welcome fall

I understand using the word blessed is now a cliche and an overused hashtag and so on. But, goodness gracious, my life has been so good recently. It’s unnerving. I feel the need to be more or less constantly knocking on wood and looking obsessively as I cross the street. I’m sometimes find myself feeling nervous and on edge about how many good things are in my life right now.

And first and foremost those good things are good people. As you saw from my birthday post and summer adventures, I have a truly excellent group of friends. Supportive and funny and interesting and smart and creative and available! They invite me to things! Respond to texts! Commiserate with boy drama! Bring tasty hostess gifts! I also have a town that feels like a friend in and of itself and always has good people watching on offer.

I don’t know what to do except try to pay forward some of the bounty that I have. I hope that nothing I write ever comes across as insufferable or braggy. I promise that I’ve had periods of true misery and loneliness in my life, and honestly I feel like things are TOO good right now and they must be coming back again at some point. But anyway, for now, all I can do is enjoy the good stuff and try to pay forward the kindness I’ve received.

So. Enjoy I will.

Bless her, my friend had a birthday dinner at Gonza Tacos y Tequila.

Ninety percent of the time I get envy over other people’s plates, but on this glorious evening I definitely picked the yummiest thing at the table:

El Platano: whole ripe plantain/ steak/ chile de arbol/ paisa beans/ cilantro/ cheese

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SO SO YUMMY! I love plantains. I rarely order steak, period, and I really try to be choosy about the provenance of meat when I eat it… buttt whatever. Maybe I had my period or something and needed the iron.

Then later in the evening we went to the always-lovely rooftop bar at The Durham and I got this bewitching drink (after I tried a sip of my friend’s first) that involved gin and citrus. I just looked at the menu and I want to say it was the Hanky Panky (brilliant name) but can’t say for sure.

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Another day I had a webinar and opted to work at Guglhupf (they don’t want you bringing in a laptop and hunkering down during their peak hours, but it was afternoon so it was okay). I got a the most LOVELY, FEMALE cappuccino 😘😂

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I MEAN. Doesn’t it remind you of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting?!

The following weekend I spent a weekend in Greensboro with my work wife Colton (<< we were TA’s together. We also have sometimes referred to each other as biochem boos. Also some more hateful nicknames. He’s the closest thing I have to a brother but we snipe like real siblings too)

We started at Smith Street Diner, which has a pretty remarkable brunch, and for reeeeeaaaal cheap.

We split the below plates:

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That biscuit is about the size of a grapefruit (!!!) We ate well, and abundantly.

We next planned to go to The International Civil Rights Center & Museum but as we approached we noticed an array of people bedecked in increasingly fabulous and colorful outfits. We realized we’d stumbled on Greensboro Pride!

This dog was best dressed, no question.

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We strolled around and people watched for a bit, which was obvi very fun.

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Then we did take a tour of the civil rights museum, which I HIGHLY recommend. Rather than going through on your own you have a facilitator take you through each exhibit. It’s incredibly well done! And Greensboro was the site of one of the first sit ins of the civil rights movement at the lunch counter at Woolworth’s, and the museum is at the site of the old Woolworth’s building and has that exact lunch counter preserved.

It was definitely sobering seeing some of the displays about the resurgence of the KKK as activists were trying to effect change. Dark times. And as Charlottesville and other events have reminded us, not nearly far enough in the past or nearly well enough dealt with. The museum left me wanting to do more and I’m still a little uncertain of the next best action to take.

Another weekend I stayed closer to home and went to a local arts festival in Durham.

The highlight was definitely seeing some fabulous aerialists from the local ballet company perform. They were SO STRONG!
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I also really enjoyed these neat ornaments/keychains/whatever made out of old beer and soda cans.

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Once I thought I was having a perfectly normal evening stroll and then some CRAZINESS WENT DOWN!

