Instagramming India

Last time I was in India, I failed to update my blog on a regular basis with updates and pictures about our adventures. I promised this time that I would be better about updating and, well, you know how those … Continue reading

Swanson’s Got Swagger the Size of Big Ben Clock

This past Thursday, I was able to spend ten glorious hours in good ol’ London town. My last flight to India was direct, but this one had a layover in London. And I have to say, I give a big … Continue reading

Excuse Me, Ladies, You’re Being Too Loud

D.C. is the city for brunching and when you’re getting a group of girls together to celebrate an engagement, what do you do? Go to brunch, of course.

Rachel—a fellow house mom, life saver of Katherine’s sanity during HC/GW, and good friend—got engaged a few weekends ago! To celebrate her engagement, a few of us got together a group of ladies for a brunch in D.C. at Crios, a yummy restaurant near Dupont Circle.

The brunch was extraordinarily fun, and the food was delicious. There were friends from several stages in Rachel’s life present, and it was great girl time. Or, as Leslie Knope says, “Just ladies celebrating ladies.” But, in all seriousness, an engagement is one of those monumental life markers that definitely deserves its own celebration.

Ladies celebrating ladies!

Ladies celebrating ladies!

However, in all our celebratin’, we apparently were having TOO much fun, as the waiter approached awkwardly to inform us the table next to us had complained that were “too loud.” Too loud! In a D.C. brunch restaurant where there’s bottomless mimosas and plenty of other people talking equally as loud in the restaurant. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize we had transported to a super fancy 5-star restaurant where excellent QUIET decorum is expected at all times.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the worst complaint in the world, but it did stir up a bit of confusion. In the midst of our joyful celebration, we received a message about the amount of our words and laughter, and that message was loud and clear: “Can you please keep your voices down?” I suddenly felt as if we were in the 3rd grade, getting in trouble for passing notes to each other.

So, beware all you D.C. brunch-goers: Keep thine voice down to ensure minimal complaints from other restaurant-goers. Luckily for us, the brunch was still an awesome time, and ended with Panera Christmas cookies (yum!). Our spirits won’t be brought down!

I Almost Always Get Hit By Bikes

There a few things in my life that are consistently true, and one of them is that I almost always get hit by bikes.

I don’t know what it is about me that screams TARGET to bicyclists but I come into some kind of close contact with a biker—whether it be a swoosh, a graze, or else—on a weekly basis. Nothing marks the semester being back in full swing like a guy rushing past me on his bike on his apparent rush to get to the gym just after I crossed the BUSY FOUR WAY STREET. I mean, did he not see me? Does he not have brakes? And, for god’s sake, when you’re biking at night put some damn reflectors on your bicycle!

The whole thing just makes me bitter because this has happened way too many times. I may or may not have mentioned the time when I literally did get hit by a bike my freshman year and fell to the ground. Luckily, my backpack cushioned me and I wasn’t really injured. But still! You’re on a two-wheeled MOVING object, and I’m on two legs.

I became a little more understanding after I purchased my own bike and realized how hard, un-fun, and nearly impossible it is to bike on some of the major roads in the area. The sidewalks are not the best option, but sometimes ya have to. But I STILL find it hard to tolerate those who bike on the sidewalks like a bunch of DAMN FOOLS. I may find you annoying when you yell “BIKE BACK” several times, even after you’ve passed me (as happened to Rahul and I on the lake loop trail), but I will find you immensely even more annoying if you don’t warn me you’re about to pass me.

So to sum up: for you terrible bike riders that nearly hit me, I’M COMING FOR ALL Y’ALL.

Also, another thing that has been true for the last three awards shows Rahul and I have watched together (Academy Awards x 2, Golden Globes x 1) is that I have won the most correct guesses for the winners. But last night he bested me at the Emmy’s…sigh. Until next time, Rahul. UNTIL NEXT TIME.

Writer’s Frustration

I’ve been struggling with something lately called Writer’s Frustration.

Don’t mistake this for Writer’s Block. Even though they may seem similar, they are very different. It’s not that I have Writer’s Block. I have plenty of things about which to write. Ever since I started in on my collected stories project, I feel as if the ideas haven’t stopped, which is great. I think many writers would agree that it’s preferable to write a piece or pieces that are set in the same location, with the same characters. It’s Faulkner’s approach. But as I try to create my own Yoknapatawpha County, I’m running into something I didn’t quite expect: repetitiveness.

I guess I should have expected it, especially since my pieces center around the same family. And even though I feel I have some good plot points, twists, and more, I’m already getting a little tired of them after only writing a few stories, and that can’t be a good sign.

After a few days of frustrated writing, several “blaaaah” moments, and plenty of complaining to Rahul, I realized that I was writing the piece I was working on just to finish it. I knew what I wanted to happen, and I was rushing to get there. That should never be the case. Writing is a journey, and when you’re not enjoying it, it’s so evident in your work.

