Wednesday, June 30, 2010

a night of adventure and intrigue!

so here's the story:

a friend and i decided to ride the metro into town tonight to see the monuments. we get there, it's dusk, we see the washington monument, we see the world war ii monument...

(the fountains at the world war ii memorial with the washington monument behind)

...then we walk up to the lincoln monument, and there's a police officer that says, "NO. I'm not gonna let you pass." ??? so we back away and start watching. cop cars have the place under lockdown! everyone on the monument is confined to the steps and police are keeping them there, and then all the on-the-ground spectators are kept a good distance from the monument too, so there's a huge gap of no-fly-zone around the monument. there are lights going off and policemen with flashlights and bags searching bushes. we waited 20 minutes to see it all unfold...we're thinking bomb threat, russian spy hiding in the shrubbery, who knows!

(the policeman)

(a policeman searching the bushes...i have a really good lens, okay?)

as it turns out, it was a purse. a lady's purse that she left by accident that someone had found and they thought it could be a bomb. yep. bet she felt really sheepish.

(policemen searching the purse)

so then we climb the stairs up to honest abe, walk around, take pictures, the usual monument goings-on. as we're about to leave, a girl approaches me and says, "look, my friend is about to propose to his girlfriend and i'm supposed to take still pictures and video it as well, but i can't do both. you have a big camera so you must know what you're doing. will you take the pictures?" heck yes i will! so i got to pretend like a tourist and sneakily take pictures of them as they walked up to the monument, as he kissed her, and then as he got down on one knee and asked the big one. (years of sniper picture-taking with telephoto lenses prepared me for tonight.) she said yes.

so there you have it--how i became a crime-scene and wedding (proposal) photographer (and barely made the last train out of the district!) all in one night.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

every day feels like a thousand years

have you ever seen a movie where all of the action of the film is supposed to take place in one day? cinderella is a good example. yeah, that's right, i bet most of you didn't realize that the story of cinderella takes place in about 24 hours! i mean, the girl wakes up to birds singing, she does that cool thing where she ties her hair with the blue ribbon (did anyone else find that part fascinating when they were little girls?), she cleans the whole house, she gets invited to a ball, she makes a magical dress, she meets a fairy godmother, she meets her one true love, she loses her slipper, the prince finds get the picture. looking back on the whole course of the movie, sometimes i forget that all of that takes place in just a day.

well that has been my life as of late.

every day feels like a thousand years! so many new sights and sounds and vistas and people and experiences and emotions! my feelings in being here change by the hour, as do my plans for the future. and all the while i'm out seeing the city and meeting new friends. i was getting after myself earlier this afternoon for being so indecisive about whether or not i want to stay out here...and then i stopped myself and laughed--i've only been here 2 days! of course i don't know what to think yet! i'm still just trying to make my way out of arlington without getting lost! (which, by the way, i made it all the way up to the washington d.c. temple in bethesda maryland this morning. WITHOUT getting lost. that means crossing two state lines. boo-yah D.C. BOO. YAH.)

brooke and i once christened the first week of january "do something you've never done before" week. the first night, i broke my arm (which i had never done before, and, as good fortune would have it, included going to the emergency room, getting an IV, and being put on serious pain meds--all of which i had never done before either!) it was truly a memorable week. well, perhaps at the end of the week i will write a list of all the new-to-me things i have done so far while in el districto.

until then, adventure! (and safety! never forget safety in all your adventuring. rest easy: spencer gave me pepper spray for my birthday--a loving brother's parting gift--and i was up until midnight last night reading "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. I now know how to control a runaway camel, survive a fall onto subway tracks, successfully navigate a minefield, and foil a UFO abduction.)

a man rinsing his eyes out after pepper spray. no i was not the one who pepper sprayed him.

and a little video to give you nightmares:

Monday, June 28, 2010

story of the hour

when i was at gettysburg last week, i parked my car under a big tree so it would stay cool while we toured the city on this double-decker bus:

we saw the battlefields:

we found an adorable chocolate shop

that looked like this on the inside:

when we got back, after chocolate ice cream and chocolate-dipped pretzels, the car had been pummeled--PUMMELED I TELL YOU!--by purple berries from the tree under which it was parked! purple splatters and juice and berries everywhere.

i waited till today to get my car washed. D.C. is big. there are a lot of roads. i heard that the district was designed so that the capitol would be impenetrable to attacking forces. so i've decided to take baby steps--today i got in my car and drove around the area so i could start understanding the anything-but-logical layout of roads and crossroads and merges.

i find the car-wash. i see a man whose job i would like. he stands inside the car-wash and sprays everything down. he is sopping wet. i will work on that one after becoming an ice-cream truck driver. (*if any of you know how i might go about driving an ice cream truck for a few days, please let me know. i'm serious.)

my car comes out sssssparkling clean. not a berry to be seen. i pull out to drive home. suddenly--and i mean suddenly--huge black clouds roll into the sky, and within seconds, the torrential downpour begins. i drive home, pull into the driveway, my car is a waterfall, and i run into the house! from the driveway to the house, RUNNING, i get soaked through all of my clothes and my hair is dripping, dripping wet.

