// mothers day and a home away from home

I don’t think I ever realized how much I enjoyed the serenity of my grandmother’s house, nestled between two bodies of water.

It’d been a while, me being away at school and everything, but I don’t think I could ever forget the way her face lights up when we walk in, when she finally has someone to actually talk to.

She shows us the new litter of kittens that came in the early spring, we convince her to stay out of the kitchen, and I can’t ignore her gorgeous flowers.

We eat like champions and top it off with her/my mom’s favourite dessert of yellow cake and chocolate icing, accompanied by the usual college interrogation [I know they’re just curious about my life but JEEEEZ sometimes it’s overwhelming] by the extended family that has now spread to my middle brother, especially as he released the news he’d be joining me in the fall.

It made me think about the time ahead, how when everything gets hectic I should stop and picture my grandmother’s, the small waves that lap against the pebbles and the gentle swans that wade across the creek like they own it, the way I can just roam around her acres far away from the traffic of the normal road, speeding down the long, continuous slope that is her driveway on a scooter. [Doing so, I’m reminded of the time I tried to walk a dachsund and ride a Razor at the same time. It didn’t go so well.]

I went home full of food, full of motherly love, and exTREMELY tired.

xx

// lost in the green

Suspended in slow motion, it didn’t matter what we ate for breakfast. The mochas were fantastic.

We ventured out near a stream that I didn’t know existed anywhere near your apartment. But it did, and there was a waterfall. I felt a little bad intruding, the taste of artificial paper mango on my lips, in my lungs.

We didn’t have much time because we had to get back on the road, but it was okay because the waiting was worth it. Oh, so worth it.

We opted for an album on the way back. Remind me what it was.

I know I got a little sad when you drove away but it’s fine– obligations were calling our names and it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow.

Shoot, it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow. How can I express all the love I have for the mother and grandmother in my life when I don’t even have an idea yet? When all they do for me is priceless and there’s no way I could repay them?

I made two cards.

I hope they’ll understand.

xx

// the so-much-happened-i-can-hardly-contemplate-it day

I waited all week for this day.

I waited all week
to sip dirty chais in your company in that wooden box of a lobby, only to ditch it minutes later to show you the splendor of the day ahead of us.

I waited all week
to stroll along the river, buzzing with excitement, excitement to take you past the river banks and discover a path I had not yet taken.

I waited all week
to duck into the local Toys R Us spontaneously because they were having a ridiculous store-closing sale and your mother needed something cute and quirky for her birthday.

I waited all week
to speed down a winding road under a canopy of new-leaf green, your voice blaring through the speakers, the wind completely destroying all previous efforts I had made with my hair.

I waited all week
to be blessed with some of the most delicious BBQ tingling my tongue as the ducks waddled around and the water lapped against the pillars of the bridge, waterside accompanied by the soft, gravely voice covering the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

I waited all week
to see the joy in your face when you introduced me to one of your best friends.

I waited all week
to have you in a car to myself, smiling in the driver’s seat over at me, riding down the highway with a determination to listen to an album in its entirety.

I waited. All week. To throw down my things beside your door and eat our usual late night snack to the humor of The Office.

I waited all week
for you.

xx

// interview part 2, electric boogalo

Another day of purpose.

I think I mentioned earlier about how my summer was not unfolding at all how I thought it would… so the fact that I was getting back on track to financial recovery with some hard-core babysitting plans was good enough for me. It is a summer of making money, y’all. Tuition won’t pay for itself. […Neither will a car, for that matter.]

This gig though, was super special. Not only did it pay well, but it was an infant I would be watching, and I met her mother. The baby has the cutest “stink-face” and I just can’t get over how mesmerizing her steely eyes are.

It’s definitely been a bit since I’ve watched children that young, and even a bigger bit since my siblings were that age. However I still found myself being struck with that wave of baby-cuteness [the kind that makes you think that settling down to have kids isn’t so bad after all].

I was given the instructions/updates/information [all I’d need to know about caring for this specific infant] over a caramel latte in a quaint coffee/fro-yo shop [that I used to work at when it was all neon and sketchy….!] that is the hipster spot on the block.

Coffee and baby cuteness?

Yes please.

xx

// an attempt at normalcy and big-girl planning

I wanted to space out my “adventures” this week [some are more just “ventures” than “adventures,” I’ll admit, but *shrug*].

