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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ending in Small Town Rhode Island

This morning Rae and I got up early to get a head start on our last day of the road trip. We departed Akron at 7am and drove more than half of the day through Pennsylvania. The drive through Pennsylvania may be long but it is beautiful. I cannot believe I forgot how pretty of a drive it was. It is lush, green, and mountainous. I would love to make that drive in the fall and see all of the different colors the forests would turn.

After getting through PA, the rest should have felt like a breeze...false. We ended up driving through the "garden state" part of New Jersey which was scenic, but once we crossed over into New York it turned a bit stressful. I have been home way too long, I have forgotten just how aggressive and plain rude drivers are up here. The culture up here in the northeast has fallen under and transformed into a complete lack of respect for authority and lack taking responsibility for personal actions. It's a vicious cycle. The speed limit is marked 45 mph, everyone drives 70+, what is a cop supposed to do? Pull everyone over? So then there is no reason to follow the law or even recognize the posted speed limit because you pretty much have to speed to keep up with the flow of traffic and the police can't really punish anyone for mild speeding, only if it is really ridiculous. Now, I am not ranting about this because of the speeding but just the lack of respect for the posted speed limit. Why have a speed limit at all if no one obeys it? When driving through Ohio, when there were additional signs saying "stictly enforced" underneath the speed limit sign, just about everyone drove the speed limit. The funny thing is we did not see a single patrol man but everyone respected the speed limit and drove the appropriote speed. It definitely has to do with culture. Is it something that can ever be changed? Or is it just how it is?

So after all of the stress and frustration driving through New York, we entered into Connecticut. No this time last year when I was driving up for the first time with my mom, CT was where I started panicking and wondering what I had gotten myself into. This year, just the nostalgia of that freshman feeling made me panic all over again. What did I get myself into? People here are so different than what I am used to. Should I have to harden myself to tolerate cold people? My life is completely different up here than at home. We have driven WAY too far to turn around now. To make it worse, traffic on I-95 was bad, not terrible, but it did delay our trip.

After crossing the Rhode Island border, somehow all of that anxiety subsided. We arrived in South County Rhode Island (Wakefield) as planned, right around dinner time. Tonight we are staying with some of Rae's old family friends in Wakefield, Mariam, Ben, and their two young children. I am so thankful for having a house to stay at outside of the city. It is nice to have a peaceful night here out in small town Rhode Island. The GPS took us through South Kingstown and the quaint neighborhoods, we rolled the windows down and enjoyed the warm breeze and scenery. After arriving we chatted and ate dinner all before 9:30pm, I was shocked, it felt like it was so much later. Since we got an early start this morning, we got here early, and now I have showered, blogged, and I am ready for bed before midnight. I need all the rest I can get because of a big day of moving into my apartment tomorrow.

Well this will be my last post on this blog for a while, maybe forever? I thought it was nice to start and end this blog in Rhode Island. You will be hearing from me in my mini-city as soon as I get settled in and I will have a whole new year of exciting adventures up here in my mini city of Providence, RI. Thanks for keeping up with my blog this summer, goodnight.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Travelling in the Midwest

After enjoying a cup of coffee this morning, Rae and I headed out for day 2 of our road trip. After typing in our next destination, we discovered that we would be getting to Akron, OH a little earlier than expected, so we decided to make a stop at the St. Louis Arch and take a look from the top. So glad we did it! What made it better was that we got there early so there were hardly any other people in the observation area and we could move through the tour quickly, plus we got an early bird parking discount! 
After our little tourist stop we headed across the heartland of America: the midwest. We drove by nothing but corn, corn and more corn. It was very pretty through southern Illinois, but then it started to get monotonous once we passed through Indiana and most of Ohio and still saw cornfields. After passing the Indiana border, we made a lunch stop at Cracker Barrel. I had my chicken and dumplings and even had room for some carrot cake for dessert, then back on the interstate. We arrived in Akron, OH at around 8pm. After eating dinner at Chipotle and dessert at Coldstone Creamery we finally checked into our favorite hotel chain (Holiday Inn Express) and now I am currently laying in my nice queen size bed relaxing. 

