Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Confessions to Make

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about blogging. I'm in a technology class--one that many would consider to be a joke--considering the topics we discuss in class. Some of you would be thrilled to spend 2 hours every week talking about Google and its many features such as collaboration tools (Docs) and social networking (Reader, Blogger, etc.). We had two whole class periods devoted to Google, but nearly every week, we have discussed various technology tools, which often included tutorials on the Google version of such tool. My point is with this technology class, I've had plenty of excuses to surf the interwebs of Twitter and Blogger on a frequent basis, though I've been terrible at updating my own blog.

For this reason, I've been contemplating...What do I want out of blogging? What is my purpose for recording my life? Is it practical to keep a blog if I don't write in it frequently? Honestly, my purpose for blogging (as opposed to say, an online journal such as Livejournal) was originally to keep a record of my Child Life internship process, and all things related as such. At the time, I never imagined my life would evolve into an adventure that included several years working at an amazing summer camp, a semester living in the most powerful city in the world, and two years in a place that has landed me on the biggest rollercoaster of life.

I still want to write about everything I've been up to; my life is just as crazy as ever. However, I guess this two-year stent has got me feeling bored and unsatisfied with the way my blog is going, at least compared to the way it was intended. I'm just not sure how to rectify the situation, other than by either (a) attempting to write more often (but really, who wants to hear about my life as a not-so-dedicated grad student?) or (b) putting my blog on hold until something more significant comes along. If I really did keep up with this blog the way I should, perhaps it could be worthy of chronicaling life as a grad student, but my grad school life is anything but typical, so how is that valid?

In any case, these things have been on my mind a bit lately. With that little confession out of the way, I'm going to get on with updating you all about my recent adventures. Mkay, thanks.

Annie's Visit: February 25-28, 2010
One of my amazing college roommates, Annie, came to visit for a weekend in February. Her brother swims for Virginia Tech, so she and her parents came up to see him in the ACC finals, which were held at UNC. Annie's parents stayed at a hotel in Chapel Hill, but Annie stayed with me in Raleigh. While she was here, we watched Trey swim a few times, and explored Chapel Hell (heh) a bit. We also had some good girl time. This was completely necessary, since Annie and I have not really had a chance to really spend time together more than once or twice since we moved out of our apartment almost two years ago. Crazy how time flies, and even crazier how much I miss Nicholls, and Thibodaux, and everything about it...especially because it was one of the last times in my life when I was truly happy. In any case, I very much enjoyed Annie's visit and I really hope she'll be able to make it out to my neck of the woods again in the not too distant future.

A Surprise at Home: March 4-7, 2010
By now, I'm sure you have all figured out that grad school isn't exactly thrilling for me, and traveling has become an excellent coping mechanism in my life. lol. With that in mind, I got it in my head that I was bound and determined to make it home for a weekend this semester. However, with everything going on, I wasn't sure which weekend to pick. In February, I got to contemplating the idea of going home near my birthday (Mid-March) or for Easter. As it got closer, things fell into place for me to take a different trip on my birthday, but I was still in a funk about the idea of missing both Mardi Gras AND my birthday for two years in a row. For this reason, I decided to book a semi-last-minute airplane ticket for a trip home during the first weekend of March.

The "surprise" part of this story comes in when I say that I only told one person that I was coming home--my mother. You got it, no one knew I was coming home, not my dad, brother, grandparents, aunt/uncle/cousins...no one! That weekend happened to be the one that fell in between my Nanna's birthday and my own birthday, so I figured it would be a great birthday present to the both of us. As it turned out, my weekend at home was better than I could have ever imagined. The surprise component worked out great--everyone was completely surprised and thrilled to have me at home. I think there were a total of 5 surprises throughout the weekend, which was so much fun! It was so nice to see everyone, and I really enjoyed the quality time I was able to have. Cajun food and people galore, what more could a girl ask for? I love Louisiana.

