The Trouble with Treasure Boxes

Let me know if this sounds familiar:

Step 1: Graduate from college.

Step 2: Move into your parents house for a couple months while you look for a job. (But totally don’t need to come home for dinner every night if you don’t want to because you’re an adult now. (But do anyway because you’re broke.))

Step 3: Ah! Finally. Get a good job. Move into your own apartment. Adulting commences.

Step 4: Get married, buy a house, have kids…

Step 5: Parents decide they don’t want to hoard your crap anymore and drop off 12 boxes of said crap on your doorstep and leave. Parents turn your childhood bedroom into a home gym.

Oh, I forgot to include…

Step 0: Save every birthday card you ever received since you were 8.

This is my life. Except the home gym – that was Monica from Friends.

With the new year now upon us, I make a familiar resolution to want/buy/have less stuff. My first step in keeping this resolution is to go through the boxes of childhood memories I’ve been hiding in our attic. It’s a process, so I started with a small goal of consolidating 4 boxes into 2. The strategy involved the typical “toss, donate, keep” rule. Sounds easy enough until the nostalgia washes over you!

Here’s a sampling of what I found in my treasure boxes…and what I ended up doing with them!

Notes. Oh my goodness. Pages and pages and novels of notes written in civics and passed before chemistry class. Together, these notes create a very detailed history of critical events happening between 1999-2005. Which is why I am keeping every single one!¬† One thought I had while carefully unfolding each origami-esque corner of notebook paper was that “kids these days” will not have a tangible time capsule of their social lives during the formative years. Most communication is done in short-form text messages that may or may not contain clip art of an eggplant. I spent several hours sifting through these notes, so maybe on the bright side, kids will grow up and have more time as adults to save the planet or cure cancer.

Greeting Cards. Does anyone else find it difficult to throw away greeting cards? What’s the shelf-life of a greeting card? One week? One minute? How about 21 years? I did a little bit of keeping and tossing as I went through a ton of birthday cards, bridal shower cards, thank you cards, etc… For those that landed in the toss pile (please don’t be offended if your card is in the toss – I literally kept every. single. card.), I learned that I can donate the fronts to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children so that they can be reincarnated as beautiful art projects by the kids! Although I don’t think I’ll be donating the front of this birthday card that my big brother designed in Greetings Workshop and printed at home, circa 2002:

Posters. As much as it pains me to do so, I must toss the many Tiger Beat posters of Leonardo DiCaprio (and apparently Lance Bass – I was a Backstreet Girl, so this was an odd find) into the recycle bin and rely on Google Images for my Leo fix of the 21st century.

School Projects. I am keeping my “Geometry Madness” handbook in case I need to help my daughter with her homework in 14 years. That’s totally practical, right?! But I’m also keeping some projects that were not necessarily done in school, but in my free time – ya know, career planning. As a kid, I wanted to be a major league baseball player, veterinarian, editor, and evidently, a marketing director. That was up until 5th grade. For the 10-12 years that followed, I pursued a career in fashion merchandising before pivoting to marketing ūüėČ Anyway, when I was a marketing director, I wrote this very stern message to one of my associates:

“Dear Michael Watson [Marketing Manager],
The company is a beginner marketing company, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be organized and not have a budget. For any company, beginner or advanced, should have everything they need. I care about this company. I can’t let it crash and burn. Having only a little over 7 million is poor for an aquarium in NY. If this company doesn’t shape up, I will have to move you to Chicago. They know how to handle this better. I can’t do this all by myself, so I need everyone’s help.
I would like to be a speaker at your next meeting. I need to speak with everyone.
Lauren Pritchett
Marketing Director”

Hey, with a few substitutions, this could totally pass for an email in today’s corporate world!

Super Pumped About This

Here’s the before and after of my latest kitchen remodel:

Pump Supplies Clean kitchen

After 10 months being back at work (subsequent to 9 weeks of maternity leave) and more than a thousand pumping sessions at my desk, on my living room floor, in the car, bathrooms, conference rooms, UNLOCKED conference rooms, closets at 4am… 11am… 3pm… 10pm…

Between low supply scares and building up a freezer stash…

I am officially DONE with the pump for Callida!

It was the biggest inconvenience, disruption, annoyance, and challenge of my life.

So why even go through all of that, you might ask?

Because beyond the struggle, it was the biggest pleasure to do for my daughter! I love my career and my family. I had the ability and desire to produce breast milk so I did it. And I’m happy I did.

