Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Introspection 2010

The ending of a year and some somewhat lazy days off (albeit not guilt-free) leave me in a state of introspection. What is it about the holidays that brings that out? And I look back at The Great Year of 2010 and think. Wow, it was, well, it WAS.

It is hard to believe when I think back, how this year transformed and transformed me in the process. The first few months brought me about as much darkness as I have ever had. Fighting for a child is like no other fight imaginable in this more privileged part of the world I happen to live in. I know there can be worse, but it was, for me, like spending months walking a tightrope across a long, deep, seemingly bottomless chasm. Fear of losing the child, fear of not losing the child but not being able to even provide food and shelter for the child as I watched what little savings and salary I had rapidly dwindle into a debt so deep that I couldn’t even imagine ever overcoming it in my life. I’m a positive person, but I’ll admit, even I am not completely impervious to life’s sometimes-realities.

But, in these times, when the winds blow and the storms reign and there is just not enough to grow upwards, I grew my roots. They twisted around all the of the lessons of my history, the things my parents taught me, the stories about my grandparents, the lessons of so many of my life’s teachers, and the core of who I am and what I truly believe in. In the end, like a great storm, when the winds die, what is left is the great cleansing. The attic cleared, the sun shines and we return stronger; it was only the weaker branches that were ripped away. I learned to grow my skin a little thicker, so that the insults and criticisms hurled don’t penetrate quite so deep. I learned a little more patience for weathering a storm, and a little more beauty in the anticipation of waiting to see what remains, and a little more tolerance because of the love and support that I had. I know that I owe so much to that.

Out of the great cleansing of the storm, I look back and see little silver strands of silk, glistening in sunlight, winding their way out amongst what was left, slowly stitching a new world together. This is a beautiful thing. Those strands grow out of the people, present and past, and myself and the strength of holding fast; the constant love of family, friendships found over understanding and support for our children, friendships rooted deep into the history with an endless well of stories filled with laughter, bonds formed over constant output atomizers and condensation particle counters and molded over brilliant people willing to share their brilliance about life as well as particles; new friendship found over glasses of cheap boxed wine in lexan camp glasses in an empty house. There are the refound bonds, forged from the memories of walking up ridges in Tennessee, late night coffee, listening to stories and poetry, sweating, ceremony, and the memories of hawks and eagles riding thermals into the great blue.

This year, I survived. And somewhere midway through, fortunes turned completely. I have a somewhat secure job, it pays well and I enjoy it and I feel truly good about the way I spend my days working for what those roots dug into. It is tough, but it is rewarding. I can take care of my son and we are more than comfortable. And I am learning about balance. I no longer spend sleepless nights worrying over our fate. And more than surviving, we live in a beautiful setting, where the long unbroken stretches of land can lay out before you and fill the heart with the quiet, settling joy of just being. Yes, my heart is in this earth.

And that is not to say that I have not been blessed throughout the year with happiness and pure joy. It has been quite full. And all through the stories, the new friends and the old ones, there is the laughter that rings with all its beauty and wraps itself around like a soft blanket. I giggle often to myself over those times, generally at inappropriate times and inappropriate places.

I cannot write about this year without acknowledging that this year I lost a great teacher, my grandmother, and a great spirit, named Spirit. Some day, I will write more about them, but right now, there is still more thinking swirling.

Of course, I have read enough of the classics to believe that beauty is found in surviving the struggles, inward and outward, of men, so this year’s story is not new. But, seeing is believing, as it is said, and living is something more powerful and it transforms those beliefs into knowing.

Yes, Ishmael, you and I could sit down and talk over a beer. This year, I am a little closer to knowing that epic journey.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rapid City or Bust!!!

This trip involved the following (none of which I have ever had on past road trips): brand new Kia Sorrento, equipped with satellite radio, Bluetooth, AC, automatic rear view mirror headlight dimmer, CD, IPOD/USB (Ok, I don’t use either of these. I can’t buy an IPOD out of principle. Who has the time to sit around downloading music on a computer? Not me. I’ll just stick in a good ole’ fashioned CD, thank you), multiple adaptor outlets (allowing simultaneous cell phone charging and beverage heating travel mug), Skybox 18, Space in General, etc… Okay, I had the Skybox 18 before, but it was ridiculously packed, and I have nightmares of rooting around in it in the dark, being blown by the cold winds of death while looking for a swimsuit in Fargo (which, logically, was not packed on top) and then fighting for about half an hour with frozen fingers to shut it again. That didn’t happen this time. Opening and closing the Skybox was easy on this trip and there was no threat of losing fingers.

