Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Went to the ocean two weekends ago. Julia's dad has a b&b in Wilmington, and his girlfriend Donna put us up for a night in her beach house, just two blocks from the water. They were soooo good to us, and the holiday was much needed after a fifty hour work week at twisted noodles.

Donna and Jay made us dinner and, to our surprise, left Dana, Julia and I to enjoy the beach house to ourselves, along with the wine, cheesecake, and amazing sound system. We went to the beach at midnight and played in the waves while someone shoot off illegal fireworks. It was great. The next morning we sunned ourselves, and I braved the ocean and sharks for about 2 minutes... the ocean pretty much kicked my ass- one lung full of salt water after being knocked down by several waves and I was out of there! I flew some kites and showed off my sweet tricks and laid around some more, trying to read about body symbolism and pygmies.

Donna let us borrow her Suzuki jeep to go see how the locals have fun on the weekends. This was probably one of the more bizarre things I have every done. people go out to this one part of the beach where cars are aloud. They drive around in circles in the sand, showing off their ride, find a good place to park and sit next to their vehicles by the water. People were getting stuck left and right-- in fact, 20 feet into this area, we got stuck, and some yelled, "Shoulda bought a Chevy!"

That night Jay took us and a few of his friends on a river boat ride, including fancy hors d'oeuvres and a nice sunset. Then we experienced both aspects of the bed and breakfast experience, and I feel very privileged and lucky this summer.

this past week I have been working and researching... this week we are preparing for Julia to leave on friday for landsea, which so far has involved doing all the things that we have been meaning to do together. On sunday we woke up early and went for a country drive. I saw tobacco for the first time; it's a very pretty plant. I'd love to feel the leaves (I have a thing about feeling plants) but I learned that if you handle tobacco you risk absorbing it through your skin and getting addicted- wouldn't want that.

Tonight we are having a going away party for Julia. party's theme: body parts. Should be interesting. Tomorrow I am going to work with Dana at duke because I signed up participate in some psych studies which = $$$$ for me. Hopefully it wont be too weird. I am excited to see Phil and my dad and Cheryl for my birthday on monday! (yay), sad to leave Durham in a week or so, but also excited to visit home and everyone there.

Monday, July 09, 2007

So I am a little behind in updating you on my life, my apologies. Here is a brief summary:

Independence Day

My fourth started out with the scrap exchange, which was helping kids decorate their bikes for a fourth of July bike parade. It was nice, though a bit more yuppie of an affair than I would have prefered. Later Dana and I went to the Eno River festival, a big music festival on the river. The music was great, very blissfest-esque, and all the money made went towards buying more land along the river to preserve it from development.

That afternoon, my roommates and I threw a little BBQ for some friends. Look below! me lighting the grill. It went off without a hitch, and yes, we did move the grill away from this wooden corner, quickly. It was so fun and tasty with our kroger clearance-item condoments: jalopeneo ketchup, artichoke relish, dejion mustered...

We then did sparklers and had strawberry-blueberry shortcake, with neopolitan and mint chocolate chip ice cream. By this time (9:30) I was quite anxious to get to the fireworks-- If I couldn't be in Northport on the fourth, I'd be damned not to at least watch the fireworks in Durham! We heard them start and all piled into one car, chasing down the explosions before they finished. I ended up on a roof garden of sorts, which was a really neat and caught the finale. Overall, a very enjoyable day, although I cant say I thought much about our country's independence. Perhaps more of my own.

Cumberland Gap
a couple weekends ago I went to Kentucky to meet Phil for a hike in Cumberland Gap. We met up in a small coal minning town called Benham, where we stayed the first night in an old school house that was converted into an Inn.

Literally- a school, with a gym and lockers and classrooms/bedrooms. Though everything I have ever learned from all the horror films I have seen told me to turn around and go home-- no cell phone service, creepy little mining town that was accessed by going over a huge mountain, with no signs and stumbling across the town contrarilly to the mapquest directions, creepy old school house with creepy receptionist telling me to park in the back of the building, abandoned mines, getting dark, no sign of Phil-- everything that evening turned out fine. We had a long chat with some of the locals. They were great people, it seemed. For sunset we took a drive up Black Mt, the tallest mountain in KT, and found a fire watch tower mentioned in one of Phil's books. Again, several red flags: not clearly marked; local rough men in big trucks telling us it did not exist; the local math teacher saying that HE would never go up into that mountain, "who knows about those people up in that mountain;" finding it in amongst lots of shady machinary; climbing up it anyway, dispite no tresspassing signs, and the rickity nature of the structure. But it was definetely worth it:

The next morning we decided to sneak around one of the closed mines, which, though we did not see any tresspassing signs, was clearly not for tourists. Still, it was probably one of the coolest things I have ever done. Here are some pictures, I'll tell you the details some time if you would like.

