Saturday, December 17, 2011

"To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!"

Happy Holidays 2011! I hope this annual missive finds you healthy, full of joy and full of purpose.

Much in the same way that I am surprised every time I over-order in a restaurant how full I already am two bites into my main course, I am somehow, once again, astonished at how quickly the year has gone by and that it is time for the holidays again.

2011 involved a major relocation for me as I left my beloved NYC. I now reside solidly below the Mason-Dixon line in Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville is a town so small it isn't in SpellCheck. It's the home of UVA so there are tons of college kids everywhere. C-Ville, as the locals abbreviate it, is pretty, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and only minutes from Shenandoah National Park. It's a great place for hiking, biking and running. While I enjoy what the outdoors in Charlottesville has to offer, it has taken some getting used to. Businesses close a lot earlier here (or rather at all) and I learned the hard (hungry?) way that if you have not made it to the restaurant by 9 PM on Sunday, then you are not getting dinner. I am also intimately familiar with the tiny airport which flies direct pretty much only to Atlanta and Charlotte and even there at infrequent intervals.

Southerners are a friendly lot and I have met a ton of nice folks, but it was difficult to say farewell to so many friends after more than a decade in New York. I had a fantastic and wonderfully well attended goodbye send-off where I was presented perhaps the most amazing cake in the history of time:
Thanks Guys! It was delicious. I miss you too.

Professionally, I am still working for Perfect Sense Digital, and my client is still Scripps Networks, parent company for FoodNetwork,, HGTV and HGTV Remodels. I split the year between working in the Scripps Knoxville, TN and Chelsea/Lower Manhattan offices. My work involves assisting the Scripps websites with tracking their online assets, and optimizing those assets as advertising inventory. All the travel is really getting to me, but it was nice to make it back to NYC periodically to ease my homesickness/culture-shock.

This summer, as most of you know (because I hit you up for money), my mom and I held a lemonade stand to raise funds for pediatric cancer near her home in Myersville, Maryland. Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation is a wonderful charity and the lemonade stand was a good time and raised money for a cause that is near to all of our hearts. Thankfully, my niece Lindy's scans remain cancer-free but there are still so many children hoping for a cure. Here's Mom and I and a couple of wonderful kids from her neighborhood who volunteered (were coerced) to help us out:
It's a really easy fund-raiser, they send you everything you need, so you might want to consider it if you are looking for something rewarding to do as a family, class or youth group and you like lemonade.

Mom is doing as well as she can in what has continued to be a hard year for her. Of course, we all still miss Dad terribly. She is keeping the menagerie up and still has two horses, two mini-horses and three golden retrievers. Recently, she sold the house in Myersville, MD and is excited to be moving all the animals to Selma, NC where she will be close enough to Raleigh, NC to attend all my niece's dance performances and birthday celebrations and to drive my sister certifiably
insane. Good luck, Lynn!

I got to see a fair amount of my extended family this year, which was great. I was hosted at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville on the first Saturday in May by my cousins and aunts and uncles. We got dressed up, bet on horses and drank bourbon. It was a great time. I saw most of the Louisville clan again in July when we descended on Oak Island, NC for our annual family reunion beach trip. It is especially fun to see all my little second cousins who are growing up so fast and getting better all the time at hunting for ghost-crabs at night.

I have played a lot less Ultimate here in Charlottesville, because there is not really a women's team here for me to play with, but I did captain a summer league team, and I'm playing winter league and some pick-up. This summer, I also got the opportunity to play in the Women's Masters National Championship (30+) in Ohio with a team called Lady O from New York and
reunite with many of my friends from the old Ambush days. It was great to see everyone and play a little disc, even if we are all out of shape and Ultimate for the Elderly looks about as good as it sounds. No holiday letter from me would be complete without a soccer-style photo of me at a tournament with 18 other people you don't know:
I'm on the bottom row, second from the right.

In October I got the opportunity to spend a week in the North Carolina Outer Banks with Dave and a large group of friends from Charlottesville. The off-season beach was not crowded, we stayed in an amazing house on a steal right off the ocean and had perfect weather. It's certainly not breaking news to say that OBX is awesome, but let me go ahead and strongly recommend that as a vacation spot if you have it under consideration.

