10 Things That DON’T Change When You Get Married

Last month, I told you about 10 things that change when you get married. As a bit of a follow-up to that, here are 10 things thatdon’t change when you get married:

  1. You still have bed-head – Will affectionately refers to mine as “Mozart hair.” And you still don’t care. I think there was a part of me that thought I would worry about my first-thing-in-the-morning appearance when there was someone seeing me first thing in the morning, but make-up or none, glorious 2nd-day hair or Mozart hair, morning breath and all, he still says I’m the most beautiful girl in the world.
  2. You continue in your own individual growth and learning. Just because the “two become one,” that doesn’t mean that you stop being an individual. It just means that you now have a built-in discussion partner for life, who will also be pushed to grow as you tell him what you’re learning, and who will also push you to grow as he tells you what he’s learning.
  3. There are still things you don’t like about yourself. As many times as Will tells me I’m beautiful, there are still things about my body I think he must not have noticed yet. I’ve pointed them out to him, but he doesn’t care. He just doesn’t see me as critically as I see myself. And the reverse is also true. I don’t see him as critically as he sees himself. Being completely accepted by someone else doesn’t automatically make you completely content with yourself. But it does make you completely loved, and that is more than enough.
  4. You still want the same things. I still want to go to Europe on vacation. I still want to buy everything in The Container Store. I still want ALL THE THROW PILLOWS. I still want to sleep for 9 hours a night. I still want to eat chocolate cereal for breakfast. I still want to help immigrants learn English. I still want to tell women that they are valuable, worthy of dignity, completely loved, and absolutely necessary in the world. I still want to dance with somebody (with somebody who loves me).
  5. You work the same job. The only difference is that your boss now has a plan somewhere in the back of her mind for what she will do when you have a baby. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if the boss-baby thing is true. My boss will have to chime in here to clarify.)
  6. Your spouse doesn’t change (not that you’d want him to). This is why it’s important to marry someone you already love and respect completely. And of course, over time, all people change. I just mean that marriage itself doesn’t cause people to change drastically. They are who they are before and after the wedding, so you just have to make sure you know them really well and love them a whole lot before you get married. I suggest being friends for six years first.
  7. You still don’t have all the answers. Your wedding vows don’t automatically endow you with knowledge on how to be married, but hopefully, you’ve been learning how to communicate well and work as a team all through your dating and engagement time, so you just keep doing that.
  8. You have good days and bad days, individually and together. You get tired and cranky, you get stressed out, you get over-peopled if you are an introvert, you get under-peopled if you are an extrovert, you get stuck in traffic, you get sick, you get promotions, you win radio contests, you find $20 in your winter coat from last year, you check off everything on your to-do list and feel like a rock star, you connect really well and feel all gushy and in love, you can’t seem to get it together, you feel disconnected and confused. Being married doesn’t get rid of the feeling of relational disconnection any more than it gets rid of heavy traffic. Before and after the wedding, when you feel that way, you talk about it and work it out.
  9. You don’t stop dating. At least you shouldn’t. My husband still brings me flowers (and I still kill them within a few days). Then he takes me out to dinner and picks up the check, and we sit there holding hands across the table and grossing out the rest of the diners and the waitstaff with our googly eyes. And at the end of the month, when we don’t have the money to go out to eat, we still cook dinner together, then cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie.
  10. You still hate whatever chores you hated before you got married. It’s amazing. You don’t become some kind of super-wife who can magically now clean the toilet without gagging. You cross your fingers and hope that your spouse will do whatever it is that you hate doing, but if they hate it equally, then you make the choice to suck it up and do it (or pay someone else to do it)…just like you did when you were single. I think laundry and toilet-cleaning are the only things Will really hates doing, but I don’t mind either. And taking out the trash is the one thing I really hate doing, but he usually does it, so that works out very well for us.

It should be noted that we’ve only been married for 2.5 months. I know my self-esteem, my desires, my job, my knowledge, and even my husband will change over time. Most things do. But marriage isn’t the cause of the changes; life is. And I will welcome those changes when they come because I hope they mean that I’m growing and changing too.

