Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oh ocean! Where art thou?

Last Thursday I went searching for the ocean. Now don't be confused, the ocean isn't hard to find or that far away, but I haven't seen it since landing in Virginia and I was jonesing the sea something fierce. As much as I wanted to simply type "ocean" into my GPS and be off, sadly technology isn't that advanced yet, so I had to do a small amount of planning. I know, I know, planning is not my favorite word and definitely more my boyfriend's department, but alas even with my more than keen navigational skills I only had one day off to locate the sea, and couldn't wing it and run away for days. Well winging it is always something I do, and before I'd even left that day, apparently I started getting that maniacal look in my eyes as DC specifically said,

"You can't run away."

Such a stick in the mud that one. I kid, I kid. He filled up the gas tank for me and didn't altogether lose his mind when he checked in on me later in the afternoon for me to ask,

"How much do you love me?"
"Ummmm... Where are you?"
"You love me a lot right?"
"Okay then, I may be almost to North Carolina. Oops."

But I am getting ahead of myself. I had the knowledge that the ocean was roughly two and a half hours away so that was how far I intended to drive, roughly, give or take four additional hours for lollygagging. All I had to do was find someplace enticing that was on the ocean and type that place into the GPS. It should also be noted that I have gotten really wise with utilizing the GPS for this sort of thing. When I want to go somewhere with no exact coordinates, I always locate a town with a promising name and stats, in this case it was Smithfield, VA and then type in Main St. or Church Street, address 100 or 1. So 100 Church St. or 1 Main St. Works every time in getting me right into the quaint downtown and then I use my bloodhound skills to sniff out the good stuff, A.K.A on this adventure, the sea.
With my coordinates mapped out and my beach bag packed with sweet potato chips, pistachios and a bathing suit of course because once I thought of the sea, I also thought of submerging in the salty water and frolicking about, I was on the open road chirpy as a new baby bird.
After a bit I spotted a Waffle House in timing with me needing a bathroom break and decided to check something off the list of Things I've Always Wanted to Try. I whipped into a parking spot, went right up to the high topped bar with red swivel stools inside, plunked down with my camera and ordered a single waffle and side of bacon, $5.60. When I took out my camera to start documenting my very first, sitting at a bar of a Southern Waffle House experience, a passing middle aged waitress saw my camera snapping away and proclaimed,

"Are we going to be famous?!"
I laughed and answered,
"Well, you will be featured on my travel blog."
She gave the other servers an excited glance and then they all not so discreetly stayed in a lot of my shots. I didn't mind, I felt sort of famous for making them feel famous.

The pit-stop put me back by about a half hour, but the waffle was scrumptious and totally worth checking off my list. I got back in the car and felt the seas fingers beckoning to me.
After two hours of highway driving, however, I was starting to get way antsy and I sort of wanted a shortcut or better scenery at that point. Lucky for me I exited from the highway and was soon on back country roads. This area of Virginia looked nothing like the Virginia I was familiar with.
Not only were there no rolling hills or horses anywhere, but it had a distinct Old South feel. I spotted run-down red gas stations with rusted Coca-Cola machines out front, several dilapidated houses with chipped white paint, and then I started to see signs for plantations. I got excited and turned abruptly to go see the Shirley Plantation which as it turns out is Virginia's oldest Plantation. Talk about a find!
But soon after leaving Shirley I did begin to wonder how far down the coast I was exactly. Then I saw a sign for Williamsburg and noting that I was near the James River began to put two and two together.
So I pulled over and bought a map opening it up to find, that yes my suspicions were correct. I had sort of thought I was just going straight over to the ocean. Instead I went way down and over and then down some more. Oh. Hi, North Carolina, you're an awful lot closer than I realized. Ah well I was already almost to my destination, so I kept going.
Upon reaching Smithfield and driving through the promised darling streets of the downtown I hardly noticed as I was fixated on the water. It was nearly ninety degrees outside and even with the air blasting in the car I felt a strong need to submerge and de-sweat.
But. Here is where my lack of planning sometimes gets me in trouble. The town of Smithfield did say it was coastal and true enough it is on the James River which does in fact reach the sea, but as always my crazed imaginative mind believed I would just drive up to a sand dune, park and run gaily into the water like the scene in the Notebook where Rachel McAdams chases the seagulls.
I drove to the water. But it wasn't the ocean and there were no dunes, just some tall reeds and a pretty posh looking row of brick buildings that seemed to be high-end condos or a country club. I circled around trying to find somewhere that I could dive in the water, but it looked kind of deep and murky and I got frustrated. This is not what I signed on for! I looked at my map now more determined than ever to swim in the ocean at all costs. I had been in the car since 9:30 in the morning. It was now 2:30 in the afternoon. I spotted Newport News on the map and recognized the name and it seemed Newport was closer to the ocean. So I whipped through Smithfield, the town I had been jonesing to see all day and opted for Newport.
This is when my boyfriend called. Refer to the earlier conversation. When I told him I was going to Newport News because I needed to see the ocean, he said,

