Sunday, March 28, 2010

Church of the Week

On my way out of New York City about a week and a half ago, I snapped this picture out the window of the moving bus I was on. It's the latest Harlem church picture, but I do plan to take more when I get back to the city. And I mean to blog more! I thought this week in NC would be replete with leisure time for blogging and sun-bathing and grand crochet projects, but who am I kidding? I've got a wedding to plan, a man to spend time with, and (while my parents were out of town) dogs and chickens and cats to take care of. But it has been the best week! I don't want to go back to New York--in fact, there have been moments when I've forgotten about the city altogether while I've been down here--but I do have to go there to pack and move, tie up all my loose ends. I'll be there one more month, give or take a few days, and then I'll be back in the South, where my new life will begin. I wonder if I should keep the name of my blog, or change it? Or start a new blog? Hmmm... we'll see.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Family

One of the most interesting things about coming home and staying with my family is just observing what each person here is busy doing. I get a slice of life that I miss out on when I'm away in New York or living somewhere else. Last night when I came home from C's house (where we were doing a 2-person crossword puzzle--how cute are we?), my big brother was in the garage making DJ speakers from scratch. This morning my other brother was all excited to tell me about the book he is writing, about Bigfoot. Apparently it's going to be the definitive volume. And then I got to have the experience of helping my little sister bleach the roots of her hair. What else she is up to, I have no idea, but she keeps posting cryptic and angst-filled little paragraphs on facebook that make me wonder. Sigh... I can remember how difficult it was to be a young girl, and I wish I could just pick my sister up out of it and set her down somewhere safe, with a clear and inspiring view of her potential life ahead.

Meanwhile, my other sister had her baby yesterday, so I have a new nephew named Kyle Ashton!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Emerging

The chickens, dogs, birds, cats, and hermit crabs are all fed and put to bed, and the plants are watered, the dishes done, and my sweetheart has bid me goodnight and gone home, and I've got a moment to blog. But wait! My sister needs me to brush bleach on her roots... okay, I'm coming!

Later... I'm back. She's been begging me for days to help do her hair. Finally I had a spare moment. But no spare moments to blog! I'm sort of taking care of the homestead while my parents are in Idaho, where my other sister is having a baby. But not just that. I'm also here to see my fiance, plan my wedding, and enjoy some free time. Mostly I've just been walking around in a lovesick daze, too blissed out to notice anything around me. Well, no, that's not quite true. I've been noticing the budding and blossoming trees, the electric yellow of the forsythias, the North Carolina farmland turning from red clay mud to lush green grass and clover. Spreading a blanket under the tree in the yard here at home, I spent a few leisurely hours contemplating the moss, the musical sound of tree frogs, and bees emerging from winter hives.

C and I spent Saturday doing some spring cleaning at his house, with a nice long break to nap in the garden amidst pansies and narcissus, the March sun strong and full of promise. I'm not exactly looking forward to summertime in the South, but spring time is sure nice. The breezes are redolent of flowering plum and pear trees, and you never know from one moment to the next if you'll need a sweater or shorts, mud boots or sandals. C showed me some trails today in the woods where he used to go running a lot. There we saw a stream where there used to be a mill, and the beautiful sandy and rocky banks were edged with soft green grasses, latent vines, and trees on the verge of bursting into leaf. The forests here are still ash-gray and silent, but little by little there are tiny white flowers popping up and almost undetectable leaf buds, insects emerging from their mysterious places, and birds singing the anthem of spring all around. I know it happens every year, but the miraculousness of spring never fails to amaze me.

We also spotted a coyote loping along an old railroad track in the woods today! That is definitely not something I'd see in Harlem, although some of the characters in my neighborhood can seem pretty similar. Anyway, it's nice to be back amongst nature, and here on the "farm" surrounded by the Carolina countryside in all her delicate springtime lace and finery, with family around and a good man at my side, it seems as if there is no better place in all the world to be.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

North and South

Phew! That's me, breathing a sigh of relief to be home in North Carolina again, finally done (for the most part) with my job in New York, and able to rest, relax, and begin wedding plans. After a week of rain in the city and the longest last week of work ever, I was so looking forward to flying South, and putting winter behind me.

My last day of work was on Tuesday, and afterwards I celebrated by making a huge pot of clam chowder and inviting a few friends over to share it. Then, Wednesday saw me up and packing, heading to the bus stop early, making a beeline for the airport. It was a beautiful sunny morning in New York, so different from last Saturday when an "unnamed hurricane" swept through and made a mess of the entire city and its neighbors. After such a weekend, this Wednesday morning March sunshine felt strange and hot and Harlem lay exposed before the onslaught of Spring. I know when I go back to the city, there will be daffodils in all the parks, ice cream trucks on the corners, and people out sitting on stoops again.

