Thursday, June 21, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oddly Normal

Before Boyfriend and I moved in together, everyone warned us about the transition period. Heck, even I anticipated a few battles when we were setting up the apartment, falling into a routine, and getting used to being around each other 24/7. Even after almost three and a half years of dating, I didn't expect to go from living more than 600 miles apart to living together in a two-bedroom apartment without a few hiccups.

And we did have a few hiccups at the very beginning. Nothing major, but definitely some instances when we butted heads and opinions. They all blew over within a matter of minutes, though--usually with a few silent moments and a good hug.

Honestly, I'm surprised at how normal living with Boyfriend is. I asked him about his take on the situation a week or so ago, and he pretty much said the same thing. It's like we've been living together for a long time.

The fact that two months ago, we were finishing up a two-year long distance stint blows my mind. It just seems so far from where we are now--in the absolute best way.

Sure, I wish he'd clean the George Foreman the night he makes dinner rather than three nights later, and I wish he'd spend a little less time on his computer. And sure, he wishes I'd put my shoes away, rinse the dishes better, and do a better job of cleaning the sink after I do my makeup, but things are good. Really good. And oddly normal.

I like it. :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Recently and Coming Up

Boyfriend and I made our very own Memorial Day feast of beer brats and burgers! Yum!
The Grill Master strikes again
A paid day off from work to spend together? We'll take it!
I traveled to Dallas for a long weekend to watch my not-so-little brother graduate from high school and enjoy a fun-filled family weekend.
We enjoyed do-it-yourself s'mores at one of our favorite restaurants on an impromptu date night.
We acquired even more furniture for free, including a love seat, a table and two chairs, and a small bookcase. I seriously don't think we could have been more lucky with getting stuff for the apartment. Pictures to come when the apartment isn't a total wreck.

I had a girls' night out with two of my best friends at Whiskey Wild.
Boyfriend and I attended my work's summer event--watching a Cardinals' game from an all-inclusive suite! It was my first Cards' game ever, and even this Rangers' fan had a blast!
We've been cooking up a storm!
Cheeseburgers, baked beans, and Caesar salad
Grandma's Homemade Mac and Cheese--recipe to come
Tuna Croquettes--recipe (that's so easy it can hardly be called a recipe) to come
Honey Lime Grilled Chicken--recipe here
I enjoyed lunch on the Mizzou quad on a beautiful day with two of my best friends.
I went out to celebrate my friend Anna's last night in town before her and her hubby moved back to St. Louis.
Boyfriend and I went on a total Columbia date--pizza at Shakespeare's, ice cream at Sparky's, and walking around downtown. Jill joined us, and we managed to listen in on the Girl Talk concert (perfectly, might I add) without paying a cent!
Boyfriend and I enjoyed breakfast with his cousin (who happens to live across the street from us) over the weekend. It was great to get to know her a little bit, especially because we'll be rooming together this weekend at Boyfriend's dad's wedding.

Speaking of which, here's what's on the agenda for the next two weeks:

Working Monday-Thursday and packing at night, driving to St. Louis after work on Thursday, hitting the road for Louisville early Friday morning, celebrating at Boyfriend's dad's wedding on Friday night, packing up and driving to Destin on Saturday, enjoying the beach with Boyfriend and his family, flying from Destin to Dallas on Thursday, enjoying some time with my family, and leaving for China on Friday

It's going to be a busy and action-packed few weeks, and I can't wait!!! Needless to say, I won't be able to post while I'm gone, but stay tuned for some pictures and stories from my travels when I get back!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


And this is where my plan to write every night while in Israel failed. One night in--must be a record.

On Wednesday, January 11, we spent the day in Jerusalem.

Can we just let that sink in for a minute? I spent the day in the oldest city in the world--the holiest site in existence for the Jewish people. Talk about a surreal, breathtaking experience.

To begin the day, Karmit took us to a spot that overlooked the entire city, and it was beautiful! Here, Josh led us in a short service and Karmit told us all about the city, filled us in about the different areas that we were looking out over, reviewed a little history, and laid out the itinerary for the rest of the day. Then, we hit the ground running and made our way to Temple Mountain, the site on which ruins of the first and second temples remain.

We wound our way through, stopping to look at ancient pieces of the Old City. At one point, we heard a Muslim call to prayer come over the loud speaker. Karmit told us that only Muslims are allowed in certain parts of the area to worship. It's really amazing how such different (or similar, depending on how you look at it) cultures cohabitate in such close quarters when their people have been at war since the beginning of time over that exact piece of land--the piece of land we were standing on.

