Thirty-Third: What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I stepped outside of my apartment this morning and took my first full breath of crisp, fall air. All I could do was sigh with contentment. Of course, that made me realize exactly how long it's been since I blogged. The fresh air stifled the pang of guilt, though.

So, the feeling of fall (which makes me want to do and record and remember everything that I love) has jump-started me. I'm going to make a valiant effort a kicking this blog into gear again, for myself if nothing else. Lots and lots of exciting and just plain fun-wonderful things happened while I was on my summer hiatus, so now, in summary (and to catch us up to where we are now), I give you, "What I Did On My Summer Blog-cation." Oh yeah, elementary school style!

This summer, I:

*moved back into my apartment with Sweet Darold, ending the reign of the centipedes from hell and the 2 year old who wouldn't stop running above my head. Silence has never been so sweet.
*baked the world's best chocolate chip cookies, courtesy of the New York Times. And yes, they really are that good.
*started trying to ride my bike to work more often, and have the sore pelvis to prove it (still!).
*donated to the Obama campaign as many times as I could afford to.
*knit 2 market bags, one tube top, 2 pairs of fingerless gloves, and 3/4 of a sweater.
*ripped 1 ill-fated attempt at the Tempting II sweater, from Knitty.com.
*got a raise at work (whoo hoo!).
*went to Tybee Island with my family for our annual beach trip.
*got a sunburn.
*relaxed, relaxed, relaxed.
*got engaged!

Lots of eventful (and not-so-eventful) things going on, none of which I found time to stop, breathe, and blog about. So, you get a recap. If you're still out there after that lonnnnnng absence.

Hello? *echo* *echo* *echo*

Ah well. :)

PS - I'm intending to blog my wedding planning adventures and excitements separately on my new and as-of-yet-unposted-upon account, www.brideandjoy.blogspot.com. It's where I'll go to keep perspective on what this big, looming event is really all about. :)


Thirty-Second: A Mosaic

I'm just gonna bring this blog back from the dead with a brief bit of fun in the form of a mosaic maker. Saw this on A Caffeinated Yarn and Wine and Needles lately, and I want to play too. Welcome back. :)

My creation

The rules:

Using fd’s Flickr Toys,

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker).

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts & Humanities in Greenville, SC
4. What is your favorite color?
Peacock Blue
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
Ewan McGregor
6. Favorite drink?
Midori Sour
7. Dream vacation?
The Italian Countryside
8. Favorite dessert?
Everything Chocolate Raspberry
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
Content with my life
10. What do you love most in life?
My Westie (okay, my family, too, but he came to mind first!)
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.
driftslikesmoke (though, I had to search for drifts like smoke, since nothing came up for my flickr name!)


Thirty-First: Fun and Games

So, after my little grumping entry, I feel a need to do something a bit more fun!

I saw this on Jenny's Blog the other day & had to steal it. It was so fun playing hers that I had to jump on the bandwagon. The rules:
• Pick 10 of your favorite movies (okay, I got carried away, but why does it have to be just 10?).
• Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.
• Post them on your blog for everyone to guess.
• Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.
• Looking them up is cheating. Please don’t.

1.) "You may see me only as a drunken, vice-ridden gnome whose friends are just pimps and girls from the brothels. But I know about art and love, if only because I long for it with every fiber of my being." - Moulin Rouge!, Jenny

2.) "This isn't life, it's just stuff. And it's become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that's just nuts." - American Beauty, Jesse (who should get it, since he acted in a remake!)

3.) "It started as rioting. But right from the beginning you knew this was different. Because it was happening in small villages, market towns. And then it wasn't on the TV any more. It was in the street outside. It was coming in through your windows. It was a virus. An infection. You didn't need a doctor to tell you that. It was the blood. It was something in the blood. By the time they tried to evacuate the cities it was already too late. Army blockades were overrun. And that's when the exodus started. Before the TV and radio stopped broadcasting there were reports of infection in Paris and New York. We didn't hear anything more after that." - Children of Men, Holly

4.) "Bill Groundhog-Day, Ghostbustin'-ass Murray!" - Coffee & Cigarettes, Darold

5.) "I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream." - Shawshank Redemption, Darold

