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Adopting in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Denver & More

Yesterday we took a little road trip down to Denver. For those of you unaware, Denver is the capitol of Colorado. It is considered to be the gate to the west - which is interesting because St. Lois claims the same thing. Anyway, we drove down and went to the Art Fair and then walked 16th Street (also known as the mall). It was cool to walk up and down this pedestrian street and see all of the shops and restaurants. There were an incredible amount of outdoor cafes or restaurants that had outdoor dining areas. We ate lunch at the Paramount. All of us had pretty good meals and amused ourselves by reading the slogans and phrases on the t-shirts that were on display in the window of the adjoining building.

After that, we looked at a few more art stands, stopped in the cigar shop for Dad and then headed home. We passed both Invesco Stadium, Coors Field, the Convention Center (which has a giant blue bear looking in the front windows), and a few interesting office buildings. Six Flags is literally in the city and the Laramie Square and LoDo areas (particularly Union Station) at alot of atmosphere to this completely modern western city.

We hung out, watched movies, played Scene It? and other games, and ate Lorien's sausage/vegetable stew thingy. Excellent. Speaking of excellent, we had really good italian the other night, super sushi today for lunch, and yum yum Cold Stone for dessert. I love cake batter ice cream. We have hung out with Lorien's roommate alot too which has been fun.

This morning we all went over to campus to sell back Lorien's books. The campus is just as clean and crisp looking from the interior areas and walking paths as it was the other day. Besides that little adventure, we spent most of the day hanging out, playing cards (I love me some 500 rummy), and watching lots of television.

Right now I am watching Jay Leno make fun of anything telephone. And the presidents. I love that. I don't spend much time watching late night shows because I only like the stand-up parts at the beginning, oh and I am usually sleeping. Okay, I think I am going to go to sleep now. Or I'll read. I'll do something. Miss you guys over there in France. Miss you guys here in the States too. Love always, ~Heather

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Sister is the GREATEST

Subtitle: Horsetooth, Ft.Collins, & CSU

We got up, we got ready, we jumped in the car. Off to see Horsetooth Mountain and Resevoir. It is a magnificent example of geological uplifting and oh yeah, its stuningly gorgeous! It was a great little car trip and then we headed down to downtown or old town Ft.Collins (no fort left now sadly).

Downtown Ft. Collins is really cute, quaint, and evidently the result of a college town. Bars and restaurants litter the main street. However, the town is remarkable because it is clean, well landscaped with fountains and pedestrian streets and spotted with outdoor cafes. And of course it helps that you can look up from your French onion steak sandwich and see the Rocky Mountains.

While we were speaking about food .... we ate at a Cooper Smith's Brewery. I had cider with the previously mentioned sandwich. Both were delicious. The au jus sauce and the horseradish-mayonaise on the side were perfect additions. {Alice, the sandwich only had bread on the bottom - I'm trying to follow your diet. :) }

We also drove through the Colorado State University campus. The university has about 25,000 students and doesn't seem too large, but it is really pretty. My sister is a student there and she explained that you sometimes feel like you are in a cave because there are 3 basement levels in some buildings. Also, that the university doesn't seem so small when it is 10 below and you have to walk to class. But all in all I found the actual campus beautiful - and I'm not just saying the backdrop of the mountains again - the grass was so green, the buildings all seemed to be in good shape. Very cool.

Another very cool thing is that Colorado is the healthiest state in the country. This is evident when you check out the athletic facilities on campus, the parks everywhere, bike lanes on the side of most roads, and the enormous amount of people running, cycling, or otherwise getting fit around town.

And now to the title section of this blog. After lunch and the tour we went to the mall. You know I hate the mall. If you didn't, I do. Malls are for getting something specific, meeting someone, or getting a new phone battery. Shopping for clothes in the mall should be restricted to serious sales and days that you are feeling exceptionally pretty. So, take this as a setting for the following scene.

I went to the Limited. And within a few short minutes there were 12-15 hangers on the door and on the racks in this telephone booth sized prison cell. Except for the first time, maybe ever, it wasn't too bad. In fact, it wasn't bad at all. My birthday present was supposed to be a dress suit. Unfortunately I couldn't find a suit jacket that fit well. Instead, I got a skirt, pants, and a multitude of tops that can all be used as dress-up clothes. There was no, "You're too fat" commentary. There was no, "Oh, well I guess that isn't going to work." It was all so positive. Everything "looked good." I made all the decisions about things I didn't think looked good. I chose all the stuff I wanted and thought I would wear. I was not allowed to look at price tags. (Side note: Shelby was an excellent help in getting things prepared as well - she and Lorien picked out all things that would be flattering (except that bathing suit with a skirt shirt) Thanks Shelby!)

