Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's a Record

It's a record! I absolutely cannot fathom that it has been six and a half weeks since the last time I blogged. If I weren't careful, the whole month of September would have passed without an entry. This really must be a record for my blogging, cuz I'm pretty sure I've done a fairly decent job of writing every few weeks, if not sooner, for the last year and a half. (Has it really been that long? It seems like yesterday that I was applying and interviewing for my Child Life internship. Geez.) Anywhoo, the whole point of writing is to update everyone, not to rant. So here:

Time at Home
I don't remember much about what I did from the time I left Arkansas on August 8th and the time I left home again on the 12th. Since it was only four days, I probably spent most of my time with the family and packing up the last details of my stuff. It wasn't particularly interesting...oh! I do remember something rather exciting that occurred while I was home. To celebrate their recent engagement, my friends Victoria LeBlanc and Seth Richard had a party. Unbeknownst to the attendants of said party, the actual reason behind the party was to invite us to serve in the wedding. Yep, that means I'm going to be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding for the first time! Woot. Dawn (Jason) surprised me by attending the party without telling me that she was coming to town (she lives an hour and a half away, near Baton Rouge). So, yay. Dawn and I are going to be serving in Victoria's wedding next fall--October 15, 2010!

Road Trip
On the 12th, I drove to Brusly to spend the night at Dawn's house. The next morning, she and I left for our very long road trip to North Carolina. Her house is nearly two hours closer to Raleigh (our destination) so it just made sense for us to start from there. Plus, we planned to make it to the Charlotte area in the first day of traveling, so that we could spend the night at her aunt's house there. 13 hours into our first day, we did in fact make it to Charlotte for the night. The next morning, we departed for the final few hours' drive to Raleigh, just in time to pick up the keys and paperwork for my new apartment. Yay.

Romping Around Raleigh
That weekend, Dawn encouraged me to explore my newest temporary home. She definitely would not have had it if we had just sat in the apartment all weekend. Once we got set up with stocking my pantry, unpacking, and doing some decorating, then it was off to check out the city. I encourage everyone to check out my Facebook photos for pictures of our adventures to two area museums, a park, and NC State's campus. Dawn also celebrated her 21st birthday that weekend, so that was another excuse to do some fun stuff. She wouldn't let me make her an alcoholic beverage, but she did let me take her to a wine tasting, which is as close as I was gonna get, I suppose. Thanks to her Raleigh-friend, Sarah Hardin, we also went to an authentc NC barbecue joint, and amazing comedy show.

Life in NC
I suppose I never did get around to telling anyone the purpose for this road trip and move to North Carolina. For those of you who haven't figured it out by now, I started graduate school at N.C. State in Raleigh. Although I made the decision in May, a few weeks after visiting the school, it just never felt like the right time to share the decision with the rest of the world via this blog. Now that I'm here, however, I guess I'm "a day late and a dollar short" with the news.

For six weeks, I have been an official graduate student in Extension Education here at NC State. Going to a "real" school as I have starting calling it, is very interesting. There are so many more opportunities and events at a school this large. For example, the first Friday after school started, there was a huge event called FridayFest. I guess it was sort of similar to Nicholls' Winterfest or Crawfish Day events. However, there was way more free stuff, and cooler things too, such as a FREE concert with Josh Gracin and some other local bands. Chuck Wicks was supposed to perform too, but he got sick and thus had to back out.

As for the mundane things related to school, I'll go ahead and say a little about my routine here. I'm taking 10 hours of coursework (9 is considered Full Time), and working 20 hours as a Graduate Research Assistant in the AEE Department. Neither are particularly interesting/useful, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. This means that I work in the office for 5 hours a day, Monday through Thursdays, with class for 3 hours on Monday and Thursday nights. I also have a 1-hr. seminar on Wednesdays and an online class, too. On Tuesday nights, I volunteer at a local public library (for my volunteer management class), and on Wednesdays I try to check out the events hosted by Catholic Campus Ministries (but lots of time's I've got too much homework to spare my only free evening). I'm also working towards volunteering with the Child Life Department at WakeMed, a children's hospital in Raleigh...because I'm crazy, yes, I know.