So, the 3 dogs and I departed…a little later than planned, at 6:45 am on Sunday, August 15, 2010. I know, this move is a little less romantic than it could be: the reality is that my household belongings are being shipped and I fit whatever was left in the car, but still…it is a road trip, and the feeling of freedom, the anticipation of the unexpected and unknown returns. It is actually incredulous to me that I have this love deeply ingrained into my psyche; why would a rational adult be happier when their life if reduced to whatever fits into their car for a week or several weeks than in a settled home? I blame this love of adventure on my mother’s parents: that couple that traveled to all 50 states, camping, biking and fishing in every single one of them. Arda and Maurice thoroughly planted the seed for a love of adventure in their children and grandchildren. It is a love we share, and a cross we bear, I think.

I had thought that I’d stop at Tudors Biscuit World (oh, the whitewater memories held in breakfast at Tudors) on the way out, but it was hard to judge the spacing of those and coordinate one with my hunger. So, instead, I stopped for bathroom, dog walk, and browsing at the Tamarac (for those who aren’t familiar, this is a huge center for Appalachian arts and is from where NPR broadcasts its Mountain Stage “from the beautiful hills of WEST Virgninia…”); a sort of a farewell to the Appalchians and the Appalachian Culture that I love (and I was specifically looking for a regional children’s book so that Owen would remember his home, which I did find, A is for Appalachia). Then…I saw it… my perfect last breakfast in the South. The Appalachian Biscuit. Featuring: biscuit, egg, swiss cheese, fried green tomato, and red-eye ham. Mmmmm.

West Virginia, again, is full of topography and a complete lack of cell phone reception; though I did look for a building that I was supposed to look for in Charleston, the backdrop of a dark tale told by a friend who supposedly sold his soul to the devil, i.e., was a lawyer representing coal companies, for which he is now still working out his redemption. Kentucky, well, was Kentucky, and I was glad that I had no reason to stop anywhere in the state and run the risk of potentially striking up a conversation with a Kentuckian (as those never go well). Indiana…hmmm…what to say about Indiana? Oh, it suddenly blasted its way in to the running for Places Known As Hell By Jennifer (in league with the following: Danville, Virginia; Mis-er-y (Missouri); The Red Eagle Campground in Montana (later renamed The Wretched Eagle); North Dakota; and Saskatchewan). But, life after Indianapolis became suddenly lovely, as the traffic slowed to a mere trickle of an occasional vehicle and the rolling plains became the rolling plains. Sky, beautiful Sky! The breadbasket of the Nation, all that food growing as far as the eye can see! Lovely!

I watched the sun set on the Mississippi. I have been there and seen that before. It is a spectacular thing about the road. When you watch the sun set, or watch the sun rise after having driven straight through the night, you will always remember that exact moment and that exact beauty and that exact feeling when you pass through that stretch of road again. Years may have passed, but that memory will always remain as beautiful and as starkly vivid as if it were only moments ago. The beginning of hope on a quest for adventure? The simple joy of life as life has always been since life began? (And here, I inject a quote from the book, Peace Like a River: “I have the substance of things hoped for. I have the anticipation of things unseen.” So beautiful a sentiment, so very apropos.)

Illinois, by the way, still has the most fabulous rest stops ever. Playgrounds, nature walks, prairie trails and other interesting things to see (except be wary of rest stop attendants who yell at you for “setting bad examples” for children when you attempt stupid playground trick contests with friends).

I had no plan, when I began the trip, on where I would spend the first and only night of the trip. Ideas tossed around, and I finally settled on the thought that when I got tired, I’d just start calling friends and try to convince someone with internet to go online and find me a place to stay. Ah, the conveniences of modern travel! But, when I mentioned this plan to my parents, they became zealously involved, produced a list of campgrounds along the way along with phone numbers and directions, and finally offered to call my Uncle Merlin, on my behalf to scope out the potential for spending the night there, at the family farm in Waverly, Iowa (which is, at a decent pace, 15 ½ hours). When they called though, the plans became set, and I heard that I was “expected” to arrive there and spend the night. It is a wonderful offer, the kind that only family would make, and so, I staved off sleep and pushed that first day. It took me slightly over 16 hrs, but I made it there, got to chat with Uncle Merlin and Aunt Rhonda, the dogs had a pen to stay in, and I had a bed to sleep in and coffee and a shower in the morning. And in the morning, I got to walk the dogs on the farmroad through the cornfields and in the front of the house, along the row of Grandpa’s Cedars. It was wonderful to be there, where my father and his siblings grew up. That place where that picture was taken of my grandfather holding me as a baby and my big sister, Lori, standing beside in the wheatfield that Grandpa was so proud of (“not a weed in it”, or so the story is told). And so funny too, because after so many years of not seeing the family in Iowa, I have now seen them twice in the span of a month!

