Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Story of Pocahontas

This is not the story you may think it is about. This is not about the Indian princess who helped John Smith at Jamestown.

Well, not entirely.

The animated Disney movie Pocahontas came out in 1995. At the time, I worked at Burroughs Wellcome (now Glaxo Wellcome) in Greenville, NC. I had no interest (still do not) in seeing that movie but a "friend" of mine had seen it. This is how I found out, and how it all started.

Monday morning, breakfast at the cafe with co-workers...friend-who's-name-I-can't-remember (FWNICR) starts a conversation:
FWNICR: We went to see Pocahontas this weekend.
Me: Really? Why?
Someone else: Was it good?
FWNICR: I would have it enjoyed it more but Pocahontas reminded me of CINDY that it drove me crazy!
Me: What? What does that mean? Just because she's brown and I am, you think we look the same?
everyone else: Haha! That's funny!! She does! She does!!

So I thought she was my friend. But the tone of her statement was not much of a joke...and eventually, I detected something in her approach to me that I hadn't detected before. I had been oblivious. Even though I had been to her home, had breakfast and lunch with her often, etc., I apparently never saw the animosity she had for me until that day and that statement.

Sadly, she went away but the comparison to Pocahontas never did. Sure, I laughed it off...sort of...but I wasn't really humored by this because it had such a negative connotation.

First: the whole "Anything cartoon that is brown looks like Cindy". I found that pretty ignorant.

Second: the fact that someone who I thought liked me really did not.

But the jokes continued. I tried to twist it and see if I could make money off of this by acting in a porn titled "Poke a Hontas".

And I kid you not, one day, Tim and I were at the theater while Pocahontas was still playing, and I happened to be standing near a sign of the movie and I swear to god, little kids were staring at me. Maybe I was paranoid but I felt like they were wondering if I was really HER...

When I left Burroughs Wellcome, my co-workers and pals greeted me farewells, along with Pocahontas paraphenilia: pencils, pictures, etc.

I left those in the boxes at home.

And I thought I left this 'legacy' behind.

But a couple of months into my new job at IBM (in RTP), a manager came by and started with this story...and about a quarter way into it, I knew the horror that he was about to reveal:
'You know, over the weekend, I was opening the cupboard to get a cup for my daughter. The cup had a picture of Pocahontas on it and I thought: that looks like Cindy!'

Ah-hah...hahaha. He continues, 'Did anyone ever tell you that you look JUST LIKE HER?' I think to myself "She's a fucking cartoon. I don't look JUST LIKE HER" but out loud I said something like "yes."

He was so happy about this discovery and soon, others around me heard this revelation and found it funny. I rolled with the punches, because that's just how nice I can be.

Then it went a bit too far. Another friend of mine brought up a proposition at one lunch meeting: she wanted to hire me to dress up as Pocahontas for her 8 year old son's birthday party.

She had been telling me for some time how much I looked like Pocahontas and how much her sons LOVED the Indian Princess.

But this took the cake. She was serious. She would pay me to come over for her son's birthday party if I would dress like Pocahontas. I found this really disturbingly sick.

But money was tight...

Just kidding. No way. I didn't do it. I wouldn't do it. I was now tired of the Pocahontas reference.

Tim still calls me that every once in awhile. That, or the 'old german woman' but that's another story...

And some of my friends from those Pocahontas days might bring it up. But for the most part, I try to ignore it. Mainly from the first two issues. Yes, it's funny but seriously, is it because I really look like her or because we have the same color skin? Probably both.

But I decided for Facebook's Doppelganger week - where one changes their profile picture to be the picture of someone famous who people have said you looked like - that I would bring up the Pocahontas thing again and use her image as my profile picture.

For a split second, I thought about being ironic and finding a picture of someone totally the opposite of me: white, blue eyed, blonde hair and the biggest boobs I could find...but I figured I'd be the only one to get the joke. This way, being Pocahontas, everyone could laugh freely and be in on it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Food, Inc.

My friend David recommended this movie to me. I was lucky: Netflix streaming had this one included in it's database of movies so I watched it almost right after he mentioned it.

I won't comment on too much of it, for fear of getting sued. You laugh. But watch the movie and maybe you won't think I'm so paranoid.

But after watching it, it has made me extremely conscious of what I buy.

Don't get me wrong. I am a very vigilant shopper. I read labels. I buy healthier food items. I eat out, for the most part, at local places.

I do what I think is morally and ethically correct.

But this movie made me see what more I can do to follow the philosophy I feel is already in me.

Watch the movie. It will still shock you. And it will make you angry. And it will make you more conscious about the choices you make every day.

At least I hope it will.

Some links to read more about it are from:
Wikipedia and from
takepart.com/foodinc

Nice Handwriting

I liked this picture and writing by Mi-Mi from her work on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. She got the age wrong (he was 39 when he was assassinated) but look at how nice she writes!!

Martin luther king Jr. was 32 when he died. Martin luther King Jr. was a great man. He wanted everyone to be free.
See her "a"s? That's how I write my "a"s. :)

And she colors quite nicely too:

Walk the Dogs

This was one of Mi-Mi's work assignments. This is based on a true story.

Last time me and my dad went to walk my dog brenna. We walked and walked till we got to the bridge. There was a paper there was little papers at the bottom of the paper. We took one. It said My Dog Walkers and their phone number.
Then you can see the picture she drew of it.

When It's Their Birthday...

Mi-Mi put these pictures together the other day and said "This is what we should do when it's their birthday".

For Sunkist the Cat:

She created balloons, which, very soon, I will post a video of Sunkist and his balloon. He LOVES balloons, so we make it a point to grab one every time we hit the grocery store. He takes the ribbon into his mouth and marches the balloon whereever he goes. It is *so* cute!

Anyway, Mi-Mi drew pictures of, from left-to-right: his water, his cat food, fish (for us), and a cake for us, that has a fake fish at the top.

For Brenna the Dog:

Again, from left-to-right: a squeak toy, hot dog weenies (for us and Brenna), her water, her dog food, and a tennis ball.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison

I wasn't sure about this book club choice. It didn't appeal to me but, this is why I am in book club so that I would be introduced to other genres. And I'm glad I read it.

John Elder Robision is the older brother of Augusten Burroughs, who wrote Running with Scissors. This is not a book I have read but it's now on my list.

