Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in Books

I'm a bookworm. That's the way it is. Like Thomas Jefferson, "I cannot live without books." This year I read 79 books, not quite up to my goal of eighty, but almost. 
38 fiction and 41 nonfiction.
Page count: 23,438 (11,784 pages of fiction, 11,654 pages of nonfiction)

The oldest book I read (by a long shot): The Art of War by Sun-Tzu, written around 600 BC
The longest book I read was: Dune by Frank Herbert, with 794 pages
Best first line: "Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable." -The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (Robert Louis Stevenson)
My favorite dedication: "To Dinah, Because she asked for another book." -Linda Sue Park in A Single Shard

Only books I read for the first time this year were considered for the top ten. Otherwise we'd see Harry Potter up there every year.

Top Ten Books of 2015
1. Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, & the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr-- Some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read. READ THIS BOOK.
2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn-- When a major plot point was revealed, I gasped out loud. That never happens. This book is thrilling.
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett-- People have been telling me about this book for years, and it was as good as they said.
4. The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays & Stories by Marina Keegan -- Marina was 22 when this was published, and she does a lovely summary of the "happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time" feelings that entails.
5. George Eliot in Love by Brenda Maddox -- The best biography I read all year.
6. Without You, There Is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim
7. Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara
8. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
9. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Resistance, Resilience, & Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
10. We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, A True Story by Josh Sundquist-- One of the only dating books I've ever really related to.

Honorable mentions
Fiction: To the Lighthouse -- Virginia Woolf
Nonfiction: A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler  (Jason Roberts) & Dr M├╝tter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue & Innovcation ta the Dawn of Modern Medicine (Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz)

And now, a list of all the books I read this year: (Recommendations are bolded, rereads  are marked with ***)

Non-fiction, alphabetical by author
  • The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher-- Debby Applegate
  • Dr M├╝tter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue & Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine-- Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
  • Scorched Earth: How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America-- Rocky Barker
  • Shakespeare: The World as a Stage-- Bill Bryson
  • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: A Story About a Mother, Two Daughters, & Two Dogs-- Amy Chua
  • Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding & Losing Myself in Books-- Maureen Corrigan
  • You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)-- Felicia Day
  • Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, & the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World -- Anthony Doerr
  • I, Justine: An Analog Memoir-- Justin Ezarik
  • Insurrections of the Mind: 100 Years of Politics & Culture in America-- Edited by Franklin Foer
  • The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America's Coldest Cases-- Deborah Halber
  • Myself & the Other Fellow: A Life of Robert Louis Stevenson -- Claire Harmon
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, & Redemption-- Laura Hillenbrand
  • Poe-- James Hutchisson
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) -- Mindy Kaling
  • The Disappearing Spoon: & Other True Tales of Madness, Love, & the History of the World From the Periodic Table of the Elements-- Sam Kean
  • The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays & Stories -- Marina Keegan
  • Without You, There Is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea's Elite-- Suki Kim
  • Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of PL Travers-- Valerie Lawson
  • The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness (And We Were Too Distracted By Her Beauty to Notice)-- MG Lord
  • George Eliot in Love-- Brenda Maddox
  • Divine Fury: A History of Genius-- Darin McMahon
  • American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House-- Jon Meacham
  • The Real Thing: Lessons on Life & Love From a Wedding Reporter's Notebook-- Ellen McCarthy
  • The Bicycle Runner: A Memoir of Love, Loyalty, & the Italian Resistance-- G Franco Romagnoli
  • A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler-- Jason Roberts
  • The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Public Coups -- Ron Rosenbaum
  • The Sound of Music Story: How a Beguiling Young Novice, a Handsome Austrian Captain, & Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time-- Tom Santopietro
  • Coming of Age on Zoloft: How Antidepressants Cheered Us Up, Let us Down, & Changed Who We Are-- Katherine Sharpe
  • The Immortal Game: A History of Chess- David Shenk
  • The Secret Lives of Sports Fans: The Science of Sports Obsession-- Eric Simons
  • The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT-- Debbie Stier
  • We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story-- Josh Sundquist
  • The Art of War-- Sun-Tzu
  • A Three Dog Life: A Memoir-- Abigail Thomas
  • Frank Sinatra-- John Frayn Turner
  • Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping & Sexualizing of Girlhood -- Melissa Atkins Wardy
  • Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution-- Caroline Weber
  • The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour & the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of the Women in TV News-- Sheila Weller
  • Martin Van Buren-- Ted Widmer
  • The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11-- Lawrence Wright

