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Oh, how I used to loathe country music. It was a matter of pride that I did not associate with anything southern. Despite growing up in Virginia, I clung desperately to my parents’ hometowns of Baltimore and Boston.

But since I’ve been in Colorado, I’ve grown a little more open to country music. This song in particular makes me incredibly nostalgic for summer nights in rural Virginia. Take it away.

50 States Challenge

A few years ago, one of my best friends and I committed to holding the other accountable to travelling to all 50 states before we turned 30 – an idea I totally ripped off from a good friend and former coworker (thanks for the inspiration, KC.) To demonstrate our commitment, we promptly booked a trip to Milwaukee, WI and all kinds of hilarious travel bungles ensued.

BUT the takeaway is that we both really enjoyed Milwaukee – somewhere neither of us would have otherwise chosen as vacation destination. The “50 States Challenge” (as I have so cleverly dubbed it) has resulted in my seeking out the best and most obscure that each state has to offer.

Here are the rules:

In order for a state to count, you must have a specific, pre-meditated destination in mind.

Meaning:

  1. Flight layovers don’t count
  2. Simply driving through a state doesn’t count
  3. Stopping for gas or fast food whilst driving through a state doesn’t count

But:

  1. You are able to plan out a lunch destination in advance that perhaps is known for its strong representation of local flavor (i.e. – a steakhouse in Omaha, NE that is easily accessed from the highway)
  2. You do not necessarily have to spend the night in a state, but if you do, that always counts for crossing off a state

Thus far into the 50 State Challenge, I have 30+ states checked off of my list and tentative plans for four more in 2012. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that I enjoy every state thus far (with the exception of Kansas. I’m really sorry, Kansas. Maybe we can try again one day when I finish all the others.) and I am so excited to see the rest of the country and I can pseudo-officially declare this my theme song:  

Your Funny Valentine

Okay, no seriously, I am going to be better about writing blog posts.

I start today, with my once-annual commentary on unconventional love. (On a side note, anyone who feels Valentine’s Day is a silly holiday solely because you “should focus on loving your significant other every day of the year,” you disgust me. We would never be friends in real life.)

Valentine’s Day is a weird day for me. I have harbored resentment towards the holiday for years, perhaps a legacy of my college singledom or my self-important feminist inclinations. Whatever.

I used to perceive Valentine’s Day as really, really important to one demographic and one demographic only: teenage girls. But, as time has gone on, I realize, it has a much more extensive reach, and maybe it’s not that bad. Does Valentine’s Day really stand to rub coupledom in the faces of our single brethren? Does it not provide a wonderful excuse for girl’s night out, or takeout, as perhaps you are inclined? These things are both gifts!

Regardless, while I do not support the cut flower industry (another post to follow) and I have never possessed the world’s most insatiable sweet tooth, I am excited to leave the office a little early tonight, go home, order Indian take-out (see how I snuck that in there?) and curl up with my lovely boyfriend and dog. It will be a perfect evening.

I shall also be rubbing it in Danny’s face that I received a single red rose today. From my dentist. Thank you, Dr. Baumgart, for making a girl feel special on February 14.

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Nostalgia

I guess one never knows where nostalgia will smack you in the face. For me today, it came upon entering a Safeway that just so happened to have the exact same layout as the one I frequented when I worked on Mass Ave. One particular memory hit me: I remembered walking into the DC store to buy ingredients to bring to a holiday potluck last year and I got really sad. (I read recently that nostalgia is the “best” of feelings, to which I still maintain, whoever can be credited with that quote is horribly disillusioned.)

I never in a million years thought that I would miss DC. Especially considering that Colorado looks like what I always imagined the North Pole to look like. Rest assured, Boulder is an amazing place to be for a few years (as is the plan at the moment), but I have really missed spending December in DC this year. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the vast majority of my family and friends still reside in the DC/VA area and I miss our traditions (Justin, I’m looking at you and I am currently salivating over the thought of fish and chips and the thought of a leisurely stroll around the National Tree. 4626 roommates, you too. I missed drinking a bottle of red wine to myself and decorating our pitiful little tree.)  Or maybe it has to do with the fact that for the four Christmas seasons that Danny and I have spent together, we have only been in one place for one of them while the other three years have been spastically and arbitrarily divided between VA and CO. Or maybe I am just really, really dreading defrosting my windshield when I leave work tonight. But it occurred to me how much I used to love my walk from my office to the Gallery Place metro. The trees were lit up, everyone that passed me, shopping bags in hand, a million people meeting loved ones for holiday reunions at Clyde’s or La Tasca. It was just a nice feeling (until one actually enters the metro station, of course, where all holiday cheer immediately drains from the body.)