I Think I’m Back Now

Physically, I’ve been back in the country since Sunday afternoon. But my brain is just now catching up. Y’all, I’ve been SO tired all week, and today is the first day I almost feel normal. The weekend went a little something like this:


Friday night, after a full day of all our stuff (kids camp, etc.), we went out for a fancy dinner in a restaurant in a suburb of Milan. The food was amazing, and there was an endless parade of desserts that made my day. We didn’t get back to the hotel, though, until after midnight, and then we had to get up at 5:00 the next morning because we’d decided to go to VENICE!! This was an idea we’d tossed around early, early on in the planning, but we’d decided against it because it’s farther from Milan and more expensive to get there. HOWEVER, because this year marks the 150th anniversary of the uniting of Italy, they’re selling train tickets at discounted rates (presumably so that people can travel around and see the whole united country). So we got two-for-one tickets, and away we went.


Like I said, 5:00 a.m. Barf. It was basically horrible because Saturday just happened to be my hair-washin’ day, so I had to get up to make that happen, and then we had to leave the hotel at 6 to go to the train station to get on our 6:50 train. But in the end, it was totally worth it.

We got to Venice around 9:30 and were unleashed upon the city. Our group of eight broke up into smaller groups, and Mark and I set out for Murano, which is a little island just north of Venice where they make glass things. We went to see a glass blowing demonstration, and then after doing a little souvenir shopping, we decided to try and find some lunch. What appeared to be the main “street” was a water street like those in Venice, which was really nice because it felt like we were in Venice, but there weren’t a million people. The water was calm, the boats were parked, the restaurants had seating on the sidewalk right beside the water, and you could hear the guy down the street playing the accordion. Seriously, if y’all ever go to Venice, this is the place to be. It’s like Venice, but a little cheaper and much less hectic.

So we’re sitting there finishing our pizza and getting ready to ask for the check when a girl walks up and says my name, and I look up, and it’s a girl I knew in Asheville. Yes, leave it to me to run into someone I know in a foreign country. I knew that she was there, but since we hadn’t been planning on going to Venice, it hadn’t occurred to me to get in touch with her, but there she was with her new fiancé, headed to the grocery store.

So we chatted with them for a little bit and marveled at how weird it was that we’d just run into each other there, and then they started telling us all the insider secrets on where to go and what to do. This, friends, was the greatest thing that could have possibly happened because they knew where to go for a 50-cent gondola ride.

Yes, that’s right. I said 50-cent gondola. Now, normally these things are like a million euros (not really, but they may as well be because there’s no way I could afford even half an hour on one), but those are the ones that ride you all up and down the canal. But come on, who needs that, right? The only thing you really need with a gondola ride is the photo op. You just do it for the experience, and the experience doesn’t really have to break the bank and take up the whole day. Sixty seconds will do you just fine, and that’s about what you get for 50 cents because it literally just takes you from one bank of the canal to the other.

Y’all, it was perfect. It made my life, no joke. It was the best spent money ever, and that includes hair gel purchases.

After that, we made our way to the gelateria to which we’d been referred, and it was also pretty magical. Then, all the items on our agenda checked off, we just ambled our way back to the train station, stopping in buildings and side streets and bakeries and stores all along the way.

We hopped back on the train around 6:15 and headed back to Milan, where we had to pack before going to bed because we had to get up at 5:30 the next morning to head home.

Mid-Story Recap

So just to remind you, we’ve now had late night, early morning, busy/exciting/exhausting day, and late night with early morning looming.


We got up at 5:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m. on Saturday in NC – This will be important in a moment.), dressed, tossed the last of the stuff into the bags and headed downstairs to check out. Our ride to the train station arrived at 6:30 to take us to where we got on the bus that would take us to the airport. We got to the airport around 8:00 (2:00 a.m. EST) and checked in for our 10:00 flight.

Our “10:00 flight” boarded at 11:00 and then proceeded to sit on the ground for three hours while they “fixed” a valve. The captain gave us frequent updates that were slightly less than reassuring:

  • The valve isn’t working.
  • We’re not sure if the valve isn’t working, or if it’s just the indicator light.
  • We’re on the phone with our folks in Dallas, trying to figure it out.
  • We’re going to just close the valve and NOT USE IT ON OUR EIGHT AND A HALF HOUR FLIGHT.
  • We can’t get the panel off to get to the valve because the screws are stripped.
  • We’re drilling the screws out now.
  • Ok, we’ve got the panel off, and we’re working on the valve.
  • We’ve got the valve closed. Now we’re trying to find new screws to put the panel back on.
  • We’ve got the panel back on. We’re finishing up the log book, and once we get it back on board, we can take off.

