Listening: Wish I Could Forget by the Weepies

Actually right now there are a lot of things that I hope to remember for a long long time. After what feels like almost a month of trips and travels, I am once again back in my new bedroom at Cana. My suitcase lies partially unpacked on the floor, a lovely cool breeze that I must have brought back with me from the Northwest is blowing through my window and it is very good to be home. Although at this point of transition I am not entirely sure of where that is. Is home back with my parents, memories of high school and college town of Goshen? Or is home the apartment down the street that I shared with Jess and Erini and Becca for the past year? Or is home the amazing connections I still have with friends from college living in Denver, Portland and Seattle? Or is home the house I am living in now called Cana?

Hmmm, what to say of my trip west? It was in an essence lovely and perfect. And while one would always like more time to reconnect with friends, I got to see each of my dear western friends and felt like in some way I was able to have those times that serve to bridge the gaps between visits and keep me close to them all.

As for those details of what I actually did, here are some highlights:

1. Theo Chocolates – Although I had been on this tour before, there is nothing boring about hearing the details of how an organic fair trade chocolate factory processes chocolate from bean to bar. Besides they give out so many incredible samples that by the end of the time I was actually turning down more samples!

2. A trip to Discovery Park – While the park was quite beautiful, what was really wonderful was the chance to talk about life, love (or the pursuit of it) and travel with some of my favorite people (Becca, Meryl and Katie). And of course we took some pictures.

Such charming conversation partners and lovely friends!

Such charming conversation partners and lovely friends!

3. Taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island – I have to say I mainly liked the idea of this excursion because, ferry! who doesn’t like a boat ride! Seattle is indeed beautiful, worthy of its names as Emerald City, all the glass and steel reflects all the blues, greys and greens of the Sound.

Yet another wonderful trip with my oldest friend (although I should say that she is the youngest of the Evanston girls).

Yet another wonderful trip with my oldest friend (although I should say that she is the youngest of the Evanston girls).

4. Happy hour at the Portland City Grill – Jess, Meryl and I met up with another great friend from college (and high school and junior high, in my case), Laurel. We sipped cocktails ordered tiny plates of cheap but delicious food and enjoyed the gorgeous views of downtown from the 30th floor. It was really wonderful catching up with Laurel and getting a peak into her life. It always amazes me how much people change, yet at the same time remain the people that you liked so much to begin with.

5. Exploring Portland (Powells’ and the Chinese Garden) – There are few things in life I love more than a good used book story, so imagine my joy when I visit a huge independent bookstore that is both gigantic and has a mix of new and used books for pretty darn cheap. The answer is very happy and 7 books richer. After Jess, Meryl and I dragged ourselves away from Powells, we grabbed some pizza, did a little used clothing shopping and then headed over to the Portland Chinese Gardens, which for such a small space, did an amazing job of transporting us far away to the slopes of Emei Shan in Sichuan China. We wandered around and finally got some tea and talked and sipped and talked some more. The whole time in the garden was like a piece of some of my best memories from China.

Doesnt this picture totally make you wish you knew this woman, or if you know her, then you can understand how this photo is Meryl.

Doesn't this picture totally make you wish you knew this woman, or if you know her, then you can understand how this photo is Meryl.

I had forgotten how good tea smells and tastes when properly brewed.

I had forgotten how good tea smells and tastes when properly brewed.

Despite the hubbub of downtown portland, this garden is so quiet and serene.  It probably helps that you cant have your cell phone on inside its walls.

Despite the hubbub of downtown Portland, this garden is so quiet and serene. It probably helps that you can't have your cell phone on inside its walls.

6. Driving down the Oregon Coast on 101 – I had heard stories about Highway 101 before and knew that I really wanted to drive a least a small part of it and I was not disappointed. Much of the highway is literally right next to the coast, especially in hilly regions where the cliffs next to the road lead directly to the water. We drove through fog, sun, more fog and lots of tiny tourist towns and fruit stands, I definitely need to come back to this part of the country.

