Purr Bug

Visiting animal shelters can be dangerous.

I’m not measuring danger in accidental flea infestations or bitten fingers, since in my experience, the critters at my local shelters have always been clean, laid-back, and polite. No, I’m talking about the danger of falling in love there — the kind of love that leaves you imagining your new friend curled up on the sunny bed in your apartment, or sprawling warmly on your lap during a lazy Sunday of reading.

It’s happened to me before, when as an eleven-year-old I refused to leave one without the scrawny calico kitten mewing plaintively in my arms. So when I decided last weekend to go to a nearby shelter “just to look,” I probably knew what I was getting myself into.

purr bug

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For the Sake of the Song

After a long day at the office, I love coming home to find little red Netflix envelopes waiting in my mailbox. Tearing open one of those perfectly-engineered packages is like opening a present, and feels all the more gift-like given what interesting surprise is waiting inside. In the past month, my queue has delivered me a historical drama about Genghis Khan, a forgotten Molly Ringwald tearjerker, a documentary on a rock ‘n’ roll choir made up entirely of senior citizens, and The Sting (featuring the very dashing Robert Redford).

If I can contain my excitement for five minutes before rushing to the television, DVD in hand, it’s the perfect opportunity to drag out a big covered pot and make popcorn the old-fashioned way. I simply heat up a splash of oil, throw in the kernels, and place the lid on tightly (it becomes clear why this is important in, oh, about a minute, when kernels start whizzing around like bullets in the Dutch oven). Even if I only manage to season the stovetop popcorn with a shower of salt, my tastebuds still sing—a reaction that no microwave popcorn could ever produce. And then it’s really showtime.

popcorn kernels

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My Shenandoah, I Long to Meet You

Another weekend, another walk in the woods.

My recent outdoor adventures may suggest that I have a one-track mind, but it’s not completely my fault: this hiking thing is truly addictive. That’s something I never thought I’d say, given all the family vacations during which my little brother and I grumbled through our forced marches through the wilderness. But now that my rear end is firmly planted in a swivel chair for forty hours a week, I all but catapult myself out of the suburbs once Friday rolls around. And there’s no better way to sever yourself from the daily grind than to clamber up a mountain, frolic your way down, fill your lungs with crisp air and watch fog tumble into the Shenandoah Valley.

cloud cover

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Easy as Pie

If there’s one thing I miss about college life, it’s the proximity to my friends. Yes, sharing 600 square feet with three other girls became grating by senior year—in retrospect, I think we were literally running into each other in our tiny kitchen. No, I don’t miss our upstairs neighbors; christened “The Stompers,” they not only enjoyed jumping (with astounding force) from their bunk beds at 7 a.m., but also played five instruments between them (badly, and loudly).

But nothing beats the commiseration/coffee breaks with friends as you lock yourselves in the library together, or the run-ins with casual acquaintances that you can’t really orchestrate. My college campus did all the social heavy lifting, which is especially important when you’re an introvert like myself. Just by virtue of bumping into characters on the street, I received party invitations, fell into impromptu catch-up sessions, and found company for walks to the farmers market. No effort necessary! Life was good.

hoosier pie

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West Virginia, Mountain Mama

It’s much easier to go adventuring when you have a car.


This probably does not come as surprising news to you, but as a first-time car owner, it’s been a revelation. Since leaving my car-owning parents for college, I’ve been entirely at the will of Washington D.C.’s public transportation system. It’s a fine one, but bone-chilling winds, heavy bags of groceries, and the occasional torrential downpour can throw a wrench into one’s errands or commute.

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