Meanwhile, I spent today laying in a backyard sunbeam having my sister throw flowers at me. "These little blue flowers would make such pretty confetti at your wedding! You just need to hire some cheap laborers to pick tons of them for you." Earlier we went to David's Bridal to try on dresses. It was pretty disappointing, because they literally have nothing with sleeves. Nothing! The saleslady showed me some hideous little boleros that can be worn over the shoulders, or you can pay extra to have little slips of beaded nothing sewed over the shoulders, but everything is so ugly. I did find one dress that was pretty and looked good on me, but it was backless! Sigh... I guess my next step is or someplace like that, but... for some reason I feel like I'm running my fingernails down a chalkboard when I look at those sorts of websites. So I'm hoping to find something vintage, something unique and different, something modest but gorgeous, something me.

Anyway, I'll definitely keep you updated!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Traveler's Rest

I haven't quite reached the "rest" part of my life's "travels" but this is a cute name for a church, and I can see my rest in sight. A combination of daylight savings "spring forward" time change and the dark rainy morning caused me to sleep in an extra hour this morning and wake up without enough time to get to my church on time, so I went with my roommates to their ward instead. Compared to my large bustling noisy family ward, theirs was tiny, quiet, and very focused. The spiritual messages, talks, and lessons were all uplifting, and I felt my spirit renewed and refreshed--just like at an oasis, for a weary traveler.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Catching Up

Yay! The week is over, and that means I only have two more days left of work, four days until I get to go home to North Carolina, about 50 days until I move back there, and roughly 100 days until I get married, give or take a week (no! the date has still not been set, so stop asking me!) There has been so much to do that I have neglected to blog about it all, so here are the highlights:

First the bad news. The dress I was in love with has left me for another. I guess it was reserved for another buyer on etsy, and I didn't realize it, so interrupted the arrangement when I purchased it. So my money was refunded and now I'm back to square one, plan B, or the drawing board--whatever metaphor works the best. I'm sure I'll find something... and it is fun to shop, that's for sure! But I hope I find something wonderful and perfect. E has been helping me out by sending links to dresses she's finding on e-bay and there are some amazing ones there. However, I don't think I will pick this one:

Celebrity sighting of the week is Rudy Giuliani, who seems to be following me. First I saw him last month in Palm Beach, and this week he was walking past the store where I work, when he stopped to look at a watch in the window. He then decided to come in and my coworker showed the watch and chatted with him for a moment before Giuliani rushed back out the door, only to then be accosted by tourists wanting to take pictures of him with their cell phones.

My replacement at work was finally hired! H seems a lot like me when I first started out, except she doesn't know a single thing, so I'm a little bit worried about her, but she didn't give up after the first day, or even the second, so that's one good sign. She asks good questions, and seems pretty cheerful, so I just hope she's not beaten down by the daily onslaught of craziness that I faced each day at that job.

I went out to Johnny Utah's on Wednesday night with some girls from work who wanted to give me a little bachelorette night of sorts. Johnny Utah's is such a popular place, I was expecting it to be lame, but it was actually really fun. Aside from Megan spilling her margarita into my shoe, I enjoyed hanging out with the downstairs girls. They even convinced me to go for a ride on the mechanical bull, which was pretty fun. And since I was the only one who rode it sober, I did an excellent job not falling off.

On Thursday night I went to a bridal shower for a girl in my ward who is getting married today, actually. The shower was held at this apartment on the 18th floor of a building (in Harlem) with huge windows overlooking Central Park North, so the view of the city skyline was amazing. The other perks of that night were getting to hold someone's newborn sleeping baby while sitting right next to the bride as she opened all her presents, and eating soul food (the greatest talent of the Harlem First Ward Relief Society) for dinner after a long day at work.

Today when I went to the Harlem Knitting Circle, I wasn't expecting to find myself writing a letter to Oprah Winfrey, but that's what I did. The lady in charge of the group is having some financial problems, and is also trying to become foster parent to a child who needs a stable home, and is at her wits end, so she is having everyone she knows write to Oprah for help. I don't know if she's even got a chance, but you never know. And I find it so interesting how Oprah has become to so many women an intercessory figure, with the power to reach down from Olympus, as it were, and bestow beneficence. (Oprah, if you do feel like helping us Harlem girls out, I've got a few ideas myself!)

Hmmm, what else happened this week? There must have been more, but it's all in the past now.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Here's a two-fer. (If that's even a word!) Two churches right next to each other, to make up for some Sundays that I've neglected to post a picture of a Harlem church. Both of these look fairly new compared to so many of the churches I see around here. Spanish is the dominant language in this neighborhood, so it's no wonder that the church on the right has its sign in Spanish. Anyway, it's a gorgeous sunny Sunday today in Harlem, and I'm taking full advantage. So let me get back to my nap in a sunbeam...