You know I love Halloween and this year I was invited to a costume party and attended as one of my favorite Sesame Street characters:
One fun Halloween costume! Two lavender fingers! Ah Ah Ah!

My big project at this moment is that I am getting ready for a trip to Rwanda. Right after Christmas I am flying to Kigali (through Brussels) to volunteer at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village. I'll be there working with high-school aged orphans on their conversational English, to help them prepare to catch-up to a standard high-school curriculum and in the hopes of attending universities and being the future leaders of Rwanda. It has been 18 years since that nation was rocked by ethnic genocide, but continued instability, crippling poverty and limited international response has meant that youth continue to be at a very high risk to become orphaned. I'm excited to be returning to Africa and thrilled at the opportunity to give something back and make a meaningful contribution. I've had every conceivable vaccination and I am so inspired to meet the kids and volunteers at the village who have encountered so much. It is a pretty amazing story if you have time to check it out. I will let you know how it goes.

I hope you've also have a wonderful year. If not, heads up! You never know when you are going to stumble upon a beautiful day. Here's me and my friend Taliesin after a workout in Brooklyn's Prospect Park on a gorgeous fall day:
Happy New Year!

Stay tuned here on the blog for photos and details of my trip to Rwanda and other updates. I wish you a Happy New Year and the best of luck in 2012. Please, please let me know if you will be swinging through Charlottesville for any conceivable reason.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Novemories & Rwanda

November was busy and went by in no time. (Hence it being Mid-December before I even get to my November write up.)

For Thanksgiving, I went up to my Mom's in Myersville. She is selling that house and packing up for a new home in North Carolina. We spent a lot of the time packing and taking trips to the dump and Goodwill. It was fun to see the nieces (Kate and Lindy) and say goodbye to that house.

The previous weekend I had my first house guests in the south. (It only took me 10 months...) It was great to see the Stouts who swung through C-ville for an evening. We had a fun dinner and mini-pub crawl as well as a trip to my favorite diner for brunch the next day. Jen & Brian continue to be a shining example of people making a difference and doing meaningful work (for the Gates Foundation & US AID). I am hopeful that one of them will need an intern at some point. Check out the view at a nearby apple orchard:
Earlier in the month, I had a chance to get up to NYC for a weekend and went to a fun birthday dinner in Brooklyn:
Happy 30th Erica!

I also got the chance to go for a run on a glorious fall day in Prospect Park:
I miss the park. I haven't found anywhere that beautiful down in Virginia yet.

Thanks to everyone in NYC who swung by the bar in Brooklyn where I watched NFL all day. It was great to catch up with everyone during my 'office hours' and you almost cheered me up from another dismal Eagles loss.

My big news at this point is that after Christmas, I am going on a trip to Rwanda! I am flying in to Kigali and heading to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. I'll be volunteering there to teach English to high-school aged kids in the orphanage. I am looking forward to the trip because I know I'll learn a lot and hopefully improve conversational English for some kids who could be future leaders of Rwanda. The village is an amazing response to the orphans left after the 1994 Genocides. Check out more details on the charity here. I'm honored to volunteer for them.

I've never been to Rwanda, and it takes a fair amount of preparation. I've been getting shots for Yellow Fever, Polio, Hep A, Hep B, Typhoid and the Flu, all of which makes me cranky and sore (more evan than usual.) While I'm there, I'll take anti-malarial pills. I'm taking art supplies to donate to kids who paint in the village as art therapy.

I always enjoy travel, so I'm sure this trip will be interesting but a few points in my preparation manual stand out and make me particularly enthusiastic:

"Non-biodegradable plastic bags have been banned in Rwanda, and any found on you at the airport may be confiscated and replaced with reusable cloth bags for a small fee."

Rwanda is aware of the environmental impact of plastic bags and is taking this strong stand to get in front of the problem. I love it!

The only thing I love more is this programming announcement:
"There is one television station, Television Rwandaise (TVR), which is state-run. It airs English news at 2:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. There’s a chimpanzee show at 10:00 a.m. and an African soccer feature at noon."

