Tag Archives: change

one year in Charlottesville

One year ago yesterday, Daniel and I (and a small caravan of Daniel’s family members – mine were waiting for us in Virginia) packed up the final fragments of our possessions, got in my trusty old Saturn, and started the drive up to Virginia. I had never been to Virginia and Daniel had never been to Charlottesville. We’d rented a place with the help of a friend, but otherwise had seen nothing of our new home.

I don’t think there was a way I could have fully comprehended what this first move totally away from anything familiar would mean for us, or how it would change us. It has been lonely, exhilarating, difficult, and joyous. Daniel and I cemented our relationship here like never before. I learned to enjoy cooking for myself. I survived a winter that lasted longer than I anticipated, but not without long bouts of depression. I wrote 314 blog posts, visited lots of new places, cried innumerable times, and got caught up in the beauty of my new surroundings. I decorated (and redecorated) the apartment, made some real money selling vintage, and learned random new skills.

house by uva

August – Got a job at a local coffee shop (best job ever) / Bought pet rats / Watched a meteor shower on a farm / Saw Ralph Stanley in concert / Saw Obama on the Downtown Mall

September – Started ballet classes / Decorated the apartment / Celebrated my birthday alone / Visited Waynesboro and Staunton / Joined the Evening Choir at church

October – Attended the Black Voices Gospel Choir concert / Dressed as a flapper to attend a Halloween party / Fell in love with Cafe Au Lait / Survived Frankenstorm

luray caverns

November – Toured Luray Caverns and Woodstock, VA when Daniel’s dad was in town / Discovered the Saunders-Monticello trail / Hosted Thanksgiving for my friends and sister / Visited Carter Mountain Orchard / Attended the Tree Lighting ceremony

December – Saw snow / Went to Baltimore for the first time / Celebrated Christmas with Daniel’s mom and sister / Got a 50mm lens

January – Started Style Wise / Visited llamas at my friend’s farm / Wrote some poems

snow day

February – Questioned everything (the cold darkness of winter seeped into my heart) / Found meaning in practicing Lent / framed Daniel’s great grandparents’ marriage certificate

March – Presented a homily and got Freshly Pressed / Had a snow day / Visited Richmond / Celebrated Easter

April – Started a new job / Went to the Tom Tom Festival / Visited Jacksonville for my sister’s graduation

blue ridge moutains

May – Had an article published for Relevant Magazine / Questioned everything / Went to Richmond for Memorial Day weekend

June – Visited Skyline Drive for the first time

July – Traveled to Baltimore for a family event / Celebrated Independence Day in Harrisonburg / Visited Baine’s in Scottsville / Celebrated Daniel’s and my 3 year wedding anniversary / Wrote a guest post for a friend’s blog / Explored the Virginia countryside

Phew! I know the above summary is more for me than for readers who are interested in actual writing. So where am I one year later?

In some ways, I feel like I’m starting from the beginning. I have a full time job that I’m still adjusting to, a good friend is moving away, and many of the social activities I enjoyed in the fall have been made unavailable to me due to work hours. I like myself better and I love Virginia, but I’m more homesick than I anticipated; it’s starting to hit me how much we’ve missed out on in the development of our friends’ lives due to distance and busy schedules. To be enveloped by the mountains can be a comfort, but it also serves as a visible sign of our isolation. Because, as much as we’ve tried to reach out, to branch out, we still feel alone much of the time. Life never gets easier.

But overall, I’m pleased that we moved to Charlottesville. I could settle down here and stay for a very long time. I hold out hope that things will get better soon.

uva chapel, leahwise.com

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alleluia!

easter vigil

As the sun sets, attendees are given an unlit candle. Outside, the light of Christ is lit just as the last light of the sun settles on the horizon. Parishioners process in quietly and await the coming of the light of Christ as it is solemnly paraded down the center aisle. All are aided in lighting their candles from the light of Christ at the front, passing it on, candle by candle to those within their pew. The sanctuary is unlit apart from the growing light of Christ clutched in the hands of this body of individuals, awaiting the readings in silence.