6.) "On September 3rd 1973, at 6:28pm and 32 seconds, a bluebottle fly capable of 14,670 wing beats a minute landed on Rue St Vincent, Montmartre. At the same moment, on a restaurant terrace nearby, the wind magically made two glasses dance unseen on a tablecloth. Meanwhile, in a 5th-floor flat, 28 Avenue Trudaine, Paris 9, returning from his best friend's funeral, Eugène Colère erased his name from his address book. At the same moment, a sperm with one X chromosome, belonging to Raphaël Poulain, made a dash for an egg in his wife Amandine." - Amelie, Electronic Goose (which sounds like another movie all together!)

7.) "Look at it out here, it's all falling apart. I'm erasing you and I'm happy!" and "Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating." from the same film. - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Darold

8.) "A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one." and "This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time." - Fight Cub, Jackie

9.) "She doesn't get eaten by the eels at this time." and "You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles." and "No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley." - The Princess Bride, Jessie

10.) "So I guess this is where I tell you what I learned - my conclusion, right? Well, my conclusion is: Hate is baggage. Life's too short to be pissed off all the time. It's just not worth it."

11.) "Ever fired your gun in the air and yelled, 'Aaaaaaah?'" and "My, my, here come the Fuzz." - Hot Fuzz, Jesse

12.) "K-mart sucks." - Rain Man, Jenny (though I thoroughly expected Darold to get this one!)

13.) "And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a most painful death." - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Jenny

Okay. Let's see how you all do on these. There's a few that I know certain people - if they're reading this - should get. :) Have fun!


Thirtieth: Looking on the Bright Side

First of all, let me apologize for my little absence. I'm working on being a better, more reliable blogger, and I've actually started 3 new entries between my last one and this one. I'll probably rework the other two and push them out in the next couple of days. I've been busy with a big project, which is in part to blame for the lack of time I've had, but that's no excuse.

As for today, I came here on Sunday to make a gripe-entry, complaining about all the reasons that I was having a bad day, but you know, I just can't manage to do that now. I'm too lucky, too blessed with a great life to sit here and complain about "bad things" that happened, when really, none of it was really that bad at all. I was grumpy and self pitying, and that's not who I want to be. So instead, I'm going to have a little bright-side entry. :)

I ordered some clothes a few weeks back from Gap.com. Having tried them on in the store a couple of months ago and finding that they fit well, I decided to wait until they went on sale online and buy them then. They arrived over the weekend, and they didn't fit at all anymore. They were too big, too baggy, and altogether unflattering. I planned to return them, but since I bought them online, none of the tags had prices, and I didn't have a printed receipt. Therefore, I couldn't return them without paying shipping again, which was almost the price of the clothes. Grump.

Bright Side
The clothes don't fit, because I'm losing weight. The running and lifting and hot yoga I'm doing are all clearly paying off, and that's rewarding. Plus, now I guess I have some cute, unused, quality clothes to donate to someone who needs them far more than I do. Sure, I'm out a few bucks, but I'll just save my donation receipt so that when the tax-man calls next year it doesn't hurt as badly. :)

Grump #2
Last month, when I went shopping at Limited, I received a $25 gift card free with my purchase, redeemable after April 7th. There were some spring clothes that I wanted there, so I decided to wait until then to buy them. Well, Sunday I went to the mall with Darold, planning to use my gift card (which he'd been holding onto in his wallet for me) only to find that he'd lost it. I couldn't justify making the purchases without it, since I'm pretty broke right now, so no new spring clothes, which I'm awfully short on since my last big charity-donation-closet-cleanout, for me.

Bright Side
I'm trying to be better about saving money, so maybe this was a blessing in disguise? I dunno, though. I'm having a tough time with this one. I was really looking forward to having some new, more adult/work-appropriate spring and summer clothes. I guess it at least taught me a lesson about not letting the ADD-kid keep something that you don't want to lose for you.

