On Falling in Love, Making Decisions and Not Pleasing Everyone

When I left Raleigh on Tuesday, I was 95% sure I was going to move to Wilmington, and that my trip to Asheville would just be a fun time to see John and Anne and Community (aka Jen), meet some cool girls (Lisa and Kendra) and hang out in the mountains for a few days. But as you’re driving up there on I-40, you’re going over hills that rise progressively higher, and as you come over the top of one of them, you see the mountains all spread out before you. When I got there, I think that’s when my mind changed. At the very least, I knew that Wilmington was going to get a run for its money.

I drove straight to Lisa and Kendra’s house to meet them. I found them on craigslist. They were looking for a third roommate for their house, which is in a great neighborhood, next to a park, just up the hill from an amphitheater where they do Shakespeare plays in the summer, and within EASY walking distance to downtown. I got there around 2:30, met them, saw the house, and hung out talking for a while. I looked at the clock a bit later, and, thinking that it said 3:00, I thought, Wow, that went by fast. I should go call Anne and see where she is. But when I got in the car, I realized it was 4:00, not 3, and then I thought, Holy crap, that went by REALLY fast.

I spent the next two days falling in love with Asheville, with its quirky antique shops, street musicians, vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants, Urban Outfitters under construction and surrounding natural beauty, and by the time I got ready to leave on Thursday, I just knew it was the place for me.

Now, y’all, I have spent MONTHS thinking and praying and debating and analyzing every aspect of this decision, but when it came down to it, I knew I just needed to make it and start moving forward with it, and once I did that, I knew it was right. So I emailed Lisa and told her I’d like to move in, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be living in the same house with all my stuff again! I was over at the ACES* house (where most of my stuff is) looking for my air mattress (which I never found), and I came across my teapot, and I was all, “TEEEEAAAAPOT!!! OH how I’ve MISSED YOU!!! CRAAAAFFFT STUUUFFF!!! OH I want to make CRAFTS with you!!!! BOOOOOKS!!!” Etc., etc. I’m just ready to not be in such a state of limbo. I’m ready to be in one place – a place that feels like home, where I make more sense. I make more sense in the mountains.

So then I had to tell my Wilmington peeps the news, which made me sad, but they were all cool with it and excited that they now have an excuse to come to Asheville and a place to stay when they do, so that worked out.

And then I wore an ugly sweater. But that is a different post.

*ACES = Amaris, Crystal, Erin, Seanette

I’m still standin’ (yeah yeah yeah)!

Wow wow wow, friends, I am so sorry to have left you in such a lurch all week, but it’s been a busy one. I spent all day on Wednesday working on some articles so I could take Thursday and Friday off. I don’t think I’ve even mentioned yet our trip to Sorrento last weekend. It’s such a cute little town with lots of stores and limoncello and woodworking shops selling inlaid wood masterpieces. We went with a tour group from the base, so included in the tour package were transportation to and from Sorrento, a four-course Italian lunch and a day of shopping. It was great, and maybe I met a cute Italian named Ottavio who wanted me to stay and go out with him. Maybe.

Anyway, also on the tour was a girl named Holly, who’s here visiting her cousin, who happens to live right down the street from me in the same neighborhood as Tracy. She’ll also be here until December, and she also has very little going on during the day, so we decided to go to Capri together on Thursday. And y’all, it was QUITE the saga. I’m not even going to tell you all of it because it’s so ridiculous, and I just don’t feel like doing all that typing right now, but long story short, we didn’t get there on Thursday because of a man begging for change, and we weren’t sure we were going to be able to use our tickets on Friday. However, we did miraculously make it on Friday, and it is THE most BEAUtiful place I have ever seen IN my entire life. I have pictures, but they won’t do it justice. You’ll all just have to go at some point. Seriously. Must.

I’ll post the pictures later on, whenever I get a chance to upload them and get back to the internet, but until then, just imagine what you think the most serene place on earth would be like. Then add a row boat and George Clooney, and you have Capri. No, we didn’t see George Clooney, but we’re pretty sure celebrities have vacation homes on Capri based, if on nothing else, on the fact that it cost me €6 to drink a Sprite at lunch. For those of you who are math and/or international currency conversion-challenged, that’s like nine bucks. FOR A SPRITE. Just one. And Georgey was nowhere to be found when il conto (the bill) came. Freakin’ Clooney.

