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Snow Days

It’s been over a month since my last post, and I’m feeling quite settled here in Washington!  The trip out was an adventure, and one on which we had a lot of good luck—but I’m not ready to build that post yet.  Instead, I want to talk about what last week brought, which represented a dream come true for this Alabama native: SNOOOOOOOOW!!

A LOT OF IT.

One disappointment I had upon finding out that Stephen and I would be living in Washington rather than Colorado was that I wouldn’t get to see nearly as much snow.  Fortunately for me, last Wednesday our area saw a historic snowfall, fresh on the heels of a couple inches of snow from earlier in the week.  And in case you didn’t know: I am the Queen of Loving Snow.

I even have a crown. Although I haven't been able to find it since it warmed up outside...

Now much like Alabama, this area is apparently not equipped to handle any kind of substantial snowfall in terms of road maintenance.  And with the addition of a crazy ice storm on Thursday (followed by even more snow), travel was pretty much a nightmare.  Good news for me, as that meant that Stephen could work from home—and of course, I could make him take his lunch break to go Snow Walking with me!  We’d already snapped some pictures around our apartment from the previous weekend’s relatively minor snowfall:

Bridging Washington's lovely green and snow's sparkling white.

These snowberries taste like snowberries!

Snow at Sunset

 

But that was nothing compared to Wednesday and Thursday’s Snowmageddon 2012!

 

Fence along the trail

Evergreen icicles

I have reason to believe Narnia is just around that curve.

A snowy place to sit

It was a working lunch for some of us.

 

One of my favorite things about this past week was that we had been walking this trail before the snow began and I’d gotten a lovely picture of a moss-covered rock wall.  I took a picture of it on Saturday; got another one for the first snowfall almost exactly 24 hours later; and took another picture on Wednesday, after Sunday’s snow had melted and been replaced with even more:

 

Saturday...

...Sunday...

...and Wednesday!

 

I was in heaven for most of last week, with both my snow-loving self and my inner weather geek satisfied (I was even featured on my beloved weather blog from back home—something I shall brag about until the end of time).  But I must admit: sad as I am that most of the snow has since melted, it’s nice to no longer feel too afraid to drive anywhere.  Of course, maybe my favorite thing about this cold weather is that it’s an excuse to get cuddly.

 

The Snowy Couple

 

Here’s hoping for more snow days this season!

 

According to Abraham Maslow's theory, people who have achieved self-actualization---that is, those who have achieved the full development of their abilities and the complete realization of their potential---are an extreme minority, representing less than 1% of the world's population. Maslow's self-actualization is also something that can't be achieved until middle-age. If that's not a system that warrants youthful rebellion, what is?!

The semester is wrapping up at long last, and only one little final stands between me and graduation.  Then the real fun begins—frantic packing, a few days of holiday down time with the folks, and a drive across the country.  It promises to be an adventure, but I’m looking forward to having some time to sit, relax, and not stress about the immediate future, at least for a few months.  I’m going to try to make some posts during the Epic Journey, and hopefully I can resume regular commenting and posting come January!

Nuggets

My life has felt pretty fragmented lately as I struggle to get everything done that needs doing—at work, for school, with loved ones, and in preparation for grad school applications.  It’s no secret that I spend a lot of time online, and some web sources (in particular Tumblr, but also Twitter and various blogs I keep up with) have become great ways for me to distract myself just briefly enough to relieve a little stress without wasting too much time.  The problem is, I seem to be filling my head with a bunch of interesting nuggets—things I remember reading about, but may not always remember the source, or the significance, or why it intrigued me.  They’re usually things I tell myself I’ll research or think about more later, but then of course, poof—they’re gone, only to be replaced by a million new ideas.

My previous method has been to fire up a quick Gmail draft when I want to remember something, but that’s proving to not be particularly useful.  I’m going to start tracking some of these things (words, quotes, or ideas I liked) here, if only for my own feeling of relief at having logged it somewhere.  This may be a job I later farm out to my newly created Pinterest, but for now, looks like my loyal blog readers (all 4 of you!) will have to deal with it.