Then it sounded like the plane was driving through a large and violent automatic car wash, at which point, Mark whips out Joshua 10:11, which reads, “As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.” Thanks, Mark.

  • Ok, folks, we’re all set for take-off, so if you would, make sure your seats and tray tables are in their upright and locked positions and that your seat belts are securely fastened. Flight crew, prepare for take-off.

Then it suddenly got really hot on the plane and something smelled like old, overheated hair dryer, and that’s when we prayed and took off.

Fast-forward to New York.

We landed at JFK around 5:00, which was when we were supposed to land at RDU, but clearly we had missed that flight, so they had re-booked us on a JetBlue flight, which was nice, but it didn’t take off until 10:00 (4:00 a.m. on Monday in Milan – Remember how we woke up at 5:30? Yeah.). So we went through passport control, got our bags, went through customs, took the AirTrain to the terminal where JetBlue is, got our boarding passes, re-checked our bags and went through security again. Half-asleep, we found and ate some food, and then we all fell asleep at the gate while we waited for our flight home.

After that, it was pretty smooth-sailing, but I didn’t get home until at least 12:30 (6:30 Milan time), and then I had to get up at 7:00 to go to work on Monday.

So yeah. Beat. But I think I’m back now, or at least well on my way. And thankyaJesusandamen for a long weekend to recuperate even more. I am very much looking forward to it.

How Many Fridays Can One Week Have?

This is at least the third day this week that I’ve thought was Friday. I honestly don’t know how time could possibly pass more slowly, but in case you are so inclined, please don’t try to explain the passage of time in the metaphysical sense to me as my head would most certainly explode.

It’s been one of those weeks when I just felt like I wasn’t running on all cylinders mentally. When I didn’t feel like sticking to my lesson plans, I couldn’t think quickly enough to change them on the spot. And I’m sitting here now trying to figure out exactly what I want to do tomorrow (because I was very lazy in my planning and just wrote down “*Vocab test, *Watch”), and I’ve got nothin’. The test will take about ten minutes, and I have no idea what to watch. And if we’re going to watch something, I need to come up with some listening comprehension/analysis/discussion questions to go with it, and once again – nothin’.

Goodness gracious, the semester JUST started, and I already need a vacation. If you have ideas and/or hugs for me, bring ’em on.

Hey Thursday, I like you.

It’s been a good day so far. I woke up after dreaming that I was at an art camp. I think I dreamed this because I read this last night before I went to bed. Anyhoe, I was at this art camp, and I needed supplies, and then I stumbled across a supply room that didn’t have anything I needed. So I think I gave up on art and went to the cafeteria. And I guess it was parents’ weekend at art camp or something because everybody’s families were there. And the brother of the guy in front of me was way cute and flirting with me. And as I was flirting back, my mom walked up and got in line with me. And then the cute guy asked me if I wanted to go eat candy in his truck with him, and I said, “Yes, yes I do, only I’m not so sure about the truck. But I’ll sit on a bench with you or something.”

Then I woke up and thought, I love it when cute guys find me desirable. Good dream.

Then I tried to scan some documents that prove my relationship to George Washington (yes THE George Washington) and my descent from a 12th century British king, but alas, I couldn’t get Whitney’s scanner to work, so I just read through the documents for a while, and that’s how I found out I’m related to G.W. and Ynir King of Gwentland.

Then I tweeted about it.

Then I wrote an article about two-letter Scrabble words that will probably not help me beat Whitney or my mom or the Beattys (or anyone else for that matter) at Scrabble. It’s the spatial aspect I find challenging, not the words. I can make some words. I just don’t know where to put them. You have to be good at words AND Tetris to dominate in Scrabble, and I am unfortunately only gifted in the former.

But the article is done.

So then I made some Punjab Choley and couscous for lunch and watched 30 Rock for a little while, which was, of course, wonderful. It was the one where Liz follows Floyd into the AA meeting where he spills his guts about his trust issues, and then she tells him all her weird stuff to make it up to him.

And she has some WEIRD stuff.

And while I was watching 30 Rock, a Census2010 worker came to the door to ask me some questions about the occupants of this house on April 1, which I answered not knowing that L-Josh had already mailed in their Census2010 form. So I don’t know why he had to come over here and interrupt my 30 Rock/catch me still in my jabambas at 2:30 in the p.m., but I’ve decided that if anyone catches me not yet dressed that late in the day again, I’m just going to open the door saying, “I’m a freelancer. I work from home. I have actually earned money today.”

