Tag Archives: fun

And it was good

The beauty of Connecticut fall catches my breath.  The firestorm on the the tree beneath my bedroom makes me smile.  So does the quiet hope that wells up in my soul.

For every exasperated sigh I swallow in my carrel and long hour with an un-exhilarating paper are a dozen moments of sweet smiles.  Ideas excite me.  Despite the realization that most people don’t care, I am incapable of saying anything about my research without getting all bright eyed and smily.

And when the brillant professor I fumble my ideas to says that my argument sounds great, the fire burns brighter.  Likewise, I gladly give my time to the teaching that forces my thoughts deep into the recluses of my mind for reevaluation.  Ideas are like that.

In the last 72 hours, a friend and I hosted a make-your-own gourmet personal pizza night, complete with fancy cheese, fresh sausage, jalepenos, and eight of my closest-don’t-talk-to-often-enough friends.  Saturday, I drove to Providence for an ISI conference on the American University.  I’ve never wanted to read Plato so badly in my life.  I figure something like The Republic or The Odyssey ought to count as an appropriate beginning of the Western Cannon : )

Today was simply beautiful, and a few friends and I will be driving  up the Connecticut coastline in the morning as we run away with every last remaining precious bit of fall break.

This overcast night hides the moon from my bedroom window, but with a monstrously soft brown blanket draped over my shoulders and the quiet beat of my fingers, keeping time with the Bublé in the background, I just can’t help but feel at peace as the dreams and reflections that can’t quite make their way out dance on my heart.

Providence, Rhode Island

 

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Stunning, SB: Day 15

On Mount Higby.

A homemade spring break for the best of them.

In perfect shorts and tank tops weather, I’ve sat outside on my newly-cleaned screened porch.  The same room that was so gross when I moved in that I decided to pretend it wasn’t attached to my house is now a beautiful, sunlit reading room (complete with an outdoor outlet).

Professor Elphick’s book recommendation arrived yesterday, and I’ve set at properly devouring it, my mind thoroughly jumbled at its crazy claims and what it means it the author is right.

When I realized 72 cookies was a lot.

My cooking disasters have continued, but with notable shining successes.

In between not paying attention to the fact that that cookie recipe yields 6 dozen cookies (2 1/2 cups doesn’t sound like much until you realize that it’s talking about butter), the panicked phone call to my mother because my drumsticks were bleeding in the oven (it was gross), and the icing that kept sliding off the cake, my cooking has been met with shining success.

I’ve actually made an array of full, edible meals, which really is quite a major feat for me.  I’ll analyze a boring book and write a great analysis, but ask me to cook a family sized meal and disaster is more likely than not.

My beautiful porch.

Over break, I’ve learned to make a biscuits and gravy that would knock you on your feet, and the beans and cornbread casserole I made for my friends might as well have been cooked by mother.

Besides the edible food part, my room with an oven and fridge finally has enough basic utensils and pantry items to earn its title as a kitchen.

The time apart from MS Word has been good for both of us, and I’ve watched the Dead Poets Society three times in the last week.

I’ve also discovered that 80s music does have a place in the world, even if it is restricted to morning kitchen music while making pancakes, and I finally explored that wooded path by 91, the one that leads to a mountain.

Chicken noodle soup, apples and peanut butter, and grapefruit soda on the porch.

Perhaps most notable has been the never-ending developments in my quest for a summer job, more appropriately referred to as Tori finally figured out what she wants to do with her life and, dare I say it, has a decent idea of what that means in terms of a career.

As frightening as each step in this process has been and undoubtedly still will be, it has been a lot of fun (…a word I never previously dared to associate with a job search)

Opposite of a cooking disaster.

I can’t even begin to explain all that’s happening other than to say its a lot, I never could have mapped a network this big, and it is so not over.  I still am not quite sure what’s going to happen this summer, but, bit by bit, it really is all coming together.

One of the first couple weeks of the semester, we started praying about jobs at Wellspring.  I was already well on my way down this crazy, exciting path with big dreams and a direction, but up to that point it wasn’t really going anywhere specific.

It’s been unbelievable watching opportunities that seemed so great completely fall apart (and my desire for them).

Reading on the hill.

Whereas, new opportunities, ones that wouldn’t have even caught my attention a year ago but are now all I want, are coming out of nowhere.

