My new year's resolution is to write in this blog more consistently. Just kidding. Because, really, new year's resolutions? Hah! Anyway, my second semester of graduate school starts tomorrow. I will be taking five classes (like last semester), which is ridiculous but ensures that I will graduate in December 2011. I'm dreading classes just a little but I figure it will be more manageable than last term. I only have one core course, as opposed to four, which should lighten the load and make it more engaging. Plus, I survived my first semester of graduate school, which means that I will never have another first semester of graduate school again! (That's probably the best part.) Jamie keeps reminding me that graduate school is supposed to be fun. Hmmmmm.
Jamie and I just got back from 9 days in Lubbock, Texas. Yes, I hadn't heard of it either before I met Jamie. Nor had I ever been to Texas. The weather was beautiful--a wonderful break from the sub-freezing temperatures in Pixburgh before we left. It was nice to leave so that I could relax away from the things here that stress me out. The first day we were there I was walking around in a t-shirt. It was a welcome change. In addition to family time, we explored Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo and navigated sprawl in a huge SUV of sorts, counting Hummers and eating Tex-Mex. I tried not to stare at everything supersized, Texas-sized. Especially the hair. Boy howdy!! I have to say, acclimating to Pittsburgh helped me in Texas. Like a nice cultural pit stop between Seattle and Texas or something (pun intended).
Poor, neglected blog! Pushy graduate school has gotten in the way. Instead of trying to cover the lost time, I'll just say sorry to the blog and move on.
I really like Pittsburgh. It is a beautiful, quirky city. After being here for the past three months, I think Jamie and I have finally moved past the stage of wondering what the f*** about anything and just accepting that things really don't make much sense in the reality that we're familiar with. Which is pretty neat.
The culture shock... Well, when I was in Spain, I satisfied my mystification by telling myself that I was in a different country with an entirely different culture. Hmm, which doesn't work as well for Pittsburgh, seeing as how it's in the same country where I've grown up. There's so much weirdness that goes on in this city. I ask my classmates about it, and it seems as if it's unique to Pittsburgh. All the more weird, I'd say.
Let's see, we live in an old brick building from the 1920s with crazy radiator heat, which means the colder it is outside, the warmer it is inside. There a resident mystery mouse (or something) that occasionally takes bites out of cookies left on the counter. The pantry is the largest thing ever, only surpassed by our ginormous apartment (don't argue with the logic...).
The city is a crazy maze of one-way, curvy, confusing streets--sometimes with cobblestone.
There's something called Pittsburguese or somethin' that means that there's a strange dialect here where people say "yinzes" instead of "y'all" and "redd up" for "clean/tidy up." En at.
Every now and again I start to panic because... We leave in less than two weeks! I can't stop myself from thinking, 'This might be the last time I ever do this.' Which is absurd, as I will be back here again. As Jamie has expressed it, I feel like I'm in limbo -- waiting. I feel antsy and I am ready to move. It's this waiting that's frustrating. Especially the waiting in Seattle where I'm unemployed with too much time on my hands but uninterested in cleaning/sorting/packing. It's much better when I'm adventuring and taking in my last breaths of the Northwest summer. Jamie and I just took a short camping/hiking trip to Mt. Rainier and visited the meadows at Spray Park to see the wildflowers blooming. It was stunning (looking beyond the mosquitoes).
I love that mountain. I grew up with a magnificent view half a block away from my parent's house in Olympia. I took it for granted until I moved to Extremadura where there is nothing of the sort. Pennsylvania? I don't know, but I think not.
I keep thinking of things I want to do before I leave. I found out that Jamie had never been to the San Juan Islands...! Then my mind goes off, planning a bike trip around San Juan, Lopez, and Orcas Island. And I'm not sure there's time, especially if we go to the Olympic Coast for a few days.
I'm sad to leave my friends and my family. I've spent my entire life here (minus traveling and Spain adventure) which, of course, means it's time to leave. I'm so excited to explore somewhere new and make that place my home for awhile. We're already talking about what we should do for Labor Day weekend, we've been researching vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Pittsburgh, locating the REI, finding hiking nearby. But as I'm leaving, I'm liking Seattle more and more. Why?! Oh, right, it's summer and I don't work on the weekends so I can go explore with my friends. Right. I think I'm also letting the city in and appreciating it for what it is instead of wanting it to be different. And the beauty? I'm not sure I can find this elsewhere. That's what I'm about to find out.
Three weeks ago or so I got this tattoo. Goodbye, Northwest, for now.
Jamie and I got back from our road trip to Colorado a little before midnight last night, having driven from Salt Lake City that morning. I was excited to sleep in our bed, in our apartment, but now that excitement has worn off and I want to be at it some more. I'm sure we tried to do too much in those twelve days, but it was a great way to begin this summer.
We stayed with Jamie's friend Alan in Fort Collins, where we spent the fourth of July with few fireworks due to thunderstorms and rain (the best way to spend that day, anyway). Next we went up into the mountains for an other-worldly experience at the Shambhala Buddhist Center, with the largest Stupa in North America.