Fiction, alphabetical by author
  • Watership Down-- Richard Adams
  • The Frogs-- Aristophanes 
  • Mansfield Park-- Jane Austen
  • The Naturals-- Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • ***A Christmas Carol-- Charles Dickens
  • The 42nd Parallel-- John Dos Passos
  • 1919-- John Dos Passos
  • Middlemarch-- George Eliot
  • Gone Girl-- Gillian Flynn
  • Looking For Alaska-- John Green
  • Paper Towns-- John Green
  • Dune-- Frank Herbert
  • The American-- Henry James
  • 'Salem's Lot-- Stephen King
  • ***The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks-- E Lockhart
  • Alice in tumblr-Land (And Other Fairy Tales For a New Generation) -- Tim Manley
  • Daughter of the Forest-- Juliet Marillier
  • Life of Pi-- Yann Martel
  • The Magical Fellowship-- Tom McGowen
  • Appointment in Samarra-- John O'Hara
  • ***A Single Shard-- Linda Sue Park
  • Silver Linings Playbook-- Matthew Quick
  • The Last Lesson-- Joseph Ramirez
  • ***Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets-- JK Rowling
  • ***Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban-- JK Rowling
  • Franny & Zooey-- JD Salinger
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret-- Brian Selznick
  • Othello-- William Shakespeare
  • Rumors-- Neil Simon
  • ***Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie-- Jordan Sonnelblick
  • Zen & the Art of Faking It-- Jordan Sonnelblick
  • The Help-- Kathryn Stockett
  • Candide-- Voltaire
  • The Age of Innocence-- Edith Wharton
  • The Importance of Being Earnest-- Oscar Wilde
  • Carry On, Jeeves-- PG Wodehouse
  • Uneasy Money-- PG Wodehouse
  • To the Lighthouse-- Virginia Woolf

Monday, December 28, 2015

Rebecca Looks Back at 2015

“And so this is Christmas/ And what have you done?/ Another year over/ Another just begun….”

A few years ago I read American Emperor, a biography of Aaron Burr. This was well after I knew that I didn’t like Alexander Hamilton but well before I knew that the musical Hamilton was going to consume my life. From that book:

“Now, how much wiser or better are we than this time last year? Have our enjoyments for that period been worth the trouble of living?” -Aaron Burr

I think of this quote at the end of every year. Have my enjoyments been worth the trouble of living this year? Last year’s end of the year wrap up contained this phrase: “I didn’t so much fall this year as saunter vaguely downwards.” Well, this year I feel I can answer Aaron with a resounding, “Yes.” It was not a “good” year, but it was an important year.

What have I done this year? Well, let’s start with some statistics.
5 shows—The Importance of Being Earnest, Mary Poppins, When I Grow Up (revue), Rumors, and The Drowsy Chaperone  
94 castmates
78 books read (and I anticipate finishing two more by year's end)
10 states visited (although Washington DC isn’t actually a state)
10 roommates (and three unofficial ones)
4 dating site accounts
3 times seeing Inside Out in theatres
2 Comic Cons (6 celebrities met)
And a partridge in a pear tree.......

Some other favorite things this year:
Movie: Inside Out and The Force Awakens were very different movies, and I’m in love with both of them.
Music: I discovered Passenger; All the Little Lights may be the most perfect album I’ve ever heard. Fall Out Boy’s American Beauty/American Psycho album helped me survive the summer, though.
Single: Although Adele’s “Hello” is the obvious choice, I never get tired of making “Uptown Funk” jokes.

But beyond lists, what happened this year? I spent the first five months falling in love, and the next five trying to get over a devastating breakup. Don’t fall in love, kids. Fall off a bridge, it hurts less. But here’s the thing: I spent those first five months telling myself not to screw it up, because a breakup would break me. Lo and behold, I’m still here. Fight me.

Friends, I know I’ve talked about my breakup a lot this year. I’m sorry. All I can say is it was the most painful motivation to grow I’ve ever had. But I did grow. This summer I could feel myself becoming a better person. My mom always says, “There’s no growth in a comfort zone and there’s no comfort in a growth zone.” Dating is now less intimidating. I mean, I already met the man of my dreams, and he went from asking me my ring size to ripping my heart out over the phone and shredding it. What are you going to do to me? Haha. (Sometimes my paragraphs have the intention of optimism and end up careening into black humor. It’s chill.)

