Sunday, January 29, 2012

first photos from DC, 10 things 10 days have taught me, and the idea to start a snarky advice column.


I've spent the last ten days being busy. And constantly surrounded by other people. My first moment of reprieve was on Sunday morning, when everyone went to church and I stayed at home to breathe.

But let me back up.

I got here the night of January 19th. I've been staying with a friend and her two room mates until I find my own apartment (I have some leads - keep your fingers crossed, PLEASE!). I've started my part-time internship, interviewed and got a part-time job that will pay some bills, and have felt overwhelmed. I've made a few new friends, gotten closer to the friend that I'm living with, and done so much apartment hunting that I think I should be allowed to design my own now because I could do it well. (Sorry, every architect I just insulted.)

10 days in DC has taught me a lot.

People are nicer here than everyone "warned me" they would be. I don't know if it's because Texans want to be the most hospitable ever (we are!), but every time I told someone I was moving to the east coast, they would saying something along the lines of, "You know, people in the Northeast just aren't as nice as people from the South." Well that's just false. I've gotten lost and been helped by total strangers, I've made friends at work (already!), and have had longer conversations with the woman checking me out at Target here than I ever did in Texas.

There's just too much to do in DC. It's impossible to stay in because there's always a new restaurant to try, a museum to go to, or a show to see. I will literally never be bored here.

"Business casual" is the loosest term ever. In one of my offices, business casual means non ripped jeans and a sweater, and in the other office slacks, a button up shirt, and heels. What the what? (What does "business casual" mean to you?)

For a control freak like me, the metro is the worst invention ever. I can't control when the train comes or whether or not in breaks down? I'm twitching just thinking about it. I miss having a car. [Did I ever tell you guys about the car accident I got in in November than totaled my car? No? Basically, a car behind me hit me and shoved me into the car in front of me. Not my fault at all and I wasn't hurt thankfully, but now I'm car-less. Boooo.]

I am crazy about old architecture. I mean, I think I always knew that (hello, love affair with all of Europe ever), but every single old building in  DC makes me gasp because I think it's so pretty. I just wish the metro was above ground a lot so I could see more of the buildings while on my way places.

Apartment hunting is the most exhausting and frustrating endeavor ever. I've lost count of how many I've looked at (eleventy billion? easily), but I have two leads, so hopefully one will play out soon and I'll be able to move in somewhere soon! Because, also? Not having a space to call my own is really stupidly exhausting. I live out of a suitcase on my friend's floor and while I'm crazy grateful she's letting me do this, not having my space makes me feel directionless and confused and out of wack. I also hate living out of a suitcase because it means I have like 10 shirts and 5 pairs of pants and no accessories and I'm starting to lose it. Professional nomad? Out of the question.

Have you ever tried heated Vinyasa yoga? I hadn't until I got to DC and now I love it. My thoughts on it? THE MOST SWEAT EVER EVER. The most excitement to take a shower ever ever. The best work out I've gotten in a long time. I love this style of yoga now, and I totally recommend it. Also, I'm going again tonight. I'M SO EXCITED. 

I literally have no idea to walk in snow. I remember dealing with this when I went to Montreal, but three days of snow on the ground in DC taught me that I need to leave twice as long to get somewhere as I actually think I need because I'm terrible at walking in the snow. I fall like every 10 feet. I'm about to tie tennis rackets to my shoes to walk everywhere... that works, right?

When the sun is out, DC is crazy beautiful. I'll always love Texas skylines (see below), but DC sunsets are becoming a close second (see below below).



I very easily get obsessed with shows. My newest obsession? Bones. I've always loved it, but I've been watching like 4 episodes a day for the past few days. It's a problem. Especially because I think it's keeping me from going out more, which needs to happen better. I love to be out and about - time to close the computer and act on that!

Which I'm about to do! But two things first:

I'm still going to need a few guest bloggers for when I finally do move and stuff, which is when I'll be obnoxiously busy. More busy than now. So if you're interested in guest blogging about moving to start a new job, or just moving in general, let me know! You can reach me at valorielovely {at} gmail {dot} com.

Also, I'm thinking of starting a snarky advice column on here. I'll try to really help, obviously, but also? The snarkiness. Would you guys like that? Would you submit your quandries and conundrums to me? Did I spell those words right, because Blogger says I didn't. But Blogger also says 'snarky' isn't a word and that's wildly false.


Friday, January 20, 2012

airport bars, mother-daughter realizations, and being bad at goodbyes.

I'm sitting at the bar in the DFW airport TGI Fridays as I start to write this. My back is to everyone else because that's how I always am at bars. Unapproachable.

For the past few minutes, I've been trying to get some work done. I answer questions and write articles over at, and I'm a little behind on my assignments.

My excuse? Well, I'm moving.

