Posts tagged ‘conference’
Title: Conference Fatigue–Getting Silly
San Diego, CA
Title: Another Beautiful Place,
Title: Pre-Run Warmup on a Fancy Bike Machine with an iPod Charger!
This month and the last half of last month were pretty kickin’. Here, in a nutshell, is what I did. It will serve as an outline for this post.
Since I last blogged I…
- went on vacation to California;
- went to a conference in Italy;
- celebrated my first anniversary at my job in New York;
- road-tripped to spend time with some wonderful people in Northeastern Ohio;
- began a 365 photography project;
- saw lots of lovely friends and family at thanksgiving;
- went on my first NJ hike.
Whew! That’s a lot to chronicle. I have myriad pictures documenting all of those events, but I’ll post here only the ones of which I am most proud. Safe to say, this will probably get a little long.
| California |
(I’m experimenting with headings in this post…they’re a little weird)
My first real vacation that was completely unconnected with work was completely worth the wait through my first year of working. Ironically, I don’t even know if I would have thought to take a 6-day trip across the country had it not been for work. I thought, back in August, I was going to get to go out there to help with an orientation, but at the last minute it turned out that they didn’t have need of my assistance after all. I was disappointed…but then it occurred to me that I could make an even more fun trip to the West Coast all by myself!
It took minimal arranging to get everyone concerned on board and pretty soon I had an exciting trip lined up. My first stop was in LA to visit family friends, Shela and Kumar. I had not seen these lovely people for nearly eight years. In my short life, that is quite a stretch of time. Shela and Kumar housed me for a night before my AFS exchange to Australia in February 2004; in that short time, Shela and I became good friends. In spite of…a fairly significant generational gap…we get along like a house on fire and never run out of things to say. Shela kept me very entertained and well-fed for my 2-ish-day visit with her. We went to the La Brea Tar Pits/Page Museum, the LACMA and to the Getty. It was all splendid. The last night of my stay, Miss. Amytza joined us for dinner–it was lovely to see her and bring wonderful people together.
From LA I took a couple of buses to get myself to Santa Barbara and the next part of my visit. Emily, John and Meaghan picked me up at the bus stop. As can be expected with wonderful, long-time friends, whether we were wine tasting, going on a hike, walking around the (really cute) downtown area, eating delicious food, or simply lounging around the apartment watching Dexter (the dog) acting princely in his domain, (and we did all of that and more!) the fun never ceased. It was a great way to relax and have a good time.
There are so many pictures from Santa Barbara (it’s a beautiful place) that I’ll just leave you with this one:
| Italy |
My final work travel experience (I think) for the year, found me on a plane, two trains and a bus to Colle Val d’Elsa, Italy (roughly 30 minutes north of Siena). There I attending a fascinating conference about host family Intercultural learning during a study abroad experience. I thought lots of thoughts I had never thought before :-S and met some truly amazing colleagues and experts in the field. Additionally, I learned the hard way that Colle Val d’Elsa installed an elevator to assist people in navigating the
mountainhill upon which part of the city sits. I discovered this after hiking up said hill and finding the elevator…at the top. Sigh. At least I got some great pictures and exercise…for which I was exceedingly grateful as I consumed stunning quantities of delicious Italian food in the days that followed.
After an intense weekend of learning I returned to Rome and spent a Sunday exploring with some familiar faces. Chiara, with whom I lived in Spain, came up from Naples with her boyfriend to visit. Lovely Irene had agreed to host me for the night; even though eventually we decided that staying at the airport hotel was more practical for me, I still consider her my host for the day. After meeting up at the train station, Chiara and Irene worked out a very ambitious plan for the day in which we hit many of the major fountains and monuments in the city. My feet were killing me by the time we retired to a lovely bar/cafe on the other side of the Tiber. Never made it to the Vatican, but that’s just a reason to come back.
