Wednesday, December 9, 2009

things i do like about winter (more aptly named: i don't want to work on compilers)

There are not that many things I like about winter. If I lived in a place that only had spring, summer, and fall, I would probably be happy. (It has to have a really great fall, though.) However, there are a couple of things I do like.

- Sledding
- Snowball fights
- Ice skating
- Hot chocolate
- Fireplace fires
- Cuddling
- Christmas movies
- Christmas decorations, lights, food
- The way sunlight hits snow and makes it glitter
- Winter hats
- Football is still going strong and basketball starts up
- Winter stars are the best

Saturday, October 31, 2009

did i really figure out what to do with myself?!

Took the GRE last night but that's not what this post is about. Ugh, GRE... let's hope my scores will be adequate enough. Think my dreams of Brown are pretty much dashed though.

Anyway, what I really want to say is that I think I've figured it out. I'm going to go to school to study Public History, which is basically what people who want to work in museums, at historic sites, at living history places like Conner Prairie, that sort of thing study. That is what I want to do. I can get in everything I'm interested in (history, architecture, tour guiding, reenactment, computer science with building exhibits, ecology, environmentalism, not having a normal job, etc). If I get what I want, it will not be a desk job. There will always be something different and cool going on. It'll be interactive. That is what I want.

So then I narrowed down where I want to go. There are actually several schools that have actual MAs in Public History (or something really similar but named differently, like Preservation Studies), and this is what I'm aiming at (versus doing an MA in History with a track or concentration in Public History). So then my next job is to narrow down where I want to be. Since the majority of the history I'm interested in is US history from around 1760-1900 with focuses on the American Revolution and Civil War, I figure I should be in the area of the country where those things actually took place. So I'm looking around Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. I kind of want to be somewhere decently warm (but still has seasons). There are two schools in NC that look kind of promising, one in SC, and at least one in MA (I haven't checked out all the schools there yet), so I've got four to apply to already.

I'm excited and relieved that I found something that combines all my interests. My whole life I've had such a hard time narrowing down my interests and what I like to do or what I want to study or, well, anything. It's awesome to think I've found something that inherently incorporates everything I like. I'm just going to go with it! If I find I don't like it, well, I can always go do something else. I like trying new things.

Next: trying to find an internship for Winter Term. Let me know if you know of anybody who works at a museum, historic site, or living history park...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

lies, lies, tell me sweet little lies

So I totally didn't update like I said I would. Lame and sorry. For one we only had easily-accessible internet in the Outer Banks and for two I was having way too much fun to bother with being on the computer. Mostly I used it to check my email like once or twice a day and that was pretty much it.

In any case, I had a fantastic time. I think it was my favorite break yet, and I've had some pretty good breaks... (no offense to anyone on the other breaks :) ) We saw a lot, did a lot, etc. Very fun. I wish I was still in NC, though.

Nowadays I'm figuring out grad school stuff. I'm taking the GRE on Friday...wish me luck? I'll need it. I haven't studied for it at all yet so it's probably going to rock me. The problem is I haven't really figured out what I want to do with myself. I am definitely going to go to grad school (I don't think my score will be bad enough that I won't get in anywhere), I just don't know where or for what.

Here are the ideas I have right now. I may very well just end up applying to all sorts of crazy places and see what happens.
- American History/US Civilization
- Architecture
- Environmental Design
- Higher Education studies/etc
- Environmental Studies
- Natural Resources and Conservation
- Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies
- Museum Studies
- Historic Preservation and Conservation

All of these things have something to do with either history, being outside, nature, or education. Another thought is that I go get my teaching license/degree/whatever it ends up being. I wanted to be a high school history teacher for years...

As for where to go, here are the ideas for that. I want to live somewhere I haven't lived yet because I like exploring. I halfway want to live somewhere warmer, but I know I would miss fall and winter. I'm also absolutely terrified of starting all over again somewhere new, where I might not know anyone and be really far from home, but I'm hoping that I'll get past that as I always have. I also have to think about how much it'll cost to go there, so I really need to figure out somewhere that gives paying opportunities to master's candidates (I don't really think I want to go PhD anymore, but of course that could change).
- Oregon (somewhere where it's not rainy/cloudy all the time)
- Washington (not Seattle or anywhere rainy/cloudy all the time)
- California (San Diego)
- Indiana
- Maryland
- Pennsylvania
- Virginia
- West Viriginia
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- Maine

Nothing is really tying me to Indiana/the midwest right now except maybe finances. So much can change within the next year, though, you know? I don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow, let alone next August. I hate having to make decisions so far in advance.

Here's a question just out of curiosity -- what do you see me doing, and where? (don't limit yourself to what I listed above)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Road Trippin'!!

Break seems to be geared toward road trips. I have taken a road trip 2/4 fall breaks and 2/4 spring breaks. So this is the second road trip I'm going on in the past 6 months (the last was to Panama City for Spring Break 09 in March). I am STOKED. It's going to be, well, fantastic. Here's the plan:

Sunday: leave Greencastle with Mary, pick up Rob in Indy, drive to Harrisburg to see my grandparents and stay the night.
Monday: leave Harrisburg, head to Rockville where we'll hop on the metro to DC, spend the day exploring DC, take the metro back, go to my uncle's house where we'll eat dinner and hang out with him, and stay the night.
Tuesday: spend some more time in DC, then head down to Chapel Hill where we'll meet up with Eric, see UNC, eat, generally have a good time, and stay the night.
Wednesday: head to Raleigh, see Mary's friend Tim for his birthday, and then head on to the Outer Banks. Get to explore OBX, eat, enjoy the ocean since it's right next to our motel, and sleep.
Thursday and Friday: explore OBX - lighthouses, the lost Roanoke Colony, shopping, eating, beaching, and all sorts of other stuff. I want to go hang gliding at Kitty Hawk.
Saturday: leave OBX, drop Eric back at UNC, head back to Indy to Rob's place
Sunday: take Mary to airport, head back to Greencastle, rest, get homework done.

It's going to be epic. 2200+ miles, 8 states + DC, over a day and a half total driving time.

When I have internet I'll definitely post what's up and some pictures. (I'm going to take So.Many.Pictures. and Eric is going to kill me for it, but someday he'll appreciate all the memories I'm saving.) Either way I'll still write something up and post it when I can.

It's going to be good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

the last night

This is my last night in El Segundo... it doesn't really feel real yet. Tomorrow at this time I'll be back in Indiana, and in just a couple days I will be back at school for cross country and tour guide orientation and just getting ready. I've had a good time in California this year although I definitely missed Indiana more and I definitely noticed LA's flaws this time around. So much pollution and way too many people. Everyone expects me to come back here (a lot of people want me to come for grad school) but I'm just not sure. I guess we'll see. Of course I love the ocean and all but I would rather be in a smaller town with a lot less people and a lot less pollution. I definitely need to spend a lot more time researching grad schools though, and of course I need to take the GRE! I have a ton to do this semester getting things ready, working on projects, and being in charge of random other things so it's going to be very busy. I've got to get on top of everything now if I don't want to just crash in a month or two. I love the beginning of the school year though. Fall is by far my favorite time of the year - everything good happens in fall. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

From Balancing School and Sports

NOTE FROM MARIA: This article is here because for some reason the is down. In any case, if you have any comments or questions just email me at milyusha @ gmail . com - thanks!
Also, a big thank you to the guys over at HackCollege who linked this!