Grump #3
Darold ate all my Oreo cookies that I'd bought as my sweet treats for the month. Do we really need any more evidence as to what a petty, grouchy little brat I was feeling like when I started this entry? I mean, really. I'm embarrassed that this was even in my list. It's too petty to even warrant a bright side, I think.

Grump #4
This was the grand grump that really set my pissy mood in motion. A couple of months ago, I called my salon to schedule an appointment with my regular stylist, whom I've been seeing regularly for the last 3 years or so. I only decided to finally donate my hair to Locks of Love because I trusted her enough to make my hair look as cute as possible at any length, and I fully intended to stay with her as long as she was in the area (which she always said she planned to be forever, as she loved Atlanta). At any rate, I called to schedule only to be informed that she'd moved to Florida without notice, leaving no recommendations for her current clients.

I resisted going to someone new for weeks, asked around for recommendations, and ultimately couldn't find anyone who seemed both reasonably skilled and reasonably priced, so I chose to just start over at the same salon with a new stylist. They set me up with Sasha, who they said had the exact same hair and style as Andi, my former stylist. This was encouraging, since the reason Andi had worked so well with my hair was that our hair was the exact same texture, so she knew how to work with my wavy, often unmanageable mane. Imagine my surprise when I showed up to the salon and was introduced to Sasha, a stylist with thick, coarse, African American hair, which one must admit is not exactly what I have. I trusted that she would be a great stylist, though, and proceeded to communicate what I was looking for to her. She nodded and acted like she understood, though I admit I was worried at the time that she didn't seem to be paying much attention and was rushing the entire process. She proceeded to cut my hair, and then styled it the exact opposite way from what I told her I'd like (giving me flat ironed, stick-straight locks rather than the loose, spiral curls I'd requested). I politely told her that it was fine and that I loved how soft it felt (which wasn't untrue). I paid $15 more than the price I'd been quoted, because I was told there had been a mix-up and that Andi and Sasha were NOT in fact the same price (though I wouldn't have booked with Sasha had I known that) and tipped well in spite of it.

The entire ride home, I looked at my hair, played with it, and decided that I was really unhappy with more than just the way it was styled. The cut was all wrong, too. It was not at all the multiple soft layers around my face and neck and shoulders that I'd described, rather one blunt layer at around my mid-neck/shoulder region, done choppily so that it's nearly impossible to style neatly WITHOUT going the stick straight, flat ironed route. I decided that I had to call and ask if it would be possible for me to come in and have a few things fixed with the cut, even though I'm not generally willing to do something like that. I don't send back meals just because I don't like them; I don't ask for my money back on movie tickets when the film is dreadful (in fact, I didn't even know you COULD do that until I talked to a friend who used to work at a theatre). I've always assumed that such things were a "buyer beware" sort of purchase. If you don't like it, well, that's the risk you took, right?

Well, upon calling and asking as nicely as I could if there was any sort of policy in place for customers who found themselves unsatisfied with their haircuts (explaining that I'd just left and that the more I looked at my hair, the more I realized that it wasn't really what I wanted), and was asked to hold so that the person who'd answered the phone could find out. When someone picked up again, it was Sasha, who was really irate and snippy with me. Her tone was just awful and accusatory and mean as she demanded to know what had changed my mind, since I didn't say anything when I left about not liking it. I tried to explain that I had to look at it a bit longer before I realized that it wasn't quite right, and that I'd attempted to restyle it myself and that it just didn't work the way I wanted at all, all the while repeating that it wasn't personal; it was a great cut; it just wasn't the right cut for me and that I didn't blame her, rather myself for not communicating what I wanted clearly. She then accused me of just trying to get a free haircut. I explained that I didn't want my money back; I just wanted to fix the one I'd already paid for (and I should have pointed out that if I wanted a FREE haircut out of it, I would have called to complain 6 weeks later rather than 6 hours later). She said that she could schedule me to fix it, but I'd have to pay the full price all over again. I declined, and am now really pretty unsure as to what I should do next.

The customer service was absolutely deplorable, and I was shocked at being put on the phone with the stylist who'd cut my hair (who had clearly not been positively prepped for the call; judging by her demeanor by the time she answered, my guess is that the receptionist must have said something to the effect of, "This girl's calling to complain about the haircut you gave her." rather than "She'd like to talk about the style you gave her earlier today.") rather than a manager.

