Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Going Home

I have moved...back in with my parents...

That is how much I wanted to get out of Richmond. That, and I'm planning on moving to San Francisco to finish school, and because it's awesome. Have you ever met someone from San Francisco  who you didn't like? I haven't. No one ever says, "Ugh, San Francisco, I never want to go back there."It's not Mississippi. 

It's certainly been a transition, one that I've been avoiding by not being home as much as possible. I moved Halloween weekend, in the sleet, with a migraine, so it more terrible than moving usually is -- never mind all the little things, the miscommunications, the lack of communication. It got done, and we all sat down for beef stew my mother made for everyone else because I don't eat beef, she had prepared the freezer and packed it with vegetarian lasagna.

The next 48 hours were spent mostly moping and reconsidering all of my life choices. 

Fortunately I had made plans to be in San Francisco the first week of November, my birthday is the 3rd and I really needed to be relax. Though my idea of relaxing usually just means avoiding people I don't want to talk to and keeping myself busy elsewhere, which is exactly what I did.

I'd arranged to meet with the admissions advisor at the school I will hopefully be attending, and let the few people I know there know I would be in town, but mostly I just wanted to explore. I had visited in the Spring of last year as well and I wanted to do the things I didn't get to do last time on this trip.

Anton, Karin, Me and Timon after lunch in Golden Gate Park.

After a very long and unnerving taxi ride into the city with a dead cell phone and a cabbie who didn't know how to use his GPS or speak English, I finally got to my hostel, cried, and fell asleep. The morning was much happier and after meeting a couple of my roommates and a couple of dudes at breakfast, four of us decided to rent bikes and make our way across the Golden Gate Bridge. I had not packed anything for this type of activity, and biking 22 miles in skinny black cotton pants was not my favorite thing, but it was well worth while. Now, the city is famously seven miles by seven miles, we had figured we had gone maybe 15 miles, and then we pulled up Google Maps and marked the multiple circles we had made on accident.

I had set up an appointment with the Admissions Advisor (AA) for the next morning and managed to find it without getting lost and made decent time walking. AA and I talked for almost two hours. TWO HOURS. I like to think that this is a good thing, though perhaps I totally blew it. She invited me to sit in on a class the next day, so I'm guessing I didn't blow it. The class was small maybe ten students, and everyone was actively engaged and supportive in offering constructive criticism of each others' work. I fell in love, as I knew I would, with everything -- the students, the teachers, the smallness of it all within such a large city -- it was perfect. The community created there was shat I should have looked for when applying to schools four years ago. If only I had been somewhere, or been exposed to anything. My parents wanted me close, and I have found close to be a miserable place. 

It was my birthday and I had spent most of it wandering around Chinatown after the class. I don't particularly like Chinatown, most of the things there creep me out, but some of the things are also entertaining. My favorite was definitely the "erotic art" that had been etched into various surfaces and shapes and molded into what I can only guess were bookmarks and paperweights. Though, I am no scholar of erotic artwork, so I'm probably wrong. However, shop keepers do not enjoy loiterers snapping photos of their wares to tweet. Erotic art is serious business. 

That evening I had dinner by myself at a tiny, dirty burger place that offered veggie options (I may not eat meat, but I eat veggie burgers all the time) before heading to The Mission to meet my one friend that was in town. He was out with two of his coworkers, and between the three of them my glass didn't get empty. We ended up hopping around until we went to a particularly terrible bar that was having some sort of electronic dance night, I think, I'm not completely sure, BUT there was dancing and I got to dance and my friend is an excellent dancer, and I could not have asked for a better birthday. (Thanks, guys!)

My last day was spent between bed and getting lost on the Embarcadero followed by wandering around downtown in a haze in an effort to make myself do anything aside from sleep.

The idea that I will be living there is one that I still haven't quite wrapped my head around. It's beautiful, and the urgency and support shared by everyone there is unlike anywhere I've been. I keep waking up and missing my studio in Richmond, and then I remind myself that I gave it up because I want so much more, and I'm going to have it, soon(ish).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Letting Go

"I haven't posted anything in two months."
"I know."

I write, and then I delete it, and then I start over and then I end up crying and falling asleep. I'd like to post more, I would, but I really hate crying, and writing anything worthwhile, usually results in tears and me making really terrible faces.

"I'm not ready to not be part of my family yet, and I can't do that to them."
"But that's what art is."
"You don't understand, I can't stand my family, but they're not bad people and there are things that all of them don't know and I don't want to say anything yet."

Sam is an only child, but has a lot of cousins on both sides of his family. I am the youngest of five and have two cousins on each side, I don't really know any of them. But as my siblings have all spawned the feelings at family gatherings have certainly shifted. It's more hectic, but generally we, the adults are better behaved than we were a few years ago. Perhaps though this is just a phase my family is going through. 

But they really don't like me writing about them. That's really hard for me. Because it's my nature to share, and overshare. Last Christmas things got crazy and my sister *August requested that I change her name. I get that, I do, and she and I didn't talk for a few months after that, but part of me really wants to not care. That part of me wants to say, "if you really loved me, you'd recognize that this is something I have to do" - and eventually I will, but I haven't yet. 

I went to New York this week and when I got back I noticed that my dad had made some changes to the computer (he's anti-wifi, long story) and I went downstairs to get him. 

