A full week

Dinner with Stephanie (+ Baby Fishwick) at Monsoon.

Girl time = so good. Stephanie and I grabbed dinner on Wednesday night at Monsoon and talked about many things over our virgin strawberry daiquiris, including but not limited to street harassment, babies, and conflicts of etiquette. She is so lovely and bright.

Downtown at dusk.

It’s not exactly a gorgeous skyline, but I always like walking over the bridge toward downtown. The view always makes me remember, “Oh, I live here now, in this town where we once arrived as strangers.”

The photo is from Friday night, taken on our way to meet Guion’s beloved professor and mentor Alan Shapiro at South Street to watch the UNC vs. Ohio game. He is delightful company–so brilliant and kind and warm–and we talked of many things. I bonded with him particularly on our mutual love of Marilynne Robinson* and Wei Tchou. (*Somewhat out of the blue, Shapiro announced, “Housekeeping is probably one of the greatest novels in the English language.” And then I felt really justified in my unmitigated praise of that book. It is the greatest. Shapiro says so.)

"Mad Men" party at Colin and Rita's. (Mary Boyce + G)

Last night, Colin and Rita hosted a “Mad Men” season premiere party, in which we were supposed to wear our best “Mad Men”-esque outfits. For men, this just meant wearing a tie (or parting your hair with lots of pomade, as Colin displayed); for women, pearls + dress + pumps seemed to be the easy formula.

Rita, industrious housewife.
In our "Mad Men" best.

Very fun gathering (with great cocktails), but did anyone else think the premiere was kind of… boring? It was funnier and lighter than the closing episodes of last season (Stan always helps with that. And we were all humming zou bizou bizou afterward), but I felt like it was lacking some spark, some solid Draper broody moments. Or maybe the episodes will necessarily be duller in the absence of the incarnation of maternal evil.

Week 12: Daily walks

In honor of my sister Grace, I am imposing a set of weekly challenges on myself. For 12 weeks, I will attempt a different “challenge” each week–to do one thing every day for seven days, ranging from serious to silly. At the end of each week, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Welcome to Charlottesville
Walking around town.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve completed twelve weeks of challenges. They’ve ranged from serious to silly, but they have all been fun and often enlightening. I’ve learned a lot of little facts about myself and about my process of making and following ritual. Some of the challenges have been incorporated into my daily life and I hope I’ll continue some of them in the future.

For this final week, I wanted to take a stroll. Now that we’ve skipped spring and gone straight into summer, a week of daily walks has been really enjoyable, if occasionally sweaty.

If I was a good blogger, I would have taken pictures from all of these walks, but I’m not, so you’ll just have to deal.

DAY 1.
Guion and I walked downtown to meet our Bible study friends Mark and Christina for Chap’s ice cream on the Downtown Mall. It was a hot and breezy afternoon and a little cup of Chap’s made it feel like heaven. I love strolling around the Mall and we walk there often. It’s less than a 10-minute walk from our apartment and it’s always packed with dogs. What’s not to love?

DAY 2.
I had to do some research for my boss at SNL Financial, which is also downtown. I parked the Jeep at our place and then walked over. Got there a bit early, so I strolled around the blocks behind the building and looked at all of the historic houses that now feature the offices of real estate agents or lawyers.

DAY 3.

Watching "Gosford Park" with my bestie.

My weekly walk with Bo turned out to be something of an exhilarating misadventure. I head over to Liz’s to pick him up and we chat about how silly it is that her team’s soccer game was canceled because of a thunderstorm/tornado warning. Yeah, absurd. I walk Bo downtown and we’re having a fine time until I feel a spattering of rain. Then I look at the sky. It is not gray. Or dark blue. It is black. Slate. Full of doom. Bo and I then run–sprint!–across the Belmont Bridge and make it back to my front porch right before the sky bursts open. We had amazingly good timing, because a second after we got inside… thunder, lightning, torrential rain, minor flooding, wind howling, the whole deal. Thankfully, Bo isn’t thunderstorm-phobic (like Emma was) and so he chilled with me in our apartment. He helped me do the dishes and then started watching “Gosford Park” with me until it cleared up enough to take him home. I think he’s the perfect dog. I confessed to Guion and Liz that I am now worried about getting a dog because he or she may not be as amazing as Bo is. I love him.