MooKim Day & Spring Break in Idaho: March 11-16, 2010
With my birthday as the first day of my Spring Break, I decided to peace out of town a little bit early, and get a jump start on my holiday by flying out to Boise on Thursday, the 11th of March. Let me just say that the 11th of March was one of the longest days of my life...I literally had 26 hours of life on that day. After dropping Jess at the airport at 5 a.m. for her flight, I went back to my apt to pack and get ready for my trip. Long story short, my flight was super delayed, so I got rerouted on a much later flight which left me with several extra hours in Raleigh. Thankfully, Wil was willing to pick me up and let me take a nap at his apartment for a while, cuz I was so darn exhausted by that point, and my travels hadn't even begun. Needless to say, by the time I made it to Boise, I rang in my 23rd birthday with a late night of reunions at the boys' house and then girl talk with Kim that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

Over the course of the next few days, I had the oppotunity to visit everyone at the hospital (where I interned in Fall 2008) and catch up with a lot of my friends in the area. We celebrated Kim and my birthday (MooKim Day) with a get-together at Kim's apartment and some fun times at both Bardenay and Jeff's apartment, too. I went on a 4-wheeling adventure with Derek, Jeff, and Jess (which has now become tradition for us). I also returned to the hot springs for the first time since my very first trip to Idaho 2.5 years ago. (Unfortunately, the experience was just as traumatic as the first, but in a different way. Needless to say, I will not be going back.) As always, I really enjoyed seeing everyone; so many of my Boise friends have been welcoming to me from the very beginning, despite our differences. I truly value their generosity and friendship and I can't wait to see everyone this summer in Louisiana for Kim and Joey's wedding...less than 2 months from now! Yay.

National 4-H Conference: March 18-26, 2010
For the fourth year in a row, I returned to Washington, DC as a Collegiate Facilitator for National 4-H Conference. In all my years of 4-H involvement, National Conference remains my all-time favorite 4-H experience. This year, the delegates to conference were, by far, the most quality group we have had in all of my years there. The kids were so great--passionate and driven like none other. Of course, the Tators had a great time bonding with each other and making memories to last a lifetime.

This year at Conference was a little different for me; I like to say I had the "graduate student" experience because of how many commitments I had throughout the week. Before applying to serve as a facilitator, I submitted a proposal to present a workshop with two people from back home. A few weeks after our proposal was accepted, I was selected to serve as a Facilitator. Then, one of the professors here at NC State approached Jess (who had also been selected as a Facilitator) about a research project for the Association of Leadership Educators Conference this summer. Together, we decided to do some qualitative research at Conference, which consisted of interviewing all 13 of the other Facilitators about the impact of their leadership experiences in 4-H. Needless to say, between developing all of my roundtable sessions, presenting the workshop in two sessions, and leading both focus groups and delegation interacts, PLUS the interviews, it was a crazyyyy week at Conference.

In the end, I very much enjoyed my experience at Conference. Nick (one of my former housemates and co-workers from my stent in DC), flew into DC on our last day of Conference. He came to see Christy and I as part of his Spring Break. For this reason, I convinced Jess to stay in DC with me for an extra day, so we got to hang out a little bit while he was there. Boy did I miss those kids...too much. Despite our distance, I talk to my WaHa kids on a daily basis, and DC will forever have a piece of my heart.

Easter in Eastern NC: April 2-4, 2010
Well folks, I guess it's about time I admitted it...I have a boyfriend. Yes, I just said that. Eeek. *Thinks to self: "Don't jinx it!"* For those of you who haven't heard, I'm dating a guy here in NC. We met in class because we've had pretty much all of our classes together since I've been here. Wil happens to be a student in AgEd. who was just offered a full-time position teaching agriculture at a high school in Morehead City, NC. (That's ON the beach, for those of you who are unfamiliar with NC.) *Congrats, Wil!*

Anyway, what does that have to do with the "Easter in Eastern NC" title? I figured I ought to give little background before going onto my rant about spending Easter weekend with a random guy and his family, heh. So now you know--Wil isn't random. Haha. In any case, holidays away from the family are always sad and a little bit awkward. It's nice of friends to invite me to spend time with their family so that I'm not alone on the holiday, but it's never quite the same. Needless to say, I was very appreciative of the Easter offers that came from several people here at school--Jess in PA and Lendy in NC, being two of them. However, things just kind of fell into place for me to go home with Wil to meet his family for Easter. Overall, it was a nice weekend; they were very welcoming and friendly, and I really had a lot of fun. :)

Girls Weekend on OBX: April 16-18, 2010
With the semester coming to an end soon, we ladies in the office decided it was time for a girls' weekend. Katie's graduating in a few weeks, so she requested a trip to the Outerbanks. I hadn't made it out there yet, so I was all in favor of the mini-vacay. Katie, Lendy, Jess, and I headed out on the open road early Friday morning with plans to make a few tourist-y stops before setting up camp on the southern end of the island near Buxton/Cape Hattaras.

