:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

zaterdag 31 juli 2004

Hi again. I'm really angry at the computer at the moment - I can't open my e-mail inbox without the message that iexplore "has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down." (I can, however, SEND e-mail... but that's kind of pointless when you don't know what people are saying to you.) I see that I have a new mail from Martin (a long one, 16kb) and I can't read it because the computer freezes as soon as the mailbox opens. Same with the comments on my website and some links on other sites - I get the same error message. And they gave us a big long lecture about not using the lodge computers, so I can't use those anymore either. If it were something more "essential", like booking a flight or registering for classes, I could ask Billy to use his computer, but since it's just for "fun", I can't. And my last day off is tomorrow, a Sunday, so the library is closed and I can't use those computers either. So basically what it means is that (probably) no one will hear from me again until I leave. Sigh. Glad I'm going home on Wednesday.

Oh, Mom, by the way, I finished filling out that stupid driving booklet - all I have to do when I get home is watch the video and answer the questions that pertain to that, plus get two more passengers to fill out the passenger pages. Then I'm done. I must say that I think this is a silly hoop to jump through (as you put it), especially since I'm 20 and have been driving for almost 5 years already. For Catie it might be beneficial, and others under 18, but for older drivers there really is no point. I really think they could find an easier way of giving us insurance discounts, but whatever.

Gonna go now and teach class. Just today and Monday and Tuesday left of classes - Sunday's the canoe meet and all that - and then Wednesday I LEAVE... YAY!!!

woensdag 28 juli 2004

Hey - me again! Guess what - I got permission to leave camp on Wednesday instead of Friday! Classes are over on Tuesday and that's also the last day for time-off, so there's no reason I really have to be there, and it will make a world of difference for me to have Thursday and Friday to rest and get my appointments (dentist, eye doctor (for a Lasik consult!), and haircut) out of the way and not have to do all that when Martin's here. I told a white lie and said that I had to be at the airport on Friday instead of Saturday. Who's to know? :)

Today is my last 'long day' off, so Marie and I went to Greenville to go shopping at Old Navy (one of the few stores where I can always find clothes!). We got lost a few times, but it wasn't my fault. (No, Mom, it really wasn't - I swear! We asked a few different people for directions on the way there, and they all told us different things!) We did finally get there, and then we went nuts - I bought new jeans, two T-shirts (one white and one green), and some underwear (yeah, couldn't resist). The jeans are light blue instead of my 'normal' blue, and they look really nice. Came with a fabric belt, too. :) I also returned the waist pack I bought at Mass General the other day - it turned out to be too small. I couldn't zip it shut, and that was without my camera! So I went back and bought the one I'd wanted in the first place, from Sherpani. It's much larger, but doesn't seem so because it also 'fits' much better (it's adjustable in multiple ways). It's also 'prettier' (haha, yes, I am a girl :)).

Anyway, then we went back to camp and picked up the 'short day' people - Haley, Vanessa, and Amanda - and now we're all going out to dinner at Atlanta Bread Company and then to TCBY and Wal-Mart. (No Ton-A-Wandah night off is complete without a visit to Wal-Mart - it's the only 'real' store in the whole town, haha!)

Sunday is my next and last day off - just a 'short day', from six to 23:45. And then on Wednesday I go home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

maandag 26 juli 2004

Spent too long mailing Martin and now have no time to update this. Not much has happened. Vanessa, Haley, Alessia, Sarah, and I are out. I just had a burrito; it was really good, but now I don't need to eat again for like a week, haha. We might head to Asheville after this, I don't know.

It's raining here. Counselor hunt is tonight; I'm missing it. :( Only 12 more days till Martin gets here!

Liselotte turns 21 tomorrow, everyone mail her and say happy birthday!

Hmm, the Delete key seems to be disabled, very strange, I never realized how much I used it until right now.

Only 11 more days till I come home. :)

Oops, there's a woman standing behind me tapping her foot and being a real b****, even though the time clock JUST flipped to 16.00. ("You know, I need it for a half hour, too!")

