Edge of Twenty-Eight

I have been in sort of a funk. I think it will get better with some sunshine and vitamin D. I have been on a huge Stevie Nicks kick this last week. Well, and AC/DC and reggae fusion. My brain is weird. But they all help the lab work go by super fast.

I got to spend my Easter with some friends and their family, which was quite entertaining. It was nice to get out and visit people outside of work. I am grateful that I have friends here that not only accept me, but aren’t afraid to bring me home to be part of their personal lives. It does mean a lot, especially when you don’t have a support system nearby like most of my coworkers. I am also glad that they all have such great senses of humor.

Today was my 28th birthday. Not sure how to feel about it, really, or if I feel much about it at all. It was a busy work day, but good. But I haven’t really ever felt my age. I think it may be one of those things where I will one day feel MORE my age. Like growing into my actual age. Or not. Who knows. I guess it is important to acknowledge anniversaries whether or not we have some emotional attachment to them.

I found out that a dear old friend will be able to meet me in May at our vacation house on the beach. I am looking forward to that more than anything–it’s the most excited I’ve been in a long time. Maybe it’s the idea of reuniting with someone that really gets me. Someone that has seen me through my worst and still loves me. Someone that I don’t have to hide anything from at all or be afraid that they’ll reject me. It’s  easy to take friends for granted and lose touch, so I can’t wait to catch up.

I am thinking of taking a trip sometime later this year. Not sure where yet, but somewhere fun. A trip for myself. I need some space from both Maine and Georgia to recalibrate.

“Well, he seemed broken hearted
Somethin’ within him
But the moment
That I first laid
Eyes on him
All alone on the edge of seventeen”

“Your world keeps spinning and you can’t jump off
But I will catch you if you fall, I can’t tell you enough
I hate to hear that you’re feeling low
I hate to hear that you won’t come home

Why, should we care for what they’re selling us anyway
We’re, so young girl and you know

You don’t have to be there babe
You don’t have to be scared babe
You don’t need a plan, of what you want to do
Won’t you listen to the man that’s loving you”

“My mind won’t rest
and I don’t sleep
Not even in my dreams…

If you ever did believe,
for my sake…
If you ever did believe…”

 

My latest playlist tunes for super awkward lab dancing at the centrifuge:

Pistachio Pudding

I have been in the midst of a flare up this past week. It usually consists of extreme fatigue, waves of crippling pain across my abdomen and back, nausea and headaches. Along with a host of other unpleasant side effects. I make do with over the counter NSAIDs, but the doctors tell me that they’d not be surprised if I need something stronger, often offering prescriptions for potent narcotics. I avoid them for now. I had several good weeks in row, so I am optimistic that this will subside as some work stress is resolved.

When I’m having a rough week or generally feel like hell, I make myself some pistachio pudding. I’m not a huge fan of pistachios, but I love pistachio pudding. This last week has definitely been a pistachio pudding kind of week. I have done some serious dog-cuddling and reading (The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics) to recover.

Fortress

Last week was pretty busy. I’ve been keeping a low profile other than going out with friends Friday night and a visit to Portland this afternoon. Doing some resting and preparing for this next week, which will also be really crazy. I managed to give Norm a much needed haircut and now she looks all tiny and even more adorable (I did leave her a nice beard). I also made some amazing baked chicken with my own version of a spice marinade.

I am looking forward to finishing up some big projects at work soon so I can be out from under the microscope for a few weeks. I am also looking forward to spending time with friends for Easter and teaching a class at USM. I am not big on pastels, but their appearance, along with Cadbury eggs, always announce my birthday month. I don’t know how I feel about it this year. Not in a bad way, but just kind of indifferent. I don’t know if it’s the long winter we’re coming out of or recent personal changes for me, but I cycle between feeling really optimistic and tragically down.

Not nihilistic. Just down and more guarded. Not hopeless. Just raw and kind of invisible. Ironic, since I’ve been in the spotlight all the time at work lately. I know it will get better with time and perspective. Questioning a lot of memories and if I really am too optimistic or trusting. Is it unrealistic to love people unconditionally? I’d like to think not, but my hope cactus continues to get crushed in relationships. It usually springs up again within another year or two, but it takes more time to return with each blow.

Is wanting love that is transparent and genuine too childish a desire? Is my bar set at an unrealistic level? Maybe so. I’m not talking fairy tale. I’m talking REAL love–the good, the bad and the ugly. Taking care of each other, reciprocation, understanding. Deep devotion and ultimate acceptance combined with compromise, humor and whimsy. I haven’t yet met someone that cares about me on that level. And I may not ever. Not being depressing, just realistic.

I don’t want to let experiences change me for the worse, but it is hard to reconcile multiple repeated events that only seem to appear to me in retrospect. Especially when I’m not objective enough in the moment to realize when people take advantage of my good nature or aren’t being totally honest with me. I struggle with conflicting emotions of wanting to reach out and be open with others and wanting to be my own island, complete with an indestructible, walled fortress.

In the store today someone was attempting to chat with me, and I had a flashback to some phrases my grandfather used to say, all of which were extremely antisocial and isolationist. I had an internal struggle right there in the canned food aisle, borderline anxiety attack, just over a stranger making small talk. And all because I felt raw and overexposed. I must have stood there inside my own head for a moment before sputtering out a response, laughing at myself.

I started the conversation partly fake and partly genuine. After a few moments, I chose to be genuine even though every fiber of my being was screaming for me to be cutesy and fake to protect myself. I chose to be real, even if it was a risk. I suppose as long as I still have that feeling deep down, that at the end of the day I want to be real, I will be okay. The desire to be ultimately genuine, no matter the potential for others to push me away. I will be okay. That is where my strength lies. And I just have to hold on to it tightly and remember who I really want to be.

Florence Welch is one of my all time favorites (along with Sia). She’s been the top of my list this weekend.