Their upbringing is an interesting story in itself but to grow up with a syndrome that wasn't really known at the time, along with the turmoil of a dysfunctional family life, amazing that he has become successful in life.

Robison is funny throughout his recollection of his Asperger's and how he was treated, or how he viewed things.

I enjoyed his reading about his reasoning with regard to his "rude" behavior as a child. He took a truck from a playmate to show her the "right" way to play with a truck. In his mind, there was no other way to play with the truck except the way he knew how.

The title itself comes from one of the characteristics of Asperger's, which is not being able to look someone in the eye. And without knowledge of the syndrome, he was constantly getting into trouble by not looking at people in the eye and frustrating them, as they shook him and said "Look me in the eye!"

I was fascinated in how he learned to communicate and socialize 'normally' based on his observations of others over the years. He mentioned how people would say "Hello, how are you" and he would respond with something completely random, like 'I like bananas'. Adults would just smile; kids would call him nuts.

But over time, he noticed how people responded to certain questions and he then "learned" to respond in a similar way and prevent those "your nuts" type looks and/or commentary.

I cried at the end, as he wrote about his father and his dying days. His dad was not a great dad but amazing how Robison could find the happy memories of his father -- through his father's own memories -- after so many years of repressing them.

Definitely a great book...and I feel extremely lucky that I have had a luck of really good books read, one after the other.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Kids of America

For over three years, I have been a volunteer for a local book store's Teen Writing Club. And for the last several months, I have pretty much handed the reigns to my BFF Sam. But a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of filling in for Sam (while she baked bread for me ;)).

Teen Writing Club is extremely special. It is solely voluntary. There is no school credit. There is no competition. It is purely a meeting time for like-minded young people to get together and share their stories. Their own well-written stories.

Some stories are for competitions. Or for school. But a majority of the story-writing is their own work, on their own time.

Can you believe it? Young teenagers who are willing to give up their own free time to hang out and read their stories out loud and get feedback about it. SEEK feedback.

These teens are unique. They are brilliant. They are confident. And they have such an amazing depth to their personality that is missing in most grown-ups.

For awhile, the attendees were mainly girls. There were a couple of guys initially, but they dropped off soon after I started. I must have scared them away. But I met two new comer guys over the last few times I have attended.

The coolest thing that I found from my last meeting were these two blogs that a couple of them have. Two very different personalities, well, if you include me, THREE, united by their passion for writing.

The Liberal Rocker is one of those brilliant writers. I enjoyed meeting him and then reading his blog, I am amazed. And inspired. And hopeful. There are young people out there that care. And they care enough to KNOW what is going on in the world. And still young enough to be "fresh" when writing about it. Here is a sample of what he (and a few of his friends) post on the blog:

From January 15th's Quote of the Day:
Glenn Beck asked Sarah Palin who her favorite founding father was, guess how she answered? That's right she said "All of them" Glenn Beck was buying it and responded that that was "Bull Crap". She then said that her favorite was George Washington, the default answer for anyone who has not studied American History.

"Oh who's you favorite President?"

"George Washington"

"Who's you favorite General"

"George Washington"

Sarah Palin needs to read a history book, in which she would find that Jefferson, Franklin, Madison(my favorite), Hamilton, and many, many others did much much more to found this country than Washington.

BTW, he is reading her book. I plan to too.

Then there's young Olivia. Amazing young girl. I see her dad hanging out while she reads her stories to us. I have to say, these teens have remarkable families who support this "hobby". I have the utmost respect for them.

Her stories are intelligent with a twist of wry. They are a fave of the little group of writers.

Yesterday I read one of her latest blog posts. I LOVE THESE WRITERS AND THEIR THOUGHTS. It's just chilling in a good way, how incredible they "speak" in their words. Their age gives me a refreshing look on life. But this part of her post "Writing Elementary School Style" had this paragraph that was captivating:
Speaking of which, I'd like to talk about our way of life for a few paragraphs.

Before we start school, our parents prepare us for school by teaching us things. This is all well and good.
Once we get to preschool, it's about preparing us for kindergarten. More about kindergarten later. The latter half of elementary school is filled with emphasis on "in middle school, such and such and such. It's my job to prepare you for middle school." In middle school, from the very first month, it's about preparing for high school. Now that I'm in high school, all of the emphasis is on preparing for college or "the workforce," or whatever it is we plan on doing post-graduation. I've never been to college, of course, but I'd bet lots of money that the emphasis there is on preparing the student for Adult Life. According to commercials on TV and tips on working I've seen at school, it is considered wise to begin saving for retirement as soon as you start work. If/when one gets married and has children, it becomes about preparing the children for their lives. Where's the actual living happening? It's all about preparing for whatever comes next. What about actually doing stuff just for the sake of doing it? This seems wrong. Preparing is good, but shouldn't we have a chance to stop preparing and jump into the pool? Or, since this is a writer's blog, stop prewriting and begin with chapter 1?

I am so happy and privileged to have met these young folk. And it is a relief to know that there are still young people who *do* care, who *do* have a voice, and are not scared to speak about it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Second Run of the New Year

My six weeks are up and I got my second run of the New Year. Same route as the first one, as well as same mileage.

Three whole miles.

And it was wonderful.

Well, the first two were great. Once I got to the 'other' side of Lake Lynn, I was feeling pretty tired.

Keep in mind, no matter what direction one starts at Lake Lynn: clockwise or counter-clockwise, the other half is up and hilly. So the hilly part got my heart rate well into the 190s when I had been trying very hard to keep it as close to 'under 180' as possible.

But I have to start somewhere and this is where I start. I plan to pick back up into three days a week before getting my Monday run back in.

It was a great day too. Well, it was overcast and cloudy but it was in the 60s. I had a burn in the pit of my stomach that I thought might have to do with hunger but it was noticeable during the run. And as I passed one of the many ducks that hang out, I rolled my left ankle (the same foot with the hopefully healed fracture) and scared the shit out of the duck. Fortunately, the duck didn't try to attack me to then scare the shit out of me. I'm always a little freaked passing wild animals during my runs...you know, those manic ducks, squirrels and deer!

But I survived. And I'll miss my Tuesday and Thursday yoga classes. They have been my savior as I wait for this old foot of mine gets its days of rest.

Second Empire Grand Prix Luncheon

Yesterday was the 2009 Second Empire Grand Prix Series Luncheon. This was the awards ceremony for the winners and participants (of seven of the eight races) of the Fall race series.

