Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Madcap Misadventures

First and foremost, I happen to be bored out of my mind. I've been in this state of being for roughly nine days. There was a whole week before classes started, and I was supposed to have class yesterday, and when I showed up - along with about seven other International students also in this class - there was a note on the door saying that it was going to start October 4. So another whole week of waiting and sitting and chilling and generally doing nothing.

There's class on Wednesday but other than that, everything else is up in the air.

And before I get to what I've got up my sleeve for the rest of this week, I'll take a few moments and backtrack to Friday.

Which was Math's birthday. Cue slightly massive, incredibly loud flat party to celebrate. I hung around in the kitchen for a little while because, yeah, that's what you do - and Math is my flat mate [lives across the hall] and it was his birthday - but when you don't really know anybody currently sitting in your kitchen and on your counters, you kind of shrink into yourself a little. Well, you do if you're me and you're not so much accustomed to large quantities of people that you don't know as well as you'd like. So after Amy and Huw brought out the birthday cake and we sang, I made my disappearance shortly thereafter.

The very good reason for this was that Saturday was the trip to Cardiff and St. Fagans. And the bus left at 9:30 in the morning, and I didn't want to sleep all the way there and back again. The trip out was pretty tame - I played games with Craig on his iPhone [and would have beaten him more soundly at chess if the timer hadn't run out on him] - and the outside of the Museum of Welsh Life doesn't look like much, honestly. Then again the whole don't judge a book by its cover thing? Completely applicable here. It's an open-air museum that has replica buildings of the early days of Welsh history, complete with its own little Celtic village nestled among the trees. And how the Celts weren't asthmatic after wheezing in the amount of smoke while smoking hanging meat is unbelievable.

Unfortunately I didn't get to make it all the way to the castle [ran out of time and it was too long of a walk to attempt in the twenty minutes I had left before the bus left] but it was a really awesome place and a very interesting look into what life would have been for people back then.

They were also really short back then. There were occasions when I was walking through doors that I actually had to duck.

And if you haven't been following my Twitter stream, I more or less suggest that you do because gems like, MollyLouise10: FACT: sheep dung is used to make card (stiff paper) and random quotations will probably make it worth it.

We got off the bus in Cardiff proper by the castle and then were basically told, be back here by a certain time and head off on your own. I was quite perturbed for a bit because the group that I was with made a detour into H&M and the last thing that I want to do while abroad is shop. In all honesty, though I really like the people I've met, I should have left them when we first got off the bus because I wanted to see the harbor, since someone had told me there might still be the replica ship there. Replica as in a replica of a frigate, and when you've read as much Age of Sail novels as I have, well, this was practically saliva inducing. The next part was figuring out how to get down the bay, and while everybody else was in line for Subway, I more or less headed back to the little bakery on the corner and asked for directions to the bay. And me, looking to save money and figuring that I have to walk everywhere in Carmarthen, too, asked how long it would take to walk. The answer was about forty minutes. Okay. We'll take the bus, instead.

I wound up down at Cardiff Bay, near a place called Mermaid Quay, and then just sort of started walking around. Keep in mind that at this point I was all the way down by the Millennium Center which is absolutely breathtaking because it is massive. I sampled some Welsh cakes - absolutely fabulous, by the way - and then looked at my watch. Fifty minutes to get back to the castle. And the quickest way back? A train that runs from the center of the city to the bay and back again, every fifteen minutes. Okay. We'll do that.

Now where in hell is the train station?

So began Louise's somewhat semi-frantic search for a train station [the only one that I found was no longer working, and to take the bus back to anywhere somewhat recognizable was going to take an hour, so that was not an option] and then I figured I would just hoof it.

Hoofing meaning speed walking meaning running on occasion. Good thing the mp3 player practically lives in my backpack.

And while there weren't signs for this mysterious train station, there were plenty of signs pointing in the direction of the city center.

I was so worried that I wasn't going to make it back on time that I didn't really tweet much about it. I just more or less speed-walked all the way back from the Bay to the shopping center that we had started at - in view of the castle - and after calming myself down, proceeded to find myself a cup of coffee since I had the time to spare.

I slept all the way back. Most of that time with my head on Craig's bony shoulder after first reassuring what I already knew in that he wouldn't mind.

That was my Saturday in Cardiff.

