Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Happy Birthday to me!

After yesterday's reflection on 25 wonderful things I did last year, I spent this morning dreaming up 26 things I'd like to try and accomplish before January 31, 2013. Some are career goals, some are financial,  some personal, and others are maybe just dreams, but I'm rather excited to give this list my best shot...

26 Things I  Want to do at 26:

1. Research and apply to graduate schools.
2. Take a grant writing class.
3. Apply for a Fulbright grant.
4. Learn how to write copy.
5. Publish some articles / build up my writing portfolio.
6. Make trips to visit friends in DC, Philly, NYC, Austin, and Seattle.
7. Vacation in the Outer Banks for the first time in three years.
8. Finish watching the Harry Potter movies.
9. Come up with a business plan/proposal for an arts-integration focused teacher professional development program in Richmond.
10. Teach a Shakespeare class.
11. Audition at Richmond Shakespeare. Maybe even get cast in something.
12. Create an original performance piece with a group of at-risk teens.
13. Start writing that play I've always wanted to write about Flannery O' Connor.
14. Guest lecture in a theatre education class at JMU.
15. Direct professional actors in a reading of a great new script.
16. Visit at least one national park I haven't been to yet.
17. Learn to play the Ukelele.
18. Get Richmond hipsters into square dancing. If it works in Seattle/Portland, it can work here.
19. Bring story drama to some local elementary schools/ libraries.
20. Fall in love. If not with someone, with something or someplace.
21. Have enough regular income to actually make a budget & save some money.
22. Move out of my parents house and settle into a place of my own.
23. Go camping with my brothers in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
24. Start a RVA chapter of my Seattle YA book club: The Homecoming Court Literary Consortium.
25. Find and get involved in a healthy church.
26. Stop worrying about what comes next and enjoy what comes now.

Monday, January 30, 2012


I didn't do a lot of reflecting at the start of 2012. After a cross-country move in October, the passing of my grandfather in November, and then the emotional whirlwind of getting re-acclimated to Virginia while spending a complete set of holidays in my parents' house, something I hadn't done since college, my mind was too out-of focus for reflection this New Year's.

But tomorrow I turn 26. And my mind feels sharp. For the first time in a long time, I'm at peace with the uncertainty and inexplicability of my weird, artistic, out-of-the mold life. Something I've learned lately is that imposing structure on my thought process usually helps me make some sense of things. So instead of rambling on about 25 and all the abstract things I learned and understood about life this year, I made a list of 25 concrete things that I'm thankful I did this year.

 It's so easy for me to beat myself up every year for the things I wanted to do but didn't or couldn't that I think I miss out on seeing the wonderful blessings of life as it is. Tomorrow I'll post a list of 26 things I want to do when I'm 26.. but for now, I'm thanking God for all of the blessings that 25 brought:

1. Had my first professional (aka paid)  gig as an actor.
2. Directed my first full-length play. Starring 40 elementary school actors.
3. Picked up some sweet square dancing moves. Sort of.
4. Dated someone for longer than two weeks.
5. Taught the most challenging and eye-opening drama class of my life at a men's homeless shelter.
6. Somehow managed to pay all my bills while working no fewer than 10 part-time jobs/short- term independent contracts.
7. Filed taxes on my own (mostly) for the first time.
8. Saw The Avett Brothers, Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes, Ingrid Michaelson, Hall and Oates, and a slew of other  new and old favorites play wonderful live shows.
9. Got invited to 10 weddings. Attended 2. And was genuinely happy/excited for all 10 couples. And totally content with my singleness. Really.
10. Made my very first trip to California. Then went back. Twice.
11. Spoke a blessing over one of my very best friends in the whole world at her wedding.
12. Said goodbye to Seattle.
13. Drove the Pacific Coast Highway all the way from Oregon to San Francisco to Los Angeles. All by myself.
14. Hugged some redwoods.
15. Attended my first Cirque Du Soleil show in Vegas.
16. Saw the Grand Canyon at sunset.
17. Got to spend time with my grandfather two weeks before he passed away.
18. Let go of past hurts and started a real, grown-up friendship with my brother
19. Finally read and/or listened to all 7 of the Harry Potter books.
20. Spent BOTH Thanksgiving AND Christmas with my family.
21.  Survived a holiday retail job. And picked up some great pencil skirts and a few new friends in the process.
22. Found myself really starting to like this city I never wanted to live in. Who knew?
23. Got offered a teaching fellowship and had the maturity to turn it down, recognizing that four years in an inner city school, albeit an admirable endeavor, isn't the right thing for me right now.
24. Learned that I don't need a job title to use my gifts. Or to be content with my life.
25. Realized that grace really is sufficient.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mosey on down to Moseley

Welp. I made it. A week ago today, I landed at my parents lovely abode in Moseley, VA.

