Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

18 February . . . Day 7

Today felt like summer.  I'm still feeling under the weather, but I couldn't justify staying indoors.  I packed a bag with my camera, keys, and a box of stationary and went for a walk.  I was in a T-shirt in February -- in Pennsylvania!  There were still large sheets of ice all around, left from the snow of just a few weeks ago, but my neighbors were out in short sleeves walking their dogs and chasing their kids.

I wrote a letter to Elizabeth, and took this picture.

a letter to Elizabeth

Later I found dozens of trees that I wanted to photograph.  My roommates and I went out to the Prince Street Cafe for dinner, and we talked about trees.  I miss sitting underneath the big canopy of leaves with Grandmama, bringing her pine cones and fat, red magnolia seeds, pretending that she was the child who needed to be fed. My sister and I would play house under that tree for hours, and Grandmama would talk about how she used to love to climb trees, how Nana was always fussing at her for going up in a tree to read.

I'm so lucky to live here.  Tonight, with a strong wind blowing through my half-opened window, I can smell rain and pretend to be in the mountains.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

17 February 2011 . . . Day 6

I'm feeling run down today.  When I'm sick, I don't usually want to do anything but read and nap, but today I felt like cleaning up a bit.  It wasn't until around 3 this afternoon when I went to take some trash out to the dumpster that I realized what a beautiful day it was.  The sky was so grey that from inside it looked like just another dreary Thursday.  But outside it was wonderful, probably 60 degrees and with just the hint of a breeze.  I ran back inside, changed into a T-shirt and threw open the windows.  
open window in February

I may have been a little overly excited about the rise in temperature.  I did re-pot my tomatoes into the Upsy-Downsy planter, but once the sun had set I started worrying about frost.  I moved the plants back indoors, and now I have tomatoes hanging from my shower rod.  

I am reading three books at the moment, and I'm about to finish the last chapters of two of them.  I broke down and took some cold medicine a little while ago, so I think I will read myself to sleep.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

16 February . . . Day 5

What I Would Say
Last night I opened a package from my family in Kentucky, and inside was this tiny little MP3 player, a Zen.  It's so incredible to be able to think of a song I'd like to hear, and then find it and listen to it seconds later.  I feel so spoiled.

It was near midnight when I started loading some music onto the Zen. I found a file on my computer from my Sophomore year of college, with about eighty songs.  One of them was written and performed by a friend of mine, Paula McGarrell.

In 2005, Paula made a CD for friends and filled it with songs she'd written, prayers, and personalized messages for each of us.  I listened to mine every day.  I remember bouts of insomnia, where I'd lie on the top bunk of my dorm bed, pressing the repeat button on track 14 until finally, after maybe an hour or more, I'd fall asleep.

I haven't seen Paula in years, and it's been six since she first sent me this song.  This evening on my bus ride home I played this song and remembered her.  I took so many pictures of beautiful things today.  This is the one that meant the most.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

15 February . . . Day 4


Saw this bird's nest while waiting for my bus.  What caught my eye was the ribbon of plastic flapping like a kite tail in the wind.  Inside the nest was a single dead leaf, brown and curled and fragile.

I thought about nests today, how they're supposed to be a symbol of spring, but every time I see one, I remember the nest we found at Gigi and Granddad's old house in Lithonia.  The mother birds had flown away during the tornado, leaving their eggs behind, and Gigi passed a blue one over for me to hold.  It was heavier than I'd expected, and cold.  When my baby sister held it, she pressed too hard and popped the shell, and in her hand she held a perfectly formed dead baby bird.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

14 February . . . Day 3

This morning was warm, already in the low forties before nine o'clock.  I spent the sunlight hours inside, at class and then completing a project.  I'd stayed on campus for a meeting that was canceled last minute, and was feeling grumpy with myself for staying indoors.  By five thirty, the wind was strong.  Dark clouds rolled across the sky, looking more like they'd threaten rain than ice, and making me ache for summer.

red berries at dusk
At the bus hub, waiting for my transfer, I worried that I hadn't found a picture for today.  I started walking around the station, crouching low to try to capture the ice melting along the sidewalks.  I framed the broken clock tower, studied the sky and the fading light.  The moon was beautiful, but small in my lens.  I was, in other words, searching to find something beautiful.  

My photography teacher in high school used to say that dawn and dusk are the worst times to take pictures, unless you're aiming at the sun rising or setting.  She was probably right, but this evening when I stopped staring at the clouds and glanced down at the wall that runs along the street, I found my picture.

There was only one tree among the four that was blooming, little red berries set to burst from ashen branches.  I almost missed seeing it.  And tomorrow it will have changed, I know.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

13 February 2011 . . . Day 2

I'm back in Lancaster, now, having been dropped off by my wonderful adopted-family.  My roommates surprised me with a giant Disney Princess helium balloon (I've never had a giant princess balloon before!) and a hanging tomato garden called "Upsy Downsy."  The picture on the box looks impressive, but after twenty-six years of killing my beloved plants, I am trying not to get my hopes up.

Tomatoes, reaching
However: please take a look at this photograph.

I mean, incredible, right?  I go out of town for a couple of nights, and the little seedlings go wild!  I'm so proud of them.  Now, if I can just manage to keep them alive for a few more days until their roots are strong enough to re-pot in the new Upsy Downsy garden.  

We may still have snow and ice on the ground, but it feels like spring in my home.

12 February 2011 ... Day 1

My twenty-sixth birthday.  

When my long-term relationship ended quite suddenly last summer, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.  Several months later, I moved from Lansdale, PA where I'd made my home, and am now living in Lancaster.  On Friday, the day before my birthday, I needed to be in Philadelphia for my CASA kid's court hearing, and my wonderful adopted-family let me spend the weekend with them back in Lansdale.  On the morning of my birthday, I got to hang out with a truly fantastic eleven year-old, and we made Invader Zim action figures out of Sculpey clay and some wire.  I am now the proud owner of one such action figure-- he's glued to a magnet and chilling on the side of my fridge.  Happy birthday to me!
birthday wish

A dear friend took us to a bookstore in Lansdale and told me to choose some books as her present to me.  I chose three: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst/ Ray Cruz; Miss Nelson is Missing, by Harry Allard and James Marshall; and Bastard Out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison.  And then my sweet friend inscribed a message, which I've chosen for my first picture.

I'm not sure she realized how much that little message meant to me.  Earlier that morning, the boy and I had been cracking open fortune cookies left over from his mother's pre-school Chinese New Year party, and although I pretend to not put much stock in fortunes, I admit I was looking among those tiny slips of crumbly paper for a hidden message, any sort of guide for myself.  Instead I found words of encouragement from a friend.  Thank you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why 365

My sister, cousins, and me: on a rock in Georgia (1995)

When I sit back and think about the past twenty six years, I realize that so much of what I can remember arrives in snapshots. 

I have strong memories of jumping on my grandparents' four poster bed, singing into wooden microphones with my cousins and sister. Or walking down the long gravel driveway in the Georgia mountains with my PawPaw, neither of us needing to speak. Or standing on a slope in East Tennessee and imagining that I could feel an electric pulse tingling across my skin as the lightning bugs blinked on, and off. 

But lately there have been too many days when I merely existed, struggling to make it through the hours. I have created this blog in an effort to hold myself accountable, that I might live each and every day, for one year. 

I begin with my twenty sixth birthday.