:: 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)

maandag 30 januari 2006

It's been a good birthday weekend - perhaps even the nicest one I've ever had. Saturday morning Monique and I went skydiving (photos will follow in a few days; the ones I've seen so far are amazing! See below for the detailed account), and then that evening I went out to dinner at On The Border with four swim teammates (where I got sung to by the wait staff and presented with a free brownie sundae), after which we crashed at Jenna's house and played board games and sat in the hot tub. Anna and I ended up talking in her car until 1:15, and then the next morning I got up around 11:30 and went to Jacksonville for the family party, which involved lots of relatives and a menu of grilled shrimp and salmon, potatoes, salad, homemade macaroni and cheese, and lots of chocolate cake (from a REAL bakery, courtesy of Dad's chef friend - none of that supermarket stuff). For those who were so inclined, there were also oysters, but I can't bring myself to touch those. Then today I came home from school to find that Monique had bought me a Happy Birthday balloon, a card, some Turtle Chex Mix, two boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese (a joke about our dismal cooking skills), and a bottle of White Zinfandel. Then I headed to Target to spend the gift card I got yesterday (plus quite a bit more on top of it) on a handful of new DVDs. Now I'm about to run off to a harder-than-normal swim practice, courtesy of Brandon, and then come home and watch a few of the aforementioned movies and split the rest of the leftover cake with Monique. I have a quiz or test in every class tomorrow, but studying is just not happening tonight.

Anyway, all of it was nice, but especially the friend stuff. I mean, Monique getting me presents, and half of Facebook wishing me happy birthday, and my teammates coming to dinner and all of us hanging out together on my behalf - pathetic as it may sound, that sort of stuff hasn't happened very often in my (semi-)adult life so far, so this weekend provoked some 'warm and fuzzies'. So far, age 22 gets two thumbs up.

So today is my actual, official birthday. Hope 22 is as good as 21.

zaterdag 28 januari 2006

Well, I went skydiving and I survived! (My mom didn't bat an eye when I said I was going, just said, 'Don't tell your grandfather.') It was awesome. We had to wait a pretty long time, since a lot of people wanted to jump that day, but it was worth the wait. We had to watch a ten-minute video, fill out a lot of legal paperwork, put on jumpsuits and harnesses, and get a quick briefing from our instructors (mine's name was Chuck) about how to hold our harnesses, stick our pelvises out, and put our legs between theirs as we fell.

Then we got into this tiny little plane with one long bench seat on either side. We all sat facing the back, one leg on each side of the bench, and the plane took off and flew just like any other, albeit a lot more noisily. I was shaking so hard at this point that I could look down at my legs (through my jeans and garbage-man-looking jumpsuit) and see them trembling. But once we got above the clouds, I started remembering all the other plane flights I'd taken, all the other long, boring international voyages during which I'd thought, I wonder what it would feel like to sit on those clouds? I was about to find out.

Once we got to 10,000 feet, Chuck, who was tethered to my back, started tightening the straps and checking the buckles one last time. The guys closest to the (clear plastic roll-down) door shoved it open, bringing in a rush of cold air. Everyone pulled down their goggles, and all the other guys on our plane - all experienced solo jumpers - whooped and vaulted out like they'd been lassoed.

Then it was our turn. We slid down the bench till we were right by the door. Looking down, all I could see was a thick white blanket of clouds. My cameraman, Jeff, was clinging to the outside of the plane, awaiting Chuck's signal. I grasped the shoulder straps of my harness and watched Chuck's fingers flash in front of my goggles, three! two! one! Then we were out the door.

I shrieked. I am not a shrieker, but my throat hurt for the next half hour from that pitch. I heard myself for just a second, and then it died away as the winds came up to whip past us at over 120 miles an hour. My stomach gave one big swoop, like on the first downhill of a roller coaster, and then settled into the fall. I remembered to tuck my legs between Chuck's, we stablilized, and, amazingly, it started to be fun. Experimentally, I tried screaming again, but I couldn't hear myself over the wind. Jeff was falling across from us, waving at me and grinning. I grinned and laughed and gave two thumbs up. It was difficult to breathe, with air moving that fast, but I barely noticed, there was so much adrenaline charging through me.

