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Archive for September, 2008

Last day of work

Today marks the last day of work for both Megan and me.  That feels really weird to say.  WOW.  We both woke up this morning like it was the last day of school before summer break.  Only this is going to be a really long summer break.

So the countowns continue.  One more day of work.  4 more days until the going away party.  15 days until we actually leave.  WOW.  It all seems a little surreal to me at times, and I don’t know that it’s all really going to hit me until our plane touches down in Peru on October 16.  Only then might I realize that everything we have on our backs is ALL we’re going to have for an entire year.  Only then might I realize that we are in a completely different place in a completely different culture who speak a completely different language.  WOW.  I know it’s not very eloquent, but that’s really all that comes to mind right now.  For those who know me, you know I’m very rarely at a loss for words, but today I am.  WOW.  That’s about all I have.

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20 days until departure. A handful of days of work left (both of our last days are Tuesday). A going away party next Saturday. Friends coming in from out of town to see us off. Seeing and spending as much time as possible with family and friends.

While all of this is very exciting, and while we’re brimming with anticipation for our trip, sometimes we get a little depressed. I know, I know, cry you a river, right? I know no one is going to feel sorry for us, but the thing about this trip that will easily be the hardest is that we’re REALLY going to miss home. Family, friends, and dog top the list (though not necessarily in that order 😉 ). But since we’re going to be in such a foreign place that is completely different from the culture we’re used to, I thought it would be fun to make a list of the top 10 things I’m going to miss in this year abroad. I am not including people or our dog in this, only other things.

Honorable Mention: A Phish comeback

Now this would be #1 on my list if I knew that it was going to happen. For those who know me, you know that Phish has been my favorite band since I was in high school. I spent a lot of my college years and beyond following them around the country. They broke up back in 2004, but there is a ton of chatter that they will be back, and probably within the year. Ideally, they wait until New Year’s Eve 2009 to come back so we can make it.  So Trey, Mike, Jon, Page, if you are reading this, it would work out great for us if you are patient and wait a little while longer.

#10: The St. Louis Rams (and football in general)

I had been a Rams season ticket holder since 2001 before I had to give them up before this season. I’ve gotten used to 8 Sundays downtown during the fall and winter season. While the Rams are probably the worst team in the NFL right now, it still doesn’t matter. It’s something I really enjoy doing with one of my best friends and my parents, and I’m definitely going to miss it.

#9: Cooking

I know this is a weird one, but I love cooking. I cook often, and I enjoy having a decent sized kitchen and everything that goes along with it. We will be cooking often while we’re gone in an attempt to save money, but they certainly won’t be ideal cooking conditions. I’m guessing they won’t have a nice Wustaf knife to chop my veggies, or nice pots and pans, or plenty of cutting boards, or griddles, or grills, or smokers, or any of the amenities that I’m used to cooking with. We’ve been spoiled.

#8: Our bed

We have a comfortable bed in a comfortable room in a comfortable house. We are trading that in for uncomfortable beds in uncomfortable rooms in uncomfortable places. Wait a minute, why are we doing this again?

#7: St. Louis Blues (and hockey)

I love hockey. I love the Blues. The games are the most fun to go to in St. Louis at this point because the real fans still go to the games. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to Cardinals and Rams games, but let’s face it, most fans who go suck. Most aren’t there for the game. It’s a social event or a business meeting or they get there a half hour late and leave a half hour early. Not so much with the Blues. Even with the rough years that we have endured lately as Blues fans (hell, who am I kidding, they’re all rough if you’re a Blues fan), we still support our team and we still love them. And now that they’re hopefully on the upswing and getting close to being back in the playoffs, it should be an exciting year. If they do make the playoffs, this shoots up the list because there is NOTHING like playoff hockey.