“You took my heart and you held it in your mouth
And with a word all my love came rushing out
And every whisper it’s the worst
Emptied out by a single word
There is a hollow in me now

So I put my faith in something unknown
I’m living on such sweet nothing
But I’m tired of hope with nothing to hold
I’m living on such sweet nothing
And it’s hard to learn
And it’s hard to love
When you’re giving me such sweet nothing
Sweet nothing
Sweet nothing
You’re giving me such sweet nothing”

“I took the stars from my eyes, and then I made a map
And knew that somehow I could find my way back
Then I heard your heart beating, you were in the darkness too
So I stayed in the darkness with you”

“Though the pressure’s hard to take
It’s the only way I can escape
It seems a heavy choice to make
And now I am under all

And it’s breaking over me
A thousand miles down to the sea bed
Found the place to rest my head
Never let me go”

“And I heard your voice
As clear as day
And you told me I should concentrate
It was all so strange
And so surreal
That a ghost should be so practical
Only if for a night

And the only solution was to stand and fight
And my body was bruised and I was set alight
But you came over me like some holy rite
And although I was burning, you’re the only light
Only if for a night”

Eider Ducks and Bostons

My name isn’t that common, especially not up here in Maine. A few years ago we got an intern application from a young lady with my name and, despite her many other qualifications, we joke that we only hire “Savannahs” to work in our group. After she joined us, I have gotten into the bad habit of ignoring anyone calling out my name since they most often are talking to my doppelganger. One of my closest coworkers frequently calls the more youthful associates “the younger” as in “John the Younger.” A few days ago I sent an email to this coworker and signed it “Savannah the Elder” hoping he’d find it amusing.

The next morning at group breakfast he admitted that he had a duck for me out in his truck. I had no idea what he was talking about. Through a few awkward moments we both realized that he’d misread “Elder” as “Eider”…like the duck. Everyone involved was greatly entertained. He then told us a story about the time he and his brothers went hunting for eider ducks on the coast and, while hiding in the rocks on the shoreline, one of them pointed towards the open ocean. “Is that your boat, Peter?” He hadn’t anchored it well enough and it was out floating in the path of the Casco Bay ferries. He managed to get one of the other boats out there to rescue it from the bay.

Country Diary : eider duck in Seahouses harbour

“A friggin eider duck.”
Image from Wikipedia

Thus, now they occasionally call me “Savannah the Eider” in the lab. I suppose there are works things to be called.

In other news, I finally managed to capture a picture of my favorite furry beasties during one of their cuddles. I’ve been leaving the cat out during the day and he now acts more like a dog. They are usually curled up on the couch together when I get home from work and they both run to greet me in a most amusing way. My dog, Norm, loves balloons. I was thinking for my birthday that I could get like 10-20 balloons, blow them up and hide them in a closet.  On birthday morning, I could then just open the door and let her go nuts. Something like this, but indoors:
Spring :) [14/52]
Delightful!

My music this weekend was more Hozier-esque than usual, but I’m okay with that.

“Babe, there’s something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don’t you agree?

Babe, there’s something lonesome about you
Something so wholesome about you
Get closer to me”

Swamp Monsters and Chihuahuas

The last few days have been beautiful. The sun has been out and it even got up to 50F! I did survive my run today–did a decent 3 miles in 30F weather, entertaining myself by turning my breath into dragonesque smoke rings. I did have a fun time sliding down the snowy hill into a mud puddle before I actually started running. I like to think it entertained people driving by. “Hey, why was that swamp creature wearing neon green shorts?”

There is a woman that walks her three loud chihuahuas in a large pram, all of them barking a cacophony at anything that moves. While all of this makes for good people-watching (my favorite hobby), she refuses to move out of the way of cars which makes it difficult for drivers on an already narrow road with residual snowbanks. I managed to time my intervals longer today to miss crossing paths with her too closely.

I was reading an article that touted that you should know why you run. I thought about it WHILE running. While I think it’s primarily stress relief for me, I think that it’s also a self-challenge in part. I spent years doing mentally tricky things, so why not go the next step and see if I can challenge myself a bit more physically. I also tend to think up all sorts of interesting ideas while I’m doing something physical. Similar to Matthew Inman’s in The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances on The Oatmeal. I’m definitely not fast, but I’ve never been a sprinter. I’m more of a stubborn turtle. And I’m okay with that.

Along with working with my friend to reach our individual goals, I decided to actually up the stakes (for myself) by signing up for a couple of local races. The one I’ve helped out with for several years, the Urban Runoff 5K,  is coming up soon at the end of April. We also signed up for the Color Run in South Portland at the end June. That one sounds particularly fun, especially for before and after pictures.

Working a lot lately, which is why my posting is mostly about fun non-work things. Not bad, just busy. When not spacing out to my increasingly electronica-heavy running playlist, I’ve been binge watching Amy Schumer, Britcoms and blues music.

Huffins and Puffins

Whew. This last week has been relatively productive even though I haven’t gotten finished cleaning my dining room table. Last week I decided to start a Couch to 5K program with one of my friends from work. We’re both pretty slow. It still doesn’t keep me from feeling super excited. I’ve been in some pain over the past 6-7 months from some endometriosis-related health issues, but I have started to have more good days than bad. Still have some bad days, but definitely better overall. I knew that once I started feeling a bit better I needed to get back to exercising a few times a week.

There was a time back in Atlanta where I was running at least 4-5 miles a day (even in the heat and humidity) with no problem. I’d like to use Maine’s magnificent Spring-Summer-Fall weather to jump start my way back to that goal. Then, I can figure out something indoors for Winter. I remember feeling so much better after those runs–I relaxed easier, slept better, didn’t have as many sugar cravings, etc. So, it’s the start of my second week. I’m up to 2.5 miles so far.

I love running outside. I caved and spent the extra $20 to get myself some nice running tights (designed for winter running to go under shorts) to go with my winter/mud season running shoes. Both were fantastic investments! I feel warm enough in the 20-40F temps and the fabric does a great job of wicking away sweat. My other favorite piece of running gear is my pair of Thor-lo Experian socks. I won’t wear any other socks when running. Life’s too short. I am hoping to get my summer runners broken in before my trip south to Edisto in May. I want  to do some sunrise beach running with Normand.

This weekend I found myself getting caught up in the Phryne Fisher mystery series by Kerry Greenwood. I picked it up at the library because I liked saying the name “FRY-NEE FISHERRR.” I’m not a big mystery fan, but the heroine definitely has pulled me in. A gun-toting flapper gal solving mysteries in 1920s Australia. Then I found that Acorn TV has episodes of the series online (called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries)! After watching a few of those, I somehow got caught up on the show London Irish, which made me laugh, though mostly because of the strong accents and generally irate demeanor of the characters.

Also, this is currently top of my running playlist (super poppy).

And here’s another from the playlist that’s also got pep.

I need to make a real rock playlist for running. TBD.

Layering

“Love is giving someone the ability to destroy you, but trusting them not to.”    – Suzanne Wright

We all layer every day. You may not think much of washing up then putting on clothes and  jackets before getting into your car. It’s all layers, really. We also layer ourselves mentally and emotionally in accordance to our surroundings and the people present. We adapt our language, mannerisms and posture to those around us without really thinking about it. We might give a quiet chuckle with work colleagues and a hearty guffaw with our closest chums. Layers.