Or I could just shower and get dressed in the morning.

Then I took a shower, and while I was in there, I had a revelation about the plot of my Neil Diamond musical, I Am…I Said. I can’t tell you about it yet because it’s still not fully formed, but I CAN say that things have been enormously simplified, and the main character and I now have a lot more in common, which is going to make it much easier to write.

And also, I’m clean.

What Would You Do (oo-ooo) With a Time Machine?

I realized this morning that I’ve been neglecting my questions lately. I’m trying to find a balance between answering those and just telling you fun stories about what’s happening. For the most part, there aren’t a lot of fun stories about what’s happening because my days are spent sitting on my couch, writing articles, and then driving half an hour to teach. And sometimes after I drive the 30 minutes to teach, there are no students. So…yeah. The questions are really more interesting than my life. All of that is about to change, but I’m not ready to make a formal announcement just yet, so hang in there, internet, and let’s talk about time travel.

Presuming you had a time machine what’s the stupidest and most dangerous thing you would probably do with it, despite having answered this question and having labeled it as both stupid and dangerous?

Well, I think time travel in general is definitely dangerous and probably stupid. I mean, Marty McFly’s hand disappeared when his mom was slow dancing/struggling with Biff, and his dad was too wussy to step in. But that’s what you risk when you meddle in your parents’ high school lives. My parents didn’t go to high school together, so I wouldn’t have to worry about that, but if we’ve learned anything from Back to the Future, it’s that you don’t screw around with the space-time continuum. Doing so is both stupid and dangerous, and you could lose a hand in the middle of your guitar solo.

However, there are a few things I’d like to see happening:

  • my parents’ wedding – There is no video footage available that I know of. I assume it’s because video cameras were only for TV/film studios in the early 70s.
  • me as a baby – There are not a lot of pictures of me as a baby that I know of, and I don’t really remember anything before I started school, and even then, it’s all pretty hazy until about 5th grade. I’m sure my mom could tell us what I was like, but it would be way cuter to see tiny me in action. Unless I was a jerk. Was I a jerk?
  • my ancestors coming to the U.S. – My sister is making a massive family tree for our reunion this year, and I’m sure she’d love an eye-witness account of this. Plus, y’all know how much I love to travel, but to be ON THE BOAT with them, knowing what the country is going to become generations down the line, and seeing what it was like back then…man, that would be awesome.
  • Beethoven playing his own stuff

All of those things, I just want to witness. I don’t necessarily have to be a participant in history for those. But here are some things I would want to do:

  • meet Jane Austen
  • hang out with the Beatles before they were famous, and teach them all the Monkees’ songs before the Monkees even form a band (just to be a mischievous punk, not because I have anything against the Monkees)
  • follow Jesus, like literally, in person, walking in the dirt (and the rocks, and the…)
  • convince Amy Grant that “Baby, Baby” is a bad idea
  • convince John Mayer not to record half of his songs
  • stop Shutter Island from being filmed, and convince Leo to do a movie that requires more shirtlessness
  • convince myself to go vegetarian in college
  • introduce myself to Mediterranean food much sooner (hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, etc.)
  • smuggle slaves to free states
  • smuggle Jews to safety during WWII
  • invent leg warmers before anyone else
  • invent velcro

Like I said, I think time travel in general would be pretty stupid and dangerous, so I don’t know which of these things is the worst. I’ll let y’all be the judge as to exactly which thing is the stupidest/most dangerous and/or which is the likeliest to cause me to lose appendages. What would YOU do with a time machine?

My 20s. All of them.

And just like that, my 20s are over. Man, what an awesome decade. I’m going to try to do a recap of all my 20s birthdays and hit the highlights of some of the incredible things I’ve had the opportunity to do in the last ten years. I’m old, though, so I might not remember all of it, but I’ll give it my best.


My 20th birthday was also known as “Princess Day.” In college, we started calling all of our birthdays Princess Day, and we’d wear tiaras and sashes and be treated like princesses. So I think that year, my friend Rachel made like she was going to take me to dinner at Chili’s, but then when we got there, we were “hijacked” in the parking lot by Becky and Faith and taken somewhere else instead (Applebee’s maybe – Chili’s was just too crowded for our large party). And then after dinner, they took me roller skating. You remember that, right, Laura Jenny?

