Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Rather Good Day...

Shorty...I promise.

The thing is, today I had a pretty great day filled with some things and people that make me smile. I also, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, managed to tote my camera around with me all day long...and was able to document said smile-worthy activities and, here goes...

Started out the day by NOT getting out of bed earlier than absolutely necessary...delightful...

Got out of bed just in time to get dressed and have lunch with these two lovely ladies. Marne' and Laura took me out for an early birthday lunch (yes, I know I only have two days left... but seeing as how this birthday will mark being more 30 than 20, I'm holding on to every last second of my 25th year...thanks very much).

Anyway, we talked about everything and nothing...made plans to visit each other in states and cities all over the country, and laughed about funny memories that we've re-hashed at least a hundred times, but still manage to find infinite humor in. After paying our check, another 30 or 40 minutes of chatting and laughing, and probably a third or fourth pass by the waitress giving us the evil eye, we finally left the's easy to see why these girls are two of my favorites.

Next it was off to BYU's Homecoming football game with Claire and Joel. It was FREEZING, but we had a great time and it was so fun to be back in the stadium wearing cougar blue and cheering my heart out. All in all it was a good game, we won, it didn't snow...and did I mention we got free beanies? CANNOT beat that. Nope... You can't.

Have I mentioned I love this one, too?
After the game we went back to Claire and Joel's with Joel's family for brownies and ice cream as Claire's belated birthday celebration. Sadly, I did not have my camera at this point. Not documented. My bad. Suffice it to say it was lots of fun and way to go Mother Wagstaff on the brownies. Yum.

So, to end the night I went back to the hotel, changed and cleaned up and headed to a birthday party of a friend. Looking for trouble obviously...(okay, not really, just got bored waiting for my friend to pick me up...and since I had been taking pictures all day anyway...please, like I would actually look for trouble...honestly).

So, the party was a total anomaly, and there were like 25 guys there and about 9 girls...weird (not quite as noteworthy as the MTV snowglobe balloon party...but still). So, I chatted, flirted, giggled, asked enticing questions, etc, etc, etc...the sad's just still a little awkward, and I'm not really good at it...curses. Oh's never too late to get a puppy, right?

All in all, it was still a rather good day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Okay, Okay, I Give...

I know I haven't been very good about posting the past few...*gulp*...months. I apologize. The truth is, I've just been feeling a little uninspired lately...and I suddenly have developed a severe case of fickle memory and keep forgetting my camera, so, not only do I not have any witty, sentimental, strange, or even mildly interesting anecdotes to relate...I also have no photos. Sorry. I fail.

So, at the behest of a several of you, I've decided to expound on a rather terrifying topic...taking on, not just Provo...Brigham Young University--the under 25 dating capital of THE WORLD--at the ripe old age of twenty fix (ie when you're more twenty six than you are twenty five...but not quite willing to give up that coveted slot in the early to mid-twenties bracket when registering for things like marathons, magazines, beauty coupons, know...twenty-fix).

It's a strange thing, coming back to your alma mater, it's such a flood of memories...the spots where you studied, slept, hid-out, ate lunch, had the odd breakdown, kissed that one guy, or was it the other one? (KIDDING, I'm totally kidding, geez, give me a little credit) Buildings where you lived and studied are now just fields of grass or have been paved over to make way for newer, shinier facilities and, strangely (read annoyingly), even though you've only been gone 2 years, all the other students seem to have gotten significantly younger (since when are they letting 18 year-olds into college? rude!). All in all, it's kind of a surreal experience.

So, as I pondered on coming back and reverting back to student life (sort of...I don't know if living in a hotel and having your life paid for really counts...) I tried to figure out how exactly I was going to approach the whole situation. Was I going to try to integrate myself fully back into the collegiate culture, or was I going to stay on the fringes and be like those white-haired professors' wives that end up in lower level language classes and humanities courses as they deal with empty nest syndrome and try to further their own personal enrichment...coming to class and paying just dues, but not really being considered a part of the student body...

