April 26, 2006


Craig returned from his travels in one worn out piece last night. His day trip was a success! Now he just needs some more sleep. Tonight we're getting our favorite Chinese take-out from East Villa and taking a load off. I hardly slept a total of 6 minutes the previous night, or so it felt, and the same applied to him: we're just so anxious! It's good anxiety, the kind that motivates us to get a move on our move. He spoke with the boss there and my job will indeed relocate me right alongside him, which financially will lessen some of the burden. Both people already situated for the project actually live in Manhattan, which we may need to investigate further. It's a possibility that living in Brooklyn, while fine and perfectly reasonable, would also decrease the depth of 'the experience'. Maybe we should think Manhattan, think less square footage, more character, neighborhood, experience. We're flying the second weekend of May to scope out prospective apartments, trying to bear in mind that for the first time in either of our post-college careers, we will be living under the same roof for a span of 3 years, possibly longer. In other words, we'd better select something that will make us happy long term. This translates in our explosively excited minds as, We get to paint! We get to accent walls! 3 years for us is about as permanent, for being temporary, as it will likely get, at least, for the time being. I've got such romantic notions of living in New York City, and for those who feel it's going to be less desirable once I'm actually in it, I implore: let me have my fantasy, please! I take peeks into lives of contemporary literati who work, breathe and love in New York City, and their muses are neverending! A subway ride, a walk through SoHo, a cup of coffee at a corner cafe. The mundane things that become reality once you live there versus visit. Surely it won't be smooth. Surely it won't be as simple as jumping in the car, driving out of Atlanta, arriving in Richmond and starting from scratch like that. Surely it will cost us an arm and a leg. But we've got two incomes! We've got each other! 11 million New Yorkers survive in the heat of it, the passion, the cold, the calm, the chaos: won't we be okay? Surely we will. I'm aching with anticipation. I'm more alive and spirited than I feel I've been in months, not because things have not gone well in Richmond, because they have, but because Richmond was to serve as the stepping stone to get us to New York, and it has. It's real now, no longer a projected possibility or even probability: we're moving the first week of June. We're moving to New York City. Have I said that yet?*I mentioned a while back that I had plans to take a writing class here in Richmond. That did not pan out, for a number of reasons: financial being at the top of the list. But in New York City, there are such plentitudes of options for me in this respect. Gotham Writers' Workshop is something I've admired from afar for as far back as I've been tampering with fiction. Workshops are expensive, but nothing I can't save up and treat as a goal. Need I illustrate the beauty of the phrase, I'm taking the subway to my writing class in Manhattan? Doesn't that just spill of magnanimity toward my betterment? The fear of failure is something I must pitch over my shoulder while we're there. What better exposure to the creative heartbeat of this country than to live in New York City? Clearly I'm beside myself with increasing amounts of pleasure over this. And what contributes further to the experience about to unfold is the support of Craig, as well as the success of Craig. This is about to become the most significant career victory for him, on professional as well as personal achievement levels. Defining the degrees of my pride would require a whole different morning, a whole different vocabulary! I'm beaming. He continues to impress and amaze me, and there, to be exactly in the next room and knowing it's happening, and being able to contribute my own abilities to that project as well, will be nothing short of incredible. Time management must become my new best friend. If I intend to be a smashing success at work, as well as in my free time, continue to enjoy the kitchen, decorate a positively attractive and comfortable home for us, shape up my health, stuff in 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night and have the time of my life living there, embracing the term New York Minute is imperative. We've got just one month to prepare ourselves for what will become the most intriguing experience of our short lives. May all the forces of nature, technology, human and otherwise be with us as we proceed.*In the meantime, as a last effort to relax before the fun really begins, we are waking up as early as 4 a.m. Saturday to drive to Washington D.C. to catch a plane leaving for Florida. Greeted by a group as large as 18 people, we will partake in a weekend of beach, sun, beer, friends, entertainment, poker, genuine vacation at its finest. We don't return until the following Tuesday. 3.5 days before the busiest month of May we've ever seen...

