Back to the Dominican Republic

Hey y’all. I’m headed back to the Dominican Republic (DR, as it is affectionately known), and I am super excited. Hoping for a chance to chill out and recharge a little, which would be awesome. I’m definitely in a place where I want to really process all the crazy changes that I’ve had in my life in the past 6 months, and also think about the future and how I want to proceed. Exciting, but I’m looking forward to having a chance to sort of pause and take a step back. No whirlwind, just chill. I may even bring a written journal…wouldn’t THAT be novel!

Anyway, I am certainly looking forward to taking some beautiful photos (hopefully) and sharing those, but otherwise, probably won’t be sharing too much on here. Mostly just conversing with folks in Spanish and flexing that muscle, and maaaaybe swimming with some dolphins?? One of my bigger goals this trip because I didn’t do that last time (dumb!).

Until next time!

Site Migration 2013!

So, you may have tried to visit and not been able to get the site up and running. Or maybe no one reads. But I migrated my server, which ended up being a LOT more eventful than I had anticipated. Hrm. But after an incredibly aggravating last 24 hours, I think I’m FINALLY back where I started, with a working server, but hopefully a better one. The world is my oyster, or something.

I will probably be making changes to the way the site looks, just because I’m trying to learn some more development & programming stuff, and here’s the place I get to play, right? Very exciting times for me. It’s something I’ve really wanted to do for quite a while, and now I am in a place professionally where it makes even more sense. So. I’m super excited. Journey, let’s go!

Magical, Mystical Graz

Apparently, I’ve only been posting photos of food, so everyone thinks all I’m doing is eating. Which isn’t terribly far from the truth…

The whole Viennese gang drove to a Buschenschank in Styria, where they can only sell things that they make on site. Nikki’s mom, step dad and brother met up with us, and we had a feast of amazing food (highlights included meat, cheese, radish, bread, pâté, salad, massive black beans, and a dessert of fried dough with cinnamon & sugar and whipped cream with raspberry sauce).

Then we went and hung out at Nikki’s parents’ place and just chatted and chilled out. We then went and dropped our stuff off at the place Cayley found us to crash for the night. We took a little tour around Graz and I absolutely fell in love with the funky window shops, cobble stone streets and futuristic design of the city. I really rarely feel so madly in love with a new place. It’s very artsy and lively, with a large student population. Pretty awesome.

This morning we returned to Nikki’s parents’ place and had a really awesome breakfast (again, meat, cheese, bread and fruits), and Cayley & I did some silly yoga photography in the garden. And now we’re on our way back to Vienna, then bussing back to Budapest. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the awesome people I get to hang out with, and looking forward to hanging out in Budapest!

Track Running Happiness

I haven’t written too much about this, I think only one post last year, but I love me some track running. I haven’t been running a lot over the past year, but I’m getting back into it, and it is so refreshing. So. refreshing.

Yesterday, someone bombed the Boston Marathon, and it kind of hit me, but also I feel sort of numb. I just want to double down my insistence that security and safety are somewhat of an illusion. I am feeling fairly over feeling upset about something like this, because I just feel so helpless. And I just want to be happy. I’m exhausted. And I don’t feel bad really, just like this shit is apparently going to keep happening. I don’t really understand why. But I refuse to be terrorized. I feel awful for the people involved, especially those who were also involved in Newtown. But for real, marathon runners are the wrong people to try to terrorize. Runners are people who know that you have to just keep going. And there isn’t really a goal. I mean, there’s an end. But the goal is to keep going. Running taught me to keep going. It taught me that the next mile could be better, and that you get through the one that’s tough. I think that was all exacerbated because I had always seen myself as someone who really couldn’t do those things. I thought I was weak, and probably lazy. And then I trained for and ran a half marathon. So whenever I have those thoughts, I remember that even if in a given moment, I’m particularly lazy, that that isn’t some sort of essential part of who I am. Because I have the ability to not be that way. I can finish a half marathon.

So when I heard what happened in Boston, I immediately thought about my experience running in Nashville, and how incredible that was. What an amazing rush it is, and how spiritual and connected to humanity and nature and the world if feels to run in a race like that. And I think (hopefully?) what made me feel undefeated in this particular instance is that I know that that’s what everyone involved in the Boston marathon feels. That some bullshit like this is seen for what it is–an attempt to terrorize. And hell if runners are gonna let you terrorize them. That will only add fuel to their fire to keep going, to be happy, to push through the pain. From the response I’ve seen, I’m not alone in feeling this way. When Newtown happened, I felt like my spirit was momentarily broken. But this? This made me just want to laugh in the face of anyone who could even think for a moment that they could terrorize runners. Hah!

