Learn to Drive Stick

If you ever need to learn something that requires a great deal of patience in your teacher, choose wisely.

Last week I was in Duck, North Carolina with some of my best friends in the world and it occurred to me that it was the last week of my twenties.  I knew I needed to learn, do, make, try something different to bring my decade to a slightly more epic conclusion – as wedding planning has taken the place of the epic-ness I had planned (I do not regret this).  I was sitting on the beach and I turned to my friend Audrey and said “Hey Aud, would you teach em to drive stick?”

I knew she drove a stick because she had just brought us down to the beach in her father’s ford pick up to avoid lugging 80 beach chairs, cornhole, umbrellas, bocce and games.  Also, I remembered her sister Kelsey had mentioned that they both knew and had learned from their father.  I didn’t ask Kelsey to teach me because I am impatient and knew it would not be good for our friendship, plus Kelsey was not on the beach when I had my brilliant idea.  Audrey very nicely responded, “You don’t want me to teach you.  Ask Javier (her husband), he’s much more patient.”

Javier agreed to teach me – score!  That afternoon we “drove” up and down Olde Duck Rd. as I attempted to master (or at least get a handle on… pun intended) the stick shift phenomenon.  It started off easier than I thought because I was listening intently and not over-thinking.  The problems came when I started to blend every piece of information being thrown at me and began to over-analyze.  The old man with a cigarette who was staring at me from his balcony did not help.

Driving with two feet, when you have been driving with one for 15 years, is difficult.  If you can learn when you first learn to drive, i suggest you do it that way.  There are so many cool things you can do with the knowledge.  Race cars are stick.  Most European rental cars are stick.  Our rental car in South Africa will most likely be a stick.  It’s time to get on the horse…or truck.

Javier was super calm and fantastic.  He had a great way of describing the way the clutch would feel when you hit the “sweet spot” – it made the process that much easier.  He had me learn to start from a hill because that is one of the most difficult moves (stop light on a hill etc.) and I was about 52% successful.  I am not AS afraid of stalling out on a hill and looking like an idiot though I would say that is still my biggest fear (I think that is a big lifetime fear too, metaphor?).

I definitely learned a great deal from Javier – I give him two thumbs up, for inquiring minds.  I don’t feel quite ready to go out on my own without another back road practice or two but it’s good to know, as Javier put it, that if someone had a severed limb – I could drive them to the hospital.


Go to Marriage Counseling

Okay so maybe it’s not for everyone, but I have to say – it’s much more worth it than you may think.

For starters, you get a big discount on your marriage license in the state of Georgia (that was enough to sell me – let’s be honest).  It is “free” if you do it through your/a church (I put that in quotations because you really should give to the church in the name of your pastor etc. – plant a tree, help build the new chapel, volunteer – you know).  Your parents will think you are uber responsible and serious and your friends will think you must be getting old (aka, ready to be a married couple with a dog and mortgage).

But by far the best, perhaps unforseen, bonus is that you get to spend 1-1.5 hours every week remembering why you like each other so much.

Last night, Tom and I attended our second session with Pastor Katy Hinman at Decatur First United Methodist (for those following the story…YES, we chose!).  It was probably the only time all week that we will be (or usually are) in the same place, sitting down by 8pm.  We talked about our time budgets, financial budgets, interesting personality charts and stressors.  Marriage counseling feels like reflective listening teacher training but for adults to use with each other.

There is also a hint of Methodist Myers-Briggs in the air. Tom and I found out on our first date that we both love learning about personality types (www.keirsey.com) and how they interact in different relationships.  We also really enjoy talking – so there’s that.

I truly relish the moment when we leave the church and I feel 110% confident to be marrying the man I am marrying.  If you are considering getting married in your twenties, whether you’ve been together 2 months or 12 years – go to marriage counseling.  If nothing else, it will remind you why you are pumped for the wedding day.



Lose Weight, Gain Weight, Lose it Again

It is officially 4 months until our wedding. We are swimming in a sea of plans, schedules and invitations and loving every minute of it.  Unfortunately, the traditional wedding season was a doozy and I have been eating and drinking everything I come in contact with.  On Monday we decided to start the wedding slim down.  