"I don't think it's the kind of town you're imagining it is."
"A cute sea town? It has to be. I've heard of it. And it's by the ocean and the name sounds like it would be."
"Okay, then go."
"But I feel like you don't want me to."
"You've already made up your mind to go, so go and see for yourself."

I did. And he was right. It was not the sea-scape town I expected. It seemed a lil rough around the edges and I didn't spot one bright blue and white awning boasting seafood or a beach with a lighthouse. Now I was pissed. I called my mom as I did a big loop around Newport trying to find the darn ocean. I spotted one beach near a power plant that was also by the highway and debated going for a dip there but once I have high expectations it's hard for me to lower them. I ranted to my mother that this is why DC planned all the time, to prevent these kind mishaps and I can't believe I had been driving for five hours and had only seen a river and hadn't tasted any lobster yet! Let it be known, though that the James River had been exciting me all day, water of any kind is still my favorite and I do so love to be near it as nature is never wasted on me. I was just a smidge disappointed. When you go looking for the ocean and only find a river it's a little like Galileo looking for the sun and finding a firefly. Fireflies are great sure, but they're no blazing star.
My mother who is beyond wise and has more patience for me than anyone I know, researched local seafood gems with me on the phone and calmed me down, reiterating that the trip could still be salvaged.
I ended up back in Smithfield and at a restaurant my mom approved of, which means it was going to be really tops because my mom doesn't trifle when it comes to finding the best local hotspots.
It was called Smithfield Station and it was on the water. Sure it wasn't the right water, but I enjoyed the view of sailboats as I ate my fresh crab quiche and fruit. My stomach was happy. I was happy.
I finished off my trip with a walk around Windsor Castle Park. A boardwalk over marshy river water in the muggy heat was the perfect calming agent after my near hysterics about the trip being an almost bust. Of course it wasn't a bust. This is what I love and hate about myself simultaneously: my antics. They prove to be quite fun and quite infuriating almost all the time; but my life isn't dull I'll tell you that much.
When I got home my boyfriend pointed out that I could've gotten to the ocean and the kind ocean I'd envisioned to boot, a lot sooner and with a lot less hassle. True enough. And I knew that for next time, but I wouldn't have discovered that I love the town of Smithfield, VA and can't wait to go back and try the famous Ringo's Donuts, that Shirley Plantation and Bacon's Castle are incredible architectural gems indeed and that Northern Virginia is the farthest South I will ever live.
It's all about perspective folks. And that is why no adventure is a wasted adventure.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The case of the dad pants