"You changed the password? I can't update anything. I'm so pissed."
"That's it! I don't have to help you. Not if you're going to use that kind of language."

Pissed. That was the word that he was upset over, this, the man who routinely went on angry tirades while I was growing up. The man who used many a name, including a variety of fun four letter words in my direction growing up. 

 I pulled him back and he told me to not use that kind of language, again, and I told him to come back upstairs.

"I didn't hear you say 'Please.'"

He put in the password and then told me the password.

"I didn't do anything bad to you."
"When you were growing up. You act like I did all these things to you."
"What are you going on about, you did do lots of awful things to all of us."
"I don't remember them."
"You called me a 'fucking ungrateful twit' when I was sixteen because I had forgotten where the remote was."
"I don't remember that."
"You threw a tea set at me because I forgot to put it away and it broke as it his the wall behind me. I was five."
"I guess I've blocked all that out, I try to remember the good things."
"I do, too. It's just hard sometimes. And you're not like that now."
"I hope you've written this down."
"Not all of it. And I haven't published it because you're not the asshole you were then. I haven't wanted to hurt anyone."
"You need to write it all down."

And I will, but I'll include the good parts, too. Those existed, but it's hard growing up and going to the park and having a great time and not knowing what will set anyone off. Or going to the zoo, or bowling or piano lessons. There were so many rules, some I didn't even know about until I had broken them.

"You should probably be in therapy."
"I was for years, and things are a lot better when I'm not around you and mom."
"Maybe you should go back."

He's probably right, but more than anything I feel like I don't have to hold on to things anymore. Part of that is really scary, but everything feels so much better when it's shared.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 11: Ten Years Later

I was still getting to know the girls at my lunch table, we were all beginning sixth grade together in a new school. An eighth grade teacher on lunch duty escorted my friend, Elizabeth, to the front office. Her mom had called and wanted to let her know that her dad was alright. Elizabeth's dad was in the Marine Corps and had been in New York that day. 

We hadn't heard anything from teachers or other students.  I had noticed a few students leave school early, but nothing out of the ordinary, though as the day progressed and class sizes shrunk it became more apparent. 

When Elizabeth got back from the office she told us that a plane had hit some skyscrapers in New York. None of us knew what the World Trade Center was, none of us had been there, I had never been to New York City. It was completely foreign to me. It wasn't until I got home from school that I found out about the plane that had hit the Pentagon, just twenty-five miles away from my house.

Volleyball tryouts and all other after school activities had been canceled. My mom wasn't home, but she didn't want me to be by myself and had asked her friend to meet me. It wasn't that I wasn't allowed to be home alone, it was that she was nervous. I don't remember the woman's name, but we sat on the couch and watched the footage together. I don't really remember talking to my parents about it. I knew what happened, I had let it set in, but I wasn't scared.

That night everyone in my neighborhood had flags and candles set out on their porches. School had been canceled for the next two days and everyone on my street was outside. While the adults talked amongst themselves, me and a couple of other kids noticed the helicopters flying overhead in regular intervals. We were used to seeing them, it's fairly normal to see one any day anywhere in the DC suburbs, but not as frequently as they were that evening, and for the following months. 

The next day's paper included a printed flag for readers to tape in their windows and doors. The candles continued to be lit each evening. The eerie sense of unity persisted well after the paper flags had faded and been thrown away. 

I understood what terrorism was, but it wasn't a word that I had heard much before September 11th, I wasn't aware of The Middle East, or what countries it was made up of - I could hardly pass my states quiz in History class. September 11th very abruptly made me aware of a much larger world, one in which one's nationality and religion mattered. I had Muslim friends and classmates from everywhere, and that day didn't make me reconsider their friendship, it wasn't something that anyone cared about at lunch, not at school. They were Americans too, and just as affected as I was. 

Of everything everyone seemed to be feeling, the only emotion that had really set in for me was sadness. I was confused. We hadn't done anything, at least nothing twelve year olds are aware of, and the idea that people existed whose intentions were to interrupt my life, who set out each day to conceive new ideas for inflicting fear upon anyone vulnerable enough to accept it, that, that was what I didn't understand. Ten years later there is still no understanding to be had. As long as people remain scared of the unfamiliar, of the foreign, of people in clothing different than our own, with customs traditional to a culture we ignore and bigot, the hatred and fear and terror will persist.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Procreation Starts With Prayer

I spent the first eighteen years of my life learning about marriage and what a woman's role within those sacred confines means. My brother served a mission for the Mormon church and got married less than a year after he returned, as the Church encourages all Return Missionaries (RMs) to do. This was, and to my parents still very much is the ideal.

Recently I was discussing sleeping-bags with my dad, and he offered to buy me a new one. But I am very picky about these things and told him that I wanted a specific one, one that cost about three hundred dollars. His response was, "well I want you go marry a Return Missionary." This has become his response to my expressing most any desire. As the cliche goes, "it's nice to want things," and he and I want very different things for me.

My mother is more passive about it. She will call me and tell me about a former friend or acquaintance who is getting married, AND they're getting married in the temple, or they're having a baby with the person they married in the temple, or even "so-and-so has started dating someone, they are Mormon." That is great for them. I am so happy that someone else has found something that makes them happy, and that they found someone else who is also made happy by that same thing, but I'm not interested in being sent pictures from their weddings, or of their babies. 