Not too exciting of a day. Tomorrow we'll be driving through Pennsylvania for a large portion of the day. We should be in Rhode Island around dinner time! I will be keeping you posted. Thanks to those who have kept us in your prayers, we have had an incredibly smooth trip. Unitl next time...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meet Me In St. Louis

The time has come for me to go back to school. It has been a fantastic summer as I have expressed all summer on this blog. Saturday my mom and I headed down to the Dallas area to meet up with Rae Sunday. We made a stop in Plano to see one of my mom's classmates from China and then headed down to Danell's. Danell has been a long time family friend and was sort of my nanny when I was a kid. She used to live in my neighborhood and she is the reason why I am a Christian today ( long story short). She is a preacher's wife so her and her family have moved around the country a lot, but I think that they have finally settled down in Dallas, and are there to stay. It was very nice to catch up with her as well as go to Sunday worship services with her in the morning. The congregation they have down there is truly great. They are everything a church is supposed to be, a big loving family. After lunch, we headed back up to Plano to get Rae, we packed up the car with her things and made the trek back up to Oklahoma. Rae has finally met Shirley in person and I think she got a kick out of her. After getting home, my mom made steaks for a late dinner and the guys came over one last time. I'm glad they had a chance to meet Rae, I feel like I have talked about all of them to each other so much, we were all old pals. 

This day has gone so smoothly, exactly as planned.This morning Rae and I got up and got organized. We had some extra time before we needed to leave, so I took her around town and showed her the important things and stopped for some coffee at Espresso 911 and said good bye to Micah. Then we headed over to Grand China to grab a bite to eat and say good bye to the Grand China gang and my mom and Charles. Then Corbin met us there in the parking lot to see us off, then we met Trevor at the Log Store to get gas on the way out and have him see us off. Our stop for the night was only in St. Louis so we did not do as much driving day one. Rae has an old family friend here in St. Louis, Stacy, and she has been kind enough to let us stay in her home for the night. We got into St. Louis around 5:45ish, so it was still daytime. Stacy took us to some St. Louis classic places. We had dinner at J. Bucks and then went to Ted Drewes for some frozen custard. I had actually seen this frozen custard place on the Food Network not to long ago, it's Bobby Flay's favorite. They make what they call a "concrete" as mixture so thick you can hold it upside down. 

Tomorrow we're planning to be back on the road at 8am on our way to Akron, OH. Keep us in your prayers, and lets hope the trip continues to be smooth. I'll be keeping you posted, until next time...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cool, breezy, summer night.

Here goes another late night blog post. All great bloggers or writers must be insomniacs, because I cannot imagine writing anything during the day. The end of the month must be approaching because my free Pandora radio hours are running low. I am sitting out on my back deck once again enjoying the cool summer evening. It is cooler tonight than it has been all summer, it's "Ooh I need a sweatshirt" weather.

Today has been a pretty nice day. Since we have guests staying at our house, the tv has stayed off, meaning I have gotten a lot accomplished. This morning I had to take my car back to the shop because there is still an oil leak in it, which is bad for the upcoming road trip up north I am about to take. When I came back I grabbed my laptop and a cup of green tea and headed out here to the back deck. I did the usual, checked Facebook, voted for Art Feeds, checked my JWU email, then checked my Gmail. After that was done I decided it was time to respond to all of those emails I read on my iPhone but forgot to respond back later on and email the list of people in my mind I have been meaning to email. If I learned anything from Rae this past school year was that you never get anywhere in life by not asking for what you want, so I emailed one of the head persons of CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) requesting that I be given more responsibility and more access to the media this year when I volunteer. I got a reply soon after and I got what I wanted. I also conducted some UIB business as well.

I have been very Chinese these past few days with our guests here. We went over to a family friend of ours for lunch, she made us "Shanghai" food. Being in a Chinese environment forces me to use my Chinese which is a challenge. We also played a little ping pong while we were there. I also spent a lot of time out in nature these past few days. Today, we picked pears from a pear tree and then we all worked together pruning my mom's garden. Quality time with the fam was pretty fun, I'm finally to the point where I appreciate it.