Too soon it was time to go home. Overall it was a very productive trip. I even revived some of my long-dormant Italian skills and communicated quite well! I got back to the US on Halloween and then, on November 1, I celebrated my first anniversary by working from home .
| Ohio |
I never thought I would be so excited to go to Northeastern Ohio, but by the time mid-November rolled around, I had put my first cold of this winter behind me and I was chomping at the bit to get out to the middle of the country. Oren and I were both excited for the long car trip and Mom generously switched cars with me to spare my 12-year-old Honda the extra miles (on top of its 238,000. It’s a good car, but no car is that good).
This road trip marked the longest road trip Oren and I have taken together to date as well as the very first annual WWAFSerD Weekend (in which my AFS friends–returnees all–got together and hung out). It was a whirlwind weekend and altogether too short. Objectively, was probably not strictly worth the seven hours in the car…but also it was entirely worth the seven hours in the car. It may not be logical, but it made sense to us.
Northeastern Ohio has an Amish population and the local AFS team was holding their annual Amish day in which the exchange student (et al) learn about some of the local culture. We did some serious eating (including much cheese, fudge, fried chicken and mashed potatoes…), walking, picture-taking, laughing, talking and not very much sleeping.
It was in Ohio that I was inspired to begin my very own 365 photo project that has been appearing on this blog for ten days now.
| 365 Project |
So here is what has been going on. I’ve thought of doing this for a while, but I’ve only just taken the leap and made a commitment. The idea of a 365 project is, fundamentally speaking, to take one photo a day. Some people take a self portrait a day and watch themselves change over a year. Other people set up different themes or try to develop certain techniques. For my 365 project I…
- will take at least one photo each day and post it on my blog with a title, general location, and little anecdote, if applicable;
- will only use photos taken by me;
- promise I will only backdate posts if I absolutely do not have an internet connection and only if I actually took the photo the day before.
After all, I travel for work and it wouldn’t be culturally sensitive to assume that I will have internet every place in the world;
- may or may not use Photoshop to make my images look cooler.
For this project, my only real goal is to do it every day…to see if I can do something every day for a year. Maybe after that I’ll add some outside purpose. I will take my photos with one of three (yes, three) cameras: Nikon D40 (DSLR), Cannon PowerShot SD1000, or my iPhone…I will probably usually use my iPhone. Let’s be real.
This project will be in effect until November 20, 2012. Wish me luck and stay tuned.
| Thanksgiving Weekend |
Thanksgiving 2011 took place at my parents’ house. We’ve done Thanksgiving there before, and always with great success, but this year I feel with particularly successful. We had two turkeys–one roasted and one fried (yes, fried). Those two turkeys supplied our roughly 30 dinner guests with enough tryptophan to knock everyone sluggish for a week. Still the rest of the weekend was full of fun and activity. Oren and I drove up and down NJ, meeting friends in Princeton for the tree lighting in Palmer Square before joining his family for Shabbat dinner on Friday and jetting back down southward to meet my high school besties for brunch on Saturday. Shopping and Indian food finished Saturday off with a flourish and we said goodbye to most of my relatives who were about to scatter back all over the country. On Sunday, Oren and I enjoyed our first ever hike together in New Jersey–the first of many, I hope.
My word count is totaling over 1500 words, so I better stop. Kudos for making it this far. Hopefully December will be calmer, so the post won’t be as intense, but thanks to my photo project, you can look forward to constant posts coming out of this little corner of the ‘net.
This month has been characterized mainly by being at home for a change! After my whirlwind excursions to DC and Malaysia in July, I have welcomed the August down time. Unfortunately, it has also come with some pretty intense heat and Apartment 49 gets pretty toasty being on the 4th floor and all. Still a good workout though!
After months of reading some amazing blogs very religiously, I have noticed that I really like reading blogs with pictures in them. Of course, I love reading the blogs too, and I subscribe to a small handful blogs that get away with just having text because the text is interesting. However, I think that my text could use some illustration…and I certainly have plenty of pictures.