the East is fun. an adventure everyday! and oh so much water.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Panic! at the District

well here i am. washington dc!

initial thoughts:
what in the world am i doing?

post-initial thoughts:
wow. wow.

post-post initial thoughts (are we to the "regular thoughts" stage yet?):
um, being out of my comfort zone is hard.

here's the thing: i didn't really anticipate very much in being here. my plan was essentially to come out, go to some museums, get a job, become famous, you know, the usual. i have moved 13 times in the last six years (i calculated as i was falling asleep last night), so having a change of scenery is no big thing for me. meeting new people, having a new schedule, getting used to a new place with new traditions and cultures--all just part of the territory. but man, can it be hard! i have a couple of friends who have moved out to the east coast all by themselves over the last few years, and i never realized just how much courage it takes to start life over again. i wasn't expecting that.

but all the while, there have been little blessings that remind me that it is good to be here. little nods from heaven that say, "yeah, you might be scared a little, but don't be." for example, my mom and i found a thai restaurant two minutes from my house, with an outdoor patio with twinkly lights and candles, and we were eating and i felt like i was in a movie, the night was so beautiful. (sidenote: many of you will not find it the least bit surprising that the first thing i do upon moving to a new city is find the closest thai restaurant to my house.)

another example of good things: today at church i saw....well.....let's count: susie, steve, jordan, david, spencer, melanie, and three or four others who i know that i know, but i can't yet place them. as such, i feel a little creepy saying i know them. anyways, i felt very comfortable. so many friendly and familiar faces.

so onward onward! this week i have two goals:

the DC temple

the National Gallery of Art

Thursday, June 24, 2010

ON THE ROAD: South Bend-->Gettysburg

Today the only thing I realized is that I'm going to need to be with someone who is okay with pulling over on the freeway so I can take pictures. (Dear future husband, this one is for you darling, and for all the times you have pulled over so I could take pictures.)

Also, I listened to this song again and again and again. It is blowing my mind: the words are complex and every time I listen to it, it means something different. I love songs like that.

(look at the beams of light through the clouds!)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ON THE ROAD: North Platte-->South Bend

13 minutes after midnight on Wednesday: Chasing Tornadoes

Nebraska to Indiana. I drove 10.5 out of the 12 hours.

I killed 5 butterflies (that I know of). See below:

I realized that my major conflict right now is that on one hand, I want to be a lively feisty woman when I'm 80 (think Maude), and on the other hand, I want to be ultra-classy and graceful. Can you be both? And how would I pull that off? And yes, this is the most pressing issue on my mind right now.

I also realized (as proven today by 10.5 hours straight driving) that I would make an excellent truck-driver. That thought terrifies me.

But you know what doesn't terrify me? Driving in a thunderstorms, chasing after tornadoes through Illinois, as long as I have Sufjan Stevens' album to listen to.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

ON THE ROAD: Salt Lake-->North Platte

1:58 pm, Tuesday, Coalville, Utah: “Clouds that look like mountains”

It’s a bit of a daunting feat, this driving across the country. Almost like climbing mountains. Farther to go than I can wrap my mind around. Often I pause and think, “What in the world am I doing?” Not just in the driving aspect, but in the moving to DC part too. I have no job, no plan…all I have is a car full of clothes, a rice cooker, somewhere to sleep once I get there, and a guidebook to the District. This may be one of the braver moments of my life. Walking into the dark. But it doesn’t feel like darkness. Especially not as I’m driving through the back hills of Utah, rolling, green, lush with the secrets of under-development, fuzzy with brush, clouds bigger than the hills, a monochrome of whites and grays and silvers. And everything bathed in sunshine. No, there is no darkness here. Just hopes high as the clouds and eyes green as the land. And green insides for that matter, in every sense of the color.

Huge lightening storms tonight through Nebraska. Makes me think of chasing tornadoes and playing pirates when I was a kid.

Lesson learned tonight: don't let mom drive after dark.

Friday, June 18, 2010

24 and the world is........

a picture, for those of you who are scared off by how much text follows.
don't be scared.

dear life,

this is a letter from me to you. i recently turned 24. i don't know if i just wasn't prepared for it or what but it has taken me quite by surprise. 24 feels old. (sorry to those of you who are 24+). i have never so strongly felt that i have crossed out of a territory that i can't go back into. perhaps it's because i'm with my little sisters right now, and two of them are still living in the single-digit years. i feel the door closing to an old life, but have not yet found the window, or the secret door, or the escape hatch to get into the next one!

and another thing: i feel like i lost 22 and 23. i mean, what was i DOING those two years?! i suppose those years were so swallowed up in other things that it feels like someone just pressed a big PAUSE button on my inside-life, and now that all those outside things are done and taken care of, i'm ready to start back up, june 4th, 2008 and be 22 again, and then 23. aren't i too young to have regrets like that? aren't i too young to think i missed part of my life? maybe this is what john mayer means when he says, "might be a quarter life crisis." because let's face it, i too wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life. am i living it right?

