This was a good read & excellent juxtaposition to the kitchen rant in my most recent post. Things are not so bad. #butbeingarealadulttakescourage
This was a good read & excellent juxtaposition to the kitchen rant in my most recent post. Things are not so bad. #butbeingarealadulttakescourage
as i drove my subaru into chapel hill for the first time, i played two songs:
it is remarkable that memphis became such a home for mr cs, riga and myself. there was no reason it should feel so welcoming. again and again, mr cs and i were confronted with conflicting values, astounding cultural quirks and shaky personal relationships. we dealt with all of that, plus oppressive airfare and unbearable distances from our families, and still fell head over heels in love with the city. it does not make sense. but paul simon was right.
my head knows that this new chapter in chapel hill will be a great one. it has already demonstrated - in just six days of residency - that it’s prepared to fight for my love. and that’s excellent; i like being wooed. who doesn’t?
still, as week two begins in our new home, i am lethargic and ambivalent about unpacking. my heart isn’t in this yet.
also unpacking is way worse than packing. i have no idea where 3/4 of this stuff should go in the new house. this could go own for weeks with no resolution!
my final looks at memphis:
our last meal in memphis, just like our first, was at swankys taco shop. i actually sent mr cs to go buy muddy’s cupcakes right after we ordered so we could enjoy our favorite dessert, too. i am shameless.
little miss riga on her third birthday. she quickly learned that air mattress meant no-limits-on-morning-family-snuggles. as a birthday surprise, we stuffed her in a car for 10 hours…sorry riga!
yes, we took our most-impressive hostas with us. hey, mr cs made me leave my compost, so this was a good deal. no compost, but keep the compost product. now let’s just hope the deer in our new neighborhood keep a safe distance (yes, there are deer. we now live in the woods.)
memphis gave us a proper send-off with one last train track crossing in our neighborhood. mr cs and i also have a thing about seeing the front of a train toghether…couples do weird things.
the tools of the road: iced coffee, water and walkie-talkies for our caravan. also, i would normally never drink evian water, but MLGW followed our instructions a little too well and cut power/water to our house several hours before we actually left. thank goodness we had already showered and brushed our teeth!
yes, that is actually the most i saw of riga the whole ride. as things shifted, her crate became more and more obscured from view.
this gorgeous sunset as we entered the mountains was welcoming.
the next morning, we started unpacking the truck. we are indebted to mr cs’s parents and pat, katie’s boyfriend, for their help. we are also thankful they stayed calm when mr cs and i discovered that water had leaked into the truck and damaged a number of things (side note: we do believe the TV is okay). also, several things had been improperly packed by the movers and were therefore broken. a small pity party followed in which i thought very seriously about driving back to memphis. my mental state was pretty fragile at this moment…you know, unemployed, exhausted, wet, with no answers to anything and no clue how to actually make our new house work for us. fact: there is only one drawer in our kitchen. one. try unpacking your kitchen with those limitations and get back to me.
why yes, that is a hole in my preserved-wedding-dress box.
you’ll notice this box is clearly marked fragile and it is also clearly crushed.
but mr cs saved the day. for dinner, he drove us out of town (rather hilariously in circles) to this hole-in-the-wall mexican joint. and i melted when i tasted the best green chili sauce outside of santa fe.
we found our new NPR station and discovered it is (no surprise) 10 zillion times better than memphis. it truly is the small things.
we also had the best DMV experience ever (you’ll recall my experience in memphis was laughable)…as in i fully expect the universe threw me this bone so i wouldn’t explode and every DMV experience after this will be perfectly horrendous. seriously: in and out in 50 minutes. and the people were nice. and they knew what a passport was. hallelujah!
but we are a family. riga has forgiven us for packing her in a car for 10 hours on her birthday and then locking her in a scary bathroom while we unpacked the truck. now she’s just interested in snuggles on the cuddle couch, which are much more frequent now that i’m partially employed and mr cs works from home.
and full-time employment: i’m working on it. end of story. also on my to-do list: find a compost bin on craigslist, continue the impossible task of unpacking, convince our landlords to remodel a bathroom, find riga a new vet, hire an exterminator (or other creative solutions for swarms of mosquitoes), reconnect with good friends (!!!), conquer my fear of the other bathroom and shop for a new/reclaimed door for riga’s doggie door. if you need me, you’ll probably find me haphazardly wandering around my house trying to figure out where to begin.
attention dog lovers: i need your help!
i’ve had some success lately making silkscreens of dogs. to date, i’ve made 4 dog prints…and two are of riga. not only is this boring for me, but it also just seems downright wrong considering how many pictures of dogs are taken daily. so now i’m coming to you!