The Hike was really nice and not as hard as the park people said that it was going to be. Of course the fact that I wasn't really carrying anything might have had something to do with that :-). It was beautiful and perfect. Some highlights: hearing a bear in the darkness and not being eaten by it, the White Rocks cliff overlook, cows mooing in the distance, the Sand Cave, which was a cave with an opening about 200 feet in diameter filled with peach colored sand. Again, there is so much to tell, and I promise to have story time with people if they want when we see each other:

Since this trip, went to Boone, NC with intention to see the bluegrass band Old Crow Medicine Show. Unfortunately, it was sold out, but I still had a great time visiting Julia friend Molly and seeing another part of North Carolina. Tomorrow Julia and I are going to Ashville for a music festival called Bele Cher. Its free, and we know some people there, so it should be a good time. Other than that, trying to work a lot, read (sip) a lot, and enjoy this hot weather and new friends.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

So this is home SWEET home, I love it. the cutest little house on a street full of other houses, secondary in cuteness, but still nice. Looking out my bedroom window, its like I'm in a tree house--or, at least not in the middle of a city:

Since my last post, much has happened. turns out that the landlords, unannounced to us, decided that they did not want animals in the house anymore-- even though it is written in our contract, two cats and one dog. So we had to go to the rescue center, the very day we agreed to pick up the kittens and let them down. But the good news(!) is that they were very nice about it and made us volunteers, which involves going to petsmart whenever we want to go feed, water, change litter and let ALL THE KITTIES OUT to play with for as long as we want. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Anyone who wants a cat but cant, I highly recommend this option.
As far as my canvassing job, which has completely consumed my life, another twist of events. I tried SOOO hard, did everything they said in exactly the same way they said, I was coached and did role plays and everything was fine in practice, but when implemented at the doors, people must have still seen through me--- known that I hate solicitors too, that I think it is sensible not to handle financial matters at the door, to do research into organizations before you throw money at them, that if you already give to other environmental organizations regularly, and volunteer when you can, that you should not be pressured into contributing to another. Whatever the reason, people did NOT want to give me money, and it was mutually decided (between me and the directors) that perhaps I did not have that magic something that it takes to ask people for money. however I loved the org, the people, and the experience.
the next day (yesterday) I went to a Thai restaurant that a friend told me were hiring, and I started instantly. the food is AMAZING and the owner is sooo chill, understanding and reasonable. If you are totally engrossed in my life, and want to check it out:
of course I expect that of no one, save, perhaps, my mother. So, this is one luck situation that fell into my lap, and the stress has lifted, for the moment.

Whats this, you ask?
Another thing I hope to be more involved with this summer is the Scrap Exchange. It is about the coolest organization I have ever seen. They collect bulk scrap items like tubing, foam, zippers, buttons, test tubes... basically anything you can imagine from surrounding industries, and then throw events for kids to make art out of them. It promotes reusing before recycling and creativity in kids (and twenty somethings, apparently--like my hat?).

Other than those things...
Our third roommate arrived last night. Dana, also from Kzoo will be interning at Duke (something to do with primates and infants... yesssss) along side chillaxin' with us! of course. Our basement studio is complete! and I will put up many pictures of the art happenings down there over the course of the summer. Looking forward to the fourth of July, though I must say I am already missing the energy of northport during this holiday season. Have so much fun with out me, folks, nothing really beats Independence day there so don't forget how lucky you are to be in Northport if you are! I will be spending the day at the Eno Festival, with music and fire in the sky-- should be fun, but not the same.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Well, Graduation came, went, and so did I! as I frantically drove like a mad woman all over the state, trying to get in as much family as possible before I too, went. All the graduations I went to we great, and a little sad, as my sister and cousin made the right into the big bad world of semi-adulthood, and my friends crossed the stage... never to be seen again.

Step two!

Julia and I HIT THE ROAD! with our big atlas (thanks dad, good thinking. Would have been tough going with out a, em... map) and Carolina Mixerz we bumped down to Durham in no time. Literally, it felt like to seconds. I've been saying lately because of this, that maybe I had a better sense of space and time when I was a kid traveling across the country, when everything seemed much bigger-- and looooonger. Anyway. This picture was taken for our "rocks for jocks" friends, but especially Big Phil, with Julia's caption:
"look Phil! LAYERS!"