Other than that, 20 was not a very remarkable year, although I think it was the year I did that deviance project for my sociology class – the one where I dressed up like some kind of cracked out super pirate (of the ECU pirates) and ran around downtown handing out candy and doing body builder muscle poses in the elevator of that apartment building.

It was also the year that I met my friend Andy, with whom I shared the most horrific moving adventure ever. Amazingly, we are still friends.


By my 21st birthday, my parents had moved from WILKESBORO!!!!! to New Bern, which was only about an hour’s drive from ECU, so my mom came to town for that one, and she and all my friends and I went out to eat at Red Lobster (then one of my favorite places on earth), where I was COVERED in toilet paper by the semi-psychotic waiter who was responsible for celebrating the birthdays. He dressed up like the Gorton’s Fisherman, covered the birthday girl or boy in an entire roll of toilet paper and sang birthday songs through a megaphone – songs like, “Who’s got a birthday? Who? Who? Who? Who?” which was, of course, an adaptation of the Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

That year was also the year I decided not to work at Caswell again, regretted it, and was down there every chance I got. That was the year of 9-11, and just a few months after 9-11, I decided to leave the country for the first time and go on a mission trip to Honduras. I don’t think anybody saw that decision coming. I had several friends who’d gone to Kenya (while I was not working at Caswell), and when they came back, they all came to me individually and told me I needed to go overseas, and y’all are not going to believe me, but my response to all of them was, “Nope. I’m fine right here with my indoor plumbing and my familiar foods. I’m not going anywhere. I’ma stay right here in the U.S. of A.”

And then one very normal day, I was sitting in the computer lab in the psyc building at ECU, and plain as day, as though someone were standing right over my shoulder, I heard, “Go to Honduras.” I stopped, my whole body stiffened, and (almost out loud, but not because I didn’t want everyone to think I was crazy, so just in my mind) I replied, “Come again?” And the voice said, “You heard me.” And just like that, my world travels began, but not until…


I have no idea what I did on my 22nd birthday. I remember that being sort of a rough time. It was my last semester in college, and there was just a lot going on. I’m sure it was celebrated. I just don’t remember how. But to continue the story started just a moment ago, that was the year I left the country for the first time. It was also the year I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s sort of a long story that I’ll share with you in person if you want to know, but by the time I got back from Honduras, I knew I wanted to pursue ESL as a career, and by Christmas of that year, I’d been accepted to NYU’s graduate program. And THAT is a day I’ll never forget. I’d gone home for lunch and checked the mail on my way back out to work. When I opened the envelope and saw the word “Congratulations,” I almost drove off the road. I just couldn’t believe it. And then I started calling everyone I knew to tell them about it. It was a good day.


I’m not sure how we celebrated 23 either. I was living in Winterville with my sister and hanging out with Collice and Hilary a lot, so they might have all been involved in the celebration. I just don’t remember what we did.

Anyhoe, that year, I left the country for the second time, had my wisdom teeth removed, moved to New York City, drank alcohol for the first time and got my nose pierced.


In grad school, I got involved with the Navigators, a campus ministry similar to InterVarsity, with which I was involved in undergrad. A week or two before I turned 24, the Navigators went on a weekend retreat/conference in upstate NY, and I just had the best time ever. For my birthday, I asked to go to Winter Conference again, and we sort of did have a little mini version of it, which was really nice. And then we sang karaoke. But my clearest memory from that night was Mike and Sonja dragging me, running, through the streets of NYC yelling, “IT’S HER BIRTHDAY!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BETH!! BIRTHDAY GIRL COMING THROUGH!!” So fun.

That year, I:

  • started blogging
  • left the country for the third time to backpack Europe and study Spanish in Spain (see any entry from late June-early August 2004)
  • resolved not to move back to NC
  • decided to move back to NC
  • spent New Year’s in San Francisco
  • moved back to NC


For my 25th birthday, Laura Jenny (aka Marieke, aka Partner) and Jason Jones took me to Bojangles. Then we went back to Jason’s house, where they had a cake for me, and Jason made very strong margaritas, and we all decided it would be better to watch a few episodes of Knight Rider before driving home.

Starting that year and continuing for the next few, we had a lot of fun making the dirtydish. There’s not much activity there any more, but I was and still am very grateful for what it did for my writing. It gave me an outlet and the confidence I needed to put my stuff out there for a new audience to read. Thanks, ddo.