I don’t know about the other ladies out there but I have always thought that I would be in my best shape of life for my wedding.  All of those pictures, expensive dress and lots of eyes on you – just a few reasons to make it a priority.  This fell by the way side when Tom and I attended 3 weddings in a row followed by 4th of July.  It is getting harder and harder to lose weight as I get older so we’ve decided to go with a combination of the “4 Hour Body” and training for a marathon (most likely to occur October 5).

This move made me think about all of the crazy diets and workouts I have tried in my twenties.

Early twenties – break-up “diet” of nothing but alcohol and protein – very healthy.  45 minute sessions on the elliptical – twice a day at UVA.

Mid-twenties – protein heavy diet – became a non-vegetarian, Right-Size Smoothies and dance class

Late twenties – run a marathon (aka the best non-diet ever), gluten free diet since 2010 when I found out that I was allergic and 4 hour body (no sugar, no dairy, no carbs – effective and fun at the same time)

It is insane the things we go through in our twenties to lose weight – and in my case gain it and lost it again.  I can only hope that, as I get older, I am more mature about my dietary and exercise decisions.  I will start this after the wedding 🙂 

Take A Photo A Day

Happy May everyone!  This means so many things to me – 6 months until the wedding, the most concentrated week of good friend birthdays in the year (May 10-18 to be exact), guiltless open complaining about cold weather in Atlanta, and photo-a-day contest participation.

My great friend My-Van posted this photo on Instagram.


I was immediately inspired to do this a la Roehring Twenties. A list of things to take pictures of and get creative about – what is not to love about this?  Many of you are not on Instagran – however, if you are, look me up – iamkateavril.  I decided to post my pics on the blog to hopefully inspire a different crowd.











What fun! – thanks My-Van.


Listen to Kareem


In His Twenties

  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t even know about this blog but he offers some fantastic wisdom.  Check it out.  Thanks Kareem!

Feel Conflicted About Job Options

Why am I almost 30 and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up?

This is a question that I ask myself fairly regularly.  My resume looks like some artsy, well-spoken, schizophrenic girl was dealing with dueling personalities and couldn’t decide which voice was dominant.  I am often embarrassed when I meet someone for networking purposes and I have just talked myself up and they ask for my resume.  While it is well put together and paints the picture of someone I would like to meet (or one of my personalities would), it makes me feel like I just lied to that person.  They are going to look at my resume and shrink when they realize I am a giant hoax.

In all seriousness, I have a bachelors degree from a phenomenal school – University of Virginia and a masters degree as well as years of real world experience.  I have never been fired.  I have only truly quit 1 job.  I am extremely loyal and hardworking.  But I can’t make up my mind.

Today I find myself juggling 2 jobs each day.  I go to work from 9-1 at the High Museum of Art in the Marketing Dept. and then I drive home, walk Lucy and drive to job #2 at the Shlesinger household in Buckhead where I am a combination of nanny, tutor and personal assistant.  I like both jobs.  I am happy at both jobs.  But I am not moving anywhere.

My major problem is that I am interested in everything.   I can see myself doing any number of things and being happy but it’s finding one and sticking to it that seems to be hard.  My mother and father seemed to find the job that was perfect for them in college/graduate school.  They are both extremely well-suited for their professions.  I am pretty sure this is not an inherited trait.  I do envy it, however.

I am currently battling with where to go from here.  I have the opportunity to go full time at either job and yet neither opportunity excites me.  The idea of not driving around all day and wasting gas excites me but it isn’t significantly more money or a career path that moves me forward necessarily.

I know that in your twenties you are supposed to feel conflicted about job options – I feel like we spend most of it discussing this very thing – but when you are almost 30, I feel like you should have it mostly figured out.  Perhaps I am wrong but right now I just feel conflicted.

Believe in Something

rightsDoes this look familiar?

If not, you’ve been living under a rock.