I was walking along a sidewalk in the late afternoon/early dusk near a thicket of trees. I saw a lady cross the street and she came up to me and said, “Excuse me, do you hear meowing?” Well OBVIOUSLY I listened attentively after a question like that and yes, indeed, meowing. She said, “I was afraid of that. There’s a cat that’s been trapped in a tree here since Monday” (!!!!!)
So there in this thick area of trees was this poor little black and white cat meowing up a storm. The lady told me that the previous day she and another neighbor tried to rescue the cat but when the man who was helping her went up on the ladder the cat was scared and ran away from him.
Well, it was time for another attempt. The woman’s husband brought over a ladder and I made the ascent, got up near the cat, who looked very hopeful indeed… and the ladder, not locked properly, went thudding under me. Yikes. I climbed down.
We secured the ladder at the bottom, got it locked and loaded, and I tried again. I was balanced on the top rung (my mom had a heart attack when I called her and mentioned this particular detail) and reaching out for the cat. It was sweet and nuzzly with me but still clinging furiously to the branches. Finally I managed to tuck it under my arm, football-style. The descent was still a bit hairy (the cat kept trying to grab the rungs of the ladder) but we made it! And then the sweet couple gave the cat some food and water, which it consumed VORACIOUSLY.

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The man who’d tried to save the cat the previous day then came by with his son to make another attempt and they were both thrilled that the cat had been rescued. I pointed out that people really are good at heart- look at all these people caring about this sweet little creature.
I did some brief recon for a lost cat sign at the neighboring complex but I didn’t see one. The couple who lived across the street were already feeding and neutering/spaying a colony of feral cats (<< have we figured out that these are really good human beings?!) and were happy to take in the cat for the evening, give it a safe place to sleep, etc. We had no problem relocating the cat to their back porch- it’s a total love bug and happy to be snuggled and carried. 

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That took quite a bit of time and the sun had set. The couple tried to make me let them give me a ride home but they were… yknow, still total strangers?! (I never know what to do in those situations?!) Anyway I was quite close to my buddy’s apartment (and he’s also a cat rescuer) so I made him let me wash the poison ivy off my legs in his bathroom and then give me a ride home.

By that point I was starving and rewarded myself with an in-cred-i-ble burger from Al’s. I only ordered the burger, but in a dose of instant karma (?!) they gave me free fries!

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And the story had a happy ending- the couple responsibly canvased the neighborhood but no one came forward and claimed the cat. But, they found some sweet retirees and their granddaughter who lives with them who were excited to take in the little cat man (he turned out to be a boy). Hurray for happy endings for animals!

After that lively week I had a fun fall weekend. My sister Malindi and her boyf Eric have begun hosting tailgates for UNC home games. I did not know about tailgates, as I notoriously care not one whit about sports. However, tailgating is great! You sit in the nice shady tent and you listen to music and dance and hang with your friends and eat and drink and people watch. And then, in my case, don’t bother going to the actual sports event but just go home!

Here I am dancing quite derpily with my cute sister.

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My friend Kyle (have I formally blog introduced him? He and I did Americorps together in 2010-2011 and then I helped convince him and his now-fiancee Shaylen to move to NC! He now goes to UNC law school):

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That inflatable sofa is really something, huh? 😂😂😂😂

Eric always goes ALL OUT on the food for the tailgates. This taco themed one was REAL GOOD. One Korean style (!) with marinated bbq beef, kimchi, and red cabbage slaw; one traditional with beef, sauteed peppers, queso, and crema. YUM!

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Another evening, my friends (who are having their next baby literally ANY MINUTE at the time I”m writing this) had a party, probably to celebrate the last time they’re going to be well rested for at least the next year.

They had lots of cute small humans running around making smores.

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I mean big humans like smores as well.

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My friends’ little girl, T, was lying on the grass, dreamily waving around a glowstick and looking at the stars. She asked me to come over and look at the stars with her (MY HEART) and it was so sweet. I’m going to watch her whenever her mama goes into labor and I’m quite excited- she’s a cutie pie.

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The following day was the Carrboro Music Festival, an event I look forward to every year.

Didn’t get a good picture but my favorite act was Blue Cactus (I know both of them and they’re cool and nice and interesting people along with being ridiculously good musicians). If you like sad country, check them out!