We spent two nights camping near Long's Peak, "the Mt. Rainier of Colorado" according to Jamie. With an elevation of 14,000 feet. The hike into the site wasn't bad, but the day hike to Lake Chasm (over 10 miles, which we initially added incorrectly, due to lack of oxygen) was probably the worst idea of the trip. We got back to camp and slept like the dead for several hours. Really, worst idea for two sea-levelers.
We spent the day in Boulder, this mystical city about which I have heard so much. Everyone who has lived there or even visited raves about it, and I can understand why. The mountains so close, the sun (except when we were there, as we had apparently brought Seattle with us on the trip).
From there we headed to Denver for a whirlwind tour of people and sites. We went on an urban adventure from my friend Bronwen's house (just off the notorious Colfax Avenue) to downtown, experienced the insanely repetitive and touristy 16th Street Mall, walked by the river, and caught the bus back to her house (an adventure unto itself). Later that day, we went to Jamie's friends' rehearsal dinner in Littleton (yes, Columbine High School), which was followed immediately by dinner with a first cousin I had never met, Natasha, and her family--with much entertainment provided by her daughter, Nina.
Then the wedding! The event that brought us to Colorado! I finally met Jamie's friends from college, proof that he says who he says he is.
We drove to Salt Lake City the next day--I hesitated at the turn-off toward Moab, tempted. Maybe the ghost of Edward Abbey was calling me....? There are so many other things I wanted to do in the Southwest but Seattle was calling us. Next time!
Then the thirteen-plus drive back to Seattle (only four states as opposed to six on the way to Colorado). This entry has taken me hours to write. I'm still exhausted from the trip. I'm not sure what I just wrote.
I only have one more day of work. And then I'm done. with. food. service. forever. Forever! Jamie has banned me from food service ever again, which I whole-heartedly accept. It's hard to imagine life without it, I suppose, since I've been doing some form of it for most of the past four years. I'm sure I'll do fine. I will never again have to be on the receiving end of the explanation "It's for here, I mean, I'll be drinking it here, but can I have a paper cup?" Not only are these people wasteful, insane, thoughtless, earth-hating individuals, but I don't care where they drink it, I just need to know what kind of cup to put the drink in. Damn it. Nor will I stare at people as they ignore me and whisper about the menu. Or as they continue to stare at the menu as they order, refusing to look at me. Nor will I have reply, "I'm doing well..." in answer to their inquiry as they interrupt to bark out their order (no doubt in a paper cup to be consumed within the cafe).
So... Will I like people more? Will I enjoy coffee again? Will I still tip generously and glare at those who do not? I think yes.
And Pittsburgh! It's feeling more real. Jamie and I have submitted applications plus deposit for a two-bedroom apartment (in anticipation of many visitors!) in the Regent Square neighborhood, on the eastern edge of the city. One of the main reasons we picked that area was to be within walking distance to the East End Food Co-op. Which made me realize how neurotic we both are about food. But, seriously, check out their bulk section!
I receive two types of responses to the information that I'm moving to Pittsburgh, generally. The first, most common, is pessimistic in nature. Sarcasm as to the merits of Pittsburgh (especially from people who have never been there). Fear about the thought of moving "so far away" and "change". Disdain about the sports teams (really? do I look like I give a shit about their football/baseball/jai alai team?). Skepticism about the "return on investment" of a degree in Library and Information Science (this one might be my favorite--unsolicited--from Passive-Aggressive Seattle Guy, a regular at my almost-former job). The second response, less common but exceedingly more meaningful, is excitement. Change! Going back to school! Adventure and expanding one's worldview and "finding one's self" and living somewhere new! Clearly, I subscribe to the latter, and thank you to everyone who has been encouraging!
Jamie and I leave for Colorado in a week. I can't wait! I'm feeling the need to travel, and barring some crazy international trip (not in the financial picture at the moment), I suppose that roadtrips to the Southwest and hiking trips and moving across the country will suffice.
It's so close. My last day in food service ever is June 30, which means that the end is in sight which means that it seems farther away. Coincidentally, July 1 is when Awesome Summer begins, so I suppose I can hang on until then.
I find myself dreaming about Pittsburgh, often. At work, in my bed at night, walking to catch the bus. I'm excited to go back to school, to move across the country, do something entirely different from anything I'm doing now. Besides, Edward Abbey is from Pennsylvania.
Everything school-related is manifesting itself much better than anticipated. I've been placed in an internship at the Carnegie library of Homestead (slightly outside the city of Pittsburgh), working in children's services. This comes with a 3-credit scholarship, combined with an additional 3-credit merit scholarship, for three semesters. Yesss! Considering that I accepted admission without this information, it comes together nicely. I'm concerned about finding a place to live, but it's probably too early to worry about that.
I'll be leaving in August, which is quite soon, as I'm realizing. Before then, I plan to northwest the hell out of this summer! Hiking, camping, biking, picnicking. I'm also going to Colorado with Jamie in July, to practice for our roadtrip across the country, of course.