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Brrrrrr, it’s cold in here

Posted by Gypsy on Nov 15, 2010

It’s astounding how much can happen in less than two weeks. After leaving Charleston, I drove straight up I-95 to the Hudson Valley area to visit my brother and his wife for a few days. For the most part, the goal was to relax and chill while I was there. At five months pregnant, Amanda isn’t exactly up for being out and about the entire weekend after working all week. However, we did have a couple fun events on the agenda. First up was Rock of Ages on Friday night. I caught the show back in October when I was in New York for a comic book convention, however I got tickets through the lottery, meaning they were very cheap but offered a limited view of the stage. This time around I ordered the tickets ahead of time, getting us seats in the center of the mezzanine, three rows from the front. While the tickets were more expensive than the lottery tickets, it was definitely worth the expense. I hadn’t realized how much I missed the first time around by sitting in seats with an obstructed view.

The other event planned for the weekend was West Point’s last home game of the season, against the Air Force Academy. Football is a sport that wasn’t offered at my high school and wasn’t watched by my family, so I missed out on that particular American past-time. As an adult, though, I’ve watched enough to at least understand the rules and recognize when something exciting happens. Even so, I was very excited for the game. Since Jason and Amanda live on post, we were able to avoid the nightmare of parking by just walking to a shuttle stop and hopping on. We got there a little later than intended, the result of our own laziness, but luckily made it in time to watch the Black Knights, West Point’s parachute team, drop in before the game started.

The Black Knights

The rest of my time at West Point was spent mostly just relaxing and hanging out. On Wednesday I finally drove the last 5 hours home. Since my arrival I’ve been focused on getting settled in and staying on top of my schoolwork. With less than 4 weeks left, my main concern is ensuring I finish both classes with a B or better (though I’d obviously prefer an A in each) so I can get my degree and finally be done with it.

There’s no place like home (again)

Posted by Gypsy on Nov 4, 2010

Short version: I’m moving back to New York.

The longer version I’ve been meaning to write about for a couple weeks now, but as usual time got away from me. So now I’m actually in the middle of this move and finally getting around to writing about it. Shortly after Andy left for Japan, Joe and Nicole were awesome enough to invite me to stay with them for a couple months while I looked for a job and a place to live. However, a couple months turned into eight as I realized finding a job was far more challenging than I expected and finding a place of my own to live in was less exciting when armed with the knowledge that I would be sitting alone in it all day with no one to talk to. So after eight months of living with Joe and Nicole, I decided it was time to impose on someone else for a little while and my loving parents drew the short straw.

The decision was made in mid-October after we returned from a comic book convention in New York and since then I’ve just been focusing on school and getting this move taken care of. A week after the decision was made, I hopped in my car and drove it up to Maryland to put it into long-term storage since it’s not exactly practical for a New York winter. The next day I flew back down to Charleston to finish tying up other loose ends. Honestly, there was really no immediate need to rush. Joe and Nicole weren’t kicking me out on my rear or anything. It was really a practical decision. I already had plans to drive up to West Point this weekend to visit my brother and go see my first football game ever and it really made no sense to drive up there, then back to the south, only to go back to New York a couple weeks later. Might as well just visit Jason and Amanda and then head right up to mom and dad’s after the weekend.

So at this point I’m getting ready to hit the road. The car is packed (with the exception of a few minor items) and gassed up. The iPod has been updated with some new music and podcasts. And my parents have been warned. I’m not completely sure what the plan is when I get there. I do know that my immediate concern is finishing my last five weeks of school and getting the grades I’m required to have so I can graduate in December. Especially now that the cap and gown are already ordered, the announcements are just waiting to be addressed, and the plane tickets to San Antonio have already been bought.

Lowcountry Race for the Cure 5k race report

Posted by Gypsy on Oct 17, 2010

Running the Lowcountry Race for the Cure was a relatively last minute decision and I didn’t register until Wednesday, four days before the event. I had been going back and forth, unable to make a decision, but finally opted to go for it when my friend Chrisey asked me about it while we were working out. Besides, who can resist a race where the dominant color will be pink?

Even though the actual 5k didn’t start until 9:15, I met Chrisey (along with her husband and another friend) and Dawn at the gym at 6:15 so we could carpool to Daniel Island, where the race was being held. Since it was pretty early, we were able to find a place to park right away. Chrisey was running with a team, so while she went to find them Dawn and I hit the sponsor booths for some swag. We also may or may not have grabbed cupcakes from the Bi-Lo booth. Cupcakes are an acceptable breakfast on special occasions, right?