Along the way, we visited Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills (largest natural sand dunes on the East coast), and the Cape Hattaras lighthouse. As luck would have it, we happened to tour on the 100-somethingth birthday of a Wright brother and the first climbing day at the lighthouse, so we got free admittance at both sites. It was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Lendy scored us a stinkin awesome townhouse at the Cape Hattaras hotel. With three balconies and a literal "on the beach" location, we were in Heaven. Moral of the story: we had a wonderfully relaxing, awesome, fun girl's weekend. Perhaps we ought to make a tradition out of it?

4-H Gala in DC: April 22-24, 2010
Randomly, one of my best friends from home, Victoria called me on Tuesday to say that she had an extra ticket to the 4-H gala in DC on Thursday. You all know how I am with last minute decisions and plans...they don't sit well with me. I freak out and get anxious, etc. However, since I had sort of worked on the gala project while working in DC last spring, I really didn't want to pass up the opportunity to attend the gala, especially when the tickets cost $750 each. On the other hand, I really didn't want to drive to DC for one night only, especially by myself. With that in mind, Victoria was able to score an additional ticket so that Wil could come along for the trip. (Since he'd never been to DC before, I had been telling him that I'd show him the city one day, and everything just fell into place for it to happen then.)

The gala was really nice; there were a good number of people and the set-up was super fancy. I really enjoyed seeing Molly, my former boss, and it was kind of funny to watch the other Council employees run around with their heads chopped off while I sat there and enjoyed the experience. lol. I think Victoria really appreciated our presence there, and I don't blame her--who wants to sit around at a fancy dinner and not know anyone, much less talk to a bunch of boring old rich people? Haha. I should also note that it was really fun to hang out with Tori for an evening, since I haven't gotten to see her since she and Seth's ornament (engagement) party in December. So, yay.

As for the rest of the weekend, I am forever grateful to Miss Christy Clary, one of my former co-workers/housemates (in DC) for allowing Wil and I to stay at Warren Hall for the duration of our time in DC. Although we didn't get to spend a whole lot of time together, I enjoyed seeing Christy and catching up with her about life in the good ole DC. Also, despite our short two days in the city, Wil and I were able to visit sixteen, yes SIXTEEN, different sites. It was crazy. We toured all of Friday and Saturday and made it back to Raleigh around 11 p.m. Saturday night. When it was all said and done, I'm pretty sure Wil really enjoyed his first visit to DC. Of course, there is still plenty more to see, but I'm sure he'll have another chance to make it out there eventually. It was definitely fun for me to play tour guide with someone who doesn't walk like a snail (aka: annoying 8th grade students) aaand who actually enjoys history, sometimes more than me, lol.

Grad School Sucks as Always
*Disclaimer: If you are in any way affiliated with my grad school or another, don't take what I am about to say personally. These are the thoughts and opinions of me and me only; it's my blog and I reserve the right to say what I please here.*

This semester has been a little better as far as coping with grad school is concerned, but a huge part of that is the fact that I have been traveling the majority of the time. In some ways, I've been considerably more involved socially, and my commitment to school has definitely fallen by the wayside. It sounds terrible, but I'm sure I would have reverted to my old ways (profuse complaining) once again. I guess I should note that these days I have decided I don't hate NC State, and maybe not even NC (as much as I used to, anyway), but I do absoultelyyy hate the whole graduate school process. Ughhh.

The thought of writing a thesis makes me want to vomit and/or burn down the building. It's not that I'm incapable of doing the work, I just don't enjoy it. Not one bit. In fact, I'm pretty sure I loathe it. Over these last 10 months of school, I've had a few tastes of research and scientific writing, and I've learned that this process makes me want to cut my throat. ('Scuse the morbidity here, lol.) In any case, I am absolutely dreading the idea of this thesis project. However, since I'm pretty much done with schoolwork for the semester, I really ought to get cracking on it. It's slightly problematic that I seem to be finding every viable alterative to writing. Oops.

Summer Soon!
In any case, I'm looking forward to some time for relaxing here in Raleigh before I head out for the summer. Looking to the future, Victoria is flying to Raleigh on the 16th, and we'll hit the open road for our 2-day trip back to Cajun Country with an ETA on the evening of May 18th. Our brothers graduate high school that weekend, and I'll be able to spend almost 2 weeks at home before I head out to Arkansas for 6 weeks at camp. My nieces/nephew (triplets) have a scheduled arrival for later this week, so I can't wait to meet them and spend some time pampering the little bebes during my short time at home. I'm not sure what else I'll be up to this summer, but I'll be back in Raleigh sometime around mid-August, I guess.

I'll do my best to keep regular updates, but you know how that goes these days...With that being said, I think this novel is long enough. Hey--maybe this will get you all on track for some summer reading; goodness knows it's long enough! Haha.

Until next time,