Each contained fire flickers and flares – rhythmically, chaotically, still for just a moment – as members of the congregation recount God’s victory amid despair and oppression. Psalms are chanted in a resonating baritone. The mood is somber, but a quiet hope begins to swell as words of salvation are announced, as the chanting echoes across the high ceilings and glass walls of the sanctuary.

All at once, the room comes alive with light, parishioners ring bells they hid among their belongings, and the organist begins a triumphant song. All stand and sing:

Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

For the first time since Lent began, Alleluia rings out again. The world was dark and cold as a winter night, but Christ is alive and in it and working once again!

tree blossom

The final verse of Wheat that Springeth Green, in particular, rang true for me this year:

When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
thy touch can call us back to life again,
fields of hearts that dead and bare have been:
love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

How I needed to exhaust my lungs with the singing of those words! After a long, dark winter, after several weeks of chaos and confusion and self doubt, after 8 months of not dealing with the weight of moving away from everything familiar and comforting, I needed to acknowledge the barren winter in my heart, clear the snow away, and discover joy without limitation in Love springing up again.

He is risen! Alleluia!

first image source: Catholic News/second image: my own

radical

Originally published on my fair trade blog, Style Wise:

———

shopping addiction

radical : of, relating to, or proceeding from a root

I started this blog with a specific reader in mind. I wanted to encourage young women – my peers – who were already reading personal style blogs to take an interest in a more thoughtful approach to consumption. Although it wasn’t fully parsed out, I knew that simply buying better wasn’t an end to the moral journey. But it’s a lot more fun to talk about etsy and charity-minded start ups than to talk about frugality or to address the dark, addictive underbelly of shopping.

But the more I think about morality as it pertains to consumption, the more I realize that I need to buy less altogether. 

It’s important, of course, to realize on a superficial level that we bring more to the table than our curated closets and styling capabilities. But it’s immensely difficult to let that sink in, and to actually change our habits.

I assume that my readers come from a place similar to my own. I grew up (upper) middle class and, while my parents emphasized budgeting and saving, I experienced no real financial strain. Influenced by my grandmother’s sales rack obsession, I seemed to intuitively justify buying anything and everything as long as it was on sale. I liked the rush and the hunt of a good deal.

Later in college, just introduced to personal style blogs that emphasized the importance of investment and statement pieces, I replaced my sales-only paradigm with a boring, preppy basics only framework. And then, when I realized everything I owned was boring, I went crazy with prints. And the cycle continues. But the consistent result of each new set of guidelines is that it encourages me to search and spend like the addict that I am until I’m nauseated by my own materialism.

The point is that the real problem is bigger than poor labor regulations. It’s more than carelessness. It’s the addiction to new and better and cheaper. It’s the haul videos and constant self advertising and attempts to be brand ambassadors. It’s the thoughtlessness and vanity of it.

We need to spend less. I have to tell myself that, too: I need to spend less. And I need to focus less on what I can get my grubby, greedy hands on. And it’s at once ridiculous and terrible that it’s so hard for me to do.

Of course, buying ethically is a great idea. And buying things in general is fun and sometimes even necessary. But the mission of this blog is only a little better than its non-fair trade counterparts if it fails to acknowledge that maybe there’s something wrong with the whole system, that maybe buying ethically opens up a can of worms that causes us to reassess our spending habits at their root.

I’m beginning to see this process as a gradual (at times painful) journey to better, more thoughtful living in all areas of my life. The growing pains are in full swing, but I believe I’ll come out better on the other side. The important thing is not to give up – I’ve wanted so badly lately to give it all up. But I see that the fair trade mission is bigger than my aches and moans and will power, and if I can’t will myself to sprint ahead, I can at least resign myself to it – and keep pressing on.

For additional reading on this topic, see my homily here

*image source: by SnowMika leírása

closure

The new year always throws me for a loop. I spent yesterday at home, off work, in a miserable mood, lashing out anytime Daniel so much as spoke to me. I guess a new year makes me feel obligated: to change bad habits, develop good ones, get motivated, achieve everything at once. In the final weeks of a year, I’m in full relaxation mode; not enough time to worry about accomplishing major goals or making significant decisions. It’s the only time, possibly all year, that I feel at ease and live day by day. All that being said, I don’t think I gave myself enough time for closure, and I’m hoping this list will help me sort 2012 out, close the book, and move forward.

blue ridge mountains

Five events that have been the best this year?

