Oh, hi there!

Waves on Lake Michigan; Grand Haven, MI

Well, hey there Blogging World, how’s it going? It’s only been about a million years since I’ve updated and I’m terribly sorry about that. It’s been such a busy summer that I’ve barely tackled anything on my Bucket List, (sadly). Alas, c’est la vie, and I really can’t complain, as I’ve been so busy that free time was minimal anyway.

What were you so busy doing?, you might ask. Well, let me elaborate…

  1. BELL Summer Program. After a month of “vacation” (aka, sliding back into my American life) and spending time with family/friends, I started up teaching (well, teacher assisting) summer school in Detroit at the William Beckham Academy. Detroit, Home of 8 Mile, is the #1 most dangerous American city, as ranked by Forbes.com, and one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world (along with Baghdad), as ranked by CNN.com. Yes, friends, I was busy teaching little rambunctious kindergarteners for 6 weeks in this fabled Michigan city. And while I was never told to “Fuck off!” or called a “fat bitch” by my students (like other TAs I know), I sure had my hands full. Five year olds do not listen to logic, nor do they respond well to a raised voice. Additionally, these kids needed more help than I could give; a number of them could not write their own name or identify all the letters in the alphabet. It’s hard to imagine that a 1st grader could not write her name, but I encountered it. My time there was difficult and tiring, but I miss those sweet little hellions more than you know.
  2. Logan’s Roadhouse. BELL ended nearly a month ago now (I can’t even believe it), so I was quickly on the hunt for another job… And I found one, hosting at Logan’s Roadhouse. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s “The Real America Roadhouse,” as they say, and we’re famous for steaks and peanut shells on the floor (woo.).

Beyond that, it’s pretty much been “business as usual” around here. I have managed to make it to 7 concerts (Brad Paisley, Something Corporate, Passion Pit, MGMT, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular, Lynyrd Skynyrd), and I have a few more up my sleeve. Believe it or not, I won concert tickets to Eminem and Jay-Z. The two are only playing a few shows in their respective hometowns (Detroit and New York City) so it will be a wild night in Detroit, (September 2nd!).

I have spent some time Up North and on the west side. My family went up to Traverse City for the Cherry Festival, and that place couldn’t be more beautiful. I hope to spend more time there in the future. Also, I ventured to Grand Haven for the Coast Guard Festival and the waves on Lake Michigan were 3-4 feet high! People were surfing them, for Pete’s sake! So I have managed to get in some travel. 🙂

One thing that was on my Bucket List that I did was learn how to golf! I really enjoy it, though I never thought I would. I’m not very good, but then again not too bad for a beginning lefty who is golfing right-handed. Hopefully I’ll get out to the driving range again this week.

I’m gearing up to go back to Austria, and can’t wait for another year of (mis)adventure. (Part of the reason I chose to make this post, to get the blog wheels once again turning.) I still have a number of posts in mind about my trip to Berlin, so I hope to get to those before I land in Austria.

Hope everyone is well.

Pre-Homecoming Jitters

One week. One week, and I’ll be landing at Detroit Metro Airport. I would be lying if I said I’m not scared. After all, I’ve spent a year on this continent and nine months in this village and apartment. Austria no longer feels foreign to me; it feels just as normal as Michigan. It has become my home away from home. And, if I’m allowed to say it, I’m nervous to go back to my “real” home, my parent’s home, in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

I’m afraid the normal will feel foreign. I’m afraid I will be foreign. I’m afraid I’ve changed so much that I won’t be able to fit back into my old roles: daughter, sister, friend, Michigander, American. I’m afraid I’ll have a travel comedown involving irrational behavior, extended moping around the house in pajamas and a lot of chocolate.

I’ve been preparing myself mentally for the last month or so for my departure. I’ve made my bucket list for the summer and told myself I’m going to have a good time. But what will happen after the novelty of being home wears off?

I remember the last time I came home from an extended trip to Germany. I was 17 and had been there a month (up until last May, this was the longest I’d been abroad). Upon my arrival back in the US, I remember quite clearly hating everything about Rochester and constantly singing Germany’s praises, while simultaneously bitching about the United States. My mom still likes to remind me what a little shit I was at this point in my life. I’ve matured about 5 years since then, so I can only hope I won’t be a heinous, complaining bitch this time around. But I had gone on the trip with 36 of my classmates, and we were able to miss Germany together. Now, I’m the only one that’s been abroad and had these experiences.

All Photos by Cia de Foto

I’ve read countless of blog posts and articles about keeping the feeling of travel alive, doing what I want before it’s too late and what not to do when I return home. I feel prepared and ready to go home and have a good time, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m nervous for my homecoming.

Maybe when I get home, it’ll be easy and great, and I’ll wonder why I was so nervous. But, for now, I’m scared and I don’t know what to expect. And I think that’s OK when one is on the cusp of such a huge change, a new phase in her life.

What do you think? What is coming home like for you? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time.

PS, I’m holding off on updating about my trip to Berlin until I get the pictures developed. But don’t worry, I have a lot to write about 😉

Notes On Packing: Or, How Am I Going to Fit 1 Year of My Life in 3 Suitcases?