April 24, 2006


Our weekend acted to calm frayed nerves. Friday I rolled chicken breasts around shaved ham, cream cheese, rice and spinach, dunked them in egg and Ritz crackers and baked them for an overall interesting yet average dinner. Saturday we both worked a little over half the day then headed home for the remainder of a Saturday before suiting up with taco dip and Miller Lite for a last poker night with coworkers. Sunday Craig wanted to walk to breakfast, and he's been climbing the walls for pancakes that were recommended at The Hill Cafe in the Church Hill neighborhood north of our building. We didn't eat an actual dinner Saturday night, only appetizers, so my stomach alerted me like a siren first thing Sunday morning that it needed a feeding, enhanced further by the fact that I woke before Craig to read more of Julie Powell's memoir about French food and living in Queens. Her insufferable account of extracting bone marrow, as repulsive as it was, reminded me that I could stand to eat. Well, when we walked around the block to The Hill Cafe, lights were out, and we peered at the glass door just as a finger from inside tapped the torn scrawled sign taped to the door that read in tiny handwriting, We are unable to open today until 11:30. A woman attached to the tapping finger then shoved the door open a crack and stuck her face out to tell us, in these exact words, We're retardedly understaffed today, we won't be opening for another 15 minutes. I think her declaration stunned us into respective silences momentarily but it was quickly decided we would walk to the Monument overlooking Richmond a few blocks over, survey the Sunday crowd at Millie's from atop the hill, and make our decision from there, and this whole time, my stomach was wailing at me. Anyway, after our Sunday stroll and determining Millie's looked too crowded, we wandered back to The Hill Cafe and yay, they were open. Craig ordered the breakfast special instead of pancakes; I experienced my first ever Huevos Rancheros and too much coffee. We snapped photographs of Church Hill for our families, and wandered down the string of old tobacco warehouses turned luxury living, as well. Early afternoon, we returned to the apartment to watch The Ice Harvest (which, in my bland one line review, included a gratuitous amount of strip club settings and overall really wasn't a smart movie). During the movie I began to watercolor my next round of recipe cards. Our next deadline isn't until mid-May but there is no telling what kind of chaos will arise between now and then, so I figured the open Sunday I had should partially involve the creation of those (speaking of which, AB has thanked me profusely for the hand-painted round of cards I sent last week and even indicated that it was the type of thing she'd purchase at a small craft shop in Savannah! She has proudly shown it to MB and will gladly accept future hand-painted recipes, she told me. Thanks for the appreciation, AB!) In this digital day and age, an ounce of hand-craftedness goes a long way. Craig and I threw our leftover hambone in a pot with carrots, celery, onion and yellow split peas to simmer for a few hours: my first experience with split pea soup (Huevos Rancheros and split pea soup all in a day: variety is the spice of life and I do not fear change!) I found myself pleased with the results, and I was happy, too, that this is a recipe passed down through generations of Craig's family. In addition to everything else, I also managed to rummage through a bathroom drawer in the guest bathroom, grab an armful of old bottles of toiletries, line them up on the kitchen counter and announce to Craig, Please pick which of these we can throw out. He complied with my wishes but I still wonder why he felt the need to hang onto that ancient tube of Tinactin, or the expired spray mist of Off that he claimed we would "need for our walks in Central Park." I also deleted half of our silverware from our previously messy silverware drawer and will be boxing up all kitchen goods that cannot find their way to New York City. I spent Sunday bustling, but managed to accomplish far more for a Sunday than usual, and I'm relieved at the flood of motivation that washed over my weekend versus my neverending ability to postpone the inevitable clean-up, sort-through that takes place before a relocation. My thoughts here, following a quick re-read, rattle like a list themselves. It's understandable for all that is happening in this pre-New York City mayhem. Our list is long and running longer. Schedule a road trip to pass off my vehicle to my parents temporarily. Fly to New York for a 2-day apartment hunt. Purchase tickets to my friend's wedding in June. Donate old clothes. Throw out unused tubes of Tinactin. This is not the average Joe move. It's going to require precision and a steady hand.