If I haven't mentioned it, I placed third in my age group. :)

I took CJ as my date to the lunch. Tim dropped us off, as we also had tickets for the Museum of Life & Science *and* Mi-Mi had a sleepover to attend after that shindig. It was a busy Saturday for us.

CJ and I walked to the front of the restaurant, noticing a big lock on the gate. Um. I'm at the right place, aren't I? I saw people walking to this place.

The guy sweeping the front porch mentioned that we needed to go through the back. He apologized but not what I would say was a good user experience.

Side note: I actually park and walk a certain way to my building *just* for the user experience. Really. I do. And no. I'm not OCD (officially).

Anyway, we walk towards the back and a fellow asked what the sweeping man asked me and I said 'we have to go through the back'. He mentioned that it must be because we are runners. I said something to the effect of 'yeah, we'll feed you but we don't want anyone to see you...'

I joke because this was extremely wonderful. There were about three banquet rooms, with two long tables each, full of runners from the series. And they fed us well. And it was all free.

Well, I paid $10 for CJ. And the one oddity out of this was talking to the waitress.

I had been in contact with Kim Reynolds, the owner of the restaurant and coordinator of the awards ceremony. She mentioned the price for kids and that I could talk to the waitress about food options.

So I mentioned this to the waitress. She said: what would you like. I asked: what do you have? She seemed a bit taken aback and mentioned: we could do chicken tenders. So I asked further: is it possible to make a burger? (CJ mentioned she wanted one and to see if they would; otherwise, chicken tenders were fine). The waitress reacted like this: OH NO. _THAT_ WE CANNOT DO. We don't even have BUNS for that!

As if I asked for a fried bologna sandwich...a burger was just beneath HER. I say HER because, I noticed nothing elitist about Kim Reynolds and her husband.

BTW, Second Empire is one of Raleigh's high end, finest dining establishments.

But back to my point: we were served bread and unless they had zero ground beef in their establishment, a hamburger could be made. Whether you WANTED to make one is another question.

But I had a wonderful lunch and was able to sit with my friend Mary and her hubby. It was so nice to socialize with her outside of racing. I learned a lot about her and later, CJ and I commented on how funny we thought her hubby was :).

After lunch it was time to head down to the tavern for the awards ceremony. They did everything they could to accommodate seating for all of us. It was so impressive, the amount of generosity they showed for us and for this series.

A video compilation of the series' races was shown first. It was *so* good. And then all the participants that raced in seven of the eight races were given their prize, which was an athletic bag with the grand prix series logo. In fact, everything given as prizes had this logo.

The Overall winners were announced and given a running jacket and pants, along with a check for their winnings. FYI: the 3rd place overall male winner was 41 and the 4th place overall male winner was 52 years old. My friend Mary cinched 5th overall.

Then the winners of age groups were announced and Kim decided to go from oldest to youngest. I loved it!

Two, you heard me TWO! gentleman got their prizes for 1st and 2nd place in the 75-99 age group. In fact, the second place guy was eighty-fricking-two years old. He later one a gift certificate for, get this, neck and face tightening from Blue Water Spa. Oh, the irony.

There were one each for male/female in the 70-74 age group. And a few more in the 60s. Amazingly enough, female 30-34 only had one winner. And no male in the age group 20-24. Can you believe that?? There were only two males that ran in that age group and they placed first and second overall.

I got my third place prize, which is a white fleece vest. Second place was a long sleeved fleece jacket, and first is the running pants and jacket.

Amazing prizes and the whole camaraderie of this luncheon was worth running seven of eight races. Placing is just icing on the cake. This series' races were all for charity, so all of this: prizes, luncheon, taking up restaurant space, as well as time to conduct this, is all by sponsorship (at least, that's what I deduced). Incredible and really brings a warm soft glow to my heart and soul.

I will definitely, if I can, do it again this Fall.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

First Race in my 2010 Race Calendar!

I am still recovering from the second metatarsal stress fracture on my left foot. Say that 10 times.

I ran once this year but became freaked out at any twinge of pain that I decided to give it six weeks.

I mentioned this to my primary doc and she agreed to wait it out the full six weeks. If it starts to feel painful again, then it's another trip to the ortho doc for a possible MRI.

I truly hope it doesn't come to that. I hope it's me being overly cautious and paranoid that makes me so conservative about this foot. I have not ever broken a bone in my body in my life!

Well, at least, not that I know of. I jammed my toes several times over the course of my life that made me wonder if I did. And at one of those jammed toe times, I remember hearing about a friend's family member getting gangrene because he broke a toe and never had it fixed and then eventually lost his foot, then his leg. *That's* why I can remember that I may have broken a toe at some point in my life. I thought I was going to lose my leg.

I have altered my plans for the new year slightly. I thought I would be doing a half by March, looking at the Roanoke Canal Half but along with my new found conservatism (only in my running, thankyouverymuch), I decided to run an old favorite of mine, Run for the Oaks 5K.

Run for the Oaks will be on March 13th, the same day as the Roanoke Canal Half...so I am definitely not doing that one. I have not ruled out a longer mile race but I certainly won't sign up for one until I am actively and routinely running.

But Run for the Oaks should be fun. I believe it will be my first race of the year as we are encroaching on February now...only if I feel ready to run something before Run for the Oaks will I consider another one, but for now, I'll shoot for the stars with that race.

I've run this race more times than I can remember. But amazing to see that I have been blogging for some time now that I have at least three race reports on this race!

The first in 2007. I can't help but add this post because I always remember this oddity when Run for the Oaks comes around.

Here is 2008's post and 2009. I truly hope I can post another one for this year.

Not Starbucks

I am adding another category to the right side of my blog: coffee shops that are not Starbucks. This is part of the Support Local program I follow, among other philosophical ideology that I follow.

I wrote about this before so I may threepeat myself in this post.

But Starbucks is a conglomerate that operates a zillion coffee houses across the world. And it seems everyone and their 16 year olds love it.

Why?

The coffee is good? Yes. But you know what? It's the same taste in every country. It's like eating McDonald's. The burger tastes the same no matter where you eat it.

Aren't people curious to see how the locals brew their coffee? For instance, if I go to LaShish for lunch, I have a Turkish coffee. It's a wonderful espresso like coffee that is sweet and delightfully strong. I can't get that at Starbucks.

