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2011

13 Jan

It’s that time of year. The time where we all reflect on the past year and look ahead at what’s to come. 2011 was just the way I like it–lots of travel and many strange and wonderful experiences.

I enjoyed 6 weeks of vacation. I visited four countries and saw 6 states. I crossed the US border 9 times. I took 6 plane rides. I drove from SLC to Vancouver three times and  up the  California coast from San Diego to Sacramento. I visited great friends and had great friends come visit me. I rode a bike in the Netherlands and didn’t die. I went punting down a canal in England and was actually good at it. I drank cactus beer in Belgium. I became an immigrant.

I moved twice and spent the summer with the greatest roommates I’ve ever had.

I started two book clubs, each with moderate success.

I applied to, got accepted to and started graduate school. I got 1/4 of the way closer to becoming a librarian and found out I actually like it. I also discovered I might even be good at it.

I posted 45 times on this blog.

I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home. I made a turkey for the first time and enjoyed the holiday in October and November.

I ate the greatest hamburger in the world, made the best french onion soup, tried poutine, learned to make sushi, and discovered Tim Tams and Coffee Crisp.

I learned to share my twin sister and was truly happy for her on her wedding day. I gained two wonderful brothers-in-law and two amazing step-nephews.

I took out my first student loans.

I attended my first black-tie event and was grateful that my mom taught me good enough manners to blend in reasonably well.

I was pulled over for the first time and got my first speeding ticket.

I was rehired and quit my job at the law firm for (hopefully) the last time.

I went from being an animal hater to an animal hater living with a dog and a cat.

Looking back, 2011 was pretty alright. Although I’ve decided not to worry about 2012–I’m pinning all my hopes on 2013 to be my year–here’s hoping that the next 12 months are as interesting as the last. Or at least that the world won’t end.

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Sean and George’s Visit

10 Mar

Two weeks ago a couple of my very bestie Thailand buddies came to visit from California. Sean lives in LA and George is English. He was visiting California as part of his many, many months abroad (Europe, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, USA). They drove up to San Francisco and then through a snow storm to SLC. After being stranded for 2 days in Reno because of the snow, they finally made it here.

The road warriors (Sean on the left, George on the right)

I wanted to give them the full Utah winter experience, so we went tubing at Gorgoza Park. It was really fun, but SUPER busy because of President’s Day. Note to self, don’t go tubing on a holiday when kids are out of school. I was able to scrounge up some winter clothes for the boys so we didn’t all freeze. I think George REALLY liked his hat.

Later that night we went to the Harlem Globetrotters game, which only furthered George’s belief that everything in America is a fake version of the real thing. Staying in Hollywood hasn’t helped that either. The game was fun but oh so awkward. We bought tickets in my mom’s office suite, expecting that as usual, we would be the only ones in it. When we arrived however, the entire suite was FULL. And I mean totally full. They were having some kind of family party. Catered and everything. They were as confused as we were when we walked in and asked if maybe we had the wrong suite. I assured them we didn’t and we shuffled awkwardly into some seats in the corner. We all studiously ignored each other until the end of the game. I found out later that an attorney at my mom’s office had bought out the suite and then we were accidentally sold tickets that shouldn’t have been sold. All around a totally uncomfortable situation. We made the best of it though and managed to have a good time.

Globetrotters

On Tuesday the boys had to head home. I took them to see Temple Square, which is basically SLC’s  only tourist attraction. However, I don’t think I’m a very good tour guide. We met many missionaries who were happy to show us around though AND do their best to share the message of the church with the boys. There were several rather awkward silences in response to religious questions, but I did my best to try to shield them from the missionaries’ full court press. We also went to the roof of the Conference Center to look out on our beautiful city. After lunch the boys began their journey home.

 

Me trying to explain all the buildings at Temple Square

I was so happy Sean and George came to visit. Although I would have loved to see either one of them separately, it was especially nice to have them come together. It made the reunion that much sweeter because it reminded me of our many great adventures together in Thailand. Love you boys!

#69: Photo Memories

10 Mar

Today I’m thankful for the photo memories box on facebook. I just started noticing that facebook brings up old photos you’ve posted in a section titled “Photo Memories.” (It’s in the upper right corner, where they do “people you might know”.) It’s fun to see random photos from your past. I like it.

#43-44

13 Feb

43. I got a new phone. Finally! After many many years of bottom of the line and hand-me-downs, I have something that’s both nice AND new. So far, with the exception of not having a Pandora app, I really like the Samsung Focus. 44. Both items today have to do with the new phone. Yesterday while Molly and I were at the AT&T store a couple came in looking for looking for a car charger. When they told the salesman what they needed, Molly promptly (and LOUDLY) responded that they should buy one on ebay. “They’re like $.99 and shipping is almost nothing, I swear.” This was much to the chagrin of the AT&T employees. One suggested she go sit on the benches outside the store. The other, who was helping me, just laughed. It definitely made my day.