April 20, 2006


Since I've spilled the proverbial beans about moving to New York City, the storm showers have already rained on my happy-go-lucky parade. I don't feel comfortable intimating details of the downpour, but I will say that the past two days I've managed to make myself positively physically sick, knotted stomach, tears stinging behind eyes, fear penetrating my internal pipework like a bundle of explosives. Craig flies to New York to meet with project officials next Tuesday, and in the meantime he is trying to soothe me with his assurances that we will be alright, no matter what. The individual who has sent me home each day with the beginnings of a sick stomach, if trying, has managed to Get To Me, and good, to cause me to weakly raise my white surrender flag in defeat. Again, I do not feel confident further expositioning the particulars, but I will say that it is imperative that I pivot on my figurative heel and face the optimistic side of myself who is much less wrought with raw emotion; the optimist must battle the raging pessimist because if not, I fear for my regular health. So, in efforts to yet again comfort my sensitive soul, I've returned to the kitchen for decent therapy. For Easter Craig had purchased 3 links of smoked beef sausage. I don't know if he imagined we were feeding half of Richmond or what, but he clearly didn't weigh the fact that I already had a 9.48 lb. ham in the refrigerator, too. Nevertheless as Easter dinner unfolded and only half of our scheduled party attendees showed, we opted not to cook the beef sausage. Yesterday, in search of better use of our sausage than to steam and eat it dipped in mustard, I dabbled with jambalaya. I found a recipe whose title suggests its steps are 1-2-3 in simplicity, which, I beg to differ: they weren't quite that easy. Yet, with time and practice I suspect I can mold the recipe into simplistic proportions. I began with cooking cubed chicken. This is something I intend to further investigate, as my instinct yields overcooking chicken to ensure safety thereby somewhat drying it out. Yesterday I experimented with larger cubes versus the typical 1/2 to 1-inchers I usually chop (still with unsatisfying results). Regardless, following that I sauteed chopped onion, green pepper and sliced beef sausage until browned, added the chicken, beef broth, chicken broth, 2 cans of French Onion soup, rounded the whole thing off with 3 teaspoons each of Creole seasoning and hot sauce, and dumped in 3 cups of uncooked rice. Reviewers of the recipe declared the rice too hard after baking the Dutch oven mixture for 40 minutes. So I brought the stuff to a boil and simmered it covered for 20 minutes before putting it in the oven, covered, for about 30. Then, as further evidence that I'm a mentally incapacitated basket case, I pulled the thing out, placed it securely on the stove, slipped off the oven mitts and grabbed, bare handed, haphazardly at the lid: need I emphasize the sizzle of singeing flesh? I yelped, I think, because screaming didn't seem an option, and Craig inquired from his post in the living room about the noise that had somehow managed to escape me before I plunged my entire hand, all singed fingers, into the ice box in the freezer. Craig came to my rescue (translation: darted into the kitchen and stood staring at me incredulously while I stood, hunched, elbow arched, hand immersed in ice). After commenting, What were you thinking? he then smiled and said, That's kind of gross, I have to put that ice in my cokes. His humor, ever sharp, did take some of the sting off the singe. Alas, he loved this recipe, gave glowing reviews as he ate it. I asked him for a rating and he said 4 stars! Maybe 4 1/2! Seize the moment that Craig offers such high rating of a recipe! I felt honored and amazed with my triumph. We will be eating jambalaya again, evidently! But as for tonight, I will continue my efforts in the kitchen and still remain in Cajun tune, this time attempting the above pictured Red Beans and Rice. I'm concentrating on not concentrating on the unknown, because my tunnel vision and fretting is going to make us two crazy individuals. I must anticipate with optimism. I must not permit the frantic fear to control me, because I run the risk of driving Craig up a wall and further worsening my physical condition. Everything is going to be alright, just as Craig insists. We're going to be alright.