The second day was a short one. Roughly 9 hrs in total. But, I was tired, so it was rough. I was very thankful for the phone calls from friends and family helping me to stay awake. Again, uneventful. But, lovely. I wished that I could have slowed down and stopped at so many unexpected places. And taken pictures. Mostly, I wanted to photograph dilapidated barns. They are beautiful and mysterious, and I have no idea what the pull is, but it is and it is strong. Instead, I have a series of photographs in motion, framed by the car, steering wheel, rear view mirror, bugs smeared on the windshield; half of them show mostly the interior of the car, because you can’t be bothered to look at what you are pointing the camera at. I laughed at the silliness of it. But, it is a snapshot of life on the road. That is exactly what the world looks like from behind the wheel and perfectly framed still shots would not do justice.

Eastern South Dakota is flat, dry, and seemingly undernourished as compared to those corn states. But, the world opened up into a stunning landscape of hills and geologic features (that I can’t name, but look really cool) as I crossed the Missouri River. And then, there is the sight of the badlands and then the Black Hills. I had complained that the east was too crowded and developed for me. I will not have that problem here. Here, there are vast undeveloped lands and the occasional sighting of a few cattle was a welcome sign of life from the largely uninhabited stretches.

I gained one hour per day on the road. So, I am again younger by two hours. I felt the 4 hours older when I moved to Virginia and it never really went away. As I have said before, I believe I should stay this way.

I am learning what South Dakota is about. That is all I can really say about that. I was a little overwhelmed and unhappy about the house I had signed a lease for without ever having seen when I arrived, but by morning, the place had won me over. Sunrise does that. Changes what we see when we look at the same scene. Life dawns again and the next adventure begins to unfold and take shape. At 5:30 am, I got up to check on the dogs and found a flock of wild turkeys in the yard. And Spirit, now half blind, mostly deaf and mostly lame, chased the hell out of them through the fields and treed every one of them more than once. It was an inexpressible joy to see the return of that Spirit that earned The Girl her name in her younger days. An unexpected glimmer of something beyond life. Then, we walked down to the river and she immediately dove in and swam. South Dakota will be good for her, I believe. And good for me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

For the Record (and because I sometimes I just like to hear myself think)

Several months ago in the midst of the whole ridiculous saga that is divorce court, at some point, I googled "bitter divorce" and found a woman's blog about her experiences. Her blog was poignant, humorous, and insightful. Reading her story was actually enlightening to me at the time, and so, I thought that maybe I should write my own commentary on this ludicrous, but life changing event. You never know, right?

There are two important things about my recent divorce to note. One: is that many people seem to feel the need to apologize when I mention it. And it always seems like an embarrassingly awkward comment. And it occurred to me that, if you haven't actually lived through it, it possibly would be really difficult to understand a perspective that regards that event with happiness. Why? It is not something to apologize about. Life changes. Evolution is real. That is a simple fact. Understandably, some people find true meaning and happiness in continuing their bonds with a single person for their entire lives. I see that in my grandparents, in my parents. But, there is no prefabricated mold for life that makes us all as individuals happy; and of course, we all can imagine how boring would life be if there were. We are all unique individuals and my happiness is not now, nor will ever be, equivalent to anyone else’s sense of that in this world. We all should live our lives in our own ways. And I will find my own.

Einstein said, “The world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the situation.” While I keep reading that statement lately in light of sustainability, I think that it applies to relationships too. When the union no longer makes sense, when no one is happy, and there is no way to forge ahead without someone becoming unhappy, then the line of thinking just needs to evolve. I don’t mean that to sound callous. My ex told me in the throngs of the separation that I should stop being so rational. Possibly. But, the thing is that I am not unemotional, as he took it to mean (and truly, anyone who really knows me could testify to that fact).