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Even though I already found a dress that I think is going to be just perfect for my wedding (if only it would hurry up and come in the mail!), I figure this is the only time I'm going to be a bride, so I might as well take full advantage of the situation and go to the Bridal Boutique at Macy's and try on big puffy fluffy dresses. I arrived without an appointment (which shows how much I know about this whole wedding-planning thing) with my two roommates in tow and spent about an hour looking at the dresses, trying to find one that wasn't strapless, but secretly loving several of the strapless ones anyway, just because they are all sooooo pretty and feminine.

Finally, one of the sales ladies was free to help me try dresses on. Sylvia was a hoot. Clucking over me like a grandmother hen, she whisked me into a beautiful cream colored wedding gown with a beaded bodice, empire waist, and a long flowing chiffon skirt. It was so pretty! Then she stuck a veil on my head and I strolled out into the viewing area. There my roommates were in chairs while I got to stand up on a little stage surrounded by mirrors and act like a Barbie doll. I posed and smiled, and felt radiant. Even though I knew it wasn't the dress I was going to get married in, it was just so much fun to be dressed in such a gorgeous creation. However, the second dress I tried on was even more beautiful than the first. (It is pictured above.) Having just one shoulder to the dress really framed and accentuated my other shoulder, and let me just be honest--I have nice shoulders. While I'm normally not a fan of the ruched waistline, this particular dress looked really good. Then, Sylvia stuck a veil on my head, and I felt like Grace Kelly. I have been trying to think of what kind of veil I want, and now that I've seen a few veils up close, I really feel like I could make one for myself easily. Thirdly, Sylvia helped me try on a white white gown. The first two had been cream colored, and she wanted to see how I would look in stark white. I looked good! I told her I'm a winter. Nobody uses that color chart anymore, but she knew exactly what I meant, and she said that while I could wear either cream or white and look great, I might as well wear bright white because it is more dramatic and I can carry it off. She was very complimentary, and funny. "What a fun job," I said, "to help brides choose their dresses!" She said she loves it, and not only that, she writes historical romance novels, so it gives her inspiration. As I stood up on the bridal dais, twirling and swishing my voluminous skirts of tulle and chiffon, Jessica surreptitiously took photos of me with her i-phone (cameras not allowed!). Sylvia told me (in the nicest manner) that I'd better hurry and decide on a dress because if I'm going to get married in June, there isn't much time! I told her I just needed to talk to my mom, but I would get back to her soon.

It was just a white lie--I didn't want to say that I was just playing, that I couldn't wear a strapless or one-shouldered dress, and that I have already found the most beautiful vintage dress that will be more practical and more perfect than any of those princess gowns I tried on. I just wish it would hurry up and come in the mail! I found my ideal dress on etsy, and it is truly vintage, from the 1950s. I love it because it is old, it is one-of-a-kind, and because it is simple and practical. Made of linen, it will be perfect for a summer wedding, and it's not so formal that I could never wear it again to another event. Plus, it is about one quarter the price of the most inexpensive dress at the Macy's Bridal Boutique. I just hope it looks good on me! Nevertheless, it was so much fun to try on big puffy wedding dresses and, with visions of storybook weddings dancing through my head, my next stop was Kate's Paperie to look at wedding invitations!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Wow! Sorry to be so absent from the blogging world this week. To be honest, I'm just focusing all my attention on finishing my job and moving on with my life. Work has become so difficult, almost unbearable, as the staff has dwindled from 22 people when I first started 2 years ago down to 15 now. That may not seem like a lot, but the positions that have been eliminated or come open have almost all been absorbed by me! So, basically, I'm doing the jobs of five people. And, this week two people are out--one on vacation and one with a health problem. Add to that the task of finding and interviewing candidates for my replacement. There are literally not enough hours in the day for me to accomplish all the things my bosses expect me to do, which is very hard for me, because I have a very strong sense of responsibility towards whatever job I am in. While I realize I can only do so much, I want to do everything and get it all done quickly and well. And, I want things to be organized, clear, and all the loose ends tied up for the next person who comes along. The only way I get through is to remind myself that in eight days I'll be ALL DONE! Well, maybe not all done. My boss has asked if I'd be willing to come back for "special events." That means next month for 5 days, working an off-site show. Of course I said yes, because I'm too responsible! And because I will need money. After all, I've got a wedding to put on. But then, how can I plan a wedding if I'm always working? It's a Catch-22 situation. I demand justice! I'll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning.* Sigh...

*Joseph Heller, Catch-22, chapter 8