#6: Holidays

Even though I said people weren’t going to be part of this list, the main reason I will miss all holidays is because of friends and family. I’ve been at Tamm and West Park in Dogtown for all but one St. Patty’s Day since I was a sophomore in high school, and it’s tradition to skip high school/college/work no matter what day it falls on. I will miss Christmas and Thanksgiving, of course. Dinner on Christmas Eve has been a tradition in my family that I love and cherish. It brings back so many wonderful memories of my childhood, especially of my grandparents. I will also miss Christmas Eve because of the new tradition that has started since my wife and I have been together and have combined into one big family. I will miss my mother-in-laws cooking during Thanksgiving and Easter, especially the Easter potatoes (oh, who am I kidding, I will miss Gretch’s cooking year-round). I will miss Mardi Gras and all the chaos that always come with it. I will the 4th of July and the unbearable heat…no wait, I won’t miss the heat, but I’ll still miss the 4th and the fireworks and the baseball and the pork steaks.

#5: Local music and local music venues

Music is something I have loved since I can remember. Seeing live music is something that I have loved since going to my first concert many years ago. Also, we’re blessed here in St. Louis to have so many great places to go see local music on a daily basis. BB’s, Broadway Oyster Bar, Soulard, the Loop. There are so many bars, venues, and neighborhoods to go see really good music, and it’s something I’m truly going to miss and seek out in the cities we go to. Luckily for us, music is universal and our musical tastes are pretty varied, so I’m pretty confident we’ll find some great places to listen to and enjoy music during our travels.

#4: Beer

I love beer. And not that crap that is watered down and a golden color. I like real beer. Stouts. Pale Ales. Guinness. Newcastle. Schlafly. Good, thick, flavorful beers. Christmas just isn’t going to be the same this year without Schlafly’s Christmas Ale, my favorite beer of all time. Unfortunately, from what I’ve researched (yes, I’ve researched what kind of beers will be available to us in the countries we’re visiting, and no, I don’t have a problem), the beer selection in South America and SE Asia isn’t the best. I’m sure I’ll be able to find some, but it’s not going to be easy, it probably won’t be cheap, and it’s not going to be often. So I have been taking advantage of wonderful beer selection available to me here in the US. And I’ve been having a great time doing it.

#3: Teaching/coaching

Even though I’ve only done this for two years, I know that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I love it in so many ways. I went back to the school I taught at over this past weekend for a soccer game. And while it was great to see so many of my colleagues, the best part was seeing my former students and players. I honestly can’t think of a more fulfilling job than education. The look in their faces when the “light goes on” is truly amazing. It’s great to wake up and look forward to going to work. Going back this past weekend really made me miss my job, and I can’t wait to start teaching again.

#2: St. Louis Cardinals (and baseball)

If you’re from St. Louis, you love the Cardinals. And if you don’t, get the hell out because you don’t belong here. I have many memories of the Cards from growing up in St. Louis. Willie McGee. Vince Coleman. The tarp. Ozzie. The Heat is On. Don Denkinger. The Metrodome. Gussie Busch. The Clydesdales. The sale of the Cards. Old Busch being remodeled under the new era of Cardinal baseball. Tony La Russa. Big Mac. Albert. Jimmy Ballgame. Darryl Kile. Jack Buck. The 2004 season and playoffs. The home run off Lidge. Finally, the championship and parade in 06. So many great memories come from Cardinal baseball. It truly is a way of life in St. Louis. I have been to every opening day since I came home from college. The last game at old Busch. Playoff games. A World Series game. The first game at new Busch. From April to October (usually), Cardinal baseball is near the top of the list of my entertainment calendar. I’m going to be a sad man come next April when I’m not around for Opening Day. I went to my last game of the season this past week, and I had a blast, and I was truly depressed upon leaving Busch Stadium knowing that I won’t see another game there for most likely a year and a half.

And finally, drum roll please……….

The #1 thing Adam will miss about home: St. Louis style pizza, specifically Imo’s and Elicia’s

Many of you probably think it’s ludicrous that food is at the top on my list of things I’ll miss. But this isn’t just any food. It’s sweet, sweet, delicious, crunchy pizza with provel cheese. Mmmmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Many don’t like our thin crust pizza here in St. Louis. And that’s fine. I have a friend in Detroit who says, “It’s stupid. It’s like eating pizza on a f’n cracker.” Maybe, but that’s how we like it here. And I can honestly say that since my last year in college, I have probably eaten pizza on 90% of Sundays, and that is no exaggeration. I have always joked that I could probably eat pizza every single day, but the only thing is that it’s not really a joke. I truly think I could. And I know there will be plenty of pizza across the world, but I guarantee none of them will be made with provel cheese on a thin, crunchy crust.