April 17, 2006


Happy Birthday to Me! Today marks the beginning of my 29th year. I'm debating composing a variety of things this morning: rattling off various characteristics I like about myself, various characteristics I could stand to improve about myself, various memories that have left me warm or various reasons I am so grateful to be on this planet walking around knowing people and places and dreams. Or maybe I could piece together a 29th year itinerary for myself. Maybe I will afford myself license today to just string along stream of consciousness without worrying about structuring thought. I might mention Saturday, how I bar hopped with Craig and a couple of our building friends. Or I might mention the traditional Easter dinner I made for Craig and for co-workers yesterday: ham with homemade glaze, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn and bread. Or how Craig helped me by deviling eggs in the morning and he whipped up an old family sweet potato recipe for those who like (I opt out politely). But more than anything, more than I want to say or think any single thing today, I want to finally blurt out the news I've been tucking so neatly under my arm so that no one could see it until the right time to reveal it: We're moving to New York City! We've been told this for a handful of months now, even given various details, but nothing absolute - until this past Thursday, when our boss called us right as we were on our way to dinner. The information we possess now, without exact particulars just yet, is that Craig will be heading to New York for meetings next week. We are expected June 1st. From what we've heard thus far, we will both be moved at the same time (that's one lesser certainty that I hope will remain so; I can't imagine being apart from Craig for any amount of time where I'm left in Richmond and he's in the City already, primarily because of the financial impact that would have on us but additionally because of safety, and the basics of being in a relationship and not wanting to be apart for extended periods of time). New York City. I haven't even figured out a mature way to actualize this in my head because there is a young girl in there screaming at the top of her lungs, We're moving to New York City! and she's in there jumping up and down clapping her hands and then in the next breath, crumpling to a fearful pile of worry. From a 29 year-old's perspective, I need desperately to compose a To Do list, detailing means of discarding my vehicle, methods of throwing away even more possessions than we did when we left Atlanta such a short time ago. We may only manage a one bedroom apartment there: what do we do with spare furniture? We don't even have a yard in Richmond to constitute a yard sale. What about my newfound fascination with the kitchen? What about our commutes? What about travel plans later this year (my friend's wedding, 4th of July in Chicago?) The list of What Abouts runs nearly longer than the To Do list, but the young girl in my head won't stop to reason any of that. I refuse to let stress get the better of me (I'm writing that for the record so that in one month when our move is two weeks away, as they have instructed, I can look back and read this again as a reminder!) This morning Craig has been kind of grumpy for my 29th birthday (we're both pretty tired after a full weekend), but hopefully a phone call sometime this afternoon will deliver him additional details that will solidify and satisfy our hopes and curiosities. We've harbored pocketed energy over this for so long now that I imagine we're both exhausted just of anticipation alone. He told me this weekend that he hasn't even fully processed it yet. How overwhelming. How powerful. We are at such an incredible transitioning point to be able to conquer this now: in Atlanta, we crashed into some rough walls in our first year of living together. By the end of Atlanta, we were willing and ready to see how Richmond could better shape our relationship, and it so has in more ways than I can define. Now, after half a year here, I feel closer to him than I've ever felt to another human being, and I am completely prepared to tackle this dream of ours - to be there, to live in the City we both so adore. I fear finding my way, I look forward to being lost in Manhattan dozens of times. Tonight, Craig is taking me to an Italian place up the street (Sensi) for my birthday dinner. The remainder of this week and the 6 to follow must, just must consist of taking care of business. A little self-portrait ego rub for me: I turned 24, 25 and 26 in Detroit, 27 in St. Louis, 28 in Atlanta, 29 in Richmond, and hopefully my 30th will find me breezing through New York City like a natural, spinning through the streets like I know what I'm doing. Happy happy birthday, KB!

