:: 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)

zondag 9 augustus 2009

So we spent last weekend in Asheville, staying with our friend Tiffany before heading to another friend's wedding just across the SC border. We got to Tiff's house late Thursday night after having worked all day, and immediately crashed on her futon until 10:00 the next morning, when we drove the 20 or so miles to my old summer camp, Camp Ton-A-Wandah. (Yeah, yeah -- don't judge. :)) It was drizzling off and on, but the girls were still on their regular activity schedules, so we walked around for an hour or two and checked out the barn, the dining hall, the waterfront, etc. It was strange to be stared at as we strolled around -- I spent eight years at this camp in various capacities, and it was odd to feel like a stranger -- but it was really neat to see the old place again, too. I even saw two new counselors who were knee-high-to-a-grasshopper campers the last time I saw them. A lot of things have changed, but a lot has remained the same as well. Memories were assaulting me at every turn -- when we peeked into the dining hall, I remembered being on table-setting duty as a camper and racing to be the first one to ring the dinner bell; walking around the barn made me remember riding Flowerchild through a course of four jumps during the horse show. The gym brought back more recent memories -- winning the Counselor Balloon Stomp and Counselor Volleyball for the Mohawk tribe, and swaying with my arms around the other counselors during the candlelight ceremony, as we all stood in one line at the front of the gym singing "Friends". Finally, seeing the waterfront -- which looked exactly the same -- and looking at the current lifeguards all sitting around the round table on the dock, I actually got tears in my eyes. One big blond girl resembled Jackie, the teacher from Tennessee who was fluent in sign language, while a smaller brunette looked like Belinda, a many-year camp veteran from Australia. Of course, neither was there -- it all had to do with who I was expecting to see. I think I realized at that moment that it was the people who had truly made this place so special for me, and that although I would always have a place in my heart for the buildings and grounds where so many happy memories had taken place, I would probably never be back.

(Of course, I then later spoke with some women in town who mentioned Camp Merry-Times, the camp for children with cancer which is held at Ton-A-Wandah the week before the 'real' camp starts, and immediately thought, "Hmm, maybe I'd like to do that!...")

After leaving Ton-A-Wandah (but not without buying a camp sweatshirt!), we walked around Hendersonville's main street, buying lunch and a few small items like water bottles. Many of the old familiar storefronts were still there (Mast General, of course, and then Kilwins, where I got an orangeade), and there were even two women selling puppies on the street (I had to drag L away). It was a nice small-town afternoon in the mountains.

After that, we drove back to Asheville and went into town to find some dinner. We ended up eating at a vegan restaurant called Rosetta's, which was surprisingly good (I had a veggie burger and vegan mac-and-cheese), and then just walked up and down the streets, ducking into any little shop that caught our fancy. We didn't buy anything except ice-cream cones, but saw a lot of things we wanted, including star-shaped hanging lights and square handmade mugs with faces painted on them. At one point, we noticed a lot of people heading in a particular direction, and when we followed the crowd, we found a tiny park with an impromptu drum circle that had apparently just sprung up out of nowhere. It was amazing! It appeared to have started with just four or five men who had brought their bongo drums out to the park, but when we arrived, hundreds of men, women, children, and babies -- most of whom had been simply passing through, like us -- were all jumping and dancing to the music, waving their arms, getting soaked in sweat, picking up sticks and beer bottles to bang to join in the joyful cacophony. We stayed for over an hour, just soaking it all up. Where else but Asheville would you find something like that? In a strange way, it was almost spiritual.

The next day was the wedding, and so we drove to our friend (I'll call her "M")'s Lutheran church in Simpsonville, SC. She looked stunning in her dress, and it was great to see so many of our "UNC friends" again, who scattered to the four winds after L's class graduated two years ago. There were nine of us -- L, me, Tiffany, Karen, Amanda, and the two Amys and the men in both their lives. After the ceremony, we all hung out at the hotel bar for a couple of hours before the party began, just chatting and catching up, then crammed nine chairs around one of the tables and continued to have a great time during dinner. It was a fantastic mini-reunion.

However, having our lone table of "Chapel Hill hippies" seated in the middle of a ballroom full of what was otherwise (almost entirely) a conservative Lutheran population really put things into perspective. There were several things mentioned in the ceremony and reiterated at the dinner which made us all collectively wince (namely, "The key to a successful marriage is a submissive woman," which was asserted in some form at least six or seven times throughout the day) and then, during the singing, the groomsmen twisted the words of the Flintstones theme song to end with, "...we'll have a NOT-gay old time!", which caused several jaws to drop around the sole liberal table in the room. I understand that it was M's wedding and that she deserved to have the sort of ceremony and celebration that she was comfortable with; I just found it odd, because although M certainly has her own beliefs, she's friends with all of us -- gay, straight, atheist, religious, liberal, and conservative alike. She's definitely not the type of person to be pushy or to force her beliefs on anybody, and as such, I found it somewhat sad that her wedding -- at least to me -- didn't really reflect how she lives her life in a practical sense. Her personality and her wedding day are two very different images that I'm having trouble reconciling. I'm happy that she's happy, and I'm happy that she's found someone that she wants to spend the rest of her life with, but I can't help but feel a little conflicted about the way that commitment was made. Not that it should affect me at all, but I was there, so... yeah.

(As an aside: even the oldest son in that uber-conservative Discovery Channel family, the one with 18 kids -- whose wedding was on Discovery Health last night -- who didn't even KISS his bride before the wedding, chose to leave a little room for interpretation by including "...submit to your husband as is healthy" in the vows. I guess I never saw M as more conservative than the Duggars. :))

What do you guys think about this? Am I, from my biased liberal standpoint, judging others unfairly? (Which is very possible...) Leave a comment!

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