Charles set  up his big telescope and told me to invite my friends over to look through it. The sky was so clear and the moon was so bright. We took a look at the moon, a nebula, Jupiter, and other things (I don't remember). It was fun. We spent about 2 hours looking at stuff and by then it was midnight. No one really had anywhere to be too terribly early so we decided to go do something else. This is very difficult in a small town like this one but we settled on finding a spot to sit by the river. While sitting by the river we were all trying to figure out what our spirit animals were. One had decided quite a while ago his was a frog but no one else really had any idea what ours would be. Apparently you don't chose your spirit animal, it choses you. It reveals itself to you throughout life but you don't realize until you are open to looking for the signs. I guess my spirit animal hasn't revealed itself to me yet, or has it? There was discussion about mine being a spider since there are always spiders in my room and bathroom, I'm still wrestling with the idea of my guiding animal being a spider...yuck.

Sorry for the lack of really exciting or useful information, I suppose that is what's expected from a blog titled "Small Town Livin'" Unitil next time...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The end is near, but the beginning is nearer.

I don't know why I always get inspired to blog late at night. I always think they are so brilliant at this time too, and I read it the next morning and wonder why. I am currently sitting on my back deck enjoying the cool breezy summer night. It is perfect right now, I only wish I had someone to join me. I miss my roomie, ya know that automatic friend that's with you all the time? No worries though, I drive down to Dallas this weekend to pick her up and to begin our trek back up north.

My mom's old college classmate and her son randomly passed through Oklahoma and is visiting us for a few days. It's nice to see my mom interact with her old friends and talk about the days when she was in college. Her son is just a few years older than me, so right about the age of people I tend to hang out with. They got in last night and we all stayed up late talking about politics, religions, and everything in between. They live in Canada and we compared in contrasted the two countries. I really forget that Canada is a completely different country. In my mind it must be just a really big state or something. All of you liberals out there reading this should really emigrate to Canada, you would love it. Everything that the liberals are trying to do here in the states, Canada's already been there done that. Today I played tour guide and took them around the restaurant and the rest of town. She was very intrigued by the Native American culture so we went to the Heritage Center and took a tour of the village and museum. It's funny how I remember pretty much everything I was taught about the trail of tears in elementary school. I'm glad our schools took the time to take us on field trips to the historical sites around here. I'm glad that they are here but it is sort of throwing off my last week in town. I had big plans of seeing everyone and tying up all lose ends and packing, but I feel obligated to play tour guide and show them the sites. Rae kept telling me that this weekend would creep up on me but I didn't listen.

I am starting to get more excited about going back to school. It's not that I was dreading it or anything, I was just not dying to leave home just quite yet. I know I'll feel better about it when I get to say a proper good bye to everyone. The longer I stay here the more people think I am going to NSU and not going back to RI. Nothing against NSU, I just don't want to be perceived as someone who went away their first year of college, couldn't handle it, and ended up back at home. I refuse to be that person because that is not the case for me whatsoever. I have been asked countless times, "So are you going to school here now??" because I am still here and August is almost over. Don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing others who have gone to college elsewhere and then decided to come back home. Every individual situation is different, mine is just not that way.

This may have been my last summer at home. I would really love to do something next summer, whether it is staying in Providence and working or an internship in DC. This summer has been the best waste of time ever. I thoroughly enjoyed not having any responsibility and doing whatever with no guilt of any other obligations and hanging out with all of my old friends. That was what this blog was all about: me doing nothing. I can only live like this for so long, it is time to be back in reality. It's time for me to look at life through a windshield instead of a rear-view mirror, and move on from the past and what is here at home and look towards my future again. The good things in my life here at home will stay with me, all of the others will melt away.

I wish I could stay out on the porch all night, but my laptop is about to die on me. Until next time...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When I grow up, I want....

