West Meets East

A Western man travels East in search of love, opportunity and happiness.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Holidays

Those who regularly visit this site have surely noticed the decreasing frequency with which I have posted updates to this blog. Interesting stories can come out of moving to a new state and getting used to a new way of life, so hopefully you've been occasionally interested and entertained. But as I continue to adjust to my new life on the East Coast, I have fewer and fewer "newsworthy" events to recount here. As a writer, I can also find interesting stories in everyday life, but telling such stories was not the purpose of this blog.

So with the holidays upon us and the close of the year drawing near, this seems as good a time as any to retire this blog. (If only other bloggers knew when to quit.) West has met East.

Happy Holidays to you all, and may 2006 bring everything that you desire.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Miserable Evening

Last Saturday night, CJ treated me to a positively miserable evening.

Heading into D.C. through a snow-carpeted winterscape, we made our first stop at Butterfield 9, a posh restaurant a couple of blocks from the White House. We started with a pair of delicious appetizers, though inattentive service kept us hungry for longer than it should have. CJ enjoyed a succulent Virginia veal confit, while I defrosted with a savory butternut squash soup. Next came a rack of lamb for CJ and a beef filet for me, perfectly paired with a couple of glasses of excellent red wine. We were on a timetable, but found a few minutes to enjoy a piece of blackberry shortcake.

After our meal, we took a stroll through the brisk nighttime air, down to our destination on Pennsylvania Avenue, the National Theatre. With just minutes to spare, we found our seats for a performance of Les Miserables. Though I love theater—whether musical, opera, or stage play—I had never seen this show, called by many the best musical ever. The story, set in pre-Revolution France, dealt with such universal themes as redemption, mercy and liberty. And it illustrated a truth that I firmly believe in, that life is shades of gray.

I’ve owned the CD soundtrack to this show for years, but seeing the music come to life onstage was a truly wonderful experience. In fact, that’s how I would describe the evening overall. Who would have thought a miserable evening could be so much fun?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Snow at Sunrise!

Winter has arrived. We received our first big dump of snow yesterday, and this morning I awoke to this beautiful view. I might be less excited in a half-hour, when I try to drive to work on icy roads. And my excitement will probably wear off by January, when this becomes the norm. But for now, I'm loving it!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Photos Posted

For those who followed this blog during my cross-country drive, you might want to check out selected photos from the journey. I finally got around to posting them on my travel site, Travels to Distant [strick]Lands. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

White Thanksgiving

I've been dreaming of a White Christmas, but I never imagined I'd have a White Thanksgiving! Last night, after dark, snowflakes began floating down from the sky. My first snow since moving out here! Those of you who have lived through snowy winters will probably laugh at me and rightly mock me for being excited about something that will give me headaches by February and March. Especially since the snow that fell last night was already gone by the morning.

But it is a milestone of sorts. As an occasional skier, I'm no stranger to snow, but I have never lived for an extended period in a place that gets snow (other than the brutal winter months I spent north of Chicago in Navy boot camp). So, naive though I may be, this first snowfall excites me! Laugh all you want... CJ already has....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Picture postcard view of the front of CJ's townhouse

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Well, I can't call myself "bone dry" anymore. Last week, I attended a happy hour put on by a local scuba diving club. This morning, one of the divers I met took me to a local quarry for some real "Virginia diving." I was so desperate to get wet, I would have been happy diving the local creekbed! Which was fortunate. Had I been less enthusiastic, the temperature might have talked me out of it. As it was, I dived the coldest water I've ever been in... close to the bottom of the lake, around 70 feet, I looked at my gauge: 42 degrees! BRRRRR!

I can't say I saw the kinds of things I've normally seen during past dives—no lobsters, no bat rays, no octopi. But I saw lots of other unexpected things: a truck, a swing set, a school bus, a dentist's chair... a small plane. These Virginia divers are creative! I even spotted an old Chevy on cinder blocks... No divers spotting a mullet nearby, though.

Cold as it was, I had a great time. The coldest day diving beats the warmest day in an office. But I can't say I'll be diving the quarry again anytime soon. Sure, this week's weather forecast calls for high temperatures in the 40s, with a chance of a White Thanksgiving. That quarry water won't be getting warmer anytime soon. But I'd still try another dive—except that today was the last diving day of the season. I guess 42 degrees was cold enough for them. And now that I think about it, I guess it was for me too.

The schoolbus at Millbrook Quarry (I hopped aboard and swam to the other end).

Monday, November 14, 2005


Official NaNoWriMo 2005 ParticipantNo, that isn't some bizarre shortening of "Nah, Not Writing More." It's the pseudo-acronym for National Novel Writing Month. And I just jumped head-first into the deep end. NaNoWriMo is a month-long challenge to lazy writers everywhere (especially yours truly) to get off their asses and write a novel in 30 days or less. That's right, 50,000 words (not one word less) in one month.

We writers treasure our procrastination, give it loving attention, cultivate it like a delicate flower. So this "contest" is a sledgehammer to our verbal glass-blowing. Forget about writing well, screw the careful construction, just write, write, write. It's all about word count. The idea is, by locking up the internal critic for a month and cracking the whip, we'll break our writers' blocks and actually produce a body of work. And if a few of us are lucky, the end result might have a scene or two worth salvaging (or it could even become a novel someone might want to read, after many page-one rewrites).

Lucky me, I forgot all about this big event until November 10, so in order to participate, I have to do it in two-thirds the time everyone else got. But I figure it's worth the effort, even if I don't reach the 50K mark. At least I'll smash a few windows in my mind along the way and let some fresh air inside.

Barring any big events worth reporting immediately, I probably won't be adding to this blog till December (unless I give up, and then I'll be too embarassed to post here anyway). In the meantime, you can look me up at the NaNoWriMo site under the name "Crapsmith" if you want to read an excerpt and follow my progress.