Nuggets – October 8, 2011

  • the New Yorker comma
  • emotional economics
  • Now if anyone asks me who, alive or dead, I would invite to a dinner party, I will include William James
  • parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog
  • zugzwang [quickly becoming one of my favorite words OF ALL TIME. OF ALL TIME.]
  • albatross (the bird, not the fortuitous golf situation)
  • Pyrrhic victory
  • helpmeet/helpmate
  • amanuensis
  • Deborah Blum
  • http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/
  • Laika the Dog
  • “You were missed, David.” / “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating Away in Space” by Spirtualized

Oh, poor forlorn blog!  I have so many post ideas and no time to make them happen.

But I had to take a moment today to post, if nothing else just to reflect on how many changes are slowly (or not so slowly) shifting about in my life.  Today I turned 26, that number that puts me closer to 30 than 20 but doesn’t signify much else.  I liked being 25—come on, it’s a perfect square!1—but this is growing on me.  In 3 months I’ll be on the road, headed to Washington to essentially start a new life.  And hopefully in a year I’ll be enrolled in graduate school, starting the long process toward a PhD.  It’s all quite scary if I think of it all at once—so I mostly try not to.  And I know that even if things don’t pan out the way I’d originally planned, that will be okay too; 26-year-old Joie is not where 21-year-old Joie expected her to be, and that’s turned out just fine.

Now, if someone could just make me calm down and think those calm, rational thoughts when I’m in the middle of a near panic attack.

I spent the weekend celebrating my birthday a bit early with Stephen, who flew out for the occasion.  I was beyond excited to see The Lion King in theaters (who says getting older means growing up?) and to play with my new toy, a birthday present from my mom and Stephen:

YOU GUYS CANNOT FATHOM MY EXCITEMENT. (I meant that part about not growing up.)

We had a pretty fun time playing around with it, in particular the camera.  I got a great 3D picture of Fritz—so when WordPress goes 3D, you can expect to see that. :)

J + S + 3DS

My official birthday was pretty great as well.  I got an unintentional birthday present in the form of a new computer at work (“You mean they make PCs that have something newer than Windows XP and Office 2003?!”) and my parents came up to visit and take me to dinner this evening (which included a giant slice of the world’s greatest strawberry cake, from Joe’s Italian).  And of course, they had to see the new toy as well2:

"Are we in 3D?"

If this is how My Year as a 26-Year-Old begins, well then I think it’s going to be a pretty good year.

—————

1 Plus, on a digital alarm clock “25” looks like a vase. I’m just sayin’.
2 Hey, I had to learn this resistance to growing up somewhere.

Years back I signed up as part of a Demand It! group from Eventful—in essence it was a sort of petition to bring Ben Folds to Birmingham.  I’d long since unsubscribed from their email list, having forgotten why I was getting email from them in the first place, until a magical moment came when I got the notification: Ben Folds was, at long last, coming to Birmingham!  I bought tickets for myself and my mom immediately, and didn’t hear any advertising for the show until months later.

Now, I’m an enormous Ben Folds fan, even going so far as to write a detailed blog post introducing my good friend and former Vox neighbor Steve to his music.  Unfortunately, I’ve just never been able to make it to his concerns—either I don’t want to make the drive (because I am a hermit), or I don’t want to have to attend a festival just to see him (because I am a hermit), or I’m busy cleaning my shell (because I am a hermit).  But this concert seemed like it was going to be worth the wait; not only was he playing a short 40 minute drive away, he was playing at the Alys Stephens Center, a beautiful concert hall and home of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

August 20th rolled around, and it was better than I could have imagined.  This was truly “An Evening with Ben Folds”–and just Ben Folds.  No band, no opening act, just a piano and Ben, telling stories and playing songs (and laughing at himself when he goofed up).  And because I’d found out about the concert so early, we had great seats!