and this whole conundrum is exacerbated by a dilemma that many of my '86 generation have recently found ourselves in: what with the economy being what it is, we haven't been able to get into the internships/jobs/colleges that two years ago would have been a cakewalk. and so we're left with all this time to wonder if what we chose to do with ourselves in college (as far as majors go) was even the right choice at all. why didn't i do medicine? or journalism? or or or? all this dillydallying while i'm applying to yet another internship/job/school is not good for my already over-analytical mind!

tonight i was reading a book called Major Decisions by Henry J. Eyring (not to be confused with Henry B.). it's about how to make the most of your college years (not such ideal timing, as far as i'm concerned, which may be feeding into my feeling of regret). one chapter was entitled "always have big career dreams." in it, Mr. Eyring makes an interesting point: he says that a good indicator of a career that would be right for you--not just right, but abundant for you--is what you think about when you don't have to think about anything. he called it shower-thinking (ie: what you think about in the shower). other than singing opera, i think about planning stuff. i make lists in my head, figure out the most efficient way to do things, plan theme-parties, etc. lately i've also taken to coming up with businesses i could start today if i wanted to. odd.

the other thing i think about is writing. until this little blog, i never really thought about it much, but now it's everywhere--i arrange and rearrange words until they sound just the way i want them to, most of which don't ever even make it out of my own head and memory onto this blog. i figure out how to put the pieces of a story together. i write poems and little melodies and i have the box of lyrics and lines scribbled on napkins and the backs of receipts to prove it.

i don't think about teaching. i don't think about the book i'm currently reading. i don't think about dead authors.

the other thing i think a lot about is my future family. especially lately about how my choices today are going to play out in their lives. that weight is getting increasingly heavy every day. the responsibility of parents astounds me.

i also think about really dramatic situations. you know, the train station scene after two lovers have been separated for years! or me telling someone off! (these ones are especially funny because i never really have anything to tell someone off about.) this is a habit that i've had to learn to curb, because i'm afraid someday some of these things will come flying out my mouth. i do think, though, that we live in a culture hungry for dramatic moments, and out-right starved for sincere ones. perhaps i will start working on creating more of those for people.

which brings me to the fifth thing i think about in my free-brain time: creating incredibly awkward moments for people. i tried to write some of the ideas i have had, but oddly enough couldn't remember any of them. they are purely an in-the-moment thing. the one recurring theme, though, is that they seem to occur in shocking abundance on blind dates.

so there you go. i suppose i should look into screenplay writing, or journalism for awkward people, or maybe i could write a self-help book about maximizing efficiency by making lists.

but that's kinda just it: i'm tired of "looking into" another something. i'm ready to be on that path--the one straight shot to "career" and "future". sometimes i think i'm destined to live this madly organic life, free-form, taking whatever shape it pleases. maybe that's the destiny of the creative thinker--not one path, but a hundred, and not satisfied until i have traveled every one of them.

i just want to know this, life: am i making the most of you? because i feel like i'm living 100 mph, but if i'm just spinning my wheels, i need to know NOW. ten years from now, when i'm 34, i refuse to feel like 24-33 eluded me. so, world, how can i be sure that i'm making the most of it?

please write back,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


today i ate a box of jimmy dean maple syrup sausages for breakfast.
that seems kind of gross.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

birthdays! a day of wonder and magic!

today is my birthday! well, not really. it was a few weeks ago, but we were out of town, so we opted to postpone the celebrations (is that allowed?) for today. i've had many a beautiful birthday, thanks to my angel mother.

for the record, there usually are some magical things that happen on my birthday. i don't know if everyone experiences this phenomenon, or if it's just the rose-colored eyes of a girl whose birthday usually fell on the last day of school, which is already a magical day to begin with. anyways, a few beautiful things have happened on this day of [not] my birth:

1) my dad volunteered me to work at d.i. for a few hours this morning (yes, i am still not old enough to sign myself for service projects). as i was sorting through the donated clothes, i came across a bag of little baby boy clothes. trucks and dinosaurs and airplanes. they were tiny, and i died. i used to think i wanted a girl first, but i'm thinking a boy wouldn't be too bad either. as long as he has curly hair and lots of freckles.

2) as i was driving home from d.i., i apparently was driving too slow (i know, that never happens with me, huh) because i was on a one lane road, and the driver behind me pulls off into the shoulder to pass me! TOTALLY ILLEGAL! and then i look over at the car, and it's this little old lady driving! old women: 1 point. carolyn: zero.

3) i caught a shrimp in my mouth at teppanyaki. well, more like the guy launched it into my mouth.

4) as it is the last few days before my favorite person leaves on his mission, we've been spending lots of time together. this evening we longboarded to the hawaiian shave-ice shack where he got, as always, a kiwi-flavored snowcone.

5) i beat everyone at scrabble when i got 33 points on the triple word score with the letter z! i can get super competitive at games sometimes, especially when it comes to scrabble....

well, summer is good. the best season of the year. but then again, i may just be a partial june-baby.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

review #4: oh the irony

this is the next great book i want to read!

one problem: as i was unpacking all of my books from my classroom today, i remembered that i loaned it to a student, who never returned it.

i chuckle, but the irony of "the book thief" being ... stolen? too much. too, too much. :)

Anticipating DC: why i am excited to ride the subway: