Monthly Archives: March 2010

back to basics.

Phew! I’m finally cooking an actual meal at home again this evening, after having eaten out for about a week now. I’ve been so exhausted, and am finally ready for things to start settling down. I’ll be home this weekend for a birthday celebration and for Easter, and the George Strait concert I bought Alex tickets to for his birthday is on Saturday, so it promises to be a relaxing and fun few days.

I feel like I don’t have much energy, but a lot has happened this week so I guess it makes sense! On Monday, I found out that I didn’t get into the MFA program at ODU, and I took Alex out to dinner at The Local to celebrate his acceptance into LC. It was delicious – he had meat loaf, and I had mushroom truffle ragout pasta. A party for your mouth, really. :)

On Tuesday, I got a phone call from the director of the MFA Program at Pine Manor College, offering me a spot in their program! This one is in Massachusetts, and it was great to get good news. The director was really nice on the phone, and I’m looking forward to getting the materials in the mail.

Today was another busy one – we put on a special seminar at work, so everything else was sort of put on hold for a couple of hours, and that’s never a good sign. Before the seminar, though, I started my “Handbuilding with Clay” class! It is amazing so far – just today, I started a mug and made a soap dish! The instructor is amazing, and is incredibly gracious when it comes to all of my silly questions. I’m actually the only new student in the class – the rest are repeats from previous classes – so it’s kind of cool to get to work closely with the instructor since everyone else knows a lot more about what they’re doing.

Now for some exciting stuff – next week, Alex and I are going to look at a couple of apartments in Lynchburg! He’s got an open house at LC on Thursday afternoon, and before we go to that we’re going to scope out some sweet spots around town. Maybe if it’s not too creepy, I’ll take some pictures!

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me on these exhausted I’m-not-so-sure-which-way-is-up posts, and enjoy this beautiful sunshine. If you’re anything like me, it’s really keeping you going these days. :)



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sibling saturday [5]

Aaaaaaaaaand it’s Sunday. I was totally out of it yesterday and forgot Sibling Saturdays – I know, I know, it’s only the fifth one and I shouldn’t be forgetting yet. But, here’s a double whammy – Sibling Saturday AND an image from the trip to DC! Make sure to visit Jake’s Flickr page when you have time. Stay dry tonight!

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to the big city.

After yet another c-r-azy week, I’ve gotten good news, taken a trip, started a balcony garden, and spent time with my family and friends! Here’s to getting a lot accomplished!

In case any of you Charlottesvillians have never been to Bang, you absolutely must. I can’t believe I’ve lived here for almost five years and had never been until this week. On Wednesday, the day that Alex found out his big news, he and I were already planning to go out to dinner. It ended up being perfect timing, because we got to celebrate with a special night on the town. We went to Bang, which is a house converted to a restaurant in downtown C-ville. Their food is described as “Asian fusion tapas,” and it is out of this world.

On Wednesdays, they have $6 nights – which we didn’t even know until we got there! There is a selected menu (with martinis, wine, and tapas) of things that only cost $6, making the food not only delicious but super affordable. You can also order anything off of the regular menu at regular price if you prefer. Alex and I had blackened tuna with eggplant, tempura spicy shrimp, pork spring rolls, sliders, and kale tortellini. The spring rolls were my least favorite (still great, just not my thing), and the kale tortellini had a brown butter sauce on it that made for a stellar combination. I enjoyed a grapefruit martini, and Al had his usual out-to-dinner drink – a gin martini, just a tad dry, with two (or three) olives. The man takes after his father. :)

In other news, my herbs are doing swimmingly on the balcony! Sebastian was kind enough to take care of them for me when I was away for the past few nights, and I can’t wait to start using them! Here’s a view of them from earlier this week (rosemary on the left, oregano on the right):

After work on Thursday, I headed home to Goochland for a trip to the Northern VA/DC area with my family. Jake is still trying to decide where he wants to go to college, and we trekked to George Mason University with him. I tagged along for the ride because I’ve done the metro/subway thing before, and even though I’m not sure how much help I was, I was glad to travel with J and the rents.

When Jacob went to class on Friday, we met up with Marg (okay, more like she drove to meet us at our hotel) and we all went to Old Towne Alexandria. It was really fun, despite the freezing cold weather. Here’s me and Marg looking over the water down at the duckies in Old Towne and my parents being happy tourists:

We had a lot of fun on our short visit to Alexandria, and the coolest place we went there was the Torpedo Factory Art Center. It’s a lot like C-ville’s McGuffey, in that it is full of artist studios and gallery spaces. There were so many different types of artists working and exhibiting there, and we only had time to tour the first floor (there are three)! I had heard of the Torpedo Factory just through my job, and in fact we have one of their post cards on our bulletin board. I’d never been, though, and I’m really glad we got to stop in.

After we had a beer and some nachos in Old Towne, we headed back to GMU to get Jake. Marg went back home, and we all (well, except Mom) took a nap in the room. Once we finally got motivated, we drove to the Vienna metro station, and metro-ed into DC. We met Margaret at her stop, and we all ate dinner at Hard Rock Cafe in the city. Marg, Jake and I wandered around the streets of DC for a while – which we could do thanks to Marg’s sick nasty tour guide skills – while we were waiting for a table at HRC. Overall, it was an awesome trip.

And now, I’m back again…and preparing myself for potentially 11 hours at the pub I should just start calling home. :) Look for updates early next week about my travels tomorrow – I’m going to see Wicked on tour in Richmond at the Landmark Theater!