One of my best friends from childhood got married almost two years ago. A girl I grew up with had her first kid about a month ago, with her RM husband. Another former friend got married last month and my ex-best friend is getting married next week. This means that they will all be procreating the entire time I'm busy avoiding responsibility, so for at least the next decade of our lives. Don't get me wrong, I like babies, but few that aren't related to me, and I imagine, if I'm not keen on their parents, their chances dwindle significantly.

Mom: "You know So-and-so's baby is due..."

Me: "That's great, but I really don't care."

Mom: "Well, I just thought you'd want to know."

Me: "Nope!"

Mom: "But you were close growing up."

Me: "No. We weren't. Mom, I am not interested in hearing about her or anyone else' wedding plans, dating lives, or pregnancies. They aren't a part of my life anymore for a reason."

Mom: "I can see now is not a good time, I'll let you go."

Me: "Thank God."

This did not stop my mom from sending me a picture message from a reception a week later.

Friday, May 20, 2011

End Times: The Rapture


Tomorrow, or today depending on where you are in the world, bodys and/or spirits are supposedly ascending up to heaven to hang out with Jesus for The Rapture. I'm pretty stoked about this. I mean, I spent the first eightteen years of my life going to church every week, my summers going to multiple Mormon camps, high school getting up early to attend a religious class before school every day and youth events multiple evenings each week. All of this is to say, that when I let that one dude put his hand up my shirt that one time when I was fifteen, started drinking alcoholic beverages and dancing around naked on friends' roofs, I'm pretty sure that I gave up, what obviously would have been a free pass to heaven. Though, I do bake people things and I think that should count for something.

Though, since I'm not going to be ascending to heaven anytime in the next thirty-six hours, I am really looking forward to several things, but mostly the end of people screaming at me in public places or passing out propaganda. Guys, Mormons train their youth to be missionaries from a very young age, and I have had to knock on strangers doors bringing them the good news under the umbrella of a "Youth Activity." Why anyone willingly does this is beyond me.

When we're left behind, there won't be anyone to tell us to turn our music down, or that out outfit shows too much skin, however, there will be pundits and politicians. I know Glenn Beck thinks he's getting into heaven, but I'm pretty sure he'll still be here, so will Palin, and O'Reilly, I'm pretty bummed out about it. In fact, just thinking about it makes me wish that I had not had any fun ever, but then I also never watch Fox news so I think I'm good. And by good, I mean, I don't watch Fox news, so I'm totally getting into Heaven.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Belated Mother's Day

My mom about my age.

For Mother's Day I went to church with my parents. It's simple and free and my parents take way too much pride in showcasing their spawn at church, it's not just them, it's a Mormon thing. Church, for me is like a role in a play that you were in in high school that you still remember all the lines to - it's just like that. I wear a sleeved dress with a relatively modest neckline, that goes down to at least my knees with modest heels. And lipstick, red lipstick (because other colors are useless) that my mother has implied is "inappropriate." It sends the wrong message to young return missionaries.

I went for all three hours. It's very strange going now, the congregation is mostly young couples not much older than me that already have multiple babies. It freaks me out, not because I don't like babies, they're fine, but because that could have been me. I could be the young mom taking a toddler to the bathroom while prgnant with another. I could be a stay at home mom, already, at 21.

My mom stayed at home until my dad retired from the Marines and my family moved from North Carolina to Northern  Virginia. She got a job at the local hospital doing administrative stuff and started cleaning on the side, as the hours at the hospital became more restrictive, she quit and expanded her cleaning business. She taught us to clean, all of us know how to clean a bathtub and a kitchen sink, and that all you really need is warm sudsy water and elbow grease. As a result I have little patience for people who have ever paid anyone to clean up after them.

My mom is the hardest worker I know. She's scrapy. She grew up with nothing, in a podunk town in Eastern North Carolina. She put herself through community college where she got a degree in court reporting, did that for a bit, worked at a hospital for a bit, worked in social services for a bit, and eventually married my dad, had five kids and started her own company. . She moved around a lot, all my mom ever wanted was her own a house. Her house, that she could fashion in any way she wanted. And she does.

My mom is familiar with others' good will, and as a result she exhibits that gratuitous excess. There is not a person who's situation she is not familiar with or unwilling to help. She's opened our house to those who need a place to crash, provided clothes, a shower, food, whatever is needed to those who need a helping hand. And she taught all of us what it was to work and to be compassionate, and to be nice - though, I am not always very nice, I'm working on it. And when I'm being a bitch she won't say the word, she'll fidget and warble unintelligibly, because she is a lady and ladies don't use that kind of language.

She doesn't get me. And most of the time I don't get her either, and sometimes that makes communicating with one another difficult, but this is something we both recognize. She didn't go out much at my age, and she certainly didn't kiss strangers and she lived close to her entire extended family until she got married to my dad who scooped her up and took her to California. She doesn't understand my restless nature, but she listens.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Playing House

I was talking to my friend Mark recently and he asked me about my dating situation. This is always (never) a fun question. I'm always "seeing" someone, and then I get bored and then we have The Conversation. This usually comes after they feel like I've really let them in, like they could really get to know me - but that's not true! I'm just an oversharer!

I don't like sleeping (and I do mean sleeping) with people that I'm not into, I don't like cuddling. Your body's warmth is making me hot, and I'm totally fine over here.

