On the list for tomorrow…

I took tomorrow off because my parents have been on an Alaskan cruise for the past 10 days and I offered to take them to and pick them up from the Kansas City airport.  They will be returning from what sounds like was a wonderful time.  That and I figured that I could use a weekday off; actually be able to call offices that are never open when I’m off work and just get some things accomplished.  So, before I end up sleeping and huluing the day away (after all, Glee, Parenthood, and Biggest Loser just had their premieres tonight and I missed all of them!) because of lack of direction, I figured I’d make a list and actually publish it to the blog so that I’d have some accountability.  Let’s see if this strategy will work at keeping me productive tomorrow.  (If you’ve never seen my detailed to-do lists, you’re in for a treat…)

  • 7:00- Go on a run
  • 7:45- 8:50- Eat breakfast and get ready for day
  • 9:00- Hair cut
  • 10:00-12:00- Take my final typhoid fever immunization pill (the only of my immunizations that came in the form of a pill- a pill you have to take every other day for 8 days) Do laundry, clean room, clean my bathroom, clean kitchen, basically straighten up the house
  • 12:00- Go to Blue Planet Cafe for the best teriyaki seitan around (I’ll be real here, it’s probably the only teriyaki seitan around.  I am in Topeka, after all) with boyfriend, Jeremiah, who also has the day off, cooincidentally
  • 1:00- 2:30- Call USD 501 substitute services with a couple of questions I have about payment (I’m working as a substitute teacher right now) and explain to them that I need to be listed as unavailable for 6 months, but want to continue working as a sub once I return to Topeka at the end of April
  • Call Consulate of Ecuador in DC with a question about my Visa (which I now have in my possession- hooray!)
  • Call Shelter car insurance company about discontinuing my insurance while I’m in Ecuador
  • Call Verizon about canceling or severely reducing my service while in Ecuador
  • EDIT: My poor dog needs to go to the vet.  This point was driven home to me last night, when after 2 days of diarrhea, I had to clean up an accident and noticed blood in the stool.  All I could get for today was a 2:20 appointment.
  • Any extra time, let myself catch up on the premiere of Glee!  Though, it probably matters not where that’s listed on the to-do list… self-control has its limits
  • 3:45- Leave for airport.  Call friend Elena on the way 🙂
  • 6:30- home from airport.  Make chicken fondue pasta and continue catching up with the parents.
  • 8:00- Skype date with my most recently relocated friend, Rachel.  It will be great to see how she and her husband are doing in Dallas!
  • Relax and prepare for subbing on Thursday.  I’ve been called every day that I’ve been set as “available,” which is great, since I need to be earning and saving money more than ever.

That may have been the most boring post ever.  Sorrry.  But if it means that I get everything done that I said I will, it’s worth it (for me).

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Let’s start at the very beginning

Okay, I know it’s not cool to get excited about something you’ve done.  But all of those tabs I’ve made, or “menus”, the categorized archive pages of my posts… I’m so excited about them!!  (By the way, you need to hold your pointer over “Travel Journal” in order to see them.) Mostly because I had do do some serious digging in the WordPress support forums in order to figure out how to have tabs that separated the topics of your blog, so their presence basically proves that I’m a total computer whiz… yeah.

Part of me wants to wait to share this blog with people until I get at least one post in every category, so at least when they click on Where I’ve Been–> Europe–> Ireland, they won’t be led to that terrible looking “Nothing Found” page.  Once I get this posted, 2 of the 20ish categories I’ve created will actually contain something.  If my posts seem irrelevant to what you’d think I’d be focusing on right now (“Preparing for departure”), my desire to eliminate that “Nothing Found” page from my blog may explain.

I’ve decided to write about the places I’ve been in the order of when I went there.  Since I was born in Colorado, it’s the place to start.  Colorado is a great place to call home.  Now that I’m living in Kansas, I’m only separated from my Colorado family by an 8 hour car ride.  I usually end up finding a reason to make the drive twice a year.  There’s nothing like enduring 5.5 hours of Kansas (not lush, hilly eastern Kansas, but rather, flat, dry, windy western Kansas [imagine the black and white parts of Wizard of Oz]), entering Colorado, passing Limon, and then starting to see PIke’s Peak.  After all of those dry fields and tumble weeds, that view is deserved.  Ususally, I drive on toward Boulder area or Colorado Springs, where I have family.  But the towns I lived in when I was younger were Akron and Windsor.

Here are a couple of shots I took of Akron earlier this summer from the seat of an Amtrak viewing car.  I think the people around me wondered why on earth I was feeling the need to capture this little dot on the map.  According to the 2010 Census, about 1,700 people live in Akron.  Just about the same size as the student population at Topeka High School, from where I graduated.Akron was a good place to grow from a baby to a small child.  I think that if I had to stay there into my teen years, I would have gone crazy.  Or at least turned out differently than I did.  I guess we don’t know with certainty how much we are affected by our environments, but I’m sure glad I didn’t spend my adolescent years in Akron.  In 1995, when I was 8 years old, my family moved to Windsor.  The only reason in recent years that I’ve returned to Windsor has been to see my friend from childhood, Teresa.  But now she, too, is finding out firsthand about a new culture.  She’s teaching art at an international school in Dubai!  You can find her blog under my “Favorite sites” tab.