“No one will ever love you as much as I do, ” was one of the last things one of my exes said to me. The same person was also physically and emotionally abusive. So, for a long time, I equated love with pain and sadness. I also judged myself as not having value as a person because the only love I garnered came with a price tag of sorts. I built my whole layering system around pushing everyone away and building up walls. Even close friends didn’t make it to my inner circles for fear of the pain they had potential to cause. I assumed that I was unlovable and, therefore, should keep quiet and do my time. That happiness was something for other people. I didn’t get that channel with my sub-par rabbit ears.

I was able to keep this up for several years before I realized that I was so lonely when I didn’t really have to be. It took a few really great friends to help me see my value. That I was worthy of friendship and love and other good things in life. I came to understand that I had been in my own way all along. It wasn’t that the world was out to get me or that I was worthless, but that I needed to be more open. I needed to invest and be willing to take chances.  To do the hard things. To make meaningful changes over time, no matter how small. If I was able to be my own source of calm and “serenity now,” others would see it and want to be part of it. I found peace and I could sleep at night. I was able to get off of antidepressants and start to FEEL things again, both good and bad. But, oh the joy of feeling life again!

I decided that when I finished the Atlanta chapter of my life that I would use those lessons when I moved here to Maine. I could shed my old skin and start new. This would be a good change–a chance to flex my layers. A chance to let new people in and take some risks. Make friends. Teach. Volunteer. Even fall in love. I have had some successes and some failures. It has not been painless. I feel like I am still growing. Far from perfect, but growing all the same.

My choices are to either return to my fortress of solitude or to shed some layers, taking the bad along with the good. Give myself to the mud in the hopes that I can someday grow into a lotus flower.

Bucket List > 30 Before 30

While I like the idea of having a definite deadline for goals (something something S.M.A.R.T.), I also think a lot of the things I’d like to do are more complex and will likely take more time. Also, I don’t like to rush through life.

So, I decided to transform my 30 Before 30 list into a sort of Bucket List with some goals being accomplished before 30 (the financial goals). It just made more sense.  Accomplishing my financial goals will inherently enable my other goals, so I’ve been focusing on those. Everyone has their own style, I think.

You out there in the dark void of the interwebs–what are some things on your bucket list?

Sunday Funday

I am alive, just busy with life things. I have been doing a lot of thinking and sketching. And recovering.

These songs have been frequently on my playlist lately and, since I often find that music better captures my feelings, I thought I’d drop them here until I can find my own words again.

“There is an answer in a question
And there is hope within despair
And there is beauty in a failure
And there are depths beyond compare
There is a role of a lifetime
And there’s a song yet to be sung
And there’s a dumpster in the driveway
Of all the plans that came undone

How could something so fair
Be so cruel
When this black sun revolved
Around you”

 

“All of my dreams, they fall and form a bridge
Of memories where I can’t get back to you

What if our hard work ends in despair?
What if the road won’t take me there?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold

What if to love and be loved’s not enough?
What if I fall and can’t bear to get up?
Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold
We could stay gold”

You’re the reason that I feel so strong
The reason that I’m hanging on
You know you gave me all the time
Oh, did I give enough of mine?

Hold on, darling
This body is yours,
This body is yours and mine
Well hold on, my darling
This mess was yours,
Now your mess is mine

Bring me to your house
And tell you sorry for the mess
Hey, I don’t mind
You’re talking in your sleep
Out of time
Well, you still make sense to me
Your mess is mine

Well in this life you must find something to live for
Cause when the darkness comes a callin’
You’ll go back to where you were before
Cause this life is as
Fragile as a dream, and
Nothing’s ever really
As it seems…”

“Hit him with a little bit of crazy
Hit him a little bit of love
Let him know that I’m not leaving
Looking at the stars in the sky
Feel they’re far away
Whatcha trying to say
Show me where the love is gone
Try to leave my heart alone
You’re the one for me
(Did you know?)
You’re the one for me
(Can you show it?)
Show me where the love is gone”

Well, I’ve got thick skin and an elastic heart,
But your blade—it might be too sharp
I’m like a rubber band until you pull too hard,
Yeah, I may snap and I move fast
But you won’t see me fall apart
‘Cause I’ve got an elastic heart

I’ve got an elastic heart
Yeah, I’ve got an elastic heart

And I will stay up through the night
Let’s be clear, won’t close my eyes
And I know that I can survive
I’ll walk through fire to save my life

And I want it, I want my life so bad
I’m doing everything I can

 

Peh-CAHNS

While I’m working on whittling down my “30 before 30” list (which may just become a bucket list), I gave Norm a trim. She has had an emo haircut complete with eye-blocking side bangs for a few weeks now and was in desperate need of a beard trim. She kept getting snow chunks caught in her beard.

I also made a couple of batches of candied peh-CAHNS, one of my favorite sweets.

  • 1 Egg white
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cp sugar (I prefer brown)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb peh-CAHNS

Whisk together the egg white and liquid ingredients. Add the peh-CAHNS and coat them. Then add the sugar, cinnamon and salt. Mix well and bake at 250F for 1hr. Then TRY not to dig in and eat ALL of them. Soooo tasty.

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Banananana Bread and a Brontosaur

Update on Phase 3! It is no longer Phase 3! We have successfully made it to Phases 4 and 5, 4 being “Lookie! Lookie!” and 5 being a combination of “Awww” and “WTF is that?” (common sentiment I have with most newborns). Thus far, our experiment has yielded one blue alien creature, a lovely brown and yellow lizard and even a delightful baby brontosaur!

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While I’ve been catching up on my Criminal Minds and Backstrom episodes today, I HAVE managed to be somewhat productive by finishing some laundry and baking some banananana bread. I used this recipe.

Best Bananananana Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 bananas, finely crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and crushed bananas.
  3. Combine well.
  4. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla.
  5. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
  7. Keeps well, refrigerated.

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Ugly loaf, yes. Moist deliciousness? Oh yeah. I’m sure there are other great recipes out there, but this is one of my faves since it comes out soft and keeps well in aluminum foil for several days.

Snow, Sass and Whoopie Pies

Many people have asked me why I live in Maine. For those of you who don’t know, I was born in Atlanta, GA and grew up in a small rural community in Northeast Georgia (basically the other end of the Appalachian Trail from here).

Things to Know

Your face will get super dry and crackly. And your hands. Any exposed skin, really.

Driving on snow is more fun than driving on ice.

Storms are slow-moving and relatively predictable here. Which is better than any tornado.

Mainers are hardy, resourceful and typically helpful. And like to keep to themselves. “You do your thing over there, I’ll do my thing here.”