April 10, 2006


Happy Opening Day to my friends still working on the Cardinals' new ballpark! I thank everyone for the phone calls, the ticket offers, the pleading for me to come join in the event happenings. If only flights weren't ridiculously priced! Today I'm leaving work early to find a bar that will have the game televised: it's almost like being there. Again, I'd never sacrifice the past year and a half of my life with Craig just to attend today's activities. I say this just as my old friend RL sent me a photograph he must have snapped this morning (or yesterday) of Pujols' jersey hanging in his locker room. I do wish I were there.*Our weekend was quiet, after our busy last weekend in Atlanta. Friday we purchased a stack of video games for Craig, and Saturday he worked in the morning while I started reading the book that my friend AB mentioned to me last week, Julie Powell's memoir (if I may be so bold as to call it that). The book piqued my interest initially because of its relevance to my immediate life, a girl approaching 30 working as a secretary (plus some additional relevance I don't wish to mention just yet) and discovering self-purpose in the kitchen through an old copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking while keeping a blog to chronicle her experience. Not that my kitchen endeavors can hold a candle to what she embarked on (because I have yet to cook any Julia Child recipe much less a French one!), but I at least relate to her experience based on several levels of similarities. Nevertheless, I purchased the book Friday night for $25 (hard back). Saturday morning I began to read it and my instinctive first response is that she is a really terrible writer. Unless some editor hacked her initial manuscript to pieces and basically rewrote it for her, in which case the editor would be to blame, the writing outright sucks. Sorry, Julie. She drops an unwarranted number of the F-word, first of all, which I wholeheartedly disagree with in a piece of writing, unless it is absolutely imperative to express a sentiment. This is a rare occurrence to me, because our language is powerful enough as it is which should lend to the ability to prove, explain, describe or illustrate a point without foul words. Julie's writing also doesn't flow as naturally as I wish it did. I found myself drifting off during her exposition about the crazy New Yorker having a tantrum on the subway platform: first, she didn't even write it well; second, its relevance to the story of searching for herself hardly seems plausible. And what New Yorker doesn't witness a lunatic on or near the subway regularly? Why is that in there?? Other than that the book is teaching me a thing or other two about New York, which is a positive. I'm already wondering if tossing around a litany of French words boosted the author's ego. However attractive the French language may be, and food words, to boot, she can't disguise bad writing with a few bourguignons and parmentiers. And the insertion of half-fictionalized vignettes about Julia and Paul Child throw me off base from the main theme of Julie's project. They don't provide the aspect of transitioning I think the author intended them to. I've only read about 60 pages, so this is quite the preemptive review. Plus, there's the envy factor: she did go from temp secretary to perm secretary to 'writing in her pajamas' practically overnight, and am I envious of that? Sure - I would be less of a person if I didn't admit to that. But do I think she's deserving of her new career because she hatched an interesting project to cook every single recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking? Not quite. Do I wish I had spent $25 on the hard cover copy? Not quite.*Yesterday I broke out the watercolors while Craig and I watched King Kong. It was a good thing I decided to multi-task during Peter Jackson's extended length film - much of the action I felt was gratuitous; even Craig leaned forward on the couch a couple of times and shouted the occasional, That would never happen! But he caught himself each time, too, remembering that the movie is about a giant ape, after all. I don't recollect I've ever seen a previous version, but Peter Jackson's film, while entertaining and visually happening, didn't motivate me to run out and grab an older remake or the original. Anyway, I miss my watercolors and developed a deeper sense of appreciation for them yesterday, despite the trivial nature of the project I'm currently undertaking. I suppose if I were able to draw better than I am able (drawing always stood in the way of painting for me: I'm alright at sketching, but far better at color detail) I would paint more often. But then again heck, if I were able to write more feasible beginnings, middles and endings, maybe I would short story-write more often, too. And here I criticize poor Julie, the accidental author.*Today my mom is announcing her 2-week notice at work. They sold the house in Greenwood. She will be moving to Michigan shortly following her final 2-weeks, and so it goes. Craig and I love change and look forward to our next adventure. It keeps us young. It reveals a brilliant perspective on our country and its wonderous diversity, its communities of different types of people. I posted a photograph of my parents and Craig and I in St. Louis in '04. It's my homage to my parents, to Craig, to the Cardinals and to change. It's also to commemorate my constant evolution, my commitment to continued improvement as I near thirty (29 happens to me now 7 short days from today!) Here's to chances. Here's to change.

