surprises

blowing out candles blur excitementalmond pave paradox pastry birthdayWe threw a surprise birthday party for my boss on Wednesday. My coworkers and I gathered at a pizza place on the Downtown Mall while we waited for her daughter to find a reason to get her out of the coffee shop. Once they passed, we scampered to the shop to set up. We ate delicious pizza from Vita Nova and had Almond Pave from Paradox Pastry (delicious and gluten free!) for dessert.

She didn’t suspect a thing. She insisted I take my picture with some birthday balloons since my birthday was yesterday. I love the coffee shop staff, so it’s always great to hang out after hours.

*Photos were kept to a minimum in this post to respect the privacy of friends and family. But there are lots of great ones!

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staunton

staunton day trip

We took a day trip to Staunton on Daniel’s birthday a few weeks ago. It’s a scenic 40 minute drive through the mountains. The cold front that weekend let a bit of fall seep in prematurely. We perused antique malls, drank iced coffees, and stopped in at Cracker Barrel for birthday dinner.

sta4 sta2 sta1

two months in C-ville

I think I’ll continue the monthly update in this fashion for 6 months. At that point, I may wrap up each month by its name rather than by how long I’ve lived in Charlottesville. To see my one month post, click here

Daniel and I by a wildflower field

This month, I (and sometimes Daniel):

  • updated my license and registration. It was surprisingly easy – I got it done in one afternoon!
  • actually started calling people my friends, to their faces
  • hung out on several occasions with some wonderful people
  • started ballet classes
  • unpacked and organized (almost) everything
  • made 4 curtains
  • bought a new mouse; we named her Chantico after the Aztec goddess of “fires in the family hearth.” Yes, we are beginning to realize we are pet rodent hoarders.
  • finished the layout and design of the dining room and craft room
  • hung up all of our artwork
  • made a connection with a local vintage shop owner
  • sold lots of great vintage on etsy and eBay
  • joined the church choir and learned how to chant the Psalms
  • ate at a delicious local pastry restaurant (3 times so far!)
  • bought a delightful vintage tea towel
  • “celebrated” my 24th birthday
  • received a twin lens reflex camera, boots, a candle, various Bakelite pieces, and more cat coins from the Isle of Man (there’s one for every year of my life)
  • ate at Red Lobster with my grandparents’ gift card (thanks, guys)
  • visited Waynesboro and Staunton
  • got significantly better at making lattes
  • took and edited photos for my workplace’s website

This month went by incredibly quickly. I’m in disbelief that it’s October already. Things have begun to take on a consistent rhythm, which is nice and makes here feel more like home. I was struck with a small existential crisis last week, however, lamenting over the fact that being an adult is often harder than it is easy, often more annoying than it is enjoyable. There are, of course, many enjoyable moments that take place throughout each day, especially working as a barista and coming in contact with so many sorts of people. But I feel like the last several years have consisted largely of missing my childhood, of envying youth and ignorance. I’m glad to be able to think critically, be aware, and join in the conversation, but it’s mentally taxing and emotionally draining. There is so much to know, to take in, to come to terms with, to change – and we either have to do something about it or waste away. It’s a burden we have to bear if we plan on being responsible, useful adults.

twenty four

I turned 24 years old yesterday.

It sucked.

Objectively, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my day: I slept in, opened up a few presents from Daniel (he got me a series of early Bakelite pieces), went to work, got complimented on my outfit, received a delicious smelling candle from my boss, ate some honey bunches, and had the best Chinese food in town from the comfort of my living room. It was actually a pretty perfect day.

But I felt miserable. The article I posted upon my arrival here indicated that there comes a point after every move when the mover’s positive expectations come crashing down. I feel that I’ve made great professional and personal progress since moving here. But I need help in the social department. I’ve met lots of potential friends, had great conversations, participated in activities, and gathered phone numbers, but I haven’t quite gotten to the state where I and my social partner mutually acknowledge our friendship. I really do think that a handful of local people would have been happy to celebrate my birthday, but I was too shy, and too set on wallowing, to ask.

My birthdays have been, at least for the past 5 years, a reunion. Different groups of dear friends may never have mingled throughout the year, but they were always at my birthday. We’d get a big table at a restaurant and have a lovely, raucous time catching up. It was more a celebration of the great people in my life than a celebration of my birth. The realization that I wouldn’t get that reunion this year hit me yesterday, along with all the sadness and insecurity of losing the daily, physical support of many friends.

I realized, too, that the birthday group I memorialize was gone before I moved, separated by distance, spouses, falling-outs, jobs, and heaps of schoolwork. Life is likely full of more chasms, more continental drifts, and I have to let it go and learn to live on my newly formed patch of grass, letting go of what it was, disregarding what it looks like elsewhere.

Thank you to all who sent me birthday greetings via mail, text, facebook, and phone. I know you’re out there and I appreciate your kindness. You’re still there, I know, but it’s hard to feel that sometimes.Twenty four will be a good, productive, transformative year, I’m sure.

september moodboard

I really like the month of September, because of the season change and hopeful, back-to-school-and-the-holidays-are-coming feeling, but probably mostly because of my birthday (I hope you enjoyed that sentence). My birthday is September 26 (hint, hint). I’ll be 24 this year: my last year of frolicsome youth before I become a quarter-of-a-century old and start graying (hopefully my hair will hold off a bit longer than that). This is also birthday month for my family (and also everyone else in my homeland, since most U.S. babies are born in mid-September).

september

september

Things I intend to enjoy this month:

  • Hot espresso drinks
  • A Birthday outfit
  • Understated jewelry
  • A Birthday cupcake or two
  • Taking pictures of events and changing landscapes
  • Boots
  • Mums in full bloom
  • Snuggling in my hand knit blanket (thanks, Daniel’s mom!)
  • Printed bags

Daniel and I are heading over to a Local Artisans Festival in the next couple of hours. Masters of guitar making, banjo playing, and cobbling (to name a few) will be present along with their newly graduated apprentices. I love living in a place that publicly values local craft and culture.