Luckily for me, RISD has this thing called 'winter session': all students - undergrad and grad - take one class for the month of January and the first week of February. That means I've been able to have Kenz around the house for the past five weeks. She's been TA-ing in one class and has an internship at a local high school, teaching technical drawing to art students, but the responsibilities don't have her gone for more than five hours a day. That's a tremendous shift from having been gone eighty hours per week in the fall. I know it's about to change; she'll be getting back to the studio for absurd amounts of time after next week, but, for now, it's nice to have my wife back. We've been able to hang out, go on dates, and even visit with new friends...
|She does ridiculous things like start the day by dipping Oreo's into Captain Crunch and then washing it down with Diet Coke.|
|And Bruce Bruce sneaks in behind for some sugar milk.|
|Before perching on my lap while I read the day's news.|
Now, I haven't spent too much time talking about CrossFit or Olympic Weightlifting on the blog, and that's for good reason: I assume no one is really all that interested in reading about someone else's exercise routine. It doesn't make for thrilling blog posts (not that mine are all that thrilling to begin with), and CrossFit has a reputation enough as it is. However, I think this situation is humorous enough for an anecdote:
Earlier in the month, I received a call late on a Friday afternoon. A friend of mine from the gym had registered for a partner competition...but his partner had to drop out at the last minute. He wondered if I was available. The competition was the next day I figured, what the hey, I've never done one of these competitions before - it could be a fun way to spend a Saturday.
So, on an evening's notice, I decided to hop in the car with Noel and drive an hour northwest to some gym filled with enthusiasts. It wasn't until we were in the car (at 6am) that I found out he'd called three other guys before he called me. Why? Well, not only did we not know each other all that well, I'm not really known as a competitive type. I cackled, saying I hoped to measure up to my D-tier status for the day.
Frankly, I didn't know what I'd gotten myself into. Arriving brought me back to the old days of high school and college wrestling, wherein I was filled with fear, trying to take measure of the competition and only seeing how much tougher everyone else was than I. The men's division had forty-five teams, all seemingly chiseled from granite. Yes, this was technically an "intermediate" competition, but it's hard to tell whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced without ever having done one of these "outside" competitions. Sure, you may know how you stack up against others in your own home gym, but that's a small sample size. Anyway, it was cold. And crowded. And intimidating. And the competition hadn't even begun. I was regretting my decision.
We listened to the briefing, finding out there'd be five workouts in as many hours, with a "final" event for the five teams that qualified for it. I've come a long way with this stuff in the past two years, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't secretly hope we'd be too far behind in points to qualify for the finals.
Well, we qualified for that final event. When the announcer named the teams in the finals, each team's cheering section went berserk. There must've been twenty to thirty people there for each team...except ours. Noel and I didn't have any supporters come along for us (who wants to drive an hour in one direction to watch a bunch of folks work out?).
When they announced our team, not only did no one cheer, but I heard someone behind me ask, did they leave? It was that silent.
But, we won. Like, we won the whole thing. Turns out, shared suffering is one way to make a new friend!
|Noel rowing while I prepare to lift a barbell.|
|My tomato head is about to pop as Noel cheers me on.|
Despite having grown up in the belly of Tennessee football, watching Peyton take snap after snap with 16 on his back, rooting for him as a Colt, rooting for him as a Bronco, and simply knowing - as a fact - that he's the greatest quarterback of all time, we now live in Brady country. I don't like it; I don't think Kenz cares all that much. And when you live in Brady country, you go to a friend's house to watch the AFC Championship game. And you keep your mouth shut.
Kyle and I have become quite good friends in the past three months (another gym friend) and, despite knowing I'm a Manning fan, invited Kenz and I over to the house to watch the game. He and his girlfriend, Cassie, have been together since they were sixteen (!) and are about as sweet a couple as you'll ever meet. Kenz was mildly anxious about going over to a house filled with gym rats but - to her relief/surprise - found out "the gym" is not the only thing people talk about.
All in all, there were about twelve or fifteen people over there, and everyone brought something to munch on. The lack of Peyton was made up for by the warmth of the company. We figured we'd go over there for two or three quarters; we wound up staying an hour after the game had finished. It was one of those nights where I was having too much fun to take appropriate "blog" pictures.
|Kyle rolls up his sleeves for some cooking.|
|Kenz and Cassie acting interested in the game.|
|Kenz made some new (dog) friends as well.|
About that winter session thing: it makes for delightful impromptu trips into Pawtuxet Village for visits to Sweet Indulgence. One could say I've been remiss in profiling the Village (and Providence, for that matter), but the truth is that we've not been able to get out all that much. The Village has somewhere around fifteen businesses in it, half of which are places to eat. Sweet Indulgence specializes in sugar and coffee.