Balancing School and Sports
via GearFire - Tips for Students by Maria on 8/5/09

As we race steadily on to the start of this next school year, it can never hurt to think a little about what our schedule will be like for the next few months. We have to keep track of classes, study sessions, working, social lives, and all sorts of extracurricular activities. One major time commitment is if one plays a sport (or two, or three…).

No matter at what level - intramural, club, or varsity - playing sports can really take up a lot of time. Being an athlete generally takes up considerably more time than exercising or working out to stay in shape.

I have experience with all three of these levels of sports so I’d like to pass along some insights I’ve gained from the past three years. First, here is some background about my experiences. My freshman year of college I played club soccer (I played soccer from age 4 up through my senior year of high school, but I wasn’t interested in playing at the college level). A large group of us got together about 3 times a week to kick around the ball and get some games going. I probably spent an average of 3-7 hours a week playing soccer in the afternoons. Two of the afternoons were on weekdays and one was on Sundays. This lasted for basically all of my first year at school and gave me a great group of people to know right off the bat, plus it was a ton of fun. My sophomore year I went to the first couple of club soccer practices but hardly anyone showed up (the majority of the guys playing had graduated the previous May), and I figured it wasn’t worth my time to keep going if no one was going to play. I switched to the ultimate frisbee team (also considered a club sport at my school) since I had a lot of friends on it and loved that as well. We also had practices 3 times a week, ironically enough at the same time as the club soccer met, and again I was spending around 6-7 hours each week playing frisbee. I was very active on the team for the first semester but by the end of the second semester I was a little burned out on it. So the fall of my junior year I took up tae kwon do. We have a physical education requirement so I figured I would just take TKD (I had spent about 5 years when I was much younger working through many belts) and ended up also joining the club that semester for extra practice. I spent 5 hours in club and 2 hours in class each week, for another total of 7 hours. (I see a trend here!) For spring semester, though, I had decided to take a huge plunge and join the track and field team, a varsity sport. I attend a Division III school so we don’t really have tryouts or cuts for the running program, which is really nice! I absolutely loved it and am looking forward to running cross country this fall. Track and field took up considerably more time - two hour practice every day plus going to meets usually meant about 10-15 hours of practice plus at least a full day or two for each meet.

All right, now that you know all that background information you can understand a bit more where I’m coming from with these tips. They will apply to anyone interested in playing a sport at school, whether it’s from the IM level all the way to varsity.

  • Get stuff done - I can’t stress this enough. If you know you want to spend two hours playing basketball on Wednesday but have homework due Thursday, make sure you get the homework done! Exercise and sports are a great stress reliever but also a great procrastinator. Don’t let your academics slide for sports. If you have a big game or meet over the weekend, make sure you get everything done for Monday so you’re not stressed out Sunday night.
  • Know when to stop or take it easy - If your body hurts, give it a rest. There’s no sense in injuring yourself. If you have too much going on, step back from the athletics and figure out what you want to prioritize.
  • Talk to your coach and/or captain - About anything. They are there to help you out with your athletics and, really, life in general. Listen to what they have to say, and learn from their experiences.
  • Utilize the trainer - If something hurts you, go talk to the trainer! Even if you are not a varsity athlete they can at least point you in the right direction. Don’t wait to get treated for an injury.
  • Remember you’re in school to learn - Even if you really love your sport, you really came to college to learn (unless you’re one of those high school athletic prodigies who goes to a DI powerhouse on a full-ride athletic scholarship). Don’t let your academics slide. They’re likely what is going to get you a job or grad school after you finish your undergrad, not athletics.

I hope you find some of these tips useful. It’s a big time commitment to play a sport in college, no matter at what level, but it’s also very rewarding physically, mentally, and socially. Have fun with it!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Motivation & Burn Out

I think I've realized why I've been so lazy the past couple of weekends: I'm burnt out. While I do love being by the ocean and I enjoy a lot of people out here, I think I'm pretty ready to head back home to go ol' Indiana. This is not easy to write, as I know that once I get back to Indiana I'll miss California. But at the same time, I know it's the truth. There are definitely things that would have benefited from my staying around home this summer, but I do think it was good in the end to have returned to LA. The honeymoon phase is over and I can see the flaws out here, all the reasons why I should not live here for more than 2-3 months at a time. (Even that is pushing it.)

I am excited for school to start up; I'm excited for cross country, classes, being a tour guide, tutoring, living with Amanda in what's going to be the most awesome apartment on campus, getting Knit Knite + Knitting for Nets up and running on the web, and a whole slew of other projects. I am going to be so incredibly busy and it's going to be great.

I know I should be taking advantage of the last couple weeks out here (there is a lot going on) but I can't bring myself to leave the comfort of my room or the pool unless someone else is with me. Motivation for running is at an all-time low. I don't feel like biking for the heck of it like I did earlier this summer. I don't even feel like going around taking photographs (instant clue that I'm not totally with it!). The novelty of Los Angeles has worn off, I think. It's a shame. Also, the weather hasn't been nearly that good this summer, and I think that's taken its toll on me. I'm also just ready to get back to Midwest air with Midwest prices and Midwest friends. Don't get me wrong; I really do like LA, but 1. not when I don't have a car 2. not for these long stretches of time and 3. not when it's cloudy for more than half the time I've been here. I will for sure come back and visit (there are too many friendships I've made here that I would hate to see end), but I don't think I'll live here for extended periods of time.

Who knows, that might change. And if it does, awesome. If it doesn't, awesome to that too. Life is unpredictable and I'm not wanting to let myself get stuck somewhere. I want to go around and see other parts of the country, too.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Things to See, Places to Go...

Here is a random list of all the places I want to see as soon as possible. Unfortunately most of these places I want to visit in the summer, so it might take me a while to get to all of them.

- Maine (some fishing village, an island)
- Oregon (along the coast)
- Washington (also along the coast)
- Redwoods in California
- Wyoming
- Montana
- Arches National Park
- Moab
- Visit every lighthouse on both the east and west coast
- Nantucket

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it's what I thought of in literally the last 3 minutes. Foremost on the list is Maine, and hopefully I'll get to go to Montana soon too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Biking to work has given me a new appreciation for quite a few things and given even more insight into several others.

For starters, I will never again take for granted the ability to get perfectly ready for work and arrive at work in that same perfect state. In my case, I get mostly ready, hop on my bike, arrive to work a little (or a lot, if it's sunny) sweaty, and finish up my routine, mostly fixing up my hair and de-sweatifying myself, in the bathroom. I also get to put on work pants over my bike shorts and trade running shoes for work shoes. If I drove a car to work none of this would apply.

On a more serious note, biking has really opened up my eyes to the pollution all around me. Los Angeles is, as far as I know, as car-centric as it gets (everyone here drives everywhere...even if it's just two blocks down the street), and this really bothers me. I always imagined California as being this great, green, environmentally-conscious state full of hippies, bikers, and hybrid-driving commoners. Um, no. I see relatively few fellow bikers (to be fair, I bike to work at 6.30 in the morning and bike home at 5pm, so I could just be missing them) who are actually biking to go somewhere, not just for recreation (trust me, there are plenty of those types on the Strand). I've only seen hippies in Venice, but there are a lot of them there, so I guess they make up for the lack elsewhere. (I also haven't ever been out of the Los Angeles area, so I can't say anything about the rest of the state. I heard I need to head to San Francisco.) And while I do see way more hybrids (read: Prius) than I have anywhere else, it's still maybe only 5-10 of the cars I see on my way home, which number in the 100s.