I know what you're thinking. "Wait a second, Sarah. Weren't you moving to Richmond? Where the heck is Moseley?" I'm so glad you asked. Moseley is a sweet little suburb on the edge of Chesterfield County-- about 25 miles from the city of Richmond and at least 20 miles from any trace of civilization.

Now, to be fair, I should clarify my rather subjective use of the word civilization. In terms of "modern conveniences," Moseley has plenty to offer. Wal-Mart, for example, is just a hop skip and a jump away, as is a lovely selection of chain restaurants, superstores, and strip malls. And honestly, the people here are wonderful (heck, the majority of my blog readers are my mom's friends-- shout outs to Beth & Mary!). Plus rent is as cheap (er, free) as it gets. But being that I'm over the age of 17, under the age of 40, and single with a penchant for fancy food, craft beer, and live arts experiences beyond high school show chior competitions-- the 'burbs aren't exactly my scene anymore.

Unfortunately, the fact that I just spent any and all money I'd managed to save in the last two years touring the country for a month necessitates an extended stay in Moseley. So I'm gonna suck it up, enjoy my free time (while still keeping an eye on job opportunities, of course), and get used to the extra gas and mileage required to reconnect with my friends on the other side of the river.

But if you happen to know someone who wants to give me a free room in the city of Richmond, just say the word...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Texas to Georgia: The Friends/Family Tour

Another week and a half on the road has come and gone.. though I'm not sure how it went by so fast. I guess time flies when you're living out of your car...

After New Mexico, Mom and I headed to Texas to visit my dad's side of the family. After a night in Austin (not enough time at all-- but I'm fairly certain I'll be back) with my cousin Stephanie, we headed to Baytown, Texas-- former hometown of my dad, Jimbo, and current home of my Grandparents, Maw Maw and Paw Paw.

I'm a little ashamed to admit that it had been over 4 years since I'd seen my Grandparents.. but between my inability to afford to travel anywhere but back to VA when I was living in Seattle and their inability to travel because of health issues, a visit hasn't been possible on either end until now. Needless to say, it was wonderful to see them again and to eat some of Maw Maw's good southern cookin'-- my first homecooked meal in three weeks!

I was also able to visit my cousin Kristina whose husband and two little boys were a blast to hang out with (Kristina's pretty fun, too-- just for the record!). After Stephanie and I dropped my mom off for her flight back to Richmond on Saturday, Justin (Kristina's husband) made us all an an awesome sushi dinner (which I was so impressed to see a 6 year old and a 3 year old dig into!) and the grown ups stayed up late drinking wine, playing games, and making up for lost time (it had been three years since I'd seen Kristina-- way too long!).

After another night at Kristina's on Sunday, I loaded up the car once again and headed east through Louisiana to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where I spent two nights with a family that was as close as my own kin through college. Jay ran the college and youth ministries at my church in Harrisonburg and his wife Jennifer became an adoptive big sister to me, always inviting me and my friends over for home-cooked southern meals, sweet tea, and precious kid time with her then three year old son, Riley. Jay and Jennifer moved to Mississippi in February of my senior year of college-- just a week after their second son Nate was born. I hadn't seen Nate since I held him in the hospital the day he was born, so it was a real joy to catch up with the whole family and see how the boys have grown. Nate is a hoot and Riley is so smart and witty-- already spewing his dad's signature brand of sarcasm. I was sad to leave them yesterday morning, but so blessed to have gotten some quality time with one of my favorite families.

As wonderful as it's been to sight see and visit parts of the country I'd never seen before, I have to admit that the last week has been my favorite part of my month on the road. I do love to travel, but deep down I know that all the cities in the world can't stack up to quality time with family and friends. I've realized over the past few days how blessed I am to have such amazing people in my life and it's been a joy to see so many of them in such a short period of time.

I'm in Atlanta now, staying with my little brother, Brian. I've only been here a night so far, but already it's been so good to catch up and to get to know his life here, and I'm looking forward to a few more days of hanging out before I finally land in Virginia.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Go East, Young Lady

Yes, it has occurred to me that I need a new name for my blog.. but, as I am just now ending my second full week of life on the road, my brain does not have much capacity for creativity anymore. Any suggestions you may have are welcome; however, I reserve the right to make up something better as soon as my life becomes a little less mobile.