Sigh. You guys will hear from me again on Wednesday! Love y'all!

zondag 25 juli 2004

Hi there. I'm on the computer again, even though I'm not really supposed to be, because I'm playing truant during the Sunday service (like a church service). Since I'm an atheist, I've never felt comfortable with the religious side of the camp - the blessings, the Serenity Prayer every morning, etc. I just stay silent throughout most of it, but the Sunday service is unavoidable; it's not optional. I really think it should be - I mean, we have Jewish campers here too, and they feel pretty out of place there as well - but it isn't. They insist that the service is 'non-denominational' and that it's not religion-specific, but all the counselors agree that that's a load of bull. So I decided to take my own silent 'stand' this time and just not go. What's the worst that can happen?

They should be out any minute, so this will be short, but I just decided to type out a quick note, for lack of anything else to do. Hilltop (the oldest girls in camp) had a dance last night with one of the boys' camps, but I was able to wiggle out of that by volunteering to 'babysit' those girls who didn't want to go. 3 down, 2 to go. They're Wednesday and Saturday. I'm off Wednesday, but not Saturday. Oh well. I'm off tomorrow too, and Mariel, Vanessa, Haley, and I are going to an outlet mall in Greenville and then to El Paso (I'm definitely getting whatever that was that Ernie got last time, with the cheese sauce and sour cream - it was a lot better than my too-spicy enchiladas!)

12 more days of camp, and 13 more days till Martin gets here! :)

vrijdag 23 juli 2004

Remember to set your screen resolution to 1024 x 768 or higher if you want this page to appear like it's supposed to. If you don't see a sidebar on the right, change your resolution. I'm going to play around with ways to fix that, but I can't do it till I'm home.

I'm in the lodge now - Lindsey, an old friend of mine, is on phone duty tonight, so she's letting me use the awesome fast computer (since the counselor computers are broken YET AGAIN!!!). We're not really supposed to be allowed to do that, but I've been here so long that a lot of people will make exceptions for me, because they know me and like me and know that I'm essentially harmless. No, really, I am. :)

Everybody cross your fingers that Martin gets the house he wants!!! He's second in line, and it's not certain whether or not the woman ahead of him is going to take it or not. We'll see...

There was ANOTHER Mountain Beach Party today, the second one in three days. For those who don't know, a Mountain Beach Party is when Ton-A-Wandah (check the site here) gets together with a boys' camp like Pinnacle or Carolina and spends the afternoon swimming, rock climbing, and doing other fun stuff. Then we have a cookout and then a dance. Everyone loves it except for the lifeguards; the other counselors get to 'play' while we have to work.

Anyway, so we had one Wednesday with Camp Carolina (at their camp) and then one today with Camp Pinnacle (at our camp). Luckily, I was off on a short night, so I lifeguarded for three hours (felt sick by the end, because of the sun) and then got to leave. I had a panini at Atlanta Bread Company and white chocolate mousse-flavored frozen yogurt at TCBY (my addiction) and I also went to the Asheville Mall and bought a new bra (this is a major achievement, for those who don't know the frustration and multiple dressing rooms which I usually endure for such a mission!). And now I'm on the computer.

I thought I'd tell a little about my girls, since I've been talking about them so much lately. There are ten of them, as I said - three new and seven old. The cabin is also rather 'split' - as I phrased it to a friend the other day, some of them are just thirteen-year-old girls and some of them are thirteen-year-old girls!!! If you know what I mean. :)

I'll go by bed order, so as to avoid being biased:

Ellen - half Cuban and raised bilingual; speaks Spanish to me when she remembers. Tall and skinny, with big, serious, dark eyes. If you need an ego boost, a massage, or a favor, she's your girl. The sweet, sensitive type, she's one who'll grow up to watch old black-and-white movies on TV and cry for the fun of it.

Ashley - one of my girls from last year; tall, blue-eyed, and freckled, with braces and reddish brown hair. Quiet, but can just as easily turn around and be silly, especially with Caitlin. One of the girls you never really notice, one way or the other.

Caitlin - Ashley's best friend; was also in my cabin last year. Short and freckled with squinty blue eyes which give her a perpetual sleepy look. Worries a lot about what others think of her and often says dopey things purely to make people laugh. Smarter than she looks, though; impression is that there's a lot going on inside her head which the world never sees.

