Thursday, March 27, 2008


Well, Erich and I are off to Bilbao, Spain today. He's going for work, and I'm going because I can. I'm really looking forward to it, but I haven't done a lot to prepare. I plan on reading the guidebooks on the way there. This will be my fourth time in Europe, and it's starting to feel just slightly routine. Looking back, I'm really proud of my international travels, and I owe it all to my extremely generous and supportive parents. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

My first time overseas was two and a half weeks in France during my senior year of high school. I stayed with a family (their daughter had stayed with my family a few weeks before), and it was such a wonderful experience. I was in a suburb of Paris and my school group went in to the city at least six full days, I think, often with some free time for us to explore. It was my first time really getting to know a city, and I may still be able to say that I know Paris better than I know Chicago. During that trip, we also toured Chateau country. I lived the French life and had some wonderful, home-cooked French and Vietnamese food (my French mom was Vietnamese), and needless to say, my French language skills improved by leaps and bounds in those few weeks.

The exchange program got me totally hooked on Europe. I felt certain I would return in college. I knew Valpo had many overseas programs, and in the beginning I thought most seriously about the study center in Cambridge, England but gradually forgot about it. During my sophomore year, one of my friends mentioned going to Reutlingen, Germany and I immediately got very excited. I knew I had to go. Within a few weeks I applied and was accepted to spend the following fall semester in Reutlingen. For sixteen weeks, I had classes four days a week, traveled around the continent most weekends on a Eurail pass, took organ lessons at a school for church music in a neighboring town, and lived the college Germany! The whole experience had its challenges, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

The following spring semester, I was fortunate enough to travel to Germany again with my college choir, the VU Chorale. Not only did I get to return so soon to the country I had gotten to know and like, but I also got to sing with a phenomenal choir in some really significant and beautiful places, including Thomaskirche in Leipzig (the church of J.S. Bach), the Schlosskirche (a.k.a. Castle Church, a.k.a. place of Luther's 95 Theses) in Wittenberg, and the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedaechtniskirche in Berlin. And this really awesome and cute guy from Valpo in the Reutlingen program came up to hear us sing and I hung out with him. He, sadly, had a girlfriend, but I still ended up marrying him. :)

Yes, I have been very fortunate in my travels. I'm so happy to be going to Europe again. I've never been to Spain and I don't know any Spanish, and because of my past experiences, that doesn't make me nervous in the least. I can't wait to experience Bilbao and write all about it when I get back!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I appreciate the change of seasons. I believe I probably appreciate summer more because of winter's existence. I love spring when it's just budding and blooming, that warm wave in the air that wakes up the grass. (I always say I can smell the photosynthesis and it's fantastic. Erich wants to find some way to prove whether what I'm smelling is actually photosynthesis.) I like summer when I can wear skirts and flip flops all the time. I like the crisp air of autumn when the leaves are changing. I even like snow, when it's pretty and sparkly around Christmastime, before it turns into disgusting mounds of icy dirt. I'm a born and raised Midwesterner and this is "my" climate.


Even though I've always felt a bit down in February and March (and even, most years, April) when winter is supposed to be fading and then gone but isn't, I'm starting to really, seriously feel like I want to move somewhere warmer. Exactly a year ago, Erich and I were in San Diego and it was the best place ever, climate-wise. And don't even get me started on Hawaii. I wouldn't need hideous mountains of ancient snow to help me appreciate the natural beauty of that great state. I could certainly handle living in Texas or Florida, or somewhere southern where winter is chilly and not horrendous.

Just, please, get me away from the kind of place where the temperatures drop below freezing in early December and stay that way and it snows on St. Patrick's Day. And if we could arrange it so I could still see my family all the time, I'd be set.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Here's another item I feel compelled to "blog it like it's hot," compliments of my friend George.

Remember when Garfield was funny? Neither do I. Actually, I loved Garfield when I was little and actually collected the books for a long time. But I was about 10 when the humor peaked for me. Now, I find it hard to believe it's still in print. There's nothing to the strip but recycled, bad jokes! But if you take out Garfield himself, you gain insight into the lonely, crazy weirdo that is Jon Arbuckle. Check out this blog:

Garfield is funny again!