We sped down through the clouds. It was cold; the air whipped my face and hands. All I could see was white. Then, suddenly, the clouds began to part. For a split second, I saw shapes through a white mist. Then, just as suddenly, the clouds were gone and we were flying high above the greens, blues, and browns of a Florida winter. Chuck pulled our rip cord, and our descent abruptly slowed. The wind ceased its roaring. Waving, Jeff fell away from us, pulling his own cord a couple thousand feet later.

"Whoa," I breathed, looking around. It was amazingly clear; I could see everything with no obscuring clouds or airplane window glass. "Where are we? I mean, which way are we looking?"

"Well, there's the airport," Chuck indicated, "so we're facing west."

It was closer than I would have thought; apparently a free fall takes you only about six seconds per thousand feet. Amazing.

We flew for a couple more minutes, and then Chuck asked, "Do you get airsick?"
"You puke easy?"
"...What are you gonna do?"
"Oh, nothing."

A minute later, he offered me the tethers. "Don't pull them; just extend your arms all the way up and hang on to them." I did, and I was controlling the parachute! A minute later, he said casually, "Hey - don't pull the right tether, but pull that left one all the way down to your waist." He put his hands up to guide me.

I did, and whoosh! We began to spin, the green-brown world rotating below us. I laughed at first, but after three revolutions or so, I told him to stop. Spinning made us descend faster, and I wanted to stay up as long as we could. We drifted along, floating this way and that, looking at everything below us.

All too soon, it was time to land. Suddenly, the field was right in front of us. "Pick your feet up," Chuck said, and I did. We landed softly on our bottoms, and two people rushed over to control and protect the parachute.

I said a last farewell to Jeff's camera, and went back over to my dad to see the footage he'd gotten. After a few minutes, Chuck asked what we were looking at. "We're on video," I said, and held it out for him to see.

"Yeah, but is it as good as this?" Jeff asked, holding out an 8x10.

Needless to say, the video was NOT as good as that. Wow. The scan looks kind of grainy, and it's cropped because it didn't pick up the clouds-and-sky background very well, but the original is beautiful - almost crystal clear, and you can see all the detail on the clouds below us. There's a whole CD full of pictures being mailed to me, plus a DVD, but for right now, that one is all I have. I'll show you more when I get them, assuming they're good.

donderdag 26 januari 2006

I went to the doctor today, and when she pulled the paper drape off my legs the first thing out of her mouth was, "Are you a swimmer?" It was spooky. Apparently the thigh muscles look different in swimmers than in the rest of the population - more defined or something. Actually, though, I've been getting leg compliments my whole life anyway, starting with my grandmother when I was about a year old and ending with Renate (last year's roomie) and this doctor yesterday. Still, I guess that's one of the better things to like about your body, and really, I was quite flattered. Of course, that was before she jammed the piece of greased-up hunk of plastic someplace it should never have been... but I'll take what I can get.

woensdag 25 januari 2006

Why, oh why, does Murphy's Law (or is it just Jess's Law?) dictate that every dropped article of food must land upside down (read: with the messy side on the floor)? Because I have just covered our entire kitchen floor in ravioli.

dinsdag 24 januari 2006

Update on the progress with all the languages - of the new ones, French is the easiest, Wolof is the hardest, and Latin is the most satisfying to work through, but also the most complicated. Spanish is fun, albeit with too much busywork, and I'm not having any of the cross-language problems that I had in the Netherlands, so maybe I've finally gotten past all that.

As for my birthday weekend, I'll be going home for the family shindig on Sunday, and after the skydiving on Saturday I think I may get together with just a few people - Jenna, Nika, Hayley, Anna if she can, and maybe a few others - and go to dinner or something, and then maybe crash here with snacks and DVDs or lounge in Jenna's hot tub for a while. I don't really feel like throwing any sort of 'real' party here in the apartment, and while I'm not averse to going out, I am one of the very few team members who is 21, so that's probably not going to happen this year.