Remember, I like making out with strangers and then never talking to them again. The whole relationship thing leads to The Crazy (also found here and here) and finding someone worth risking that for is uncommon. I have an alternative to all of this I like to refer to as Playing House.

It includes all the benefits of a relationship,without any of the consequences because you don't spend enough time together to actually develop real feelings. It only lasts a couple days, or a long weekend, sporadically throughout the year. These "relationships" can be wherever with whomever, but they cannot happen with someone that lives in your city. My favorites of these have includes, The Annapolis Lover, The Russian and West Coast Paul.

You go out as though you are a couple, you might even hold hands. You have breakfast, you go shopping, you discuss things as though you are in a committed relationship, but you're not. You or him, get to go home, back to your single life where you can have the whole bed to yourself and not be irritated by anyone's inability to squeeze toothpaste from the bottom of the tube or leave dirty dishes on the counter (really dudes, why are these things so hard?).

This may sound slightly screwy to some of you, but you probably haven't tried it, or are one of those really obnoxious people that are always in relationships. I would like to spend this decade of my life moving frequently and without reason to stay in any one place, for me, this works.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Best of Richmond, in my humble opinion...

Style Weekly put out their "Best of Richmond" issue last week. I don't think there was a single category that I agreed with. Nevermind that it was their "biggest reader survey" ever, it was out of touch or maybe the majority of their readers don't live within the city limits of Richmond. The "Richmond Metro Area" is not Richmond. Much like the "DC Metro Area" is not DC. And, if it's not apparent from everything I have ever posted ever, I hate the suburbs. I may be a product of the Northern Virginia sprawl, but I in no way endorse it - meaning, I could not care less about the opinions of non-city dwellers regarding the "best of" anything within city limits.

I also think that there were far too many categories, so I've made my own list based on me spending way too much money and going out way too much.

Best Venue: Alley Katz
This is based solely on the space and not on the names the venue attracts. It's big enough, but maintains an intimate feel. The staff is friendly, the drinks are cheap and the soundsystem is great.

Best Sushi: Akida
Sure, they don't have tater tots, but those aren't Japanese, so why would they? For someone looking for authentic sushi and sashimi, this is the place to go. The space is small, rarely loud and great for a first date or taking a friend from out of town.

Best Cafe/Coffeeshop/Place to use the internet for free: Lamplighter
It's not just for hipsters, it's become the neighborhood hangout. I cannot go there without running into at least three people I know, and like. They have never once messed up my order, and everything I've tried on the menu is delicious and reasonably priced. The vegan and vegetarian options make this place great for everyone. The staff is friendly and patient, even during their busiest hours. Though, I recommend ordering ahead if you want a TLT&A during their lunch rush. They cook in order the orders are placed, and it'll be ready when you get there.

Best Museum: The Children's Museum
Sure, the VMFA has the Picasso exhibit, but have you ever taken your small relative to the Children's Museum? I have just as much fun as they do pretending to drive the ambulance, digging for dinosaur bones and making crafts. (Related: I am a huge dork.) I've never tried to go without a small relative, that probably wouldn't be welcomed by museum staff or parents, but it would still be fun. My nephew's favorite exhibit is the Newsroom.

Best Place for Karaoke: New York Deli
The crowd is different every week, and spands well  beyond the regulars. The talent is unexpected and those performing are unassuming. I don't love the DJ, I think he talks too much and has terrible hair, but that's neither here nor there. (But seriously, dude, you should cut that ponytail off.)

Best Brunch: Lulu's
Have you had the Red Velvet Waffle? No? You are missing out. Though, perhaps you prefer a savory brunch over a sweet one, in which case their menu is perfect for you. Omlettes, fritattas, meat, it's all there. I like to go with a friend and split the RVW and the Greek fritatta. Though, it fills up fast, so go with a small group or with a couple people and sit at the bar.

Best Restaurant: Water Grill
I like seafood and I like patios and I reallyreally like seafood. Nevermind the great service or ambiance or it being conveniently located down the street from Bev's and The Byrd, get me some scallops!

Best Bar: Ehhh, this is a toss up. I can't decide between Bamboo or The Whisky.

Bamboo: It's always full of townies and the food is fairly high-end for a bar. For late night snacking I like to get the fried eggplant appetizer. I also like that all the staff has a constant smirk on their faces.

The Whisky: They serve their entire menu until last call. All of it. And from open to 3 pm, they offer a 25% discount to anyone who lives or works in The Fan and on rainy days ask for the "rainy day discount." They offer plenty of vegetarian and gluten free options. Don't ask for your regular drink, tell the bartender what you like and have them recommend something new - you will like it, promise. Try the green bean fries.

Best Place for Finding single men with jobs and cars for your friends who don't go out much: The Rebublic
Seriously, it works. Every single time.

Sure, there are other places to go, but most other categories seem irrelevant as Richmond isn't large enough to really support multiples of things. And besides all be do is go to shows, karaoke and drink anyway.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


A couple days ago I noticed a weird red spot on my back. It was slightly itchy, so I figured it was just a bug bite. Then it started to hurt yesterday and I thought it was a pimple so I kept putting acne goo on it. Then I made the mistake of asking my mom to look at it last night when I was home and she spent about ten mintues poking and proding it and I kept fidgeting - it was terrible. I get queasy over most things that have to do with my body.