I know people that spent the break in Florida, Jamaica, Mexico, California, Hong Kong, Europe, and the Middle East.  Bet none of them have had a break as fulfilling as mine–right here in Middletown, Connecticut.

-best spring break ever-


Quiet Again, SB Day 11

Picnic on Foss Hill.

I thought I would get bored, or perhaps more appropriately, I was afraid I would.

Normally, my mornings begin at 9 and end at 2am, meaning that besides my regular 4pm nap (a truly golden 20-45 minutes), it is unceasing.

But I made it that way–on purpose.  The create-your-schedule of the last 8 months had it’s plusses, but for all its problems, I missed this place.  Naturally, I thought once all the activity stopped, so would my love for it.

I was a bit crushed when, after some number-crunching, I decided it best to ditch my spring break DC plans and take in New England, but for all its normalcy, it has proved every bit as restful as Christmas break…even with 40 hours of work in the library.

I finally finished my imovie of my semester abroad, which is a huge accomplishment and have found total fulfillment in meaningless articles, photos, and blogs online to fill the rest of the time.  Undoubtedly, not quite as high reaching as the armload of books I planned on reading over break, but that always happens.

Almost thesis-related books.

I read nice and slowly, enjoying it without rush when there’s no pressure.  But that’s probably a good thing too, although, I must say that I am direly lamenting the fact that, and I am not exaggerating, Olin Library does not have a single book related to my thesis.

Perhaps this will be enough to finally push books out of its position as my 2nd biggest living expense and into first.

Inter-library loan anybody??


Almost a Fair Lady

I can speed talk, articulate, enunciate, and give speeches with the best of them (in English), but I don’t know if my mouth’s ever been so worn out as it is today.

I’ve read that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body.  If that’s true, then my taking in and learning a language has had a serious affect on the physical fitness of my tongue.  Because while I most certainly talk, I say a lot less.

Sometimes you just know you’ve hit a new level in your language skills.  Today was one of those days.  I just didn’t shut up–all day.  Didn’t matter the topic.  It felt so great.

I felt completely like my normal self while speaking Spanish.  [Generally speaking,] there were no topics that came up where I had to alter what I was originally going to say  because I didn’t know a word.  I didn’t have to stop for a minute to think about how to say something.  It just all popped out.

After an early morning attempt to visit Congress that didn’t quite pan out and a notably fantastic lunch, I met a couple of girls (a Spaniard, Brit, and Pole) for coffee.

The mood was so lighthearted, and it felt like I had a never ending stream of stories, one-liners, and quiet antagonistic quips to egg them on.  It was so much fun.

Then, I talked with a German friend and another Spaniard for over two hours at dinner.

bad coffee + chocolate.


Thoughtless can be good too (Paris, Part II)

Keep running, because the view around the corner would take your last breath away anyways.  Wind isn’t the only thing that ought not be metaphoric; distance is good too.

It clears the mind.

Nothing gets rid of pent up exhaustion like an open invitation to a new city.  The last week has been….not fun.  I just wish I could explore Spain and forget classes.

I’ve tried to look at it from a little outside perspective, but I am really at a loss as to the purpose of the educational system here.  And that eats at me.  It’s not that I’m not learning things, it’s just I don’t know why what I am learning has value.

When I consider all the philosophers I’ve yet to study, the history I can barely explain, the economists whose names I only know, the speeches I’ve never read, the 40 book queue on my Kindle that just starts to touch on these topics, and the knowledge that I can only teach myself the things I know I should know (meaning there is a lot I don’t know enough to know that I should know),  I can’t help but feel a final paper requiring me to contrast one book with Animal Farm, a book I read as a freshman in high school, is an assignment that’s not worth my time.

Combine that frustration with the need to learn things that I know has value, but really stink at memorizing, like nitty-gritty Spanish grammar rules and thousands of new words.

By the end of last week, I had about all I could healthily bare, which made waking up in Paris with no plan for the day and the freedom to do whatever I wanted all the more welcome.

It felt foreign, but not because I was in France.  I’m just not used to having that much freedom and mobility.  I had no responsibilities and the time and resources to do just about anything I wanted to with the day.

And trust me, I made it so worth the while.

I folded the free map I picked up at the airport, stuffed it in my coat pocket, and set out for a metro stop that seemed to be near important things.  When I got there, I just picked a direction started walking.

It felt a lot like those first couple days in Santiago, when I would just step outside the dorm, look around, and realize that all the pictures I’ve seen of places like this were real.  When you hear so much and about a place, but never see it, it just doesn’t feel real.  And that’s because it’s not.