Anyway, after the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad break up, I was buoyed up by the strong female friendships in my life. Sometimes I take those for granted, but I hope not to make that mistake often. The ladies in my life always keep me smiling.
Another group that makes it easy to smile is my theatre community. The Importance of Being Earnest let me play my favorite ever role, Cecily Cardew. Wearing a pretty dress (and corset) while brandishing both a diary and the wordplay of Oscar Wilde is what I want to do every day. That cast gave me life (and an excuse to use my beloved British accent). I still want to talk about it forever. 

Mary Poppins was a massive production; I haven’t been in a cast that large for years. Huddling under blankets in our outdoor backstage area, checking my phone for texts from the outside world, and praying that I’d remember the reprisal dance of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” became the norm. We sold out several nights, and I acquired five theatre wives. 

When I Grow Up was a life saver for me, as the invitation to join came directly after my breakup. I needed to be out of the house working on something, and a revue fit the bill. Rumors was my other non-musical show this year, which was going on at the same time as the revue. It’s a Neil Simon farce with a cast of ten, and we put the whole thing together in ten days. Our last rehearsal ran till midnight in a rehearsal space that wasn’t where we were performing. Laughter and panic abounded—less than two weeks ago we’d done our first read through. Playing Chris was such a blast. Smoking a fake cigarette stressed me out more than it should; I just couldn't make it look natural! But these ten days were some of my favorites of the summer.

The Drowsy Chaperone finished up my year, performance wise, and with my decision to start school again means that I won’t be onstage for a long, long time. L L L It was a fantastic note to go out on, though. What a cast! I loved singing, dancing, and telling groaner jokes with these people three times a week. I explored my gangster side for Olga Moloscovitz and her “Toledo Surprise,” as well as dressing as a monkey and a 1920s stereotype of the Chinese culture. I joined the Prime Numbers gang and introduced a new cast to my obsessive pacing. It was a good time, is what I’m saying. 

This year was huge for me in terms of spiritual growth. I feel like I’ve talked extensively about that too; it’s been at the forefront of my mind. Last January I wasn’t attending church regularly, wasn’t sure that I was going to stick around, and felt weighed down by the guilt of my life. The week of my breakup, I started reading the Book of Mormon consistently for the first time in way too long. Almost immediately I felt like a different person. It was the most dramatic personal change I have ever felt.

On December 16, I received my endowment in the Washington DC temple, a major milestone in my life. I remember walking through Temple Square one day a few years ago, touching the temple, and promising myself that I would go inside one day. Achieving goals feels good. I am grateful to bishop for talking me through the steps that would lead me to the temple, to my friends for supporting me no matter where I was, and to my family for believing in me. Most of all, I am thankful to Jesus Christ, whose grace is indeed sufficient.

Last year, I feel like my unspoken goal was to get away with as much as possible, and I made some pretty stupid life choices. This year, my heart changed. I still have a long way to go, but I want to be good. I want to live up to my potential. I don’t want to squander my youth.

On that same note, I registered for classes at Salt Lake Community College. I won’t lie to you, I’m scared to go back to school. I’ve always worked hard to educate myself, whether I’m in classes or not, but science is my Achilles heel, and science is what I have to take. Wish me luck. The goal is to meet my science requirements in the next two semesters, and then focus on the fun classes: history.

Speaking of history, this year saw me visiting places I’ve been dreaming of for years. Talk to me about it and I guarantee I’ll start yelling about how much I love history. I stood barefoot on a Civil War battlefield. I’ve seen an original portrait of George Washington that used to be displayed in Mount Vernon. I splashed around in it Atlantic Ocean. Washington DC stole my heart from the first moment, and I honestly want to move there. I have to see more Revolutionary War history. HAVE TO. The small taste that I was given of making it personal, not just words on a page, was intoxicating. Living on the east coast is my new dream. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have a plan to make it happen.

I also made a second trek to Orlando, home of the Wizard World of Harry Potter. I wouldn’t ever live in Florida, but staying for a week is a joy. Hogwarts is home. I already promised to take my two littlest siblings back when they’re tall enough for all the rides.