That's another problem. Cars are everywhere. You know what cars do? Pollute. I guess the pollution part doesn't bother me that much as a driver (I will be completely honest with you and tell you that I adore long distance driving, even if I claim to be trying to be environmentally conscious), but as a biker it's wrecking havoc on my body. Seriously, I can tell that my lungs are struggling with the air here. The air quality is not that good to begin with (especially coming from the wide open Midwest where you actually have room to breathe), but couple that with riding behind cars, trucks, semis, and airplanes (I live literally right next to LAX) and it's simply awful. It's probably even worse than all the secondhand smoke I inhaled in Russia. Lungs, I apologize for putting you through this.

Thankfully, one thing that I did expect hasn't come to fruition. I thought there would be a lot more trash than there actually is. Granted, there are shattered glass pieces strewn about the bike path (these patches are pretty scary because I don't have a tire patch kit or bandaids) and some other random trash along the roads, but for the most part everything is pretty clean. Good job, LA. But yeah, I'd appreciate there not being so much glass. I can't even figure out where it comes's not like people are going to be chilling in the bike path having a beer on the highway.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

new post at gearfire

I haven't posted there in a while, but here's a new post from me over at about a revelation I had when I got home from Russia :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

so many pictures

I am in the process of downloading all my photos from an online storage site (so I could get the photos from my dad -- they were on his computer, since I didn't bring mine), and there are a lot more than I realized (2130 to be exact, plus some more that are on a memory card still in my possession - probably about 2500-3000 pictures total). So it's taking me a bit longer than originally thought to pick out some pics to post. I'm actually going to do pictures right this time around, as in edit, tag, delete the bad ones (something I NEVER do), etc, so it's going to take a bit. I also need to pick out a few of the best to show around to friends here and at work. I promise stories and pictures from the trip are going to go up soon, though! I want to make a big series of posts about the entire trip, ranging from observations to what we ate and did and all that jazz. I am excited to do it, and I hope you're interested in reading about it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of july

This year I celebrated the 4th much differently than last year. Last summer, I celebrated it much differently than I had the previous 5 summers. I guess that's change for you.

For the most part I enjoyed myself, although I was in a very strange mood (I think I'm just tired) and probably not all that happy.

It started poorly because I woke up at 3am wide awake (I went to bed at 9, which is actually my normal bedtime here in California because of getting up soo early) and couldn't fall back asleep. Eventually I did around 5 and woke up for real about 8.30. Then I bummed around on the internet for several hours, catching up on a lot of things and generally just enjoying being alone. I went to the grocery store and successfully biked home with a bag of groceries on my back (oh, the small accomplishments in life :) ).

In the afternoon Karen and I went over to Meryl and John's place. I really enjoy their company, although I am the odd one out in my age range. All the people there are either young grandparents or aunts & uncles in their 50s and 60s, young parents in their really late 20s/early 30s, or little kids under 4. So I don't really fit in anywhere with people my age, but I definitely enjoy talking with the grown ups. They know a lot and have interesting stories to tell.

I left for Andrew's party around 5.30pm. The Strand wasn't too bad until I hit El Porto. Then there were a lot of people, but it just kind of felt like any other Saturday afternoon down there. Then I actually hit Manhattan Beach and it was crazy. So many people everywhere! And no one looking to make sure bikes weren't coming. Bikes totally own the bike path, not the pedestrians! Silly peds. It only got worse. I got off the Strand like 20 blocks north of the Hermosa Pier because I just couldn't take it. Crowds of drunk people clogged the path and the beaches were packed. (Unlike in the Midwest, our weather here yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and perfect: sunny and mid-70s and a slight breeze.) I hate large crowds of people when I don't want them around (some exceptions: concerts and amusement parks), and I really hate crowds of drunk people. Like, just despise. So I was not in a particularly good mood with not being able to ride my bike more than 6 inches at a time, and switching to the street is scary when you know half the people driving are probably drunk too, and would think it's a fun game to see if they can hit you on your bike. Luckily, nothing happened. I even saw my friend Mallory which was just crazy. What are the odds of that??!

I made it to Andrew's at about 7, much later than I anticipated (I was hitting 15-18 mph on the bike before Manhattan Beach). The party was pretty fun. I met a lot of people I didn't know before and that always makes me happy. We watched fireworks on the beach. It's hard to beat watching fireworks go off over the ocean, especially when you can see about 7 shows up and down the coast.

Afterward I biked home, although many people wanted me to stay at the party, but I was not really in the mood to party and I was tired. The ride home went without incident (although there were still a ton of people around, even at 10.30pm) but I didn't get the calmness that I was longing for with a bike ride by the ocean under the stars. It should have been really nice but I think I was still too strung out from all the drunk people and being on high alert for any attackers or anything like that. I may take a nice long ride up north to Pacific Palisades and hang out at Will Rogers State Beach this afternoon. I just kind of want to be by myself for a while! I usually feel this way after trips with groups. I am so used to being able to get away on my own that when I can't for several days I start going a little crazy :) DePauw is wonderful for this. Feel like being alone? Go take a walk to the park and you've got it. Love it.

Russia stories coming soon, I promise. I'm going to experiment with taking this netbook baby on my ride and writing on the beach. My dad has all my pictures right now so I've got to wait until he uploads them to put them with my posts, which I would rather do than just have text. You might notice there are no pictures from the 4th here -- I generally don't take my camera with me to parties and also both of my cameras seriously suck in darkness, so I didn't feel like lugging either of them around last night.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

the netbook

All right, so by popular demand (aka Ed's comment :) ) here is some information about the netbook I bought.

First of all, I should tell you a little bit more about my general plan. Mostly, I want to build a really nice desktop system that will be used as my base, and as such I also want a super portable machine to take around with me. The super portable machine is where the netbook comes into play.

Luckily (insert sarcasm here) my Dell Latitude D620, which was one of the computers available on DePauw's laptop program back when I was a freshman (the other option was a MacBook, and I'm just not a Mac person) -- the laptop is "required", by the way -- was dying anyway. The Saturday I left for Russia, at about 10am, an hour before I left for the airport, the screen went black. Just went black, no warning, no nothing. I didn't have the time to deal with it then, so when I got back I tried to figure out what was wrong with it. Unfortunately for me I am not really an IT girl. Luckily my friend Andrew came over and connecting to my roommate's external desktop monitor magically worked. Hooray, it is a monitor problem.

Anyway, long story short, that gave me an awesome excuse to either buy the monitor I want for my desktop or to buy a netbook. I choose the netbook route because the monitor I am hoping to get is not going to fit in my backpack to take through security on the flight back to Indiana. Ha. But I will discuss that when I get back to school and build my machine :)

I did a bunch of research on the netbooks trying to find the best one. Pretty much the only two stores around here for computers are Best Buy and Fry's, so those were my options. I don't feel like ordering a computer and either having to have it shipped to Meryl's house or wait outside for the FedEx truck again, so it was definitely a matter of "what can I physically go get right now?".

