Friday, April 05, 2013

What I Loved in March

(About 5 days late, but c'est la vie.)

1. Two of my favorite things combined stand at the top of this list: Davidson basketball and Asheville, NC. The Southern Conference basketball tournament has made Asheville its home for the last 2 years, and it has been glorious - and not just because Davidson won a lot. (Okay, that helps, and lets us stay longer too!) The U.S. Cellular Center, where the games are held, is smack in the middle of downtown, which means restaurants, bars, eclectic shops and of course, the marvelous independent bookstore Malaprop's. I've started considering this tourney weekend to be my annual pilgrimage there (though of course I'd love it to occur more often), and didn't hesitate to pile 6+ books in front of the cashier. Her eyes widened, and after she swiped my credit card, she gave me a free drink coupon for the coffee bar and showed me where they stash the free books. Not too shabby.

The fact that I can enjoy books and basketball within a block of each other is only part of the magic of tournament weekend. There's the energy in the air, the flocks of people wearing bright school sweatshirts on the streets, and the best part seems to be that you know nearly every other face. (I also glimpsed the Appalachian State mountaineer mascot bobbing down Haywood Street, big bearded bug eyes towering above the rest - how did the brave soul inside not tumble over?) 

Sometimes it sucks to be in a one-bid conference, but as several folks have pointed out, it makes the tournament way more intense. Every second of every game matters. From the Davidson men's enjoyable pummeling of Georgia Southern on Saturday to their narrow (and at times terrifying) escape from App State on Sunday, to the thank-god-it's-not-double-OT-like-last-year championship win on Monday night, we were in deep, emotionally invested, proud and jubilant. And the women's amazing performance in the championship game, albeit a heartbreaker, lifted me up in so many ways. It's just cool to be able to come together as a family, folks from all around, and recognize that this matters.

And, like I said, it's Asheville. Discovering new restaurants, visiting with family who live nearby and drove up, strolling the streets - what a fantastic weekend.

(And this was also the weekend I discovered Parks and Rec! Yes, I know I'm super late to the Leslie Knope party, but WOW.)  

2. Novels! I had been on too much of a nonfiction kick - I love it, it's what I write, but it started to drag me down. I needed some realistic escapism. So I discovered two wonderful novels, both coincidentally about middle-aged British men jumping into new adventures. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonsen are both great reads with wonderful characters that I'll carry with me into my personal beloved literary canon. Plus, both books are set in England, where I took my first trip out of the country as a teenager, where I studied in college, where I can imagine the local idiosyncrasies. Read them both!  

3. These delicious trail mix balls that I discovered at a much-needed morning of yoga and rejuvenation (thanks, Jen and Rosie!) Seriously, they are soooo good. I used dried cranberries and white chocolate chips and they came out great. I'm thinking of trying them in bar form next.

Night blooming cerei - is that the plural version?
4. Signs of spring in a March that came in like a lion, had a couple of lamb-ish days here and there, but mainly stuck with its rough, rainy, cold growl. So I was thankful for some lovely walks in the park, windows-down driving, longer days (YES MORE SUNLIGHT) and watching the two night blooming cereus plants in my windowsill grow at an astounding rate. I'm the girl whose potted rosemary shriveled and died, and when I got back from vacation last summer, the parsley on my front porch had been demolished and eaten by something. (Sorry, Mom.) So this is a success. I can't wait til they bloom! 

Fantastic Weathers Creek ladies

5. I got a massage! Always a yay! event. It has made me think more about my posture, my digestion, my yoga routine (or lack thereof)... And wellness in general. Hopefully I can keep up the practices I'm trying out. Not gonna lie, it would be great to not feel so tense and knotted all the time. 

6. An amazing writing workshop at the Farm at Weathers Creek in Shinnville, NC. If you're anywhere nearby and you like to write, check them out. My friend Rosie led a fun and inspiring morning about writing your life, which I kind of like to do. And the scenery was just gorgeous. The open farmhouse, big glass windows with lots of light looking out on empty green fields, the fireplace crackling, comfy chairs and sofas, cup after cup of tea... And a delicious lunch with locally-grown fare. (Y'all know I love to eat, and I was not disappointed here.) I could live there, or at least make it one of my muse-strong places. Thanks, Susan and Ann and all who organized it! Can't wait to get back. 

Birthday love!
7. As I write these monthly recaps, I realize more and more that I get to somehow reunite with family and friends every single month. How lucky! It's always so cool to invite loved ones into another part of your life and combine those two happy places for awhile. This month, I got to see some wonderful folks from the church in Virginia where I interned during college. They were at a conference that happened to be going on right next door to my office. So wonderful to see familiar faces and get hugs and encouragement. Two days later, I met one of my wonderful honorary moms (when you grow up in a church like mine, or maybe most churches, you collect several) for dinner when she was here on a business trip. And a bunch of us got to celebrate my friend Jessie's birthday later in the month!

8. A lecture by On Being radio host Krista Tippett at Queens University. The rain pounded on the roof of the auditorium, but Tippett's voice still held sway over the audience. She is such a needed presence in the world, marveling at both spirituality and science, combining the two, interviewing folks with such interesting world views and vocations and inviting us in to listen and continue the discussion. As someone who has never felt the disconnect between faith and science - in fact thinking that they complement each other in a moving, mysterious way - I felt so refreshed by her words, and her idea that this arena fraught with fear and frustration should not be a divide, but a conversation.

9. Cozy evenings cooking and eating: more calming than I ever thought they could be. Of course, eating takeouts and junk food when you are depressed by March Madness sadness is calming in its own way. (Notice what is not on my list of what I loved in March. Well, I loved 39 minutes of it. Sigh. Love you, Cats.) 

Good Friday Atlanta sunset
10. An Easter weekend at home with family and friends. For the past seven years, I have spent Good Friday driving from North Carolina to Georgia. And as usual, it was so nice to get home and be able to relax, go to my favorite restaurants, see familiar faces, look at childhood photos, spend time at my home church, sing the Hallelujah Chorus, hug my dogs, and sleep in. (Two highlights: If you're ever in Decatur, Cafe Lily is a great restaurant. And Pitch Perfect? Hilarious movie.)

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