Should I call again and just ask to speak to the manager without giving a reason why? Should I just let it go? It's been over a week, and I'm still absolutely miserable with my haircut. I don't want to hate my hair for 6 weeks, you know?

Bright Side
Well, I'm clearly still unhappy about this one, but the bright side is, hair grows. And I'm lucky enough to have my health and my hair and the money to go to a salon to have it styled if I choose, luxuries that I understand that I'm blessed to have. Even still, I'm not sure how to handle the poor service I received, which is really the point at this point, I think.

If you made it to the bottom of all this, congratulations. I think I rambled too much even for ME this time!


Twenty-Ninth: Speed Demon

82 words


I'm such a nerd. Seriously. Such a nerd. I think I could have done better were my fingers not so sore from practicing the guitar, though. :)

(real post below this; I just had to add this in before I forgot about it)


Twenty-Eighth: Traveling (Wo)man

Darold and I took off for St. Augustine & Sawgrass this past Friday, and the 7 hour drive was just about the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I’d forgotten how good it feels to just sing along to my favorite iPod playlists and talk and laugh until I cry. I did my fair share of the driving (while he napped - punk!!), and it was nice to just watch the scenery zoom by. The conversation just flowed and flowed, somehow. We haven’t been like that together in ages. I didn’t even need to take out a book and occupy myself once. I’ve missed traveling, especially with a good, fun travel companion.

We had lots of silly fun taking my nephew's Flat Stanley project around historic St. Augustine for the day, which means we took tons of pictures. Flat Stanley visited the old drug store, the country's oldest wooden school house, Flagler College, and the coquina fort, which I always want to call the Castillo de San Rio (anyone else remember when the Hello Kitty stores were called Sanrio?) rather than San Marcos.
Flat Stanley and I enjoyed a bit of shopping on St. George street. I think this was right before I got distracted by something shiny in a jewelry store window, in fact. Saint Augustine has lots of cool silversmiths and local jewelers. I, unfortunately, bought nothing.

We also had lunch at the best little restaurant, Columbia. I tried to get Flat Stanley to pay the check, but no luck. Apparently 2nd graders aren't allowed to pay for lunches with copious amounts of sangria. Darold and I both had our fair share, as you can see... We got a little silly before lunch was over. Fortunately, St. Augustine - like Key West as a whole - is a little part of the world that beautifully and mysteriously seems to be in no hurry, and it seems to have no shortage of street musicians, so our leisurely lunch was accompanied by beautiful music from the absurdly tanned man across the street. We couldn't get a picture of him without being obvious, but trust me, his skin was bizarre. It was so tanned that it almost looked leathery and orange, but he had the softest, longest white-blond hair I've ever seen on a man. There was something almost oompa-loompa-ish about him.

After lunch, the next stop was a walking tour of Flagler College, which was just unbelievably beautiful. They have millions of dollars worth of Tiffany glass in their dining hall alone, a tiny fraction of which you can see behind me in the picture at right (Darold, for some reason, is loathe to take a picture without me in it, blocking the view of anything interesting). The story of Henry Flagler, his three wives, and his downright jerky, self interested business practices reminded me a bit of Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood. He was a man who apparently lost his soul and sense of ethics in pursuit of greatness and prosperity. Must have been a cultural theme around that time period. Not that we're immune from it now, by any means.

The rest of the day was spent meandering the pretty town in the gorgeous weather, riding the tour trolley with a woman who had to be the absolute worst tour guide ever born, and touring the fort, which is not advisable to do in heels. Forts are bumpy places.

I decided while on this trip that I must only hate central Florida, as I now have to reluctantly admit to loving both Saint Augustine and the Keys, and I'll confess that Sawgrass was relaxing, if uneventful. It was nice to see Darold's hilarious family, drink a lot of wine, and play my all time favorite card game, Nickel Nickel, which I would link you to, but there seem to be no rules available online.

