May 31, 2016

Happy Anniversary to my Parents!


Happy Anniversary! My mom and step-dad have now been together for 19 years - next time's the big one! I know they've been challenged while facing a great number of difficulties within our family over the last several years (namely health issues and my siblings, I'm great ;) ), but they haven't thrown in the towel yet and I'd say they've got many more years to go!

May 30, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up & One Sick Doggy

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend (and was able to recognize the difference between Memorial & Veteran's Day, which I saw a mess of). While I don't know anyone who died in combat, there are many a veteran in my family--Iraqi, Vietnam, World Wars at least. I do feel that one of the best ways to honor the fallen is to tackle mental health care more aggressively - especially for their families and their brothers-in-arms that were present. But that's another post, another day.

I spent a riveting weekend dogsitting, eating out a couple of times, and attending Last Saturday at the Syc House in Fayetteville. While I wanted to try the Ramen shop on Dickson, to my displeasure, they've already closed - but they were a sister restaurant of Meji, where they said you can now enjoy their Ramen. I used to grab bento boxes of sushi from Meji when I worked for the Department of Human Services, but I'd never had anything else... or even sat in their restaurant. While I haven't had a lot of "real" Ramen, this Pork Nama Ramen was right up there with the stuff I had in New York and was far better than the stuff I'd tried in Fayetteville so far.



I'd read that you should eat Ramen very quickly so the noodles don't expand, and that there's really no reason for it to take much more than 5 minutes to eat a bowl. I don't know about that - I did my best, slurping and messin' away, but that definitely did not go down in 5 minutes.

May 28, 2016

Girl, You Take that Photo.

I'm trying to have a hip Saturday. When Alissa told me she didn't get off until 12 in response to my "let's have an early lunch" I decided to actually bring my laptop and get a scone in addition to the occasional cappuccino I treat myself to at Onyx Coffee Lab. Sitting in this moody corner just by the window so I can people watch and people can't see my screen. Too embarrassed to take a real shot of this delicious treat to share with you because only bringing in a typewriter would be more hipster here. Let's compare the picture the Motherstore uploaded 15 minutes with mine quickly snapped in the shadows:
                     
                     

I'll let you decide who took which ;)   (for a self-talk booster, which I was just talking to one of my clients about, I know I could take that second photo if I took the time they took)

But in all seriousness, I need to get over what other people think, because that's all that really is.

May 27, 2016

Some Photos from that Time I Went to France

It's been about four years since I went to France avec mon amie Cat. Unlike my New York post, where it'd only been about four months, I unfortunately cannot narrate or begin to describe each and everything we saw, ate, or participated in.

After attending a five week French immersion program in Nova Scotia with Cat the summer before, she seemed like the perfect candidate for my travelling partner. Plus, people in Texarkana don't get out much - they always say things like, "oh I'm so jealous, if only I could go somewhere like that" and actually believe they can't. You're all perfectly capable of international travel. You do, however, have to make it a priority and intentionally save just for it, hunting down the best deals when the time comes. I firmly believe anyone can travel if they want; not necessarily all the time or anytime they want, but they can do it. One chooses whether or not they will.
I ended up lugging that camera around, broken & useless. These are all phone photos. 
What started off as a big backpacking trip around France, however, wound up a little short when

May 25, 2016

A Winter Weekend in NYC

Let's talk about New York.

And maybe get my obsession with plane photos out of the way first.


You won't see me in many pictures as

May 23, 2016

Hawksbill Crag / Whitaker's Point + More of Lost Valley Wilderness Cave

I love busy weekends - I feel so fulfilled when I make myself go adventure instead of having those lazy, relaxing weekends (though they're certainly needed on occasion). This weekend was no exception. I'll cheat and include Thursday night, though, where we enjoyed free snacks at Cave Night (every Thursday) at Open Door Cigars (they also have Movie Nights & Poker Nights). The owners' dogs cuddled right up with me in the comfy leather armchairs and we caught part of Men In Black as well as He Never Died, which I'd never heard of and was so weird.

May 19, 2016

Anniversary of a California Roadtrip


As I've previously mentioned, we didn't take a lot of vacations when I was a kid - a trip to grandma's, a weekend campout at Albert Pike, or a day at Magic Springs was about as big as it got. Which I didn't mind too much as a kid - but ever since I got my first taste of adventure with trips in high school, I knew I wanted to travel as much as I could afford to do. Which is clearly why I chose a career in social work.

