Only six more days of school left. I can't say I'm sorry. Thanksgiving was okay, though; I got to go home for the first time since I've been here. I drove to my aunt and uncle (who live in South Carolina)'s house, and then the next day I rode the rest of the way with them. It didn't go quite as smoothly as planned - we were all ready, the car was loaded, and my aunt was taking her last bathroom break when the roof started leaking in their bedroom. (It had been raining for two days straight.) So that meant a four-hour delay while my uncle (and, eventually, an emergency roofer) crawled around in the rafters and climbed up the side of the house. We did eventually make it, though.
We had The Meal at my aunt's house, whereupon I discovered four more cousins I didn't know I had - second cousins, really, if you want to get technical about it, but they range in age from five to 17, so since they're close to my age, they feel like first cousins. I had never met them before, but had a good time playing badminton with the younger two (boys ages 8 and 5). Catie and I started counting on the way home and realized that although we only have 10 biological first cousins, that if we include second cousins and cousins by marriage, that number expands to a ridiculous tally. We can name 21 for sure, but then there are still 4 more uncles whose siblings' children (or lack thereof) we have no idea about. Not to mention the fact that our grandfather has something like 9 brothers and sisters, some of whom must have children and grandchildren. Weird how quickly the family tree expands.
The other sort of cool thing we did was go to the annual boat parade downtown. Dad and his connections got us VIP tickets, so we got to go to a dinner catered by Johnny Carino's (delicious!) and eat at fancy tables outside next to the water while listening to a live jazz band perform holiday music. The St. John's River cuts right through the middle of Jacksonville, so the 'boat parade' is basically everyone who owns a boat and feels inclined to drape it in Christmas lights and sail it down the river. Some were pretty plain, but there were some really neat ones, too - a Viking-style one and even a green-light-draped dragon with wings that flapped. And afterwards, there was a fireworks display the likes of which I have never seen. I may complain about my city being the 'armpit' of Florida, having too many rednecks, et cetera, but we know how to do fireworks up right. There are seven major bridges in Jacksonville, and the riverbank where we were sitting was between two of them, so there were fireworks being shot off of both bridges, off two of the major city skyline buildings, and off a barge that was moving back and forth in the space between the bridges. The coolest part was when they did the 'firefall' - sparks came off the edges of both bridges in a slow-falling curtain of fire, down into the water below. Gorgeous. Apparently they'd done that for the Super Bowl, but that was my first night working for Runways and I didn't really get to see any of the festivities. Anyway, it was really, really neat. (I mentioned it to my aunt, and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Oh, you mean like at Tom and Katie's wedding!" ... LOL.)
Anyway, when this trip was still in the works, I was a little afraid that I might not want to come back once I got home - but it was quite the opposite. I had a good time at home, and it was great to see everyone, but it's also great to be back in my little 'niche' in Chapel Hill. So I guess we can call it a successful trip, if for no other reason than that it was what a trip home should be. Hang out with your relatives, eat some good food, take a couple of long hot baths, and then head back to your own little corner of the world.
My little corner is still humming along much the same as ever... I have a total of about 30 pages to write in terms of final papers, but I prefer that to the usual slew of menial assignments. I'm still on track with my training for the half marathon, although I have yet to do a run longer than 5 miles - I was supposed to do 6 over the weekend in Jacksonville, but for some reason the run was incredibly difficult (I suspect I didn't drink enough water beforehand) and I had to mix in a lot of walking. Hopefully this weekend's long run will be better. I'm glad I only have one more month before I can go back to swimming. My resting heart rate has dropped a little more, though - it's down to 54 - so the running is good for me on a cardiovascular level, if nothing else.
Also, Liz discovered a basketball court belonging to one of the other apartment complexes which is, if not exactly abandoned, definitely neglected, meaning we (as non-residents of that complex) can use it without anyone noticing. She's a former basketball player, too, so she dug up her old ball over the break and we played a little last night. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy basketball. I was never any great shakes as a shooter (a 5'5" white girl who can't jump), but I was always good at defense. Hopefully we can find (or buy) a ball that isn't quite so flat, and maybe drag a few more people with us one of these days.
I'm typing this while babysitting, and will post it when I get home. Unbelievably, the baby is STILL sleeping, and it's a quarter till 11. Usually he only sleeps until 9:45 or 10ish. Of course, now that I've written that, he'll be up within 30 seconds, but still, I had a nice long break in which to get my Persian done, which is always appreciated. It's easier to work when I'm not at home (meaning the apartment) with all sorts of fun stuff to distract me.