Last week, the Supreme Court met to discuss the possible repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  The Human Rights Campaign explains the problem thus…

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law.  This law discriminates in two important ways.  First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples.  Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people—thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. 

For example, legally married same-sex couples cannot:

  • File their taxes jointly
  • Take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse
  • Receive spousal, mother’s and father’s, or surviving spouse benefits under Social Security
  • Receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees

The symbol at the top adorns many Facebook pages in place of a profile picture to show support for equal rights for same sex couples and the repeal of DOMA.  It was/is a beautiful display.  Much like my friend, Leslie Kavannaugh, it struck me as different than the typical profile picture takeover for seemingly insignificant celebration like  “doppleganger week” or “talk like a pirate day”- also popular is the changing the image to announce an event or performance or promote a cause.

It felt like people were honestly and wholeheartedly reaching out to tell the world that they agree.  Love is love.  It is not the government’s right to define and restrict.  Leslie had the following to contribute…

“Similar trends always struck me as misguided emphasis on “awareness” without any action, and thus not very helpful or even sincere.

But this felt different to me–I think people weren’t changing their photos thinking that would actually impact a SCOTUS decision. They seemed to proclaiming themselves as allies and as perhaps a safe space for those they are friends with who are LGBT. I actually found it surprisingly powerful to see all the red, yet them I wondered why this social media trend struck me as feeling more sincere and worthy than others.

I ultimately changed my photo this morning (albeit to a Corgi variation of the logo) after reading posts from a new friend of ours who is a woman married to another woman (not recognized in Texas) and mother to a young child. I thought if nothing else, I can give the tiniest of nods of support to people in my own life for whom this SCOTUS decision would literally be life-changing to her family.”

Leslie mentioned the “Corgi variation” of the profile picture.  It featured 2 corgis laying next to each other on a red background so that their bodies formed an equals sign.  While the Facebook days were turning red last week, we also saw the emergence of many such variations.  My favorite happens to be the one designed by my friend Abernathy Bland (seen below).


This one caught my eye because it is 100% Abby. Many profiles transitioned to a more unique and personal adaptation of the symbol.  This made me even happier because that is the symbolic embodiment of the whole point!

We, as a community, were expressing our right to believe whatever we wish and to display that expression in any fashion. ANY fashion.  Corgis or rabbits – heart balloons or simple colored equal signs – they all got the same message across.  It doesn’t matter what ribbon you put on the present – it is going to be the same present.  If a man wants to love another man – it is still a marriage, and should be treated as such.

Yes – equality is the main thing.  We are not trying to change marriage and what it means to a couple – just the treatment of same sex couples within the umbrella.  Marriage is intrinsically special to each pair.  But equality means having the same rights as everyone else.  It is ridiculous that I felt the need to write that last sentence.

Cynthia Nixon (of Sex and the City) explained, “Gay people who want to marry have no desire to redefine marriage in any way.  When women got the right to vote, they did not redefine voting.  When African-Americans got the right to sit at a lunch counter, they did not redefine eating out.  They were simply invited to the table.”

I truly agree with this statement.  I hope that my friends, gay or straight, can all enjoy happy lives with the people that they love most.  It should be that simple.

In your twenties, believe in something – make sure you show it and maybe by the time you’re not in your twenties, it will have permanently changed lives for the better.

Invite Your Friends to Share Their Wisdom

Tomorrow, my best friend Kelsey turns 30.  I asked her to write reflections about her last day in her twenties.  She sent some pictures to go along with the following post – check it out.

Hooray – I am so excited to write a little guest entry for the blog! I love the idea of it – taking an active approach to accomplishing your milestones & dreams as you wander through the semi-adulthood of being in your 20s. As I sit here right on the brink of turning 30…it feels both completely and un-completely different.

