sara wanted something more scripty than what I did for my own invitations, so since it turns out the scripty kinds of calligraphy are the hardest, I sort of created my own style, copying the Copperplate the best I could with no formal training. :)

I think they're looking pretty good, and Sara likes them, which is really all that matters!

Eight sheets of addresses down, five to go by Sunday!


Economic Commentary. Because I am confused.

So earlier this morning, I get this breaking news alert from CNN:

Treasury Secretary Paulson says "hundreds of billions" of dollars are needed to resolve U.S. financial crisis.

I can't get my head around our giant ass economy. Here are the things I do understand:
  • Our national debt is about $9.6 trillion.
  • Part of the economic crisis is that a lot of people in the US borrowed a lot of money they could not afford to pay back.
  • When people borrow money they can not pay back, that means they are in debt.
So tell me if I've got this straight:

PROBLEM: Too many people in the US in debt up to their eyeballs.
SOLUTION: Make US government in debt up to the top of its head.

Boy, I tell ya, the government is setting a GREAT example to all the citizens that got us into this mess.

I also saw on the news last night that we are going to loan a boatload of cash to a few countries--like, hundreds of billions or something? (Don't quote me on that figure.) And here is what I know about that:
  • We as a country have almost $10 trillion in debt.
  • If you're in debt, that means you don't have any positive cash flow to pay your debt off.
  • We are loaning (or planning to loan) money to other countries.
What in the hell?

PROBLEM: US has so much debt it can't pay its own bills.
SOLUTION: US gives money to other countries.

This is why I got a D+ in Macro Economics in college. Because this crap makes absolutely NO SENSE.

Anyone with a firm grasp of how any of this actually works, please, do share. But in layman's terms, because economic mumbo jumbo will go straight over my head.



Whether it's that old adage that a woman becomes her mother, or my hormones, or something else entirely, my body's desire to create has become overwhelming lately.

It started a while ago, but lately has been manifesting itself outwardly. I am overcome by the need to make something... art, calligraphy, a journal (handwritten... blogging doesn't satisfy the itch for some reason), a baby... hell, the other night I even dreamed up a piece of jewelry that I am now DYING to own (and can't find anywhere online).

For Jodie's wedding, I volunteered to be her florist and site decorator. Partially because I had a lot of stuff leftover from my wedding and knew where to get pretty flowers cheap, partially because I loved the idea of taking a blank community hall and making it something beautiful for her special day.

So I took this:

And made it into this:
And then this:

And then this:
And it was incredibly satisfying. Wore me slam out (thank you, arthritis), but it was worth it. Granted, it was nothing over-the-top amazing or skillful--I'm not very experienced at this at all, and was on a budget. But it was enough that my mom said to me, "What is it that makes you just volunteer to do stuff like that? That makes you feel confident you can just do something like that?"

Truthfully, I don't know. My Nana was an amazing artist, and my mom is too, and my sister is too... and my Dad, on the rare occasions he shows it, is pretty artsy too. So I know it's in me. Apparently, though, as a child, I used to cry when my mom would try to teach me all of these wonderful domestic/artistic skills she has, like flower arranging, and announce loudly, "I WILL NEVER BE A DOMESTIC ENGINEER!"

Obviously she knew something I didn't. Because in my adult life, I take more pleasure out of those things than I ever imagined I would.

I have been thinking about giving painting a go. And then sometime in the next week I'll be expressing my artistic side by addressing my friend Sara's wedding invitations in a style of calligraphy I've never tried, but am psyched to do. (This endeavor was a great excuse to buy a couple of awesome calligraphy books at Barnes & Noble!)

I can't decide if I am just coming into who I was destined to be, or if this is part of our readiness to start a family and that not happening as quickly as we would like. Like, if really I just want to create life, but since that is taking so damned long, instead I need to create SOMETHING, ANYTHING.

Ultimately, I suspect I'm craving a bit of both... becoming a mother and becoming an artist. Which basically means becoming my mother on many levels. And really, this whole "domestic engineer" bit is pretty comfortable for me. :)


Cruel joke.

Where I work, we have this system called Banner. It's the university's financial/HR system. I have to use it sometimes. It's a pain in the ass for the most part. Which is why the fact that there's a picture of some dude hanging out in the park on the login screen is just wrong. It's rude. It implies that logging into Banner is kind of like a nice autumn afternoon on a hillside with the breeze blowing in your hair. When in reality it's more like sitting on a bed of nails with your head in a vise grip.


I remember.

When it happened, I was living by myself in the Fan. My apartment was about two miles from my office. I remember Diane and Charlie being interrupted by a plane crash in New York City. Matt and Katie had it on, too. But I was running late, so I jetted off to work where I asked my ladies if they had heard. No one knew anything yet.

We had an old TV in the conference room that we turned on. We were captivated and worried and uneasy as we watched it unfold. What did it mean? What was going to happen next? What in the hell is going on?

Our 9am appointment showed up shortly after the second plane hit. A print company who wanted our business. He didn't know yet what was going on. We listened to him the best we could, tried to give him our attention, but ink styles and print capabilities and competitive pricing didn't matter in that moment.

When he left, we watched more. We worried more. We decided we should all go home, since no one knew what to expect from the rest of the day. I remember thinking the worst: War is coming to the United States. We could all be attacked. People I love could die.

In my office, I had a print of a photo of the New York City skyline that I bought when Sara and I had gone there just a couple summers before. The Twin Towers were the centerpiece of the image. I hadn't had it framed yet, so I had the thick paper propped on top of a bookcase. It had always stood up pretty well. That day, while we watched the horrors on the television, it had fallen to the ground.

I went back to my apartment in a daze. It was the most surreal day. I was too old to run home to Mommy or Daddy, but sort of felt like I should. But they were at work or far away, so what was the point? I didn't want to be alone, but because it wasn't really in my backyard, I didn't want to overreact either.

I made phone calls to loved ones, just to check, just to be sure, just to connect. I cried. A lot. Bryan and I had been casually dating for just a few months, and he was visiting a power plant in South Carolina. He called me, just to check, just to be sure, just to connect. Ironically, it was that day that made me realize that I didn't want to date anyone else, that he was the only one I wanted, that I had no idea what I would do if he was gone.

I stared at the TV for days. I had pictures Sara and I had taken while laying on benches in the courtyard of the World Trade Center. We had looked up at their immensity and snapped photos of the wonder we saw. And now, they were gone.

I mourned for people I did not know at all. I mourned for mothers, daughters, fathers, sons. I mourned for nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts. I mourned for grandmothers, grandfathers, friends, neighbors.

Bryan and I visited Ground Zero for the first time since the attacks over Labor Day weekend. He had never been when the towers were standing. I remembered the space being filled, and cried at the emptiness. Seven years later, the wound is still raw when I think of the families who lost so much in such a short time... when I remember the people who watched the tragedy unfold in front of them, and who ran, covered in dust, through the streets of Lower Manhattan... when I remember the Pentagon employees... when I remember the brave, brave souls of Flight 93... when I remember the images on the TV that morning, the feeling, incomparable to any other, that I felt that day.

And today I mourn for people I did not know at all. For mothers, daughters, fathers, sons. For nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts. For grandmothers, grandfathers, friends, neighbors.

I remember.


Damn you, Nine West!

I am a girl with self control when it comes to internet shopping. I get all kinds of emails with advertisements from my favorite stores, but usually I just delete them or browse and don't buy. Like I said, self control.

Today, however, I happened to open an email from Nine West. It was titled "What to Crave: Fall Hot 9 Report." Well, I like to at least see what the trends are, so I opened it up for a little inspiration. First on the list was this:

And while something tells me some of you are going to think it's hideous, I LOVE THAT PURSE. And turquoise is my favorite color. And I WANT IT.

So for once, I decided, screw it, I'm going to go buy myself that purse.

And, wouldn't you know, the turquoise is sold out.

BASTARDS! Just over 12 hours after you send out the email and already all you have for me is boring brown? That purse is not cute in brown! Well, not as cute anyway!



Congratulations, Chuck & Jodie!

Over the weekend, my dear, dear friend Jodie married her sweetheart Chuck. They are one of those couples whose love is obvious in the way they look at and touch each other, and I can't begin to tell you how happy I am they found each other.

The ceremony was a very small affair at Jodie and Chuck's home on Friday night, followed by a reception on Saturday (more about that in another post!). While Hurricane Hanna kept a few guests from venturing into Western Chesterfield for the reception on Saturday, we still had a great time and everyone enjoyed spending time with the beautiful bride and her lucky groom. :)

Jodie and I have been friends for about thirteen years now, and I can honestly say I've never seen her so in love. I wish the new Mr. & Mrs. many, many years of googly eyes and stolen squeezes. :)


Federal Guvmint, Steppin' Up!

You may have heard that Hurricane Hanna is supposed to meander through the state of Virginia sometime tonight and tomorrow. Well, let no one say that the Federal Government is not on alert and ready for action!

I manage a federally funded grant that provides support services for people with HIV/AIDS.

This afternoon, I got a call from my project officer, the lady who is my contact with the Federal Government (capitalized because they're IMPORTANT). She had been instructed by her superiors to call all of her grantees in the Eastern region to let them know that she would be sending out an email with information about an emergency plan for the hurricane. Huh? An emergency plan? For helping people with HIV get to their regularly scheduled doctor's appointments? On the weekend? Oh-kay...

Then we get the email, which is a pretty lengthy discussion entitled HURRICANE RESPONSE of generic hurricane safety, with some info about getting patient contact info into a safe place thrown in. Thank you, Federal Government, for that public service announcement.

And finally! She calls me again a few minutes later. "I just wanted to call and see if you guys are still open?"

Um, is it even raining?? I haven't seen out a window all day long, but my Firefox weather update thingy says it's 86 and mostly sunny. And she wants to know are we closed? I was like, "Honey, we're an inner city hospital. They will send boats out to get the doctors if they have to!"

I believe this is what's called "Post-Katrina Freak Out." Right now I'm kind of chuckling about it. I hope Ms. Hanna does not make me regret that! :)


Sara's Bachelorette Weekend in Charleston

Two weekends ago, I traveled down 95 to Charleston, SC to celebrate the impending non-bachelorettehood of my dear friend Sara. Sara and her fiance Jason will tie the knot in November, but we decided to get together while it was still summer and we could all get away for a girls' weekend.

From our hostess Jen's lovely screened in porch, to our horse drawn carriage ride around downtown Charleston, to drinks on a rooftop bar, to drool-worthy dinner at High Cotton, to hanging out in our PJs just chatting--it was a wonderful weekend! The only thing about it? Too short! I can't wait to get back down to Charleston to see more of this lovely town. Maybe next time there won't be a hurricane coming up the coast that keeps us from the beach.

And what a great throwback to my younger days to have a weekend-long slumber party with just the ladies! It's funny, us girls grow up having sleepovers all the time, then we get older and get married or partnered off and we don't do that anymore. This was a nice reminder of how important my girlfriends are, and how much fun we had WITHOUT BOYS! :) (Even though we all love 'em to bits now!!)


Tag, I'm it! Seven Wacky Things

My cousin Cassandra tagged me! Here are the rules:

*If you are tagged, you must first post the rules:
*Write 7 strange characteristics about yourself. They interest us all!
*Tag 5 other people at the end of your Post.
*Visit everyone that you have tagged and leave a comment on their blog to let them know that they have been tagged.

This is my first foray into this tagging business, so we'll see how it goes! But I have plenty of strange characteristics, so...

1. I secretly want to be a brickmason. I actually asked my dad once in college if I could build him a brick grill in his back yard and he turned me down. I think he thought I was crazy. It's something about the way they fit together so perfectly...

2. I have a weird penchant for picking up foreign languages. In fact, my last two years of high school, I was student of the year in both French and German--I never got anything below an A. I'm still pretty fluent in French, remember almost no German, and now speak a tiny bit of Spanish and can read a fair bit of Italian... but don't do anything at all with this ability.

3. If you put me in front of something SUPER dusty, I will play in the dust. It's like a tic. I can't help it.

4. The first time I ever rode an airplane was when I was 17, all by myself, to Paris, France. I thought it was boring, except when we hit turbulence. I thought that was fun. :)

5. In spite of my mild-mannered appearance, my college years were filled with concerts where I stood on the outer ring of mosh pits and had my listening enjoyment interrupted by pushing people back into the pit when they ran into me. I actually still really love some of those *very* hard rock bands, like the Deftones--my all time favorite band, believe it or not!

6. I wasn't spanked as a child. Grounded, yes, spanked, no. One of the most embarassing moments of my life came when I was grounded and restricted to my playroom (horrors!) where all I could do was play with my Barbies (cruel mother!). My mom came in to check on me after a while, and as I was telling her what I had been doing, I explained who each Barbie was and what her deal was. When I got to one very dressed up Barbie, I told my mom: "And this one, she thinks she's hot shit!" Yeah. I was about 8.

7. I name my cars. In order, they have been: Laverne (1981 Honda Civic, Silver), Shirley (1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, White with Maroon Top), Kira (1999 Nissan Sentra, Black) and Sabine (2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse, White). Laverne and Shirley and I were super close, because we had lots of heart-to-heart discussions when they were feeling down and out. I can think of several times where just hearing their names made those girls push it a few more feet so I wouldn't be stuck in the middle of the road... may they Rest In Peace.

And for the tagging:

Frane: My college roomie Jen needs to update her blog more often, because she finds the best stuff! (I call her Frane. Her name's really Jen.)

Sue: My boss's list could just be seven crazy things that have happened to her during the month of August!

Jynxd: My coworker has been slackin' on her bloggin' since she got back from vacation and turned 40. Must be old age settin' in. ;-)

Mymsie: Because I know she's got crazy stuff to say about herself. :)

Brie: I am always learning stuff about this girl... now I get seven more chances!