During the next act, I did get a shot of these dope kids with their gold balloons dancing around.

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So I ended up hitting the festival with this bloke I’ve been seeing, who we’ll call A for the time being. It always ends up being a rather physically intense day because it’s hot and you walk around a lot to all the different venues and you do mad dancing and it’s very noisy and crowded and you maybe have some alcohol (I only had one drink but the same cannot be said for A 😂) and at a certain point I knew I needed to eat something, and that was either going to make me feel much better or I was going to get violently ill and there really was going to be no in between.

Well, it ended up that I felt much better, and that was definitely not guaranteed with the nutritional caliber of the food we ended up choosing 😂

Calamari, disco fries, and artichoke dip. Living on the edge!

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Another weekend, I hit up a FABULOUS consignment sale with my friend Emily. The sale was in an old out-of-business Macy’s in Cary, so it was kind of a trek to get there, but I CLEANED UP. Lots of higher quality brands (I got J Crew and Theory stuff) and everything was in like-new shape. And the average price was like $5. I felt like I’d died and gone to bargain heaven.

Then I had worn myself out shopping so I made Emily go with me to La Farm. I got this overpriced avocado toast- next time I won’t bother trying to be healthy and get something French-er. That place is amazing though- both times I’ve been there’s been a formidable line but the whole time you are waiting there are BREAD AND PASTRY SAMPLES! 😍

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And later that day, I went and visited my cousin and her baby.

Important update, blog readers: he’s still the damn cutest.

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That was quite a lot. More fall updates to come!

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summer adventures part 3- the end

I was at a place where there was a 91% eclipse but as a local weatherman pointed out that’s like taking a kid 91% of the way to Disney World.

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I did have an in for some eclipse glasses (having worked at a planetarium is useful sometimes!) so this was my view:
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I soaked up the last of the summer sunshine… but I needn’t have been in any particular rush because as I write this post in late October the warmth is still going strong.

It makes me so, so happy to sit outside Johnnys and people watch with a nice iced coffee.

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It makes me so, so happy to meet my sister for a cappuccino and muffin at Caffe Driade. I’m mostly working from home these days (long, boring story involving parking drama) and sometimes it’s nice to have flexibility to take an afternoon tea break and then do some later at night charting etc. once the beautiful sunny day isn’t tempting me anymore.

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A cool sunset I saw on a walk. A little pre-Halloween spookiness!

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When the rain did show up, I dealt with it quite nicely by meeting some friends for drinks and having some warm and lovely FONDUE! Gah this was great. At B Side.

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Here is a ray of PURE sunshine called MY COUSIN’S BABY CHASE! WHO IS NOW 1 YEAR OLD! AND WALKING AND RUNNING AROUND LIKE A LITTLE BOSS!

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Here is an enchanting photo of him sneezing on his grandfather’s face

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His mom and dad were real excited about the smash cake and Chase was all “…?”
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Ultimately, he enchanted his dietitian auntie Ileana by being all, “Guys, I’m just more comfortable and accustomed to my veggies”. Sweet lil angel.

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That face! 😂

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From one birthday cake to another… Lesli, one of my girls from the First Wives Club, had a little birthday cookout on Labor Day weekend and I decided that it’d been a minute since I made a proper break and the birthday party of one of my loveliest friends was a good occasion to remedy that.

I gave her a choice of a few options from Smitten Kitchen and told her to pick her top two, and I’d surprise her with one of them. That ended up being this tiramisu cake.

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Our group of friends reeeeeeally likes to eat so it was just generally a feast.

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My plate:

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Cake interior:

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Adorable birthday girl:

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And with that we have passed Labor Day weekend in the chronology of my life and, if I manage to keep some momentum going, I may end up chronicling my memories during the actual season that they happened! (No sacred oaths or anything, though, I’m easily distracted) (But hopefully more blogs to come soon!)

29

I’m not 100% chronologically caught up from my summer backlog but must recount my birthday chronicles before the memories fade!