I was a huge fan of my 20s. I did a lot of things that you’re supposed to do –got my first real job, changed jobs, drank too much, got my first apartment, switched apartments (about 10,000 times), got a dog, got engaged & married. I also didn’t do a lot of stuff you’re supposed to do – I didn’t buy a house, go to grad school, live abroad, or have 10,000 random flings/hook ups. It’s funny, but for me, hindsight is always rose-colored. I thought I’d feel the walls closing in at this point in my life and that I’d feel sad about any of the things I didn’t do. But honestly – I feel like my 20s were a period of transition and that there’s a bunch of new beginnings coming my way. Maybe some of the those things I missed are in store for me as I start this new decade (well, probably not the 10,000 random flings…), but I also can’t help but focus on all the amazing and everyday things I DID do. 


I remember at the end of college I was really sad. Anyone who knows me knows that pretty much my favorite thing is to be around people that I love and the idea that we weren’t all going to be living together or even in the same city was paralyzingly sad to me. But there’s no denying that it’s also super exciting – you’re off on your own! You have a bank account and an apartment that’s truly yours! And a big-time (or small-time, no one’s judging) job that pays you real money! All of that was exhilarating and terrifying and made the change just a little bit easier. I learned to be excited by that idea that unknown awesomeness could be on the horizon. And I’m probably overthinking it because truly, 30 isn’t that big a deal for our generation. But I like to make a big deal of things and I love reasons to get excited…so reflecting and looking forward seems appropriate on the eve of this decade-changeover. 

group 2

My 20s were super fun. I’ll miss a lot of things about them – lots of people have moved or had babies or gone through other life changes that will make certain experiences and memories un-recreate-able. But at 22, I was scared looking ahead to the rest of my 20s. And duh, they were awesome. So “older and wiser” me may panic as I am starting to see wrinkles around my eyes (shut up…it means I smile a lot) and freak out that my ankles hurt after I run (hey…at least I’m running). But I also still love being around my friends….so…I still hang out with my friends. Often. So maybe some of the things I loved about my 20s aren’t 20s things at all…maybe they’re just things that make me happy and always will. And I can learn from all those experiences and keep on truckin’ with those things.And then, there are a lot of exciting NEW things I cannot wait for that I’m hoping will happen in my 30s. 

Maybe that house and grad school thing will make their way into this decade. And hopefully so will starting a family and S (hubby) FINALLY finishing school. I still want a lot of the same things I wanted 2, 3 and 4 years ago. And starting a new decade in some ways brings the possibility of accomplishing them one step closer. If anything, I’ve just learned what I like through an arsenal of amazing experiences. And even better – I can hang on to any parts of those that I want and then hopefully build on them with 10 years of awesome new experiences. So, I suppose under this logic…I’ll be twice as excited to turn 60. Yeah…we’ll see how that goes…

group 3

Anyway, with this “looking forward” idea in mind, I recently compiled and published on my blog a list of 30 things I’d like to accomplish in the next few years. Kind of like a bucket list, but without the dying and with more “let’s just do this now – why the hell not?” It’s my way of welcoming in a new decade and urging myself to go out and do as much of my current wish list as possible. There’s no reason not to think about things that you want and make you happy…and it’s much easier to actually DO them when you’ve articulated what they are. And maybe throw a couple of challenges in there, too (we are growing, aren’t we?).

Carpe diem, baby. (It’s ok…I know I’m a dork).

Total Your Car

Ok, this title is misleading – you should not do that EVER, if you can avoid it.

Apparently I can’t.

Friday afternoon, as I was driving to a bridal appointment on Ponce de Leon Ave, I was involved in a major car accident that ended with poor Hamish (my Toyota Highlander) up in flames, a sprained knee and a whole mess of reeking, smoky belongings.  Those of you who are unfamiliar with Ponce should know that it is littered with small businesses and individual parking lots that connect to the main street and do not involve traffic lights.  The lane next to me had stopped for a turning vehicle up ahead and an SUV thought it was a good time to wedge in and wait for his moment.  His moment was apparently 30 feet in front of me.  He pulled across the path of my lane (which was traveling at 40 mph) and I had enough time to see the car and think a bad word when the air bags deployed.