Santiago Touring

Looks like some days are gonna feel like a million. I forgot that this is what is so incredible about travel, especially by yourself. You feel like everything is new, everything is some strange thing that you’ve never seen, heard, smelled before. And I guess that how people see me, too, at least in Santiago. I feel like everyone is staring at me when I’m walking down the street, like, “what the hell are YOU doing here?!”

I have the same question.

After my little nap, I got a map and started exploring, figuring the cathedral would be a safe place to start. I had a few errands that I definitely needed to take care of (yet another re-discovered joy of travel–setting teeny little goals to achieve)–primarily getting some bottled water, cash, bug spray and sunscreen. I’m in the tropics, after all. So I ventured out after reviewing my bank statement, which seemed to imply that I had some cash to pull out. Well, wouldn’t you know that the ONE month out landlord takes the rent out, and that I paid all the rent and haven’t yet been reimbursed from my roommates (which isn’t a knock on them, just life), I’m in DR. By myself. And it ends up appearing that I have about $16 in the account that’s accessible to me. I had some American dollars, which are accepted here it seems for the most part (especially for touristy things), but that was not going to get me very far. I didn’t panic. Because these things happen, and what are you gonna do? Figure it out. But as I was contemplating this, I walked down toward the cathedral and through one of the park areas. I decided I needed to head back to my hotel to figure out what I was going to do in terms of money, and this guy approaches me and says, “you’re American, right?” This is already what has been sort of frustrating being here–I just scream American on vacation. Maybe I should have tried to be less obvious, more “Dominicanized” (haha), but I didn’t. And I guess there aren’t a lot of Americans in Santiago. I initially was pretty hesitant to interact with this guy, but he was actually quite nice, and very professional and polite–he wanted to show me around, and provide some touring information. For a fee, of course, which would honestly not have been a problem if I’d not been already so afraid I was close to being destitute in a foreign country by myself.

Anyway, he actually walked me all around the city for about 2 hours, which was great exercise and really interesting. We saw some gorgeous stuff. The cathedral was first:


And he told me some small snippets of history, and most importantly, he spoke very clearly. We went to a museum with costumes from the Carnival that happens at the end of February. Here’s one of the great costumes (did you know Oscar de la Renta was Dominican?? I did not):


Next, we saw a river (Yaque del Norte), with a cool Golden Gate look-alike bridge:


And a fortress:


Next was San Cristobal Square, with the Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria ships, and some cool paintings (whatever the complicated history):


And here are the ships themselves:


Finally was a view of the city from a statue on a hill:


And here’s the statue:


All in all, I feel like and extremely fortuitous and wonderful first day. I got lots of Spanish practice, which it seems this trip is good for, if nothing else. And I’m excited to have some fun and interesting things to share with the Wide Internet World. Plus some time to relax.

Tomorrow’s adventure is to go to the 27 Charcos, which is 27 waterfalls. I’m debating holding off on this until Thursday, and just heading directly to Puerto Plata tomorrow, and chilling on the beach in an area where people won’t look at me like I am a green Martian. I like being in a non-touristy area, but I am not a fan of the gawking. Noooot appreciated, and particularly upsetting to me because I’m alone.

Regardless, I did make it to the store, got my water, bug spray and sunscreen, so I am ready for the beach! I also called my bank and confirmed that I have overdraft money available, which I have to pay a small fee to borrow until transfers come through, but saves my butt. Not having enough money in the correct bank account? Turns out, that’s a first world problem. So far, rules on this trip: it’s never to early to be nice & be gracious and relatively generous (I don’t want to feel used, but I also recognize the position I’m in, relative to other people).

My other goal of this trip is to ride a horse. Kind of lame, I know, but I want to! I have to figure out what my plan is for the rest of the trip, so if you have any ideas, please feel free to shoot me am email!

Much love,

The Close of Another Year

This year has just flown by, so fast. And it’s almost over.

I’m looking forward to 2013–I have a new sense of purpose, a new sense of adventure, and I’m so excited about that!