Massholes/Quebecoi = Our Floridiots

Dress for comfort, not for style (at least not what the rest of the country calls style). Because no one cares. You think we look ridiculous in our giant coats and balaklavas. We know you ARE ridiculous attempting to navigate snow in your strappy high-heels and super stylish flowy blouses made of tissue paper. Unless you’re a native Mainer, in which case 40F is shorts and tshirt weathah regardless of the amount of snow still on the ground.

Get winter boots. Seriously.

Food here is different. More potatoes, less spice.

You have to “know people.” Ayuh, I know a guy.

Having distinct seasons is amazing. And very cathartic.

The trees here are worth the cold weather.

There is very little housing here compared to many other places. Finding an apartment in the Portland area is tricky and often you have to “know somebody” to get a decent rental price.

The Portland area has an awesome food scene.

Dunkin > Starbucks.

You don’t have to have an AWD vehicle, but snow tires help.

State inspections mean higher auto costs over all combined with winter road salting.

Mainers have amazing festivals.

While you should always be safe, winter is generally more beautiful than scary.

Mainers have a very earthy and genuine sense of humor. And some dry, acerbic sass when they like.

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You learn to spot Vermonters and New Hampshirites very quickly. They are their own unique groups with their own quirks separate from Mainers.

Mainers are relatively private and will not likely hassle you about your religion/sexual preference/personal choice of ass cream, etc. Which is incredibly refreshing. They expect the same from you.

 

C’mon Baby, Light Mah Fiyah

This week’s been tough and super busy at work, but going to bed early has been helping me stay ahead of getting the plague that has been circulating. Luckily, I have good friends, like Normand and Remmers, to whine and paw at me for encouragement (or is it food they want??).

There’s also my special guest….meet Mini-Torso! Bah-DAH!

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So, years ago, my mom found an androgynous mannequin in a thrift store and brought it home cause it needed a family (yes, we do shit like that). We frequently dressed it in holiday or seasonal apparel, like one does with inanimate anthropomorphized objects. Torso became part of the family, frequently appearing in the background of photos or serving to spook relatives that were sent over to feed animals while we were away on trips. Torso has since been retired to a local thrift store window.

After telling Squash this story, this was my next gift! A Mini-Torso! What? you might say. Isnt’t that just an artists drawing model minus a head? Sure, call it what you will. To me, it is Mini-Torso, ready to rumble and full of sass.

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Mini-Torso even knows a few hot dance moves…

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Mini-Torso recently assisted me in reviewing some candles. Of the three main brands purchased (Glade, Better Homes & Gardens, Yankee), I have rated them with comments below.

First up, the Glade small jar candle in “Frosted Cookie Party” flavor:

IMG_20150204_1715233192Candle: Glade
Flavor: Frosted Cookie Party (8/10)
Advertised Burn Time: Up to 28 hours (4 hr burn at a time)
Actual Burn Time (Continuous): 8.5 hours (4/10)
Comments: One of my favorite scents by far! Though they are smaller and don’t last as long, I do enjoy these for their wide variety of scents.

Overall Score: 12/20

 

 

Candle: Better Homes & GardensIMG_20150204_1716392242
Flavor: Warm Rustic Woods (6/10)
Advertised Burn Time: Up to 35 hours for the 18oz (4 hr burn at a time)
Actual Burn Time: 28+ hours (8/10)
Comments: I like these big candles because they are cheap, burn evenly and have rich scents that are seasonal. I also like the Lavender version, too.

Overall Score: 14/20

 

 

IMG_20150204_1717350132Candle: Yankee
Flavor: North Pole (Vanilla Mint) (10/10)
Advertised Burn Time: 65-90 hours (9/10)
Actual Burn Time: 80+ hours
Comments: My favorite candles! I greatly enjoy the scents and long burn time of these, even though they are more expensive. It evens out when you think of how many small candles you need to equal the burn time of one of these bad boys.

Overall Score: 19/20

 

Let’s all give Mini-Torso a round of applause for his wicked awesome “Vanna White” skills. I have other candle varieties I like, so I’ll keep adding to this review to include the soy-based and wood-wick brands.

Also, new developments in the egg experiment will be posted soon!! Excitement!

Peas and Quiet

So, more snow today. Others complained quite vociferously, but I find it invigorating to have to shovel everywhere I go. Like your everyday route becomes an obstacle course. And feeling the car float on the parts of the driveway still deep in snow is always riveting.

Upon arriving at the abode, I found that the sleepy puppy wasn’t keen on the windy snow and we both retreated back to the warm heater. I did whip up a tasty split pea soup, but since it’s the color of baby urp, I’ll refrain from displaying it here.

In more exciting news! When I went to the kitchen staging area, I found a new turn of events in Phase 3!

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If we look a bit closer….

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………..

………..

………..

 

This is the only way to express how I feel about this part of Phase 3:

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God, I hope it’s not a raptor. I must now get some rest before Phase 4 begins. I may need to aid the creatures by gently removing pieces of their egg-shell and cooing at them like a psychopath.

Also, I will be featuring a special guest star in my next entry! One of my favorite persons!

Alien Eggs and a Gummy Bear Coma

Today was loads of entertainment, none of which had anything to do with the Superbowl. Squash and I went to get breakfast (eggs, ham, grits, ham, ham and delicious fried apples for me!) and then made a random visit to the Christmas Tree Shop (CTS) to observe their sundries. We were not disappointed today. Among our found treasures were water-assisted hatching “Alien Eggs” and a marvelous brand of gummy bears that has twelve legitimately distinct flavors!

First adventure was the Alien/Dinosaur/Lizard/Duck Egg Experiment. Amusing! Funny! Novel!

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Observe, alien/dinosaur/lizard/duck eggs in Phase 1 (removal from shipping materials, prep of water bowls and randomization performed by Squash to make me less biased when making later observations on the individual species):

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Phase 2 consisted of dropping the eggs quickly into the water bowls, care being taken to ensure their full submersion:

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Now, onto the most exciting phase, Phase 3:

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……………:

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……………still Phase 3:

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………….(heavy breathing)……..:

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Checking the shipping materials, we learned that for Phase 3 there is an incubation period  of 12-24 hours:

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So…my update on Phase 3 status and completion of subsequent phases will be delayed until a later date.

During Phase 3 buffering, we enjoyed these marvels:

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Albanese World’s Best Gummi Bears! Squash first discovered these on a previous adventure to the CTS. I was initially skeptical. Though I love gummi objects, I am often unimpressed with their muddled flavors and poor overly-hardened texture. However, these were a delightful change! So soft and chewy and twelve great flavors in each package! Definitely try these if you find them or order them from their website (you can also order whole bags of individual flavors and sugar-free items!).