So now I am in Durham and I regret to say that I do not have any pictures yet to share, but I promise that soon I will upload some. Julia's house is soooo pretty and nice, right near downtown. Duke East campus is like a block away, with a library for my studying. Ninth Street is the place-to-be, lots of cool restaurants, shops, coffee. I've been filling my days here so far looking for employment-- which, before two days ago has been quite unsuccessful...
But I got an email about a summer job in Chapel Hill, which is about half an hour south of Durham, and now I am working with an organization called Environment North Carolina, going door to door trying to get middle to upper class people to give us lots of money. I started canvassing yesterday, which is rough going, especially since Suburbia disgusts me beyond belief. BUT, the people I work with are really cool, the more I learn about the organization the more excited I get, and this will certainly improve my people skills! I hope to stick it out as long as possible. Check out the website, if you are interested here.

Julia and I went to a kitten shower on Saturday with hopes to bring home a new kitty. Turns out, as we are undergrads, we are not allowed to adopt because of our transient lifestyles. Fair enough. the good news is that we signed up to be foster moms! (for kittens, of course). In about a week we will be new mommies for two kittens for the summer, and if you know us, you can just imagine the excitement! pictures to come!

Julia is working to turn the basement into an art studio. Once we get it painted she and I think three other people will be down there, making art like mad scientists. I'm pretty excited to have that kind of energy in the house, and hey, maybe I'll even get down there and make something.

Well, thats all for now, but next time pictures and more stories, hopefully once a week or so. Hope summer is treating you right, and if you want to get a hold of me, my cell works well down here and email is obsessively checked, like any good kzoo student.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

So, secret's out, might as well explain what I've REALLY been doing with my time back at school.

Turns out, it's my destiny to save the world along with my trusty side kick, Julia AKA "Q"-- were not sure what it means yet, just that I must be "U," as we are always together (gosh, doesn't that mean I'm the side kick?).

So, yes I realize that this blog is titled Lizz-abroad, and my world travels have come to a pause, but I thought it might be nice to extend the use of this journal to journey's and adventures in general. DO expect to see and hear more about Q + U, but also about my upcoming adventures in North Carolina this summer (b.t.w, I am moving to North Carolina for the summer, living with Julia in Durham) while I work on my senior project and perfecting my sweet tea makin' skills-- more on the project later.
also expect lots of pictures-- perhaps clips-- and the standard life changing reflections. Until next time, have a great memorial day, hope it doesn't rain on your veteran parade, where ever that may take place.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

why is it that there are so many birthdays in feb? Thinking about what to buy/do for everyone, I coincidently came across this nice 1-10 GREEN suggestions, which, I think give some good advice even if you are not an eco-nut:

1. Be sure your material gift will get used

It may be the thought that counts, but a gift that the receiver does not use is simply wasted: not a very nice thought. Give material possessions only if you know the recipient well enough to pick out something they were on the cusp of getting for themselves, or which they really need and will certainly enjoy using.

2. Give a consumable gift

Your friend will love your consumable gift twice: once while enjoying the organic teas, fair trade coffee, fresh flowers, fresh or dried fruits and nuts, or other consumable gift; and again when they appreciate that your gift leaves them with no guilty conscience about a gift left unused in the corner of their closet.

3. Share a piece of yourself...

Avoid material consumption altogether. Instead, offer your services to baby-sit while your friend enjoys a cozy date with their partner, give a gift certificate for a relaxing massage, or a winter’s-worth of driveway shoveling (in which case you just save that massage for yourself).

4. Make a gift of a green service

If your time is prioritized elsewhere, you can buy a green service. Consider a gift of carbon offsets for a commuting colleague or a Zipcar membership for a friend who more frequently must turn to taxis to supplement their public transport lifestyle.

5. Make a gift of any service

You will still reduce material consumption by giving a service of any kind. Especially heart-warming are humanitarian services, such as making a gift of a micro-loan (for example via Kiva).

6. Give a gift where it is needed on behalf of someone better off

Make a child smile when they get a card describing the child in another part of the world whose life will be improved by the gift of a llama or a sheep on their behalf (for example via World Gifts or Heifer.

7. Creative gifts show you care

The baby sweater you knit yourself is more likely to become a family heirloom, extending the life cycle of the materials in your gift.

8. Buy a local gift

A gift made or grown locally can tell a story or share a unique product you have discovered on your own stomping grounds. Your locally-sourced gift will save the environment from the emissions involved in shipping.