Best Buy didn't have as many netbooks as I wanted them to have. But I did find one that I liked (it was my 2nd choice while researching, but my first choice came with Vista and I just couldn't do that to myself). Then BB didn't have any more in stock. Went to Fry's, they didn't have it at all (they only had 3 netbooks!). Second BB had it, finally. Hooray.

I bought an Asus Eee PC Netbook. So far I am pretty fond of it. I actually really wanted a tablet, but the "netvertible" I want is not available in the US yet (the Asus T91). If it becomes available at BB within the next 12 days, I will very likely return this one and buy that one.

Pros: Lightweight (it's like 2.4 lbs), has a built in webcam (whoaaa), the keyboard is great especially compared with the other books I tried out, the screen is bright and clear, it looks pretty, and it's just so small and cute.

Cons: Fingerprints show up REALLY EASILY which gets annoying fast, the touchpad is kind of weird and is taking me a while to get used to it, the screen is kind of small (10" is tiny after coming from a full size laptop), and I'm not so sure about the battery yet. Also the fan is kind of loud, although not as loud as my old laptop.

I'll keep you updated. I've actually never owned an Asus before (had two Toshiba laptops and this Dell one), and hopefully it'll be a better experience than the companies I've had in the past.

Here are a couple pictures:

long enough without a post

I got back to California after a very long day of travel from Moscow on July 1. Since then I've been trying to catch up on sleep, hanging out with friends, buying a new computer (my school-required piece-of-crap Dell's monitor kicked the bucket, so I bought a netbook I've been wanting), and running around getting things done. I am planning on writing up a series of posts about Russia during the next few days, so stay tuned for those :) First I need to go get groceries, though...

And also, happy 4th of July to all US people :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

i am here and it is awesome

Just a super quick post to let you know that I'm in Russia and it's great. Haven't had (free)internet until now so no time to post anything, but now we're in Moscow and there's a computer in our hallway that we can use for free so hurray! We got in from St Petersburg and it was fabulous. Now we're in Moscow for a few days. Once I get back to the States I will tell all about the trip and post about a million pictures. (I take a lot of pictures.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

my backpack

This is the complete list of what I'm taking, in case anyone is interested and in case I lose my own packing list:

What I'll Be Wearing
- Black t-shirt
- Jeans
- Running shoes
- Black belt

- 4 shirts, mostly black
- 1 pair of nice dress slacks, black
- 5 pair underwear
- 5 pair socks
- 1 running shirt
- 1 pair running shorts
- 1 pair nicer black shoes
- 1 sports bra

- Contacts
- Toothpaste, travel size
- Toothbrush, travel size
- Shampoo, travel size
- Conditioner, travel size
- Lotion, travel size
- Shower gel, travel size
- Deodorant
- Hairbrush
- Strips

- Camera (smaller)
- Camera cord
- 4 x4 packs of batteries
- MP3 player
- MP3 player cord
- Phone (to use until we take off from Chicago)
- Phone charger

In case of ...
- Band-aids
- Neosporin
- Aleve
- Cough drops
- Copies of passport, credit/debit cards, driver's license, e-ticket information
- Safety pins
- Addresses and phone numbers
- Hand sanitizer
- Chapstick
- Extra bag (can be used as 2nd carry on)

- Passport
- Electronic ticket information
- Wallet
- Journal
- Snacks (wheat thins, granola bars)

All in all I don't think it weighs more than 15-20 lbs max.

Okay so I couldn't resist taking a photo of my little bottles of stuff. They're so colorful!

officially: going to russia

Tomorrow I get on a plane out of LAX and eventually, after several more plane changes and long days, get to Russia.

This trip has been a long time coming and actually been very stressful to put together. I will explain as much of the backstory as I know, and hopefully it won't bore you too much :)

First off, my dad is originally from Russia. He immigrated to the United States when he was 15 and he hasn't been back. My brother wrote a screenplay and filmed several scenes about the move, and maybe he will let me put some of it up on the web (I will ask him) because it's really well done.
So I have always been interested in Russia because I would like to see where my dad grew up. I studied Russian for the past couple of years in college, but by no means am I fluent (far from it), and I enjoy Russian food.

This trip started because my brother, who is a theatre major at Butler University, is studying theatre with several of his classmates and his director, who is Russian, in Moscow for about a month. He has been there since the beginning of June. Dad thought that now would be as good a time as any to see some of the country (we are going to Moscow and St Petersburg). So we bought our tickets after a lot of research, and applied for our visas. 

Here's where it got stressful (actually, it was stressful already: the theater director lady was awful about telling us anything about the trip). We worked with the same travel agent as the other students and the director did for our visas. This was a bad idea. Up until about 4 hours ago, I didn't have my passport back. Do you realize how stressful that is? I am supposed to get on a plane at 2 o'clock tomorrow and I don't have my passport.

Luckily, it arrived safe and sound at about 1.40pm PST. Also luckily, I only had to work 4 hours today to fill out my 40-hr week, so I left work at 11 (yeah, I get to work by 7am), literally raced home (I got home in 19 minutes when it usually takes me 24), and physically sat on our front steps waiting for the FedEx guy. If I missed him, I was screwed, because they can't deliver inside our building, and I would have to wait until tomorrow to try to pick it up from wherever it is. But after only having to sit out there for 2 1/2 hours, most of the time during which I was talking to my mom on the phone, the FedEx guy came and I was so happy I almost cried. My dad also got his passport today, so we are all set to go.

I am traveling very light. I'm only taking a carry on with the most essential items: some clothes, my toiletries, my smaller camera and batteries, my mp3 player, my journal, and some snacks. That's it. I am not taking my computer or my nice camera, which most of my friends will probably be shocked when they hear about it. But my dad is bringing his computer, and the nice camera will just be a hassle to carry around and make sure it doesn't get stolen. 

Hopefully I can find some Internet to hop on during the trip. I will for sure be taking lots of pictures and keeping my paper journal, so I may end up transferring a lot of what I write in that over to the Internet when I get back. We'll see how it goes!

Here's to a great trip! Moscow & St Petersburg, I can't wait to meet you!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

so i am crazy and biked 100 miles in a weekend

Yeah. 88ish today, then the 12ish from yesterday.

I went up to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market this morning. I didn't know where it was so I decided to bike up to Pacific Palisades to get some extra miles in, then on my way back semi-randomly took a street and tried to find Main St. Actually, it worked out really well because one of the streets I ended up turning on spit out right next to the market -- convenient to say the least! The first thing I noticed about the market was that there were a ton of people, the next was that it was huge (or at least significantly bigger than what I'm used to!), and then that it was totally green. They have a "Zero Waste" policy! Awesome!

Check out those recycling and composting bins!

Crepe for lunch. I would live off crepes if I could...
It had chocolate (of course), bananas, and strawberries. Good.

Everything was compostable!

I ended up buying some organic fresh butter (!) and homemade organic garlic cream cheese-type spread. I would have bought everything at that cheese shop if I could have, and that's really saying something because I am not so much a cheese person. Anyway, that meant I had to get back home as soon as possible to get the items in the fridge. So as I was getting back from that ride I had this great thought of "let's ride the whole Strand from Redondo to Pacific Palisades today!" So I got home, rested a bit, charged up the Zen and got back on the beach. 