Anyhoe, in a couple of weeks, I’m going to go back to Napoli to do the Archeological Museum, but other than that, I think I’ve done pretty much all the things I wanted to do around here. Success!! And next week, I’ll be in FUNDON!!!! And then like a week and a half after I get back from that, I’ll be on a plane headed back to the USA. Crazy. CRAZY!! I can’t even handle how quickly this has gone by. And THEN…

Well, I guess I should tell you now. When I get back into the country, I’m taking a wee detour on my way back to Raleigh…to Portland, Oregon. I’ll be there for a few days, checking things out and trying to decide if I love it enough to move there. We’ll see.

Oh, and I have bangs. Today at least. Tomorrow, I’ll probably sweep them back to the side, but I realized last night that I’ve had them all along and never utilized them, so today, I busted them out. So far, the response has been positive.

Ok, I’m off to Thanksgiving dinner at church! If I don’t post again until I’m in London, y’all have a GREAT Thanksgiving, and I’ll talk to you (and SEE you) soon!!

And I said, “Virg, why don’t we try this tiny toothpaste?”

On my last day of work, everyone gave me something for my trip. It was all wrapped up in a piece of fabric that was tied to a stick. Like a hobo. Only when I picked it up, the stick broke in half, so I decided just to pack the stuff in my backpack instead. They gave me the t-shirt with the picture of all of them, and then they each gave me a little something useful. And man, have they been useful!

Louise gave me an umbrella that has now been used in three countries, Lisa gave me a journal that I didn’t think I’d need because I didn’t think I’d fill up the one I was working on, but now (one month later), that joker is full up, and I had to buy a new one. Dag. It’s ok, though. I went ahead and got two in Budapest because (a) I think I’ll need them both, (b) they were cheap, and (c) one of them says something on the front like “It may dig up your feelings about something about memories or whatsoever.” I can’t remember exactly, but it’s something crazy like that. I’ll tell you for sure whenever I start using it and therefore have it on me. Right now, I’m using the other one.

Anyhoe, Heather gave me a little package with a toothbrush and the tiniest tube of toothpaste I’ve ever seen. And since I only brought a full-size tube, and since I couldn’t carry it on the airplane to Budapest, I took the tiny one instead. Behold:

tiny toothpaste

The toothpaste itself is…interesting. It’s really thick, and it doesn’t like to break off onto your toothbrush, so you sort of have to bite it off, stick it to your teeth with your tongue, and then use the toothbrush to smear it around. Once you get to the smearing part, though, it works like normal. And this tiny tube of toothpaste still has some left after seven brushings. I think it could actually last a week if supplemented with a tiny bottle of mouthwash.

Weekend Update

Buon giorno!!!!!

Ok, first of all, I gave up on the rest of the Beth trivia because there wasn’t much participation, and my internet availability has been limited. Oh well. And now a few words on adaptation.

So far, the biggest difference for me between my life in America and my life in Italy is that I haven’t had constant access to the internet. We will have it in the house in the next few weeks, but (A.) Carla (my friend/former co-worker) and Joe (her husband who is stationed here with the Navy) just moved into the house about five days before I got here, so they’ve had other things to deal with, and (B.) we’re working with both the military AND Italians, so things take longer to get done. And as many of you predicted, getting used to not being always attached to my CrackBerry has taken me through all the stages of withdrawal. Well, maybe not all of them, but it is different for sure.

Anyhoe, this requires me to do things differently. For example, I’m writing this post in my word processor, and it is Sunday. I doubt we’ll get to a place with WiFi today, but maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to just copy, paste and post it for your reading pleasure. I just never know. It may not happen until Wednesday (because also, I don’t drive). We’ll see.

In order to use the internet, we’ve been going over to the hotel where a lot of these Naval kids stay when they first arrive in Naples and are looking for off-base housing. The name of the hotel is the Agora, but Carla just refers to it as “the hotel.” She made friends with all of the Agora staff (shock and surprise for all who know her), so they don’t mind her coming over to use the internet and eat the continental breakfast even though she doesn’t live there any more.

They have two pitiful little desktop computers there, but when we were there for a BBQ/karaoke night on Friday, I noticed a sign that said something about WiFi, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to use it to upload both this post and an article I’ve finished for YourDictionary. Yes, yours.

If not, then perhaps I can beg my new friend Tracy to let me use the internet at her house.

So ok, next adaptation: Buddilessness. I have not had one ridiculous conversation since I got here. I know!! I can’t believe it either. But it’s only been four days, so I still have hope. I’m just starting to meet people, after all. Shoot, I’m just starting to wake up before noon. There’s plenty of time.

Hoe-ever, I DID go to church this morning, and not a Catholic one. I swear, y’all, it felt like a total miracle how this happened, which brings us back to Tracy.