Earlier, when I was checking in, my bag was seven pounds overweight. It was one of two bags I had to check, and I already had two carry-ons too. To some extent, this is how I always am. I overpack because, well, I'm always prepared for anything, which is why I'm always my friend group's "mom." That seven pounds almost cost me an extra $100 (on top of the $60 I was already paying - thanks AA). But when I told the woman checking me in just why my bag was overweight, she waived the fee.

"Well ma'am, I'm moving. And these are all my possessions in the world."

It was only out on the curb moments before that that the finality of leaving hit me quite distinctly. My mom was dropping me off, and we were never good at goodbyes. But we hugged a few times and got a little choked up and I realized that for the first time in my life, I was going to be away from her and the rest of my family for an indefinite period of time, with no simple drive home.

In that second, I saw myself the way she must see me, as the woman she raised; her legacy. Quiet and hard-working, with a passion for equality. Someone good at writing down her thoughts, but not as good at being vulnerable with others.  Perhaps a touch impatient.

Most of those qualities are qualities of my mother. Except the quiet; my dad is the quiet one. But in so many other ways, I am my mother's daughter. And I know that now because I'm okay with moving halfway across the country to pursue a vague dream, like she did when she graduated from college.

Now, as I'm sitting on the plane and looking at the American landscape spreading out below me for miles, I know I'm doing the right thing by moving to DC. It feels right.

I've always been bad at goodbyes, but I sure am good at hellos.

Monday, January 16, 2012

one way plane tickets, Coldplay, and big life decisions


This Thursday, I'm moving to Washington, D.C. 

Yeah, life just got real.

I'm excited, you know. I've got a one-way plane ticket and a suitcase full of suits. I start my new unpaid, part-time, but awesomely exciting internship on Monday, the 23rd. On Tuesday the 24th, I have an interview for a new, part-time, not-well-paid-but-at-least-it's-money, grown up job.

And soon, I'm moving in with my boyfriend. Once we find a place. For now, I'm sleeping on my friend's floor (thanks, girl!) and hoping that that situation doesn't last terribly long because I don't even have a sleeping bag and I detest living out of a suitcase for extended periods of time. But still, a big thanks to my friend for letting me sleep on her floor at all. :)

But, you know those butterflies you get in your stomach when you're on the cusp of something huge? I've got a lot of those right now. I don't have a lot of time to be nervous because I'm running around seeing friends and getting ready and making phone calls, but occasionally I have a second to pause and think, "Oh hell." I'm moving halfway across the country, and I only have two friends there who have got my back. My family is mostly spread throughout the south and California - I'll be the first to move to DC. And so, the butterflies.

Most of the time, when I get those butterflies, it's okay - they just remind me that I'm right at the edge of something amazing, and all I have to do is push forward. Often, they're a good sign, a sign that I'm doing something right. But sometimes they scare me; I start thinking - what if something goes wrong? What if I fail?

Then I just think - You know, Coldplay is still around. They're still famous. They didn't fail. If Coldplay can do things, and be successful, I sure as hell can.*

And that always makes me feel better.

*I really don't like Coldplay. I know a lot of you do. I just...I don't get why they're famous. I'm sorry. You can substitute the band you hate the most in here, it'll work the same.

P.S. I'm going to be needing some guest bloggers in the next few weeks. I'm looking for five people who can talk about big moves and they're experiences with it. If you're interested, please email me at valorielovely [at] gmail [dot] com.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fill in the ____ Friday - 1.13.2012

1.   The last thing I ate was    scrambled eggs and a donut. Supah healthy!  .

2.   The last song I listened to was    A song from the Old 97's - can't remember which!  .

3.  Using the letters in my name I can spell    [Valorie] Valor, IV...aaaand that's it, I think   .

4.  If I had to dress in one color for the rest of my life I would pick     black - weirdly, it's become a default color for me anyway  .

5.  If you were to look in my bag right now you'd find    my new iPhone4S! lots of gum, a wallet, countless little iTunes cards for free song downloads from Starbucks  .

6.  When I finish filling in the blanks I'm going to    get back to doing my job at and hang out with my boyfriend .

7.  My all time favorite song to dance to is    I like to dance to everything all the time, so anything with a good beat works for me!  .

Want to fill in some blanks too? Go link up with Lauren!

What are you guys up to this weekend? I'm in San Antonio visiting my boy for a few days, then it's back up to Dallas to pack for me. This is going to be my last weekend in Texas - crazy! 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

the resolutions, being honest, and the desire to be furiously proud of myself this year.


I noticed that most bloggers have already done their first 2012 post. Everyone's talking about resolutions, and their plans and dreams for this new year, this blank slate.