Tomorrow I have a Latin quiz, Thursday I have a very unpleasant 'lady' doctor's appointment, Friday I have the 'Dutch club' happy hour, Saturday I'm skydiving and hanging out with friends, Sunday I go home, Monday I'm officially 22, Tuesday I have a French exam and a Spanish quiz, and Wednesday - finally - I have a day with few to no extraneous activities, at least as far as it looks right now (unless you count that first automatically-withdrawn Roth-IRA contribution... so strenuous... LOL).

Now here comes the requisite bit about athletics: I need to swim 24k this week (I'm working up by 2k every week until April 1st; then I'll taper for the Tampa swim), which means I have to do one extra (distance) 4k practice on my own, apart from the five (largely sprint) 4k practices I do with CAST. Next week it'll be one extra 6k practice, and then the next eight weeks will look like this:

Total 28k - 20k with CAST = 08k alone [in 2 days, each ~4k]
Total 30k - 20k with CAST = 10k alone [in 2 days, each ~5k]
Total 32k - 20k with CAST = 12k alone [in 2 days, each ~6k]
Total 34k - 20k with CAST = 14k alone [in 2 days, each ~7k]
Total 36k - 20k with CAST = 16k alone [in 3 days, each ~5k]
Total 38k - 20k with CAST = 18k alone [in 3 days, each ~6k]
Total 40k - 20k with CAST = 20k alone [in 3 days, each ~7k]
Total 42k - 20k with CAST = 22k alone [in 3 days, each ~7k]

Looks like I'm going to be really glad to see April roll around, and not because of the end of school, either... LOL. But spring break, the 38k week, is going to throw a monkey wrench in the works, since the 20k with CAST will be more like 12k with the J-ville Masters team, leaving me to make up an entire 26k on my own, but I'll make it work. I may cut myself a break that week, seeing as I'll be running the River Run, and I also may not spend the entire break in Jacksonville. It depends if I'm working or not, and at the moment I am really not feeling motivated to do that. We'll see how things go financially over the next couple months. I want a new job, really, but I'd be hard put to find anything that would pay an undergrad as much as driving shuttles.

Hmmm! I just this minute realized I could potentially work in my River Run training on the track on campus during my 50-minute break between French and weight training. What a good idea! I'm just hanging around killing time then anyway, watching the divers or eating granola bars or some such nonsense, and I have to wear the whole running ensemble (sports bra, sneakers, shorts, etc.) for weight training anyway, so no changing clothes. I usually do 5k per run, and I run a 5k in about 35 minutes, so that works out pretty much perfectly. Sure, I'll be tomato-faced and pouring sweat when I get to class, but big whoop - it's a sports class.

Wow, I can't believe I didn't think of that before. Awesome. That's a load off my mind. Not having time to run was worrying me, since I've got the 15k River Run in six weeks, and I'm glad to have come up with a solution. General fitness can compensate for a lack of sport-specific training to an extent, I think - translation: my current regimen of swimming two hours a day, biking an hour every day, and lifting weights twice a week will go a long way towards helping me finish the run without dying - but obviously, to train for a footrace you need to run. I'm not running to win, though, not by any means - I just want to finish, preferably in under 2 hours. I think I can do it, even with the few short walking breaks I will undoubtedly take.

Sorry about that - I said a 'bit' about athletics and it turned into three full paragraphs. Sports are kind of forefront in my mind these days, I guess, what with my simultaneously trying to train for a 24-mile marathon swim, get faster in my pool swimming, lose the rest of my 'Netherlands weight', AND train for a 15k run.

Don't worry, I'll shut up now - I should be studying Latin anyway.

zondag 22 januari 2006

We're back! As Anna put it, "We all pretty much sucked individually, but as a team we placed second." So that's not too shabby. Admittedly, I added time on every event except my 50 free, and I didn't shave off too much on even that, but we have a string of meets coming up next month where I can redeem myself. (And of course I have all kinds of excuses, like the fact that the FluMist gave me 48 hours of cold symptoms this weekend, and that the asthma inhaler made me lightheaded, and, oh, I'll just shut up.) Anyway, we're going to change some things about the way practice is being run lately (starting late, resting too long between sets, etc.) and Brandon and I are going to start running two or three morning practices a week at the Florida Pool to do distance work, partly for Tampa Bay and partly because I want to start competing in some longer events, like the 200 and 500 free, and see if I do better at those. I know I'm more of a distance swimmer than a sprinter - look at Key West - but I like competing in the sprints because they're over so fast, LOL! Meets are nerve-wracking.