Ideally I would be able to continue keeping photo albums as I did when I was using LiveJournal. However, that feature has been giving me some issues and I don’t like any of the alternatives that are out there like Picasa or Photo Bucket or whatever. Also I have been lazy. So until I figure out a more permanent solution, instead of doing albums, I might try embedding images for a while. I have stayed away from that for so long because when I started blogging, believe it or not, not everyone had a speedy internet connection that could load pictures easily. Give me a holler if these embedded pictures present an issue.
My first foray into embedding images (above) features a view of my “new” living room. In this picture, it had just been freshly tidied. Oren and I have taken our time setting up the apartment–made slower by the fact that I have been jet-setting so much since we moved, pretty much. We’ve only been here since May. August has given me the chance to set some things up and get stuff done. We’ve really been thoughtful about organization in this new place and have completed several extremely successful projects such as hanging a pot rack in the kitchen à la Julia Childs’ in Julie and Julia.
I hadn’t planned to officially include that picture, so it wasn’t fully optimized, but you get the picture. Oren put it up and it’s been wonderful to have mostly gotten rid of the awkward pot handles in the cupboards. Oren is great about putting up shelves when and where I want them. AND he cooks; how lucky am I?
This is what August has been like — lots of domesticity.
August has also been the month of craziness at work and Oren going to Poland and Israel for two weeks. I was invited, but I’m not allowed to take off work in August, generally speaking. This rule is going to have to be bent somehow next year because there are weddings coming up!
I found out this month that my cousin Chelsea will be getting married at the beginning of August next year in California and my big brother, Daniel, will be getting married at the end of August (most likely) next year as well…possibly in France! This is exciting stuff!
As if that wasn’t cool enough, one of my best friends from high (and middle) school is getting married to a wonderful young woman next year around now-ish as well. It’s going to be an August/September full of celebration next year. I better enjoy the quiet while I have it.
I have been meaning to blog for a while, but I’m glad I waited until now to do it because two exciting, and unrelated, things happened to me in the past two days.
1. There was an earthquake on the east coast.
I was one of the only people in my office who felt the quake. It was a very slight tremor. I only noticed it because I was sitting in a rolling chair and it started to move of its own accord. Also I have key chains hanging on my cubicle wall and they started to swing inexplicably. There certainly isn’t even a hint of breeze in my office, so I figured it was an earthquake.
A quick search on Twitter confirmed that other people were feeling it too and fifteen minutes later, after I had already gotten over the excitement, we got an announcement from the gruff security guards downstairs that there was an earthquake in Virginia that we felt in New York and we would not be evacuating.
I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to evacuate in an earthquake anyway. Silly East Coast.
2. I saw my first EVER famous person!
Let me qualify: this is the first time I saw a famous person and REALIZED that I was seeing a famous person. Having grown up in the New York area, it is entirely possible that I have already seen famous people and not realized it.
Also, this person might just be famous to me.
The show White Collar was filming around Battery Park today and as I was walking to work, Matt Bomer, the actor who plays the main character, Neil Caffrey, WALKED. RIGHT. BY ME!!!
I was star struck; stopped in my tracks, jaw dangling on the ground, and I watched him walk away. I’m glad he had his back to me the whole time because it would have been super embarrassing had he turned around.
It made my day, though, and as I was walking home, two more of the characters were sitting on a bench, waiting to film in Bowling Green. I snapped an iPhone picture, but I won’t post it. There’s no point.
Today was a good day.
That’s pretty much August. Work, alone time for me in the apartment, an overseas family trip for Oren and now we’re gearing up for what’s coming up next.
Oren will be starting student teaching in the fall, marking the beginning of his final year of grad school. YAY! I have planned some time off in September and October that will include family time and a trip to California to see an old family friend and hang with John, Meaghan and Emily.
OH! Third exciting thing:
3. I’m going to a conference in Italy at the end of October
My boss just told me about this one, and it’s not final yet, but I’m definitely going to accept. It’s a conference in Siena on Intercultural Learning that has my name all over it!
