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Posts from the ‘Holidays’ Category

*Halloween, Reformation Day, and Pamiatka Zosnulých.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of Halloween.  I liked it when I was seven or eight years old and it meant lots of free candy, but as I’m too old to go trick-or-treating and don’t even want to eat that much candy, it’s not a “holiday” I get excited about anymore.  That being said, Halloween is not commonly celebrated in Slovakia, and I wasn’t the slightest disappointed to miss it this year.  (Okay, okay, the costume part is kind of fun, but it’s not like anyone needs Halloween to dress up).

It turns out that Halloween isn’t the only holiday celebrated on October 31st though.  Raised Baptist, the little I know about the Reformation is what I learned in history in school, but among Lutheran churches (perhaps particularly among European Lutheran churches), Reformation Day is still celebrated each year on October 31st.  (This is the day that Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses for church reformation to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517).  So yesterday, instead of donning some sort of costume and heading to a party, I went to an evening church service with my friends Miska and Milotka.  The service was similar to a Sunday morning service in a Slovak Lutheran church and quite beautiful.  Although I often miss the praise bands and simple services that I’m used to, there is something about liturgy and ancient hymns that reflects the beauty and holiness of God in a much more profound way.

After the service, the girls introduced me to another holiday I had never experienced before, Pamiatka Zosnulych, or All Souls’ Day.  I’m familiar with the name of the holiday (the English name, at least), but I recognize it mainly as words on a calendar, not as an event or something to celebrate.  In Slovakia, this is a day to remember deceased family members, and it is often celebrated over several days.  As Milotka explained to me, it is similar to “Homecoming in America,” because family members living in different places often travel home to be with their family.  Families visit cemeteries where their relatives are buried, and cover the graves in flowers and candles.

Perhaps “graves covered in flowers and candles” doesn’t sound especially spectacular to you, but the reality of what this looks like is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  After the Reformation Day service, Miska, Milotka and I walked to the nearby cemetery.  This did feel a little bit like Halloween, but as the idea of a dark, empty cemetery at night sounds terrifying to me, there’s no way I’d usually venture there on Halloween night!  However, the cemetery was neither dark nor empty.  Can you imagine a cemetery set on a rolling hill full of people, old and young, blanketed in candlelight?  I was amazed at how many candles there were, and how beautiful it looked!  (I really don’t think of cemeteries as pretty places, but it truly was)!  I’ve included a few pictures so you can get idea, but they really don’t capture what it looked like.

I was glad to get to experience this, and it was fun to experience a part of Slovak culture that I’d never seen before.  All in all, it was a unique “Halloween.”

*Second photo from http://subory.hnusta.sk/udaje/Objekty/obrazky/2008/cirkev/pamiatka-zosnulych-03.JPG

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*Happy Presidents’ Day!

Saturday night my roommate and I hosted a Presidents’ Day party.  Everyone was supposed to come dressed as a president and we made teams for pub-style presidential trivia.

Here’s the trivia movie; see how much you know! (I’ll post the answers later).

I made the movie in iMovie, finally putting my VisCom skills to use. Sadly, the DVD I tried to make so we could play it in our DVD player didn’t work… Next time!

Here are some pictures from the party:

Theodore Roosevelt: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Theodore Roosevelt & Grover Cleveland

Trivia winners: Team Air Force One. *If you look in the left corner, you can kind of see FDR. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of ‘him’ and ‘his’ wheelchair.

“Barack Clinton” (Pravin was representing both).

Some of the guys (too cool to dress up)

Grover Cleveland & Theodore Roosevelt

*A few words about December.

I had a very relaxing December this year.  The quarter ended at NSCC on December 3rd, and the 4th was my last day as a full teacher at Kaplan.  (Now I’m just a substitute).  I spent my time catching up on sleep from the chaos of fall quarter, reading, and cooking (believe it or not).  I went to NC on the 17th and spent a great week there visiting family and friends.

After Christmas I spent a few days with my brother in Atlanta, stopping in SC for lunch with some of my best friends.  Congratulations to Chasity and Nic on their engagement; Michelle and I will be Co-Maids of Honor, along with our friend Janelle!

I came back to Seattle in time for New Year’s and celebrated at Mark and Heather’s.  We rang in the New Year with a champagne toast on their balcony while watching the fireworks over the Space Needle, and then had an impromptu dance party until almost 2 in the morning!  The party continued for a few of us with a sleepover at Christina and Jess’s after that.

A month without work and full of celebrating with family and friends on both coasts?  It doesn’t get much better than that!

*Love is… ♥

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Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love is not happy with evil but is happy with the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always remains strong. Love never ends…”
-1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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♥ Happy Valentine’s Day! ♥

*Welcome to 2009.

Well, I had hoped to write a 2009 blog post before now, but, you could say, the year didn’t start out exactly how I had planned (or would have hoped for). I got back to Seattle from a nice trip home on Friday afternoon around lunchtime. My original plan for the last weekend before school and work started back was to finish organizing and decorating my new studio apartment and getting work things organized so I wouldn’t have to deal with it once I was busy with school again. However, the day before I came back to the Emerald City, my landlord called to let me know that the pipe that had cracked in my apartment the day after I left had been repaired, but the repairs had created a big mess that now needed to be repaired! For this reason, I would not be able to live in my apartment again until everything had been fixed!