In terms of books I read this year: The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Without You There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, and Four Seasons in Rome: Twins, Insomnia, and the World’s Largest Funeral were standouts. You may think that one of these is not like the other, and you’d be right. But although Four Season wasn’t as serious, it was fantastic; I highly recommend it. Anthony Doerr’s prose is delicious. (A more in depth post about the books I read this year will be published soon.)

We finally got a new Star Wars movie; I think they rocked it. Rey is my queen and I have a regrettable crush on Kylo Ren. (Please, please, please read all the tweets by @KyloR3N – Emo Kylo Ren gives me life.) 

More Star Wars news: THIS YEAR I MET CARRIE FISHER. PRINCESS LEIA TOUCHED MY FACE. I also met Sean Astin, James and Oliver Phelps, Tom Felton (who I’m in love with), and Felicia Day (ditto). Much fangirling ensued.

Thanks for sharing 2015 with me. I am so thankful for all the friendships and support that I’ve been lucky enough to have this year. I admit that I get an ominous feeling when I think about 2016. This year was such a Personal Growth one, and I get the feeling that next year will continue the pattern. Giving my free time to school instead of theatre is going to be very difficult for me, emotionally. But a new year is also exciting. Who knows what awaits us around the turn of the calendar? The next chapter is starting. Let’s write a good one.

(One more set of Emo Kyle Ren tweets because they are legitimately perfect.)

Monday, December 21, 2015

An East Coast Love Letter


When I planned this trip to Virginia I assumed that I would have a good time. I was excited to see my family. I knew there would be some cool historical sites around. I did not realize that I was going to fall in love with this area of the country to the extent that I don’t want to come back to Utah. 

I will, mean. I will come back to Utah. I keep telling myself that my stuff is in Utah, along with my house, car, and job. I have five star friends in Utah. But, as a place, Utah suddenly seems to have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. (Watch as I still live in Salt Lake in 2023.) Here is a quick-ish rundown on where I’ve been:

Robert E Lee’s grave: Located on the campus of Washington & Lee University. Washington & Lee has, by the way, the most gorgeous campus I’ve ever seen. It has red brick buildings with white columns sitting in front of a grassy common area, and the contrast and classical architecture makes me want to cry.
I want to go to there. The grave is in Lee Chapel.
The tour guide and I were buddies.

Stonewall Jackson’s grave:
Stonewall Jackson’s cemetery is my new favorite place. I went twice in two days. The first time was during an overcast dusk, and the atmosphere was out of control. But even on a sunny December afternoon, this little cemetery owns my heart. The graves are so old. The majority of death dates are pre-1900. Some of the stones are so worn you can’t read the names. I would go there every day to write.

Legit my new favorite place
Manassas Battlefield: This is the site of the first battle of the Civil War. I’ve always been more of a Revolutionary War buff, but this week has given me a new desire to educate myself about this defining conflict of our country. The field looked so tranquil, but five thousand men died there, over the course of two battles. I was barefoot (it was either that or brave the mud in heels), and I felt very connected to the past. That sounds hokey, but it’s true.

Virginia Military Institute Museum: VMI sits directly next to Washington & Lee, but it couldn’t look more different. W&L is charming, VMI is imposing. VMI looks like a barracks, a fortress, or a particularly tough castle. The museum was impressive, but more I'm more of a W&L person.

Blackfriars Playhouse: Staunton, Virginia has the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Theatre. The Globe, his outdoor theatre, is more famous, but Blackfriars was the first indoor theatre in England. He founded it with eight other men, including Richard Burbage and Will Kempe. I LOVED this tour. It was just the tour guide, my sister, and me. The tour guide, Patrick, was sassy and geeked out about theatre as much as I do. Standing on the stage was a great moment. The theatre is much more intimate than I expected; the audience is RIGHT THERE, and not many rows deep. Thinking about Shakespeare always makes me emotional; thank heaven for that man.

The American Shakespeare Center performs in “original staging conditions,” which means no blackouts: actors and audience share the same light. A portion of their season is also under original rehearsal conditions, which means actors are given only their lines and cues to learn, not the whole script, and have no director. Oh, and only 48 hours to rehearse. The quickest rehearsal period I’ve ever had was ten days, and that was a whirlwind. It keeps your reactions true, though, if you’re hearing the full show for the first time when you perform it!