I am curious about the Giant Gummi Rattlesnake:

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Over a foot of gummi deliciousness!

For now, I continue to monitor Phase 3’s progress……:

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Maybe if I watch them more closely….

To be continued.

 

2015

“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.” – Iyanla Vanzant

I typically start any new blog the same way, with an explanation of why I started it. Why I found it necessary to broadcast my thoughts into the ether. Ruminating on all the possible memories that led me to making the blog in the first place, holding them like marbles in my hand and enjoying their shape and feel. I am not going to do this for 2015. I am looking forward now. I’ve decided that if I do talk about the past, it will be in a way that is forward-thinking and with the sole purpose of helping others.

I will no longer be a passive voice. Or apologetic about myself. I am not afraid to be wrong or to learn. I am happiest when I am transparent, as difficult as that can be at times. Having blogged in many other venues before this, both private and public, I promised myself that if I did resurrect my writing presence that it would be intentional and meaningful. Ultimately, this will be for myself and not really for anyone else, as it should be. How entertaining, helpful, or meaningful it will be to others will be up to them.

I hope to use this space as a way to share parts of myself: short stories, general amusements and lovely treasures that bring me joy or have some poignancy. I have never been great at scrapbooking, but perhaps I’ve just hadn’t found the best media for collecting the whimsy I find out there in the world. This is a new start for me. Fresh and green and raw. Best of luck to you, reader.

Prompt # 1: What song was stuck in your head recently, and what were you doing at the time that made you think of it?

I was filtering a buffer today when this song randomly popped into my head. Normally, it’s the Cinemagic commercial jingle. Weird stuff indeed. None the less, I started singing it loudly at random intervals all afternoon when doing really mundane tasks, making my coworkers either laugh or raise their eyebrows.

What You Wanted

 

So I lied. I meant to post again a month or so ago, but life happened. I have learned to forgive others for this, and, so too, I must forgive myself.

In May my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I was away in Santa Barbara when I got the news, which made my trip a bit more surreal. My flight from Santa Barbara to Denver went well. My flight from Denver to La Guardia was life-altering since we happened to be flying in during one of the worst storms of the year. My heart raced and my stomach turned as we circled the airport waiting to land, all the while staying low enough in altitude to be tossed around in the storm cloud with 50+ mile per hour winds. All of my thoughts centered on, “God, let me see my family again.” Then, they went to, “I really wish so-and-so knew that I cared about them.” We were tossed around for a good 45 minutes before finally being cleared for an extremely rough landing at La Guardia, with everyone on the plane screaming and praying. The ride to Portland, Maine was extremely foggy, but not nearly so windy.

My experience at La Guardia led me to a commitment to myself to be more honest and open with my feelings. I had a lot of emotions and anger from my graduate school career that I had not allowed myself to feel. I made a promise to myself that I would be more honest and not run away from my feelings. In particular, I would get resolution for my issues with my advisor and my lab mates from Emory. Once home, I made efforts to contact my closest friends from grad school to be sure that they knew several things—their influence on me and that I was grateful for their input. The most overwhelming emotion from my airplane ordeal was, “Have I told everyone how much they mean to me? If I go, will they truly know how much they meant to me?”

My goal was to convey love. Just to let others know how their help or influence had really affected me for the good. Sounds cheesy as I write it, but it’s the truth. I wanted to somehow show those people that I am a better person because of their influence. Honestly, that is the core emotion.

I was able to talk to several people—lab mates that had moved on and those that were still at Emory. I felt really good about my progress. I made an effort to contact my advisor to let him know I looked forward to visiting and that I wanted to help students still in the lab. I contacted many and, by the time of my vacation before the Fourth of July, I felt at peace with my efforts to reach out.

I had a trip to Montreal for a conference for the week before my trip home, and, though I enjoyed it thoroughly, I looked forward to seeing my parents and finally having some closure with my past back at Emory. I drove from Montreal to Portland and then again to Georgia without break, driven by a raw sense of excitement and hope. Pure hope and enthusiasm.

I was able to surprise my mom, who wasn’t expecting me until a week after her surgery. We were both relieved at having the other around for the hospital visit. The 24+ hour drive was truly worth the expression on her face when she saw me sitting on her front porch. I’d do it a thousand times over again. I was surprised at both my own resilience and my emotions on seeing my family again. My priorities became clarified and further cemented with this long drive. I had my dog with me to see the beautiful sunset in rural New York, the enchanting starlight over Pennsylvania and the breathtaking sunrise in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. A long trip, but a truly moving experience.

I was able to spend some time with my parents, both before and after the surgery, and then I moved on to visit Atlanta. I was so excited to see everyone. To hear their stories and to relate my own to them. They are all such an important part of my life, and I was eager to tell them. I arrived on campus and was able to visit most of them. Even got to join in a group meeting. I got a lot of closure from the trip, both in having the opportunity to tell people I loved them and in realizing that others were still the same and would never change. I was both elated and disappointed all at the very same moment. For the most part, I was able to get closure. I was greatly disappointed that I missed some, but this only served to remind me that I will not always get closure. Sometimes life’s a bitch that way and you don’t get what you want. And you have to be okay with that.

On returning home, I got to spend time with my folks before heading north again. The drive back seemed much longer than the drive down due to some interesting road closures in North Carolina and Virginia. My own thoughts didn’t help much since I still wished for complete closure. I had to stop in Connecticut and sleep at a rest stop to make it through the next few hours to Mass., NH, and Maine. I’ve never felt so happy as the moment I crossed the bridge from New Hampshire into Maine. It was as if a thousand tons had been lifted from my shoulders. I could breathe again.

After some sleep, I was happy to return to work. Though it didn’t go as planned, I got so much out of my visit to Georgia. I got to make my mom so happy she cried. I got to laugh with old, eternal friends. I got to tell some that I truly appreciated them. I got to love people that weren’t able to be there. Most importantly—I got the chance to let it all go. I was able to drive home knowing that I would still have friends in Atlanta, but that I wouldn’t need to visit ever again. I wouldn’t need to revisit all of the painful and confusing emotions ever again. My friends would still be my friends, no matter what. Truly and honestly a blessing.

Work has been great. I am making friends slowly, but surely. I am happier here than I’ve been anywhere else. My worst day in Maine has been light years better than my best day in Georgia. It will take time to feel part of the community here, but I am more hopeful than I’ve ever been. I’ve met so many good, funny and down-to-earth people here. It makes my heart happy.