The round trip was a total of 26 hours packed shoulder-to-shoulder into Anna's and Michael's parents' Suburban, but it had a DVD player and we had a car full of cool people, so it all worked out okay. The bench seat in the rear was uncomfortable as anything and gave all of us backaches, but we rotated seats as much as possible. (Anna and Michael went so far as to do Chinese fire drills at two stoplights.) We were the group of 7 that left on Thursday - the other 9 left around noon on Friday and drove it all in one shot - and let me tell you, Thursday was the way to go. We stopped off at a hotel north of Atlanta, spent a hilarious 45 minutes at Waffle House, packed 7 people into 1 hotel room, slept until 10am, then got underway again and got to Oxford, Ohio around 7:30pm, where we promptly (a) went out for pizza and (b) took advantage of the hotel's indoor pool and hot tub. It was a fun evening. The other 9 team members rolled into town around 2:30am, but the meet didn't start until 2pm, so everyone got a reasonable amount of rest. We got on each others' nerves a little more on the ride home - Michael in particular was annoying me with his touchy-feely-ness - but we made it without killing each other.

Memorable moments: the 'what-physical-qualities-does-everyone-find-attractive' conversation in the back seat, chatting with Sherry the Inquisitive Waitress and Tom the Toothless Grill Master at Waffle House, holding our collective breaths to see which car the state trooper was going to pull over, leaping from the hot tub to the pool and back again, Eddy sleeping literally almost the entire 26 hours, Taylor flaking out and completely missing his 100 fly ("Swimmers, take your mark." *Taylor is still on the bleachers* collectively, "TAYLOR!!!"), the sports bar's awesome 'smothered fries', Blair's and my 'to do before we die' conversation, Arthur almost hitting a cop (who was on foot!) on the way home, our frozen walk from the Miami of Ohio swim house back to hotel, Anna's first try at getting drunk ("Look! I can still move!"), the hotel's miniature breakfast muffins, the receptionist's comment about the locked door ("We had a little incident last night, with several young men running around outside naked." *entire team muffles giggles*) and oh-so-many amusing quotes, from pretty much everyone.

Now, back to crunch time. The rest of the week looks like this:

Tomorrow: 8:15 doctor, 9:30-12:30 classes, 13:20 weight training, 19:00 swimming
Tuesday: 9:30-12:30 classes, 19:00 swimming
Wednesday: 9:30-12:30 classes, 13:20 weight training, 19:00 swimming
Thursday: 9:30-12:30 classes (Spanish quiz), 13:15 doctor, 19:00 swimming
Friday: 9:30-12:30 classes, 16:00 'Dutch club' meeting, 19:00 swimming
Saturday: SKYDIVING, 11:00
Sunday: possible birthday trip home to Jax
Monday: I officially turn 22.

Somewhere in there, I have to start morning swim practices, get at least one 5k run in, plan any potential birthday parties, make yet another phone call about my La Mancha deposit, and do oh-so-many more things that I can't remember right now. Right now, I'm just happy to no longer be in a car.

woensdag 18 januari 2006

Okay, so my to-do list is still out the wazoo, especially with my rapidly-approaching birthday (please let me know ASAP if you want to go skydiving!), but there were still a lot of good things about today:

We got Internet. (I'll spare you the saga of HOW we got it, saying only that there was absolutely no filter on the line, and we would have been up and running a week ago if only the four Cox employees I talked to had known what they were doing.)

We got cable. (See above.)

My scholarships came in. (This is a double victory, because not only did I get money, but I got my money without all the delays and problems that being abroad brought me last time.)

I found out we're taking Anna's parents' brand-new Suburban to Ohio tomorrow instead of their old van. (The Suburban, aside from being newer and safer, has a DVD player. Rock on.)

I got a letter from my sister, containing a black square "F THE PRESIDENT" bumper sticker (in mimicry of those "W THE PRESIDENT" ones).

I got a hundred percent on my first Latin and French quizzes.