9. Buy high-quality goods

Sometimes a little extra care or money invested will result in finding a high quality gift that will do justice to the materials consumed in the manufacturing by a long lifespan. Try flea markets or vintage and second-hand shops for quality goods you can afford: then make the gift “new” with a personal touch like a special paint job, or some ribbon around the edges. Your friend will enjoy your perfect high-quality gift much longer!

10. Think about your packaging

Use packaging that will not go to waste. Your packaging may be part of the gift itself, such as wrapping the gift in a scarf or enclosing it in a box that can be reused for collecting life’s odds and ends. Reusable wrapping, such as a gift bag, will pass on the fun. For family and close friends, consider the Sunday funnies instead of commercial gift wrap.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sorry I haven’t been in touch lately with most of you. I went on a trip with Liz to London for five days, and then spent another five in Budapest visiting Adam. I left in Wales a sick Grandfather. When I returned, I was meet with a dying one. The Monday after, he passed away. He had been a coal miner and a smoker, and the cancer that has plagued him for four years… took him. So, it was not an unanticipated death, but the last two weeks of decline certainly surprised me. Thank Zeus for morphine, he did go peacefully, as they say. The morning of his death circles round and round in my brain- different memories, quotes, etc. I haven’t had much experience with death on close proximity, and the whole process, the rituals people share are so foreign to me, especially for a proper funeral and more specifically, the little phrases that for some reason need to be said to, I don’t know, help convince people of what happened or that the loss was somehow positive, silver linings. I agree that it is important to remember happy times, but to constantly repeat “think of all the happy times” or “his suffering is over now” etc... This seems so empty to me. For some reason, these words need to be repeated to help people cope with death and loss, but when I hear them, over and over, like on the morning of his death, I feel increasingly cynical about the entire situation, the rituals, and further away from the incident, the loss at hand. Bellow are some memories of that morning, written down as a way to help me, cope, Is suppose, with the feelings of emptiness parts of it left me. I’m sure my opinions of these memories will change and shift over time, on personal reflection and with others, but here it is for now.


-Read these pamplets. “coping with bereavement”

-A letter came today for Watkin. Its for a ‘Behind the eyes’ diabetic test- February 12th. I have to call and tell him he can’t come.

-yellow pages… U- undertaker—no. F. Funeral director. David. Son in Father’s chair with the yellow pages

-hot drink? Yeah, a 5th cup of tea, a welsh cake

“ebb and flow and cycle of life, it is”

-“he went peacefully”

“there was a bug on the ward, but they let us in anyway. That’s when I knew.”

“He was reaching and grabbing at invisible strings, you know, like they do when they’re dying. Playing with the edges of the sheets.”

-“Sit here, read these pamphlets with Jo while we go for the papers. Before Hazel comes.”

“When my mother gets off the phone, tell her to call your mother, it’s 6 o’clock there now.

-don’t forget Susan.

-church-chapel-Welsh-English-barial-cremate-“its all got to be…resolved, doesn’t it?”

oh, dear, dear. Dew, dew.

-poor dab.

better ring your mother. Your orders, do your duty, bach.

“I always said, we won’t go from Ystradgynlais, ever. We’ll be here for ever.”

Hazel, Ann, David in the kitchen, standing, talking warped on the reflecting kettle. But it’s the electronic that’s boiling the water for my 7th cup (in 3 hours)

The cat came in- wide-eyed, wondering. “That cat has never stepped a paw over that doorway, never.”

Last night I was lying on the floor on my back, with my knees tucked to my chest. I breathed in deep, more aware than ever of my lungs as distinct organs in my body. A full breath in, held, released. Oxygen in my lungs, my blood, easy. And you know that’s all it comes down to. That’s it.


Ah, Cymru. My home away from home. When I saw this rainbow and started freaking out, frantically taking pictures like it was a UFO or something, my grandmother shrugged it off. Apparently, with Wales as wet as it is, rainbows are fairly common place. I still think they’re freak-out worthy. When I see a rainbow I think of first- me, because Elizabeth means oath of god (and that’s what a rainbow supposedly is) then- the Noah’s in my life (you know who you are. Here’s a pixeled rainbow shout-out to my noahs’!) third- many years ago, in the days when it was just me, my little cousin Jessie, and wonderful summers full of fort building in aunt Kathy’s garden, bike rides, swimming, ice cream, stories and popping bubbles in the blistering black top on the corner of—what was it, 3rd and rose st? One day we walked along the shore (holding our pants up out of the water) into town after a storm, and there was a rainbow. We spent what I remember as hours talking about what heaven would be like, for us—all the most wonderful and beautiful things that our 9 and 5 year old minds could come up with—as the sky turned gold and pink with bulging candyland clouds and the sun slowly lowered.