People here are nice, especially the ones who who hang out in the grad ofice at school. There are at least 7 of us who share 4 mini-offices, with a few desks in each little room. We have lots of fun and tend to get minimal tasks done (ie: no one wants to work on Mondays...Wednesdays we have seminar in the middle of the day...Thursdays are our Fridays...). Dawn's friend, Sarah, has also become a good friend of mine, as well as her childhood best friend, Suzanne. I see them a lot at CCM stuff, as it's very nice to have some Catholic friends here. My roommates were randomly assigned, and are seniors at State. They were very welcoming the weekend I moved in; in fact, they made Happy Birthday cupcakes for Dawn on her day. However, it's rare that we're all home at the same time, and for the most part, our lives are very different.

To be honest, I can't believe it's been only 6 weeks since school started. That means there are what--8 more weeks to go? Gahh. It feels like time is moving ever so slowly and it will be the next millinium before I'm home again. For the most part, I pour myself into school as a distraction. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. On the other hand, I have a few really great trips to look forward to this fall, such as...

Weekend in DC
...spending Labor Day weekend in Washington, DC. Of course, I hadn't been back to DC since I left in May, and since there were still a few of my former housemates in town, I figured it was a great excuse to go. (Plus, I'd kind of been planning on going since I left in May, lol.) It was also perfect timing, in a way, because I ended up there the weekend after Ted Kennedy was burried, so I got to be the first person I know to see his gravesite at Arlington Cemetery. Scott (WaHa housemate) and I went there and walked around the mall/monument area during the day on on Saturday. That night, we went to Amanda's (former WaHa'er, too) new apartment in Columbia Heights where we hung out with Brian and Justin, two other WaHa kids. It was a sweet little reunion. Sunday, we went to my first Nationals game and Scott's first time eating at Ben's Chilli Bowl. Monday, I left around mid morning for the 5-hour drive back to NC. Let's just say that even though I was only there for three days, it was amazing to be back in DC and back at WaHa. That place still feels like home and there are still so many pieces of me and everyone else that have been left behind. It's like we left our little marks on WaHa, just like all the generations of WaHa'ers before us. Pretty much amazing.

Fall Break in Boise
In about 10 days, I will be returning to Idaho for the first time since I left last December. I have been waiting for this moment for 10 long months, and I am about to burst out of my skin just thinking about it!! This will be the third year in a row that I am in Boise at this time of year, so it's just perfect. Actually, I wasn't planning on returning this Fall Break, but I came across some really cheap airline tickets toward the end of August, and really could not pass them up. I continue to think about Boise frequently and hope that one day I'll be able to return for an extended period of time. Until then, however I'm going to have to appreciate any time that I can manage to have there. Long story short, get excited--Lauren's coming to Boise!!

Child Life Certification Exam in Seattle
On November 7th, I am taking the Child Life Certification Exam in Seattle. This is the last step in becoming certified to work as a legit Child Life Specialist, a process that began years ago, truly. Aside from taking approved courses in related areas, my internship at the hospital in Boise was the next major step. Now, the remaining component is to take and pass this national certification exam. To be honest, the test is difficult and I believe I'm going to have a tough time passing it, especially since I have to study for it while working as a grad student with all of this other stuff going on. Plus, it's been almost a year since I was in a true hospital setting. However, I've been trying to devote nearly two hours most days to studying, so I'm really hope I can pull it off. In any case, the test is a great excuse to finally get out to Seattle and I am very much looking forward to that exciting aspect of the trip. I'm going to stay with Nathan (former Idaho resident, friend of friends, and now my know the story), and hopefully I'll be able to see some cool stuff while I'm there, if only for a short time.

Three states in three months? Well, four in four if you count my return home in December. Yep, you got that right. Does it surprise you, really? ...I am the gypsy, aren't I? lol. Needless to say, this entry has been extremely long (record-breaking?), and so I'm going to stop here. I'll do my best to write again in the near-ish(?) future, but feel free to give me a nice nudge if you feel like I'm lagging behind on this thing.

Hope all is well with all of you.

PS: For those of you who know me well and/or have spoken with me recently, I'm sure you realize this entry has been censored in several ways. You understand, I am sure. If you don't, ask. I may, or may not, reveal the truth. ;-)