Now, on to the update... when I last left you, faithful reader, I was in Los Angeles with my dear friend Lauren, who showed me a fantastic time in Lala land. I caught up with several of my favorite people from JMU theatre (and a Seattle buddy, too!), went to Disneyland and the beach  ate some fabulous food (What up, Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles!), and hung out with my mom at the Getty Museum.

Mom and I left LA for Las Vegas on Friday morning. We got to town just in time to check out the Vegas hotels for a moment before taking in LOVE, the Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show at the Mirage. We managed to avoid the slots and instead spent our dough on ice cream Sundaes at Serendipity 3, where we people watched the crazies on the strip.

After Vegas we made a pit stop at the Hoover Dam and then headed for the Grand Canyon, where we caught the sunset (no big deal) before settling into our hotel in middle-of-nowhere Williams, AZ. The next morning (Sunday, I think?) we got up super early to get as much time in at Grand Canyon National Park before making the 6 hour drive to Albuquerque. It was grand. And we were pooped by the time we got to New Mexico.

Today, we slept later than we had planned (probably a good thing), and then headed into Santa Fe-- which has been such a delightful city to explore. The architecture here is beautiful, the history is rich, and the shopping-- oh my! If only I hadn't had to fix my car and buy a new cell phone this month, I might be tempted to spend a pretty penny on a pair or two of cowboy boots here, but alas, I still have another week of travel to fund.. so, I'll just fall asleep tonight dreaming of the brown pair with the turquoise cut-outs. Sigh. And don't even get me started on the food... green chile and blue corn everything and some of the best damn Margaritas I've ever had.

Tomorrow we're off to Taos to explore more New Mexican art and culture, so I should get some sleep now...

but first... Pictures!

Monday, October 3, 2011

California Dreamin'

The past few days have been a whirlwind of sightseeing and serious drive time.

I had a wonderful visit in Blue Lake, CA with my boss and friend from my very first internship in Vermont-- Lauryn. We drank some awesome beer at the town's one watering hole (aside from the casino)-- Mad River Brewing Company and then ate late night burgers and shakes before bed... a perfect way to unwind from the 7 hours I had just spent driving down the coast (a gorgeous but LONG drive). The next morning, we hit the beach in a tiny town called Trinidad before I headed south to San Francisco.

San Fran was a mix of exploration and exhaustion. I spent night one in an awesome hostel in a national park in the Marin Headlands and night two in a less awesome hostel in the city, where my phone mysteriously disappeared and I spent the night lying awake imagining all of the diseases I was contracting from my bed. Between tracking down a new phone (FYI, California tax is RIDICULOUS-- $45 in tax for a $50 phone!) and walking all over town because I couldn't figure out the public transportation situation, I was beyond exhausted by the end of day 1, but day 2 redeemed the visit for me, as I headed down to Golden Gate Park to hear some world-class bluegrass at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival and take in a fantastic Picasso exhibit at the de young Museum. I capped the day off with a sunset drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to my third hostel, which was in old lighthouse keeper's quarters right on the Coast. I unwound in their hot tub for a few minutes before bed-- the perfect end to a great day of exploring.

Yesterday, I decided to take the scenic route to Los Angeles and spent the day driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. It was a long drive... but I finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on CD and stopped several times to take pictures and make friends with seals and other marine life.  I'm staying the next few nights with another friend named Lauren (apparently I know a few in CA) and after a few days on the road alone, I can't tell you how nice it is to spend some time in one place with someone who knows me well. I rolled in about 5:30 last night and straight away she helped me unload the garbage bags (yes, that's plural) full of dirty laundry from my car and took me to buy beer and eat fish tacos for 1.75 a pop-- this girl gets me!

We're headed out to Santa Monica today to stroll the pier and check out the scene on the beach, so I need to get going here.. but I'll leave you with a few of my favorite photographic memories from the past few days...

 Northern California Coastline=Gorgeous

 Quick stop in the redwoods (I took better pictures on my phone, but alas.. they disappeared when it did)

Morning view of San Fran and the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin headlands

View of the city from Buena Vista Park

Haight Ashbury

The GayBrohood

 Mission Dolores

 Mission Dolores again

 and again

Murals in balmy alley in the Mission district

My favorite one

 Balmy Alley

Lombard Street: The Crookedest (and most touristy) street in the world

Ricky Skaggs at Hardly Strictly

 The de young Museum

Apparently a lot of people biked to Hardly Strictly

One last city view

 Pacific coast sunset

My hostel

 Fog clearing over big sur

Elephant Seals!!

 My drive