I could hit him with a rock! I mean, I won't. But I *could.*

He played a wide range of material, from some Ben Folds Five stuff (“One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces,” “Kate,” “Brick,” “Mess,” “Army”), to his earliest solo material (“Fighting It,” “Annie Waits,” “Zak and Sara,”), to his later solo works (“Hiro’s Song,” “All U Can Eat,” “Landed,” “Gracie”), as well as his more current stuff (“Brainwascht,” “Effington”) and one song off the Lonely Avenue collaboration album he was technically promoting (“Picture Window”).

Getting Into It

The entire show was fantastic, but certain moments stick out.  I’ve always wanted to experience his tendency to enlist the audience for backup vocals, and it was just as fun as I imagined with “You Don’t Know Me” and his encore/finale, “Not the Same.”  And while it was technically a solo man-and-a-piano show, he didn’t shy away from showing off with some unorthodox methods of switching it up—he opened with “Hiro’s Song” singing a capella while using a shaker and the microphone as his percussion instruments, and in the middle of “Steven’s Last Night in Town” he broke into what turned into a drum solo as his stage hands gradually set up a full drum set solo around him, piece by piece, Ben never pausing his playing for a moment.  (I was too awestruck to get a picture of that, unfortunately.)

Rockin' out!

My favorite moments of the show were when he’d stop to tell a story or explain some detail behind a song before playing it.  He did this with “Steven’s Last Night in Town” (I had no idea the song was telling a true story of a real person he’d known), “All U Can Eat” (one of my favorite songs, apparently inspired by and adapted from a rant of his father’s while at a Denny’s), and “Brainwascht” (a somewhat tongue-in-cheek response to a former friend who wrote a rather hypocritical song—and a bad one at that—criticizing Ben Folds supposed lack of morality and integrity).

Singin' and Storytellin'

But my favorite story was the one he told before playing a minor key version of “Song for the Dumped,” one of Ben Folds Five’s most popular songs with lyrics by its drummer, Darren Jessee.  Ben explained that there was one section in the middle of the song that he’d only been able to bring himself to play twice during Ben Folds Five.  You can hear it all yourself here—I was brave enough to try taking a video, but not brave enough to position it in such a way as to get a good quality image, so apologies for the quality.  (I would also like to note that is NOT me trying to sing along at around 1:43.):

I really and truly couldn’t have asked for a better concert experience.  It was everything I’d always hoped for a Ben Folds experience.  And it also turned out to be a great show to share with my mommy, who is a Ben Folds fan herself and had just as much of a blast as I did.  :)

Two Generations of Folds Fans

Earlier this week I began to fret in earnest about my upcoming move.  Was it packing that led to my panic?  Was it the dread of driving or fear of flying?  Nay!  It was the question of how I would move my cat from here to the opposite corner of the country.

Fritz was decidedly less worried.

After a few hours of research, it became increasingly apparent to me that flying with Fritz was not a good option—he’s too big, the risk of delays or cancellations at that time of year is too great, he’ll likely cry the whole time, etc. etc.  This meant driving would have to do.  The implications of that are a story for another post, but at the least it meant starting the prep work for getting Fritz comfortable in the car.  Which brings us to: THE HARNESS.

More dignified than kitty Halloween costumes, but only slightly.

I’ve been wanting to harness-train Fritz forever, but never had the guts to try until now.  When I found the package in my mailbox this afternoon, it seemed a now-or-never type situation.  My original plan was simply to let Fritz spend a few days being comfortable even seeing the harness before trying it out on him.  With that in mind, I got it out and laid it on the floor next to me as I read the instructions.

It did not take Fritz long to become comfortable.

"Is this a new toy?"

"...Sure is a funny-shaped toy..."

"...Maybe it's food?"

"I AM YOURS, TOYFOOD <3"

With Fritz in such a good mood and with my confidence building, I decided—why not?  Let’s just make the harness ultra loose and see how he does with it.  (“Ultra loose” on Fritz is still not so big, even with the largest size they make.)  I wasn’t sure at first how I would “reward” Fritz for wearing the harness, as his digestive issues rule treats out.  Then it occurred to me to use his two favorite things: hair bands and riding around on my shoulders.  Overall, I’d say he did pretty great!  He wore the harness for about an hour, and eventually was comfortable enough to walk around the house in it.  Progress!!