To all moms who are just trying to feed your baby, keep it up. It is not as simple as it seems, is it? Own  your decisions. Be proud. You are doing a great job.

Less Stuff, More Presence for 2016

My infrequency of blogging may make it hard to believe, but I actually love to journal! In fact, I maintain¬†three pen and paper journals.¬†Each¬†night, before I go to sleep, I write down what happened that day.¬†I like writing in my¬†journals because it’s fun to keep record of simple day-to-day activities. Even more than that, journaling helps me to take stock in everything I have in my life.

When I look back at entries from 2015, rarely do I find details about the Amazon Prime package that arrived or some crazy post on my Facebook Newsfeed. They are about what I made for dinner, where I walked Quailford, the yoga pose I finally did, visits from friends and family, and my feelings toward events and people. At the end of the day, if the latter is what I actually want to remember, then why do I spend so much time on Amazon and Facebook? I am not beating myself up about spending too much time on my devices. That sort of negativity gets me nowhere, but it is a realization of what is important.

At work, I¬†create¬†goals for each¬†quarter and then list out the key results I must obtain in order to achieve those goals. I’m going to do that ¬†now for my personal life: in 2016, I resolve to put less emphasis¬†on stuff and more importance on being present. In order to do that, I will learn to become a better listener. I will commit and accept¬†acts of kindness. I will show gratitude¬†with intention.

From Raleigh To Philly With Love

Chinatown Bus
#TBT My 19-year-old self scared on the Chinatown Bus

Last weekend, I visited the city of Philadelphia for the first time!¬†Prior to this¬†trip, my only experience with Philly had been peering out the window¬†of the sketchy Chinatown Bus¬†on the way to New York City in 2006.¬†Needless to say,¬†I was a little skeptical about what this city would have to offer. It only took an extra¬†thirty-six¬†hours, but I’m now a Philadelphia-phile!

Ben and I made our way up to Philly to spend quality time with friends (Julie, Rob & their pup, Sadie – see more of sweet¬†Sadie on my latest Instagram picstitch!) in the city and celebrate our cousin’s wedding just outside the city.¬†We did not have much time, but our hosts showed¬†true “Brotherly Love” and gave¬†us a wonderful snapshot of the city.

Philadelphia SkylineTheir  apartment building is within walking distance to Rittenhouse Square. And as we all know, the best way to get the true experience of a city is to take to it by foot, so eastward we went toward Independence Hall.

Philadelphia Mural

On our walk, I noticed that Philadelphia is peppered with unique murals which add character and dimension to the streetscape. A walk is never boring  when there are puppy murals to admire.

In addition to these splashes of unexpected art, many of the streets are adorned with intricate¬†architecture that help¬†paint the picture of¬†America’s history. Even in my own city, I can be found pointing and looking up in awe at the detailed reliefs, styling, and shape¬†of buildings. My habit was no different in Philadelphia as we passed gorgeous Federal¬†and Colonial residential architecture embellished¬†with charming window boxes and urban landscaping.
Philadelphia Residential Architecture

After pausing for an obligatory photo opp in front of Independence Hall, we continued to the Delaware River Front where we were met with the most clever pop-up park! Furnished with hammocks,  lounge chairs, shuffleboard, twinkly lights, and even giant Legos, the Spruce Street Harbor Park extends the perfect backdrop for a summer day. Along with the outdoor fun, there were also shipping containers converted into snack bars and arcades.

This park sparked some ideas that could translate to Raleigh’s own park possibilities. Raleighites already value the potential of unused shipping containers (especially if it involves beer), which we demonstrated earlier this summer in the form of a¬†pop-up beer garden,¬†Wanderbox.¬†Despite the fact that¬†downtown Raleigh doesn’t have an anchoring water feature, a Spruce Street Harbor Park-esque boardwalk with family-friendly activities would totally benefit Raleigh’s urban park scene, whether pop-up or permanent.

Spruce Street Harbor Park Hammocks Spruce Street Harbor Park Boardwalk Adirondack Chair in Philly!After our stroll through the park and a yummy lunch at an Irish pub, we capped off the afternoon with some ice cream! The Franklin Fountain reminded me of a shop in Wisconsin that I love called J. Lauber’s.¬†The Franklin Fountain, PhiladelphiaI hope the next trend in frozen confectioneries will be the revival of¬†these wholesome and nostalgic ice cream parlors! Who needs froyo when you can have a hot fudge sundae?