That’s all for now. See you in September!
Today was a special day…and not just because Oren and I have been together for two years. Today we made ice cream sundaes. (You can see where our priorities lie.) Yesterday, according to the Google Doodle, was the 119th birthday of the ice cream sundae. Since our anniversary fell on a Monday this year we celebrated on Sunday evening instead by going out for a lovely dinner at a diner. This may sound lame to some of you…in which case you can go and plan your own fancy schmancy anniversary dinner and leave mine alone.
We did get our own fair share of schmanciness (I’m playing with spelling left and right!) when we tried to order a celebratory ice cream sundae after dinner. We were at a diner. The thing that makes a diner a diner and not some other kind of restaurant is that they don’t specialize in any one kind of food in particular but serve a mediocre version of just about everything. This is a loose definition and I may change it later. This diner has swankified in recent years and the very most recent change that I have seen is that they have dolled up their desserts. Gone are the gooey pies and hearty cakes from the display case–they now sit in the back. These traditional sweets have been replaced by cold, pristine platters of artisan chocolates and truffles. Do not mistake my meaning. I love chocolate to an almost unhealthy degree. Bring on the quality chocolate any time of day. However, when I go to a diner, that serves ice cream, whipped cream, fruit and nuts on various plates and they tell me that they don’t do sundaes, we have crossed the line into a territory that I no longer recognized. I’m sure they also have chocolate syrup or else how would they make chocolate milk for the kids (and adults). It’s still a family establishment, after all.
The moral of this rant is that we did not get ice cream sundaes yesterday. Instead, we went to the grocery store and purchased all of the ingredients we needed to make ice cream sundaes. Booya, Diner. You have officially been replaced and, if I may say so, outdone. Not only were tonight’s sundaes delicious, but they were way less fattening than a diner’s would have been. We purchased chocolate chip cookie dough frozen yogurt, low-fat chocolate pudding mix, and light whipped cream. Tonight I measured everything out and served it all up in chilled martini glasses. It was super classy and FAR fewer Points than even probably a shared diner ice cream sundae would have been. AND we got to eat them on our anniversary. For. The. Win.
The past month or so has been equally as busy as the one before it. I was in Washington DC for the first week of March for work. It was an amazing(ly tiring) week. I met all my team mates on this project that I am helping to lead. We had never met in person before and I have no words to describe how awesome they are. I will just say that I am so lucky to have such a great team on my side to help us get through this massive project. We also met our Malaysian contingent. We have a partner team in Malaysia with which we are collaborating. They are also an awesome group of people and in only four days of working together we have already learned so much. After our four-day meeting was over the rest of the week was dedicated to a conference. The theme of the conference was “Unity Through Diversity.” One of the most powerful moments for me was at one of the final meals when people were asked to stand up and share some of the best parts of the conference for them. One of the major people in AFS India stood up and said that she made a wonderful friend from Pakistan with whom she was hosted in her community visit and shared a room during the conference itself. She said “There are more similarities than differences…We may never be able to meet in our own countries, but we will always be able to meet in the USA.” They were the embodiment of the conference theme for me.
By far the coolest event was the major dinner at the end. The head of AFS Egypt got up and gave a speech that left every eye misty. She spoke of the uprising in Egypt and the overthrowing of a tyrannical political regime. Talk of such a current event left everyone silent and breathless, wondering what she would say. But her next words brought everyone together. She said that we, as the arbiters of peace and proponents of change, intercultural understanding and unity through diversity, all played a part in helping the nonviolent protest in Egypt remain nonviolent and meet with success. The people who brought change to Egypt were largely its own young people, many of whom had the chance to experience cross-cultural exchanges like the ones that we work to provide. Without these people there would not have been peaceful success in Egypt. Without us and our programs, things might have turned out differently. I have never felt so much a part of the whole and remembered so forcefully why my job, in its own small way, makes a difference. I need to keep going to conferences to gather more memories like these so that when I am locked in an epic battle with Microsoft Word, my eyes twitching from the exhaustion of staring at my computer screen, to make my student handbook the best it can possibly be, and I’m wondering who will even care if there are some typos I missed because I can’t possibly look at the manuscript for another moment, so that at those moments I can put myself back into the big picture with all the crisscrossing webs of coincidence and connection and remember that the thing I do is one step toward larger change.