She arrived at the same time as Carla and Joe, and they were all at the hotel together (with some others) until Tracy found a house and moved into it. Well all of those people who got here around the same time are good buddies and ended up getting houses pretty much within walking distance of each other, so they still hang out. And Tracy is my age and single, so of course Carla decided immediately that we would go out dancing together, and that she would try to set us up with all the same guys. And so far, so good. Tracy was here first, so she’s already been out with two of them and given me the dirt (enough to know I’m not really interested, but the third remains to be seen).

So. Friday night, we were at BBQ/karaoke, and we had a great time hanging out – me, Carla, Tracy, and these two married guys who were sitting at our table. I mention that they were married only to say that they are not potentials, nor was anything in any way shady or flirty the whole night. Well one of the guys says that he’s got a buddy who’s in a band that’s playing later that night at a local bar, and would we like to go?

Tracy and I are in for sure, but Carla has to take a kid home, so she can’t go. I don’t have keys to their house yet, and the place is locked up like Ft. Knox, so I have to either not go to the bar or not go home. But Tracy says I can stay at her house, so voila, we have a plan.

We go to the bar, and it’s a lot of fun. The band is really good, just singing covers of a lot of rockin’ tunes. Then various players started rotating in and out until at least four distinct bands had played (some better than others) as well as just some random jam sessions.

Oh!! And sidenote – One of the drummers was TOTALLY Italian Josh Bain, one of the singers was totally Italian Jen Cribbs, and one of the drummers was totally Italian JBeau in 35 years. He had long, gray hair, pulled back into a half-ponytail, and he was wearing a t-shirt that said “Never Too Old to ROCK.” I kid you not.

So we’re talking about music and Tracy mentions how she’d like to learn to play the drums because the church she goes to here has a band but no drums. Just a couple of guitars and some singers. I’d say that’s more of a team than a band, but whatever. The big news was that there was a protestant church, it was close to my house, everything was in Italian AND English, and I COULD HAVE A RIDE THERE EVERY WEEK.

I mean, cue the opening of the heavens and the choir of angels.

We went this morning, and it was great. The people were really nice, everything is done in both languages, they have free weekly Italian classes, and we went out to lunch with a co-worker of Tracy’s (Casey), her husband (Alan) and a friend of theirs who is visiting (Matt).

And on that note, one final adaptation: I’m eating cheese. At lunch, I had orrechiette (sp?) with feta and spinach. Thursday night I had gnocchi with red sauce and mozzarella and some really amazing fried, cheesy potato thingies. Imagine mozzarella sticks blown up to about four times their normal size. They’re like that, except instead of being filled with just cheese, they’re filled mostly with mashed potato and just a little bit of cheese (aka delicious).

There is SO much more to tell you, but this is already too long for most of your wee little attention spans to handle in one sitting, so I’ll stop. Those are the highlights for now.

Ciao!!!!!

Beth Trivia Continues

And now for part two of Beth Trivia!! For those of you who participated either in the comments or privately, here are the answers to yesterday’s movie quote round:

  1. A Mighty Wind
  2. When Harry Met Sally
  3. Moulin Rouge
  4. Zoolander
  5. Everything Is Illuminated
  6. Once
  7. Anchorman
  8. The Sound of Music
  9. Love Actually
  10. Newsies

How did you do?

Now for a harder round. This is “Where was Beth when…?” Good luck, and no asking my mom.

  1. Where did Beth do missions work for 2 summers?
  2. Where was Beth for New Year’s this year?
  3. Where did Beth grow up?  City, state
  4. Where did Beth get her graduate degree?
  5. Where did Beth work for two summers as a cafeteria worker?
  6. Name one of the two cities in which Beth has spent the night in an airport.
  7. What was the last restaurant Beth ate in before deciding to become vegan?
  8. Where was Beth “the night the lights went out in Greenville?”  (**hint: Hurricane Floyd, restaurant)
  9. Where was Beth when her mom went “BBLLLLLLEEEEAAAAHHHHH?”
  10. Where is Beth going for 3 months?  Be specific.

Again, put your answers in the comments, and we’ll go over them tomorrow. Good luck!!

Step By Step

Well, the hard part of leaving is over. I had my going away party on Saturday night, and it was LOTS of fun. For me at least. I hope it was fun for everyone else as well. At the very least, there was a lot of delicious food, and we played “Beth Trivia,” which involved general Beth knowledge, a musical theater round, a movie quote round, and a ridiculous picture round.

