The Five Best Books I Read in 2017

I always start a new year with high hopes of reading ALL THE THINGS. Inevitably, I’ll set myself up for probable failure with Goodreads Reading Challenge, even though I’ve only met my reading goal once in the past five years.

This year, I was smarter. Having started the year bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and full of reading hope, I aimed to read 50 books this year. But, when fall came as I was only in the 20s, I said to myself, fuck failure, and changed the reading goal, knocking it in half, all the way down to 25, a goal I managed to pass in November, thank you very much.[...] READ MORE.

What it is like to float in the Dead Sea

I never mastered the art of swimming. In fact, I can’t swim. That hasn’t stopped me from getting into bodies of water, though. I’ll gladly get in the ocean and I’ll be fine when a wave inevitably smashes into me and flips me upside down in the surf, giving my sinus cavity a nice saline rinse in the process. I’ll get in lakes and rivers and pools, too. I’m not water-adverse, I just can’t swim.[...] READ MORE.

Chasing Ghosts at Fort Union National Monument

When the park ranger at Fort Union National Monument asked me what I thought about the site, I told him it was creepy. He said that was an unusual response, one he didn’t get regularly, but that I was the second person that day to call the place creepy. I tried to qualify the statement. I told him creepy wasn’t exactly the right word. The place felt eerie, maybe, sort of ghostly and maybe even haunted.[...] READ MORE.

Running Richmond’s Turkey Trot 10K

Richmond’s Turkey Trot 10K is one of my most favorite Richmond races. This year, I ran it for the fourth time in five years, missing it last year only because I was in Texas. I ran Houston’s Turkey Trot 10K instead,  which was fine, but mostly it just made me miss Richmond’s trot.

Recently, turkey trots became America’s most popular race, with almost one million runners participating in more than 1,000 turkey trots nationwide. It’s a tradition that apparently dates back to 1896. Maybe that’s the thing that makes it so popular, the whole tradition thing. That, and it’s always nice to knock out some fitness before spending an entire day eating and drinking.[...] READ MORE.

My Grandmother, My Grief & Me

My grandmother died a year ago today but there are still six voicemails from her on my phone, some from as far back as 2014. I haven’t listened to any of them, can’t listen to them, not now, but I can’t delete them either. She’d call and I’d be busy – at work, at play, at the gym – and I’d leave the message unheard on my phone as a reminder to call her back, to answer for sure the next time she called. And mostly I did, except for when I didn’t.[...] READ MORE.

Exploring History at Petroglyph National Monument

In going to New Mexico, I wanted to experience two things: National Parks and really good food. So, upon my arrival in New Mexico, I went straight for the tacos, at Kelly’s Brew Pub, where I met a bartender who shared my name. I took meeting her as a good omen since she was only the second Terra I’d ever met and then I scampered to Petroglyph National Monument, to get my first taste of New Mexico’s national park scene.[...] READ MORE.

My Honey Badger Adulthood

Growing up, I didn’t know what adulthood would be like. I assumed it would have something to do with doing whatever the fuck I felt like doing, like eating cake for breakfast or staying up all night reading a book or watching a movie. LIFE ON MY TERMS, DAMMIT, that’s about all I knew about adulthood.[...] READ MORE.

Getting to Know Me, Introvert Feels & Recharging

I’m an introvert. Sometimes people don’t believe me when I tell them that. But it’s true. I am.

I can do the whole social thing. I can be peppy and friendly and outgoing and all that happy horseshit, but in my little heart of hearts, I am 100% introvert.

This is a thing I’ve known about myself for a lot of years, but it took me a bunch of them to figure out what being an introvert really means for me. I’ve taken most of the quizzes on the internet, and they’ve all declared my introversion without hesitation. They’ve told me I’ll always pick a night in to a night on the town, that I dislike crowds and how I need time to recharge after prolonged social contact. And sure, that’s all true. Crowds make me nervous and angry, days of socialization leave me mentally and physically exhausted and I’ll almost always pick a night around my dining table with some lady friends to a wild night out.[...] READ MORE.

Howling, Yipping & Road Dancing at Valles Caldera

I danced in the middle of the road at Valles Caldera National Preserve. And when I say, “I danced,” I mean I fucking danced. 

I don’t even know why I did it, not really, just that I needed to do it.

Maybe I was overtaken by the beauty of the place, by the trees and the air and the grass and the streams and the brilliant blue birds that kept jetting in front of my bright red Ford Focus and especially by the perfect loneliness of that road. I’d passed one car by that point, about two hours prior, and had spent the morning bumping over and around potholes in complete solitude. Maybe I didn’t want to leave without expressing how happy I was to be there. Maybe I just needed a middle of the road dance-a-thon to express to nature, the world and myself the incredible joy those battered roads and that beautiful place gave me.[...] READ MORE.

Learning New Mexico at Pecos National Historical Park

One of the things that attracted me to New Mexico, aside from the sunsets, the National Parks, the mountains, the food and a Buzzfeed quiz, was the opportunity to learn more about the history of the southwestern part of the United States. I can rattle off all sorts of history about Virginia. I can still name the original 13 colonies, know all about the native inhabitants of my home state and the states that surround it and can give a pretty solid account of the colonization of the entire eastern side of the United States. When it comes to the rest of the country though, I don’t know much, or at least not much detail.[...] READ MORE.

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