My sister not only paid for all of this new wardrobe, but I didn't feel bad about it - and she was so absolutely generous about it. We went to the Buckle and we got the most expesive pair of jeans I've ever worn in my entire life. They are Luckys and guaranteed to last. They are immensely comfortable and make me look good too.

It took me thirty minutes to get ready yesterday morning because I was so angry at myself for being ugly (I know, I know ... I have my bad days - you know you do too) and ended the day feeling pretty for looking exactly like me. It was so good. That is pretty much all because of my sister. She is the greatest sister of all time. You might disagree, but you would definitely be wrong. She is fantastic. Plus we went and saw X-Men 3 together with our parents that night too. Hello, what a great day. Feeling pretty, seeing the mountains, checking out a new city, seeing CSU, getting new clothes, and watching god movies (saw part of Hitchhiker's Guide too). What a day. Now on to another. Love always, ~Heather

Friday, May 26, 2006

Estes & Rocky Mountain National Park

I made it out to Colorado safe and sound. We missed out on the trout dance because Bobby is on the east coast, but here is hoping we'll get to see it next time. Yesterday we did nothing overly productive except taking a walk around Lorien's neighborhood, went grocery shopping, and played spades (we lost by about 300 points - I think it was only about 1/3 my fault).

This morning we were up and at 'em ready to head out. We took Lorien's Jeep (a fantastic shade of electric but not neon green) out through Estes Park and into Rocky Mountain National Park. It is surprising that we went today because today in 1805 Lewis and Clark saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time. We walked around Bear Lake and then we went up to Alberta Falls. Lorien and I did some very minimal rock type climbing and all of us did about 1.5 miles of easy hiking. We saw elk, deer, and prairie dogs on the journey, but the friendliest creature was definitely the chipmunk that ran up Mom's leg. (I'll add a picture soon.)

I think between the four of us we took 100 pictures, but the most remarkable thing was Dad coming with us to the top of the falls with us. He conquered his fear of heights and deserves some serious kudos. Also of note was filling up the bottles in the water falls. I think it is amazing how fresh real water can taste in comparison to the "spring water" you get in the store. I think they should bottle snow melt water instead, people would feel more refreshed.

We wandered around Estes Park and the little shops after a Mexican lunch along the Big Thompson River. We didn't try any of the specialty cookies or ice cream but it was nice to go in and look at the fossils in the science store (yes, I am a nerd) and just soak up the atmosphere of the small western mountain town. I think I fell asleep in the car on the way home, until it started raining, but we didn't really have to worry about the rain coming in the non-existent back windows because the Jeep is well designed against it.

Now we are back at the house (magnificent by the way) and just hanging out. I loved all the travelling about but hanging out on the couch with my sister, her roommate and my parents and enjoying this almost as much as I am liking watching Lorien's dog Rohan bite his own paw and hop around. All of these things are equally enjoyable. How great is this vacation. Off to go into my second margarita. I love them with the salt! Signing off, love always, ~Heather

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

When God Closes a Door

The French and English are mixed. Le francais et anglais sont melanger.

There is a saying that, "When God closes a door he opens a window." Basically meaning even the most difficult and obstacle filled experiences have paths out. Or, say if you really had your eye on something and it didn't work out, that something else would come up to fill its place. I just wanted to say that today it did.

Two nights ago I lost a friend (don't worry, they're still alive). I guess I didn't so much lose them as they had been drifting all along and then suddenly decided to jump out of the boat. Anyway, I was really bummed about it. Then today, a friend I thought I had scared into ignoring me (or jumping out of the boat if you want to stick with the last metaphor) popped back up. I was so enormously thrilled.

Il y a un proverbe qui dit: "Quand Dieu ferme une porte il ouvre une fenetre." C'etait mon experience aujourd'hui. J'ai un ami, mon meilleur ami du lycee qui m'est ecrit une lettre, simplement a dire qu'il ne veut pas parler avec moi encore. Super gentil, n'est-ce pas? J'etais boulverse pour peut-etre cinq minutes et apres, en colere. Je n'ai pas le patience pour les imbeciles comme ca. Et en fait, c'etait super. Je suis recu un autre message d'un ami apres un long temps qu'on n'a pas parle. J'hesite a dire que c'est un remplacement (parce que ca c'est jamais possible) mais c'est un petit "comfort" (c'est le bon mot??) - une fenetre. Aussi, je veux dire que comme bebe, c'est difficile d'ecrire ami en neutral ... tres bizarre les masculins et feminines.