So, I mentioned it to my sister this morning and then she looked at it. Freaked out and told me to go see a doctor, just to make sure it wasn't a staph infection. I spent the following twenty minutes looking at pictures of staph infections (you're welcome!).

"Are you sure you're going to be okay at the doctor's alone?" My sister has no faith in me. "Because you know, they lance it and then they squeeze it and rub a cotton swab in there..."

"Amanda, I'm happy to go with you... you really don't handle these things very well." My mom doesn't have any faith in me either.

I didn't have an appointment and they weren't able to see me, so I went to the emergency room at Fort Belvoir (because my dad's a retired Marine and I'm still on their insurance). There, a doctor did exactly what my mom did, but with needles. And I didn't scream. Or cry.

"I don't think it's staph, yet, it's probably just a boil, but we're gonna treat it for MRSA anyway." That's cool, I guess. "It still might get worse, but just see your primary physician if it does, but it's probably not a big deal."

Yep. Totally not a big deal. Or it could be. I'm not gonna worry about it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Savannah: The Abridged Version

I started writing a post that detailed all the stupid that happened surrounding the trip to Savannah, and then I decided that that was a waste of time. So, here's the abridged version. One friend had terrible allergies, as did everyone else in Savannah, and the other got a terrible sunburn.

On the drive down: Not everyone is going to like all of the music played on this car ride, so you need to chill the fuck out.

Post-Arrival: Complaining to me is not going to improve service at this shitty restaurant.

Day Two: You not bringing a swimsuit, towel, or sunblock is not my fault. Neither is your sunburn. And pointing out every fat person in a stupid t-shirt is unnecessary, as is moaning in pain regarding your burn. Suck it up.

Day Three: You're probably not going to want to walk around in the heat with that burn...can we go get me more allergy medicine?

Day Four, post-drive back: Did I offend your friend? She seems really annoyed with me.

This was at dinner after a bottle of cocktail sauce exploded. I smelled delicious.

And the good, because despite all the stupid, I did have a great time.

Day One: We stayed about two blocks from the beach on Tybee Island, about fifteen miles outside of Savannah. This was fantastic. I could not have been happier with where we stayed. After dinner we were able to hang out with my friend Sam. Savannah is incredible at night, my introduction to the "to-go" cup was probably my new most favorite thing. The ability to just pour your adult beverage into a plastic cup and leave is great. If you've been there, you probably already know this, or if you aren't a drinker, I guess you can't really appreciate it, but it's so convenient. We went to several bars that were loud, and relatively dancey before I asked him why he kept taking us to these places and he goes, "because that's what girls like, or at least girls here." But we weren't really looking for that atmosphere so he took us somewhere more low-key.

After the bars had closed we walked down to the river and up to a couple of haunted houses. I have no idea what neighborhood I was in, but Sam kept telling us about how haunted Savannah is, which I knew, but I scare easy and the entire city is a graveyard and I was freaked out. I was very happy to get back to the hotel that evening.

Day Two: This was the beach day. We encountered jellyfish, and thankfully none of us were stung (that would have been a fiasco). I parted ways after the previously mentioned debaucle to calm myself down and went to the lighthouse and museum on the island. I am really afraid of heights, but I have this stupid thing where I feel the need to conquer my fears all the time, so I walked to the top of the lighthouse (this took a lot longer than it should have) and while the view was gorgeous, I was quick to collect my breath and head  for solid ground. The history of Tybee Island was interesting as well, apparently there's an active atomic bomb somewhere off the coast that's been there since WWII and during the colonial era, it was a haven for pirates.

That night I went out with Sam by myself. It was Sunday and downtown was mostly desolate, which was nice for us. It's strange, we've known each other since high school because of a mutual friend, but he and I didn't really become friends until we both moved away from Northern Virginia.

Day Three: This can be summed up quickly - Paula Deen's Lady and Sons is as delicious as you would hope it to be. I highly recommend going for lunch and asking to sit in the bar on the top floor, you won't have to wait and the service was fantastic. This was followed by spending too much money on cute things, all of which I have used, eaten or worn, except for this gun shaped ice tray, this I gave to my brother-in-law, and he uses it every day.

That evening we got the car packed up so that leaving the next morning would be a snap. It was, and the drive back was much more pleasant and faster than the drive down.

They say you don't really know someone until you travel or live with them, that's mostly true. I consider myself a fairly cynical, sarcastic person, but I also like to have a good time, and when in Rome, or Savannah, or Tybee Island, do as the locals do. Thankfully, people and cities aren't all the same, and I'm curious enough to be patient with what I don't like to make room for and anticipate the things that I will like.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Savannah: The Prologue

A couple months ago my friend, E, suggested that we go to Savannah, Georgia because she was born in Georgia and wanted to go back one more time before she goes abroad for grad school - because she has no intention (mostly) of ever coming back to the United States. I'm down for most things, so I agreed to go. Her summer plans are still up in the air, she doesn't know where she'll be interning yet, so we decided it had to be in April. We went this past Saturday and got back on Tuesday.

My friend, K, lives with a bunch of my friends in DC. She's from the Pacific Northwest and had never been south of Richmond before this trip. I don't think she was fully aware of what she was getting herself into.