Starting point, at Redondo Beach, looking at Palos Verdes

Me really tired after getting to Pacific Palisades for the 2nd time today

So I am pretty tired from that, but it was a pretty good ride! And a good day :)

art walk & relax

This late morning/early afternoon I went down to Hermosa Beach to meet up with Andrew to find him some art. (He needs more art on his walls.) I raced myself and got to HB in 15 minutes. Wow, right? I cut time like whoa. Anyway, we were successful in finding him a piece of art. Actually, it is really cool. This lady exposes objects directly to photo paper instead of photographing them first and then developing the photos, and it plays with colors and lighting like no other. Super awesome! And the picture he got is really neat.

After that we walked around a bit more, checked out this mall that was empty (like, eerily empty even), then he left to go meet some people and I left to go home. Stopped in the bike store on my way back to my bike to see about baskets, but they were 20$ and up and man I'm just not going to pay that much for a stupid basket. Anyway, I feel like having a basket makes you lose some credibility as a legitimate biker. Most people with baskets are girls on Strand cruisers who don't know how to ride in the first place. Of course, it's not all people, and it would be convenient to have a basket sometimes (read: groceries), but still - that's a lot of money for a little wire frame.

As the afternoon wore on it actually got kind of sunny and much warmer, and the beaches filled up a bit more. So volleyball players and, more importantly, surfers were out in abundance. There is little more gorgeous than a talented, good-looking surfer. (Last summer I met the most gorgeous person I think I've ever seen while he was surfing and I was body boarding. Scott from San Diego, if you're reading this, ohmigodyouaresogoodlooking.) Other gorgeousness for the record: good runners, good soccer players, good swimmers. ........ I guess, really, the common denominator that I like is skinny, in-shape boys. ;)

About halfway home on the bike I got really tired and didn't feel that great, so I took it pretty easy. However, I did manage to bike all the way up the ginormous hill on Grand instead of stopping and walking the bike. Ironically enough it was because I felt like if I got off the bike I wouldn't have the energy to walk it up the hill. By the time I got home I had convinced myself to either take a nap, sit in the hot tub, or go get a pedicure. The pedicure won :) mostly because the place right by my condo is awesome - they have those sweet massage chairs and the people there are super nice. And they give really good foot massages.

That has been all I've done, really. Very lazy this afternoon, but I am feeling better so that's good. Tomorrow I am going to go to Santa Monica and try to find their Sunday farmer's market. (I simply adore farmer's markets, but I bet you couldn't tell ;) ) Hopefully it'll be nice out!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

the week

So this week ended up being pretty busy but at the same time not that busy. Unfortunately for me, my computer is slowly dying (it's 4 years old this month, actually) and several days earlier this week it was being a real pain to try to do anything with. Also our Internet went out randomly during a time I wanted to blog. Anyway, let it be known that some of the money I'm earning this summer is going to buy myself a solid desktop, a widescreen monitor, and a netbook (or maybe just a superlight laptop). The laptop I'm currently on is going to turn into a fulltime Linux machine, instead of just having it partitioned.

Anyway, the week. Work was good. For my Python work, I finished grabbing all the data from the PDF and putting it in Excel. (This takes a lot more time and a ton of regular expressions than it seems at first glance.) So now I get to start on using Java to make SQL queries to look at data from this database and compare it with the data I found, which is now also in a database. It should be a lot of fun! I have never actually used SQL or databases before so I get to learn a lot. For my other work, I finished the script in Java I was working on this whole last week (I thought it'd take me like 2 days. It ended up taking 5-6. Sigh.). I am excited because everything I've done this summer so far has actually had a legitimate use, is important, and is actually kind of a time schedule. Woohoo! Yay for feeling useful!

After work I have been biking home. I changed up my route on a couple of days, so that sometimes I was riding on a highway (!). There is a super nice bike path on this highway, and there are very few hills. Monday I am trying out a new route one of my roommate's friends (and now one of my friends), John, gave me. He says there shouldn't be that many hills on this one either. 

Tuesday, I visited with John and Meryl for a little bit. Meryl is letting me borrow her ukulele and music for the summer! We chatted for quite a while (I could talk to them for hours!) and then I realized it was past my bedtime (seriously, a 21-year-old should not go to bed before retired people) so I had to leave.

Wednesday, a friend from last summer, Alex, started work again out here, which is awesome. Even more awesome is that he only lives a few streets away from me! So we ended up grabbing a drink at one of the bars here, going to dinner, and going down to the beach. Really fun night.

Thursday is Farmer's Market and Ukulele Day -- it is definitely my most favorite day of the week!! I picked up some DELICIOUS strawberries at the market, and also got some apples, zucchini, and fresh-made kettle corn! It's made in a real kettle! So cool and yummy. Some of the strawberries I took with me to ukulele class. People tend  to bring food to share with everyone else. It was really funny because Meryl also brought strawberries (from the same stand that I got mine, even!) and angel food cake. And someone else brought cookies. So we had a lot of food :) Class was fun. Meryl thinks I am pretty good at ukulele for only having played it for like 2 weeks. I am pretty sure it's all the guitar coming through. Learning on 6 strings and going to 4 makes it pretty easy!

Yesterday was Meryl's birthday. Karen and I went over to help her celebrate and most of their family was there. It was really fun, and I got to meet some interesting people. I felt like a grown-up because I was offered wine. Haha. The things that make you feel grown up! 

I wanted to sleep in this morning but I woke up at 7.45 so no go on that. I might be taking a nap later then ;) Should be a fun day - going down to Hermosa Beach for an Art Walk!

Monday, June 8, 2009

bike ride and lakers game

Today I had no plans at all. I figured I would just be hanging out by myself anyway, so when I woke up I looked at the weather. The day looked super nice (sunny and 70s) so I decided that I would try to go north on the Strand this time instead of my usual south. I actually had never been north (besides in a car) except for the bonfire we had last summer on Dockweiler, which can hardly be called going north because it was about half a mile up from El Segundo Beach.

Anyway, I basically decided to hop on my bike and see how far I could go.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day. It was not too warm, and there was at times a strong breeze (which was kind of annoying and kind of nice at the same time). The smell of the ocean was everywhere and people were happy. There are a lot of bikers, roller bladers, walkers, joggers, skateboarders, and random other people like scooters.

I had planned on going to Santa Monica, which is where I thought the path ended, but it actually ends a couple more miles north of there, in Pacific Palisades. Awesome! I made it all the way there in exactly 1 hour and 40 minutes, and I actually was being really lazy about it for most of the ride. Following the Strand path takes you through Marina Del Rey, Venice Beach, and Santa Monica. I made it to Venice Beach in 45 minutes, actually!

Mural on the Strand by Dockweiler Beach

Plane above -- basically right under LAX
My awesome bike (I need a good name for it)

Me. I always wear a helmet. 
Also, that shirt gave me some sweet (and not-so-sweet) tan lines.

Proof I made it to Pacific Palisades!

