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An interlude at home

So, I’m back in WV for a few days, and honestly, I’m quite bored at the moment. That’s the con to being an extrovert. I really thrive by being around people. And, there’s not a whole lot of that right now. Most of my home town peeps are elsewhere at the moment. I usually try to plan my trips home to get me the most bang and see lot of people, but that didn’t work out so well this time. I have a wedding to go to tomorrow, which should be fun. It’s actually been 6 months to the day since I’ve last made the trip home. I’m pretty sure this is the longest period of time to date that I’ve stayed away. I actually think this is a really good sign. I’m laying down roots, enjoying my new life in C-ville, and feeling less need to escape to the familiar.

My parents are good people, but we don’t really have much in common. Sometimes that feels isolating. But, I’ve learned in the last year or so to really manage my expectations and not get too worked up about not having the same kind of familial relationships other people have. My relationship with my mom has slowly gotten better over the last several years and my relationship with my dad will probably never be fully what I want. I used to think he didn’t care, but I think he just shows it in different, non-obvious ways like…washing my car this morning!

My parents will likely never get me. Never get why I want to spend so many years in school, why I want to be a vegetarian, or work out so much, or keep myself so busy, or run off to live in cities. But, I appreciate all they gave me to get me here to the person I am today. While I feel like I have pretty much nothing in common with most of my family, I know they gave me a lot, and always have my back. This is a lot more than most people can say. So I guess I’ll get over the fact we are not going to hang out much or talk every day on the phone about personal things in my life.

Being at home makes me realize how much I miss living in such a nice house. I forgot water pressure could be so intense and amazing. And air conditioning…ohhhhh air conditioning! Ice machines. and Washer and drier on site. So good.

Being in Charleston makes me miss Charlottesville. I love how health conscious the city is. Charleston is bigger and also surrounded by mountains, but Charlottesville is more full of life and vim. I’m so glad I live there. Being away this time makes me realize that somewhere in the last 6 months it really became my home and a part of me. I love it.

Well, tomorrow is a wedding of a friend from high school! Man, we are totally old enough for these adult things. I guess I feel that way, but at the same time I still feel like a kid :).

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Dead Batteries and Tour De Cville!!

This weekend was epic in a lot of ways despite a rough start (LITERALLY) on Friday night / Saturday when my car battery died. Situations like these really make me remember fondly how awesome it was to have a Daddy around to help you through these things. If nothing else, it’s convenient to have people on your side that will help rescue you with some battery juice. Thankfully, I’m not totally alone here in Cville – and I know an amazon woman who was willing to drag my butt around town looking for batteries, jumper cables, etc.

And she knows 80 thousand times more about cars than I do – all while looking pretty in a sundress.

Unfortunately, my car’s compactness got the better of us and we decided to run back to the car shop and use our feminine charms on the employees there so they’d change the battery for me. I did not have the right tools for the job. The VW beetle does make everything more difficult under the hood. Luckily I don’t have to deal with it that often and….she’s cute! So, I get over it :).

And while it would have been nice to have my Dad help me out with this, it is immensely satisfying knowing I can figure it out on my own. It may have taken me 5 times as long, but I did it.

Today I had one of those awesome days where you are a tourist in your hometown – doing things you never would unless you were showing out-of-towners around. Today I tagged along with my roommate’s family for a few hours and we were lucky enough to be at King’s Family Vineyards on a harvest day! We even got to try some of the Merlot grapes. During most tours, you just hear them explain the process, so it was sweet getting to see the people in action.

And, got to sample some delicious wines ; )

It smelled so good in there……

After the winery, we checked out a nearby peach orchard and gathered up some of the last peaches of the season.

And, just when I thought this day couldn’t get any more eventful I met up with some fellow graduate students to go on a leisure bike ride around town. A couple had very little road biking experience so it was great to help introduce them to the open road. As I heard one guy complain about a hill – I remembered that being me just 2-3 weeks ago and am happy at how quickly my endurance has improved. I mapped out our route as about 20 miles – a distance that usually tires me out good and plenty – but today I still feel ready to rock and roll!

A couple in our group was even on a tandem bike!

I try to improve something new on every ride – today I worked on timing my shifts a little better and being able to signal left without wiping out. That last one still needs quite a bit of work!

After the ride we had dinner and beer and enjoyed the beautiful weather!

