Sunday, August 5, 2012
I wish you could see the way you kiss
Ooh, I love watching you baby
When you're driving me crazy
I only wish that you could see the way you love me
- The Way You Love Me - Faith Hill
It was still early and I wasn’t sure. Just the third date and I was nervous. He grinned at me across the table, over small plates of Mediterranean food. I couldn’t help but to relax and smile back, impressed at his willingness to try new and interesting food, even though his favorite food is “rice.. just plain, white rice” as he told me on our first date. Conversation flowed easily and I quickly relaxed, surprised that the quiet guy from my kickball team was so interesting, funny, and smart.
We finished dinner and headed for the door. Distracted by his hand in mine, I didn’t notice the rain lashing at the windows until we were just a few steps from the door. “Oh wow it’s raining really hard! Do you want to hide out here or make a run for it?” I asked him.
“It isn’t going to let up. The metro is just across the street... let’s make a run for it! Ready? Let’s go!” And we dashed out into the rain. Slipping and sliding and laughing as we crossed the street, I realized how excited and adventurous I felt, just by running in the rain with him. And I’ve swam with sharks and jumped out of a plane before! But this splashy, giggly dash across the street had my heart racing.
Soaked through but almost there, he slows down and pulls me toward him. I look into his blue eyes and melt. We lean into each other and kiss softly while the rain runs down our faces and splashes on the street. And suddenly I’m sure.
A year later and I’m still sure. I’m still impressed and surprised and excited by him every day.
You're the million reasons why there's
Love reflecting in my eyes
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Moving along the banks of the Dead Sea, Jews ran from their homes to escape fighting between Romans and other Jews. A mountain loomed above them and a safe, fortified haven sat atop that mountain. But a Roman army occupied the region.
After a night of partying along the Dead Sea, I groggily climbed off the bus and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. It was still dark out and I could barely make out the top edge of this mountain called Masada. (I don't know if it technically counts as a mountain, it might be a plateau, but I'm counting it as a mountain!) With only a few hours of sleep, the barely-visible, winding path that traced up the mountainside looked insurmountable. "Where is breakfast?!" I asked our group leader. He pointed to the top of the mountain and, with a sigh, I started trudging up the path.
The group of Jews fled destruction in their home towns, overcame the Roman garrison, and took over the mountaintop. The Roman army tried to take back Masada. They built a stone ramp and spent 2 months besieging the small Jewish settlement.
I held my side as it cramped up and I paused to catch my breath. Looking out over the edge, I saw the great expanse of the Dead Sea, with an orange tinge just beginning to color the horizon. "Hurry up! Lets get moving... gotta get to the top before the sun rises!" The guide hurried the stragglers along the winding path up the mountainside.
Dark smoke began to rise from the top of Masada and the choking ashes blew into the fighters' faces. The Roman army broke through the barricades to the settlement atop Masada and raced inside. Buildings were ablaze and not a soul was in sight.
I crested the top embankment and looked around. Stone ruins adorned the top of the mountain, standing out white against the still-dark sky. I spun on my heel and my eyes widened as I took in the breathtaking view of the sun rising over the Dead Sea. Oranges and purples reflected in the still waters and, with each passing second, the sun rose higher and higher over the horizon.
The Romans, with weapons at the ready, rushed through the burning fortress. The found the Jews in one building, all together, all dead. Suicide. Mass suicide in the face of insurmountable odds against them. Mass suicide instead of becoming slaves and prisoners of war. Mass suicide to avoid defeat.
We walked through the stone ruins, explored a bath house and a temple, and admired the ceramic tiles that were still brightly colored, even after thousands of years. We leaned against the stone walls as we ate lunch and listened to the story of Masada.
Masada will not fall again!
(And here are just a few pictures for your enjoyment...)
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
I went to a war protest in 2007, at the beginning of my junior year of college. American and foreign troops were in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and dying at alarming rates. I understood the motivation behind sending troops to these countries. September 11th. Evil empires. Cruel dictators. Weapons of mass destruction. But is ridding the world of evil worth it at the price of thousands of young men and women's lives? I'm not sure. I think our government jumped feet first into a war that wasn't completely thought through. I think there were possible ulterior motives, like oil, forming new alliances, ousting enemies, spreading democracy, etc. I think there could have been other ways to exact revenge on those murderers who killed our innocent civilians on September 11th.
I think peace deserves a chance. I don't think we should act like the policemen of Earth, because to other countries, we simply look like bullies. I think there are peaceful ways to achieve your end goal - humanitarian missions, trade sanctions, peace talks.
I hate reading and hearing about my peers dying.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
So I followed the First Amendment, and embraced my right to free speech and peaceful protest. I marched through Washington DC, carrying signs and chanting. "Drop Bush, not bombs!" "End the war now!" "We're making enemies faster than we can kill them!" "Kill one person, it's murder. Kill thousands, it's foreign policy."