But even if you don't venture to Turkey to try their style of coffee, we have a very good selection right here in the Triangle. I haven't even tried ALL the possibilities that I could but I will share the knowledge that I have.

Remember, there are enough people who are superficially aware of Starbucks and have their "I am cool. I drink Starbucks. See? My recyclable paper coffee cup says so." These are the MAJORITY. And Starbucks will live, without me drinking there. But these local places? They have pride in their fare. And they barely survive. At least two of these places have gone through different owners. I'm thankful that there are other folks who share a passion to support local coffee houses. But they won't survive if we don't support them.

New World Coffee House, 4112-124 Pleasant Valley Rd., Raleigh
This was $Bill's place because for years, he lived right by it. He often mentioned the White Lightning's he would purchase from here and occasionally, we'd meet here after a run. And while I won't take away his ownership, it has now become my place, since I now live right by it.

It's a small, eclectic place. Brightly painted, with local artwork on display. It serves food that is quite tasty, free wifi, smoothies that my girls love, and some pastries. They sell and use Larry's Beans, which not only promotes Fair Trade Coffee but is also right here in Raleigh. Local supporting local. Who could ask for anything more?

BTW, I highly recommend the White Lightning.

Java Jive
, 919 North Harrison Avenue and 2425 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary
I have gone only to the Harrison Avenue location. At one time, this was *the* place to go to after a Saturday morning run. There are not enough seats to house the tired butts of several runners, but we huddled around as best as we could, sipping on either a White Chocolate Mocha or Liquid Brownie.

The Harrison Avenue location has a drive-thru too. When I want a coffee while at work (one of few times I'll be in Cary), I drive the extra mile to grab one from here than the Starbucks across the street.

Royal Bean Coffee House, 3801-137 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh
This is where my book club meets. I couldn't have asked for a better meeting place. Think of the TV show Friends, but a more open, wider space. Royal Bean has big chairs and sofas, where they don't frown upon us book club attendees moving them around to get us all together, to intimately discuss our book for about 15 minutes than on to other topics!

Free wifi, board games to borrow, TVs, pastries, sandwiches, are also offered. There is a frequent coffee program that houses your card right there at the register.

I have also enjoyed a great mocha at The Cary Cafe. Abdul may not be your typical barista, but he can make it fast and yummy. It is worth a stop for a Saturday breakfast or brunch to have him whip up one of his coffee drinks for you.

None of these taste like Starbucks. And none of these coffee houses taste the same. They all have a version of white chocolate mochas and they all taste superb in their own way.

Remember, I am your friend and "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks".

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Food Rules - An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

I saw Michael Pollan on The Jon Stewart Show promoting this book. What caught my attention, and lured me to this book, was Rule #36:
Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
Brilliant! I totally agree!! I had to find this book and read the rest of the rules.

And I got it fairly quickly off the library wish list. And it is very interesting in a very simple way.

First, from a user experience perspective, this book is well done: 140 pages consisting of mainly one page rules (64 of them). It is also pretty small in size. Not extremely small, as in pocket-sized, but definitely a book that is more portable to put in a bag than a novel.

Although there is an Introduction, which I am not a big fan of, it is a very well written and informative introduction. It actually explains some aspects of what came to the idea of rules. Maybe this is what most Introductions do in other novels, but I find them generally boring and yet I feel compelled to read them and feel ripped off after wards.

It works in this book, IMO, because there is no story. There are simply rules. Easy to read, mainly one sentence rules, with a brief description (again, sometimes).

And these rules are easy to understand. There is no scientific description (perhaps in the paragraphs below the actual one sentence rule) but the rule itself uses terms and analogies that are simple to understand. As I mentioned Rule #36 above -- you get it instantly, right?

He is not preachy but it is easy to see what side of the food debate he comes from (to me and I could be wrong!). But the rules are sensible. The 'real' rule comes in the Introduction:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I can strive for his (above) basic rule, but I know I probably won't follow many of them.

For instance, Rule #14:
Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.
There are many bad foods I still like to eat, funyons being one item I couldn't put in a list of "never" eat foods. And although he mentions moderation for those foods that we should avoid, there is still the air of "you shouldn't".

What I found fascinating did come from the Introduction. Pollan's description of the "Western Diet" is pretty eye-opening. He describes the Western Diet as "...generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains."

Ouch! But so true.

So I recommend reading this one. It's quick and easy. It's not written in a way that comes across as an extremist view. It definitely uses, and validates, some lore ("Old Wives Tales") that many of us probably already follow.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Two Random Things to Tell

These are two FYIs that I just learned myself. You may already know this but I didn't.

1. When buying gifts, use a 'recycle' tote for your gift bag. What I mean by that are, the bags you use when you go shopping. They are selling them in nearly every store. I found that out when I was at Toys R Us last weekend and saw them for sale in very fun patterns and colors. I promptly put my gift bag away and bought that to put my gifts in. Sure, you can recycle gift bags and reuse them as your own gift bags for others...but that always felt weird *to me*...and this new way made *me* feel great (and green).

2. At my Kroger grocery store, they have Pepsi and Mountain Dew throwbacks. What does this mean? Not only does the can look like the old Pepsi logo from when I was a kid (I don't know if it's the same for Mountain Dew, since I didn't drink it at that age, but I assume it is), but it is made with real sugar. "Real sugar" may not mean much to people but it's far better than the high fructose syrup that has been used in colas for who knows how long. We can debate on whether soda is good for you or not (it _tastes_ good to me and I'll continue to drink it on occasion), but my statement comes from a good place.

The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

There is nothing more amazing than being engulfed into a novel. To be submerged into the livelihood of it, it's characters are an extension of you, their surroundings are vividly clear in your mind. When you start reading, you enter a different world. Some novels do this better than others, no matter how good the story is. The God of Animals is one of those books that immersed my whole being into it's story.

And how mismatched a story could be to lasso me in (a pun, but one you won't get until later...but I laughed at myself as I wrote it). This is narrated by 12 year old Alice. Alice lives on a horse farm in the desert of Colorado. It depicts the life she lives with her non-stop-hard-labor working dad and her depressed mother, who lives only in the bedroom.

Family life apparently was A-OK until big sis Nona married and left, unexpectedly, with her new husband. Nona was *the* star of the family, with regards to riding and showing horses. She was the one that helped lure clients into the business: look at her, we can train you to ride and show just like her.