Things I loved about today’s ride:

1. Being a part of introducing new riders to the sport.

2. Meeting new people.

3. Doing something active with friends – I need to work out so I might as well have a great time doing it.

4. Slowing down compared to my usual rides and appreciating the beauty of where I live.

5. Noticing improvements in my comfort level on the bike. I so much more steady, so cars passing don’t phase me much any more.

I hope this becomes a semi-regular thing, because I’m so much more likely to work out when it has a social component to it as well. I need as many people as I can to keep my on track, especially now that classes have started again (though, I’m still in homework denial on that one!).

Off the grid….

Hey all! It’s been a crazy week here in Karen-land. I’m off the grid, schedule wise!

Tuesday, the local electric people cut off the power in my apartment because the bill didn’t get switched over to my roommate’s name when she moved in a bit ago. It wasn’t totally tragic, but I did end up crashing at a friend’s place for 3 nights and had to get a lot of take out. My eating and exercise routines ended up getting mixed up.

Couch surfing, indeed! I recommend this couch though! Twas comfy!

Now I’m chilling in West Virginia at my parent’s place for the weekend. Saturday I went to a beautiful wedding of a girl I’ve known since 4th grade, I believe. She’s the first person MY age that I was friend’s with to get married (that I know of…). It’s kind of weird….apparently I’m of marrying age if I so desire to do so?? When did that happen?

Me ready for the wedding!

My hot companion for the day!

The ceremony was actually my favorite of all I’ve been to. It was outside in a nearby state park, which satisfies my inner hippie. And overall, it was just short, sweet, and simple which I thought made it feel more endearing and genuine. It was about getting married and being in love, and celebrating that with friends and family.

After I had a long catch up day with a dear friend, where we spilled our secrets and current life dramas to each other over ice cream and (later) soup! I seriously could eat all my calories from soup. I love the concept of throwing lots of flavorful things in a pot and seeing what happens.

Today I did more relaxing, catching up with friends, and squeezed a mini run in a park near my house. The run didn’t go as well as planned due to the humidity…After 2 miles I just kind of felt like I was drowning and couldn’t get productive breaths in. It was not the 5K of my dreams. I think I might have to do it inside the first time. This Southern humidity is killer. Well, hopefully I don’t let today’s failure get me down for tooo long.

It’s really hard being a vegetarian in West Virginia compared to Cville, Virginia. I struggled all weekend to eat properly- and I’ve been sneaking a lot of granola bars and cashews to get through the day. I’m kind of impressed I stayed strong for the most part. My tummy is glad we’re going to be going home tomorrow though, fo sho!

Peace,

Karen

One More Time!

So, over the last couple months I’ve been a traveling fiend it seems! It’s been awesome to catch up with my friends that seem to be scattered around the country, but I think I’m ready to stay in one place for a little while. As a little refresher:

March 14: Birthday trip to Charleston, WV

April 16: Spring fling in Philadelphia, PA

May 18: LA/Las Vegas

and now, June 4: Charlotte, NC for a little 5 year senior trip reunion.  We’d planned on doing another camping trip, but didn’t really get our act together soon enough. So instead we hung out in Charlotte and stayed one night at the great wolf lodge in concord. It’s basically a woodsy themed hotel with a built in water park you can use! Fun stuff! And, this one slide was the most terrifying/exhilerating/awesome thing ever: Like a backward 90 degree drop into this room where you just slid around manic-ly around this funnel.

I was REALLY not looking forward to the drive (550 miles total that weekend), but luckily…these dudes were worth it! We had a weekend of belly laughs and fun ! It’s great to be around friends you’ve known for such a long time. Andrew and I have been rocking together for like 11 years now! And the rest I’ve known nearly as long .

Then and Now!

Andrew and I, 5 years ago and today!

And as for me, Yeah, I'm pretty much still a total goofball!

It’s really great to explore the world – and while I hate being separated from awesome people I’ve met in the various places I’ve lived – it’s awesome to have people to visit nearly everywhere I go! And awesome to have reasons to go back home to WV! Here’s to an even more awesome/extreme 10 year reunion!

What happens in Vegas…..(Gets blogged about what now?!)

So, I promised a LA/Vegas vacation trip entry, and, I like to deliver on my promises. So, to give you a little taste of how my week away went I’ve prowled facebook for the best moments of the week and organized them here for you. Hope you enjoy. As with any trip to Vegas, there were a lot of ‘CHECK’ moments!