Thank you air bags!  I only had a busted lip and did not get hit with any glass.  My left knee went into the wheel well but I didn’t know the extent of the damage.  I sat there for a moment to assess the situation when I caught a man out of the corner of my eye.  He was on the side of the road and motioning at me to get out of the car – over and over again.  So I did what anyone would do in this instance -I got out of the car.  I crawled over tot he side of the street and watched my car smoke away.

I remember being incredibly insistent about getting my purse out.  My car was almost flaming and I wanted to get my purse out.  I knew I was supposed to fly to DC in a few hours and couldn’t if my license got swallowed up in flames.  This seemed the most important thing.  It was not.  I am aware.

I called Tom and he came to the rescue.  I was already in the ambulance getting checked out by the EMTs.  He came just in time to see my car erupting in flames and the firemen hosing him down, and me nowhere to be found.  The EMTs were awesome.  After a lovely trip to the X-Ray, a call to DELTA to change flights, and a bunch of meds, I was ready to fly to DC.

Hamish, however, headed to the “Buckhead Towing” impound lot (I put that in quotes because according to Tom, this towing company was FAR from Buckhead) in a few sad pieces.

This was not my first rodeo – but it was certainly the most horrific.  Since the age of 20, my car has been hit by 4 other cars and a bullet.  None of these were my fault (the parking deck pole scrape was, but that is not the point).  My first car was totaled when a 17 year old didn’t look while changing lanes.  Clifford (my 1995 red Jeep Grand Cherokee) was knocked in such a way that he was totaled but still driveable – riddle me that.  I certainly have the back pain to prove it.  Now my second car, Hamish, joins the ranks.  It is a sad sad day.

When you are in your twenties, try not to, but you will probably get in an accident.  It will only teach you to be a better driver…. or to be afraid of other drivers, jerky/sudden car movements and how to deal with old people pain when you’re young.


R.I.P. Hamish : 2006-2013

Get Engaged!

Yes, we have done it!  The ultimate in “Things to do in your twenties”… or in life.  I am engaged!  But let me first say, that if you plan on getting engaged in your twenties – have your man call mine and get pointers on how to do it.  THIS – is how to do it…

On the weekend of January 26th, I  headed up to the DC area to help throw a baby shower for my beautiful friend Lisa Nguyen.  Tom and I had discussed whether or not he needed to come because it was more of a “girl’s event” so we ultimately decided he didn’t need to go as he had a lot of work and it was expensive.  I flew in to Richmond and spent Friday night with Kelsey – drinking champagne and “crazy juice” and preparing for the baby shower.  I tried to call Tom a bunch of times because I could not find the recipe for the sipping chocolate I had brought from GA for Kels to try.  I knew it was at home so I figured he could just read it to me.  He did not pick up.  He later called to say he had fallen asleep on his phone and it had died.  This did not seem weird because it wouldn’t be the first time.

Kelsey and I woke up early and drove to Vienna for the shower.  It was lovely.  About 35-40 ladies, delicious food and pint sized everything (food and baby stuff).  I was supposed to have an early dinner with Mimi’s parents after the shower so once we were picked up I called Mimi to meet her.  She told me that we were going to have dinner at the Kennedy Center as her parents were going to be seeing a show afterwards.

Only one thing seemed weird about this – Mimi’s dad likes good food.  The Kennedy Center restaurant is not good food.  I let it go.

Kelsey said she would take me to meet Mimi on the way to her sister’s place in DC.  There was traffic on 66 so I mentioned that it would be good to go straight to the Kennedy Center.  Kelsey immediately got on her cell phone and was texting a bunch – I figured it was to let her sister know.  We drove into the city and I tried to direct her to the Center but I had her in the wrong lane so we had to circle back around Georgetown and approach the city again – oops.

Only one thing seemed weird about this – Kelsey was unnaturally upset by the wrong turn – it seemed to make her really nervous and she never gets nervous about that stuff.  I let it go.

We met up with Mimi in front of the building and Mimi and I re-parked and went inside.  We went up to the roof terrace level and Mimi started walking the opposite direction of the restaurant – *nothing seemed weird about this because Mimi has an interesting sense of direction.  She said her dad was taking photos on the roof of the monuments and wanted to take our photo too.  So we walked outside and 2 things are immediately clear…

1.) There is only 1 person on the roof.