  • getting my name in the company newsletter at work
  • my last summer adventures with Florida friends
  • St. Augustine for our anniversary (even though it was brief)
  • seeing Obama in downtown Charlottesville
  • exploring Virginia

fossildandelion

Five events that have been the worst this year?

  • dealing with corporate crap at my former jobs
  • getting poison ivy
  • moving away from close friends and family
  • my bad attitude during Thanksgiving
  • doubting myself so often

kayaking st. augustine

What have you learned this year?

  • I am surprised by my own selflessness and selfishness. The pressure to figure out life really got to me this year, but I think I’ve settled into a more moderate temperament, trying to take opportunity as it comes and not be too hard on myself lest I completely destroy myself with internal verbal harassment.

lichgate

Was it the year that you had in mind?

  • I was so wrapped up in self doubt and work drama at the beginning of 2012 that I don’t really think I envisioned what the year would be like. I knew we might move, but I didn’t think too hard about it. If I had anything in mind, it was that I would become a successful fashion blogger and adored internet presence by the end of the year. It was my temporary solution to being miserable with my non-virtual life. Things were better than that, though, and I’m glad I moved.

wakulla springs flagler

What clothes did you wear the most?

  • My oatmeal colored Mossimo cardigan, like, every day.

dining room

What music did you listen to the most?

  • the Sherwood CD Jenny left in my car
  • Mates of State
  • Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoise album (I listen to it a lot every year)
  • various Bluegrass music
  • the Simon & Garfunkel Pandora channel

What have you watched?

  • TV: Friday Night Lights, The Office, The Middle, My So-Called Life, The Cosby Show
  • Movies: Bernie, Take This Waltz, Perks of Being a Wallflower…

carter mountain

Which people did you hang out with most?

  • Andrea and Mike in Tallahassee, a little group of church goers/PhD students here.

What new people did you come to know?

  • Many, many new people. We’ve met a lot of great people here: Daniel’s colleagues, church friends, small group friends, and my coworkers.

obama in charlottesville

What is the best thing you’ve read?

  • Fiction: Ender’s Game and The Hunger Games triology. 
  • Nonfiction: Still by Lauren Winner

Did you do anything this year that you’ve never done before?

  • I traveled to Virginia for the first time, moved far away from family for the first time, and became a barista.

Did some of your friends become parents this year?

  • Yes, but not close friends.

What was your biggest achievement in 2012?

  • Managing to make money selling vintage online.

snow

Best bargain?

  • A limited edition print of Jacob’s Ladder from Israel that I got for .50.

What did you spend the most money on?

  • the U-Haul truck.

What do you wish you’d done more?

  • woken up earlier.
  • practiced the banjo.

Favorite video of the year?

yellow leavescouple photo

What did you do on your birthday in 2012?

  • ate Chinese food at home and felt sad.

How would you describe your style in 2012?

  • uncertain. I spent a lot of time over-thinking my personal style. I think it’s settled down into a sort of casual-girly-grunge thing.

shenandoah valley

 

(list from happy, honey, & lark; from Rodeo)

3 months in C-ville

October felt almost normal.

Daniel and I in our Halloween costumes

This month I (and sometimes Daniel):

  • enthusiastically attended my ballet classes
  • worked, one latte at a time, through growing crowds at the coffee shop
  • grieved (however briefly) over the loss of our mouse, Chantico, and bought a new mouse, Hecate.
  • suffered through an art film our friends insisted we watch
  • talked into the night on a front porch
  • attended the Black Voices Gospel Choir Fall concert, and loved it
  • ate at some good restaurants
  • went to my church’s women’s small group consistently
  • witnessed the Dalai Lama’s and Bruce Springsteen’s visits to downtown Charlottesville
  • met people from all over the world thanks to the universal need for caffeine
  • drank lots of spiced hot chocolate and cafes au lait
  • walked around a pleasant historic area downtown
  • got a library card
  • (somewhat) successfully fixed my car’s minor lock problem
  • finished decorating the living room and kitchen
  • thought a lot about feminism, sexism, and Christianity
  • appreciated the fall leaves
  • survived Hurricane Sandy/Frankenstorm
  • visited Washington DC for the first time
  • wrote two poems after a long hiatus from the craft (one, two)
  • attended a Halloween party
  • began watching Friday Night Lights
  • cemented local friendships
  • fretted over our finances
  • sold many items at Water Lily Thrift
  • enjoyed fall
  • got my first taste of what winter will be like
  • read 5+ books
  • dyed my hair dark brown

