Posts tagged ‘Washington DC’
Title: WWAFSerD: Bike Adventure, Take Two
I am currently sitting in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport waiting to board the first leg of my international flight back to the East coast of the US. My time in Malaysia has been whirlwind…so it really matches the way the rest of my life has been since the beginning of May when Oren and I moved to our new apartment. I haven’t really updated since then, so I’ll start there.
Moving went really smoothly, all things considered. We had a veritable army helping us move in. Andres and Molly came in the morning to help Oren, Mom, Dad and I load the truck. Then they surprised us by following in Andres’s swanky, “new” Volvo. It’s new to him. Eve, Guy and Itai met us at the new apartment and between the nine of us, we got everything unloaded in a matter of hours. It was pretty epic. Pizza and cider was our reward for conquering our four-floor walk-up so efficiently. It took a while for Oren and I to set up house, but it’s finally in a place where it’s pretty much done. We didn’t even need to buy that much more furniture…and the 700% increase in windows is treating us very well indeed. Thanks, Ikea, for the super cheap and stylish curtains.
Moving and organizing took up the parts of my days that weren’t used for commuting and working. Working hours were consumed with preparing to come to Malaysia. It was hectic most of the time but also very exciting. I’ll have a lot waiting for me when I get home, but that’s alright. I was sick for half of June–I got two different bugs, two weeks in a row. It sucked because it totally made me waste my whole Capoeira coupon. I got a coupon for a months unlimited capoeira classes as this one school on the lower East side. It was fun to try but ultimately it’s not on my way home. It’s frustrating to not get home until 10:00pm without having had dinner and then need to turn around the next day for work. I need to start some form of exercise, but it’s probably not going to be with that school. I’m looking into gyms that are both affordable and on my way home from work. Good luck to me.
Malaysia has been an experience. But before I got here, I went o the End of Stay Orientation in Washington DC. There I met the six ladies that won scholarships from the Department of State to go study and live in Malaysia for this academic year. I led them in their Pre-Departure Orientation. I also had the opportunity to meet the 49 Malaysian students who were ending their six months in the US. I, along with a PAX volunteer, Marisa, would be shepherding these 49 kids back to Malaysia after the orientation.
The shepherding part was stressful and I may choose not to repeat that particular experience when I have a meeting directly following. In spite of my exhaustion, the meeting with our Malaysian partners went really well. There was a minor hiccup when a political protest was scheduled for the middle of our meeting. As it turns out, some major tear-gassing occurred right outside the hotel we had been staying in until the day before the protest. I’m glad we moved into a suburb even though it might have been exciting to watch the action.
Both of our teams are in pretty good shape in terms of the project on which we have been collaborating. As usual, it was really beneficial to meet in person and thresh out some issues.
After the meeting, Paula and I went on vacation to Penang and Langkawi. I had been to Penang on my homestay–it’s a city that is full of nice people, breathtaking temples, and fabulous food. I saw a lot of schools on my homestay and so I was excited to actually get to walk around the old city, George Town. Paula and I made some tracks. We saw the fort in town and then we went to an old mansion to take a tour. The museum about Penang is one of the nicest I’ve ever been in and it was very informative. Our time in Langkawi with simply relaxing. We didn’t have an agenda, but among our activities were pedicures, lounging, eating, island hopping and shopping. The vacation part went the fastest, obviously and now I’m at the point where I’m ready to get home and back to my routine. I may not be quite ready to get back to work, but that all comes with the territory.
I’ll try to post some pictures of Malaysia, but posting for Turkey gave me a lot of trouble, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ll probably have to find a new venue for my pictures.
That was a quick one to cover so much, but I think I did it enough justice. As always, thanks for reading.
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!