With all the time that I still seem to have on my hands, I'm going to take advantage of it. I booked my train tickets today, booked where I'm going to snooze [a bed and breakfast] and I'm heading to Snowdonia [the Northern, mountainous part of Wales] for two days. I've got the time, I've got the means, and while we'll trek all over Southern Wales with these prearranged weekend trips, we're not venturing much into North Wales.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Things to Know: International Edition

[You had to know this was coming. How could I possibly not do this Wandering Sagittarius original while abroad?]

- Cheap blush wine really only tastes well when it's mixed with other cheap blush wine.

- This whole cooking thing? Gets a little easier your second week in a foreign country.

- My mother and I sat at the airport before I left and looked at all the screaming children in strollers, trying to decide which one was going to be near me.

- Never did tell her that we had a screaming baby across the aisle from us.

- Which screamed for approximately two hours.

- Don't ask me what happened after those two hours sitting on the tarmac because I fell asleep shortly after the plane actually got into the air.

- And basically woke up again as we were landing.

- I keep waiting for the moment when I get clipped by a car since I always look left instead of right first.

- I really like British cheese. Like, a lot.

- My housemates are starting to give me the fuzzy eyeball over the amount of cheese that I'm eating.

- Also giving me the slightly fuzzy eyeball over the fact that it's mild cheddar and not mature.

- I found episodes of Hornblower on YouTube and it's basically made my night.

- There will eventually be a video tour of where I live. Eventually.

- "So, eh, you don't like our singin', eh?"

- Who would have figured that High School Musical 3 would have made me homesick.

- Third song in, I might add.

- My Focus, Murfee, had a grand old time in his aviator goggles and helmet on the wing of the plane on the way over.

- Then had a wonderful four hour trip in the luggage rack on the bus.

- The only thing he's not quite happy about is that the pile of dirty clothes is in the wardrobe (that does not lead to Narnia, despite the right geographical location, roughly) and that he can't crawl from there and into bed with me as readily as he usually can.

- The wall is on the wrong side. And I can't really change it.

- I miss the Mayhem Maker. And my sister. Hell, I miss the whole damn family.

- It's been a good episode and a half and where the hell is my buddy Archie?

- Seriously, when do we bust him out of jail?

- I like the fact that I have my own bathroom, but I don't like the fact that everybody can hear when the water's running so they know when I'm in the shower.

- Same thing when everybody else takes one.

- It shouldn't be a surprise but a majority of college kids who have their own kitchens survive on ready-made, stick-me-in-the-oven meals that require not very much culinary skill.

- One of these is pizza.

- I cannot tell you the last time I had wheat crust pizza.

- And I am incredibly grateful that I can find wheat pasta on this side of the pond.

- I finally bucked up and shaved my legs yesterday. Hadn't shaved them since I left New York.

- I blew up my alarm clock the first night here: Plugged in the adapter, didn't plug in the voltage converter, and ten minutes later there was a pop and the smell of burning plastic.

- The Duchess in The Duchess and the Devil is giving Horatio a run for his money. It's absolutely hilarious.

- The British eat what might be considered a garbage plate - minus all the fried food.

- Waffles with sausage and spaghetti hoops is quite popular.

- I live with awesome people - barring one shitty incident - and couldn't be happier.

- I find that I really like it here.

- I think someone just thew up - is continuing to throw up - beneath my window.

- And the stench is wafting through the open window.

- Correction: Not under the window, but in the grassy area out front of the building in general.

- "Damn close, sir. I give them at least a minute to sink us."

- Q-Tips are a marvelous invention.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Singing, Hot Chocolate, and Chill Night

These week - the week we're currently halfway through - is called Freshers Fortnight. Or, for those of us who don't really know what a fortnight is, consider it Freshers Week. It's the week where the Freshman have all sorts of cool stuff to do - mostly partying - but which also included a hypnotist (x-rated, no joke - one of my flat-mates did it last year and he was hypnotized to make it look like he was giving head) and this guy from Britain's Got Talent that can swallow billiard balls and then regurgitate them. There's also various themed parties (tonight is beach night, Saturday is pajamas) but there are also nights that are considered Chill Nights where, as it says, you more or less chill out.

Last night was one of those nights.

Six of us decided to go out together to the Student Union (more commonly known as the Union) to have a few and just sort of get to know each other better. What was supposed to be just a couple of pints and not very long turned into about an hour and a half there, on the balcony, sitting and talking. I didn't do any drinking last night- just didn't want to - and after looking at the time, we decided to head back and watch a movie.