Back in America

11 Nov

I’ve been back in America for a couple of days now, and I think I’m used to it. It’s not really that big of an adjustment, except that I can’t stop using Thai phrases like “chai” “ok mai?” and “mai pen rai.” My time away, and now returning home, has made me appreciate all that I’ve missed about America and so much that I already miss about Thailand.

Stuff I love about America

  • I can be as loud as I want without people staring at me
  • I’m not freakishly tall
  • Not having to rely on Mirror’s sketchy (at best)  internet connection to talk to my family
  • Evesdropping on other peoples’ conversations whenever I want
  • My friends
  • Clean bathrooms, hot showers and flushing toilets
  • Milk that doesn’t taste weird
  • Crunchy snacks .Nothing in Thailand is crunchy. I don’t know if it’s the humidity or what, but you can’t ever get that satisfying crunch of a potato chip or cracker there.
  • American television. Well, television at all really.

Stuff I already miss about Thailand

  • My friends
  • Feeling like I was helping people every day
  • Sweetened condensed milk on EVERYTHING (i.e. topping for roti, inside ice cream bars, in coffee, etc)
  • Rice. Strangly enough I really miss rice. Along with this goes all the delicious Thai food that comes with rice. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some ga pao gai from the lady next to P’Noi’s shop…
  • Eating with spoons. I am fork retarded these days.
  • How friendly people are. I have not been wai-ed or bowed to once since I’ve been home.
  • Not having to worry about not having a job. Yeah, that was really nice.
  • How cheap everything was. Stuff in America is pang maak!
  • Taking your shoes off everywhere you go.

There could be a million more things on each of those lists, but I’ll keep them brief. I guess my point is that although Thailand was an amazing and a  fondly cherished part of my life (and I already miss it intensely), I am excited and happy to be home and figuring out what the next amazing part of my life is going to be. I’ve been so lucky this far in my life to experience so much, and I think my best adventures are still to come.

Pu Chi Fah

30 Oct

Last weekend a group of volunteers, Japanese and Thai staff took a weekend trip to Pu Chi Fah. Literally translated, the name means something like “mountain that points to the sky.” We took one of the Mirror songtaows, and it felt like a very long drive.

On the way there we stopped at a national park to admire the spectacular view. The road was very steep and windy.

The view was totally worth the crazy drive.

George, however, didn’t get to admire it too much because of his massive hangover. The little ones always learn the dangers of Thai whiskey the hard way.

At the park we climbed a super awesome tree. Correction, I climbed a tree and Patti and Stacy tried but their legs were too short.

We spent the night in Win’s village. He and Tae (and Win’s family) made us one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in Thailand. We had real barbecued pork and fresh grilled prawns. I even ate a shrimp brain, and it was super tasty. Arroy maak!

That night we went to a temple for a festival. (If you haven’t noticed, they have a lot of those in Thailand.) This one was particularly fun because they were sending lanterns in the sky. We bought a lantern and sent it off with all kinds of loving prayers.

Early the next morning (too early to be “bright” and early) we packed up and made the drive to Pu Chi Fah. It was truly amazing to see the tops of the mountains rise above the mist. Everything kind of glowed pink and purple during the sunrise. It was beautiful.

After a very long two days, we made the drive home. I don’t remember much of it 🙂

The trip was one of the highlights of my time in Thailand. A feel good journey indeed.

Decade in review

7 Jan

Well, it’s been many many moons since I last posted and I’m not sure how to sum it up. It’s been a rough couple of months, but I managed to make it through and things are looking much brighter these days. Since it’s the start of a new decade, I thought I’d review what’s happened to me in the last 10 years (thanks Becky for the idea-although I don’t have any pics because I’m too lazy to scan them from my old yearbooks). My memory is terrible though, so you’ll get only the random highlights I can remember. Also, I have to go by school years because that’s how all students measure time.

1999/2000: 6th grade in all it’s glory. This was my first real year at Riverside Elementary, since we moved halfway through 5th grade and got stuck on terrible B track. Molly and I were in Mr Stavros’ class this year with Jennie, Amanda and Angela. I loved pre-algebra with Mr Z. This is also the year I became friends with Rachel T. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years and she’s still one of my best friends. I remember many long walks discussing my love for Joe and her drama with Micah. I also played Dromio in possibly the best Shakespear play ever performed by 12 year olds. *Bonus funny story: one of my best friends was named Jessica. Towards the end of the year I asked her if she thought we’d still be friends in middle school. She promptly and matter-of-factly answered no. Tragic. The friendship ended there.

2000/2001: My first year of middle school. My first friend in middle school was Megan G. We met in art class and bonded over our love for Newsies. I had the infamous Mrs. Cox for TLC-TWICE! Whoa Nelly! (Only the WJMS alumni will understand). This was the year I was introduced to the torture that is swimming for gym class. Imagine running dripping wet from the pool to the school in the middle of winter. And then the added benefit of smelling like chlorine all day. I remember I had home ec. right after gym and Mrs. Brumfield threatened to dock my grade because I had more than 20 tardies.

