Archive | February 2011

Carried Away

Hello dear friends – only a few hours left until my big trip to visit Kevin in Spain! I can hardly contain my excitement. As I write, I am almost packed, and almost ready. It’s been an absolute roller coaster these past two weeks, and I am absolutely ready to be “carried away” to another world, but I thought I would take a minute to reflect on something that really brings me joy.

I cannot even begin to describe how lucky I am to have so many good friends in my life. Literally everyone that I know has helped me, encouraged, and lifted me up through this tough time. I could not be where I am without the people around who have offered words of encouragement, helpful advice, and favors galore. I am practically in tears as I write this. I just can’t be grateful or thankful enough to repay all of the kindness that has been bestowed on me. If you’re reading this, and you’re in my life, thank you so very much. I am figuratively carried away on the sea of your kindness.

I have been insanely busy since I last wrote a few days ago. On Saturday, I got up early and had more done before 11am than I sometimes get done in a whole day. I baked two batches of cornbread, one batch of heart cookies, activated my global phone, did laundry, cleaned the house, and packed. By noon, I was ready for a quick shopping trip. Who knew there are huge sales on President’s Day weekend; the outlets were packed! But I made it out safely, got ready, and headed out to pick up my NKE Little for the 6th annual geology chili cookoff!

The event was an absolute blast this year! I tried to be fashionably late, but we were the first to arrive. Also, I forgot to write down the directions, but since I’ve been there four times before, I navigated the route by instinct, which is kind of hilarious. There were amazing chilis, cornbread, cupcakes, and dirt pudding. A good time was had by all, and the reigning champion was finally dethroned! Excellent! After I left, I had a productive evening at home continuing to pack, while I chatted for hours with my roomie who currently lives in Arizona. It felt like we were back together in our old room, but it made me miss her!

This morning, I went to church where the music was lovely and the people were even more lovely. Being a part of the choir makes me so happy. Afterwards, my Phi Mu Little and I went out to lunch at a delicious Mexican buffet. Then, we spontaneously ran into Little Little (as we whistled at her from the crosswalk), and she joined me for a pedicure. I made it back in time to meet miss Lydia at the gym, and even got to take the dog to the park one more time before I go. Though I imagine her lovely dogsitters will take her at least a few times while I’m gone. She loves them and their dogs, so I know she’ll have fun while I’m away!

I didn’t mean for this to be such a long entry, and I’m sorry if you’re still reading, but I am just overwhelmed by the desire to document this time in my life. It’s a whole new chapter, and while I am still adjusting and missing my mom terribly, I am just so glad to be where I am with people that I love. When the pastor was talking about one of his previous congregation members who had cancer, I teared up. Life is never going to be the same for me, but then again, life is never the same. Life is change. And change has to be good, for without it, what’s the point of living?

We cherish those we love while we have them, and we honor their memory by holding them in our hearts. I think one thing that will always stick with me that my mom held true was the mantra, “Do good!” Wherever I am in the world, I aspire to be good to those around me, and if I am doing that, that’s all that matters.

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Let Me Check …

My life can be summed up by pages in my fancy new “To Do” list book (free with purchase of a beautiful, overpriced purse). I now have at least six lists going at any given time… It’s insane, but it keeps ME sane. So far I’ve been doing a pretty good job at checking things off of the list, and an equally good job of thinking up more things to add to the lists. Needless to say (but somehow, I’m managing), I’ve been keeping busy.

Let’s recap… Tuesday after my morning meeting, I ran errands, talked with Kevin, went to the gym, took the dog to the park, and cleaned out my kitchen with my most excellent friend, Carlie. Wednesday I had lunch out with friends, went to work, went to choir practice, and then went to the grocery store. Thursday, I met with my attorney, ran more errands, went to the gym, spent an evening on campus with NKE, and then crashed. Friday started bright and early with a breakfast meeting, followed by errands, work, dog park, and watching The Producers with Cathy and Brian. It’s actually a great movie, but I had never given it a chance!