We started off shopping around LA and dined at one of the Mexican places with cheap ass margaritas that always seem to be in college towns (my friend Jules goes to USC). So I ‘warmed up’ for Vegas by somehow getting sloshed from one margarita  (glasses are because of the plane ride!).

Charms class drop out?

The waitor gave us tortillas, even though no one needed them...hilarity ensued!

Next it was off for cute times in Disneyland! The pedometer confirmed we walked 12 MILES THAT DAY between the two parks! Our unprepared feet were BARKING from the flip flops.

Jules and I got ears!!!

Terrifying ferris wheel....yes....it's possible. Here I am clinging for my life!

The next day we hit up the red carpet of Universal Studios, Hollywood! Hot as balls, but good times!

Convincing?

Riding Terminator 2! (SUPER!)

I fell in love!

Then it was GOODBYE LA, and HELLO SIN CITY!!!!

During the week we went to some of the hottest (Re: most expensive) night clubs in the world! Here is Tao (in the Venetian). I was in disbelief that places like this even existed. Luckily, Jules put us on lists every night we were there so we never had to pay!

Day 1 outfits! Mine looks cuter not under camera flash, and when you can see the fun back!

We met British friends, some were even on WIKIPEDIA!

But, you definitely have to PACE YOURSELF in Vegas…..

Spring Break at Tao Beach?!??!?!?!

That night Tryst at Wynn hotel was on the menu.

My bra was basically always showing, at least it was a fun color...

I was summoned to the pole for a cameo!

By the end of the night, my fishnets were crotchless! That is....A CHECK!

The next day we explored the strip and dined at Rainforest cafe where I couldn’t get enough of this snake despite the face it terrified me every time!

and decided to take on a show – Penn and Teller! They shoot each other! It’s awesome!

Saving the best club for last – XS in Encore hotel. It’s like all gold, and the gogo dancers are the hottest!

Sigh, such a crazy week. I’m glad I experienced it! I can definitely see why it’s easy to get into trouble in Vegas. But not gonna lie, it’s fabulous, and the lack of open container law definitely comes in handy when pre-gaming on the go!

I prefer more relaxing vacations where I can be active and go diving, but like I said, glad I got the Vegas experience!

One Up!

Grad students don’t really get your standard issue Spring Break. In undergrad I trekked to exotic locations (the Florida Keys, British Virgin Islands, L.A., and Belize) to dive and veg out on the beach. These days a break from classes just earns you more time to spend in the lab, but considering how stressful the last few weeks have been, I was pretty glad to have it.  But in the spirit of taking some time off, I went home to Charleston for a few days for my birthday weekend.

Some exciting things about the weekend is that I got to see a few dear high school friends! Friday I met up with Andrew, Ashley, and one of Andrew’s friends from Florida, Dan. Andrew and I have a rare, comfortable boy-girl friendship. I don’t realize how it’s totally not normal to be able to sit with your friend on the couch and rub their feet until I’m in the real world again. Why must people need their silly personal space heh? But we all had a fun day playing tourist in my home town: We went to a kid’s science museum, saw the scariest car repair shop possibly ever, ate heavenly ham, went to the dog track, ate gourmet pizza at Lola’s, and then the gentlemen cajoled us into going back to their hotel room and we played an awesome card game called Nertz.

I can't believe we've been friends more than 10 years!

SCIENCE!

I'm always the goofy one.

Saturday I had a shopping day with my mom and then met up with another highschool friend, Kerri, to chat at a bookstore and gamble some more at the good ol dog track (seriously, most hopping place in the charleston area on a saturday night!). Kerri and I crafted a great dog betting strategy by analyzing which dogs peed before race time and which didn’t. All in all a good birthday weekend besides my freakishly stuffy nose and red zombie eyes.

As hypothesized, between all the funtivities and my cold, didn’t really get a workout in while I was at home, but I did fit in some floor exercises yesterday that I could manage despite all the congestion. I hula hooped for 5 minutes on each side, did push ups, oblique stands, leg lifts, squats, and some back bends (I’ve felt kind of slouchy recently). I can’t wait to get back to more intense workouts, but I’m proud of myself for getting my body moving a bit despite the cold. I think building healthy habits is key. Even if I can’t do it all, just moving my body for a few minutes every day reinforces my goals and develops good routines that will help me be successful (that’s the hope anyway!).

Hoping for a run tomorrow….

Peace,

Karen