Which turned out to be High School Musical 3, which at least three of my flat-mates knew by heart and were more prepared to sing along to. We even had the subtitles on (Huw is used to watching movies with subtitles because his girlfriend is partially deaf in one ear) and it was a great time watching and singing, and generally laughing at each other and at the movie. From what I've been told, it's the first and third movies that are great, but the second one is absolute crap.

I can't really explain it, but halfway through the third song, I think it just really hit me that I'm three thousand miles from home, and that the people that I normally lean on as we go waltzing through life aren't here at the moment. I had expected this maybe the third day here, the third day in an empty flat in a foreign country that I've just been tossed into, but over a week later (eight or nine days, at least) it really hit me.

I was homesick.

We're all sitting there in the dark, watching and singing to this movie, and I just started to tear up. So I just sort of got up and went across the hall into the kitchen to sit and try to get a handle on it. And it just really wasn't happening. Jenn and Jess came in, saw me crying, and wanted to know what was wrong. And they really understood as I was trying to tell them that it was really just hitting me that I was so far from home, and they put the kettle on, offered me tea or hot chocolate. I took the hot chocolate and the boiler was on, and I'm still properly teary-eyed when Huw opens the door, leans against it, and goes, "So, eh, our singing is really that bad, eh?" Which made us all laugh, and the next thing you know the boys come traipsing through the door and into the kitchen, more water is added to the boiler and we all sit down. I mentioned something about being three thousand miles away from home, and Huw goes, "That's a bit of a walk, isn't it, eh?" To which I replied, "More like a bit of a swim, really."

So with the movie on pause we sat in the kitchen drinking tea and hot chocolate and generally pissing ourselves with laughter at various stories. It wasn't how we had originally intended to finish our evening, but it wasn't a waste. And I realized then that I have the most awesome flat-mates that anyone could ask for while in a foreign country for three months.

And we will eventually finish HSM 3.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Across The Pond II

Hello from Carmarthenshire!

I know that it's been almost a week since you've seen or heard from me - well, heard, since you're not actually looking at me, or maybe it's seeing, because you're reading - anyway, there's been quite a bit happening within the last five or so days.

At least, I think it's been five. A little difficult to keep track of time when you hop timezones.

So, to start off this bright new chapter for your favorite - I hope - Wandering Sagittarius let's just kind of go through what that first day - the travel day - was like.

I didn't want to say goodbye to my parents at our little airport and have that be that and not see them again for three months. We got up in the morning on Sunday and left the house at about 7:55, arriving in the city - JFK to be exact - roughly six hours later. We found the terminal with the airline that I was flying and parked in the lot and I felt more like a baggage mule than an actual human since I was toting a giant backpack, two messenger bags, and the rolling suitcase. Quite impressive. We ate lunch in the terminal at McDonald's, and for the record, raspberry tea is absolutely nawful. Just plain gross. Which is why I and everyone else I'm related to drink unsweetened tea. And then we just sat around and people watched and tried not to think about the fact that I was going to be leaving both of my parents outside security and then sitting on a plane and ultimately ending up in a foreign country.

Yeah. Even though you know it's going to be one of the best experiences of your life, you still end up crying because you don't want to not have mom and dad forty-five minutes down the road. You don't want to have to figure out a way to call them so that they can hear your voice maybe once a week. So they know you're okay. You hesitate because you're heading into something that you've never seen before, a culture and a people you haven't really read anything about and to a university that you have no idea how the academic side of things really works.

You're stepping off that edge I talked about earlier and it's damned scary. Exciting. But scary.

I did cry. I'm the baby of the family and I know that mom had Empty Nest-like issues when I first went away to college, and this was probably hard for her. And it's not like it's a picnic on my end, either.

I made it through security with flying colors. Either they didn't want to question me about stuff in my bag or there was nothing to question. The laptop was with me, and of course I had to take that out and have it go through on its own, and you feel really awkward in your socks walking through a metal detector, but it's all good. I got some coffee at this place called Peet's on the way to the gate and then just sort of sat there. Tried to read a little. I brought a couple of books with me - Stardust by Neil Gaiman (yes, they made a movie out of it and yes, I own the movie and absolutely love it) and A Battle Won by S. Thomas Russell, which is another age of sail novel. I really like those, if you couldn't tell. I did some writing in my journal and tried not to think about what I was leaving behind. It was difficult, it really was. There's this certain Mayhem Maker, she's about three foot tall and is loved to pieces by her aunt, and I thought about her. And my sister, whom I love very, very much. So it kind of went back and forth between thinking about the possibilities and then thinking about everything else.