I also think it keeps me from being overwhelmed, both in terms of job-related work and mental clarity. This way, I can get my personal assisting hours in, potentially babysitting hours, and then pop in an adventure here and there.

I think I like it that way.

It’s pretty bad to say, but I found that the only time I found myself in the library on my campus was to study for exams [midterm/finals].

Oh, and to blog, strangely enough.

This fall I’ll be fortunate to have a job at the top of this LOVELY modern and SLEEK library that might as well be all windows, on the 5th floor, with a gorgeous view.

But anyways.

Because going to the library is something I mainly only do when I’m at school, I took *another* zen bike ride, this time to the library, to check out some books on graphic design/various Adobe programs so I could prep myself better for the school year.

I got the books, but I ended up making a list of all the things I wanted to do this summer, making goals in my planner, and coming up with this blog series idea.

I fed my mind with possibilities, my spirit with hope, and my body with water because biking after going months without doing it honestly is a bit of a breathless struggle sometimes.

xx

// tuesday blues <<< interviews

I woke up excited.

One of the first posts I wrote upon arriving home still lingers in the back of my mind. For me, it marks the lowest point for me in terms of feeling out of place, ill-adjusted, and ultimately homesick. It also lingers in my mind because I realized I had written some of those words out of thinking reactively, instead of proactively.

Let me tell you, it is *very* easy to sit all by your lonesome, scrolling through highlight reels amidst what is perceived to be the unrelenting mess of your room life, doing nothing but examining everything that is wrong under the microscope.

Today changed that.

I knew, when I arrived home from school, that this summer was going to be a working summer. I wanted my own car and I knew that I would have to make that money happen.

So flash forward to today when I got to interview with a local mom regarding the watching of her kids. She referred me to her sister-in-law when I wasn’t looking and so a two-for-one kinda snuck up on me. Sure, it’s a lot of children but it’s also some padding for my bank account.

The biggest thing for me was the feeling of waking up and having some place to be. Knowing that you have a commitment that doesn’t include wallowing on your bed in self pity wondering how in the world you’re going to make finances work for the next year and a half.

We met in a coffee shop, after her little ones had gotten home from school.

She was so chill, her kids were so sweet and cute [one even has this INCREDIBLE pouty/grumpy face and I can already tell it’s going to be hard to rein that in times of trouble].

I rambled about my experience [having a big family did make me qualified!], my hours, my desired payrate I don’t like talking about charging people ahhh it makes me uncomfortable, but I did it yay and would I come over to kind of do a trial-run, to see if the kids hated me or not :< [lol], and would I meet with her sister-in-law later in the week to discuss what her childcare needs were, etc.

And I got coffee.

…which got me GOING for the rest of the day.

[I like feeling productive, if you couldn’t tell.]

I finished the day with old work friends at a bowling alley and, for a few hours, I felt like I was actually sinking into summer.

[:

xx

// memory lane, kind of

I know I mentioned feeling trapped upon being home. But OH BOY I don’t think that compares to the feeling of walking into my old high school.

I feel like so many people view their high school days as memorable and awesome and smile when they think on them, but honestly I tend to view that time [with some exceptions] as a pitstop, an obstacle course, a chapter of a book that you know you really won’t open again [my deepest apologies to those poor books I’ve forsaken over the years ],: ].

That being said, I found myself there on a Monday, a 20 minute zen-like bike trip later, making my way downtown, walking fast, faces past  through the hallways, trying to avoid the young-uns and some teachers… I was there to give a little snippet about a summer program I had done when I was a junior in high school to the potential candidates of this particular German class, and to update my amazing German teacher on all of the German-related college things I was picking up.

I also stopped by my old choir classroom, where the top choir was rehearsing. I saw a few familiar faces and enjoyed witnessing a rehearsal of an acapella cover of a Star Wars score medley, but then I realized I was making myself feel old and kind of like I had no life, so I left pretty much after that [when do you legit stop visiting your old high school? I think I’ve hit that point so I’m just gonna….not anymore, you feel me? Lol].