And we’ll just hurry things along by saying I’ve left the country at least once a year since that first time. When I was 25, H(P)M and I went to Paris. That was also the year Emily Furr Hogan and I spent New Year’s in Times Square, which was SO fun.


No idea. I didn’t even blog about it. I probably went to Chili’s. This might have been the year I had bangs, so it’s possible that I blocked it out. However, this was definitely the year I flew to London to stay with Ann and surprise DLF for New Year’s. Oh what fun we had!!


My life in Raleigh by this point had reached a level of autopilot where I was almost curled up in the back napping. I knew I needed some sort of adventure, so just before I turned 27, I signed up for my first Avon Walk. It helped. It also got me to the gym, where the Cutie Von Hottenstein encounters began, which culminated in the weirdest party I’ve ever been to in my life. I also went vegan that year, and oh, that was the year of the most awful semester of my life. I won’t force myself to think about that right now, though.

Gasp!! I don’t think I left the country that year. Did I? If I did, I don’t know where I went. I think I was too busy. Oh my gosh. I need to take two trips this year to make up for it.

I think for my birthday that year, I was supposed to go on a luxurious mountain road trip retreat with some friends, but I became deathly ill and was laid up in bed all weekend. I definitely went to Chili’s, though.And wait, was this the year I had that awesome surprise party, or was that mystery 26? Either way, there was one year when my sweet Brookie, even though she was in the middle of working on her national board certification (which she passed on the first try thank you very much), conspired with Whitney and all them hoes to throw me a surprise party that I almost didn’t go to! Whitney, however, being the genius that she is, got me to go, and it was awesome. Whenever it was.


By 28, I’d met Lauren (Josh), whose birthday is the day before mine – HAPPY BIRTHDAY YESTERDAY, BUDDY!!!! – and that was the year we had the photo scavenger hunt party and the Teen Girl Squad cupcakes. This was also the year wherein:

  • Brookie moved to Wilmington 🙁 and got married 🙂
  • I moved in with Josh and Josh
  • I didn’t think I would survive the summer
  • I had a boyfriend
  • Whitney and I went to Mexico for H(P)M’s wedding
  • I became an indentured servant of Wake Tech
  • The Rack Pack walked DC


We’re almost done!! Last year’s birthday was lots of fun. We went to Bald Head Island for the weekend, played Wii, rode bikes, lounged around and hung out on the beach. It was a much needed get-away for everyone, and nobody wanted to leave and come back home. We powered through, though, and it went on to be a most momentous year. I completed my indentured servitude, moved to Italy for three months, almost moved to Oregon, and moved to Asheville instead.

I’ve traveled well over 13,000 miles in the past year, visited two new countries (Hungary and Austria) and a few old ones, and now, I’m getting ready to head out on what I’m calling my “30 on 40 Roadtrip.” It’s where I turn 30, having three parties in three cities on I-40. And I’m sorry for the rushed ending, but if I don’t get in the shower, pack and leave very soon, I will actually miss my second party – the one in Raleigh tonight.

But one thing before I leave. If my post yesterday made it sound at all like I am disappointed with where my life has gone, that is not the case. I meant to say that high school senior Beth just could not have imagined all of this – all the travel, adventure, friendships, food, passions, love, opportunities and general awesomeness I’ve had the incredible pleasure of experiencing. I can only hope that my 30s out-do my 20s.


Decisions, decisions

First of all, my sincerest apologies for my many days of absence following my return from Portland. I feel like I’ve been caught up in one big Christmas party since then, and it’s been a little weird, quite frankly, all around. I went to the grocery store for the first time the other day, and although it’s not that big a grocery store, I was a little overwhelmed by there being a whole building of that size dedicated solely to the sale of food items. I mean, we had Auchan in Italy, which is enormous. It’s sort of like a Super Wal-Mart. They’ve got everything, but because it’s so big, it makes total sense that they have everything, and so it’s not that strange. But the grocery stores – the Conad, the Maxi Piu, the Sisa – are not that large. At least not the ones I went to. So the Food Lion was a tad odd to me. Plus, I understood everything, and I was allowed to make my own purchase (as opposed to the commissary), and my bags didn’t cost me any extra.