But life went downhill after that and the first few pages hook you by the soft focus on Polly Cain, a fellow classmate who was found dead in the canal near Alice's home. Polly Cain would be a thread throughout this story, but in a very strange way.

Alice and the life her family lives is downright sad. The struggle to find clients, to make ends meet, to work so hard every single hour of the day to only barely scrape by...to 'sell your soul to the devil' by giving in to what you don't stand for...anything to make money to pay for the bills and food.

Poor Alice, a rising seventh grader who has no friends at school, has to wear clothes and shoes a size or two too small. Her father never notices this and she never asks.

It's an intriguing story that had me hook, line and sinker. Extremely sad and extremely brutal in many parts of this story. But by far, my favorite of the year.

Yes, I know. It's only January. But amazing for me to have found a book that just captivated me. And it's a good start of the year for reading, as this is two in a row that I have just loved.

Aryn Kyle writes magnificently. There is nothing flawed in her prose. It is rich, unobtrusive, and refined. I look forward to her next novel, Boys and Girls Like You and Me, which comes out in April.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Spontaneous Combustion

I had no real plans for the day today.

Mi-Mi crawled into bed with me, shortly after Tim left for a day of hard work. I decided I would read, which is hard to do with Mi-Mi. She acknowledges that reading is "personal space & time" but she continues to ignore the sentiment and insists on chatting. :) So I pause and listen and chat back. It's annoyingly cute.

As I read and chat, I think about what we shall eat for breakfast. Recall that I am an full on eggs with fixing's kind of girl. I decided that I would take them out for breakfast. My first thought was to go to Brig's, which is a local place down the road. Pretty good but I decided to be adventurous and take us all somewhere new. I remembered Courtney's off of Six Forks Road, so I decided we would take a trip to it.

Breakfast was quite good. Service was good; getting seated was sub-par. The owner/worker who was there decided to chat with customers he knew...never acknowledging us. I found it very rude. After too much waiting, we were seated in the quaint place. Our waitress was awesome, which made up for the too long wait to be seated episode.

Coffee is served in the carafe; breakfast order was quick. Kids enjoyed their chocolate chip pancakes and I enjoyed my skillet dish "The King". I ate far too much. And even once full, Mi-Mi pointed out that I left my slice of cantaloupe intact. So I shoved that into my already full system. Daily fruit intake...CHECK!

I had decided I would take CJ to Old Navy, one of her favorite stores. But once in the car, I thought "hmmm...wonder if there are any consignment shops close by?" I did a quick search on my phone and found more than I expected. And since we were on the right side of town, our day of unplanned activities ignited into sheer spontaneity: addresses found on the phone while the GPS guided us to the mysterious spot.

First stop: Passage Consignment Shoppe, 1924 Wake Forest Road
Wonderfully huge with a warehouse full of clothing. And the clothing is pretty high end. I found several items I wanted but actually put back and ended up empty handed. But I would definitely return. My kids, although appreciate shopping as much as I do (CJ more so), are not as patient as I am at consignment stores. I literally will look through each piece of clothing available to me, one by one. I will have to return alone next time. CJ literally followed me as my shadow even with my prodding to go look elsewhere.

From there we ventured to Get Dressed, 600 N. West Street
This is one of my new favorite places. It is just too cool. I found three things and paid a little over $7 for all three. These were off the 75% sale but nothing like a introduction to your business by giving me a great deal. I also saw this, which was AWESOME...yes, I would wear this in a heartbeat:

It's only $450, or a more affordable way, $30 rental per day.

Next stop was Revolver @ 123 Glenwood Avenue.
This place is over my budget. The prices were high and there were no advertised sales that I had been exposed to at the two previous shops. But a very chic place, which seems apropos for the Glenwood crowd. But the best thing about this place was Rigsby, the resident poodle (?). A beautiful, LARGE, soft dog that grew an immediate attachment to Mi-Mi. Of course, Mi-Mi happened to have a dog biscuit (she was given one for her stuffed beagle, Bailey, at the previous Get Dressed shop). But it was adorable how he just followed her all over the place. And Mi-Mi is *our* residential unbelievably-natural-passion-for-animals that she gave him her undivided attention. But not the dog biscuit (I told her she had to ask them first and that just is too much for her to do). The hard part was leaving, as Rigsby stood right at the window staring at us as we departed (empty handed):


We then headed to Old Navy. Not much to say as once you've been to an Old Navy anywhere in the country, it's all the same. The great thing is that they are cheap and even better when they have a sale. I left with two big bags of clothing.

Last stop was a "new" place by the house. "Thrift Shop" at 6311 Glenwood Avenue. This one is what you would expect to see at the State Fairgrounds. Some "junk" and some clothing. I was tired of it by then and wasn't impressed with the selection. However, it was relatively cheap so I could get lucky one day and find a diamond in the rough.

We made a few more stops consisting of errands and got back home, cleaned up the house so that it would be immaculate for Tim when he got home. After all, we would all be exhausted...only one from actual labor. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Hurt Locker

I was extremely excited about this movie being released on DVD. I have wanted to see it for awhile and didn't realize it was coming out on DVD so soon (for me).

I happen to find one of the only copies available in a Redbox rental at the Walmart down the road from me. I hurried this AM to pick it up (I reserved it) and picked up Sunny with a Chance of Meatballs for the girls to watch tonight.

It didn't turn out to be a great movie night for all. The girls apparently couldn't manage to just sit and watch a movie but instead, fight, run around, and cry. They lost their movie privilege and were sent off to their separate rooms. Don't be too concerned: they both have their own television.

But Tim and I were left alone (for the most part) to enjoy this critically acclaimed flick.

The Hurt Locker stars people that most people would never hear of. I like this. No George Clooneys, Brad Pitts or the idol-du-jour, Bradley Cooper. THANK YOU GOD-LIKE-SYMBOL for having a fine movie with fine actors (their a dime a dozen) who weren't commercialized.

The story revolves mainly around an EOD unit in Baghdad (Iraq War). It's titillating and sad. The story is loosely based on the experience of Mark Boal, a journalist who went along with real life soldiers during their excursions in Iraq.

Sgt. James joins a three man team shortly after the loss of their team lead. He is reckless and wild. Instead of using a robot to search potential roadside bombs, he goes in himself. He's almost the "Maverick" of the Bravo Company that is responsible for detonating the bombs.

It's also sad. The idea that people live in a country that have to bow down to US troops.

The idea that you are not safe in your own country.