There will always be challenges in life, but, if you make the effort to get to know them, the people around you can make it a great experience instead of a hardship. I live in a beautiful place, have a job I enjoy and new friends. This past year, I’ve felt more grateful than I can begin to express in words. And that is a truly amazing feeling. I now have the chance and the ability to give back.

Good night, world. Love you all.

Spring Has Arrived

The snow has melted and the mud is starting to subside. Everything is growing and blooming in a great display of resilience after a cool winter. There are birds out singing, and, from my kitchen window, I can hear children playing in the neighborhoods nearby.

Tomorrow, I leave for Santa Barbara, California for some training. Though I don’t enjoy spending essentially a whole day traveling, I look forward to learning some new things and meeting some new people in a new town. I have always liked traveling. It keeps me thinking and learning.

I have been on hiatus here lately, though I enjoy writing. I have been working through a lot of emotions that came after moving here. There are so many things that I am grateful for and some that sadden me. Thinking over the events that transpired before my leaving Emory, I know that some I handled less than perfectly, but I was sure to get out what I needed to say, so I don’t have any regrets about them. It is more important to learn how to work with the outcome and recognize the good that has come from that tumultuous time.

The NHL playoffs have also been a nice distraction from some of my less productive thoughts. I do like being in a place where you can watch hockey on basic cable channels.

While I have been lucky to make new friends here in Maine, there is a loneliness in moving to a place where you have absolutely no ties. I have kept myself pretty busy working on my house and working on myself. I have been eating better and working out, keeping my stress in check. I love living near the Eastern Trail, and every time I run down the path that opens onto the Scarborough marsh, the view takes my breath away. It does my soul good to be able to enjoy the outdoors. I am able to clear my mind out there.

I do have a lot to look forward to—my parents’ visit in June, a conference in Montreal and then visiting my Atlanta friends for the 4th of July holiday. I think that the healing will take some time, but I am so very lucky to have such amazing friends and family. Even if they aren’t in the same state, they manage to cheer me up via the Interwebs. Thanks to all of you. It means more than you know!

I think this week away will be good for both learning and introspection. I will write again soon (sooner than last).

It’s (Almost) Spring!

So, I have been very web-silent on this site. Mostly all the hot parties I’ve been hitting up. Actually, I have been working on a big writing project in my new-found free time. It has been extremely challenging as well as rewarding. Rewarding in a personal sense, at least until I have others read it. After my thesis, I thought it would be several years before I could even stand the idea of writing, but, surprisingly, I have had momentary bursts of inspiration and motivation. So, I’ve tried to harness those creative moments and get them on paper. I am sure it will be ongoing for awhile, but I have learned to respect my own flights of fancy.

In other news, it’s almost spring here in Southern Maine. Meaning, the snow pack is only two feet deep and beginning to melt, creating massive mud slicks. After winter storm Nemo, I am enjoying the slightly warmer days with clear skies. I don’t even mind the brisk breezes anymore, so long as I can hear the birds. Some trees are even beginning to bud! I have moved to Scarborough, which is southwest of the city of Portland—I really like the community and its proximity to everything.

Recently, I volunteered with some other coworkers to help out with the Maine Regional Science Bowl at USM-Gorham, which turned out to be a lot of fun. All of the kids were super bright and asked a lot of good questions. It was great to see so many students have been able to retain their natural curiosity. The MSSM team won to go on the the National Bowl. It was awesome to meet some of the USM faculty, as well as other coworkers that I hadn’t met before. One of the coworkers had an interesting Northern Maine accent, one I hadn’t really heard before. It’s always interesting to learn about where people are from and hear how they speak.

I haven’t yet invested in any Maine winter gear, like skis or skates or snowshoes, but I think that I’ll be able to do more next winter. I do enjoy the “outdoor-sy” way of life here. In my worst generalization, people here are handy, hardy and kind, with a no-nonsense honesty. I will be busy in the next week or so with a trip back to Charleston, but I am planning to go with the local hiking group when they plan some spring hikes. Ice-fishing is a given, with the most passionate fishermen skiing or snowmobiling miles to their super-secret special fishing spots. 

And sometimes they have a wicked** hard time accepting the melt.

So, I will most likely be working on my other project, but I will still continue to update as I learn more about this place and its fascinating people. They may even appear in my novel some day, though their names will be changed to protect the innocent.

 

**I am trying to slowly incorporate this into my speech, but I am not saying it convincingly yet.

Observations

Hi all. I have been delaying a post here for awhile since I wanted it to be meaningful, and most of the last month has seen me trying to completely rework my life with a move to a new city and a new job. I’ve also been working on some other writing projects.

In no particular order, here are some things I’ve learned over the past month.

Apparently, moving 1000 miles away from your family makes you “crazy.” I remember each time I told someone about my move, both in Atlanta and here, almost all of them looked at me like I was insane. “What about your support system?” “What happens if you need help?” “Aren’t you worried about emergencies or starting over?” I have learned that my support system is in tact regardless of distances. I have learned that people, in general, are willing to help you out if you ask. I have learned that, while it can be uncomfortable at times, starting over doesn’t have to be scary. And it really isn’t even starting over. I like to think of it as growing my circle. Now, I have friends in Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado, Montana, several Canadian provinces AND Maine! I have always believed that home is where you make it.

The food scene here in Portland is no joke. I had read about its great foodie ratings before coming, but I just love the sense of pride shown in many restaurants here. Most are an active part of their local communities and try to use responsible business practices. Not to mention, the food is amazing! Some favorites of mine are Hot Suppa!, Pai Men Miyake, Local 188, India Palace, Gritty McDuff’s, Five Fifty-Five, Caiola’s, Shay’s, Kamasouptra, Nosh, Otto Pizza, and Boda.

I don’t like the heavy donuts that are popular here. I ventured out one day to visit The Holy Donut, which is a popular donut shop here in Portland. I got six different types of donuts to try them all out and, while I liked the flavors of almost all of them, the texture is just too different than the Krispy Kremes I grew up eating. Not that they aren’t good—it’s just an acquired taste and I will always expect my donuts to be light, fluffy bits. Maine potato donuts can anchor a ship.

I do love the small coffee shops of Portland. Each neighborhood here in Portland seems to have its own hip, cool local coffee shop, complete with smarmy, overeducated baristas (a good thing!).  I appreciate their “buy local” attitudes, and I really love the local roasters. Some of my favorites are Coffee By Design, Speckled Ax, Bard Coffee, and Tandem Coffee Roasters. I also like the Carrabassett that they serve at work.