So you can bet that the first thing I’m going to want to do when I get home is order some Imo’s. In fact, mom, dad, whoever else might come to the airport to pick us up when we arrive home after this adventure, have a pizza for me. 16 inch Canadian Bacon and Bacon, extra sauce. I won’t care if it’s cold. Then hopefully I can reach in the cooler of beer in the car, grab a Guinness, pour it in a glass, and we can head down to Busch for a playoff game as it will be October, and I expect to be back in the playoffs next year.

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On Public Transportation

At first, I was irritated.  Come on, I thought, there are seats all over this train!  Did you guys really need to surround my one litte seat and take over this whole small section?!   I’m not exactly a morning person, you see. 

The chatter around me got louder, and I reached in to my bag to turn the volume up on my music.  In fumbling for my iPod, I accidentally hit pause.  As I continued to dig, it dawned on me that the conversation surrounding me wasn’t in English.  My untrained ear couldn’t identify what language was being spoken, but I did know that all the people near me were happily chatting, and I couldn’t understand a word of it.  The strangest feeling started tickling my brain.  When I realized that tickle was the feeling of being out of place, of not belonging, my heart started to beat a little faster.  This is what it will be like.  This is just barely a taste of what the next year is going to feel like.  Only here, I’ve ridden this train before.  Here, I can read all of the signs.

I know that making our way around foreign countries, not being certain where we’re going or if we’re even on the right train (for example) is going to be stressful.  I know that there will be moments when I will wish for my house in St. Louis and everyone speaking my native language.  But for right now, I’m still tingling with the excitement of the thought of being out there.

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One month to go.

1 month, 30 days, 720 hours, 43, 200 minutes, 2, 592, 000 seconds until we leave. WOW! At this time in ONE MONTH we will be in Miami. We stay the night in Miami the night of October 15, and then we take off the next morning to fly to Lima by way of Bogota.

I can’t believe it’s almost here. Megan and I have been saying that to each other for about a month now. A year and a half of planning is down to 30 days. The countdowns have been in place for a while, but now they’re all a reality. 30 days until departure. After today, 11 days of work for Megan. About 4 or 5 days of work left for me.

The checklist is dwindling. The gear is nearly bought. The going away party is planned (Thanks Mary and Tim, moms and dads, and Amy!). Time is running out. We’re really doing this. It’s surreal to me right now, and I honestly can’t believe that this dream of ours is almost about to begin. One month to go, one month to go.

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Crunch Time

We just returned from a trip to Florida with my (Megan’s) family–a chance to squeeze as much time as possible in with some of the people we love most before we take off for such a long time.  (The trip was lovely and relaxing, and we’ll be posting more about it soon.)

Since this vacation fell so close to our departure, it has served as a sort of benchmark in our minds as we were thinking about the trip.  So many times we said, “After our trip to Rosemary Beach, we’ll have just five and half weeks until we leave.”  “After Rosemary, I’ll only have three-and-a-half weeks of work!”  “We’ll sell the car after we get back from Rosemary.”  And so on.

Well, we are back from Rosemary, and crunch time is upon us.  We leave for Peru in 39 days.  The anxiety of realizing that we only have a short period of time to get all of our affairs completely in order is nerve-wracking to say the least.  It makes things more interesting that this particular couple consists of one person who is just as likely to procrastinate as she is to go to sleep at night and another person who is not only efficient, but is so organized that I’m pretty sure he was that kid who always had his homework done before it was due.  Weirdo.  Sometimes it is beautiful process of balancing each other’s extremes.  Sometimes we lose that balance as a result of all the eye-rolling and I just have to slip some valium in his breakfast.  Whatever works. 

You’ll likely be hearing from us more often as we spend more and more time thinking about and working on the final details of the trip.  Hopefully, we’ll have more interesting tidbits to report in the coming weeks than “Geez, we have a lot to do and this trip is sure coming up fast!!”

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