May 18, 2016

Expectations & Disappointment

You know that scene in 500 Days of Summer where the screen is cut in half by Expectations vs. Reality? (Man, I haven't seen that movie in years.)


                                        

I'm tempted to ask: does that resonate with anyone else? but that would be silly, of course, because I know it's relatable for everyone. It really tugged at my heart-strings the first time I saw it, but I'm beginning to realize that, not only is it clever and relatable, it's truly representative of most of my own sadness. Granted, not thinking-I'm-getting-back-together-with-the-love-of-my-life-and-realizing-I've-been-invited-to-their-engagement-party sad, but more representative of my everyday frustrations. I'm always looking forward to something and am usually disappointed when it doesn't play out as perfectly as I had imagined it. 

May 16, 2016

Surprise Visit Home

Since my mother was out of town for Mother's Day weekend, and I had a very short workday Friday (thanks to those long Monday/Tuesday hours), and I learned I wouldn't need to watch Pete's dogs while he was out of town, I thought it was the perfect weekend to surprise my mom with a visit home. This is also to help me stick to my New Years Resolution of visiting home more often (as in more frequently than a couple of holidays).

I had plenty of time to spare to get home before everyone finished school for the day, which is rare because I'm usually rushing in just trying to arrive before bedtime after work. I finally had a chance to stop at a drive-in called the Lighthouse on 71 in Wickes, which had always caught my attention on the drive down and back. It was a little pricey, but nothing beats a burger from the middle of nowhere in the south - it was delicious. It was also really big and I couldn't finish it, so I tried to give the leftovers to Kafka when we arrived at my parents' house - but he was so excited to see them, not knowing they weren't yet home, that he was just standing on his hind legs staring through the door, caring less about this scrumptious burger. That's saying something.  

                        

I would say my visits home are more often surprises than not. Once I was on the phone with my mom for about 45 minutes before I walked into her bedroom where

May 12, 2016

Things are Heating Up

Nothing is more nostalgic for me than childhood summers. I was fortunate enough to have a teacher for a mother – I never had to stay at daycare during this precious time off school. It was just me, my best friend, and the world as our oyster.



Part of the reason I fell in love with the story Bridge to Terabithia was because those were my woods and they were alive. I say my sense of adventure came from my first tastes of riding in planes, but a seed was planted long before that. Our backyard jungle was full of storylines – fallen tree bridges leading to castles of bamboo and a forgotten storm drain caves with mysteries lurking just past the shadows. It’s funny how I don’t remember bugs, just the sun streaming through breaks in the leaves above (bringing out the freckles on my nose).

We’d catch crawdads in the creek and put them in mason jars for pets only to return to muddy red water and learn they fight to the death. My mom wouldn’t buy a four-wheeler like the rest of the kids but that didn’t stop us from having riding lawn mower races, and I’m smiling as I write this because I remember how my friend always chose the fastest one. It was her only flaw – she was a perfect friend, the kind that would take the fall for you and actually write you when she said she would after her family moved away.  I hated her brother, he was as mean as they came, but if you thought a frail little thing like me had a chance of standing up to him, well, I’m doing my best to make up for that now.

Her grandma could cook, let me tell you. I was always jealous because that was the epitome of a good southern grandmother, and mine was from the north and she’d re-serve Easter’s pork loin from the freezer when we’d visit for her birthday. My friend and I would walk along the gravel roads, sweating with baskets in hand in search for those wild blackberry bushes. Upon our return, fingers dyed purple, we looked mighty suspicious and crossed our fingers that her grandma would find our baskets full enough for the only thing better than fresh wild blackberries: homemade cobbler. It just wasn’t the same without a scoop of Blue Bell.

It’s hard not to salivate like my current beau’s dog when I think about flaky biscuits with honey at her breakfast table. I can’t believe it’s such a challenge to find RC Cola these days. Their fresh fruit trees were the best, way better than the beans from our garden, and I remember giving those watermelons a sounding thump before shooting the seeds from our mouths like automatic weapons. What kid needs a seedless melon?

I have to laugh at myself a little now when jumping from boulders into murky waters brings on nervousness. We’d swim in anything just to get out of the heat. When she finally got that above ground pool, you might have thought

May 9, 2016

A Celebration!