My only concern at this point is how to sneak out of teaching every day at 10:00 AM. I'll let you know how that works out.

Coming soon will be the 2011 Holiday letter. To get you in the mood/up to speed here's a refresher of from last year: 2010 Happy Holidays: With a Little Old Driver So Lively and Quick...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Falling down on the job

Sorry, meant to post ages ago. It's a vicious cycle, the longer I wait the more I have to post so the more time I need to write it up so I don't even want to think about it. In order to get over that hump here is a jumbled up update of some of the things that have been going on:
  • Still living in Charlottesville, VA - the fall foliage is gorgeous.
  • Still working crazy nuts and flying every week and getting very sick of that.
  • Conducted a Georgetown University Alumni Interview yesterday. Man, applying to college seems like another lifetime ago. Kids are so hung up on and so stressed by their SATs.
  • Went to Corolla, NC on the Outer Banks for a week and had an amazing time. Perfect weather the first week in October. Great off season rates. Ridiculous house had 9 rooms and baths, a pool, hot tub, pool table, foosball table, poker table and 12 plasma screen TVs. And a hammock.
  • Just learned to play KanJam (at said vacation and like it a lot.)
  • Still going to Cross-Fit. I am still terrible. I am learing to dead lift and over head squat and do chin-ups and squats with a kettle ball and "farmer's carries". If none of that makes any sense, I know. I do. That is normal. It is something of a cult and the espouse eating the paleo diet and work out like maniacs 6 days a week. I am usually the weakest kid in class, but not always. I can't get any worse.
  • Got the new iPhone 4S. Love it. Much faster. RIP Leroy, Long live Clarissa.
  • I was in NYC for Hurricane Irene and it was insane to see all the stores and restaurants and everything in NYC closed. I walked down the Broadway sidewalks in Soho alone. Incredible. Very weird. Very vanilla sky. I strongly recommend the jalapeno tequila cocktail at the Bowery Hotel for assisting with the passage of a hurricane.
  • I went to Dave's sister Catherine's wedding in Roanoke VA over labor day weekend. Big elaborate affair with super fun Indian rehearsal dinner. Congrats to Catherine & Rohit.
  • Played the fall series (again!) this time with Crayon Pony Fish, some girls from UVA. My back is getting pretty bad and I need to retire, but they were nice and it was pretty fun.
  • VA fusion was at an incredible sports complex near Martinsville, VA with lights and bathrooms and concessions and we all felt almost like real athletes. It was a lot of fun.
  • Went to Fayetteville, WV for Bridge Day and incredible White Water Rafting, (but saw neither). The fall foliage out there was incredible too and the campground was pretty nice.
  • My mom is working on selling her house in Myersville, MD and looking to head to North Carolina. Say goodbye to the mountain.
  • Still working in Knoxvegas, NYC, and Reston, VA at no predictable interval.
Hope you are well and having a great fall. I'll try and sync and post some photos once i figure out how to work my iCloud.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky

I totally gave up on Austerity August (Augusterity). Maybe next year. Sorry.
I joined the Cross-Fit gym in town (total cult).
Green made it to the summer league finals.
I saw Neko Case and she was amazing as ever. She has new tattoos.
We threw a birthday party for Dave and I made him this cake and it fell apart. Catistrophically.
I felt the earthquake in Knoxville.

That is all.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ultimate for the Elderly

Hey. The summer is going by quickly. I just got back from Lebanon, Ohio where USA Ultimate was holding the Grand Masters Open and Women's Masters tournaments. I played with Lady O, mostly from NY, and we finish 11th, but we came in seeded 12th, so lets call it a victory. I got the chance to see a lot of my girls from the Ambush days, and we had a good time. I'm on the bottom row above, second from the right.

Watching the Open Grand Master's final was pretty incredible. Those guys over 40 can still play. Congrats to Arnie for winning it all with Scrapple from PA.

Next weekend I'm off to Oak Island to see the whole extended family at the beach. I can't wait.