View north

View south

Looking south. I don't think you can see where I started from

I was zoomed it at 16x digital zoom to get this shot of Santa Monica

When I got to the end of the path I checked my phone and one of my friends was inviting me to go watch the Lakers game with him and some friends tonight. So, of course, I agreed, although I am not really a Lakers fan (at all). I really enjoy being social though! And the game and atmosphere were a lot of fun. We went to a family (lol) sports bar & grill called Stick & Stein. Lakers fans are VERY MUCH into their team. As in, I have never seen any group of people more dedicated to something. It's actually kind of scary. And the Lakers won, so they were all happy. (LAL 101, ORL 96, Finals Game 2)

The bar had a ridiculous amount of TVs

Friend from work and his fiancee and me at the bar

Sunday, June 7, 2009

a fairly social day

Today I got to spend a fair amount of time with several different people.

This morning Andrew was super nice and took me to Target to return a bike helmet that I bought before I knew that Karen's sister Connie was lending me hers to use this summer (so nice of her!!). So that was a nice 20$ back on my card (which is good because I've only got like 50$ to last me till Thursday...I think. Hopefully payday is this Thursday?). Then I had a Target coupon, from when I got the helmet in the first place last week, for 50 cents off Poptarts. I went ahead and used that because although they're not the healthiest food (far from it) they are nice treats sometimes and they are really good at filling me up and keeping me full for several hours. So a box of 8 Poptarts ended up costing me 1.02$ (nice...especially because the same box would have cost 2.50$ at Ralph's!). I also took out that 20$ in cash. Around here, cash is always good to have on hand. Some places don't take debit/credit and other places it can be a lot faster for you if you pay in cash.

So then we drove to West L.A. so Andrew could get something he forgot at his grandpa's house. It was a pretty area and I love traveling around so I was happy :)  The L.A. freeway system is cool but crazy and totally different from everything I've ever known so it always takes me a little bit to get used to it again. Driving around here in general is kind of crazy all the time though, not just on the freeways!

Here is something we saw on the freeway--we can't figure out why Pepsi would just have a huge ad that says LOL. Because you laugh out loud when you drink Pepsi? No idea ...

After that we went to this restaurant (it's not nice enough to be called a restaurant though, more like a fast food place but better) called Zankao Chicken. They have really good chicken dishes there. This is what I had:

A quarter of a chicken with hummus, pita bread, and rice, and this super yummy garlic sauce stuff. I don't know what the purple things are, but I think the other bit is tomato. Anyway, I don't really like hummus and I didn't like the purple stuff, but the chicken and pita and garlic sauce and rice were delicious!

So then we headed back to El Segundo... Andrew was again super nice and took me to Ralph's to get groceries that I already ran out of. Who knew I would go through cereal, chicken, and granola bars so quickly?! Also, here is another funny picture from the freeway. Seriously, 341$? Not just, like, 340$? 

Also, if you were ever curious, this is what the place I work at looks like:

And then another friend from work, Chris, and I went for a bike ride / roller skate ride on the Strand. 

At first we were going to try to get up to Venice or Santa Monica (a good hour or two from El Segundo) but he realized he had to be home too soon for us to do that (he lives like an hour away) so we ended up going to Hermosa Beach and back. On the way there we stopped in El Porto and saw my friend Mallory from DePauw -- it's really funny, we almost see each other more in CA than in IN! 

On the way back from Hermosa we stopped again in Manhattan Beach and had ice cream at the Manhattan Beach Creamery. They have super good ice cream there, and now apparently they sell candies and chocolates and all sorts of baked goods, even popcorn and cotton candy! But they sacrified like half their seating for it. Anyway, it was super tasty and gave us the energy to get back to my place where Chris could start heading home from. 

Really fun ride. It was SO pretty today! We could see for miles and miles --- we even saw Catalina Island! And that's pretty rare!

North toward Santa Monica

El Porto

Later in the evening Karen and her best friend Gloria and I went to dinner at Scotty's in Hermosa Beach. We had a great window view of the pier and sunset and I got some nice pictures of the sun going down! Awesome dinner, too. I really enjoy Karen and I have liked all of her friends a great deal as well!

View down Grand Ave. in El Segundo

Sunset pictures from Scotty's
Hermosa Beach, CA

Saturday, June 6, 2009

busy is the word

Wow, so, I have barely had time to write anything. I have been going to bed about 9pm (lame I know) but I'm so tired! Plus I get up so early! I've been biking to and from work this whole week, and it's been going great. However, it basically means that I am too tired to do much else. I've swum a few days but I haven't been running. Hopefully this coming week my body will have adjusted to this schedule better and I won't be quite so tired.

Work has been great. I am learning Python for a big task, plus I get to do some website redesign stuff, so everything is right up my alley! Thursday I was an escort for the Herndon Science Competition and that was a lot of fun. Basically I walked around (/herded people around) the labs area and got some yummy liquid nitrogen ice cream. Soo good. Also, the keynote speaker was Mark Skaggs! Sweet!

Thursday night I had my first ukulele lesson at Mark's shop. So fun! I went back yesterday for some more practice. Hopefully I will either be able to get my own ukulele or borrow one from Meryl so I can practice whenever. The people there are very nice and helpful and super cool. Mark's shop is my favorite store ever. You can just go in and hang out and it's full of surf and skate and Hawaiian stuff. And there's bamboo on the wall.

This week on Wednesday there was a storm. What the heck? It legitimately rained & thundered & lightninged! How crazy is that! It's been cloudy and rainy the whole week mostly until about Thursday afternoon. Yesterday was nice and today looks like it'll be nice as well. I'm planning on going for a bike ride up to Santa Monica.

Monday, June 1, 2009

first day back at work

Today's work day was good! I biked to work, and it only took me 20 minutes! That is way faster than the bus. The bus would be like this: leave house by 6:15 in order to get to bus stop by 6:30 so I wouldn't miss the 6:40 bus, bus would leave and get to A-space by 7:07, then I'd have to bolt to STARS so I could get there as early as I could. With the bike, I can leave whenever (I ended up leaving at 6.25 just because I didn't know how long it'd take) and I got to work at 6.47. Pretty awesome. This is with some nasty hills and long traffic lights. (I ended up having to walk up some of the hills. You have no idea how steep & long they are unless you've seen them.) Once I got to work I had to get a temp badge so they wouldn't think I was an intruder and then go get my real badge from last summer. Before I could do this I needed to find a parking spot for my bike. Apparently no one really knew where any bike racks were, and I ended up finding one eventually (after going through a building and two visitor centers and a gate), and I needed someone with a real badge to open the gate for me since I didn't have a swipe part yet. Luckily a lady was very nice and did that for me :). Then I got my badge, and made the badge lady a little annoyed because I was there so early (it was 7.07). Then I had to wait for my manager, who wasn't here yet, and then the boss of my manager came by and said she wouldn't be here for a while I went to the library and read some web content design stuff. That is where Jose found me and told me our manager was there now (30 minutes before I thought she would be). So basically the rest of the day was running around, meeting with potential clients, catching up with the other interns and other people I know, getting a tour of the new building where I'll be spending about half my time, panicking because none of my passwords were working and therefore having to call the help desk (which is super annoying). My email is still not up because of some complications from the way I set it up last summer (sigh). But oh well. All in all it was a great day!