Story of my life when it comes to flying, the plane was delayed. It had been fairly craptastic weather all day - drizzly and rainy and foggy - and the plane was late getting to the gate from wherever it had come from. So, naturally, they need time to flip it and load everything on board for us, and it took time. We were supposed to be leaving at 7:30 and we didn't start boarding until about 8:20. Then once we were on the plane we sat at the gate for at least forty-five minutes. There was a moment when we thought, Alright, here we go, when the plane backed up away from the gate and that was short-lived because we wound up sitting on the tarmac. I traded one of the guys from my college for his window seat and watched many other planes go before we could - which was appropriately frustrating - and then we sat on the actual tarmac out where all the planes are for a little while longer. The girl next to me - also from my college - had taken Ambien and was looking suitably drugged at this point and none of the three of us wanted to sleep until we were in the air in case we had to change planes.

We took off, finally, and for the record I really don't like double-decker planes. I never feel like they have enough oomph to actually get up and go, which, when you're not a big a fan of flying as you probably should be, makes you a little nervous. Either way, once we got in the air, the flight went really fast.

As in, I woke up three times on the way to London: Once to eat dinner (which wasn't very good, though the wheat roll was excellent); once to go Where the hell am I?; and then again when the captain was telling us that we would be landing shortly and the stewardess was simultaneously trying to get my sleep-lagged brain to Please put up your window shade, and then holy sunlight. The view, however, was beautiful.

That, I believe, is the only reason I like flying.

Wonder of wonders we had to circle a little before we landed at Heathrow, but not for long. Then we were off the plane and into the terminal. It was actually a very long walk from the gate to Customs. Very long and windy. And when you got to Customs you were separated into lines and then you really felt like you were a farm animal being herded toward something. Didn't have any issues clearing Customs and then we practically ran to the baggage claim. And there on the rolling thingy was my beloved, beat-up suitcase that didn't look like it was bursting at the seams (a damn good indicator that nobody had been it and thereby upping the risk of a space-bag malfunction).

After you get your bag you walk down this hallway and ramp out into the arrivals hall. Heathrow has these foldable metal gates that you're more likely to see at concert backstages than in airports, and everybody has signs. There were all sorts of business-men looking for other business-men and near the end - which I didn't see, but Olivia did - was a sign for Trinity. And we went over and this guy with a clipboard looks at us and goes, "Ah, our three wayward Hobart students, yeah?" We hadn't realized we were wayward, but okay. The man was actually Gruff (which, even though it looks like gruff is pronounced griff - his full name is actually Gruffydd, where the dd on the end sounds like th instead) and he pointed us in the direction of the other HWS students and our fellow internationals.

And it was at that moment that I realized I was not only a foreigner, but I was also an international student. We form a group that is, appropriately named and short-hand, The Internationals.

We had to wait for everyone to arrive from their various planes and when that was done we went out into the parking lot and got on a bus.

One of the first things that you need to really pay attention to is that they drive on the left hand side of the road in the United Kingdom. Meaning when you cross a street, you sure as shit better look right before you look left or you might get seriously hurt. And it's really strange to be getting on a bus on the opposite side that you normally would. Like, really strange.

That's when you found out that it was another four hours to Carmarthen.

I'd slept on the plane. I'd slept across the whole damn Atlantic Ocean and I wanted to sleep somewhat normally tonight. So I wanted to stay awake. And that was a fail of epic proportions. I made it a little bit and then fell asleep about an hour, hour and a half from London. We stopped at a rest stop - which would put the ones on the NYS Thruway to shame - for a bit of something to eat and then it was back on the bus. I did much better this time, staying awake. I was awake for when we crossed the bridge from England to Wales. And one of the ways that you know you're in Wales? All the signs are in both Welsh and English. This is because Wales is a bilingual country. Children most often - a good ninety percent or higher - grow up speaking Welsh before they learn English.

At this point I'm pretty sure I fell asleep and the next time I woke up we were approaching Carmarthen. I tell you, I first saw it, and I fell instantly in love with it. The winding streets and the row houses, that old world feel to it and this sense of...magic, I guess, is the only way that I can really describe it. It has an air of magic to it.

We pulled into the college and right across the road is a field. A field which then rolls into a giant rolling hill - much like the ones we have back home - and the white dots are sheep. Actually, I've seen more sheep in five days than I have in the last five years, but that's besides the point.

They start calling us off the bus in groups because an International Buddy has the keys to where we'll be staying.

This is probably the time to point out that I am not living with any other international student. My seven floor mates - I've heard mixed messages about the term flat mates, and I'm just going to go with what's familiar - are people that I've never met before, that I didn't meet on that bus ride from Heathrow, and that are native Welsh. That is both absolutely awesome and terrifyingly nervewracking at the same time. So, for the time being, it was just going to be me living all by myself in this flat in a foreign country.

We had time to drop our baggage and then head over to the International Office where we could place a phone call home to let our parents know that we had arrived alright. This time we weren't even mindful of the time difference - which is five hours - so I wasn't even really aware that I was more than likely waking my mother out of sleep at about three in the morning. But she said that she and dad had gotten back from the airport - it had taken a really long time - and that everything was okay. And I told her that I was on campus and that I was okay. Then I went back to my empty flat to more or less sit on my bed and stare at the new walls.

And I'm going to try and do some pictures - maybe a picture series - or a video or something to really let you guys see what exactly it looks like where I'm staying, but you come through the main door to the building, and you go up a little half-flight of stairs. You go through another door and then you're in a little bit of an open space. To the left is Flat 6 and on the right is Flat 4. Through the Flat 4 door there is a skinny hallway that has eight rooms off of it - four on either side before you get to another fire door. They're listed by letter, A through H. On the other side of the far fire door is a little bit of a space and you can either go right or left, through another fire door. Right takes you into the kitchen, and left takes you into the common space. The common space has some chairs and three or four little tables, and that's about it. The kitchen has a little stove, a microwave, a toaster (that doesn't work) and a single-basin sink. There's two tables pushed together so that eight people can sit around, but there's only seven chairs. In my room I have a three-shelf bookshelf, a desk that has eight drawers, a bedside table that has four drawers, a wardrobe, and a bed.

I also have my own bathroom. Stand up shower, sink, and toilet. As someone who's had to walk out into the hallway in the morning to shower and let everyone see her in a towel carrying a bathroom bucket, having my own bathroom is quite nice. It's small, of course, but that's just fine. And the only curtains in the flat are the ones in the bedroom. My window - which doesn't have a screen, though I was assured that's how they normally are - overlooks the front walkway into the building. So it's kind of like living where I was the first year in college when I looked out over the parking lot, but not quite as easy to lay in bed and watch people on their walk of shame. Namely because the bed is on the other side of the room from the window. And that's really the only wall that it fits on. Then again, it's not like I could move the wardrobe as it's bolted to the wall.

The mattress isn't bad and I'm insanely glad that I brought my own sheets. I'm not going to go into details, but I'm just really glad that I brought my own sheets and pillowcase. The comforter-like blanket (about half as thick as a comforter) does just fine, but the sheets....eh.

That first night I unpacked a little bit and then found out that some of them were going out into the town, maybe to grab a pint. We found this place called the Rose and Crown Hotel, had a pint, and got to know some of the internationals that we didn't really know - though it was a smaller group and kind of more intimate, and that was nice, in its own way - and had a fairly early evening.

Tuesday was more or less the start of a few days worth of info-dump and orientation. It started with a bit of a who's who and carried on through paperwork, the cultural program, student services, careers, police service, IT Orientation (which was not what you would think it was and is a very complicated, pain in the ass process to get wireless), a brief introduction to the Student Union, tour of campus, meeting the Chaplain, taking a photograph, touring the town (doing the first round of shopping) and then finishing with an evening out on the town with the International Buddies. And a few of their friends.

That was an awesome night.

Wednesday started bright and early since we needed to meet with Jo (the International Officer) to talk about our internships. Then there was a bit on banking from one of the local banks, followed by information on extra curricular activities. Then we registered.

After registration was when things got a little hairy. Abroad tuition kind of comes intermingled or substituted on the tuition bill to mom and dad - I can't exactly remember which - but when you get over here, you have to pay for your housing. Okay. Not a big deal. Mom and I worked that out before I left the states. The only issue arose when the lady behind the glass couldn't take the details I was handing her because she couldn't verify that I wasn't using someone else's card to pay for it. Well, long frustrating story short, she wound up calling my mother at work and having mom do the exact same thing I was trying to do. I understand why the lady was doing it, but...really? That was frustration that I really didn't need.

One library tour later and I was done for the day.

Thursday was a free morning followed by a trip to Llansteffan. Llansteffan is this cool little village that also has a castle. And it's only eight miles down the road. Llansteffan is Welsh for "Church of Stephen" and the castle was built by Norman conquerors in the early 12th century. The view from the top was absolutely amazing. I fell up the stairs, as usual, instead of down them trying to go up the winding staircase.

That night we went out on the town. That was much fun - there was much dancing, loud music, and I'm impressed that I'm not permanently deaf. Absolutely impressed.

Friday was a bit of a chill day. There was some stuff that we had to take of, registration wise, and then we were free to go. Friday is when some of my flat-mates moved in. Matthew (commonly known as Math) moved in, and he's really, really nice. Lurch also moved in. Yes, Lurch. His real name is Chris but he goes by Lurch. Don't ask me why, because I really don't know. Later on that night Kyrian moved in. He plays rugby and he's a big dude.

All of them though are incredibly nice people.

Saturday was a day trip to Whitesands and St. Davids. Have you seen the movie Robin Hood? Yes? Remember that last battle scene? The one filmed on the beach? Yeah, I was there. It was filmed on Whitesands beach. When we left the beach and went back to the village of St. Davids, it was a bit of a walk to the cathedral. Worth it, though. It was even worth it to pay the one pound fee to take in the gatehouse exhibition that told about he history of Saint David, his cathedral, and his town. The cathedral itself was absolutely awesome. But what was really worth it was paying the three pounds to wander through Bishop's Palace. It's the awesome palace that's in ruins that you can wander through and up into the towers and see some of the rooms that they've kind of recreated. Part of it, over the kitchen, is partially underground and partially just under the floor above it. And you can literally feel the history oozing out of it. You also definitely get the feel that the people who had originally lived there are still wandering around, especially in the darker parts and after the sun sets. Absolutely gorgeous.

The only non-gorgeous part was when I went to turn around after going up a staircase and I bent the ever-loving shit out of my right ankle. Thankfully it was the right and not the left (otherwise I might have done some serious damage) but the lady on the other side of the window as I was coming down definitely didn't expect me to be swearing a blue streak.

Sunday was the day that I'd really been waiting for. Everybody moved in on Sunday. There were doors banging and everything, people moving around and stamping, parents moving kids in. I'm not going to lie, it kind of made me sad because I expected my own mother to kind of appear in the door, berate me on the state of my room, and then be like, Come help me unload the car, if you please. My mother, however, is three thousand miles away on the other side of the Atlantic. So having to unload the car of groceries isn't going to happen until I move back across that large body of water.

Anyway. With everybody moving it, there was this sense of happy that happened because I was no longer alone in a strange country, in an empty flat, and now I could get over this idea that, Holy shit, I've got to make friends with people.

It was way easier than I expected. The people that I'm living with are absolutely awesome. Our favorite hang out is currently the kitchen (where I'm actually finishing typing this). So, where I'll leave this, I'm still in the process of getting to know my flat-mates, figuring out how to live with seven other people, and generally just having a go of it.

And so far, so good.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I feel like I'm standing on the edge of something, looking out and looking down.

There's no safety nets. There's no parachute strapped to my back. It's just me, this edge, and feeling like I'm leaving something behind to gain something that I can't see. I know some of the things that I'm going to gain over the course of tomorrow and the next three months - perspective, new horizons to explore, and new people to meet and be shaped by. I might even finish my novel while I'm over there. Or I might start a new story.

What I know I'm going to start is a new chapter of me. There's going to be the start of a new section - like going to college was the start of something, not a continuation of what was.

This is one of those times when you really have to look at what you're gaining and not overly at what you're losing. And it's really hard. It's stepping completely out of your comfort zone into something new and exciting and different. Something that could be dangerous as well as adventurous.

And sometimes the line between the two isn't as defined as we'd like to think it is.

I'm going to leave what I know, and head for something I've never seen in my life. And as much as I wander, as much as I adventure - this makes me appropriately leery. I'm excited. Really, I am. I'm just...I'm standing at an edge I'm not entirely sure I'm ready to tip over yet.

It'll be like standing at an airplane gate, not quite sure you're really ready to walk through.

But whether or not you think you're ready, you're going to do it anyway. Step a little closer to the edge. Take a deep breath.