I watched the Sixteen Candles DVD (that I scored yesterday for $6.50 at Target).

Anna complimented me at practice, "You are gonna take all kinds of time off that 50 free this weekend!"

I 'took care of business' - signed up for the River Run, mailed my UNC writing sample, sent the $675 check to Tampa Bay, paid my January rent, and finally attempted (without immediate success) to obtain the $55 online course code for French.

And, some long-withheld news: I got my Channel tide. Number-one slot, August 6-12, 2007. Be there or be square.

maandag 16 januari 2006

Judging by the date of last semester's disbursements, National Merit will probably be dropped into my lap this coming Friday. Unfortunately, I will probably be in Ohio (swim meet) with no Internet access, but what the hey.

Cox Internet (and cable) should be dropped into my lap this coming Wednesday. Apparently we have a filter on our cable line, thus impeding the stream of tiny Internet particles. (I found this out only after making my poor father stay up until 2:00 in the morning with the online tech support, reading me her responses over the phone.) Anyhow, the problem should be resolved in about 48 hours. Knock on wood.

I should hear about the La Mancha deposit tomorrow. The woman in the office warned me that she'll most likely have to take a fee out, since an apartment was held open for me, but even so, it won't be the whole deposit, which makes me happy.

Classes are still going about the same as they were at my last update. Wolof is cool (Na nga def? Naka nga tudd?), Latin is moving slowly (festina lente!) but is nicely systematic, Spanish and weight training are really good, and French is Incredibly. Effing. Slow. I'm realizing that my biggest problem with the teacher is really that she's so determined to do everything 'in order' and 'by the book' that she doesn't take advantage of the 'natural' learning opportunities that surface via students' questions. She just gives a yes or no answer and then says something like, "but we're not there yet" or "but that's still a few chapters away." Sigh.

Swimming, on the other hand, is going well. I'm definitely not going to meet my 22k yardage goal this week because we're off school today for MLK day, the O-Dome is closed Wednesday, and the team is going to Ohio this weekend, so we're going to miss Friday and possibly Thursday night too. That means, um, one day of swimming. Oh well. I can run on the other days - I need to start training for the River Run anyway.

I'm going to a 'Dutch luncheon' this afternoon at Chipotle Grill, with all (or many) of the UF Dutch speakers, so we'll see how that goes.

If you don't hear from me on Wednesday night or Thursday, don't count on an update until next Monday. Ohio's a long way to drive.

dinsdag 10 januari 2006

Well, I'm all set up in my new digs in Gainesville, and so far I'm picking up my 'old life' right where I left off: classes every day, swim practices every night, endless to-do lists, and the wonderful simplicity of having to take only me, myself, and I into account with regards to everything I do.

Classes are going well so far, with the possible exception of French. Here's the breakdown:

Wolof: The TA is out of the country at the moment - apparently the biggest Muslim holiday of the year is tomorrow and he wanted to celebrate with his family in (I think) Senegal - so Dr. McLaughlin is teaching class for the first week. I liked the fact that she jumped right into teaching IN Wolof - having us repeat things and learn the answers to them, drawing little pictures, etc., but using no English whatsoever. I learn best when I can see things written down, so it was a little overwhelming at first, but it was really cool. And it's exciting to be learning a language that's so different from anything else I speak. It's a whole new code to break. Plus, there are only two of us in the class - the other student is a girl called (I think) Krista. Anyway, this class should be worth getting to campus at 9:30 every day for.

Latin: I'm noncommittal on this one so far. The teacher seems competent - young, but very no-nonsense. There are two other Jessicas in this class, so I established myself as 'Jess' to try to make things a little easier, but I think there'll still be some confusion.

Spanish: I actually met this teacher, Aixa, on the Runways shuttle over Christmas break. He expects everyone to make a one hundred percent effort, one hundred percent of the time, and will settle for nothing less, but he's very funny and nice. I was a little worried going into this course because it's labeled 'Advanced Conversation', but I speak a lot better than some others in the class (and my accent is definitely better), and I understood everything Aixa said despite the fact that he talks extremely fast. It's only worth one credit, but it should be a good course. I'm glad I signed up.