It’s sort of amazing to me that I’ve managed to fit all of that in and get so much else done. I’ve made dozens of phone calls, written letters, settled financial affairs, CLEANED, and still managed to show up to everything. This weekend is where I get to have a lot of fun, but make SURE that I have tied up all loose ends. Here’s hoping…

Now the only lingering question is … do I bring my To Do list checkbook to Spain? I have become so attached to it, but if I really am trying to give myself a break … To bring or not to bring, that is a cheesy reference to Shakespeare.

You Make Me Smile

In the midst of so much sadness and turmoil, there are still many things that bring a smile to my face.

I lost my mom last Friday morning. This loss was preceded by a six-month battle with the various symptoms of her cancer, which was only diagnosed four months ago. Because we knew she didn’t have long back in October, I came home immediately to spend time with her. We had so many wonderful adventures. We spent time with my grandparents, took a special trip up to DC, hosted a holiday party, took a trip to the Outer Banks in January, and spent a lot of time with friends and with each other. It’s been the best four months that I could have imagined, apart from the fact that she was sick. And until the last few weeks, the good days did seem to outnumber the bad. But the good part of the way she left is that it was peaceful, and I was with her, and I wasn’t alone thanks to the kindness of a very dear friend.

Since then, I have been literally surrounded with kindness, sympathy, and people that I love. Everyone has come through to be there for me in amazing ways; my Little has barely left my side, and my boyfriend calls and emails me so often that I wonder if he’s taking any time for himself lately. I’m visiting my grandparents as I write this, because it had been too long since I had seen them, and it’s important to be with family at times like this.

Once I get back home, I’m going to try to get back into my usual routine as much as possible. I have a number of affairs to get in order before I leave for Spain to visit Kevin. I’ve got people to see and events to attend. But being busy and being with friends will help me get through this, I think.

Among the many ways that Kevin has been wonderful, he sent me the sweetest Valentine’s gift – a handmade card, and a book of famous love stories. Both because it’s romantic and because I love nonfiction, it’s a really perfect gift. I’m just so happy he’s a part of my life, even though we’re far apart right now. Because on most days, today in particular, I’m thinking about him and I know he’s thinking about me. And that’s a really nice thing to know.

iPad: No longer a laughing matter

So I must admit that I was once among the cynical hordes who made jokes such as the following: Do you need an iTampon to go with your iPad? I would sooner have purchased such a “useless” device than I would have shaved my head. However, when I received the mystical iPad for a graduation gift, everything changed.

Of course I could hardly believe it was real. I received the iPad within the first few months that it was released. And then I was mildly upset that such an expensive gift was purchased in my honor, especially because I had no use for it at the time! I just saw it as a bigger iPod Touch, which I already had. Or maybe as a smaller computer, but that is less easy to type.

But in honor of it as a very, very thoughtful gift, I started using it. It has a wonderful speaker, so I used it to play music instead of my computer. It browses the internet as fast as a computer, and most of my commonly used websites are not affected by lack of flash (YouTube is an app). It has an INCREDIBLE battery, so I can use it all day, every day without charging it often at all. If only I had it when I was still taking classes, because I would have much rather had that than a laptop.

So as I started using it more and more, I started getting used to it. By the end of the summer, I was using my iPad and my MacBook at a 50/50 ratio. But then I moved to California, leaving my comfort zone of WiFi coverage. And because my iPad gets 3G internet, it became nearly essential to my digital survival. By this time, I was used to typing on the touch screen keyboard, and I was quite comfortable navigating around the touch screen websites.

All of this is leading up to my argument for the usefulness and existence of iPads. They are smaller, lighter and easier to carry around than a laptop. Their battery life puts any computer battery to shame, and their system runs programs great speed. In fact, it’s absolutely wonderful that an iPad doesn’t ever have to boot up or restore after being asleep. It just … works.

An iPad can run many of the commonly used computer programs, at least in the unique Mac/iPhone OS. I love all of the games, many of which are the same as on iPhone/iTouch, but with much larger and more brilliant graphics. I use it as an iPod, gaming device, notepad, book, and for internet access. It is a complete entertainment system, with more variety and endurance than the average computer.

