I know the tourists in New York by their starry-eyed, glassy gazes and slowness through the subway turnstiles.
But how did they know I was a tourist in Mississippi?
I have a few ideas.
When I opened my mouth: At a rehearsal dinner for my cousin Mike's wedding last week, I asked my table if they thought I had an accent -- and asked for a show of hands; everyone looked like robbery victims.
When fire ants attack: The scene: Amanda taking pictures of a magnolia blossom. The action(s): A little snapping from the camera. A little -- very little -- BITING. The result: Several blisters on my toes from prolonged flip-flop exposure to an angry fire ant colony.
When I ate: I don't consider myself a hoity-toity Yankee, but it must have appeared that way when I picked up my fork to eat fried chicken.
However, despite the tourist faux pas, the rhythm of the South is pleasing and easy to love.
The trip was long overdue. I thought visiting with family that I hadn't seen in over ten years would be awkward, but it surprisingly wasn't. We seemed to kind of realize, hey, they aren't so different from the freckle-faced kids I knew back in 1998. We were all just grown up.
And it was apparent that we were.
My cousin Mike, as aforementioned, got married to his high school sweetheart. My cousin Casey lives in Japan and works in the armed forces. Cousin Holly has been married for a year or so now, and is expecting her first child, Trey, who likes to kick her in the evenings. My sister Katie is entering her last year at Seton Hill with teaching aspirations. And then there's me in New York, preparing for journalistic greatness (or her first paycheck).
Each trip I take comes out differently. For some, it is the destination that matters most -- the location. And others, the people are the center of the experience. I have to say that this one was split right down the middle.
(My grandpa woke me every morning as I slept on the couch with the snap of a light switch and sizzling bacon.
The magnolia trees with their white hot blooms in the afternoon sun.
My grandma fixed her hair in French twists with pretty combs.
The deceptively fast Mississippi rushing with mud and branches.
Cypress trees with Spanish moss blowing over the water.
My cousin Holly held a baby jumper.
Casey expertly fiddled with the computer.
Pure solace and quiet on the top of a Native American burial mound.
Mike kissed his bride.
The moths thumping on the porch light as I talked to New York.
Katie sighed when she got into air-conditioned buildings.)
I like trips best when it means that I enjoy the company and the destination. This one definitely ranks high up there on my list.
I just wanted to also thank my grandparents for getting us all together and to my aunt and uncle and cousins and sister for the wonderful time that will surely have to happen sooner than ten years down the road.
More reflection to come...
I watched a sad history happen.
Tennis champion Roger Federer was soundly defeated at the French Open today. (And now you're scratching your head. Why was Amanda watching tennis? I'll get to that.)
I have never seen such a spectacle. One man flying around the court like he's on crack and the other trying to keep up with simply Starbucks on his side.
As widely anticipated, the crack-induced-like performance by Rafael "Rafa" Nadal won the day, and Federer lost another chance to have at least one win in all the major tournaments, which is also known as a "career grand slam."
It was something to see, even for me. I'm not a sports fan in general. I only watch swimming and diving at the Olympics every four years, and ice skating when nothing else is on my television that only gets six channels.
But tennis is turning into a new favorite, and I have a kind of guide. Rich Zwelling, a good friend of mine, has been pointing out the ins and outs of the game, including the screwy scoring that I haven't completely figured out yet.
Tennis isn't bad to watch, actually. It's like a game of Pong that pits a beautiful Spaniard against a metrosexual who speaks four languages fluently. Okay, so it's really not like Pong...except for the ball, net and excitement.
I like that Salon really presents pieces in their original interview context. But, this is sometimes difficult for the reporter. The questions must be very concise and flowing in a kind of television format. This is especially tough for web text journalists at Salon because questions can't take the same detailed route for use in a written piece -- unless you can be interesting, concise and thorough.
It's quite a challenge for the listener, as well. I like that the original interview is posted in its conversational format. However, the listener may stop mid-stream. With this construction, the listener may miss the most important points at the end of the piece that the reporter held off. So why would a reporter hold off the best questions? She holds off because she was waiting on the interviewee to warm up to her. And when that bond has finally been forged, she lays on the hard-hitting questions. It's Journalism 101. (Or, "Practice of Journalism" Seton Hill-style.)
Bags from Victoria's Secret, Macy's and American Eagle are strewn through my living space. One bed is stripped. Only remnants like the reduced-fat mayo in the fridge and some designer tea in the cupboard remain of her.
I'd had only one roommate in my life prior to nine months ago: my sister. And, it was universally acknowledged that we would occasionally bloody each other's nose and/or scream to high heaven in arguments.
But that was fifth grade. Roommate living changes a bit post primary school -- and with a stranger.
And she was. My roommate and I didn't get to fill out any fun questionnaires that pair up similar likes/dislikes and schedules. No. We were literally put together for the university's convenience. Two people who need a room on the waitlist. The exchange went something like this.
NYU: "You pay $100 to get on the waitlist. Wait. No phone calls. NO PHONE CALLS!!!"
Less than a month before school begins....
NYU: "I got a room in Brooklyn."
Me: "What...? I thought NYU only had--"
NYU: "We got it. You want it?"
Me: "But I thought--"
NYU: "Do YOU WANT IT?"
Me: "Okay, sure. YES. I need a room. PLEASE I NEED IT."
I got it. I moved in first. I left room for her. We lived together. As Forrest Gump would say, that's all I have to say about that.
However, I would like to say a little on what I learned about myself as a person living with another person in stressful close quarters.
I can be a pushover -- a wimp. I never knew this about myself. I always thought I was an Amazon.
However, living with someone you don't know without a partition and/or door is a tricky business.
You're probably reading between the intentional spaces in this entry. Let them resonate. They are just another lesson learned.