Just your average pitstop along Highway 101

Just your average pitstop along Highway 101

7. Cape Blanco State Park – This was probably Meryl and I’s favorite campsite due to its wooded, secluded but beautiful setting. Apart from the coldest night of our life due to the same mist that we found so enchanting during the day, our night here was very peaceful and quiet. Unfortunately the mist which looked so lovely blowing down into valleys also completely obscured our view of the lighthouse which rests on the point of the cape.

Meryl and I stopped the car while returning to our campsite and snapped about a gizillion pictures.

Meryl and I stopped the car while returning to our campsite and snapped about a gizillion pictures.

8. Taking lots of ridiculous videos with Meryl and then laughing at ourselves – I think this one is fairly self-explanatory.


First video of many

Originally uploaded by AbbyN

9. The Redwoods – Being surrounded by giant incredibly old trees = very happy Abby

Redwoods from Jedidiah Smith National Park

Redwoods from Jedidiah Smith National Park

news from China

By now I assume most of you have heard about the devastating earthquake that struck Sichuan Province, China on Monday. And probably most of you know that I spent 3 months in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan and around 60 miles away from the epicenter of the quake. So it seems obvious that I would be following/interested in this event, but at the same time I really don’t have anything to add to the chorus of much more informed people and eyewitness accounts. In fact I don’t really know what to say in the face of rather mind-numbing statistics like 15,000 dead (almost half the population of my college town). I mean I could try to put together some links or write about how odd/sad it is to hear place names that I have connections too in the news, but instead I am just going to give you one link. NPR had a small news team already in Chengdu before the earthquake doing a special on the city and surrounding region, so obviously they were there witnessing it all when the earthquake started. And in typical NPR fashion they are providing pictures/posts and articles that cut through the incomprehensible numbers and statistics to tell stories that truly capture this kind of tragedy. This story from their blog tells of parents searching for their son in the town of Dujiangyan, a town I visited almost 3 years ago. Go read it now.

maybe its the fog

or maybe its a recent update from Grace (a fellow traveler I met in Egypt this summer) but all of a sudden I got quite nostalgic about the times spent traveling this past summer.

Grace and I climbing down the easy way from Mt. Sinai

Traveling is always a rather crazy conundrum for me; I love it, yet I always find it slightly less thrilling then expected. I find that no matter how crazy the heat, slimy the guide, breathtaking the hills, or beautiful the sunrise, everything gets better in hindsight.

Sunrise over Mt. Sinai

I think part of this is how when I am actually traveling there is all this pressure to be having the time of my life. Not only does each day cost me more money, energy and time then it does at home, but when I am traveling I am seeing things that so few people have the privilege to experience. And for me that adds extra pressure to absorb as much as humanly possible.

During my last few weeks in China I remember this pressure being especially high, because not only was I never going to be able to replicate the experience, I would most likely never see some of the people I had grown to appreciate so much in my short 3 months in China again.

Dinner out with the roommates

In the end as much as I love to travel, I think it will always be the coming home part that makes any trip special.

memories

The weekend was great, full of constant reunions, hugs, 2 minute life updates, brew dates, georgia peach ice cream from the chief and even a hamock nap. And the big theme was lots of mini china reunions, seeing people who I spent 3 months with in a foreign country and haven’t seen for the past year.

But there are no pictures and it is over now and I feel like any update I try to do right now will end up being completely lame. So here is a slideshow of pictures from China. I have been meaning to post more about my time spent there in fall of 2005, seeing as while I was there I busy doing a lot of none blogging things. Hopefully in the next few weeks I’ll get some excerpts from my journal here, maybe some scans and some more pictures. But here to start you off with is a China SST slideshow.