Then, after church yesterday, Josh and Josh and I hit the road. They drove me up to Richmond, where my friend Rachel picked me up and took me back to her house in Manassas, where I’ll be until TOMORROW, when her husband takes me to the airport to fly to Zurich, where I’ll bum around for several hours before catching my final flight to Rome, where Carla and Joe will pick me up and drive me back to Naples, where I’ll be living until mid-December. Whew.

So with the packing and saying good-bye all finished, and being in northern Virginia without a car and no errands to run anyway and nothing to worry about except sleeping, I slept REALLY well last night for the first time in several nights. I intend to do it again tonight as well.

But enough of the boring stuff. For those of you who weren’t able to make it to the party on Saturday, I wanted to give you a chance to participate in Beth Trivia as well. We’ll do a round a day, which will get us through this week. NO GOOGLING ALLOWED, and if you were there on Saturday, please don’t give anything away. Put your answers in the comments, and I’ll give you the answers to today’s questions tomorrow.

We’ll start with the movie quote round. Please name the film from which each quote comes:

  1. “Thank God for model trains. If it weren’t for model trains, they wouldn’t have gotten the idea for the big train.”
  2. “I’ll have what she’s having.”
  3. “All my life, you’ve made me believe I was only worth what someone would pay for me!!!”
  4. “I’m pretty sure there’s more to life than just being really, really, really…ridiculously good-looking.”
  5. “All the ladies want to be carnal with me because I’m such a premium dancer.”
  6. “Fair City we love. We learn English from Fair City. Are you not PREGNANT?”
  7. “Yeah, there was a horse, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident.”
  8. “FRAULEIN MARIA’S COME BACK FROM THE AAAABBEEEEEEEY!!!!”
  9. “You ever have this kind of problem? Yeah, of course you did, you saucy minx.”
  10. “Santa Fe
    Are you there?
    Do you swear you won’t forget me?
    If I found you would you let me come and stay?”

Ok GO!! One point for every correct answer. And remember, these are some of MY favorite movies, so keep that in mind.

How to close a chapter of life: Just make sure everything’s clean.

I’ve definitely been busy all day, but when I look back over the past several hours, I can point to exactly two things that have gotten done: article prep and laundry.

The laundry is self-explanatory, and the article prep just means I did a lot of the preliminary internet research necessary to write a bunch of articles. That way, when I’m on a plane or in some exotic locale sans internet access, I can still get some work done. They are two big, important things, to be sure, but there’s still SO much to do before I leave Raleigh on Sunday.

Most notably, I have to pack. The laundry was obviously a big prerequisite for that. I started laying out the things I want to take last night. So now that my clothes are all clean, I need to finish that job and then decide which things I don’t need after all. I’ve gotten a lot of good advice on packing, but the best for me is this: Decide what you want to take, and then put half of it back. You don’t need all those shoes or dresses or socks. The only thing you’re allowed to take too much of is underwear because apart from the obvious, it rolls up so small that it hardly counts.

Once everything is packed, I have to find a place to put the rest of the crap that is on my bedroom floor – crap that never found a home when I moved. Crap that is still in a box. Crap I probably don’t need and should just throw out. There. Trash can. Home found. Done.

Then I have to clean out my car so that an Australian doesn’t have to haul around Old Nasty and a bunch of ESL materials for three months.

Then I have to party down. It’s tough work, I tell you, but so worth it in the end. And the party is going to be FUN. My sister and I have worked up a little something special, and I hate to disappoint, but no, it does not involve me singing and dancing. But don’t worry. I’ll make up for it.

It doesn’t sound like that much stuff, but for some reason, it really feels like it, I think mostly because in the midst of all the practical things and professional things I have to do, there’s also a LOT of socializing to be done. Like I’m doing a lot more of the things I might normally turn down just to see everybody one more time before I go.

Ok, enough talking about what I have to do. Time to fold laundry. I’m on a mission.

Don’t Know Just What To Do With Myself

Well, it’s Labor Day weekend again (cue the music)…

LABOR DAY! LABOR DAY!
SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED AND POOLS ARE OPEN!
LABOR DAY! WHAT’S THERE TO SAY?
DO ALL YOUR SHOPPING…
AT WAL-MART!!!!

My sister just left to drive down to Charleston to see my parents. My other sister will be there too, and I could have gone except I feel like I have about a million things to do before I leave for Italy, and I don’t know where to start. Rather, I don’t really know what the things are that I need to do. If I did, y’all know a to-do list would serve me just fine.

