Wednesday, August 21, 2013

mid-week music.

As you may have gathered from a few of my recent posts, my decisions have left me a little floundering of late. I know I've made the right choice and things will work out but right now I'm feeling a bit lost and anxious. Where do I turn for direction? For all the really big things it's truly my religion and beliefs that keep me going. It's the essence of who I am and what I do. But sometimes faith needs a little nudge and an emotional pick-me-up and so I turn to the arts. Books, music, paintings, and such just fill a necessary space in my soul. My current reading will be a near-future post but today you get some music.

In the middle of all my moving chaos I failed to report back on the Frank Turner concert.  Let's just say it was everything I needed. Aside from his potty mouth, which I can always do without, he's a fantastic performer with great audience rapport and an absolutely charming British accent!  I thought I'd share my favorite of his songs, the one that first introduced me to him and one that sort of sums up my wandering feelings of late.

Isn't he darling? I kind of want to eat him up.

And then another ode to the wanderer with a refrain I've caught myself singing over and over again like a melodic mantra.

It's obviously got a very political bend to it but I think the idea that we don't really know where our lives will take us is an important one.  I've spent a lot of time thinking I could plan what would happen and where I will go next and how things will turn out but other than knowing the direction I'm moving at this exact moment in time I really don't have any idea what life has in store for me. I can only fall back on the aforementioned faith and hope that everything will turn out the way it's supposed to (and as long as I'm moving and trying my best I completely believe that it will!)

Monday, August 19, 2013

a road trip (part 2)

After leaving St Louis I was on to the other side of Missouri for a stay at "The Homestead", the home of another amazing friend just outside Kansas City. I helped pick tomatoes for homemade jelly and spotted buffalo in a nearby park. One evening we took a drive to nearby Independence, a city steeped in LDS church history and the hometown of Harry S Truman. The streets are pure mid-west charm, tree-lined, homes dripping with character and wrap-around porches.  Add the twinkle of fireflies in the violet twilight and it was hard not to fall in love with it all.
Truman's home
Being a musically like-minded individual, K spent one morning away from work visiting the Jazz Museum with me. Hours and hours listening to fabulous music, drooling over Louis Armstrong's trumpet and other artifacts, watching revolutionary performances captured on film in sketchy black and white, reveling in the history of the great American music form. 18th and Vine is in an area of town that's definitely seen better days but they're working on revitalizing it and it's on it's way to being a fun little neighborhood lined with clubs and restaurants.

KC boy, Charlie "Bird" Parker

We also spent some time on the grounds of the WWI memorial, the Nelson-Atkins art museum, the Spanish styled shopping plaza, the public library, and eating more incredible food including some typical KC BBQ.

Public library parking garage

museum lawn art

shopping center fountain
 And then it was time for a long-overdue reunion with one of my best childhood friends living in Wichita. After some late night chats and lots of hugs there were hours of fun at Exploration Place and the pool with the 5 kids. We also stopped by the Keeper of the Plains statue, a huge steel Native American sculpture standing at the confluence of two rivers.   

And last but not least was a brief stopover with family in Colorado Springs. Besides being a great chance to catch up it was my first glimpse of real mountains in months and the first twinges of both homesickness and anxiety.

And thus ends the adventures for the moment. Stay tuned for boring reality for the next six weeks until Thailand!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

a road trip.

I decided to take a leisurely trip across the country instead of hurrying from Virginia to Utah. If I'd had a little more money and a little less crap in my car I would have taken an even more circuitous route. As it was I spent nearly 9 days wandering mostly from one friend's home to another, breaking up the drive and doing a bit of sightseeing around this great nation.

First stop was Hodgenville, Kentucky where I visited the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.   Back in 1915 (the 50 year anniversary of his assassination) the public was invited to donate money and all the funds were used to build a memorial on the grounds. Fifty-six steps (one for each year of his life) lead up to a building housing a replica of a log cabin similar to the one where he was born. The cabin itself is a bit of a let-down but the grounds are beautiful and they hold a special sort of feeling, similar to the memorials in DC. It was a beautiful way to start my day and journey.

After leaving Hodgenville I drove a little over an hour north to Louisville where I took the opportunity to visit the historic Brown Hotel for lunch. The hotel had its hey day in the 20s and through the aftermath of WWII before it closed down. City revitalization efforts in the 80s paid off and the building is now on the National Historic Register, has been used in movies, hosted film and political dignitaries, and does a brisk business during Derby week. I treated myself to an amazing hot brown sandwich; an open-faced turkey, bacon, and tomato sandwich drenched in a rich Mornay cheese sauce.  Take my advice, it's worth the trip but share it with a friend!

