:: 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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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)

dinsdag 31 augustus 2004

I hate UF financial aid procedures. Hate them. HATE THEM.


Bright Futures, the scholarship that most Florida natives who go to Florida schools receive, is run by the state and is supposed to cover all my tuition. However, I was in the Netherlands last year, and my grades from those classes are not in yet. So the computer says, "Oh, she didn't take any classes last year! So her scholarship is canceled! Ha ha, sucker!"

The first day of classes, I went to four different offices trying to resolve this, and received two pieces of instruction. The first was, "Don't panic - it'll work itself out." The second one was, "Contact Utrecht and see if you can get them to mail a sealed transcript to UF. Then we can give you your grades." I did both of those things and relaxed, knowing that my National Merit scholarship (dispensed by UF) would come through soon; the SCHOOL at least knew where I had been and what the situation was, even if the state didn't.

Well, yeah, so the letter appeared in my e-mail inbox today - "Funds have been transferred to your banking institution!" I excitedly clicked the link to read the breakdown, and... my tuition money, which Bright Futures (thus the state) is supposed to pay, has been taken out of my Merit scholarship!!!

Normal financial aid per semester after tuition: approximately $3000. This is supposed to go directly into my bank account, and is for rent, groceries, gas, books, et cetera.
Grand total I have actually received for this semester: $335. This is not enough for even one month of rent.

In a panic, I went back to the financial aid office this morning and was once again told, "There's nothing we can do until your credits come in."

I know kids who went over for the summer and didn't get their credits until December! How am I supposed to hang on until then?! I know I'm not the first person to have studied abroad - why can't they straighten this out???

So after a mini-meltdown on the phone with Mom, I went to an academic advisor who helped me a lot in my study-abroad preparations and got him to e-mail the NL university on my behalf. He said he'd call if that didn't work. We'll see. This guy is great; he hasn't failed me yet. Knock on wood.

By the way, my roomate was in the Olympics in Sydney (for swimming). How cool is that? And how did I not know about it until my other roommate told me tonight?

maandag 30 augustus 2004

Well, I got the internet to work faster - I connected to a different wireless network. There are two in this building, lamancha19 and lamancha58, and until I set up the 'hierarchy' in Windows, they switched back and forth a lot and threw me offline. I get the best reception with 19, so that's what I've been using, but it's incredibly slow. I was about to go to the office and ask why, and then I thought I'd just try 58 first, and that one is much faster. The signal strength is much lower, but it's still faster. Go figure.

As for the study-abroad thing, I went to the office today and checked out everything they had. There's no Africa summer program which would really work for me since I'm not artistic and don't study environmental science (or something of the like), so I gave that up and looked at other things. There was a cool program in China which combined medicine and Mandarin Chinese, and I would have done it except they require you to already have credit in medicine, which I of course do not. So I fell back on Spain. I am NOT going to lose the Spanish that I worked so hard to learn! I've e-mailed the professors letting them know my situation to see which program they would put me in, the advanced or the intermediate. I said I'd feel silly sitting in 2000-level classes after already having done 3300 and 3700, but that I didn't feel my level at the moment was good enough to jump back in where I left off, either, because of my intensive Dutch experience. So we'll see what they say. The program costs about $4000, so it's not likely I'll be able to go anyway, but there are a lot of scholarships out there, especially for UF programs, so I'm not writing it off yet.

I've got to run downstairs for trash bags and then go to Target. I'll post later on tonight if there's something noteworthy to say. :) Ciao!

zondag 29 augustus 2004

I've just downloaded Hello, a program which is supposed to make it ten times easier to post photos to your blog. (And it does, if you only want to post one at a time...) Anyway, I thought I'd play around with it by posting a couple of things. The left photo is one I took of Martin in the backyard while we were in Jacksonville with my parents. Cute, huh? ;) (You can click on the pictures for a larger image.) The one on the right is me in a cafe in Paris back in June; Faith and I had been walking around in the heat in search of clothing bargains and decided to stop and split a sundae.

Anyway, I talked to Martin this afternoon via MSN and he's home safe and sound, just very tired. He says it feels like America was a dream; now that he's back, he can't believe he was really here. When he said that, I turned on the webcam so he could see my room. That made it real again. :)

There's not much more to talk about today - I just spent the day deleting unnecessary files and backing up important ones, plus cleaning my room a bit and sticking the rest of my photos on the walls. I discovered that my new printer prints amazing photos, in spite of Dad's gloomy prediction, so there are a few new ones up on the walls, too.

Tasks for tomorrow: swim (yes, really swim!) in swim class at 8:30, go to my next three classes, then ride my bike to Target and buy a photo album. Maybe go to Publix too; we'll see. (Note to self: buy toilet paper.) Also, take out the garbage, and ask the office people why the Internet is running so slowly these days.