Jesus Waffles

I grew up in Norhtern Virginia, but I spent all of my childhood family vacations visiting family members. My mom's family is from East North Carolina, she grew up specifically in Kinston (it's off 41, close to Goldsboro, yeah...). My dad was born in Memphis and grew up between there and Phoenix. We're Southern. I have been to pig pickings. I can drop "y'all" without noticing. I am fine walking around in jorts without shoes on. There is a part of me that is instinctually Southern. I can't shake it. I used to hate it, but I know my family's history, and there's a lot to be embarassed about, but I understand it, and I can't change it, so I accept it and love it anyway.

I've also written about Fat People here before. And I enjoy making fun of people as much as everyone else, or maybe more than most, but I am unphased by the South. I have seen Confederate flags worn and displayed unironically, proudly. I know that there are still people that refer to the Civil War as the War Between the States, and that those people don't think that race had anything to do with it, it was, to them, a Big Government infringing upon states' rights. My personal opinons aside, I get it.

People are fat, and sometimes people wear shirts with Tweety Bird on them, or relatively offensive racial or sexist slurs, or something five sizes too small - that's a typical Southern beach town. All of that aside, they just don't care. No one can accuse them of being uptight, they're happy with who they are and they own it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dodge City

The more I talk to people in Richmond, the more I want to pack up my car and drive away. I don't hate Richmond. I used to, but I've come to be content here. Content is a dirty word though, it's one step up from settling. I have no intention on settling for anything because it's comfortable or easy. Richmond is comfortable, and cheap, and yeah, easy.

I left Northern Virginia for a reason. In the past few weeks I have run into more people from my home town than I do when I'm home. I'm not into it. I didn't like them there, and I certainly don't like them here.

When I talk to people that grew up here, went to college elsewhere and then came back, I just don't get it. Perhaps I'm not southern enough, or not easily satisfied, but I have no desire to stay in one place. I grew up in the same house for the first eighteen years of my life and was never the new person. Richmond hasn't been much different. People are content to stay here forever, I just can't do it.

I know people my age that live with their parents because they're saving up to buy a house, which I guess is great for them? The only purpose I see for owning property is to eventually fill it with a family, and that freaks me out. That's just where my head goes, house equates "would be happy to make babies and stay here forever." I understand that "rent is a waste of money blahblahblah..." but is it? Having a house comes with it's own problems.

I get to live in a shoebox and have people clean the foyer for me and I don't have a yard to mow or maintain, and when something breaks, I don't have to pay someone to fix it. It's a pretty sweet deal. And I can buy my way out of me lease whenever, or ride it out, and leave and not have to deal with finding tenants to rent to or someone to buy it. Ideally I'd like to move every three to four years from now until I get knocked up or resign myself to being a spinster - which, by the way, does not sound that bad.

That's another thing about Richmond. Everyone here seems to knock up or get knocked up between 27 and 34 and then they're stuck. Sure, kids are great, I like most, but when there's another parent involved you can't exactly get up and go. All of this is to say, nothing scares me more than the idea of doing exactly what I'm doing now in two to five years from now or beyond.

It's so easy. It would be so easy, but I would regret it and then drink myself into a stupor and try to convince myself that this is the life that I wanted. It's not. Not now, not ever. Complacency to me, would be giving up. I hope to always be yearing for something more.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Social Media Monster

When I was in high school, I had a MySpace page (okay, I still do, but I don't remember the last time I checked it). I frequently got into arguments over the most petty things. Then I started reading blogs and had similar arguments there. Stupid.

I've always been opinionated. This isn't something I've ever tried to hide. But when I go back and see the things I said and the arguments I was a part of, it's no wonder people found me so irritating. I didn't have anything better to do, but wanted to feel involved in something. Feeling involved and being involved are two very different things. Being petty online is in no way being involved. It took awhile for me to learn that.

I wrote for Brightest Young Things, then I started writing for VCU's student publications and then a few other blogs. I was writing before in all the petty comments I made, but I wasn't being constructive and I didn't have a focus. Of course, I was also unhappy and unhappy people tend to be a little nocuous. Finding a focus and realizing that someone could be entertained, or relate to my stupid life changed that.

All of that, the blogs, the "networking" sites, and now Twitter and Foursquare and Flickr, and everything else, all of that is Social Media. It's so weird that three years ago I didn't know the phrase, and now am involved with it all the time (maybe too much).

Most of my friends don't use Social Media beyond Facebook. They might have a blog, but most of them don't. To them Facebook is mostly about staying in touch with people they already know, stalking frenemies, and reconnecting (stalking) people they knew years ago. They are missing the point.

I admit, I do use Facebook mostly for personal relationships. The people I'm "friends" with there are people I know and see and plan on seeing again (or awkwardly running into), and more importantly, would be happy to see again. However, my blog and my Twitter (which I use as a microblog) are available for public consumption.

The things I post in public are meant to be shared. I believe that the internet, but specifically Social Media, allows for us to grow beyond our comfort zones and create larger, more supportive communities. It's not meant for hiding behind a screen to argue petty issues, it's about relating to others, whether through similar complaints, senses of humor, or concerns.

