Sunday, January 10, 2010

In which we travel to Richmond

A trip to Richmond is always a pleasant prospect: it's just far enough away to be an excursion, but not so far that it's a hassle to get there. Saturday was the day of the interviews for the Virginia Governor's School summer residency program. This is a Big Deal. It's a summer boarding school program for gifted high school students in Virginia. You study in the area of your expertise, which in Drama Queen's case is visual arts. Just getting to the point where you can interview is a big deal because, at least as far as the arts are concerned, each high school can send just one student, and this year, Drama Queen was the chosen one from Charlottesville High School.

She had to prepare a portfolio, the crowning piece of which she was still finishing on Friday night--a combination of sculpture and fashion design. We set off for the University of Richmond early Saturday morning. It's a beautiful campus, although it has an air of having been engineered. All the buildings are unvarying baronial English style. You could say the same of the University of Virginia, I suppose, except that it has grown over time and there are buildings that break from the Jeffersonian style.

Of course we got lost, once inside the bounds of the campus and a long line of cars--other parents--was following me down the meandering one-way road. When I pulled into a parking lot to consult the map, the other cars did the same and there was a ridiculous scene as I exited the lot and all the other cars followed.

The interview itself went well, I think. The kids, who came from all over the state, were organized into groups of 15, and first got 15 minutes to sketch one of the program volunteers, who served as a model. Then they returned to the waiting room to await the interviews. It was in this interval that we discovered one of the arms had become detached from Drama Queen's sculpture. A safety pin would have solved the problem, but we didn't have one. What I did discover, at the bottom of my purse, was a packet of dental floss and Drama Queen managed to repair her sculpture with it--not invisibly, unfortunately, but well enough.

I had brought a book to read during the wait, but was too distracted by all the other students and their art. Most had bulky sculptures, since one requirement of the portfolio was two "three dimensional" pieces. Most also had entourages of parents and friends to help carry all the art and I was glad that we'd brought Miss G with us to help with that.

Of course, I wasn't allowed into the actual interview, but we were allowed to help her carry her pieces to the room and set them up and then wait outside the door. We debated about confessing about the broken arm, and decided it was appropriate. When the interviewers came out of the room, one of them smiled at me in a way that I interpreted as "Congratulations on having such a talented daughter." At least that's how I saw it. Now we wait until April to hear if she got in. About 1/5 of the applicants are selected.

Then we went to Trader Joe's, my first trip to this allegedly cheaper Whole Foods alternative. For years, Charlottesville residents have been agitating for a Trader Joe's of our own. I once even signed a petition which demanded that the deserving people of Charlottesville get our very own Trader Joe's, so I was excited to finally get to see one and I told the girls we could eat lunch there. Trader Joe's is in Short Pump, one of those hellish suburbs devoted almost entirely to commerce. I suppose there are people who live in Short Pump--I saw some dreary condominium towers--but all I know of it is an insanely busy street solidly packed with chain restaurants and retail establishments.

First problem, there was no cafe. What kind of upscale grocery store doesn't have a cafe? Not even a decent deli. We did find a selection of premade wraps and salads and sushi--the sushi turned out to be a disappointment. Trader Joe's is a nice enough store, and if we had one in Charlottesville I would certainly shop there, but I'm not sure it's worth signing a petition for one. Of course it was crowded, and I was confused about the theme of the store, if there was one. It seemed they were going for a sort of piratey-Key West sort of thing, but I'm not sure if that is purposeful or not.

Generally, stores come to Richmond, and then a few years later they come to Charlottesville. I remember when we had to drive all the way to Short Pump just to shop at Target!

And so ends a blog post that is probably more boring than my usual. Sorry. Tonight is my first night off orientation. That is, I will be practicing on my own without a preceptor, for the first time, and I will also be working night shift. I feel absolutely sick, I'm so nervous, even though I've been handling a full patient load for some time, it was still nice to have one nurse whose sole purpose was to answer my questions and offer support. So wish me luck.


  1. I hope that Drama Queen's interview went well. With luck, you'll be blogging in April about how she got in.

    I've never been to the Trader Joe's in Short Pump. While I've shopped at TJ's in other parts of the country, I haven't felt compelled to head an hour to the east just to get pasta and other foods. I'm sure that I'll check it out if/when it comes to C'ville, but can't say now if I will or will not shop there regularly.

    Good luck at work tonight!

  2. How exciting for Drama Queen--and you! Fingers crossed for BOTH of you.
    I've never been to a TJ's. I've only heard of them. We have NO high end grocery stores in our area, which amazes me because we have all the other stores like Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Macy's, Chico's, J Jill, and so forth. Apparently we spend well, but not well enough to deserve a Whole Foods.

  3. Also crossing my fingers for Drama Queen.

    I like TJ's well enough to shop there when it's convenient, i.e. when I'm in the neighborhood. Now that they've built one in our neighborhood, it's finally close enough for me to shop at with some frequency. I still don't think it's all that and a bag of (organic veggie) chips. But it's a good place to get cheap nuts.

  4. Good luck! To you and DQ. I think she should get bonus points for the MacGyvering the sculpture with the dental floss.

  5. Good luck to Drama Queen!

    I think you would come around to being a Trader Joe's fan if you could shop there regularly. The reason it is good is not so much the produce or the refrigerator cases, but all the nifty items like fancy balsamic vinegar, artichokes,olive oil, chocolate, cookies, pies etc that are reasonably priced. Also, good Prosecco for 5.99 a bottle. I am a big fan.