The idea that you, as an American soldier, are the stranger in the strange land and have no idea who to trust.

I enjoyed it a lot. Just sorry that the kids couldn't make their movie night work for them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Snowman

Mi-Mi showed me this today:


Text:
At night my snowman sips on ice cold chocolate. 'Mmmm!' She sleds all the way down a steep hill. She does other stuff like ice skating, roller skating, sking, roller coaster and other stuff. And that is what my snowman does at night.

Congratulations Brenna!

Brenna the dog made "Pet of the Week". I don't know how it happened, nor did I realize there was a competition, but this is what I saw on my refrigerator when I got home today:


Caption:
For being calm and not making us get up to get her to stop scratching at things.

La Farm Bakery

I am *so* happy to have found a lovely local place that I can wax poetic about...even though it is in Cary. I have one other favorite Cary place, The Cary Cafe.

How did I get such exposure to this fine, wonderful place?

Well, several years ago, I was introduced to La Farm's delectable breads through my work place. We have many wonderful benefits but one of those decadent "benes" was that La Farm came out to our company once a week with their breads and granolas for purchase...get this...via PAYROLL DEDUCTION!

And that was when I first had their white chocolate mini baguette. This thing is so fucking amazing. I kid you not. I almost spent my entire paycheck on weekly purchases of numerous baguettes, among other things.

That spoiled-employee perk left after awhile and I pretty much let La Farm go off my list. It's in Cary, after all, and nowhere along my common path to work, home, running routes, etc.

But last year, fed up with my corporate bank, I found a true local bank to support. It happens to be located right by La Farm! I made it to La Farm one lovely day, after opening my new account and having the ladies of this bank tell me "oh, you must go there for lunch". I did and owe those ladies every bit of gratitude for re-introducing me to this place.

My favorite items off their menu actually come from their "Tartines, Galettes, and Quiche" section of their cafe menu. My first order was the Roasted Tomato Galette. Incredible! A simple, but exotic puff pastry with mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and creme fraiche. I have no idea what life is like in Paris, but I felt like I had the epicurean experience of a Frenchman.

My second experience: Croque Monsier: bread with ham, gruyere and a Mornay sauce. Another magnificent occurrence for my palate. And with this lunch, I had my white chocolate mini baguette join the fun. YUMMMM!

The last two experiences happened this week. This time, I snookered Tim into joining me there for lunch. We both had sandwiches that were so good. My sandwich happened to be a simple ham and cheese (gruyere) sandwich that had me toe tapping with pleasure. We bought a loaf of their baguette and went home and made our own genoa salami and gruyere cheese sandwiches.

Unfortunately, that visit had NO white chocolate baguettes :(.

But I had to make another visit to the bank and decided I would have lunch there...since I was in the area! Take advantage of the opportunity of being in the same "town".

This time, I got the Poulet Tartine, which is chicken layered on spinach, brie, harvati and green applies. Oh. My. God. If I could pick the best of the best, this would be it. And that's only because I just had it. I probably would order something else and would claim that to be the best of the best.

Prices are so reasonable. Nothing at all outrageous.

Service is fine. They could work on the usability of how to place an order but that's a minor complaint from someone that ruminates on such things.

Oh, and this time, those mini baguettes were available and I did all I could to prevent myself from buying them all.

This is now my new favorite place.

Superman

I have exposed my children to Eminem.

I like Eminem stuff.

I bought an album awhile back and found that every song on his album was raunchy as hell. I mean CRASS RAUNCHY.

And I liked it.

I found several mashups of his music and my girls have heard some of the songs. Mi-Mi loves this one and has played it every day this week on the way to school. A few weeks ago, she had asked me 'is he saying he likes her or not'? I told her that Eminem doesn't like anyone.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cereal Killers

I like a good breakfast. I am most happiest when I can have bacon & eggs, or an omelet, or anything with eggs, meat and hash browns. But I can't have that every day.

And we all know that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. So I want to make it good. I usually end up having two breakfasts during the week because they are so small.

I followed the P90X meal plan for awhile. Those breakfasts were not only tasty and healthy, but hearty! I should try to go back to that for awhile. I couldn't believe the amount of food I could have for breakfast!

But I digress.

This post is about cereal.

What kind of cereal do I usually prefer? I like Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, and Honeycomb. I also am a big sucker for Lucky Charms!

But I want a cereal that I can enjoy. Cereal is quick to put together (vs. the P90X meals). I want a cereal that is more nutritional *but* tastes good too. Is it fair to ask for a cereal that would taste as good as Lucky Charms but won't change the color of my milk?

I think not.

At the grocery store, I picked up a box of Special K Protein Plus Cereal. It is described as 'lightly sweetened wheat, soy and rice flakes'. Hmmm...like Frosted Flakes except with excessively less sugar? And with more protein! And, well, I only looked at it because it was on sale. :) Honey Nut Cheerios was going for double the price of the Special K. And I like to try new things.

But this Special K, IMO, is not so special. I won't say that it SUCKS but if this is the "frosted" version of this line of cereal, then the others must suck.

I'll finish off my cheap box of cereal but will return for those pricey Honey Nut Cheerios.

Unless something else ends up on sale.

Any recommendations?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Hello Down There by Michael Parker

I started another novel, American Salvage. It was a nominee for the National Book Foundation's 2009 National Book Awards. I hated it. OK. Maybe not hate, but I didn't like it. It is supposed to be a novel of short stories. They were short but made no sense. No ending. The first one, OK. I'll give you one. The second one or third one, I can't remember which, had an almost ironic ending that I thought would give hope to the rest. But the third or fourth one blew that hope out of the water.

It made me feel daft: what am I missing? It was nominee, for buddha's sake! And the reviews on Amazon (all seven of them at this writing) has nothing but five stars and praise for it. Maybe I didn't give it enough pages. I should have read on? But my goal now is to not waste anymore of my precious time on books that are not satisfying my brain. This was one of them.

So I decided to stick to what I know and I know that I like Michael Parker. If You Want Me to Stay was a fave of mine from 2007 and I read Virginia Lovers this year and enjoyed it as well.

What I have learned about Parker's 'style', after reading this one, is that he captures the voice of his characters, whereby you know them so well. And it's not just one, it's several personas. And they are unforgettable and linger, at least in my mind, for days, weeks even.

They linger too because there is tragedy involved in his story lines.

That is what happened with this novel.