Cool bike

Real strand of pearls

Classic black Louboutin pump

Perfectly tailored power suit

I'm a sucker for infomercials

A beautiful laundry room to hang out in + steam washer

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

It never loses suction

A basset hound of my own
Despite the corruption, I left my heart in DC

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Joys of Life

From time to time I feel heavyhearted, down in the dumps, not quite myself? Sometimes there is a reason, other times it happens for no reason at all. Sometimes it has to do with being home and bored. If I have a schedule that does not get filled I tend to get depressed. That must be why I'm in such high spirits at school; I am so busy. Some of you  must be thinking  I am crazy for getting depressed when I have no obligations, no real responsibility, no nothing. It was nice for about a month. I need to feel needed I suppose. The summer required nothing from me. When this happens I cannot handle sitting around and dwelling in it so I find things to keep me occupied and these are what I found joy in doing.

Some mornings, it takes so much motivation to get myself out of bed before 11am to go to the gym, but when I do, my days went so much better. A little light exercise in the mornings is the best ways to start off hot summer days (especially for those you who have nothing else better to do in the summers). And on the days I really had nothing to do I would go back in the evening for a more intense workout. The days I didn't make it to the gym or did anything active were the worst. I always knew that exercise made me feel good but I had no idea it could have such an impact on my daily happiness. Remember: "Exercise creates endorphins, endorphins makes people happy, and happy people just don't kill their husbands." -Elle Woods (Legally Blonde)

Eating is so much fun! In almost every culture, social activities revolve around food. Eating is the best excuse to get together with old friends, making new friends, and building relationships. This could be hazardous to one's health and wallet  if one doesn't make smart decisions as to what you order to eat. Since I didn't work so much this summer, cash flow was slimmer than usual. Instead of eating out, I started eating in. I am a believer in family dinner. I am to the age where I enjoy sitting down to dinner with my mom and stepdad and Bill O'Reilly. Also having cook outs and dinner parties are other great ways of socializing.

Did you know that there are actually foods that make you happy? There are certain foods that are capable of fighting depression and fatigue naturally? Basically all of these foods can be found on other lists of foods that are good for you in other ways. Essentially if you feed your body healthy foods, not only will you be better off physically, you will also be better off mentally. Simple lifestyle changes such as cutting caffeine, drinking for water, eating more whole grains and fiber, eating less processed foods and more fresh produce, cutting down alcohol intake, eating more omega 3 fatty acids like tuna, salmon, and nuts, and the list can go on and on. Healthy people are happy people.

Oldie but goodie
(have not taken a single picture this summer)
Friends sort of coincide with the other two subjects above. You can eat and exercise with friends and it makes it all more enjoyable, but there are also so many other great things to do with friends. I got a wall hanging last year with a quote on it that I always believed in firmly, "Wherever you are, it is friends who make your world." No matter what it is you are doing, if you are with friends, it's always a good time. I didn't do anything exciting this summer. We played cards and watched movies all summer. I was kind of bummed about it until I thought about how much fun we have just playing cards. We don't have to go out and do extravagant things to have a good time or create good memories. As we get older life is bound to get more complicated and more stressful. Make sure the people you voluntarily surround yourself with, ease the stress instead of create the stress.

This also coincides with the subjects discussed above. Don't get too comfortable with yourself. Set goals and expectations for yourself and no one else. Always be objective in the way you see yourself. Make sure you notice both strengths and weaknesses. Don't forget to give yourself credit for you strengths and don't let pride get in the way of noticing and fixing your weaknesses. Yes, it is easier to gripe about things that aren't going your way, but it is more productive to fix it to where there is no reason to gripe. Feeling unhappy? Do whatever it takes to make you happy. If you are happier, your world is happier.

Also, never underestimate the power of prayer. Sometimes I catch myself doubting or getting impatient with my prayers but it always pays off in the end, God willing.

My name is Joy, and it is just wrong for me to not be joyful. This is what I find peace and joy in. May it benefit you the way it benefits me. Until next time...

"Be joyful always." 1 Thessalonians 5:16

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