Sarah T. - One of the quiet ones who blends in; pale and blue-eyed with glasses and white-blond hair. Very smart. Comes from a large blended family and is sometimes depressed and often silent, yet gets along well with everyone in the cabin. One of the ones who always does what the counselors want without even being told, yet somehow never makes an impression.

Emery - No, not last session's Emery, thank goodness. The younger sister of a girl I've had for the past two years; she's sturdy, blond and brown-eyed with a ready smile. Blends in and never gets yelled at, yet fits in better with the 'popular' girls in the cabin than the 'normal' ones. Impression is that I haven't seen her real personality yet.

Alex - Second-year camper with dark eyes, black hair and glasses. Smiles a lot, yet is definitely one of the 'leaders' of the 'popular' side of the cabin. Knows how to alternately command and avoid attention as it suits her. A 'dangerous' one; not a bad kid, but flies under the radar and is not above lying.

Mary - Alex's cohort, a first-year camper. First impression was of a shy girl; have now been proven wrong. Is very pretty with curly blond hair and good proportions; the problem is that she knows it. Otherwise, ditto Alex's profile.

Katie - Another new girl; small and pretty with thick brown hair and hazel eyes. Interested in everything, asks lots of questions. Always in high gear; always wants to be included and do whatever everyone else is doing; have never yet seen her reading or writing quietly as the other girls do; always talking. Can sometimes get annoying in her earnestness (is also sometimes spacey), but a good kid at heart.

Shelby - My third and final new camper; she's not an attractive girl but nonetheless is included by the others. Has adjusted amazingly fast and well to being here (like the other new girls). Doesn't talk much, but when she does, it's interesting. A lot going on under the surface.

Sarah H. - My favorite of the bunch (yeah, she's taken it over from Ellen...); a pale, slightly chubby redhead who hates the fact that her body has matured early. Is always smiling and laughing with the other and can be very creative when given the chance. Straightforward, no secrets; what you see is what you get. Very sweet kid.

Okay... time for bed now. Yawn...

(P.S. Did anyone notice I changed the time format back to American time? And Robin, did you notice I added your link? Am I good tonight or WHAT? :) How about you guys return the favor by changing your links to say 'eye of the storm' instead of any of the other names? I promise I'll keep this one for a while!)

I had a rather emotional night with my campers yesterday - well, three of them, anyway. And it all started so simply. We were coming out of the gym and I was singing a song, "Song of the South", which had been playing during the evening program. "Hey, you have a good voice!" said Sarah, one of my campers. "You should sing in the talent show!"

"No way," I said. "I did that two years ago with Linde; I don't really want to do it again."
"Oh, come on, you have to!"

I told them that most of the stuff I'd been singing lately was in Dutch, trying to use that as an excuse. What happened instead was that they made me sing an excerpt of "Als alle lichten zijn gedoofd" and translate it, and that they then decided they wanted to listen to my Marco Borsato CD. So that's what we did, clustered around the headphones with the volume all the way cranked up, and me translating the words as they were sung. However, that also involved me explaining the whole concept behind the CD, that it was originally in DVD format with video clips for each song, and that the video clips combined to make a 'movie'. There's a lot of room for interpretation, but the general idea is that a husband and wife have lost a child to illness and are going through all the stages of grieving. Ultimately, they decide to work through it together rather than let it drive them apart.

As I was explaining all this, Ellen (who's very sensitive) started tearing up a little. She asked about the translation of 'Afscheid nemen bestaat niet', so I told about the video clip, about the little girl who has lost her father and calls him back to her on the playground by whispering his name. It's an emotional clip (Tristan could never watch the girl say 'Papa' without crying, thinking of Alissa) but not so emotional that Sarah should have burst into tears the way she did. I was poking fun at the two of them, crying about music they couldn't even understand, and then Sarah choked out, "No... it's my grandma... she has lung cancer, and - and there's nothing they can do." Then she really started to cry.