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here’s to new beginnings!

And, here it is – the news you’ve all been waiting for. Where will Nikki be next year? Where will she and Al (and Charles and Roxie) go to continue their life of happiness and higher education? The verdict is in – and we’re moving to LYNCHBURG!

Alex got THE call today – Lynchburg College called him, told him they just finished reading his application, and offered him admission the program. We are already super excited – this has been a long time coming for Al, and he’s spent a long time working for this result. Lynchburg will be affordable, comfortable, and still close to our friends and family. We can’t wait for what’s to come – I promise more updates are on their way when we figure out more details.

Congratulations, Alex! If anyone deserves this, my dear, it’s you. So proud of you!

Happy Hump Day, from me and my babies (see below). Charlie wasn’t quite ready for the picture…don’t judge. :)


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in loving memory.

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growth and productivity.

Let’s get it out of the way – bad news first – got another rejection letter. This time from Warren Wilson College, which is actually the oldest low-residency MFA program in the country. Again, it would have been an honor to have been accepted, but the skinny letter in the mail just made me more excited about Queens. Still 8 more to hear from!

Now that that’s over with, here is my recipe for a fantastic day:

  • get a lot done
  • laugh
  • start something new
  • eat delicious food.

Let’s go through step by step. One – get a lot done. I’m working from home today, and in between writing emails and working on newsletters, I’ve gone for a run, straightened, dusted, and vacuumed my apartment, and done laundry (with no stray socks! it’s the little things, you know?).

Two – laugh. First of all, I got a text from Blackman this morning that said: “Roxie caught a touchdown pass in my dream last night.” Need I say more? Secondly, I had lunch here with Alex this afternoon, and we had a great time. More on that later.

Three – start something new. We just got a “Fifth Season” gardening store in Charlottesville, and it just so happens to be right next to the laundromat. I went by there today, because as I’ve said before, I really want to grow something this year. It’s this strange urge I’ve had recently that I credit mostly to writing. Once you start creating something, it’s hard to stop. So I went to “Fifth Season,” where the guy working was amazing and so helpful, and came home with two organic plants – oregano and rosemary. I’m super excited about them; they’ll be easy to care for and won’t take up a lot of space. And of course, they’ll be delicious. I can’t wait to use them!

Four – eat delicious food. In case you haven’t noticed, this is a pretty huge qualification for my daily life. I love food, I love cooking, and I love eating. So, when Alex said he’d come over for lunch today, I made the most amazing avocado wraps. I came up with the “recipe” based on some online research and suggestions from my mom. I use whole wheat wraps and fill them with avocado, garlic hummus, cucumber, mushrooms, lettuce, havarti cheese with dill, and a little S & P. It’s tasty, filling, and just makes you feel good.

So there you have it – growth and productivity on a Monday. It doesn’t get much better than that. :)

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oh, the possibilities…

Lots of news on the graduate school front – some good, some not so good. Yesterday, I found out that I did not get into the MFA Program at Pacific University. Strangely, I was not upset. Pacific has an amazing program that I’d be lucky to attend, but to be quite honest, traveling to Oregon twice a year would be quite expensive AND I’m actually becoming more enamored with the program at Queens University every day.

On that note, remember when I mentioned the Virginia Festival of the Book program that I’d miss out on because of work? Well, I pulled a few strings (just kidding – actually we were simply overstaffed) and got to go!

I met up with the instructor of the writing class I just finished and her boyfriend, after having left McGs at 7:45 for a program that I didn’t yet have a ticket to that began at 8 on the Downtown Mall. Somehow I managed to change my shirt and shoes in my car (after parking, of course), talk to a former co-worker I ran into on the mall, and still make it in plenty of time to buy a ticket, sit down, and chat before the program started.

I was pretty much there to see Elizabeth Strout, since I’m madly researching programs that are realistic options for me, but the entire panel of writers was amazing. Not just ES, but Lee Smith, E. Ethelbert Miller, and Colum McCann – all right in front of me onstage! I’ll admit, I was a little starstruck. How much of a nerd am I? Anyway, ES read from Olive Kitteridge, which I finally started reading today. I got such a great vibe from her, as silly as that may sound. The way that she interacted with the audience during the Q & A reminded me so much of the way my thesis advisor from college interacted with her students – and yes, I mean the advisor I completely adore and with whom I work incredibly well.

ES was asked a question about her teaching life – and she said that 1) she loves to teach her students how to read – to read voices that compliment theirs, and voices that are completely different from their own and 2) that she loves to remind her students that they don’t always have to finish something. In fact, her exact words were “You know, I just tell them – do something! And then do it again!” Obviously, I liked her. A lot. And I am so insanely glad that I got to attend the program.

Here’s the really exciting part – I got to meet her briefly afterward! I stood (bookless – oops) in the book-signing line, and quickly introduced myself and told her I’d just gotten into the program at Queens. She was gracious, honest, and attentive, and after we chatted for a minute or two she said “Make sure you find me when you get there! If, you know, you don’t get assigned to me!”

I know that I’m still waiting for news from so many programs, but it’s so exciting and refreshing to see a real person and shake the real hand of a talented writer that I could really work with! I mean, she won a Pulitzer Prize, for goodness’ sake – and she could be my professor! All I’m saying is that it was a great experience, a worthwhile program, and that I can’t wait to see what the future holds. And that’s a great feeling – being hopeful and satisfied to start off the week. Not a bad outcome from a $10 ticket transaction and a quick jog down the mall on a Saturday night, huh?

Happy Spring!

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