This month, for the first time since moving, felt normal. Many friendships are secure and openly mutual. We’re even invited to things on occasion! We spent less time exploring and more time inside, partially due to cooler weather. I grew more secure on a personal level and felt more satisfied in my free time activities (reading, writing poems, organizing, thrifting, etc.) I did feel a bit stir crazy and I’m currently brainstorming ways to fill my time. I can’t decide if I want to pursue a side job or if I should focus more on Water Lily Thrift. We’re walking a tightrope financially and spent a lot of time working out a budget and then trying to actually follow it.

I realized that what you leave behind can hit you hardest in the small ways. You want a friend to commiserate with on local events or weather annoyances. You hear of a new store opening and just wish you could helpfully tell someone about it or check it out with them. You enjoy the excitement of making new friends but miss the comfort of old friends. Your neighborhood is beautiful but you miss having a park within walking distance. You are tired of telling people what FSU stands for. You aren’t capable of giving people good directions within town. You begin to realize that the culture of your new location differs from your old home in just enough ways to make you feel like fish out of water (for instance, southern aristocratic culture is annoying).

All that being said, we really do like living here. People here are more like us in terms of background, beliefs, political leanings, and education than most citizens of Tallahassee and that’s made it easy to settle in.

See all monthly summary posts here.

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.

one month in C-Ville

Yesterday marked the one month-iversary of our new life in Charlottesville. It’s incredible how quickly time has flown already. In most ways, Charlottesville already feels like home. But there are still loose ends to tie: settling into a church, unpacking and organizing the final traces of our move, finding a consistent group of friends to hang out with, and switching over my license and registration.

Jennifer (my old neighbor) and I reunited

In one month, I (and sometimes Daniel):

  • traveled over 12, stressful hours on rural streets and highways
  • visited every grocery store chain in town (and still can’t find one as delightful as Publix)
  • perused at least 7 antique shops
  • bought an armchair and a vintage mirror
  • bought a dozen or so books from local stores
  • ate at Bodo’s Bagels 4 times
  • interviewed for four jobs
  • changed my mind about my immediate career goals
  • got a job I love (for once)
  • visited UVA
  • felt consistently nauseous (it’s finally subsiding)
  • stretched fabric across a canvas and made two photo canvases and three pillow cases
  • bought pet rats (Surprise! I haven’t told very many people yet)
  • watched the meteor shower on a farm while listening to acoustic improvisation
  • assembled book cases
  • celebrated a birthday (Daniel’s)
  • saw a Bluegrass legend in concert
  • ate lots of delicious food
  • visited three churches
  • freaked out, a lot
  • revamped my vintage store
  • made some friends
  • toured the neighborhood
  • saw Obama in person
  • visited with a friend I haven’t seen since high school

I know – and fear – that as time inches along, I’ll stop caring about the little accomplishments, struggles, and tasks I experience each month; they’ll be compacted into a small blurb on the timeline of my life. But, looking over this list, I feel quite proud of how far we’ve come in one month. Moving, especially hundreds of miles away from your previous life, brings uncertainty – about identity, financial security, relationships. But I’ve reflected lately that moving away from an identity that is created for you over days and months and years creates a space for renewed liberty, a wider sphere of choice. I have a chance here to present myself and identify myself based upon who I am and what I believe and what interests me now without fear of rattling someone’s preconceived notions of who I am. I can take pride in what I have achieved. I can say to myself, “You are good enough,” for the first time in a year. The challenge will be to push toward that level of freedom and self-understanding as we scatter presuppositions and misunderstandings along our path in Charlottesville. What I’ve learned here in the last month is that we do have the power to change our lives. In fact, the daily task of life is simply making choices and living with them.