Anyway, I WILL come back and see a show at Blackfriars. I have to.

My little sister's play: MaryAnne was in a Christmas show called Yes, Virginia. It was adorable. She was a newsie and a village child. I was beaming the whole time.

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens: I could’ve seen the same movie in Utah, but would I have seen it in a theatre that didn’t play previews? I doubt it. There was something magical about the transition from a black screen to “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”

Thankfully I didn’t have the film spoiled for me, and I intend to pay it forward. All I’ll say is that I can’t wait to see it again, I applauded at the end, and I pretended my car was a tie fighter on the drive home because STAR WARS. In summary, it was awesome and had the same spirit as the originals.

Southern Virginia University: This is the school my dad is teaching at, and he gave me a tour. It used to be a hotel, until the economy crashed.

 The clock tower chimes Christmas carols every hour. There is an old school ballroom with a giant Christmas tree, and a bathtub in one of the bathrooms. My dad led me down into the basement, which he refers to as the dungeon, and said it reminded him of Hogwarts students going to Potions. I'm so glad I'm part of this family.

Washington DC
Washington DC temple: This temple is breathtaking! Seeing the Christmas lights (it’s basically Temple Square of the east) without having to deal with snow is my aesthetic.

World War II Memorial: I can’t believe it hasn’t even been a hundred years since World War II. Never forget.

Korean War Memorial: There are a statues of men making their way through bushes, which represent a marsh. It was powerful to me.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial: I haven’t read his biography, but there were some top notch quotes. Also, a statue of Eleanor. That’s what I’m about. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Lincoln Memorial: Climbing the steps of this famous landmark was emotional for me. (I tried to block out the fact when filming National Treasure, Nicolas Cage was also on these hallowed steps.) Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is carved on the walls of the monument, and I felt a rush of gratitude towards Lincoln. He wasn’t perfect, but he did his best to keep the Union together.

Washington Monument: I CAN’T DEAL WITH HOW COOL THIS LOOKS. Everywhere I looked—in the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, in the choppy water of the Potomac River, or surveying the skyline—I seemed to end up back here. I am George Washington’s number one fangirl. It didn’t help that Hamilton has consumed my life, and I kept thinking of Eliza’s last song. She sings, “I raised funds in DC for the Washington Monument” and Washington echoes, “She tells my story.” I almost cried looking at the monument and thinking about Eliza, Washington, and HOW MUCH I LOVE THEM. When right up against the monument it seems to extend eternally upward, and that seems right.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial: “The stone cut out of the mountain” symbolism was spot on. Although giant steps have been taken, I couldn’t help but think that we still have a ways to go. But I’m always glad to see Dr King’s life honored.

Jefferson Memorial: My little sister asked, “Are you a Jefferson fan?” as we walked up to his marble palace. No, is the answer. No, and I’ve tried to be. I read four separate biographies trying to become a fan. Didn’t work. I did like one that focused solely on his reading habits. I think he’s a genius. I think he helped get some great stuff going. But I can’t love him. (John Adams and James Madison is where it’s at.) The memorial was beautiful, though. Marble is my weakness. Another Hamilton moment: I stood in front of the statue of Jefferson and sang, “We hold these truths to be self-evident/ That all men are created equal/ And when I meet Thomas Jefferson/ Imma compel him to include women in the sequel/ Work!” Perhaps not the most reverent of tributes, but it happened.

Honestly, I didn’t expect to fall head over heels in love with Washington DC. I've always thought of it as an afterthought to a future New York trip. But walking around the giant loop connecting all these memorials….. I want to live there. I want to have the Washington Monument in my skyline and cross the Potomac on my way to work. Not sure how realistic this dream is, but my heart wants it. There is so much else I want to do in DC! I haven’t been to a single Smithsonian museum yet. Ford’s Theatre has a museum, too. And there’s the National Zoo, and the National Archives. That downtown demands to be explored! We drove past the White House, the Capitol building, and the National Theatre: I want to go to there. And then there's the galaxy of activity that is New York; that's still an experience I insist on having.

My mom told me, “You have to plan another trip here” as I was posing for a picture. “That’s the problem,” I replied. “I don’t want to plan a trip here. I want to plan a life here.”