In other news, I am trying to recover from not having really slept this weekend. I've been babysitting all week, which I love but find very tiring. Yesterday I had a 4 year old, two 3 year olds, and a 1.5 year old. A pleasure cruise. Carrying them around, chasing after them, playing in the yard, in the sprinklers, going to the playground, going to the art museum, feeding ducks (and I am really scared of them and a goose was totally hissing at us the whole time), making meals ... it is so much more exhausting than I think you can imagine unless you have done it.

Tomorrow however will be much better (not for the sleeping though). I am going to Colorado to see my sister. I think I miss her way more now than I ever did before, so seeing her for five whole days is going to rock. Mom and Dad and I fly out tomorrow AM around 6:30. Let me just say that getting up at 3am to get to the airport on time is not going to be the best experience of my entire life. But as you well know, I have had much longer travel days than that.

When I get back I will continue my babysitting, start housesitting, and start tutoring (hopefully). I am really going to try to start going back to my dance class, playing volleyball, and maybe even set up a recycling center in my town. Probably not the last one though. I want to have a good time this summer, I honestly do (despite previous posts that hinted I was sabotaging my own summer).

I think Garrison coming (already two weeks ago???) really put me back on my path. I was able to just listen and be with a friend, commiserate, and be almost my whole self. Oh and we even made one of those "if both of us aren't married by the time we're ..." contracts. Funny thing is, we had already done that a few years back. I don't think he has anything to worry about though, I honestly don't know why has taken other people so long to see how wonderful he is (don't get the wrong idea, he is like a brother to me).

Je passe mon temps, pour le plupart avec les enfants. Les tres petits, moins 5 ans. Tous les jours avec les jouets, les aventures, les larmes des crocodiles, et souvent avec quel qu'un dans mes bras. C'est fatiguant. Je pense que c'est impossible de comprendre si t'as jamais fait ca toi-meme. Mais bientot (demain) je vais prendre un pause et rendre une visite a mon soeur en Colorado. Elle me manque beaucoup (plus et plus maintenant je trouve) et je suis contente de la voir avec sa nouvelle maison, son chien, et sa Jeep (et aussi les montagnes d'ouest).

Quand je rentrera, je vais continuer avec le babysitting et aussi avec les autres petits travaux quand possible. Aussi, je vais recommencer avec la danse, le volley, une chorale ... je ne sais pas ... les choses diverses. Je veux passer un ete extrordinaire (au contraire des autres blogs avant qui a dit les idees differents). Je suis plus sur mon chemin maintenant apres le visite de mon ami du lycee Garrison. Il est vraiment proche de moi parce que je peut rester moi-meme avec lui pour le plupart. Il a m'aidee de trouver moi-meme et les choses important quand il etait ici.

Je vais marquer que le dialogue n'est pas un traduction direct, plus comme un sommaire avec les detailles differents. Et en francais, je pense que j'ai fini pour le moment. A la prochaine avec les nouvelles de la montagne! ~Heather

After writing all of this (mostly rough translation with different details in the French text), I am getting a little tired and also need to wash the kids dishes before they wake up from their nap again. I just wanted to say thank you for reading this though, because I know it isn't always an adventure by the typical standards ... but it is an adventure to me - this thing called life. I'll try to have some more exciting news for you next time (check the HOBY blog for the leadership adventure - when I actually get around to writing it!).

Love and miss you all. Keep in touch (I swear I am going to start responding to letters soon. I am as slack as they come right now though.) Hugs and kisses, ~Heather

P.S. I am not coming back and living in that room again.

P.P.S. Congratulations to all my friends who graduated who I didn't already say congratulations to.

P.P.P.S. Please remind me to avoid feeding my children buttered noodles ... I know I can do better than that!

HOBY

This is where I am going to tell you all about the HOBY seminar I was at last weekend. Check back. I will play catch up eventually.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Exhausticated

I cannot even begin to tell you how tired I am, and yet again, I am not sleeping. I was driving home from near Norfolk today and stopped at a rest area near exit 98 on I-95 because I didn't think I could make it home. I live at exit 58. I couldn't go 40 miles without a five minute power nap and a walk (including a face washing in a surprisingly clean bathroom). That should give you some idea.