waking up from quite the bender

I am home sick today, which I realized this morning was an even better idea than last night. Starting yesterday morning my chest tightened, a cough developed and I began to feel feverish. I took my temp after I got home and found that I did indeed have one, so I took some medicine (which I hate to do) and called in to work. Boy howdy am I glad I did, last night was probably the second worst night* I have had in my life in regards to fever. I took some medicine at 10:30pm, so by around 3am it was beginning to wear off. And that is where the night got fun, racked by extreme cold, I couldn’t seem to get warm even with my very thick faux-down comforter. But I was also half asleep, so the idea of getting another blanket for myself didn’t really occur to me. So at around 4:45am when my dear roommie, Becca was preparing for her early morning commute I begged her to get me another blanket. That helped, but still I found my body couldn’t stand the “huge drafts” that seem to creep in from under the edges of my blankets. Finally at around 6:30am I dragged myself out of bed and took some more medicine. Now it is weird I don’t really remember if I interacted with my roommates who get up around 7am, I kinda thought I did, but I definitely don’t remember anything. But fortunately around 7:30am my fever broke, so I had that lovely experience of laying on my bed with sweat pouring off of me. So yeah, being sick is pretty darn sexy.

* The worst night ever was one in China during SST in which everyone else was staying in the East Campus dorms, but because I was feeling sick I stayed behind one night and had the worst fever I think I have ever had. I was shaking and shivering uncontrollably, because despite the relatively warm temp of the bedroom I couldn’t get warm. That, my friends, was the longest night of my life.

london

cheeky cute kids in subways,
scotish jews make me think marital thoughts,
14 consecutive days with the family
buying 15 wheels of mature cheddar
wearing scarfs from China and feeling city sophisticated in my black pea coat and new sweaters
realizing I never really fell in love with China
hearing a bob marley song in the underground and being instantly transported to Cheung Chau off the coast of Hong Kong
loving london but I just can’t seem to shake the tiredness from my bones, maybe the jet lag, may be the culture shock, maybe just a bunch of things

general update

Music: I am listening to the Birthday CD that Jonathan made me, which completely and totally rocks! I love brothers, especially mine.

Well the pattern so far this week seems to be getting up early and then bumming around the house, watching the sun come up, watching a little random television, checking the email, getting a few things down, eventually showering and heading over to the college to be social.

Yesterday I had a great time invading apartment 403 (the home of Becca, Miriam, Katie and now Jess), we played a few rounds of cards, took a nap, had tea, talked, went to El Cameno Real for some much craved Mexican food and then had a delightful oil massage party in their loft with Steph, Meryl and Tara. I really like their apartment and it was nice to be able to be there without feeling any obligation to be loud or quiet.
Today I plan on heading over and hanging out with the Aurora folk, house meal at 6pm, then I have an eye appointment at 7pm.

The weather here is cold as all get out, but in a totally non-Indiana thing is very sunny. So pretty gorgeous overall. As for culture shock, right now China is feeling very far away and I find myself wanting to just seek out other China SSTers and talk about it constantly. Maybe to remind myself it really happened. On the other hand it is also great to see all my friends I have been missing, yet I sometimes find myself at a loss of what to say.

Countdown to London: 5 days

jet lag and other things to be thankful for (belatedly)

so the reason I am posting at the odd hour of 6:30am on a Monday morning, is because my body thought it would be important that I was awake right now. Yeah that’s right folks jet lag is here and I am home from China. That still isn’t entirely setting in, but mainly it feels normal, kinda like there was this really long blink and now I am back in Goshen surrounded by family and friends again.
Yesterday was a really good day to arrive back for, with the Messiah-sing and fellowship meal at Assembly and then the Festival of Carols in the afternoon. Plus about a gazillion hugs from all the friends I kept slowly running into.
Yeah, life is good right now, I guess I will post more about the whole last 10 days of travel later.

gem from China

riding back to the Shida after dancing at a club with almost the entire SST group, in a taxi with the best ever driver, who asked me questions in Chinese, which I answered in Chinese, who then turned on the radio and sang along to old Russian communist songs with a rumbling bass voice. Then offered to take us the whole way to the Waiban, waved the guard off by informing him we were laoshi (teachers), and then teaching me left and right in China.
Dang why are we leaving just when it gets fun!