BUT be warned, i have some pretty specific instructions. i’m looking for:
if the picture doesn’t work for me, i’ll let you know.
check on this before and after. several steps took place in between, including digitally strengthening the contrast and good ol’ fashioned sketching. but check on the light source in the picture on the left…nice, huh?
what’s in it for you? i’ll send you 1-2 signed prints from the custom limited edition. you can keep them or give them to family members as gifts, but please note you may not sell and/or otherwise distribute or copy them.
think you have a picture that would suit my specifications? email me at email@example.com and we’ll continue talking there.
today is my last day at KDHQ. the word bittersweet seems trite and unprepared to explain everything i’m feeling, but it is close.
i did the math. i have spent more days as a member of the KDHQ “chapter” than as an active member of my own chapter. and that carries a lot of weight in the Greek world. generally speaking, your chapter of initiation is your Greek experience. for many, that might be all you endeavor to experience. but for someone like me, plucked out of higher ed obscurity with only my experiences as a chapter member (not even leader), the alumnae experience is everything. this alumna experience is everything. my entire relationship with the national organization i love, but might have shelved, has been dramatically reorganized forever.
my coworkers gave me this opportunity to redefine the way i am a KD, to shine my light while i had one and to keep striving. the challenge has been exhilarating. anyone who has seen me wrapped up in the newest problem knows this. my coworkers found the best in me and they unlocked it. i know what i am capable of now and the possibilities are endless.
like all things, it hasn’t been without the occasional discomfort. when i think about all the times that i was lonely and homesick i am reminded that change is hard and often heartbreaking. i had to be braver than i had ever been before. now that Memphis has firmly wound itself into my soul, this new change will be harder still. but i am smarter now; i know it’s only temporary.
finally, a living, breathing KD celebrity, Corre Stegall, said the most beautiful thing when she was receiving an award (mind you, none of this was premeditated because she was completely surprised): "if i have ever appeared tall, it is because i have stood on the shoulders of giants." KD is my giant. standing on the foundation of this organization, i am humbled to be counted among its guardians. i am tall enough to peer into my own future and i know KD will still be there for me and for generations of nerdy, feminist, dmb-loving art students to come.
in january, i alluded to some pretty terrific occurrences. i didn’t want to spoil the good news if it never actually came to fruition, so i left you guys hanging in the balance. my apologies.
i’ll let you in on the secret now. here’s what to do:
and to think, it all started with my stubborn desire to silkscreen my own wedding programs. that program made it into the hands of my friend, KD sister and former co-GOK intern, and then into the hands of her boss. i originally sent her company “Riga” and “Hen” in August 2013. boy, was this a test of my patience. pretty soon, i had given up on hearing good news and mostly forged ahead just because it was fun. and then of course, last night at 10:30 pm when i least expect it, she sends me those links. AMAZING!
happy friday, world!
it all started when i arrived home from a quick sprint of a trip to the NC Triangle area. mr cs and i pulled up and our neighbor stopped us. she said that a SUV carrying a few people had stopped in front of our house this afternoon, got out, walked around, peeked in the windows and knocked. i suggested they were interested in mowing our lawn. she claimed they didn’t have any tools in their car.
mr cs and i were suspicious, but not enough to do anything. our neighborhood has consistently been safe, albeit odd, but safe.
that changed around 8:30 pm that same evening. i watched from our couch as the headlights of a small car slowed, then stopped in front of our house. i stood up to get a better view when the driver pointed a flashlight in the window and then drove away.
more suspicious, right? is this a very lost, very bad pizza-delivery guy (missing his sign)? did our landlord list our house in the newspaper? a text to him confirmed that wasn’t the case.
so we called the non-emergency police line and a patrol car stopped by to check in on us. here’s the highlights of our conversation:
police officer (PO): how long have you been living here?
mr cs: about three years.
PO: and you haven’t installed a security alarm yet? this neighborhood is city-living.
mr cs: we’ve never had any issues.
PO: well, activity in this neighborhood generally picks up after italian fest (side bar: the festival is held in the park across the street from our street and our neighborhood is prime street parking). what sort of firearms do you have in the house?
me: [adamantly] none.
PO: NONE! [as if i had just told him i didn’t have running water]
this continues for several more minutes. the officers were kindly alerting us to the dangers of city living, yes, but they were also exposing their cultural bias: you must own guns to be safe.
as you might imagine, mr cs and i have our own cultural bias: absolutely no guns, ever. instead, mr cs started looking into inexpensive and transferable security systems.
in the meantime, i took this story to my coworkers. they were relieved to find out that we hadn’t been robbed (yet). and then i discovered something i wasn’t expecting. a good chunk of my coworkers had the same reaction as the police officers, several of them proudly revealing that they were gun owners themselves.
one of them asked me, “well, have you ever shot a gun?”
and that stopped me in my tracks. it was a pretty simple question, and the answer was no, but it stuck with me. i realized that i didn’t really have a leg to stand on in the gun-rights debate. my cultural bias was just that: extremely biased, and therefore i had nothing new to offer to the conversation.
