Sunday, February 23, 2014

Last days in Seattle.*

Byrony and me
With Byrony this past summer in El Salvador.
Between errands, packing, and spending time with family and friends, this past week has been exhausting, overwhelming, but worthwhile every minute. I'd say I'm getting a good taste of what the end of the summer will feel like before I head to college in late August, but for now, I try not to get too ahead of myself.

Saying goodbye to everyone has been difficult. I want to so many people with me; have someone to share in my experiences firsthand, validate the potential craziness that's about to ensue (Sidney told me I have to write about the embarrassing things!), and calm me down in the moments where I doubt that I can handle what's ahead. Sometimes I wish that the first week in Iceland could be over with, so I didn't have to adjust to being alone and meeting so many new people, yet still have the memories of the time there. But I know I'll enjoy myself once I get there. (Because, as I keep saying, no one country has the power to Photoshop every picture of themselves before they get released into the world, so it must actually look that nice 97% of the time. It's a scientific fact that I calculated myself!)
Torchlight Parade this summer with Alyssa and Eva, the weekend they visited me at camp.
ACES go to prom
ACES (Alyssa, Claire, Eva and Sidney!) at senior prom this June.
But I'm grateful for the days this week that had me going in weaving, back-and-forth lines throughout
Seattle to visit friends, the phone calls, and the Skype videos. Somehow I was pack my social calendar arguably more than any week in the past year, spending time with folks such as Andy, Paola and family, Sammy, Alyssa, Eva, Sidney, the Edwards/Dennison family, Charlotte, Byrony, Mary Ann, and Uncle Ira and Aunt Mary Claire, to name a few. I was able to spend a few days wandering around Vancouver, BC with my mom during the week, and tonight at Sunday Family dinner we had a little going away gathering, thanks to Lisa Dennison! Plus, on top of that, I finished the scholarship I've been working on for the last ten months.

Thanks to all for your pep talks, encouragement, advice, and general well wishes, I truly appreciate all of them and am so grateful to have you all in my life as start my travels!
Nueva Trinidad friends
Friends in Nueva Trinidad
* Or the time where I had to narrow down my jeans to two pairs. This is hard, because for those of you who don't know, jeans are my absolute favorite type of clothing -- aside from striped shirts -- because they look good on short people like me after having been lovingly hemmed by your talented seamstress/mother. And since I haven't grown in seven-plus years (shocking, I know), they've started accumulating. So it's a difficult process, relatable to a parent admitting their favorite child, I'd guess. I love them all equally, I promise.

P.S. As sarcasm isn't as clear online as it is in person, it's probably safe to assume that most posts here will have a touch of sarcasm from time to time. Because I say things sarcastically and interpret others literally, right, Alyssa/Eva?! It's a confusing life, the one I live. :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Do what you're afraid to do.

Ralph Waldo Emerson quote
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The last few days, my mind has been all over the place. Scrambling to finish scholarship applications, figuring out what to pack, what not to pack...

"On second thought, maybe I should actually pack that - just in case."
"Oh wait, I don't really need that."
"They've got socks there! And I'm going to find an Icelandic, knit wool sweater at a flea market! And one of those authentic striped shirts!"
"You have way too many striped shirts already."
"But they're CLASSICS! I need them!"

"Do I have enough money?" 
"But what if!?"
"No, the volcanoes are not going to erupt."

"Should I bring Annie's Mac and Cheese packets, minus the pasta, as comfort food?"
"No, that's ridiculous." "No, that's genius, it's delicious. And for five-year-olds, so what."

"Where am I going to be on March 15th? Or April 8th? Or May 26th?"
"I don't know, those are pretty random days. I don't know where I'll be any day, expect for when I'm on a plane."

"Do I know how to live independently?" 
"No. Yes. Kind of. You're not actually on your own. It's civilization. With people you'll get to know soon enough."

"Why did it take so long for my glasses to be made? Do they actually work?! Why is it easier to see without them?!"

"Am I going to be lonely?"
"Yes, probably."

"Why is the time difference so significant?"
"Because the world is a big place??? Beats me."

See the rational vs. irrational debate in my mind? Oh, the joys of being so annoyingly logical while over-thinking every little detail. But seriously. This is what's going through my mind. And it's exhausting, let me tell you.

But this quote, which I stumbled upon today, is a good reminder of why I'm going. I've wanted to do this since sixth grade. Every day of senior year. On the days the kids I nannied for drove me crazy. And most of the days in between.

So, I'll go and see something new. For me, that's the best part of traveling, seeing something unfamiliar every day, as the familiar gets old. And yes, I'll be lonely, but that's when I'll notice and appreciate the little things, and if not, it'll be when I Skype somebody. (Or blog. Or read a book. Or take a walk, if it stops flooding soon.) Get ready, folks! 

P.S. What do you eat at a British party? Taking place in America? Let me know. 

Update: Shepherd's pie and lots of tea. :)

(Poster via Go.For.Dope)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I'm going to Europe!

Lately when I'm walking outside in the cold, wintry weather I wonder to myself: how am I going to survive Iceland? Over there, it'll be true winter, similar to the East Coast these days, as opposed to Seattle's always-mild temperature.
Iceland collage
But weather is the least of my worries because I still can't believe I'm going to Europe in less than three weeks! The reality is slowly beginning to set in as I communicate with our dear family friend, Norma, who lives in Settle, a small town in the Yorkshire Dales of England. She's come to visit our family in Seattle just about every two years for as long as I can remember, and I often think of her as my honorary grandmother. Or, as my mom calls her, "my fairy godmother of travel," which is a pretty accurate title, I'd say.

This gap year trip (or GYT, as I abbreviate it on all my to do lists) truly wouldn't be happening without Norma and all of her generosity in offering me a room in her house as a home base, helping to arrange an eight-week volunteering opportunity at the non-profit in Scotland that she is a trustee of, contacting her network of friends, former students/coworkers and the like to find a room for me to rent in Edinburgh, and being so willing to show me around and introduce me to her friends over the nearly four months while I'll be in the UK. I'm so thankful for all the time and effort she has put towards helping me to make this crazy dream of mine a reality.

While I'm gone, I plan to write a weekly recap of sorts with photo highlights of what I've been up to. I hereby promise not to post photos of everything I eat, as I think that's strictly for Instagram, or whatever technology it is that people use these days to upload food pictures with Polaroid-style frames. On second hand, I'd definitely post a photo of me eating an Icelandic seafood delicacy that I actually consumed (pickled shark, anyone?), as that would be noteworthy for my seafood-averting self! Also, I'll most likely upload the majority of pictures I take to Facebook, if you'd like to see them there.

Just 18 days until I leave, I can't believe it And if you have any recommendations of places to go in or nearby Reykjavik, the first leg of my trip, I'd love to hear them!

(Photos by Bryan Pocius via Flickr Creative Commons)