And free fall.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Sagittarius Abroad

I like the simple things in life. No surprise there. I like a good book, a good friend, good cooking, excellent cookies. I really like good music. Okay, well, what I consider good and what you might could be two different things, but what I really like are creating different types of playlists.

However, due to limited space on my 2GB mp3 player - that will be three this Christmas - I can't have all three playlists that I've recently created. Not without losing some of the songs.

And I really like a good playlist. I'm the type of person that needs music when I travel. Whether it helps put me to sleep or knocks out the noise of the car or plane, music really puts me in the mood when I travel. It also got me psyched up for soccer games and going to college. Not to mention most of my novel is written to music. Not actually written to music, but with the help of it. When I finally get to the point where I'm killing one of my main characters I know the song I'm going to use.

Anyway. I'm currently working on this playlist titled Sagittarius Abroad.

It's not as easy as it looks because it needs to combine Home, Road Mix, and Wordless almost flawlessly and not feel like anything got left out. It has to cover a wide variety of emotions and themes and travels and is quite complicated. At least at this point. I need to mix instrumental and classical with pop and country.

I think I nailed it, though. Five solid hours of music. Everything from Eminem to The Lion King Original Broadway Cast Recording.

The true test will come on Sunday.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Things to Know XVIII

- My plane tickets arrived in the mail yesterday.

- Plane tickets - something tangible - make things a little more. Makes you realize that you're actually leaving in eight days.

- Some elderly lady today on the lunch cruise bit my head off and stuffed it down my throat because I asked her to keep her fork for her brownie because we didn't have extras. You'd have thought I was asking her to pole dance, instead.

- This was my last Saturday lunch and dinner cruise combo.

- Eight days.

- The trial pair of contacts I currently have in my eyes seem like a winner.

- The only reason I'm wearing trials is because the company that does my current contacts is only going to do them by the pair, not the six-vial box.

- Winner winner chicken dinner.

- I just really wanted to say that last one.

- Pepper has an affinity for a certain piece of yellow tissue paper.

- She also startles easier.

- The bottom is dropping out of the temperature.

- I might have a crash-course in hostessing in the restaurant tomorrow. Or I might not.

- Pepper has spent so much time with me near the computer that she knows to jump over the keyboard and not on it.

- Both my mother and the dog are asleep curled on the little couch. It's absolutely adorable.

- When the cat wants a drink in the middle of night she jumps onto my bedside table, leans over onto the pillow, and bellows directly into whichever ear is up.

- The Russians are on tomorrow morning - before brunch - for sightseeing.

- Thursday was 90210 day. When will there be a Boy Meets World day?

- Watching the local news and the Sports Blitz and gagging at Notre Dame hoisting in the state trophy.

- The last time I played Notre Dame was the memorable game of slide tackling a girl from behind in my own penalty box.

- This was also when my buddy that I ref with - who went to Notre Dame - had nearly the entire guys soccer team cheering/jeering/catcalling in my direction for that game.

- Previously said slide-tackle didn't help.

- I'm impressed I didn't get carded for that.

- Louise has been more fall down go boom lately than crawl into bed and sleep.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

An Adventuring Focus V

Thursday, September 2, 2010

M dances when she really happy. She dance around the kitchen in the morning when she listen to music and she smile. But while she happy, she sad, too. She miss E. E in big-brick place that we spend so much time at, and we not there. M not go back there until much later. And E no be there when we get there.

M try not to think about that.

We go to fair yesterday. Many people, smells, and see much. Me like the pirates the best and feeding the long-neck was fun. Me the same color as long-neck food, and long-neck think me food. Me not long-neck food. M chuckle *hahathisisquitefunny* not *ohmy* and she save me. Work call her, want her to come in. She say no, because she not at home.

Home. M keep saying that we be leaving in a few days. Leaving and that we no come back for long time. She say we go across a pond. M *excitedsadconfusedexcitedterrifiedsqueeesadexcited* and me very confused. Me no know what to think. Me know she stuff me in her suitcase and cart me with her, but me nervous. What if they friends are different than me? What if they no like me?

What if they no like M?

M nervous about living with people and friends she don't know.

Me M strong. She do this. Me know she can.

And she now remind me that we have to work tonight and can me please not get fur in the soup again? Me try. Me promise nothing but me try.