Tough choice...but as visions of ladies in elastic waistband jeans with rolling backpacks flashed through my head I realized I was just going to have to bite the bullet and try my best to fit in...again.

I'm not going to lie...first week was tough. Despite my best efforts, I just felt like I stuck out. It also didn't help that I wasn't listed on any of the class roles so with every new class and professor I had to give an explanation of who I was, why I was there, why I wouldn't actually be getting grades, etc, etc, etc...subtle 'Manda...way to blend in...anybody have a rolling backpack I can borrow?!?

Anyway, don't worry, I'm not going to torment you with a week-by-week log of my awkwardness in trying to re-integrate myself into the student population. Suffice it to say that things got better, and I even got invited to a few crazy parties (one involved a very small apartment filled with lots of people and even more in, if a guy of average height was standing still in the room the balloons would have been up to his chest...meaning for those of us on the shorter end of the spectrum, they hit just above the neck...add in about 50 dancing college students and lots of hip hop was kind of like being stuck in the MTV Snow Globe from sort of a fun, crazy, "oh, my friends are not gonna believe this" kind of way). Like I said, things got's a sliding scale...

While there have definitely been some awkward moments, there are also some things that are pretty sweet about coming back under my current circumstances. Among them are:

  • Not being poor (I find this to be pretty much a plus as compared to my 24 previous years of existence).
  • People in my classes think I am a genius...*Note* THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED helps to be able to rattle off random facts about Korean politics on command...especially in a room full of recently returned missionaries who are obsessed with the country, but know next to nothing about the way it actually functions...totally money...
  • Getting to spend tons of time with friends and fam...what more could I want?
  • Eye candy. Okay, I know, most of them are young enough that I could have been babysitting them at some point, but can you blame me?
  • Renewed appreciation for my own individual sense of style. I have to say I love coming to church and being one of about seven women in the entire congregation with her natural hair color and definitely the only one sporting togs picked up at a flea market (and not looking bad while doing it, thanks). I think the root of this is really just realizing how much I've grown into myself since moving to DC and how comfortable it's made me with my own individuality. Bless it.
  • Running at altitude. Not gonna lie, the first week was miserable..I thought my lungs were going to explode every time I hit the pavement...However, after two months of training at 4500 feet, running the Richmond Half Marathon at 150 feet is going to be pretty much great.
  • Thai Ruby...'nuf said
  • Having someone else make my bed EVERY DAY
  • The unprecedented opportunity to spend at least 8 hours a day studying nothing but Korean and working with some remarkable people who have been unnecessarily dedicated to my success. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to work with these great tutors, teachers, and friends on a daily basis.
  • Ummm, in-house hot tub...Yee-aaah!
  • Meeting the occasional guy who happened to hear that I had an actual job and was over the age of 23 and is actually interested. Did I mention said occasional guy happens to be an attorney? Again, Bless it.
  • Riding a bike. I never biked when I was in school. I always walked...but there is something about racing down University Parkway in the cool fall air that does wonders for the soul...there are days when I get to my hotel and I feel like I just want to keep riding around for hours listening to the wind rush past my ears...
  • Football. #8. Again, 'nuf said.
In all seriousness, this list could go on, and on, and on. There have been a lot of great things about being back, some of them silly and some of them a little more on the serious side. Really, one of the greatest benefits of this trip has been the confirmation that moving to DC, taking my job, and doing what I've been doing for the last year and a half were truly the right choice for me, and I wouldn't have my life be any other way. This experience has been so rewarding, not just from a linguistical improvement point of view, but has made me value so much my every day life in DC. So, while I probably won't come home with (m)any cougar-ing successes (sorry guys...I just couldn't fully get behind it) I will definitely come back with a renewed sense of appreciation for what can often feel like the daily grind.

And hey...I've still got three whole weeks left, so who knows what else could happen...