I blame myself for this - staying up until 3:30 and then getting up at 7:30 after having only gotten 5 hours Friday and about 6 on Thursday night ... yes friends, as it turns out, driving for 7 hours, hanging out with family/friends/new acquaintances for 8 hours, working 41 hours and then sleeping for 15 ... it just isn't good for you (that 72 hour weekend ... I am somehow missing an hour - shower time maybe?).

Anyway, I have pictures. I have stories. I have new and exciting cheers (some of which I may save as soundbites because they are too funny that way). I have grass stains on my jeans and a whole new t-shirt. I am a girl who has been to a leadership conference. And with this leading ability I am now commanding myself to go to bed. I'll write to you tomorrow. Goodnight. Love always, ~Heather

Je suis trop fatiguee d'ecrire en francais. A demain. Peut-etre. ~Heather

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Catching Up

All of my packages finally arrived yesterday from France, my bank account should be closed and all remaining money transferred by tomorrow, I sent out a group email to the people from Taize, I have a pretty decent calendar of events for the summer, I have found at least one project to work on ... things are going well.

I have been playing cards with my family and watching May sweeps - because who wouldn't really? It is pretty sad though considering I haven't seen these shows in 7 months and I still know what is going on. The end of West Wing didn't jerk a single tear, which was a major disappointment. My room went from clean to messy to tidy to really messy ... I don't think I'll ever get that right.

I have been waiting around for my advisor to call for a few days now because I have some real questions to ask about things and he still hasn't called, which is passing from inconvenient to annoying fairly quickly. Life seems to be turning me in a whirlpool for the moment ... but I can see the shore approaching, which is good.

Besides all that, there is nothing interesting going on. I babysit during the days for a family up the road, which is good money and something to do. Mom thinks she may have found me some more babysitting jobs, Dad found me something as a tutor, and I am going to try and add onto that with a volunteer position taking photos for the MWR unit at Ft. Bragg. I am less worried about money now, having resolved myself to needing a loan next year no matter what and think I can educate myself here this summer if I really try. After my shower today I am going out to get started on that.

So, I just wanted to stop by, say hi, and ask for your patience as I reintegrate myself into my real life. I started replying to letters yesterday, so if you already sent me one (thanks!) you should be getting your response fairly soon. Hope to hear from you all soon. Love always, ~Heather

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Feeling(s)

Don't miss the Finally Photos blog from today as well.

The following is going to be stream of conciousness and scattered, please excuse me...

I don't know what I am feeling right now. I am so happy to read news about everyone. I got to see pictures of Martin, read how Marco was doing, here from Melanie and Arthur - everything there is going well. The woman at the post office in France lied to me, because my package didn't get to NY until yesterday, so I probably won't get it until the end of next week. I can't imagine if I had asked for it to come economy class how long they would have taken to get the boxes on a plane. Well, I guess in that case it would have come on a boat, but you get it.

I watched an entire disc of West Wing today, you know how much I love that show. And someone told me to stop being myself. They didn't mean to, and I am sure I am overreacting because I watch The Way We Were last night. Marco said the main character reminded him of me - but in the end things don't really work out for her. Bugger. Travis and I almost sang that song, Memories as a duet my junior year in high school but I lost my voice almost and couldn't sing. I could barely talk. But I managed for the directing I still had left to do.

I always give 100% to things and it seems to take so long and I am so frequently disappointed. And this isn't entirely about having been alone in the house all day - even though I was, except Shadow of course. Maybe my friends don't have the house number except Caroline. Well Garrison is coming up from Georgia tomorrow to hang out for two days and then on the 18th or before I am going to Norfolk to hang with Ian and then be a facilitator at the HOBY VA conference. I have plans. I'm going to Colorado, I'm house-sitting. I miss doing things.

I listened to French music today. I shouldn't have, because now I miss things from France. I was doing just dandy. And I lost 15 pounds in the past 7 months and I have gained 4 in the past week eating this American food again. I need to get my brain and body in check. I think keeping active is the best way to do that. I'm terrified Paula could have been right. I won't let that happen to me again, no slipping, because the slope is too slippery.