True to my Libra sign, I am, in reality, as indecisive as a person can get. The problem is that the debate is internal and so, if you miss the signs, there is no way to comprehend that it exists. I can (and regularly do) create an internal debate with myself over what to eat for breakfast (I could use some calcium. Maybe yogurt would be good. But, should I eat yogurt? The problem with yogurt is that it is always sold in plastic containers. I don’t want to buy plastic containers. I should start making my own yogurt so I could eat it without feeling guilty. If I eat a banana, I can compost the peel. But, what about all the transportation required to bring me a banana. What about the pesticides? Are the banana farmers being paid a living wage, is there a social injustice involved with eating a banana?...seriously, you could probably write volumes on my daily internal debates) So, yes, when I come to a decision, all of the pros and cons have been weighed, reweighed, analyzed, and reanalyzed, and yes, at that point, it is decisive. At that point, there is little room for more discussion, because I have already done all of the debate that could possibly be done on the subject. My ex also used to tell me that I would be happier if I just stopped thinking. That may be true too. But, I’m not sure that I would really prefer comatose. I kind of like my brain and my life within it. It makes me laugh.

I believe that change is good. Some people don’t; it was a striking difference between me and my ex and one that is difficult to resolve. And that is fine. It is a choice. And none of us really have any answers anyway. But still, I am thinking about Paulo Coehlo’s book “By the River Piedre, I Sat Down and Wept,” and the heroine’s lament as she wished her life could find the stability, strength and peace of the mountains over that of the tumultuous river’s. And she is reminded what a horrible fate that would be, destined to always look at the same scenery. That speaks to me. Truly, I see the value in both. In my reality though, I talk to God on mountains, but it is in the rivers that I find life’s rhythms.

The second is about regret. I don’t have any. I don’t see this as a reason to look back and see what I did wrong. I don’t think I did anything wrong, and I do not regret any of my decisions, either before or after or it starting or ending. And despite the difficulties that I have had with my ex (and all of the complaining I have done lately regarding what turned into a battle; that is just venting), I don’t find any fault in him, or reasons to place blame, or reasons to look back bitterly, or a reason to believe that I made the wrong choice. When life changes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is any reason for fault. It just is. The simple, resounding fact is that Owen came out of that defunct situation. And, admittedly, I am very biased, but he is a wonderful little human. How could I ever regret anything that resulted in him? How could anything leading up to that precious little child possibly be a mistake? This is not about how I could choose better next time or fix any mistakes (Why do so many people seem to believe that I need there to be a next time anyway?). I think I prefer to just move forward and live life. I love every day that I am alive. Life. That is just enough.

Though, I will say, that what I have learned through this is a deep, deep regard, love, and appreciation for the friends and family who have so graciously offered their support and love. I have had the time and need to really, really develop friendships and to genuinely give daily thanks for those that have strengthened and the new ones that have developed “out of the ashes.” Ha. Like phoenixes, y’all are.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

when longing for a place...

I believe that I have been, both by design and fortune, very blessed in life to live and have lived in some of the most beautiful places on earth. And not just beautiful, as in the sense of the natural beauty of the world (though my favorite places in this world are full of those), but beautiful in spirit. Fairbanks, Alaska and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia are home and are amongst my favorite places on earth. I have had and probably always will have a longing and desire to be in them, no matter where I happen to be.

So, as I am nearing my return to Fairbanks, I am amazed at how strong the pull and the longing for a place loved has become. It almost brings tears to my eyes. Part of that, I think, is because due to circumstances of an ongoing divorce and custody battle, I have been more or less unable to return. So, I don't this the tears of glory at a long battle won? Or is it just the simple joy of a sense of freedom returned? Or is it the places themselves and their special beauties lodged deep into the spirit? I actually have no answer for that. But, whatever it is, it leaves a sense of happiness beyond words. A-ho.