I got back early this morning from NC after a lovely Christmas. It was so nice to see Ellie and the rest of the family. It’s also been nice to have this day to decompress–I just took a nap, listened to music, showered, unpacked, etc. Seriously chill. Tomorrow, it’s back to work. I have a feeling that 2013 will be quite different from 2012. But that could just be a feeling. I’m happy about that. I’m looking for a year that is a bit more happily exciting; I feel like 2012 was a lot of work, and am hoping that some payoff is in 2013.

Hoping your year is looking up as well.




Dates with Myself

So I’ve been doing this experiment of sorts, taking myself on dates. When I see something interesting that I want to go to, instead of asking someone else to go with me first and waiting to see if I can get a “date” (friend or otherwise), I just buy myself a ticket and put it in my calendar. And then I go. By myself.

I haven’t really done this before, but New York City lends itself to this attitude. It’s not weird to go to anything by yourself here, and there’s always someone to talk to if you really want to.

Date 1 was Hanna Rosin’s talk as part of her book tour for The End of Men a few weeks ago. I was slightly intimidated, and admit I felt a bit embarrassed at how excited I was to get to see all of my Slate journalism idols–Hanna Rosin, of course, but also her husband, David Plotz, as well as Emily Bazelon and Jessica Grose. I didn’t actually get to meet them all, but I felt oddly star-struck just seeing them, as I’ve read their words and heard their voices on so. many. podcasts.

I really enjoyed the actual conversation and had been reading the book, so it felt fresh and exciting. But I did feel awkward afterward, when other people were just shooting the shit with other people they’d come with. Still, I pushed myself to actually introduce myself to Hanna and David both (and I’ve met Emily at another event), and then I left. Still cool.

Date number 2 was by far the most expensive (excepting the shopping accoutrements of date #3, which I’ll get to)–“Sleep No More,” the renowned performing arts experience that’s been extended because of such intense demand multiple times for, I believe, over a year. It’s a “play,” but one that you can walk through, spanning 5 floors of the McKittrick Hotel, which is fictional. The whole experience is super spooky, though I highly recommend it. More eloquent words have been written than my own about the description, so I’ll skip that, and just suffice to say that I am so glad I went by myself. I felt a freedom to explore this alternate world that I don’t think I could have with someone else. And I got a weirdly intimate experience. It was the perfect solo date.

Tonight, I went to see economics Professor Joseph Stiglitz speak about his book, The Price of Inequality, which I’ve also read. Though the talk unfortunately coincided with the first presidential debate, I got some nice quality time at dinner and then Sephora prior to the event, and it was cool to hear what he and the other speakers said. Not an awkward moment. I got a discount on my ticket because I was under 35 (yes. Thirty-five. I have 9 more years to use a youth discount. I guess I am young, especially in the academic/intellectual world??), and I was definitely one of the younger people in the audience. But worth a try. A nice evening of Shannon time.

That and improv practices, plus some real dates thrown in occasionally, and life isn’t so shabby. My 10K in a few weeks is gonna be killer. But there are more 10Ks. I’m not one to keep doing the same thing anyway. And I’m practicing not getting down on myself for not doing everything perfectly. There is always time to improve.

Man, Life is Boring!

I mean that in a good way. Things are just…keeping on keeping on. Seriously, nothing exciting, but all good things! Improv, work, sleep, some running, a little baking…it’s all good! Trying to actually make a concerted effort to make more food instead of eating out, so maybe if I keep doing that consistently, I’ll actually have some more money! Wouldn’t that be lovely??

Planning my trip to Europe, also going (for work) to Portland and Washington, DC in November, both of which I am super excited about. I get to do presentations and travel a little, go to conferences (which will be awesome! Love conferences!) and just…shake things up, you know? And then hopefully DR in January, then Europe for 3 friggin’ weeks in April/May, which, seriously, I can’t even begin to explain how I excited I am about. THREE WEEKS!! OF NO WORK, and just, traveling! Photos! Fun! Stories! Blogging! Friends! Carefree-ness! Ugh cannot wait.

So there you go. I’m a little frustrated because I was planning on taking a class on Mondays, but that seems to not have worked out; the class was cancelled. Lame. I’m trying to look at it as an opportunity to explore other options, and maybe I’ll start actually applying for school. I am feeling a little antsy, as I do this time of year, when I realize it’s the longest time from when I could possibly start school, and also the time when I’d have to apply for school if I want to go in a year, which I never know it I do. Anyway, that’s what’s up on my side of the world. Like I say. Pretty boring. But excellent :-).