I rushed up on the lawn of the Capitol, and sat down with my signs and my fellow peaceful protesters. I don't think we made any changes. I don't think any soldiers came home because I made some signs and sat outside of the Capitol. But I felt good protesting something I didn't agree with and I felt like a good American citizen by exercising my rights.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. - Anne Frank
Innocent. Unloved. Abandoned. Hurt. Homeless. I can't stand pointless suffering.
My family has always adopted our pets, and recently I've realized exactly why that is so important. About a year ago, I adopted two kittens from a humane society. When their mama cat, Arizona, was pregnant with them, the humane society fostered her out to a foster mom, meaning she was able to birth and raise her kittens in a quiet, clean home. My kittens, Gus and Bella, and their sister Tabitha, never had to live on the streets; they were never cold or hungry; they never had to fear for their lives. Arizona wasn't as lucky... she was rescued from the streets but, after her kittens were born and adopted, she was put down by the "humane" society because she was missing some fur due to an allergy. It was heart breaking and really taught me a lesson. Domestic animals are never truly safe until they have found their true FURever home.
After adopting my kittens, I became friends with their foster mom and I love giving her updates on how Gus and Bella are doing. She left the humane society, and began a mission called "H.O.P.E. in Harford County." The mission statement says, "Humane Options to Prevent Euthanasia in Harford County (H.O.P.E. in MD) is a collaborative community effort with the mission of utilizing programs and developing new ones to keep Harford County animals in their homes and out of the shelter." They are holding the humane society accountable for their incredibly high kill rate. They advocate for the innocent animals. They educate the public on the importance of spaying and neutering animals. Arizona, and her heart breaking story, is the driving force, the inspiration, behind this advocacy.
Arizona - RIP Sweet Girl
"Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, defend those who cannot defend themselves, and plead the cause of those in need."
When she left the humane society, my kittens' foster mom began fostering for an animal rescue, called Charm City Animal Rescue. They do wonderful things! According to their mission statement, they "focus on saving animals from the streets, shelters, and feral colonies, and rely solely on donations to do so." They take innocent, unloved, abandoned, hurt, homeless cats and give them a second chance. I follow the stories of the animals they rescue and it warms my heart.
"Donate to a charity" has been on my Life List since I wrote the first draft of the List. There are so many organizations out there that do amazing things. It was hard to choose who I should donate to but, luckily, being a broke 20-something Journalism graduate, I had plenty of time to decide while I saved up some money. After following the success stories and the heart aches from Charm City, I decided that I would love to help them in any way I could. I bought some litter, food, and toys, and donated them. Then I went on PayPal, typed in my credit card number, took a deep breath, and submitted my monetary donation. It felt so good. I felt like I had helped. I did my little part. I did my good deed of the day. I saved a life. You should try it. This was the first time I had donated a substantial amount of money to a charity, but it sure won't be the last time.
Donate to a Charity - Cross that one off the list! For now...
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I could cross this one off my list twice. I went white water rafting twice and they were very different experiences. The first time I went, I organized a group of friends for a nice June day on the Shenandoah River. The river had rapids up to Class III. White water rapids are defined by numbers between I and VI, I being a slight bump in the river and VI being deadly and dangerous. I thought Class III rapids would be fun for a group of first-timers.
It turned out to just be a nice, relaxing day on the river. It was a beautiful summer day; the sun was shining and the trees were fresh and green. The rapids were easy and it felt like we were on a kiddie roller coaster. I was with a great group of friends and we laughed, joked, and sang as we paddled down the river.
My boat, right as the other boat of my friends dumped water on us.
On the last rapid, a Class III, our guide asked if anyone wanted to "Ride the Bull." Me being me, of course I jumped up and volunteered. "Riding the Bull" meant that I had to sit on the front of the raft, cling to a rope, and yell "YEE HAW!!!" while going over the level 3 rapid. I made it through the rapid but then leaned too far forward right after it and wound up taking a nose-dive right into the river haha.
The second time I went white water rafting, I was with a group of boys. My friend and his fraternity brother were organizing a white water rafting trip in West Virginia and of course I wanted to go! I didn't even realize I was the only girl until we were on our way to the campsite. It was a chilly October evening when we got to the camping grounds near the Upper Gauley River. It was freezing! The boys attempted to make a fire but the wood was damp and it didn't work very well so we wound up cuddling in the tents haha. I love camping but this was an interesting camp site... we had a biker gang on one side of us, and Steelers fans who got into a screaming match at 4am on the other side.
We woke up early the next morning and walked over to the white water rafting company. We met our guide, Eddie, signed our lives away on the waivers, got a few instructions, and went down to the river, ready to battle some Class V rapids!!! It was a chilly, beautiful fall morning. The leaves were changing and the river was running high and fast.
And yes, I was terrified... excited but scared! We went over some small, Class III rapids and it was fun. Then our Eddie the Guide warned us that some big rapids were coming up and we should get ready! Words can't even describe what we went through so just look at the pictures... laugh, gasp, squeal!