Snow is pretty to look at, but then you have to move it. It has been unusually un-snowy here since I arrived in November. I figured it would be a total white-out as soon as I got north of Connecticut (my ignorance, yes). I was slightly disappointed. Even in north Georgia, we only ever had maybe one “snowstorm,” which was really a very light dusting that melted as soon as it hit the ground, turning to ice. Over the past two weeks, we’ve had two snowstorms come through that left over 15” in some places. While it was pretty to watch, it wasn’t too exciting to have to shovel my car out of it. And then again when the plows piled it higher. Needless to say, my shovel skills are getting good pretty quickly out of necessity.

Virginia drivers are nuts. That’s pretty self-explanatory. On my drive up, the craziest drivers we encountered were in this state. Here’s someone else who had similar experiences.

Maybe I just haven’t gotten out enough, but the guys here are well-built. Now, I know that I’ve been completely neglecting the world outside of the lab for awhile, but I swear that the dudes here are stacked. No offense to my skinny compadres, but I’ve always appreciated broad shoulders and general largeness in a guy. I have claimed for years that I would like to find myself a lumberjack. Though it is a broad generalization based on my small set of observations, the general population of guys here are taller and broader than those I am used to seeing back home.

On a related note, I love to watch men work. Not like doing the taxes. Or sitting behind a desk. I mean like physical labor. There’s just something so fetching about a man fixing something or moving heavy stuff. I could watch guys shovel snow all day long. Luckily, that’s pretty common here.

Industry is very different than academia in many ways. Not to complain, but in my previous workplace I had the most uncomfortable chair in the world. And it was a nightmare trying to get it changed or replaced. The first thing they did at my new job was an “ergonomic evaluation.” What the fuck is that? I asked myself. Apparently, they want their workers to be comfortable and safe so that they are more productive. Crazy! Not that every job doesn’t have its cons and stress, but I’ve felt more appreciated, compensated and healthy in the past month in industry than in the past eight years in academia. This is my personal experience and I’m sure that it may not be true for everyone, but it works better for me.

Grad-school is an all-consuming venture, and, while I learned a lot, it is very far removed from “real life.” It’s one of those things you go through that requires every bit of you. So much so that it is easy to lose your grasp on what is healthy or what is “normal” since you are constantly pushing yourself and making excuses so that you can try to get more data. People looking at it from the outside that haven’t been through it often have a difficult time understanding it, and people that have been through it can recognize afterwards how much it changes you. My grad school experience was a great learning opportunity and, though I value the lessons learned, I don’t know that I would recommend it for most people. I will always love basic science and asking the important questions, but I now appreciate that the traditional pathway is not the only way to enjoy these.

My neighborhood is a constant whir of machinery. Regardless of how much snow there is, there are always trucks with plows, snowplows and workers shoveling and salting and cussing and pushing snow around and generally moving shit with giant machines. Even for a small town, there is always someone working somewhere. Usually with a shovel.

Snow tires really do help. Pre-snowpocalypse, I managed to get my tires changed over, and they do really make a difference. I was skeptical, but I am glad I listened to my Maine advisees. Next will be getting all-wheel drive. And snow shoes.

Walking on snow or ice is actually easier after a few drinks. I have had a lot of knee pain here for the past few weeks because I would constantly tense up on every walk outside, paranoid that I’d fall to be concussed on the icy sidewalk and then be scooped up into a snow drift by the next plow. After going to several shows and hockey games that involved me having a couple of drinks, walking home was much more enjoyable. What was the magic secret? It was easier to traverse the terrain when I was not tensed up.

Maine is beautiful. Mountains. Lakes. Ocean. What more could you want?

It’s good to get out and just talk to strangers. After enrolling my dog in daycare to try to get her socialized (her separation anxiety was getting ridiculous), I vowed to hold myself to the same standard—meaning I had to be more social, as well. This goes against my typically hermit-esque nature, but it’s good for me. I started with going to a few Meetups around town and just talking with people at events and restaurants. For instance, I got to meet Hollis last weekend. For those unfamiliar, Hot Suppa! has a special on their breakfast menu named “The Hollis” that is a ton of food. I went by last weekend and sat at their nice bar to grab some eggs and a waffle. The guy next to me was super friendly and seemed to know all of the staff. He told me of all of his snow-shoveling adventures (his arms were impressive!). Everyone there said “Hey Hollis!” and then I opened the menu to see the special. I had a good time listening to his stories, and I enjoyed that the staff had incorporated him into their menu since he’s a community legend. You can read more about him here.

Some stereotypes are based in truth. Everyone here drives a Subaru. And wears plaid. And wears Bean Boots. Well, maybe not everyone. But a hell of a lot of people.

Canadians. Just…Canadians. As a “Mainer,” I am expected to make even MORE jokes about Canadians. Luckily, I already find them quite entertaining, so no troubles there.

I am an old and boring person by today’s standards. I would rather spend my Friday and Saturday nights reading or writing than going out. My condo building is full of older, more vibrant people than I that go out a lot more. Although I don’t have boat loads of friends here, I doubt that my preference would change all that much if I had tons of friends here since I didn’t go out a lot back in Atlanta. I’d much rather have a night in with my friends. Thus, I will seek out a great house over the next few months so that I can host my friends this next summer! That and I’ll try to be less curmudgeony.

Maine is a very dog-friendly state. Many people here have dogs and are very dog-friendly, which is great for Normand since she’s meeting lots of new people and dog-friends. People here seem to really include their pets in their family unit, which is how my folks are and it’s refreshing not to have to explain myself. My dog is part of my family unit, and, though she’s not a real child, she’s the closest I’ve got right now.

I’m not happy unless I’m singing or writing. After coming off of my thesis-writing freak-out, I was glad for some time to NOT write. I have always enjoyed writing, but grad school almost killed that joy for me. Only a week or two after, I was filled with an overpowering urge to write again, but not science. I have attempted to work on a science paper, but it has been reluctantly so since it makes me feel quite depressed. I have had much more luck with fiction and I haven’t had this much motivation to write and joy from writing in quite a long time. Because of my close neighbors, I haven’t done much musically, but I am excited to have more time for this, too, when I get the house.

2012 was a bitch of a year. Several deaths in the family. Becoming greatly discouraged in grad school. Job-hunting. Stressful interviewing. Stressful dealings with faculty and thesis-writing on a shorter timeframe than I’d have liked. Moving and starting over in a new town. But I am very hopeful and happy to see what 2013 will bring to me. It really is a new beginning for me and it feels right.