Now that we're back, we've decided that we should try to go on a cool weekend trip like that every six months or so. It makes us obnoxiously happy, as evidenced by the goofiness of this (and all of these) picture(s). We're thinking the next stop should be Asheville, North Carolina, a town that I love but Darold's never visited. Plus, the last time I was there, I missed the yarn shop, so that's as good an excuse as any to go back, right?

Since getting home, I've embarked on two new learning experiences - making sushi and playing guitar, but more on that later. I've rambled enough for one visit. :)


Twenty-Seventh: Getting to Know You

If you've never written a letter to yourself when you really needed to listen to the deepest parts of you, I highly recommend it.

I recently did this massive mind-body cleanse that left my brain in a bit of over-focused, power mode. Of course, that meant that I had all sorts of mental energy overflowing in me, and nowhere to direct it. When that happens, I tend to turn in on myself, over-analyzing and questioning every aspect of myself, as is evidenced by my last, meandering journal entry here. So, Monday, I decided to write a letter to myself rather than let my thoughts consume me. I free-wrote, just letting my fingers do the work without really letting my brain interfere at all. I've never been able to do that on paper, but online it was much easier, since my fingers are usually a step or two ahead of my conscious mind anyway. In doing so, I managed to remind myself of a lot of things that I often forget and get lost in, and it's been really wonderful to have that letter to go back and review when I feel like I'm starting to lose sight of the things I want to do and the person I want to be again (which happens, inevitably; I'm human). I'm putting some highlights in here for myself, though if you take anything from them (which I doubt anyone will), then I'm glad. :)

"Let [life] be what it [is]. Be still. Let your mind be quiet... Let yourself be what you are, where you are, who you are. Don't ask questions of what it means every second. The meaning is in the quiet. In the instinct. Just be."

"Allow yourself to remember how it felt, and how much clarity you had, when someone asked you this morning what you took away from the cleanse and you didn't have an analyzed, thought-out answer prepared to give her. The right answer came to you instantly. Energy. The ability to focus your energy where it needs to go. The ability to have clarity and purpose and a sense of self again. That's what you have. That's what you need to continue to foster. That's what you don't need to lose. Please don't lose it. "

"Make the lists that you want to make for yourself about the things that you want to do to better yourself as a person. Keep them growing, and keep working towards them. Belly dance. Rock climb. Take cooking classes. Read more. See more plays. Run an endurance race. Just don't let yourself get so bogged down in the lists and the goals that you forget to just BE YOU and ENJOY YOU. Don't let your lists define or intimidate you."

"You're beautiful. You're loved and lovable and anyone who doesn't want to be in this beautiful life that you're continually fostering for yourself clearly has nothing to bring to it right now. Don't force people to be something they aren't. Don't pull them into a life where they have no purpose to serve and do not belong. Everything will be as it's supposed to be. Be sure of it. "

"Love yourself."

My trend toward self-exploration and thoughtfulness has continued over the past several days, and it's expanding itself into me branching out, getting outside of my bubble, and working to know others again as well. On Tuesday night, I went with Narissa and Danielle and their friend Kristy to Ten Pin Alley in Atlantic Station for a little swanky-bowling. The concept of the place (an 'upscale' bowling alley-slash-dance club-slash-pool hall) seemed a little silly to me, but it was actually really fun. I guess the trick to enjoying bowling is to make it NOT feel like you're in a bowling alley, be that by being with the right people or in the right place. At any rate, I hadn't seen either Danielle or Narissa for a while, and it was great to catch up with them and just laugh at all sorts of things that I hadn't thought about in forever. It reminded me of why it's actually a good thing for me to break out of my little hermit-shell a little more often than I currently do. :) It was refreshing to indulge the social side of myself - a side that's been largely hidden over the past several months as I tried to get to know myself again.

This weekend will include a trip to beautiful St. Augustine, Florida and Sawgrass. I'm excited, though I'm having trouble deciding what to take with me to knit. I don't have any warm-weather projects on the needles right now, so I'm at a loss. I don't want a big mass of wool on my lap while I'm knitting poolside, y'know? I also want to get my hands on some good books on tape for the 7 hour drive. Any recommendations?

I'll be back soon with pictures (I hope). :)