Next up was a visit to a great friend in St. Louis. We spent many hours catching up, antiquing and eating delicious food (a killer kale salad, a hot pastrami sandwich, local frozen custard and a fresh pastry breakfast among my faves.)  We visited Forest Park, a huge park in the center of the city, larger than Central Park and originally the site of the Louisiana Purchase Expedition. It's now home to running trails, the zoo, a municipal theater, the St Louis Art museum, and a history museum. M and I spent one afternoon in the modern art wing of the art museum and I wandered through the history museum the morning before I hit the road. They're both free and both have pretty great collections. We also took a mandatory trip to the famous arch. It was fun to see the sights through the eyes of a local, to move beyond the traditional list of tourist attractions and venture off the beaten path. And to do it all with a gracious hostess and friend made it all the better.

Forest Park fountain
Andy Goldsworthy piece at the art museum
Part two coming soon. I know you can't wait!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

a fresh start.

I've just been through one of the longest weeks of my life. After a little over a week of driving across the country (travelogue to come) I arrived at my parent's house in Salt Lake City, a way station between my past life and the adventure in Thailand. I spent time on the journey visiting friends and sites and with all the distractions I held up rather well emotionally. But as I left the last stop Monday morning and made my way across the barren landscape of Wyoming the only thing with any discernible peaks and valleys was my emotions. I cried as a serendipitous John Denver song ushered me across the state line; tears for what I'd left behind, joy at seeing the mountains welcoming me home and more than a little fear for what I might face in the future.

Dressed in a subliminally protective armor of my former life (a Redskins t-shirt) I was welcomed home by most of my family. I kissed the niece I'd never met and then stepped back into a pattern of existence almost as if I'd never left.

While my family is amazing and I know I've made the right choice I suddenly feel like a child alone in a rudderless boat. I'm unsure and unsettled. I have no immediate purpose, no place to call my own, adrift with little direction and less support. I know my steps are going in the right direction but right now it feels as if I've taken a giant step backwards, settling into a stereotypical middle-aged, loner stupor in my parent's basement.

I've got loads to keep me busy and this stage is only a couple of weeks long and I'm truly looking forward to what is on the horizon but I'm going to have to make a conscious effort to stay motivated between now and then. I just have to keep reminding myself that the fresh start to come is going to be worth the current state of discombobulation. I think a steady diet of super thick Arctic Circle shakes is in order! Maybe this won't be so bad after all. :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

taking the next step.

I'm sitting in a Kentucky hotel room trying to come to terms with my new reality. I've been prepping to take this step for the last couple of months and now that I'm on my way I'm not quite sure what to do. I've been so busy and over scheduled (which was on purpose) that I haven't had more than a few minutes of quiet and alone time since the beginning of June. Every moment has been jam packed with road trips and dinners and parties and to do list items and it's been wonderful. This past weekend I finished up with a nighttime walk around the monuments, dinner on the Potomac River, the Frank Turner concert, breakfast at Eastern Market, a soggy viewing of Singing in the Rain at Wolf Trap and at least a million and a half hugs, tears and goodbyes.

I've decided a person should be required a daily diet of no less than a dozen hugs every day. We don't hug enough in our culture and  I think we need to remedy that, stat. If I were on top of things I'd find you quotes and studies that prove that touch and hugging is good for boosting endorphins and releasing stress and lowering cholesterol and burning calories and bringing about world peace. But I'll let my non-scientific ramblings suffice. Hugs are great and we need more of them. 'Nuff said.

I was humbled by all the kind words and outpourings of love and appreciation among the people I worked with and my friends and others I've had a chance to interact with throughout my time in DC. Amazingly enough I was able to hold my emotions mostly in check as I closed the book on this chapter of my life.  I was afraid I'd lose it as I drove away but I think the view of the Shenandoahs out my car window helped calm my soul.

I was treated to mountain vistas, fields of wildflowers (and by fields I mean swaths of median on the highway), some delicious blueberry lavender ice cream at this strategic pit stop, and a fiery sunset.  I took them as heavenly signs that I am on the right path and I'm trying to convince myself that it's all still true as I find myself alone with my thoughts and trying not to burst into hysterical tears.

Change is always hard and I have several stages of grand change to go through in the next year. The hole in my heart will be filled with new people and memories. The tears will dry. New doors will open and all kinds of exciting things will happen. But for the next week I'll be on the road visiting old friends and being introduced to their current lives and adventures. I'll check back in when I make it to the parentals!

Friday, August 2, 2013

a list.

Some of the highlights of a weekend trip to NYC a few days ago before vacating the East Coast.

1. Naked people in Times Square
2. Men putting on makeup in the middle of church services
3. The smell of chocolate thick on your skin
4. Walking with the masses across the Brooklyn Bridge
5. Maple, cream cheese, and bacon macarons
6. Laughing uproariously in this play
7. Making new friends
8. Thick hot chocolate and a summer fruits tart for breakfast
9. Singing along with the tunes in this show
10. Breakfast eaten while strolling along the Highline
11. Banjo/spoons performances in the subway
12. Random street art
13. Finding out who is buried in Grant's Tomb