French: This is the one I'm not too enthusiastic about. The class is full of freshmen and students who are trying to knock off their language requirement, so pretty much no one is there because they truly want to be. That includes the teacher. There are so many ways to make beginning language courses interesting and fun - look at what Dr. McLaughlin did with Wolof! - but she basically just sat and read the text of the first few pages of the French book, and had us repeat a few things. I was disappointed that we started on such a basic level - bonjour, comment ca va, tres bien, je m'appelle So-and-so, comment vous appelez-vous, etc. - and then did nothing else. I already knew all those phrases (guess more stuff stuck than I cared to admit from my 5 weeks of French in sixth grade) and I thought we'd do a quick refresh and then move on to vocabulary and such. But after she'd covered those conversational basics, she just ended the class early. I know we have to go slow - two of the three other people in my group were just hopeless at even these basics - but I wish she'd speed up. If things keep going like this into the second week, I may ask her if I can do some extra writing assignments, the way Pauline gave me for Dutch during freshman year. I'm not there to knock off a requirement; I want to actually learn the language, and I want to do it at MY pace, which is fast. My top three pet peeves: (1) The teacher is a master's student, meaning she's my age, yet insists that we call her 'Mademoiselle So-and-so'. (2) The packet of textbook, workbook, dictionary, and CD costs $140. And (3) worst of all, the teacher has an American accent when she speaks French. I find that so incredibly annoying. How are we supposed to learn to do it properly if she can't provide a proper example?

Weight Training: We didn't actually lift on the first day, of course, but the class looks like it's going to be pretty good. We're going to be able to design our own programs, beginning about halfway through the course, so that means we can focus on what we specifically want to improve - which in my case is my shoulders. Hopefully this class will help me get through Tampa Bay without blowing them out like I did in Key West.

Anyway, so that's the course breakdown. I'll keep you posted.

Other good things so far: I met the new Dutch teacher, Rosemarijn (who's very nice), and I got to SWIM with Club Alligator again, which rocks. We only did 3500 yards last night, but at least I felt like I was working the whole way, and not just pumping out 'garbage yardage'. And that's every weeknight, so I'll be back to some semblance of a normal exercise schedule again. We have a meet in Ohio on the 21st - that'll be an adventure. As for my Tampa Bay training, though, I'm going to start doing a couple of distance practices in the morning - or, if I can get ahold of Coach Troy's email, I may ask him if I can train with the varsity distance swimmers - and work my way up by 2000 yards each week, starting at 18,000 and peaking around 40,000 on the first of April; then I'll taper down for the swim on the 22nd.

Bad things so far: I got another flat tire yesterday (which I just got fixed), and we still don't have Internet at home. Monique (a friend from linguistics class, and my new roomie) has to be the one to call since we're going to use her credit card, and she works every day, so the chance hasn't come up yet. Which is annoying, especially since I have to print some things out for class tomorrow. I can occasionally mooch off my next-door neighbors' wireless connection, when they turn their computer on, but that hasn't happened since last night around 6pm. Maybe I'll just take my laptop outside and wander around until I find someplace where I can steal from someone else... the office, maybe...

Something else I'm ticked off about is La Mancha. I've been getting the runaround from them for months now and I'm sick of it. See, when I left for the summer and fall, I put a security deposit down on my apartment so it would be there for me when I got back in the spring. But in the meantime, they raised the rent to over $500, and frankly, La Mancha is just not worth that much. So I found a new place to live, with Monique, which is much cheaper (and, in my view, much nicer), so I've been trying since November to call the management group (CSW) and get them to cancel my old apartment and refund my money. Only problem is, they never pick up the phone. I've left repeated messages for them, as has my dad, with no result. Finally I walked over to La Mancha after class yesterday, intending to storm into the office full of righteous anger, only to discover that the office is gone. So I tracked down the night manager, who said he didn't know who the owner of apartment 56 was (the complex recently got turned into condos) but to call Action Real Estate, and they would be able to tell me. So after many, many attempts to get through to them, each foiled by one thing or another, I finally got ahold of a representative today... who switched me to someone else... who then switched me to someone else's voicemail... a guy named CJ who then, to his credit, promptly called me back and was very friendly, telling me that he didn't understand why they had no record of me, and giving me the name of someone over at BDS Management, the company who had La Mancha before it turned into condos and CSW got it. (He also said, "It shouldn't be a problem to get it back, if we can just find it!") So I called him, and he transferred me to the property manager, Roz, who was not half as friendly as CJ but who seemed to know her stuff - when I mentioned my security deposit, she said, "I show that as being received in May of '05," which is correct. So apparently there IS a record of me somewhere, and I should get a call back on Thursday from her "with the status of this." Hopefully the first words out of her mouth will be, "What address should I send it to?"