|The decor is...striking.|
|Cinnamon buns, doughnuts, cookies, and bagels...|
|...chocolates on sticks...|
|...and more chocolates.|
|Kenz sticks with the cannoli, made on the spot...|
|...while I opt for a cupcake. (eating technique patent-pending: tear off the bottom and make a sandwich)|
Last weekend, we were invited to take part in a surprise birthday party for yet another gym friend (becoming a pattern, innit?). The location was Breaktime Bowl and Bar - a retro bowling alley located just north of Providence in the "city" of Pawtucket (not to be confused with Pawtuxet). It was yet another evening devoid of ample photography; we were too busy duckpin bowling and hanging out with new friends.
|High school aged employees hand-set the pins at the end of the alley.|
|The bar is located within a collection of old warehouses in Pawtucket's art district.|
|We definitely noted the place as a spot to bring future visitors.|
|Duckpin bowling allows for three rolls per frame.|
|I only took one half-hearted shot of "people" all night - Kyle, Rebecca, Aaron, and Kenz. They thought I was taking a selfie.|
We've finally arrived at a New England winter. It's surprising to say that it's not that bad. Sure, there's lots of snow. Sure, it's cold all the time. But, as opposed to London, we don't have to spend all that much time outside, walking or taking the bus. If you know how to dress, it's really not that bad. We've had to teach the dogs how to dress for the winter as well...
|The booties are as much to keep the salt mixture from burning their paws as they are to keep their feetsies warm.|
|Both dogs loathe wearing them for walks.|
|They give us looks that say, you've stolen my dignity.|
But, it has to be done. And it really had to be done this week because we had a much anticipated blizzard move in. You probably heard about it on the news. It wasn't as bad as it had been projected to be, but we still got upward of fifteen inches. Kenz and I were both a bit nervous - our local friends had called us up to make sure we knew what we were in for. Get candles and batteries. You don't have to worry about a snow storm, but when they call for a blizzard, you know it's real. On and on until I was sure this was going to be something endured rather than enjoyed.
|It's not just in the south: this was the milk aisle the day before.|
|The snow began in the late afternoon and continued into the next day; Kenz loved the first blanket.|
Apparently it wasn't the snow by itself that had folks worried - it was the hurricane-force winds that would be accompanying it. I half expected to wake up to a drift covering my entire front door. Alas, it was only about eight inches in the morning, but it continued throughout breakfast...and lunch. By the afternoon, I figured it was time to get the shovel out.
|Bruce Bruce was finally happy to be an indoor cat.|
|My neighbor did his first round of snow blowing after breakfast.|
|Good day to be cozy inside.|
|Kenz couldn't resist FaceTiming some southerners to show them the accumulation.|
|There's no discernable street.|
|My first foray into the weather.|
|This only took half an hour...it's amazing how warm one can get while shoveling snow.|
|Kenz couldn't help but giggle when she sunk down into the foot of snow.|
|Willow was not as happy as Kenz.|
|Apollo didn't seem to mind.|
|It was still actively snowing, but the worst seemed behind us.|
|New Englanders know how to plow snow. The plows had been out all night long, so the main roads were quite clear.|
After the walk, I decided to get back to shoveling. My neighbor with the blower came out, too, and told me not to kill myself - that he'd be happy to come by and help after he finished his driveway. And then another neighbor came out. And another. And another. Before I knew it, we were having a New England block party. Everyone was out, beer in one hand and a shovel in the next, helping each other clear off cars and driveways. I carried on longer conversations while helping shovel my neighbors' driveways than I had since we moved here. My guess is that shoveling and blowing is the adult version of playing in the snow (we all still helped the kids sled down the piles of plowed snow). I think everyone was a bit relieved that we didn't get the projected 20", that the power was still on, and - believe it or not - that we finally had some snow! Lots of folks commented that it was kinda good to finally have some snow on the ground after all. I agreed; I felt like I'd passed yet another test toward belonging here in Lil Rhody.
|I felt as absurd as I looked.|
|After about five hours outside, stew and chowder are the best way to warm back up.|
Feeling a bit of cabin fever - and still quite curious to see what the neighborhood looked like - Kenz and I decided to take the dogs out for another truncated walk.
|No mixture on the roads yet, so we didn't force the dogs to get "booted" for a ten minute walk.|
|Kenz was doing trust fall exercises with the plowed snow.|
|The little carved out pathways were taller than the dogs in many areas.|
|All in all, a successful Blizzard 2015! I was asleep by 9:30 that night.|
Last but certainly not least, my sister Kara had her baby! She and Jerry welcomed little Jack at 10:30am on January 14th. He weighed in at NINE POUNDS and 23 inches - a big, big boy! The family has since returned home and is getting used to a lack of sleep.
|On their way to the hospital.|
That's it for this month. You read that correctly; now that I'm teaching at the local community college as well as trying to keep up with the same amount of freelance writing and editing, my schedule has crowded out a weekly blog post. Check back at the end of February!