This was my birthday theme:

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Shoutout to my friend Shaylen, who was in Nigeria (!) for work the day of my birthday party but sent an I Love The 90s photobooth kit that was an absolute hit. As you can see, Lola absolutely loves it when my house is filled with noise and people.

Okay so I turned 29. My instinct around birthday seasons is to crawl behind a rock and pretend it isn’t happening because I don’t love being the center of attention and particularly the kind of attention is like “Congratulations! You’re aging in a society that treats women as worthless when they are no longer perceived as young and sexy!” (<< I have some issues)

However, I’m glad I powered through and had a silly 90s theme party because it was great fun. My friends really connected with the theme and it inspired some real creativity.

The day (October 7th) began with the arrival of some fab cards from my auntie and mama, which I put on display at the fiesta.

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I can’t really come up with a particular narrative of the party so I’ll just share some favorite moments/components of the day:

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Pictured above are BEAUTIFUL flowers from my roomie, an OUTRAGEOUSLY DELICIOUS cake made by my sister (she used the Cake Boss recipe with funfetti icing= perfect), and various party tidbits.

I kept food for the party really simple cause I’d been sick all week leading up to my birthday (funnn!) so Trader Joe’s did most of the work. Seeking out snacky foods that made me feel nostalgic for my 90s childhood I provided:

  • pigs in a blanket (TJs makes a classy kind with puff pastry)
  • chicken taquitos
  • mini samosas (for the vegetarians)
  • mini Ritz crackers (but organic so therefore healthy hahaha)
  • baked goat cheese and honey with pumpkin cranberry crisps (okay this is not nostalgic, it was just really really good)
  • kettle corn
  • dark chocolate peanut butter cups
  • Halloween Joe Joes (slightly less chemical version of Oreos)
  • fruit snack variety pack from the dollar store (gushers, fruit roll ups, and fruit by the foot)

Then other people brought stuff, including Malindi’s awesome cake, cupcakes from Roxanne and Karim, and REALLY REALLY GOOD pumpkin cheese and crackers from Aaron (the pumpkin cheese tasted like pumpkin spice cannoli filling- it was STUPID good).

Also there was lots of alcohol- I made a beer variety pack by grabbing random cans of beer off the Trader Joes shelf (lololol) and had some bottles of wine and people brought stuff. In a nod to The Big Lebowski (classic 90s film), I got all the fixings for white russians and made Kyle make them for us.

Costumes were STRONGLY encouraged. Here are some ways people interpreted it: my roommate Alli as Gwen Stefani/ me as Baby Spice/ Colton with some generic flannel.

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Flannel was REALLY well represented.

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The First Wives Club went all out with DIY costumes: Lesli raided the thrift store and made an AWESOME Blossom, and Emily brought ET. (I have explained why we call ourselves the First Wives Club, yes? We dated boys and they were buddies and we met each other through them. All the relationships have subsequently ended, but we are still the best of girlfriends)

blossom and et

Alex and Sam were Moulder and Scully, college hipster version

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Then Kyle (Shaylen’s fiance and her stateside representative at the party, lolol) arrived with the 90s props and people got into it…

moulder scully et and blossom

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(my sister the little Mermaid is so cute I can’t stand it)

… but that’s not all that Kyle brought!

Unfortunately there are no pictures but Kyle:

  • found Space Jam fabric at a thrift shop and used it to fashion a cape
  • brought a VHS player and copies of The Care Bears and The Rescuers Down Under and other 90s classics
  • brought a PROJECTOR and managed to CLEAR THE ARTWORK OFF AN ENTIRE WALL OF MY HOME and beam 90s music onto my kitchen wall. Kyle is frighteningly committed to theme parties

There was all kinds of innocent merriment throughout the evening- games of Twister-
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-fooling around with childhood toys I got at the dollar store like wall slappers, magnetic drawing boards, silly putty, etc.- but I will just remind you that the highlight of any 90s party should be excellent 90s music. And this party was no exception. And so I leave you with this picture

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If you’re on Spotify, my 90s dancing playlist can be found here.