Simple Little

I'm not overly complicated. The only place that I really get complicated and exactly organized (other than school, and even then that's sometimes a fail of epic proportions for all good intents and purposes) is work when I have anywhere from twenty to twenty-four people to look after and serve four courses to. Then it requires timing and, for lack of a better phrase, having all your shit together. Other than that I'm fairly simple. My favorite cookies are chocolate chip or sugar cookies - though there is, of course, a soft spot in my heart for my sister's Monster Cookies - and I'd rather spend a quiet night at the house than out on the town. Which doesn't mean that I don't get out. When I do, it's the little things. Well, okay, they might not seem like little things, but they're not what I would consider big and grand.

Big and grand is going abroad. Simple and little is going to the State Fair with the family.

And yeah, it's as easy as that for me.

After sitting in the car for about two hours and completely ignoring the end of the printed directions - because Mama knew sortakinda where she was going, though it had been a good twelve years since we'd been there last - we made it to the Fairgrounds in Syracuse. And started off the day wandering through the ox barn. Then on into the Youth Building. I didn't make it down to our county's display, but that was okay, because there were baby chicks at the one end of the building. They're such fluffballs. All cute and yellow and little. Mads wouldn't hold one because she didn't like the way their feet felt, but Mama held it and she petted it. It was soft, like "Morephy."

Have I mentioned lately that I love that three foot tall three-year-old?

Then it was wandering through the sheep barn. If I found one named Russell I think I might have laughed hysterically right then and there. There was one named Molly - and she looked exactly like a sheep looks - and some of them weren't overly happy. Somewhere in there we took a detour through the beef cows - who were bellowing worse than the sheep - and baby pigs are so cute. Baby goats, on the other hand...well, I'm not overly fond of goats.

Grandma E and Willis used to have a goat. Nasty thing, mean spirited and it hated me. It would come close enough to let me touch it, wait until I had my hand on the rope it was tied to, and then run in the opposite direction. Gave me the most wonderful rope burns on the palms of my hands when I was, like, seven. Needless to say I was not overly sad when the damn thing died.

Anyway. At noon we watched this fabulous thing called "Dueling Pirates". High-diving pirates. Yes, please. They were a little crazy, and that's okay. You kind of have to be to jump from seventy feet into nine feet of water. After some lunch it was on to the almost one mile trek to the middle of nowhere in the fairgrounds to get to the Hollywood Circus because you could feed a giraffe. I'm not joking. It was a legit giraffe and it could bend over the railing of its enclosure and come about head level and eat carrots from your hand. It was one of the most amazing things that I've done, being that up close and personal with a giraffe. A giraffe, I should remind you, that doesn't know the difference between carrots and fingers. Don't worry, I still have all ten of mine. And so does Mads.

By then it was getting into the afternoon, and it was a scorcher (don't ask how many ounces of water I'd drank because the answer would probably scare you) and we went back into the dairy building to have ice cream. Yes, they have an entire building devoted to dairy, including the butter sculpture. Which is an entire sculpture made of butter. Which is really cool when you think about it, pun not intended.

Mads was tuckered out by then with all that she'd done since arriving at the fair, and Mama wanted to take in the Beatles tribute concert so we were going to stick around. And we went and caught up with the rest of the family, catching the tail end of the Sea Lions show (which was free) and then moving onto the Wild Animal show. That was pretty cool. Monkeys are more spastic than you would probably believe.

I took a break then and indulged in some carnival rides. You know the thing with the swings? You sit in the swing and then it takes you up and starts spinning around? I love those. The swings are still my favorite playground apparatus, and to sit on one of these things, it's really cool. Only, the one that I rode at Darien Lake on Senior Day in high school wasn't quite this high or this fast but it was cool. Felt a bit like flying. I decided to wait a bit after that for the Ferris Wheel, because that's one of those things you want to do toward twilight.

Mama, Aunt N, and Uncle K staked out seats at the Beatles tribute concert and I went back through the midway to the Ferris Wheel. And standing on the ground and looking up...suddenly, this seemed like it might not be the greatest idea that I've ever had. Dad likes Ferris Wheels, though. When we could come to the Fair when I was little, he'd go on the Ferris Wheel. Not the little one, either. He'd go on the big one. So it was one of those instances of okay, go big or go home.

So I went big. You only live once. And the view was awesome.

And that Beatles tribute concert? If you had never heard the Beatles actually sing, you'd think you were watching them. It was quite lovely.

It was well worth the insane amount of walking I did, as well as the sunburn, backpack strap tan lines, and I did I mention that we brought fudge home? Any day that ends with fudge is always a good day.
"The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't."

-Joseph L. Mankiewicz