Sunday, March 27, 2011

Full Circles

Boston is a place for me where life comes full circle.  It's very similar to Plattsburgh in that essence. I altered the major course of my life by selecting Plattsburgh as my college of choice, met my future husband, left, came back and married him.  That's some pretty good closure when leaving an area you lived in for 7 + years.

Plattsburgh connected me to my international love.  I studied abroad in Australia and so Plattsburgh altered my life by giving me a desire to permanently continue exploring new lands.  So, I applied to JET.  I interviewed in Boston for JET.  What do you know, my interview went well and I spent two years in the beautiful land of Japan.

Jon and I went back to Boston to visit his sister and my friend, Ben.  When we arrived to Boston, our future was still uncertain.  Our worries were the same, will Peace Corps give us  more information?  Are we in or should I start looking at graduate schools?  Who knows?  But, everything reminded me of how my life ending up in Japan all began in Boston.

We arrived in the afternoon on Monday and relaxed with his sister.  On Tuesday, I was getting antsy about Peace Corps.  According to their website, they should at very least be reviewing our information.  I made a few phone calls and they told us they weren't going to review us until July.  However, we're supposed to leave in July!  I was shocked and upset that no one told us this new information and slightly panicky because we didn't budget for such a drastic change in departure dates.  Well, life goes on and we all went to see a Boston Bruins game.  Hockey is the only sport that I will ever consider watching on TV and by far the only sport I thoroughly enjoy in a large arena.  Although I am a Sabres fan by hometown preference, I was excited to experience being in the cheap seats for a Bruins game.  The crowd, in comparison to Montreal Canadiens fans were much tamer.  I attribute this to the fact that I could actually understand what was going on around me.  The Bruins won and it was great.

On Day 3 of our time in Boston, we walked the freedom trail. Full Circle: You see, I flew to Boston for an orientation 2 days before we departed for Japan.  After my orientation, I had done the freedom trail on my own.  All the historic landmarks, from the gravestones of very important founding fathers to buildings where people met to protest the British monarchy, to passing the Borders store which I bought my first Japanese dictionary from after I completed the freedom trail in 2006 left me with all the memories and excitement I felt before departing from Japan.  The only sad part of this time for was saying goodbye to Jon.  Full circle: here I am with Jon, waiting to hear more about my next international experience.  I went to Plattsburgh, experienced international, met Jon, experienced international, married Jon,....what's next? Waiting for full circle to happen in Boston.

Our favorite part of the freedom trail definitely included the bell in hand tavern, which is the oldest tavern in the USA.  That's us, drinking history more than reading it.  I certainly enjoyed following the red bricks and paint throughout Boston, but it would have been far more enjoyable above 35 degrees farenheit.  Over beers at the bell in hand, we decided on what our "story" would be when people asked what we are doing.   When we tell them what we're actually doing, we usually gets looks of confusion or disbelief.  I don't think it's a big deal, but most people can't relate.  So, anyways, I'm an aspiring travel writer finding material and Jon's my photographer.

We took the T to visit my college friend Ben.  Cambodian food was what was supposed to be on the menu, but the restaurant wasn't open yet.  Thankfully, Cambridge is full of great food and we decided on Japanese/Asian fusion.  We had dinner with Ben's friends where Jon and I got to practice our "aspiring travel writer/photographer" story.  It wasn't totally necessary because his friends understood where we were coming from quite well.  Ellie Goulding, a UK artist was in town and that was our plan for the evening.  To keep a long story short, I hear she was good, but only from Jon and Ben who explained it to me as I lay hungover on Ben's couch barely remembering anything.

Finally, we get back to Jon's sister's apartment and we sleep.  I wake up the next morning to Jon hovering over me with a large smile on his face.  He said, "Peace Corps has changed our status".  I didn't believe him at all.  But, it's true, they sent an email to let us know something is coming in the mail for us, our medical review is complete.

We quickly get ready for the day and go visit his sister at her school.  We tell her of this elusive email from Peace Corps which is confusing since they said we wouldn't be reviewed until July.  I'm convinced it must be bad news, why would they send a letter so quickly?