All right, well, I guess this is long enough for now. (I can now cross 'post to website' off my interminably long to-do list...)

maandag 2 januari 2006

Okay, so once again I'm sitting at work killing time. I was kicking butt on 301 today; I finished my first two Gainesville trips - PLUS fueling - by 19:15 (a half hour early).

Cool, I thought. I can take a break, go to the airport a little early, snag my two passengers, and book it to Gainesville early, meaning I might get home by 1:00 instead of 1:30.

But of course, life is never that simple.

Jennifer informed me when I strolled into the office that not one, not two, but all THREE of my passengers were delayed (yes, unbeknownst to me, I'd scraped up another one between 11:45 and 19:15) and wouldn't be in until around 21:30 at the earliest.

Sigh. The only good side, I suppose, is that I'll get an extra hour of pay out of the deal. So, after taxes, I earned around $100 today... yippee!

The breakdown of work hours thus far:

26/12 - 13h15m
27/12 - no work
28/12 - no work
29/12 - 9h15m
30/12 - 13h15m
31/12 - 4h30m
01/01 - no work
02/01 - (now) 14h
03/01 - (tomorrow) no work
04/01 - (next day) 13h
05/01 - ?
06/01 - ?
07/01 - ?
08/01 - Moving back to Gainesville!
09/01 - Classes start!

It's a lot of long days, yes, but at least it's good for my pocketbook.

No work tomorrow, though - dentist and Roth-IRA appointments in the morning, then (hopefully!) finally meeting up with Clautje in the afternoon, then swimming at 18:30 and then, in all likelihood, FINALLY going to see Narnia with Faith (now that I've reread the book). In any spare time, I need to procure a copy of the January Glamour (because Heather is in it) and try to get out to Julington Creek to give my cousins their long-overdue Christmas presents.

... In other news, the Jaguars smashed Tennessee into tiny little pieces yesterday (the phrase that kept going through my mind was 'a hot knife through butter') and go to New England on Saturday to play the Patriots at 8pm (thus the reason I'm moving back to, as Monique has dubbed it, the G-Spot on Sunday rather than on Friday, since we don't have cable in the apartment). Send good vibes their way!

Unlikely Dreams:

Who among us doesn't have a few 'never-gonna-happen' dreams? I can't post these on the sidebar list, because the chance of their ever coming true isn't very high - be it because of a lack of time, money, opportunity, or luck. (Although actually, I did get my EMT certification, and I did meet Josh Groban - two items that spent a long time on this list!) But anyway, whatever the reasons, these are the most 'dreamy' of all my hundred-plus life goals, and so I've accepted that I will probably never:

Go into outer space,
Fly a plane,
Swim the 22-mile Catalina Channel,
Teach sign language to a primate,
Be on a reality TV show,
Learn to speak Xhosa (a click language),
Be the voice for an animated character,
Be in the Oprah audience,
Meet Johnny Depp,
See the (closed to the public) original Lascaux cave paintings,
Be an extra in a movie,
Train a guide dog puppy,
Climb Mt. Olympus in Greece,
Go on an adult Semester at Sea trip, or
Perform in a play.

But really, what are fifteen unfulfilled dreams, compared with all those that can come true? - Not to mention those that already have!

(Still, if anyone has an inside line to NASA, the French government, ABC's Extreme Home Makeover, or Johnny Depp's sister's husband's cousin... ;))

zondag 1 januari 2006

Life Goals and Accomplishments So Far:

I lived in a foreign country (the Netherlands) for a year and a half, and still love many aspects of that country more than my own.