So when I complain about bad drivers, or make fun of people that are (in my opinion) badly dressed, or Sketchers, or Mormons, or hair, or any other thing around me, know that it's a superficial comment. I don't have a disregard for people that drive badly, I'm sure they're fine people, most of my friends are bad (i.e. slow) drivers. When I comment on someone's hair, it's only because I do hair for a living, and in my head I'm thinking of all the things I'd like to do to it. Because at the end of the day, I only notice because for some reason, I care about strangers and feel insignificant surrounded by so much that's bigger than myself.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Richmond Drivers

I'm not sure how your car pertains to a higher being.

I love driving, on highways and parkways and expressways and toll roads and any other place that doesn't have stop lights and stop signs. I am great at driving in those places. I have a tiny car that's relatively low to the ground. It's only a four-cylinder, thankfully. If I had anything with a larger engine I'm sure I would have had my license suspended by now. I like speeding, not because I'm in a hurry, but because I like getting wherever I'm going as fast as possible. I drive as though I have to pee really badly, all the time.

This type of driving doesn't really work in Richmond. People here are not in a hurry to get anywhere, ever. They take their time. They're okay with not honking at people who take more than ten seconds to go at a green light. They also don't mind going ten under the speed limit on heavily trafficed roads. I don't understand it, I'm anxious to get where I'm going, whether it's the grocery store, to meet friends, to get to DC - it doesn't matter. This also applies to drives I take on late nights to nowhere, it's nice to move as fast as my mind is moving sometimes.

While discussing our upcoming trip to Savannah, my friend says to me, "It's supposed to take what eight hours to get there? So, that means you'll have us there in six."

I grew up in Northern Virginia. I know traffic. I know my way around it. And I know like 92473 ways to get wherever I need to go. I have no concept of what a mile is, but I can tell you how long it will take to get somewhere. Since moving to Richmond I don't like driving anywhere that takes more than fifteen minutes to drive to (unless it's another city's limits). If it takes more than fifteen minutes to get to, it's probably not worth going to anyway, i.e. the suburbs.

These are my issues with Richmond drivers:

1. Signals

Every car made ever has two of them. They work when you push a lever up or down. They allow people around you to anticipate your turn. It's a courtesy to those around you, prevents accidents, and when both are flashing they let people know that they should go around you. Anyway, they're really great, and I highly recommend using them.

Though, they can be used improperly, like when you need to change lanes and you do so, but you forget to turn your signal off after your move and proceed to irritate everyone around you. Stop it.

2. Speed Limits

No one in Richmond seems to be aware of what they mean or how they work. Sure, you're not supposed to go faster than they say, but you're also not supposed to got ten under the speed limit. I get it, if you do this you're probably really stupid and not sure where you are (get a GPS) and aren't stopping for directions, or you're really old. I don't care, just think of all the people that have to pee and get out of their way.

3. Abrupt Stops

Oh! Hi! I see that you're a chick my age and apparently a terrible driver. You've stopped in the middle of a main street, cool. You're picking up your friend? They're taking forever? I know how that goes. I also know that you have a button on your dashboard with a little red triangle on it, you should push it. See what happens. Oh, crazy, it turns both your signals on. Thanks! Now I know to drive around you when the other lane is clear. That was like so easy.

4. Parallel Parking

Richmond has shit public transportation. The buses are undependable, and...oh wait, there is no other form of public transportation, so we drive everywhere. That's fine, but we live in a city and there are a lot of us. You don't need six feet between you and the other cars to pull out properly. Really. You are part of the parking problem. Don't complain about not being able to not find a spot if you typically take up two.

If you don't live in the city and aren't accustomed to parallel parking, please stay in the suburbs with your giant car. We live here, and we park on the street and you're wasting space.

5. Cobblestone

There is a particular stretch of cobblestone called "Shockoe Slip." I have to drive down it every day on my way home. The speed limit is still 25 MPH there, and it is still two lanes. I promise.

6. Lanes

These are conveniently marked in contrasting white or yellow on the black asphalt. In most areas there are two lanes. Pick one! Stay in it. And if for some reason you need to change lanes, use your signal!

7. One-Way streets

I get it, you're drunk. We all are. I assume that you know how to read arrows. Follow them.

8. Trucks/SUVs/Other giant vehicles

You (I'm assuming) live in the city. Why would you need a giant car? Do you transport things frequently? If you do, it's probably a company car, in which case there's probably a company lot you can leave it in. Do that.

9. Magnets

Your car is covered in them. They support some really noble cause, I'm sure. But you're not really raising awareness, you're saying, "Hi, I feel the need to advertise everything I'm associated with in public, all the time." We don't care. And I will remove them from your car when I'm drunk. You are welcome.

10. Vanity Plates!

Virginia has an inordinate amount of these because they're really cheap here. Cheap also sometimes (most of the time) implies tacky. It's great that you're "OPNYN8D" or "AWWWSUM" - we all feel this way about ourselves, but the rest of us let other people find out in a personal, less public way.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The End of My Rope

I work in a really small salon. Aside from me there are only two other stylists, the owner and a girl my age who got her license last summer, and three receptionists. There's never more than four people working and we all contribute to all the menial tasks.

Lately, well since deciding to take a break from school and started working full-time in January, I've become obsessed with becoming busier. When I was working part-time it felt like I was busier, but with the same clientele and twice the hours, it doesn't quite feel that way anymore.

Business is slow most days and maybe once a week I'll be pleasantly surprised by a full day of walk-ins. I hate walk-ins. I'm a planner, I like knowing ahead of time what I'm going to do each day whether I'm at work or not. And I like to be busy. All the time. I don't deal well with boredom. For example, I am at work, right now, writing this instead of doing someone's hair.