Similarly, I never anticipated expecting to willingly move back to DC – as opposed to moving again because of a job offer. (Disclaimer – despite the tone of this post, we have no immediate plans to move back to the East Coast. I will at least finish grad school first.)

 

I suppose my trip home couldn’t be more well-timed. DC friends, put me on your calendar. Rocket Bar is in your immediate future.

Lightning Fast October Synopsis… in mid-November.

Yes, yes, I know I have made many empty promises about not posting about the trivialities, but let’s be real. I really just need to write something. It’s been like a month.

So I will quickly say that my favorite holiday, Halloween, has sadly come and gone. But not without us marking it with some of my favorite seasonal activities!

-We carved pumpkins:

It actually took me until this year to admit that carving pumpkins is a miserable, messy experience all around. Not to mention between opportunistic squirrels and rotting, they only last 2 days at most. This was our second attempt at jack o-lanterns. :(

-We dressed up:

I was Amelia Earhart; Danny was a penguin.

-AND we hosted a murder mystery party set in prohibition-era Chicago. I have always wanted to take part in one of these and it was immensely entertaining, particularly the resultant accents from people getting into character:

Clyde refused to hide his contempt for not receiving a single cupcake.

-And of course, because we live in absurd Colorado, we got our first (and second) snowstorms of the season that same week:

Clyde is much more enthusiastic about snow than Murder Mystery parties.

Top 10 Travel Destinations

My parents raised my sisters and me with what can only reasonably be described as a zeal for travelling abroad. I left the country for the first time well before my 10th birthday and I have yet to really slow it down.

At some point through, I grew bored with European travel. I felt (and feel) the need to experience different cultures when I travel, and not “America 2.0.”

In college, my mom had eagerly pushed for me to study abroad. I remember the phone call when I called to say that I had found the right program.

Maisie: Hi! I found a Study Abroad program I think I wanna do!

Mom: Oh, where?! Paris? Salamanca? Milan?

Maisie: KENYA!

Mom: Oh…?

The rest, as they say, is history.

So, the next ten countries for me? In no particular order:

India

 Ghana

South Africa

 Ethiopia

Peru

Mozambique

Senegal

Laos

Indonesia

Japan

My Confusing Brand of Radical Feminism

Full disclosure: I have struggled for a long time with being a feminist. I have struggled with what it means, I have struggled with being one because of the negative connotations, I have struggled with what it will mean for me and the women I love in years to come. I’ve passed through various iterations of the word: tomboy – aggressively left-leaning – decidedly anti-traditional female. None of these were flashes in the pan and each phase’s mark has been left on me.

Increasingly I’m noticing a wave of feminism that encourages women to be more like men (one particular article mentioned wanting to see more Lara Croft-esque ass-kicking movie heroines.)

But I don’t want to be a man…

The cool thing about feminism is that women are finally allowed to be proud of being women. No need to feel sorry for us for being “the weaker sex”; that no longer exists, we now know. So why are people still pushing for women to be more like men in order to be successful?

I can wear makeup and appreciate clothes and shoes – as long as the reason I buy those things is that I like them and feel that they reflect my personality and that I am not buying them to “please” my significant other. Not because I think it will make the man in my life happy.

Does that mean that I don’t find it incredibly frustrating and unfair that Hillary Clinton (mother f-ing Secretary of State, ya’ll) gets harangued when she’s not perfectly put together? Of course not. That’s a ridiculously blatant double standard.

But that is sexism. And I do not choose to fight sexism by staging a silent protest sans makeup. I still don’t necessarily seek to fill those traditional roles associated with being a woman (wife, mother, etc) but some women do and that is their decision to make and that is feminism.

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