2001/2002: Eighth grade was memorable. Both 9/11 and the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping happened during this school year, which will help me remember this year forever. I also chopped all my hair off this year. I loved it, everyone else hated it. Especially the boys. I don’t know why they are so prejudiced against short hair. Lame. I LOVED Mr. Brooks and Mr. Holt for English and History. Who can forget Brooks’ grammar songs? I will remember the “be” verbs until the day I die. I won the We the People speech contest and got to go to the state competition. Molly and I also got in our first real and lasting fight this year. It was terrible. Fortunately we were able to work things out and have been closer than ever ever since.

2002/2003: My last year of middle school. I was on stage crew and the National Junior Honor Society historian. Believe it or not, these were fairly cool positions to have. This year was full of awards. I got Lion of the Quarter and plenty at the end of the year assembly: best student of the year in both Enlish and Science and something for getting a 4.0 for my entire Jr. High career. This was probably the peak of my academic success. I pretty much coasted after that. I also got my first job that summer working at Glacier’s Yummy Ice. I became (and still am) addicted to blueberry coconut snowcones with cream.

2003/2004: A year of firsts. On my first day of school I fell flat on my face in the cafeteria during lunch. I learned how to drive and got in my first car accident only 3 days after getting my license. I went on my first date. I got my first cell phone. I got my first B, which was both devastating and incredibly liberating. I got my first real job at Shopko, followed quickly by my second real job at the law firm. My had my first kiss with a random boy at the skating rink, which literally swept me off my feet (I fell on the ice immediately afterwards). I also had the most rocking sweet 16 party ever. My parents surprised us with a party at this awesome cabin with about 20 of our closest guy and girl friends-girls slept over and guys went home after.

2004/2005: The year that I loved, even though it almost killed me. This was by far my most difficult year of school as far as classes go. I was in AP History and Calculus, which kicked my butt pretty much every day. I remember having a integrals party with my friend Jessica (different than 6th grade Jessica) during spring break while my sister had a legitimate party. I had my first real kiss at prom this year. I kissed him because I was sick of waiting for him to do it. One of my favorite memories was our backwards party: everything was backwards including the clothes everyone wore. This was also the year we designated our group of friends the Terrible 10 during one particularly boring day in physics. We each had our own “terrible” nickname, mine was Chainsaw Chel. I was never pleased with it. This summer I went to Chicago for the TSA national competition-my first vacation on my own.

2005/2006: My final year as a minor. I turned 18, which was no big deal except that I registered to vote and I went to the Price is Right. I was the editor of the school paper. It’s not as impressive as it sounds. The JagWire was a pretty pathetic paper that was marginally less pathetic by the time I finished with it. I got the National Merit Scholarship that opened the door to Westminster College for me. I was school Salutatorian, meaning that I had to sit quietly on the stage during graduation instead of chatting in the back with my friends. I also took an amazing trip to Hawaii with my family.

2006/2007: College freshman. I moved out of my parents’ into the ghetto-est house EVER in Sugarhouse. We had plants from the outside growing on the inside. Luckily it was right across the street from Westminster. School was new and exciting, but Honors Humanities was the hardest class I have ever taken. I decided on Communication as a major, without really knowing what I wanted to do. I sent Andy out on a mission and wrote many many letters. In March I bought a new car all by myself and moved home to save money.

2007/2008: The beginning of my year of travel. I took a spur of the moment trip to San Francisco with three of my friends, officially beginning my year of travel. School was the same as usual. I continued plugging along, taking advanced French in addition to Comm and Honors courses. I used this new skill as an excuse to take a May Term trip to Europe with my friend Angela. Three weeks in France and Spain further solidified my already rock-solid love for travel. My grandfather died this year, which was an odd experience for me. I wasn’t close with him at all, and I was filled with regret for never getting to know him and guilt for my lack of grief.

2008/2009: The end of my year of travel. I took the fall semester off to accomodate my travels to Boston, Vermont and Hawaii. Totalled, I spent more than 8 weeks on vacation in 12 months. Amazing is all I can say. I returned to school reluctantly, but I eager to see everyone again. A significant highlight was learning to snowboard. I’m too poor and too busy to get good at it, but I love it anyway. Andy came home this year and promptly broke up with me, more than slightly breaking my heart. In hindsight it was a wise move, but it was difficult at the time.

2009-present: As I said before, this year has been a difficult one. I have struggled mentally and emotionally, which caused me to struggle academically. However, my family came to my rescue and I was able to pull myself together enough to finish up the semester and enjoy the holidays. With the help of my family and my doctor things are looking way way up. I began my last semester of college this week with a mixture of anticipation and dread. I am looking forward to my summer adventure in Thailand (I’ll write more about that later) and hopefully many more adventures to follow.

Reflecting on the last 10 years makes me realize how very lucky I am. Thanks you all of you who have helped me grow up over the last decade. Without you I am sure I would be a very different person.