Oh, and I got another babysitting job - two girls, ages 2 years and 2 months. I start in a week or two. Mostly I'll just be responsible for the baby while the older girl is in day care, but I'll have to make her something simple for dinner most nights, too, because apparently she likes to eat as soon as she gets home. (Can you tell the family is pretty well off?) Hope she likes mac and cheese and omelets, 'cause with me on KP, there's not much chance of her getting anything else...
((EDITED at home to say that there are times when children are not so much fun. The baby slept until 11:15, and I was singing his praises on the way into his room... until I discovered the poop explosion he'd so thoughtfully created for me. Half a box of baby wipes later, I could still smell it (possibly due to the fact that I also managed to step in some of it and track it across the cream-colored rug). Yeah... kids rule.))
OK, so I fixed it - the bar should be silver now, and thus not as 'opvallend' (don't know the English translation for that... it doesn't jump out at you as much, is what I mean), and the full banner is also visible. Yay for me.
Argh, you would not believe the frenzy today on the Josh messageboards. The presale started this morning at 10:00, and the longest five minutes of my life came when the system wouldn't log me in until 10:05 and I sat there refreshing... and refreshing... and refreshing. But I did get in, which makes me a lot luckier than some, and scored an 8th-row center ticket. Yippee! Searching for single tickets is definitely more lucrative than pairs or blocks. (Liz and some of her friends are coming with me, but they're still finalizing details on that, and they're handling the purchase themselves, so I was only responsible for my own ticket.) Anyway, I'm still trying to trade up, but if I can't, 8th row will be just fine with me, thank you very much. *smug grin*
Finally got my flu shot yesterday, and it was the easiest one I've ever had. No symptoms, no swelling, just a tiny bit of soreness at the site. That's in sharp contrast to the tetanus booster I got last April, after which I could barely raise my arm for three days (and then had an open-water competition that weekend). The nurses were nice - we got into a conversation as I was trying to leave, because one of them said to the other, "I wanna go to grad school here," and I snorted and said, "No, you don't!" (Don't worry, I was laughing when I said it.)
School is, well, school... but we've had our LAST phonetics assignment, so the only things to worry about now are the experiment and final exam. Jenna is doing the experiment part, and I'm doing the (15-page) writeup. It works out well, because she hates writing and I like it, and I generally dislike experiments and she thinks they're cool. Plus, the experimental subjects are from the department she TAs in (Spanish). So that's off my mind for a while. We also just turned in our last syntax assignment, which was a second take-home midterm. I agonized over it (mostly because I haven't been paying great attention in class recently - I'm getting end-of-the-semester-itis, plus I found out that I'm not required to ever take syntax again after I'm done with this course, so that makes it hard to pay attention) but it's in and it's done and I had something plausible for every question, sooo... yeah. Mayan Languages and Persian are as work-heavy as always, with an assignment due every class, but still, there are only 12 more school days (YAY!!!), so I can hang in there.
Athletic stuff is okay too... I'm still running 5 days a week, and my foot is still hanging in there. But I'm glad Thursday (tomorrow) and Sunday are my days off, because I'm feeling some twinges in my left knee. (Of course - because my right heel is the bad one, so my left leg always has to do more work.) I miss swimming, but I'll get to go at least once while I'm home for Thanksgiving, and see my old masters team. Plus, this isn't a permanent change - it's only until the beginning of January, once the half marathon is over. I do want to do the River Run again in March (on the first day of spring break), but three runs a week (two short, one long) will be enough to handle that, I think. I ran it on NO training last year (hadn't run in six weeks due to a flare-up of plantar fasciitis) and although I was in an incredible amount of pain for a couple of days afterwards, I did finish the race and beat the two-hour mark (1:59:41, thank you very much!), so I have every reason to think that I'll be able to drop back to three swims and three runs each week. This year's goal will be 1:45.
Liz and I have been spending a lot of time together lately, too... now that she's back from China, her schedule is restructured (don't ask me to explain how that silly accounting program works; I don't know) and so she has fewer classes than before, so she's home more (and a lot less stressed). We've spent a couple of weekend nights sitting on the kitchen counters with our respective iPods and speakers, playing song snippets and making the other 'Name That Tune' whilst making slice-and-bake cookies, drinking raspberry Smirnoff, lighting practically every candle in the apartment, and laughing ourselves sick over the dumbest things. We've also played midnight football, gone on a seesaw, knocked on random apartment doors in search of a basketball, had Dutch lessons, and made late-night Harris Teeter runs for Ben & Jerry's. I feel like I'm in high school again... but in a good way.
I guess that was really all I had to say. I'll try to fix the template as soon as I can so that my banner isn't partially hidden behind that tacky blue bar, promise. (I'm still POed over that. Morons.)