And I find myself waiting for somthing (things) I know will never happen. I really need to find a friend or I am going to eat desserts and mope all night. But the only friend I have in this town hasn't bothered to call once in ... well ages. Almost 8 months. And I don't know if that qualifies as being a friend. And even if he did call, I don't know if he is the person I want to see. I am all too often the shoulder and there are so rarely shoulders for me. One-sided relationships blow. But that is the curse of having friends who are immature.

Oh, how so many of my friends are real adults with passion and heart and shoulders open and available no matter the problem - but even they are hard to talk to, because I feel bad asking them to help support me and my burdens when they have so many other important things going on - lives, with families, jobs, resposibilities that venture farther than feeding the dog. Feeding. I think maybe I am grumpy because I didn't eat. I'll eat, then maybe I'll feel better.

Don't worry (those of you who do), I'm not going to do anything rash - I'll lock all the chocolate in the pantry and take a walk. After all, what is there to be upset about? Life is beautiful and nothing beats a gorgeous spring day with just enough clouds to keep the sun from broiling the earth. Off I go. Hugs and kisses. ~Heather

Finally Photos

In deference to all the promises it seemed I was going to break about adding photos and stories to the blog, I decided today was a better day than never to get started. I am going through the last few series of blogs and adding photos to them. Woohoo for you (and me)! Below is a list of the blogs that now have photos attached to them, browse at your leisure.

Champadouze - My weekend with the Champanules April 30-May 1, 2006

Nancy - Two days in Nancy with Alice and Isabelle February

Taize (the experience) and Taize (the basics) - My five days at the Taize community monastery with the Aumonerie April 18 - 23, 2006

Besides that I have spent the day doing a variety of tasks on the computer. In my search for photos I discovered the following two which I realized I never told you about. There was an Artist-in-Residence at Chanzy when I was there and she worked with a group that called themselves Flashmob. In a burst of artistic something or other (and a good way to get kids out of class) they organized an event where everyone would open their umbrellas at the same time in the school courtyard. I took pictures from my bathroom window of that particuler event.

They filmed it from above so that they could see the wave function of people using visual clues to open their umbrellas. I think that might have made a good integrated project for a math class too. Anyway, the following Friday they "flashmobbed" again, except with paper airplanes. The students all received airplanes and wrote a funny, serious, or other type of message inside. At the same time they through the planes in the air, and then read the message they randomly received. It was a pretty cool deal. Anyway, these are the pictures of those two events.

My last day in Paris strolling on the Seine May 2, 2006 is posted below. I thought you might enjoy these final images of a year overwhelmingly full of beautiful and breathtaking memories. Obviously the Eiffel Tower is a common focal point in pictures of Paris, but this picture was taken especially for Caroline who loved the tower and the golden horse towers that serve as picturesque columns at the end of one of the bridges that spans the Seine.

Less breathtaking than monumental is the side of the statue to the right. It is a monument for General Lafayette, the French and American patriot who helped saved the US during the Revolutionary War. I thought it was particularly appropriate because of where I'll be spending my summer - the town being named after him and all.

And finally we arrive at the gorgeous Tuilleries Gardens. I have tons of photos of this park (where I happened to have lunch last Tuesday). But this is a picture of a place I spent a few minutes sketching as well and that I wanted to serve as a comparison image. The most memorable part of that day though was lying down in the Garden, right near the entrance to the Louvre and within vision of the obelisk of the Place de Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe and taking a nap. It was warm, sunny, calm, and a wonderful place to dream.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bientot (Soon)

Bientot je besoin changer le titre de ce blog, parceque je ne suis pas toujours en France. Je pense de ca maintenant parceque je suis ici, dans le "frog" ou je cherche un herbergement (apartment, petit maison, condo, etc) pour l'annee prochaine. Quand j'ai demenagee, qu'est-ce que je vais appeller mon blog? Moi la-bas a DC? C'est pas hyper-practique, ca. (Aussi ce blog sans accents n'est pas super bien non plus.)

J'ai jamais habiter dans un apartement - et je ne suis pas sur de tous les questions il faut que je demande avant, ni les choses je besoin apprendre ... c'est tout neuf. Sur un cote, c'est bizarre parce que avant mon demanagement a Charleville, je n'avais pas trop peur - et cette experience etait vachement plus dificile et neuf que ce situation. Dans mon propre pays je ne veux pas faire les fauts. C'est impossible de devenir parfait mais je ne suis pas contente de tous quand j'ai tort, je me trompe, ou quelquechose comme ca.