Yes, after a long hiatus, I'm back! Martin left today, which absolutely sucks, but one of the bonuses is that I can once again be on the computer whenever I want to and take my time with things, instead of having to worry about being 'antisocial'. Among the other bonuses are: not having to drive long distances to 'do something fun' whenever I have free time, not having to spend obscene amounts of money on aforementioned 'fun things', being able to lounge around and read instead of having to be people-focused 24/7, and being able to take time to meet people in my apartment complex and do things at my own pace, instead of having to accommodate another person, too.

That being said, we did have a great three weeks. MGM, a visit from Christine, Wet & Wild, M's first taco experience, Silver Springs, a purchase of a racing bike, Sea World, an airboat ride (today), Wild Adventures, a hurricane, the world's largest McDonalds, a Jaguars game... and, of course, lots and lots of shrimp. (He's addicted.) And yes, we both cried at the airport tonight... it's a long time till Christmas.

Speaking of which, I've had another thought about next year, and I don't know why I didn't think of it until now. I'm going to be done with all my requirements, so I'd been planning to graduate a year early (in May 2005) and go over to the Netherlands again for a masters' program in Utrecht. But I've had a better thought. What if I were to simply study abroad in NL again? As far as I know, there's no law that you can't do the same program twice. It's the best of all worlds - I'd take my fourth year of undergrad after all, I'd get my scholarship money, I'd have an extra year to brush up my Dutch a little more before I dive into a masters, I'd be able to take whatever classes I wanted - maybe Spanish at Boswell! - without worrying about transfer credit... plus, since I've already been there once, I'd have a much better idea of how to go about things. For instance, live with Dutch students (it's always cheaper) and put a letter in my application saying that I will NOT under any circumstances live in Park Rheyngaerde again, haha! Even better, send my friends out searching for rooms. :) Anyway, I've got to do a lot of checking up on things to see if that's even possible, but it's an option that occurred to me yesterday morning in TESL class while talking about various abroad programs and seemed to have a lot of positive points to it. What do you guys think?

While I'm on the subject: I'm also thinking about going abroad to a different country with a summer program. I don't think that's going to be financially possible, but I'm checking into it anyway because I'd like to see another country besides NL. Call me crazy, but I'm sort of toying with the idea of Africa... maybe Kenya. When would I ever get the chance again?

Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there. :)

As for other things: my classes are really cool and so is work. Classes are:

LIN 3201 Sounds of Human Language
LIN 3460 Structure of Human Language
TSL 3370 Teaching English as a Second Language
AST 1002 Discovering the Universe
ANT 2000 General Anthropology
PEN 1122 Swimming II

The two linguistics courses are required, of course, but they're all right. They're trying to squeeze a drill session into that first one, which is really @#$%ing with my schedule, but I like the second one a lot. They're both rather like my Phonology and Syntax classes from Utrecht, so no sweat. TESL is all right too; the teacher has the demeanor of an elementary-school teacher, but she's very sweet and approachable, so it's all good. As for anthropology, well, I had a drop-add fiasco and ended up not taking Marriage and the Family. But anthropology's a better fit for me anyway - language, culture, evolution from apes... fascinating stuff. And the teacher is really cool - like a mix of Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Wiesike. I had a 3000-level anthro course in my first semester here, which really went into detail about the evolution stuff - memorizing features of early primate skeletons and stuff - so this course should be no problem. Same thing with astronomy - I took a 2000-level course in my second semester, and this course is (so far) following the exact same pattern... in theory, I don't even have to go. (FYI: I'm taking both those classes to fulfill specific requirements, not because I'm specifically trying to repeat stuff I've already had.) And swimming... what is there to say about swimming? Except that it's very early in the morning?

As for work, I like it too. I'm working at A Child's Academy, up on the northern side of town, in the infant room. It's basically just playing with babies all afternoon (15.20 till 18.00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays) but it's sort of a posh place - expensive - and so we have to be really professional. Like, we fill out reports for each child - what and when they eat, when and how long they sleep, what they do in their diapers and when... oh well, but I guess as a parent I would appreciate that too.

Anyway, I'm going to go to bed now... and sleep... for a very long time. I was on the phone with Mom tonight on the way home and she asked if I could sleep in tomorrow. I said, "Yeah, tomorrow's my first free day since... like... uh..."

"2003?" she offered.