So, finally, I decided to pull up my big girl pants and step away from the piece. Even though I’ve spent all summer working on these pieces, I’ve reached a place where I don’t know what to do next and I don’t know if what I’ve done is good or needs to totally change. It’s a frustrating place but, I gotta tell you, it’s much less frustrating than actually forcing myself through a piece when I’m not actually sure I need to keep writing it.

With the 2nd year of my MFA program starting today, this blog post seems appropriate. I’ve since moved onto working on something else, and I’m hoping that I have better luck with this one.

What I Did (and didn’t do) This Summer

Before this summer started, I set a lot of lofty goals for myself. I was going to write more. I was going to read a new book every other week. I was going to essentially be a bad ass.

But now, with the men in my house moving in this weekend and school starting next Wednesday, I’m taking inventory: and I didn’t do so hot.

Let’s count up what I got done:

Wrote:

Three stories, working on a 4th & 5th, and also penned out the surrounding information for these pieces in case they do end up connected as a larger piece (fingers crossed).

Read:

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
(I needed some light reading after school ended….)
American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
(working on) The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
(working on) A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

So, writing goals, not too shabby. Reading goals…I don’t want to talk about it.

Now, I also did a lot of things that technically don’t count as reading and writing but were, at times, a lot more enjoyable.

Watched:

“Dexter”, six seasons
“True Blood”, four seasons
“Parenthood”, season 3
“New Girl”season 1
“Don’t Trust the B— in Apt. 23”, season 1
(rest of) “30 Rock”, season 6

Okay, so I watched a lot of TV this summer. But it’s the summer, right? You’re supposed to relax….

Truth is, I have a hard time finding the happy medium between relaxation and productivity. For me, it’s hard to fit both into a day. Granted, if I have one of those perfect days—where I wake up in a work mode and can comfortably call it a day by noon—then I have plenty of time in the afternoon for everything else.

But, of course, that rarely happens. Most of the time I try to fit 7,000 things into one day, only about three of them actually important, and I end up getting about ten of them done. And those days where I wake up and find it vitally important to watch four episodes of “Parks and Recreation” before I wake up…well, you can figure out the rest. 

Buuuuut I also bought a bike and went bike riding a lot and got a new phone and traveled a bit and saw family and got super frustrated when my 9 hour drive home from MA turned into 12 hours and sped through a New Jersey turnpike without paying (oops) and cooked for myself a lot and watched a lot of movies and hung out with old friends and made new friends and, most importantly, GOT TO SEE RAHUL.

Training for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Becoming Segway masters.

Hope the transition from summer to fall goes smoothly for all y’all that get to enjoy nice, long summer breaks.

Let it Go, NBC

So it’s no surprise to anyone that the 30th Olympic Games are taking place right now in London.
If it is a surprise, then you must be from another planet.
What may come as a surprise is how truly annoying and ridiculous some of the NBC announcers are.

Actually, when I think about it, I don’t know why I was so surprised in the first place. I have found radio talk show hosts to be annoying for quite some time, and that’s essentially what these people are, as we can’t see their faces while they provide commentary.

But that’s not even the issue here for me.

The issue lies with the fact that NBC just won’t let bygones be bygones. NBC wants to kick a dead horse, they want to rub your face in the mud.

What I’m talking about, of course, is Jordyn Wieber.

Now let me preface this discussion by saying I am a HUGE, ENORMOUS dweller. If there was an award for dwelling on a topic, I would probably be in the running. But nothing will show you how annoying your habits are like seeing the very same habit repeated on television for hours on end.

I found myself shocked, then annoyed, then just downright angry that NBC kept returning to Jordyn Wieber’s upset during their commentary for the gymnastic team finals. I love the gymnastics competition; it might just be my favorite part of the Olympics. But nothing sucks fun out of enjoying a competition like NBC commentators constantly returning to the fact that Jordyn Wieber didn’t place in the All-Around Finals.

Don’t get me wrong, I did understand the true upset and disappointment in this situation. I was sad for Jordyn as she broke down in tears after seeing the results. I understood the disappointment. I GOT IT, NBC. But, in the true journalistic way, the commentators kept returning to this moment while Jordyn and her team were kicking ass at the team finals. I shouldn’t be surprised with this tactic, as I have a journalism background myself. First rule of journalism: Be annoying as you can to get the story.

But this commentary went beyond journalism traditions into the boundaries of true, human emotion. It’s unfortunate that Jordyn’s upset was televised, because NBC has the clip of her breaking down in tears to pull out whenever they want to to remind Jordyn, and everyone else, how crushing of a moment this was for her. They have already exploited this moment, feeding off of it to nearly trump any other good, rewarding moment the other gymnast’s have had. The commentators have spent more time dwelling on Jordyn’s upset than congratulating Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas on their advance to the finals; they nearly spent more time focusing on Jordyn’s upset than giving true, dedicated attention to the USA team as they competed for—and obtained—the Team Gold Medal. In their urgency to remind viewers of Jordyn’s loss, they nearly negated the almost more amazing factor of the night: the USA Gymnast’s Team claiming gold for the first time since 1996.