“Just Wait Till Novembah”

So, who the hell am I and what is this about? I am a grad student in “ole yeller” mode, i.e. trying to finish and graduate from my program here at Emory. I haven’t been much in the mood for writing since I have been writing A LOT of other things, namely a paper and my thesis chapters. But it was suggested that I take a short break and write a bit about the stuff that happens outside of grad school. Like life stuff. So, I took inspiration from Sam and thought I’d make a feeble attempt at a blog. Hopefully, it will give me a place to vent and reflect, so I’m sure it will be entertaining for all those that read it. Especially since I tend to write like the voice in my head sounds, including the outlandish exaggerations to my daily life that some people have called “whimsical.” Others just shake their heads.

The hardest part about this whole blogging thing is where to start—life is a continuum, so to try to block it out like a play seems kind of weird to me. I think it’s like other things. If I keep practicing, I’ll find a method that works. I guess I’ll start with my visit to Maine two months ago. I had been looking for a job for about eight months when I saw an opening for a research assistant on a job posting site. It was for a company in Maine (henceforth called Biotech Company X for their privacy) and, after seeing their website and reading about their company values, I felt good about sending them my CV, though I didn’t expect much since I don’t have a background in industry. I got a call back with an invitation to come for an interview. Exciting! I’d never been north, really, save for Ohio, and never to New England. I was a bit apprehensive because I’d been to several interviews in the previous months and turned away, always hearing the same thing—you’re awesome (my paraphrasing), but you’re too damn smart (again, my words). It’s more like you’re great but we don’t have the money to afford you when a Masters or Bachelors would be just fine. They never tell you at the beginning of grad school that a Ph.D. might actually hinder you in a search for a good job. Unless you’re going into academia, it’s much more efficient to get a Masters since you would be qualified, but not overqualified, for more jobs. But the folks at Biotech Company X were accommodating and arranged for me to come visit their labs, and I just can’t say no to seeing cool new equipment.

I made it through Hartsfield and to my gate. It was a very small gate at the far reaches of the airport, but I got my exercise getting there. I saw the gate in the distance, shining a brilliant white, and I thought racistly to myself, “I bet that is the gate to Maine. There’s only old white dudes standing about.” And lo, I was correct. I mean this in the nicest way, of course. I feel like I can say that without much guilt since I am from a small town in rural Georgia that is also very white. Moving to Atlanta was refreshing for several reasons, one being an increase in diversity. I was pleasantly surprised to find out later that Biotech Company X has much more diversity than was represented at the airport terminal to Portland. I figured it would be a normal boring plane ride, so I dozed off at the window. I woke up before we landed and I was so glad that I had—the view of the islands off of the Portland coastline was amazing! I didn’t have a camera, but I don’t think even pictures do it justice. This is the closest image to what I saw from the window (not my own image).

Portland, Maine. 4-25-2012

It was a sunny, summer day and the water was a rich blue-green, which was beautiful next to the deep pink of the rocky islands and the forest green of the trees. I enjoyed the homey feel of the Portland Jetport, though it was not nearly as small and homey as the Bozeman airport in Montana, which is essentially two small buildings on a craggy mountainside. Of course, any airport seems small and homey compared to Hartsfield.

My contact for the company came by my hotel to pick me up for dinner the night before the interview day, and I was amused when we got behind three slower cars on a two-lane road going into town and she apologized for the traffic. Really? I guessed she’d never been in Atlanta on I-85 on a Friday afternoon between 3pm-7pm.

 

 

I was amazed at the perfect weather (sunny, but cool and breezy at 72 degrees). The lanes of the road shifted in several places and she commented saying that they had two seasons in Maine – winter and road work. I feel like that has been true here, too, except it’s more like summer and road work. She said they’d had a lot of tourists coming into town off the boats for vacation and that it would only get worse when the leaves started changing—the lead peepers would flood into town.

Leaf Peepahs

n., The “southanaws” that come up in fawl to see all the pretty leaves.

We went to dinner at a restaurant on Congress Street called Five Fifty-Five. It was very good food and the kitchen is open so you can watch the chefs making the dishes. I appreciated that they were using seasonal foods and it was super fresh. During dinner, she told me about the food snobbery that exists within Portland and that the locals frequently run out chain restaurants because they have super high standards for their chefs using local ingredients. I also learned about the Mainers’ passion for blueberries and that they aren’t usually cultivated, but rather people tend to claim blueberry bushes on their property, protecting them against neighbors with veracity. It sounded similar to how we treat our blackberry bushes here in Georgia. I caught on to the usage of the word “wicked” pretty quickly, though I’ll never be able to use it with their gusto. Their shortening of  phrases is similar to how we talk in North Georgia, so I didn’t have that hard a time understanding them when they pushed words together (we do that all the time back home).

Wicked

adj., A general intensifier: “He’s wicked nuts!”

I had a great time the next day meeting the team at the company and getting to tour their facilities. They were refreshingly honest and down-to-earth. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to talking with people in higher academia who like the sound of their own voices? Perhaps. I was especially amused that several people commented on the beautiful weather and followed this by saying, “Just way-et till Novembah.” Long story short, they soon contacted me to offer me the job, which I accepted based on a gut feeling. I don’t often talk with people about my decision-making process because it is often misunderstood. I tend to plan and think very far ahead, but in the moment, I ultimately depend on my intuition about a decision. It’s not very scientific or logical and not many may understand it, but it has never led me astray and I’ve learned to trust it above all else. It has served me well in dealing with people and difficult situations.

My next adventure after accepting the job has been researching the area to prepare for moving there. So, in between writing chapters, I have also been reading about the neighborhoods of Portland and the different housing options. My most recent entertainment has been the endless questions I get when I contact real estate agencies about their rental homes, which I can liken to the Grand Inquisition. They don’t understand why a single gal like myself would want a 3br/2ba house! It sounds ludicrous apparently. There is more to heat, yes. But on average it isn’t much more than what I pay now for air conditioning (another thing that is difficult to explain to my Maine contacts). It actually averages out, just in a different season—late fall, winter and spring rather than late spring, summer and early fall. They have been quick to suggest I get a 1br to help with costs. I appreciate their tenacity and budget-consciousness, but I have my reasons. It would be nice to have room for friends and family to visit without falling all over each other (we Southerners like our space and privacy). They always ask how many kids I have, too. Ah, well, they have all been nice and super helpful.  Especially to someone “from away.”

Plenty-a-chahm

adj., What all houses for sale have, at least according to the brokahs. Really old houses also tend to have “characta,” especially if the roof and floors need to be replaced.

So, I will hopefully have a camera in the next month so I can take photos during my move for my own documentation and your future entertainment.

For all of those doing NaNoWriMo, I am proud of you and wish you luck in your writing. I won’t be participating this year since I’m working on a helluva non-fiction piece (le thesis), but I’ll be excited to join in next year.