Friday, July 29, 2011

Dallas, the epilogue

I'm writing from an old favorite coffee shop in Albuquerque, in a booth responsible for much of my master's thesis six years ago. I just ate a breakfast burrito the size of my head, and practically licked the plate. The weekend stretches before me, and I feel incredibly lucky. The next three days could be measured in coffee cups or wine glasses or old stories or words that cut through all the filler and go straight to the heart of who I am. That's what this town is about. A piece of me breathes differently as soon as I step off the plane here. A piece of me will only ever be at home here.

But I set down today to write not about this city, but the one I just left. Visiting Dallas before Albuqerque was a funny trick, as if I were tracking my personal timeline backwards. Maybe I should go to Boston next, then back home to NC. Sometimes you see things differently when you do them backwards, I think. Or maybe that's just me.

When I left Albuqerque to move to Dallas, to be with T and to put an end to long-distance traveling, the chances of me feeling at home there were slim to none. We actually joked the night we met that I would hate Dallas. It just wasn't anything like my academic/activist nest of Albquerque. But T and I found as "me" a neighborhood as we could, we ate and drank fabulously, and we were at least together. Still, the fact that I was there only for him seeped into everything. I'm stubborn and independent and hated that I'd followed him there. Following him was worth it, but it made life difficult for a while. Dallas and I had a rocky start.

Two and a half years later, we left Dallas for DC. And a year and a half after that brings us to this week, when I visited Dallas for the first time since we moved. The best thing happened, too: I had a ball. I realized firmly, without a doubt, that after all my hangups about being there, Dallas really is a city full of memories that I created, full of people that I care about, and a place that will call me back again and again. This sounds so simple, I'm sure... but it's a bit of a bombshell.

In two days I re-met the daughter of a dear friend who was the size of a football when I last saw her, and is now a walking, talking beauty. I met the new fiancee of a friend who's practically reinvented himself since we left, but who makes me laugh just as hard as he always has. I reconnected with two amazing women who are taking control of their lives in the best way possible, and are both happier than they've ever been. Life is good for the people I care about in Dallas. And life is good for me, too... as someone who's happy not to live in Dallas, but happy to say, at long last, that it's a city I love anyway.

Maybe it's finally time - so many years later - to thank my funny and handsome and smart husband for introducing me to the Big D. Like so many things I said that first night we met, I take my words about Dallas back completely.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I'm still recovering from the explosion of awesomeness that was two of my teen cousins staying with me in DC for five days. Sally and Zoe are about to be juniors in high school - how is this possible?! How is it that just yesterday I was their age, sneaking around with boys at the beach while they toddled around, and now they're young women buying books I already own, making uterus jokes, and ready to take on the world? My hearts bursts endlessly around these gals, and I feel so very lucky to have them in my life. We were laughing - and sweating! - too much to bother with many pictures, but here are a few.

Now that I've bid adieu to the girls, I'm off to finish my month in Texas and New Mexico with some of my long-lost besties. July is making me so happy. Exhausted, but really, really happy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Backyard confessions

I hinted around about this before, but it's probably time for the full 'fess-up:

I kind of like our totally weird "blue boat" backyard.

I know, right?!

It started when a bunch of T's family was over. There were a dozen or so of us mingling back there, and I realized how well the space was accommodating the crowd. It's not a big backyard at all, but the staggered steps meant that everyone had separate little conversation spots, none crowding the other. We could've had two or three times the crowd and still had room to spare... all in a tiny plot of an urban backyard.

So I know, I know... the color. It's still weird. But if we painted it white, or just stripped it down to weathered wood, I might really like it. Some of the boards really need to be replaced, so I imagine next year we'll tear down at least some of it and rebuild.

But here's the shocking thing about that: while I don't want to entirely replicate the existing construction with new boards, I really do want to take inspiration from it going forward. Staggered steps, leading down to (actual) ground with landscaping? Built-in seating with lots of room for planters? Yes. Please.

At any rate, that's next year's dilemma. This year, we're making do, and doing so surprisingly well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

OBX State of Mind

Another nine days on the beach, another nine days spent wracking my brain for ways we could live there. But before I start getting all mopey on you about *having* to come back to my adorable row house in a town I love, let me just pause and say how thankful I am that I have family on the Outer Banks who make it easy to spend as much time there as I do. What a great little trip.

Two of my cousins are here with me, softening my beach landing back in DC. They brighten up pretty much everything.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New kitchen floor, at long last

I've been a terrible blogger, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. I'm still at the beach with T and my girl gang of fab cousins - by tomorrow night we'll be setting them loose in DC - and since I've gotten here the idea of sitting behind a computer has been painful. As it should be, really. This is one of the prettiest places around... why waste time staring at a screen when I could be staring at my surroundings instead? Not to mention, laughing and being silly with the fam. But this morning I found myself in a rare quiet moment - everyone else still sleeping, my skin a wee bit too sunburned to justify running out to the beach early - so I thought I would (finally!) show you what'll be waiting for me at home tomorrow. Our kitchen floor... such a labor of love. We still haven't put in the molding on the edges - actually, given how crazy our July is I'm not sure if we're going to get around to it this month at all - but it almost doesn't matter to me. We've come so far... and our progress in this kitchen makes me truly happy. We still have lots of work to do in here, but I  hope you'll agree with me that the new floors make everything look bright and shiny and new - even in a 100+ year-old house.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Onward, July!