But I guess that’s the true nature of television, maybe even human nature: the inability to let go. This could be applied to a lot of events that occurred in the last few weeks, which I won’t go into, as I am not politically sound enough to discuss issues of ethics and moral rights, or am I educated enough in tragedy to truly understand the deep loss people feel at the hands of another. But, for all of these situations, the media plays a part in exploiting the worst of it, pushing the positive away until it’s merely an afterthought.

And I do understand the idolization of athletes in our country, Olympians especially. They are placed on the highest of pedestals and, in return, we demand perfection. So maybe that’s why NBC wouldn’t let go. But, in not letting go, they didn’t take much time to pause and simply congratulate Jordyn on a job well done, or her teammates on a job well done. Perfection is a lot to ask of a person, and even the Michael Phelps of this world aren’t able to maintain the viewer’s expected level of performance forever.

If anything, NBC coverage has reminded me to stop being such a dweller and live in the moment instead.
Except you can’t do that for the Olympics unless you watch online…thanks, NBC.
But that’s really another topic for another time.

A Week in Provincetown, MA

I haven’t updated in a hot second because I’ve been here:

Sunrise; Provincetown, MA

I recently spent a week in Provincetown, MA for a writing conference and it was definitely the re-energizer I needed for my writing. I feel more excited about what I’m working on than I have been in a while, and that’s due to the wonderful, creative atmosphere the Fine Arts Work Center created. Hopefully I can continue on with this writing spirit, as I am majorly behind on my big reading plans for the summer. I won’t tell you how many books I’ve read because it’s embarrassing. Oh well, at least I’ve gotten almost two seasons of “True Blood” watched in the meantime. That’s more important, right? I mean, vampires won’t be popular forever.

The conference was great, and Provincetown is also a nice hamlet of a town to spend some time exploring and writing. Other than getting lost in the Massachusetts marshland and almost getting attacked by land crabs, I had an amazing week. To give you an idea, I’ll share some photos from my trip because a) I haven’t drank enough coffee yet to be more creative b) I’m obsessed with the slideshow function and c) the pictures are beautiful.

Enjoy!

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Spending Time with Nanny

I’d like to take a little time to talk about my grandmother.

Known as Nanny, Nana, and Titi (don’t ask) to us cousins, Nanny is a rather remarkable person. She has an incredible amount of spirit and energy, as well as compassion and strength. She’ll tell you exactly what she thinks about something without becoming overly opinionated, she provides a home for anyone who needs it, and she makes the best Italian food—probably due to her Italian roots. Seriously, homemade meatballs and lasagna and eggplant parmesan? Take that, Olive Garden.

She’s the youngest of seven, and when seven children go onto have children of their own, who then have children of their own—well, you can guess the rest. She grew up in Cambridge, MA, and some of our family still lives in the same townhouse she once called home as a child. Her own mother has a fascinating family story that Nanny typed and bound together, which I have yet to read—getting to it!—but I know it will speak to some amazing roots and family stories.

Plus, she likes the Harry Potter series. I only include that because I am watching HP7.1 as I write this. Plus it seemed like an important detail. 

She’s the perfect matriarch for our family.

I got to spend some time with Nanny over the past week, as we traveled to MD together and then to visit family—via train, something Nanny has been wanting to do again for around 30 years—where she stayed behind to celebrate her brother’s 85th birthday.

Traveling together allowed us some time to spend together just hanging out. Even though it sounds simple, it’s something I don’t get to do as frequently these days.
Again, MD and TN are far apart. When is someone going to invent teleportation? I could really use it to visit Rahul as well.
Spending time with her was much needed and I really valued our time together. After all, I am the oldest grandchild and the most important.

KIDDING! But there is an old picture of Nanny with the three oldest grandchildren and it is EXTREMELY clear in the picture that I was not happy how Nanny was now having to split her attention over three of us instead of focusing it just on me. Sorry, Anthony and Brandie. I can’t help my toddler behavior….

Like they say—whoever they is—if you don’t know where you’re coming from, you don’t where you’re going. I find her to be a wonderful, fascinating, strong woman and truly am grateful to call her my grandmother.

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Detour to Chattanooga

First off, let me state that the city is not pronounced Chattanooga, but ChattaNOOOOOOOga. You must always pronounce it this way.

We stayed in Chattanooga when my dad, cousin Jenny, and Uncle Tommy went to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
That’s right, folks. I’ve seen those colorful rings before in real life.
Anyway, I believe that’s when my new way of pronouncing the city began.

That being said, my mom and I took a few days last week and visited this beautiful city. East Tennessee is a LOT prettier than West Tennessee, in my mind, and provided for a fun, short getaway.

We spent most of our time visiting the attractions on Lookout Mountain. Rock City, known for its decorated barns sprinkled across the southern states; Ruby Falls, a beautiful underground waterfall; the Incline Railway, a very steep 10-minute journey up and down the side of the mountain.

Below, find some of my favorite pictures from the quick vacay.

I would write more, but I’m tired. So enjoy.

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