"I liked it better when I could play with it."

If you have three minutes of your life you’re willing to part with, and if you love poorly edited self-indulgent videos of other people’s cats, might I interest you in the YouTube video I made of the event?

Two weeks ago my obliging boyfriend took me to a Seattle Mariners game.  While I spent my entire childhood through age 12 attending my brother’s baseball games (even working the scoreboard at his Dixie Youth Baseball1 games while my mom kept the books!), I’ve only been to one other professional ball game.  And since my only memory of it is what the field lights looked like as I was being either carried out in arms or in a stroller, I was pretty excited to experience a professional baseball game I might remember, especially for my new team.2

Safeco Field, which just celebrated its 12th birthday last week, is beautiful and in great shape.  The weather was perfect—sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy, always with a lovely breeze, and no need for the stadium’s unique retractable roof.  We initially tried to get there an hour early, but between delays leaving and confusion with parking (also known as “wallet raping”), we made it to our seats just in time for the first pitch.  And all credit to Stephen here—they were great seats!

Behind home plate

Look! Other people who love saying "Ichiro!"

As it was a Sunday, the day before Independence Day, and a “kids run the bases after the game” day, there was quite a crowd, at least by my standards (“Twenty-eight thousand… and one,” boomed the announcer at the end of the game).  Alas, we didn’t get there early enough to snag a free patriotic cap.

Take Me Out to the Crowd

...I SAID, "Take me out to the crowd"...

Okay, that's enough, take me out of the crowd now.

Of course, I was most excited to see Ichiro in person.  While he hasn’t been having his best season this year, he had a pretty good day with 2 hits and 2 runs out of 3 at bats.  It was also very cool to see a new pitcher, Blake Beavan, have his first Major League start.

Ichiro Yoga (Ichiroga?)

At Bat

I was geeking out for most of our time there.  Stephen, who isn’t a sports fan by any stretch of the imagination, still found something to be enthusiastic about: BALL PARK FOOD (also known as “in-game wallet raping”).

Buy Me Some ... Pretzels and Cracker Jack?

(It wasn’t until after the game that I saw a message from my Dad asking what their specialty stadium food is.  Stadiums… have… specialty food?  I’m still unclear on exactly what it is—the Ivar dog? Rally fries? the brilliantly named Ichiroll?—But we didn’t venture past pretzels on this particular day.)

I Don't Care If I Ever Get Back! (The couple behind me looks like they care, though.)

Even Stephen, who felt a little ambivalent about discovering I enjoy watching a sport (it’s just this one, okay!), seemed to be having a good time.

I like the part where they show bloopers on the big screen.

After all, it was a pretty exciting game (against the San Diego Padres, giving me an excuse to try to taunt the unflappable Steve Betz).  Here’s a completely candid, unstaged shot of us watching the game; you can tell it’s authentic by the way we’re looking at one thing and everyone else is looking at something else:

And It's Root, Root, Root for the Home Team, If They Don't Win It's a Shame...

And in the end, we weren’t disappointed.  Beavan pitched a great game with Brandon League brought in to close, and the Mariners took the series with a 3-1 win, ending the game on a strike-out.

...For It's One! Two! Three Strikes, You're Out! At the Old Ball Game!

 **********

1 Dixie Youth Baseball is basically the South’s way of saying, “To hell with Little League and all its wonderful organization and possibilities it offers kids! We’ll have our own league! *spit*”

2 I was wondering the other day—how do you decide who “your” team is?  Random choice?  Overall charm of the team and/or a player?  I’d always assumed, as everyone here roots for the Atlanta Braves, that this was a geographically-based decision.  But I suppose there’s some crucial window in your life when you are, for whatever reason, a fan of one club, and after that window closes they are YOUR TEAM, regardless of where you live.  Will I now be bound to the Mariners for the rest of my days?  Is it okay that I still have a fondness for the poor Cubs?  Are we all united by our despising of the Yankees?  Who can say?