DAY 4.
Despite starting out rather rough, it turned out to be a very beautiful evening and so I took Bo for another walk. Guion joined me this time and we went wandering through the charming and eclectic Belmont neighborhood. We daydreamed about houses we’d buy and dubious ways we’d coerce current residents to move out and give us their gorgeous homes with manicured lawns and sprawling gardens.

DAY 5.
Guion joined me on a walk to the Downtown Mall to buy cupcakes from Cappellino’s for Cate’s royal wedding princess party. He was a bit astonished at the price of gourmet cupcakes. Aren’t we all.

DAY 6.
Our lovely housemate Hannah joined us on a late morning walk to the Charlottesville farmers’ market. We ended up buying delicious mint tea, baklava, and a babe in the wood, and therefore nothing really healthy or valuable for the rest of the week. Oh well! From there, we wandered over to The Garage, where Stephanie and Emily were hosting a tag sale. Guion went off to brew day for the rest of the afternoon; I went to Mecca, aka Target. When Guion got home, we walked downtown again to eat at Miyako for dinner. Quite excellent, if I do say so.

DAY 7.
Win came! We walked downtown with him and went to church and it was awesome. We’re crossing our fingers that he moves here…

That’s all, folks! It’s been a fun way to welcome spring. To be honest, it will be kind of nice to not worry about weekly goals, but I think I will try to keep some of these habits on regular rotation. Thanks for reading; talk to you soon.

Mini-burst-aster

So. We got pummeled by what appeared to be a tiny tornado last night (also called a “mini-burst” apparently) that caused a lot of damage. We were without power from about 5 p.m. last night until 6 a.m. this morning. Lightning ripped giant oak trees out of the ground, crushing our neighbor’s truck and trailer. Downed power lines splayed across the street. Our porch chairs were flung out in the street when we got home. Caution tape was tied over our street to prevent anyone from entering. It was outrageous. The whole neighborhood was huddled around outside, in shock. The storm happened in about 15 minutes and took out most of Charlottesville’s power in its wake.

We managed to make the most of an unfortunate situation, however. We were planning on making dinner for our new friends Michael and Mallory (Guion had a lovely dish of ricotta-stuffed shells waiting to go in the oven), but after we couldn’t figure out how to start our oven without power, we wandered to the downtown mall. We managed to find the one place that miraculously had power, Eppie’s, and had a nice dinner there. Michael and Mallory were lovely and fun and we had a great time with them. (I was especially pleased to find a fellow reader in Mallory. I haven’t met any girls here except for our neighbors.) Conveniently, the concert we were planning on going to (our worship leader Sam’s band, Hill & Wood) relocated to the Tea Bazaar just next door. And then we came back home and slept in sweltering, humid blackness.

There was something remotely touching about the surge of interdependence in the neighborhood, though. Everyone huddled together in hushed groups on the street, walking together along the dark and eerie downtown mall, swapping horror and survival stories from the afternoon. It evoked images of “The Road,” for some reason, although infinitely less bleak. Charlottesville is still very pretty and lush, despite all the trees on the ground.

Anyway.

I think this is very interesting. This is from the paper I’m proofing today at work.

The critical implication of the research on evolutionary preparedness is that people are likely to react with little fear to certain types of objectively dangerous stimuli that evolution has not prepared them for, such as guns, hamburgers, automobiles, smoking, and unsafe sex, even when they recognize the threat at a cognitive level. Types of stimuli that people are evolutionarily prepared to fear, such as caged spiders, snakes, or heights (when adequate safety measures are in place), evoke a visceral response even when, at a cognitive level, they are recognized to be harmless.

Loewenstein et al., “Risk as Feelings,” Psychological Bulletin, 2001

Guion and I are going away for the weekend! He’s turning 23 on Sunday and so we are going to celebrate his and Emma’s birthdays with a bunch of friends at Emma’s family’s new cabin. Photos of the mini-burst carnage coming on Monday night, ideally. Be safe; have a lovely weekend.