I have swum 12.5 miles around Key West (twice), as well as 8 miles through Boston Harbor (in 60-64-degree water). I also headed up a successful English Channel relay swim on August 7th, 2007 (time: 11 hours, 27 minutes, 6 seconds).

I have run races at 5k (3.1 mi), 15k (9.3 mi), half marathon (13.1 mi), and marathon (26.2 mi) distances, as well as completed triathlons at sprint, Olympic, and half Ironman distances.

I have studied seven languages - English, Dutch, Spanish, French, Latin, Wolof, and Farsi - which I speak with varying degrees of fluency. I've used the Spanish in several situations where it was crucial that I knew it - for example, as a summer camp counselor to two girls from Venezuela - and, of course, used Dutch as the language of my everyday life for eighteen months.

I have traveled through England and Ireland, kissing the Blarney Stone in Cork, photographing Stonehenge in Amesbury, and retracing the stealthy footsteps of Jack the Ripper during a nighttime walking tour in London.

I earned the prestigious International Baccalaureate diploma at the number-one high school in America, was named a National Merit finalist, and completed a B.A. in linguistics at the University of Florida on a full undergraduate scholarship.

Even though it didn't turn out to be the right path for me, I was still proud to be accepted to the graduate program in linguistics at the oldest university in the nation - the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a school which is considered a 'Public Ivy'. Four years later, I now attend Duke University as a physician assistant student, and have never felt more strongly that I am in exactly the right place.

I have visited 21 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as Washington DC.

I have gone parasailing in the Canary Islands, swimming with dolphins in at Discovery Cove, visited the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland, learned to kneeboard on a lake in Maine, visited Niagara Falls and taken the Maid of the Mist tour, and gone to Paris and climbed the Eiffel Tower, as well as taken a bike tour to Monet's Garden in Giverny.

I've been athletic all my life; during grade school, I took horseback riding lessons for seven years, played basketball for five years, and played Ultimate Frisbee for three years. My current sport is swimming, which I've done seriously since fall 2004.

I have been to Space Camp (and earned the Right Stuff award).

I have seen Elton John, Tim McGraw, the Dixie Chicks, and Marco Borsato in concert, plus JOSH GROBAN (whom I got to hug afterwards!) and Shania Twain twice. The first time, I even got called onstage to meet Shania, and got an autographed Polaroid of us. (I was 15 and obsessed, and thought nothing could ever be that thrilling.)

I've worked with children for twelve years, from age 11 to 23: as a mother's helper, in the newborn nursery of a hospital, in two church nurseries, and in a day care center, not to mention at numerous babysitting clients' homes.

I could spell my name with alphabet blocks before I could even walk, and I was a 'spontaneous reader' at age three. My kindergarten teacher liked to take advantage of my reading to entertain the class while she did paperwork.

For my 22nd birthday, my 'present to myself' was going skydiving. It was awesome.

I spent eight summers at Camp Ton-A-Wandah in North Carolina: three as a camper, one as a CIT, and four as a counselor. I also spent a summer working at Camp All-Star in Maine. In both locales, I was a lifeguard and swim instructor, not to mention leader, big sister, friend, and mom to multiple groups of preteen girls.

I also worked part-time at Runways Transportation as a shuttle van driver for two years. It wasn't a great job, but it let me experience the ridiculous hours that many people keep in order to make an honest living.

I have sung karaoke, gone rock climbing, watched the sun set over North Carolina mountains, gone off a high dive, walked barefoot in the rain, and swum in more swim meets than I can count.

I can do a backbend and a cartwheel, as well as perform a front dive, back dive, tuck dive, pike dive, inverted (cutaway) dive, and front flip from the diving board.

I have had four surgeries: a heel biopsy in 2/97, heel bone reshaping in 8/97, wisdom teeth removal and gingivectomy in 11/01, and - the best one - LASIK eye surgery in November 2004, so I no longer need contact lenses.

Added 2/27/2011: Haven't updated this post in several years, and a lot has happened besides this, but in the meantime, among other things, I have experienced the magic of New York City, including seeing Wicked from the front row (and meeting the incredible Teal Wicks afterward!) and witnessing a proposal atop the Empire State Building. I can't wait to go back.

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