i toyed with the idea and brought it to mr cs for consideration. maybe - while we still live in TN - we should seek out some education. take a class. go to a range. develop our own informed opinions.
now before you think “boy, you two are off your rocker” or “hell yea, go murica,” consider your own biases. have you ever been challenged to consider the other perspective? how far would you go to understand the issue at hand and create your own experiences?
i wanted that. i know that i’ll face all sorts of opinions. i really like supplying a smart response from time to time. taking a class seemed like a genuinely good solution. and mr cs, well, his coworkers mocked his lack of guns, too. and he figured “my wife told me to take us to a shooting range. i should get on that right away.”
and so, on an ordinary tuesday after work, mr cs and i met at a shooting range for a intro to handguns class.
sitting in this room, with an ammunition shop just on the other side of the wall, i was as skeptical as ever. the instructor - a woman (worth noting because i believe she was the only woman i saw among all of the staff) - invites us to introduce ourselves to the class with a brief description of while we’re here.
oh no, i thought. i’m going to sound like a liberal freak in this crowd.
but i was relieved to find that my skepticism and desire to learn was shared. not all students had shot a gun before. many were there at the urging of their families, and they were uncomfortable with the idea. some wanted a new hobby. our opinions and reasons for our interest were diverse, and that was comforting.
the class was excellent. it emphasized safety. when the instructor digressed into the topic of concealed carry or home defense, she only discussed it for a moment. we learned about gun safety around children…that they are naturally curious, and because of that not much will stop them from firing a gun. she even developed her own youth curriculum to educate middle school-high school aged kids about safety. the basics - how to hold a gun, how to fire - were fascinating, eye-opening and easy to follow. i feel better knowing those things. my own ignorance might have been dangerous to myself or others if i ever found myself in a situation with a weapon. i’ll admit: before this class, i didn’t even know how to check if a gun was loaded.
"what’s the number one way to protect your home?" she asked. "a pump shotgun." she explained the noise - you know, the distinctive clunk-clunk of an armed shotgun - had a universal meaning. me to mr cs: "so, we should just get a mock-up that makes that exact noise, huh?"
the class was nearly two hours long, and close to an additional hour was spent with two instructors on a closed range. think about that: no one has to take this class. mr cs and i could have just walked in off the street, rented a handgun and stepped onto the range, no questions asked. (moreover, in TN, you can walk in to a variety of stores and buy a gun and bullets, no questions asked.) but it takes nearly two hours to prepare us the right way. that’s a huge disconnect.
but we did finally step onto the range. carefully, with thorough step-by-step guidance from the instructors to half the students at a time, we fired three different handguns toward a close paper target.
so, i did it. prepared with the right amount of knowledge and safety tools, i felt secure. the whole experience, i’ll admit, was exhilarating. the power, on the other hand, was alarming. that realization alone is enough to cement my feelings on the topic.
on the drive home, i started thinking about how teenagers get their drivers license. cars - by definition - are not meant to cause harm, but we all know they can be very dangerous. to prepare for that, our teens take courses, complete certified hours and pass a test before they are legally permitted to drive. imagine how scary the roads would be if no one knew what the traffic signs meant.
i also considered my own experiences growing up in a mid-size city. what if i had grown up on a farm? it’s very likely that my parents would have taught me to driver earlier out of necessity. and how much danger could i really do on hundreds of acres of land? still, in order to leave that property and drive on highways, i’d need to have my license.
firearms, on the other hand, are meant to cause harm by definition…perhaps not to people, but to some living thing. and in some parts of our country, particularly rural areas, gun ownership is part of life, just like the farm-driving example. it’s their tradition.
you can probably tell where i’m going with this. and now that i have an informed opinion, i feel more comfortable sharing it. i don’t believe it’s asking too much to ask gun owners, like car owners, to attend a two hour class to reinforce the basics. they might already be perfectly equipped to handle a weapon, just like a teen who grew up driving on the farm would be behind the wheel, but why not take the extra two hours to make that knowledge legally viable? to make sure they know how to properly store and clean their gun? to make sure their children are out of harm’s way? we already expect these concerns will be addressed by a drivers license; why not have the same expectations for ownership of a machine that is actually meant to cause harm?
i know my opinions place me firmly in what some would call the “liberal freak” crowd. now, after checking my biases and expanding my comfort zone, i truly feel okay with it.
thanks, tennessee, for all your wildly challenging quirks. i can tell this story is going to be one of our favorites.
More reading: check out this Gawker opinion piece “ It’s really hard to be a good guy with a gun.”
Andrew Talansky crossed the finish on Wednesday more than 32 minutes after the stage winner, Tony Gallopin, to cheers from fans who, like Talansky, decided to stick it out.