As a young lass traversing the awkward halls of middle school I not only felt the heinousness that accompanies this wretched stage of life, but I also had the benefit of being chunky. Double whammy. It didn't matter what I wore in middle school, everything somehow looked terrible and was accompanied with a nice bout of teasing. Apparently I didn't start wearing a bra soon enough and got teased in the locker room. Told you I was ready, mom. I didn't start wearing deodorant soon enough and got teased in English. Told you again, mom. Yes my mom literally said I was too young for deodorant. I wasn't too young according to the boys who pointed out my sweating problem. Thank you for that one, dad.
At any rate middle school was the pits, pun intended. Being chunky came with a whole slew of problems besides not looking good in anything and sweating a great deal, I never could seem to find jeans that fit. And when I did, I somehow had gotten a lil chunkier and the jeans produced a sort of inner tube affect with my stomach, not cute, and then I refused to wear them anymore or go up another size. It was my way of showing those jeans who was boss. Until high school when my aunt pointed out I had such a sporty style. Um, I wasn't sporty by choice, I was "sporty" because that meant a lot of elastic waist bands. Now I get to be a hippy because that means a lot of dresses and leggings, which, yes still have elastic waist bands. Oh, elastic, I will always be true to you.
Anyhow, so one day, I was rummaging in our basement that doubles as a laundry room for our family of about 8 people at this time, tearing through the heaps of clothes that belong from everyone ranging from dad to littlest sibling, trying to find something to wear to school that day. One of the lights was burnt out and it was still dark outside due to the fact that I had to be up at the crack of dawn for middle school, another huge point against that time in my life. I spotted a pair of jeans that looked a little bigger than mine. I instantly became hopeful. Maybe this was a mystery pair of perfect jeans sent from the heavens to fit my growing pudgy frame and make my life a little less tease-worthy at school? I quickly slipped them on and realized that yes, yes they fit! With room to spare. I had never had that happen before. They did seem a little baggy in the crotch region but I disregarded this on my high of having a pair of jeans slide up over my hips, first try with no sucking or squeezing in my gut.
I ran up the stairs, threw on a sweatshirt and into my dad's waiting car to get dropped off at school. Now let me also point out, that my family is not like most families when it comes to waking up rituals. If my boyfriend comes to stay for the weekend and sleeps on the couch, come 9am on a Saturday morning, it is still as quiet as a Monks workspace in the whole downstairs as every child and adult is still snug in bed. We really like our sleep in my family. This is to say that when I ran out the door, the house was still relatively dark as I gave myself no extra time for frivolous things like eating breakfast or doing my hair in middle school, or high school, um and most of college. Gosh, I wonder why I got teased.
So can you imagine what happened when I got to school and walked into those brightly lit fluorescent hallways? Well I strutted my stuff for a few steps feeling that today would be a tease-free day as I wasn't wearing floods (pants that were too high, I'd made that mistake before too) I had the appropriate amount of deodorant on and was indeed locked into a bra. It should be smooth sailing I thought bordering on cocky, thinking I looked so good in jeans.
I looked down again to take it all in, me in my sweet jean clad body, with no overflow of stomach pooch, when I suddenly realized something terrible, the reason for the too large crotch area that I had disregarded earlier, the reason these jeans were a little baggy, these weren't mystery miracle jeans given to me by God, these jeans were my dads!
Oh no. Oh no. Oh no, I thought as I ran to the bathroom to inspect in a full length mirror. The horror only intensified in there. Yes. They were clearly mens pants. They weren't particularly stylish. My dad is stylish for the record, but his job is to drive trucks, so he doesn't glam up for that. They were baggy, shapeless, saggy-crotch man jeans that horror of all horrors actually fit me! I was chubby enough to comfortably wear my father's jeans to school. In the sixth grade. Granted they looked hideous and did nothing for me, but they didn't fall off. I required no belt!
And here's the thing, my memory of this stops there. In the girls bathroom. I don't know if I was teased so mercilessly that my mind has blocked out the memory entirely or if God offered me a free pass because he clearly wasn't offering up free jeans, and the kids looked the other way that day.
Either way the shame of realizing I not only wore my fathers pants to school one day in the sixth grade but that they actually fit me well enough to wear them to school has stayed with me for life.
Let this be a cautionary tale for all young girls who suffer relentlessly through middle school. Know that middle school will never improve, sorry it is a prerequisite for life to endure the drudgery that is sixth grade, you'll be better for it, but also know that at least you probably have enough sense and understanding of fashion not to wear your dads pants to school.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Reader's Choice

Because I have some of the most wonderful and faithful readers I wanted to do a couple fun things in the next few days to show you guys how much I value your support and continued excitement over my words. But I am going to need your help. Today's blog is going to be picked by you! Here are your wildly riveting choices:

-That time in middle school that I wore man's pants on accident

-True tales of my sordid dating past

-My honest to goodness feelings about my body, health, fitness, this one will probably be feel good, as I had to throw one of those in the mix

-My input on health care reform, the tax act and foreign policy. I kid. I am sorry, but I would never. I don't even know if there's such a thing as the tax act, I just threw together political sounding phrases that gave me the shudders after popping into my mind.

Okay you get three choices folks, besides being keen on the number three, why overwhelm you? And honestly I have been working two jobs and my life has been slightly exhausting lately, where my feet ache when I stumble in the door after bar-tending and doing wine tastings for 12 hours and I pass out at 9:30 p.m. only to then sleep until 9 the next morning, so adventures have been limited. But don't fret, little doves, don't worry, I have adventures a-coming.

So. Cast your vote here in my comments section, which I will be religiously checking all day on my phone, because it's my day off and I love obsessing over my blog. Or you can vote on Facebook, because I will shamelessly promote my blog over there too. And if only one of you votes all day, well guess what? You win! And if none of you vote, then I have overestimated how much you all like me and I will surprise you and pick one myself.

Please vote by 5pm so as to give me a solid two hours writing time. I know, I know, that seems excessive, but my words must be fashioned ever so magically and I am a perfectionist. Nothing but the best for my readers!

Now cast your ballot!

Monday, May 6, 2013

You're my lobster!

I don't know what threshold it is that DC and I have crossed, but lately, something is different. I have loved the kid for some time and have vocalized as much, but that tends to be easy for me, the falling in love part. In fact after only about two months of dating I already felt so strongly about him and nervous for feeling so strongly, because I had just felt a similar way about the last guy and that was a bust, that I ended up telling DC I loved him first, uh like this:

I was being slightly hysterical about him not calling me enough, yes I will admit I am a girl who has ample supply of crazy on hand at any given time, and slightly exasperated he asked me what was really wrong and I blurted out,
"I fucking love you, you idiot!" And then got incredibly nervous that I just did something bad. I broke a cardinal rule of dating. I said it first, (I always say it first for the record, so I don't know why this time surprised me) and after way too short a time of dating. I started to sniffle as he started to laugh.
"Well I fucking love you too, you idiot!" he said back sounding downright gleeful. I had already preemptively started to cry, assuming he was going to get awkward and tell me how great of a friend I was, because numerous men, including my ex-boyfriend had all reacted very poorly to hearing those lovely words.
He asked me when I knew I loved him and I said the words had been wanting to come out here and there when he did things like croon Christmas carols to me when I was feeling blue, but all of a sudden at that exact moment I couldn't hold it in any longer. I asked him when he knew he loved me and he told me since July (well before we'd started dating), but that he had been falling in love with me since he saw me on The Biggest Loser. Now I know you can't run this test on everybody but if a guy falls in love with you when you are 239 pounds, openly vulnerable and at your worst/most exposed then I would say he is worth keeping around.
Now, I have easily claimed love for at least five out of seven crushes/relationships. And I don't think I cheapen the word love, each man made me feel those keen emotions of love and I won't take back feeling a genuinely true affection for these fellas, even if they weren't the fellas for me.
You see, I have been a romantic sap since probably exiting the womb, as I can remember as far back as kindergarten asking myself if my crush had the potential makings of a great future husband. Seriously, I remember it well. Kyle, that 5-year-old crush of mine had a way for including me at recess, his mother liked me (she helped in the classroom sometimes), always a bonus and he sure had a way of creating excellent Play-Doh Pizza--creativity and a love of pizza--he was a winner in my book. And from there I only got more hopeful and excited with each passing year about what different boys brought to their relationships with me. They loved the outdoors, they made me laugh, they went to the same church as me, they wrote poetry, they were kind, tall, dark, handsome, thought I was beautiful, kissed like a dream, you know, all those top-notch ingredients to make the perfect boyfriend.
And I built these findings up, a veritable mental check-list I have been adding to ever since.
*He adores my family and friends- Check
*He is fun to be around- Check
*He showers regularly- Didn't realize I needed a check for that, but I do now thanks to what my best friend refers to as a certain simpleton I dated in college. I won't say more as my dating history is hilarious at best and needs further divulging, ah but for a later date.
But then there are things that never occurred to me to look for or even want and that's where DC enters. It's funny because when my best friend met and married her husband he was nothing like what she had always said she was looking for or typically dated. He wasn't anything like the Wisconsin country boys she was drawn to and fantasized about riding tractors with, I kid Ash, I had to. Instead the man she married liked thrift clothing, didn't watch NASCAR and hated country music. In fact when I first saw his picture, I about fell over. My country-worshiping best friend who made fun of me for listening to Edward Sharpe was not only dating what I thought looked suspiciously like a hipster, but then was telling me how great this Edward Sharpe song was that her new boyfriend had her listen to. You have got to be kidding me. Would wonders never cease?
The point here is, DC surprised me in much the same way. I thought, I am going to end up with some hippy adventurer who just loves the band Phoenix and can't wait to go to Burning Man with me. Ashley warned me it might not end up the way I thought it would. She couldn't have been more right. Besides the fact that DC's go-to music is classic 80's, he is so far from hippy it hurts me. Honestly if I didn't remind the kid to recycle every day, he would undo all the good progress I make!
When after dating him for about three months, I decided to ask DC his thoughts on Burning Man, (an art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada) he looked put-off and confused, replying,
"Wouldn't you have more fun doing that with Savannah?" Savannah is my ultra-hippy sister. I was outraged! I mean, of course I would have more fun at Burning Man with Savannah! They probably invented Burning Man with Savannah in mind. But I was distressed that my boyfriend didn't want to go to Burning Man with me! We are a couple. Couples share experiences! He explained that the thought of a bunch of people trading stuff in the desert and smoking pot didn't sound like his idea of fun.

"But I don't want the drugs! I just want the artist experience," I explained. Maybe that would help him understand. He retaliated with,
"Well how much fun would you have at a high school basketball game?"
Now it was my turn to look disgusted.
"Why would I go to a high school basketball game?" I asked. Seriously. I was very confused. Why would anyone who is not in high school or doesn't have a high school aged child or know a high school kid go to a high school basketball game? I quite frankly couldn't think of much worse ways to spend my precious time.
"Exactly," he said his eyes lighting up like he had more than made his point. I was astounded. He felt about Burning Man the way I felt about sports. It couldn't be! I love hippy gatherings! He loves sports! Oh no, I thought, we're doomed. So began months of testing this theory. Because I am un-trusting of our love or his commitment to me? No. Because I am a neurotic worrier. Thanks a lot, Mom.

Instances are as follows:
"Do you like poetry?"
"Yes, why do you ask," he turned, scanning my face and instantly was on to me. "Is this a test?"
"No! Don't be ridiculous. Can't I just ask you if you like poetry and if you like having it read to you?"
He smiled because he knows me really well. Of course it was a test. I am constantly testing him! Ever since the Burning Man conversation I haven't been able to stop ruminating over our differences.

Or how bout this one:
"Do you want to join the Peace Corps?"
"Umm, what all does it entail?"
"Going and helping a third-world country. Like building homes or teaching English as a second language. It's a two-year commitment and you get paid next to nothing."
"I don't know. Don't we need help over here too?"
"That's AmeriCorps."
"Oh. Yeah I don't know that I would want to join the Peace Corps."
Interesting, I noted.