I hugged her and stroked her hair and tried to comfort her as best I could. She was close to her grandma, she said, and it was the first person close to her that she was going to lose. When she finally composed herself, Katie came over and asked what was going on. We explained, and she joined the discussion, and then ended up crying herself. "It just seems like everyone I know is dying," she sobbed. "My dog, my cat, my grandpa, this little girl at my church..." I thought that was all that was bothering her, but then she went on, "And I miss my friends at my other camp. I don't want to be here. I don't want to be here!" Her voice was rising in pitch. I hadn't even known she'd attended another camp. She explained that she had been attending Kanuga (also in the area) for seven years, but that she'd kissed a boy there last summer and that her parents had found out about it and forbidden her to go back to camp. "Everybody here reminds me of people there. I love you guys, but I want to go back!"

The discussion gradually morphed into how hard it is to be thirteen. They all had the usual complaints, like how their friends seemed to be changing. "I want everybody to like me," Katie said, "but some people just DON'T. I hate that!"

"Know what? It's IMPOSSIBLE to make everybody like you," I said, feeling like my mother. "Better to just hang out with the people who you can be yourself with - the rest of 'em aren't worth your time."

They forged on. "It's going to be awful when I go back to school," Katie said. "All my friends are so different than they used to be. They all want to be popular."
"Everyone assumes I'm rich, just because I go to a private school," complained Ellen tearfully.
"Do you know how awful it is to look older than you are?" demanded Sarah. "Everyone expects you to act older too, and inside I'm still just a kid!"

"Well, I have the opposite problem," asserted Katie. "Everybody looks at me and goes, 'Aw, you're so cute and little'. Nobody takes me seriously, nobody! They just pinch my cheek and laugh at me."

"It's really, really hard to be thirteen," I said. "You're not a kid anymore, but you're not grown up, either. It's the toughest age in the world." I remembered my own seventh-grade year. "And yeah, things are gonna change, and some things are really gonna suck. But there will be good things happening, too."

We talked for a while longer, and then Belinda, our head counselor, came in to tell us to turn out the lights. As the girls clicked their flashlights off one by one, I heard Katie whisper from her top bunk, "Jess?"

I went over, and stood on her trunk to see her better. "Yeah?"

"I've decided," she said earnestly, "that tomorrow I'm going to start not being so cute anymore."
"Should I be worried?" I asked teasingly.
She half-smiled. "I don't know yet."
"Well, however you decide to behave, I just hope you're happy with who you are," I said, and stroked her hair.
She smiled. "Yeah." Then she snuggled down in bed. "Good night."
"Sleep well," I said.

I don't know if any of what we talked about sank in, but I'm still glad they felt comfortable enough to come to me about those things. I always feel honored whenever kids confide in me like that; that's the ultimate reward in this job.

donderdag 22 juli 2004

I know everyone wants to hear how camp's going, so I'll post some of an e-mail that I just wrote to my dad.

This session is MUCH better than July session - I have an awesome cabin (only 10 girls - 7 old and 3 new, but the new ones are really cool and the old ones are girls I've known for years; they were really excited to see that they got me). Waterfront is closed 4th period (which is now, as I write) because we have so few campers (175 instead of the 225 from last session), and I teach a diving class first period instead of swimming. Also, I'm getting along WAY better with the other counselors now that the annoying 'cliquey' people are gone (they were all here for June and July, not August). There are some people, like Christine and Vanessa, who I'm really going to miss. The time's actually going fast now, believe it or not.

Oh, and Dad just sent me an e-mail saying that he and Mom are in agreement that I can have Lasik!!! So in a few months, I'll be able to wake up in the morning and SEE, and not have to fumble around for my glasses and then put in my contacts. I can't imagine what that must be like. My eyes are really bad (left -4.50 and right -7.00) and so I decided that I'd rather get that corrected than have a breast reduction (something else I've wanted for a long time), because vision which is that poor can be not only a handicap for certain professions, but also a danger to yourself in certain situations (e.g. what if I lost a lens while driving?). Whereas the breast reduction, while tempting, would be 90% for purely cosmetic reasons. But really, I wonder what it'll be like to be able to wake up and SEE, wow... I've had glasses and contacts too long (since age 7 or 8) to know what that's like anymore. I always thought it would be easier to wake up if things were in sharp focus when you opened your eyes instead of being fuzzy. Now I'll be able to find out if that's true, haha.