It was an amazing experience. Our guide purposely flipped the boat on a small rapid, and then the entire boat, including Eddie the Guide, fell out on a bigger rapid when we got stuck on a rock. But those were the only times I fell out! I was so proud of myself! This little girl, with all these big strong guys, doesn't fall out on big tough rapids! GO ME! When the entire boat got dumped, other rafts came to "save" us and pull us out of the water before we floated down river. Apparently, everyone wanted to save the girl! I had three groups around me trying to drag me into their rafts, and at one point, two different rafts were playing tug-of-war with me and pulling on my life vest, trying to get me into their boat at the same time! Too funny! Overall, it was an awesome experience and I can't wait to do it again! Eddie the Guide even came up to me that night and said "Ya know... when I saw I had a small girl in my raft, with all these big guys, I thought for sure that I'd be saving your ass every 10 minutes! Good job staying in the raft today.. You definitely impressed me!" Woo hoo! This is me, Eddie, and all the boys, after conquering Class V Rapids!
The last year+ has been a good one! I started a new job that i really enjoy and that gives me a lot of free time to do the things that really matter - spend time with friends and family, adopt kittens and enjoy them, and complete so many adventures and things on my Life List, like go white water rafting, donate to a charity, kiss in the rain, try hot yoga, go paintballing, and donate blood! It has been a fun time. Get ready to read all of these stories, as well as some other things that I've crossed off my list but haven't written about. Now here is my updated Life List! If something is crossed out, I've done it. If it is in italics, I've already written about it. If it is bold, be ready to read about it soon!
Things I want to do
Fall in love
Start a family
Have a career
Find a job I LOVE
Be in NYC for New Years Eve
Ride a mechanical bull
Swim with dolphins
Swim with sea turtles
Ride an elephant
Play with kangaroos
Swim with sharks
Go hang gliding
White water raft
Go scuba diving
Go up in a hot air balloon
Ride a camelTake salsa, ballroom dance lessons Swim in the Dead Sea
Make a difference on one person’s life
Donate to a charity
Go whale watching
Fly a kite
Learn to surf
Participate in a protest
Participate in the giant tomato fight
Run with the bulls
Experience white nights
Go on a safari
See the Aurora Borealis
Read more classic books, poems, novels, etc
Watch the classic movies
Ride in a paddle boat
Have a food fight!
C limb a mountain Kiss in the rain
palm/tarot cards/future read
Drink Guinness in Dublin
Make a movie
Make a documentary film
Make another movie
Make another documentary film
Swim in the fountain at UMD
Write for a professional Web site
Get a professional massage Do a flying trapeze class Do hot Yoga
Do a zip line
Ride jet skis
Ride in a helicopter
Do a wine tour in Maryland - Frederick and/or Eastern Shore
Have a spa day
Donate blood Adopt kittens
Places I want to go
Visit IsraelVisit Egypt
Visit Italy: Rome, Venice, Pompeii, Sicily, Capri,
Leaning Tower of Piza, Milan, Florence
Visit France: Paris
Visit Australia: Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House
Visit more of the US: Hawaii,
California (Hollywood/LA, So Cal, San Fran, San Diego, Napa), Mount Rushmore, Las Vegas, Alaska, Grand Canyon
Things I want to see
See the Statue of Liberty
See Niagra Falls
Visit American National Parks
See the great works of art
See concentration camps
See the pyramids and sphinx
See the Grand Canyon
See the Great Wall of China
See the Taj Mahal
See the Eiffel Tower
Visit Ground Zero
Visit the Wailing Wall
Thursday, July 1, 2010
I say swimming when, in reality, you really just float and try not to get any of the water in your eyes. The Dead Sea borders Israel and Jordan and is the lowest point on the Earth's surface. It is super salty (8.6% saltier than the ocean!.. Thank you Wikipedia) and stings if it gets in your eyes. It is called the Dead Sea because nothing can live in that water. And, due to the salt levels, you immediately float.
What a weird sensation! You walk (or get dragged by tall cousins) into the water and all of a sudden you realize that your feet aren't touching the ground and you are just kind of bobbing there. It is an unreal experience. I added this on to my Life List before I went to Israel, mostly because EVERYONE said that I must swim in the Dead Sea. I really wasn't sure why I added it to my list until I actually got into the water. WHOA so THIS is what everyone was talking about! It is a weird, fun experience and feels like what I imagine walking in space feels like... completely unnatural!
My tall cousin and I loved floating in the Dead Sea. And I loved sharing such a cool experience with her. Israel has so much culture, history and life to it and I learned so much there. It was a lot of fun to experience it with someone else who I share so much personal culture, history and life with! <3 my cousin! And floating in the Dead Sea! Sorry for the sappy ending and uncreative writing. I haven't written in my blog in awhile so I gotta get myself back into it again. Stick with me and they'll get better!
And... cross that one off the list!