When I left, I realized a couple things:

  • I don’t know how I would feel being a teacher, as I’d often aspired to be. You’re in a school for the rest of your life… but at the same time, you do get to teach something you’re passionate about and help some kids along the way. And if that’s something that makes you happy, it’s totally worth it.
  • The inevitable self-growth I’ve experienced.
  • High schoolers are reaaaaally Or maybe that’s just me. But I feel like I was a lot more chill than the ones I got to indirectly observe for 3 hours.
  • I only really had a few core-experiences in high school, classroom-wise. English, German, and Choir. I feel like those classes summed up my development and self-growth in that time.
  • There are people EVERYWHERE and because I’m short I’m pretty sure I blend right in.

I thought about this on my ride home.

Sometimes I think it helps to have experiences like this. Whether it’s hanging around an unnecessarily long amount of time at your old high school or coming home and hitting a mental brick wall of cognitive dissonance that blatantly points out the fact that where you started is by no means where you have ended up. For that, I’m thankful.

I got a snapshot of who I was, and an image that is slowly focusing in on where I’m going.

I also got a hell of a workout.

xx

Right Back At it Again.

^Wow, I never make Day To Remember references… until now, haha.

It feels like I’m just now settling into summer… even though it’s basically gone…

If you recall my last post, I was going off to a German hibernation of sorts, hidden from the outside world.  My earlier hypothesis? It would be “either fantastic or really rough”.

I’m happy to say it was the latter. Times 100.

Being thrown completely into a non-English environment was cooler than cool, even if it was a bit scary at first. I’ll admit, the first week was hard. And I was easily intimidated by all of the fluent or nearly-native speakers.  But it faded after the first week– I was learning so much. The whole experience made me wish my classroom environment were that awesome….awesome in that we had an enthusiastic group of students who found it cool to speak the language and actually wanted to put effort into creating as close to a full immersion environment as possible…

But it was amazing.  I grew close with so many people (what else do you do when you’re around them for 3 weeks? lol) including one of our RA’s– Maria. She’s super into theatre (it’s part of her major), really cute, (short, like me!), has a great sense of humor, AND she does trapeze for fun/exercise. PLUS her German is flawless (she studied abroad in Heidelberg and I am so jealous). I learned so much from her, and what amount of wanderlust I didn’t already have, came from her.  I can’t tell you how much I want to go to Germany (or just Europe in general) now. Annnnnnnd those opportunities may come– my aunt has said words about visiting her brother, and a friend proposed her visiting there and her need for a translator….. :O So we shall see.

I really can’t fit all of my experiences into a single post, so I’ll just say that we lived, laughed, ate, learned, had drama, all in German. I even started to dream in German, which was totally weird but also very fascinating. The day my parents came to rescue pick me up, I could not English. It was a struggle. And hearing the English of my instructors and RA’s for the first time was…. earth-shatteringly weird. Oh, and did I mention I learned Chinese? Only a bit, mind you. Since English

So just because I can, here are some pictures in an attempt to somehow show you guys how epic gov school was.

People + me in a Luray Caverns– the tour was in German! (left to right: Sandra, peep Dylan, Alexa, Marley, Katie & Me in front)

 

Me in cave + RAs Mariah and Meredith (left to right.

 

ME AND LU LAOSHI our Chinese teacher– he was so sweet, so patient…so amazing.
(Lu Laoshi ist Lieben, Lu Laoshi ist Leben)

 

A pic with a huge group of people before the last dance of the German Academy.

 

Our X-treme volleyball team. We were the “Faultier Frauen” (“sloth women”, because Allison’s fave animal was a sloth) later to be mixed with a group of guys… we compromised on the team name “Faultier Fenster” because they had named their team after the window two guys had broke playing soccer in the dorm halls…. XD

 

We’re fierce.

 

Wandern! (German for hiking, but it’s got an added spiritual element to it– it’s not just your average trekking through the woods experience.

 

Washington and Lee has some gorgeous forest and water around it 😀

 

…The mountains are gorgeous too…

 

All of the people in the academy after wandern 😀

 

Dunno why this is black and white, guess my camera was on that mode when the pic was taken, but this is the 4th of July at a street market on the campus of VMI (Virginia Military Institute).  You may not be able to tell but the building looks like a castle prison, and I’m standing with Matt, a good friend I made at the academy. We sang together and he is an insane guitar player.

 

Just me with an inflatable dinosaur.

