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*A few weeks home in the South

Between Seattle and Slovakia I got to spend about three weeks home in the South, visiting family and friends.  Last week I went on a six-day road trip with Amanda, one of my best friends from Seattle.

I left Greenville (NC) on Friday morning, picked her up in Ahoskie, NC, and then headed south to Columbia, SC.  We spent the weekend in Columbia visiting my friends from college, and then went to Atlanta on Sunday.  I dropped Amanda off to meet up with her aunt and uncle, and then I joined my brother just in time to go see “Rumors”, a community theater production which Jeffrey designed the set for.  After the show we celebrated my birthday.  The next day I visited my Aunt Hope and cousin Anna, who is leaving while I’m in Slovakia to spend 27 months in Africa with the Peace Corps.   Glad I got to see her before I left!  From Atlanta I traveled to Greenville, SC and spent the night with my Aunt Laura, Uncle Tim, and cousins Stephen and Mary.  Tuesday morning I went to Charlotte where two best friends (Caitlin from NC and Michelle from SC) now live.  Wednesday was my birthday and I celebrated all day: birthday breakfast with Caitlin, birthday lunch in Kernersville, NC with Kary (a college roommate), and then I was back in town in time for a birthday dinner with my family.  All in all, it was a great trip.  (Check out the slideshow below).

Now I’m just a few days away from leaving for Slovakia.  I’m excited to get there, but I’m glad I got to spend some time at home first.

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*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!

Easy as… pie?

A couple of weeks ago I went with my friend Carla to see Waitress, a Sundance film starring Keri Russell. Russell plays the role of Jenna, a waitress at a small town “pie diner” who is stuck in a terrible marriage with a controlling husband she no longer loves.

I enjoyed the movie, and I guess I was inspired. When I found out that Shandon’s college Summer Supper Series was at Paula & Margeaux’s house this week and they needed desserts, I decided to try my own hand at making pies.

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Of course, that mostly meant buying the pre-made Philadelphia cheesecake mix and crushing up Oreos to sprinkle on top…

Maybe I still have a thing or two to learn about making pies, but at the end of dinner there was nothing left to bring home, so I guess I did alright!