I didn't have anything to say at first. In part because I'm not the best at coming up with interesting resolutions, but also because when I was really reviewing 2011 in my mind to start thinking about 2012, I realized that there's not a lot from the year that I'm furiously proud of. There aren't many memories from 2011 that make me want to dance, or that I want to brag about to other people.

The things that I am furiously proud of: Meeting and getting together with my boy, and everything that comes with our relationship. Establishing VCP. Graduating.

Beyond these things, much of 2011 felt very 'eh?' I avoided talking much about it here because I felt like I've said a lot of what I feel comfortable saying already, but occasionally things slipped out on twitter.

That freaked me out, honestly. 2011 hadn't been a total waste obviously, but why was there so little I was proud of? I started out with good intentions, and decent resolutions, but not a lot manifested out of that. And I realized: It's because I wasn't intentional with it. I just went into 2011 thinking, "Okay, this is what I'm changing rightthissecond for the whole year aaaaand... DONE." I wasn't intentional with continual growth after that. Maybe that's partly because growth and change was forced on me (what up, China and graduation?) but it's also because I just assumed I'd do all this change as soon as I woke up on January 1, would be the best person ever because of that, and didn't have to reconsider for another 12 months. And in a way, I think that's what we're all saying with New Year's Resolutions, and why so often we fail.

We can't just change over night, and we can't just assume one drunken goal-making decision will be all we need that year.

So I went back to a post a blogger I really admire had written a few weeks ago about her goal-setting exercises for the year. I consider Nicole successful and to be living a genuine life that she seems to truly enjoy, so I thought I'd give them a try. Her strategy is: (go to her post to read more in depth)

1. Make an 'Eff Yeah' list of things you're really proud of. 
(See above.)
2. Choose a word to represent your dreams for the coming year. Examine why you're choosing that word.
My word is Explore. As a new college grad, I want to take this year to literally explore my options - to find a job where I fit and a path that suits me. I want to explore myself, and find out who I think I'm becoming, if I like that woman, and what I can do to make her better. I want to explore the world too - I want to travel now, while I don't have any thing tying me down like kids or a mortgage or whatever. 
3. Create some 'Life Buckets' that represent the sum of what makes you who you are and how you spend your time. 
Nicole suggested 9, but I ended up including work and finances, which she doesn't include, so I have 11. (Maaaaaybe overkill. We'll see.) Mine are: Self-Improvement, Exercise, Romance, Friendship, Career, Finances, Photography, Travel, Internet Everything, Do Uncomfortable Things, and Creativity.
4. Write down 3 big goals for each bucket that you'd like to accomplish by the end of 2012.
I won't list all 33 here for you guys (that would be overkill). But some of my favorite ones are things like bungee jump or free fall (Do Uncomfortable Things), get hired to shoot a wedding (Photography), learn really cute calligraphy (Self-Improvement), move this blog to it's own domain (Internet Everything), and adopt a greyhound (Friendship). All of those goals are ones that either make me smile hugely or make my heart pound in a way that makes me know I'm on to something awesome. The important thing is that I don't have to start doing all of them rightthissecond.
5. On the first of every month, write down an action step for each of those three big goals for you to accomplish that month. 
So, my action steps this month? Print out some calligraphy inspiration, see if there are greyhound adopting shelters in DC or if I'll have to go out of the city, and start upping traffic to my blog so I can rationalize paying to host it somewhere. Am I going to finish all 33 action steps this month? No, probably not. I may get like 15 done. But then I can look at the other 18 and figure out - okay, why didn't I do this? Maybe it'll just be laziness, or maybe it's because I'm trying to force myself to do something I don't actually want to.
That last sentence is especially important to me. There are things in 2011, and from all of college, that I did because they were what I thought I should do or had to do. If I'm being honest, taking Chinese and going to China are on the list of things I did because I thought I had to, not because I really wanted to. The result? Going to China is not something I'm furiously proud of. I haven't spoken Mandarin once since getting back stateside. And I never ever want to return to China if I don't have to. There were some nice side-effects, like making some of the best friends I've ever had through Chinese class (like Jacob), and for those I'm grateful, but often I wonder how things would have worked out if I'd taken French.

6. Talk about them.
Obviously that's kind of what I'm doing here. But I'm also talking to my friend KJ about this stuff, as well as my boyfriend, and to my mom. None of them can really give me good advice on increasing blog traffic or proper greyhound care, but that's okay.* Because just talking about it makes it seem more real, and more like something I can do.
 A big thanks to Nicole for creating this system and sharing it with all of her readers.

And now, a question for you guys - do you do goal setting exercises like this? What works for you to stay intentional in your lives?

*If you can give me good advice on increasing blog traffic and/or proper greyhound care, hit me up in the comments or at valorielovely {at} gmail {dot} com.

P.S. I revamped the blog, so if you're just reading in your RSS feeder, come check out the new about page, the new header, and a few other new things!