 

Our attempt to make a star with our bodies on grass. (same day, July 4th)

 

Found a four-leafed clover that day too

 

An unconventional 4th of July dinner with the boys in the academy… Bratwurst inside hotdog buns and Kartoffelsalat.. but we managed to have iced tea! In this picture the boys are imitating Lu Laoshi… he taught us our favorite Chinese words “canting” and “chifan”, which mean “place to eat” and “eating”. We’re strange children.

 

Not far from the university, they had hot air balloons in the sky (this was also the 4th of July) and I pride myself of this artsy shot with the lamp post right in the middle LOL

 

The Wiener Cafe!! You could invite your German teacher to this traditional-style eating get-together in the W&L dining hall– traditional dress was encouraged, and I though all these guys looked amazing, so I snapped a pic 😀

 

….Steve’s shorts in honor of ‘MURICA day… (he was one of the guys who broke the window, btw)

 

I love this picture because Haley (the ginger cracking up on the left) is so amazing… Our last week of gov school we had a “Geheimnesfreund”, a secret person who we’d smuggle gifts or nice favors to anonymously, and at the end it was like a Secret Santa revealing, and you’d give your last present to the person so they’d know who you were, and Haley gave Calvin (the guy in the chair) a picture of a green penguin she drew herself. Just because she’s cool like that.

 

The guy in the yellow shirt and white pants was the bane of my existence.  RA named Lenny. He’s only 19 but he’s.. insane. He fooled all of us with a wig on the first day…

 

Internationales Abendessen! (International Dinner) with the other academies– French and Spanish 😀 The girl behind me spoke excellent French, as did the guy in the red shirt.  The guy in the black is named John, he was another German partner in crime. It was so cool– English was forbidden (like always)– we could speak only our languages…I know only a handful of words in French, the French people knew only a few German words… so we met in the middle and I talked in Spanish with a French girl who knew some Spanish (enough to get by). It was such an interesting experience trying to understand each other.

 

Left to right, our energetic RA’s… Makenna, Leah, Matt, Mariah, Meredith, Lenny.

 

Marley and Me with a mustache (LOL she hates it when people make that movie reference with her name, but I love her so it’s okay).

 

UNSERE DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL MANSCHAFT! (Our German soccer team!) The last week, we had a soccer tourney against the other academies… whoever won the most games was champion. The Spanish academy scored like, 7 goals… we scored 1 and the French scored none.  But the Spanish were cocky as hell so the French rooted for us when we played against the Spanish LOL

 

3 Wochen auf Deutsch

Three weeks in German. No English allowed. This will either be fantastic or really rough.
A couple months ago I applied to the Governor’s School program– you can pick an area of study that you are proficient/interested in and apply for it– I chose to study German for three weeks. Woo!
In order to make it as close to a full immersion experience as possible, they cut all participants off from civilization. Which is, a good and bad thing.  It’s a great thing, because you get to take advantage of the attempted immersion. AND you don’t have a bunch of social media obsessed kids on your hands for three weeks.  Instead, you have a bunch of half-insane/deprived kids writing letters home, lol.
Yes, we’re allowed to write letters. With paper. And pen. It’s been such a long time….
The bad part of it is that mail is slow.  And also I’m selfish and want to be able to talk to people (J!!) while I’m there.
Buuuuut I know that it’s for the better… And it’s cool and exciting and nerve wracking– I leave tomorrow at 7am to drive 3 hours to Washington and Lee University… and then I’m there.  For three weeks away from home. YAY It’ll be like college–living in a dorm and eating on campus and taking tours and kadlfj;daklsjf it’s gonna be awesome. You can tell I’m not pumped at all…
Speaking of college, I visited JMU for a generic tour this past Thursday.  It was fabulous.  I reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllly wanna go there.  One thing our tourguide pointed out at us was that there are little circles of stone on the sidewalks on campus. If you stand in the middle of it and clap your hands, in addition to your handclaps you hear a little squeaking noise.  It’s the weirdest thing and only the person in the center can hear it.  (<– these people aren’t crazy, it’s a real thing!)
Not a major reason why I wanna go there, but you know (;
Wish me luck– I’ll be MIA for 3 weeks or more so I’ll MISS YOU ALL and reading up on you guys ),:  If y’all have a list of basic German phrases that you feel like I shouldn’t live without, feel free to comment and/or send them to me!
Aufwiedersehen!
~Steph xoxo