2.) It is not Mimi’s dad.

Not so immediately, 2 other things became clear…

1.) Mimi had not gotten all of the snow off of her heels or was crazy because she was stomping on the ground  in a ridiculous manner.

2.) Whoever the guy was that was on the roof, he was oddly fixated on us.

I said “Mimi, that is not your dad,” and turned to leave.  She replied with, “but who is that?”  I thought to myself – ok, does it really matter because he’s just some sketchy creeper in the dark shadows over there and we should probably go.  Then she said, “No wait who IS that?”  At that point, sketchy man stepped into the light and 1 thing became abundantly clear…

Sketchy Man was Tom.

He was standing there with flowers and motioning for me to come that way.  I immediately started crying – like you do – and walked over to him.  I kept saying “why are you here? what are you doing here?”  – I knew why he was there, c’mon.  He brought me to the side of the terrace where you can see all of the gorgeous monuments lit up and he gave a lovely speech about our lives together and what he wanted for us.  He got down on one knee and almost forgot to actually ask the question but finally did.  I replied “YEAH! … I mean yes” (because my Mama taught me that “yeah” sounds informal and you should always say “yes” instead).

Here is a photo of the ring he designed – nice job Tom.


I have to be honest when I say that I don’t remember everything that was said.  When you know what is about to go down – it all becomes a blur.  We had a glass of champagne on the roof to toast and promptly returned the glasses to the bartender inside the restaurant.  I wanted to keep them but Tom was a nice guy and promised to return them – boo.  We went downstairs and the next surprise was a limo waiting for us.

Before I continue. let me just say, I love limos. I have always loved limos.  They make me happy.

Inside the limo was more champagne and chocolate covered bananas from Edible Arrangements (Tom still makes fun of me that this part is included in every re-telling of the story but, much like limos, I love chocolate covered bananas).  We went to the W Hotel in downtown DC for a delicious steak dinner at J and G.  I kept asking if I could call my mom but he kept saying – you’ll see her tomorrow morning – just wait a little bit.  The manager gave us a free dessert and champagne (do you see a constant here?) and then we got up to leave.  I assumed we were headed back to Arlington to meet up with my friends (whom I know got together for dinner a la Kelsey) but instead we got in the elevator.

We went up to the POV on the roof and as I rounded the corner I saw Tom’s mother first.  His parents, my parents and my brother were all sitting there at a booth with a bottle of champagne.  I started to cry again.  His parents had flown in from New York and mine had driven up from Virginia to celebrate.  It felt amazing.  In fact, this is what it looked like…


We toasted with them, took photos, cried and got into the limo – all of us – to head to Arlington.  When we got to Arlington Rooftop Bar (where we had our 2nd date) – I went in first because my friends had no idea what had just gone down – save Mimi and Kelsey.  When I walked in and saw Mimi, I didn’t know what to lie and say I had been doing because I was SUPPOSED to have been with her.  So when someone asked “how’d it go?” and I didn’t know how to respond – I simply said “Boom!” and flashed the ring.  It took a while to register on all of their faces but I’m pretty sure Lisa understood first, by the squealing and clapping.

Most of our friends were together at the bar.  Tom’s fraternity brothers and DC friends came as well as his friends from NYC and his best friend Matt.  We had a huge blowout until about 2am.  I stopped counting champagne but my head was definitely not thanking me the next morning.  Our parents got along great and Mom and Dad definitely had a smashing time with the friends.

The next morning we went to brunch at Evening Star Cafe (where we had our first date) with the parents and brother and Matt Noble.  It was the ultimate celebration of engagement.

Tom knew exactly what to do.  It is such a testament to how well he knows me that he picked a perfect spot, made it personal, brought out the families and added the friends later.  He knew I would want to be surrounded by the people that mean the most and he was right.

Guys out there who have yet to propose – you have big shoes to fill.

When you are in your twenties, you should try getting engaged to the love of your life – I highly recommend this experience.