I’ve also been driving, which is totally weird after three months of not driving. I’m getting used to it, though. And every new city is a new adventure in what my hair is going to do in response to that city’s water. So far so good, I’d say. It’s a bit large today, but that’s what bobby pins are for, am I right?

Well, that’s enough stalling. Let’s get down to what I came here to tell you. Some of you are going to be very excited, and some of you are going to be very sad, and some of you already know all of this, but I’ll tell you anyway.

Somewhere over the Great Lakes at ungodly o’clock in the morning, when I hated just about everything, I made a decision. Now I know what you’re thinking. That is probably not the best time to make a decision – when you hate everything. But you are wrong. It is the perfect time to make the decision that I made, which was the decision not to move to Portland.

I loved Portland. Please understand that. And if I were looking for a cool place to live for a year or three, it would be just the place, but I’m not looking for just another adventure. I’m looking for a home, and I realized (thanks, Leigh) that if I move somewhere with a plan B already in the back of my mind (like that I could always move back to NC if it doesn’t work out), it’s like I expect it not to work out. But if I move somewhere expecting it to be my home for the next 40 years, then I’ll treat my time there very differently.

I want to go somewhere I can comfortably expect to live for the next 40 years, and Portland is just too far away for that. I would want to see my family more often than I’d be able to, and if (fingers crossed) I were to get married and have kids, I’d want them to know my family better than they’d be able to from 3,000 miles away.

So I think I’m staying in NC. Where, exactly, I don’t know. My top choices are Asheville and Wilmington, and they’re in a pretty tight race right now. I just don’t have a job in either place. Or a place to live. If you have any connections in either place that might be able to find me something that doesn’t involve too much math, drawing or handling of bodily fluids, do let me know and/or put me in touch. And if you have any connections that might be able to find me something in adult ESL or writing/editing, that’s even better.

That’s all for now. I’ll keep you updated on any and all future decisions as they occur. And after Christmas, I’ll tell you about my encounter with the least helpful Best Buy employee EVER. I can’t tell you about it now because it would give away one of my Christmas gifts, and I like surprises.

Don’t Know Just What To Do With Myself

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


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.

Better Early Than Never

“Better early than never” is not usually my motto. “Better late,” maybe, or perhaps even, “meh…oh well,” but no one has ever accused me of being punctual, much less early.  I had an algebra class in college once that I didn’t care that much about, and I often showed up 20-30 minutes late to the surprise and amusement of my two friends who were in the class with me. I always went. I just went late saying, “Better late than never, eh?” They would just shake their heads in awe. I got a B in the class, and I know, I know, I could have gotten an A, but like I said, I didn’t care that much about it, so meh…oh well.

But today I feel very differently about time and the timeliness with which I do things in life. And I don’t mean today in a general sense as in “these days.” I literally just mean today, August 13, 2009. I will probably still be late to church on Sunday and just barely make it to work on time on Tuesday, and even now, when I should be packing up the car to drive back to Raleigh, I’m pushing it on time, but I feel like a shift is taking place.

I sat down to write this just now without a clue in the world as to what I wanted to say. I just knew I wanted to blog today, and that if I didn’t do it now, I might not do it until very late tonight if at all. But when I typed the title with that mindset, it dawned on me that it is a very good motto to have in life.

Although it hadn’t occurred to me in those words when I made the decision to go to Italy (see my neato countdown clock??), that was my decision. There is never an ideal time to pack up your life and do something outrageous, terrifying and/or amazing, but if you don’t do it now, you might not get the chance. I’m not sure I’m technically “early” in life any more, but it still feels that way, so I’m going to go with it.

I’ve even been considering over the past few days the discipline of waking up early to read or pray or write or stretch or just sit and feel that I am alive. I think it may have something to do with the fact that I’m reading the portion of Eat, Pray, Love where she’s waking up at 3:00 a.m. every day at an ashram in India, and I know that there are many of you who know me well enough to be busting a gut right now at the very notion of me waking up before 7:45. Believe me, I can’t believe I’m thinking about it either. But there are too many days that go by when I don’t read or pray or write or stretch or feel that I am alive, and like I said, better early than never.

We’ll see how it goes. I don’t currently have an action plan or anything to put into motion, and I don’t really want one. I know that conflicts with the very core of discipline, but I think for me, the discipline at first is going to be in doing these things first thing no matter what the clock says when I wake up. And maybe I’ll work on the actual hour I wake up as well.