Eureka becomes a young girl we get to know after a few chapters. We meet Edwin first, briefly, three years earlier. In the "now", we meet Eureka's dad and his co-worker, the pharmacist. We also meet Eureka's younger brother, the "talker" of the family.

Edwin, a son of the wealthy family of Trent, NC, has quite a torrid past. But "now" he is a morphine-addict. And the pharmacist has no choice but to provide, illegally, morphine because the place he works at is indebted to Edwin's family.

Eureka is young and quite naive. Her path crosses Edwin's, who quickly falls for Eureka for no apparent reason. This part of the story, as disturbing as it might be for some, is what I loved and craved. A broken man who finds hope in this girl.

And so a love story begins and Edwin seeks to change his addiction, with the help of the pharmacist that he so dislikes. They go off, to Kentucky, to find help to kick the morphine habit. He brings along Eureka, the girl responsible for his change, and a driver.

I loved, when the doctor at the Kentucky hospital asks him why he wants to kick the morphine habit. Edwin replies with something along the lines of 'i found something stronger'. The doc replies with "Heroin?" And Edwin says 'Add an "e" to the end of that".

All for her, without really knowing her.

It's a love story some of us disturbed people enjoy: a woman who is so amazing that she changes you for the better.

The tragedy comes in soon after Edwin is sober.

The pharmacist, who for years has strived to help Edwin break his habit, decides that Edwin's past is too awful for young Eureka and plots a plan to ruin him and draw him back to morphine.

And with each page of this plot taking place, my heart broke. For Edwin, for Eureka, who we never really know is truly in love with Edwin, but he is her ticket out of Trent, NC...a place she wants to leave so badly.

When I read great books, I love to research them more...read about the author (which I have done at every reading of his previous books) and about the storyline. I have since found that there is a second part to this novel, Town Without Rivers. It is essentially the sequel to this one. I can't wait to read it.

My Bests of 2009

Here is my 'Best of' list for 2009...

Favorite Movie: Let The Right One In
This is a Swedish movie about vampires. And it's not anything like Twilight. It's GOOD. It's AMAZING. It's even POETIC. And sadly, a remake of this movie for AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO CAN'T APPRECIATE A FOREIGN FILM NOIR THE DARK AIR THAT SURROUNDS MOST FOREIGN FILMS will be made FOR LAZY PEOPLE. I predict that this movie will be light with a happy ending, as TYPICAL AS ALL FUCKED UP AMERICAN MOVIES ARE.

This movie is based on a novel that edges very much on pedophilia. Do you think Americans will want this in a movie? And although the novel (which I have not read but read _about_) is blatant about this aspect of the father figure in the movie, the movie does not. It is left open to interpretation and my interpretation is this...WARNING: If you want to see this incredible movie and don't want me to ruin your ignorance of the plot, STOP READING:
Eli is forever a 12 year old. Her 'father' is, in fact, not her father but is in love with her and has cared for her...when she finds Oskar, also a 12 year old boy, they fall for each other and she finds another person to care for her. Oskar will care for Eli, for all his life because, he will grow old and she will not. So at some point, Oskar will be an older man and Eli will still be 12.

So, I seriously doubt an American movie will explore this side of dark tale. I am open to eating these words. But I love this movie. And sometimes I think I may want to read the novel, but I'm not sure I want to ruin the meaning that I got from the movie.



Best Novel: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
This was such a surprise for me. I was going through my book list from the library and just picking things off. I had no idea how this one would sweep me off my feet. In fact, I actually felt vaclempt about turning this book back into the library. I just loved looking at the book because it was so wonderful for me to read.

The characters are rich and quirky. The plot is is also unusual: a woman lives out in a woman's closet. Books relating to what is happening in another woman's life appear out of nowhere. The sense of someone of coming around before they actually appear. It's full of magical, supernatural nuances that it is so enchanting. I read her other novel, Garden Spells - just as quirky and mystical...loved it! And she has another coming in the Spring that I am eagerly awaiting.


Best Dining: Lilly's Pizza
I didn't blog about this and we didn't eat at the restaurant. I would have liked to but I can't remember why we didn't. What I do remember is eating the first slice at home and having my toes curl. YUM YUM! Tim and I hadn't had Lilly's in AGES so it was a welcome to have it again.

One memory of Lilly's was eating there the weeks after Hurricane Fran hit. We were without power (for 10 days) in the hot and humidity of September days. We took respite at Lilly's, enjoying the great outdoors...when rain decides to come through. We wrap it up, get into the car and get back home...not realizing...until we got home...that our windows were left open and now we had rain remnants within the house. We were just pissed...pissed at the world. But my memory of being at Lilly's was grand...


Best Race: Anna's Angels 10 Miler
It wasn't a race that I PR'd in, but it was a race that I ran strong in...well, up until the last mile but that wasn't enough to ruin the fact that this was my favorite. Why was it my favorite? Because it was challenging. And because I ran 95% of it with my BFF $Bill. Of course, like childbirth, my memory of it is much less painful than the reality of it...but I felt like we ran so strong in this race and we were running at the same "beat". He PR'd, which made me very proud. I was close to my PR time, which made me happy and that the PR in my first race was no fluke. I can really run a good pace for 10 miles.


Favorite Band: Muse
Although I started listening to Muse in late 2008, we, as a family, became big fans in 2009. Amazing band, amazing music, amazing lyrics. Some of our favorite songs:
Time is Running Out
Hysteria
Starlight
Solider's Poem
Knights of Cydonia
Supermassive Black Hole
Uprising


That's all I can think of for now. I can't pick a favorite TV Show. That would be impossible. I'd have to devote a blog or two on all the shows I watch. It's incredible the amount of TV I love to watch...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

First Run of the New Year

I did it.

I got my run in since I took a break to heal my left foot. The last run I did was December 8th. It feels like a century ago.

For the past two weeks, I've noticed people through my window, running by the house. I was a little envious. But when Tim commented the other day about seeing so many people "suddenly" running (implying those New Year resolutions we love to make), I was very jealous that I wasn't out there running.

I would have run sooner. My foot felt great and I thought that I would attempt a 2-3 mile jaunt around the lake. But I noticed that my foot was starting to hurt again and I became bummed.

But I was ready to start and I knew I would do it today, my designated long run day.

I wasn't sure how I'd fare. My thought was that I would be in such bad shape that I wouldn't be able to run for very long. But instead, I surprised myself and ran three miles non-stop.