I've been told that maybe I should look elsewhere, but I really love the people I work with. I couldn't ask for a better boss, and the girls I work with are like family, and I really want the salon to do well. Since becoming a full-time employee I've been trying to figure out what I can do to increase business. I've passed out fliers and coupons, "welcome bags," told everyone I encounter where I work - and I've created Twitter and Foursquare accounts. We've had a Facebook account, but it wasn't until recently that my boss made me an admistrator.

My boss' updates and mine can be very different. She may post something about a sale we're having, and then post again later that day about going to Lowe's to pick out pansies for the flowerbed out front. I hate the later of these. We're good at what we do, we shouldn't have time to update Facebook, let alone go shopping for pansies! No really, true story. I wanted to shoot myself in the head the day that she was outside weeding the flowerbed.

Explaining to her the benefits of Social Media and how we're not using it fully is difficult. She has never had a cell phone, she thinks the amount of time I spend on my Android is silly (though, if I was busy doing hair, I wouldn't have the time...). But the people with the silly smartphones, they're the ones that we want in our door. They're the one's that are going to check-in and tell their friends where they get their hair done.

I've asked her repeatedly to re-do our Web site as well. It looks like a MySpace page circa 2003, with the two-tone scrollbar and everything. Nevermind that the page is in no way user friendly and uses way too many words. It's all words. But not words used effieciently, the page goes on forever and is repeated and information is copied and pasted from product lines' Web sites - it's terrible, but she maintains confidence in our "web guy." This man was also kind enough to tell her that he wasn't "sold on Social Media" after she told him how I had started using it for the salon. Of course he's not sold on it, it's not profitable to him if one of her employees is doing it. Duh.

I've tried talking her into advertising with local publications, but the one she contacted didn't respond promptly or something and "it's expensive." Expensive is relative, and if you have to spend $500 on an add to get three new clients in, it will pay for itself.

Her idea of advertising is pursuing old clients, which is also important. I agree that clients should be rewarded for loyalty, but sending a postcard to someone every week just doesn't seem to be effective (because it's annoying). We get calls regularly from people asking to be taken off the mailing list, and I don't blame them. And the money we spend on that could be well spent on something else (like a pay-per-click add on fucking Facebook).

We ran a special where clients got a percentage off their serivce if they followed us on Twitter or "Liked" us on Facebook, it was somewhat successsful. It would be nice if we offered a discount for booking in advance, like before you leave the salon, like they do at every other salon everywhere, but nope. That would be an inconvenience? Or something..I don't know. I have absolutely no idea. But when you've been running a salon for 25 years, one would think you would be booked weeks or at least days in advance, no?

Sorry, this is all so disorganized. What do you do when you don't feel at all supported by your boss when you're trying to do something better for business? I'm at the end of my rope.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Making Out With Strangers

When I drink, there are three things that I really like: lipstick, speaking in a British (awful) accent and making out with strangers (or friends).

1. Stephane

Last week I got a call from a number I didn't recognize and they didn't text or leave a voicemail, so I didn't think anything of it. Then they called again a couple days later. I texted back to see who it was. The poor boy, he was a stranger that I kissed right after the part where I kissed my friend and drove uptown two weekends ago.

This boy's name is Stephane. He's a beautiful French-African dude. I know this because he sent me his picture, which I will now use to avoid him just in case I happen to be at that bar on a Saturday night ever again. That was a fluke though. That is still the only weekend I have ever gone out to the bars on my block. I intend to keep it that way.

So Stephane keeps texting me and wants to hang out. I did make plans that I was happily able to break this past Tuesday, I would feel bad about it, but...oh, no there are no reasons to feel bad about it.

2. Daniel

This past Sunday a couple of friends of mine came down from DC to see another friend's band play here, coincidentally at the same bar I made out with Stephane in. Anyway, my friends were kind enough to buy me several shots of whiskey, among other things.

After our friend's set was over we walked to the bar that I live above and continued the party there, where I met Daniel.

I'm sure he's a lovely fellow, really, but he called me the next day. Before noon. Even if I get up before noon, there are few circumstances when I will answer my phone before then. Anyway, my friend passed me my phone and told me it was "Daniel" - I had programmed his number into my phone this time. Progress!

He first commented on how I wasn't actually British. Nope. Not a lick. I'm from Drunk.

Then he continued to text me incesssantly with emoticons and improper grammar. Neither of those are preferred qualities.

3. Evan

This past Tuesday I went to a party followed by dinner, followed by filling out an application at a bar (I'm not really sure how that happened, but please call me back!) and then karaoke. All of it was "fantastic." I used that word almost all of my tweets that night, and can only imagine that I said it, in my British accent, even more.

It was at the karaoke joint that I made out with and exchanged numbers with Evan, who after a text the next day, has a girlfriend. Sorry, Girlfriend, 1) for making out with your boyfriend and 2) that you're dating a dude who makes out with other people, unless you're into that, then great for you!

The lesson learned here is that boys are silly, and don't understand that a girl really can just kiss you and absolutely not ever want to hear from you again, but give you her card to be polite.

P.S. Related, if someone gives me their card, I always email first, as should you, though if someone is giving you their card and not just their number, they are probably okay with never seeing you again and just being polite.