However, with all of these great qualities, it is not, strictly speaking, a computer. It has no USB port, no CD drive, and no way to get data input other than the iTunes Store or the iTunes connection with a computer. Well, it can read email attachments, but not save them. I was recently impressed when I could edit Google Docs on it! It can’t save any sort of files, and it mostly just runs its unique programs. Navigating certain websites can be difficult, and you can’t run multiple programs (except the iPod and other things), but it hasn’t been much of a hindrance on my iPad usage.

I would never use my iPad to research and write a paper, because there is too much flipping between programs and browsers. Though, the iPad can have up to 9 internet sites open at at time, which is convenient. On both my iPad and my MacBook, there are several websites that I rarely close (Gmail, Facebook, WordPress, IMDb, etc). I would never buy an iPad to replace a computer, but once my MacBook becomes less portable (as most laptops do in their later years), I will delay the purchase of a new one as long as my iPad is working.

I will take my iPad to Europe. I would choose iPad over MacBook for short weekend trips. I will take my iPad to Panera. I will take my iPad to work, in case I’m in the office alone and would like to play my own music. I will take my iPad when I am waiting for appointments and have a few minutes to kill by reading a book or playing a game. I find it more useful than a computer sometimes because it is lighter and easier to carry from room to room.

I started out thinking that an iPad was a useless thing. But since I started using my iPad, I found several ways in which it is superior to a computer. I would never use it to replace a computer, but I would use it to replace certain duties of a daily-use laptop. But the biggest point is that I am certainly not on the cynical bandwagon that I once enjoyed. I am a believer in the usefulness of iPads, and I’m so grateful to have one!

In the Bleak Midwinter

Despite the weather, there has actually been quite a bit of sunshine in my life! Since I last posted, I have been able to take Bonnie to the dog part four times, which means that I have seen many of my friends much more often. Oh, and the dog is much happier with more exercise. I’m just happy that I can put the dog park back into my schedule now that it’s open later. It’s been quite cold out, but it is getting warmer and tomorrow we are supposed to have a high of 70! Mom is also doing well in the past day or so, which really pleases me.

I have also been to the gym twice, and I am proud to say that I haven’t yet missed a scheduled day! It’s definitely a struggle to accomplish this goal, but I am trying to “love the pain” and have succeeded so far! I am currently running at 4.9 mph, and my goal by may is to be able to run at 6.0 mph. That way, I should be able to get through the 5k in under 40 minutes, which would be wonderful! I think my long-term plans for this goal will include a second 5k in the fall (with an improved time) and a 10k next spring. To go from zero to moderate-distance running in a year isn’t too much to expect, is it?

The past few days have included some wonderful moments. For instance, I sang with the choir for the first time on Sunday, sitting in on both services. The sermon was so interesting that I was able to get different things out of it each time I experienced it. Getting up early wasn’t ideal, but I’ll get used to it. And as a bonus, my Little joined me at the second service and for lunch afterward! Some ladies in the choir asked if she was my “fan club” and whether or not she’d be joining us at choir rehearsal this week. If not that, she still may be coming to services now regularly, which would be just lovely for me, because I’d get to see her more and share this with her.

Later that day, Kevin and I had a wonderfully long chat to catch up! There are fewer than three weeks between now and our trip to Spain. I think I should begin planning and preparing in earnest now. Not only do I need to become familiar with the language on signs and menus, but I need to decide what I’ll bring so that I can pack as lightly as possible. I also need to make plans for mom while I’m away so that she’s all settled in my absence.

I’ve had a great week since Sunday as well! Monday afternoon I volunteered with the intro lab on campus, and I got there early enough to chat with a few of the professors before lab started. I’m going to enjoy the opportunity to revisit the department once a week. And Tuesday evening, my regular outing with Carlie included a trip to the local library in addition to coffee in addition to grocery shopping. At the library, she got a lot of books while I got just movies and CDs. I’m watching Bye Bye Birdie right now! We try to mix up our weekly outings with both fun and practical events. But even the errands are more fun with two! Tomorrow mom and I are having my Little over for lunch, and the next night we’re having other friends over for lasagna, so I needed some ingredients. Until next time, I hold my breath as spring draws closer.