And forth (if I haven’t yet been distracted from my daydreaming)- lepricons.

Here it is folks. This beach is the thing that pulled me out of a short bout of situational depression. I was not feeling well after leaving Athens and all, reflecting on the worthwhile-ness of being there, then here, and what is to come, when I took a trip to visit my Aunt Hazel and Cousin Vicky in west Wales, fifteen minutes from the ocean where we took their dogs to about everyday-rain, wind, or shine. I was struck by its enormity, strength, beauty. The feeling was about the same as the one I had on the ferryboat going to Santorini-- where everything and nothing mattered all at once. The ocean is SO different from the lakes I’m used to. Hard to explain. I made a vow to go to the beach in the winter more often. Also, it was on this trip that my affection for k9’s was born.

Hey! Look at Liz, sporting a lovely pair of Wellingtons in a castle. Liz’s visit to Wales was great. We did Swansea, Hay (a town almost completely made up of book stores) had a makeshift tea and cream, saw a rugby game and went out to a local pub for some proper tubthumping.

FISH!! Well, sort of. You may not typically think of the London Aquarium as a tourist hotspot when planning your London holiday, but it’s a really great one and if you looooove fish, like me, then I would certainly

recommend it, especially if you are looking for something less-touristy to do there. Along with the aquarium, Liz and I had a great Ethiopian dinner, went to the top of saint pauls (which leads to outside at the very top, much to our surprise- we thought we were going to the inside of the top, oh well, it’s a great view of the city) along with an evensong service there, a tour of the royal opera house backstage-another thing I HIGHLY recommend, and never would have thought of doing (thanks liz!) a walk down Portabella road aka my future street of residence, some off-the-beaten-track art galleries, down five story high tube slides at the Tate modern (if you don’t know what this is, do look it up!) basement jazz clubs, found some great little coffee joints (just our cup of tea…or, coffee, I guess(?)),

Saw Wicked the musical which was fabulous (this coming from a person who really could care less about any musical save Cats) and other things, which escape me as Liz did most of the picture taking and I don’t have them to jog my memory. We met up with some friends while we were there- Rachel, Liz’s friend of a friend who let us use her floor one night, Toni, Liz’s friend who graduated from K last year (Psych/art), cousin’s Tam and Laura, who gave us a tour of some of Shepherd’s Bush’s hot spots J and Katie, who I got to spend my last day in London chillin’ with.

On to Budapest. I have concluded that my time in Budapest was not five days, but a whole year. The sun sets around 3:30 there this time of year, and because we stayed up until about 5am every night, I saw the city mainly in the dark. Didn’t mean to turn nocturnal, just ended up talking, and suddenly it was 5am. Meeting a good friend I haven’t see in 5 months in central Europe, at night for five days, sort of threw me for a loop. But it was an amazing time full of crazy occurrences. Take Peter, for instance.

This man came up to us in the Jewish quarter and started rattling off trivia about the architecture and history of the area, and asked if he could show us around a bit. Adam probably hated me for it, but I said “sure!” and he gave us a two hour tour, knowing something about what seemed like every building. He took us into a small Synagogue,

we met the kitchen staff. In the end of our tour he lead us to a dark alley way and stole all our money and our shoes—just kidding—he lead us to a Hungarian restaurant and left us to a great inexpensive meal. It was awesome. We found the image of Bill Murry in the big Cathedral there. Adam got a hair cut (of course) at a French salon. Saw some good museums/galleries, Hungarian film, met two British blokes we thought we could teach a thing or two about life…who in the end told us a thing or two.

Had lots of falafel, cheese-filled croissants, espresso, near run-ins with the transport officers (“controllers”) for riding trams ticketless, and continuous eye opening conversation.

And now? Now I a planning my last month in Wales. Getting my head wrapped around the idea of completing my senior project by the end of the year, educating myself about the environmental challenges facing Wales, bonding with the fam, missing my friends, getting excited about doing SCHOOL again, real school, and thinking about what my summer might look like. Big scary weather forecast for this week in Wales: 6 inches of snow probable! AHHHHH! God save us all! will we make it? I better go check flashlight batteries, buy extra purified water and stock up on the cans.