And it felt great. The foot was fine during the run, but was sore on the walk _to_ the run.

I ran with two pairs of socks on to keep it pretty 'contained'. Since I will NOT wear my old Asics (that I think is also responsible for the deterioration of my foot), all I have left are little-used trail shoes that I have. Well, two pairs of socks on my big feet made for a tight fit in those shoes. I thought it would be too uncomfortable but then again, it might have helped by keeping my foot more immobile.

Last night I had a dream that I had run three miles with my coach and I was going up for another three mile run. I had such a great sense of relief of having done three miles already that my next three miles was less intimidating.

Based on that dream, my goal today was to get to three miles. Well, it became my goal after I figured out that I was getting two miles in EASILY. And in the end, I had a huge sense of relief that I did it. And I was glad that I made my dream come true.

Brenna's 4th Birthday

I can't believe it was only a year ago that Brenna turned three.

Mi-Mi was in top brenna-birthday form when she had plans for Brenna's birthday. She bought her some toys...here's Brenna with her new squeaky hot dog:

and wanted to bake a cake for, not only 2010's birthday, but for Brenna.


I told her that it didn't seem fair, that we get to eat cake and Brenna does not. I suggested she search for a dog-friendly birthday cake for us to make just for Brenna. She found one on youtube:

We skipped the "frosting", which consisted of cottage cheese. I thought dogs shouldn't have dairy?

Here is the cake before baking:


It smelled pretty good while baking. CJ had her BFFs over for a New Year sleepover so we all dared to taste the cake before Brenna took a shot at it. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great. But at least we all tried it, which was pretty fun.

When it was time to present the cake, we had perfect timing: four girls to blow out four lit candles on the cake. Brenna didn't know what to do as she saw the cake on the floor but wouldn't go near it. I think she was a bit overwhelmed. She did like it and eagerly ate from all of our hands as we presented cake to her.

Positive Attitude

I believe I am, for the most part, a 'glass half full' kind of person. But when it comes to some things, like running, I tend to fall flat and drive myself into a Catch-22 situation.

That is, if I think positive about a race, I then consider that my positive thinking will backfire and something that I never anticipated, usually in the 'all things go wrong' category, will arise. So it's best to just think negatively, then I won't be _that_ disappointed. But if I think negatively, then I will not achieve my intended goal because I have a bad attitude.

Yes. I am really fucked up in the head.

So one of my goals for running in 2010 is to work on positive attitudes.

I typically like to write out my goals and when it comes time to attempt at those goals, I balk. "I'm not ready". "I can't do this". But as the past year in review shows, I did make most of my goals. And for me, these were aggressive goals because I'm such a negative goal runner.

My ego tends to precariously balance on the "i can't do it" attitude. It took me years, a cocky husband, and, of all things, running and wallyball to make me a more confident person in other aspects of my life. Funny that I am still iffy with the running but I guess I can't get rid of all my neuroses.

In a second blog post introducing another blog, I hereby add Elf's blog to the list to read in 2010. I've read her posts randomly over the years, after $Bill introduced me to her blog. She is a triathlete primarily, but has been coaching for the past year or so. The great things about her blog: she is an amazing writer. She actually can write inspirational pieces, then turns around and bitches about something, or complains about her own personal issues. So the other great thing about her blog is she "feels" human to me. She is just like me (only more superior ;).

But I can feel her emotion through her words and that is what I love about her blog. And why her blog will be one of my tools to work on my Positive Attitude goal in 2010.

One I tend to read over and over is this one, Overcoming Doubt. One of her best posts I've read, and she has many great posts.

There are a few I would love to share but it seems I cannot search the archives. Perhaps $Bill will remember some of these, but until I can figure out how to search and find them, I am lost at sea.

One of them is when she is rooting her husband on in a race, perhaps one of his ironmans? And he tells her he is done and she is yelling at him that he's not. I loved this one; easily relate-able for me but with less mileage.

Another one that I enjoyed was the guest blog by her husband. They are all really, really good. I'll have to read some of the old ones on my hum-drum days...

Friday, January 01, 2010

I Heart Raleigh

It's no secret how much I love Raleigh.

Or maybe it is...

But I have lived in North Carolina nearly my entire adult life. Tim and I moved to Goldsboro in 1989. Tim was in the military; I was a recent military-brat-transformed-to-military-brat/wife. :)

From Goldsboro, we frequented Crabtree Valley Mall. We even visited car dealerships, looking at the massive car lots off Capital Blvd. Back then, there was nothing but car lots where the Olive Garden exists.

In 1992, we bought our first house in Greenville, NC. I had commuted from Goldsboro to Greenville for about a year while attending ECU; Tim took his turn and commuted from Greenville to Goldsboro after our purchase.

Again, from Greenville, we came to Raleigh more often. We stayed at the Holiday Inn off Capital Blvd. to hang out in Raleigh. We also stayed at The Velvet Cloak Inn on Hillsborough Street.

One of my favorite memories of visiting Raleigh was coming out to watch Il Postino at one of the thin, deep theaters on Hillsborough Street (Studio I and II?). The movie had me gasping for air for all the tears I cried (one of my all-time favorite flix). Afterward, we went to Giorgio's, which was a Mediterranean place off Six Forks. The magic of this atmosphere, with the magic of the movie, and the whole evening, kept me in tears all night. It was a wonderful evening that I won't soon forget.

So when I had a job opportunity in RTP, I was pretty excited. And when house-hunting came into play, there was no doubt I was having a postal address within the city of Raleigh.

We ended up buying in the boonies off what is now the 'new' North Raleigh. We had nothing around us but crickets and deer. It was so quiet it was eerie. I had grown up listening to airplanes reving and taking off all night long, then traffic by our little ole house in Greenville...I didn't know what to do with all that silence.

But I survived. And through the years, watched as the swamp turned into Triangle Town Center; the forest turned into I540. The crickets turned into traffic noise and then some.

Tim and I decided silence wasn't golden and looked to move closer to the action. We moved closer to the city scene...still keeping that "Raleigh" address.

All of this to introduce a blog I love following, Goodnight, Raleigh. I have learned so much of the history of Raleigh, as well as what the future is gearing up to be, through these pictures.

A couple of favorites I enjoyed, The Hidden Grave in Downtown Raleigh and this one I recently read from its Raleigh in Review article.

A great blog to read. One I wish I would have thought of doing...