The counselor computer is defragmenting, so I begged and pleaded to use a lodge computer, so I better not abuse the privilege. Talk to ya later...

woensdag 21 juli 2004

Yes, the colors are different again. I've decided that I hate the new title and the new banner, and also that I am changing layouts and titles and such entirely too often. So my new title, which I'm hoping to keep permanently, is EYE OF THE STORM... for several reasons. It started because I took an awesome close-up picture of my eyes which I'm planning to make into a banner when I get back. I was thinking, OK, a title that I won't have to change again, which has 'eyes' in it. 'Eye of the Storm' just sort of popped into my head during lunch one day, and I like it for two reasons. First, because my nickname is Stormy, so it has sort of a literal meaning... and second, for the figurative meaning that this website is like the eye of the storm, the area of calm in the center of my all-too-crazy life. Like it? I did.

The problem is that I obviously can't use Photoshop (for another 17 days) since I'm still locked away up in the mountains, so I just fell back on the only banner I had with green in it, and tried to match the old colors as best I could. The color is weird on this monitor, so if it looks hideous, please either comment or mail and let me know. I thought those were the numbers for the colors I had before, but I'm not sure. And remember, it has to be 1024 x 768 or higher resolution, otherwise it looks awful; there's no sidebar at all.

I hate the fact that I always think of all sorts of things I want to write about, then forget them when I actually get to a computer. I know one of them was my growing frustration at the closed-minded people I seem to encounter on a daily basis - after living in Holland, I'm becoming increasingly unable to tolerate certain things about America - but that's another story. There's not too much more to say except that I went white-water rafting today, I might be getting Lasik on my eyes, and I am about to go eat enchiladas with 4 camp friends, yay!!!

zondag 11 juli 2004

Not much time to type, but I'm sitting at a kiosk in the Blue Ridge Mall in Hendersonville. The camp internet is (ONCE AGAIN) not working, and the library is closed, so I came into the mall to ask if anyone knew of an internet cafe in Asheville. Well, while I was asking (in Bath & Body Works), a guy from across the strip was listening and told me I could come to the SunCom kiosk and use his computer. So here I am. :)

Unfortunately there's not that much to tell, aside from the fact that I feel like I got run over by a truck, because we were doing all kinds of crazy dives off the board yesterday and I did a couple of face-plants while trying to do a one-and-a-half (which is a flip and then another half-flip so that you go into the water diving and not feet-first). I didn't feel a thing yesterday, but today my neck really hurts. The equivalent of whiplash, I guess.

Hey Olga, if you still read this, would you ask D to e-mail me? Only if he wants to, I mean :) but I was thinking about him the other day because we haven't talked in so long and I have no idea what he's up to. I wanted to e-mail him, but I have a limited time on this computer. :( So if he feels like it, could you ask him to drop me a line? I don't want to lose contact just because I'm out of the country. :)

Camp's going pretty well; the girls leave on Friday and my co-counselor Christine and I are driving to my aunt's house in South Carolina for a day of real food, real showers, real beds, and normal conversation. I love my girls, but you can literally feel yourself 'dumbing down' when you're around them too long. :)

You guys should hear from me again on Friday. I miss all of you!!!

dinsdag 6 juli 2004

I finally get to use a GOOD computer (at the library)...


It just ate my INCREDIBLY LONG (even for me, incredibly long!) e-mail to Martin, and I. AM. NOT. HAPPY!

But aside from that... and the fact that I probably have to send my cell phone home to exchange it... camp's great.


Send sympathy mail, please. :)

maandag 5 juli 2004

Hey everyone. Camp's going fine, except I don't get a lot of time to use the computer... which is why you haven't heard from me. Geez, people are going to stop reading the site... :(

There's not really anything much to tell, and there's a line, so I'll keep it short. We're through the first week! It seems to be crawling... I feel like I've been here a month. But it's nice, too.

OK, really got to go now - I have a night out tonight so I AM available for calling and SMSing, from 18u to 23.45. I've got to check the site for the Asheville Mall and make sure they're really open, so I'll talk to y'all later!

(Oh yes, I've started saying 'y'all' again. I always do that when I come up here... it's a Southern thing. :))

And yes, I know the dates on this thing are still set on Dutch time... sorry about that... I'll fix it later. But it's 11.50. :)


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