Also, despite all of my natural suspicions, I've joined Google+. Go ahead and look for me there if you're the type of person who likes to put people in circles.

Also get ready to Watch the Throne.
Welcome to the future. I can post from my iPhone.
This is a test post from my phone! Hello!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Delinquent Blogger

Hi. Sorry I have been so delinquent. Happy hot summer. May was a blur.

Things have been pretty busy. I have been spending a lot of time in the Charlotte and Atlanta airports. I am so over business travel. Calgon take me away!

In early May, I went to the Kentucky Derby with my Cousins and Aunts & Uncles. It was a lot of fun. I did not foresee the winner, Animal Kingdom, but I did win on a couple of earlier races so I came away ahead for the day.

Last weekend my Mom & I had a lemonade stand for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.
It went pretty well and I am glad to be able to give something to a good cause. It's not too late to pledge us if you're interested in supporting pediatric cancer research:

I had a great birthday out on the Del-Mar-Va peninsula with Dave. We went to the beach. Except for the mosquitoes, it was a great time. I can confirm that I am still terrible at Putt-Putt.

I have been watching a lot of the NBA playoffs, and I am glad the Heat did not prevail. Someone get a Binky for baby Bron Bron. I doubted Dallas from the Portland series and I was surprised when they won it all. I am not sure what I will do for sports now. Baseball is so baseball and NFL continues to have labor hesitation. Luckily, Wimbledon starts soon.

Friz-wise I am the captain of a summer league team (Go Green!) in Charlottesville and I am trying to get in shape for the Masters National Championship (Ultimate for the Elderly) in Ohio in July. Look out.

I'm looking forward to a beach trip in July to Oak Island, and Neko Case is coming to town, so things are looking up. Have a great summer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring a Leak

Hi. Happy April.

My trip to Vegas for the first weekend of March Madness was fine. Georgetown lost in the first round again, but at least VCU, who beat them, went on to the Final 4 and proved they had some game. Improbably, I won my bracket pool, mostly thanks to Kemba Walker, as UCON was the only Final Four team I selected correctly.

There was some late snow here in Charlottesville, that caused snow to fall on the trees blooming outside our apartment. (photos pending) .

Again this year, for April Fools weekend I joined the ladies of Flash Taco at the Fools Fest Ultimate Tournament in Fredericksburg, VA. Much fun was had. This year was quite a reunion and I got to play with a number of people I hadn't seen in ages, some of whom were new moms that brought the babies. We also had a bachelorette weekend to celebrate, so antics were at max capacity. Dave came to watch for a day and see what all the insanity was about. I had a lot of fun.
Me & Dave.

Me (in the Taco) running down to get on D.

Jen, baby Bella and the Taco

This weekend we are headed to Charlotte to see a junior girls soccer tournament. Go Lucy! Coming soon is Derby in Louisville. Hope your spring is going well.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Your Humble Courtnespondent, Reporting On Location...

Howdy. Against all odds, I am still surviving south of the Mason-Dixon line. Apparently one can breathe down here. I have some cred, since I was actually born in North Carolina, but after 11 years in NYC that hardly counts.

Charlottesville is fine. There are plenty of restaurants and bars, so I'm fed, and watered. I've been cooking a bit more than I used to, since we have a big kitchen. I'm luxuriating in doing laundry at any hour of the day in my own home. I thought I would be really excited about the microwave too, but I haven't used that yet.

Here's how Dave is doing, after living with me for almost two months. I'm looking into a prescription for Levatol for him:
And maybe some Paxil.

We're at a tourist trap on VA-I64 between Charlottesville and where Dave's parents live called the Natural Bridge. It's a tall gap carved into the limestone by a stream. It's actually really pretty:

Dave took me to Blacksburg, VA to see College Game Day when Duke was ranked #1 and came to VaTech. It was a crazy time. The kids jumped around and screamed the whole game. It was hard fought and a close game all night and the 'Hokies*' pulled out an upset victory. (*As far as I can tell, Hokie is a hillbilly term for turkey.) Here's us at the game:
The whole stadium was shaking. After the final seconds ticked off the clock, the kids stormed the court. They danced and cheered for ages:
The Turkeys went on to lose their next two games, but beating Duke was an ACC conference grudge match, so they were happy. They'll likely get their first bid to the NCAA tournament in years, largely due to the expansion from 64 to 68 teams.