Again, I have barely scratched the tiniest bit of the surface of what there is to do here. Every historical site I’ve visited sends me into a tizzy of HISTORY FEELS. There's a reason I'ma history major. It’s just—I feel different in the presence of something old. A place where something important happened, someone significant stood has a depth to it. Give me more of this history, and give it to me now. I can't get enough of it. I want to see Mount Vernon, Philadelphia, and Boston. I want to form a personal connection to Yorktown, Jamestown, and Gettysburg. There is so much to learn and so little time.

I've spent a lot of the last week yelling, "IT WAS SO COOL" when I try to describe something. Imagine when I get to go to England. I’m really going to lose my mind over there.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Leaving on a Jet Plane.....

I’m leaving/ On a jet plane/ Don't know when I'll be back again....

Well, I do. I'll be back on Christmas Evening. (Not to be confused with Christmas Eve.) But still. I've done more flying today than I ever have before-- I've been on a plane or in an airport from 6:23 (Mountain time) to now, 5:30 pm (Eastern time). Still a couple hours before I'll reach my final destination.

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays…..even when “home” is a state you’ve never visited before. Virginia, in this instance. Like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes sang, “Home is wherever I’m with you.”

Salt Lake City’s winter has decided to be the gift that keeps on giving, in that it snowed all day yesterday and was still doing so when I left the house at five thirty this morning. Rest assured I talked to my car (Cathy) all the way to the airport, assuring that she could do it, she was a good car, and she didn’t want me dead. Although the freeway was scary I arrived just in time to catch the shuttle. Security was backed-up, but I made it to my gate four minutes before they started boarding. Crushed it.

Nice things about this flight (from Salt Lake to Dallas, Texas): I had the window seat, and the middle seat was empty. This resulted in Business Man and I using the middle seat as a home for my purse and his newspaper. It was pretty great. Unfortunately, our flight took off half an hour late due to needing to de-ice the wings. I knew that my connection was going to be tight, so I booked it out of there once we landed. I’ve always been impressed by Texas airports. Those I have visited are huge and know how to transport people quickly. I took the rail several terminals down, then made a mad dash to the gate.

However, my running was in vain. I watched the gate announcement change from “Flight Boarded/Closed” to “Flight Departed.”  I tried so hard, and got so far, but in the end it didn’t even matter. Haha. Actually, I wasn’t stressed at all. The benefit of having worked in an airport for several years means that it all seems par for the course. I’ve seen so many people miss flights that to pretend that it’s the end of the world is ludicrous. There was no specific reason I needed to land in Virginia at four pm instead of seven. Don’t worry, be happy. C:

I chatted with Nita from American Airlines to see what flight she could get me on. She was friendly and my kind of person. She rebooked me on the next flight from Dallas to Charlotte, North Carolina, which began bordering in ten minutes. I used those few minutes to use the restroom (I CANNOT use the restroom in the sky. It’s like camping. I’ll wait.) and buy a candy bar, as I was starving. I was in the Dallas airport for all of twenty minutes, but again I leave with a positive impression. I’ll never move to Texas, but I will certainly not complain about flying there.

The flight to Charlotte was uneventful. Shout out to the gentleman wearing a cowboy hat in the row behind me who helped me get my stuffed-to-the-brim carryon suitcase into the overhead bin. It was heavy, and my arms are weak. He also got it down at the end of the flight; his good karma levels are out of control.

So now I’m sitting in Charlotte, North Carolina, waiting another hour before flying into Lynchburg, Virginia, at which point I’ll be picked up and go to Buena Vista, where my family has lived since August. I’ve already looked up Brookstone (where I used to work) to see what was new. I was also surprised to see a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (also a former place of employment). I guess even though I spent eighteen months telling people that we had locations across the country I never quite believed that anyone who lived more than a few states from the Rockies had any right to that delicious chocolate. The couple behind me had an argument about whether or not their cousin is still married. One man has been cussing at his phone for about ten minutes (I think his luggage is lost). I’ve watched the sun set over the airfield and listened to the “Do NOT leave your luggage unattended” announcement about a hundred times.

I love seeing cities spread out underneath the plane as we take off or land. I love thinking about how this is someone’s home town. This is someone’s dream city. There are people who know this town as well as they know anything. And I’m a stranger, just dashing in and out. This level of mobility (I can fly across the country in the time it would take me to drive across Utah) makes the world seem a smaller and more connected place. Every time I travel I resolve to keep doing it.

 Stay tuned for more adventures on the east coast!