The Big U of K

You may not have noticed, but I sent my son to college recently. I held it together pretty well, considering how strongly I feel about my kiddo. The outpouring of calls I got was very touching … people checked on me for several days after the move to make sure I wasn’t committing empty-nest seppuku.

The entire experience of sending Kory to the University of Kentucky still seems a little unreal. If there is anything I can remember about my upbringing, it is that UK is the best team, the best school, the gold standard for athleticism and education. This is mostly due to my father’s passion for UK’s basketball team, despite the fact that he attended Bellarmine, and my sisters attended U of L. My brother made it to UK, for a while, but I didn’t appreciate the impact at the time. Sitting in freshman/parent orientation, I appreciated the impact. It was a really amazing experience.

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(Non-Kentucky readers – the rivalry between UK and UL is explosive. Think OSU v Michigan. Russia v USA. Cats v Dogs.)

I am a visual person … words and images resonate with me. So, when I see the UK blue and white, or the Kentucky Wildcat, I feel genuinely happy. It’s not just a pleasing color combination, it’s an affirmation of things I’ve heard since I was a little kid. I’ve also watched the basketball team do some pretty amazing things. Football, not so much. Nobody’s perfect.

I hear people say derisive and, frankly, horrible things about the college and team I was raised to love. I try to separate the passion for sports from … well, the rest of humanity. Sports fans are a little nuts … it’s like religion.

The sports, however, are not the important thing here. There are several important things going on, and I have only recently been able to take the space I need to reflect.

– I was a teen mom. I spent a couple of years doing a really crappy job of raising my son, and if his grandparents hadn’t stepped in I have no idea where we would be today.
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– I did, eventually, get it together and make Kory my priority. It’s the smartest thing I have ever done.
– My boyfriend, partner, and best friend Chip has been around since my boy was funny-looking (he was kind of purple as a baby), and neither Kory nor I would be where we are today without him.
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– When I was Kory’s age, I was pregnant, living in a crappy apartment, and wondering how to pay bills on minimum wage. Kory is a pre-med student at a renowned university and, from what I can tell, loving every minute of it.

I see some really sad comments on social media sites about my son’s school. Things like “I support UL because I went there, you support UK because you went to Wal-Mart.” I’ll save my thoughts on Wal-Mart for another post, but to the rest, there are many reasons to support a team or university. Few of them involve where you actually went to school. Most of them involve the values or lessons you learned while growing, and a team can be a positive influence in many ways. It gave me a way to relate to my father.

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It gave me a legacy to pass to my son.

Chipmonkey Porn

Let me tell you, the Chipmonkey gets an awful lot of action, and all across the globe, too! You may remember the monkey-on-monkey love in Kenya, for example:

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Chipmonkey’s adventures continued when I finally got Chip-the-human down to my home away from home, the Florida Keys. We stayed here:

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Or, more specifically, here:

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I won’t do the day by day recap, because it’s been a while and it’s kind of a blur, but we managed to go ocean fishing …

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… although we didn’t catch much. I had a big one on the line, but the reel popped off (!) as I was trying to bring it in. Operator error, I’m sure. Chipmonkey fished a little too:

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He caught nothing … apparently his inter-species proclivities do not extend to marine life. He did make out with a blue and gold macaw at the docks, though!

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We ate too much too often …

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The most important moment of the trip, however, occurred when we finally spotted the elusive key deer that I’ve heard to much about but never seen (I know they’re elusive because the Internet says so). Naturally, Chipmonkey had to get in on the action.

Here, little deer. C’mere …

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That’s it … a little closer …

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Don’t eat the Chipmonkey! Looooove the Chipmonkey …

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Good deer.

As always, Jeff and Misty were gracious and welcoming hosts, and I don’t think I’ll have any trouble convincing Chip to go back. I’m pretty sure the monkey won’t mind, either.

I should learn to keep my mouth shut …

No time at all passed between my last post and a series of events that ensured I was unable to “just chill” and enjoy having finished school.

First of all, our house was burglarized. While it may have been something of an overreaction, I took that as a sign that it was time to move. I found a bigger house with a yard for the dogs in a nicer neighborhood … the only catch was the carpet in the kitchen. And the bathroom. Carpet.

Say it with me: Who does that?

