March Madness

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!

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