Luckily, I don’t have this much baggage. … Nearly, though.

Photo by kthread

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a problem. Well, maybe more like two or three problems. As I sit here on my bed surrounded by postcards, ticket stubs, half of pairs of socks, six pairs of jeans and books I never read while playing a game called TAKE, TOSS or STORE, my problems are impossible to ignore and borderline embarrassing. And the first step is admitting to that problem, right? Here goes.

Problem #1: I’m a chronic overpacker. Let me put it this way: I went home for three weeks at Christmas and came back with an extra bag, bringing my suitcase total up to 4. For the return trip, I’m attempting to limit myself to the use of two suitcases, while leaving one (the largest one) stored here for my return in the fall. This has made me realize that I own a lot of clothing… But I never have anything to wear. Huh, the conundrum of being a girl. This leads into…

Problem #1.5: I like having stuff. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m materialistic, but I like things. When I get paid, I enjoy spending my money on clothes, books, magazines, shoes — pretty much, anything and everything I absolutely don’t need. I recognize this needs to stop, and recently it has, but not before I accumulated so much stuff in this apartment that I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it.

Photo by Drew Coffman

Problem #2: I’m a hoarder. The most difficult part of this packing extravaganza is sorting through everything I own, one year’s worth of stuff!, and deciding what to do with it. And guess what? I hate parting with nearly everything. I’ve managed to fill my bedroom in Michigan with movie ticket stubs, pictures I took in middle school of people I no longer talk to, magazines and random party favors. Spending a year in Europe has given me an extraordinary opportunity to collect useless brochures, un-sent postcards, train ticket stubs, cards/postcards/letters people sent to me and everything in between. In this case, I don’t keep these things just because I like them, but because it has true sentimental value to me. Tossing the souvenirs in the trash bag makes me sad.

So I sit here, surrounded by my life and memories of this year, with my apartment in shambles and I am perplexed. I’m not sure how I’m ever supposed to fit everything into a few suitcases, and I wonder how my assistant friends are faring with this packing business.

Photo by zenobia_joy

But mark my words: I’m going to get home and streamline this process for next year. First step, be able to strap my life on my back. Then… try to take over the world. Or something like that.

Do you have problems packing, too? Or do you think I’m insane? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…

The Beginnings of a Summertime Bucket List

Lake Michigan Sunset

Photo by Kevin Dooley

Since I’m going back to Rochester Hills, Michigan (and my parents’ house) for the summer, I forsee a lot of boredom. Growing up, Rochester was like a prison — my high school friends and I constantly complained there was nothing to do and nowhere to go, which led to secretly drinking in many-a basement. I resented my hometown when I was 16 years old, and part of me still does. However, when I was home over Christmas, I realized that Rochester (and the state of Michigan for that matter) isn’t all that bad, as long as you know where to look.

Keeping that in mind, I’m making a Bucket List for my Summer… I guess it’s not really a Bucket List, but more like a Wish List. Basically, it’s a list that is going to keep me from going insane this summer…for as long as my wallet holds out, that is. Anyway, here is what I have so far (in no particular order)…

  • Learn how to make a good martini
  • Learn how to hit a baseball (my mother says this is a great way to meet hot guys, ha.)
  • Learn how to hit a golf ball
  • Buy pastels from the local art store and attempt to fill a sketch book
  • Finally go to The Painted Pot in Rochester and learn how to work with clay
  • Re-read some of the books on my bookshelf
  • Figure out how to circumvent the massive library fees on my library card
  • …and learn how to use the library responsibly
  • Learn how to cook (with my mama!)
  • Find a decent coffee shop (where I won’t often run into people I know) and go there to “write my novel”…or try to write it
  • Frequent Stoney Creek Metro Beach and take advantage of their bike paths and canoe service
  • See as many 4th of July fireworks displays as possible
  • Buy a tent and go camping whenever I can
  • Take at least one trip to the Upper Peninsula with said tent
  • Go to AT LEAST one Tigers game (the Detroit baseball team!)
  • Explore bars in Detroit (with help of my friend, Jameson, a Dearborn native)
  • Take a road trip to Toronto, Canada
  • Spend (at least) one weekend up north at my family’s cottage in Gaylord, MI
  • …and when there, canoe the Au Sable River
  • Take a trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana to visit my friend Joy
  • Go to Cedar Point
  • Take a training/obedience class with my dog, Cooper
  • Take Cooper for frequent walks and adventures
  • Learn how to play a new instrument
  • Visit Lake Michigan. Often.
  • Finally climb that huge dune at Sleeping Bear Dunes

So, there ya have it. And this is just the beginning, folks. I know that this list is already pretty long, but hopefully I’ll be able to accomplish some of the stuff. I hope to explore Rochester, Michigan and the Midwest area as much as possible this summer. Who knows where my adventures will take me! … Hopefully far.

Have any suggestions for my summer? Want to come along on any adventures? Leave a comment!

Until next time…