I feel like it’s more mental/emotional preparation than anything else. Packing is easy. You just roll and cram. But there’s sort of an identity crisis that comes with this sort of thing, and I hadn’t really noticed it until just now. I mean, I quit my job – What the WHAT? I quit. I don’t teach any more. I actually subbed this morning, and it was both completely normal and completely weird. My mind is just in this weird limbo between my life a month ago, my temporary life for the moment, and my life in two weeks. There’s not enough time to establish a new “normal” before everything changes again, so here I am, just waiting to get to Italy and figure out what’s “normal” there.

But in the meantime, I still have a week and a half of life to live here, and I don’t want to waste a second of it. I’m already getting weepy every time I think about saying good-bye to everybody, not having an overly excited Dooley gallop toward me with his mouth open for a butt-scratching every time I walk into the Joshes’ place, not sitting around with the Joshes being ridiculous, not playing Rock Band, not hearing Deanna’s weekly “drinkin’ and sexin'” reference, or not going to church on Sundays.

I know, I know. I know we’ll all still chat online, and we’ll keep up via facebook, and I’ll still blog, and I’ve left places before, and it’s only temporary, and I’ll be back in December, and I’m totally being a hormonal girl right now. I guess I just wanted y’all to know that as excited as I am to go, I’ll be sad to leave. And I guess I’m sort of figuring out right before your very eyes that what I need to do to prepare for this trip (in addition to laundry) is hug everybody a lot and re-evaluate where my identity lies…because it’s the sort of thing that ought to be able to go with you no matter where you go and what you do for a living.

So it’s a good weekend to have the house to myself – for reflection, contemplation and perhaps a movie night??? Not all at once. And I promise to put on pants if anybody comes over.

Entropy

I’m going to let y’all in on a little secret. Curly hair is disorderly, and you really have to know what you’re doing in order to keep it in line. Luckily, I’ve had a couple of decades to perfect my methods, and so far, I’m pleased with what I do. But for the past couple of days, it’s just been out of control. Part of that, I’m sure, is just that nature tends toward disorder and chaos (hence the post title), part of it is that I need a haircut, and part of it has to do with ’80s hair.

I have just worked out why big ’80s hair stuck around for so long. It wasn’t because it was still in style. It was just because it took so long to grow out all the permed, teased, fried-out frizz. I mean, I went to an ’80s party on Saturday, for which I created myself some faux bangs. I didn’t cut anything. Shoot, I didn’t really tease all that much. I mostly just pinned, fluffed and sprayed, and the hair that was involved in that styling process, even after four days and two washings, is still frizzy and enormous. It’s not how I’d prefer it to be. It’s just how it is.

And I’d like to think that the early ’90s hairdos were just people’s weak attempts to style the hair they’d ruined during the ’80s, when, bless their hearts, they just didn’t know any better.

Now, normally I would find my personal hair situation disconcerting, but I’m getting ready to go to Europe, where the fashion has been in ’80s come-back mode for at least the past five years, so I’m thinking I’ll either fit in perfectly, or I’ll be on the cutting edge of the ’90s come-back. I’m trying to imagine how grunge is going to rear its greasy head again only more form-fitting and trendy, and you know what? I like it.

Back to School Never Felt So Good

This is the kind of first week back to work I can handle, y’all, and I’ve only been off for a week, although it feels like a lot longer what with all the driving.

I’m sure my feelings stem largely from the fact that I know I’m on my way out. I don’t have to gear up for an entire semester; I’m just helping out for a few weeks. That mental preparation, or lack thereof, is what makes going back to work so hard. Not to mention getting together an entire forest’s worth of worksheets, hand-outs and song lyrics to send off to the copy shop. No, I’ll take this version of back-to-school any day. So far, my first day back has looked like this:

  • Wake up at 7:30 and take dog out (I’m dog-sitting, by the way, and living downtown for the week if anybody in the Bloodworth area wants to go for a walk or something.)
  • Go back to bed for two hours.
  • Wake up again and stare at the ceiling for several minutes.
  • Roll out of bed and move to couch.
  • Steal neighbor’s internet connection.
  • Chat with boss online.
  • Write an article and a half.
  • Shower.
  • Eat lunch with friends who also have bizarre work schedules.
  • Eat Rubix Cube birthday cake left over from Saturday’s ’80s party
  • Blog

“Where’s the back-to-school in that?” you may be asking. Well, this week, I’m only working nights, so I don’t have to be anywhere for a few more hours still, and even that is not going to be real work. It’s “Dinner With the Dean.” Now, as some of you know, the dean and the vice president of continuing education and I have had plenty of meetings in the past year or so for reasons we shan’t go into now. Suffice it to say that the dean and I go way back, and I’m going tonight for the free food and the $15 they’re going to pay me.

And maybe I’ll pop by Staples later and treat myself to some new pens!