July has kicked off with a bang! This week I've mostly been recovering from last weekend's family fun, sprinkled with meetups with a few lovely ladies. Last night I continued my Top Chef Runners Up tour with my pal Heather, this time to Mike Isabella's Graffiato. Helloooooo, octopus! Hellooooo, polenta with meatball! Hellooooo, prosecco on tap! I love Graffiato's casual vibe, and look forward to exploring the menu more over time. Bonus: Isabella came over to our table to chat with us and was a total charmer... H and I neglected to mention that we're on Team Blais.

This afternoon we're headed out of town, which kicks off an insanely action-packed month. Here's a taste, illustrated by Zavalick Designs, one of my favorite geographic art destinations on Etsy.

Virginia beckons tonight! We're spending the weekend with my elementary school bff Allie and her husband. Allie's been promising to show me the bright lights of  the "new" Norfolk for years, so I'm excited to dig in and also show T my old elementary school, old house, and more. As much of a North Carolina girl as I am (my family roots there run deep), I do love that the Virginia Tidewater region was so formative for me. Maybe I can blame my obsession with being close to the water on spending kindergarten through fifth grade in Newport News. At any rate, it's going to be a great weekend... all the more so because Allie is pregnant!

After Norfolk, T heads back to DC, but I head to the Outer Banks! If you've been reading this little blog for any time at all, you know that it's my very favorite place. Just like I did last summer, I'm working from OBX for a week and hanging with my cousin Zoe (and also my fab cousins Sally and Sophie, but my official role is to stay with Zoe while her mom's traveling). I won't be Stage Cuz this time around (the theater company is no more - sadness!), but I expect we'll come up with some silliness to do anyway. I'm thrilled to say that I've been deemed cool enough to attend the midnight premiere of Harry Potter with Zoe and her friends, so it really can't go wrong for me, can it? T is joining us there next weekend for a mini-vacay for a few days, and then we're back to DC.

... but we're not returning to DC alone! Zoe and Sally are spending several days in DC with us. I can't wait to host these two and see what kind of trouble they can dig up in town. Prepare yourself, DC... I'm bringing awesome teenagers with me!

Next up in the July whirlwind: Texas! T has some work meetings going on, so I'm taking advantage of my telecommuter status to travel to Dallas with him - my first trip back since we moved to DC. We have two nights planned while we're in town: one with all of his friends and their awesome wives/adorable offspring, and the other with my Dallas ladies that I miss oh so much. I cannot WAIT! T has a guys' weekend in Austin after that, but I'm heading further west to...

...NEW MEXICO! Words just can't express how much I miss this place. It's been four years since I lived there, but I'm telling you... New Mexico sticks. I'm beyond thrilled to spend some quality time with my girls, to breathe in that air, to feel that vibe, and to just be out there. T and I are rendezvousing on the flight back to DC, at which point we'll probably collapse from exhaustion, and no doubt have lots of stories to share with one another from our fun weekends apart.

So July: it's a crazy month for me. But also one that's incredibly full of blessings and some of my very favorite people. Time to get packin'!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Because laughing babies are magical.

I just can't help myself. Another video, this time of Lucas being adorable and hyper while all the other men of the house were taking a marathon-style nap and Lisa and I were left to our own devices (read: cocktails). It's kind of awesome.

Metallic beads courtesy of my neighborhood 4th of July parade.

Update: Apparently the video is only showing in Internet Explorer, not Firefox. Also the comments are being annoying - try commenting as Anonymous or Name/URL and that might work. Grrrr.

Fun family fourth

Oh, last weekend. The fun! The laughs! The activities perfectly mixed with napping! The summer cocktails and sun and thunderstorms! Where to begin?

First, there is this guy. Between the zoo, the Natural History Museum, riding the Metro, "wow!"ing all the buses/ambulances/firetrucks that we saw, the parade, and the fireworks... Liam had the time of his life. The dinosaur bones sent him into such an excited frenzy at the museum that he started shaking uncontrollably. Every display of bones, he'd get the shakes all over again. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen... what the video for proof!

And then there is this guy, who is such a little stud. Lucas couldn't be any more handsome, could he? And so silly when he's hyper!

These boys are so lucky to have such amazing parents. I didn't realize this until they arrived, but DC was their first official family vacation since Lucas was born!

Special shout-out to Uncle T, who's pretty amazing.

And finally, my sis Lisa. We don't get nearly enough time together outside of regular Skyping, so doing silly things like taking a baby into a liquor store to buy more Hendrick's gin, doing cupcake "quality control," and giggling about the same weird things that only we giggle about are pretty awesome things to do.

We think we're going to start a 4th of July tradition in DC. I mean really... can you blame us?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Holiday fever

Floors are finished! We still have to do all the edging, but there is 170 square feet of new flooring in our kitchen that makes us feel like a million bucks. (Or maybe that's just because we saved a million by installing it ourselves?) At any rate, life is good. And on that note, I'm finishing up work to clean up for our houseguests, who I'm so thrilled to host for the weekend. We'll be celebrating the 4th with my sis, my brother in law, and my adorable nephews. I mean seriously - look at these two!

Have a very happy holiday weekend, everyone!
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