I agreed to rent the place if I was allowed to replace the offending floor covering with something more appropriate. Chip graciously donated a large chunk of his vacation and considerable skill to the project. My kitchen is now lovely, and the bathroom isn’t half bad either.

Additionally, the second floor smelled like a rabbit hutch. Have you ever smelled rabbit pee? It’s gross. It took three and a half gallons of Nature’s Miracle (which is a wonderful product) to rid the carpet of the stink. What a pain.

Home invasions and moving aside, I also went from being a full time student to a full time employee without blinking – actually, I  started working before I’d even finished classes. However, the job for which I was hired was billed as: proofreader/copy editor/technical writer. What they actually wanted was: a proofreader. Highly technical documents in nine languages where all the proofreader does is look for stray commas and the like. Ick. That isn’t what I went to school for, it was boring as all get out, and frankly, I sucked at it.

As it happened, my former boss from Technology First (where I interned as a student for two years) left the organization for a new opportunity. That left his position open, and I jumped at the chance to fill his shoes. I love it, and I think I’m really good at it. My title is Communications Coordinator, but really I am responsible for half of everything the organization does. It’s crazy and busy, but it’s a ton of fun.

Kory has also started driving, which is wonderful from a logistic perspective yet terrifying from a parental perspective. I alternate between being thrilled that I don’t have to play taxi to freaking out if he’s home fifteen minutes later than expected. It’s a roller coaster.

All told, I fervently hope that there will be few major changes in my future. I’m just fine with things the way they are, and I don’t need any more milestones.

Somewhere in there we took a vacation to North Carolina, which was sublime, and I will post pictures soon. Kory and his friend Kevin learned to surf. It was awesome.

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Wow, I haven’t posted anything in forever. I’ve had some really busy quarters at school, and my vacations have been short and heavily booked.

Most recently, I had the opportunity to visit Misty, Jeff, and Janus on the Sailing Vessel Thin Line again. Or rather, the Sailing Vessel that is now knows as the Thin Line, formerly the Exposure. Jeff and Misty spent the last eight months restoring and refinishing the boat, a CSY for those who care about boats. As usual, my visit was sublime.

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We decided to forgo things like dolphin encounters and sightseeing adventures in favor of relaxing aboard the boat and eating ourselves silly. I only had four days to spend there, and thanks to Spring Break I had some absurd travel arrangements; I didn’t arrive until two in the morning on Tuesday and I had to leave for the airport at two in the morning on Saturday. However, it was totally worth it. I even managed to avoid sunburn until day two!

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After stopping back home briefly, I flew out to Vegas to meet Chip and his friend Stacia, who were cataloging the adventures of Stacia’s dog Taco for her blog. This trip was also too short … I arrived in Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon around three, and we boarded a plane to come home early Thursday morning. It was totally worth it, though … we had an absolute blast.

We started off with a stop at In and Out Burgers, because I planned poorly and didn’t eat all day.

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From there, we hit up the famous Las Vegas sign, wandered around the strip, had dinner at Emeril’s (which was fabulous, I don’t care what Anthony Bourdain says about Emeril), and saw Cirque de Soleil’s Ka.

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Ka was AMAZING … we were all exhausted and I was jet lagged, but the show was incredible enough to keep us oohing and ahhing throughout. I highly recommend it. We decided to walk back to our hotel, stopping to see the fountains at the Bellagio and wander through some of the better-known hotel/casinos on the way.

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Chip needed a nap somewhere in there … he took it standing up.

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Frankly, it’s a miracle I remained upright as long as I did, and I was grateful to collapse into the bed at Circus Circus when we arrived.

Wednesday was my only full day in the city, so we started off with a little gambling, a little breakfast, and a lot of walking. We wandered through casinos, did some shopping, and visited the Coca-Cola shop to taste Coke products from fourteen places around the world. Whatever they call the stuff they drink in Italy was foul, which I was not expecting. Ick.

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After a day of people watching, shopping, and walking with a little gambling thrown in, we returned to dress for the wedding … Tony and Tina’s wedding, that is. This comedy dinner show puts the guests in the middle of the action … we were attendees at an Italian wedding (think Jersey Shore meets Sopranos) complete with dinner buffet and cake. It was hilarious. Chip’s friend Paul plays the part of the photographer, and he said it was the best audience he’d seen in three years of doing the show, so we were in good company.