After singing the Banana Song I used to teach to my Japanese students to her 7 special education students, Jon and I headed back to his sister's place.  Email from Peace Corps.  A very positive email...we've been medically cleared!  We need to send updated resumes, but our health is fine.  You have to understand that this is the biggest hurdle to get over in Peace Corps!!!!

We're in Boston.  I interviewed for Japan here and now I am discovering that we're pretty much good to go for Peace Corps.  Still lots of stuff to do before we go, but they've nominated us because of our skill sets and personality and now we're medically okay to go.  We're like 80% of the way there!

We went to the Sam Adam's brewery.  Free beer in always a great way to celebrate!  The tour was nothing exciting, nothing more than 15 minutes and no new information that you wouldn't know if you've been to any other brewery.  I'd go for the free beer and glasses, but definitely not for a tour experience.  Dinner was at PF Chang's which was better than my expectations and finally, we ended at a comedy club.

When we arrived to Boston, I was still nervous about Peace Corps, nervous we'd made a mistake in cutting our security net.  When we left Boston, I was elated and confident that we've made the right decision.  Boston, I am confident somehow, through some energy makes it all come together...full circle for me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pure Vermont Maple Syrup

As long as I can remember Vermont and what I knew about it, I always thought of snowboarding or skiing in mountains and hippies.  When I moved to Plattsburgh in 2002, I began to know Burlington as a reason for a nice ferry ride, great shopping on Church street, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and better restaurants than what I could find in Plattsburgh.  
Now, I have friends living in Southern Vermont.  They are implants, which means they came from other parts of the USA.  Being excellent hosts though, we got to still experience the true VT experience: maple syrup and the beautiful rural landscape of this state.

Over the weekend, I learned how maple syrup is made.  On our way to the sugar shacks as they're called, it was impossible to not see any trees with buckets hanging off of them.  The kind man working in the shack showed me how he brings raw sap into a huge metal container and boils it.  Once most of it has evaporated out of the shack, they turn a little spicket and delicious maple syrup comes out, ready to eat.
I don't like Aunt Jemima or any of the other fake syrup products, however, pure maple syrup is so delicious.  And oddly enough, one of the sugar shacks had awesome alpacas to check out, too!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I had a lover's quarrel with the world

"What is that in the distance?", Jon asked after a sunny three hour drive of nothing exciting to write about.

"It looks like an obelisk" I responded.

"What's the point of it?" Jon thought outloud.

"Well, back in ancient Egypt, it had some sort of...", I began to explain, but Jon cut me off.

"No, why is it in the middle of Vermont?", Jon inquired.  Feeling stupid, I just responded, "Oh, I don't know"  I proceeded to get our Lonely Planet USA book out from our back seat.  I knew that this book would come in handy.

As it turns out, we were headed into Bennington, Vermont, a very beautiful Vermont town with lots of history.  This obelisk, in the middle of rolling hills and farmland turned out to be a battle monument.  For only $2, you can ride an elevator to the top to get 360 degree views of the beautiful landscape.  Unfortunate for us, they close it down until April.

On a positive note, the Lonely Planet USA book alerted me to the fact that we were only minutes away from the gravestone and resting place of famous poet, Robert Lee Frost!  We turned our car around and parked in front of the Old First Church and went for a walk in a very ancient graveyard.  All around us were gravestones dating back as old as the late 1700s!  Sure enough, we came across Robert Frost's gravestone stating, "I had a lover's quarrel with the world".

It was a beautiful, spring day that resulted in unexpected history of southern Vermont.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Officially on the road

So, I wanted this blog to be far more detailed that it is now.  This whole trip has gotten off to a very rocky start. First, I was suffering from the flu and ended up being stuck in bed for a week when I was supposed to be packing.  The flu bug didn't affect only me, but soon, Jon was sick, too.  Then, just as my health was returning, the whole Japanese earthquake/tsunami natural disaster occurred.  If you aren't aware, one of the worst struck areas was where I used to live.  This has left me unable to enjoy or really even acknowledge the fact I quit my job and will be living on the road.  I'm glued to the news, facebook, and email waiting desperately to hear from my friends.

A great account of what it's been like for me can be summed up here:

In other news, we're pretty much set to start the first 3 weeks of our adventure.  I'm hoping I can start feeling again, so that I can enjoy the time with my friends who aren't affected by this whole thing.