I left about 4.45, walked with Jose to the rail station, then rode home from there. Got home about 5.20 and immediately went on a short run, then came back and had a short swim. Have to make sure I prevent injuries and get lots of exercise :) Made dinner (just a chicken patty sandwich) and talked with my mom and now I'm pretty tired! The day is catching up to me. Luckily I can just go to bed whenever... :)

the strand

Yesterday I biked down to Redondo Beach from my place in El Segundo (it ends up being about 9 miles). Mostly I went because I had left the things I bought at Target on Saturday at Andrew's place and I wanted to go pick them up. I also wanted the exercise, and I just plain love The Strand. For those who don't know, The Strand is a bike path (also running/walking/etc) that goes all the way from Redondo Beach to Santa Monica, and most of it is right next to the ocean. *Amazing*. It's beautiful, well constructed, smooth, and a pretty easy ride (if you're not going against the wind). I went down there in the afternoon so I had some time to recover from Saturday's insanity. I ended up hanging out at Andrew's for a couple hours and met one of his friends, and we played Rock Band. I would like to point out that I got a 100% on vocals on all 3 songs I sang (2 on medium, 1 on hard). We were going to cookout but I realized it was going to take me at least an hour to get back, and I didn't want to ride in the dark, so I left around 6:15ish and got home about 7.25. It was a fun time though.

Also, I saw a dolphin on my way to RB, but I didn't have my camera (of course). Very cool though!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

dinner & a bar

Andrew picked me up and he was really nice to take me to Target, and then we stopped at his place and had a drink before heading out, and went to the beach so I could continue my streak. Then we walked to dinner.

For dinner he wanted to take me to this Japanese place in Redondo Beach called Tokyo Blue. He said they had really good sushi there, so I was totally game. Well, it ended up being way more than just good sushi. For one, it was gorgeous inside (they basically had a little river running through the restaurant). For two, the food was *amazing*. We had a teriyaki fillet that was one of the best steaks I've ever had (if not the best), and the sushi was off the hook. I got a Philadelphia roll (my 2nd favorite roll, the first being a Father's roll which only exists at my Japanese place back home in Columbus) and it literally just melted in my mouth. Soo good. My mouth is still happy from it!

After dinner we got a cab to Saint Rocke, this bar in Redondo Beach that has live music. It was fun but I think I would have had a lot more fun if I wasn't so tired (I was plain exhausted). Sorry about that, Andrew. I thought the music was good but it wasn't really dancing music, so whatever. Got a cab to come back home, and got home before midnight. I fell asleep right away and had a solid 9 hours of sleep till this morning. I feel rested and I'm going to spend most of the day just resting, I think. Should be nice for preparation for tomorrow's first day of work!

adventure to griffith park

If you follow me on twitter you know all about my adventure yesterday...

Saturday I had planned to go on this hike at Griffith Park, this giant park (over 4000 acres) up by Hollywood. I found out about a free hike hosted by these people who run some kind of exercise "camp" type thing, and I wanted to go on it. I thought it'd be a fun adventure and I could meet some people, that sort of thing. So I got directions via bus ( to there and back. I needed to be on the first bus by 6.30am, so I got up at 5.30 and packed everything up and headed out. I caught that bus just fine. It took me to the stop at Rosecrans & Avalon and I got off. Then I realized that my directions were telling me where the next station to get on was via compass directions. So I got off in the SE corner and I needed to be in the SW corner for the next bus. I do not have a very good sense of NSEW direction (although I do have a VERY hard time getting lost based on other things), just ask Melissa, so yeah, definitely got on the bus going in the wrong direction. So that threw me a little bit. But it was all okay because the bus driver was really nice about it and let me off where there was a stop on the other side that I wanted. So I grabbed that bus, which came just after a couple minutes (nice, if you're used to having to wait at least 30 minutes). That one was supposed to take me all the way to Vermont & Hollywood.


It took me to Vermont & Wilshire, which was its last stop so I didn't have a choice & I had to get off, which is kind of a shady part of town. Kind of is a little understatement. Actually, most of where I was while I was traveling to Griffith Park was super shady. Everything looks run down and gaudy and ugly. I probably should have been more nervous about where I was than I actually was, but to me everything is just one big adventure and I don't worry about things too much. As long as I keep paying attention to everything and keep my bag connected to me, I should be okay. 

So I ask the bus driver how to get to Vermont & Hollywood, and he says he doesn't know, but to call this number 1-800-COMMUTE, and they should tell me how to get there. It's already almost 9am and I'm supposed to meet this hiking group at 9.45 & Be On Time!. I had scheduled the trip so that I would get to the park about 9am so I would have plenty of time to find the group. Yeah, that didn't happen. Stupid telling me the wrong thing.

So I call this number, and the lady tells me to get on the 204 and ride it to Vermont & Santa Monica, then hop on the Hollywood Dash, get of at such-and-such, walk 2 blocks west and 1 block north and I'll be there. I didn't have a pen, and you remember about my NSEW failing. So I just rode the 204 to Vermont & Hollywood like I had originally planned and got off there. By now I was in a much nicer part of town. I started walking up Vermont and saw a Bank of America, so I decided to stop in and get directions. They didn't know where the entrance I wanted was (we were supposed to meet at Los Feliz & Fern Dell Dr), but they said if I just kept walking, the top of the hill would be Los Feliz and I could figure out where to go from there.

Apparently that is a very big hill. 

So I walked & walked and I definitely wasn't going to make the 9.45 time. So I called the lady who was running the hike and let her know, and she was really surprised that I was walking. She told me the route they were going to hike and I thanked her. (I never did find them.) I finally made it up to Los Feliz Blvd and saw an entrance to Griffith Park. I tried asking some people where Fern Dell Dr is and they didn't really know (how can you not know??), but they thought I should turn left. So I turned left and walked for a very long time and eventually gave up. So I turned around and asked this guy who was walking his dog. He was super helpful and told me that Fern Dell Dr was pretty far away, but I could take the entrance on Vermont and get to the observatory and all that pretty easily from there, and then he told me how to get to Fern Dell Dr from there.

So I just went hiking by myself.

It was actually really nice. I could stop whenever I wanted and take pictures and all that jazz. I actually really love being by myself so it didn't bother me at all. I got to see this guy laying across the hood of a car video taping the people driving. And I got to see the observatory. There is a working Tesla coil in there, and it was AWESOME. And I  got to just walk around the park for a little bit. At this point I was pretty tired (I'd been up for almost 7 hours already) and hungry, since all I had been eating were some snacks like granola bars. So I decided to head out of the park and start my adventure back. I got to Fern Dell Dr and then found some people who told me how to get to the bus stop I wanted. I got on the bus and thought everything was great & it would take me to Crenshaw Station. Nope. It end-of-the-lined 4 stops before Crenshaw, so I had to wait for another bus to come take me there. That end-of-the-line was in another shady part of somewhere. And it was kind of chilly. Anyway, it all worked out and another bus came eventually and I got to the station. I had never taken the rail before in LA, and it was pretty awesome. Just like a normal metro that you think of in NYC or Europe. (I wish the LA bus system was this nice.) The rail was the first time I had seen another white person take the public transport system with me, and I had probably seen several hundred people that day on various buses. Yeah.