"Yeah, something like that."

donderdag 5 augustus 2004

Why are you always hungry after going to the dentist, when you know perfectly well you're not allowed to eat for half an hour after fluoride treatments? Oh well. At least my teeth are clean. I'm going back on Wednesday to get a couple of sealants redone (they keep falling off) and to (finally) get the chip in my front tooth fixed. I don't care all that much about it, but my dentist and orthodontist are both perfectionists, and it will be kind of cool to see what I look like with a normal tooth. I chipped it so long ago (on a windowsill during a sleepover) that I don't really remember not having it.

And I went to the bank, too, and deposited my check for the summer - after taxes, slightly more than a thousand dollars. Sounds okay, until you think about the fact that I'm going to blow two to three hundred this weekend alone ($50 for each park in Orlando, plus hotel, gas, and food) and that I pay $300 each month in car payments. Oh well, I start my job in Gainesville soon. Looking forward to that!

And while we're on the topic of money, I just checked and T-Mobile is finally done taking cell phone payments out of my Dutch account. I am left with a grand total of E63.40, or about $75. Not too bad; about what I'd hoped. I had to gamble on the amount to leave over there, and it looks like I did a good job.

Am I the only one who did not know that the blond girl in Bend It Like Beckham is Keira Knightly? I love her, but I didn't recognize her with short blond hair. My sister's watching the movie, and I can hear the music all the way from my bedroom. That movie's got the best soundtrack.

Speaking of good songs, here are my 'camp songs' from the summer. There are always certain songs that remind me of camp (for instance, the fast version of "Heaven" will always and forever remind me of the 2002 drive home, with three other counselors AND their luggage jam-packed into my Beetle); these are the 2004 ones:

"Don't Leave Home" by Dido
"Seasons of Love" from Rent (popularly called "525,600 minutes")
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler
"Airwave" ('Breathing' remix) by Rank 1

Okay, I suppose I should start compressing digital photos to e-mail out to my campers. Whenever I see a cute shot and try to go for it, I get barraged with, "No, wait, let me get MY camera!" "Ooh, me too!" "Can you get mine for me?" "Can you take one with mine?" and on and on and on. So I finally started saying, "No, just let me take this one with my digital and then I'll mail it to all of you." That settles the swarm of camera-hunting girls, who by that point have ruined the shot anyway, whatever it was.

I like this layout more every time I look at it. Is it egocentrical to open up your own page a few times a day, just to admire it? :)

Why can't I sleep? This is so annoying. I'm tired and sick and need to sleep, but because my head is so stuffy, I can't. I was feeling so much better yesterday and now I feel rotten again. I need to exercise. Wish we still had our YMCA membership so I could swim, but Mom and Dad canceled it because I was the only one who ever used it and it was expensive. Oh well. Maybe I'll go Rollerblade or something.

Leave comments about the new layout - what do you think? I had taken a different eye picture which I intended to use, but it didn't quite fit into the size I use for my banners (700x100) so I fell back on an old one. This one looks happier anyway. :)

I'm really glad no one can see me right now; I'm sitting in front of the computer with two plugs of toilet paper in my nose. I have one of those horrible runny-nose colds where the snot just runs and runs and you can't do anything about it except tip your head back. For the computer, I need to have my head at a slightly downward angle. To protect the keyboard and my lap, I have invented a rudimentary nose plug.

I was tired and dragged out, but somehow, sitting down in front of an awesome computer like this one (my laptop :)) makes me happy again. It's unbelievable how fast it is in comparison with the old clunkers I've been attempting to use all summer. My sister's just gotten a new laptop as well, a Sony VIAO, of which I am quite jealous (face it, the person who buys a computer five minutes after you do will have a better model, let alone a year and a half), but I can't say I'm unhappy with this bad boy, even after all that time.

(Random thought: Ton-A-Wandah was on David Letterman on Friday night! Did anybody see it? That's my camp!)

I even made a list of things I wanted to write about, since I kept forgetting them. So here I go, taking a page out of mimi smartypants' book:

1. Praise whoever invented the full-length mirror. After not seeing more of myself than my face for six weeks, it's nice to be able to see my whole body in the mirror. Sun-bleached hair and all. (It's really bad - at first, Mom and Dad thought I had streaked it!) But I have a nice tan and I lost five more pounds, so who cares about my hair?

2. Speaking of hair, one of the nurses in the infirmary said something cool to me when I went up to her for some cold medicine. "You know, I didn't even know your name before just now, but I always pick you out of the crowd, even from way across the dining hall. Know why? Because you are the only girl in the whole camp with short hair! I saw you and said to myself, 'that girl has some self-esteem!'" I had to laugh. There are of course others with short hair, and still more with short-ish hair, but very few in comparison to all the long-haired chicas, that's true.