And this:
"I must see live music. It is not just a like or a hobby; this is a part of my life that is very important to me."
"All right."
"Like you and sports."
"Okay, so we'll go see live music then."

So when a couple of weeks ago we got in a nice doozy of a fight over a lot of silly nonsense really, I got exasperated and decided to dip my toes in the water of a big test. I got fed up and pointed out that we seem to have the same fight over and over again, which involves his propensity to plan and stick to a plan, and my propensity to want to muck up the plan with my spontaneity and free-spiritedness. I thought oh boy, he is just a planner that is who he is. And it's not that I am anti-planning, I actually get a small thrill planning certain things, but then for the most part, I just like to wing it. I really do. It gives me anxiety most times and I crave Xanax like a weary desert traveler craves water, but I am a masochist and it is how I operate/live. Is it necessary? Probably not. Could I change this about myself? Probably not.
So what did I do?

"If we really can't agree on this (this being planning vs. not planning) all the time, then maybe we shouldn't be dating!"
DC sort of looked like I threw cold water in his face. He quietly came up to me, eyebrows raised and said sternly,
"Don't say that."
I don't know what I expected but it wasn't that. I thought maybe he'd agree with me or the fight would get worse. I was prepared for it. Instead it got better and I got calmer. In fact it prompted the biggest epiphany of our relationship to date. After as we sat silently in the car together, still determined to seek out our Sunday adventure, I thought of one of my favorite romantic movie quotes in regards to love:

"I would rather fight with you than make love with anyone else."

I asked myself, is it okay that probability suggests DC and I will continue to have a fight over planning/not planning, early/on-time, winging it/not winging it for the course of every year that we continue to be together as he likes to be extremely early, he likes to plan the day, he likes to know what's going on, and I shrug my shoulders, I say we will figure it out, I think it's okay if we sleep a little longer or take a different route. And immediately and forcefully my mind said it's okay. If it really continues to be a fight, then it's a fight I don't mind having. A good argument never bothered me anyway. I contemplated being a lawyer briefly in the 8th grade after doing a mock trial over slavery. I, of course was on the side of good, obviously, I'm ever the vigilante.
Is there a point to all these interwoven tales? Yes. My epiphany in my relationship and the world of love. I always thought love meant all those checkpoints on all my lists adding up; and when the list was full of all the best things it would equal love and mean that I'd found the one. But checking qualities and virtues off a list is only part of it. Yes my have-to's like, he must love God and my family are non-negotiables but what's more is DC is someone I could weather lifes storms with. And that's what hit me in the car last Sunday after our fight. I don't want anybody else. And if it comes with fighting (squabbling is probably a more appropriate word) then I'm up for it. Because I feel that no matter what, I will fight with him and for him. And I know he has never been in short supply of fighting for me. And finally after years of falling in love easily and with a range of different men, I have finally found that this love feels significantly deeper, truer and a lot more permanent. It feels like a foundation for building a life and DC is the one I want to spend every single day of that life with.
But here we are currently. I am trying to write this blog about how much I love the man and I have my writing groove going, which means I listen to my awesome mellow writing jams and cannot be bothered. He came out of the bedroom to be near me on the couch, which I love, and watch sports, which I don't love, but they are on mute, so we're fine. Until the middle of Gregory Alan Isakov's, The Stable Song and he all of a sudden has to turn up hockey to hear a play and wants to fist pump with me. I mean, I am trying to wrap up loving, poetic thoughts and musings on love here and he just has to hear a play he just saw.

"You're making it really hard for me to write about how much I love you right now with you annoying me so much."
"Do you want me to go watch this at my office?"
"You love me."
"I should've written this blog yesterday when I liked you more."

And I finally have the perfect conclusion to this post. Love isn't perfect. That right there. That is love.