Finally, we made our way to the Western Wall, also know as the Kotel. After seeing pictures of the Kotel and learning about it since I was young, I had fairly strong predictions of what I would see. I'm sorry to say that what I saw when I stepped off the bus underwhelmed me pretty significantly. The wall itself is small--after all, it's the last remaining part of an ancient structure that was almost completely destroyed. In addition to its size (or lack thereof), there was construction scaffolding surrounding much of the wall, and overall, the scene seemed very unholy. Not exactly what I pictured considering that the Kotel is the holiest site in the world for the Jewish people.

Although it shouldn't have, seeing that the men and women were separate while worshipping at the wall surprised me. Additionally, and also not surprisingly, the men's side was much larger, even though there were far more women than men worshipping at the time we were there. I also have to mention that, generally, Hasidic Jews are very unwelcoming and unfriendly toward Reform Jews. In their eyes, we're not Jewish. Throughout Israel, this was made clear to us by most of the middle-age and older locals, especially at the Kotel. Given their feelings toward us, I was shocked when the old Hasidic men would finish praying, back up from the wall about 30 feet or so, and then answer their cell phones. Just saying...

I was a little unsure of what to do once I got up to the Kotel. All around me, Hasidic women were bowing and praying. Some were even crying--one wailing hysterically. According to tradition, I wrote my prayer on a piece of paper and stuck it in one of the cracks in the wall. Then, I put my hand on the wall, closed my eyes, and just let everything sink in. I can't even tell you what I said or thought about, but I know that it was a once in a lifetime experience that I'm so thankful to have had.

Once everyone had their time at the Kotel, we headed to the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem for lunch. I tried schwarma (chicken or turkey--the locals thought they were the same thing--in a pita with sauce) and then walked around the area to see the sites and shop with some of the people in my group. I bought myself a few things and got a few goodies for some of my favorite people. I also tasted the world's best chocolate rugelach here. Seriously, if you're ever in Jerusalem, stop at Marzipan Bakery. It's SO good.

We spent most of the afternoon touring around Jerusalem and then headed back to the hotel for dinner and hanging out. That night, one of Karmit's friends came to give us a presentation of the local culture and lead us in a craft. We made our own mezuzahs! I'm not a crafty person by nature, and I don't think my mezuzah turned out very well, but it was fun, and I now have a great souvenir from the trip. After the program, we had our nightly meeting during which we talked about our thoughts on Jerusalem. Most of the people in my group had similar reactions to mine about the Kotel. We also talked about what to expect when we met the Israelis who would be joining us the next day. After a little bit of hanging out, we all went to bed to prepare for another fun-filled day.
Looking out over Jerusalem
Group 359 ♥
Our fearless leader Karmit
Josh leading us in a service before exploring Jerusalem
Walking up Temple Mountain
Sometimes Karmit likes to get locked in public restrooms and travel back in time :)
All of those white stones are tombs. The people buried there paid a fortune to be buried next to Temple Mountain so that they're ready to stand up and walk when the Messiah comes.
The Kotel
Mmm schwarma!
The Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem
My mezuzah
I know that I went to Israel five months ago--I can't believe it's already been that long--but it's certainly an adventure that I don't want to forget. For this reason, I'm determined to document my entire trip before I embark on my next overseas journey. Read parts one and two of my trip to Israel.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Week Already, Huh?

So, it's been a week since my last post. Seriously, this week flew by. I can't believe it's Friday already. Because I've been busy with work--and life in general--here's the Spark Notes version of what I've been up to.
    I spent last weekend in Dallas with my family to celebrate my little brother's high school graduation. Photos and a post to come.

    I worked my full-time job plus two other jobs on the side this week. This will continue into next week, too. Like I said, things are busy!

    I took the plunge and got my hair cut on Tuesday evening. I was scared, but I'm really happy with it and finally feel like I have a grownup hair style. Don't let the picture fool you--it actually is different. I have lots of layers and more bangs, plus the overall length is much shorter. Best of all, it feels and looks SO much healthier. And don't mind the picture--it's the best I could do in a pinch.
    Also on Tuesday, we went to trivia night at a local bar, Quinton's, with some friends. So much fun, and this girl knows a lot more about Harry S. Truman than she thought possible (don't ask me why).

    I woke up feeling bad yesterday--sore throat, headache, body aches, etc.--and yesterday was a weird day at work and I had more work to come home to, so Boyfriend made dinner. He's just awesome.
    Apparently, I've never seen a paintball bruise before, because I freaked out when Boyfriend came home last night covered in them--and I mean covered. I think we counted 31 bruises. Poor guy. At least he had fun!

    This weekend will be busy. On the agenda: going out with friends tonight, moving furniture, working, cleaning, grocery shopping, and (hopefully) relaxing tomorrow, and going to the Cardinals' game with my work on Sunday. Busy, but fun!

    Happy Friday, Everyone!

    Friday, June 1, 2012

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