No photo, video, or story can ever actually portray reality.  For that, you really have to be there.

So it was a morning of slowing strolling through new streets, admiring architecture and coincidentally finding the Paris Opera, the Tuileries Garden, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, and the Arc de Triomphe.

dessert

And that was all before lunch, which was awfully tasty.  I met Coralie, and while I haven’t actually the slightest idea what we ate (other than it was some kind of cheese and marmalade on toast), it was very French and delicious.

That afternoon, I set off to find Notre Dame, which took me awhile.  But it gave me a lot of time to contemplate all the assumptions I had made about France.  I must admit, I was never too fond of it, as a country.  I might not be a real scholar of French history, but I tend to side with Mr. Burke’s arguments when it comes to the French Revolution, I see nothing to admire in their government, I don’t follow the French political mindset, and I’d always heard the people were rude.

The first two are still completely true, the third mostly true, and, in my own experience, the last one’s not true at all.

From the guy who showed me where to run to catch the last train, to the guys who held the door open as I ran down the escalator to catch that train, figured out how to help me at the store despite not knowing a word of what I was saying (a situation made worse/slightly comical when I then immediately/instinctively began speaking to him in Spanish), to my friends’ hospitality, and to the people they introduced me to, people were always very kind.

Whenever people ask me where I come from, I usually just say Kentucky and Pennsylvania.  If they inquire about my family’s pre-American roots, I’ll boast my German and English history, but I don’t often say much about the French part.

I think I might mention that first now.


Dead giveaway

that your an American? “Oh, hi nice to meet you.”  Then stick out your right hand.

I didn’t do it on purpose.  I was just trying to be polite, and I was, just not following local custom.  Everyone smiled, and said they knew where I was from.  I’m still not completely used to the European ear-cheek kiss thing as a greeting.

Friday night was by far the best night I’ve had in Spain so far.  I’ve been aching to really connect with some people here, and I did.  Shortly before I left the states, I scoured google for some proof of a Christian student group at Carlos III.  I ended up on the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship national website (I’m apart of IV at Wes), clicked on a link, and another link, dug a little bit, and found something called GBU that listed a contact person at my school here.  Score.

I sent an email, was added to something on facebook, and invited to some welcoming meeting.  I didn’t really have any idea what to expect.  I knew no one going to it or what exactly was going to be happening.  [fyi: For anyone worried about my safety here, I’d done enough research to know what I was going to was legit.]

I met someone at the metro station, so there would be no getting lost (this time at least!).  There had to be something like 40 students in the room from universities all over the city.  It was a little hard to understand everything because the acoustics weren’t the best, but I picked up enough to follow.

I met a bunch of Spaniards, which was amazing.  So far, I’ve had classes where I didn’t really talk to anyone and conversations with other lost foreigners, but that’s about it.  I’d never been a social setting with locals before.  AMAZING.

Other amazing thing, the foreigners that were there.  I’ve spent a lot time with folks in my program and some folks from Boston and the UC system, but it was really cool to hang out with other internationals with so many interests similar to mine.

The girl I mistakenly greeted with a handshake and I ended up talking a lot and grabbing dinner after the meeting.  It was great, and equally hilarious.  Some things you just can’t learn in grammar book, like how to tell when your waiter is hitting on you.  We got that lesson now.  It got a little awkward at the end as we were paying for our meal, but it was still funny.

Truly, the best night so far in Spain, and I think part of what made it so great was not just because I smiled more than I have in the last 4 weeks or laughed harder, I think it was so great because of what I know I have ahead of me because of it.

amen.


No utensils, okay. But no plates…

Imagine a hot, liquid Hershey’s bar.  Then make it better quality chocolate.  Then dip, oozing, steaming fried dough doused in sugar.  That’s Spanish hot chocolate and churros.   Some snack, ah?  mmmhhh.

Okay, so maybe it was a little strong, but the experience counts for something, right?

Great night.  It was our first time out on our own for a meal, and that worked great.  I ended up with an awesome group of folks.  We were at the restaurant for at least a couple hours.  The whole evening turned into a great joke.  The program director gave us a list of good places to check out, and none of us thought to bring it.  So we just stopped someplace.  I think our waitress really hated us, because she never brought us individual plates (we ordered tapas, which are eaten family style).  Instead of complaining, we just laughed and rolled with it.