Monday, March 29, 2010


So, last weekend, we took a mini roadtrip to Richmond, VA, where I ran in my first 10k race ever, the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10k. The race included 37,000 runners, people cheering the entire length of the run through downtown Richmond, and a band set up playing every couple of blocks. It was fantastic and fun...and I finished in 59 min 39 sec, to boot. Not bad for a non-runner. While I was doing that, Owen was playing with Jackie, daughter of one of my closest friends, an old martial arts buddy, Chris Falls. The Falls family is AWESOME, so that was the big motivator in going to Richmond. The race just pushed me to do it and set a date for the visit. From Richmond, we decided to make the one hour drive to Gloucester, Virginia to visit another old martial arts buddy, Warren. Gloucester is a beautiful little town, quaint and full of wonderful historic buildings. And Warren is a gourmet chef; so needless to say, lunch in Gloucester was fabulous. Good company, sunshine, good food, flowers, is good. To get to Gloucester, we crossed the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers. These rivers flow through the 2 oldest Indian Reservations in the country; established through treaty with the King of England. And I have spent quite a bit of time at Mattaponi, so that is what this post is really about.

As we crossed the bridge over the Mattaponi River, it was a flood of memories. Rivers amaze me that way. What is the retention time of a drop of water in a river? Short. Yet the rivers hold memories and feelings forever. I thought of time spent repairing a beautiful old canoe with wooden gunnels, eventually painted a bright turquoise; Sun Eagle and Gentle Wind's happiness at the finished canoe, their feeling of freedom spread; fighting the currents and tides of the brackish river to cross; walks along the river, learning about The Old Ways from Gentle Wind; the beauty of all her paintings, all of them inspired there, on its banks; fishing in the quiet places on the other side of the river; the shad hatchery; missing old friends and loved ones and a sense of longing mixed in with the flooded feelings of happiness and beauty. I love that river. It is home. It is the home to generations. It is life.

Some estimates suggest that every drop of water existing on this earth is over 2 million years old. Maybe this is how the stories and memories are held.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mass Transfer

So, it has been a long time, my friends...but here I am!

Last summer (?, I think? it has been a while), I was assigned the task of giving a seminar to my small (but brilliant) research group, Air VT. I presented the then-slim results of my research project (and if you are curious, on the emissions of phthalates from vinyl flooring: interactions with airborne particulates), but with my idea of a nerdily humorous title, "Mass Transfer: From Alaska to Virginia (of course featuring silly touristy pictures of Owen and I in Alaska)" (And to explain what might be painfully obvious, my dissertation research is essentially on mass transfer - aqueous transfer of molecules through rock through the process of diffusion. My new research, mass transfer of molecules from flooring, to air, to particles. Mass transfer. Central theme. And moving 1 4-yr old, 3 dogs, and one adult on the epic road trip, which was the inspiration for starting this blog, is also: Mass Transfer. haha. Science nerd, I know, but it was funny. Dammit. Now laugh.) So, here I am, a few months later, contemplating my newest future of mass transfer: from Blacksburg, Virginia to a faculty ("A real professor. Damnation." That's from A River Runs Through It, and in my head, it is a smiling Brad Pitt who delivers that line of congratulations to me on my new prospects) position at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

One. My journey to my interview was epic. Sheer determination got me there, because I saw this posting for a faculty position in Sustainable Engineering posted, for Rapid City, in the middle of Paha Sapa, which is a place that runs a deep chord in my heart anyway, and despite mechanical problems, a canceled flight, a surprise snowy/freezing-rain 8 hr road trip that started after having already been awake and functioning for over 13 hrs, a possibly lost bag,...there was no way I was going to turn around and blow my shot at what seemed like my dream job. So, grit, lots of solo hours previously logged on the road, an inherited ability to ignore the need for sleep, and bad coffee in Nebraska (but free...but really bad. I mean really. Like they took 10 mL of a cup of my coffee and squirted it into a mug of hot water kind of bad) got me there. Oh...and the real version of K-REZ radio (another movie reference, Smoke Signals, and here, the real DJ resembled John Trudell in my head) to listen to (and for all you school kids, you'd better eat your Wheaties. Because the school bell rang an hour ago).

Two. It's Paha Sapa. Sacred, beautiful. Home to bison and elk. Harney Peak, at over 7,000 ft, the highest peak east of the Rockies. The Badlands. I have thus far, passed by Mount Rushmore, refusing to go look at the destruction of the sacred into a monument to old white men. I understand, they each contributed uniquely to our country. But, is representative of an exclusive club. And I do not agree with that in principle. And I still remain faithful to a Mark Twain quote: "Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the country when it deserves it." I wonder how long I can keep that protest up when I live as close as I will be to it (insert giddy, excited giggle).