I took Pete to Maxine's (yet another place around the corner from my work) for a drink to celebrate an offer for an internship in Kansas City this summer! I am so, so proud of him - he's going to make an excellent engineer one day soon.

Foam Fest, Huge Lightning, & Lost Valley

I was so excited when Cat told me she was coming to visit me - and she couldn't have picked a better weekend! There were so many events going on it would be difficult to narrow them down (it was the last weekend before all the college kids would go home, so I think this had something to do with it... unless you're Peter who actually spends that weekend studying for finals). Granted, it was Mother's Day weekend, but as my mom was joining her sisters to clean my grandmother's house (out of town), I wouldn't be making a trip home anyways.

Catherine is my dearest friend. I went to the same school from kindergarten through my senior year, but she joined us in 9th grade. I remember her being terribly shy - in fact, (despite being an introvert myself) I may not have even noticed her if we hadn't been assigned partners on an FCCLA project (part of the reason that little club still holds a place in my heart). We completed a chapter service project for a competition called STAR Events - we had to incorporate Family & Consumer Sciences into addressing a community need. We took our new-found sewing skills and made a ton of premature baby gowns to donate to the local hospitals (with a lot of help from other classmates too). We had to make a huge display and give presentations to judges, where over the course of several months we won gold at district, state, and national competitions! During this time we got to know one another pretty well and soon became inseparable, bonding over music, movies, and more.

Look at those babies! I look like I smell something bad which is crazy
because that there's a donut shop & she always smells of B&B Works.
I would say that in most friendships there's always one friend who talks more than the other - and I'm usually the one listening in those friendships. Cat's the only one I can say for sure listens to me blab more, making me feel very extroverted. She's an incredibly genuine, caring person and I love her so much. She's also brilliant and a talent artist/writer. She tends to be very unlucky, whether it's car trouble, someone stealing from her, or worse. If anyone deserves all the luck in the world, it's this beautiful soul.

Without further ado, here's more proof (in the form of my weekend) that Northwest Arkansas is a place to have a blast in.

Friday night was relaxed - went to Mojo's to split a C4 Explosion with Pete and my roommate, followed by a night in and Seven Psychopaths on Amazon Prime (so many of my favorite actors, I've been wanting to watch it since it came to theaters in 2012). Saturday, before Cat's arrival, I met up with my college-best-friend Alissa at the Little Craft Show.

May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

Lookin' pretty good at 40!
Is it just me, or did Mother's Day come super early this year? Well, I know it's not just me because everyone around me has said the same or agreed when I said it. It snuck up so fast it was pretty much too late for me to have something shipped to my mom, and I don't like wasting money on shipping that I could be putting towards a gift anyways. I only even knew it was Mother's Day because of another blog that mentioned it!

May 6, 2016

It's Okay to Quit.

I recently read a blog post about a fellow adventurer (and by fellow adventurer I mean he's far more hardcore than the little Arkansas hikes I share with you) who's taking a year off from medical school due to depression. I found it inspiring because I have made a couple of similar difficult choices--the difference being I didn't tell the world. I casually took it down from my Facebook rather than end-dating it. I say I completed the summer training of the first instead of fully owning up to all the details. I had to tell those close to me but I simply hoped others wouldn't notice the change. I was embarrassed for quitting. In the span of a couple of years I had abandoned two big commitments that I thought others would be impressed by.

Both of these events were heavily influenced by depression, but there were other reasons than my mental state. I thought I would hit the pause button on blogging about previous adventures to take a moment and share my choice to quit with you. I hope it gives you courage to quit or hit the pause button on things that are hurting you, draining you, or things you are otherwise just unhappy with.



Credit
Decision I: TFA

During my final semester of undergrad I accepted an offer to join Teach for America as a corps member. Let me first explain what brought me to that point.

Growing up, I always thought I would become a teacher. That's pretty typical of teacher's kids.

May 2, 2016

Eye of the Needle


So, here's an update for the Indian Creek post for you!
Last week was full of storms and rain, plus it was the end of April, so I thought it would be the perfect time to see the Eye of the Needle flowing! I've always heard April is the best time to see it, but since we went in late-May after a good rain last year and there were waterfalls abound, we would definitely have an even better chance this time around.