I’ve been playing a lot of catchup since I got back from that epic week. It’s been a month and I’ve only just had the time to clean up my work inbox. It’s all clean now though and I’m catching up with my current projects slowly but surely. I told Pete today that my life is coming together little by little and he replied “It usually does.” Thanks, Pete. Also I’d like to give a shout out of congratulations to him for getting into a top graduate school. Good job, buddy!
The latest and greatest of the times is that we’re on the hunt for a new apartment. We’ve got our names in for one and I’m really crossing my fingers that we get it. This apartment will mean a shorter and less expensive commute to work and more time to fill with lovely hobbies…and eventually grad school again. I don’t know when I’ll be able to pick that back up again. I’d love it to be in September, but I’m not sure that will be possible financially. If I don’t do it by January I will have to dis-enroll completely and reapply if I want to continue and finish. That might not be the worst thing ever if I can wait until we’re financially more secure. Still, we’ll see what must be done. In the mean time, I am going to focus on cleaning and purging in preparation for the move that will be inevitable come May 14 whether we have a new apartment or not. We’ve got time, but I get anxious really quickly.
I may have spent all of yesterday doing laundry and reading this one blog I am currently obsessed with called Russett Street Reno about a young couple’s house renovation projects. I’ve always been a sucker for This Old House type things and the woman writing this blog is a beast of a renovator. It’s a good thing I’m renting or I’ll turn into a copy cat.
As it is I know there are things I’d like to do differently in our next apartment. For example, I want more windows so I can have more plants. This will contribute to cleaner air. I also want to think about organization a little more carefully to really maximize what we have/need around the house. We’re already getting better with food. We’ve hardly wasted a drop since we started Weight Watchers and hardcore food planning/budgeting. It’s been great not to find moldy rotten leftovers in the fridge. We’re not eating like rabbits either. We eat normal food that is exciting an interesting…such as ice cream sundaes!
See how that came full circle? I’m going to wrap up this epic entry at just under 1500 words. Up next is a journey to Puerto Rico with Mom and Dad. Will it be a trip or a vacation? Do you know the difference? More about that next time. As always, thanks for reading!
Blogging fail! I’ve wanted to blog so many times over the past month, but I’m only sitting down to it now…and it’s really no wonder! I’ve been incredibly busy!
First of all, a Yasi update–my friends and ‘family’ in Australia came out of the storm very lucky. Only the gardens suffered lasting damage. The little towns to the south of Cairns have been all but flattened, but as far as I know, only one death was reported. As if that wasn’t enough, Christ Church, New Zealand was just hit by another massive earthquake that was, as I understand it, weaker than the one in September, but with a higher death toll this time. Oceana is not having great luck natural disaster-wise and my thoughts are with the Malcolmson family who, as I understand it, came out alright so far.
Just after I reported out on Cyclone Yasi I headed off to San Diego, CA where I spent a lovely weekend in the company of wonderful AFS friends, both old and new I was attending a Training of Trainers in which I was a participant! It was lovely to be learning again and I had great fun learning how to train people in Pre Departure Orientations, which is an orientation that American exchange students experience just before they go abroad. I love to learn especially in a social atmosphere, and as usual, I ended up learning quite a bit about myself in addition to learning about the training.
One of the best parts of being in San Diego was getting to hang out with my cousin Chelsea and her beautiful, two-year-old boy, Kellen. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get to see them three times. Chelsea even came and hung out with my new friends that I made at the conference. I can’t remember the last time we got to spend social time together…away from other family…come to think of it, I think this was a first! I LOVED San Diego in general and I wouldn’t mind living there someday.