Three. On the morning of my long day of job interview, I had breakfast with a wonderful professor there (who specializes in concrete and his contribution to sustainability in that realm, I found fascinating: fly ash concrete mixes, recycled glass concrete, and permeable surfaces...I am already dreaming of its potentials). As he was giving me a quick tour of campus, he mentioned his work in Mongolia. I nearly stopped dead in my tracks. Mongolia? Really? My dream travel destination (for those who have known me for long, you should know, I dream, and try to plan travels through Mongolia. I have no idea when or why I initially became so interested in this country, but it is there. I mean, really, people who invented the wonder of the yurt deserve some tourism cash back). And, as it turns out, there is a cooperative agreement between the university and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. Really? Really. How bizarrely compelling is that?

Four. Bizarre roadside attractions. Rapid City itself is divided by a large ridge upon which reside a conglomeration of depression-era reconstructed dinosaurs. And apparently, you can never get lost in Rapid City, because you only need to look up to the ridge and note that the Brontosaurus (depression era, as I said, I have a 5-yr old and am up-to-date on the sad, sordid tale of the poor Brontosaurus) always looks north. From Giant Beavers to the world's largest teepee, to an enormous Moose, we all know, there is nothing more appealing than a bizarre roadside attraction. And this region of South Dakota apparently has more than it's fair share. I already envision weekend road/camping trips to visit these bizarre scenes.

Five. I was told that I use too many exclamation points in my seminar. This is true. I do. I've noticed that when I type emails to friends, nearly every sentence ends with an exclamation point. I can't help it. I love life!!!!! And nearly every silly ironic crazy thing in it...all its challenges, tribulations, and trials...and all its beauty and triumph and wonder!!! But, then, the consensus seemed to be that I should go ahead and leave them in. My personality coming through. And so, I did. And it turns out that the search committee was looking for someone "with energy." I guess I fit that bill.

Six. It's sustainable engineering. A unique challenge, because of course, I have no training in this subject. I have, however, in my backpocket, a lifetime of dedication and passion to saving (yeah, yeah, I know...naive, but I'm sticky with naivety because it makes me happy) this beautiful earth. And maybe that is enough. But, it is hardly believable right now that I will be able to actually (finally) earn a decent income doing work that I love and believe in. Wow! How's that for a modern day fairy tale? Mass Transfer: A Fairy Tale.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life in The South

I still promise to sometime post the remaining writings from Africa someday. Now I have to find them. So, in the meantime, we have settled into life here in Blacksburg, Virginia. As with anyplace, the world is full of beauty if you take the time to notice it, but still, I think that this is one of the more beautiful places in this world.

We live in town, a quick bike ride to work, stores, the awesome Farmer's Market, and yet on two sides of our house, our neighbors are a big open field. The comforts of town, without town. We watch the haybaling when it happens and observe... There is a horse farm just down the road that we like to walk to. The walk reminds me of my youth - early mornings smelling of honeysuckle, a feeling of freedom, and watching horses - exactly a favorite pasttime of my high school years. There are cherry trees, pear trees, and all kinds of special finds in nature. There are lighning bugs that light the fields and make you feel and believe in magic. There are big old trees with branches grown to be climbed. And we do. There is a grape arbor and the excitement of waiting for something that will be turned to jellies and wine. And it is something to hide under - like a secret fort for kids. It is a return to childhood. And I love it.

However, as much as I love it, and as much as I love my job and the people I work around, I am already antsy and looking forward to something new. I don't know what will be next, but I have all the faith in the world that it will be good.

My little sister and my new brother in law are coming from DC to visit this weekend. I am so excited. Of course, they are family...and I adore them and believe that my time with them is absolutely precious. Funny though, as I was thinking about my feelings of restlessness, I was remembering our older sister, Lori's, toast at their wedding this June. She talked about Alyssa and how, in our family, what she was known for was her resistence to change. And that holding on quality of Alyssa is what has given her a happy, wonderful relationship with Paul and a successful career doing what she loves. She is a gem, and there are so many ways that she and I are similar - but this, is not one of them. Funny how different we are in that...I had just been noticing that my life had begun to fall into a routine. For me, routine is bad. It works for a while, but I get bored with it, no matter how good it is, and end up feeling like I'd rather scratch my eyes out with a ball point pen than to have one more single day that is just like the day before. Which probably explains why I am not married (in principle at least) and have only a quasi-serious commitment to my career, which I love right now, but I know me, it will change again someday. So there it is...irony, huh? I have no idea why I am hardwired to feel that way...