Monday, June 30, 2014

My town

Last week, I needed just one thing: something to counter the beginning-of-summer slowdown at work. You all know how well I handle boredom (a.k.a, not well), and my sanity was calling for something exciting to keep itself intact.

Luckily, Elk Ridge Days (which, apparently, is a thing now) was last weekend. Immersion in a nice, friendly crowd and a couple of countrified meals was just the thing I needed to wipe the painful memories of workplace inactivity from my mind.

The parade was nice and short, with a few more glamorous floats than we've been treated to in the past. The bluegrass band didn't arrogantly turn up the mics so everyone within 20 miles could hear their tunes, but rather kept the volume to a perfect background-noise level so we could eat our pulled-pork sandwiches and chat without damaging our vocal cords. I easily could have parted with hundreds of dollars on jewelry and handcrafted wooden things at the country fair. There was even a Tilt-a-Whirl type ride (shaped like a strawberry) at the park. 

And to top it all off, the weather was perfect.

But the best part of the whole celebration was the rampant Elk Ridge-ness. I've been to other city celebrations and while they're all unique and charming in their own way, they're also loud, overcrowded, and infested with cigarette smoke. Elk Ridge, even after 30 years of human habitation, can still put on a celebration without overwhelming its residents and bringing out the miscreants. 

I knew I had a good thing going while I was growing up here. But it's an even bigger blessing, perhaps, that every time I come back for a visit, everything is the same as I left it. This place continues to attract and breed good, down-to-earth people. There are still no sidewalks on the roads. It's still quiet and peaceful, and the stars are always easy to find at night. 

Sure, there are houses in places that used to be weedy fields, and occasionally another pointless stop sign will unexpectedly appear, but Elk Ridge is still Elk Ridge. It still feels like the home I grew up in, even though I belong somewhere else now. Those mountains are always there to welcome me back when I turn onto Elk Ridge Drive, completely forgiving of the fact that I stopped growing there and had to move somewhere else. This town doesn't resent the fact that I have another home now; rather, it's always there to be the home I remember, whenever I need it.

Elk Ridge is pretty great like that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A list post, just because

  • I've not had much desire to write anything non-journal-related since graduation. But I can still manage a list post, at least.
  • Besides, work is horribly slow right now and I've exhausted all my other methods of pretending to be busy. I wish the insanity of July–September would just get here already.
  • I'm also listening to music, something I don't usually do at work because it's distracting. Currently, "Shape of My Heart" by the Backstreet Boys is playing, which keeps making me think about a certain roommate party.
  • I got 9 O.W.L.s this year, one of which I got an Outstanding on. Yay me.
  • Since Harry Potter World was seriously lacking in Ravenclaw paraphernalia, I bought a Ravenclaw t-shirt online when we got home. I'm wearing it on Friday and I'm very excited.
  • Yesterday I made stuffed peppers for dinner. They were pretty tasty, but I had to eat a large bowl of ice cream afterward to make up for the fact that my dinner consisted almost solely of vegetables and I felt deprived.
  • I watched the Girl Meets World pilot the other day. I get that the show is targeted to a generation that can't fathom a world without internet and cell phones with cameras on them, but I still wish they would have just rebooted Boy Meets World instead of making a sequel show.
  • I always forget how expensive oil changes at Jiffy Lube are. Yes, they treat you like a queen and they clean your car for you, but chivalry doesn't count when they overcharge you $30 for it.
  • The window on the driver's side of my car is the only one that rolls down now, thus depriving me of one of my favorite things about summer—evening drives with all four windows rolled down.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A liminal space in Florida

Liminal space is a term you learn early on if you're an English major. Essentially, it means a point between two spaces. It can be a physical space that separates one world from another, a pivotal moment in someone's growth as a person, or even—and I may be stretching the definition a bit here—a pause in time.

My recent trip to Florida was a liminal space for me. For 11 days I rode roller coasters, played in the water, and ate lots and lots of food that I didn't have to prepare.

When we left it was still May. Now, it's not just June; we're in the double digits already. It always surprises me when I get back from vacation that nothing stopped while I was gone; mail was still delivered, emails still came in, people still went to work. It's like I lost a week and a half of my life; it went on as normal, but I was somewhere else while it happened.

Which is the whole point of going on vacation, of course.

This particular trip was special, because it was the first time the entire Carter clan has vacationed together since the kids started getting married. Eleven people in all, forced to hang out with each other for 11 days.

  • We mastered the child swap/fast pass systems to take most of the line-standing out of six amusement-park-themed days.
  • None of us learned to like Florida's drinking water, though.
  • So. Many. People.
  • Most of us experienced for the first time the fiery inferno that is heat + humidity (though luckily, the worst of it waited until the last three days). I have new sympathy for the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • We ate too much food, of course. I gained a whopping 7 pounds on this vacation, despite all the extra walking and melting.
  • Some of us enjoyed Harry Potter world more than others. And some of us mourned that we came all the way to Florida only to miss the Diagon Alley expansion by a few weeks. And that there wasn't very much Ravenclaw stuff. Not everyone wants to be a Gryffindor or Slytherin, you know.
  • There's no way we'll stay in a hotel during future Carter vacations. Staying in a house with a private pool and jacuzzi spoiled us for good. Now, if we could just find a house that actually had comfortable beds. . . .
  • Some of us went from having no desire to go snorkeling to thinking it was pretty cool. Okay, awesome.
  • And Florida's ocean is so, so warm.
  • Having two 2-year-olds around made the trip more fun for everyone. Except perhaps their parents.
And the best part is, we made our triumphal return to properly dry air without killing each other. Accompanied by thousands of hours of video footage to document every stage of our journey. Maybe I'll share some of it in another post, because that's another great thing about vacations—making everyone else jealous of your good time.