Even though I only caught a glimpse of Philly, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our trip. We’ll be back in December for a second¬†fun-Philled weekend and another cousin’s wedding. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this video I took on Sunday morning before brunch at Parc. While walking down South Broad Street, I was honored to have the chance to witness the evolution of Philadelphia’s skyline as a helicopter airlifted letters off of the¬†One South Broad building, informally known as the PNB Building. (Don’t worry – the removal of these letters was approved by the Philadelphia Historical Commission!)


Christmas in July, A Raleigh Retrospective

During the festive Jane’s Walk weekend, I met¬†the owner of one of the buildings featured on my walking tour. We¬†became instant¬†friends and chatted throughout the subsequent tour lead by Mitchell Silver. For weeks after Jane’s Walk, we exchanged emails.¬†He has family¬†ties dating back to before Raleigh’s founding so my quarter century¬†of North Carolinahood seems¬†infantile in comparison. Nevertheless, our email chain contained a treasure trove of Raleigh history as we traded¬†anecdotes¬†and expressed a shared affinity for our city. Our correspondence proves that it doesn’t necessarily matter if you’ve identified with a place for 250 years or 25 years – that place is home.

From these emails, I learned a very interesting story about an unassuming downtown building. I should¬†save¬†it¬†for Christmastime, as it is a story about Christmas. But I just couldn’t wait that long and why would I withhold a fascinating Raleigh story from you? Patience is a virtue that I don’t have.

This story begins in 1964 when the BB&T Building (today it is called Capital Bank Plaza) was erected at 333 Fayetteville Street. Designed by Emory Roth in association with local architect, Milton Small, the sleek grid of granite, steel, and glass exemplifies a very Mies Van der Rohe-inspired style. At the time it was built, this modernist look was very appealing and well, modern.

Aerial View of Downtown Raleigh 1966
Aerial View of Downtown Raleigh 1966, State Archives

Quickly gaining critical acclaim and national attention,¬†something big had to happen in order to celebrate the grandeur of Raleigh’s newest and tallest skyscraper. What better time to do some celebrating than at Christmastime? Building owners, Albert G. McCarthy Jr. and Albert G. McCarthy III decided that a lavish party was in order.

And lavish it was.

On November 13th, 1967, children from one to 92 to were invited to see a 50-foot North Carolina Fraser¬†fir be gingerly dropped on top of the BB&T building. The block from Cabarrus to Lenoir Streets was reserved for public spectators¬†and furnished with Pepsi Cola and Jessie Jones Hot Dogs on Holsum Rolls¬†for refreshment. According to the children’s book¬†The Christmas Tree that Flew to Fayetteville Street by Irene Chesire (c. 1971), the giant Christmas tree “flew there just as a cardinal flies to a favorite perch.” But in the eyes of adults, it was a helicopter that delivered the tree.

For the Christmas tree lighting, Raleigh’s finest were invited to the BB&T Building’s magnificent lobby to¬†enjoy¬†a ritzy¬†affair on November 15th. The party was catered by Raleigh City Club and attended by the governor, Dan Moore and of course Santa Claus. Party-goers¬†gathered round closed circuit television to watch the lighting that was happening 15 floors above. If that wasn’t enough of a spectacle, guests ogled at the ice sculpture replica of the BB&T Building complete with a Christmas tree on top made out of strawberries.

Downtown Raleigh Christmas 1967
Photo Courtesy of Don Carter

I for one, developed a strong case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when I read The Raleigh Times article recapping the event.

“The cocktail buffet was gorgeous. Anyone who loves seafood got a glimpse of heaven…hot trays of barbecued shrimp, chicken drumettes, oysters casino, deviled crab and lobster thermidor.

The dinner buffet…featured roast standing rib, peppercorn round roast, stuffed cabbage, lobster thermidor, ham, turkey, ox tongue, roast pheasant, salami cones, smoked whitefish, chicken liver pate, pommes Parisienne, corn on the cob, salads, fruits and cheeses, all beautifully decorated with fruits, flowers and relishes.

A delectable anjou rose was poured during dinner, followed by the king of champagnes Don Perignon…The evening was topped off with Irish coffee prepared in flaming brilliance.”¬†

-“It was a Smash of a Tree Lighting Party” by Lucy Coulbourn, Times Woman’s Editor, November 16th 1967

There hadn’t been a party as exquisite as this one¬†since the early days of the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel.

Now, what do you think about airdropping a¬†giant Christmas tree on top of the PNC Building this year? Wouldn’t that be something to see!

BB&T Building Christmas 1967 Raleigh, NC
Photo Courtesy of Don Carter