The rail was fast and it took me to Aviation Station, the LAX hub where you can get to the airport or from the airport and that sort of thing. I had an hour to wait for my bus, the Beach Cities Transit, so I called my mom and talked for a bit. Then these two guys started talking to me. I couldn't tell if they were drunk or high and at first I thought this one guy was Australian because I thought he had an accent (later I realized it was just because his teeth were weird and he couldn't talk right because of it). Anyway, that was nice & exciting. They talked to me the whole way until I luckily could get off the bus. They told me about their band and their cooking and all sorts of crazy stuff. And they called me Emily. Haha.

I finally made it home after about 8 hours of public transportation round trip. Yeah, it was pretty insane. It took me 4 hours to get to Griffith Park, and about 3.5 to get home (granted, a huge chunk of that was waiting for various buses). But it was definitely a fun adventure! I was dog tired when I got home so I took a nap (definitely not a long enough one), and showered, and got ready to go out to dinner with one of my friends out here, Andrew.

settling in

So, I got to the condo about 10.45am. Karen had mailed me the keys so I could just move in right away. Last summer I met John, one of her friends, with the keys and he let me in and helped me get my trunk up and such. He and his wife are on vacation right now so he couldn't do that. But really, I am glad that I just had the keys already. I don't like to bother people too much and I like being able to do things on my own schedule.

At first, Thelma, the cat, didn't remember me, but after about an hour she did and let me see her again. She always wants to be petted but I can't really pet her (I'm allergic), so that's kind of sad. She's a nice kitty. You know she must be because I really don't like cats :) Haha.

I just kind of threw my stuff down in my room, plugged in my computer, and let my mom know I was here. My body was telling me that it was 2pm back home and I hadn't eaten anything since 4.30 in the morning. Well, I had some crackers. But that was not nearly enough. So I went downtown El Segundo to this deli called Rinaldi's. I ate there for lunch the first day I was really on my own for meals last summer (Saturday; Friday I ate with Karen, John, and Meryl for both lunch and dinner), so I thought it'd be fun if I ate there again. I had a yummy meatball sandwich and a strawberry banana smoothie (they use real fruit, and it's so good). This guy I remembered from last year was still working there, and he was still as friendly as ever. He gave me some aluminum foil so I could take have the sandwich home (which became my dinner). 

After lunch I unpacked everything. I brought even less stuff than last summer. I like getting California-related stuff out here, so I try not to bring too many clothes and whatnot. Just enough to get by. After unpacking I walked to the grocery store, Ralph's, which is a little over 2 miles away. I needed groceries for the week and a bus pass. I brought two reusable grocery bags with me, so I knew that I could only buy enough groceries that could fit in those two bags. I also wanted to keep my first grocery bill under 50 dollars, since I don't have very much money to tide me over till the first paycheck, which is two weeks away. I succeeded in both ventures, so that made me feel pretty good. Then I walked back the two-plus miles to my condo, put everything away, and took a short break. 

I decided I want to see the beach everyday that I'm here again this summer (I succeeded in this last summer, too. 81 days in a row!). So I walked the 1.2 miles down to the beach, enjoyed the view, and walked back. It was still cloudy and chilly, so there wasn't too much else to do besides be there for just a few minutes. 

After that I wanted to go to this surf shop to see the guy who took me surfing last year. I wanted to show him my skateboard with its modifications, because he also sells skateboarding stuff. Actually, he builds his own longboards to sell, and they are really sweet. You almost don't want to ride them because they're so beautiful. Anyway, I hopped over there, and he remembered exactly who I was and everything! It was pretty awesome. He was surprised to see me. He had a friend with him, and somehow we got onto the topics of bikes. I said that I didn't want to buy a bike out here because it's a huge investment, and I already have a bike at home, and I'd want to bring the bike I bought back with me, and then I'd have two bikes, which is silly. So this guy says he has an extra bike that he'd loan me for the summer. Sweet, right?! And for free! The only stipulation is that if something breaks I'll fix it. He also had a lock for me to use. What a way to be in the right place at the right time and know the right people! Crazy! So now I have a bike to use this summer. So, having the skateboard is kind of silly, because the bike will get me everywhere significantly faster. We'll see what I can do with it. I ended up hanging out for a lot more time at the surf shop and meeting all these other guys, friends of Mark who runs the shop, who surf and board. They're all at least 40 with wives and girlfriends and kids, but they still think they're 25. It was awesome to watch and listen to them talk about surfing and all sorts of other stuff. A couple guys were mad that Mark didn't have a TV at the shop so they couldn't watch the Lakers game. Haha.

I left about 7.30 from there, came home to the condo, and warmed up my meatball sandwich dinner. Karen came home about 8 and we had a good time catching up with everything. She has made some changes around the condo and everything is just beautiful! I will try to get some pictures and post them. We watched some TV (So You Think You Can Dance)  and then I realized that I was super tired and went to bed. I needed some energy for my big adventure on Saturday.

airplane travels

My flight from Indy to Chicago was great. The flight itself was so short (only about 45 minutes, sure beats driving 3.5 hours) so that was nice. I sat next to a very interesting lady named Jana on the plane. She spent 7 years in West Africa teaching women there how to read and write in their native language. Crazy, right? She did it through her church missionary group. Now, I don't particularly like missionary groups. (You might not know this about me.) Actually, I am not a big fan of globalization in general. Leave people alone. Leave their beliefs alone. That sort of thing. Also, I believe that if you are going to try to "do good" in the world, you should start at home. (There are plenty of people needing help in your own city!) However, if that's what you want to do, fine. And she was pretty passionate about it, which is great. Anyway, we had some really interesting conversation about that sort of thing. I ended up telling her about our Knitting for Nets project at school and she thought that was great. She had had malaria several times, and it's actually what forced her to come back to the States. She was hospitalized and her church people basically told her that she should come home. I guess she would have stayed in Africa forever if she could have. She was traveling to Missouri for a reunion of the people she went to Africa with and other people involved in that time of her life. Now, after being back in the States for 3 years, she's a registered nurse.

The second flight was less exciting. I was really tired and tried to get some sleep and epically failed. This made the flight last forever. They played Mall Cop on the TV, which I had already seen, so I listened to music and watched the TV without the sound on. Then I found out that TVs on planes now show regular ads just like normal TVs. I can't remember if I knew this before or not (I mean, I just flew in January! That's not that long ago). So I watched some Charles Schwabb commericals, and then there was a Nothing But Nets commercial! So it was kind of like Africa day for me. I sat next to a guy from Toronto, but originally from Iran, on that flight. We didn't talk too much because we were both trying to sleep (he really did sleep--the entire flight!).

As we landed, I got to look out the window. And to my surprise, the entirety of what I could see was clouds. Clouds! There were hardly any cloudy days at all last summer! And these clouds looked like rain clouds. What the heck? I went 3 months last summer without seeing a drop of rain. So the landing, which should have been sweet, was cloudy and I could barely see anything. I couldn't even see the ocean, which is only a couple of miles from LAX. Crazy. 

Anyway, the landing was great, and our bags came out really fast. I took a taxi to the condo, like last year, but it was more expensive than last year. I took a different company (the company I took last time wasn't there). The driver kind of looked like he was part of the Italian mafia or something. Kind of scary but exciting too. Not friendly at all though.