Another best part of San Diego was renting bikes and riding on the beach, going out to breakfast on the beach at the only place that was open at 7:00am and generally enjoying the break from awful, East Cost winter weather. I’m a little bit over New Jersey at this point…but once the seasons change I think my restless heart will be content for a while. March is the stupidest month in a way because the weather is so unpredictable. It could still snow–a thought that haunts me every time I check the weather forecast.
Anyway, all good thing must come to an end and before I knew it I was back to commuting 3 hours a day to my job in New York planning my next big work adventure which is: a meeting/workshop in Washington DC! That’s right, this Sunday I will be hopping on Amtrak and jetting off to our nation’s capital to enjoy the company of some truly stellar AFS volunteers, both American and international. This meeting is one installment in a project with our partners in Malaysia…so guess where work is sending me next! That’s not until July though, so I’ll leave that end hanging tantalizingly before you so I can describe the rest of my February.
I know that February is the shortest month of the year, but this one flew by alarmingly fast. Valentine’s Day came and went in an unspectacular but satisfying way. Not being particular sticklers for holiday timing, Oren and I found a Turkish restaurant in Jersey City the night before Valentine’s Day and decided to spend some time exploring our future city. We walked around a little bit, experienced some of the grossness of a city that isn’t quite New York in the slushy phase of winter, and explored the part of town where all the artists live. For starving artists, they sure pay a lot in rent! At least we found a great cafe and befriended a Real Estate agent who works in Maplewood…in case we ever moved there…which is doubtful since neither of us will EVER make enough money to own a thimble in Maplewood. Then the Turkish restaurant was heavenly. There is something about ending the night with baklava that really hits the spot.
The next weekend Nicola came for a week! It was lovely to host my Australian ‘sister’…even though she is really Mavi’s Australian sister. Unfortunately, in a great departure from the norm, I didn’t take any pictures!! I’ll have to get some from Nicola to post. The first weekend than Nix was here we spent doing leisurely things. We ate dinner at the shore, went and spent the day in Philadelphia, PA, and had a shopping day at the outlets at Jackson. It was a very Jersey weekend…and I was astonished and relieved to learn that The Jersey Shore, in all its poofy, orange-tanned glory, seems not yet to have made it to Australia. Whew! For the win.
Then Nicola accompanied me for the rest of the week on my commute into NYC. She astutely observed that Suburban Transit is gross as well as grossly overpriced…and that is after commuting FOUR TIMES. Suburban Transit, do you hear this? Clean up, please is all I am saying.
Nix really made great use of her time in New York City. She shopped, found out how big the Met is, saw the Museum of Natural History and the MoMA and pursued her never-ending, constantly fruitless quest for good coffee. Oh well. She has some now that she is back in Australia. On Friday, Mom and I took her to see Million Dollar Quartet on Broadway, which was amazing. I haven’t seen a show in a while, and that was a great one to get me back in the game. I would dearly love to see it again…and again, and again! It was that good! Briefly, the show is all about one night–to be specific, December 4, 1956. That is the night–the one and only night–that Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis came together in Sam Phillips’ studio at Sun Records and had a jam session. The story line is sounds straightforward, but it is intricately woven around each musician and Sam Phillips himself during a pivotal time in Rock ‘n’ Roll history. And the actors were really musicians, so there was no pit. They just played like they were the stars of a rock concert…which essentially they were. Elvis busted a string right in the middle of a song, but Jerry Lee Lewis covered with a gut busting piano solo so that Elvis could replace it while still singing his part. We were up really close in Row C so we could see the sweat, the winks and some of the side conversations going on. It was a really great night.
That brings us pretty much up to speed. Oren and I might try to catch up on some Castle before turning in for the night. He has so much homework and it really makes me realize what a good decision it was to take a leave from grad school for now.
As always, thanks for reading!