April 05, 2006


Welcome the month of April! We returned in one piece (two pieces? Each of us is a piece but together we're one??) Sunday night from our whirl wind road trip to Atlanta to see our friends AB, MB, PR, CR and the R's young child Sal (he's innocent enough so he may appear as a named character in here. Wait until he locates mischief someday, then I will resort to initials to protect his identity!) We left Friday around 8 in the morning - my tentative plan was to break out of Richmond by 7 or 7:30, but I scheduled that with the preemptive confidence that in no shape or form were we going to be packed into Craig's car and hitting the highway that early on a vacation day. But what had happened is this: the 30th of March was AB's birthday, and since I'm not the most inventive gift-giver and struggled to think of something appropriate, it was only too late (ordering smallthings' jewelry takes 2-4 weeks) that I realized she would love the double-stranded necklace I posted here a while back. I used my Nancy Drew skills to locate a gallery in Atlanta near Grant Park which actually had that exact necklace in its possession, even the right design! The trouble was, the gallery closed at 6 Friday so I informed Craig that we were to be standing in the doorway of the gallery in East Atlanta by no later than 5 to ensure my secure purchase of this jewelry piece for my good friend (she had previously almost bought it then thought better of it because of going back to school and money and so on and so on). On our way out of town, Craig and I swung by Captain Buzzy's (our Church Hill neighborhood mom-and-pop-coffee-shop), grabbed some coffee and hit the road by 8. I love road trips with that man, I can never stress it enough. If we're not exchanging worldly conversation or discussing philosophical States of Things (Friday found us trying to crack the codes of evolution, creation theory, big bang and the afterlife) we're singing along to our favorite music that I'm djaying on the iPod or we're riding in comfortable silence. There isn't a person in this world that I can genuinely say I'd be both willing and able to spend that stretch of time with in a car on a trip of that magnitude. We made it to Atlanta just in time to bring our trip to a grinding halt in rush hour downtown traffic. Nevertheless, we reached the gallery by my hopeful 5 o'clock, and when we pulled into the gravel side lot, we saw a mangy mutt sitting outside (the gallery mascot, we presumed) and an outside wall of graffiti announcing the store's name, Youngblood. We walked into this quirky building and in the background Jaan Pehechaan Ho from Ghost World rattled from a static f.m. radio behind the counter. I saw the case of smallthings jewelry immediately - her designs are so sweet, and fragile. I spent some more time pawing through a rack of silkscreened t-shirts before announcing to the girl behind the counter that I had called about the double-strand. Later I learned that Craig found it to be humorous (his word) that I looked around before telling her why I had come, and sometimes I just don't get Craig's sense of humor (he couldn't explain why it was humorous, it just was). I attribute it to the fact that the second we rolled into a neighborhood that Craig didn't know like the back of his hand he became anxious, skewing his sense of humor. I also mentally noted the fact that no wonder we had a difficult time hanging onto happiness while we were in Atlanta: sitting in a car in the crowded streets is alone enough to make you feel like balling up. Public transportation in Atlanta, while present, is practically impractical because it doesn't extend to the suburbs and driving is the only solution. Needless to say I'm very relieved to be out of that traffic. Anyway, the necklace trip was successful and we headed off to Turner Field to meet up with our friends and to see the White Sox play the Braves. We had a great time - even Craig's other co-worker DP and his fiance showed up. CR couldn't come because she didn't want to haul Sal downtown, which is understandable (he's still pretty young). After the game we departed downtown for Douglasville to stop at the R's for another beer or so. Saturday we woke up early and drank coffee with the R's and ate cinnamon rolls and I cooed at Sal while Sal flashed me the biggest blue eyes right before passing out (such a phenomenon to me, how I had just woken up and Sal was in like his fourth hour of consciousness and it had become time for him to sleep it off already!) AB and MB picked us up and we departed for downtown, stopping only to pick up drive-through Starbucks, where Craig made the unfortunate mistake of ordering some kind of iced coffee (thinking, I think, that he was ordering a frappacino, he instead wound up with black coffee poured over ice, sick!) and he struggled through it all the way down to Atlanta. We arrived a little earlier than expected so we hung out at a table in the CNN Center (above is Craig's photograph from where we sat) (I kept inquiring about Anderson Cooper's whereabouts). MB was going to be taking the ice at 1 o'clock to play his amateur league's exhibition game right there at Philip's Arena. The whole day was sort of hockey-driven, which was fine, but it was more fun than anything to see AB's husband down there suited up to play. Our hockey game later (the Thrashers game) was somewhat anti-climactic comparatively speaking but still fun. We loved seeing our Atlanta friends again. They took good care of us while we were there. Our trip back to Richmond felt exaggeratedly longer than the leg down of it, but that is likely because a bunch of junk food and beer and a day later, our bodies' organs were beating against each other in protest. Sunday night began the regular baseball season! Craig's White Sox played the Cleveland Indians in Chicago. We watched the first several innings before severe weather shook Chicago and delayed the game. But it did sure feel nice to just be home after so much travel time, to watch some baseball and hang out. I might be kind of spoiled, but I think I will take flying versus driving any day, if the choice is mine.