Speaking of the tournament, I am all jazzed about the Madness of March. Look out for the Big BEast!! This year's tourney at MSG was great. Kemba Walker could be this year's Carmello Anthony so be aware. Of course, I was disapointed in the Hoyas showing, but they may be a bit better in the NCAAs when Chris Wright comes back. Then again, I am still smarting from the round one-and-done exit last year, so I won't count any chickens...

Once again, I'll be watching the first weekend of the tourney in Las Vegas, so I can bet on all the games. I'll let you know how that goes.

After that, it's not too long until Fools and the Derby. Get amped.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Don't Look Back Like Dylan in the Movies

So, I had an amazing going away party at Blue and Gold. There was strong representation from many friends old and new and many, many PBRs were consumed. Thanks to everyone who made it by. I'll miss you! Let me know when you are coming to Charlottesville!

At the going away I was presented with a pretty Fing awesome cake. Yep, that's me. And me again wearing a taco costume at Fools (which has been tucked into a spirit award in the form of tie-died tighty-whities) and me again in Copenhagen in 2006 with Ambush. I've had some really amazing times with my ultimate ladies in NYC and I will miss them so much.

Here's me and the amazing cake:
And me and Erica and Tucker (and some of Ali):

And me and Ali, Georgia, Erica and Tucker:
Me and 55:

And me with Taliesin, Erica, Ali, Georgia and Tucker:
Thanks Guys. I had a blast!

That was Thursday.

Friday, I packed all day, (with a hangover, thank you shot buyers) and Dave took the train in around midnight. Saturday, we rented a U-Haul and drove to Charlottesville. The drive went pretty well. (Thanks to Dave for doing all the driving.) Sunday, we had movers help us with all Dave's stuff from his other apartment and also unload the Uhaul. Worth every penny! Then there was much unpacking and picture hanging. I like the place a lot. Here's two views of the living room from opposite angles:

We get a lot of light and there is a nice spacious kitchen. We have a spare bedroom so be sure to let me know when you are coming to town.

So far, I have been traveling for work to Knoxville, Reston and New York. When I'm home I've been getting settled in. Since most of the boxes are gone, I've really been enjoying Charlottesville. I've been running. I took the bus to give blood. I ran a track workout (8 200s) and today I crashed the winter league and played a game. It was a nice bike ride to and from. I've been cooking a little more (I made some pretty good chili.) So far, so good. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Hey there. I hope your 2011 is going great so far. I had a nice Christmas at my sister's house in Raleigh, NC. Due to the blizzard in NYC, I changed my travel plans and got to see Dave for his Grandmother's Christmas in Virginia. We took the train up to have New Year's Eve together at my place, where a game night was held. (Apples to Apples, Wii Boxing, Celebrities.)

I have very limited recollection, but apparently I had a great time:

(Thanks to Jesse for my awesome new jacket for Christmas.)

This weekend I am excited about the NFL wildcard games. My pics are Saints, Ravens, Colts and sadly, the Packers. Go Eagles! Prove me wrong!

Things are very busy. I just got back from working in Knoxville, TN and next week I am off to Reston, VA. Next Thursday I fly to Louisville, KY for my Grandmother's funeral. After that I'll be back in NYC for packing and a final send off. What?!?!? Oh yeah:

I'm moving to Charlottesville, VA. I'm moving there on January 22. Sorry, if you were planning on visiting me in NYC, you will just have to visit someone else. Charlottesville is the home of UVA and nice fall foliage. I'm sad to be leaving NYC, but it had been 10 years, and NYC isn't going anywhere. I may be back.

Come and see me in Charlottesville after I get settled. It's a nice little town.

Courtneyspondence will take a turn again. What was once a travelogue for my adventures in Melbourne will now be an ethnography on life in the small town south and a withdrawal journal on going cold turkey on the convenience of NYC. As always, please stay tuned.