3. I have a cold and it MUST be gone by Saturday. This is the last time I will see Martin until Christmas and I refuse to kick off the three weeks by being sick. The relentless sinus pressure from Monday and Tuesday is gone, but the congestion and runny nose remain. Anybody got any miracle cures? Besides 6000% of my daily value of vitamin C? (No, that was not one of my harebrained ideas. The same nurse who complimented my hair gave me, along with the Advil Cold & Sinus, four tablets of vitamin C. After swallowing them, I picked up the bottle and saw that just one tablet contained 1666% of your daily value. You need, of course, 100%. And she gave me four of these! I knew it wouldn't really do anything harmful, but still. All she had to say was a casual, "If you get diarrhea, let me know.")

4. I have successfully implanted the seeds of destruction of "Little Cabin in the Woods" into the August session. Yay for me. "Little Cabin in the Woods" is the one song which I would happily tear out of the camp songbooks and burn. It goes as follows:

Little cabin in the woods
Little man by the window stood
Saw a rabbit hopping by
Knocking at my door
Help me, help me, help! he said
Or the hunter will shoot me dead. Bang!
Little rabbit, come inside
Safely to abide.

Add appropriate intonation and hand gestures, as with every camp song. Anyway, as if it weren't bad enough as it is, we then go through it a second time, replacing the first line with humming, then picking up the second line with words. And then a third time, this time humming the first two lines. And then a fourth and a fifth and it goes on and on and on until the ninth time, by which time you are so incredibly brainwashed that you often find yourself numbly mouthing and humming along, even if you really don't want to. I have managed to start a chain of destruction by replacing 'Safely to abide' with 'Rabbit stew tonight.' (This was popular in the July session, but no one thought to carry it over to August except for yours truly. I will get that song destroyed!) The first time we went through the song, in the first week of camp, I remained silent except to warble, "Rab-bit stew to-niiiiiight!" in chorus with the last line. My table of girls, all old campers who knew the song by heart, looked at me in surprise, then in hilarity. They all sang along on the next round, and pretty soon, it spread to our whole section. We haven't sung the song again since. :)

5. Things that are cool at camp are not cool anywhere else. Cutting the sides of your shirt and tying knots to give yourself a fringe is not stylish anywhere except at Camp Ton-A-Wandah, I feel certain. Asking someone how many Nalgenes they've drunk that day is pure camp lingo. 'Buoy swims' and 'tribe meetings' and 'double-blobbing' are phrases only used in the summer. T-shirts with quotes and slogans from camp are not understood once September arrives and we're back in our day-to-day lives. It really is its own little world.

6. I wanted to mention this one camper of mine, whom I won't mention by name in case I have a wider reader base than I thought. She and her brother were adopted by their mom and dad. Another Ton-A-Wandah girl, not in my cabin, was born to her mom and dad, along with her sister. The two families didn't know each other until the moms met while playing tennis, became friends, and eventually realized they were lesbians. Both couples divorced. The dads eventually remarried and had more kids while the moms began a relationship as well, living in a big house in Rhode Island with the four kids they already had. This camper of mine has gone through a lot of emotional anguish because of this situation; she has the most confusing family situation I know of (birth parents and a half-brother, then the two moms and three brothers and sisters, and then all the people in the dads' families), and because of it, she's lost friends, been called gay herself, even turned suicidal at one point. ("I tried once, but the dog chewed a hole in the bag," she mentioned.)

I don't know exactly what I hope to accomplish by writing this, but I hate the fact that my camper is judged by what her moms do and not who she herself is as a person. I hate the fact that her dad's family denies that the other mother's children are my camper's sisters, while she herself could never see them as anything else. And I reallyhate the fact that the world is so $#%^@&% homophobic that the girls can't feel comfortable explaining their family situation to anyone, not even the other girls in their respective cabins. Yet I also have to admire the fact that the two moms took a stand like that and passed on the message to their kids that you have to be who you are, whoever you are. So I guess I just wrote all this because I really don't know how to react to it.

Or maybe I'm just tired. Which I am. Goodnight. For real this time.

zondag 1 augustus 2004

Hey. No time to write long because this computer belongs to one of the Mexican boys... plus the keyboard is set to Spanish and none of the punctuation marks are where they are supposed to be (including the apostrophe, which I cannot find at all and which is absolutely killing me) ... but I just wanted to say that I am watching Monster (the movie with Charlize Theron) and I realize now that no matter how confused I am about what I am going to go on to "do with my life" and all, I see so clearly now that I am already so far ahead of other people in this life. No matter what happens to me, I will always be better than this woman in the movie, and there is a certain relief in that.

I do sort of like her name, though: they call her Lee.

I also read the best book in the world today: Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. Still trying to decode the secret code in the back. Let me know if anyone gets it.

Goodnight. Talk to you on Wednedsday.

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