Peut-etre mon vulnerabilite est que je ne veux pas que les gens me voir avec les petits problemes. En France, j'ai trouvee, pour le premier fois, qu'il netait pas une chance dans le monde que je vais arriver avec tous mes aspirations - a cause de la langue, le culture, la nourriture, etc. Mais ici, il n'y a pas un excuse, aucun "reason" pour un faut. Est-ce que c'est possible, "perfection"? Probalement, non. Et quand meme, parce que je suis une "masochist" (quelqu'un qui fait les choses a faire mal a lui-meme - c'est un blague le note la) je vais continuer, je vais insister de moi-meme que je ne me trompe pas, jamais. En anglais, je suis 10 fois plus dur sur moi-meme. Mais pourquoi?

Tant pis, parce que je vais jamais arriver a le reponse. Un autre "imperfection." Zut alors.

A la prochaine. ~Heather

Basically, that blog was an introspective into possible names for my blog next year, and my inability to be comfortable with failure. I have a perfection complex where I realize I will never actually be perfect but push myself insistently towards the goal and even get upset when I don't achienve it. An incredible disservice to myself and those around me because I never appear to be satisfied with my work (or theirs, though I am, because I don't think anyone else should have to be perfect, except Mr. Perfect, and he doesn't actually exist in my life, yet.) That was a fun tangent even I had to read twice.

Ugh. Bummy old me for never being able to commit to something without letting it take me over and bummy me for being such a perfectionist? Why was I satisfied with less than perfect in France but never quite satisfied with my fallability in America. It's the $64,000 question (you get bonus points for knowing which 90's movie that phrase comes from and even more if you can say where it came from before that). So, that is where the paraphrasing ends and I rush off into the sunset to continue trying to find apartments on the internet. I'm glad I have alot of free time this summer. I think I am going to need it.

Hugs and kisses to those who wish them, ~Heather

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lemon Cake & Lemon Chicken

If you are what you eat, I'm sour (in a very sweet way).

Because it is my birthday, my mother is making my favorite things for me to eat, and it just so happens they both happen to be lemony. I wouldn't usually talk about my birthday, because it truly is an awful lot like every other day of the year, except this year is a bit unusual. It is the first time in four years I'll be home on my birthday. This little detail might not seem important to most people - especially because I'm not having a party or any other type of big celebration - but I am a girl who adores tradition and tradition says you get your favorite foods on your birthday; I'm thrilled to be able to participate again after such a long time.

In other annual like news, I feel no different. I have been looking forward to this age since the sixth grade - I think because of a strangeness I have yet to shake from my mentality. But anyway, I don't know if this year is going to be a big year or not, a good year or not, an exciting year, the year of my life, or a year that is going to change me forever or not. But I feel like every year has changed me at least a little and I haven't, perspectively, had a "bad" year yet, so I don't imagine it will start now.

I hope I can be a good person this year. I want to do so many things, but specifically take this year to be a good friend. Now more than ever I have friends all over the world, and though not linked through blood, I have family all over the world too. I make it my mission to keep in touch, to send birthday and anniversary notices, hugs and smiles, letters or phone calls - whatever it takes to keep the chain alive and strong.

I want to be a good student and worker, a good roommate and citizen, and a patient and observant person of some relative sort of significance. I want to continue to be brave and say the things I think when I think or feel them. I want to use my "nothing's impossible" mentality to overcome any obstacle. I want to finally keep my room clean and in a state of order. I still don't know how any of that is going to work out.

2006 Started in Ireland for me and I have since been to five countries before coming home to this one. I miss so much of my experience overseas already and find myself talking to the dog in French just because he doesn't seem to mind and I think I am driving my parents mad by my incessant chattering about France. I don't want to forget. So, as my last personal mission: I won't forget the things I've learned, tangible or not and apply those things to my life here at home.

All of these seem pretty reasonable to me. I guess we'll see. It is an awful lot though. So if you'd like to do me the magnificent favor of writing to me first, you could help me achieve my goals for this prime numbered year. Comments, suggetions, or advice always welcome. Off to a relaxing day here at home! Love always, ~ Heather

C'est mon anniversaire est grace a la date, ma mere preparera mes repas preferes. Je vais aller partager le dejeuner pour le moment - mais je vais essayer d'ecrire plus en francais le prochaine fois. Merci pour votre patience encore et vous me manqez beaucoup. Bisous, ~Heather

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Home Again Home Again

_____________________________ (kudos to anyone who can fill in the blank there)

I wanted to let everyong know that I am back home again, safe and sound, and in the presence of all my luggage! The trip went well, minus one little hitch with US Airways' baggage policy, and I am (knock on wood) so far free from symptoms of jetlag.