Chrisey, me, and Dawn

The course was a flat, tailed-loop going almost entirely through residential neighborhoods. This was actually pretty fun as tons of people were on their porches to cheer the runners on and one guy even had his drum kit out to give us a beat to run to.

Mile 1: 10:00 I was trying to keep up with Chrisey, but since her goal was a sub-30 minute 5K, there was no way I could and I ended up falling back about a half mile in.

Mile 2: 10:16 Still keeping a decent pace, but starting to slow down. My back/hip was hurting for some reason and that definitely had an effect on my time.

Mile 3: 10:39

Final .1: 1:15

Fashion report: I wore an Adidas running skirt with a black tank top and my pink Nike Zoom Elite 4 running shoes. I also had a pink bracelet around my wrist. I started the day with a sweatshirt as well because it was pretty cold, but by the time our race was about to start it had warmed up considerably and I ditched it. I kinda wish I had put together something more festive and pink for the race, but since I signed up last minute I didn’t really think about it. Next year I’ll be more fashion conscious.

Turning Japanese – part 3

Posted by Gypsy on Oct 16, 2010

With the weather finally relatively nice, it was time to get our butts outside to do some sightseeing. I say relatively nice because while the sun was shining, it was also in the high 90s and humid, so it looked beautiful but felt miserable. We started off by catching the bus to Foster, figuring it would save us a little money on cab fare as the exchange rate has been pretty rough lately. From there, we grabbed a cab to take us to our first stop, the Nakamura House, an 18th century farmhouse that is now a museum. We were actually able to actually walk through the house, which required taking off our shoes first. What I found really cool about this was not only how soft the tatami mats are (I’m totally wanting to do a whole room with them once I have my own place again), but also how smooth and soft the wood was in between rooms and on the steps up to the house. Another feature of the house I dug was the wooden pegs that were used to actually hold the house together. Houses really aren’t made like that anymore.

Andy (to show height)

We also saw some examples of shisa, or shishi, dogs, the traditional Ryukyuan guardians that are often placed at the doors or on the rooftops of houses. The shisa consist of a male and a female, one with its mouth open and the other with its mouth closed. According to legend, the male has his mouth open to expel evil from the home while the female has her mouth closed to keep in the happiness. However, there are some who believe that the closed mouth dog is the male, who keeps evil out, while the female’s mouth is open to share happiness.

Nakamura House

After we were done at the Nakamura House, we walked up the hill to Nakagusuku Castle, the first stone castle to be built in Japan. It was built in 1450, but at this point it is in ruins. But the really cool things about Nakagusuku Castle is the view because it is so high up on the island. From the first section of the castle ruins, it is possible to see the Pacific Ocean on one side and the East China Sea on the other. I took a video, which can be seen here, but keep in mind it’s very shaky. As impressive as the view from this vantage point was, I think the next thing Andy and I saw ended up being our favorite part of the castle. Stepping down from the first section, we discovered a stone staircase leading to a well. While we were not looking forward to going back up the stairs, our curiosity got the better of us, we made our descent and were immediately rewarded by a temperature drop of at least ten degrees. I probably could’ve sat down there the rest of the day and been completely content.

Stairs up from the well

By this point my trip to Okinawa was about 60 percent complete and I still hadn’t made it to the beach even though all I could see was beautiful clear water and every day was hot. So it was just our luck that the day we planned on going to Kadena Marina for snorkeling would be the day the storm clouds rolled in. Instead, Andy and I, along with his friend Austin, went to Araha Park to spend some time walking around and taking photos. The rain didn’t hold off forever, though, and we waited it out up at Futenma bowling and seeing a movie.

Storm clouds rolling in at Araha beach

The next day it was time to check out of our hotel room on Futenma and go back to Naha for the last three days of my trip. Since it was a beautiful day and we had time to kill between checking out of one hotel and into the next, Austin picked us up and we went to Kadena Marina to finally go snorkeling. This was my first time snorkeling and as someone who isn’t a strong swimmer I was pretty nervous. While I did give it my best try, it just didn’t work out for me and I wasn’t having fun at all. Luckily, I have the best husband ever because even though he really wanted to go snorkeling he was totally cool with heading over to the beach area and just swimming and hanging out in the water. After, we head out for a bite to eat before Austin drove us to Naha to check into our hotel.

Flickr sets in this post: Japan August 2010