Since then, I have been busy finding a new place to stay for the next 4+ weeks, as well as repacking everything I had just finished unpacking, or hiding things to keep them away from the mess that will be created as the repairmen fix the ceiling that has been torn apart, repair the large holes in the wall, and re-carpet the entire studio.

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That being said, my friends have been really great and, after receiving numerous offers of couches to crash on, I’m currently living on an air mattress in my friend Erika’s apartment. My boss was also very understanding and gave me the day off today to finish getting my apartment in order and to prepare for the new year/new quarter. My first class at SPU is tonight and I’ll go back to work tomorrow.

My trip to the East Coast was great. I visited college friends in Columbia, went to Myrtle Beach for my cousin Sarah’s wedding, and then spent a week at home in North Carolina visiting family and a handful of high school friends during Christmas.

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After Christmas I flew up to New York City to celebrate New Year’s with Meagan and Chris, friends from South Carolina. Instead of going to Times Square (I heard that the temperature that night was 1°F), Meagan and I went to a NY party at a bar in Union Square with her friends from Columbia University.

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New York was fun, but it’s nice to be back in Seattle, even if I can’t live in the apartment I was so excited to get. Although the next six months or so are going to be pretty hectic, I’m looking forward to them. Next week I begin the first phase of my teaching practicum, so I’ll be a student, a teacher, and a student teacher! I also have to decide on a thesis topic soon, so I can get started on that.

I think what I’m most excited to see about 2009 is where I am at the end of the year. I’m hoping to leave the country sometime after finishing grad school, but as of now I’m not sure exactly where I’m going to go. Hopefully by the end of the year, even if I’m not there yet, I’ll know where I’m going and when I’ll get there! So, even in the midst of cracked pipes, torn-apart ceilings, walls with holes, and cut-up carpet, I’m beginning the year with an optimistic outlook.

Happy New Year to all of you, I hope you’re able to begin the year with a feeling of excitement for the future as well!

Vegas Vacation

This is a few weeks late now, but Vegas was a lot of fun! It was great to see Mom, Dad, and Jeffrey, and we all had fun perusing the casinos, walking around town, and on our adventure through the Arizona desert. Mom and I were the big casino winners, walking out with about $12 more (combined) than what we came in with. Mom played nickel slots, I played Black Jack.

Friday morning Mom, Jeffrey, and I joined Dad at his Construct 2008 conference. Jeffrey had a good time talking to some of the vendors; Mom and I had fun collecting all the free stuff! Friday night we saw the musical Jersey Boys. The show tells the story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. The music was great and the story was interesting; I’d recommend the show to anyone looking for a good show to see. I’ve been listening to “Sheerrrrrr-rrrry” on my iPod all week long!

Saturday morning we got up early to take a bus tour to Hoover Dam and the west rim of the Grand Canyon, in northwest Arizona. Jeffrey and I took a helicopter to the bottom of the Canyon and rode down the Colorado River on a pontoon boat. The trip was fun, but on the way back to Vegas, the bus got a flat tire and we spent two hours sitting out in the dry heat of the Arizona desert. (It was hot, but I have to admit that after months of the gray, cool weather of Seattle, it was a nice change).

The driver finally found someone to help change the tire, and we made it back to Vegas not too much later than originally planned. When we got back to the city I met up with a few of my former students who were also in Vegas for the weekend. All in all, it was a pretty great trip.

Birthday Weekend.

Well, this is a week after the fact, but I had a very nice birthday last weekend.

On Friday my students surprised me after the 15-minute break in the middle of class. I came back into the classroom and they all started singing ‘Happy Birthday.’ The board was decorated with a huge “Happy Birthday” song and then they gave me a present: a dress from Gap!

Saturday night they invited me over for a cookout in my honor, which was great! I’m glad my students are mostly around my age (give or take a few years); they’re really cool and we have a lot of fun together.

Sunday I had made plans to go to the Seattle-Atlanta minor league soccer game with my friends. (Next year the Sounder’s will be part of MLS: Seattle Sounders FC)! One of my friends asked if I wanted to go to dinner before the game with her. We went to an Italian restaurant and when we got there I discovered that they had actually planned a surprise birthday dinner with a lot of my friends!

Dinner was great and the soccer game was fun (Seattle won)!

All in all, I had a really great birthday weekend (even if I was 3,200 miles from home).

Between graduating from college, moving to Seattle, starting graduate school, my short-lived stint as a nanny, and becoming a teacher, 22 was a very interesting year. I’m looking forward to seeing what age 23 will bring!

On a different note, I haven’t updated this blog in several weeks, so here’s what I’m up to these days:

-Spring quarter is *almost* over. I have two exams this week, two papers due next week, and then I will have a short break before summer school starts. (Thankfully, summer school only lasts 4 weeks and I’m only taking one course).

-During my break between spring and summer quarters I’m going to Vegas to visit Mom, Dad, and Jeffrey! (Stay tuned for pictures)!

-Wednesday I’m going to see the Mariners play the Red Sox at Safeco Field… I’ve always liked the Red Sox but I’ll be pulling for the Mariners at this game!