Je suis arrivee - en tout securite et avec toutes mes valises. Plus, je ne suis pas fatiguee. Super! Sauf un petit amend (ils sont nuls, les gens a US Airways) tout va bien.

I am looking forward to this summer of visits: Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, New Jersey, Virginia, and South Carolina. I might be working the HOBY conference in VA in a few weeks but besides that I am free and clear for the summer. Anyone feeling ready for a roadtrip should let me know and I am so in.

I did not receive the internship at the OMB or the fellowship at the Smithsonian and am therefore definitively going to American University next year in pursuit of my masters with no other strings attached. I might apply for some other interships though. Who knows really.

For now though I am going to help Mom cook dinner and then do something productive. I am not feeling exceptionally productive today - laziness, being a little depressed, and good old fashioned procrastination all working in my favor - I better leave you while I still have the energy to do anything at all. Hugs and kisses, ~Heather

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Marques, Prêt,....

On your mark, get set, ....

It is almost time to leave France. I am in Paris for the last time (for awhile anyway). I have no idea what I am going to do with myself, but I have about 10 hours to kill. Not a bad city to have free time in, I know, but how to best experience my last day in France? Where will I go? What will I see and do? Because it is Tuesday, almost everything is closed - museums, monuments and the likes - so maybe I'll just go for a really long walk and see what there is to see.

I left Charleville on Friday and came to Paris, left my bags and then headed over to Laval (see Champadouze blog - when it is actually finished). It was so sad to leave, and everyone was really helpful getting me out the door. You know how much I hate packing, and I had to repack all my boxes at the post office to save 100€, obviously worth it, but a big time killer. It was cool how it ended though, the same way it began - with me talking to the Dominguez family and with huge suitcases at the train station. Everyone keeps asking if I have good memories of France, well of course I do! I just don't know how to express my answer better than, "Oui, bien sûr!" (Yes, definitely!).

Anyway, this is just a little note before I grab my shower to let everyone know I am alive and well, in Paris, and ready to be home but not ready to leave. Amazing the amount of contradictions I am capable of. For real, I am not going to waste my last day in France writing to you in English on the computer. I can do that next week at home. Love always, ~Heather

Champadouze


Mon visite à Laval avec le groupe des Champanules. C'est nous a Laval (pas tout le monde, et moi, j'ai pris le photo). On a passe quelques heures en ville. Je vais monter les autres photos sur le site des Champanules bientot.

Pendant le weekend j'etais Miss. Montre et responsable pour l'horaire. J'adore quand je peux rendre un service pour les autres, donc ce n'etait pas de tout un probleme.

Valerie a rangee mon lit pour moi un apres-midi. Monsieur Bear etait content avec son mode nouveau.

News from my trip to Laval, France with the Champanules group:

It was a weekend of singing and frivolity in Laval with the other choristes. I had a fantastic time singing, eating, swinging through trees on a ropes course, touring the monastery and farm grounds, and of course visiting downtown Laval.

I was assigned the post of Miss. Watch during the weekend, which basically means I was responsible to get everyone to the appropriate activity at the appropriate time - whether we were finished with the previous thing or not. It felt strange being the youngest group member and obviously speaking with an accent to people I had either only met once or not at all before - and telling them what to do and when to do it. I know it was my job (for once I didn't ask for a masochistic task, yet accepted unknowingly (joking)) but it still felt slightly strange.

The music this time was magnificent, we sang songs in Old English, Old French, Spanish, a negro spiritual, a french church song, and heard a variety of other things as well. We danced traditional Scottish dances, saw a slide presentation on a trip to Quebec (which included a 5 day hike through the snow in February and people "swimming" in the snow (yes, bathing suits at -15C, great plan), and a stop in Montreal), and otherwise enjoyed each others company. I would definitely relate the experience a success, and in comparison to my first time, a HUGE improvement on my spoken French.

It was the first weekend I spent all in French and the last - nothing like end caps to serve as a good judging system. The weekend could have been improved by a little more organization and the presence of my French family (Alice, Hugues, Martin, and ???). But those things weren't really possible, and so I will have marvelous memories anyway. Because I am doing this in retrospective by about a week now, I know I am being less detailed than my usual self, but I hope you enjoy it all the same.

Love always, ~Heather

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