Category: sightseeing

Catching up on life

The past few months have been an absolute whirlwind.  A new marriage, lots and lots of birthdays and anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, a dance event, a skiing trip in Colorado, huge amounts of interpersonal drama, and new jobs for both Michael and myself have proven to be just about all that I can handle.

It is ironic that, although I have been writing more than I ever have in my entire life, I think it’s the longest I’ve been silent on this blog since I started it.  Most of my time lately has been taken up writing for my new blog, forgingsignificance.com.  Right after the wedding I spent several weeks working on some quillwork for an artists’ market at my church, but since about mid-December I have officially taken the plunge and started working full-time toward becoming a freelance writer.

Since then, my days have consisted of lots of website tweaking and beating the pavement trying to submit articles to other sites.  I’ve consistently written at least twice a week on my own blog for several months now, as well as already had 3 articles accepted in other places.  Sometimes it’s frustrating and feels like I’m not making any progress; but then I remind myself that I’ve really only been at this a few weeks, and that helps puts things into perspective for me.

This post is just a brief summary, both for your sakes and mine, of what I’ve been doing the past few months.  Hopefully I’ll be able to write more regularly on here now that I’m in the swing of things :).

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Michael and I had the opportunity to go visit my New Jersey grandparents in October, just a few weeks after we were married.  I was so grateful that Michael had the chance to meet them both, but especially my grandfather, as he ended up passing away just a few weeks later.  We all miss him a lot.  He left quite a legacy.

I was able to do a few fall-specific things, like carve a pumpkin with Michael, meet my friend Sarah in Ellijay for their Apple Festival, and go to the Perry fair with my mom and younger siblings.  That was a really fun afternoon.  Perry is about half-way between Atlanta and Albany, so we met in the middle and made a day trip of it.  It’s hard to develop a relationship with your siblings when you live far away and they can’t drive and don’t have cell phones, so I’m always grateful for the opportunities that we do get.

I once again hosted a Christmas party this year, except this time I did 3 days in a row of Christmas parties!  We took this idea from a friend, and the thought was to try to incorporate as many people as possible, while also making an effort to focus on different aspects of the Christmas season.  So the first night was “celebrating friends,” which was basically my normal Christmas party.  I made dinner, we played games, decorated gingerbread cookies, etc.  One of the games was a new one – I wrapped little treats in saran wrap and made people unwrap the ball with oven mitts on.  It was actually a lot more fun than I expected!  You can read more about that here.

The other 2 nights were “celebrating others” and “celebrating God,” where we wrote letters to troops and did a lessons and carols service, respectively.  We had almost a completely different group every night, and it was really a lot of fun!  I was definitely tired by the end of day 3, though :).

One of the highlights of the last few months was New Year’s Eve.  Michael and I spontaneously decided to go to Birmingham for the night.  And it was really so much fun!  We hung out, played games, watched the ball drop, and enjoyed a great breakfast the next morning with people we love.  Nothing different from what usually happens when I go to Birmingham for NYE, but considering how much drama has been swirling around Michael and I lately, it was a welcome and much-needed respite.  You can read more about that trip here.

I also really enjoyed my birthday celebration a few days later.  It was a pretty low-key affair, but I was surrounded by some of my favorite people in the world (including my mother-in-law, who had just had knee surgery and could hardly walk!  It really meant a lot that she made the effort to come out.  I have great in-laws).  We had a potluck dinner and then went to downtown Atlanta to see the Christmas lights in Centennial Park.  The lights were gorgeous, and we even got a funnel cake!  I suppose that was my pseudo birthday cake, haha.

Several of my friends also brought gifts to the potluck, and as I opened them, I was overwhelmed by just how thoughtful they all were.  These people who had come to celebrate me together really cared about me.  I know it seems silly, as most people would say it’s obvious that I’m cared about…but when it feels like you’re being surrounded by selfish emotional drama on all sides, it’s easy to lose sight of that fact.  It was a wonderful night to be reminded that I’m cared for.

We went on a ski trip 2 weekends ago – Michael’s first time!  It was bitterly cold, but a lot of fun.  Even though I’ve been skiing several times before, I actually ended up being a lot more sore than he was.  I think I was so scared from how fast I thought I was going that every muscle in my entire body ended up tensing up, lol.  But we both made it through the day in one piece, so I count that as a victory! 🙂

All that aside, Michael and I have been trying to focus on taking care of ourselves and getting into a regular schedule.  We’ve become connected with a small group at church that focuses on outreach to internationals in Atlanta.  I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them.  I’ve also started part-time work teaching a beginner ESL class twice a week.  It’s quite a challenge when you have Spanish, Chinese, AND Russian speakers, and there’s no telling how many people will actually show up!

Now that things are starting to calm down a bit, I’m hoping to be able to update both blogs.  But for the most regular updates, be sure to head over to my new site (forgingsignificance.com) and sign up for my newsletter!  I always post there on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Ringing in a quarter century

Well folks, it finally happened.  I am now officially 1/4 of a century old.  Michael planned a dinner at Red Lobster with some Atlanta friends the night before my birthday to celebrate, but other than that the actual day passed by fairly uneventfully.  The next weekend, however, I went to a dance event, and a couple weeks later I went to visit my dear friend Sarah in Houston.  I have decided that those were the rest of my birthday celebrations….your 25th birthday only happens once, might as well make it last the whole month, right? 🙂

The dinner at Red Lobster was nice, albeit quite low-key.  I was originally a little sad because a lot of my house church friends were still out of town, but that just meant that it ended up being a whole new group!  Chris and Julia, Michael’s parents, and my mentor from church and her husband were all there, along with several house church people who were still in town.  I felt very loved and cared for.  We were going to go bowling after, but instead we all went to my house to watch Million Dollar Arm, which had been given to me as a gift earlier that night.  I do so very much love having people into my home :).

The dance event, Sweet Side of Swing, is possibly my favorite event out of all the ones I’ve ever been to.  The leveled classes making learning easier for everyone, and every detail is attended to with such care that it makes it almost impossible to NOT enjoy yourself.  This year was even more special by the “Swing Literacy Development Training” course that I took.  This was an add-on that was offered in addition to the regular workshops and social dances….8 solid hours jam-packed with tips and techniques for teaching swing dance more effectively to beginner and intermediate dancers alike.  It was a really well-done workshop…I’m very much looking forward to implementing the things I learned at the weekly Atlanta swing dances!

But, as fun as Sweet Side of Swing was, the crux of the month was definitely my visit to Houston.  Aside from my brief dinner with her last year while I was in Houston for an interview, it’s been years since I’ve seen my dear friend Sarah.  We saw each other a lot while we were in Korea, and keep up regular phone conversations now that we’re both back stateside…but phone calls can’t hold a candle to seeing beloved friends in person.  I took advantage of the long weekend around MLK day to go see her…only got to spend a couple of days with her, but a couple of days is vastly better than nothing!  Sarah and Donnie are incredible hosts – possibly the best I’ve ever met – and also great friends….the two of those together made for one very happy houseguest!  Sarah picked me up at the airport, and then I was greeted at their home with a welcome sign and guest basket.  Over the course of 2 days, we managed to pack a lot in – game night, puzzles, church, a tour of NASA (Donnie works there), walking around an adorable little boardwalk and mini amusement park, and even a round of restaurant hopping (messy burgers in a sports bar with lots of character for dinner, and then drinks and cake at a gem of an establishment nestled right on the water afterwards).  And yet, somehow, I never felt rushed or overwhelmed.  I guess that’s what happens when people who care for each other a lot just get to spend some time enjoying each other’s company.  I have decided that, even though they’re short, weekend trips are much better than nothing, and I’ll be making every effort to make more of them in the future!  So glad to be blessed with friends all over the world with whom I can pick life back up when I see them, no matter how long we’ve been apart!

 

My first long weekend :)

So, like I mentioned in my last blog, this was my first long weekend of the semester. I spent Friday and Saturday on a trip with most of the other students to three little cities, Mérida, Cáceres, and Trujillo. In Mérida, we went to ancient Roman ruins and a museum of Roman antigüedades – I am absolutely in love with all of the mythological influences and mosaic depictions around here. It’s probably one of my favourite parts of all of the visits. In Cáceres we took a tour around the Medieval Barrio of Cáceres – it’s been preserved in its original Medieval condition, castles and all. There was also a statue that is said to bring marriage to anyone who touches his toes…sorry mom, I couldn’t help but touch them :). Check out the statue here. We stayed in a hotel in Cáceres Friday night, and went on to Trujillo the next day, where we visited a huge fortified castle. It was all very cool, and I took lots of pictures for you, my loyal readers, that you can check out here. But I’m kind of getting tired of sightseeing. I feel like that makes me very uncultured and uncivilized, but that’s how I feel, nevertheless. It seems to me that, after you’ve seen dozens of palaces and castles and ancient ruins and gorgeous churches, they all start to look the same after a while. Plus, I’m really really tired of hearing about everyone’s drinking escapades and loose behaviour and foul mouths. There’s a reason that I don’t hang out with the majority of the students here. Two full days with them was pushing my limit – I was glad when we finally pulled back into Seville. My host family was not home on Saturday – they had gone to the beach – so I spent a quite evening catching up on homework and my blog and just revelling in silence and solitude. Every night after dinner, my host parents put on their little aprons and do the dishes while I clean up the table – it’s really quite adorable, seeing these 2 little old people side by side in their aprons, doing the dishes together :). Since they weren’t here tonight, I did the dishes for them, so they wouldn’t come home to a dirty kitchen – but I did it without the apron :D. After dinner I watched Leap Year by myself on my computer. Not exactly the way most students would choose to spend a Saturday evening, but it was much needed for me.

Sunday morning I went to church. It was awesome. The service was wonderful, and I also got to meet people from all over the world. There was Flor, a French student who’s here studying history in the university for the semester. Moni is English, and she’s here doing an internship of sorts at an insurance company. Polina is from Holland, and she just started studying Spanish 2 months ago! Right now she hardly understands anything…but she’s here until February, I’m sure she’ll learn un montón by then! Let’s see, I also met Michael, who is originally from Cuba, but now lives here in Seville and sings in the worship group at church. He’s very good – he was a famous performer in Cuba before he left. He’s also rather attractive…but don’t tell him I said so! 😉

I went out with 2 Spaniards, Miguel and Raquel, and Sarah in the evening. We were going to go to the Plaza del Museo and look at the artwork there (one of my assignments from Jon), but it was closed :(. So we walked for a while and ended up in a different plaza, drinking juice and watching an outside Flamenco performance by the lovely fountains that were there. It was only as we were leaving that I realized that those were the fountains of Alameda de Hercules, another one of my assignments. So I still ended up checking off something on my bucket list, although it wasn’t the one I was planning on doing :). On our way back, I saw an incredible sight, one I had despaired of ever seeing in Spain – rain. It has not rained a drop since I’ve been here. It would decide to rain today, when I was over an hour’s walk from my house. Luckily for me, Miguel lives pretty far away, and so he always drives me into the city. So he gave me a ride back, which was far preferable to walking back in the rain :).

I just realized that I never told you what my homework was for this week! (I’m talking of Jon’s homework, of course; I have 3 classes with the same professor, and he doesn’t believe in giving us homework. So I have lots more free time that most of the students here :]) Anyway, here were my assignments for this week: 1) Visit the Seville City Cemetery. Look out for a subtle, yet interesting story etched forever in stone; 2) Have a King’s breakfast! Go to the churros stand on Calle Arfe. Rumor says that when the King stays in the Alcazar (fortified palace), he sends someone to this stand to pick up his morning churros; 3) Go watch improvised flamenco dancing al Lo Nuestro on Calle Betis; 4) Do cartwheels in your hall in the middle of the night; 5) Set up some pots and pans and let the rocker in you out with a wicked awesome beat.

I was dancing all over the house last night, when my family was gone at the beach. I’m glad they were gone, because I highly doubt I would have done that had they been there :). Also, I think #5 might be difficult to do – I don’t exactly have random pots lying in my room, and I would feel weird banging on my Señora’s kitchenware :). And I refuse to go to Calle Betis – it’s known throughout the city as the place where all the Americans go to get drunk…and they do it everyyyyy nighttttt. I went there once at the beginning of the program, and got my fill of it for the entire semester. But I think that, since I saw a Flamenco dance at the fountains of Hercules today instead, that totally suffices for #3 :). Anyway, enough of my babbling for now. I’m sure you have other things to do than read my blogs all night, and I have to go finish what little homework I have to do.