I visited her at her home at the end of March, just about 6 months ago.  As I was driving away, I realized that it would be the last time I would visit this house, the home Teresa had grown up in and, at the time this picture was taken, owned.  Now if I were to drive to Windsor, I could drive past the house, but it wouldn’t mean anything.  She’s no longer there.  She’d be the first person to tell you that she’s not sure where she’s going to end up after her contract in Dubai ends (2013), but I’m confident that no matter how far apart we are physically, we’ll continue to have skype dates, facebook chatter, and, hopefully, be able to meet up in maybe exotic locales, maybe places closer to “home,” at some point in our future.  We’ve made it 16 years and I can’t see us falling out of touch anytime soon.

Now, my reason for visiting Colorado, other than so that I may be awed by those sky-high Rockies, is to see my family.  My brothers are 5 and 7 years older than me, so when my parents and I moved to Topeka when I was 15 because my dad was hired for a job in Kansas, my brothers were old enough to stay behind.  Tim is now about to graduate from University of Colorado with a degree in Mathematics (he’s the most mathy person I know) and Paul is married with a two year-old son, Elijah, and a daughter on the way 🙂  His wife, Elizabeth, and he own a very successful store in Lafayette, Elizabeth’s Embellishments.  If you’re ever in the area, do pop in and say hi.  Or else, browse their website.  Her taste is impeccable.  (Sorry for the shameless promotion, but I’m so proud of how well they’ve done in their entrepreneurial endeavor and it really is a fantastic store.)

Here’s a shot of Elizabeth, Elijah, and Paul.  I am greatly looking forward to visiting them next month and maybe even giving Elizabeth’s belly a good rub!  The things you can get away with doing to a person when she’s pregnant.

I’m pulled to Colorado Springs because of my large network of extended family there.  It’s where my dad’s family settled after immigrating to the US from Belgium/ Algeria.  My dad is the youngest of eight and three of his siblings still live in Colorado, along with most of their children and their children’s children.  Gatherings are pretty loud and fun.

As you can see, I’m mostly drawn back to Colorado for nostalgic reasons.  But you don’t need to have family in Colorado to be lured in.  I’m happy to have roots there because it’s such a pleasant place to be.  The dry pine air; the sun’s reliability (on average, the Colorado sun boasts a record of 300 sunny days a year); the towering blue mountains that will always help the directionally challenged (… like me) figure out which way is west (so long as you’re on the eastern slope); and the hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and camping opportunities- these are some of the things that I love about the state of Colorado.  Its blend of stunning outdoor beauty and good city culture (Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Durango, Boulder- just a few of the great cities one can enjoy) make it a wonderful place to return to.

Who am I and why should I create one more travel blog?

Let me explain myself.  I have a little bit of a history with blogs.   I’ve written in them, I’ve read them.  I find that they can sometimes become just one more thing to do in an already busy life (I hated the guilt that came when I realized that I hadn’t blogged in weeks).  And personal blogs are intrinsically self-centered.  I just realized that up until this point in the post, I’ve used the word “I” 7 times… see what I mean? The author is focusing on herself and hoping that she has some kind of an audience reading the words she is typing, words about her world.  With so many global and local issues people should be reading and thinking about, it feels small-minded to write about little ‘ol me and hope that people notice it.

But the reason I’m starting this blog is that I’ve realized that I’m going to regret it if I don’t keep track of what’s happening in my life, at least over the next six months.  After years of considering, researching, and trying to figure out a way to volunteer in South America, I am doing just that.  In just over one month, I board a plane for Quito, Ecuador and will begin my six months of teaching English in the Chimborazo province.  Now I’ve mentioned a few of my qualms with blogging, but I’ve not revealed what I find to be their ultimate redeeming feature.  They are like that mirror that the beast has in Beauty and the Beast (my favorite Disney movie!)  In case you don’t remember said mirror, the beast, in his isolation, was able to look into it and tell it who he wanted to be able to see.  Then it would serve as his kind of window into that person’s life, even if they were miles apart.  I didn’t really need to use that Disney allusion to make my point that blogs connect us, but, hey, just giving you a taste of who I am on this first post.

What?  I don’t even need to read blogs.  They sell these MAGIC mirrors!  Thanks, Disney.

Anyway, I’m going to miss a few people who will be back at home and they just might miss me too (when I say home, I mean Topeka, but I have somehow wound up with kindred spirits around the globe and I don’t think I’d be presumptuous to assume that they think of me as much as I think of them).  So I figured blogging would be a pretty good way to keep people posted on my life down south.  Also a good way for me to make sure that I am pausing, reflecting, and documenting my time there.  Please let me know if you’re reading this.  Maybe it’s because I’m a youngest, but affirmation and acknowledgement makes me feel good.  I know that after October 25th rolls around and my plane lands in Ecuador, every note, email, or comment from loved ones is going to brighten my heart.  Thanks for visiting!  Check back for updates.