AAARRRGGGHH!!! I KNEW IT!!! Stupid Blogger! They've just moved to a new beta version, partnering with Google, which is fine - the service really was due for an update and a lot of things about it look better now. BUT... now I have that godforsaken NavBar at the top of the page. Most people's Blogger blogs have had that for a long time now, but I've had my blog since the pre-ad days, therefore when they started up that system, I just got the OPTION of having it - a 'check yes or no' sort of thing. And I was smart enough never to click Yes on that option, because I was sure it wouldn't let me go back. And thus I have been living for the past, oh, two years, amazed at my own cleverness. And when I first saw the 'Switch to the NEW version of Blogger!' link, a few months ago, my first thought was, "Oh, I don't THINK so - that's just a way to stick that stupid NavBar at the top!" So I didn't switch. But today, the whole page was revamped, and the FAQs said that although we didn't strictly HAVE to switch now, within a couple of months, we would be required to. So I decided to just go ahead and do it. And what do you know... I was right. Tacky blue bar... aloha. Sigh.
Anyway, so... news:
1.) I'm going home for Thanksgiving after all ... my aunt and uncle are driving down from South Carolina on Wednesday morning, so I'm driving to their house Tuesday night and hitching a ride with them the rest of the way. It feels weird to be going home, but I'm excited, too.
2.) I've been running 4-5 days a week for about a month now, training for the half marathon, and was sort of half-hoping that all that effort might, as a side benefit, make me drop a couple of pounds. Instead, I have just had my conclusion reaffirmed: that I gain muscle mass with a vengeance that would make a wrestler jealous. The numbers on the scale are exactly the same - a little higher, even - and yet I've gotten a number of comments in the past week about how huge my calves are. And, sure enough, I tried to wear my boots out to dinner the other day and couldn't zip them up all the way. *shakes head* Ridiculous. I don't exactly mind, but still... ridiculous.
3.) The Josh Groban concert ticket presale starts tomorrow at 10am... believe me, you'll hear about it one way or the other, be it in ecstasy or anger.
4.) 13 more school days... and a 15-page paper, an 8-page paper, a 5-page paper, and 3 final exams.
I feel like there was more I wanted to say, but now I can't remember......
Tomorrow is going to be the best day ever. A new Gilmore Girls episode, a new Josh Groban album, a list of his tour dates (FINALLY!), and, best of all, a Democratic TAKEOVER! (Yes, I'm being optimistic. So sue me.) Liz and Erika and I are going to order pizza and watch the returns, and throw things at the TV if necessary.
Speaking of Erika, her absentee ballot JUST arrived in today's mail, which we didn't get until 6:30pm. It had to be postmarked by today, so she won't get to vote now. It stinks, because she requested the ballot over fall break, so it had plenty of time to get to her. She lives in a blue state (Illinois), so it might not matter, but still. Look at this and you'll see that they DID steal the vote both times and that there's nothing stopping them from doing it again. Why can't they just be impeached, already?!
In other news, I really think I want to get my EMT certification this spring/summer. It only takes a semester (in contrast to a 'full' paramedic, which takes at least two years), is relatively inexpensive, and would be a 'real' job that I could do pretty much anywhere. The babysitting gig is in all likelihood not going to work out for the spring, and I still have no firm summer plans before our Channel relay, so I've got to get some sort of a job, and it would be nice just to get a 'taste' of the medical world. I wrote about this same thing here and here and here, all the way back to 2003, so it's always been at the back of my mind, but I just never ended up doing anything about it. But if I put in the time now, while I still have the freedom to do it, I have a built-in safety net in case no linguistics-related position comes through for me. And you know... I'm sure this is just the 'blues' talking, but linguistics really just isn't FUN anymore the way it used to be. I did waver, as a college freshman, between medicine, linguistics, and Spanish, and ended up picking linguistics, which I never regretted... until this year. It's not like I hate it or want to drop out or anything - I didn't come this far to NOT get the MA - but it's gone from being enjoyable and interesting to being a boring obligation. Maybe that's just a natural progression when you do something for a long time - maybe that's how most adults feel about their 'real-world jobs' - but I still think I need to see for myself that I didn't make the wrong choice at 18... and the EMT course seems like a good way to get a taste of another option without putting the rest of my life on hold. Otherwise, I'll always wonder.
Anyway, I'm still not sure whether I want to stay in Chapel Hill for the summer or go home to Florida. Actually I am sure: I'd rather go home... but that would involve subleasing my apartment for the summer, which might be more trouble than it's worth. Ah, well, we'll see - I've got tons of time to work that out - it's not even Thanksgiving yet.
But there are only 19 more school days! Can you believe it?!
Knock on wood, but school has eased up somewhat. I know that very very soon I'm going to be swamped with two final papers and a massive experimental phonetics project, but right now I'm enjoying the lull.