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Later, we headed to Freemont Street, where we gambled a little more and watched tourists zip line over our heads. The light show was pretty cool, but I think I prefer “New Vegas” to old.

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We collapsed in a heap some time late at night, or perhaps early in the morning, and boarded a plane early in the morning to return to Dayton.

We’ve been back for a couple of weeks, and I think I’m still catching up on sleep.

Ubuntu Update, and Yoku-En

So, I can’t make Ubuntu work. I Googled my little heart out, and still haven’t been able to resolve the issue, even thought I ordered a disk from Ubuntu and tried repeatedly to install again. In the mean time, Chip gifted me a machine that may or may not be superior to the one I’m using, so once I determine what it has to offer I will likely cannibalize the two into something, hopefully, better than what I have running now.

I took a break from playing Tech Support to visit Yuko-En on the Elkhorn, a Japanese friendship garden in Georgetown, Kentucky. While I find it a strange location for a Japanese friendship garden, it’s really pretty, and I am in love with these doors:

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I need to return in the Spring to see everything in bloom.

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School starts tomorrow, so if I don’t post for a while, it’s not because I’m dead. Hopefully.

Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer

I gave Kory his first driving lesson today. Chip tagged along, even though there really aren’t supposed to be other people in the car, because we needed a pylon.

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Just kidding. But, wow, that is one orange shirt.

Anyway, the day was perfect for the maiden voyage of the as-yet-unnamed Subaru. The sun was actually out for once, and since Wright State University’s women’s basketball games are, apparently, poorly attended, we had access to an almost empty parking lot.

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This is the Nutter Center. That’s right, Nutter. That name has always made me laugh.

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Kory shows great promise, and I’m certain he will be an excellent driver. 🙂 I hope he will have a better sense of direction than his mother. Fingers crossed.

We also visited Tara and her lovely daughter Addison last weekend. Addison is growing SO fast, and she’s utterly adorable. She was fascinated with Kory’s hair, and really, who wouldn’t be? I love her face. And she loves her lamb.

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Tara is expecting another daughter in June, to be named Molly. I am expecting Molly to be just as cute as her big sister.

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Tattoos and Typos

It turns out my birthday celebration has extended well past the anniversary of my actual birth. Last night I collected on my everlasting gift from Chip: a new tattoo. Chip thoughtfully showed up right when it was really starting to smart and took some pictures.

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Fair warning – don’t click around on those photos unless you want to see a little more of me than I normally care to show. Just trust me on this one.

Anyway, I love the new piece. The last few times I’ve gotten tattoos I’ve said each one would be my last, so I’m not going to say that this time. Many people don’t “get” tattoos, or shudder at the thought of putting something on their body permanently for fear they will regret it later in life. Others worry that when they’re older the art will wrinkle and fade. My take on it is this: I don’t regret any of my tattoos because they are bookmarks for my life … places where I have stopped to mark something forever, and each mark has its own story. As to the wrinkled and faded part, I figure all of me will be wrinkled and faded at some point, and I’ll enjoy telling my grandkids about each of my bodily bookmarks.

A note to all three of my readers: I can’t BELIEVE none of you pointed out I spelled “among” wrong in this post. I’m an ENGLISH MAJOR for crying out loud, and that embarrassing mistake was up for months! Kory pointed it out, rather gleefully, last night. My defense is that I have always had a mental block on that word and I consistently put a “u” in where none is needed. Also, WordPress doesn’t spell check post titles. And among doesn’t look like a real word. Among among among. See?

Wedding Highlights

If you were to happen upon Chip’s photo gallery and see the folder titled “Ariana and Ryan’s Wedding,” you might not think it had any wedding photos in it at all. Therefore, I offer you some highlights:

Ariana’s hair was incredible:

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Ariana didn’t really drink very much:

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Bells and Cooks get along quite well:

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Monkeys are, in fact, allowed to attend weddings:

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Old friends are often the best friends:

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Little girls love to be upside down:

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Newly engaged couples are often adorable:

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Small children dancing are ALWAYS adorable:

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And, we all witnessed the marriage of a couple who will last forever. Congratulations, Ariana and Ryan!

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